Tuesday, November 6, 2012

REVIEW: Banana and Louie - Alphabet Soup


Seemingly taking inspiration from The Beach Boys and Belle and Sebastian, Matthew Stead and Sharon Leach of London indie pop band A Fine Day For Sailing (previous profile here) formed Banana and Louie to give life to their wide-ranging baroque/chamber pop conceptions.  The result is the excellent Alphabet Soup, a collection sweet, jangly, melodic pop songs with orchestral flourishes not often found in today's indie music.  It's distinct voice alone would make it welcome on today's scene, but the quality of the music speaks for itself.  Try out track "Hero of the Home Countries" --



The full line-up for the album is Matthew Stead (vocals, guitar, percussion), Sharon Leach (vocals, keys, glockenspiel, melodica), Jacob Chivers (drums), Simon Nelson (bass, guitar), Gareth Jones (bass), Kenny Lee (piano), Natalie Hudson (violin), Matthew Walker (violin), Claire Hadidjenar (violin), Jill Faure (viola), Helen Short (cello), Catherine Carr (flute), Keira Poland (flute), Nicola Burnett Smith (bass clarinet), and Alex Bilig (bassoon).

For those wondering about the somewhat unusual name of the group, Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys owned dogs named Banana and Louie, and their barks appear on the Pet Sounds album.

One of my favorite songs on the album is the sweet and lovely "I Have Your Melodica (You Have My Heart)".  Hearing it reminds me that we haven't had a Camera Obscura album for a while.  And that is no put down for Banana and Louie -- if you remind me of Camera Obscura you are on the inside track to my musical heart.



The album is available on CD, digital download and pink vinyl.  The label is Vollwert-Records in Berlin, a fine label devoted to indie pop music.

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Monday, November 5, 2012

New single from September Girls


Today's news is the first official US release from Ireland's September Girls.  Out soon on Matinee Recordings, the Wanting More 7" features the title track A-side and two B-sides.  These ladies have graced our pages before, and I expect that they will continue to do so.   Their music is excellent, and the vinyl versions always sell out (their April release for Scotland's Soft Power sold out in a week), but this record is available in both vinyl (with a digital download included) and digital-only.

"Wanting More" may cause you vinyl purchasers to wear out the A-side -- girl-group vocals soaring on a retro melody, all swathed in reverb and distortion.  The Ronettes never fronted The Jesus and Mary Chain in a recording produced by Phil Spector, but this might give you an idea of what it would have sounded like if they had.



Here is B-side, "Hells Bells" presented in a fun video --


September Girls - Hells Bells from jessie ward on Vimeo.

Someone cleverer than I one described the sound of this five-piece as that of a transistor radio abandoned in a rural cinema.  After listening to several releases, I think it is a fair and evocative description.  In the second B-Side, September Girls showcase their ability to deliver the noise.  This isn't a sweet collection of female singers, this is a rock band.



We look forward to more from Sarah, Lauren, Jessie, Caoimhe, and Paula.

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Friday, November 2, 2012

New video: Our Lost Infantry -- All the Streetlights of My Hometown

Deep Elm Records is responsible for some of the most consistently excellent new music coming through our speakers these days and the Maui-based label has delivered again with the release of a new video for the song "All the Streets of My Hometown" by Aldershot, England's Our Lost Infantry. The band's name evokes thoughts of Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon, and a turn through the video makes the idea of these dead men being influences seem not farfetched. It was filmed in Norway's Blefell Mountains, and the austere setting and color, coupled with the recurrent image of a tin hat and gas mask, give it a WWI patina. It's a compelling video even with the mute button on.

But don't watch it that way, because there are some terrific things happening in this song you need to hear. The first two minutes build tension with chiming guitars and slow vocals, reminiscent of some of the Scottish bands on the Fat Cat label, but at about 2.30, instead of the crashing wall of sound you might expect, the band shift to a really nice prog-riff, like something Robert Fripp might have done on "Larks Tongues in Aspic, Pt. 23". Oh yeah, and then the wall of sound with the beautiful chorus, followed by a bigger wall of sound pounding out the last 30 seconds. Exhilarating.



If you'd like to hear more, you'll have to wait -- but not long. Our Lost Infantry's debut album, The New Art History, will be released by Deep Elm in the US on 14 November. Start saving now.

Our Lost Infantry band page.

Deep Elm Records.

The Soul Corner - Gladys Knight "If I Was Your Woman"

I've written here on the Soul Corner about Gladys Knight before. Her voice, real as a heart attack, is one of my favorites in the Motown pantheon.
This vocal on her 1970 hit "If I Was Your Woman" is so striking, so powerful, so utterly convincing, I mean really, what man could resist this:

And let's praise the Pips. Honored and teased a bit in the Doonesbury comic strip, their silky smooth dance moves are legendary. But did you know they were family?  The Pips were Gladys' older brother Merald "Bubba" Knight, who also served as her business manager, and their cousins Edward Patten and William Guest. Chuckle if you want, but those are some great backup vocals.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

REVIEW: Epsilon One - Spirals EP



Taut, dark, sludgy, and lo-fi, with aggressive bass and a dose of distortion, the Spirals EP from Edinburgh's Epsilon One says "pay attention to me" from the opening notes of the title track.  At times it seems late-night industrial indie rock, and at times a grimy nugget of electro-rock.  This is one of those new and almost unknown artists that is worth getting to know before every social music site proclaims that Epsilon One is their new discovery.

The guitar, synths, bass, drums, programming and vocals are all the work of  Dicky Lorin.  The Spirals EP is out on Dog Got A Bone Records, and we understand that Dicky is planning a full length release in 2013.

Stream all for tracks here.  Source it at the Bandcamp or the links below for Dog Got A Bone Records.



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