Sunday, April 01, 2007

In shops tomorrow: 2/4

Singles

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the future. Not one of the four singles physically released this week we've picked out for special mention is available on CD. They're all top notch, though, so you'll just have to buy a record player. Let's assume that, because you know what's good for you, everyone reading already has Keep The Car Running on Neon Bible and get that out of the way first. Can jigsawesque spasmodic ultrarhythmic math-rock gain crossover potential? Well, no, obviously, but in certain parallel worlds Battles' Atlas sounds like a radio friendly unit shifter with its Suzi Quatro beat and actual groove, albeit with chipmunk vocals, off the cuff complex interplay like tectonic plates rubbing together, electronic undercurrent and as a coda what seem to be multiple time signatures playing at the same time, giving the effect of Rubik's Animal Collective. You should hear the seven minute album version. When they first emerged the aforereferenced Arcade Fire were occasionally compared to a vocalised version of the post-rock scene that grew up around but independently of them in Montreal. If they'd actually hung out with GY!BE and the like they might have ended up sounding like The Strange Death Of Liberal England, who are actually from Portsmouth but blend the Fire's high church rabble-rousing with post-shoegazing loud dynamism. Even though they won some sort of Best New Band For 2006 competition on Drowned In Sound we believe A Day Another Day is their mightily promising debut release. What with being involved, however tangentially, in most of the decent stuff coming out of Brighton since their last album in 2003 Alex and Tom White's proper job, the Electric Soft Parade, has fallen behind in the public conscious somewhat, but the late 2005 Human Body EP was a slow-burning wonder and the garage-Grandaddy of If That's The Case Then I Don't Know would be all over the place if released by a new band.

Albums

Lots to get through here, most notably a band we're wondering about. More specifically, we're wondering what's happened between Maximo Park and the NME after this week's hatchet job (they headlined the NME tour last year, remember) Our Earthly Pleasures is the sound of the jittery, nervous energy band who made the still return-worthy A Certain Trigger growing into their musical skins - it needs more listens to fully sink in than their debut did (and as we mentioned at the time, that one requires three or four to fully understand what's being aimed at) but this is Doolittle Gil Norton behind the desk rather than Dashboard Confessional/Morningwood Norton, for all the odd attempted evolution into a daytime anthem property, albeit very much still on their own terms. Lyrically strong too. Give it time if you don't quite get it yet. Modest Mouse's We Were Dead Before The Ship Even Sank is, ridiculously, number one on the Billboard chart this week (Johnny Marr's moment in the sun almost completely ignored by a British press pack observing Joss Stone at two, naturally), and again it requires time to grow on you, a more direct, charged, Talking Headsy effort than previously that for all the hoopla probably won't go down as a career high but certainly doesn't buckle under the weight of post-Float On expectations. Low wrongfooted everyone last time out with The Great Destroyer's expansion sound, and Alan and Mimi have taken another turning on Drums And Guns, building those dark, slow melodies on electronic loops and adding personal/political statements on top while bringing back some of the minimalist tendencies of old. Not an easy listen, but certainly interesting enough as a signpost on their ever evolving sound. So what happened to Fields? At the turn of the year their folk-Curve angle meant they were all over the lists of Bands Most Likely To In 2007, yet here we are on the eve of Everything Last Winter, produced by the eclectic swoopsonic excellence of Michael Beinhorn, and it's all gone quiet. yourcodenameis:milo should by rights have been in place to capitalise on the newfound bankability of twisted post-hardcore but, having got the all-star experiment Print Is Dead out of their systems, second album They Came From The Sun shows they've always been too raw and genre-experimental a proposition to really cash in, although they're about to support Enter Shikari on tour. The luminous flashing ring kids won't get it. Photogenic sisters The Pierces have a unique way around electro-gothic cabaret acidic bubblegum folkpop, as an act with that description might well, and if Thirteen Tales of Love And Revenge doesn't quite manage to make it stick there's plenty of future room for manoevure. There's a lot of inspired retro referencing this week: Panda Bear of Animal Collective's third solo outing Person Pitch sounds like a modernist take on Smile-era Beach Boys and will win itself a cult audience; Wild Billy Childish And The Musicians Of The British Empire is Childish's quintillionth persona under which he and friends deliver angry primal garage rock, this time calling the collection Punk Rock At The British Legion Hall; Sister Vanilla is Linda Reid enlisting brothers Jim and William, on speaking terms for the first time since the Jesus & Mary Chain's messy 1998 demise and playing a handful of festivals with members of Lush and Ride backing them up, and Little Pop Rock sounds inevitably scuzzy and detached. Another hard living, black-clad avatar of a certain sort of scuffed up rock'n'roll, Mark Lanegan, provides vocals on two thirds of the excellently titled It's Not How Far You Fall, It's the Way You Land by eclectic comedown beatmakers Soulsavers, bringing with him a swathe of country, soul and gospel influences to an already fairly noir claustrophobic palette. Seasick Steve's back pages work in a slightly different way - after a life that includes associating with everyone from Lightnin' Hopkins to the Beach Boys via John Lee Hooker, Son House, Joni Mitchell, Mike Nesmith and Bikini Kill, now in his sixties he's gone back to his first love of Mississippi hobo blues on a set of homemade understringed instruments. Cheap, featuring The Level Devils, was actually released domestically in 2004 but this is its first time here. Now, how worrying is it when your musical development starts turning into major anniversaries and special reissues? Bis are playing three reunion shows this week to commemorate ten years since the release of the album we bought ourselves as an exam completion carrot, The New Transistor Heroes, and through Data Panik, BB3B and the Powerpuff Girls their Manga'n'glitter signifiers remained a diamond in the rough of Britpop's dregs for many. We Are Bis From Glasgow, Scotland (it says 9th there and no two sources seem to agree on whether it's this or next week, but we'll stick with this week for now) is their first best of, with an additional DVD. There's a certain kind of music journalist who'll tell you that Prefab Sprout's Steve McQueen is an all-time classic, and to an extent you can see their point, Paddy McAloon's literate songwriting given timeless production by the hitherto thought timelocked Thomas Dolby. It's now graduated to Legacy Edition status and grown recently recorded acoustic versions of eight of the album's tracks.

Books

The great polymath of music production, Brian Eno rarely explains himself as much as tries to explain how he's attempting to fit in with everything else. A Year with Swollen Appendices, part 1995 diary, part collection of essays and short stories, it's endlessly fascinating and is back out for its tenth anniversary with a new explanatory foreword and notes from Eno.

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