With new album Take Care, Take Care, Take Care released on April 18th on Bella Union, Chimpomatic favourites Explosions in the Sky have released their first preview of the album. The track Trembling Hands is more direct than much of the band's previous work ...and provides a taster of what to expect next month. I for one, cannot wait.
Oh My God, Charlie Darwin
At some point in their fledgling careers all 'man with guitar' outfits will have to bear reference to the 'man with guitar' master. If there's one aspect of His Bobness that Bella Union's The Low Anthem emulate, it is the sense of an old 'all seeing' soul in a young man's body. Long before the mundanity of a youth in a simple mining town was discovered by biographers and used against him by 'Judas' shouting fanatics Dylan created a myriad of myths about his upbringing. The 'ho-bo on a train' and 'circus performer on the run' personas that Dylan invented for himself created a mystique that allowed the listener to accept a wisdom that defied his tender years. Though technically 'two men with guitars', The Low Anthem have something of that sort of quality; with a philosophy that seeps from their music suggesting many years on a Kerouacian road. This comforting suspension of disbelief is a joy that makes The Low Anthem so enchanting; it would be a shame if it was shot to pieces by revealing that it is all just cut and pasted by 21st century teenagers with access to folk pages on wikipedia.
In terms of the actual sound and feel of The Low Anthem it is not the original Dylan that springs to mind, but rather the original 'new Dylan'; Bruce Springsteen. One always gets the sense that at heart The Boss is really the boy from New Jersey who got a union card and wedding coat for his 19th birthday rather than being born to run. Its not that The Low Anthem sound like Springsteen rather that they sound what a young Bruce might have sounded like if he had carried on along Thunder Road in search of America rather than getting bogged down with 'debts that no honest man can pay' down in Asbury Park and Atlantic City. Embarking from Rhode Island they must have hit the Midwest built a bonfire and larked about with a banjo, stopped off in the Appalachian mountains for a hill-billy hoe down, howled at the moon like the Boss's hero Tom Joad out on the dusty prairies, soaked up some Blue Grass in the Georgian swamps and been lifted by the sound of Spiritiuals in the deep south. 'Oh My God, Charlie Darwin', The Low Anthem's second album, is all of these things, with moments akin to a melancholic Bruce rocking gently alone on a porch or rollicking good times with the E Street Band in tow.
If your idea of great music is a band in a basement, then I dare say you'll love 'Oh My God, Charlie Darwin' and wish you'd been out on the road with the two men with guitars. If it isn't, then you'll probably be happy to book a last minute package and be glad that at no stage were you subjected to hotel lobby music that sounded in any way like 21st century Americana. The Low Anthem are the latest in a lineage from Woody Guthrie through Tom Waits and the Boss - who all the while manage to sound timeless.Read more 4 star reviews
Wavves is the solo project of San Diego's Nathan Daniel WIlliams and that's the simple part. This is his second full length release, the first came out earlier this year and was self titled and featured the song Wavves, which was one of the best songs on the album. Both records have as their cover image, a faded photograph of a kid on a skateboard in his backyard and both will fix your head in a homemade vice but you'll love every minute of it.
Much like its front cover which features a kid attempting a drop-in off a wheelbarrow in the 70's, the debut record was pumped full of hazy nostalgia, disaffected youth rebellion, boyish reverie and was all churned out with the same DIY scuzz that you'd expect from a wheelbarrow drop-in. This follow-up features a more zoomed in shot of the same kid but this time he's found an actual ramp and it's possible to see a link between these two visual differences. They both thrash uncontrollably between slacker-punk and twisted surf-rock, they're both shrouded in red-line production and they're both pretty damn gnarly but this followup is more focused, more fluid and much like the difference between a wheelbarrow and a ramp when it comes to skateboarding this one is way more fun.
