Thursday, July 24, 2014

This just in: Joanna Gruesome, Maybeshewill

Joanna Gruesome - Jerome (liar)

We're off to Indietracks this weekend, as you might have reasonably imagined, where one of the big draws is going to be JoGru's increasingly manaically ferocious presence. They and Trust Fund - he/they are there too - are releasing a split 12", three new tracks each, on 22nd September, this first taste of which harks back to their earlier EPs as Alanna and Owen sort of harmonise over elasticated fuzzbomb pop-post-punk which occasionally breaks free and surges like a sudden mini-typhoon.

Maybeshewill - In Amber

Stratospheric post-rockish guitars and stately electronics have served Maybeshewill well enough for three albums, by and large, but the first track to escape from fourth full-length Fair Youth, due 25th August, feels like a further step upwards in ambition, all peaks and troughs, minimal piano and subtly heroic strings and brass aid the slowest of builds to something that in refusing to quite become enormous just for the sake of it might resemble synesthesia of ice floes. Maybeshewill are playing out too this weekend, at Tramlines.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Menace Beach, The Rentals, Martin Carr, Echo Lake

Menace Beach - Lowtalkin'

Ah, where would we be without shouty lo-fi? A fuzzed out 103 seconds half of which seems to be a clanging solo that dissolves into appropriate chaos, it's half of a double A side out 1st September, and that'll be Alanna McArdle off of Joanna Gruesome on backing yelling.

The Rentals - 1000 Seasons

Matt Sharp left Weezer in 1998 but seems destined to be defined by having been in that band rather than the angularity of the band he on-off leads - indeed the story of Blur's post-Britpop transformation neglects how much Damon hung out with Sharp and guested with the band around that time. They're back with third album Lost In Alphaville, out 8th September, from which comes this typically fuzzpop bomb.

Martin Carr - The Santa Fe Skyway

We first wrote about this song nearly three years ago when it was in demo form. Not the most protestant of work ethics, is it? Anyway, here's the version that'll be on album The Breaks come September 26th, now swelled into a huge sunshine pop arrangement with a hint of 1980s US TV theme.

Echo Lake - This Year

Echo Lake emerged with an intriguing dreampop album, Wild Peace, in 2002, though the sudden death of their drummer stymied its promotion and prospects. This first release since then, which will appear on Marshall Teller Records label sampler Broken Record Vol. 1 on 18th August, breezes by with stabs of shoegaze guitar to disrupt the Slowdiveish mood, less droney than before but still liable to plunge down a psychedelically patterned sinkhole.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Spearmint - Tony Wright

Ahead of the festival this weekend, this year's Indietracks compilation is out with its usual remarkable value for money, 56 tracks for a minimum £2 with all proceeds to the Midlands Railway Trust. On there is this track, not one we recognised... until we found out it's from an album, News From Nowhere, that came out in May. There's communication at work - the very band whose song we named the blog after and we didn't know they'd released their first album in eight years until chancing across this two months later. Certainly sounds like a band on their usual form, Shirley Lee's treatise on growing up and leaving behind the certainties of youth through the value of the meaning of music framed through what appears to be a student love of Terrorvision. Each to their own.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Perfume Genius, Shy And The Fight, Sun Machine, You Are Number Six

Perfume Genius - Queen

Mike Hadreas' songs used to be spare things, a lot of the time just his falsetto and minimal piano arrangement, so for this to open with a huge bass synth throb is akin to his hiring a chamber orchestra. It's later joined by Flaming Lips-like effects and drones plus a keyboard figure that recalls Ryuichi Sakamoto's Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence score, yet in Hadreas' delivery and its almost teasing deconstruction of/challenge to gay panic it still manages to seem personal. Third album Too Bright, out 22nd September, is produced by Portishead's Adrian Utley and features John Parish.

Shy And The Fight - Stop Motion

Once again enacting our anti-Midas touch, as they were among our tips for 2013, Chester's driving folk-pop septet have gone the way of all flesh with a valedictory pay-what-you-like EP, First The Bird Fell. Clattering and rousing are both in evidence, this track picked out by us for reminding us of Fanfarlo's early way with subtle primary coloured sunshine pop with dark patches underneath.

