Friday, 9 September 2011

Slow Club - Paradise

Moshi Moshi - 12th September ‘11

I’ve always been a fan of Slow Club, their first album was enjoyable, but really, not anything hugely special.  The reason I think, I’ve still loved them, comes from both members being hugely talented and working together so well - which makes any live performances, recorded, session or otherwise, really enjoyable and interesting…but they’d never really managed to translate this onto any studio recordings I’d heard. They’re obviously something unique when things are stripped back, but in a studio environment it’s never come across immediately. All of this meant I was hugely anticipating the release of their second album, particularly after hearing rumours of a change of sound and approach.

‘Paradise’ opens with the first single, ‘Two Cousins’. It’s a catchy, fun song that makes you feel like dancing and in regard to that is a move away from their original sound. It’s certainly angrier - ending with a rush of fuzz that blends nicely into the opening drums of ‘If We’re Still Alive’, on which Rebecca cries out, heartbreakingly, that, “it’s okay, you’re leaving, and we never even talked about, even thought about it, ever before”. As on their first album ‘Yeah So’, the lyrics can seem a little at odds with the music, often darker than the overall sound might suggest, but it works well here. The harmonics of Charles' and Rebecca’s voices have always been a close blend and at times they use this to great effect, but they also take the chance to show off individually. Lyrically, they’ve made great leaps forward too, clever lines like “It’s hard to be in this together, well we both know that it’s hard apart, and it’s a storm I am willing to weather, but it’s a storm that I…I recognize” show a maturity clearly evident throughout this album. Lyrically, things still sometimes seem a little nonsensical, but there’s some really tender moments of introspection too.

Things get rhythmic again on ‘Beginners’, one of the standout best tracks on ‘Paradise’, where the raw talent they give live feels more evident. It’s tight, the vocals are perhaps a little buried, but it still remains energetic and passionate, with some more smart phrases; “you know you haven’t got all the answers, if you did you would be screaming them out”. The final ‘secret’ track, ‘Paradise’, is a reworking of an old song. The added guitar fuzz and clattering drums aren’t actually necessary to make this a great listen but it fits well on the closing track. The idea of wanting to “live in paradise” is quite a thematic one, their lyrics often noting the intricacies and difficulties of relationships, especially those that are breaking down. On first listen ‘Paradise’ is a pretty good album. After a few more listens, it gets addictive and soon you’re listening to songs that are a world away from ‘Yeah So, an album that has led to them (much to their disgust) being labelled as ‘twee’. Sure to remain circling in your head, ‘Paradise’ shows a band that’s grown into their talents,  a superb listen.

Friday, 2 September 2011

Johnny Foreigner vs Everything

Johnny Foreigner have been pretty quiet lately and it seems that’s been with reason. They’ve posted details of their new record, ‘Johnny Foreigner vs Everything’, which will be available in some sort of exciting two cover format, as yet not properly revealed, there’s information on some competitions to win stuff too, their new stingle (that isn’t a typo) and how they’ve been getting on with Alcopop! Records.

(Don’t) Show Us Your Fangs

…is the title of their first single. Opening with a simple guitar melody and gradually building from there, this feels more similar to the ‘You Thought You Saw A Shooting Star….’ EP, rather than their previous material. Which is good, because there was always the slight concern that the progress to sounding a more mature band made on that EP, might be lost a little.
This track is filled with hope and standout lines like “we caught fire, but fire burns bridges best”. It would be easy to say that the subtle, but important changes in Johnny Foreigner’s sound are a result of their move away from Best Before Records to Alcopop! Records. Which is probably true, they say on their website ““it felt like we took a massive gamble leaving our old label” and in typical Johny Foreigner fashion, with their personable sense of humour, “we’ve never had this much control over recording, or been able to take so long, or had a producer that grew up with us buying the same records at the same time and whose mother constantly fed us square and balanced meals. This record is us, made by us. this record is us, made by us. it doesn’t feel like a gamble anymore”. The prospect of a Johnny Foreigner record they believe in so whole heartedly? An exciting prospect indeed.

Hello Sadness

After much teasing and tantalising Los Campesinos! have finally released details of their fourth album (or arguably third, but we’re not going down that one). It’ll be called ‘Hello Sadness’ and paired with the gloomy artwork, melancholy song titles and Gareth’s mentions of it on twitter, it’s already clearly not going to be the most cheerful of listens, but then you should expect no less from these guys, dealing with misery is something they do brilliantly.

Described on the website as dealing with, “love, loss and heartbreak nail-gunned to a back-drop of broken, tangled bodies, creeping, dead-eyed animals, suffocating, looming shadows and World Cup exits” there are serveral pre-order bundles, including vinyl, a ltd edition t-shirt and demo CD from their ‘HONY’ days.
Eloquent as ever the description of it as a, “documentation of breaking up and trying not to break up in the process”, seems like one that’ll stick, as well as building up the excitement for its release on 14th November.