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Monthly Archives: June 2012

I feel like picking Grimes as my final favourite act of 2012 so far is perhaps a bit of an obvious choice.  Anyone with an interest in new music will already have heard of the wonderfully eccentric Canadian songstress, with her brilliantly quirky dream pop.

But then, I realised that it was okay to write about someone “obvious” because the reason everyone’s talking about her is because Grimes is genuinely exciting.  She’s making interesting music – pop songs with a beautiful depth – and it’s one of the few recent instances where lots of hype around an artist actually seems merited.  Grimes is doing something different; I can’t really think of any other music quite like this.

Her songs make me want to dance around like I’m in The Breakfast Club, with the spacey, sugary synths, the spangly keyboards and the wildly propulsive beats.  Vocally she sings floaty and soft as a feather, and there’s something very sweet, strange and ethereal about it.

I haven’t listened to her first two albums yet, but her third – ‘Visions’, out earlier this year – is a masterful example of head in the clouds, dreamy pop music.  She’s been making music since 2010, but if the hype is anything to go by then 2012 will be Grimes’ year; and rightfully so.

So, those are my three favourites of 2012 so far.  Thanks a lot to producer Will for getting me involved, and in general to 6Music and the Hype Machine for nurturing new music and bloggers alike.  You can listen to the show and see if any of my choices – or indeed, any of your own favourites – made the top 25 acts of the year tomorrow night (June 24th).  Those of you who Tweet can also keep an eye on #Blog6Music.

You can buy Grimes’ third album, ‘Visions’ here.

My second pick of 2012 for the 6 Music and Hype Machine Zeitgeist show is Gwilym Gold.  He is perhaps a familiar face to those of you who were fans of Golden Silvers, those flighty purveyors of bright and retro electropop.  Once frontman of that band, Gold’s solo music has taken a startlingly different direction.  Far more reminiscent of James Blake than the twinkly ’80s glam of Golden Silvers, the quiet, tender and restrained beauty of Gwilym Gold’s music is impressive to say the least.

All lounge-y synths, intimate, caressing vocals and shuffling beats, Gold is making stuff that’s just breathtaking.  While he hasn’t actually released very much as yet, as he rises to the fore in 2012, one can only hope the best is yet to come.

Interestingly, Gold is also pioneering the Bronze Format – a way of listening to music which will transform it into something unique upon each listen.  You can check that out with a free download of his song ‘Flesh Freeze’ in the Bronze Format, here.

This Sunday, the 24th of June, BBC 6 Music and The Hype Machine will be coming together to unveil the top 25 artists of 2012 so far in the Music Blog Zeitgeist.  As a part of this they asked a group of bloggers, including myself, to write about three of our favourite acts of 2012 now that we are midway through the year.  This is obviously proving a difficult task for me as I’m the most indecisive person in the world.

However, one artist that leapt out without the need for too much contemplation was Orlando Higginbottom, aka. Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs. aka. TEED.  Dazzlingly minimalist rhythmical beats with soaring, euphoric synths rushing around Higginbottom’s straight-faced but surprisingly sweet vocals and stunningly tentative lyrics (“I could be the dog to your bone…or something”), there is something very subtle, relaxed and strangely visceral about this sublime brand of dance music.

While he’s been around for the past few years, 2012 has seen TEED releasing his much lauded debut album, ‘Trouble’.  The album showcases clever, exciting tunes that gently burrow their way into your head, slowly building up in rich, wonderful layers of sonic delight that all but force you to dance.  Jerky but smooth, energised but fragile there is, at times, something otherworldly about TEED’s music.

He’s also incredible live, and when you’re lost in the sea of the crowd he makes it so easy to lose yourself in his bizarre and beautiful labyrinth of sounds.

And even though it’s an aside from his music, it definitely adds to his general appeal that Higginbottom has some amazing style; there is no denying that is some headdress.

You can buy Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs’ debut album, ‘Trouble’, from here.  Read more about the Music Blog Zeitgeist here; I’ll be writing about my two remaining acts over the next few days.

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When looking at a painting, you don’t have words to spell out what is happening.  Instead, you follow the form; the lines, the colours, the tones and shades, and piece it all together to form your overall interpretation of the work.  It’s for this reason that I love instrumental music; you can get lost in the depth of sound without the distraction of words.

Of course, I love words.  I love books and poems and lyrics, and that feeling you get in reading or, indeed, in a song, expressing an idea you’d thought personal to you and it’s “as if a hand has come out and taken yours” (The History Boys is one of my favourite plays).  Sometimes, however, it’s just as nice to not have that feeling – to be able to immerse yourself in something without words, and to leave your mind to engage and emote with something less immediately comprehensible.

I think Bombay Bicycle Club‘s (or possibly Jack Steadman’s solo) song, ‘Dorcas’, typifies that feeling.  There are so many stunningly beautiful layers; ornamental intricacies growing like roots under a tree of vaster, immersive chords.  It’s calm and still at the same time as rippling gently just under the surface.

And this is all getting wonderfully pretentious, but when you hear the song – which went on to be evolved into the also excellent ‘My God‘ – I hope you’ll get where I’m coming from.  Sometimes my words – indeed, any words, don’t do music justice.

