wild nothing - nocturne
Jack Tatum's Wild Nothing made a pretty impressive showing with its last album, GEMINI. The debut album was a beautiful collection of lo-fi, reverb-drenched dream pop. Comparisons were drawn to The Smiths, The Cure, Joy Division, New Order, and a variety of other 80's new-wave bands. The comparisons are apt: Tatum's music lends a lot of tonal cache to the nostalgic bands of decades past. Wild Nothing's music isn't unoriginal though; while it may be inspired by the work of others, Wild Nothing is a band that could have only existed now. The band's second album, NOCTURNE, feels like GEMINI with a bigger budget. It's not quite as lo-fi, but the same shoe-gazing soundscapes are here.
Lead track "Shadow," (and also one of the album's singles) is an immediate mission-statement. Most of what you need to know about the album can be found in its first track: reverb-drenched vocals, an airy and loose quality to the instrumentation, romantic lyrics -- it's all represented here. "Paradise" takes listeners on a strange sonic journey that leads through multiple arrangements, sustained by Tatum's more baritone vocals. "This Chain Won't Break" and "Disappear Always" are a little more grounded than Tatum's normal dream-pop work, and the detour proves to be a successful one. While Wild Nothing is good at being romantic and dreamy, some of the most successful songs feature the band playing to their most "normal."
Fans of Beach House, The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, or The Horrors (more recent output) would be advised to check out Wild Nothing's work. While I still prefer their debut, GEMINI, NOCTURNE is a solid listening experience. Essential tracks to sample/download: "This Chain Won't Break," "Disappear Always," and "Shadow." This album proves that GEMINI wasn't a fluke and that songwriter Jack Tatum is a musical identity to keep an eye on.
matthew e white - big inner
For those of you who have been longing for that type of experimentation, which Lampchop majored upon in their greatest album "Nixon" (2000) then your search is complete. On this new album "Big Inner" out of the corner of some dark studio emerges 29 year musician Matthew E White who takes country, soul and R&B and serves them up in a big old stew which Kurt Wagner would warmly applaud. He uses the label "Blue Eyed Soul" and it is an intoxicating confection of sweet sounds and farm house spirituals played a big musical collective of musician straining like greyhounds at the start to get going. White is a session musician by trade but more than this he has his own Spacebomb Records imprint and intends to use this with vision. Thus he harks back to the days of Stax records, has a recording studio in Richmond Virginia and a house band, with the idea being that artists signed to Spacebomb will utilise all these musical facilities including the session players on the spot.
On the evidence of "Big Inner" he has chosen his musical comrades, including a full horn and string section, with real care and they produce an album which has first class honours written all over it. It includes seven tracks all anchored by White's soulful almost spoken vocal and the sort of backdrop which labels like Stax and the Muscle Shoals studio in Alabama used to patent. Opener "One of these days" sets a groove with a big rolling bass to provide the architecture but is never showy or booming. It relies on the growing rumble of horns, the interjection of the an occasional soulful guitar and White's slowly unfolding vocal teasing the song to its almost Southern gospel conclusion. Indeed religion is present on this album and clearly if it was good enough for Otis Redding then its good enough for White (who in turn must have borrowed that white suit on the cover from Eric Clapton's wardrobe circa 1973?) Next up the brilliant standout "Big love" alternatively is pure funk with a piano so wicked it should be exorcised. "Will you love me" references the melody of Joe South's "Games people play" with part of the lyric of Jimmy Cliff's "Too many rivers to cross". It will plant itself in your head like Japanese Knotweed and refuse to budge. It is a much more poignant ballad which follows in the shape of "Gone Away" where almost Randy Newman style hymn emerges, dedicated to the death of one of White's cousins. That said if there is a problem with the album it is that it rarely touches the Richter scale in terms of excitement and on this track the languid spell woven by White becomes wearing on the repeated spiritual refrain that closes the song. Much better is the Allen Toussaint shuffle of "Steady Pace" and the far more robust rootsy ballad "Hot Toddies" which ends with a throbbing jazzy rhythm workout.
The whole kit and caboodle is rounded off with the nearly 10 minute long "Brazos" that builds to a big funky ending, is imbued with overt religious imagery and encapsulates the many great elements of the album but also the odd tendency towards repetition. Whatever the case Matthew E White and Co have built an impressive soul mash up on "Big Inner" which harks back to the glory days of great American labels but throws in enough modernity to be highly engaging. Ultimately this is a gentle, subdued and fetching album by consummate musicians plying their songs with an underpinning ethic firmly located within the old school of mastering a musical trade with impeccable technique and expanding upon it. The "Big Inner" takes its soul stew and delivers on all the ingredients.
spider bags - shake my head
the first album by the spider bags, 'a celebration of hunger' blew my mind. i listen to it almost every day. the second album, 'goodbye cruel world. hello crueler world', had to grow on me but now the fourth track is permanently etched into my ears (and my heart but that's too sappy to admit). this third album, 'shake my head', was a big departure at least in terms of sounds and eq. but that doesn't mean it isn't some of the best music. ever. this album deserves at least three good listens before you decide how you feel about it. that means that either way, you need to purchase it. if you end up hating it, just give it to someone with better taste. just kidding. because you won't hate it.
wishmountain - tesco
mum - early birds
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