The Black Keys
5 This is one of those records that is being touted as “the album they always wanted make”. What does that even mean? That you never wanted to make the other five? Those just happened to slip out by mistake there? Hollow pre-release rhetoric plus the presence of Danger Mouse equals mid-career crisis.
The Bastard Noise/The Endless Blockade
The Red List
20 Buck Spin
9 Where would you guys be without us telling you to go buy a Bastard Noise-related record every thirty days or so huh? There are, in fact, lots of reasons to purchase this latest missive from Eric Wood’s ongoing adventure in sonic destruction. First up the Bastard Noise side features Danny Walker on live drums. Yep, that’s Danny Walker who used to play in Phobia, so you should already know how brutal it’s going to sound. On top of that you get Toronto’s Endless Blockade weighing in with three tracks, two of which are up at the 15 minute mark each so don’t go mentioning powerviolence around those guys. Yet, another essential skull release.
Broken Social Scene
Forgiveness Rock Record
5 If someone had left the gas on while cooking a vegan bean-curd soup during the recording of this record and simultaneously lit up a limp, hemp paper rollie they would have literally wiped out a whole musical genre. This album features guys and gals from Metric, The Sea & Cake, Feist, Stars, The Weakerthans and even one of the dudes from Death From Above 1979. Yep, just think: one little spark and kaboom! No more whinging aboot feelings over too many instruments than is strictly required to play pop music ever again. In fact scratch that disaster fantasy. The tribute album is too much to even bear thinking aboot.
5 These guys got the whole nowhere-one-day-huger-than-a-really-huge-thing-the-next treatment courtesy of the golden handshake of hype: a fawning Pitchfork write up. However, the name of the guy who catapulted Harlem and their so-so lo-fi pop from obscurity to ubiquity is probably of greater note than the band’s music: Roque Strew. What kind of a name is that? He must be a robot. This adds further evidence to my theory that Pitchfork is not a website created by humans but a piece of software that causes indie-record buying impulses in weak-willed, hormonal teenagers transmitted orally via lightbeams.
Walk The Nile
8 Woah. This is like some mythical long-lost bootleg tape of an improvised session that Klaus Dinger and Rick Wakeman never had. Equal parts motorik stoicism and unhinged keyboard pomp that sails mighty close to being awful but somehow never deviates from being wholly engrossing.
Upset The Rhythm
7 I still haven’t actually seen these guys play yet which, seeing as I live in London where they seem to play daily and twice a day at weekends, is quite an achievement. Listening to this stark debut though they can at least feel confident that they have blown any lo-fi competition they have clean out of the water by sounding so stripped back that sounds like Trash Kit’s instruments consist of a dustbin and some shoestrings stretched over an old box. Some lovely harmonies bring the whole mess together rescuing it all from the scrap heap in a touchingly DIY manner.
Chris Leo’s Vague Angels
The Sunny Day I Caught Tintarella Di Luna For A Picnic At The Cemetary
Expect Candy Records
8 OK, lets get clear up the three elephants currently stampeding around the room. 1) Yes, this is Ted Leo’s brother, 2) yes, that album title is pretty nauseatingly convoluted and 3) yes, that sleeve is equally sickeningly twee. Despite all of these facts being true I unequivocally love this record to bits simply for existing. Native Nod, The Van Pelt and The Lapse make up a body of work so perfect in my book that they allow the person who made them license to do whatever he damn likes. Chris Leo could drive a tricycle naked up and down outside my grandparent’s retirement home every day from here ‘till eternity and I’d still buy his records and love every second of them.
Sultan Of Sentiment
Ted Leo & The Pharmacists
The Brutalist Bricks
7 Not often you get two separate albums by a pair of brothers reviewed in the same column. Well this is your lucky month. Here is Chris Leo’s slightly better known and equally nasally imposing brother Ted’s latest offering with his backing outfit The Pharmacists. It ploughs similar thoughtful, indie-rock-with-big-words territory as Chris’s Vague Angels record and even though he was in Citizen’s Arrest I was never a huge Chisel fan so this get’s a point less. Sorry Ted.
Roky Erikson & Okkervil River
True Love Casts Out All Evil
Chemikal Underground Records
8 Call me a cynic but I can’t help thinking that, excited-as-a-seven-year-old-on-his-birthday that this even came out at all as I am, this would have been better if po-faced Americana types Okkervil River weren’t involved. I mean, Roky has trunk-loads of heartbreak, loss, pain, hard times and a whole heap of crazy of his own to draw on, what does he need these young whippersnappers around for?
8 Walls may just, unwittingly, represent the future. Guy from Allez-Allez enjoys remixing guy from Banjo Or Freakout’s track so much that they temporarily ditch their respective previous bands to make a blissed out synth-pop mini-masterpiece on Kompakt. Remixing whole bands to create new bands might be the way to go if the results are always this good. Feel free to give up the day jobs guys.
The Radio Dept.
Clinging To A Scheme
8 Somewhere, most probably hidden away at the bottom of a cupboard, is the only cardigan I still own. I haven’t worn it in a very long time but it is a comfortable, familiar piece of clothing upon which is pinned a small, red Radio Dept. badge. I haven’t worn a badge in a long time either. Listening to this considered, gentle tear-jerker of an album made me want to go dig out that cardigan, dust it off and wear it, and the little red badge, with pride.
Monster Head Room
8 Thirteen cuts of woozy slacker-pop with just the right amount of psyche and good-times surf harmonies to make Monster Head Room a sure-fire, slow-burner hit for the summer. Trust us, come August you’ll love this as much as we do already.
7 I set out to hate this. Honestly. I mean, look at the band name, the eponymous album title and the beyond irritating artwork. All of these things screamed bad right at me. Then I got sent an actual physical copy of the album in the post and flipped over the puke-inducing front sleeve to discover a bunch of fun sketches and doodles on the back. This swayed me in to actually putting the thing on and whaddayaknow? Perfectly formed nuggets of Raspberries style power-pop! Let that be a lesson to you PR’s: send out real records and not MP3 download links before your stupid bands sell themselves short with their stupid artwork before their (occasionally great) music even gets a listen.
6 Crikey. The Casady sisters always looked a little fruity but on the cover of this one they’ve gone hog-wild with the kooky. They could be one of those Terrorizer bands that look like they are made up of guys who wouldn’t even get cast as extras for the last Mortiis video. And the music isn’t a whole heap better. Remember girls: there used to be a “folk” at the end of the “freak” back in 2006.
8 Where once Jurado’s songs were stark, painful snapshots of love and loss set to bare acoustic guitar accompanied by a plaintive, haunting voice you now get stark, painful snapshots of love and loss set to a full band and accompanied by a plaintive, haunting voice. As chillingly brilliant and worthy of compare to Molina and Oldham as he ever was.
A Memory Is Better Than Nothing
8 Is Dan Treacy the original Pete Doherty? Or does that honour belong to Peter Perret? Who gives a crap. The TVPs always have, and on the strength of this latest set, always will have the knack of turning whatever drama Dan has boiling on the backburner into pure pop joy. So forget all the noise and go buy this record to help pay your dues to a minor modern British institution.