on Saturday, 29 December 2007
Shady Bard - From The Ground Up (Static Caravan)
There's something undeniably beautiful about the work of Lawrence Becko's baritone vocals, bound to put some people off, others will just find it that bit more loveable, that bit more human, especially when you hear the wonderful lyrics set to such lovely piano based post rock, never going full on Explosions in the Sky but certainly heading that way towards the finale of the wonderous Penguins. Tracks such as Summer Came When We Were Falling Out and Fires are organic and frail almost amateur in appearance with milk bottle melodies and whistled refrains, acoustic post rock, and much lovelier for it.
The sound is wintry and beautiful yet is as warm as it is cold with enchanting lyrics such as "I think i'll take a walk in the park/ it's a cure for a broken heart" perhaps evoking slight comparisons to bands such as Low or The Tindersticks, maybe even The Twilight Sad in four albums time, less frantic and more experienced in life.
Bobby is reflective and not afraid to take & admit responsibility for past errors, humble and delightful and really nothing less than the quality you would expect from the superb Static Caravan label. These Quiet Times is angelic "I'll catch you falling, I'll catch you falling, I'll catch you falling , when you least expect" full to the brim of the kind of reassurance we all need in this paranoid world we have to cope with, Eluvium style piano's enter as the song peaks and the moment is just wonderful as the final chorus breaks in "won't you feed the birds in the winter time?"

Windmill - Puddle City Racing Lights (Melodic)
At the other end of the spectrum we have Windmill, for once an artist who can justify comparisons to the Flaming Lips, Neil Young and Mercury Rev, comparisons so relentlessly handed out to anyone with a remotley falsetto vocal.
The songs again are wonderful, upbeat and also resemblent of the much missed Homescience, mixing beats with classic piano chords this album is again nothing short of brilliant. The songs are heart wrenching yet wonderfully honest.
Interestingly Static Caravan have previously released one of the album highlights, opener Tokyo Moon, do you really need any more evidence that this label is genius?



on Friday, 28 December 2007
Gui Boratto - Chromophobia (Kompakt)

Following on nicely from yestedays piece on Pantha Du Prince comes the superb Gui Boratto. Despite the meaning behind its title, Chromophobia, literally fear of colours, the album is one of the most colourful offerings of the year. Bright, shiny, fun minimal techno, not a million miles from Pantha Du Prince with an extra dash of Vitalic energy thrown in.

Gui Boratto - Terminal mp3
Gui Boratto - Gate 7 mp3


Minimal Land

Motel De Moka

Takagi Masakatsu - Girls - Lumines II
If you need something beatiful and inspiring in your life, you could do worse than start here:

on Thursday, 27 December 2007
Pantha Du Prince - This Bliss (Dial)

In a year when the phrase dubstep has been used to death, a year when Burial have been hyped to death, if not in the media at least in the "forum" scene, and both Burial & The Field have released so called "contenders" for album of the year, I've found myself a little more than disappointed with their output, I will admit to perhaps not giving them the attention they clearly do deserve, after all these are recommendations from people I trust, however when you stumble across an album as instantly great as Pantha Du Princes This Bliss it makes me wonder whether i'll even bother to take the time out to give them albums another chance.

I'm sure some will argue over the genres, one is dubstep the others minimal techno but ultimately they all fit into the same bracket and for I Pantha Du Prince comes in clear winner.

Soundwise I can't really argue with Last.Fm but let the music do the talking.

"Pantha du Prince, also known as Henrik Weber, is a minimal artist producing music in affiliation with Hamburg's Dial Records. His music is often characterised by a hypnotic, intricate combination of melodic chimes and dark, heavy techno beats, but does not confine itself to a single sound or strain of minimal techno. Arrangements are lush and textural, energising yet melancholy; a plethora of sounds and ideas unified by a consistent underlying tech-house beat."

Sources -
on Monday, 24 December 2007
Kashiwa Daisuke - Program Music I (noble)

I was stupid enough to make the mistake of mixing up Kashiwa Daisuke & Daisuke Miyatani both releasing albums this year and both with similar artwork & names to the untrained English man, so i was rather suprised to see the normally reliable Silent Ballet raving over this release and more suprised still to see it awarded number 6 in their end of year top 50 instrumental albums of 2007 as i'd been less than impressed by Daisuke Miyatani's work.

