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Monday, 31 May 2010

Track of the Week: 2010 #22

Hot Club de Paris – Free The Pterodactyl 3

Another video courtesy of This Is Fake DIY and an excellent single from what may be the greatest Liverpudlian band of all time, 'Free The Pterodactyl 3' is taken from Hot Club de Paris latest EP with the infeasible title The Rise and Inevitable Fall of the High School Suicide Cluster Band. It is of course excellent to see this given a video release as not only is it the highlight of the six track release but it's one of Hot Club's best moments and one of my tracks of the year so far.

There's that spindly guitar riff that earmarks it as a very Hot Club de Paris track, even though on the EP there's more indulgence of the group's classic rock influences. That's not to say that there's ridiculous solos everywhere, simply that the songs are more conventional than their math-pop moments, resulting in some soaring choruses of which 'Free The Pterodactyl 3' is easily the greatest.

Although the chorus lyrics are fairly vague: “blue eyes grow ageless / the sky feels contagious”, it's somehow really affecting, possibly down to the melody. Either way, this week's Track of the Week is one that really gets to me, in all of the best ways.

Monday, 24 May 2010

Track of the Week: 2010 #21

Pulled Apart By Horses – Back To The Fuck Yeah

Knowing as I do, the people who form the core readership of Keep Pop Loud, and the name for which I've set it up, I'm going to have to do some persuading to get you to listen to Pulled Apart Horses because, well – they're not very pop and very loud.

The strain of rock with PABH are launching at us with a ferocious intent can probably best be described as a grungy version of post-hardcore, neither genre can I claim to be an expert on, but both of which are renown for their integrity and abrasiveness. Now, Pulled Apart By Horses form one corner of a triangle of rock groups from Leeds that I've long been hoping are going to make a breakthrough into the minds of the alternative rock press and listening community. The other two corners of said triad are Cickenhawk (thrashy, shouty and heavy on the double kick drum) and Dinosaur Pile-Up (grungy but with a sense of humour reminiscent of We Are Scientists), both of which I believed prior to seeing this video had more potential. With 'Back To The Fuck Yeah' however and the imminent release of a self-titled debut album PABH seem poised to take the lead both chronologically and in terms of brilliance.

On the surface this song comes across as an aggressive piece of rock music, and something that's maybe not worth the average pop fans time. However, one look at the video and the tongue in cheek spoofing of heavy rock's penchant for menacing woodland and evil iconography and it becomes apparent that Pulled Apart By Horses are smarter than your average. If nothing else remember that this is the band that recorded songs under the titles 'E=MC Hammer' and 'I Punched A Lion In The Throat'. They're certainly not taking all of this too seriously. Still they are very good and you really should listen to them.

The video comes courtesy of This Is Fake DIY, who you really should go and read!

Sunday, 23 May 2010

Rambling Round-up Part 2

Well, yesterday was a fair bit different to how I planned it to be. Instead of listening intently to some music and committing some thoughts on such to 'paper' I spent the entire day reading a Stephen Fry book entitled The Star's Tennis Balls whilst some gentle music blathered away in the background. So from Saturday's endeavours I can only really claim that The Sundays are good music to read to, and that when you're not paying attention Air France's album No Way Down goes by rather quickly. In book related news, if you're stuck for something gripping to read then let me know and I think I can recommend you something...

Now then, I mentioned recently that I hit Sheffield's independent record shop Record Collector pretty hard for some bargains recently. This much is very true, although due to the amount of CDs that I picked up and the amount of other things that I've had to listen to, I can't say too much on the quality of all of them just yet. If you're in Sheffield and fancy hunting down some very cheep CDs then heading to said shop and scouring the five for £2 option may be good for you. Although the majority of the music in said offer was the usual bargain bin casualties ('90s boybands, Natalie Imbruglia and the actually good The Charlatans) I managed to pick up some indie gems. In alphabetical order: Easyworld Kill The Last Romantic (2 Disc Edition), The Golden Virgins Songs Of Praise, Kid Carpet Ideas and Oh Dears, The Research Breaking Up and The Scaramanga Six Strike! Up The Band.

Of these releases I've so far only listened to the main disc of the Easyworld album (moderately boring but well produced and good to chill out to) and The Scaramanga Six album. For anyone not familiar with The Scaramanga Six they're an over-the-top pomp-rock band who make music that's a cross between Bowie at his most flamboyant and a cinematic Queen. Not suitable for die hard punks but good for anyone who has a sense of humour. Although be warned, in the middle of Strike! Up The Band there is a terrible and badly recorded track that needs to be avoided!

