Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Le Galaxie - Laserdisc Nights 2

(Battlepulse Records album)

Le Galaxie cite Alien 3 as an influence, release video promos like the one above, subscribe to 'musical maximalism', and have probably the most hilarious twitter feed of any band going. Needless to say, you want to love a band like that even before you hear any of their songs. But no self-deception is necessary, for Laserdisc Nights 2 is a staggering debut album, packed with pulsating, sci-fi referencing dancefloor-slayers.

The opening flurry of tracks are unstoppable. 'Earth''s exquisite build-up leads into an infectious, swinging synth hook, overlaid with ominous-sounding vocoderised sing-speak. It's impossible not to move your feet and get swept up by this - it's even powerful enough to instigate a truce between Predators and the human race.

'Earth' segues perfectly into 'Beyond Transworld', which retains the tempo with an effervescent day-glo-electro groove; and that's followed by 'Midnight Midnight', one of the tunes of the years so far - the first time you hear it something doesn't sound quite right about it, but after repeat listens you realise that's because it's so deliriously unique and off-the-wall: it sounds like something that might have come off the DFA conveyor belt if they weren't so self-consciously hip, with robot-like vocals, thumping dreambeat and a vibrant kaleidoscopic arrangement giving way to an effervescent, whooping chorus.

There's plenty of variation on show too: 'Blood Beach' slows the tempo with a gently pulsing, atmospheric arrangement worthy of the likes of Vangelis or John Carpenter; 'Orion' has an initially airier, weightless vibe (with Paul from Channel One providing vocals) that gives way to frenzied guitars; while 'The Police Department' adds frenetic techno elements to the mix.

The infectious electro-pop bounce of 'Solarbabies' and the sublime, grandiose swell of long-time favourite 'Victory' seal this record's status as possibly the most downright fun and enjoyable album that's been released since The Go! Team's debut. Throughout Laserdisc Nights the band's sense of humour and love of sci-fi shines through; no fooling around though, these eleven tracks are endlessly replayable. You know that scene in Aliens where Ripley takes on the Queen with a power-loader? Imagine that with 'Let's Fighting Love' playing in the background. Laserdisc Nights 2 is that x 100. Going to do a Pitchfork on this:


Stream the album from Bandcamp:

On a final note, Le Galaxie reach an even higher plane of awesomeness when they play live. Make sure to catch them - they play Glasgowbury (July 23), Galway's Strange Brew Summer Shindig (July 28) and Castlepalooza (July 29).

The Depravations - Mosey EP

One a few bands based in Galway at the moment who deal in a sort of indie-folkish sound (see also Music For Dead Birds or The Followers of Otis), The Depravations have so far released two EPs since they formed in 2007. Mosey is the current one (named after their drummer Mosey Byrne), and it's five tracks of mellow gold: with a charming lightness-of-touch, vintage-sounding harmonies and a subtly uplifting vibe, this is really enjoyable stuff. Despite the fact four of the five tracks go over the 5-minute mark, it never seems to drag, and indeed there's some surprising left-turns and flourishes such as the change in tempo at the end of 'Not Forgotten'. The standout track is probably the catchy campfire strum of 'Summer Rain'.

The Mosey EP is free to download from the Bandcamp link above, and a debut album is due in September 2011.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Popical Island - Popical Island #2

Popical Island - Popical Island #2

Is there such a thing as a difficult second compilation? If so, the Popical Island collective had a lot to live up to after the roaring success of last year's release. A loose grouping of like-minded bands and musicians based in Dublin, their key characteristics were laid out on Popical Island #1: a commitment to DIY principles and largely lo-fi production, clever pop songcraft, devastatingly catchy hooks and C86-style energy.

While the sequel naturally doesn't have the same surprise element to it, in every other respect it's the match of its predecessor. It kicks off with Ginnels, who didn't appear on the first compilation - the project of Grand Pocket Orchestra's Mark Chester, Ginnels have already released one of the best domestic albums so far this year with a self-titled debut, and this continues in a similar vein: that is, charmingly shambolic and lo-fi indie. That's followed by Pantone247's 'Hello', a fantastic tune that recalls Honey's Dead-era Jesus and Mary Chain with its scuzzy guitars and vintage early-90's vibe.

