Slim pickings this week, led by the much vaunted James Chapman, AKA Maps. He's been getting a lot of attention for his bedroom electronic warmth, It Will Find You somewhere in the room vacated by the Postal Service, Spiritualized and nu-shoegaze, if that really exists as a genre yet. We really thought Sondre Lerche would gain more attention for his recent fourth album Phantom Punch, a rawer take on his Scandi-Costello boundary brushing. That may not have come to pass, but The Tape/Face The Blood is as worthy a 7" of this sort of thing as any. Tilly And The Wall have recently popped by Britain again on a European tour with CSS, so The Freest Man makes a belated limited 7" appearance.
Maybe Lou Barlow's been to see a therapist. After 2005's official solo debut and before that the ever evolving line-up of Folk Implosion, over the last twelve months he's not only reunited with original Sebadoh compadres Jason Loewenstein and Eric Gaffney but, mercy upon mercies, he's also fallen back in with J Mascis and Murph. He's not adapted The Freed Pig, we're guessing. What we've heard of Dinosaur Jr's first album in ten years, J Mascis' first proper release in five (we're not counting J And Friends Sing And Chant For Amma, right?) and the original three's first in 19, Beyond, suggests it carries on from where the last pre-Barlow sacking album Bug left off, still spotwelding loud and heavy but non-shredded solos to servient introspection. With longstanding rumours that the Pixies are back in the studio, you wonder where it's all going to stop. For example, this is Krist Novoselic, apparently. Difficult to know what to make of Electrelane's fourth album No Shouts No Calls - their first album since relocating to Berlin, it's a return to the vocal stylings of their high water mark The Power Out and has been described as their most joyful to date, none of which explains the ship on the cover that is redolent less of high seas openness and more like a beermat design. Does joyfulness in openness really suit Electrelane? Let's call it a grower. Loads of interesting stuff around this week, so a brief runthrough: Black Rebel Motorcycle Club return to loud amps and become far less interesting on Baby 81; Robert Pollard releases Silverfish Trivia, the second of three promised solo albums in 2007 alongside a Fading Captain Series anthology, a Circus Devils album, work by The Takeovers and the Keene Brothers and the promised Brown Submarine project (this constitutes a quiet period for Pollard, obviously); 65daysofstatic's third LP The Destruction Of Small Ideas continues on the piano/very loud guitar/Aphexesque beats path; nu-shoegaze finds its Kitchens Of Distinction in Brooklyn's Dirty On Purpose and Hallelujah Sirens; avant-garde collective Githead, led by Wire's Colin Newman, does what it says on the tin, to an extent, on Art Pop, mixing pop choruses and abstract electronics and then putting a Stuckist-esque cover on the CD case; and Spiderman 3: Music From & Inspired By - who gets inspired by a brand new film to write a song, score composers aside? - shrugs off a gaseous nuisance of a song even by Snow Patrol's standards to get new songs out of The Flaming Lips, Yeah Yeah Yeahs and The Walkmen. Every home should certainly have one, but Essential Squeeze has really got to stop their back catalogue story here, being their tenth compilation not counting the box set. We're aware Difford and Tilbrook are reforming, or at least regenerating the name together, later in the year for a prohibitively expensive UK tour but this seems to have been put on the slate before that was announced, as was a concurrent release of Glenn Tilbrook demos from 1981, The Past Has Been Bottled. At least James have only had one previous Best Of before Fresh As A Daisy: The Singles, and they've reformed too. As have Orchestral Manoevures In The Dark, although they're sticking with a reissue of commercial highpoint Architecture and Morality for now.
Inevitably, both Essential Squeeze and James: Fresh As A Daisy get video retrospectives. The latter's visual work got quite interesting as time went on, while the former, apart from the Daliesque Hourglass, never got much of a budget (although check the bomber jacket/red leggings combination on the girls in the Cool For Cats video) which might be why a 1982 concert is also included. Those are of course British bands for the ages, but what to make of Art Brut: Talking To The Kids? Of course the cult following, and Eddie Argos is very much a leader of men and post-modern wit in this regard, but curious success in Germany aside there's surely only a limited scope for this sort of product on sell-through. Regardless here's a compilation of European tour highlights, interviews, telly performances, videos and suchlike.
We've always been a little cold towards Simon Reynolds' journalism, not for his stance on things but for his sometimes overwhelming critical theory polemic. Never trust a writer who uses the word 'discourse' in everything, that's what we say, although we sense this is actually our fault more than anything. His historical pieces and books, not least Rip It Up And Start Again, are excellent, though, which is why we're very interested in Bring The Noise, part anthlogy of twenty years of musical progression through his criticisms and thinkpieces, part new commentary sewing the timeline together. Down the inkies corridor, at least at the turn of the 90s, but tonally several light years away worked Andrew Collins, whose third book of reminiscence That's Me In The Corner tackles his time at the NME and Q and through to radio and much later television lowbrow classiness. Patrick Humphries is another who came through the music press ranks to make a name for himself, mostly as a biographer. The Many Lives Of Tom Waits should be fun given Waits himself often can't get much of a handle on his own backstory, birth supposedly in the back of a New York cab onwards. Mind you, you should see Alex Harvey's biog, from being named "Scotland's answer to Tommy Steele" to becoming a Brel-glam-cabaret star of the early to mid 70s, all essayed in John Neil Munro's The Sensational Alex Harvey. Meanwhile this week's local elections and the weekend after next's Eurovision Song Contest make for timely reprints for Billy Bragg's The Progressive Patriot and Tim 'Mr Hairs' Moore's investigation of the Eurovision ideal Nul Points.