Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Music Chart - July 2013

Over halfway through the musical year and July takes the albums in the Underwurld chart to over a hundred. New records this month from Tom Odell, Palms, Kodaline, Editors, Leagues (from earlier in the year), Maps, Deap Vally, Pet Shop Boys, Smith Westerns, The Icarus Line, Mark Mulcahy, Solas, F Buttons, The Duckworth Lewis Method, The Electric Soft Parade and Thea Gilmore.

Top spot is still The National, from Kurt Vile and Laura Marling.

  1. Trouble Will Find Me by The National
  2. Wakin On A Pretty Daze by Kurt Vile 
  3. Once I Was An Eagle by Laura Marling
  4. Opposites by Biffy Clyro 
  5. Push The Sky Away by Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds 
  6. Kveikur by Sigur Rós
  7. Waiting For Something To Happen by Veronica Falls
  8. Love Has Come For You by Steve Martin and Edie Brickell
  9. Regardless by Thea Gilmore
  10. ...Like Clockwork by Queens Of The Stone Age 
  11. Sticky Wickets by The Duckworth Lewis Method
  12. Dear Mark J Mulcahy, I Love You by Mark Mulcahy
  13. Impossible Truth by William Tyler
  14. The Beast In Its Tracks by Josh Ritter 
  15. Slow Focus by F Buttons
  16. Nocturnes by Little Boots
  17. Heartthrob by Tegan And Sara
  18. Long Way Down by Tom Odell
  19. Standards by Lloyd Cole
  20. Welcome Oblivion by How To Destroy Angels
  21. Les Revenants Soundtrack by Mogwai
  22. More Light by Primal Scream 
  23. The Weight Of Your Love by Editors
  24. Shamrock City by Solas
  25. Let It All In by I Am Kloot
  26. The Sun Comes Out Tonight by Filter
  27. Spectre At The Feast by Black Rebel Motorcycle Club 
  28. Random Access Memories by Daft Punk
  29. Slave Vows by The Icarus Line
  30. Palms by Palms
  31. You Belong Here by Leagues
  32. The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here by Alice In Chains 
  33. Soft Will by Smith Westerns
  34. Black Pudding by Mark Lanegan & Duke Garwood 
  35. Modern Vampire Of The City by Vampire Weekend
  36. Tape Deck Heart by Frank Turner
  37. Until In Excess, Imperceptible UFO by Besnard Lakes 
  38. Electric by Pet Shop Boys
  39. Howlin by Jagwar Ma 
  40. IDIOTS by The Electric Soft Parade
  41. Silence Yourself by Savages
  42. People, Hell & Angels by Jimi Hendrix
  43. Fade by Yo La Tengo
  44. Wolf's Law by The Joy Formidable
  45. Vicissitude by Maps
  46. Heart Of Nowhere by Noah And The Whale 
  47. The Graceless Age by John Murry
  48. Paramore by Paramore
  49. Tales From Terra Firma by Stornoway
  50. Electric by Richard Thompson 
  51. Oblivion OST by M83
  52. AMOK by Atoms For Peace
  53. Wonderful, Glorious by Eels
  54. In A Perfect World by Kodaline
  55. Immunity by Jon Hopkins
  56. A Bad Wind Blows In My Heart by Bill Ryder-Jones
  57. Volume 3 by She & Him 
  58. Hubcap Music by Seasick Steve
  59. Wait To Pleasure by No Joy
  60. A Long Way To Fall by Ulrich Schnauss 
  61. Machineries Of Joy by British Sea Power 
  62. Pale Green Ghosts by John Grant
  63. All The Little Lights by Passenger
  64. Tooth & Nail by Billy Bragg
  65. Sound City - Real To Real by Sound City - Real To Real
  66. Disarm The Descent by Killswitch Engage
  67. The Messenger by Johnny Marr
  68. If You Leave by Daughter
  69. Pollen by Wave Machines
  70. Sistrionix by Deap Vally
  71. Mosquito by Yeah Yeah Yeahs
  72. Back Into The Woods by Ed Harcourt
  73. Clash The Truth by Beach Fossils
  74. Country Sleep by Night Beds 
  75. The Next Day by David Bowie
  76. Rules By Passion, Destroyed By Lust by Asphodells
  77. Blood Oaths Of The New Blues by Wooden Wand
  78. Centralia by Mountains
  79. In Love by Peace
  80. Ores & Minerals by Mazes
  81. Pedestrian Verse by Frightened Rabbit 
  82. The Invisible Way By Low
  83. Lysandre by Christopher Owens
  84. English Rain by Gabrielle Aplin
  85. Monomania by Deerhunter
  86. California X by California X
  87. Field Of Reeds by These New Puritans
  88. Save Rock And Roll by Fall Out Boy
  89. 180 by Palma Violets
  90. News From Nowhere by Darkstar
  91. Almanac by Widowspeak 
  92. Bloodsports by Suede
  93. Graffiti On The Train by Stereophonics
  94. Wash The Sins Not Only The Face by Esben And The Witch 
  95. Comedown Machine by The Strokes
  96. The Moths Are Real by Serafina Steer
  97. {Awayland} by Villagers
  98. Out Of Touch In The Wild by Dutch Uncles
  99. Lost Sirens by New Order
  100. Girl Talk by Kate Nash
  101. Beta Love by Ra Ra Riot
  102. Early Rocking by Paul Simon
  103. Collections by Delphic

