Monday, 28 February 2011

Track Of The Week: You Animals - What A Shame Lorraine

Despite a sterling effort from Dananananaykroyd, with their new free download, this week You Animals take the 'coveted' Track of the Week spot with their forthcoming single 'What A Shame Lorraine'.

As I've mentioned before, You Animals are on the wonderful This Is Fake DIY Records who have been awesome enough to send me a copy of the album to review (check back later for that). So I've been listening to Crime, Creeps & Thrills and confirm that it's a proper good 'un. And in the tradition of lead singles, 'What A Shame Lorraine' showcases this quite well.

Slick and quick guitar pop, with a Young Knives style vocal. The guitars are sharp and the melody fleshed out by the keyboards. With the catchy-as-hell chorus, I'm willing to bet that 'What A Shame Lorraine' is the song that you've been waiting for and that the album is going to be up there in yr end of year list come the end of 2011.

Last mention goes to the video which is set at the seaside and features a nice shot of some offshore windfarms as well as some contrasting amusement arcade shots. The band playing in a near-empty pub is some nice self-depracation too, and I'm hoping something that's not going to happen to them in real life any longer.

You Animals - What A Shame, Lorraine from This Is Fake DIY Records on Vimeo.

Sunday, 27 February 2011

Mojo Fury - Colour Of The Bear

Released: February 14th
Label: Graphite

Whilst they're still very new on the national pop consciousness, Mojo Fury have been active since 2004, since forming in Northern Island. Still, with Pulled Apart By Horses owning much of last year it feels as though now is the time for the three piece to be mounting their post-hardcore influenced assault.

'Colour Of The Bear's fuzzed-up guitars riff on fantastically whilst, unusually the rhythm section hits both hard and with groove. It's a complete left-turn from the keyboard bounces that announce the song, recalling as they do Mojo Fury's former touring partners and countrymen Two Door Cinema Club.

Yes, it's misleading, but at the end of the day that's just a part of what makes the band interesting. As is their willingness to play with genres that in less-enlightened musical climates would risk them losing listeners. Take the way the occasional reverbed guitars and straining vocals recall the more commercially friendly strands of emo. It shouldn’t work, but it does when placed alongside the schizophrenia of other sounds.

'Colour Of The Bear', whilst not being particularly refined or overtly commercial is exactly the sort of single that you could imagine becoming a success. It certainly (along with the previous track 'The Mann') bodes well for a debut album and if the name Mojo Fury ends up being banded around across several popscenes by the end of 2011 we shouldn't be particularly surprised.

Originally published at This Is Fake DIY

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Album Review: The Answering Machine - Lifeline

Released: February 21st
Label: Heist Records

It’s quite difficult for me to write this review of The Answering Machine’s second studio album Lifeline. Not because it doesn’t live up to my expectations but because when I think about it all I feel like doing is inching next to it, blushing and telling it sheepishly that I really really like it. Yep, I’ve got a proper crush on Lifeline. It’s wonderful.

Less full-on than the guitar driven than debut Another City, Another Sorry The Answering Machine have built on what they started and have done nothing less than create an album of exquisitely crafted pop songs. It’s all executed perfectly and with a heart the size of Kanye’s ego. The production is top notch too, leading to many moments across the 11 songs that are definitely worth writing home about.

‘My Little Navy’ opens Lifeline and showcases immediately the evolution that’s occurred in the band between albums. The prominent bass backs the twinkling keyboards whilst drum rolls travel between left and right and the lyrics talk of wreckage and lighthouse. Following this we get the perfect double bill of ‘Lifeline’ and ‘Animals’: both previous Tracks of the Week and both sublime. They’re master classes in classic songwriting and suit the analogue recording that lends proceedings a timeless feel and expansive sound.

‘Romantic And Square’ gives us yet another different side to The Answering Machine. Combining live and digital percussion it’s closest to ‘It’s Over! It’s Over! It’s Over!’ from the debut than anything else, whilst the fuzzy guitar line makes it a dead cert for future single release in my opinion. On the complete flipside to this ‘The End’ bizarrely showcases a more dub influence, with the overflow of bass sound present in the drum track. Fronted by bass player Gemma it’s certainly new ground for the four-piece, but kept in line with the rest of Lifeline by the epic finish and close vocal harmonies.

