The ever knowledgeable (and the guy largely responsible for the relocated and revamped site) Johnny Feeney frequently pops up on the blog to share some albums which are catching his eye. So here are three albums have caught his attention, thanks as ever to Johnny and with that I leave you in his very capable hands.
St Vincent – ‘St Vincent’
Now on her fourth solo studio album, Annie Clark, aka St Vincent, returns with a collection of tight, muscular, finely wrought art-rock/pop songs brimming with intent. Clark has never seemingly been short of musical ideas but her songwriting here seems to have gone up a level or two since her previous solo album, 2011’s Strange Mercy. Perhaps her collaboration with David Byrne on 2012’s Love This Giant has given her renewed confidence to dare to be bolder. Whatever it was, it has certainly worked.
‘Huey Newton’ explodes from a slightly plodding mid-tempo number into a stomping rocker with Clark’s riotous, squelching guitars and snarling vocals. ‘Digital Witness’ is the album centrepiece – a blast of skronking horns, funk guitars and an incredibly catchy chorus. There is also some great electro-rock in the form of the menacing ‘Bring Me Your Loves’ and the dreamy ‘Psychopath’. Another gem from the consistently excellent Clark.
Real Estate – ‘Atlas’
New Jersey indie rockers Real Estate returned earlier this year with their third album ‘Atlas’, not veering too far from the style of their earlier work. Their trademark breezy, multi-layered guitars and woozy lyrics are prevalent throughout with meandering guitar solos making for seriously easy listening. The instrumental ‘April’s Song’ is spellbinding while the jangling ‘Crime’ is an album highlight.
Lyrically it’s a little bit darker in places than normal, but even the melancholic nostalgia of ‘Past Lives’ (“I can not come back to this neighbourhood, Without feeling my own age”) or ‘Crime’ (“Toss and turn all night, don’t know how to make it right, crippling anxiety”) is accompanied by such gorgeous, weaving guitars it’s hard to feel glum. Real Estate have always been a summertime band and this is truly a summertime album – a perfect backdrop to barbecue and a beer in the sunshine, but a great album in its own right.
Eagulls – ‘Eagulls’
Eagulls, the five-piece post-punk band from Leeds, certainly know how to make a racket. On their self-titled debut album the songs are loaded with anger as vocalist George Mitchell rages and Tom Kelly’s bass pulsates relentlessly. Thankfully, amid all the clatter, it’s quickly discernible that they also have an ear for a quality tune. It’s a welcome change of pace from the middle of the road indie rock bands that are getting all the radio play. They may be from the same town, but Kaiser Chiefs these are not.
It might take a few listens to untangle the layers of guitar, bass and vocals but it’s certainly worth the effort. The effervescent ‘Yellow Eyes’ gallops along breathlessly. ‘Tough Luck’ sizzles with its mazy guitars and infectious hooks. There are also elements of shoegaze and psychedelic rock on here – ‘Possessed’ channels My Bloody Valentine, while ‘Soulless Youth’ wouldn’t sound out of place played by Primary Colours-era the Horrors. Refreshingly exhilarating.