He's got himself a drummer on this new record and it makes a big difference. Together they scoop up the sticky floor-muck that is left behind after your average punk gig and recycle it back into music. Incorporating elements of Sonic Youth, Nirvana, the Beach Boys and contemporaries like No Age and Sic Alps, Williams masterfully evokes every musical and social teenage experience I can remember and filters it all through claustrophobic production. The two most obvious central anthems are So Bored and No Hope Kids. Both illustrate Williams' knack for crafting perfect pop hooks and melodies and then burying it all under a ton of feedback and general punk noise. They clatter around as if directionless but even in their most abrasive spells the pop element is always adhered to. I use that word 'Pop' with some pretty heavy inverted commas around it, but in this context it represents direction, be that melody or rhythm. Everything possible is done to submerge this element but it ends up carrying most of these songs to their successful conclusion.
To sum up, may I use the Paris Hilton vernacular and call Wavves my NFB (New Favorite Band) This title has been awarded for some pretty base level reasons. Williams makes proper punk rock that while doused in the contemporary trend of red-line production hollers with teenage nostalgic abandon and instantly takes me back to sunny days spent hating the world and dropping-in off wheelbarrows. Good times.Read more 4 star reviews
‘Ohbijou’ (literally ‘Oh, jewel!) is a sparkling confection crafted by Canadian singer Casey Mecija and her 6-strong ensemble. 'This is what an album would sound like if it were made by your girlfriend...' was my friend’s response to a selection of songs from ‘Beacons’. Further interrogation elicited this description of his generic, ‘Girlfriend’; a sort of anti-‘Weird-Science’ concoction whose DNA profile reads ‘Highly-strung victim of Romance Trauma’. I guess he might have been picking up on the weary sighs and wistful instrumentation which give the music of ‘Ohbijou’ a low-fi, mournful sincerity.
I’m more of the opinion that this is what an album would sound like if your girlfriend were an elf. An elf, in fact, with a penchant for the songs of Feist and Kate Bush. Casey Mecija deploys a gnomic voice whose unusual timbre and fragility ultimately charmed me. Top tracks ‘Cliff Jumps’ and ‘Cannon March’ work a nice exchange between synth and strings; cellos, mandolins and keyboard. You are never quite sure what Casey is singing about but apparently she ‘pens songs wrought with the Romantic afflictions of big city life’. What I heard were alternately cheerful melodies, with bounce and verve, fine instrumentation and a gentle sparkle.
Less successful when emulating the building, orchestral crescendos of Arcade Fire, ‘Beacons’ is, for the most part, delicately spun and moving. I suspect Casey’s boyfriend isn’t worried.
Read more 3 star reviews
I first encountered Vetiver whilst trying to catch some sleep on an overnight flight. Within two songs of 2006 album ‘To Find Me Gone’, I was tranquilised into as peaceful a state as it is possible to achieve whilst contorted into your economy seat.
Vetiver’s sound is a gentle, acoustic collective of guitar, piano and percussion. Their new album, ‘Tight Knit’, follows the template previously established; simple songs flavoured by a West coast breeziness reflecting the band’s San Francisco home. There is an undercurrent of hippy carelessness that charms without ever choking you on flower petals.
‘Tight Knit’ is a lovely album, layered with tumbling guitar riffs and vocal harmonies that kick credit crunch blues into the long grass. Achieving this without ever being saccharine is impressive. With the added tonic of cheerful, upbeat interludes like ‘Everyday’, Vetiver leave you as refreshed as a morning dip off the coast of Big Sur.
Read more 4 star reviews
Vacilando Territory Blues
The smart money's currently on band leader Robin Pecknold to excel beyond the Fleet Foxes, but with a whopping six solo albums now under his belt, new arrival J Tillman could well turn out to be the Neil Young of the band - especially when one of his albums is already titled "Long My You Run, J Tillman" - presumably after the mildly lesser-known Neil Young / Stephen Stills album.
Admittedly, some of those 6 albums are low-key, digital only releases - and in fact this record was released some months back in digital formats. Presumably thanks to to the break out success of Fleet Foxes, it's now getting an old school release via the same folks over at Bella Union.