Despite all the initial brilliance there’s one or two tracks that take a little longer to sink in. ‘Video 8’ seems superfluous on first listens until repeat plays allows it to reveal itself and cohere with the lyrics. Along with ‘Hospital Lung’ it betrays a tendency by lyricist/singer Martin to emphasise detachment through the use of technology metaphors. Still, it doesn’t seem as if the band are trying to make a grand statement and everything is always grounded in the personal and (as Lifeline has been soundtracking my commute since it arrived) extremely relatable.

Although epic, Lifeline doesn’t shy away from delicate acoustic moments. The tracks and flourishes are backed by drum machines and glockenspiels, ensuring that they have all the naïve charm of Athlete’s excellent debut. Elsewhere, the nearest comparison is to The Pains of Being Pure at Heart for the use of vintage keyboards and achieving skyscraping, heart-on-sleeve indie perfection. Basically, The Answering Machine have created a fantastic record, and specifically one that I'm not really good enough to review accurately. Just check out 'Anything Anything' and then tell me that Lifeline is anything less than utterly spectacular.

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Live Review: Town Bike, Standard Fare and Sourpatch at The Redhouse, Sheffield

Since 2005 the Sheffield live scene has dissolved massively. There was a time when, alongside many a pub gig, the larger venues in the city were hosting gigs several times a week. In 2011 although the pub gig scene is healthy the larger venues (including The Octagon and Students Union) are all but quiet.

Still as much as it bothers me, this doesn’t affect me as much as it used to. There was a time when I’d be seeing several bands a week across the city and in different sized venues. These days the pub gig scene suits me well as the best bands around are selling too few albums and are playing small gigs as such. The fact that I have little chance to buy gig tickets means that it fits nice too – decide on the day, pay on the door and yr well away.

This brings us to last night then with Standard Fare playing in a little pub/venue called The Redhouse. Having heard the wonderful 'Philadelphia' played at Offbeat I took the chance on the gig, slightly baffled by the fact that this local band were playing second fiddle to some Americans called Sourpatch.

Still, after dragging myself to the venue we were all suitably rewarded. Opening band Town Bike performed a short set of snappy pop-punk with good humour and catchy choruses. Liverpool based, they got on well with the crowd, the front of which consisted partially of the headline band with whom Town Bike are touring. The Q&A session let us know which member of the band received the most Valentines cards (the singer) as well as advising on the non-soap nature of the “yellow balls” in the urinals.

Highlight of the evening was of course Standard Fare. Although they seemed shy on stage their set flew by providing the room with a dose of indiepop heaven. Akin to a janglier Sky Larkin all three band members surprised with their instrumental ability whilst singer Emma’s unique voice lifted the songs into near-perfect territory. Whilst 'Philadelphia' unsurprisingly proved to be a set high-point, album opener 'Love Just Doesn’t Stop' and 'Kudzu Girlfriend' from their recent split 7”delighted in pretty much equal measure.

Sourpatch headlined the evening, having come all the way from San Jose, California and gave The Redhouse a strong set of discordant scruffy indie-punk anthems. Charmingly fuzzy the group recalled The Thermals more than anyone else I could bring to mind but were far from bereft of individuality. With instrument and lead vocal switching they kept their sound varied, whilst at multiple points the guitarist managed to rock her glasses off.

Overall a very satisfying evening and a sign that I really need to drag myself off my sofa more in order to catch more of these types of gigs. That I’ve not done of late would probably explain how Standard Fare have managed to slip under my radar (until now) despite being a local outfit, having released an album and being exactly my cup of tea. Catching Sourpatch on their first UK tour meanwhile was a fantastic heads-up on a band that’s likely to cause many a wave across indiepop circles in the coming year.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Album Review: Frankie & The Heartstrings - Hunger

Released: 21st February
Label: Pop Sex Ltd

Even before Hunger was released there was some groups (usually found lurking on the Drowned In Sound message boards) that were ready to lay into Frankie & The Heartstrings. Either they were the latest in a very long line to go for the Someone & The Somethings band name or they were ‘landfill’ because they had the nerve to use guitars to write pop songs. Two things that I can honestly say I have no problem with. Quiet the reverse actually, using guitars to write pop songs and dressing sharply (as F&TH do) are two prerequisites for what I consider to be the ideal for pop stars.

