Output on the blog has been somewhat slow lately due to me being a little distracted by my imminent departure from these shores for a while. My trip across Canada will more than likely result in the blog’s productivity being reduced to the kind of abysmal levels normally seen when Emile Heskey is on a football pitch. As an apology for recent slacking and an advance on my forthcoming absence, I’m throwing up a batch of songs that really have been so insistent that I listen to them constantly that I have debated getting the Gardaí involved due to their ceaseless harassment.
MP3: Sleigh Bells – Rill Rill – [Buy]
Honestly, I would listen to Sleigh Bells‘ album Treats 24-hours a day if me and my housemates didn’t require sleep. Treats is a short, sharp blast of punk that sounds like it’s played on faulty laser guns rather than guitars and accompanied by vocals that sound like a hyper-aggressive cheerleader from hell. Sleigh Bells’ music is horrible, painful, abrasive and just plain wrong. But it works, and they know it works. I picked their track “Ring Ring” last year as one of my favourites, and the re-spiffed album version, now called “Rill Rill”, is a chilled-out, glistening, funky interval in the 32 minutes of violent guitar explosions.
MP3: The Joy Formidable – Whirring – [Buy]
Maybe it’s because Sleigh Bells got me back in the mood for blaringly loud music or maybe it’s because their gig here the other week was so deafeningly good, but I’ve returned to The Joy Formidable‘s mini-album A Balloon Called Moaning time and time again recently. They packed a lot of thrilling highs into those eight tracks with memorable melodies to match the exhilarating noise throughout. “Whirring” is as comforting as a lullaby while still being a stomping and raucously visceral song, the likes of which most huge stadium rock acts could only ever wish to write.
MP3: Frightened Rabbit – Living In Colour – [Buy]
I’ve mentioned the latest Frightened Rabbit album The Winter of Mixed Drinks before, but again it’s one I keep finding myself coming back to over the past few months. Thought they were always held in high-esteem by indie miserablists since their brilliant, tortured break-out album The Midnight Organ Fight, they’ve grown on this album to offer much more to a wider audience of listeners. There’s just so much to love here. The first two singles are obviously stand-out tracks and great starting points. I could also have chosen “The Loneliness and the Scream”, the melodic pleasure of “Footshooter” or the storming “Skip The Youth”, but as I’ve just seen that it will be released as a single next week, I’ll go with the triumphant “Living In Colour” which lends the album its title. The whole album is quite special though, don’t let it pass you by.
MP3: LCD Soundsystem – Home – [Buy]
Though “Dance Yrself Clean”, the opening track on LCD Soundsystem‘s third album This Is Happening, has drawn the majority of the plaudits for its lyrical dry wit and the cataclysmic synth line that drops like the thing that killed the dinosaurs, the album that has disappointed many fans is bookended by an equally brilliant track. “Home” is sunny, electronic pop that you could wrap yourself up in when the Irish summer takes another leak on your plans. Though the majority of the album has failed to excite me greatly due to its lack of originality, for the two tracks at either end, it is, for me, a worthwhile release.
MP3: Yeasayer – Rome – [Buy]
In a year that has so far been packed with decent to very good albums (I’d say 3 or 4 stars, but I mark hard) the one that has consistently been top of my playlist since the very beginning of the year is Yeasayer‘s astounding ODD BLOOD. I had little interest in their scattered and misguided debut album, but here they exude confidence in a recklessly progressive and thrilling collection of songs. Though “The Children” gets things off to a strange start, there isn’t a bad moment on here. “Ambling Alp” and the deliriously brilliant “O.N.E.” must be among the finest singles of the year while the jittery funk of “Mondegreen” and “Love Me Girl” with its raving keyboard intro show how diverse a record this is. The spacey ballad, “I Remember”, is a favourite of mine, but I’m going to throw “Rome” out there as one that deserves a bit more attention. It’s brassy, ballsy and layered with the kind of ideas and influences that are indicative of what makes the album such an absolute pleasure to listen to.
MP3: Local Natives – Shape Shifter – [Buy]
Along with The Antlers‘ Hospice, another 2009 album that has really made a huge impression on me this year is Local Natives‘ Gorilla Manor. Because of their dreamily perfect harmonies, they have often been compared to Grizzly Bear, but they provide an altogether more joyful surrounding for their vocals. They combine sun-drenched atmospherics and soaring arrangements with the kind of galloping beats and mainstream indie sensibilities that have made stars out of Mumford & Sons. “Airplanes” is an absolutely beautiful song and tracks like “World News” have the lyrical scope to match their panoramic sounds. “Shape Shifter” above is a personal favourite with a slowly creeping, sinister bass line intro that is dragged from these depths by a mile-high chorus of wondrous determination.
MP3: Dave Deporis – At The End Of The Tunnel
I’ll finish with a much older track. I don’t even know precisely when this track surfaced originally or if it’s been given an official release. I got it, like so many other tracks, from The Torture Garden a couple of years ago. I’ve always loved the song and it’s gotten a few spins recently, but the main reason I’m including it is because I recently realised that the song is next to impossible to find on the interwebs. This cannot be a good thing. If you’ve never heard the song, you’re really missing out on something special as the way Dave Deporis uses his voice on this track is quietly astonishing. The simple, cosy vocal-and-guitar arrangement is hushed and gentle but occasionally gives way to some exquisite vocal twists and turns that add all sorts of descriptive depth to a song based on a plea for stability.