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Having chosen the name Stornoway, after the Scottish seaport town as explained by singer Brian Briggs in this 2011 interview with us, this band seems to have been destined to write music with some kind of nautical theme. Their new album’s title, ‘Tales From Terra Firma’, implies the ocean by mention of its opposite (indeed, the album’s cover art features frothy waves).
But its first single, ‘Knock Me on the Head’, has a very definite maritime sound. A majestic instrumental introduction, with a pentatonic tinge suggestive of Oriental seas, blends seamlessly into the mellow guitar pop that Stornoway have become known for. While the intro has very little musical or thematic relation to the body of the song, it does provide a hook for the listener’s ear, drawing attention to Brian Briggs’ lilting voice and cerebral lyrics.
The song’s chorus is certainly catchy enough to hold its own; I found myself singing along with it after only one casual listen. The lyrical melodies and sweet vocal harmonies, along with Stornoway’s unique instrumental arrangements, will be pleasantly familiar to fans eagerly awaiting the band’s sophomore effort. But if the exotic orchestral sound of the intro is to be taken as an indication, Stornoway have bravely ventured into some new musical ground, and possibly new musical seas as well.
‘Tales From Terra Firma’, the follow-up to Stornoway’s 2010 ‘Beachcomber’s Windowsill’, will be out on the 11th of March on 4AD. Catch the band on their UK tour, starting in early March.
They were voted the NME’s Best Performance at Glasto 2010 with their doom pop, they recorded with Kylie, and by bloody god, they are back with a bang.
Manchester’s Hurts burst onto the scene back in 2010 with their debut album, ‘Happiness’. Partners in crime Theo Hutchcraft and Adam Anderson have been dormant for almost 2 years now, but on the 14th December 2012, they returned with a new song, ‘The Road’. It starts off with Theo quietly, almost with a whisper, muttering, “darling, what’s your name and can you hear me / tell me why you’re out so late alone/ the diamonds sparkle in your face / I hold you, the gravel glistens black and red below.
And then, kerblam! It hits you right in the face, Hurts have done a dubstep. Dear god.
What’s even more bizarre is that I kind of like it. But that may just be my attraction, to things that are epic and full of grandeur. There’s an explosion of sound and a catastrophe of bass. Ok, it does have a strange reminiscence of Muse‘s ‘Unsustainable’ and their insane dubstep robot.
But forget all that. The new track is huge.
Hurts are back.
March can’t come any sooner.
Hurts’ second album ‘Exile’ will be released on the 11th of March on Sony and will be available in standard and deluxe formats.
Scottish art-rockers Frightened Rabbit are back with single ‘The Woodpile’, coming across all bombast and desolation. The song’s theme is that of outsiders sticking together, finally making that unique loner connection over a pile of burning logs. Damnably radio-friendly, certainly fitting the established Rabbit mould (that floor tom gets a lot of use), it couldn’t be more distinctively Scottish if it had a bagpipe intro. The spiritual successor to Runrig.
There’s also an intriguing and technically excellent single-take video, set in a place not unlike New York, whose scene-of-crime mystery builds to a fine crescendo, only to be let down by the final denouement’s unlikely outcome. [spoiler alert] A bit of life advice – before calling 999, make sure to check the casualty’s pulse first.
A sign of good things to come from forthcoming album ‘Pedestrian Verse’, out next year, along with an accompanying tour. Don’t forget your matches.
‘The Woodpile’ will feature on Frightened Rabbit’s new album ‘Pedestrian Verse’, out in February on Atlantic (their popularity has allowed them to outgrow their Fat Cat breeches). Watch the video below.
By Mary Chang
on Thursday, 30th August 2012 at 3:00 pm
The love affair I have with Oxford “ambitionless office disco” trio Trophy Wife is probably the strangest one I’ve had in my career as a music blogger. Although I’ve written about them numerous times since their first single ‘Microlite’ was released in autumn 2010, I’ve never had the pleasure to see them live, so it’s like I’m grasping every little nibble I can from this side of the Atlantic to feed my addiction. Hopefully though, this sad state of affairs will change soon, as they revealed earlier this month that their debut album’s release is on the horizon, and have been releasing video clip teasers, one a week, on their Tumblr, in a sort of collage format that will reveal what I am presuming is the cover art for the album.
