Track Reviews

Track Reviews: 21-27 May 2012

This week, there will be no introduction. None. We’d feel awful about keeping you from tasting the treats contained within this column. We’re loathe to delay you from sampling the smorgasbord of tasty morsels that we’ve drawn from the corners of the musical universe over the last seven days.

So go. Chow down. We’re not stopping you. Really. Go and snap off a corner of Dirty Projectors. Go and chew on The Tallest Man On Earth. Go nibble on the delightful Summer Camp. Bon appetit.

Summer Camp – Life
A new Summer Camp tune is always cause for celebration. Those of you who saw the duo on their recent tour may have noticed a new tune in their set of adorable synth-pop – a full on ‘disco banger’, as almost nobody refers to such things these days.

Life is that very tune, Elizabeth Sankey and Jeremy Warmsley’s first new recording since the Welcome To Condale album. It sounds tailor made for summer, building on the dark, mysterious, danceable vibe that tracks like Done Forever hinted at, and the duo’s undeniable knack for a memorable tune means that the soaring chorus will live long in your head.

It’s a song that will have you dancing through the warm(ish) months to come. And if the rest of the forthcoming five-track EP is this good, we could be in for a treat.

Halls – Sanctuary
A lot of music these days is tagged with the adjective ‘glacial’. Which is strange. Because, having nearly lost an ear to frostbite last year during an experiment in the Antarctic, we can confirm that glaciers are, in fact, silent.

Which brings us to Halls. Whose new single, Sanctuary, is not silent and therefore is not glacial.

It does, however, bring to mind Sigur Rós. Minus all that elfish bullshit that makes any like minded person want to go and smash up a branch of the Games Workshop with a 12-sided mace. Plus, it’s drenched in portentous string-led grandeur, and, as an additional bonus, the video stars some lovely gorse.

Dirty Projectors – Gun Has No Trigger
Once the epitome of an arty, experimental New York band, Dirty Projectors have been edging towards the mainstream for a while now. Gun Has No Trigger, the first single from the upcoming Swing Lo Magellan, while not quite being pop, could easily nestle into a radio playlist.

Which is a good thing of course, as more people need to hear Dirty Projectors. Gun Has No Trigger floats blissfully by, with Dave Longstreth’s strained vocals nicely balanced by the quiet backing of Amber Coffman.

It’s not the most attention-grabbing of lead singles, but it’s effectively atmospheric. And unlike a lot of early Dirty Projectors work, it won’t scare away your dog.

Amanda Palmer – Do It With A Rockstar
Say what you like about Amanda Palmer, but she’s not lazy. Ever since leaving her record company Roadrunner, she’s pretended to be a conjoined twin, recorded an album of Radiohead covers on ukulele, released a patchy concept album about Australia, and married the brilliant fantasy writer Neil Gaiman.

Now she’s decided to record the ‘official’ follow-up to Who Killed Amanda Palmer, and she’s bypassing all that pesky record label nonsense this time. Funded entirely by Kickstarter, Palmer has raised a staggering $760,000 already, and has released this first track as a thank you present to all who have donated so far.

As for Do It With A Rock Star itself, it’s a welcome return to the frantic, piano-thumping cabaret-pop that she made her name with in the Dresden Dolls. As quirky as ever (“Do you want to see all my cavities?” she asks at one point), it’s a fine taster for what will no doubt be one of the divisive albums of the year.

Listen Here

The Tallest Man On Earth – 1904
It’s been a while since we’ve heard from Cristian Masson, aka the Swedish troubadour known as The Tallest Man On Earth, since 2010’s blissful album The Wild Hunt. And fans of that album will be pleased to note that not much has changed in the Tallest Man’s world.

1904 won’t calm down those Bob Dylan comparisons, with Masson’s vocal phrasing having an uncanny, Zimmerman-esque quality to them. His lyrics are similarly obtuse and intriguing, referring to a mysterious event which shook the world in 1904, but we never get any closer to finding out what this actually was.

Nevertheless, it’s a gorgeous comeback – wistful, melancholy and breezy. Roll on album number three.

Listen Here

Hey Sholay – Burning
Normally we don’t like to quote press releases. But. There’s a first time for everything, with the possible exception of bestiality. So anyway, according to the spiel, Hey Sholay are the “imperious masters of the contemporary anthemic chorus”.

Which must be wonderful for them. It’s the kind of thing you’d imagine must really help when wanting to book a table at a restaurant.

So what does a chorus by the imperious masters of the contemporary anthemic chorus actually sound like? Well. Click below and find out. It’s almost as good as you might think.

Afghan Whigs – See And Don’t See
Their reunion may not have attracted as much attention as some of the others this year, but there are many reasons to be very excited that Greg Dulli has decided to revive the Afghan Whigs.

Their albums in the early to mid-’90s are masterpieces of angst-filled, bluesy rock, with Dulli proving an expert in painfully honest lyrics delivered in an impossibly soulful growl. See And Don’t See is their first recording in over five years, and it’s like welcoming an old friend back into the house.

A cover of Marie ‘Queenie’ Lyons’ 1970 funk number, Dulli and company have stripped it down to an acoustic lament, dominated by Dulli’s passionate vocals. If you’ve got tickets for next week’s I’ll Be Your Mirror gigs, you’ll be salivating.

Alanis Morissette – Guardian
We really hope this is the way music videos are going. No actual moving pictures, just still frames of the artist looking into the middle distance, fading in and out of the background, and the lyrics to the song popping up behind.

The whole thing looks like a life insurance advert. “None of us expect the worst, but accidents can happen. Should the worst befall you, who will look after your children when you’re gone?”.

It won’t be Alanis Morissette, we can promise you that.

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