To be honest, despite buying these albums they're not really representative of what I'm most listening to right now. As I've mentioned before it's the American alt. rock scene that's interesting me the most right now. The Hold Steady, with their bar room tales of blue collar America and the desperation of the characters contained within their songs are strangely appealing to me as someone who's spent the majority of their musical life in rejection of America and it's ideals. I recently picked up their second album Separation Sunday, in the belief that it's supposed to be their best. Early impressions have coloured me very impressed. If you're stuck in a dead end manual/service sector job then The Hold Steady could well be your way out – at least in terms of entertainment as escapism.

On a similar note, Band of Horses latest album did drop through my letterbox on Saturday, and I've found the time to listen to it a couple of times through. The record's lead single 'Compliments' remains by far my favourite moment, but songs like 'Dilly' shine brightly and the tight harmonies and expansive rock sound throughout seem likely to result in it getting a favourable review from me in the next few days, once I've had the chance to live with Infinite Arms a bit more and get said review written down.

That's enough for now. Tomorrow's Track of the Week is in true idiosyncratic style, completely different to anything that I've mentioned in the past few days and is nicely from a relatively new group. At some time in the week I'll make the time to write a few things down on a few other recent purchases that I've been living with, some film chatter and maybe try and dig out a couple of new groups for your entertainment/education. There's also one or two reviews for This Is Fake DIY coming along soon, which I'll be sure to link to here, in case you're remotely interested.

Friday, 21 May 2010

Rambling Round-up Part 1

Sorry if you've missed me. I've been absent from blogging for a while (and due to sleepyness I failed to post this prior to going to work this morning, therefore making it even later than intended) thanks partially to being worn out from my physically exhausting job and being too overloaded with music that I've had little chance to put any opinions into words. Today and tomorrow however, thanks to a dose of the creative laxative that is inspiration (in layman's terms that would be the coming weekend) I should be bringing you a couple of updates/round-ups of what Pop Happenings have been occurring in the vicinity of KPL Towers these past two weeks.

Firstly, I mentioned recently that I've been picking up all kinds of wondrous promotional CDs on ebay for exceptionally cheep amounts and there's plenty of highlights that are worth reporting on. Firstly there's an album called Thunderer and Excelsior by Silvery, that's frankly bizarre. Sounding like early Blur stuck in the Victorian Era, there's songs about Martian invasions and miniature boats sailed by crews of mice. I give it an 8/10, but intend to spend much more time in it's company before committing to any more of a verdict. At the same time I picked up a copy of a non-album single by the band which was a cover of 'You Give A Little Love' from Bugsy Malone. This is every bit as brilliant as you might believe from what I've said about the band. In fact it may even be more so.

A personal favourite of the hoard so far, however, is the recent split single by Friendly Fires and Holy Ghost, where the bands have taken on each other's tracks, with the former doing 'Hold On' and the latter doing an epic take on 'On Board'. Clearly I picked the single up for the Friendly Fires track, with it being a song not present on any of their other releases, but I've been completely taken aback by the Holy Ghost version, which sounds as though in an alternate (and better) universe it was a massive number one hit. A depressing piece of trivia about Holy Ghosts' 'On Board': the stunning drum work was supplied by Jerry Fuschs from !!! who fell to his death down a lift shaft, earlier in the year. R.I.P. Jerry.

Does anyone else remember 1990s? Not the decade, the Scottish rock n roll group who released a couple of albums in the mid-part of the 2000s. Anyway, I picked up their second album for the collaboration with Kate 'The Long Blondes' Jackson; 'Kickstrasse' and as I write this have it playing through the stereo. Initial reactions aren't great, aside from the Jackson duet which is glammed up to the eyeballs and fantastic fun. Then again I'll take anything with Ms Jackson's vocals on, seeing as she's taking forever to come out with her debut solo album. At the risk of rambling on the subject, has anyone else noticed that she sounds a little bit like the singer from '80s indiepop legends Shop Assistants? Compare 'Once And Never Again' to 'I Don't Want To Be Friends With You' and see what you think.

