My, how time flies. Does the ‘I moved house two months ago’ line still cut it? No? Oh well, that’s all I’ve got. Today, I have arranged the ‘office’, set up the new computer and filed a large chunk of the previously mentioned (and previously unboxed and ignored) CDs.
WILCO – ‘The Whole Love’ (dBpm / ANTI)
Having mellowed in recent years, this eighth studio outing represents something of a rebirth. Inhabiting a world somewhere between the emphatic organ-chug of prime Costello and the more delicate moments of ‘The White Album‘, classic hooks and sing-song choruses are prominent, with two exceptions. Album opener ‘Art Of Almost’ emerges from a squall of static into something urgent and convulsing, whilst the twelve-minute ‘One Sunday Morning’ is a lolling, meditative conclusion unlike anything the band has previously recorded. The ten tracks which lie between are effortless and nimble and Jeff Tweedy seems to be a lyricist no longer at war with himself. An excellent return.
A fine return and the noodling moments are most welcome. I was one of those who found ‘Wilco (The Album)’ a little light on excitement and normal service is very much resumed here. The art of the jangly American classic is still the main focus for Tweedy and his men and there’s a wonderful double vinyl pressing, with free CD, which I would recommend seeking out. If they’ve never meant anything to you previously, this won’t suddenly clear the mists, but I can’t imagine many fans being disappointed.
STILL CORNERS – ‘Creatures Of An Hour’ (SUB POP)
Whispery female vocals and understated wafts of filmic indie jangle are the order of the day from these new signings to the ever-impressive Sub Pop label. Sounding like it was made to soundtrack thoughtful montages in black and white foreign films, and pitching up somewhere between Our Broken Garden and Saint Etienne at their most reflective, this is a fine debut album.Tessa Murray‘s voice is gorgeously fragile and the backdrop will lift you out of encroaching grim winter evenings.
One of those where I get flung it to review, despite knowing nothing about it and having no prior expectations, and end up really liking it. A gorgeously produced record and another to benefit from the majesty of the superior format thanks to the ever-dependable Sub Pop, I can see this making a late push for my end of year list if I keep returning to it as I seem to be right now.
VERONICA FALLS ‘Veronica Falls’ (BELLA UNION)
Rough around the edges indie-pop is relatively easy to do a decent job of, but it’s rarely all that special. This energetic debut isn’t perfect, but it has several staggering moments of pure musical euphoria and we should all have a little room in our lives for that. Roxanne Clifford and James Hoare‘s splendidly underplayed duets will creep up on you slowly but surely and the delicious harmonies on ‘Misery‘ are, perversely, actually rather cheery. Given time, it’s enjoyably addictive.
Did not get this at first. It was rough, jangly and – God, I’m getting old – a bit noisy on first listen. But then I remembered that I am actually programmed to love EVERYTHING on this bloody label and gave it several further plays at different times and in different places and, one sunny afternoon, it all clicked into place. Joyous, carefree and simple. Well worth a listen.
YOUTH LAGOON ‘The Year Of Hibernation’ (LEFSE RECORDS)
Eerie, reverb-drenched vocals convey lyrics concerned with a life of anxiety and the awkward emotions experienced by Trevor Powers (yes, I’d have gone for a stage name too) in his 22 years on this planet. Its lo-fi ethos and confessional tone could have been its undoing, but the twinkling naivety crossed with unchecked ambition leads to some true hairs-on-back-of-the-neck moments. ‘Daydream‘ is the album’s carefree pop moment, almost surpassing the out and out highlight ‘July,’ which builds into a wailing crescendo of passion. His voice is something of an acquired taste but, this minor caveat aside, ‘The Year Of Hibernation’ is a genuinely unique debut.
Unique? Yes. Still being played two months after I wrote this? No. It’s good in part but, frankly, If you’ve got a few quid to get some music, buy all of the above before this one, eh?