Song, by Toad

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Angel Olsen – Burn Your Fire For No Witness

burn After the intensity of the frothing over this album, I have to confess I ended up ignoring it for a good while (it’s been out for ages now) so that I could listen to it without my inner misanthrope refusing to like it just because it caused so many other people to touch themselves in bad places and collapse into fits of twee hipster-ecstasy convulsions.

Anyhow, the sound of panting seems to have died down by now, and I’ve been listening to this a fair bit recently. I remember when I first wrote about Angel Olsen I said that there was something in there which I almost loved, but not quite. Her early work maybe took the knowingly retro vocal delivery just a little too far and some of the more intense yelps were unlistenably grating.

Mostly it was beautiful, but just a smidgen too often it went a bit too far, and I haven’t yet been able to listen to an album without reservations. This one, frustratingly, goes too far in the opposite direction. Again, a lot of it is utterly gorgeous. Her voice really is stunning, and when there is little else to vie for your attention it is one of the most compelling things I’ve heard in ages.

This album is far less stripped back than previous work, and recorded with a full rock band at points, but whilst that has indeed sanded off a few of the rough edges in many ways it goes too far. It seems ludicrously simplistic to say it but honestly the slow songs on this album are generally fantastic, but the rock songs are generally pretty dull.

There are tunes on here like Lights Out and the absolutely gorgeous White Fire which are really, really fucking good, but others like High and Wild which are just stodgy. It’s driving me nuts. Somewhere in all this stuff there is a version of Angel Olsen which I am sure I would love just as much as everyone else, but one album is just a bit too wild and the next ends up being just a bit too sensible.

I’ve said this before about people who embrace full bands when it may not always suit them, and I will say it again: what makes Angel Olsen special is Angel herself. Her voice, her style, her delivery… it just all has so much character, and I think the more densely arranged songs on this end up just smothering that and making something special sound commonplace. It’s a good album, and has some stunningly beautiful moments, but all in all I still think it contains too many forgettable songs, and find it a little disappointing overall. So another Angel Olsen frustration, but again, I feel so close to absolutely loving it that it drives me nuts.

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Benjamin Shaw – Goodbye, Cagoule World

a1454438751_10 After reviewing Now Wakes the Sea’s new album it seems like we’re going to have a day of morose, lo-fi music on Song, by Toad, but fuck it, sad music is the best music, so there.

It has taken me a while to get into this album, I have to confess, but then that tends to happen when I first listen to Benjamin Shaw’s music. The reviews are always slow in coming – much, I assume and apologise for, to the frustration of the label – but it just takes me a while to digest. And to be honest, it’s not like he writes albums full of immediate pop hooks anyway, so you have to let it sink in a bit.

After the stumbling acoustic feel of the last album, albeit layered with drones and grumbly samples, this is a rather grander affair. There’s even brass – a sound so jaunty I can barely believe it has found its way onto a Benjamin Shaw record. But then the song in which it appears, Break the Kettles and Sink the Boats, has such a carefree lyrical refrain – “come burn some bridges with me” –  and liberated feel to it that I almost wanted to phone up Shaw personally, just to ask about how much fun he seems to be having these days.

There are strings too, including some wonderfully not-quite-right cello, as well as a refrain halfway through the splendid instrumental A Day at the Park which sounds like it could be right out of the Eels back catalogue – just before the general discord and what sounds like terrified screaming build to a sudden and rather surprising crescendo.

Next up is Magneto Was Right – a typically Shawvian* song name, and one which I have to confess I think works rather better than the eyeroller of an album title – and it is here that we get back to more familiar territory. It’s a gentle acoustic strum, which highlights Shaw’s wonderful vocal delivery, which is unstrained and has a really genuine warmth to it. Even here, though, there is more than usual, in the lovely slide guitar which unobtrusively adorns the song.

