Friday, November 29, 2013

Postcode - the zebrATP EP

Long established Isle of Man band Postcode latest EP of zebracore is very fine indeed. Their first new music since 2010, the EP does all those wonderful alt-rock things like soar, shine and scorch and in plentiful quantities too. "Reds" and "Fairy hill" are glorious journeys through an atmospheric soundscape.

"Pavilion song" turns it up, waves of noise, its just brilliant. It has a retro 90s indie sound but also sounds back up to date. "Envy" is brooding and dangerous, exuding menace and erupting into slabs of guitar destruction. Its just amazing!

"Tregonwell" is sparser, folk-ier, then the previous tracks but also superb. Its a bit low-key but irresistible with it. "Sunfield" is noisy and thrashy, urgent and intense. Its slabs of noise underlie a terrific stomp of a song. Finally "Goodbye Minehead" is a bit of an emotional epic and the perfect way to end the EP.

I love it when you get sent an EP and YOU GET BLOWN AWAY when you listen to it. And i have been by Postcode, utterly fabulous.

Top 5 Records (November)

1) Emily Bindiger - Emily
2) Love - forever changes
3) Various artists - everything is fine (Filipino indiepop scene)
4) Brighter - demo recordings 1988-1990
5) The Ice Choir - afar

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Beatles - rubber soul (remastered)

Rubber Soul was one of the few Beatles albums i had bought before in the pre-mastered days (though i don't know whats happened to my old copy) and i remembered at the time i was a little disappointed with it. I think at the time i was a too little young to appreciate it, i wanted "I am the Walrus" and the like but really this is one of the best Beatles albums. One to truly appreciate now.

It was the last album before psychedelia began to feature in the fab four's music in any meaningful way but this a very modern album. Well crafted pop songs songs like "Drive my car" and music inventiveness like "Michelle" which is still one of my favourite Beatles songs of all.

Mostly though this album takes me back to the 1960s, or how i imagine it was (as i wasn't born). Listening to this album a few mornings ago in the car i drove up behind a Mark 1 Ford Cortina complete with fins. The feeling of nostalgia nearly overcome me.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Charlie Big Time - sale or return (Jigsaw EP)

Charlie Big Time's third EP released on Jigsaw Records has a warm and melancholic sound, delicate, multi-layered and rooted in fear, mystery and wonder. The sound of late city nights seen through a rain smeared window.

"A Sunday afternoon well spent" is simply wonderful, sounding like the closing credits of the best TV drama you never saw with its rich sound. The title track is more pared back and conveys joy through misery the way only indie pop can.

"Pitiful, delightful and alarming" has a feeling of fragile hope amid the hopelessness buried in the simple delicate melody. "From the cradle to the bar" closes a superb EP of melancholic pop joy.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Salient Braves - somewhere sordid (Dufflecoat EP)

The Salient Braves claim they are "purveyors of tuneful indiepop" so is that true? Oh yeah, classic indie guitar pop tunes abound here on this EP released on Dufflecoat (also available digitally). Title track "Somewhere sordid" ticks all the right boxes sonic wise and is a rollickingly good tune.

"I'm alright now" is a lovely pop song about being in a cult, brainwashing never sounded so cute. Great lyrics feature throughout this EP and coupled with an indie pop backing without pretensions you have the ingredients of a very good EP indeed.

"Out to lunch" is another fun indie thrash, there is a great cover of "Waterloo sunset" too. How the EP has been recorded is a lot behind it but listening to the Salient Braves you feel like they are playing in your kitchen (or car boot depending on where you are listening to the EP!) Its intimate and democratic pop music, light years away from... you know.

Anyway "Chance" finishes off the EP with another honest indiepop flourish. What a great EP!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Icona Pop - this is

The second album from the Swedish synth pop duo, and pretty pop-tastic it is too. Full of high octane high energy electro pop like the Chari XCX collaboration "I love it" (which has become a pretty big hit advertising phones and the like). It is the lead track and sets the scene for the album, noisy synth pop, dance beats, dual vocals. Its quite JPOP sounding in many ways especially on "We got the world" which reminds me a lot of JPN.

"All night" and "Light me up" have great pop hooks, though it does get a bit shrill at times. "On a roll" has some lovely retro synth beats.

Its got plenty of great tunes, stacks of great energy, but ultimately... its a bit empty. Its bubblegum and disposable, but fun with it.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Mumbly - mumblybule (Dufflecoat EP)

Mumbly was a pop band formed in Paris in the early 1990s by Michaël Korchia currently of Watoo Watoo. After releasing an album in the late 90s Mumbly began work on some new tracks... then split up and the tracks have remained unreleased and unfinished until... now! So what do Mumbly sound like? Well quite a classic 90s indie sound with jangly guitars and slightly detached and deadpan vocals. A well tried and well liked classic combination influenced by bands like Heavenly and The Smiths, and so well done here.

"1, 2, i lost you" is urgent and compelling with some lovely guitar work over and in the melody. "Run away" is a joyous jingly pop rush. "Picture of a lost friend" slows things down a lot and is a lot more atmospheric and builds into a superb pop song. "New luc" has a lovely acoustic driven vibe. "Troisième étage" is a twee pop masterpiece. Finally a home demo of "Winter" completes what is a superb EP of classic pop highs that is finally here after 15 years from first tracks to final mix!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Depeche Mode - speak and spell (Mute)

Hard electro gods nowadays but a lot more poppy when they released this, their debut album, back in 1981. Its a masterpiece, simple as that. A mixture of poppy thrills, lovely hooks and early electronic experiments, but in a good way. Some contemporary albums that explored what the new electronics and synths could do are largely unlistenable, this is not. Far from it. However its not perfect, being elevated by the excellent singles...

"New life" is a bit cloying though, it has some nice bleeps and melodies but the vocals and chorus are a bit insipid. Lets move onto "Puppets", now this is a fantastic song. It still has the poppy sound but an undercurrent of darkness, the grim edge of the early 80s synth soundscape. Its the sound of being trapped in TRON forever, endlessly de-ressed by a techno-fascist madman.

The song that follows it "Boys say go!" is hard to define, its a poppy mash thats both annoying and intriguing in equal measure. "Whats your name?" is similar, at first listen its a bit throwaway but the ambiguity is appealing. The singles "Just can't get enough" and "Dreaming of me" (their debut single) are among the album's highlights, solid pop tracks. The latter has always been one of my favourite DM tracks, raw untidy synths promising so much, which was delivered too. The version on my album is the extended cold end version with its slightly haywire ending, excellent. Maybe this is an album of good singles tracks and the odd track highlight like "Puppets", a bit unfair but some of the album tracks are a bit unmemorable. But when the singles are so good who cares?

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Franny & Zooey - bananafish (Dufflecoat EP)

Franny & Zooey is an indie pop band from the Dominican Republic, have just released a CDEP on Dufflecoat Records and they sound like this: jingle jangle indie pop with heavy 60s influences, they sound great then! "Things I know" has surf-esque guitar edges and a juicy pop melody, coupled to lyrics of menace. A great if mysterious and fun combination.

"Fool of myself" is a nice ballad with a classic girl pop feel and lovely guitar work. "Ex lovers" is very retro surfy rock and roll in feel. The song itself is of losing love, it would sound perfect while sat at a table at a retro disco everyone else dancing apart from you.

"Paola y José" is more upbeat and is a joyous pop treat. Finally "Like in the movies" has a spacey retro guitar line, being quite laid back its different from the rest of the EP but a great way to end this lovely selection of songs.