Monthly Archives: July 2014

New Music: Jessie Ware, Share It All

Jessie Ware recently posted the track “Share It All” – the latest to be leaked in the run up to her soon to be released full length, “Tough Love” (I haven’t been able to figure out a US date for the album).  You can listen to the track above, and it’s also streaming on her Soundcloud page.

The song was co-written with Romy of The XX, and that band’s sonic fingerprints are felt throughout – Ware’s typically pristine vocals float amidst a languid atmosphere full of sonar synths and a thick bass drum.  As it unfurls, the song glides along on a snappy beat that wouldn’t have been out of place on an old SOS Band cut.  Ware puts her own stamp on the arrangement when she begins to riff on the initial, hypnotically repetitive melody.  

It’s an interesting contrast in attitude and style.  In the hands of The XX, the lines “could you share it all with me/and I’ll share it all with you/…if you want to” might have been delivered as a whispered plea to a would-be partner who’s busy talking to another on the other side of the room – the longed for reply never truly expected.  For Ware, the lines are sung “to”, rather than “at” someone, but in a hopeful, romantic way – there’s nothing brash here (think Sade, not Beyoncé).  A lovely little ballad.


Track Review: Running, Totally Fired

Running, the Chicago band whose excellent Vaguely Ethnic was previously reviewed here on, return with a new 3-track single (is that an EP?) – “Frizzled” – due July 22 on the Drag City (Ty Segall) label imprint, God? Records.  

“Totally Fired” is track 3 – stream it above and hear samples of this and the lead track at  An intrusive squall of feedback stumbles into a roiling hornets’ nest of guitars, vocals, drums and bass clamoring to be heard from beneath a gauzy cocoon of distortion.  The song lurches fore and aft until being rather rudely interrupted around the 2:40 by a sound resembling either a fax machine or modem dial (perhaps I’m dating myself with these references?).  The remainder of the track is a push/pull battle between this noise and the main tune – who wins is in the ear of the beholder.

The early Nirvana influences from Vaguely are still present, mixed with some Ginn-like guitar work and sounds that wouldn’t have been out of place on records by more outré 80s hardcore bands like Flipper or Government Issue.  A welcome, noisy return.

Track Review: Interpol, All the Rage Back Home

Interpol, “All the Rage Back Home”

Last week, Interpol released the video (below) for this song, the lead single from forthcoming fifth full length (‘allo, alliteration!), El Pintor, due September 9 in North America and September 8 in the rest of the world.  All in all, a very “Interpol-y” song, harkening back to their first few records – a good thing, since recent output suggested a band running out of gas.  Idling along on singer Paul Banks’ baritone, crooning dolorous over an organ and shimmering guitar line, the song quickly shifts gear through a chugging bass line (courtesy of Banks) and straight ahead beat.  Slimming down to a three-piece seems, on this evidence, to have reinvigorated the band.  Minor quibbles with the production (would like to hear Sam Fogarino’s drums pushed forward in the mix) and length (the ‘hey, hey, hey’ thing starts getting old towards the end) aside, this has me looking forward to hearing more from the new album.

Album Review: The Fresh & Onlys, House of Spirits

The Fresh & Onlys, House of Spirits (Mexican Summer, 06/10/2014)

The Fresh & Onlys are a four-piece out of San Francisco.  Their latest, House of Spirits, is their sixth full length (the band has also released a couple of EPs). On prior releases, the band honed a sound including elements of psychedelia, garage rock, 70s SoCal country-tinged pop, and a bit of Paisley Underground and Brit-influenced 80s indie rock.  House feels like an attempt to broaden this sonic palette further, introducing more drone and ambient textures and hues to broaden the scope.

For this review, I thought I’d try something different and attempt to share my (slightly cleaned up) initial reactions to the each track on the album. Here goes:

“Home is Where” – opens with church organ; crooning vocals over piano, then morphs into a steady rocker – kind of reminds me of Doves.  Retains updated 60s via 80s sound. The dreamy, reverbed vocals once the song harken back to the days of “college radio” and import singles from some great UK band.

“Who Let the Devil” – intro bass/drum line sounds like Lords of the New Church a bit (probably just me…). Dreamy guitar arpeggio laces around muffled, Tim Cohen’s underwater vocals – ‘who let the devil walk into my house/ when i was born dying’.  Something about the melody reminds me of a Neil Young song, but I can”t figure out which one – it’s driving me crazy.  Is that a zither? autoharp? in the chorus?

“Bells of Paonia” – strobed guitar drone, ambient textures over pulsating bass line and lyrics about the effects of a pill.  Druggy, Spiritualized hushed gospel feel overlaid with Warm Jets-era Eno. Invites repeated listening to peel the onion.