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Thousand Lights - The E.P. review (2013)

Thousand Lights is a band from Southampton based around the gorgeous vocals of Emma Cummins and Harriet Lea-Banks, the guitar stylings of Gary 'amp destroyer' Holcombe and super-cool bassist Simon Kolstoe. Their music is Christian-themed, filled with delicious acoustic strings, percussion and vocals; driven by faith and belief - a true inspiration, washing through their clear, precise lyrics and music.

The début eponymous E.P. features five songs, opening with the wonderful Already Blessed, lead by Cummins, her vocals neatly placed between Natalie Merchant and Thea Gilmore, to deliver a superb vocal arrangement. Holcombe provides supreme acoustic guitar-work to create the flowing upbeat sound, complete with a few neat flourishes. The slower, sombre, more intense, Our Creator is equally good, bringing in Lea-Banks for backing vocals and a soaring chorus, the duo blending perfectly. And it is Harriet who takes the lead for Matthew 16, centred around the biblical text in which Jesus foretells his death and resurrection. "What price to pay for my soul, there'll be no angels, no glory, no truth... Take up your cross and follow him. We surrender..." is heartbreaking and beautiful songwriting. Your Light is another superb arrangement framed with Holcombe's shimmering guitar-work juxtaposed against the stern, serious vocal - a fascinating contrast. The dual vocals at the halfway point work brilliantly, adding to the intense atmosphere. The closer, Unfailing Love is the band at their most ambitious, with a raw emotional chorus and Cummins showing her power and range. Holcombe provides the final surprise - a sharp, crisp, guitar solo - a truly wonderful moment!

Faith is obviously important to Thousand Lights and a huge energy for their music and their songwriting. From humble live band to the heights of the recording studio, it has certainly been an inspiring journey and the results show what the band can be - a delicate touch of production to bring out their message, up to the next level and... beyond? Based on this 'teaser' E.P., a full album has to be in the wings, waiting to be lovingly crafted. And maybe guitarist Holcombe can show us more of his skills with a fifteen and half minute solo in the style of Hendrix or Gilmore. Anything is possible...

-- CS

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Music Catch-up - Smith Westerns and Leagues

Now is the chance to catch-up on some new music from the last few months...