For those that have been following Frankie & The Heartstrings early singles, rest assured that Hunger lives up to the promise. Everything’s been re-recorded with Mr Edwyn Collins taking care of production, and the result is a satisfying, cohesive and fun album that ticks all of the right boxes for literate pop fans. And thankfully it doesn’t feel as though they’ve shot their creative load just yet. The Dexy’s style brass that’s littered throughout the debut hints towards a bigger future, whilst their skill with a ballad will ensure they’re not trapped behind dancefloor fillers.

Still, when Frankie and co’ do crack out a four-to-the-floor as they’ve done on singles such as ‘Hunger’, ‘Tender’ and ‘Possibilities’ they are impossible to resist. A tour de force of 50’s rock ‘n’ roll, 80’s post-punk and modish inflictions awaits. Nimble guitars slink over splashes of cymbals and disco beats. Terrace chants are offset by Orange Juice style discordant flourishes, leaving songs and melodies bouncing around yr head and echoing off all sides of yr skull. It’s all perfectly complemented by the job Collins does in production, creating a record on the clearer end of the spectrum without sacrificing the songs to an artificial sheen. Everything sits just so.

Aside from the aforementioned big ol’ pop hits there’s some moments that truly sets Hunger apart. ‘Fragile’ is a wonderful ballad that holds it’s own across a six minute length without going into indulgence. It’s tight and snappy and, most importantly, heartfelt. The pick of the bunch however is ‘Don’t Look Surprised’ which manages to fit in all of the best bits of Hunger into one powerful track. Cymbals and high-hat create a rain of crashing metal whilst rapid vocals are delivered and a gradual build of guitars lead to a crescendo with the perfectly positioned brass section before an exquisitely timed exit closes the record. It’s the moment on Hunger that most hints at much more to come from Frankie & The Heartstrings.

Still, overall this is a simple album. Hunger will not be subjected to the same sort of artistic analysis or adoration as Radiohead’s latest, but nor really would you expect it to be. It will however win over the bookish kids who like to tap their feet at the local indie disco and dance like no one is watching in their bedrooms. These converts will keep coming back to Frankie & The Heartstrings and will use the band and Hunger as a starting point for explorations across pop culture and it seems certain that this five-piece beat combo from Sunderland will be there to help them through it and the myriad of other tribulations that life can throw.

Monday, 21 February 2011

Track Of The Week: Thomas Tantrum - Sleep

You may have gathered that there's a lot of love for Thomas Tantrum at KPL Towers. Small surprise really when they're delivering singles such as 'Sleep', a song that'd be TotW any week.

As you'll see from the delightfully quirky video below the lead single from the forthcoming Thomas Tantrum album is a soul inflected indie dancefloor cracker. You'll be singing the chorus for days whilst bobbing around and grinning like a complete fool.

Although it's apparent that the Tantrum have developed a more refined sound for album number two it's a progression that ensures they still sound exactly like Thomas Tantrum. Yes it's slicker, but also packs in the discordant guitars that sets them apart from any of their artpop counterparts.

On a visual note, the aforementioned video actually looks as though it was recorded with an actual budget with the band playing on roller-coaster carts and a puppet that bears an uncanny resemblance to Coraline. It's cool, but slightly creepy.

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Bordeauxxx - Heartstrings

Here's an indiepoptastic video for a Thursday.

It's a song called 'Heartstrings' and it's by a band called Bordeauxxx who are a five-piece from London. It's very highly recommended for people who enjoy the ecstatic indiepop of Bis, The Bobby McGee's, early Los Campesinos! and videos that feature lots of balloons.

I apologise that I don't have the time to write anything more insightful about the song, but I think that if you like the sort of stuff I talk about on KPL then you should like 'Heartstrings'. It does after all have handclaps!

That was nice wasn't it. If you enjoyed it then you can download the song just here.

Bordeauxxx - Mother's Ruin - 03 Heartstrings by WhiteboardPRO

And if you really enjoy it you can download the whole EP, which is called Mother's Ruin from Bordeauxxx's bandcamp page for free.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Kidnapper Bell

You know how I hate lumping too much praise on young bands before they've had the chance to get to know their own music? Well, I'm sticking to my guns on that count but am going to go as far as saying that Birmingham's Kidnapper Bell are actually very promising.
They don't seem to have done much so far, but they've the contemporary post-punk inflections that I always love when they're used right. And, boy does their forthcoming single use them right.