Today marks the release of an acoustic version of ‘Hold On’ (with the subtitle ‘Summer Leaks In’ on YouTube) by singer Jody Prewett. Oh my word. The latest piece of their new album to be revealed was filmed in near darkness with Prewett singing along to spare chords on his guitar, lit from the back from what seems to be the surface of the moon. This doesn’t sound like the unique dance sound that Trophy Wife have cultivated in the last 2 years, as was shown in their October 2011 EP ‘Bruxism’, as well as the three video clips revealed prior to this (‘In This Heavy Sun, the Colours Will Run’, ‘Your Presence I Want, Your Absence I Fear’, ‘In This Cold Paradigm…’), it shows a softer, introspective, and certainly more haunting side to the Oxford band. It’s absolutely beautiful and although its restraint was somewhat unexpected to me, I don’t question it for a moment, because I sensed their talent from the moment I first heard ‘Microlite’.
This album, a long time in the making and surely feeling like a long time for us fans to be waiting, will surely be worth the wait, judging from the four clips I’ve heard so far. And for sure, Trophy Wife’s debut album is my most anticipated release all year. That is, unless they decide to keep me waiting until 2013 like Everything Everything and Delphic…
Be sure to keep your eyes and ears on Trophy Wife’s Tumblr for more video teasers in the coming weeks. I do encourage you to view the clips released for ‘In This Heavy Sun, the Colours Will Run’, ‘Your Presence I Want, Your Absence I Fear’ and ‘In This Cold Paradigm…’ after you’ve viewed the below video for ‘Summer Leaks In’, because you will see and feel the radical difference in sound. It will allow you to come to a better appreciation of Trophy Wife, that they’re not just doing what everyone is doing and putting an urban dance beat on things because that’s what popular and sells.
‘Stinging Belles’ from Biffy Clyro debuted on Zane Lowe’s Radio1 show last night, after a brief chat with frontman Simon Neil. It will be the first single from a forthcoming double album.
It starts with a rather long intro, drums are properly smashing away and well, it’s a bombastic level of pomp that can be expected from the Biff. They smash through the intro and the excitement builds, but the sad thing is in my opinion, the first 30 seconds is as good as it gets. It has a ‘The Captain’-ish stomp to it at the start with the guitars noodling over the top mixed in with a ‘Born on a Horse’ tomfoolery.
This is the first single from the new double, yes, DOUBLE, album ‘Opposites’ forthcoming from the Scottish trio. Now while the song may not be an instant winner, on second and third listen it’s a hell of a lot more catchy. It’s got that trademark new Biffy chorus. Instantly repeatable and the kind of verse which will have you throwing pints in galore at any festival.
The pomp is most apparent about two-thirds through though. I mean, come now, they have bagpipes! They are Scottish, but that is simply inexcusable. Bagpipes are for that one guy busking on the street, not, I repeat, NOT for a rock song.
For the first single it’s an odd one, but then again ‘That Golden Rule’ wasn’t the strongest track on ‘Only Revolutions’, and with a double album on the cusp of release from Biffy, it’d be a very bad idea to write them off after an average first single.
Update 1 August 2012: We’ve replaced the not great stream of the song available yesterday with the official music video released today. Watch it below. In the UK, if you want to listen to the song alone, you can at Zane Lowe’s page here. To hear the song as played on Radio1 last night along with a chat with Simon Neil, use the Listen Again feature here.
I’ll admit it. When the xx first broke onto the scene, released their album and even when they got that coveted Mercury seal of approval; I simply didn’t get it. It wasn’t the kind of post-rock that builds up to something epic. It didn’t have a Sigur Ros style of beauty nor did it seem to have the subtlety and beat of Apparat.. In many ways, I still feel that way.
What has changed in my mind to make me suddenly this year pick up the album once more and enjoy it? Possibly that it’s not being forced down my throat by every poster and poser in the trendier parts of the country. Possibly its that Jamie XX’s work in its own merit has made me less reluctant to enjoy the music he creates within an act. Maybe it’s that my ability to enjoy the mellower end of life-soundtrack music has deepened. Whatever it is, I added the record to my iPod just a few months ago; now, I’m ready to fondly rekindle the brief affection I’ve felt for them with new music, but do they deserve or warrant such affection?
Of course we’re meant to forget that at their trio of “secret” London shows they premiered a good half of a new record because the music that was played there is all over YouTube re simply the best effort at a live recording that fans could manage. (Here are recordings of ‘Friction’ and ‘Closer Than This’.) What we do have to take on however is that in less than 2 days, the xx have managed to amass over 600,000 views on the new track ‘Angels’.
The sound hasn’t changed a huge amount. If anything, the instrumentation is even more sparse and the vocals are more the key. It still goes basically nowhere, but as far as dedication to the very specific xx sound they’ve created, it’s bound to be a happy welcome home for such a melancholy track. “And leaving without them / being as in love with you as I am,” sings Romy Madley-Croft. It’s kind of beautiful, but it was always going to be. Surprise me soon please, dear xx, or I might just get bored again.
If you pre-order the new album ‘Coexist’ from the xx, you get an instant free download of this track ‘Angels’.
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