Monthly Archives: January 2010

Valerie Francis – Slow Dynamo (VF, 2009)

Nick: Well, it doesn’t do a lot for me.

I think it is musically very boring and by her trying to keep her voice that low key and whispery she drifts out of tune on a regular basis.

out of tune, really?

do you not hear that? my ears don’t tell lies!

your ears are 72 years old.

they’ve actually gotten better over time.

for some reason I don’t think the voice and the musical arrangements gel at all. maybe in some places but in mostly not at all.

{track 7: Stones}

that…..

had a certain amount of merit.

{record ends}

there’s not much else I can say. I found it very difficult to keep interest in it. it starts the way it ends.

also you can’t really judge her as a singer, she doesn’t sing.

what was it then? burping?

it’s melodic talk-whispering.

Valerie Francis has been nominated for a Meteor Award in the Best Irish Female category (along with Dolores O’Riordan, whoever that is) and her (great) album (don’t listen to Nick) has been nominated for the (rlly controversial) Choice Music Prize. And I know for a fact that she might win one or maybe both or possibly neither. I can feel it in my bones.

http://www.myspace.com/valeriefrancis

Beach House – Teen Dream (Bella Union/Sub Pop, 2010)

Nick: Teen Dream? oh my god!

huh?

the title of the album makes one fear the worst. I think.

it’s nice, very sweet. and slightly soporific, they are almost lullabies. so far.

it’s on the edge of…put a tinkly harp in there and it would be sickening.

at the moment it’s still bearable.

in terms of pictures I’d describe this as ‘Chocolate Box’.

however it’s eminently suitable for overly romantic girls between the ages of 12 and 16.

music to listen to while playing with a pink fluffy bear.

{track 9 – Real Love}

this is…slightly different. it suddenly has a little more bite.

it’s not crappily produced, it’s well done. but too sweet.

do you like them?

mlyehh….I’m not too gone on them no, they’re not awful. everyone is already saying album of the year.

who says that? their parents?

everyone, every single person on earth.

maybe I should leave earth so.

Awkward Indie Boning Album of the Year 2010!!

http://www.myspace.com/beachhousemusic

Drunken Boat – Plumb The Depths (Self Released, 2009)

Nick: Well, yeah.

they’re very serious aren’t they.

heavy.

and what’s wrong with being serious?

nothing! they just come across as sort of…ehh…hand knitted jersey, pipe smoking, philosophy discussers.

‘did you read page 260 of that Sartre book?, I’m going to write a song about it.’

not that there’s anything wrong with that.

I’m sure they are very nice guys but would you want your sister to marry one of them? would you like to go have a pint with one of them?

and I’m not so sure that I would.

No, it’s not so much…I don’t mind serious but this comes across as ponderous.

it’s like this guy who comes and sits beside you in a pub and you don’t know him from Adam and he talks all about the woes of the world and after five minutes you just have to say ‘oh for God’s sake lighten up!’

Lighten up? Look at that weather out there! Drunken Boat actually kind of sound just like a drunken boat, slowly crashing through stormy waves. It’s seriously serious, fantastic stuff.

http://www.myspace.com/drunkenboattunes

Vampire Weekend – Contra (XL, 2010)

Nick: Playful, poppy, folksy, jaunty.

likeable, very likeable.

it’s very clever as well I think.

how so?

musically it’s very cleverly put together.

they certainly have eh…a musical identity don’t they? play me another 1000 records and I could pick them out.

what are they called again?

Vampire Weekend.

totally unsuitable name, nothing about this is vampirical is it?

have you never heard of them before?

no, never, they are completely unknown to me.

but, I like them a lot. ok it wouldn’t be exactly my scene…

in almost every song they come up with something you haven’t heard before, they’re subtly inventive, they’re not just repeating the formula.

there’s something very…I don’t know why…maybe it’s his voice but there’s something very South American about it. it’s his voice and the rhythms.

there’s also nice classical things in it.

well it’s funny you should mention South America and I can totally see where yr coming from but they get a lot of stick for ‘ripping off’ African music or even worse ‘ripping off’ Graceland which was..

I was just about to say Paul Simon! before you said it I knew the next thing I was going to say was Paul Simon.

the ripping off thing is always a pretty sort of spurious comment because no one can write music that doesn’t refer to another piece of music.

you are always open to accusations of ripping off something.

in many ways we put far too much emphasis on being totally original. Beethoven wasn’t totally original, neither was Mozart. everyone listens, everyone is influenced and there’s nothing wrong with it.

I guess a lot of people had a problem with them because they were seen as ‘rich kids’ and…

it can be dangerous to know too much about an artist. I used to be very fond of Paul Klee.

who?

Paul Klee, he was a Swiss painter.

and I was so fond of him I actually got for my birthday, when I was quite young, I got his diaries. and after I read them… I’ve never been so disappointed.

he was a really obnoxious, arrogant bollix of a person.

put me right off him.

it’s never a good idea to know too much.

but I like this, it’s uplifting.

When I listen to Vampire Weekend I often think of my little brother, dunno why, it’s not like he’s a huge fan of theirs or anything. But yeah, I think of him and Wes Anderson movies.

http://www.myspace.com/vampireweekend


Alex Bleeker & The Freaks – Alex Bleeker & The Freaks (Underwater Peoples, 2009)

Do you think we could review the Alex Bleeker record without you mentioning the wah-wah?