Called 'Falling And Laughing' it has the shimmering minimalism of early Bloc Party, whilst the combination of heart-in-throat lead and angelic backing vocals brings to mind (the hugely underrated) stellastarr*. With a nice prominent (and propulsive) bass and twinkling keyboards in the background it recalls more New York than it does Birmingham, but with such a rich sound I'm sure we can agree that this is a very good thing.

Kidnapper Bell - Falling and Laughing by kidnapperbell

More Birmingham sounding is 'Falling And Laughing's other A Side, 'Mouthful Of Pennies' which, with it's punkier aesthetic and stopy-starty yelpyness, can't escape comparisons to their fellow city-folk Johnny Foreigner. It's not quite up to the same standards as 'Falling And Laughing' but a promising peek at the band in development nonetheless.

Kidnapper Bell - Mouthful Of Pennies by kidnapperbell

You can order this two track single from Kindnapper Bell here, and based on 'Falling And Laughing' alone I strongly suggest that you do. They're unsigned too, so it'll be giving the band some nice support and it's only £2, so you've not really got an excuse.

Keep yr ears out for these, for I daresay KPL will be featuring them again in the future.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Kate Jackson unveils a "couple" of new demos

Material from the erstwhile Long Blondes front-lady has been a long time coming. Although The Fly announced last year that Kate Jackson was recording with Bernard Butler on production duties under the name Madame Ray little has appeared since.

Yesterday afternoon via her twitter however, Kate promised a demo from the sessions, entitled 'The Atlantic', would be available to listen to as a Valentines gift. True to her word the track appeared, along with another demo, 'Homeward Bound'.

With it being Valentines I of course didn't get a chance to listen to the demos. But here's what I thought when I finally did listen to them....

'The Atlantic'

Sleeper style guitars and twinkly synthesisers. The multi-tracked vocals in the chorus lift the song into potentially epic territory (we'll need to wait until we hear the final thing, for this is only a demo) but it lacks the glam of The Long Blondes. Also the vocals are surprisingly low in the mix, but this is something we can assume will be ironed out come final versions – which can't come soon enough

The Atlantic (M) by KateJackson

'Homeward Bound'

Bit more poppy with a more obviously Kate Jackson vocal. Again, recalls Sleeper but it's not a bad thing. Definitely sounds like it's got the potential to be a single. Could do with a bit more kick rather than the shiny stadium pop guitars that punctuate but there's a cracking song at the core.

Homeward Bound (355) 25.03.10 by KateJackson

The overall feeling here is that at the moment there's nothing to rival the work Kate did with The Long Blondes. That's not really a surprise however as they were responsible for some of the best music of the 2000's. Still, the essence of The Long Blondes was always revealed so much better across the length of an album when the recurring themes could come to the surface.

These demos have a ton of potential and the length of time we've been kept waiting means that when Kate/Madame Ray finally gets around to releasing a record it is going to have a lot to live up to. There's not much to surprise in 'The Atlantic' or 'Homeward Bound' so far there's more than enough to wet our appetite.

Monday, 14 February 2011

Track Of The Week: Young Knives - Love My Name

Young Knives are back and are spikier than ever. Singer/guitarist Henry Dartnall has said that as much as the band wanted to take a complete left turn into Beefheart experimentalism they couldn't keep away from the pop songs. Good thing too, not only is Captain Beefheart completely overrated but Young Knives are so utterly excellent at being Young Knives and writing perfect post-punk pop.

There's not a video for 'Love My Name' yet. But that's not too important, because the band have been kind enough to upload it to youtube, even if they've not told anyone that it's there. 'Love My Name' is the first taste of forthcoming third album Ornaments From The Silver Arcade, the follow up to one of KPL's Top Albums of 2008 – the utterly underrated Superabundance. It's due out on 4th April and we can assume that the single will appear at some point before that.

Excellent and a more than welcome return.

Plus it's got 'love' in the title, so it's sorta appropriate for Valentines Day.

Also, this appears to be the artwork for the record, although there's been no confirmation of it formally.
(I found this on Amazon)

Friday, 11 February 2011

EP Review: Elephants – I Won't Forget You, You Won't Forget Me

Released: January 24th
Label: Alcopop! Records

As a final release, following on from their split, underground PoPsters Elephants have been amazing enough to record I Won't Forget You, You Won't Forget Me – or as we should probably refer to it from now on: The Best EP Of 2011. OK, we're only in February now but hear me out, this is an essential release.