You and Me, which follows, starts out like a genuinely expansive tune, but ends up almost as an embodiment of why this album works so well. It may be a departure from previous, glacially awkward Shaw material, but it ends up falling back onto all the same characteristics which made his previous work so good – namely, the personability of his delivery and the sensitive, affectionate pathos of his lyrics.

He can be arch, sarcastic and depressing when he wants to be, but what made his miserable stuff less miserable, and what keeps his more expansive stuff personal, is still Shaw himself. I have seen a lot of very compelling, idiosyncratic songwriters try and make bigger-sounding, more ambitious albums, and they end up diluting themselves when they do it, and thus losing the very thing which made them so special in the first place. Shaw has not done that at all, here, and in fact the extra instrumentation and broader mood swings seem only to make the personal aspect more accessible and just a little deeper and more three-dimensional than before.

It took me a while to realise it, but this might actually be better than his previous stuff. There is so much more going on here, and yet it never dilutes the core of what makes Benjamin Shaw’s stuff so good.

*Oh stop it, just let me have this one, alright.

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Now Wakes the Sea – Bildungsroman

Bildungsroman_Cover_bigA couple of years ago, when I first started writing about Now Wakes the Sea, I rather flippantly referred to them as ‘the best band in Scotland that no-one’s ever heard about’. I didn’t take it all that seriously at the time, as they’d just released a glitchy, mumbled record of morose lo-fi songs – the absolutely fantastic Fluoxetine Morning – and I accepted that that wasn’t exactly the kind of music to spread like wildfire through the blogosphere and automatically elevate an artist to stadium-stuffing levels of fame.

A couple of years later and we’ve seen a couple of absolutely fantastic EPs, and now this brilliant new album, Bildungsroman (buy here), and suddenly the whole thing seems like a little less of an amusing throwaway comment and is starting to feel like a genuinely vexing question. Seriously, why aren’t this band better known? Admittedly, they haven’t had a fortune thrown at their marketing, and their live shows are rare and a little unpredictable, but beyond a small handful of other enthusiasts, people have shown little to no interest – particularly the press. I am becoming as annoyed with the ‘best band no-one’s ever heard of’ tag as I can only assume the band are at this point.

This music is weird, distorted, foggy and lost, as well as being that perfect combination of genuinely interesting and eminently hummable. This is a varied record in every sense, from instrumentation to mood, coherence to incoherence. It can be experimental and lo-fi and it can be, by this band’s standards anyway, relatively chirpy and brash. It is, in short, excellent. Why the fuck are they not being reviewed everywhere.

Admittedly neither the band nor their label are famous, but when that leads to even relatively small-market music publications completely ignoring their efforts to promote the album, the fault starts to seem to lie with the press and not the music. Are they too busy trotting along behind be-haircutted hipster buzz garbage in the hopes that a small scrap of acknowledgement might be thrown their way? Are they scrambling around trying to cover the same fashionable nonsense that everyone else is covering in some desperate bid not to be seen as having missed a particular boat, or missed out on the pageviews that they think they’ll get from being the 1000th fucking site that day to repost some particular video? Do they actually not have the courage to have opinions of their own and the confidence to write about good things simply because they are good, not because the zeitgeist might nod a perfectly-sculpted eyebrow their way?

The short answer is yes. The state of the fucking music press is absolutely fucking woeful at the moment. Herd-instinct at its most contemptible, endless PREMMY-AAAAIRE! click-baiting, scrambling to scent-mark the cool kids and writing faux-controversial, worthless fucking ‘thought-pieces’ (one of the most grating terms in modern writing), and completely neglecting the one thing which above all else gives you integrity and credibility as a music writer: finding good music and writing about it. And writing well.

It reminds me of why blogs were such a breath of fresh air when they first emerged, but as more of them are pulled into the mainstream and others regress to a sort of Twitter-max stream of links and embeds on Tumblr, we are left with very few bloggers who simply do it for the pleasure of finding unusual and obscure music and spending some time to write about it.

