Albums of Note... Yeah Yeah Yeahs have returned after a lengthy break, with Mosquito. It’s a marked step in the band’s evolution and a further step away from their punky roots. Mosquito has opened up further avenues of creative possibilities for a band that once seemed shackled by their arty roots and somewhat more importantly, Karen O now has blonde hair, now folks. That’s the big news here.
“The possibilities for the Yeah Yeah Yeahs now seem endless. The inclusion of Kool Keith's alter ego Dr Octagon on 'Buried Alive' is one such example. Although slightly scattergun in its approach, Mosquito almost feels like a record the band needed to make to reach the next stage of their evolution.”
We’re more than a decade and six albums into British Sea Power’s career and Machineries of Joy is bestowed with the comfort of familiarity, as the band have forged their own identifiable sound, without allowing that sound to become stale or tired. BSP have always been a band with wayward, leftfield leanings, (we shudder to think how many forests have sacrificed tree branches and foliage to their stage sets and these can be seen as ‘pretensions’ (as indeed they are, by our reviewer) though Machineries of Joy has turned out to be “their most accessible” album yet.
“Although the whole album is well framed, well arranged and produced and has a cohesion and balance, it does at times, as with some of their other past material, over complicate itself with an intellectual rather than emotive or impassioned outcome.”
There’s been a three year gap since the release of Wolf People’s debut album and Fain, their second offering. It sounds as though they’ve been saving up their pocket money to spend on studio time, since the production quality of Fain is notably improved since the first time around. Not that this always suits the band, however; though there is much to enjoy here. Firmly rooted in their prog-rock inspirations, Fain has psychedelic leanings, though the band manage to rein in any tedious noodling impulses and have produced a solid 45 minutes of quality tracks.
“At under forty-five minutes long Fain is a heartbeat's length in its context, yet in its middle third things do begin to lag, with the band having both the foot off the pedal and the gearshift in second on 'Hesperus' and 'Answer' and here especially Fain is a brilliant gateway to the forbidden lands but not really much of an improvement and for the brave of heart a dive into the deep end would be a far better reward.”
Displaying a newfound confidence. Besnard Lakes return with the extravagantly-titled Until In Excess, Imperceptible UFO. Gradually bolstering the depth of that genre we call dream pop, BL employs bold flourishes where other bands would show restraint. Even a three minute fade-to-close on the album doesn’t feel over-indulgent, but somehow fitting of the band’s sound.
“While other bands may avoid similar flourishes, you get the feeling that Lasek and Goreas have developed a strong conviction to follow their gut instincts. That's perhaps the key to understanding why all the material here is so strong.”
A Week in Video... Seasick Steve has recorded his track ‘Purple Shadows’ in his home, just to prove that he doesn’t live in some slick mansion in the Beverly Hills, we presume. Surrounded by old-fashioned kettles and shelves stacked with vintage tins, only the great modern invention of ‘squeezy honey’ actually gives the game away that Seasick Steve doesn’t live in the past, as many believe. A typically pared-down rendition, Seasick Steve looks right at home in these antiquated environs. Probably because he IS right at home.
The video for ‘Up In the Air’ by 30 Seconds to Mars begins with a warning for anyone who suffers from photosensitive epilepsy, though frankly anyone with any kind of nervous disposition should probably get a little warning of their own, what with Dita Von Teese’s steamy appearance… and we won’t even mention the lollipop.
Manchester’s Dutch Uncles return with ‘Bellio,’ accompanied by a video that would make David Attenborough proud. A visually delectable array of sea life filmed doing what they do best (swimming, mainly, it has to be said…), reacting to the sounds of the song, ‘Bellio’ is a light, trippy feast of a song. The band are shortly heading off on tour though we think they’re leaving the pond life behind.
‘Dancehall,’ by Tribes features a video that contains an array of women doing all of those things that women love to do. Spinning around in bare rooms, looking at themselves in a mirror, smoking cigarettes with their friends, whilst wearing weird wicker crowns and staring wistfully into cameras, whilst a rock band plays on in the background.
Music in the News... Daft Punk’s long-awaited return turned out to be a record breaker. ‘Get Lucky’, featuring Pharrell and Nile Rogers broke the highest number of plays in a single day on Spotify – in the US and the UK. The French duo snatched the title from Macklemore & Ryan Lewis in the US and Bastille in the UK.
Glastonbury Festival’s tickets have finally now all gone; although the festival technically sold out ages ago, there was a final re-sale of returned tickets last week and they all got snapped up within an hour of going on sale.
Sad news as we say goodbye to Richie Havens, the folk legend who will be best remembered for the song ‘Freedom,’ which he improvised at Woodstock in 1969. He became the festival’s accidental hero, after his set was extended due to the following band being late arriving at the site.