August Musical Highlights

Crikey, the summer’s nearly over already! Soon kids will be back to school and the roads will return to their gridlocked glory, lovely 🙄 Anyway, let’s see, what delights have been gracing my ears this month.

The War on Drugs – Slave Ambient (Secretly Canadian)

Sounding like Bob Dylan and Tom Petty on vocals with Neu! and Jason Spaceman from Spiritualized on production duties, the second album from the Philadelphia band on Secretly Canadian is an intriguing mix of Americana rock and synthy shoegaze which after downloading last week has been rewarding my repeated listens, they’re new to me so I’ll have to make a point of seeking out their debut. Check out the video for single “Baby Missiles”;

Alexander Tucker – Dorwytch (Thrill Jockey)

I saw this guy when I went to 2006’s ATP Nightmare Before Christmas and really enjoyed his layered folk tinged drone, mainly because he was alone on stage and, thanks to his loop pedal, managed to build an impressive wall of sounds. However I’ve not really investigated anything of his on record, I always decided he was a better live proposition. But on reading good reviews of this his latest, mainly praising the melodies (which was a surprise as previous stuff was far more drone oriented), I decided to take a punt. I was right to do so, with spiralling strings, acoustic guitar picking and more upbeat folky vocals the album’s quite a captivating listen. I couldn’t decide between the two songs on youtube, so have them both!

Washed Out – Within and Without (Weird World)

There are a lot of Ws in that heading! Atlanta’s Ernest Greene released his full length debut last month following on from 2009’s widely well received High Times EP. This was a time that the genre variously called chillwave or hypnagogic pop was at its seemingly short lived height. In some quarters dismissed as just another hipster fad for music journos to cream over/slag off depending on which press you read, so has this debut missed the boat? Who cares, all I know is it has a clutch of summery, sun drenched tunes that don’t tax the brain but wash over you like a warm summer breeze, mmm, pass me the Pimms would you?

EMA – Past Life Martyred Saints (Souterrain Transmissions)

I’m a bit late with this one as it came out back in May but last weekend I was trying to catch up with some 2011 releases I’ve not got around to listening to and saw that this was getting good praise from various sites so decided to check it out. I need to give it a few more listens yet but it has promise. Erika M. Anderson has drawn comparisons to Cat Power, Siouxsie and Sonic Youth (the last I reckon due to the fact that she bears more than a passing resemblance to a young Kim Gordon!). In places I also notice PJ Harvey similarities but the jury’s still out on this one.

Chad VanGaalen – Diaper Island (Sub Pop)

Another one that the jury is still out on but I thought I’d include it as I think if I keep at it it will start to gel. I therefore can’t say that much about it but it does give me an excuse to post the fantastically trippy video for single “Peace on the Rise” again!

Blanck Mass – Blanck Mass (Rock Action)

Finally, yes, I did only review this last week but it has to show up in here as it might be the best thing I’ve heard this month! Blissed out, spacey ambient drone from Benjamin John Power (cool name!), one half of electronic noiseniks Fuck Buttons. Here’s a Blade Runner video for track “Land Disasters”, it fits pretty well with Ridley Scott’s dystopian vision.

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