What I love about this album is that all because of the presence of a couple of wonkily upbeat numbers with cheery keyboard refrains – notably Original Bone (see video below) and The Shore & the Coastline – it feels like Now Wakes the Sea have written a surprisingly expansive pop record. They really haven’t, though. This may be more of a band effort than the introspective, solitary Fluoxetine Morning, but there is still all sorts of scattered, fascinating mess on the album.

The wobbly, distorted strum of Photoautomat is fantastic, and reminds me of the kind of stuff we released on the Cold Seeds record. ‘Oooh, yes but that’s why it’s not done as well as you think it should’, you might say, ‘that’s too lo-fi and strange for a mainstream audience’. But then almost that exact same technique is used to underpin the glorious Bring Me Simple Men by Timber Timbre (see here), and for all they aren’t huge either, they aren’t exactly doing badly. People can stomach this stuff, but I sometimes get the impression that if we expect weird music then that is what we will hear, whereas if we just assume that what we’re hearing is normal and we aren’t primed to be shocked, then we can be much more accepting than we think.

There is more weirdness here too. Pictures Stay the Same is a textured, almost entirely instrumental drone with what sounds like a looped, heavily treated sample providing only a vague, unsettling gesture as a vocal part. It’s gorgeous though, and probably the murkiest depths to contrast with the highs of the album’s pop numbers. Ending with “To listen to your message again, press one.” is genius, giving the whole thing the terrifying feeling of being some sort of sonic horror story. Or maybe a close friend trying to mumble through a medicated fug about why they just can’t face this life any more, while try as you might, you just can’t understand a thing they’re saying.

The shifting sands of Prefab Houses is brilliant, and oddly enough another tune which slightly evokes Timber Timbre, as it descends from an almost industrial keyboard racket into an echoey, ambient decline. We get one more pop song after that, then something a little gentler and more melancholy, before the final bilious racket of Shining Bright O’er Land & Sea brings things to what feels like a final, angry, almost contemptuous conclusion. Fuck you, it seems to say. You’ve had the tunes, and I’ve tried my best, but fuck it, this is what’s really inside my head.

The song is not, I suppose, the kind of music I myself could have handled eight or nine years ago when I was probably in my most populist phase, but at this stage in my life this is a triumphantly discordant ‘fuck you, I’m done here’ and a brilliant way to end an album which manages to use some genuinely weird and fucked up noises and still have the feel of a fantastic pop record. Or at least, a pop record in the kind of universe I often wish I inhabited.

People are idiots.

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Fat White Family – Champagne Holocaust

fwf Umm, I think seeing this band live has rather ruined this album for me. I really have no idea what I’d think if I’d never seen them before, but once you’ve done it you can’t go back.

These guys were one of the big hits of SXSW this year, and repeated the feat at The Great Escape in Brighton last week. The internet buzz surrounding the release is what those of us with access to a thesaurus and too much time on our hands might call palpable, and the only reason you haven’t read about them on this website before now is that I am disorganised and easily distracted.

I don’t know about changing the world, and they’re too retro-inspired to really change music, but even with my naturally contrarian reaction to any kind of buzz I would admit that these guys really are very, very good. I’ve seen their front man being compared to Iggy Pop and Johnny Rotten, and a friend said that they were the first band he’d seen in ages that felt just a little bit dangerous.

Those comparisons are a bit too lofty for my taste, although they are stylistically accurate enough. Nevertheless, the excitement does call to mind Dan Le Sac and Scroobius Pip reminding us that ‘The next big thing? Just a band.”

Fat White Family may be just a band, but at this point it looks like they really are a very, very good band. In Brighton last week they were awesome: feral, snarling, and yet tight as fuck. They’d descend into mess, but collectively pull the songs back into perfectly-executed riffage with precision and control, and that teetering, strutting front man of theirs? Well I am sure enough has been said about him already, but he was both as intense and as excellent as everyone else has already told you.