“Animal of One” -“the point of forgiving/is so you forget/that being forgiven/is all in your mind”.  Seventies, SoCal country-tinged pop vibe.  Song (quietly) explodes into an absolutely lovely chorus around the 2:30 mark.

“I’m Awake” – to be honest, this song didn’t really grab me.  Was a bit disappointed by the chorus after an encouraging opening melody.

“Hummingbird” – an out and out rocker.  Chugging bassline and straight ahead drums bring echoes of 80s brit/indie – maybe a less dramatic Icicle Works? Interplay between the lead guitar and vocals is great.

“April Fools” – sweet, airy vocal melodies over chimey guitars – not a million miles away from San Francisco psychedelic pop legacy.  Love the guitar line in the chorus.  Could use a bridge/transition somewhere, though.

“Ballerina” – country infused.  A road trip through somewhere flat, where the reference points in the horizon never seem to get closer.  Vocals (here, I believe, by guitarist Wymond Miles) evoke a world weary Roger Miller.

“Candy” – opens with a playful, swinging beat. A slow grower.  Would be nice of the guitars were pushed more to the fore to bring the chorus out of it’s shell a bit.

“Madness” – (closer). intro reminds me of the beginning to “Disappear” by INXS (this is not a bad thing).  Similar in feel with “Bells” – a more languid, ambient arrangement crashes against a rocky shore of heavily distorted guitars.

Highlights include: “Bells of Paonia”, “Who Let the Devil”, “Animal of One”.

Single Review: Naked (On Drugs), This Gift

I’ve only just heard this yesterday (and have now listened to it several times), so this is a bit of stream of consiousness/knee-jerk reaction of a review. Apologies.

Without, further ado, then – from the excellent Manchester-based (Salford, to be specific) label Sways Records comes “This Gift”, the latest from the group Naked (On Drugs).

The song has quickly coursed through my veins, acting as a gateway drug to the rest of the band’s oeuvre, which I’m also enjoying immensely. If ever they remake ‘A Clockwork Orange’ this song should (and, likely, would) be on the soundtrack.

The song is a tense, terse, spastic, listing joyride on a tilt-a-whirl at a traveling carnival where regular maintenance is not a priority. Above it all, a louchely crooning Cheshire Cat. Your attempts to focus, as you spin along to elastic bass slaps, joyous hand claps, stuttering tom toms, clarinet, saxophone and what sounds like a slide whistle(!), prove futile, disorienting: a hazy glimpse of Ian McCulloch jamming with Throbbing Gristle; a groggy thrust of Peter Murphy fronting The Birthday Party. The scene shifts to a sidewalk, outside a Berlin sex club – now covered in your own(?) sick, you hear the muffled pulse of the bass drum and the slinky synth beckon. You awake, on the floor, to find someone’s placed your hand in a bucket of warm water. End scene.

Glorious.  Check out the video, below (fair warning:  camerawork may induce seizures and/or vertigo).

Spotlight Dance: Kult Country

Kult Country are a six piece hailing from Manchester, England. To date, they have released two singles, “Slowburn” and “Trembling Moon”.  The first came out last year; I just heard the new single last week, and so am making up for lost time a bit with this write up.

“Slowburn” (5/13/2013, Sways Records) is truth in advertising: a slowed-down, “No Quarter”ish groove unfurls into swirls of distortion pedal goodness.  Vocalist Yousif Al Kharagouli sounds a bit like the Richard Ashcroft of earlier, druggier Verve records fronting Chapterhouse or Slowdive.  B-side “Amongst the Dead Forever” is a different beast altogether, bursting forth with a choppy, motorik beat underlying a repetitive melody line and vocals recalling 80s industrial or darkwave.

New single, “Trembling Moon” (6/30/2014, No Self Records) shimmers.  Jingle jangle guitars float above a Ride-worthy, propulsive drum/bass combination running pell mell, tumble bumble into and through a baggyesque breakdown in the middle.  A cavalcade of influences, to be sure:  one hears Mighty Lemon Drops, Ride, Bluetones, Stone Roses…others…all blended together into a heady cocktail.  B-side ‘Atlas Haze’ harkens back to “Slowburn”, a musical swirl cone (can you tell it’s a hot, muggy day as I type this?):  one side chiming along like a lost cut from the first Smiths album, the other early period Verve (again) or perhaps Evergreen-era Brian Jonestown Massacre.  Spacey with scattered bits of droned melody throughout, “Atlas” feels like “Trembling”s end of the rave come down.

In a clash of senses, these songs feel textural, almost tactile.  From what I’ve read online, the band’s debut full length is set for release later this year.  On this evidence, it is one I’m looking forward to very much.  Check them out at