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Trespassers William – having

 
By on Wednesday, 22nd February 2006 at 3:46 pm
 

One of the hottest new albums that I’ve heard this year came as a recommendation from a SoMinty moderator, and always willing to give new artists a go, I turned out the lights, laid back and let the relaxing sounds of “trespassers william” sweep over me. Epic musical soundscapes mixed with the beautiful voice of Anna-Lynne Williams make for one of the most relaxing, after lights-out experiences since Sigur Ros’ ( ) for me. Williams’ voice has elements that remind me of Jenny Lewis from Rilo Kiley, however, with added feeling of world weariness and vulnerability, which is just how I like my music!

“having” is their fourth release, however I haven’t been able to hear any of their previous work to compare them – if their previous work is anything like as good as this then I doubt I’d have time to listen to anything else.

Normally at this point I’d go into detail about a few key tracks: the best and the worst of the album. However, for this album it’s near enough impossible: the whole album seems to be one flowing piece of work, ideal for those film closings with cameras swooping over undulating terrain. There doesn’t seem to be one track that is a weak link: each of them are different, suitable for different moods and emotions. For me, the highlight comes with the opening track, “Safe Sound”, with the gentle sound of Williams’ voice fitting nicely in with the gentle drums and keyboards.

Track five, “I don’t mind” features a much edgier tone than some of the other tracks, with Williams’ voice taking a background echoey role over heavier guitars and drums, which fits in nicely with the tone of the track, and gives a moment of pure release and relaxation when the music goes over its crescendo towards the end of the track, descending into a gentle solo guitar.

“And we lean in” is perfect film music: it’d be right at home over a montage of two people falling in love over the summer, and then slowly moving into winter. Later in the album, “No One” is a good break up soundtrack, with Williams berating “You can be as sad as you want, no-one will punish me more than myself”. We even have wind sweeping across the speakers towards the end to emphasise the alone-ness and vulnerability of the song.

How I’ve managed to let trespassers william escape through my musical net is beyond me – this is a masterpiece, and given the right exposure they could do a Sigur Ros on us and become the next big “underground” success. I personally can’t wait to see if they can transform their brilliance on CD onto the live stage – I’m hoping that they come to the UK soon!

 

Richard Ashcroft – Keys to the World

 
By on Monday, 6th February 2006 at 1:23 pm
 

It seems recently that everybody here in the UK has been harking on about Richard Ashcroft’s return for a while now since his near-legendary Live8 performance with Coldplay last July. The 35 year old has just released his third solo album, “Keys to the World” which seems to have bought him back from the desert of British music. Famed for his 1997 “Urban Hymns” with his band “The Verve”, Ashcroft has always failed to match its classic status and epic tunes, and whilst some claim this new album is a return to form for the man from Wigan, it still has a while to go before he writes a new “Bittersweet Symphony” or “Drugs don’t work”.

Album opener “Why Not Nothing” is a stomper that gives you the feeling that he’s returning to form, with the catchy refrain “why not, why not, why not nothing?” and gives us the idea that he’s back from the abyss and back on form. It appears to be an anti-religion rant of sorts, commenting on “Machiavellian tricks” and “God squads” with a surprising vigour and urgency. However, it never seems to go anywhere, just sort of fading out, about a minute after it should have, and much the same can be said about the second track of the album, “Music Is Power”, which is very much a standard album track.

First single of the album, “Break the night with colour” is perfect stadium filler, with a catchy chorus, yet is still very much a B-list Richard Ashcroft song in comparison to “Lucky Man”, “Drugs Don’t Work”, “Bittersweet Symphony”, “Sonnet”, “History” et al. However, I have a distinct feeling that he’ll never be able to match these epic masterpieces, and this is only confirmed as the album plods on through “Words Just Get in the Way”, “Cry til the Morning” and “Sweet Brother Malcolm”. In between these filler tracks, there are a few notable songs, which will probably be singles, or the more stand-out tracks of this album.