As the drummer, Josh Tillman's contibution to Fleet Foxes may not be too obvious, as it's fair to say they are very much a group performance - all contributing to the full and harmonious sound. However, with the heavy harmonies pushed out of the limelight here, there's a focus on the writing and delivery of a single man. Tillman shows his skills at the front of house, writing, producing and generally playing most of the instruments - in an album that is both melancholic and uplifting.
It's an inconsistent record, maintaining a very eclectic vibe - which is certainly part of the charm. The brass tinged stomp of New Imperial Grand Blues is raw and raucous, No Occasion is sparse and simple, while James Blues offers something a little different through it's delicate piano arrangement - but all are tied together by Tillman's strained vocals. However, without the deliberately sparse atmospherics and continuity of purpose that similar acts have employed (Bon Iver, guilty), the album is a little lost and lacks some of the pace and engagement of Fleet Foxes. While there is little to complain about, there's few big stand-outs - but approached on it's own terms there's plenty to enjoy.Read more 3 star reviews
It's not just J Tillman that's got a Fleet Foxes side-project on the go, front man Robin Pecknold has a myspace page up for his new project A White Antelope. Quite a weird blend of medieval imagery and chit chat stolen from Lost.
Apparently it's going to be a place for cover versions and what not, and one of the tracks up at the moment (False Knight On The Road) appears on Bella Union's recent deluxe edition of Fleet Foxes - along with all the tracks from the excellent Sun Giant EP.
In recent years there has been an endless stream of male singer/songwriters oozing out gentle melodies plucked from delicate guitars and swirling with rich, textural strings and I'm quite honestly bored of the lot of them. Andrew Bird, however, provides exactly what i've just described but has always stood head and shoulders above the rest. His 2007 album Armchair Apocrypha won him critical acclaim across the board and topped many 'best of' lists that year. It was the album that lifted his sound way above his previous work and uncovered a wealth of ideas that had until then remained relatively unexplored. Noble Beast does however return somewhat to the earlier, less flamboyant sound of albums like Weather Systems. It's much more subdued in both tone and scale compared to Armchair Apocrypha but like all his work it is filled with warmth and a musical texture that surpasses most.
As a multi-instrumentalist, Bird meticulously constructs the densest musical backgrounds and Noble Beast excels in this area. With some of the skyward intentions toned down here compared to 2007 each song is given the time and space to explore this multi-layered and rich texture. This beauty is seen from the very first note. Opener Oh No introduces this record with Birds trademark whistles and assumes a rather jovial, jaunty tempo while dealing with the theme of pure terror. Inspired by a flight he took while sat next to a wailing child Bird says of the experience "I was struck by the mournfulness of this kid's wail. He just kept crying 'Oh no' in a way that only someone who is certain of their own demise could." And here lies the dichotomy in Birds work and one of the many answers to my earlier question of why he stands so proud of his singer/songwriter piers. Musically this album drips with cosy warmth and yet features some of his most deranged lyrical content ever. Stories of kittens with pleurisy and grown men living inside his body Bird creates here a work of infinitely evolving detail.
This record has some of the longest songs he's ever made. At over six and a half minutes Masterswarm frequently changes direction and with the luxury of time manages to drift off into blissful instrumental segments ultimately fading out to the sound of the rhythmic handclap beat as filtered through an effects program that could be from the Thom Yorke portfolio. Many of these songs feature Bird's enthusiasm for subtle experimentation such as this. Not A Robot, But A Ghost has some gloriously intricate and homemade percussion as its rhythm section that morphs with twitchy laptop beats to form a driving swarm of rhythm that propels the song along at a pace that the afore mentioned Thom Yorke would be proud to call his own.
Recorded partly in Nashville and partly at the Wilco Loft in Chicago this record couldn't fail to be a triumph, and a triumph it certainly is. It's slow burning but its depths are unfathomable at this early stage. It's a worthy follow up to 2007's impressive work and features some of this artists finest compositions. Some of them are so perfect they are in danger of being consumed by the advertising monsters but the ones that escape this pitfall will stick with you for a very long time.Read more 4 star reviews
If Vampire Weekend sound like a bunch of private school kids who lace their tales of life on campus with the exotic sounds of their worldwide travels then Abe Vigoda are their less fortunate counterparts from the state school downtown who too embarked on journeys to far off lands but decided to quit school and stay there. While there they became ensconced in the local cultures and were in turn shielded from any notion of cool and their musical need to make loud noises was bathed in age-old, sun-baked traditions, this being the result.
