Angel Food is Lillian Marling of Ruby Pins and Ange Duval (aka Angelo Spencer of Angelo Spencer et Les Hauts Sommets). “Forgiveness”, released in February, is taken from their Vacances Cool EP. It feels like a killer lost boho disco 12”, the kind you find in a second-hand (record) store – sorry – and wonder how you missed it the first time around. Opening along a hypnotic, skiffling beat, Marling’s whispery, syncopated vocals join together with a percussive, afrobeat feeling guitar line. As words turn to pants, the track becomes engulfed in a rush of white noise, until the 4:30 mark, and what had been relatively stark reveals a startling beauty.
Vacances Cool is released on Perennial (home, as well, to the brill CC Dust). The Angel Food bandcamp page has a few upcoming shows listed (on the West Coast of the USofA), so check ‘em out if you can and follow along on fbook and join Ms. Marling on the twitt. “Forgiveness” also has a video – regardez:
Halifax, England (not Nova Scotia). Fun facts about Halifax (from ultimate lazy bastard encyclopedia, wikipedia): (1) it’s been a textile manufacturing hub since the 15th century – which is kinda cool; and (2) it’s the home of Rolo candy – which is extremely awesome.
What’s also extremely awesome, has six thumbs and currently hails from Halifax (and Liverpool)? The Orielles, a trio comprising sisters Esme Dee (bass, vocals) and Sidonie Hand-Halford (drums) and Henry Carlyle Wade (guitars). After self-releasing a few singles, and putting out last year’s fantastic Jobim EP via Art Is Hard, “Sugar Tastes Like Salt” (from a line in the movie Death Proof, per this great write up on the band in The Guardian) is the band’s first single for the mighty Heavenly Recordings. Starting, innocently enough, with a ride down the neck of a swirling, arpeggiated psych melody, it turns out to be a trip down the rabbit hole. The track bobs and weaves its way through a smorgasbord of styles (jittering rock steady, Blondie or Factory Records’ style post-punk disco, a sprawling Floyd-like interlude, straight-up Troggs’ garage, some space truckin’) without coming off overcooked. And despite a modern day attention span straining length of 8 minutes and change, “Sugar” fixes your attention throughout, like some kind of goddamn Medusa. Brilliant.
“Sugar Tastes Like Salt” is out now, on Heavenly. You can follow The Orielles’ adventures on fbook, the twitt and instagram. They’re also on tour in the UK – dates here.
AMOR is a Glasgow-based quartet comprising Richard Youngs, Luke Fowler, Michael Francis Duch and Paul Thomson – musicians with CVs as long as yer arm. Their 12″ single, Paradise features an a- and b-side of over 13 minutes: each summoning late-period disco/early house with the kind of propulsive emotional stamina worthy of an extended Larry Levan workout; each a rapturous hymn performed in a glitter-covered cathedral.
The a-side, title track begins with hand drums accenting a generous, four-on-the-floor beat; a cantering, two-note bassline turning rubbery and new(ly) romantic as it’s joined by ever more insistent, ringing piano chords. The lyrics set a meditative mood (‘all that this is/is interconnected…all that we know/is misunderstood’), Youngs’ delicate, quavering tenor to falsetto reminding these ears of the Blue Nile’s Paul Buchanan. The flip, “In Love an Arc”, also takes time to reveal itself fully, beginning with abstract bowing and thumping before coalescing into another glorious soul-house revival show, a churning, relentless rhythm seeing the titular declaration through to the end. Get me to the church, on time.
Fat White Family, “Whitest Boy on the Beach” (Without Consent)
New single from one of our favorites, taken from forthcoming new album, Songs for Our Mothers.
“Whitest” thumps and bumps it’s way through the consummation of an unholy matrimony of groups like Throbbing Gristle (the band pic promoting the single bears more than a passing resemblance to this), Suicide, Plastic Bertrand – triumphal, synthesized horns invoking Sparksian levels of quirky art pop, thundering o’er a ‘Heart of Glass’ shattering bassline. As ever, there’s more than a hint of menace lurking beneath the glitter ball, singer Lias Saoudi rolling around on the trash and glitter strewn floor of a deserted disco, cooing lines like “who’s the weakest link in the chain?”.
Songs For Our Mothers is set for release January 22 on the band’s own Without Consent label – purchasing a copy is the easiest resolution you’ll ever make. Tickets are on sale now for their UK tour – you can find all dates on their Facebook page.
The Juan MacLean, In a Dream (DFArecords, 9/16/14)
Electronic music tends to mine its past when crafting its present. “New” sounds tend to be an amalgamation of sounds that came before, perhaps presented in a new way or via novel platform; often mutated by what came in between. Dreams are, similarly, a subconscious manifestation of memories of past experiences, morphed by our current reaction to an emotional and/or physical state.
The new album by The Juan MacLean is called In a Dream, and it conjures many Ghosts of Dance Music past. As with the duo’s earlier releases – which recalled, variously, Chicago house, new wave, techno and disco – the sonic touchstones here are plentiful. A partial list of those I noted upon repeat listening include: early Madonna and mid-80s NYC new wave/dance music in general (“You Were a Runaway”); Temperamental-era Everything But the Girl (“Here I Am”, “Charlotte”); New Order (the guitar line at the 1:16 mark of “Love Stops Here”, the glassy, Technique-sounding synths in “Here I Am”); and early new wave (the intro and boy/girl response vocals of “I’ve Waited for So Long” recalls Human League). Several of the album’s highlights – the sublime “A Simple Design”, centerpiece “Love Stops Here”, “Running Back to You” and closer “The Sun Will Never Set On Our Love” – are satisfying combinations of these influences.
In fact, the album I kept coming back to while listening to In a Dream was Ministry’s much derided (by the band – I personally love it still) debut, With Sympathy. A trio of Dream’s cuts, “Running”, “Design” and “Runaway” very much recall the sound and feeling of that record, with vocalist Nancy Whang often sounding a bit like Shay Jones (backing vocalist on Sympathy’s “I Wanted to Tell Her”). “Running” takes it a step further; Sympathy synth lines welded onto a tune recalling the lush 80s R&B of labels like Tabu Records – the SOS Band meets pre-heroin Ministry! Naturellement!
The album is no mere nostalgia trip, however – it is as timely as it is timeless; taking cues from the past to shape the present. It is a beautiful marriage of lush, sweeping electronic wistfulness with darkly romantic lyrics, delivered by Whang (fantastic throughout) in a way that brings back the classic (somewhat detached) club diva. The sequencing is also spot on, with opener “Space is the Place” bookended by “The Sun Will Never Set On Our Love”. The latter – with its imperious, Vangelis(y) opening chords and titular, epic proclamation (here referring to love’s survival in the face of ecologic apocalypse, rather than empire-building) – could have been a fine centerpiece, but the ending refrain of sending love “in a rocket shape/send it out in space” provides the perfect coda to what is certainly one of this year’s best releases.
Highlights include: “Running Back to You”; “The Sun Will Never Set On Our Love”; “A Simple Design”; “Here I Am”).