Sun Machine - Tamaho Hitman pt. 1

The August (25th) offering from the Too Pure Singles Club is a kaleidoscopically shifting percussive-heavy stew that brings together sunshine psychedelia, washed out tropicalia and the kind of all-in-together post-AnCo melange that leaves the head spinning, with demonic incantation sloganeering to close. "Space Honey Jams destined for Japan" says their Facebook self-description. Well, yeah.

You Are Number Six - Magic

Inevitable someone was going to call their project that eventually. In this case it's one Theo Lefebvre of Montpellier, who on recent EP Weird Tales explores the point at which dark wave's gothic post-punk introspection meets the flamboyance of retro synthpop by way of latter day Patrick Wolf's joy in machinery.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

First mention Thursday: Zola Blood, Grubs, Cast And Crew, Childhood

Zola Blood - Grace

In these pages we've already declared a moritorium on the spread of both anonymous new bands and bands with names punning on famous people's names. So obviously here's a band who are both. Given it's doubtless going to turn out to be someone who was once in a failed major label landfill indie band it had to be special, then, and this has a way of subtly, uncomfortably forcing its way under your skin with pizzicato downtempo beats, subtly refractive guitar parts and falsetto vocals, not too far from Thom Yorke's solo material , especially when a phalanx of whirring synths arrive towards the end, or a more bass-heavy Cloud Boat, making glaciers across the landscape.

Grubs - Dec 15th/Gym Shame

Grubs are Owen from Joanna Gruesome, Roxy from Two White Cranes and Jake from, erm, Twitter. We've kind of covered the first of these tracks before over on Tumblr but they're both together on a new double A-sided flexidisc which comes to a total of 2 minutes 44. Dec 15th is lackadasical in the best way, Gym Shame lo-fi and fuzzy, both clatter with semi-shouty slacker pop cool.

Cast And Crew - Rory

Sometimes you just want to make noise. Cast And Crew are a Birmingham duo, half of whom are Paul from the late Ace Bushy Striptease, whose name-your-price EP is straight-up awkward noisepop, one eye on Distophia and their errant children, nothing at all indebted to that whole blues duo thing. Good.

Childhood - As I Am

Childhood have been much talked about in big brother music press 'new Britpop OMG' terms but, like fellow Midlanders Superfood, that's not entirely helpful when covering what they do. Sure, this single from Dan Carey-produced debut album Lacuna (out August 11th) sounds ready for prime-time with its old-school-pop ambition and stabs of Eighties effect synth, but where the big chorus should be is drifting vocals coated in self-doubt, luminous twinkling guitar sounds and an awkward groove that wouldn't fill the floor at an indie disco but is distinctive enough to demonstrate where a lot of those not dissimilar 2004 records fell down.

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Christian Fitness, DFA79, Blonde Redhead, Froth

Christian Fitness - Soft Power Itches

One more time, because people are always joining in - Christian Fitness is Andrew Falkous, and from that you're not too far away from guessing what it'll sound like, and also that it'll be of the highest, most caustic, most abrasive quality. The album is out... soon. Falco note: "when the album is released the button that allows you to pay more than the regular price is just for people who contributed to that potato salad kickstarter. You should also probably apologise to your parents."

Death From Above 1979 - Trainwreck 1979

They're back, just when you didn't really expect it. The Physical World, out over here September 8th, is still only their second album and if it does sometimes drift back towards the dance-punk settings that were around when they first emerged - there's some underlying synths here that Jesse could well have borrowed from the drawer marked 'MSTRKRFT' - they still sound like they ever did, that is to say frustrated vocals, rumbling bass and drums of danceable death.

Blonde Redhead - Dripping

It's about time the multinational, multiskilling New Yorkers put out something new; that new thing is Barragan, out 1st September, and a track that resembles the last Caribou record in the shade on a sweltering day, synths dipping in and out all over the place.

Froth - When We Get In

Still playing at the bottom of hometown four-band bills, which is about where all the underdog bands we really love hang out, maybe it's their shared Glasgow surroundings but the five youths of Froth are reminiscent of the idiosyncratically indiepop world of The Yummy Fur - scrappily endearing in a way that belies their writing, infectious pop-leaning hooks twisted beyond their means, prone to gang shouty vocals, keen on hanging out in the darker corners of the indie disco. There's a whole EP released back in February, The Girl Who Fell To Space. What happens next might be even more interesting.