Since their debut Kid City, Abe Vigoda have forged their own route to musical notoriety and in the process have stumbled haphazardly across what can only be described as 'tropical punk.' Hailing from L.A. Abe Vigoda are a four piece that vacate the emerging scene that surrounds the Smell club and along with contemporaries like Mika Miko and No Age are causing quite a stir with their complete musical abandon that comes at you like a black hole that, having sucked in so many musical genres is now spewing them all out the back end in a form so unrecognisable it's thrilling.
Kid City was this band's warning shot, emerging from their camp with abrasion and venom, and having got everyone's attention has paved the way for Skeleton. Skeleton is certainly less abrasive and as a result gives room to the myriad of elements that make up their sound. Having said that it still packs a punch and though the teeth have been filed down slightly it still aims to dominate completely. From the opening moments of Dead City/Waste Wilderness there is little let up as each song is jettisoned with reckless ease. Guitarists Michael Vidal and Juan Velazquez fire off punk ditties that manage to embody their surroundings of either the steel drum of the Caribbean or the gentle melodies of South America. The mix of the hard punk sound with the warmth of these two distant elements is instantly jarring but electrifying none the less. Neither sits well together and with the under production of Vidal's muffled and inaudible vocals this should, in a sane world, be pure noise. But thank God this world is anything but sane.
Skeleton is an album very much unaware of its surroundings in musical terms but all too aware in creative and geographical terms. Unlike with their debut, Abe Vigoda have paced this album perfectly and allowed just enough space to infiltrate their 'blanket' pace to keep the listener interested. Kid City came at us like a record with so much to say and not enough time but Skeleton has more maturity but still manages to retain the sketch-book like spontaneity of their original sound. In a year where Vampire Weekend's debut and No Age's Nouns have unexpectedly delighted my hungry ears it seems all too perfect that Skeleton should fall between the two. The record rolls along like a ball of knotted shoe laces which makes it very difficult to pull out and separate individual elements - but if you stop trying and just appreciate the knot as a whole you'll see it's a pretty amazing thing.Read more 3 star reviews
Hailing from Seattle, 5 piece Fleet Foxes have been causing quite a stir locally and while Sub Pop have long been Seattle's finest they thankfully they stuck to their "only sign bands from Seattle" code to snap up this band - as let's face it, that's a code that has seen more than a few happy exceptions recently (The Shins, Postal Service, Oxford Collapse, Flight of the Conchords (!?)).
Using heavy precussion, multiple vocals and a giant dollop of campfire guitar acoustics, Fleet Foxes gently rustle up an epic granduer that you often won't see coming. Everybody's talking about the Crosby, Stills & Nash sound that the band have, but it's just as valid to compare them to contempories like My Morning Jacket and label-mates Band of Horses - as all rely heavily on a powerful voice to carry the dense, sophisticated music. While there's a definite nostalgia to Fleet Foxes, it never seems like pastiche or parody - just fun, passionate music, with a depth and quality way beyond the band's slender years.
Thankfully there's a healthy dose of Young in that Crosby, Stills and Nash sound and while the hymnal harmonies might be the obvious USP here it's the rockier numbers that have grabbed my attention. The sweeping guitars of Ragged Wood build in beautiful climbing chords, while the pounding drums and keyboard provide the backing for a grand narrative on Your Protector. Thanks to more examples on the Sun Giant EP (English House and Mykonos in particular) it seems clear that this is an element that has plenty of room for development within the band.
