Holidays are strange things if truth be told! After being informed that TITELwas going on a three week holiday I decided to take a well-deserved break from music. In this extra time I decided I would learn how to smoke a pipe (so I could appear more sophisticated) and become a lollipop scientist (the world will always need lollipops). The fact that I only lasted one day isn’t just down to the fact that pipes are pretty disgusting and lollipops are surprisingly sticky. No, it was purely down to how much excellent new music there is out there! And what type of part-time, unpaid music journalist would I be if I didn’t bore you to tears by telling you all about some of these new releases that I love? By JOHN BITTLES
To open up we have the debut album by this month’s style icons Chvrches. If you haven’t been overwhelmed by the hype machine concerning this band yet then get your head out of your ass and stick the radio on, fool. Heralded as the saviours of pop from their very first tune it would be very easy to absolutely detest this band. The fact that I can’t quite bring myself to do this makes me feel that some horrible twisted part of me has died inside. Bones Of What You Believe is a life-affirming sing-a-long electro pop gem that sounds a little like the Pet Shop Boys back when they were still good. Tracks such as The Mother We Share and Recover urge you onto the dancefloor sporting a big cheesy grin, yet also contain enough of a darkened edge to ensure the album never drops into that scary category, throwaway pop.
After receiving both success and critical acclaim for his debut album The Last Resort Anders Trentemöller seemed to quickly grow bored of electronic music and strove to try new things. A noble cause indeed! Yet all this served to do was alienate approximately 80% of his fan base in one fell swoop which is something he is trying to recover from even now. The end of September saw the release of his third album Lost featuring numerous collaborations and seventy-odd minutes of music that is so background it may as well not be there. There is no denying that many of the songs on the record are good yet with so many guests whom it seems Trentemöller is slightly in awe of, the record ends up sounding safe and bland. Listening to the record on a cold autumn night you can’t help feel that he has given up being an excellent house producer to be a mediocre band producer. And that is a bit of a shame!
Next up we have the highly anticipated return of those champions of glacial sounds Mazzy Star. After a sixteen year absence it only takes lead singer Hope Sandoval to purr her very first note and already loins are stirring while hearts are in a swoon. After their overlong break it is utterly delightful to have this band back releasing music together. Seasons of Your Day is out now and literally sounds like they have never been away. Now this may be a good or a bad thing, depending on your point of view on whether artists need to develop and evolve their sound. But there is absolutely no denying that tracks such as In the Kingdom and Lay Myself Down could calm an overly pissed-off Millwall fan. And who doesn’t need a record like that in their miserable life? Right?
Also recommended for those extra special moments of tranquillity is the third volume of the laid back and rather charming Air Texture series. The collection is made up of two discs of the type of music that is just perfect to listen to after you’ve had a hectic day and you simply want to forget all about the outside world. Selected by Deadbeat and DJ Olive both sets drift past in a blissful haze. Deadbeat’s disc is the pick of the pair for me as it introduces gorgeous eruptions of dub-infused grooves that make it rise above mere background music. Laura Solaris by Deadbeat himself opens the show with a flourish before tracks by Pole, tobias, Ricardo Villalobos and many more take us to ever more horizontal heights. Always relaxed, but never boring, the Air Texture series continues to go from strength to strength.
A little bit more driven and dance floor friendly is Cupid’s Head the rather prog-tastic fourth album from Kompakt mainstay The Field. The record’s six tracks are so long and epic they should be accompanied by a health warning for those with low attention spans. They Won’t See Me gets us started with some soaring keys, a lurking bassline and a sensuous sense of anticipation and build. There is a real emotional complexity within these songs, something all too welcome in the bish bash bosh of the land of EDM. Black Sea is a somewhat deeper affair and recalls the busy ambience of B12 with its warm pads and druggy feel. The highlight for me though is the title track which is so amazingly huge even King Kong would be little bit intimidated by its size. Each track takes time to build and develop, but if you have the patience to wallow within the album’s sounds then prepare to be extremely well rewarded indeed.
As soon as the opening strains of Morning Dew hit you like a warm slurp to the face you already know that you can sit back and relax in the knowledge that you are in the hands of a real house master. Raw Poet the debut album by Washermann contains eleven tracks of the kind of house music that could even get a fed-up crab to groove. Apparently the entire album was created using nothing but a 909 (swoon), a Juno 60 and some minor equipment to ably illustrate how less is usually the way to go. Solitaire Deepness has a lovely hazy vibe, Aries contains echoes of Detroit machinations while Celestial Spheres brings back the glory days of piano house. Quite simply if you like house music then you really need this album in your life.
