Monday, 15 October 2012

New Music Monday #27

Sad Summer Hits (Album)
by Texas Tea

There’s something delicious about an album that starts with the lines “Come ladies, come fellas, come listen, there’s something I gotta say”, especially when sung by the sweet vocal chords of Kate Jacobsen of the brilliant Texas Tea. How could one say no? Opening track ‘The Merry Blues’ is only a taste of the beauty to come on Sad Summer Hits, which is a journey of nostalgia and country pop, heartbreak and anger, retro styling and anguishing resentment. The title should give a hint of what to expect; songs of summer, long afternoons, cool beverages and warm nights, tempered with themes of disdain and bitterness; they make for an extraordinary combination, a twelve track album that I never want to end and like Texas Tea’s previous releases, one that’s been on repeat since first listen. It’s hard to pinpoint the standout tracks as each has its own magnetic something, forcing you to stop and savour the delight. Three songs in, ‘I Know That I Let You Down This Time’ gives us the first taste of Ben Dougherty on lead vocal; pleading for forgiveness, his resonating tones pitched perfectly against Kate’s, they’re almost nothing without each other. They comfortably battle the entire album, each earning their own place in every song, ‘I Love You Like I Love This Black Eye’ is delightful misery, ‘I Don’t Write No Sad Songs’ is spine tingling, with Kate’s wailing vocal complimenting Ben’s faultlessly. ‘Heart Says Yes, Head Says No’ is so fun, so catchy, it’s hard not to be singing this one long after it’s over, ‘The Alphabet Song’ is country pop revenge at its best; “a is for abbreviate and b for all the hearts you break and c, I hope I don’t see you again, d is for the dick I thought you were when you walked out the door…”. At the final song, I’m left feeling melancholy with ‘The Old Swing’; a swaying ballad that leaves me aching for more. This is an album that I know will define a season for me, it will be one I play years from now and remember this summer, it’s an album that will transcend time but bring me back to the first warm afternoon I heard it. Music that creates memories and makes memories is the best and Texas Tea have made an album that after only a week has already made memories and won a place in my heart.

Jo Michelmore gives 'Sad Summer Hits' five Nick Cave's out of five...


Halcyon (Album)
by Ellie Goulding

Many were surprised in that somewhat unsurprising way when young Ellie Goulding cracked the US market earlier this year with the single 'Lights.' It wasn't that the song wasn't good (it's much better than just 'good'), but the fact that it took over a year and a half for it to enter the Billboard Hot 100, leave it, return and climb all the way to number two was quite the surprise. With the massive success of 'Lights,' there couldn't be a more perfect time for Goulding to release a sophomore album that will secure her position as one of the big names leading the new wave of British acts breaking America. In that surprising and somewhat unsurprising way, Ellie Goulding delivers with Halcyon. "Won't you come, won't you come, won't you come, just don't say a word." The stakes are raised on the opening track, 'Don't Say A Word.' Light trip-hop influences make way for a sudden shift into thundering drums as Goulding shows she isn't going to be afraid to branch away from what made her debut, Lights, such a celebrated album. Don't worry, she doesn't stray too far; just enough to hammer home that Halcyon is bigger, grander and even more epic at times than its predecessor. Current single 'Anything Could Happen' is as equally radio friendly and engaging as previous chart smashes 'Lights' and 'Starry Eyed.' Expect it to make waves in America sometime around May 2014. 'Only You' breaches a pop territory relatively unexplored by our leading lady. How often do you say, "oh, that Ellie Goulding song's a bit sexy isn't it?" Not very often. You can say that now because 'Only You' sure is sexy, without coming across as trampy. Unless you look too much into that repeated "I'm on my knees" line. Following it with the instantly charming title track was a good move. This time, the repeated line "it's going to be better" builds a triumphant atmosphere despite the swelling sadness circling it. "When it's just us, you show me what it feels like to be lonely, you show me what it feels like to be lost." And then Goulding just keeps repeating how it's going to be better and you can't help but believe. 'Figure 8' has a dubstep breakdown, but it's not overly offensive so we'll just leave it at that. Halcyon drags through a couple of unremarkable moments at this point. 'Hanging On' and 'Explosions' fall flat, sadly the least memorable songs on the album. You'll forgive the minor lull in festivities as soon as you hear 'I Know You Care.' Ridiculously out of place, but one of the most beautiful ballads you could endure in 2012. It's at this point that I will remind you Ellie Goulding is dating Skrillex. Did you just slap yourself hard in the face to see if you were dreaming? Moving along... penultimate number 'Atlantis' perfectly picks up the pace before 'Dead In The Water' closes Halcyon with strings, a touch of sadness and surprisingly, yet somewhat unsurprisingly, a great desire to hear it again. Ellie Goulding's time is now.

Matt Bond gives Halcyon four Lady Gaga's out of five...

The Haunted Man (Album)
by Bat For Lashes

The world of Bat For Lashes is an intriguing one. Sometimes it can be enchanting, captivating, enthralling; it can hold on to you and not let go. Sometimes it is confronting, a little uncomfortable, a little questionable and a tiny bit detached from…everything. Sometimes it’s gripping and impossible to ignore, the reverberations pleading with you to move. The Haunted Man, the third album from Natasha Khan’s Bat For Lashes, is all of these things and a little more. ‘Horse Of The Sun’ and ‘Winter Fields’ are the songs that will have you moving, they’re the ones that beg to be danced to, while ‘Oh Yeah’, title track ‘The Haunted Man’ and ‘A Wall’ are the ones you will question, the beats a little uncertain, the subject slightly unclear. They can be forgiven though, because in the Bat For Lashes world, the songs that are enchanting are truly amazing, they’ll wrap themselves around your heart and hold on, their sounds hypnotising and incredible. ‘All Your Gold’ is dramatic and passionate, ‘Laura’ is haunting (not surprisingly, co-written by the same guy who co-wrote ‘Video Games’), it’s what Lana Del Rey would sound like if she bothered to put in some effort; with the lyrics “Laura, you’re more than a superstar” lingering long after the song is over. This album probably won’t have the same impact her previous two albums have had, but it’s still a delightful listen and after all, the opening track ‘Lilies’ says it all with the evocative and powerful strains of “thank God I’m alive” repeated. When I get to listen to music like this, I feel the same way.

Jo Michelmore gives The Haunted Man four Shirley Manson's out of five...


by P!nk
Album: The Truth About Love (2012)

It's an automatic win when a video enhances the quality of a song and actually makes you *gasp* like it. That's the power of domestic violence masked as contemporary dance, boys and girls. In all seriousness, you have to give some props to P!nk for pushing herself further that her contemporaries. If she's not dangling from ceilings or making unnecessary cameos in Charlie's Angels films, she's perfecting a physically demanding routine for her new music video. Which she pulls off. Spectacularly. There's no fireworks exploding from her chest, she doesn't vomit streamers (what was up with that, Rihanna?) and there are absolutely NO leopard print tights/gigantic booty scenes. It's easy to understand not only how she's lasted so long in the industry, but how she's managed to become even bigger over time.

Matt Bond gives the 'Try' music video four Lady Gaga's out of five... 

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