This Week's Best Album Streams: 10th October 2012
I sat down to type this week's feature with a troubled mind; I had just learned that Mick Hucknall was to receive a lifetime award from The Radio Academy. If that bombshell wasn't enough, the same news article plowed in further with small artillery, informing me that over his career the singer has also earned three Brit Awards and two Ivor Novellos.
"What's the point?" I thought. "In a world of such horror and injustice, doesn't rounding up the week's best new album streams seem almost...trivial? Useless, in the face of this all-encompassing evil?" It was something I thought long and hard about, the Radio Academy chairman's opinion on Hucknall - a "true legend of British music" - sitting at the eye of this brain storm. "NO!" I shouted to my cat, "We need new music now more than ever. We must get over this national tragedy, make do, and mend." To help with the healing process, here are eight albums that appeared online this week.
Godspeed You! Black Emperor - ALLELUJAH! DON’T BEND! ASCEND! (The Guardian)
No doubt you already know the drill - four tracks over fifty minutes, post-rock de rigueur, tracks made up of strings and drones and other spooky noises to accompany the opening scenes of desolation in 28 Days Later - except it's all new! And all very, very good.
The Mohawk Lodge - Damaged Goods(Exclaim!)
Damaged Goods was conceived by Mohawk Lodge frontman Ryde Havdale during a long sojourn alone in the woods; however, because he's a Canadian who does these things all the time, he returned not with a collection of introspective folk songs, but with red-blooded anthemic rock in a Hold Steady, Titus Andronicus vein, albeit from the Great White North.
Daphni - Jiaolong (Soundcloud)
Dan Snaith of Caribou provides this corrective to "the EDM barfsplosion currently gripping the corporate ravesters" (his words, not mine) in the form of Jiaolong, a straight-up, unpretentious club banger with enough horn samples, vocal offcuts, and breakbeats - and enough brains - to earn it as much acclaim from MOJO as Mixmag.
Vessel - Order of Noise (Resident Advisor)
Bristol-based Vessel, meanwhile, picks up the ball of her hometown heritage and runs with it, dragging EDM into areas stranger and scarier than even Portishead or Tricky managed. It's an album that is so focused on atmosphere and texture, at times it seems like its barely there; pay attention, though, and there are darkly dubby delights to be found.
Tall Ships - Everything Touching (The 405)
It's taken them bloody long enough, but Tall Ships have finally brought their debut LP into harbour. And it's bloody fantastic - as our own Tom Walters writes, "the crunchy, sugar-sweet hooks that these guys craft with their repetitive riffage and synchronous synths" will be permanently ingrained in your memory ('Vessles' is still their best song, mind).
Martha Wainwright - Come Home To Mama(NPR)
All to often introduced as daughter of Loudon, sister of Rufus - see, I just did it too! - Martha Wainwright's latest outing is one that could break out of that rut; with motherhood on her mind, she focuses her typically confessional lyrics on both her new-born son and the loss of her mother, folk singer Kate McGarrigle, making Come To Mama a diverse album, echoed in the varied alt-roc/folk arrangements. 'Proserpina', the last song McGarrigle wrote, is heartbreaking; and one-ups Martha's song to her father, which was lovingly titled 'Bloody Motherfucking Asshole'.
Ben Gibbard (The 405)
When you've just broken up, you seek solace in the comfortably familiar: so, when the indie marriage of the decade crumbled, Zooey Deschanel took the titular manic pixie dream girl role in post-post-9/11 sitcom New Girl, and Death Cab For Cutie's Ben Gibbard has made a solo album of contemplative songs about relationships and sadness. In the process, he's also made one of his most upbeat, accessible records of his career (outside of the Postal Service), so I guess people can still surprise you.
Jason Lytle - Department of Disappearing (NPR)
The former (and once more?) Grandaddy frontman continues to pretend Grandaddy aren't a solo project in all but name, by releasing an album under his own name. Got that? Department of Disappearing has all Lytle's trademark slacker guitar sounds and robotic bleep-bloops, but as Derek Robertson points out, the now happily-married and country-living Lytle has replaced "sadness and melancholy" with "quiet optimism and satisfaction", without losing that sweet sound.
If you find any good album streams this week, Tweet me @tennis_everyone. But please don't abuse me like Rick Edwards once did.
This weekend has been a welcome lull. After the excitement of record store day it's the last free weekend until, ooh October, because festival season UK is GO. Live At Leeds, Land Of Kings, Camden Crawl this week, then the 72 hour mayhem of The Great Escape, before I'll Be Your Mirror, Dot To Dot...End Of the Road. Lordy. I'll have a cider if you're asking. [read more]
This afternoon more than any other, I truly need some good music to listen to. Because last night - for reasons that now escape me, and wouldn't excuse me regardless - my girlfriend and I sat combing through YouTube for the dregs of mid-00s scene kid music. The stuff that exists in the darkest recesses of your memory, the bands with names whose inherent awfulness is rivalled only by the songs themselves. I've had 'Shake It' by Metro Station stuck in my head for about twelve hours now. [read more]
This week's list has been the hardest to compile. Not because of lack of quality on the internets, but the exact opposite. Streams by Wallis Earl Beal and Chromatics, two of 2012's finest albums, have dominated my listening time, only interrupted by watching Orbital’s Wonky video and listening to, our SXSW correspondent, Shell Zenner's new show on Amazing Radio (Friday 1pm peeps). It’s been a good week. [read more]
Hey, it's May Fools Day! The day when newspapers, websites, the young and the young at heart, the lovably wicked and the total arseholes are united in their playing of pranks. Hm? A guy genuinely lost his live savings through playing a carnival game? The Instagram Act is a real thing? Ace of Bass are actually Nazis? And May Fools Day isn't a thing? Christ. I need a lie down. Maybe I'll listen to some new music while I do so. [read more]