As with its predecessor, what impresses about the compilation is that despite all the contributors sharing such common ground, they still manage to hold your attention throughout with a wide and diverse range of sounds. Standouts include the warmly classical jangle-pop sound of Goodly Thousands' 'Kiss Me Upside-Down', the garage-pop earworm of Squarehead's 'Candle', the chiming, hypnotically off-kilter sound of Hello Moon's 'Barefoot' and the exuberant rush of Grand Pocket Orchestra's 'Mr. Imaginative'. The curveball award goes to Tieranniesaur's 'Here Be Monsters', a simmering funk workout with an air of menace: sounding a bit like Remain In Light-era Talking Heads as refracted through the Popical lens, it gives way to a thrilling climax/coda that should be a highlight of their live shows.

Considering the way words like 'twee-pop' get bandied around in reference to Popical Island, you'd expect that 18 tracks would get a bit wearying, so it's no mean feat to create a compilation that keeps you guessing and (more than) satisfied throughout: the fact is there is no one reliable way to describe the Popical Island collective - other than, well, excellent.


Popical Island #2 by popical_island

Friday, June 24, 2011

The Altered Hours/Windings

(caught live - Roisin Dubh, June 23rd)

I've heard the name The Altered Hours dropped a couple of times, but had no idea what to expect from their sound. A five-piece based in Cork, they deal in a psychedelic guitar sound that takes influence from bands like The Velvet Underground or The Brian Jonestown Massacre. They've got some great tunes that really stretch out with hypnotic grooves, and your attention tends to shift from instrument to instrument, or indeed on to the frontwoman whose vocals anchor their impressive sound. They've an EP on the way, Downstream next month. There's a couple of songs on their Soundcloud, but I don't think either of those truly does justice to their live sound; go see them if you get a chance - they should be announcing some more gigs soon.

Shimmer by The Altered Hours by alteredhours

Windings are reliably brilliant - now a full band, of course, although Steve Ryan (ex-Giveamanakick) is still very much the focal point, joking that he's wearing a hat to make himself look more intimidating. I was a fan of latest single 'Embury Greenway', but even more so after hearing it live; it's a fantastic slice of vintage-sounding alt-rock. Ryan makes no secret of his admiration for J Mascis of Dinosaur Jr, and the influence is clear in his sound, even if Windings largely tend to favour mellow, wistful tunesmithery over rocking out. He's even made it easy for lazy writers by actually writing a song about Mascis ('Old Like J'), although it's not so much about the axeman so much as it is about getting older. A constant highlight in their live sets, it's a perfectly understated, chiming number that has the feel of a classic that people will still be listening to in years to come.

Elsewhere, 'Poor In The Mouth' sounds even more fierce in the live setting, an adrenalised trasher that nods to his former band, while the slow-building 'These Horses Also Ran' starts with mid-tempo alt-rock vibes and steady harmonies before ending in a climactic wall-of-sound. An apt closer.

The impressiveness of The Altered Hours (upstairs) means we don't catch touted Limerick band Fox Jaw Bounty Hunters, but next time.

Monday, June 13, 2011

some records of the year so far

Maria Minerva - Tallinn at Dawn (Not Not Fun)

Maria Minerva - Hop Hop Gone In Spring by

Catscars - Construction (White Plague Records)

FaltyDL - You Stand Uncertain (Planet Mu)/'Hip Love' (Ramp Recordings)

FaltyDL - Hip Love by RAMP Recordings / PTN

Hype Williams - One Nation (Hippos in Tanks)

Hype Williams - One Nation by Hippos In Tanks

Braids - Native Speaker (Kanine)

BRAIDS - "Lemonade" by BRAIDS

Tokimonsta - Creature Dreams (Brainfeeder)


Burial - Street Halo (Hyperdub)

