Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Welcome to All Around Records


This is a music blog. All kinds of music are reviewed here. If you like what you read, I have more reviews here
http://www.toneandgroove.com/. These are my first two reviews:

Stuart Murdoch
God Help The Girl
Matador Records

Murdoch started this project in 2004, but did not finish it until 2009, since he was working with his main band, Belle and Sebastian, and trying to find singers suitable for God Help The Girl. He envisioned the songs on God, sung mostly by women, about the lives of these female characters.

The plot is a little fuzzy. It’s not a straightforward narrative, so the songs don’t quite hang together as a whole. It’s the details that make the songs work: the thoughts, feelings and the lives women are leading, and how they find their places in the larger world. Murdock articulates the thoughts and feelings of his characters so well that a woman could have written these songs with no difference in tone, voice, or content.

“Funny Little Frog” is note perfect about a woman’s crush on a guy who doesn’t know her. Likewise “Perfection of a Hipster” is a half comic, half tragic story about a woman who wants to impress a trendy guy, and she passes out on his couch, wakes up and demands to know what happened while she was unconscious.

Catherine Ireton sings lead on most of the songs. She was featured on the cover of B&S’s single White Collar Boy, and already knew the band. Two of the other voices, Brittney Stallings and Dina Bankole, were chosen after a competition on iMeem. The contest was two demos posted on iMeem that people could add vocals to. Stallings and Bankole had the best voices. Murdoch himself is on two of the songs, Neil Hannon from the Devine Comedy plays the hipster. Asya from the band Smoosh sings lead on “I Just Want His Jeans”. Stallings takes the lead on “Frog.” Anna Miles and Celia Garcia who sing harmonies, round out the singers. Everyone is wonderful; they embody their characters with heart, soul, and intelligence.

Musically, this album draws on several different sources. Broadway musicals show up in the orchestral arrangements written by Mike Cooke, and recorded by a 45 piece orchestra conducted by Rick Wentworth, the composer of Withnail and I. The orchestrations are lush, a firm foundation to build the singing and lyrics on. Another source the orchestra uses is the Brill Building when the songs call for more rock, particularly 80s indie music. The orchestra steps lively on songs like “I’ll Have To Dance With Cassie” and the title song. The other members of B&S also participated, giving the album an early Belle and Sebastian feel as well.

God Help The Girl is wonderful from start to finish. Even though the plot is somewhat confusing, listening to these women is delightful. [www.godhelpthegirl.com]
Andrea Weiss

Future of the Left
Travels with Myself and Another
4AD Records

Future of the Left is a Cardiff, Wales based trio, and this is their second album. Their first album Curses won them much acclaim. They also played well-received shows at SXSW earlier this year. The band consists of singer/guitarist Andy Falkous, Jack Egglestone on drums, formally with McLusky, and bass player Kelson Matthias, formally with Jarcrew.

The band plays solid, well-crafted, hard-edged punk rock. Falkous is, in general, a good singer, although at times he screams a little too much, which is annoying. The biggest problem, though, is that their lyrics are incomprehensible, rendering what is on the surface provocative and thought provoking a headachy bore by the end of the album. Even the best punk rock can’t work around that. In the end, no matter how good the music is, the lyrics make this album one to be skipped. [www.myspace.com/futureoftheleft]
Andrea Weiss


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