Monday, 21 May 2012
It's the quiet ones you have to watch. Leeds-born Paul Thomas Saunders starts many of his songs with barely a whisper, a ghostly presence behind bewitching, electronica-filtered instrumentation, but as his songs unravel they pack the kind of emotional heat more celebrated voices have long since exhausted. He seems a suitably shy and retiring character too from what I've read of his interviews. The first track of his immersive EP, Descartes Highlands, The Trail Remains Unseen, is an exquisitely airy paean to youth and snapshots of memory, wrapped in sadness for what has past but intrigued by the possibilities of the future. Five minutes of utter sanctuary with Saunders' warm and aching voice leading you through the trees. There's no need for him to shout. We can do that for him.
The Trail Remains Unseen by Paul Thomas Saunders - listen on Spotify here.
Monday, 14 May 2012
I Belong In Your Arms by Chairlift - listen on Spotify here.
From: Something (2012)
Friday, 11 May 2012
Born of their shoegaze-obsessive club night at The Social in London, record label Sonic Cathedral has already released plenty of intriguing material but Dead Mellotron's new album Glitter might be the best yet. Ditching the showy complexity of some post-rock, Dead Mellotron go straight for the heart. Straightforwardly soaring riffs and unfussy atmospherics dominate, especially on the opening Stranger, a sun-drenched climb to a spacey comedown on the other side. With John Frazier's vocals barely audible, it's a little like Explosions In The Sky without the guitar frippery, a record to get lost in with just enough melodic directness to stir the senses when needed. Proving, as ever, that keeping it simple is often the best policy.
Stranger by Dead Mellotron - listen on Spotify here.
From: Glitter (2012)
Thursday, 10 May 2012
Witnessing a band on an obvious ascent to stardom can be a pretty breathtaking thing. The confidence, the ambition, the pursuit of rock and roll dreams about to come to glorious fruition. But most exciting of all is the realisation that their music has struck a chord so sweetly that it's impossible for others not to feel the same way. Seeing Howler in a small venue last night was the first time I recall that sense of anticipation since The Strokes in 2001. Songs straining at the leash to be heard by the masses, a band so immaculately attuned to each other's movements that it looks unerringly effortless. Of course The Strokes are a good reference point as This One's Different attests - fuzzed-out guitars, arrow-sharp melodies, a seductive insouciance - but Howler are a little more ragged, in obvious thrall to Seattle as well as New York and not quite as predestined to magazine covers. All of which makes them more lovable but no less effective when it comes to indie dancefloor thrills. Ones to watch in other words.
This One's Different by Howler - listen on Spotify here.
From: America Give Up (2012)
Wednesday, 9 May 2012
It's always a shock when someone you admire dies but reading a tweet about Adam Yauch's death on Friday night was real jolt. As lots of people have said since, something about the vitality and devilish delight in the Beasties' music makes it almost impossible not to think of the three of them B-boying their way around the 5 Boroughs forever more. And so to my favourite Beasties track. Of course there are tonnes to choose from but this is the one that I will forever associate with great nights out with mates, leaping around dirty dancefloors, and probably the first time I realised that hip hop wasn't all guns, drugs and Vanilla Ice. In the hands of the Beastie Boys it could be goofy, fun and still impossibly cool. More than anything theirs is a sound that makes you feel ten feet tall, an attitude and groove that you can't leave without a smile on your face.
Sure Shot by Beastie Boys - listen on Spotify here.
Friday, 4 May 2012
Down In The Woods by Richard Hawley - listen to The Guardian's stream here.
From: Standing At The Sky's Edge - out on Monday 7th May
Thursday, 3 May 2012
It's time to escape to the country, retreat back to nature, "A new start, try the simple life" as Damon Albarn put it on Country House. A move that Icelandic dreamers Of Monsters And Men would be well-placed to soundtrack. Having already garnered the tag "the new Arcade Fire" in the States, their widescreen folk certainly bears out some comparisons - foot-stomping heartiness, tub-thumping exultation - but Dirty Paws reminds me more of the gorgeous interlacing vocals of Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, songwriting that lives in its own space and time, seemingly unconcerned with the modern world. If you're inclined to flee urban life for a few minutes, this is the perfect departure point.
Dirty Paw by Of Monsters And Men - listen on Spotify here.
From: My Head Is An Animal - 2012