For those who've not heard of or listened to Elephants before but are fans of groups such as Copy Haho, you're allowed to skip the rest of this review and just head straight over to the Alcopop! store where you can order I Won't Forget You for the bargain price of £5. The EP is being sent out with free bonus 7” singles and 6 track CDs but there's only a couple left so MOVE QUICK!

Clocking in at very little over 15 minutes not a moment is wasted and everything slots perfectly into place. The five songs are played as tightly as Buzzcocks at their peak and the only let up in the fuzzy guitar pop assault comes in the form of the acoustic and tender 'Girls'. The set up is perfect too, 'Another Song For Laika' paints a picture of a relationship in two and a half minutes and, unlike so much break-up music, makes us actually care.

It's quickly eclipsed however. 'Little Thoughts' begins with the line “I wish I was more exciting, I wish I was thunder to yr lightning” and serves to offer affecting lyric after affecting lyric. You're so drawn into the situation that each and every lyric hits home. Clichés such as “I like girls who break my heart” ('Girls') or “I'd do anything for you, 'cause I know you'd do the same for me too” ('Since You've Been Gone (My Heart Swells)') are delivered with such honestly that they resonate and echo around yr head long after you've finished listening to the EP. That they're offset with lines such as “I like girls that put me back together” only increases the amount of love that you can give this release.

Despite the comparison to Buzzcocks earlier, this isn't all two-dimensional quick pop-punk. 'Since You've Been Gone (My Heart Swells)' starts simply enough before climaxing as an epic maelstrom and some purposefully delivered lyrics. It walks the fine line between being roughly unrefined and professionally perfect. It gives Elephants the wonderfully idiosyncratic feel that's too often lost by bands who want to be seen as quirky or whatever. Elephants however play it straight and honest and are so much better for it.

It captures that eroding feeling of having given yr all to something only to look back and realise that you've ended up with nothing. Whilst the implication here is relationships, it's easily expanded and when the title is sung in EP finale 'I Still Remember' they might as well be talking straight up about the band. It may be their last release, but after listening to it you won't forget it and as it drags you back to press play repeatedly, it won't forget you either.

Full marks, in other words. 10/10. Five Stars.

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Album Review: The Go! Team - Rolling Blackouts

Released: 31st January
Label: Memphis Industries

Album number three for Brighton pop'n'paste maestros has been a long time coming. But you can bet your life it's been worth it. Just look at what the title and the artwork there. Is there any way The Go! Team could let us down?

Stick this in the CD player/press play on iTunes and what's more apparent on first listen than anything else is that Rolling Blackouts is the most coherent album under The Go! Team name yet. You could even say that some of the songs venture on being... well, conventional. Yet at the same time, this never sounds like the product of any act other than The Go! Team. The key trademarks are in place, from the charity-shop-chaos textures to the far-too-loud drums. It's the collision of styles that won Thunder, Lightning, Strike it's Mercury nomination and the band so many fans across the world. So fear not, The Go! Team still sounds like several stages of a music festival going on at the same time in the middle of a carnival.

Which makes it easy to assume, when listening on a bigger system, that Rolling Blackouts couldn't possibly work on headphones. There's just too much going on. WRONG. It sounds wonderful. Perfect basslines roll over the clipping drums, the vocals are audible and the samples and backing choirs reveal themselves in a carnival of blissful melodies and contrasting sonic textures. There's very little else going on in pop music at any time in history that comes close to matching this in terms of depth and wonder of sound.

Thanks to it's status as lead single, it was easy to assume prior to hearing Rolling Blackouts that 'Buy Nothing Day' would be the clear cut highlight. Featuring as it does Bethany Cosentino from Best Coast on her best recording yet (and that's not to put down the ace Best Coast). These assumptions would be wrong again, as 'Secretary Song' and 'Throwdown' at the least, form an almighty pair that insist that yr feet moving and yr face smiling. 'Rolling Blackouts' itself rocks with surf-noise guitars like Sonic Youth at the beach. All four could lay claim to being one of the best pop songs in recent years, but whilst there is more of these indiepop numbers than perhaps we're used to across the past two Go! Team albums the hip-hop is certainly not skimped on.

'Voice Yr Choice' and 'Back Like 8 Track' have more brass fanfares than should strictly be healthy and the cheerleading chants battle the massive drums for supremacy. With complete ease The Go! Team show Sleigh Bells just how it's done. Special mention also needs to go to 'Yosemite Theme' which is the best thing to happen to banjos this side of the 1900's. Rattling over what sounds a lot like a lost '60s TV theme it collides with glockenspiels and cheap Casio keyboards to sound like the perfect moment on yr day off work when the sun comes through the miserable rain.

