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Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Anavae – ‘Invaesion’

Pick of the Week 56 – Anavae

Another Paramore sound alike band and even though I’m not too keen on Paramore I quite like their less polished imitators. A London based rock duo featuring  Rebecca Need-Menear and Jamie Finch, Anavae may be headed for mid-table obscurity, but I really like the uncompromising sound and wailing vocals. Creepy animal masks are always fun, but better on wrestlers than pop stars in my opinion.

Monday, 18 August 2014


It is very rare that I ever buy anything from HMV. I normally pop in for a look around and see what's new, then go home and order anything I'm after online (one lovely exception was Deep Red that I found a lot cheaper than Amazon). So anyway, I was knocking about in said shop the other night, perusing the anime DVDs when I felt myself having a little dance to something. This is quite good, I thought, vaguely slow but with a nice little groove to it. I carried on past the huge rack of horror films that I can't be bothered to look at any more due to the feeling that the swish covers are hiding cheap low budget useless offerings and moved on to the 5 for £30 blu-ray stand. And again I felt a desire to get those hips wriggling and dance with a shop assistant who sported a bald head/long beard combo. What is this pesky album?

I went to the counter to ask and it took the fellow ages to find out but it turned out to be a new release called 'Jungle' by 'Jungle'. Just 'Jungle'. I left the shop thinking that I'd order it when I got home. But then I thought that this was a bit mean, they had recommended it after all, so I went back and bought it (and - in a fit of impulsiveness - Rise of the Planet of the Apes on blu-ray for £4.99).

Got back to the car and slapped in the new CD. But wait. The outer cardboard sleeve is very lovely. Very minimalist. The case is plain black too. As is the CD. Mmm, nice. Bombing along through town, I turned up the volume and listened to some smooth quality groove based action. My main worry was the level of catchiness.

I know nothing of 'Jungle' and I don't want to look and find out. I have a severe lack of knowledge of popular culture so I don't know whether they are mega popular, whether they were the winners of The X Factor or whether they are the usual kind of no-hopers that we love so much. 

I've given it a while before writing this review to let the dust settle and yep, the catchiness has worked against it. Most of the songs sound very similar, slow, groovy, lots of drum track drop outs but generally pleasant. The bass lines are sometimes good enough to get Bernard Edwards' toes tapping. As with a lot of commercial albums I've heard recently the last four of five songs tail off into tedium as if they think listeners won't get that far so they'll bang all of the rubbish at the end. The highlights are 'Busy Earnin' (which has got single written all over it), 'Time' and 'Julia'. Apart from that they're all much of a muchness. It's still okay, but I am tiring of it all.

Give it a listen, and if you like one you'll probably like them all. Maybe you will find yourself dancing with a tattooed gentleman too.


Thursday, 14 August 2014

Bob Mould – District Line

It’s a Bob Mould album so it’s obviously worth a listen, but it has to be said it’s not one of his best. It sits somewhere between the downcast beauty of ‘Black Sheets of Rain’ and the chugging straightforwardness of ‘Life and Times’ on the Mould continuum, but never actually reaches the heights of either. There’s a more acoustic feel at times with the lyrics heartfelt and unusually mellow, but the calm is occasionally punctured with machine gun bursts of pure rock. Sadly, there’s some odd experimentation with a vocoder thrown in for good measure now and again.

It’s an album that’s hard to dislike, but difficult to love. All the tracks have their merits and pleasantly pass the time of day, but there’s  a certain ‘saminess’ to the album that is great for consistency, but strangely risk averse.

Apart from the storming beauty of ‘The Silence between Us’, there’s little to choose between the songs on the album. If I was pushed I’d highlight the pedestrian ‘Minature Parade’, the standard issue mould track ‘Return to Dust’ and the delicate ‘Again and Again’.

It’s one of those albums where if you like the artist you’ll like the LP. If you don’t already like Bob Mould then this is not going to change your mind.

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Yael Kraus – Floor

Pick of the Week 55 – Yael Kraus

Only 6 thousand views on YouTube but Yael Kraus sounds great to me. A quirky and jerky little track with both eastern European and Jewish undertones which never fails to raise a smile from me when I hear it. It’s an acquired taste, but I quite enjoy the video too.

Friday, 1 August 2014

Lindi Ortega – Cigarettes and Truckstops

Canada’s best kept secret churns out an album that is just too Country for its own good. There’s no alt-country leanings on show here, it’s more Dolly Parton and Tammy Wynette than Caitlin Rose or Kacey Musgraves and the whole thing proves a little mainstream for my tastes. That’s not to say it’s not a decent album however, as Lindi certainly belts them out with gusto and enthusiasm, and there’s a couple of cracking songs included.

The problem is… even though the album is called Cigarettes and Truckstops and Lindi wants to come over all trailer trashy and country street…she basically can’t pull it off. Lindi has probably never lived in a trailer, caught an oiled piglet or smoked enough cigarettes to build a children’s play fort from the packets. Her dad was probably a vicar, she shops at Sainsburys and will send her kids to private school. That’s how she sounds anyway, which is a good thing really, if you think about it. Kacey beats her hands down in the trash-off anyway.

All the songs have singalong potential but I particularly liked the lilting opener ‘Cigarettes and Truckstops’, the harder edged ‘Don’t Wanna Hear It’ and the beautiful ballad of ‘You lead me on’. Best of all is the bluesy, deep south tale of skulduggery that is ‘Murder of Crows’, it’s an exemplary piece of Country and Western music that would have been a classic at any point in the last century.

So a mixed bag. Great songs, a lovely voice but the whole trailer trash vibe just doesn’t wash. Enjoyable enough but if you’re new to the genre, head for Kacey or Caitlin first.