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

The Ten: Adam Walton's favourite musical things

Adam Walton would ideally need no introduction to anyone but shouldn't anyway to Welsh music fans, given he's been BBC Radio Wales' arbiter of new music since 1993, promoting a horde of talent along the way, currently on Saturday nights 10pm-1am. STN readers will know we've always have a particular yen for Welsh bands for whatever reason, and we've picked up on a few bands from him - plus he played tracks from our compilations on his show, so we couldn't not get him on here in some way eventually.

It's all the more relevant right now as he's just released On Making Music, a pay-what-you-like ebook that acts as a helpful guide, handy philosophy and general inspiration to people who want their music to be heard - how to write, perform, play, promote, release... the lot, taken from someone who's not only been there as a touring musician in his pre-radio career but has heard enough of it to know what stands out. As backup, a litany of quotes from interviews he's conducted in his career with the likes of David Gedge, Elliott Smith, Frank Black, Gruff Rhys, Huw Stephens, Ian Brown, Jarvis Cocker, Liam Gallagher, Martin Carr, Neil Innes, Ray Davies, Tom Robinson... and that's just the family favourites (I could continue, and will - Andrew Falkous, Colin Newman of Wire, svengali Kim Fowley, veteran producer Clive Langer, the Joy Formidable, Kristin Hersh, Mark Daman Thomas of Islet/Shape, Manda Rin of Bis, Paul Draper of Mansun, Stephen Bass from Moshi Moshi... you get the picture) It's a genuinely intelligent and fascinating read. So, here Walton is telling us his ten favourite things:

My Spanish guitar
I could pretend it was a Fender Jaguar, having fallen for You Made Me Realise when I was 16. But it wasn’t. Cool wasn’t something you worried about too much, growing up in a tiny Welsh village in the 70’s and 80’s.

I was weaned, musically, on my dad’s records, Terry Wogan and Top of the Pops. I taped the Top 40 every Sunday evening, adding Star Wars sound effects and idiot kid voiceovers via my dad’s Woolies mic. Yes, I’m still doing that now. I’ve evolved very little in the last 36 years.

There was a bugle in the front-room that belonged to my granddad Walton. He’d fanfared for the Raj in India prior to the Second World War. Then he’d come back to Chester and returned to being a lowly street sweeper. My dad must have heard something in that bugle because he learnt trumpet when he was a kid, but either got kicked out of trumpet school for trying to get the band to play jazz and early rock ’n’ roll instead of the martial music they were supposed to be making or because he swapped his trumpet for a motorbike. The details aren’t clear. There was definitely subversion in my genes, but mine manifested itself through a love of Classical Guitar. This was a subversive move in 1981, trust me.

A kid in my year, Graham Anthony Devine, was a musical prodigy. I heard him playing the guitar on a school break at a Welsh language training camp in Bala, and my whole world changed. I hadn’t connected the wonders of music to fingers and thumbs. I had fingers and thumbs! I badgered the heck out of my mum and dad until they bought me a guitar to put inside them.

Still playing now.

However shitly.

Other than my daughter, it’s the greatest gift I was ever given. And I don’t have to give it pocket money or pick it up from One Direction concerts.

My mum & dad’s records
There were hundreds of records in my mum and dad’s front-room. Sadly a high proportion of them were by Bob Dylan. Not only that, which was torture enough for my seven year old ears, but the ones I remember being on the stereo the most were all the ones usually regarded as being Bob’s weakest, Saved and Slow Train Coming. Whiny-voiced evangelism with my Sunday tea. Not great for the digestion. I like them now, of course. And I had free reign to listen to all the other records in the piles leaning against the wall: Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, Buddy Holly, Roy Orbison.

I developed an unhealthy, and very unsexy, fascination for Dire Straits when I was 11 or 12. It coincided with me learning pentatonic blues scales on my guitar. I hate to think about the musical crimes I committed, soloing endlessly over Telegraph Road.

The motherlode, though, was my mum and dad’s carrier bag of 7” singles: Little Richard, The Marvelettes, The Animals, Ray Charles, Booker T & the MG’s, Lloyd Price... half the covers were missing, some looked like they’d been scratched by Velociraptors looking for a vinyl tree trunk to sharpen their claws on. They were buggered, basically, but they all played. These phenomenally exciting sounds would emerge from the hiss and crackle like commandments - these were commandments of sex and melody from an exciting world that was light years removed from the cows farting in the fields around our house.