For a debut album this is a pretty stellar release and you can only hope that things are going to get even better from this band. Fantastic.Read more 4.5 star reviews
Rough Trade East are pleased announce another exclusive DJ set, this time from Seattle 5 piece Fleet Foxes. If you haven't heard of the Fleet Foxes yet its only a matter of time until you do, they've been turning heads in the industry for a while now. Their debut self titled album on Bella Union is released 9th May, they have a baroque harmonic pop folk sound that takes you back to the heady days of Crosby, Stills & Nash. It a great chance to meet the band whilst listening to them DJ some of their favourite tracks & influences, as if thats not enough you'll even have a chance to listen to their new album that comes complete with a Rough Trade exclusive bonus disc with unreleased tracks.
Fleet Foxes have snuck in the back door and on to the Song Of The Day playlist with their track Your Protector, which channels My Morning Jacket and CSN in equal measures. Their Sun Giant EP provides a taste of what's coming from their excellent debut - which is out in a couple of weeks on Sub Pop in the US and Bella Union in the UK. What a CV.
With hazy lyrics, church organs, tambourine and triangle chimes, slide guitars and narcotic vocals the obvious comparison to be made on first listening to Devotion by Baltimore boy/girl duo Beach House is with Mazzy Star. Hand over a basket of dough, cheese, tomato and red meat to an American and they'll cook you a hamburger whilst an Italian will conjure up a pizza. In much the same way Beach House have managed to cook up a sound all of their own even if they have thrown the same ingredients into the mixing bowl. Where Mazzy Star are dusk, Beach House are the dawn. Hope Sandoval sings in tones of a last seduction or a siren calling ships to crash on the rocks but Devotion is the sound of waking on the beach in the moment between sleep and conciousness. The tranquil waves lapping on the shore herald news that the storm has passed.
Mazzy Star might well be the obvious reference point but there are more strings to the Beach House bow. The production on the likes of Wedding Bell is a salute to Brian Wilson and Pet Sounds, Gila is a respectful nod to Mercury Rev's Deserter's Songs and Astronaut has echoes of the Ronnette's singing Be My Baby. Thanks to a frazzled 2007 I failed to contribute to Chimpomatic's 'best of' list for 2007. Had I done so then my nomination for album of the year would have been Can't Go Back by Papercuts. If the bed-fellows are a reflection of the lover then the fact that Beach House are currently on a extensive North American tour with Papercuts comes as the highest recommendation.
If you like this kind of thing then you'll love Devotion, but if it's not your usual bag then it should at least be added to your library for Sunday morning come downs or lazing in hammocks outside your summer holiday Beach House. In a word it is - dreamy.
This year's list is out. Good to see Bella Union getting some credit.
Bat for Lashes - Fur and Gold
Fionn Regan - The End of History
New Young Pony Club - Fantastic Playroom
Klaxons - Myths of the Near Future
The Young Knives - Voices of Animals and Men
Arctic Monkeys - Favourite Worst Nightmare
Maps - We Can Create
The View - Hats Off to the Buskers
Dizzee Rascal - Maths + English
Amy Winehouse - Back to Black
Jamie T - Panic Prevention
Basquiat Strings - Basquiat Strings with Seb Rochford
Just in from Bella Union:
I sincerely regret to inform you that due to serious illness in one of EITS' families, the band will be cancelling all tour dates starting today (May 9) through to September 1st 2007. This means that EITS? following UK appearances have been cancelled?
19 May ? SOMERSET ? ATP, 10 July ? LONDON ? Royal Festival Hall, 11 July ? MANCHESTER ? Academy, 12 July ? BRIGHTON ? Concorde, 13 July ? SUFFOLK ? Latitude, 14 July ? GLASGOW ? Indian Summer
The Kissaway Trail
It is a phenomenon of the music business that for every great band they discover music lovers have to suffer a wave of mediocrity trailing in their hero's wake. For every Stone Roses there is a Flowered Up, for every Oasis there follows a Northern Uproar, for every Blur there is a Menswear swimming in the slipstream, for every Nirvana a Stone Temple Pilots, for every Kylie in the spotlight there lurks a Lisa Scott Lee in the shadows…. you get the picture. Is it that these bands strive to replicate a formula that is proven to bring success and acclaim or just that record companies actively seek out sound-a-likes of the big buzz band of the moment? I’m not sure, but we can all recall the process; the NME big up this new band and mates pass on a copy of the album like pushers of illegal substances. ‘Go on, you loved Nirvana/Oasis so you’ll definitely love these lot, go on give it a try, go on.’ You’re initially willing to believe that these new lot will be the bona fide real deal before the excitement of the scene dies down and time confirms that they are little more than cheap tribute acts. To the pantheon of such acts can now be added the name of the Danish group The Kissaway Trail. This is a band that will be pushed to you on the basis that ‘if you loved Arcade Fire, you’ll love this lot, go on give it a try, go on….’
