FYI our fearless editor Mary is currently on holiday (sort of, she says, since she'll be working on blog-y things for most of it) in Britain and the site won't be as updated as frequently until she returns stateside after the 23rd of May. Don't worry though, we'll be busy this month going to festivals (Liverpool Sound City, the Great Escape) and loads of great content is on its way!
By Mary Chang
on Thursday, 23rd May 2013 at 6:00 pm
Bristol’s electronic outfit Seasfire have a new video for ‘Oh Lucifer’, which will be released as a single on Little Fan Records on the 1st of July. Equally punishing guitars and drums make for a compelling track, as you will hear by watching the video below, which was directed by James Booth (who also did The 1975‘s video ‘Chocolate’.
Never one to back away from a challenge, I was enthusiastic about taking a first listen to British Sea Power when editor Mary suggested I review their sixth full length album, ‘Machineries of Joy’. I’d heard of British Sea Power in passing and been warned that their sound was a lot to take in, but I didn’t even have enough background knowledge to preconceive any notions. Now, after extensive listening to the new album, I’m still not quite sure I know what to think.
My overwhelming impression of ‘Machineries of Joy’ is one of impenetrable cloudiness and fog. Its blurry, fuzzy bass lines and wailing guitars often obscure the whispered vocals, which causes the lyrics to get lost. There are some clever and even purely beautiful phrases scattered throughout the songs, but more often, the lyrics are unclear and unwieldy. The lack of distinguishable melody and the muttered, droning intonation of singer Yan (Scott Wilkinson) prevent any of them from sticking in the memory.
The album’s first single, title track ‘Machineries of Joy’ (video at the bottom of this post), draws the listener in very gently and slowly with hazy guitars and soft, husky vocals. Unfortunately, the song stretches on just a bit too long, with very little dynamic change or dramatic interest. (The album and song both take the title ‘Machineries of Joy’ from a collection of stories by Ray Bradbury. Not having read the stories myself, I can’t comment on that connection, but it’s worth looking into if you’re of a literary mind.) By contrast, the second track, ‘K Hole’, is a necessarily more upbeat number about a ketamine high. ‘K Hole’ is easily the most energetic song on the album, and its catchy chorus, ‘Staring down the cannon / We’re staring down the cannon / Of joy “ is among the album’s most memorable lyrics.
After that point, the next several songs seem to blur together indistinguishably. Even the edgy ‘Loving Animals’, with anxious opening lyric, “in for the kill / in for the kill / in for the kill”, fails to maintain its musical or dramatic tension long enough to make a lasting impression. The middle of the album seems to drift aimlessly, until final track ‘When a Warm Wind Blows Through the Grass’ provides a brief moment of lucidity with its mysterious, pulsating intro, its almost tribal percussion, and its echoing, chant-like vocals.
With 10 tracks coming in at just under 43 minutes, ‘Machineries of Joy’ feels like a much longer album than it really is. Its sleepy ambience drags heavily after the first two songs. Over the course of listening several times, I never felt that I gained any clarity as to the album’s intent or direction and I found it very difficult to connect emotionally with any of the songs. While I probably won’t revisit ‘Machineries of Joy” very often, I am sufficiently interested to take a look into British Sea Power’s extensive back catalog. Perhaps more context will help me put this album into clearer perspective.
‘Machineries of Joy’ is out now on Rough Trade Records. The album’s second single, ‘Loving Animals’, has just been added to BBC Radio 6 Music’s B-list. Watch the video for ‘Machineries of Joy’ below.
By Mary Chang
on Wednesday, 22nd May 2013 at 6:00 pm
OMD‘s newest video from new album ‘English Electric’ is for ‘Dresden’. It’s entirely animated, which is kind of a disappointment b/c Andy McCluskey’s got a very entertaining way of dancing live. The single is out on the 27th of May.
My review of the gig isn’t online yet but have a look at Martin’s amazing photos of their show at Gateshead Sage on 13 May here.
By Mary Chang
on Tuesday, 21st May 2013 at 6:00 pm
Hey Sholay are playing the Fierce Panda 19th birthday party this very night, alongside their mates the Crookes and the Heartbreaks. They’ve got a lovely new video for new single ‘WDYRWMTB’, which will be out as part of the ‘Cloud, Castle, _______’ EP, to be released on the 3rd of June. The video is…well, watch it. You’ll see.
The latest single from the Frankie and the Heartstrings camp is a little ditty called ‘Nothing Our Way’, being released today. A car wash and a five-a-side, you say? Just watch the video below.
The band are on tour in the UK in June.
To say that I was pretty bummed that Fenech-Soler pulled out of this year’s Great Escape is a terrible understatement. However, I know they’ve been working super hard on finishing their second album ‘Rituals’, which is now finished (hurray!) and will be available in the high street on the 2nd of September. ‘Magnetic’ is their forthcoming single out on the 1st of July on Warner, and I’ll be some time before I can really give Ben Duffy’s lyrics the proper attention, but visually, this video is brilliance, and for sure this will be huge at summer festivals. “Can you feel it too?” Watch it below.