Mainman Ian Parton has hinted that this may be the last we hear from The Go! Team, at least in their current guise. As much as that's a shame based on the quality of Rolling Blackouts you do get the picture that should the project continue any further it will be a case of the band putting out Go! Team sounding albums for the sake of it and not progressing the sound. It's not that I think that little of the band or their/Ian's abilities but it's so very hard to imagine any way that Rolling Blackouts can be topped.

A wonderful album that's a joy to listen to over and over and over again. Buy it.

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Lost Songs: Twenty Three Persons - Something Colin Wore

Think of this as a semi-regular feature, that will go up when I've got to go away (I'm in London this time). It'll be songs that have gone so completely missing I've actually had trouble tracking them down. This track was so lost that the bassist (Stu Teece) refused to believe that I'd find any trace of the band on the Internet.

Described by said bassist as 80s skiffle, Twenty Three Persons took their name from the capacity of the lift in their halls at Wolverhampton Polytechnic. As much as 'Something Colin Wore' has dated somewhat, it still sounds much better than even members of the band might expect, and the video looks as professional as many others from the time, despite being filmed in a basement with pretty much no budget.

Plus, it's fun irreverent and catchy and there's little else you can ask for from indiepop.

I'll leave you with the blurb from Youtube, written by one of the band:
This is Twenty Three Persons who formed behind the asbestos walls of Wolverhampton Polytechnic. They played in the Feathers pub run by Colin and were paid with lemonade bottles full of beer. They bought a drumkit for £5 that used to be a cat's toilet. They recorded a session for £30 then cut 23 copies of a single and gave them away. Their friends made a video for them. Channel Four said they'd show it. They didn't.

PS: If anyone desperately wants an MP3 of this, contact me and I'll see what I can do

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Thomas Tantrum - Cold Gold

I know I'm bombarding you yet again, but there's so much fantastic music coming out right now that if I sat on this and gave it a deserved Track of the Week slot it'd be more than a week in the public realm and not only will you have already heard it, but there'd be something else that should also be Track of the Week and we'll be in a right mess.

Anyway, Thomas Tantrum are giving us another taster of their forthcoming second album. (You might remember the ace free download EP that the band put out just before Xmas being the first taster.) The album, which currently appears to be unnamed, is due out in the Summer on Stranger Records and from 'Cold Gold' sounds as though we're going to be seeing/hearing a more refined take on the Thomas Tantrum sound that we all love.

The scratchyness of the guitars has been wound down a bit here, meaning that although still plenty spiky 'Cold Gold' veers closer to being simply perfect pop than it does to anything too post-punky. In essence, what the Tantrum are doing seems to be updating the new wave template into something cool and contemporary.

Although this is going to sound as though I'm repeating myself here, along with fellow art-popsters The Answering Machine and Those Dancing Days, Thomas Tantrum are setting themselves up for a pretty ace follow-up to a debut album that I've got a lot of love for. This underground pop is exactly what's called for in our lives right now and there's a lot of ace bands fighting for our attention. Thomas Tantrum certainly deserve some of this.

Thomas Tantrum - Cold Gold by Music Week

Monday, 7 February 2011

Track of the Week: The Answering Machine - Lifeline

Long-time or regular readers of KPL will know that I've got a lot of love for The Answering Machine. First album Another City, Another Sorry was a delectable and varied set of pop rock treats that in a just world would have been taken to the hearts of many more people. However, indications suggest that second LP Lifeline is about to blow it, and all competition, out of the water.

A perfectly constructed pop song that's full of heart, the lead single/title track sees the fuzzy guitars toned down in order to provide more space for Gemma's melodic bass. The light and glimmering keyboards which flesh out 'Lifeline' provide a sonic link to The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, and deserves to gain The Answering Machine as many adoring followers.

It may be really early to predict these things, especially when we've not heard the full album, but providing The Answering Machine have packed Lifeline out with tracks as good as this and 'Animals' they could be on track for one of the very best albums of 2011.


**EDIT: You can now watch the video right here**

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Album Review: Chapel Club - Palace

Released: 31st January
Label: Polydor

London five-piece Chapel Club have made a wise choice in delaying their debut album until a year after they appeared on most people's radars. With 12 months of building up a solid live reputation and teasing us with a string of very strong singles they've already deflected the needless comparisons to supposed peers and '80s influences/genres.