Enough about ebayed items. I've also been keeping an eye on the charts, and am pleased to see Mr Fyfe Dangerfield hitting the Top Ten with his cover of 'She's Always A Woman'. I realise that as a blogger it's my duty to be snobbish about any track that either becomes a huge hit or is used on an advert, but I'm really not like that. I've been a fan of Fyfe since the early days of Guillemots and could happily listen to him singing along to anything. I'm therefore not going to begrudge a John Lewis commissioned cover for their advertising campaign. After all, it was a similar campaign last Christmas that got Victoria Bergsman's Taken By Trees cover of 'Sweet Child O Mine' into the Top 40.

Albums wise, The National have scored a massive hit with High Violet, which for my money is one of the best records of the year so far. A beautiful slow burner it may not be the group's best but is still head and shoulders over what most bands of any commercial viability put out. Band of Horses are set to have as big a hit this coming weekend with Infinite Arms, an album that I'm yet to hear, but am lead to believe am being sent a copy of. Expect a review in the next week or so (hopefully) of this, along with ones of the really good d├ębut from Villagers, the latest mini-album from the Swedish Pop Legend, Robyn and the noisy as f**k single from Atari Teenage Riot

Tomorrow I'll be chatting excitedly about some recent bargains from record collector and reiterating how much I like The Hold Steady.

Monday, 17 May 2010

Track of the Week: 2010 #20

Mansun – 'Wide Open Space'

This week's top track comes to you courtesy of 1997.

There's not much to say other than it's pretty darned brilliant and that I'm about 13 years late in realising this.

Again there's no video that I could find, so it's over to Jools Holland

Mansun, Wide Open Space, Later With Jools, 1997

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Recent Reviews Round-up

Moshi Moshi Singles Club Volume 2 (8/10)
"a superb compilation"

The Hold Steady - Heaven Is Whenever (8/10)
"a rock band of the best American tradition"

James - The Night Before (7/10)
"a tight and taught little collection that has absolutely zero filler"

She & Him - Volume 2 (7/10)
"a slow burner, the songs feel as though they could slip away"

Foals - 'This Orient' single (9/10)
"The song actually feels as though it's lifting up the listener and transporting them over the countryside at an altitude and a speed"

Frankie & the Heartstrings 'Tender' single (8/10)
"with 'Tender' they're really bursting from the blocks"

Rose Elinor Dougall - 'Find Me Out'
single (8/10)
"a wonderful single that manages to be quietly complex in it's music and direct and simple in the emotional message"

Monday, 10 May 2010

Track of the Week: 2010 #19

Band Of Horses – 'Compliments'

When I was younger I listened to hardly any American music, least of all big sounding contemporary rock bands. I heavily favoured British up-beat pop groups and it's only in the past couple of years has this started to change. Since listening to Springsteen I've opened up to The Hold Steady (review of their latest album here), The Gaslight Anthem, The National and now, with their new single Band of Horses.

One of the more subtly catchy singles of the year 'Compliments' perfectly captures a sense of freedom and the open expanse of the sky with its 1970's influenced radio ready rock. Not to say, of course that this is cheesy in any way, it just sounds like it was created by some men with a full face of fuzz and very American record collection.

The slinky guitar works really well with the drums which are rather propulsive. 'Compliments' sounds made for full venues and road journeys, be they day trips and festivals or darkened gigs and night drives through a neon lit city. Evocative and perfect.

There's not a video for this song however, so this is a Later... with Jools Holland performance.

Monday, 3 May 2010

Track of the Week: 2010 #18

Hot Chip - 'I Feel Better'

It's a fantastic single from a band that I've frequently disliked greatly, and the mother of all earworms. 'I Feel Better' by Hot Chip is nearly enough for me to turn around my opinion of a group that thanks to ubiquitous annoyance 'Over And Over' I've never had the time for. The video to this single is fantastic but unfortunately I can't embed it, so you'll have to go over to youtube to watch it.

There's not a lot else I can say, save for filling you in about how irritating and monotonous I found Hot Chip's previous singles, and how wonderful and huge I find 'I Feel Better'. Sure, it has some of the same keystones as the rest of their catalogue, but here the repetition accumulates synthesisers and swells into a glorious epic rather than being used as a device to make the song monotonously plod. There is something wrong with the general public when a song as instant, catchy and shinily produced as this isn't a hit. Shame on you general public!

'I Feel Better' Video

Apologies for not writing more. I'm still fairly asleep, and it is Bank Holiday Monday