ALT-ROCK ATLAS SOUND Parallax (4AD) ●●●●●
The term ‘side-project’ somehow doesn’t do justice to Atlas Sound, the title under which the prolific Bradford Cox operates as a solo artist when he’s not doing his squally noise rock thing with Deerhunter. The Athens, Georgia based multi-instrumentalist’s third and best solo album to date has moments crazily brilliant enough to nudge even Deerhunter’s finest – and there are many of them – into the margins. Outwardly Cox is your typical awkward misfit guy making tunes to sooth a troubled soul. But however much he might shyly dial-down the vocals and shroud himself in dreamy synth, at heart he’s a pop classicist who writes platinum melodies – ‘My Angel Is Broken’ could be glam-era Bowie with Berlin-era production; on ‘Mona Lisa’, Parallax’s, ahem, masterpiece, he comes across like an early solo period John Lennon on a shoestring budget. (Malcolm Jack) ■ For a free download of the album track ‘Terra Incognita’ go to 4ad.com/parallax.
COUNTRY ROCK WHITE DENIM Last Day Of Summer (Downtown) ●●●●●
This is a fascinating insight into what White Denim were knocking out for fun before this year’s breakthrough; the deservedly lauded fourth album D. Recorded in a month and initially available only online, this sonic free-for-all (and its first physical release) finds the Texan quartet experimenting with R&B and jazz. They sound free and frolicsome, as freeform sax interludes rub up against scratchy soloing, rootin’ tootin’ country twangs and beautiful woozy acoustic ditties all driven by skittering rhythms which propel the music in a variety of different directions, often within the same song. A stripped down snapshot of a band in transition and proof (as if we needed it by now!) of the awe- inspiring musicianship that drives White Denim. (Camilla Pia)
FOLK RECORDINGS VARIOUS ARTISTS Whaur the Pig Gaed On The Spree (Drag City) ●●●●● In the summer of 1951 Alan Lomax made his first song collecting tour of Scotland, aided by the great Scottish poet and folklorist Hamish Henderson. Drawn from those recordings, this Alasdair Roberts- curated compilation does a superb job of capturing what he describes as ‘the passion, rawness, command. . . and uniqueness of style’ of great singers like Jeannie Robertson and Mary Cosgrove. In their hands, ‘The Deadly Wars are Blast and Blawn’ and ‘The Collier Lad’ are stark and deeply moving. Elsewhere are magnificent fiddle and pipe tunes, bawdy ballads, and the unfettered joy of Aberdeen schoolchildren’s playground rhymes. None of these sound like museum pieces: they are full of life, a testament to the human spirit. (Stewart Smith)
POST-PUNK/GARAGE/SHOEGAZE ODONIS ODONIS Hollandaze (FatCat) ●●●●● PUNK-POP JOHNNY FOREIGNER Johnny Foreigner vs Everything (Alcopop!) ●●●●●
ART-POP KATE BUSH 50 Words for Snow (Fish People/EMI) ●●●●●
SCOTTISH NOISE VARIOUS Songs For Dying (Pjorn 72) ●●●●●
Toronto’s Odonis Odonis – the solo project turned full live band of Dean Tzenos – join a swathe of other US artists presently mining the trashy, scuzzy, fuzz-and-feedback-as-bliss end of post-punk and its derivatives from the comfort of home studios. Think Wavves, Ringo Deathstarr, Vivian Girls and a bunch of others.
It’s third-hand Jesus and Mary Chain (‘Busted Lip’), Big Black (White Flag Riot) and MBV-isms (‘Seedgazer’) galore, but with enough nasty, noisy hooks for Hollandaze’s inherent paucity of originality not to get in the way a whacked-out good time. A second ‘less distorted’ album due in the spring may present a better measure of Tzenos’ songwriting, until then this is a pretty auspicious introduction. (Malcolm Jack)
Ludicrously long song titles did no harm to the late Mclusky and Biffy Clyro, and Birmingham’s ‘JoFo’ attempt a similar route to notoriety with ‘If I’m the Most Famous Boy You’ve Fucked, Then Honey, Yr in Trouble’ and other popular hits. Unfortunately, the music isn’t so
imaginative, but the trio’s combination of bright-eyed punk- pop anthems, toytown post-punk and wistful emo ballads is delivered with a bit of heart and a truly winning boy-girl vocal combination in Alexei Barrow and Kelly Southern. It’s at its best on the perfectly anachronistic alternative folk of ‘Doesn’t Believe in Angels’ and ‘Alternate Timelines Piling Up’, although 17 tracks suggests an emphasis on quantity over quality. (David Pollock)
In a burst of prolificacy unmatched since her 1978 debut year Kate Bush makes two new albums in 2011, raising her total for the last 18 years to a whopping three. Where Director’s Cut saw her reinterpret old songs, 50 Words For Snow is all new material; reassuring patient fans that the famous recluse remains both a genius and certifiable loon. It’s the sensual, seductive Bush we get on this wintery, piano-led slow-burner. ‘Wild Man’ makes oddly sexy listening with whispers about yetis; elsewhere she duets smoulderingly with Elton John. The fantastic, weird title track – Stephen Fry lists 50 words for snow like they’re aphrodisiac desserts – is easily the best song ever to contain the word ‘falupanjumpala’. (Malcolm Jack)
The local Noiserati and associates’ recent reclaiming of their techno and/or metal roots helped their clan avoid a nihilistic dead end. As this bumper fifteen track compendium of clings, clangs, sci-fi slapstick, sepulchral drones, lysergic loveliness, ghosts in the machine, anthropological excavations and other light and shade metal machine music suggests, things remain in the blartiest of health. Nackt Insecten, Blood Stereo, Jazzfinger, Culver, Dead Labour Process, UFO Antler Band and others produce an array of increasingly subtle, artfully mature and largely low-key meditations. All oddly life-affirming, even as it sometimes trips the shit out of you. (Neil Cooper)
88 THE LIST 17 Nov–15 Dec 2011