Thursday, 12 April 2012

Music Round Up and its about time too!!

Ok ... there is a reason that my "This Year in Music" page languishes in the farcical doldrums of 2011, I have been "tired and uninspired" by all facets of the world of rock and pop. Its only with the following recent crop of releases that I dip my toe back in the pool with trepidation. Today's world of music enjoyment and consumption is vastly different to the nadir of the late 90s / early 00s when the CD single dominated with its multifarious versions and artists pushed the time limits on the CD format and graced us with 40 mins of near pop perfection and 34 mins of filler dregs and dross. But good or bad, at least it was exciting!!! Who really cares these days?

I for one still do, but my patience is being tried on a constant basis with each dissappointing release after another.

Lets start with the freshest of the fresh - Django Django - the name conjures up less than positive visions of the worst excesses of Jazz Prog - endless snare drum solos with intermittent marimbula flashes and the odd diaphragmly challenged solo trumpet parp! But fear not minions, this is fun pop, or rather rock/pop at its most funnest (sic)! Finally the UK has something tolerably decent to offer. We're nowhere near stadium fillers yet, but these young scottish lads are starting to make the right waves. Admittedly I championed Micachu at some point and where are they now? But this is exactly the kind of Pop I want to hear right now. So I won't be winning awards as an A&R man anytime soon, but they've gone the way of the proverbial dinosuars anyways. I will recommend this self-titler for anyone after a bit of non-taxing escapism - its fun.

Keeping in the same frame of delusionary pop escapism, I also recommend Miike Snow's Happy To You, despite every hipster unloving (and that is reverse ironic psychology to a T) rock zine's lukewarm responses. These Swedish boys know their way round a tune and have a keen ear for a pop arrangement. And isn't the Devil's Work the perfect pop song? No seriously, it is!

Staying on the convivial tip, Michael Kiwanuka's Home Again is a retro throwback to the early 70s soul albums chocked full of horns and the odd country and western flirtation ... yeah Ronson and his ilk has beaten this Londoner to the punch ... but Michael has an old country folksy flair that inches it above the rest of the commercial dross clogging up the internets these days.

Moving onto a bit of noisy shenanigans, we have The Men's Open Your Heart - noisy and energetic, there's not much else I can say but you need the right attitude and a sturdy set of ear drums. In certain contexts and situations this is Essential listening - if you are a little sensitive, then move on.

Xiu Xiu's newie Always is drama dialled to 11. Xiu Xiu's Jamie Stewart always sounds like a man on the edge backed up by a room full of people banging on hard rubbish with steel pipes. But hiding between the klings and the klangs are some stirring melodies and a heightened sense of melodrama.

Similarly dramatic but a little more sombre is The Twilight Sad's No One Can Ever Know. Its that scottish brogue that gets me. Its thick and seductive, much like the music underpinning this band's devastating lyrical turns. This is meaty emotional rock and they deserve every accolade they get and a bit more attention.

To cool things down a little we have King Creosote and Jon Hopkin's Diamond Mine - these are quiet contemplative and narrative songs - I'm sure there is some underlying concept here but who cares - just listen and let it all seep in ... they're beautiful.

And finally, just for a bit of dance around the loungeroom fun we have The 2 Bears' Be Strong - dance fluff to make even the most unfortunate looking feel beautiful and sexy inside. And how could you say an unkind word about music that does that.


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