Nick: haha, we can try!

it’s a very sympathetic sound, I think.

isn’t it?

you sort of…despite the fact….his mother shouldn’t have given him a wah-wah pedal for his birthday, you end up liking it.

it’s definitely music of the last century, nothing wrong with that.

it’s clangy.

do you know what I mean?

it’s metal, clang! I’m sure that’s want he wanted though.

{track 4 – Animal Tracks}

this reminds me of something.

it’s a cover.

yes but it’s probably a cover of something I don’t know.

yep.

haha, no it’s the voices, the way they’re put together.

but the whole thing sounds like it was recorded thirty years ago.

and the voices are old! it’s hard to believe these are guys in their 20’s.

maybe they’re faking it, maybe they’re in their 40’s? and they just got some young guys to pose for the cover?

actually you do get used to the wah-wah, it’s less irritating then it was yesterday, maybe they just should’ve toned it down a bit in the mix, it’s so obtrusive.

who has a voice like that?!?

it’s someone you play a lot. someone who has a voice very similar to that.

can you not think of it? a high, old voice?

I know what you mean, gimme a second.

I know who it is!

who?

Little Wings!

who?

When are Underwater Peoples gonna trip up? It’s like someone started a record label just for me! Alex Bleeker also plays bass in those champs Real Estate, most of Real Estate are The Freaks, with Julian Lynch on that ‘obtrusive’ wah-wah. These are haunted, dusty Country Rock jams. It’s nothing new but who cares about new? Special is where it’s at!

http://www.myspace.com/alexbleeker

J Dilla – Donuts (Stones Throw, 2006)

Nick: This is I expect one of those situations where the creator puts in a lot more than the casual listener can possibly take out.

I’d imagine you’d get more out of it with repeated listens, but this isn’t my scene, I wouldn’t be ready to give it the time it deserves.

there’s probably a lot of hidden meanings in it, but I’ll never find them.

I guess all I can say is that it’s cleverly put together.

this is unique to music right?

taking lots of different elements and making something new.

collage?

….yyy…..yeah, it’s not quite the same thing is it?

well maybe it is.

I’d like to try it with poetry, you might get sued pretty quickly.

it’s interesting if you think about it, language uses more of the same components than painting.

five poets still all use the same language.

whereas five painters have different brush-strokes, different…

there’s more words than colours.

I dispute that!

there has to be more colours, there is a limited number of words, colour is infinite, we’re not be able to distinguish them all but….

William Burroughs used a cut & paste technique in his writing.

did he?

so I’ve heard.

to the degree where you can notice the other bits of literature?

well I think he cut-and-pastes himself.

well that’s different then.

I have to say that large parts of this don’t work for me at all, it’s just so random.

well it sounds that way to me.

I can see the thought put into some parts.

maybe I’m just missing out.

is there…

this is a question.

is there any evidence of a person who wrote very good songs himself and then moved to sampling?

all depends what you call very good songs.

like…

I still have this sneaky feeling that the people doing this are technically and aurally quite talented but just not very creative.

I can’t for the life of me accept the ‘famous DJs’, it’s like having a famous museum curator.

that might be a very old fashioned and heretic idea.

the first person who comes to mind, in answer to your question…

yes.

is Panda Bear.

ehh who? hahahaha!

yeah I thought of him too, I know his music so well.

well we’ve reviewed him before here.

he’s in Animal Collective, but his last solo album was sample based.

he must have just run out of steam.

{Person Pitch begins}

oh I remember this!

yes this is very good, it’s not as random as the last one.

but he uses sampling as an instrument, like using a drum machine instead of drums.

the main creation is the melody and the lyrics.

whereas Mr…

Dilla

Mr Dilla, he puts together other people’s creations, he made the quilt, and in some places the quilt looks very nice.

who plays Beethoven’s 5th the best on their Gramophone? who dresses the nicest while playing it? who has the best wrist movement when putting the record on?

Some white guy in an Indie band told me to check out J Dilla.

http://www.myspace.com/jdilla


Clues – Clues (Constellation, 2009)

featuring ex-members of The Unicorns and Arcade Fire

Nick: Really?

{later}

this may be unfair, I have a feeling you need a few listens to really judge this properly, it’s interesting but muddy.

muddy in everything, the arrangements are too busy, I don’t know what they’re trying to do.

it’s unclear.

to a degree this is sort of…not extremely experimental but it is experimental.

to compare it with, for instance Radiohead, that had a shape and a form and direction that was very definite.

they knew why they were experimenting, they understood where they wanted to go.

but this is experimental while looking for a shape.

and sometimes they seem to be on track but then it goes off again.

it’s not the same as eclectic.

eclectic means you integrate lots of different styles.

I’m going to paint a watercolour, oh no let’s do an oil painting, oh shit wait, maybe it should be a linocut? or how about an etching?

I don’t know if I’m expressing this correctly, do you know what I mean?

I know this is a hobby horse of mine, but it all sounds dispirited.

if you compare it with the Arcade Fire, that has spirit and enthusiasm.

that’s what carries it.

I don’t think I’d want to live in a world where every band is as spirited as the Arcade Fire.

oh no, me neither.

you need some moany pricks.

yeah maybe, no, you do, I agree with that.

The tables have been turned! Nick is making me listen to Mumford & Sons. Clues are WAY better.

http://www.myspace.com/cclluueess