Someone left that carrier bag of 7”s next to a radiator. They all warped and died. Otherwise they’d be my family’s greatest heirlooms, as far as I’m concerned.

In amongst the albums and the singles was, pretty much, a complete pre-1966 collection of recordings by a beat combo from Liverpool called...

The Beatles
I remember having Beatles face-offs in the primary school playground with Simon Penketh, seeing who could remember the most lyrics from the most obscure Beatles songs. We’d have been about seven then. The Blue Album was always in my dad’s car stereo. Long, mysterious, mizzly drives through Snowdonia soundtracked by I Am The Walrus and Fool On The Hill, or middle of the night hauls up to Scotland or down to Cornwall with Strawberry Fields Forever and Penny Lane filling the sleepy void. It was a remarkable way to stoke a musical imagination.

People rarely write about the atmosphere of the 1965-68 period Beatles recordings. Every other aspect of their music has been written about or analysed to the nth degree and, to a certain extent, had the magic and the wonder annotated and highlighted to the point of making them perfunctory. But the atmosphere remains elusive, sacrosanct, and difficult to capture in words. Thank God for that. Because it’s high magic and shouldn’t be fucked with.

John Lennon died when I was nine. They showed Help! on the telly and grainy pictures of thousands of people with candles and photographs in New York and Liverpool. I remember thinking Lennon looked a bit angry in those pictures, for a man who banged on a lot about peace and love. But that contradiction was what made him, especially, fascinating.

But it was (mostly) McCartney’s songs that I loved when I was a kid. Melodies like panchromatic mushroom clouds. In the initial flash of a hundred megaton McCartney melody blast, the tune would be seared irrevocably in your brain, with a half life of forever.

I get people who don’t like The Beatles. I love music that has managed to evolve without influence, or taint, from their dizzyingly fecund DNA. But I adore The Beatles. I want them playing on my deathbed, please. Or Disintegration by The Cure. Or Welcome To The Pleasuredome. Or Mwng. Or mclusky do dallas. Or any Stereolab... or... or...

Northern Soul
I don’t really know anything about Northern Soul (capital ’N’, capital ’S’). I’m the world’s worst dilettante when it comes to anything scene-y. I’ve never been to a Northern Soul night, for example. I went through Wigan once, after getting lost in St Helens, but I think I was looking for someone to repair my amp so that I could play Pixies riffs through it at a volume that would have emulsified Edwin Starr. I’ve never really been big on context or story, with regards music. It has always been about the song. I never pored over sleeve notes. I muddle names up in my head like a database on a US military LSD experiment. But I remember sounds. I know that when I hear the horns on Darrell Banks’ version of Angel Baby, I feel superhuman, like whatever trials life throws in my path, I can leap over them with joy writ large on my Weeble face, then fall back on my hands and flip myself back up in one motion, a spring-loaded, shaggy-haired gazelle of a man. The best music can fill us with such delusions. It’s amazing!

All of my favourite records, that happen to fall under the banner of Northern Soul, have this effect on me. Yvonne Baker’s You Didn’t Say A Word; N.F. Porter’s Keep On Keeping On; Don Gardner’s My Baby Likes To Boogaloo; The Elgin’s Heaven Must Have Sent You...

And Northern Soul is such a broad banner. It’s a genreless genre, in some respects. And it appeals to my collecting instincts… there’s a near infinite amount of remarkable 7” singles out there to burn my money on. It’s most gratifying and a joy on those rare occasions when I’m DJing and a some Northern Soul kids happen to be there, and dance in that liberated, joyful, unselfconscious way that is the most perfect synthesis of music and movement, as far as I’m concerned.

Makes up for Muse - and that’s saying something.

My best friend is an Apple unzealot. He’ll be bridling, should he read this. I understand that the notion of ‘free’ software on a (for many) prohibitively expensive platform is oxymoronic. GarageBand isn’t really free. I ditched my iPhone earlier this year because I was sick of the restrictions of the platform and I’m planning to migrate away from Apple the next time I upgrade my computer because the operating system has become progressively less intuitive over its last few iterations. I do a lot of searching on iTunes. Searching on iTunes has become a major, major ballache. It’s slow and awkward. I hate it and Apple’s aloof assumption that I want a £2000 computer that behaves exactly like a £500 smartphone.

