The intense post-punk disco of Chromatics has been celebrated this week through the feature of 2015’s ‘Shadow’ on the new two-hour reboot of Twin Peaks. In fact, Johnny Jewel and group appear on performing the song in the show’s Bang Bang Club.
Good morning folks. Kieran Leonard of Saint Leonard’s Horses is an intriguing singer-songwriter. In the past few years, he’s toured with Ryan Adams, Father John Misty, Bob Dylan, The Strokes, Beck and The Libertines. He’s kept good company and so why lock yourself away on Stanley Kubrick’s family estate in St. Albans? The answer is that he wanted to harness the creative forces that a large mansion and an analogue setting brings. Exile on Main Street? You be the judge. Leonard released the single ‘Underwood Milk’ shortly after resurfacing from the Kubrick recording sessions. Have a great week.
On the title track of last year’s album Another One, the languid Mac DeMarco contemplates whether another is knocking at the door of his loved one. Like a second part to his introspective ‘Chamber of Reflection’, the song builds on his impressive and explorative diary of common travails. Have a great week.
The androgynous Héloïse Letissier (aka Christine And The Queens) is a mainstream star in her native France. Listening to her best-selling long player Chaleur Humaine, you can understand why. Despite this, the album’s most catchy track ‘Christine’ has been translated for wary anglophones. The song was released on the Parisian label Because Music in 2014. The company rerecorded and reissued as ‘Tilted’ a year later.
And now the perfect antidote to to the midweek dad rock that just passed… last year, Canadian electronica trio BTSM teamed up with Belgian techno head LeKtriQue to produce some filthy, brain-melting trance. Listening to the Far Too Loud Remix of ‘Religion’ is not relaxing, but it does conjure up images of smoke, laser lights and dance.
The Walkmen may have been on studio hiatus for the last few years, but that’s not to say that frontman Hamilton Leithauser has been quiet. He released a solo LP Black Hours in 2014 and has since been collaborating with another member of the band, guitarist Paul Maroon. Last year, the two of them teamed up for Dear God. ‘Proud Irene’ is the opening track on the album.
A classically trained flautist and singer, Melanie de Biasio released the long player No Deal in 2013. On the album, the Belgian-born singer dazzles listeners with a cover of ‘I’m Gonna Leave You’. Two years later, the album was remixed as No Deal Remixed for which Gilles Peterson called upon some of his mates to contribute. The Cinematic Orchestra got the honour to work the Nina Simone track.
A year or so ago, Deerhunter’s frontman Bradford Cox had a car accident in Atlanta, after whicH he suffered several bouts of depression. No doubt it greatly influenced the band’s seventh studio album, Fading Frontier and more specifically the track ‘Snakeskin’. If he feels like he’s in another’s skin, it one that grooves. Have a good week.
I had not really taken much notice Rick Ross before last year’s long player Black Market, aside of his part in Kanye’s superlative ‘Devil In A New Dress’. A bit of jail-time must have been just what his creatives juices needed. ‘Free Enterprise’ was the first song written for the album and all done during a stint inside. Unsurprisingly, Rick Ross taps real life by reflecting on his struggles.
From one distinctive voice to another. Alberta Cross was once an Anglo-Swedish act, formed by singer-guitarist Petter Ericson Stakee and bassist Terry Wolfers in London in the mid noughties. Uppsala-born Ericson Stakee has since parted ways with his “cockney brother” and now operates out of L.A. A couple of weeks ago, he was back in London playing at the Borderline. I went into the gig believing his voice to be an acquired taste (e.g. Jonathan Donahue, Will Sheff, Jonas Bjerre), but left thinking it fit the bill. His renditions of ‘Water Mountain’ and Bowie’s ‘Five Years’ are still front of mind.
Butter fingers. The excitement of featuring this track has me posting earlier than I had planned. HalfNoise is a band put together by ex-Paramore drummer Zach Farro. Farro wants to combine the ambiance of Sigur Ros with the electronic elements of Radiohead. That’s certainly apparent from the the opening bars of ‘Free The House’, with its electronica production, sampling, tight drums, glockenspiel and falsetto vocal. Farro produced the song with his friend Daniel James.
The Icelandic band Kaleo would seem to be much more likely than a British songwriter to meet a North Atlantic humpback. But then this lot have made the unlikely move to Austin, Texas – no whales there. Like their fellow countryman Ásgeir, Jökull Júlíusson and pals predictably tap into the northerly sounds of Sigur Rós and Bon Iver with their atmospheric falsetto vocals. But at around the 90-second mark, their sound takes a turn that is more Americana than the likes of Justin Vernon, which makes the Mosfellsbaer-Austin journey a little more comprehensible. By the way, humpbacks all sing the same tune.
I start the week with a sense that some of last year’s sounds may have managed to avoid my attention – and for no lack of quality on their creators’ part. The plethora end-of-year lists can do that to you. Oli Bayston is better known by his stage name Boxed In. He had a good year in 2015, supporting TV On The Radio and getting a lot of radio play for his single ‘Mystery’. The latter is a nifty piece of piano-driven pop which gets a cool breeze of ambience once the humpback whale features in the video. Bayston seems to befriend the whale; the man has ambition. Does he know that all North Atlantic humpbacks sing the same song? Have a good week.