February Highlights

It’s been a bit of a good month for new music, lots of stuff has been delighting my jaded old ears. Some expected, some not at all, if the rest of 2012 carries on like this it could be a landmark year!

I’ll start with a couple of albums that I predicted last month would be worth writing about (Spotify album links in the titles);

Crippled Black Phoenix – (Mankind) The Crafty Ape

In 2010 the prog/post-rock collective Crippled Black Phoenix produced I, Vigilante which ended up at number 5 in my end of year Top 50 which is a not too shabby result and their new, two disc, 85 minute album (Mankind) The Crafty Ape is likely to perform a similar feat! This is unashamed progressive rock and has definite hints of Pink Floyd about it. If this has you reaching for the off button then that’s your loss because this album has had me entranced since I got hold of it a few weeks ago. One of those rare releases that demands daily listens for a while just to satisfy my craving.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-hww41CRS0E]

The Twilight Sad – No One Can Ever Know

Third album proper from none-more Scottish indie kids The Twilight Sad, and it shows a huge stylistic shift away from the guitars to a much more electronic, krautrock inspired sound. As a big fan of their impressive wall of sound approach (especially live) I was initially sceptical but one listen to No One Can Ever Know has convinced me that this new direction is a very positive thing. They’ve not cheered up though, the songs here do not paint happy pictures!

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nn8jcPXYc1g]

Mark Lanegan Band – Blues Funeral

Oh my word, this is a bit special! Owner of one of my favourite singing voices in music, Mark Lanegan has not been idle in the years since 2004’s Bubblegum, The Twilight Singers, Soulsavers, The Gutter Twins, Isobel Campbell and others have all benefitted from his gravel laced rumble and has made it feel less than eight years since we had a Mark Lanegan album proper, but Blues Funeral is a fantastic welcome back! Literally cannot wait to see him do this stuff live in a couple of weeks!

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zP5GWYXp4d0]

Django Django – s/t

Onto a more poppier aspect now with Dalston’s Django Django. Currently all over BBC 6Music like a rash they’re in danger of over exposure but as I barely listen to the radio that’s not an issue for me. It’s been mentioned elsewhere and is plain to anyone with ears but they do strike a large resemblance to The Beta Band in places (none more so than the song below), but that’s not really a bad thing, plus they have an ex member of the band in their ranks. Psychedelic, fuzzed up but with pop’s restraining hand they stay on the radio-friendly side of things, they also sound a bit like a toned down Archie Bronson Outfit.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mvOiFmjExx4]

Field Music – Plumb

Another band that are enjoying heavy coverage on radio, they also seem to get a lot of gushing praise elsewhere so I decided to investigate the new album and on first listen I was a bit “meh, nothing special, what’s all the fuss about?” but I have persevered and I can start to see what people are banging on about. There is more to this album than meets the ears on first listen, it’s not edgy but it’s very nice.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sbXHOuBrDOA]

Burial – Kindred EP

An artist that if you’d told me a few years ago I would love and would play his latest EP again and again I would have vocally questioned your parentage and told you where I thought you should go, but love him I do! Normally I would have little time for grime, garage or dub-step but his last album Untrue was a bit of a revelation, its dark, rainy night in the city atmospherics seeping in alongside the beats making me sit up and think, actually I really like this! It became a bit of a soundtrack to my holiday to Borneo in 2008 as I referred to in one of the 30 Days of Music posts I did last year. Well, Will Bevan’s new EP just about tops everything he’s done up to now, 3 tracks clocking in at almost 30 minutes, it’s a bit of a bargain at £2.50! Pop over to the Hyperdub website and download it now!

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EcIJm1AeSkM]

Tindersticks – The Something Rain

Stuart Staples and co return with album number nine and it’s a real cracker, with some reviews saying it is their best in many a year! 2010’s Falling Down A Mountain never fully grabbed me all the way through and predecessor, 2008’s The Hungry Saw had a lot of good tracks but it felt a bit “light”, The Something Rain however feels like a complete experience with the nine minute spoken word opener Chocolate leading us into the songs proper. A rather beautiful album.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5v1eFVOj4is]

Sharon Van Etten – Tramp

Finally for this month’s highlights is an album by Brooklyn singer songwriter Sharon Van Etten. Now I’m not usually a big fan of the folky stuff, I tend to not dislike it but it doesn’t usually have me racing to listen more than once, and on first listen this album had the same effect. It was very nice but no more than that, but yet again, repeated listens have made me think it may be more than that. You can keep your Lana Del Rey’s I’ll stick with Sharon!

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hYgyQ20TJAs]

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  1. #1 by Kuz on March 5, 2012 - 9:28 pm

    Looking forward to sampling CBP, The Twighlight Sad and Mark Lanegan, fine artists one and all. As for Burial, I could never see what all the fuss is about to be honest. Just listened to Kindred on Spotify today actually but it’s a bit wishy-washy for me.

    Did you make it to Kylesa? Did you enjoy the show?

  2. #2 by IPreferTheirOldStuff on March 13, 2012 - 10:24 am

    I am not doing well with gigs so far this year, didn’t make it to Kylesa through tiredness and, let’s face it, laziness. Had tickets for Killing Joke and Mark Lanegan this weekend just gone which I was seriously well up for but a family bereavement meant I had to miss both of them 😦

    Ah well, ’tis early in the year yet!

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