Track Reviews

Track Reviews: 16-22 January 2012

This week we are outraged. Outraged. By something. Anything. Everything. We’re outraged about Madonna’s new album title. M.D.N.A? Come on? That’s but one letter away from the initials of a drug? ONE LETTER! A DRUG! MADONNA! INITIALS? What is the world coming too? MADONNA. DRUGS. LETTERS. OUTRAGED.

And there’s almost undoubtedly other things. Other small, completely forgettable things which would normally pass by without a murmur. Or possibly just a smirk, but now make us so very, very outraged.

We’re livid. We need something to calm down. Maybe a hot, sweet cup of tracks. Yeah. That’ll do it.

Dirty Three Rising Below

We’re definitely glass half empty types round here. Silver lining? Nah. That just means that next time we drink from the reservoir we’re going to get mercury poisoning. But, if no more Grinderman means some more Dirty Three, then we’ll maybe look on the bright side.

Rising Below is the first sight of their new album Towards The Low Sun, their first since 2005, and it begins coyly. Slightly warily. There’s almost a sense of politeness, of not wanting to get in each other’s way.

And then, after a while, things start looping, spiralling, intertwining. It picks up pace and blossoms into this elaborate filigree of violin, guitar and drums, winding endlessly around themselves to wonderfully atmospheric effect.

Nada Surf – Waiting For Something

Less a music video, more an EPK – in fact, literally just an EPK – but we finally have our answer to the question that has gnawed at us for years: how does it feel to have dinner at Nada’s Surf’s place? Ambient lighting, good food and sparkling conversation. It’s like a cross between an unplugged live set and an episode of Ready, Steady, Cook. (Next week, Coldplay create an album using only celery, a tin of corned beef and their inflated sense of self-importance).

There is a point to the exercise, of course: a tantalising glimpse at Waiting For Something, lead single of the band’s forthcoming sixth album The Stars Are Indifferent To Astronomy and their first fresh material in four years. And we like what we hear because, well, it’s Nada Surf, innit?

Willis Earl Beal Evening’s Kiss

Where once upon a time people would have just taken it at face value, Willis Earl Beal’s back story is the sort of thing that now makes people remark “yeah, but she didn’t have lips like that last year.”

Living in New Mexico for four years, writing hundreds of songs but never performing them in public, leaving flyers in bookshops and CD-Rs in public spaces and, most mind-bogglingly of all, completely shunning social media of any and all descriptions.

Shocking. But forget that. Forget the cynicism. Forget your determination to find the expos that you’re sure exists waiting to be unwrapped at the heart of every tale, and appreciate what’s in front of you. Little more than some twangs of guitar and a lonesome voice whispering out, Evening’s Kiss is simply, honestly, lovely.

Stooshe feat Travie McCoy – Love Me

It can be a frightening, lonely and thankless experience to be so far ahead of the game. We lead opinion with such unerring momentum that our trailblazing ship has long since lost sight of the shore of conventional thinking.

Case in point: Stooshe. The provocative, 90s-flavoured trio scored the UK’s most viewed music video with their debut single Betty WozGone when it received 100,000 views on its first day, and we’ve an inkling bordering on precognition that sassy follow-up Love Me – though its paint is still wet – is destined for the major leagues. Plus it features that odd fella from Gym Class Heroes. Which is nice.

BOY FRIEND – Egyptian Wrinkle

Further paired bliss as the gaggle of contemporary duos continue their aural full nelson on a music industry gluttonous for their tag-teaming exertions. This time it’s the turn of BOY FRIEND’s Christa Palazzolo and Sarah Brown; long-time collaborators whose shared reverence for Cocteau Twins-esque delicacy is infused into the ethereal ambience of their sound.

Title track of an album tipped as 2012’s first truly great record, Egyptian Wrinkle is a thing of beauty. Keep ’em peeled for imminent UK dates.

Sleigh Bells Comeback Kid

It isn’t relaxing. It isn’t soothing. But then again, there’s a time and a place for soothing and there’s a time and a place for beginning our FIGHT BACK AGAINST THE INFERNAL MACHINES.

Or something. Sorry. There’s just something in the way Comeback Kid takes an enormous hair-metal riff, the sound of someone beating Sonic The Hedgehog (the game, before you go bothering the RSPCA) and Alexis Krauss cooing serenely over the top that gets our rabbles well and truly roused.

Now. Let’s go get a badger in a headlock (it is now time to call the RSPCA).

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