Saturday, May 02, 2009
OK, they've had long enough, it looks like it just isn't going to happen. After years of being woefully off-the-pace reviews-wise, reallyrather has come to expect the UK national press not to miss much that's worthwhile (even if they do still generally wait 'til they've had a copy sent to them free). But it seems even the most extensive and eclectic sections - things like the Observer Music Monthly and The Sun's Something For the Weekend (yes, really) can still miss gold that's right under their nose. While the weary familiarity of dullards like Doves (Christ, even their photoshoots are hackneyed) have been hogging the column inches there's been not a single national notice for the Dananananaykroyd debut album...
posted by SMc at 7:26 AM
...Hey, everyone. Which is little short of an outrage since it's chuffin' fantastic. Pray be upstanding for the song of the year so far:
The little peak at 1:24, how smart is that? And the adrenalising splurge at 2:34 typifies most of the record; pace-wise it is more or less relentless - attack!, attack! - but this only means its relentlessly thrilling. The run of Black wax/Totally bone/Pink sabbath/Infinity milk at the album's core will take some beating. rr prefers the version of Totally bone given away a couple of years back on an Artrocker magazine freebie CD but still, at 3:30, orbit's launched.
Actually, many of these tunes have been around in various forms for quite a while and some listener readjustment is required but generally the fantastic shouty ferocity and the impact of monumental block chordage survives the grown-up 'let's record the album' process. Musically, there's always a lot going on and on record there's a chance to appreciate the more felicitous fretwork and arrangement detailing which tends to get, um, somewhat obliterated in the exuberantly chaotic live shows on which Dana.. have built their rep thus far. A Mercury Prize nomination surely lies ahead or I'm an obscure, infrequent music blogger. Oh...
While Hey, everyone sees Dana..'s sonic chaos brought to heal its still some way off the machine-tooled precision of Swoon, album no.2 from similarly guitar-heavy US melodic noiseniks Silversun Pickups. The debut Carnavas was mostly excellent with the one consistent flaw of each song being about a minute longer than necessary, 400,000+ selling breakout 'hit' Lazy eye included. Doing the maths on Swoon - ten tracks, 51+mins - suggested they hadn't learned; that rr doesn't mind at all this time round suggests that that they have.OK, the antecedents of the Pickups' music is inescapable but the Pumpkins meant nothing round these parts. It's a really a question of scale and ambition; 'small', please, and 'modest'. You get the feeling the Pickups aren't trying to make this any more than it is, ie. a satisfying, utilitarian loud noise. Theoretically epic but so controlled and neatly tooled it works in any space, even a little bunker like The Borderline off Charing Cross Road...
...not the most obvious venue for a band whose new record would debut at no.7 in the Billboard chart a couple of weeks later. But they're always happy to deliver in that no-nonsense, 'we're just this little band' kind of way of theirs; from the early slacker rock of Kissing families to the rocket-fuelled urgency of Panic switch, the hits just keep a-comin'. As they do on Swoon; rr doesn't agree that the album falls off after the first half. Sure, Draining gropes for the kind of gimlet-eyed atmospherics done more convincingly by the likes of, say, Gravenhurst in full-band mode. But with next up Sort of its once again visors down, jetpacks on; the simple leviatating guitar run at 3:40 is really what we're paying our money for. Next stop Heaven...
Another reason to give the Pickups the benefit of the doubt is the fact they're out of Silver Lake, Los Angeles, whence sprung blog favourites like the The Tyde and Rilo Kiley. Speaking of the latter, news that J-Lew is set to release a DVD chronicling the the creation of her last belting offering, Acid tongue. Looks like Welcome to Van Nuys is all we'll have to look forward to since all UK festivals are so far inexplicably Jenny Lewis-free zones. The wrongness of this situation cannot be overstated- come on, Latitude, sort it out:
And it looks like Lewis' erstwhile harmonizin' collaborators The Watson Twins could have a bit of 'sister act' competition what with Willow Willow moving to town. First mentioned here exactly five years ago [!!], Miranda Zeiger and Jessica Vohs aren't really siblings at all merely best friends for the past 25 years. On their debut collection highlights like Beyond me, Follow the spring and I feel love showed them to be in unabashed thrall to the breezy, dreamy '60s SanFran folk-pop scene. Brilliantly, however, they now seem to have leapt on a couple of decades, melding their original inspirations with chiming '80s indie pop. And it's super-attractive stuff - check out Sorry for myself, My little cloud - and an evolutionary arc which is headed towards the effervescence if The Trolleyvox's criminally obscure debut Ephemera for the future...
[willow willow][that Trolleyvox album]
[Note to Miranda Lee Richards: When you get back to LA from Europe seek them out - reallyrather can hear it already!]
Someone else expanding their sound is Shelley Short, at least if very promising new tune Time machine/Submarine is any guide. An underappreciated member of the Portland indie-folk scene, Short's limited-release debut Oh' say little dogies, why remains one of this blog's all-time favourite discoveries. She's now involved with local pop experimentalist Alexis Gideon and it seems there's a little bit of cross-fertilizing a-goin' on. Nice!
And double nice! Raphael Saadiq on Later with Jools Holland last week. How sweet it was. If you missed his London shows, watch and weep: