September 2012 Purchases

I had a bit of a splurge on Amazon MP3 this month as I had some discount vouchers from Pizza Express!

Dragonette – Galore
A bit of a catch up with Dragonette’s first album before the release of their new album Bodyparts. Fixin’ To Thrill was a fixture on my iPhone for a very long time (probably about three years at this stage given that I loved the album prior to seeing them at Manchester Pride in 2010).

Eurythmics – Savage
I was rummaging through my old music VHS tapes (specifically to show the hubby ‘It Couldn’t Happen Here’ to show him how odd early Pet Shops Boys could be!) when I found the video-album of Savage. While the visuals are very dated it struck me how good this under-rated Eurythmics gem was. It manages to blend the best of their guitar-driven material with the stripped down electronica.

Grizzly Bear
Shields – Grizzly Bear, like Fleet Foxes, offer a mellow and sophisticated take on Folk that is perfect for chilly autumn evenings.

Kindness – World You Need a Change of Mind
This album was first released in the spring, but it has gained traction in the last couple of months due to the 80s funk sampling ‘That’s Alright’. Great stuff – including a cover of ‘Anyone Can Fall In Love’ (aka The Eastenders theme) that is so utterly bonkers it works!

Lara Marling – A Creature I Don’t Know
Lara Marling is still astoundingly talented. I don’t think this is news to anyone…

Marina & The Diamonds – Electra Heart
I wasn’t sure about this album based on the tracks I’d heard at the beginning of the year. It’s not as quirky as ‘The Family Jewels’ but it has definitely grown on me. I think part of the problem is that her personality struggles to get past the big name collaborators and a highfalutin’ concept. It’s a shame really as there are some good songs here, but someone seems to be trying to turn her into an X-Factor starlet and as such most of it lacks substance.

Pnau – PNAU
I love the Empire Of The Sun album so I thought it would be worth going back to find some PNAU, especially as their Elton John remix/reinterpretation project was getting a lot of good press. Not as song-orientated as Empire of the Sun, but still great melodic dance tracks. Great for the last rays of the summer we haven’t really had!

Queen – Greatest Hits
The lack of Queen in my collection has been a bit glaring of late. While I can take or leave the ubiquitous Bohemian Rhapsody (overwrought pretentious nonsense or a rock classic? my opinion changes daily) but songs like ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’ and ‘Crazy Little Thing Called Love’ really show the strength of their songwriting. Unlike GH Vol II every track on this is worth having.

Suzanne Vega – Close Up Vol 4: Songs of Family
Vega continues her stripped down trips through her back catalogue. While one would never accuse her of over-production these intimate ‘back to basics’ releases are a timely reminder of just how good a songwriter she is. For some reason volumes 1 and 3 aren’t on eMusic – so I’ll have to track those down elsewhere…

Toy – Toy
I first saw Toy supporting The Horrors and while they showed promise they were rather over-(eye)-shadowed by the main event. On their self-titled d├ębut the wall of distorted noise comes into focus and something rather special takes shape. There are obvious comparisons with The Horrors rather magnificent Skying but there are also flashes of 90s indie-distortion specialists such as Spiritualised (and indeed Spaceman 3) and My Bloody Valentine as well.

The xx – Coexist
I’m not entirely convinced by The xx. After last year’s Mercury win they suffered terribly from the familiarity that comes with over-exposure. Coexist doesn’t really tread any new ground and I’m not sure that memory has faded enough for their minimalist indie-electro with whispered vocals to sound anything other than a little tired. Maybe if they’d given themselves more time for their sound to evolve I’d be more enthused but as it is this is just more of the same…

August 2012 Purchases

I’ve been very slack at updating recently – must remedy that and at least do the purchase round-up posts on time! This was the month I discovered that Mute was back to being an indie (or at least part of it) and a crop of new albums had appeared on eMusic!

Beth Jeans Houghton and The Hooves of Destiny – Yours Truly, Cellophane Nose
I adore this album. Quirky and interesting Beth Houghton has, naturally, earned the moniker of ‘new Kate Bush’. Not sure that is a helpful description though, but if you think ‘Never For Ever’ era Bush it does give you an idea of what to expect…

Bloc Party – Four
After the speculation last year that Bloc Party were finished (Kele’s experimenting with brash electronic dance beats on The Boxer and rumours that the rest of the band were auditioning for a new singer) this album is a pleasant surprise. It is a more intricate affair than their early albums. The trademark choppy guitars are still in abundance, but there is also a flavour of Muse style theatrics. Think this one will grow on me…

Dead Can Dance – Anastasis
No one else does doom-laden ambient-goth like Dead Can Dance – close the curtains, light the candles and incense, pour a glass of red and let it sweep over you…

Elbow – Dead In The Boot
Elbow know that B-sides and rarities shouldn’t be songs that weren’t up to snuff for the main releases, but the songs that didn’t really work in the context of the album sessions they were recorded in. Given that I could quite happily listen to Guy Garvey intone the phone book this collection was a must-have…

Erasure – Tomorrow’s World
What does an iconic 80s band do when a swathe of young guns are copying their sound and making it sound much more exciting and contemporary than anything they have released in 20 years or more? Get one of them to produce their new album that’s what! While I’m not totally convinced by Frankmusik this collaboration has certainly breathed a bit of life into the good ship Erasure.

Kate Bush – R.U.T.H. (Remix)
New vocal on the 80s classic released to co-incide with the Olympics closing ceremony. A bit spot-the-difference, but it’s welcome news that her desire to record is still there. Maybe we’ll get more new material next year?

Public Service Broadcasting – The War Room
Such a simple idea but terribly effective. PSB’s stock in trade is using samples from public information and propaganda films in their filmic electronica. Really good stuff.

Sugar – Copper Blue (Deluxe Edition)
Words cannot state how much I love this album. I was introduced to it when I was at University what seems like a lifetime ago but ‘If I Can’t Change Your Mind’ is still a perfect power-pop song. I don’t think Bob Mould gets enough credit sometimes – there’s a clear line through Husker Du to The Pixies and on to Nirvana and without him alternative-rock probably wouldn’t have got as big as it did in the 90s…

Yeasayer – Fragrant World
Solid followup to Odd Blood. Quirkier and more experimental but worth investing time in.