Le Galaxie - Laserdisc Nights II (Battlepulse)

Blawan - Bohla (R & S) / 'Getting Me Down' (white label)

Yuck - Yuck (Fat Possum)

Rubber by Yuck

Jacques Greene - 'Another Girl' (Lucky Me)

LM008 - ANOTHER GIRL by Jacques Greene

Kahn - 'Like We Used To / Helter Skelter' (Punch Drunk)

Echo Lake - Young Silence (No Pain In Pop)

In Dreams by Echo Lake

Purity Ring - 'Ungirthed' (self-released)

Ungirthed by PURITY RING

tUnE-yArDs - Whokill (4AD)

Tune-Yards - Bizness by snipelondon

Clams Casino - Rainforest (Tri Angle) / Instrumental Mixtape
Rainforest EP by clammyclams

Clams Casino - Instrumental Mixtap by blalalapuntnl

Holy Other - With U (Tri Angle)


Popical Island - Popical Island #2 (Popical Island)

Popical Island #2 by popical_island

School Tour/Patrick Kelleher - Split EP (Cass/Flick)

School Tour/Patrick Kelleher Split by School Tour

Mogwai - 'Rano Pano' (Sub Pop)

Mogwai - Rano Pano by subpop

Ginnels - Ginnels

Hired Hands - My Heart Hung (Any Other City)

Hired Hands - My Heart Hung by Ragged Words

Nouveaunoise - 'Cinnte (Toby Kaar's Cloudy mix)'

Nouveaunoise - Cinnte (Toby Kaar's Cloudy Mix) by TobyKaar

Hessle Audio - 116 & Rising (Hessle Audio)

Adele - 'Rolling In The Deep (Jamie xx remix)'

Adele - Rolling In The Deep (Jamie xx Shuffle) by hotfortheencore

Demdike Stare - Tryptych (Modern Love)

Demdike Stare - Liberation Through Hearing by modernlove

Salva - Complex Housing (Friends of Friends)

Blue by SALVA

Peaking Lights - 936 (Not Not Fun)

Peaking Lights - Tiger Eyes (Laid-Back) by tacking

Gang Gang Dance - Eye Contact (4AD)

Hipster Youth - 'Where (n) Meets Infinity' (Long Lost)

Hipster Youth - Where (n) Meets Infinity by LongLost

Matthewdavid - Outmind (Brainfeeder)

Matthewdavid: Outmind by alteredzones

Dro Carey - 'Hungry Horse'

Dro Carey - Hungry Horse by seaninsound

Ilex_ - Old Din

Peverelist - 'Dance Til The Police Come / Fundamentals' (Hessle Audio)

Peverelist 'Fundamentals' by Peverelist

Sleep ∞ Over - 'Casual Diamond' (Hippos In Tanks)

Casual Diamond by Sleep ∞ Over

Beat Connection - 'Silver Screen (Young Montana? remix)

Friday, June 3, 2011

Avalanche Ammo

For a while there I felt that instrumental guitar music was reaching serious saturation point here. While that might still be the case to an extent, Avalanche Ammo - the solo project of Kildare's Ant Boland - has that extra something about it. Nialler9 said it sounds like 'The Redneck Manifesto on crack', which is a pretty useful description. The material Boland's released so far tends towards the heavier end of the spectrum: there's shades of BATS or the more frenetic Adebisi Shank songs. The debut EP Animals was well-received and there's now two new tracks on Soundcloud, 'Trojan Horse' and 'Ambulance Chaser'. The former could be the heaviest thing he's done yet, but still retains that knack for winding, intricate riffs and deceptive left-turns.

Trojan Horse by avalanchemgmt

Ambulance Chaser by avalanchemgmt

These tunes and the Animals EP are free to download..

Avalanche Ammo plays in Whelan's tonight (June 3rd) along with the excellent We Are Losers and Alarmist. Alarmist are a band I keep meaning to listen to but haven't really got around to it yet. But they're popular elsewhere, so all in all a great line-up.