Back again with a few more albums that have been keeping me occupied over the past while.
Second Storey – ‘Double Divide’
Formerly going by the name Al Tourettes, London-based Alec Storey began life as Second Storey in 2013 with his Margosa Heights EP. Released but a few weeks ago, his debut LP, Double Divide, is a revelation. Both rich and complex in equal measure, it is steeped in electronic experimentation. Double Divide is a hybrid of styles and influences, shifting from a dreamy ambient side, while others clearly leaning towards the dancefloor, and back again. It success lies in finding a balance, a sweet one at that, between atmospheric soundscapes and ones more at home at a hedonistic club. An album of contrasts, it’s in its infectious, often unusual rhythms too, that binds the entire LP together. A finely crafted debut and an absolutely thrilling listening experience from start to finish.
By The Sea – ‘Endless Days, Crystal Sky’
With their second LP, we find By The Sea sounding bigger and fuller than ever before, as they expanded and refined their wistful yet driven psych-pop undulations. ‘Endless Days, Crystal Sky’ is a magnificent collection of melodic guitar pop songs, illuminated by drifting, dreamlike atmospherics, jangling guitars and bubbly bass. This is an album which should sit proudly with many of the greatest records to emerge from the banks of the Mersey. While the influences are worm well, the understated and shimmering synth work adds a more modern veneer to this retro fitted piece of dreamy indie-pop. This scintillating dreamy indie-pop is sometimes propulsive while punctuated by world-weary vocals, imbued with an aching sense of melancholy, creating a great sense of both depth and warmth. While unquestionably excellent, By The Sea’s debut managed a cult success, released back in August, the Wirral 5-piece’s follow-up deserves far greater acclaim and attention.
The #1s – The #1s
This foursome have been knocking around Dublin for a couple of years now, as The #1s and their various other groups like Cheap Freaks, the Pacifics, and Cian Nugent & the Cosmos. Their seasoned status shines through spectacularly on their self-titled debut, a short and snappy blend of racy punk, power-pop and lo-fi that owes a certain debt to Northern punk bands of the mid-to-late ’70s, like Rudi, The Outcasts and The Undertones. The #1s wear their influences well and openers, ‘I Wish I Was Lonely’, ‘Sixteen’ and ‘Heartsmash’, leave you in no doubt that were headed to a bouncy punk scene from 35 years ago. Frantic and fast paced, it’s all over before you know it, in under 20 minutes in fact but no sooner has it finished and you’ll be hitting play once again. Combing all the finest ingredients, it’s bratty and fun, raw yet tender and simultaneously sugary sweet and sour, they’ve come up trumps with a master class in power-pop punk, and a thrilling debut.