The Watergate mix series very rarely disappoints (except when I asked it to loan me a tenner!) so it was with eager ears that I sat down to play volume 14 mixed by seasoned house music veteran Mathias Kaden. It is refreshing that the people at Watergate never go for huge names or the flavour of the month when choosing their DJs but stick intently to the people who adhere and support the ethos of the club. After recent highlights by Ruede Hargelstein and Marco Resmann this new volume, while having a lot to live up to, doesn’t disappoint. Starting out slow and sexy with tracks by Merville & Crosson and DJ Koze the mix builds seamlessly until you find yourself furiously wiggling you skinny little butt (or maybe that’s just me). Across 22 tracks from such luminaries as Ron Trent, Moodymann and Todd Terry the selection is never obvious and the party vibes are tight and deep.
Also on a house tip is the fabulously fruity Indian Summer compilation which is out right about now on Touch of Class records. Most of the names will be unfamiliar to all but the most well read of hipsters yet if you like your house music with a bit of funk and soul then get your headphones out quick. Pressure by Tanner Ross sounds like a Charles Webster production with its beautiful melodies and an overabundance of depth while Sidewalk Soundwave by Machine Forest somehow manages to overcome its clumsy vocals to plant a huge smile slap-bang in the centre of your face. With lots of 80s pop influences this is house music not afraid of vocals or new ideas. More please!
This month also sees my love affair with the people at 100% Silk continue with not one but two rather special releases which have been stirring my libido and making me shuffle my feet. First up House of Need by Les Level is a six track EP of retro house that is not frightened of a bit of uplifting piano house. Fever Baby sounds like early Moby while Claude Monet (great title) grooves like a Chicago classic. Meanwhile Postscript by Policy also has six whole tracks of house based goodness, yet with a bit more of a jackin’ style. Grove Street Freeze could well have come out in 1987 and is all the better for it while Ghost in the Groove’s atonal rhythms and warm pads make for a euphoric yet disorientating listen. If you only buy two 100% Silk releases this week make sure it’s these two.
Remix albums are shit! Everyone knows this so there is no need for a debate. Yet just when you feel content to sit back and dismiss each and every remix album ever created along comes Temporary Echoes by Mock & Toof. Having nothing to do one lazy Sunday the guys invited some talented friends to remix the highlights of their previous two albums Tuning Echoes and Temporary Happiness. And the results are rather divine! Lauer turns Confusion Time into a low slung disco groove, Skatebård coax the ital out of Day Ken Died and Wolf & Lamb morph Shoeshine Boogie into something a little bit special indeed. All in all, as if to prove the doubters wrong, Temporary Echoes is a rare beast indeed; a remix album which is a joy to listen to from beginning to end.
This month we’ll finish with some kick ass rock from Manchester. Pins are an all girl group who drink from the same post punk cup as the mighty Savages. Yet while the later are all anger and noise Pins are a more melodic and groove based beast; the modern Can to Savages Stooges if you will. Debut album Girls Like Us swaggers with the coolness of Joy Division, the hooks of The Strokes and is easily one of the best rock albums of 2013. While most British rock bands simply strive for Mumford & Sons style MOR crap it is reassuring to see that at least one band still has fire in their belly and talent in their hearts. You owe it to yourself to check this band out!
And to think we never even had the time for: Days Gone By by Haim – pretty music for pretty people, but a bit inconsequential for everyone else, Colonial Patterns by Huerco S – a dubbed out down-tempo delight, 10 Years From Now (Still Doing Our Thing) – a huge 2 disc collection from Audiolith containing dirty electro, German hip hop and a whole lot more, Mechanical Bull by Kings of Leon – a bit bland, if you like that sort of thing, Hesitation Marks by Nine Inch Nails – stunningly disquieting and strangely beautiful (how EDM should sound) and The 20/20 Experience part 2 by Justin Timberlake – so bad it makes you want to die.
And as a nice surprise for those of you who bothered to read all the way to the end those lovely people at Adidas are giving away a wonderful compilation of house and techno tracks by some pretty damn fine acts. Larry Heard, Quiet Village, Joe Claussell and many more feature. Get over to https://soundcloud/adidasy3 to pick up your copy now.
| JOHN BITTLES