So I’m not a fanboy. Not any more.

However GarageBand is genius and has enabled so many people to make and record their music more easily. It has been revolutionary. I know this as someone who listens to thousands of demos every year. I have also had an incredible amount of fun making and recording my own music using GarageBand. I hadn’t written a song for twenty years - that’s what I used to do for a living. It enabled me to rediscover my love of writing and making music and I am very very grateful.

You can be grateful too, because you’ll never have to hear it.

Telford’s Warehouse, Chester
When I was in a band from Mold, it felt like there was nowhere at all to play in north-east Wales and the borderlands. But there were places: Sureways in Mold (a gym with a bar); The Tivoli in Buckley (where I saw most of my formative gigs - particularly happy memories of The Darling Buds, The Real People, Cud and Oasis), The Bistro in Rhyl and Telford’s Warehouse in Chester.

Telford’s became our spiritual home. For a start, it was (and is) very nice. I’d already spent too much of my university life in filthy rat-traps in Liverpool, places like Planet X and Casablancas. Telfords felt like an airy, wooden-beamed paradise in comparison. There was exponentially less chance to catch hepatitis if you went for a piss. A major selling point.

We’d have played there first in 1993 or ’94, hoiking our own particular brand of bombastic Britpop-ish to a surprisingly receptive audience. The problem was that Telford’s was so nice compared to every other venue in Christendom that we didn’t really want to play anywhere else. So we didn’t. And we withered on a Guinness-fuelled vine.

The highlights included Mansun inviting us to support them at the launch for Attack of the Grey Lantern on the Isle of Man. Apparently Paul used to come and watch us regularly. I wish I’d known that at the time. I was angry with the world for not liking us enough. That would have made a difference.

Another highlight was me telling some fat bloke in pyjamas that if he couldn’t keep up with us (he was trying to play along on guitar - I believe they call it ‘jamming’) he should just fuck off the stage... that was John Martyn, ladies and gentlemen - my proudest moment.

My band split up in 1996. In 1997 I badgered the owner into letting me book a band (Grand Drive). Then I badgered him to let me DJ on the night, and I’ve been DJing there ever since. Telfords is a strange place to DJ. You can’t get too up your own arse on a Friday night in Telfords. Go with the intention of treating the audience to your prized collection of incredibly rare Northern Soul singles, and your hubris will be pricked within moments by someone asking for The Killers, or One Direction, or calling you a “twat” for not having any Usher. It can be a bit of a tussle. But anywhere that gives you the freedom to play Wire, NWA, The Pooh Sticks, Joni Mitchell and The Sonics is amazing, right? I DJ there the second and fourth Friday of the month. Do come along! Just don’t ask for Usher.

We’ll save the me-putting-mclusky-on-to-an-audience-of-bankers story for another day. If you meet me, ask me. It’s a good story.

In more recent years, I’ve been promoting in Telfords under the guise of Crackling Vinyl. I’ve brought Cate Le Bon, Sweet Baboo, Katell Keineg, Euros Childs, Gulp and many others to the city for the first time, while my mates and I played ace records. I’m hoping to start those nights again in the Autumn. If you want to play, they’re great nights, give me a shout.

Rich Holland’s Compilation Tapes
Jesus. Look how much I’ve already written!

Rich Holland lived on Water Street in Mold. When we were music-making young adults, full of spunk, questionable sonics and ill-fated musical dreams, we’d tumble out of the pub on a Friday night, dodge running battles with the local yobs, and retire to Rich’s front-room for a few hours of psychedelic fun amongst his records. He had lots of records.

He made compilation tapes for us that were my main musical touch paper. Tapes with King Crimson, The Zombies, Lush, Julian Cope, XTC, Love, The Turtles, Jethro Tull, The Undertones, The Beach Boys, The Stranglers, Dave Brubeck, Fleetwood Mac and The Small Faces on. They were brilliant. Every radio show, every DJ set, I’ve ever done has been coloured by the adventure in those compilation tapes.

Welsh Music
My route into radio was pretty non-standard. Someone pointed a local radio personality out to me in our Mold drinking hole (Y Delyn) and I harangued him and his station for not supporting the local scene. A week later they called me and asked me to do a pilot for a radio show that would support the local scene. If only everything in my life had come so literally from me opening my fat gob.

