You come from up country, I can tell ‘cause you wear your shirt, collar, hat in a different way

I’ve got a few things to write about over the next few days – this month’s Emusic haul has been fruitful…

The Radar Brothers

The Radar Brothers are from LA, do not appear to involve any brothers at all (crazy, huh?) and are chiefly the vehicle of guitarist Jim Putnam. They have a strong alt country feel to them, all smoky vocals, slow punchy guitars and sweet harmonies. It’s no surprise to me to learn that they’ve just finished supporting Teenage Fanclub on their American tour – they could be some sort of rhythm buddies in truth.

Now, I’m not usually first person onto a new band (and not this time either), but even by my standards, I’m pretty slow on the uptake here. This years’ LP Illustrated Garden is actually their sixth one, the first having been released fourteen years ago…  There was some sort of hiatus and regrouping, which you can read about here on the Merge site (You can also get three mp3s there from older records…).

Reading some of the criticism of the new record over the months, a regular theme seems to be that all the songs sound the same. I’m not fussed about that at all – far too many artists feel they’ve got to “evolve” and forget what it was that they did well in the first place.

I’m quite looking forward to working backwards through this catalogue…

Can’t You See?

For a change, today, I thought I’d post something about a record that I just can’t decide whether I like or not. I blow hot and cold…

Women

Women are a Canadian band of four blokes who have just released their second album, on Flemish Eye records, called Public Strain. And right now, on my headphones, it sounds like a bit of a belter – all spiky alt-punk guitar chords and sparse atmospheric sounds, vocals recorded in the room next door, etc… Problem is over the car stereo (a new and unexpected pleasure for me), it sounds bassy and atonal, hard to penetrate. I’ll let you decide.

You can read more about them here, but I’m guessing the members of Women are Velvet Underground fans and will also have a smattering of Jesus and Mary Chain records in their bedsits. Today’s records? Maybe the Girls record from last year… There’s also a fair amount of drone in there too, meh, sometimes I go for that, sometimes not…

Flemish Eye will allow you to download four tracks, two from each of their records, So I’ll put one of them up here, and let you go over there to pick up the others:

Narrow With the Hall

There’s also this rather fine YouTube clip, recorded in Heidelberg of Women looking very arthouse:

Klavierwerke

OK, so I feel bad about being gone so long.

Here’s something else I found in an idle emusic moment. Damn fine it is too…

About a month ago I made a post about dubstep act Mount Kimbie and, as a gentleman of a certain age, drew some good natured ribbing about it too. Fair enough. Well here we go again.

James Blake

James Blake is apparently something of a maverick figure on the, ahem, UK Grime scene, producing a number of exciting EPs in the past year or so, and has just made another release in the same vein, Klavierwerke.

It’s four tracks of glitchy, funkiness injected with a similar dose of spookiness that I enjoyed in the Burial records. Floating across, beneath and within his fidgety rhythms, are a series of disembodied, distorted voices, flitting in and out of cover like little spirits. Sometimes they disappear, to return later, sometimes everything stops…

There’s piano chords coming in and out too in similar fashion and the whole thing has quite an eerie feel to it. The cover is a weird affair too, with Blake (I presume) in some sort of blurred double exposure, which reminds me of the hallucinations Tim Robbins is plagued by in Jacob’s Ladder.

I remember reading in Wire magazine an interview with the feller behind the Burial records and being impressed by his suggestion that buildings, cities and thoroughfares can harbour echoes of the past that bounce undetected about the cityscape. And it’s easy to imagine the same inspiration behind the James Blake tracks. As I said there are a bunch of other EPs for me to study and I’m rather looking forward to doing so.

In the meantime…

Do this for me one last time, I promise I will keep my clothes on, never ask you again

Oh Lord.

I feel like some sort of elaborate but cruel time trick has been played on me (probably involving Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd). I refuse to believe it’s been almost a month since I last post.

Lordy…

I’ve not been idle in this time though, readers, (well, clearly I have, but…) a lot of music has been listened to and slow progress has been made on a side project I shall be talking about another time.

Probably the best album I’ve bought recently is this one by a Montreal band called Valleys.

Valleys

This lot do a rather nice line in dreamy, Americana-styled pop which is rather more-ish. Lots of pedal effects and languid banjo-esque stringèd instruments, the sort of things that carry my heart away with much too much ease. But there’s also keening vocals and lyrics that I find quite touching.

Signed to Semprini Records, they have an album out which is about a year old, called Sometimes Water Kills People, and I believe there’s an EP out in the next few weeks which I shall be looking out for.

There’s not a lot out there to give you on Valleys, a few not really legal mp3s and (incredibly) just about nothing on YouTube (some sort of record), so I’m going to put up a track originally hosted by now-defunct blog Hero Hill, called “Heavy Dreamer” and my favourite track off Sometimes Water Kills People, Tan Lines. Heady stuff.

Heavy Dreamer

Tan Lines

Seems a shame there’s not more noise about this band over the airwaves. The randomness of it all…