Sunday, March 30, 2008

Weekender : our content is sweet

- The last few weeks has seen an inordinate number of enthralling releases, a trend that continues throughout in April and on into May. This week, then, must be where the labels have a quick breather. Oh yeah, we mean once upon a time we would have gone overboard here about the prospect of REM album fourteen Accelerate, but we just can't get excited by it for many good reasons - the endless "return to form" party line parroting, the rarely lived up to "return to raw roots" sell, the rote nature of Supernatural Superserious, Jacknife Lee generally. Back to Life's Rich Pageant again, then. What else? Since we last heard from McLusky bass botherer Jon Chapple's Shooting At Unarmed Men he's split the group, moved to Australia and formed a new band, by sheer coincidence a gritty, angry trio called Shooting At Unarmed Men. Triptych comes on three four-track CDs, a Minutemen nod apparently, and still sounds like the sort of noise the rhythmic frontispiece of McLusky would sound like on its own. Mark Kozelek's third album as Sun Kil Moon, April features perennial indie cred collaborators Will Oldham and Ben Gibbard but for the most part remains on the track Kozelek has marked out since Red House Painters of minimal slowly unfolding narratives. This week's Nice An'All But There's No Reason For This, Is There? issue of the week - The Best Of The Specials, their fourth compilation, including a DVD of all the videos in case you didn't buy the DVD with all the videos on last week.

- Even the single schedule is muted this week, which leaves us to alight on little releases by two underappreciated talents, one new, one long established in a very quiet way, of what we'll call the indiepopfolk underground just to annoy people. The Rosie Taylor Project have been going for hardly any time but have already carved out a niche as a alt-country cousin to Camera Obscura - indeed despite being from Leeds they have the hallmarks of a certain Scottish popness. Second single A Good Café On George Street may have, as we've said before, one of the most unprepossessing titles we've seen but it has an undeniable shuffle and trumpet-aided joy overcoming tears that makes it completely unsuitable for these days of icy rainstorms. Meanwhile there's a new download single by Leicester's resident caustic songwriting genius MJ Hibbett and his band The Validators. It's Do The Indie Kid, which in the style of his own blog is GRATE, containing as it does a) dance steps; b) a namecheck for Linux; and c) a section which anyone who's seen him do it live will know represents the music of the future.

COMING SOON: After what seems like far too long Blood Red Shoes finally have an album ready, Box Of Secrets released on 14th April. Their protracted gestation and incessant touring means there's loads of it on YouTube, including album tracks Doesn't Matter Much - filmed at the Leicester Charlotte, so now you can see the stage we've spent far too many hours squinting at - Try Harder followed by Say Something Say Anything and a crackly This Is Not For You.

MYSPACE INVADERS: A band named after an Orange Juice song with a manifesto, a song dedicated to Daniel Kitson and David Kohl top of their Top Friends? It's like Falling And Laughing are trying too hard to attract our wandering schmindie eye. So here come the Field Mice, Postcard and Sarah Records namechecks and the wry bedroom diarist lyrics, but there's a strength to the writing that marks them aside from many suddenly on the same stylistic journey.

VISUAL AID: From our previous efforts you'll know we know what we mean when we talk about bad interviews, but even we'd be hard pushed to match this cub reporter's efforts in 1985 when faced with Black Flag's Henry Rollins and gets spectacularly pwned (note to ed. - pls check if this still in common usage with young), much in the same way, if now slightly more controlled, Rollins has recently to David Beckham and Woody Allen. In the broadcast media game you rarely get this, so even when someone like Luke Pritchard will come up against someone like Simon Amstell or someone like Pete Doherty ditto the entertainment is tempered by the fact that you know exactly what roads the host is leading his prey down; similarly you know that when running into Thom Yorke it might well be a difficult afternoon's work, but not as difficult as, say, Mark E Smith, here leaving Lauren Laverne grasping for oxygen. If he's made an art out of stonewalling in the face of diffidence, Sigur Ros deserve some sort of Dry Stone Marketing Board award for their awkwardness in the company of Luke Burbank of NPR. If you've ever read Andrew Collins' account of his live radio interview with Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, this must have been much what it was like actually in the studio. Our favourite from UK telly, though, also involves Laverne, but this time only tangentially as she introduces Zane Lowe's run in with Nick Cave and Grinderman on the Culture Show. Watch at about the two thirds mark for where Cave visually realises he really is going to have to spend the entire interview disagreeing with Lowe's angle.

* A month has passed, so it's time for a new Welcome To Our TV Show! Jeremy and Fay's house guests this month are Ed Harcourt, female singer-songwriter One Little Plane (aided by Four Tet/Kieran Hebden) and performance poet Niall Spooner-Harvey. Part one leads into part two, the latter particularly entertaining from the extensive and, well, mixed reaction in the comments.

* It's roughly two and a half years, and they were at the end of the album cycle then, since we last saw the indie country disco of The Boy Least Likely To, during their ill-fated and, we're fairly sure, long since severed partnership with Simon Fuller's 19 Recordings. Their second album is on its way, preceded by a free download of I Box Up All The Butterflies (you have to concurrently sign up to their mailing list, but usually now you have to confirm your membership before they start sending you everything they can think of), which isn't a particularly huge move in any direction but is good to hear regardless. Jof occasionally blogs as well.

* We hadn't realised To Hell With online magazine was closing until we chanced across its final reviews in the week, and from there we found some audio time with Future Of The Left that despite the fuzzy sonic nature is well worth the effort, which being a Falkous enterprise runs the gamut from detailed explanation of the songs and sound to stuff about Colchester United.

* We don't usually do gig previews, because all the decent one-offs are, unlike us, in London, and besides we barely get out of the house and it'd be embarrassing. We're more than willing to flag up anything interesting coming up, though, which is why we were pleased to receive a communique regarding Ruffa Lane Records' The Ruffa Revue on April 17th at London's Astoria 2. Postponed from just before Christmas, it marks the return to gigging action of the label boss' band Lucky Soul, after a 2007 apparently including going top ten in Japan. Bet that was one of the Western Artists charts, anyone with a bit of glam and femininity can get into that. New album before the end of the year, apparently, some of which will be previewed here, with labelmates The Band-ish Grantura and Jens Lekman associate Montt Mardié supporting.

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