I’ve never felt comfortable, in the twenty-plus years I’ve been making radio shows, with the notion of grouping music together and elevating it just because of where it came from. However, that’s my remit. What I’ve tried to do, and succeeded I think, is to only play things because they’re good and interesting, with their geographical location being very much a secondary concern.

I love what I do. I adore the vast majority of what I play.

I shan’t list names. Sometimes, when radio people talk about their shows, you’d think they were a combination of Magellan and Genghis Khan, “discovering” this and “exclusive-ing” that. As a breed, we can come across a bit like needy dogs with bladder infections and an insecurity complex about the size of the territory we feel we need to mark. Not interested in that. And that doesn’t do me any favours.

Future of the Left/mclusky
The fact that radio serves this most brilliant of bands so badly is a black mark on radio. It used to be that radio was sausage meat and you could at least identify the bits of gristle, mulched bone, trotter and occasional, sweetening herb. Nowadays it’s a smooth, smooth paste. God knows what’s in it: Simon Cowell’s entrepreneurial ego shat through a couple of dozen focus groups and panels counting YouTube views?

This lot make music that makes my brain beat faster and my heart hum.

The Joy Formidable
The fact that radio serves this most brilliant of bands so badly is a skidmark visible through its otherwise pristine white jeans. It used to be that radio was like Sesame Street - lots of colour and characters jostling next to each other, with good intentions at its heart. Some of the characters would drive you insensate with rage… The Count!! Too Many O’s there, mate! Some would fill you with joy: ah, Mr Snuffleupacus... or however you spell it.

Can’t have anyone turning off if they don’t like The Count, though. Or can’t get their head around Mr Snuffelupacous’ name… far too long, that name. Shouldn’t be any longer than three minutes, where’s the chorus? Has he been on reality TV? How many YouTube views does he have?

This lot make music that makes my heart beat faster and my brain hum.

Honeyblood, Post War Glamour Girls, Emperor Yes, AUTOBAHN

Honeyblood - (I'd Rather Be) Anywhere But Here

The opening track from the duo's album out next week, to us it bears a passing resemblance to those tracks that got people excited about Best Coast, with its surf guitar sound and airy but secretly downbeat vocal. It's certainly not a ripoff, mind, a slow burner of the type we've not really heard from them before still with bared fangs constantly only just hidden as Stina and Shona get out of a town and populace they don't fit in any more. Plus there's a moment right before the final flourish where it nearly falls over completely, which neatly messes any smoothness up.

Post War Glamour Girls - Gustave

Not half a year after their debut album Pink Fur - a real sleeper hit of an album, if one can ever sleep on a record of gothic power that sounds constantly on the verge of a flurry of gut punches - comes a single due via the great Too Pure Singles Club on 1st September, which holds itself back just a little bit in dynamic intensity if very much not in Black Francis-spawned lyrical macabre and black theatrics.

Emperor Yes - Paramesse To Tanis

Newly signed to Alcopop! and produced by Jeremy Warmsley - ah, two of our triggers set off at once - Emperor Yes have had a couple of singles out before of their attempt to meld overheating analogue electronics (not for nothing do they share a member with Three Trapped Tigers) to sci-fi psychedelia. On this first single from album An Island Called Earth, out September 21st, things take quite the Flaming Lips turn by way of the Unicorns, melodies decorated in lurid shades and fed through a kaleidoscope lens. It sounds like its title, which is the least you can ask.

AUTOBAHN - Pale Skin

Third track in seven weeks to be posted on STN from the same EP, finally out as of yesterday, and here they head down the Eighties Matchbox more-than-mild peril tunnel - feral, guttural, sounding like it won't stop until it draws blood. Seeing Eagulls in October? Get there early.

Friday, July 04, 2014

Friday free-for-all: The John Steel Singers, Talons, Dad Rocks!, Hooray For Earth, Dan Michaelson and the Coastguards

The John Steel Singers - Common Thread

Brisbane's John Steel Singers are a kind of Antipodean sunshine pop cousin to, say, the Phantom Band's windswept dolouresness, in that their basic structures are boosted by elements that both underpin and weft the melodies - motorik psychedelia, prog expansiveness, warped electronics. Here, for example, a glistening hook-laden pop song is strapped to the back of a cosmic undertow. Album Everything's A Thread is released on the 28th.

