Music of 2010, part two

8th August 2010 – 3.45 pm

Clinging to a Scheme is the third album from The Radio Dept., and although I really like debut album Lesser Matters I managed to skip past Pet Grief. Maybe I should grab that second album, as Clinging to a Scheme shows The Radio Dept. to be as evocative now as several years ago. The distorted vocals wistfully play over nicely crafted music, its sequenced nature not detracting from appeal. It could be said that the music has not evolved much over the years, but whereas creating more of the same can be disappointing for many bands The Radio Dept. are able to extend their catalogue with another satisfying collection of songs without it feeling like the I've been here before.

Dum Dum Girls have been getting a lot of press and the interviews and opinions make it seem like I would enjoy their debut album, I Will Be. And I quite like Bhang Bhang, I'm a Burnout when I hear it on the radio, the Los Angeles all-girl four-piece producing some decent fuzz from their guitars behind some appealing vocals. The album produces more of the same, which eventually becomes tiring if only because the drummer plays minor variations of the same beat for almost the whole album. Although the songs have enough differences to stand out the monotonous drum beat, even with an occasional change of tempo, drags the album down in to the mire of indistinguishability. It's a shame, as there sounds like enough promise to warrant closer listening but I get bored half-way through the album and want to move on to more stimulating music.

Another Sub Pop band like Dum Dum Girls, Happy Birthday play some more distorted guitars masquerading as pop music in their eponymous debut album. Lo-fi and featuring vocal harmonies, Happy Birthday juxtaposes cheerful melodies against squeals and squawks from guitars. Songs like Perverted Girl mix traditional pop elements of the verse with more of a grunge sound of the chorus, whilst most traditional structure is abandoned for Eyes Music. Happy Birthday have created a decent collection of songs with a good mix of sounds, even if there is nothing particularly outstanding as a whole. Sub-two-minute Zit would have made a great ending, if only they hadn't tacked another song on to the album afterwards.

Second album from Canadian electronica band Holy Fuck starts slowly. First track on Latin is essentially a four-minute introduction to the album, indistinct synthesisers and eventually crashing cymbals welcoming listeners almost as a whale in rough seas. Then the album proper gets going, Red Lights not being the cover of Curiosity Killed the Cat that I was hoping but a catchy collection of riffs woven together with a steady bass beat and a few more whale song synths layered over the top. Holy Fuck aren't as lo-fi as their first album, more distinct sounds coming from higher production values, yet this doesn't detract from their style of using any old bits of electronics capable of making a noise, and tunes remain tunes whether lo-fi or not. Latin seems to lack some of the immediacy that their lo-fi sound injected, a feeling of being there with the band, but Holy Fuck remain compelling. If the music seems to slip in to the background it's only because it has worked its way in to your subconscious.

I saw Pharaohs play as a support act over a year ago and I was impressed enough to keep a note of the band. A cursory check of their website reveals a debut release We've Tried Nothing and We're All Out of Ideas, which I am happy to order. It has been quite a while since I saw the band play so I am not entirely surprised not to recognise the songs as such, but the lively tunes and catchy melodies certainly capture some of the spirit of what I saw. The studio recording doesn't quite have the enthusiasm or charm of the live performance, though, leaving it feeling a little flat. But We've Tried Nothing... is a competent start from Pharaohs.

Maybe I need to pay more attention on occasions but I didn't know that José González only covered Heartbeats and that the song was written and originally peformed by The Knife. At least, not until I heard the original being played in Sister Ray. I was impressed enough to buy The Knife's album Deep Cuts to get that one song, hopeful that the rest of the album would follow the same standard. It kind of does, in that the same synthesisers and drum machine beats permeate most tracks. It shouldn't be surprising considering the band are electropop but, again, I didn't know. I occasionally reminisce about the eighties, but reliving it is not really for me and Deep Cuts is only a curiosity and not particularly noteworthy.

  1. 4 Responses to “Music of 2010, part two”

  2. Yeah, I just recently have discovered The Knife as well. The lead singer has such an unique voice. I love her in Royksopp's song "What else is there" Just awesome.

    Lots of interesting music you're listening to there, good stuff!

    By Laedy on Aug 8, 2010

  3. Thanks! More new music will come when I've had time to absorb it.

    Royksopp had that rocketship song recently that was also reminiscent of the 80s. I had it recommended to me too!

    By pjharvey on Aug 9, 2010

  4. royksopp deserve better...the coffee table brigade have made them their own when they are a really individual very creative set up!

    By lisa watkins on Aug 10, 2010

  5. There are many bands like that, though. At least it means they get more exposure this way, including air time on the radio, which will attract some genuine fans.

    By pjharvey on Aug 10, 2010

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