Except here’s the thing, The Kissaway Trail are not Arcade Fire. That’s all well and dandy of course, lots of good acts aren’t but the problem lies in the fact that though they may sound similar to the Canadian maestros of the moment, the album they’ve produced is just not particularly good. The Kissaway Trail certainly check all the right boxes. Urgent percussion, tick. Lush strings, tick. Soaring choruses, tick. But they don’t work together in a way that one would expect. It is like mixing ingredients in a bowl and expecting to pull a nicely risen wholemeal farmhouse loaf from the oven only to find that it is actually white Nan bread. Maybe for a debut album comparisons with established acts are harsh but as the Kissaway Trail are trading on them it is only fair to make a few. Tracy with its premature climax lacks the stamina and passion of Arcade Fire, Smother+Evil=Hurt fails to reach the dizzying heights of euphoria the Polyphonic Spree are tuned into and La La Song could do with an extra sprinkling of the Flaming Lips genuine, rather than expedient, eccentricity. This collection of songs all feels just a little too contrived and frankly boring.
Word is that the Kissaway Trail rock on stage, and they certainly have a few tricks up their sleeve offering some promise of a bright future if only they can find their own distinct sound. They certainly aren’t as lame as Menswear or desperate as Lisa Scott Lee but though the NME might currently tell you differently the fear remains that the Kissaway Trail could end up being remembered in the same bracket as Northern Uproar, Stone Temple Pilots and the like.
To celebrate their tenth anniversary, London's superb Bella Union record label are putting on a couple of special shows, featuring most of their current rosta of artists:
Tuesday 10th July – London – Royal Festival Hall featuring:
Explosions In The Sky, Howling Bells, My Latest Novel, Beach House
Wednesday 11th July – London – Royal Festival Hall featuring:
Midlake, The Dears, The Kissaway Trail, Stephanie Dosen
Tickets: £20, £15
0871 663 2500
Check out their excellent compilation series Beneath The Surface for the low down on the label's band.
Bella Union's new boys The Kissaway Trail have a new single and video out - Smother + Evil = Hurt. The video involves a lot of spinning.
Pepe Deluxe serve up a dose of lo-fi fun with Pussy Cat Rock.
Shameless give us a quick does of "Your name's not down..... " etc with No Hats, No Trainers.
All Of A Sudden I Miss Everyone
Texan band Explosions in the Sky are apparently some kind of phenomenon. The word of mouth marketing surrounding the band has probably already crossed your path - but if not here are a few facts:
Their songs regularly run on past 7 minutes.
They have no vocalist.
Their 4th album finds the band still on a small indie label (Bella Union)
They sold of London's Koko with the only publicity being a mention on their website
The band use slow building drums and a huge range of guitar sounds construct complex musical landscapes, which grow and evolve before unleashing in a torrent of heavy pounding drums and dueling guitar solos - and on this album the piano is often a key player, particularly on What Do You Go Home To?, which could easily have been the soundtrack to a Michael Mann shoot-out.
While bands like Mogwai have often claimed this style as their own, for me they are frequently distracted by bleeps and twitches, with songs often never quite developing like they threaten too. That is never the case here - with multiple moments of unrestricted release making this one of the most passionate and engaging instrumental albums I have heard in quite some time. It would be hard to singe out specific tracks, and there is certainly very little on here that could work as a single. This is a very much an album which is to be listened to as a complete piece of work. Often structured like a classical symphony, there are multiple moments of repeat, refrain and reprise, making this very rewarding listening which has a comforting warmth and familiarity to it.
