Friday, October 29, 2010

British Sea Power

Zeus E.P.

Rough Trade

On this seven-track E.P., British Sea Power are in fine form. Their scruffy, echo filled Brit pop bounces all over the place, making for wonderful noise. There is more shouting than singing here, which adds to the fun, as it makes for even more of a ruckus.

The lyrics are filled with so many meanings that it’s impossible to figure them out. But they do add to the overall sound,by raising the roof even more. And a lot of times, an album that blows the doors down is all that is needed to be good. So have a blast with the sound. []

Andrea Weiss


The Fool

Rough Trade

Musically this group sounds like Pylon’s slower songs, with the off-kilter guitars of Throwing Muses. There is a passing resemblance to the slower songs on REM’s Reckoning, but that is only natural, since the Muses were influenced by REM, and Pylon an influence of REM. The band’s dreamy vocals and lyrics

address not just relationships with one person, but relationships as a whole.

It is wonderful to hear a band sound like college rock, AKA post-punk rather than some hippie 70s knockoff. Warpaint is a delight to hear, as the music and lyrics entwine with the vocals so tightly, and with just the right amount of shimmer. This is a great debut.

Andrea Weiss

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Belle and Sebastian

Write About Love


On their first album since 2006’s The Life Pursuit, B&S have blended their original sound with their current one, and what a great blend it is. This is the most successful fusing of folk/rock and synths I’ve heard yet, and it’s about time.

The muscular rock powers their smart pop, making their folk good for color, texture and shading. The synths give their music a vaguely prog feel, and everything in the end is intergraded seamlessly, making for a rush on the fast songs, and a hush on the quiet ones.

The singing is top notch. Stuart Murdoch sounds sly and clever, but also gentle. Sarah Martin is sweet, wise and bright, and Carey Mulligan’s backing vocals add a chipper air. But as wonderful as they are, three songs stand out, one for their guest vocals, one for the vocal arrangements, and one for the way the lyrics are sung.

“Little Lou, Ugly Jack, Prophet John” is mostly sung by Norah Jones, who sounds dandy, and is a nicely quirky choice for a guest vocalist. In that song, a couple blames themselves for their breakup. “I’m Not Living in the Real World,” a bemused look at a young man’s journey from childhood to adulthood, is sung by Stevie Jackson, who adroitly captures the confusion he feels, and Murdoch’s backing vocals, running along side Jackson’s, make for a thrilling point/counterpoint arrangement. “Read the Blessed Pages” sung by Murdoch, is infused with regret, but also tenderness and love for the woman he left behind. It’s a questionwhether the lyrics are fiction or non-fiction. As fiction, the song is a beautiful love song. But if they are non-fiction, especially since the couple in question were in a band, are these lyrics directed toward Isobel Campbell?

Write About Love was more than worth the wait, as it is spectacular in every single way. There is something here for everyone, for those who want the folk/rock of their earliest albums, to those who like their more recent pop/folk/rock sound. As this album falls in-between, this is a fine addition to their already distinguished catalog. []

Andrea Weiss

Monday, October 4, 2010

Shadow Shadow Shade


Public Records

This L.A band borrows a lot from other sources, psych, goth, the New Pornographers, and the Arcade Fire. Their sound is the sum of all this borrowing, which means melodic, trippy, a little bombastic, and creepy. This is not bad: in fact, it’s pretty good. The bombast is kept in check, there are good melodies, it’s not an awful trip they’re on, and they don’t overdo being creepy.

While SSS’ album works as an album, the music also works on a film that is streaming at their site. White Horse, is a three -part long form music video that features the band’s music. The plot for this clip is set in WW 3, where a mysterious force has enslaved the world. There is some sex, a bit of death, no dialog, and only the music to set the scene. One of the actors in the film is Jason Ritter of NBC’s The Event. He and Anna Wilson, the female lead, act their parts well. In both instances, this is a trip worth taking. []

Andrea Weiss


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