Emma Pollock – Watch The Fireworks (4AD)
It was just last night that I and a good friend were discussing how difficult we were finding it to write songs of late, to come up with something new, in the past songs have come easily or at least there would be those days once or twice a week, maybe a month if I think deeply enough, the days and years all seem to float into one these days, when a song would fall together just out of nowhere, or a melody or riff would almost play itself. Just lately it all seems to sound so uninspired and as if it’s all been done before, I personally put my new deficiency down to the wider world of music that the internet has enlightened me with, an endless library of inventive tunes, too clever for me and more time consuming than I can justify, still although there is no shortage of people out there still bashing tunes out left right and centre in the traditional way, few do it so simply and so consistently as it would appear Emma Pollock does. I had previously concluded that she was simply a voice to Alun Woodward’s thoughts in the excellent Delgados but it would appear that she has more talent than I’d ever given her credit for.
You can still hear the Delgados in the general sound, 3 minutes into opening track Paper and Glue its classic Delgados piano breakdowns and sweet vocals, slightly tainted by an icy fear as it slowly moves into a lovely waltz outro and at times echoes Reasons for Silence. Acid Test is upbeat and fresh sounding, slightly more “pop” than the Delgados by and large were, Adrenaline likewise an ascending piano tune that needs no help in introducing itself to you.
If this does nothing more than make you aware of the existence of the Delgados and their excellent back catalogue then it will be a success, hopefully though it’ll help you realise what a rare talent Emma Pollock is.
Alaska in Winter – Dance Party in the Balkans (Regular Beat Recording Co.)
By simultaneously mixing Piano & Vocoder, Alaska in the Winter have created what may be the most original and ambitious pop albums of the year. It will not surprise you upon listening to them that their line up is as follows Brandon Bethancourt, Zach Condon (of Beirut), Heather Trost (of A Hawk and a Hacksaw), Hari Ziznewski (of Rap), Stefanie Lamm, Rosina Roibal (who played in the Kanye West live string section), Hilary Bethancourt, and Naila Dixon. There are obvious references to Beirut and A Hawk and a Hacksaw but here they are mixed with vocodered vocals that almost give some songs a daft punk feel.