Sometimes, I think that instrumental music says it best.

MP3: Bombay Bicycle Club – Dorcas

The above painting of Jack Steadman is by Joe Simpson, whose other impressive works you can find here.  Oh, and buy lots of Bombay merchandise here.

Delightfully refined and perfectly twee, the warming melodies of Keston Cobblers’ Club are something worth listening to for the discerning folk-music lover.  There’s something very comforting about their sound, that for some reason brings to mind cups of tea in the company of loved ones.  The group make music with delicate instrumentation as if it’s being played from one of those old music boxes; rhythmic, lullaby-like, whimsical and, somehow, nostalgic.  There are elements of traditional folk intertwining seamlessly with the likes of more contemporary folk acts, such as Noah and the Whale or Johnny Flynn, and overall it makes for some really lovely listening.

Their debut album, ‘One, For Words’, is out on August 27th, and, judging by the likes of ‘For, Words’ (below), it might be well worth keeping an eye out for.

 

And as if the video wasn’t sweet enough, you can download the track for free, here.

Based between London and Brighton, Nimmo and the Gauntletts make some really great music – deep, soulful, mesmerising voices over fluid, raw, powerful instrumentation.  It’s sometimes intense, sometimes charming, and overall it very much merits a listen if you’re into your alt-rock/pop.  I caught up with them earlier today, which has just seen the release of their wonderful new video for ‘Young Light’:

Who are Nimmo and the Gauntletts/how did they come to be?
 
Nimmo & the Gauntletts was formed by childhood friends Sarah Nimmo and Reva Gauntlett at Hampstead School in Kilburn, North London around the close of the 20th Century. Originally an acoustic 2 piece, Sarah and Reva with the recent addition of Josh [who they also met at the same high school], Hannah and Jack are now a fully fledged line up based between London and Brighton.
 
 
Who/what would you say were your main influences, musically?
 
We are influenced by a diverse range of material as, for example, Joshua (bass/violin) and Reva (vocals) listen to wide range of hip-hop where as Sarah (guitar/vocals) listens to a lot of house and Jack and Hannah (drums and sax) listen to a lot of funk/soul/rnb/jazz. We dont tend to have singular artists which tend to shape the direction of our music, instead we tend to find influence in each other. This sounds incredibly naff but it’s the reality of our creative process. We just finished putting together a mixtape for Beat Magazine with some of the artists we are into which includes Charlie XCX, Man Like Me, Maya Jane Coles, Hooray for Earth, Casino Times and The Internet to name a few.
 
Can you tell us a bit about the the ‘Young Light’ video [above]?  Is there any link, for you, between the aesthetic and the song itself?
 
Yeah, there’s a definite link between the song and the video’s aesthetic. Ben’s (Galster- director) use of projections throughout the video gave way to a form of expression that relates to the essence of the song, which is ultimately is about young love and its trials. We were a bit worried at first as we knew that if it wasn’t done right then the message/content of the video could turn out really clichéd and cheesy. But we reckon Ben has done an amazing job in capturing the essence of the track in a really beautifully understated fashion.
 
 
You’ve previously mentioned that this video will be drawing a curtain on the ‘Young Light’ EP, so where will NATG be going from here?
 
This summer we are writing and recording new material and working towards a regional UK tour in September/October time. We hope to be doing some shows throughout Freshers week and will be playing Strummer of Love Festival and Playgroup Festival in August too!

 

A very big thank you to the band for their time!  You can get a free download of the fantastic ‘Chin Up’ (which has an incredible riff) above, and stream/buy the ‘Young Light’ EP here.

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My exams are over now but, during the long days of monotonous study, I discovered that one of my perfect revision albums is the 1999 eponymous one by crazy riotgrrrl wonders, Le Tigre.  I was going to write this whole post contextualising the album as good revision music, but I would perhaps do it a discredit by merely referencing it as something I like to study to.  I think ‘Le Tigre’ is one of the most underrated albums of recent times.  It’s an album that’s startlingly eccentric and evocative at the same time.   Also, Le Tigre don’t shy away from their feminism which is so refreshing when most artists at the moment would be very hesitant to label themselves as “feminist”.

It’s frantic and chaotic (‘The Empty’), scathing and hilarious in its social commentary (‘Dude Yr So Crazy!!’), trancelike and artsy (‘Slideshow At Free University’), but also it’s just so much fun to listen to with swinging beats and glorious riffs (‘Friendship Station’).  It manages to pull off jerky, clashing electro/baroque numbers about hippies in plane accidents (‘Phanta’) at the same time as dreamy, pensive songs about the easy self-confidence of dancing when no-one’s watching (‘Eau d’Bedroom Dancing’, available below because I thought it was quite fitting with my blog name/theme etc.).

Basically, Le Tigre is a brilliant album that is not mentioned nearly enough in the recent canon of alternative music.

And what about album opener, ‘Deceptacon’?  Well, there’s a reason it’s their most well-known song:

Amazing.

MP3: Le Tigre – ‘Eau d’Bedroom Dancing’


I cannot implore you enough to buy this album and a whole load of other Le Tigre-related items, here.

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