Music of 2012, part one

19th August 2012 – 3.49 pm

What the hell, 2012? It's August already and I haven't yet pushed out a first review of new music I'm listening to. Let's remedy that, better late than never, with the first batch of albums that have been added to my collection. Hopefully I can get the second and third instalments out in better time.

An opening track nine minutes long is an ambitious start to Illuminated People by Islet, and a pretty good one. It is too long, though, by ninety seconds and a couple of refrains too many, but until then it works well as a song and as an introduction to the album. Folky, quirky, and catchy, the album progresses steadily and surely, and without faltering after that extended initial outro. There aren't really any outstanding tracks, but neither in a positive or negative way. I don't even mind the simultaneous male/female vocals in What We Done Wrong, which generally frustrates me by masking the better voice, because in this case it works well and is a good choice. Illuminated People is a competent and worthy addition of interesting folk-pop songs to my collection.

Aabenbaringen Over Aaskammen from Casiokids starts off slowly with a laid back opening track, but changes gear straight away for Det Haster!, which bops along with a vibrato synthesiser that is reminiscent of Little Dragon. The perkiness continues throughout the album, with a solid electronica groove. The synths can occasionally sound rather basic and unsophisticated, like with the hook of Golden Years, but a lack of sophistication can have a charm of its own, as well as making the music easier to enjoy more quickly. Aabenbaringen Over Aaskammen is an enjoyable if unremarkable album of nice electronic pop music.

I am pulled in to Django Django thanks to their single Default, which bounces along with an infectious beat, and has a wonderful choppiness to it. After an Introduction, the eponymous album starts with similar-styled track Hail Bop, familiarising themselves to the bounce and beat before jumping to the single. And then everything calms down a bit. The same vocals lilt and harmonise over the music in much the same way as in the early songs, and the music itself is somewhat perky and melodic, with echoes of the bounce, but it doesn't have quite the same punch. Waveforms carries the feeling nicely, but then we are dropped in to territory more quirky than catchy. The album picks up again with WOR, otherwise it seems to plod along. Django Django is a decent enough album and pleasant to listen to all the way through, but it doesn't sustain any particular level of interest in me for long.

I felt a little guilty getting an AAA pass to see The Duke Spirit on their recent tour for album Bruiser, but only a little. Even so, I handed over my money at the merchandise counter and dutifully picked up a CD, recalling that I had curious reservations about getting previous album Neptune too, but ending up enjoying it immensely. I'm not sure I can quite say the same about Bruiser, though. At least, not yet. Unlike Neptune, which grabbed me immediately and didn't let go, this album seems fairly anonymous. It certainly sounds like The Duke Spirit in places but without their, uh, spirit, as it were. Bruiser is a pretty good album, and continues to steadily grow on me, but it isn't The Duke Spirit at their best.

I'm not quite sure why Leave Home by The Men takes so long to get going, because when it does it roars in to life and doesn't stop. And I don't mean that there is a song or two of filler before you get to the meat of the album, but that there is a good two minutes of nothing followed by another minute's intro to the first song. It doesn't really seem to serve much purpose either, just generally confusing me by obscuring the raw nature of the music to come. But it's okay, because the distorted bass, jangly guitar, and driving chorus completely makes up for it. Maybe it's the band taking a breath, steeling themselves for what's to come. And it just ramps up from there, Lotus increasing the tempo as the lo-fi nature of the recording gives it a solid feel of being in the same room as the band, whilst third track Think adds in vocals that are simultaneously shouted and drowned by sound. A curiously low-key start leads in to a wonderfully lo-fi album.

I don't think you can expect much more from a band called Bleeding Knees Club than chirpy, unfettered pop music, and that's pretty much what Nothing to Do delivers. Even some moments of brief introspection in Beach Slut cannot hold back the perky rhythms and banging tambourines for long. There's some retro pop mixed in with the more contemporary styles, but again, even though the album as a whole is competent, I find myself drifting off by the end. Nothing to Do is a happy, energetic album, if not particularly noteworthy overall.

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