This Week's Best Album Streams: 14th February 2013
So how about those Grammys, eh? Yeah I don't have an opinion on the Grammys. And neither should you – they're a institution of fossils who somehow have retained their basic auditory functions, but perfectly preserved their Jurassic musical tastes. Which is why Mumford and Sons have featured heavily in the ceremony the past couple of years.
Okay, that was technically me expressing an opinion on them, but that's just so that I can say: that's fine. It's fine to have a mainstream awards ceremony for mostly middle-of-the-road music. Clearly enough people like the acts nominated for them to be...well, nominated. Meanwhile, if you thought the Grammys were a total snooze-fest, it should've gotten you even more fired up than usual to listen to some new, exciting music. What's that? You are? Well, you probably came to the right place, if you have the exact same taste as me (which is the opposite of the Grammys organisers)!
Girls Names – The New Life (Soundcloud)
To be totally honest with you, guys – and I feel like we have built up a level of trust over the past few months I've been writing this feature (YOU FOOLS) – I'm pretty tired today. I have no real reason to be, I just stayed up late watching The Shield with my girlfriend and listening to podcasts. I include this caveat because I'm pretty sure The New Life is an exemplary evocation of disconsolate indie rock, from Joy Division through krautrock through Nine Inch Nails, but right now the oppressive atmosphere conjured by Cathal Cully's ghostly moaning vocals, the Faustian (both band and devil) organs, and the Martin Hannett drum production is currently more effective as a kind of Gothic lullaby than a moody ambiance (they're on Slumberland Records – coincidence??). That's not to say the band lack energy, as Gareth O' Malley pointed out in his review. 'Drawing Lines' is a good lost Cure song, though, and 'Hypnotic Regression' is the best Horrors song since Primary Colours.
inc. – No World (FACT)
As someone who spent his formative music listening years in a sort of half-hearted rockist stance, knowing deep down that I really enjoyed TLC's 'Waterfalls' and R Kelly's 'Ignition', but bristling for no good reason whenever a band who didn't write their own songs and wield guitars turned up on Tip of the Pops, I am greatly enjoying the way the likes of Aailyah and Timbaland are the musical inspirations for hip bands, not Gang of Four. inc. fit neatly into the xx-James Blake-How To Dress Well narrative, without it feeling like an unnecessary retread. The songs of No World tackle their influences more head on, add a bit of rapturous Mazzy Star, and serve over easy.
They've been away for a while, letting their glorious Leader roll around in a sweaty mess of feedback and sexual frustration and releasing it under the name 'Grinderman'. Now Mr Cave seems to have gotten that out of his system, it's back to the day job, with the Bad Seeds' album output starting to catch up with number of members they've had over the years. If you're looking for a reference point, Push The Sky Away sheds the garage rock trappings of Grinderman for the wistful, woebegone soundtrack work of Cave and prodigiously talented Bad Seeds/Dirty Three member Warren Ellis - "the music feels very much like a score; detached and emotive enough to explain the stories themselves," concurs Oobah Arthur Paul Butler. And as with the best of the band's output, whilst the primal screams have their place, they're a whole lot more chilling when everything's bubbling under the surface.
Isolée - Allowance (Soundcloud)
I'm not going to 'fake it' and look up the details of German producer Rajko Muller's 15 year career, during which he's only releases three albums... huh. Okay, so I'm feeling a bit dancing about architecture and need to fill space, but this three-track EP won't really work as well with me just describing it by bolting together a load of abstract genres and artists – Boards of Canada, R&S post-dubstep, early Aphex Twin, ambient, Passion Pit, deep house – into a Frankenstein's monster of a recommendation. Just listen to it, it's very nice.
I've forgotten to put this info at the bottom of my last dozen or so features, Tweet me @tennis_everyone, if you noticed! And also if you find any good album streams for next week, I guess!
So I guess iTunes is the proprietary platform for streaming albums now? Last week it was the place to hear the new Bowie, and this week it's holding an exclusive listening party for that guy from N*Sync's comeback record (which maybe isn't quite as anticipated as The Next Day, even if they both the performer in question turned out to be pretty good actors and have both had terrible haircuts). You know Justin Timberlake owns MySpace as well, right? [read more]
What a week! By which I mean, what a week for less excellent album streams. The Strokes continue to try and sabotage each other's careers by making the most identikit music they can (this time referencing A-ha for a joke). Peace reach even further back, to psychedelic sixties garage rock, and are even more boring in the process. Depeche Mode are old. It's all a little disheartening, isn't it? [read more]