But, having said that, by comparison to the live shows the album just feels a little bit tame, to be honest. It’s all good – the sprawling garage-psychedelia is perfectly intact and when it comes on a playlist in the midst of other stuff being released today it actually sounds brilliant – the rhythmic circulation of guitar riffs and choruses is almost animalistic, in the sense that it swirls around like a flock of malevolent birds, always in a different shape, sometimes appearing to have dissipated altogether and then suddenly swoops back towards you with an unsettling sense of purpose.

The thing is, whilst on the album this is ‘really good’, on stage it’s ‘absolutely fucking great’ and I can’t quite shake that aspect out of my head. In some senses, of course, it’s a good thing. I am always quick to criticise a band who treat an album like a live set and just batter out the floor-fillers for half an hour, so slightly less beefy tunes like Who Shot Lee Oswald and the slower, more moody pace of Cream of the Young give the album really good variation. I suppose it’s just that when the band want to really ramp it up and slap you in the face, nothing a rotating piece of black plastic can do can really match a sweaty, shirtless man snarling in your face and possibly just about show you his penis.

So it’s really good, this, and as I said it stands out as excellent when mixed in with pretty much all the stuff I’m listening to at the moment, particularly if it comes on a shuffled playlist, but go see this band live if you can. And hope the weird, thrilling confrontationalism doesn’t ever lead them into Oasis territory.

Buy direct from the band.

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Micah P. Hinson and the Nothing

mph Given the life- and mobility-threatening car wreck which preceded the recording of this album  it is very, very hard to listen to it without allowing those facts to colour your impressions of the music. I’m not sure whether that should be the case, however, given a lot of it was written and, I believe, recorded before the accident.

Also, I’ve interviewed Hinson before, albeit quite a long time ago, and he fairly spat with contempt when I asked about the oft-repeated trope that his colourful past had found expression in some of his rather nippy songwriting. He may or may not have literally waved his hand dismissively and said “yeah, that’s all bullshit” but it wasn’t far away.

So when I see every review of this album talking about the obviously dramatic back-story I find myself wondering how Hinson himself would feel about the assumed consensus that this represents him re-evaluating his life and starting again after such a horrific experience. Not to say that it’s bollocks, of course, but he is a relatively guarded, complex character, and I have never really had the impression that the version of himself we get from the press releases tells much of the story.

What this does feel like is a rather more bare and unguarded record. Despite some pretty blunt lyrics in the past, there has often been deceptively rich production on Micah P. Hinson’s albums, bringing at least some sense of Nick Cave’s style of character creation to what seemed otherwise so be fairly mercilessly personal songs. Here, however, instead of the lush, orchestral strings, what you get is the rather more sparse sound of a string quartet, and when the guitar gets angry it is just one solitary, snarling guitar rather than a furious band battering away.

So in the end what you get is a very familiar sound in terms of the aesthetic sensibilities – Hinson never changed all that radically from record to record anyway – but something which has a very different emotional feel to previous work nevertheless. Songs like The Life, Living, Death and Dying of a Certain and Peculiar L. J. Nichols might be an affectionate song about a departed grandparent, but the specific lyrics don’t exactly paint a sentimental picture. It’s a similar story with There’s Only One Name and maybe even I Ain’t Movin’ – songs which sound a little saccharine at times, and could be much more so, but nevertheless have a rather harder edge to the lyrics than you would imagine. It doesn’t sound like deliberate cuteness either, more that the barbs are there in real life, and hence they are there in the songs too. It’s not artifice, just the way things are.

Perhaps the inevitable conclusion of all these vignettes might be the combination of God is Good and The Quill towards the end of the album. God is Good is basically most kids’ first question about religion – If God is so amazing then why do bad things happen? – but instead of naff philosophy it comes across more as a weary lament. It sounds like the bitter recital of someone who is close to the end of their tether and as bewildered as they are exhausted by the cards that life seems to deal them.