With the word 'gloom' carrying connotations of a sonic link to White Lies, may now be the best time to disassociate Palace with the trend. In the feelings and swells of the record there's much more stronger comparison to British Sea Power than with Joy Division. With, what you imagine to be parallel influences deployed to similar effect, the BSP aesthetic and delicate manipulation of sound and emotion is transported from the rolling hills and wartime farmlands to the windswept and storm-lashed coastal towns.

It's a picture built up from the off, with intro 'Depths' giving away to stunning single 'Surfacing'. Sure, this is soon followed by the maelstrom of our old friend 'Five Trees', but glistening album mid-point 'The Shore' is the sonic calm eye of the storm. The lapping waves introduce a Phil Spector like pulse and breathtaking wall of sound that allows six minutes to fly by with throbs of sound that can't help but penetrate to the emotional core of the listener.

'White Knight Position' is a pacier cut that bridges the gap between BSP's 'Mongk II' and Editors 'Papillon'. Driving electronic and Krautrock rythms are beaten into a Chapel Club shape, with noticeable shoegaze noise (something that's a key element to the sound of Palace). The guitar walls and sonic wails front the pummeling drums and pulsating bass guitar as much as the crooning vocals of Lewis Bowman.

A personal highlight for me comes in the form of 'Blind', a song that's surely a future single. The album's best bassline straps onto a flow and melody that could have fitted quite happily amongst the best moments of Open Season. The rhythmic delivery of the lyrics “low slung and highly strung, she said “run with that”” create something quite majestic that maintains a presence long after the albums running time.

Bringing us neatly onto a marginally negative factor with the Chapel Club debut. Aside from 'Blind' there's little that resonates emotionally past the running time. While listening, especially on headphones or in a darkened room lit by passing traffic, it's very easy to get caught up in the emotive swells. But once the record stops little of it stays with you and there's not enough incentive to immediately press to repeat button.

Perhaps this comes down to the way Chapel Club have created their own intelligent and literate film-noir world of Eastern girls and furtive glances. It's a successful move and an evocative place, but one that's so sparsely populated it's currently little more than a dreamlike state. In the coming years as Chapel Club continue down the path they've set and populate their world with characters and musical landmarks we can hope that the dream becomes lucid. Until this time consider the Palace a location to escape to when the waking world is that bit too drab.

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

The Lovely Eggs - People Are Twats

I know I've said that I don't want to bombard you with too much music and that this video marks three in three days this week... but I thought you might like to hear another piece of wisdom from The Lovely Eggs.

At risk of overexposing them, this is the second track they're letting us see from their forthcoming second album Cob Dominos.

Don't worry if you're pressed for time, it's only just over a minute long

What do you think? Are people twats?

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Hold Your Horse Is

You like Hold Your Horse Is. Although… you may not actually know it yet.

Signed to Big Scary Monsters (need you any more recommendation?) they have tunes as awesome as their name. Unless you think Hold Your Horse Is is a rubbish name – in which case the tunes are actually lots more awesome and you're not.

If you're one to shy away from big crunchy riffs because yr not a fan of the growly vocal style that so often accompanies post-hardcore then keep reading – for HYHI are the band for you. Said riffs are as bludgeoning as anything that, say, Pulled Apart By Horses have come out with, but are accompanied by a much more indie-friendly vocal. Basically it's proper rock music that you can sorta dance to (providing you're not too fussed about how coordinated you are) and can definitely sing along to – thanks to the clear vocal.

Their brand new song and cameo-tastic video 'Forgive And Forget' hit the interwebs yesterday and you should really watch it right now.

It's also a free download from the bands website.

You should consider this a a full-on endorsement of Hold Your Horse Is. And something of an apology that they didn't make Track of the Week with 'Forgive And Forget'. Assume that at some point in the next few months they'll take the spot however.

If the above video's not enough for you then there's a bit of material available on their bandcamp for 'pay what you like', some stuff on Soundcloud and the shop has further goodies that you can purchase.


Whilst you're investigating them and Big Scary Monsters you should totally subscribe to the BSM '11 collection. It features 52 songs (one each week of the year) plus a free CD from a selection from the BSM catalogue. This week's track is from Walter Schreifels, the sometime frontman of post-hardcore heroes Rival Schools. It's fantastic.