Over The Bluffs by The Holiday Crowd More

EP Tracks/Albums

Written By Leon Carroll Sunday, February 26th, 2012

Hailing from Toronto, The Holiday Crowd are my new crush. The video to 'Pennies Found' off their debut mini-album 'Over The Bluffs' has had me swooning over Colin Bowers' ‘lead-as-rhythm’ guitar playing and his gorgeous Gretsch guitar itself.

They owe a debt to Johnny Marr, but don’t we all? Singer Imran Haniff has echoes of Morrissey in his delivery too, but these aren’t mere Smiths copyists. The similarities are subtle, and ‘Painted Like A Forest’ is more Suede than Smiths. The plaintive backing vocals on ‘Tender Age’ don’t half get me right here, as Imran sings “oh tender age, another useless phase of my life”. Sigh.

The album sleeve resembles an old fabric covered hardback novel, and the album itself has a romantic character which evokes faraway places, the Bluffs being Scarborough Bluffs on the shore of Lake Ontario. God, just those names do it for me, so they were onto a winner from the start.

Out Now: ‘Over The Bluffs’ Shelflife Records

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Know Me by Frankie Rose More

One Track Tracks/Albums

Written By Leon Carroll Friday, February 17th, 2012

Formerly a member of Vivian Girls, Crystal Stilts and Dum Dum Girls, Frankie Rose knows a thing or two about reverb. Her songs are awash with the stuff, and like some of her former bands, she is a well known exponent of Girls in the Garage/surf influenced songs with a shoegaze softness of touch.

However with ‘Know Me’, the first single to emerge from the forthcoming second album Interstellar, Miss Rose has hit on a poppier sound without easing off on that beautiful reverb. The guitars are cleaner than was often the case on her first album, 2010s 'Frankie Rose and The Outs'. The tempo is also faster and the drums and guitar put me in mind of ’Seventeen Seconds’ era The Cure, but those lush multitracked vocals definitely take centre stage. The new album due out later this year promises to be a smasher. Check out 'Know Me' online, or even better, buy it from Slumberland Records, you know where to look.

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Andrew in Drag by The Magnetic Fields More

One Track Tracks/Albums

Written By Michael Wood Wednesday, January 11th, 2012

The first track to reach the ears with 2012 stamped on the label and it will be hard to find better than The Magnetic Fields playful gender romp Andrew In Drag which at a brisk 2:12 revisits the joy of early 1980s Sheffield electro-pop, adds a customary dash of Bowie and delivers all in Stephin Merritt's acerbic New York tones. It promises much for the album to come.

That promise not having been fulfilled on the 2010 album Realism which seemed to be exactly the album that The Magnetic Fields wanted to make but not really the album that those who had been in awe of 69 Love Songs or impressed by the inventiveness of Distortion wanted to hear. Too picked, too much of a project and not enough of the sardonic take on pop that the band have become known for.

"I've always been a ladies man/and I don't have to brag/but I've become a ladies by/for Andrew in drag". Its rare to have a band so impressive and funny at the same time.

Walked Out On a Line by Okkervil River More

One Track Tracks/Albums

Written By Michael Wood Sunday, March 6th, 2011

In a lull before the mid-year release of I Am Very Far what does one expect from a b-side - if there is such a thing any more - from the band that the world seems to have passed up in favour of The National that are Okkervil River?

Probably not this, a tune which seems to have seeped out of the cracks between what the band - superb at the best of times - want to do and want to avoid. It has a richness for sure and Will Sheff's vocals are always bled from the soul but there is something in the lilt of the singers voice.

Being able to write a line like "In the ambulance lamps of his eyes/and the smell of black blood on the backs of his hands/I could tell that his world can’t be mine." harms not the vocal but there is a sweet reflection and tenderness that swirls around the rising sounds that reach back to Brian Wilson, Pet Sounds and an era of American music often imitated but seldom advanced.

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Pigeon by Tennis More

One Track Tracks/Albums

Written By Michael Wood Thursday, February 17th, 2011

There is a temptation when talking about the band Tennis to slip into any number of puns on the name none of which would be worth doing but all of which are sorely tempting. The band arrive as a husband and wife team from America it is said as if the World - now without The White Stripes - will fall for that line again but they arrive creating the kind of woozy pop which seems to command hearts and minds for what seems sadly brief flings of musical fancy.

Download a copy of track Pigeon and you feel a summer rush of exhilaration but that - sadly - fades and it fades on a grey day when your temper is frayed and you dismiss the tune as Pet Sounds without the angst which is not a million miles away from the truth.

Tennis, it is hoped, have more strings to the bow than nostalgia and certainly Pigeon suggests they are worth as many listens as one can afford them and - perhaps - to be returned to when the sun is out.

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