The salvation, of course, is in the music, isn’t it. That’s how the story goes. Person has a shite time and then writes an album about it to help them deal with life. But when the next tune starts with the lyrics “The quill holds the hand still/ the paper draws nothing from this lonely heart” you get the impression that isn’t really what is being said. Rather than releasing the album as catharsis, as a way of dealing with a horrible period of life, I find myself with the impression of someone who makes music because that’s what they do. They’ve found something they’re good at, and whether things are good or bad, that is the lens through which they often view their life.

But when the shit really hits the fan, when things are overwhelming and threaten to crush you altogether it doesn’t seem that music, or the act of writing, are much help. And yet this album seems to exist despite that fact, almost as if the catharsis and act of defiance against a needlessly vindictive universe is not the content of the songs, but the fact that they actually exist at all. I have no idea if this is at all true, of course, but it is nevertheless the feeling I get from Micah P. Hinson and the Nothing.

And it is a beautiful, beautiful record. Buy one here.

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Blood of the Bull – Bend Over EP

bend Which is Scotland’s finest indie label? Us? Chemikal Underground? Lost Map? Why it’s us of cou… actually, whisper it, but the answer might be d) None of the above. It might, over the last couple of years, have been Soft Power Records.

Located in the highly unpromising commuter town of Livingston, I don’t know if they would actually win in a nose-to-nose with release schedules which boast, say, the RM Hubbert or Pictish Trail albums but they’d certainly be (in awful football parlance) right in the mix at the end of the season. They certainly have me casting envious eyes at a lot of the things they put out.

The Bend Over EP by Glasgow-based Blood of the Bull is four songs of bright and breezy retro-tinged garage guitar pop with a gorgeous, clear, high vocal. A very zeitgeisty mix of Britpoppy and more rough and ready garage sound from the late sixties, this actually embraces elements of psychedelic folk in the vocal delivery of tunes like Hold Your Head Up High and Go Fuck Yourself, with shades of late Fairport-era Sandy Denny in there, to my ears at least.

Like a few of the Soft Power releases, this may be garage pop, but it’s not all that lo-fi. Where other corners of this particular landscape may be distorted and aggressive, this has a a cleanliness to the sound to match the vocal. It’s still kinda retro and may be very DIY, but that doesn’t pull the music anywhere it doesn’t want to go. There’s some rougher stuff on the band’s Soundcloud page, and I have to confess I rather like that too.

In fact, in some ways this reminds me of the sort of woman I’ve seen a lot of in places where there are many tattoos to be seen. There seems to be a very specific look at the moment which embraces polka-dot dresses and glamorous hair, and yet includes being covered in ink. The combination of such prettiness with dense tattoos, which still retain something of a hard-edged, rebellious feel to them, always struck me as a little incongruous. In fashion terms it’s a style I have to confess that I really like, and there are elements of that in this EP. It can be very pretty, with a deliberate girlish innocence at times, and then at others there are some noticeably rougher edges. It’s a fascinating combination and a really good record.

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Magic Eye – Babylon

NNF291 Ah, bands. Such contrary bastards!

Magic Eye, you may remember, featured on our second Split 12″ record, released in April last year. They played gorgeous, crystal clear, dreamy pop tunes, and seemed very much in tune with the zeitgeist and possibly on the verge of good things. Well, to me anyway, although as we’ve seen, I am not exactly an authority as far as this kind of thing is concerned.

Anyhow, below is one of the songs they recorded for us, and one which I think turned out really, really well. And I suppose I thought that was how the band heard themselves in their own heads, too. I’d been to see them a couple of times as well though, so I wasn’t just imagining it, entirely.