Hence why i'm sat here giving Program Music 1 the attention it deserves. Two tracks, the first Stella is stella by name and stella by nature, clocking in at almost 36 minutes its an awe inspiring trip through a fragile and beautiful outlook of the world. This again shares an affiliation with World's End Girlfriend, snow blowing in your eyes, cold and harsh yet ultimately turning the tired landscape you see day in day out into a winter wonderland of enchantment. Kashiwa has the ability much like Godspeed to write a song that clocks in well above the average length and yet never outstays its welcome. Within a loosely knit genre that often relies on repitition and indelibly written formulas never once does Stella sound like its treading familiar ground or running short of ideas.

Track 2, Write Once, Run Melos clocks in at a mere 26 minutes and again is nothing short of astounding, seemingly more electronic, this will thrill anyone who was even half as consumed as i was by this years Motoro Faam or Cloaks albums, a lovely melding of classical piano and electronic decay for a world weary, politically tired generation. This could well turn into this years favourite mistake.

on Sunday, 23 December 2007
Yasushi Yoshida - Secret Figure (Noble)

Much in the vein of World's End Girlfriend the work of Yasushi Yoshida is equally as stunning though perhaps not quite as ambitious. Lonely footsteps and gently picked out piano notes compliment and grace the achingly lovely violins, the ones that we're familiar with from the quieter bits of Godspeed You! Black Emperor and maybe more appropriately Max Richter.

Dance Piece is simply gorgeous, a text book demonstration in how to make the most of the bits between the notes, each one leaving you hanging on, yet not so long that you lose interest, instead you are always rewarded and then just as you reach the four minute mark it all comes together, slow like the sunrise over the distant mountains, but just as with each passing span something new is revealed, something comes that bit clearer and as such that little bit more beautiful.

Octave Leaves is all footsteps in snow & eerie pianos that remind us of the first A Silver Mt. Zion album, yet here the sound is less steeped in politics, rather focusing on extracting the best of what we have.


on Saturday, 22 December 2007

World's End Girlfriend - Hurtbreak Wonderland (Human Highway)

Where this time last year I was being seriously blown away by Johann Johansson’s delightful Ibm 1401 - a User’s Manual this year there is a new album in my life that touches on every beautiful note given to man, a musical vision steeped both in classical and electronic music yet never sounding (despite its brilliance) as harsh as Venetian Snares Rossz Csillag Allat Szuletett, instead in bathes itself with lush sweeps of field noises, birds singing and ever so occasionally blasts of jazz like discordance.

The echoes of piano that pass through Birthday Resistance are sublime but these are soon forgotten as Katsuhiko Maeda begins the 13 minute trip through 100 Years of Choke, a song as life affirming as the video for We Are The Massacre is brutal. This is truly something special, a gentle comedown for the fans of Mono whose interest in World's End Girlfriend must have been triggered by his recent Palmless Prayer collaboration. That was good, this is ten times better. If you need some inspiration in your life then you couldn't do much better than this.

World's End Girlfriend - 100 Years of Choke mp3
World's End Girlfriend - Ghost Of A Horse Under The Chandelier mp3


Sparky's Magic Piano - Feel The Beat and Do It Anyway (MelodyFactory)
An album of sweet and naive pop songs, the opening four of which would've made for a fantastic EP. Yet this is not to say that the rest is throwaway, far from it. Instead simply that the openers Like Falling in L*ve, Mend, the staccato robo pop of Coffee Song & Something Somewhere are near perfect pop much in the vein of all things Amelia Fletcher, i.e. Heavenly, Talulah Gosh, Tender Trap etc, perhaps Tender Trap particularly as the sound is more electronic than you'd expect from the aforementioned.

Sparky and You Like Her are more sparse, losing the electronics and falling somewhere between Whistler and the Englishness of Black Box Recorders Sarah Nixey or The Pines Pam Berry.

Kaliedoscope is lovely in the way that Kenickie's Acetone was lovely, in the way that sometimes when you really want to say something you just can't get those exact thoughts out and so some of the notes strived for aren't quite reached but you know exactly what she means and respect it more for not being afraid to show she's not perfect.

A lovely sweet album of synth pop that worth your attention if initially only for those four great opening tracks.

on Monday, 3 December 2007

Lacrosse - This New Year Will Be For You and Me (Tapete)

I have a thing for Deers, well not a thing, just that I think in animated form they have a real elegance and pull, my favourite t-shirt being the deer covered Bat for Lashes tshirt, my favourite character in Willy Fog, Brigadier Corn. As such it’s no real surprise how easily i was led to the excellent front cover of the new album from Lacrosse,

I can't really argue with the Last.Fm description as follows:

"...above all, Lacrosse is five boys and one girl making fantastic pop music. From a basement in Stockholm, Lacrosse brings you love and happiness in songs so catchy that you can't help singing along! With a lot of energy, two intense lead vocalists, incredibly sweet guitar melodies and blazing drum beats, Lacrosse is the musical equivalent of endless summer nights when the world is young and beautiful and everything seems possible."

