Monday, June 29, 2009

Monday's newcomers

Stockholm's Moofish Catfish have been over in the UK for the last couple of weeks, spreading yet another ray of delightfulness-driven Swedish pop. Melodic old swoonsome yearning is pretty much the starting point here, not so delicate that they crumble upon touch but possessing that chiming, timeless quality, slightly woozily retro, occasionally pleasingly fuzzy and falling-over and imbued with much of Those Dancing Days' joie de vivre without sounding that much like them. There must be something in the Swedish air that makes their young bands tend to turn out like this.

Even if you overlooked the name, only one country would produce Full English Breakfast, which inevitably is one bloke with a grasp of odd pop and a spectacularly eccentric worldview. It veers all over the place in what sounds like a single-handed attempt to show Lawrence Hayward there were some gaps Felt, Denim and Go-Kart Mozart didn't quite manage to fill in. In places it accelerates through everyone from Edwyn Collins (forthcoming single Song For A Nut) to early 80s Sheffield electronics to Beck to lo-fi Babybird to Mark E Smith being a little more careful with his initial influences. Every so often we need a new injection of English art-pop off-kilteredness, and with an album out in a month's time here's a man well in position to provide it.

Since promoting A Classic Education and Magpie Wedding we've had quite a few Myspace friend requests from outfits based in Bologna. At least there's somewhere where we're popular. One such is Ofeliadorme, who like both of the aforementioned are clearly aware of post-rock and are taking its influence into quieter, more structured areas. There's elements of Low's slowcore disturbance allied to the minimal raw, otherworldly appealing of the first half of Cat Power's discography, Francesca Bono's vocals between that spooked intimacy and Polly Harvey's force of nature. Dark and mystical, almost spiritual were it not for the fact that there's some quite worrying things going on, it's lilting but not quite lulling anyone into false senses of security.

Enough of quiet subtlety. These Waves are another of that growing band of youngsters taking inspiration from Minus The Bear, the Seattle outfit for whom linear time signatures and straightforward strumming were for other people. You'll also hear At The Drive-In, Reuben and Glassjaw in their angular post-hardcore attack (much like previously featured Buenos Aires, actually, and like other STN favourites Minnaars Tom Woodhead has been producing them), which is all to the good. They're from Derby, for the record, which has always been the east Midlands' poor relation in terms of producing bands but with You Animals and Beyond This Point Are Monsters also making moves something's afoot.

How about some doleful electro? I Like Where I Live, essentially one bloke from Glasgow called Dave McAdams, takes up that thoughtful strain of soaring keyboards and beats from the Postal Service and Her Space Holiday, while not being that far away from the essence of the retro synths of your Passion Pits and Big Pinks and onto M83. Music to look out onto the sunset to.

Which is not the case with London duo Gentle Friendly. With a release behind them through No Pain In Pop and one forthcoming on Upset The Rhythm they've certainly got themselves into a good place with a sound that doesn't make for easy passing listening. Taking the drones of the Silver Apples' oscillators and Fuck Buttons' special knobs, the hallucinogenic counter-melodic euphoria of Animal Collective, Banjo Or Freakout and Health, and the noisy, bleeding alt-pop oddness of the Unicorns and No Age, their music takes a woozy ride through a kaleidoscope of Kraut rhythms, digital distortion, criss-crossing ideas and the joy of loud and vaguely uncomfortable, all done on reclaimed keyboards and rusting drumkits. We sense you'll be hearing a lot, lot more of them in such circles when their album is out in September.

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