Of course, we all think we know how our favourite bands ‘ought’ to sound, but when they went into a studio here in Edinburgh to record their debut album, the mixing engineer clearly thought they ought to sound a lot different to how the band themselves thought they should sound. They hated the results, but the guy simply refused to work with them on a second mix. On the face of it, that is pretty shocking behaviour, but they were getting the studio and the time of the engineer on an incredibly cheap rate, so they were probably already well over the time commitments the studio had imagined when they agreed the fee.

I may have released the band’s stuff, but I wasn’t involved in this, so who knows what the ins and outs of it really were. In a sense I find myself really not wanting to know any more, although I cannot for the life of me imagine anyone who actually cares about bands or music refusing to do so much as a ’round two’ when it comes to mixing a band’s album.

Anyhow, whoever was actually in the right in that particular misalignment of expectations, it clearly had a big effect on the band themselves. Firstly, they split up.  Secondly, they obviously couldn’t release the album so their time was wasted. And thirdly, once they managed to get the stems back from the engineer they, er, remixed it to sound like this: Babylon, their latest and I think their last release.

The band themselves describe their studio experience in the press release for this cassette: “they suffered the rite-of-passage indignity of recording their first set of songs at an overly pro studio, rendering the results grit-less and dried out.” Listening to this, it sounds like they have made this mix just to exorcise the ghosts of what they heard before, and I am not sure I would know what to make of it if I hadn’t heard the muggy pop sheen of the studio album (and it is pretty terrible).

The vocals have been submerged in a bath of delay and reverb, it’s a weird, wobbly, hazy mess and I find myself listening to it and feeling both baffled and delighted. After the clarity of the songs they recorded with us, to hear this kind of distorted fog feels kind of shocking, actually. Like I never really understood the band in the first place. But listening to it after the abandoned studio album, it’s almost as if the band’s hatred of those mixes is aggressively, accusingly embodied in these ones.

It helps, I think, that Bek and Roma can really, really sing. They both have high, glacial voices and that element of beauty keeps just a little glitter alive in the fog of hazy mess around them and leaves this music… where, I don’t know. It’s fascinating. I find myself playing it over and over and wondering what I would make of it if I didn’t know so much of the back-story behind its creation.

Buy a copy on cassette here.

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Passenger Peru & Fleeting Youth Records

a1224397052_2 As well as Soft Power, another tiny label with an excellent back catalogue is the relatively new Fleeting Youth Records.  Like Soft Power they already have an extensive Bandcamp page of interesting stuff, although Fleeting Youth do have the advantage of coming from the relative musical mecca of Austin, Texas, rather than an East Lothian commuter town.

I think I played the very first thing they ever sent me, but that was only a few months ago, and they’ve already racked up over half a dozen full releases. Honestly, I am finding it hard to keep up. Their general style seems to fit in that pop-punk, breezy skatey shouty kind of area which you know I like, with The Reaper by Basketball Shorts on their first split tape being as enjoyably hummable an example of that as you’re likely to find.

They do stray into more downbeat, slightly shoegazey territory at times as well, and one of their more recent releases (they really do move rather quickly) has that slightly fuzzy flavour of psychedelic indie rock down really nicely: Passenger Peru.

There’s a really nice sense of unhurried thrum to this, and it reminds me a little of some of the indie stuff which was knocking around in this country in the early nineties. In a way I think that kind of stuff is still stigmatised over here – tainted perhaps by its proximity to the much-maligned Britpop movement – whereas in the States the bands seem to feel freer to pick and choose the bits they like, free of the blanket associations we might have over here.

It’s only a small aspect of the sound, mind you, not an overwhelming impression, and this record is definitely its own beast. There’s a lighter touch than a lot of the krauty, shoegazey stuff I’ve been listening to recently, with moments of playful, rhythmic pop intruding on the moody bits quite regularly, and it doesn’t have that density of instrumentation which can drag the droney stuff down sometimes.

It’s released on limited edition cassette too, which implies to me that I might be coming back from Austin this year with as many tapes as I do records. I don’t know how to feel about this. They’re more fragile, but at least they aren’t as heavy!