Lovely and instantly loveable, this pales last month’s Tullycraft love affair into insignificance, I know I fall in love with a new band on a weekly basis, it was Lavender Diamond prior to Tullycraft, the Aislers Set and the Blow before that but here we have something truly special, this is the album Architecture in Helsinki have always threatened to make, this is how good In Case We Die could have been had each and every song been as good as It's 5! and Frenchy I'm Faking. Canadian summers, roller skates and good times abound, I’ve had this album on constant repeat since I got it and can't see that changing any time soon, a potential late entry for album of the year I propose, certainly more fun than the pundits choice of Burial, a discovery and a half.


Lacrosse - This New Year Will Be For You And Me Play MP3
Lacrosse - Who Will Bring Us Together MP3
Lacrosse - You Can't Say No Forever MP3
Lacrosse - Sunshiner MP3

Carl Sandburg Visits Me In A Dream Blog
Fingertips Blog
Lets Pretend we're Bunny Rabbits Blog
on Sunday, 2 December 2007

Bogdan Raczynski - Alright (Rephlex)
For those recently finding themselves suitably satisfied by Venetian Snares latest album My Downfall but a little disapointed at the sparing use of ridiculously fast beats, for those who prefer more breakneck offering such as his Infolespsy EP and Cavalcade of Glee and Dadaist Happy Hardcore Pom Poms LP the brand new album from Bogdan Raczynski will be a blessing. Coming from interesting roots, born in the US, schooled in Japan and eventually becoming homeless and living on the streets of Tokyo, he now finds himself sitting comfortably on Richard D James Rephlex label and releasing techno-electro-8bit-breakcore to the delight of my ears on the recently emerged album simply entitled Alright, taking a leaf not only from Aaron Funks tree but also that of Aphex and recent discovery to me, the excellent Ceephax.

Darren Hayman - Darren Hayman and the Secondary Modern (Track & Field)
I've long since championed the genius of Darren Hayman, stood by him in each and every outfit, from Hefner, arguably one of my favourite bands ever, The French and finally Darren Hayman as a solo outfit (no doubt the completist will add that I’ve missed some more and you'd be right) what i hadn't realised was that he hasn't been performing to the high standards we were once so used to, I’ve enjoyed each and every album but i do remember when We Love the City and Dead Media came out being disappointed, yes they grew on me but ultimately in comparison they weren't really a patch on the exceptional The Fidelity Wars and Boxing Hefner, good but not as good.
And so here we find Darren firing on all cylinders churning out the kind of tracks that seem plucked from our everyday lives, our broken hearts and our deepest sentiments. Elizabeth Duke is wondrous "I bought you a ring form Elizabeth Duke/ I took my own sweet time before proposing to you/ Because all those night when you looked so beautiful/ i forgot to tell you how much I loved you". Art and Design sketches its way about complicated love scenarios, Straight Faced Tracy again is lyrically magnificent as we always expect, "I checked out the barometer/ I read the weather vane. I’ve got sensible walking shoes/ I've got my walking Cane...Tra----cy, I’ve been looking down the M11 link road"
A national treasure and one right on top of his game.

Album Preview
Tullycraft - Every Scene Needs A Center (MagikMarker)

I've fallen further and further away from the world of indie pop, however after recently acquiring the Aislers Set The Last Match in digital format for the first time my thirst has been somewhat renewed. And it would seem that this happened at just the right time, coinciding nicely with the release of the new Tullycraft album, a band I had heard lots of but never really heard anything by and oh how I wish I’d made the effort with them earlier. From the opening seconds it’s clear that this band are even more likeable than Vince Noir, the kind of music it would be seemingly impossible not to like. The Punks are Writing Love Songs will have you singing along to its o-weee-o's before you've even reached the second chorus. Twee as can be and proud of it, pretty much every song grabs you and pulls you from your seat, Georgette Plays a Goth, If You Take Away the Make-Up (Then the Vampires They Will Die) and A Cursed Miss Maybellene, with its first album Looper-esque keys, naive and lovely, being my favourites. Songs like Dracula Screams of Tiger Style (Parts 1&2) clocking in at 7:25 shows another side to Tullycraft proving they are not just one trick ponies, though to be fair it would bother me one bit if all they did was churn out pop song after pop song.