Music of 2010, part one

24th June 2010 – 5.31 pm

Half-way through the year already and I have yet to review any new music I've bought. It's time to rectify the situation.

The first album I buy is surprisingly influenced by a television advert, which reminds me that I quite like Delphic's single Doubt. It's the start of the year, nothing else has tickled my fancy so far, so I buy their album, Acolyte. For a heavily marketed new band there are no surprises here. The music is straightforward enough and fairly pleasant, if a little repetitive or ordinary in places. But I still like Doubt, and other singles Halcyon and Counterpoint are equally appealing. Acolyte is not particularly outstanding but it is pleasant enough pop and won't be skipped when it comes up in my playlist.

I was interested in hearing Beach House for a while but never quite convinced myself to buy their album Devotion when the opportunity finally arose. But now they have released Teen Dream and the new album is just as well-received as the last, and my thirst for new music encourages me to buy it. The combination of the low-tempo and synthesisers used to create general pop stylings makes the album relaxing to listen to, if somewhat unchallenging. There are gems like Norway and 10 Mile Stereo that keep me entertained but otherwise the album tends to pass me by, gently easing its way along without either irritating me or making me note its presence.

Being assaulted by last year's Rip It Off means I cannot ignore Born Again Revisited, the new album from Times New Viking. As expected, the lo-fi sound is viciously distorted and loud, with tracks like I Smell Bubblegum being equivalent to standing on a village platform as an inter-city train blasts past. A couple of songs are quite harsh, with minor chords and clashing sounds producing conflicting elements, but for the most part Times New Viking create slices of cuddly fuzz wrapped in nettles. No Time, No Hope is perky, (No) Sympathy probably couldn't be a more distorted chunk of energy, and Take the Piss is a perfect sub-minute song to finish an album of short sharp shocks to the system.

I take the opportunity of buying Devotion by Beach House at the same time as Teen Dream, assuring myself I would like both. And the two albums are fairly similar, at least in style. Although the latter album shows more polish in songwriting the music in the former is recognisably the same Beach House. It is perhaps unfortunate that I only experience this progression from a regressive point-of-view as it means I mostly overlook Devotion in favour of the newer album, or those by different artists.

Kairos, White Hinterland's second album and Casey Dienel's third, deserves mention under separate cover, if I could possibly do justice to this glorious collection of beautiful songs.

The magic word 'shoegaze' is printed in NME's review of Serena Maneesh's second album, No 2: Abyss in B Minor. I remember the mid-90s fondly and although shoegazing was rightfully considered occasionally pretentious and tedious in equal measures there was plenty to enjoy as well. Now the label is used generally to refer to the more positive aspects of the genre and Serena Maneesh pile distorted guitars on top of heavy drum beats, whispy vocals gliding in the background seemingly oblivious to all around it. Reprobate! alternately has guitars squealing in urgency and soft vocals trying to drag the song backwards, Blow Yr Brains in the Mourning Rain squeezes as much in to four-and-a-half minutes as it can, whilst Magdalena (Symphony #8) brings everything to a peaceful and calming resolution. I love this album and this is the first band new to me that has got me excited so far this year.

Rolo Tomassi interest me. They are labelled as 'punkjazz', which seems appropriate given the highly syncopated rhythms, explosive sounds, and screamed vocals. The Rolo Tomassi EP, also known as Untitled, has been re-released and I pick it up for another dose after their first studio album Hysterics. The music appeals to me, even if it can be challenging to follow at times, and there are some fairly accessible tracks. I can't quite appreciate the vocals, which may be more of a generational problem, but the technically impressive playing and overall compositions make for interesting and rewarding listening. I get more out of each listening of Untitled thank I expect to, which can only be good.

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