This Week's Best Album Streams: 6th February 2013
Okay, very clever guys – apparently the assembled internet-savvy bands of today all got together and decided to release their album streams the day after last week's feature dropped. So funny. My sides are slitting.
I also realised that, in my haste to share some still pretty excellent music with you,|I totally forgot to pen an intro in the last edition of my album streams round-up – and I know that's what you come here for – and for that I'm truly sorry. I've been busy, but I won't neglect you again. Like Jim Halpert in the most recent series of The Office, I lost sight of what's important to me. It's you guys. And I'm going to make it up to you. Starting with what might be the best selection of album streams to hit the web since I took over this most venerable weekly feature!
(And I'm assuming you've already heard m b v)
Kitty – D.A.I.S.Y Rage (Bandcamp)
The artist formerly known as Kitty Pryde – surname presumably dropped due to either a threatened Marvel Comics lawsuit or semi-related fanfifction backlash – finally shared her 'proper' debut release (it's eight tracks, is that an extended EP or a short LP?), following last year's gorgeous cloud-rap mixtape haha i'm sorry (grammar artist's own). D.A.I.S.Y Rage won't win over people who are already disinterested by the self-deprecating, yet surprisingly cogent, flow of an insecure white girl – but they don't deserve nice things. As Kitty's confidence has grown so has her voice (a pleasing mix of sugar and spice) and her lyrics, and her slight mickey-taking of rap's venerated history – from 'R.R.E.A.M. ("Rash rules everything around me" - a song about the effects of her anxiety disorder) – is extra charming. The spaced-out production is tip-top, and the new version of 'aw shawty' featuring Kool AD cohort Lakutis is a beautiful, dozy romantic duet.
Dobie – Well Will Not Harm You (Exclaim!)
Listing British producer Dobie's remix and behind-the-desk credits should give you good idea of his eclectic sound and pedigree – he was behind the firs two Soul II Sould albums, worked with London Posse, and provided re-workings of tracks by Bjork, Massive Attack and Gangstarr. Mixmag call him a "UK bass legend", and they're probably more qualified than me to make that judgement. What I can tell you is his first full-length for the Big Dada label reminds me of one DJ Shadow's DJ mixes around the time of Endtroducing... with the BPM doubled or tripled, and the treble sent the same way – breakbeats and basslines bounce off each other as obscure jazz samples fog everything up, vocal takes wander in and out at will, the keyboards sound like the Starship Enterprise's computers going haywire and – hey! – there's a song called 'Stan Lee Is A Hero Of Mine'! That I can understand.
Ólöf Arnalds – Sudden Elevation (Soundcloud)
Okay guys, you know the drill: Scandinavian artist, ethereal, beautiful, etc etc etc. But not quite – the Icelandic-tinged English-language singing (her first album outside of her native tongue) Arnalds is more restrained than the icebergs-splitting epics of Sigur Ros, the all-conquering dramatic pop of Lykke Li, or the electronic darkness of The Knife's hearts. Sudden Elevation is a simple, beautiful album of pretty folk songs sung with a voice as pure as the driven snow. Lovely.
Little Boots – Superstitious Heart (Soundcloud)
Victoria Hesketh would make a terrible spy. She released this new EP 'secretly' under the pseudonym 'LB'. Yeah. Still, whilst the nom de plume might've been lacking in imagination, the songs are an embarrassment of riches – forgoing the big hook/chorus eighties pop of Hands for a quieter, disco-inflected sound on the title track and the two-step 'Whatever Sets You Free'. They're about as far away from 'New In Town' as you can get whilst remaining in the same ballpark; her voice this time being amazing for its restraint. The songs are accompanied by remixes which, as usual in these cases, add nothing but funky (as in bad-smelling) effects.
So how about those Grammys, eh? Yeah I don't have an opinion on the Grammys. And neither should you – they're a institution of fossils who somehow have retained their basic auditory functions, but perfectly preserved their Jurassic musical tastes. Which is why Mumford and Sons have featured heavily in the ceremony the past couple of years. [read more]
My Twitter feed has been jammed with people talking about one central topic this past week: the John Lewis Christmas Advert. Has this become a thing? Have we so lost sight of tradition through our free market capitalism that we no longer see Christmas as a magical time? A time when people come together for one single, special event which we can all share - the first airing of the Coca-Cola Christmas Advert? [read more]
New year, new me. This is going to be my year. Oh, sorry, you already claimed it? Never mind then, I'll wait until the next one comes along, and hopefully I'll be quicker off the mark. Big changes are afoot for the 405, friends, but you can rely on me to stubbornly refuse to change. Unless this is your most hated feature, in which case, I'll continue to obnoxiously fuel your hate-reading. [read more]