Apparently they rock live, and it's not hard to believe - undoubtedly whipping up a lighting storm of volume and feedback of epic proportions, transforming their music into a living, breathing monster. For me however, this the kind of music I like to listen too to put me to sleep. Not because it is boring. Not because it is quiet - which it frequently isn't. Because it is so flowing, passionate, emotional and moving that it is thoroughly engaging, and listening to it focuses my thoughts, allows me to relax and ultimately leaves me happy and exhausted. Brilliant.
Bella Union (the label behind Midlake, Explosions In The Sky, Howling Bells etc) have signed another new act - The Kissaway Trail from Odense, Denmark. Billed by the press as “Arcade Fire meets Sigur Ros”...but Bella Union reckon they have a sound of their own. We'll have a review when we get a copy.
Listen to Smother + Evil = Hurt here.
Domino's new electro-Braziliana band Bonde Do Role have a single out called Solta O Frango. See the video on You Tube / Windows / Real / Quicktime.
The single is released on 19th March. An album Bonde Do Role With Lasers follows on the 4th June.
Howling Bells have a new video for their single Low Happening. Bella Union's most pricey video to date., directed by Dan Sully: Windows / Quicktime.
Single out March 5th.
This distinctly English sounding band (a la The Sundays) are surprisingly Australian - with a heavy dose of inspiration do doubt coming from the Throwing Muses school of early 90's, pre-nirvana indie. Their soulful Indie Blues (a term I'm coining now - TM) is immediately engaging, and with Kirsten Hersh and Tanya Donnely back in business, former Cocteau Twin Simon Raymonde's Bella Union have obviously decided to pre-empt a 4AD revival. Break out the maroon Doc Marten's - this is great stuff.Read more 3 star reviews
London Indie label Bella Union (home of favourites Bikini Atoll and Midlake amongst others) are running a contest to get a video made for epic Texan rock band Explosions In The Sky.
We're looking for fans and budding young directors to make a video for the amazing song "Welcome, Ghosts" taken from EITS new album "All of a Sudden I Miss Everyone".
The winner will receive the new vinyl album of "All of a Sudden I Miss Everyone", plus two tickets for an EITS concert of your choice and the chance to meet with the band.
Check out www.myspace.com/eitsvideo for conditions and rules - but it sounds good to us - if only as a reason to listen to the song non-stop for a few days while running around with a video camera.
First up, a nicely synced perfromance video from Goose:
Low Mode - Out 19th Feb on Skint.
'Possibly THE dance track of the summer' - DAILY STAR
And then a slice of classic-90's-indie-style rock from Howling Bells:
Low Happening - Out March 5th on Bella Union
"Blues-noir desolation" - MOJO
Robert Gomez is a singer songwriter from Denton, Texas. There must be something in the water there, as Gomez is the 5th Denton signing to London's Bella Union Records - following on from Life To Experiance, Jetscreamer, Mandarin and Midlake, who he supported in London in last month.
Title track Closer Still uses a punchy, driving bass line which fills out with strings and even a bit of brass to end up as a rich, textured epic. Gomez' low voice has a smoky, restrained power to it - and the arrangements of tracks like She's A Dog often bring to mind 70's Tom Waits. Pretty much every instrument you can imagine pops up somewhere - strings, brass, even a Xylophone, and while that adds a lot to the sound, occasionally the arrangements seem too large for Gomez' voice.
Shaky Tom Waits comparisons aside, Gomez' sound and voice are best compared to indie veteran Elliot Smith, and his distinctive voice works just as easily with sparse arrangements such as the closer When They Were So Brave, although the less distinguished Stuck Inside provides a hesitant note that sometimes sparse just isn't enough.
There's range and breadth in the song writing here, and Closer Still provides a tasty taste of what we can expect when new album Brand New Towns arrives in January 2007.