Before we crack on with this week’s selection of five really good things from this week, a short aside about the state of the music industry.
This week there has been a frankly insane amount of good music, far, far too much for us to write about everything in any great detail. However as well as the five who made the final cut can we also recommend new tracks by (deep breath) Summer Salt, Tindersticks, Michael Nau, Besnard Lakes, Desperate Journalist, EXEC, Basia Bulat, Courtney Barnett, Explosions In The Sky, Merival, Mogwai, Jack Shriner, VHS, Lion Limb, Emilie & Ogden, Mass Gothic, Tacocat, Victoria Hume, exmagician, The Pooches and Promise & The Monster. Just click on the name to be taken to their new sounds, if you don’t like any of those then it might be time to just give up…
5. Hanging With The Stars
London psych-folk types The Hanging Stars have this week confirmed details of the release of their hotly anticipated debut album. Over The Silvery Lake will be released in March as a split release between The Great Pop Supplement and Crimson Crow. The album was recorded in locations as wide ranging as Los Angeles, Nashville and Walthamstow, and the band have hinted that the locations have both inspired and shaped the album that they have made.
This week they’ve shared the latest taste of the album to come in the shape of single, Running Waters Wide. Whilst we’re not hearing an awful lot of the influence of Walthamstow in it, there’s certainly more than a hint of LA, with Laurel Canyon-inspired vocal harmonies melding with prog-tinged guitars and synthesisers. The track marks The Hanging Stars out as contemporaries of modern-Americana acts such as Ryley Walker, Midlake and Jonathan Wilson. They might be from this side of the pond but their musical heart clearly lies somewhere on the East Coast and dates to around 1975, and they’re every bit as interesting and accomplished as the acts that clearly influenced them.
Over The Silvery Lake is out via The Great Pop Supplement/Crimson Crow on March 11th.
4. Heavenly New Single From Amber Arcades
You may remember we mentioned Amber Arcades, the project of Dutch musician Annelotte de Graaf, back in October when she gave away her excellent EP Patiently. Back then we marked her out as one to watch, and as this week she has announced her signing to Heavenly Recordings, we weren’t the only ones who noticed her undeniable talent.
Whilst details of her debut album are patchy at best, it’s earmarked for Spring but that’s all we know, Annelotte has this week shared the first single to be lifted from the record Turning Light. The track marks a gentle shift in direction replacing the dream-like, lo-fi folk sounds of her earlier work with driving motorik-beats and crisper clearer vocals, with inevitable comparisons to Stereolab jumping to mind. The track came about from a heady mix of jetlag and accidental melodic matchmaking; Annelotte stumbling in to the studio unable to sleep and finding bassist Keven Laureau (a member of the excellent Quilt) jamming a krautrocky bassline, a unwitting perfect match for an unplaced vocal that wouldn’t leave Annelotte’s head. This track serves as a stunning sample of what to expect from her debut album, that looks set to be the latest great record from the Heavenly label who seemingly aren’t putting a foot wrong at the moment.
Amber Arcades tours the UK in April supporting Nada Surf.
3. Heading Down The Mine With Mothers
There’s quite possibly no band on this planet who’s album we’re more excited about currently than Mothers. Up until this week that was as a result of just one track, the stunning minimal-heartbreak that was the albums lead single, Too Small For Eyes. This week the band have shared another taster of the album in the shape of second single, Copper Mines; thankfully it lives up to our self imposed hype.
What we weren’t expecting though was the huge stylistic shift; whilst Too Small For Eyes was textural music, making use of space and allowing the beautiful vocal melody room to weave its way into your mind, Copper Mines is a completely different beast. Incorporating a more traditional rock sound, it’s resplendent with distorted guitars, crashing drum beats and waves of fuzzy thrills, lurching from the intensity of Fugazi to the slacker pop of Pavement. It’s a complete curveball which begs the question just what is their debut album going to sound like, we’re now a lot more unsure and perhaps even more excited to find out.
2. Eenie Meenie Meilyr Jones
This week saw our first gig of the year, and a very early contender for the best gig we’ll see this year. Former Racehorses frontman Meilyr Jones brought his hugely talented band to the capital for a sold out show at Electrowercz. He ran through a set of potential future hits, opening with latest single, How To Recognise A Work Of Art; with its trumpet line that must surely be lifted from a Saturday afternoon BBC Sports Show of the early 1990’s. Meilyr is a natural frontman, possessing the style of Ian Curtis, the moves of Mick Jagger and the laid-back banter of Gruff Rhys, an hour spent in Meilyr‘s company is an hour well spent.
Meilyr is joined on stage by a hugely accomplished and versatile band, they have to be to keep up with his chamelon-like musical stylings that see him race through genres from orchestral pieces, to complex art-pop and piano-led balladeering. Meilyr dedicates the set to, “another man born Jones” before launching into an experimental, and intriguing take on his own track Strange Emotional merged with the Bowie classic Rebel Rebel, a fittingly non-conformist take, it’s hard to imagine the great man could be anything other than impressed. The set finished on the excellent, and as yet unreleased, Featured Artist, it’s the sign of a musician confident in the music he’s making and hints at just how good his upcoming album could be.
1.Field Music Share Disappointing New Single
In the alternative-music sphere there can be few more anticipated releases than the upcoming Field Music album, Commontime. The bands sixth album, it will see the light of day next month on Memphis Industries. This week the band shared the album second single, Disappointed.
It’s about as close to a straight-forward pop song as Field Music are ever likely to get, the Brewis brothers consciously embracing the, “simplicity and directness of the pop music we love”. From its hook-laden chorus, to the vocals noticeably front and centre, Disappointed is the huge pop-single they’ve hinted at before, but never fully embraced. Lyrically the track tells a tale of a couple trying to find love when they’ve already built lives, and expectations of how relationships should be, they’re older, more guarded and unable to leap head first into what could be perfect, Dave sings “if you need me to be everything, you’re going to be disappointed”. Disappointed with a song this good? Not a chance Dave, you’ve knocked it out of the park…again!