Pretty much everyone likes listening to new music. The problem is actually getting to it, or being directed to what might be suitable for you. Blogs and music sites are good, but are by their very definition, completely impersonal, whilst word of mouth only really works when your friends share a similar musical outlook – and even then, you have to awkwardly sit through a couple of hours of Bombay Bicycle Club stuff just to make sure you don’t offend anyone. In a world where nobody really likes talking to anybody in real life anymore, it only makes sense that a program on the internet should be your best bet for finding stuff that you like. iTunes’ Genius service is one of the most renowned, just because of how ubiquitous the player itself has become. Whilst it’s probably great for the one album a year crowd, informing them that, seeing as they like that Amy Winehouse ‘Rehab’ song, they’d probably like some new stuff by a man called Plan B, for discovering unsigned acts it’s pretty much redundant.
Last.fm, however, isn’t restricted by the major label-heavy iTunes library for it’s recommendations, which is why it is free to inform listeners of Lester Brown and Weed Diamond that they should probably spend a little bit of time getting to know Fluker Love. Chillwave might have already finished it’s honeymoon with the hipsters, with all and sundry coming down on the faux-genre with some venom, but that doesn’t stop it from being one of the most definitive sounds of 2010, and one that is channelled in parts throughout the already impressive output of Andrew Goldspink. This is far from the jaded pop of Washed Out, however, drawing on some of shoegaze for inspiration, and offering a way that the genre could move away from the static, boring image that it has crafted for itself. There’s space in pretty much everything that has been committed to record, meaning that icy ambience becomes somewhat of a recurring theme.
Goldspink has already put out an EP and an entire full length album, and both are available for free download, a situation which seems more preposterous when you realise you’re on your fourth repeat listen of the eponymous album and it’s cost you absolutely nothing. If you’ve already fallen in love with the likes of Seams this year, this should be the next on your list. Dreamy and ridiclously spaced out, you could imagine these songs being the soundtrack to one of the most blissfully spaced out movies of all time – we can only hope that somebody makes the images to fit.
Doing a good cover version is easy – repeating the same chords that someone else has already penned is something that any competent musician could do with ease. But the best are those that reimagine the song in terms completely outside the spectrum of the original, like Grizzly Bear’s haunting take of ‘It felt like a kiss’. Blink 182 are as far away from 60’s pop song about love through domestic violence as you could imagine, but Colleen Green has managed to work similar magic with their song ‘M+Ms’ as the Veckatimest quartet did with The Crystals work.
Whilst the Phil Spector sound has aged well, Blink 182 were never really blessed with a sound that you would call seminal. And though there will be many thousands who claim to have had a totally awesome time, there will be few there to have heard the fuzzed up, lo-fi brilliance of Green’s interpretation. The rest of the tracks available on myspace may not have the pop factor that M+Ms has, but that’s probably due to the fact that they weren’t dreamt up in a major label’s marketing department. There are other covers – a take on nobunny’s reaps a predictably glorious yield, as does a unique spin on The Ramones with ‘I wanna be degraded’.
If you’re searching for distorted power pop, it looks as though the West Coast of the US, as ever, the place to be. Whilst Bethany Consentino plays at being the darling of the music press with her debut album as Best Coast (following on from her brilliant former life as part of Pocahaunted), Colleen has been putting together a tape for Suffering Jukebox, probably using similar quantities of narcotics in the process. Milo goes to Compton is available now, and it’s slender run of 50 copies should’ve sold out long in advance of it’s release. It’s not difficult to fall in love with the swooning rhythms and handclaps of Green’s hazy work, which means you’d be well advised to get your copy sorted out sooner rather than later.
If you’re a fan of Beach House, you may as well stop reading now and skip down to the song at the bottom of this post – this is definitely for you. The whole dream pop thing has been tried by many, but few manage to pull it off with the skilful elegance that it requires – which is what made Teen Dream so exceptional upon it’s release. He might not have an album out yet, but Porcelain Raft’s efforts to date certainly rank higher than most in scaling the heights of Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally’s effort from earlier in the year.
That’s not to say that the songs made are merely replicating an a near-perfect formula – Mauro Remiddi is the person behind the moniker, and there’s a personality within these icy, distant beats. Each track is an exercise in balancing pure pop and atmospheric ambience, with the results differing only in their style but rarely in their magnificence. ‘Tip of your Tongue’ could easily be on some of the better commercial radio stations thanks to it’s catchy chorus, but you’d be hard pressed to find ‘I found a way’ gracing even the most experimental graveyard shift show.
There’s an EP available for a pound, which is pretty much the best value for money you’re going to find anywhere for music this good. Porcelain Raft is based in London, so you can’t help but feel that someone’s going to put this stuff out on a cassette at some point, so keep your walkman on standby. If you’ve got any sense, you’ll be down in Hoxton watching Perfume Genius anyway, but if you get down a bit earlier, you’ll be able to hear the likes of this, too:
Some names are just so brilliant that you can’t work out why nobody has used them before and Golden Grrrls definitely fall into that camp. A threesome from Glasgow, they came down to Manchester to take part in Comfortable on a Tightrope’s D.I.Y. Day at the Deaf Institute yesterday and blew away the small crowd that consigned themselves to sitting inside the venue’s Music Hall during one of the hottest days of the year.
