on Thursday, 25 October 2007
It only seems like yesterday when i found myself slowly picking up my own musical identity, straying away from what amazingly when i was at school where thought of as unknown, weird bands, bands like Kenickie, Hefner, Sparklehorse and even to some extent The Smashing Pumpkins. Distributors such as Norman Records and Gayle Brogans Boa Melody Bar opened me up to a whole new world of underground music, the latter especially, it was here i believe that i heard of the excellent and now quite possibly my favourite band the Aislers Set a band so wonderful its hard to put into words how they make me feel. Fuzzy guitars, fairground keys, festive twinkles, handclaps and ba-ba-bas to die for. Songs that make you want to unashamedly dance in that way that long fringed indie pop boys do, songs to sing your heart out to, songs to drive to and songs you will never tire of.

Lately I’ve been going through a bit of a revival, particularly enjoying what i had felt was a disappointing third album, How I Learned to Write Backwards, a more sombre affair than the classic and possibly along with Amy Linton’s former bands, Henry's Dress sole album Bust ‘Em Green, favourite album in my collection, The Last Match, two albums that are currently racing up my Last FM charts. I hadn't really appreciated what a great album it was, how different it was and that really i shouldn't have been expecting another Last Match, instead a more sombre affair, a tired album, one full of melancholy, the downer than almost always any prolonged period of happiness. This is the Aislers Set come down album. Unfinished Paintings is barely there, all drowned in reverb and delicate strokes of guitar, sparingly picked, not too dissimilar to the route Dear Nora took following her early upbeat EPs. Was Either Easier likewise is bare in sound compared to The Last Matches garage band racket, the vocals sublime, the bass taking the lead for the first time and doing a fine job off it, complimenting the horns quite beautifully.
Catherine Says, Action Attraction Reaction, Languor in the Balcony and Mission Bells are more classic girl group yet again minimal in depth, but deep in reverb. These are lovely songs that given chance will become something special to you, only not in the same way that The Way to Market Station, Been Hiding, Balloon Song, The Red Door and We Give Up Did. This is the sound of the Aislers Set after they've been in love, after they've had their hearts broken, an all the more cynical Aislers but an utterly lovable Aislers all the same.
I often wish that the Aislers Set would grace us with another album and yet at the same time the three that they've given us are a little more than special. I'd hate them to come up with something half hearted, go fall in love!
on Sunday, 14 October 2007
Lavender Diamond - Imagine Our Love (Rough Trade)
Following much in the footsteps of what is already one of my favourite releases of this year, The Finches "Human Like A House" comes Lavender Diamond with what i believe is their debut album, Imagine our love, a collection of honey sweet country pop songs that stay just the right side of pop, instead of veering off into full on country. The vocals are a joy, taking on the almost yodled chorus of the very country Garden Rose, like Joanna Newsoms This Side of the Blue played at 10rpm, as glorious as you'd imagine. "i love how the garden grows/ and i love love the garden rose" soaring over sweeping violins and occasionally over excitable pianos. Open Your Heart is the albums obvious pop songs, pianos bashing out and hooks so instantly loveable you'd swear this was the work of the New Pornographers, the almost wordless chorus of "oh, oh oh" 's will instantly store itself in your subconscious mind, popping out at every possible opportunity.
Here Comes One carries the same instantaneous hooks, immediate and direct, near perfect pop. Side of the Lord and My Shadow is A Monday similarly are worthy of mention with their lovely Carpenters pop feel.
A worthy contender to the New Pornographers, Neko Case and Rilo Kiley.


Lavender Diamond - Open Your Heart MP3
Lavender Diamond - Oh No MP3
Lavender Diamond - You Broke My Heart MP3

Charalambides - Likeness (Kranky)
I first stumbled over the Charalambides in the late summer of 2002 care of an article in what i can only assume no longer printed Ptolemaic Terrascope, an amazing magazine, all psychadelic in appearance and in tiny print, so keen was it to stack as much information about all these amazing bands it knew of. In fact sitting here with the one copy that I had chance to get hold of, it is little more than a fanzine with a colour cover, much like the also missed Bees Knees, yet all the better for its simple appearance.
They described them Charalambides, pronounced Shar-a-lam-ba-deez as follows:
"Throughout the last decade, Tom and Christina Carter (occasionally augmented by Jason Bill) have created some of the most harrowing, mournful, sophisticated, soul-searching, and brutally honest music in the comfort of their home" the ensuing interview revealed a long history of albums released by obscure labels and featuring lengthy songs rotating around Christina's haunting vocal solo's whereby her voice became more of an instrument than a "voice" in the most traditional sense of the term.
However it was only last year that i began to seriously pay attention to them with the release of the excellent A Vintage Burden and now they're back with another fine release on the much revered Kranky label. They are clearly an acquired taste but certainly a rewarding one given the chance.


Charalambides - Do You See MP3
on Thursday, 11 October 2007
The Loves – One-Two-Three EP (Fortuna Pop!)
Mixing T Rex and Johnny B Goode, the Loves have cooked up the feel good song of the year. A chorus so good that you’ll be singing before you’ve even heard the song “I love you/ You love me/ we’ll be together/ One-Two-Three ugh-huh-huh!!”
The release also sees another reworking of a song from their debut Track and Field album, the simply titled “Love”. It’s Chelsea Girl this time that gets the make over, whereas last time the lovely aching, slow She’ll Break Your Heart was sped up into a French Pop cover of the Velvet Underground, here they do the opposite, dragging it out, almost like Low if they were hippies with flowers in their hair, one to sing along to broken hearted and sat in the rain.

MySpace (four songs for FREE download)

Fortuna Pop!

Some other tracks by The Loves

The Loves – X’s and O’s MP3

The Loves – I My She Love You MP3
on Tuesday, 9 October 2007
Venetian Snares – My Downfall (Original Soundtrack) (Planet Mu)
I've have for several years been a huge fan of Aaron Funks work as Venetian Snares and yet again i find myself in total awe of this prolific and immensley talented artist, it doesn't seem that long since i had my first Venetian Snares album closely held to my chest, the wonderfully titled Rossz Csillag Allat Szuletett, an album inspired by a trip to Budapest that had him return, learn the electric violin and trumpet and then make a near perfect album of classical experimental techno, whereby the well known violin sat alongside breakneck techno, rapid and erratic rhythms that only Mr Funk can pull off. On My Downfall (Original Soundtrack) we see a return to this classical sound, perhaps delving deeper still into the world of contemporary music, a sound that both Mozart and Godspeed would be proud of, sorrowful violins and angelic choirs mix with one another expressing both beauty and at time uneasiness, for instance the chilling Holló Utca 3.
This seems like a step forward for an already accomplished musician, whereas previous album, the clumsily titled yet still excellent Cavalcade of Glee and Dadaist Happy Hardcore Pom Poms relied heavily on his trademark drums, it seems that only four of the tracks here feature percussion at all, as always when it appears the results are astonishing but like all things good most are best in small doses and when saved for special occasions.
A landmark album and certainly an artist that deserves your attention and lives to up to any hype that surrounds him.

Sadly none of the below links are from the current album, you'll need to check MySpace for a taster, however the below are a fairly good introduction to the genius of Venetian Snares