Chicago's Smith Westerns released their third album last month, Soft Will; a much more adventurous collection of shimmering sun-kissed pop songs than the band's previous albums with wonderful understated melodies, vocal harmonies and big guitars. They have stepped up to the next level in a promising and emerging career in fantastic style. 3am Spiritual is a downbeat self-referential opener with gorgeous choral vocals, echoes of Flaming Lips and swathes of guitars. Idol and Glossed provide the early pop-tinged mood before the stirring piano-led instrumental XXIII brings four and half minutes of class. The Brit-pop influences arrive with Fool Proof and the big 'ballad' White Oath, washed with smooth guitar work and  vocals from Cullen Omori. Vocally, Only Natural is triumphant, diving from low verses to high soaring chorus, while the guitars shine. Credit has to go to Chris Coady for production and maintaining a good balance between Smith Westerns' gritty 'garage' sound and this new polished sound - it's not as thick and oppressive as Beach House, for good reason. The second half of Soft Will is certainly more serious and reflective than the first, as Best Friend tugs the heartstrings, before the oddly pitched Cheer Up brings closer Varsity and a final highlight. Soft Will is the sound of Smith Westerns not so much growing up, but coming of age.

One from the start of the year that somehow slipped through...

The Pledge Music campaign is delivering some real gems (as well as less-interesting projects from more established bands trying to give 'fans' a chance to get their hands on exclusive material) and You Belong Here by Leagues yields another success. Comprising Thad Cockrell, Tyler Burkum and Jeremy Luito, the trio has added to their début EP and produced an album of punchy, upbeat pop songs. Opener Spotlight is a great introduction with Cockrell's post-funk vocals driving the song forward. The title track draws distinct similarities to Vampire Weekend before the wistful Haunted deftly blends stirring emotion with pop stylings and cool guitar work. The big highlight of the first half is wonderfully emotive Lost It All, with Cockrell providing an outstanding vocal range. This is mirrored in the second half by a completely different, yet equally engaging, sound, as the guitar/drum stomp of Magic...quickly followed by another instant hit: Mind Games with its delicious chorus. You Belong Here never capitalises on this momentum as the final duo are oddly downbeat - Pass My Way is sunny-day vocally-textured musing while Friendly Fire is a fragile piano/vocal ballad with Cockrell stretching the metaphor and his voice in equal measure. But ultimately You Belong Here is a good idea, helped by fans and for fans. Only they will know if it has met their expectations.

Moby - new album Innocents

Moby releases a new album in September, entitled Innocents, featuring collaborations with Wayne Coyne, Cold Specks and Mark Lanegan. Scary album cover:

The two new songs, A Case For Shame and The Lonely Night, sound great and can be heard on Moby's website.

The album track listing is:
  1. Everything That Rises
  2. A Case For Shame (with Cold Specks)
  3. Almost Home (with Damien Jurado)
  4. Going Wrong 
  5. The Perfect Life (with Wayne Coyne)
  6. The Last Day (with Skylar Grey)
  7. Don't Love Me (with Inyang Bassey)
  8. A Long Time
  9. Saints
  10. Tell Me (with Cold Specks)
  11. The Lonely Night (with Mark Lanegan)
  12. The Dogs

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Nine Inch Nails - Hesitation Marks album covers revealed

The new Nine Inch Nails album, Hesitation Marks, out in September this year, will be issued with separate album covers for each format. Each cover is designed by artist Russell Mills who says about the artwork: “I’ve tried to lock into the album’s prevailing mood and echo the album’s essence. The ideas are not communicated in a literal or easily digested form, as this would be boring for me and would insult the intelligence of a potential audience. I’ve tried to make works that obliquely allude to the essence of the subject matter, to its emotional core.”

Standard CD:

 Deluxe CD:
 Digital cover:

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Mazzy Star - new song California and new album Seasons Of Your Day

Mazzy Star release a new album - Seasons Of Your Day, in September this year, their first in 17 years. New song California has Hope Sandoval's gorgeous vocals and typical moody, ethereal feel. It's like they never went away. Read about the band's comeback here on the Spin website.

