Saturday, 14 January 2017

#614: Bonobo - Migration

Simon Green’s work has never fallen neatly in to a box. While loosely considered electronica, it’s always harboured a more natural, more introspective quality than traditionally contrived dance music. Fittingly, this is something which itself seemed to develop organically across the course of Bonobo’s career; both 2010s Black Sands and its follow-up The North Borders each expanding an already liberal sound palette.

#613: Tycho - Epoch

Released digitally at the end of September, Tycho’s Epoch is the culmination of a trilogy of albums that started with 2011’s Dive and continued with Awake in 2014. Taking listeners on an expansive and otherworldly journey, sound-tracked by an eclectic amalgam of analog sounds, electronic synths and live instrumentation, it’s a progression that feels natural, organic even, allowing listeners to see not just the evolution of the records themselves, but of Tycho as a band.

Monday, 2 January 2017

#612: Introducing...The Golden Age of TV

Though dead bodies probably make appearances in the narrative of songs more often than we think, it’s not very often that such subject matter is dealt with both eloquence and a certain degree of finesse. For Leeds’ The Golden Age of TV however, and their subject of “a buried dead body slowly realising what’s going on”, the inherent darkness that such a narrative brings has been offset by mesmeric arpeggios and a woozy falsetto. The result is a track steeped in narcotic and understated grandeur; the band’s chemistry, both evident and effortless, easily belying their short time together.

#611: The Front Bottoms, The Ritz Manchester

Having seen various bands progress through Manchester’s venue circuit over the last few years, the announcement that New Jersey’s The Front Bottoms were scheduled to play The Ritz just ten months after their their last UK tour was met, at least personally, with some reservations.

Though iconic in its own right, it’s an unlikely host for what’s arguably one of the strongest pop-punk tours of the year. More suited to indie gigs and various club nights, those few punk gigs that the Ritz does put on are attended by punks somewhat older and far more grizzled than the majority of tonight’s crowd. That said, while leather jackets have been replaced with lumberjack shirts and Doc Martin’s swapped for Vans, the plaid contingent is out on en masse.

#610: Matthew and Me - Startpoint (EP Review)

Both imposing and hauntingly fragile, the latest EP from Devon’s Matthew and Me feels much like the landscape that shaped it, at times stark, at others staggeringly pretty. While it’s unsurprising that Start Point, the area which gave the EP its name has, at least partly, shaped its sound, what does come as a surprise is just how far that sound seems to have come in the last eighteen months.

#609: Bayonne - Primitives

At a time when the world seems hell bent on regressing back towards the dark ages one giant step at a time, there’s a lot to be said for music that says something, that harbours political sentiment or a message of positivity. For that very same reason, there’s a lot to be said for music that provides a sense of escapism; that affords listeners the chance to forget their particular troubles, however briefly.

#608: Catching Up With...Clue Records

As a city, Leeds has always felt fiercely independent. Often overshadowed by the likes of Manchester, and Liverpool further down the M62, its underdog quality has allowed its varying scenes to develop seemingly impervious to outside influence.

Of course, taken on face value, recent developments in the city centre have seen the Arts Quarter impinged upon by the garish Victoria Gate shopping centre, while the gentrification of Boar Lane happened so rapidly its easy to forget what it was like five years ago. But while some locals may be worried that the “beating heat” of Leeds is at risk, one barely needs to scratch beneath the surface to find that there’s still a myriad of scenes that are managing to retain the city’s independent nature.

#607: American Football - American Football

When Illinois' American Football reunited for a run of shows in 2014/15, grown men wept. I should know, I was one of them. Standing in the crowd at one of their first ever UK gigs, it was difficult to imagine the band releasing a new album any time soon. After all, how could they possibly add to their paradoxically short-lived, yet long-lasting legacy?