There’s a hint of the riot grrl movement in their noise, but not quite as much as the name would suggest – the trio take more inspiration from the late 80’s pop music and the c86 movement. However, banish all thoughts of adults dressed in children’s clothes, clumsily oversized cardigans and navel gazing, as the songs rough up the harmonies, mess up the melodies and generally turn the genre into something actually palatable. Everything they put out is done through a glorious layer of fuzz, wonderfully echoing the cassette era whilst making songs that are several hundred times more daring than most of the sub-Bis stuff that Sarah Records became responsible for. The lo-fi tag is justifiable this time, but the energy shines through the distortion and feedback, whilst the jangly riffs would be distinctive with the shabbiest production values.
Their set yesterday was short and snappy, but never failed to capture the attention, which was pretty much the standard of all the amazing bands that played. Of late, they’ve shared a cassette with Boredom Boys through Suplex Cassettes, but sadly for us, that’s already sold out. Here’s a song anyway:
Despite being a band when they play live, Spectrals are still ostensibly the project of Louis Jones, with friends roped in to fill out the sound. The plus side of this is that now, instead of having one band to obsess and faun over, we have two – featuring at least one member of the backing band that have made that grunged out, surf sound one of aural highlights of the year, Bhurgeist are one to add to your list for messy, low-fidelity summer mixtapes.
The sound is one closely related to that of Spectrals , but in terms of a family tree, it’s more of a cousin than a brother – a dirtier, angrier cousin at that. Gone are the slow melodies and the knowing nods to swooning sixties pop and in is a grubby garage rock ethic. There’s little meandering on show here, with urgency and vigour favoured instead. Unfortunately, it looks like we might be a little late to the party, with one cassette having sold out and the other – a split with ethiopians – quickly going to same way. It’s no surprise really – noise’s burgeoning popularity means that anything this brilliant is going to be snapped up by pretty much anyone with an ounce of sense. They’ve even got a song that seemingly references a Pokémon – a certain path into the heart of the hipsters who grew up wanting to catch ‘em all.
If the whole WU LYF phenomenon proves anything, it’s that we all still go mad for a little bit of mystery. As usual, though, anything that the UK is doing, America is trying to do it bigger and better. And so, whilst we may have a band that are near impossible to get to the bottom of, they’ve taken the unnatural step of creating a whole new wave of bands who have names that pretty much made searching the web redundant. If you ask google to look for †‡†, it tells you that there are no documents that match your query. And in these blindspots, Witch House is taking residence, making up a little underground scene of it’s own, online.
After a little hassle, it’s not too difficult to find out that †‡† are essentially called rrritualzzz. A recent interview with keyboard is drunk made it seem like it’s the project of one man who, as you’d expect, is evasive of most questioning. Whilst Witch House has a ready made set of characteristics ripe for parody once it suffers the widespread backlash that chillwave appears to be in the middle of, this is one of the acts that should be able to weather the storm. Naturally, the music is dark and atmospheric, just like everything else in the genre, but it’s not been backed with the anthemic qualities on show here. You’ve got to be confident if you’re willing to sample Ain’t no mountain high enough, but on >>>>▲<<<< rrrituallzzz manages it, turning the Motown classic into a ghostly vehicle for loud, thumping electronica. Unlike the works of most bedroom producers, the track released so far sound ready made to be pumped out to thousands of people – whether or not the clubs of Ibiza are ready for anything quite so influenced by drone is another question entirely, though. An EP is supposedly on the way, presumably on the CD-R’s that Disaro distributes everything else on.
If you turn up early to any decent gig in Manchester, the chances are that you’ll get a chance to see Mazes opening up proceedings. Not content with being synonymous with all the great music currently playing in the city, they’ve also gone about setting up their own record label in conjunction with The Deaf Institute, which has suitably put out a seven inch by the band as their first release.
Whilst we can all dream of the hazy collaborations that might ensue, it seems that Mazes are simply going about their business, making better music that pretty much every other band in the country. These two tracks, however, see them rein in some of the fuzz of their earlier efforts, and even slowing themselves down somewhat, exploring a slightly longer form of music. There’s still the obvious lo-fi, DIY ethic that got the likes of 20jazzfunkgreats and Transparent talking about them, but compared to the majority of their work, the three minutes of Cenetaph seems enormous. The threesome indulge in what could be termed a ‘laid back summer jam’, complete with ‘oooooo’ refrain and spiky, almost jangle pop guitar – the result, predictably, being a brilliant take on the relaxed garage pop of the west coast of the US. It’d be fair to say that there’s a small amount of maturity starting to creep into their sound, but only at the edges – the flip side, Go-Betweens, is just as raucous as the tracks that piqued everybody’s interest way back in 2009, whilst clocking in at well under the two minute mark.
An album must be on the horizon somewhere, and this release encapsulates the two brilliant extremes of the band’s sound, whilst only increasing the clamour for something longer. For the minute though, the half an hour support slots and 7″s are more than enough to sedate – and as sedatives go, this is sublime.