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Pie & Vinyl - record shop, pie shop, cool place

I don't normally plug shops but I recently discovered Pie & Vinyl in Southsea, Portsmouth. I can't speak for the Pie, but they have a decent stock of new records.

From their website:

"First of all I’ll talk about the music. We aim to specialise in new music and new artists. We have a rough policy of stocking albums released within the last two years, which will be available in all formats but predominantly vinyl.

Vinyl has come back in a big way, and not many people know that it’s become almost industry standard to include a free mp3 or cd of the album when purchasing  an LP. For us, this is the ultimate way to purchase music as you can hold the product tightly, admire the artwork whilst being able to play the music on your hardrive [sic] device. A little piece of history you own, with a story of how you bought it or maybe a memory attached to it forever.

Feel free to visit the Record Room at the back of the building. But before you do, take a moment to look around you… for the artwork of the vinyl records is as important as the music. Our new releases are found displayed on the wall as you enter pie & vinyl, while a selection of our current favourites are found towards the back room where we hold the majority of our collection."

Pearl Jam - new album Lightning Bolt and song Mind Your Manners

New single: Mind Your Manners:

Sunday, 7 July 2013

This Week - Editors and Palms

Editors' fourth album, and first after the departure of guitarist Chris Urbanowicz, is a definite shift towards a more commercial, accessible sound, while trying to keep the band's identity. They tried this with previous album In This Light and On This Evening, working with producer Flood, ultimately ending in a mixed, slightly confused, and flat, collection of songs. But with The Weight Of Your Love, they sound more energised, and singer Tom Smith is magnificent throughout, even providing a delicious range on big emotional ballad What Is This Thing Called Love. Prior to this, The Weight is a great scene-setting, self-referential opener (Smith declaring ironically that he will try not to talk about death, against a deliberately moody backdrop) but it is the instant highlight A Ton Of Love stealing the show - a solid pop/rock anthem with an attention-grabbing chorus. Honesty comes a close second; exquisitely arranged, before a perfect blend of vocals and strings on the wonderful Nothing. The last third of The Weight Of Your Love loses the early momentum with the awkward politically-aware Hyena and the listless Two Hearted Spider but closers The Phone Book and Bird Of Prey provide a spirited, if downbeat, finale. Editors still have far to go to reach great heights but The Weight Of Your Love is moving them in the right direction - led by Smith's baritone, some superb arrangements and excellent song writing.

When Isis split in 2010, a new band was always going to rise from the ashes - the band were just too good for the ex-members to disappear without trace. Bassist Caxide, drummer Harris and guitar/keyboard maestro Meyer teamed up with Deftones lead singer Chino Moreno to form Palms - an unlikely but intriguing combination. The eponymous album is six songs of 'Isis'-like trademark post-rock with Moreno adding his voice 'as another instrument'. The two halves meet in the middle, rather than sounding like an 'old' band with a 'new' singer, to create something different and unique. Granted, this is more Isis than Deftones, in terms of mood and atmosphere. The ten-minute centrepiece Mission Sunset drifts from delicate sound-scape to huge emotional epic within the first four minutes, the guitars and drums magnificent throughout. Shifts of tempo and texture create several songs in one into the second half before a swathe of crashing drums and guitars bring Moreno back for more pained vocals. This leads into the album high point, the near seven-minute Shortwave Radio, filled with big haunting guitars, supreme bass, and Moreno's best vocal performance. Plenty of echo in the cleaner moments compliment the chaotic swamp when the band collide, all with excellent production. Opener Future Warrior is a compelling quiet/loud introduction to the project with a great vocal centre while Patagonia is more controlled and ethereal. And the final duo provide the pleasant Tropics followed by the elegantly crafted Antarctic Handshake building through nine minutes from psychedelic ambience through crashing guitars to a fuzzy electronic close. Palms is a wonderful collaboration that has produced a rich and textured album of depth and hidden complexity. Hopefully, it won't be a once only side-project.