Listen to the whole thing below, if you like:

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Chalk and Numbers – Cassette Compilation

a1831330414_2 I know I grouse sometimes about Edinburgh being a bit of a musical outpost, as far as the world of music is concerned, but at least we’re still a relatively big city. Imagine running a record label from somewhere like Livingston – i mean, just imagine!

Well somebody does, and those somebodies are the team behind the absolutely awesome Soft Power Records. Based in suburban West Lothian, they release possibly Scotland’s finest collection of hipster guitar rock, and have a back catalogue of which I am really rather jealous. They have  most of their releases up for listening on their Bandcamp page too, so you can have an extensive browse before you commit to spending all your money on vinyl you only just found out that you desperately need.

One of their latest releases is this rather joyous slice of sixties, soda-fountain girl-pop. It’s pretty close to being a pastiche, I guess, but pulled off with a sense of fun and excellent tunes, which gives it a really light, enjoyable touch.

The songs themselves are a compilation of tunes from Chalk and Numbers’ previous releases – of which there are relatively few – and adds a new song to it, to serve as something of an introduction to the band, and will be available on tape relatively soon.

Music like this is interesting to me, because it evokes a sort of breezy nostalgia for an era I never experienced. I guess the band are no old than me, so you have a weird combination of artists evoking a time they didn’t experience for the enjoyment of an audience who didn’t experience it either. It’s kind of second-level retroism in that sense, and gets a bit weird if you think too much about it. Best just focus on how enjoyable these six songs are and not worry about it too much, if you ask me.

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Dean Wareham has a Solo Album on the Way

holdingpattern He’s a funny one, Dean Wareham. Unlike a lot of the indie rock fanboys around at the moment, I never really knew Galaxie 500 during their heyday. This is daft, because I love the music and I am the right age, but we only really had MTV in Austria and I just never heard of them until later on.

I did get into Luna though, eventually, by living in an Airstream trailer in a quiet corner of someone else’s property on Cape Cod, where I waited tables, raked in the tips, and we batted music recommendations back and forth. It was an odd period in my life, and listening back to Luna’s stuff takes me back there very strongly, probably as no-one else I know has ever been all that into Luna, so the associations remain undiluted.

I never looked into it much, however, beyond just enjoying the music, so it was embarrassingly late by the time I finally made the connection between Galaxie 500, Luna and this guy called Dean Wareham. The penny finally dropped sometime last year when I bought my first Galaxie 500 album and thought, hang on, that voice sounds awfully familiar, so off I went to Wikipedia and had a look.

I think it took ages to figure out how much I liked Luna because on the surface of it there’s a very easy listening vibe. It’s very laid-back music, and doesn’t go for the traditional approaches of volume, distortion, sloppiness or attitude which a lot of indie rock used to grab your attention. With this less insistent stuff, it took years of constantly going back to their albums before I even realised that that’s what I was doing. It took a few more to realise that hey, hang on, I must really like this stuff. And I do, I realise now!

So yes, Wareham now has a solo album approaching, called Holding Pattern. There’s barely any more information about it than that, other than the tune below, and the fact that Sonic Cathedral will be releasing it.

As to whether or not it will be any good, well apart from the confidence however many years of making great music should give you, he has another, recent solo release too, and that is bloody great. I happened across an EP called Emancipated Hearts (get a copy here) entirely unawares at the Independent Label Market in London in December. I’ve been listening to it a lot recently, and it’s really, really good. There’s something of a smoother feel to it than Luna stuff, which is odd to say, given that Luna weren’t exactly a tense, confrontational listen.

Still, this feels less creepy, and somehow more at ease with itself, which gives it a really lovely overall vibe. I know that sounds like I’m calling it coffee table music or something horrible like that, but I’m not. It just sounds like music coming from a good place, and I am really looking forward to hearing what the album sounds like.