Perhaps the standout track of the album comes in the middle of the album at track five, with the song with the same name as the album, “Keys to the World”, with the orchestrated, multi-layered sounds seeping through spectacularly. This will most likely be one of the next singles from the album, and is the only one that comes close to the stadium rock status of “Break the Night with Colour”.

“Why do Lovers” is a funny track. No, not funny ha-ha, just funny-strange. It seems to be a ballad of sorts, with epic strings and melodic pianos, however it just doesn’t sound right, with bitter undertones of a guy who’s just be dumped. The wailing/moaning at the end seems altogether unnecessary too, but that’s just a personal preference.

Album closer “World keeps turning” seems to chronicle a self-proclaimed return to the top with such lyrics as “It’s been a long time since I’ve been around here,” and “All my blocks every night I try to figure out what’s wrong or right.” Whilst this is a relatively strong song in the album, it’s perhaps lost at the end of the album, with a distinctive end-of-film-credits-rolling feel to it, and some people would have probably given up around “Why Do Lovers” missing out on this, the third best song of the album.

Overall, a stronger showing from Ashcroft than his previous two albums, however still not as good as “Urban Hymns”. However, increasingly I think he won’t be able to match the spectacular epic-ness of that work, so this could be the best we hear from him.

 

New Pornographers – Twin Cinema

 
By on Thursday, 12th January 2006 at 1:00 am
 

A key feature on many of the “best of 2005” lists that have been doing the rounds recently was The New Pornographers new album, released last August. Their third outing improves significantly on their previous two efforts, 2002’s Mass Romantic and 2003’s Electric Version, providing a nice dollop of Canadian power-pop to add extra power to Canada’s exploding music scene.

Album opener “Twin Cinema” sets the theme for the rest of the album, being a good power-pop, with a memorable hook of “they’ve shown this on both screens”, and whilst not the best track of the album, is a quality song that is a great overview of the album: better put together than their 2003 effort, and musically a significant step on from their 2002 effort.

“Sing Me Spanish Techno” is quite possibly one of the most pop-tastic songs that A.C. Newman has crafted over the last three albums, and could propel the band into bigger and better things if they had more airplay. Combined with “Use It”, these are songs that are more pop-focussed than the Arcade Fire’s Funeral ever could be (exception is Rebellion (Lies)), and have a memorable catch, whilst being better musically and more original than the latest Kelly Clarkson / Girls Aloud offering. The lyrical insight of “Use it” is particularly interesting – “Two sips from the cup of human kindness and I’m shitfaced”, which whilst not radio-friendly, is more interesting than another “I love you” ballad, and combined with the frantic drumming that must have taken eight arms, is quite an amazing track.

“The Bleeding Heart Show” is one of music’s best kept secrets, a monster epic crammed into 4 and a half minutes of condensed drama and choir-sing alongs: the perfect show closers: a slow starter that builds momentum to the point you can imagine the theatres start crumbling under the strain of people jumping so much. The crescendo is reached at 2:40, when the Isicathamiya choir kick in, and coupled with Neko Case’s beautiful voice that is both unique and strong.

Pen-ultimate track, “Streets of Fire” is perfect for a late night camp-fire sing-along, with Neko’s voice complementing A.C. Newman’s fragile voice. It’s a beautiful track, almost a cast sing-along in a good family film.

The closer, “Stacked Crooked” is everything an album closer should be – a mellower track to the rest, but sends the listener off with a nice overview of the sound of the album, memorable and foot-tappingly good.

This album is, for me, one of the best albums of the last year, every track a winner, without a rubbish one or a bit of “filler”. All I can say is that I look forward to their next effort – this album hasn’t got anywhere near the recognition it should have done in my opinion, and if their next effort is better yet, it’ll be criminal. Go and buy it.

 
 
 

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There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

We love music that has its heart on its sleeve, tells a story, swims around our head all day or makes us dance like no-one's watching.

TGTF is edited by Mary Chang, who is based in Washington, DC. She is joined by writers in England, America and Ireland. It began as a UK music blog by Phil Singer in 2005.

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