Talons - The Dreams Have No Dream

Most of the tracks we post nowadays seem to be the second released tracks from new albums, and so it is with the Hereford instrumental sextet and New Topographics, out 4th August via Big Scary Monsters. This is a subtly different beast from most of their dynamic dramatics approach, taking on shoegaze noise with a hint of Reichian repetition underneath, over which it chances a heroic solo. An extended coda brings their duelling violins back into play to heighten the tension.

Dad Rocks! - Body Mass Index

Whether heartfelt or in the cause of wryness, we know Snævar Njáll Albertsson writes songs about things others don't. Our newest taste of second album Year Of The Flesh, released 29th September, is largely piano-based before swells of full funereal brass and crash cymbals take over, a heartstring-tugging ode to a loved one close to death due to anorexia-related causes.

Hooray For Earth - Keys

On their second album Hooray For Earth still haven't decided whether to embrace anthemics or let such fall upon their attempt to introduce chugging guitars to pastel-shaded synths and vocals. The first single from new album Racy, out 29th September, sends the whole thing down dark, distorted lanes instead, an insistent pulse driving things onwards while sticking stingers under the wheels.

Dan Michaelson and The Coastguards - Burning Hearts

Michaelson's baritone croak might have set Absentee aside from the day's also-rans but it's found a more understandably useful home in countrified tones, such as the "misleadingly upbeat" (his words) electrified dustiness of this single from fourth 'solo' album Distance Is, out 18th August and featuring contributions from the Magic Numbers' Romeo Stodart, Johnny Flynn and ex-Metronomite Gabriel Stebbing.

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Weekends away: July 25th-27th

Deer Shed

WHAT? Reliable old 'family friendliness' from a festival that pledges to treat the kids well and the families sated. Other entertainments include Bob Stanley in conversation, scientific demonstrations and a Fall-based round table involving four ex-members (including both Hanleys). The site refers to a 'Time Travel' theme. If that means fancy dress there'll be trouble.

WHERE? Baldersby Park, Topcliffe, North Yorkshire

HOW? £109, soon to become £119

WHO? British Sea Power, Johnny Marr, Slow Club, Summer Camp, Toy, Steve Mason, Georgia Ruth, Pins, Cate Le Bon, Cheatahs, Sam Airey, Nordic Giants, Withered Hand, Post War Glamour Girls, Girls Names, Wolf Alice, Dan Le Sac vs Scroobius Pip, Stornoway, Woman's Hour, Happyness, PAWS, Teleman, All We Are, We Were Evergreen, Eliza And The Bear


WHAT? An eighth year of gathering the indiepop clans together in the grounds of a railway museum - the one thing you'll probably know about the festival is its acoustic stage in the goods wagon of a steam train, but that's not to overlook the stages in a tram shed and deconsecrated tin church.

WHERE? Midland Railway Museum, Ripley, Derbyshire

HOW? £72 either online or from the railway

WHO? Gruff Rhys, Allo Darlin', Joanna Gruesome, Dean Wareham, Spearmint (!), The Popguns, The Spook School, Sweet Baboo, The Chills, MJ Hibbett and the Validators, The Hidden Cameras, Laura J Martin, Trust Fund, The Just Joans, Withered Hand, Cosines, Let's Wrestle, No Ditching, ONSIND, Ravioli Me Away, The Flatmates, Nat Johnson, The Proper Ornaments, TeenCanteen


WHAT? Three days in which to take over central Sheffield for a sixth time

WHERE? Fifteen venues in the city

HOW? £28 for the weekend

WHO? Future of the Left, Public Enemy, Sky Larkin, Slow Club, The Wedding Present, Her Name Is Calla, Maybeshewill, Toy, Bo Ningen, Nordic Giants, Three Trapped Tigers, The Cribs, Katy B, Peggy Sue, Post War Glamour Girls, Rolo Tomassi, Esben and the Witch, Gold Panda, PINS, Talons, East India Youth, Menace Beach, The Beat, Ms Dynamite, Sivu, Juce, Rodney P & Skitz, Screaming Maldini, Veronica Falls, Woman’s Hour, VerseChorusVerse, Kerbdog, Brontide, Autobahn, Blessa, Sister Sledge