Albums of Note... It’s been a long two years since James Blake released his debut eponymous album and now, the pioneering producer returns with Overgrown, album number two. Peppered with quality collaborations, with hip-hop legend RZA and electronic music’s figurehead Brian Eno, Overgrown is the sound of an artist still trying to find his niche, but releasing high quality, accomplished tracks, whilst he’s on his journey. “Blake really is a talent to behold, as his ingenious moulding together of poles apart genres and production wizardry clearly shows… when you're already as accomplished at all manner of musical exercises as he is then it will obviously be hard to focus all this talent and all this energy into one place.”
Splitting opinion like musical Marmite, John Grant returns with Pale Green Ghosts. This album may sound unrecognisable as Grant, to anyone already familiar with his work. He’s hooked up with Gus Gus’ Biggi Viera and has decamped to Reykjavik. As a result, a new reliance on vintage-sounding synthesisers and a nod to club-land has John Grant sounding like an altogether different proposition to the John Grant of days gone by.“Grant's dyspeptic edge may be blunted, but when called upon the man can make a fine ass post-modern disco song, like we ever doubted that he could, and Blackbelt is a tweaked remix away from the transient world of A Lists, charts and chat shows. Cleverly poignant, its way with knock out disses would give Jake Shears something to think about if it proved to be a permanent change of direction…”
New Zealand's Die! Die! Die! are something of an anomaly. Raised on a diet of English post-punk and American hardcore, they've steadily developed into one of the most prolific acts in recent years. While their 2006 self-titled debut and brooding follow-up 'Promises, Promises' hinted at a potentially bright future, 2010's sublime third long player 'Form' heralded their arrival magnanimously. Songs like 'HT' and 'Lil Ships' highlighting the band's progress, heralding a newfound confidence and cementing their swirling guitar sound as something of a Die! Die! Die! trademark in the process. It seemed only a matter of time before they'd become household names outside of their native Dunedin. And yet for some reason, Die! Die! Die! remain relatively unknown to the masses.
So, at the fourth time of asking, 'Harmony' continues in a similar vein to where its predecessor left off. Also featuring their fourth bass player since forming a decade ago, former Mint Chicks and F In Math mainman Michael Logie. Recorded in France last year with Australian producer Chris Townend, whose previous credits include Portishead and The Violent Femmes. 'Harmony' accentuates the harsher side of Die! Die! Die!'s make-up across its ten tracks, again heavily focusing on the angular swathes of guitar and Andrew Wilson's distinctive vocals, which characterise the band.
Initially released in August of last year back home on Records Etcetera, it's taken a further eight months for Irish independent Smalltown America to license the UK release. However, it's been well worth the wait.
Continue reading: Die! Die! Die! - Harmony Album Review
With a roster that includes releases by the likes of The Chills, The Bats and The Clean, seminal Christchurch independent Flying Nun has been flying the flag for New Zealand's underground music scene for thirty years now. Indeed, despite the more renowned likes of Creation, Sub Pop and 4AD receiving significant levels of praise and admiration over a similar timeframe, Flying Nun's legacy lives on to this day, many of its pivotal artists being cited as influences by the likes of Crystal Stilts, No Age and Wavves among others.
Continue reading: Die! Die! Die's, Form Album Review