As clued-up progenitors of the most switched on, up-to-the-second and life-essential column for hipsters, scenesters and trendsters the length and breadth of the Internets, we’re not the type to allow the recent passing of Whitney Houston fly under our radar without comment.
Fact is, it left us in a state of shock. Not so much for the lurid aspects of the demise of one of the world’s biggest pop stars, but more for the wholly unexpected parallels between ourselves and Clive Davis: our parties are mixed affairs too – half the guests insouciantly schmoozing, the other half quietly weeping in the corner – and are often described in hindsight as “insanity”. It’s not right, but it’s okay.
But hey, let’s not go gently into that good night. Let’s banish grim ruminations on mortality, inappropriate get-togethers and the inevitable heat death of the universe. Let’s instead stream some new tunes and smirk like we’re ahead of the curve.
The Futureheads – Robot
Barry Hyde has a point when he says that any Futureheads fans who don’t “get” forthcoming a cappella album Rant are not fans at all. They’ve always been, after all, a four-part harmony band, and have always played to their considerable, melodic strengths.
Such a statement puts the boys on the offensive – anxious, perhaps, of a backlash in-the-making – but they needn’t explain themselves: this version of Robot (first seen on their debut) is fun, smart, as distinctive as anything they’ve done, and signposts Rant as one of the year’s most intriguing LPs to date.
The Cribs Chi Town
Pretty sure there’s a stall at Glastonbury called Chi Town. Oh no. Sorry. That’s Chai town.
Which also means that this isn’t a paean to the Jarman brothers’ favourite purveyors of hot, sickly sweet, over fragranced almost tea; that only makes sense when it’s 3am and you’re in a field. And you can’t find your tent. And you’ve made friends with a Danish man with a wizened beard and a stick, who hasn’t taken his shoes off in six days.
Nope. But it is a paean to Chicago, delivered in a rollicking, shouty, punky fashion that sounds quite a lot like The Cribs. Welcome back.
Lambchop – Gone Tomorrow
We’re partial to a bit of Lambchop, and frequently find ourselves wishing sound-alike and Silver Jews honcho David Berman were half as prolific. Kurt Wagner is Lambchop – the outfit’s only constant – and continues to display epic stamina ahead of an 11th studio album in the form of Mr. M.
Gone Tomorrow encapsulates the man. Its slow burning hypnosis splicing just the right levels of alt-country and minimalism in a seven-minute effort befitting its lovingly crafted, slo-mo pro wrestling video; a gorgeous piece of film making in its own right. Ten suplexes out of ten.
Stealing Sheep – I Am The Rain
Right. Stick with me on this. Because it could get complicated.
So, you know All Saints, right? Female four piece from the early noughties? And you know those medieval re-enactment societies who provide a fun means of both keeping history alive and entertaining the general public, while at the same time helping socially inept members of the populace meet other socially inept members of the populous in a safe, sterile and (above all) easily segregated location?
Still here? Well, imagine if All Saints were members of a medieval re-enactment society. Then I Am The Rain would sound exactly like their cover version of Pure Shores. And, ye, verily do know this with troth, ’tis a thing most lovely. Verily.
The Mars Volta – Malkin Jewel
Wait, you guys. WAIT. Didn’t At The Drive-In just reform? Did we imagine that? We’re not so cynical to think that they’d get back together simply to play a few festivals, pocket a few million dollars and gain some exposure for their current projects…
Nevertheless, this is The Mars Volta – The Mars Volta! – and they’re on to their sixth album proper (compare and contrast with ATD-I’s three). That’s a hell of lot of yelping, drum solos and meandering riffs. As for Malkin Jewel, it’s more of the same: initially inaccessible, eventually gratifying. With a touch of later-era Incubus thrown in.
The Wave Pictures – Eskimo Kiss
We’re feeling The Wave Pictures on more than just a superficial level (though on this occasion their lo-fi indie frolics do appeal to our basest instincts) because Eskimo Kiss is a hospital-penned beaut that deals with the magic of mundanity and vice-versa; a subject we can relate to as we yawn at the sunrise yet eulogise improved-recipe Lucky Charms.
A useful barometer ahead of the band’s sixth LP since 2008, their 12th in total? We do hope so.
Fields Of The Nephilim – Penetration
Remember that weird dream you had where the antagonists from Stephen King’s The Stand took to the stage and started cranking out goth metal? We figure Stevenage stalwarts Fields Of The Nephilim had the same revelation when they formed in 1984… and that not much has changed since. Let’s ROCK!
Truly, this is rather good. Occupying similar space to The xx it’s expansive, elegant and haunting.
But the video did really remind us of Honey To The Bee by Billie Piper. Sorry.