5th May, 2007

Music Monthlies: May 2007 - Bumper Spring Issue!

Everyone’s least favourite irregular regular column is back, by popular demand (well, several emails and a few CDs through the post). Yes, after a hiatus of some months due to over-work, family woes and all manner of stress, I’ve dragged my Music Monthlies back into the slimelight, kickstarting a Summer of wearing my musical discovery on my mucky sleeve. I’ve quite a backlog, so get a pot of tea on and settle in. Oh, your lucky ears…

Album of the Month

Despite big, big albums from the heavyweights in recent weeks, my unchallenged album of the month has to be Colour It In from The Maccabees. They’re posh boys, with names like Rupert, Hugo and Orlando, but I’d adored their First Love single that came out last year (if you try it, stick with it until it really gets going, then play it again, three times). It grew on me like fungus on a spent tea bag. I think it is the combination of lead singer Orlando’s wobbly voice, the spikey guitars and the lyrics such as “first love, lost love, it’s only love…”, “lets get married, and tick the boxes” and “nothing’s perfect, so I’m hoping I’ll do”.

It’s all dead fragile lyrically, but ballsy musically. The album is really consistent, with crackers like Latchmere (about a swimming pool), About Your Dress and Precious Time. Highly addictive, so long as you like the singer’s unique vocal style and don’t mind a bit more “indie”. Oh, and it was only a fiver on iTunes.

Nearly Albums of the Month

One of the best, most exciting bands this country has ever produced are back. The Arctic Monkeys released second album Favourite Worst Nightmare last week. Regular timewasters/readers will be more than aware of my love for these scamps, stretching right back to when my friend Mr. Rudkin first played their demos in the Agenzia office back in May 2005. Whilst not as instantly “bloody hell” as their debut album, it is a corker, and Flourescent Adolescent will probably be a future No.1 as it has a catchy refrain that will please Mums and Dads alike. First single Brianstorm didn’t float my boat for weeks, but now it is regularly used to scare the cat during office hours, it being blisteringly full-on and a tad spooky-sounding. As usual with the Arctic Monkeys, the album artwork is awful.

Northern cheeky men Maximo Park also got past the second album trickiness with Our Earthly Pleasures. Again, the album hasn’t set me alight yet, but I’m enjoying it daily. best track is still the mighty Our Velocity which features a couple of “bomb going off” bits that I like so much in my music.

Almost AOTM was Because Of The Times from Kings Of Leon, a band I either really like or really dislike at any one time, oddly. I’ve kind of always felt sorry for them since I saw them at Glastonbury in front of 70,000 people, where they were only to quick to shakily explain that they were “shitting” themselves. Anyway, this album is ace, and right back on form, and has a cat-startle factor of 10. That means that it is really fucking loud.

Best thing I’ve discovered late

Camera Obscura released Lets Get Out Of This Country last year, but it has only recently appeared on my radar after I got into Motown-esque single If Looks Could Kill. This album is wonderful in a Belle & Sebastian kind of way, in that it is quite fey and features Scottish people. Top tracks include slowies Country Mile and Tears For Affairs, and more up-tempo bits arrive in Lloyd, I’m Ready To Be Heartbroken which may or may not be about web standards advocate Ian Lloyd.

Worthy mentions

OK, this article is getting long, so here are a few more I’d recommend right now.

The Arcade Fire took a while to excite me this time around but they now have with Neon Bible. Modest Mouse (plus added Johnny Marr) pricked my interest with We Were Dead Before The Ship Even Sank. Blonde Redhead newie 23 is a real grower and worth a chance, as is The National‘s dour but lovely Boxer. Last but not least the not that recent Gruff Rhys album Candylion is tiding me over until we get a new SFA album in a month or three.

Stuff to look forward to with your ears

Bjork always interests me, and I tend to buy everything she does, so Volta should be a fine assemblage of noises if the new single Earth Intruders is anything to go by. I’ve also been lucky enough to hear the new Manic Street Preachers album Send Away The Tigers, which sadly doesn’t quite echo the angst and downright vitriol of Generation Terrorists or The Holy Bible, but it does feature two fantastic tunes about Iraq and some real angry stuff that all Manics fans always want. The album really gets going half-way through and is a decent return to form (although I personally did like Know Your Enemy but everyone slags that off, probably because it is cool to, or something).

Cover of the month

Quick one then. This month’s amazing cover that everyone should hear once is quite old, but I only discovered it recently. Shoegazy indie collective This Mortal Coil did a cover of the famous Tim (father of Jeff) Buckley Song To The Siren some time back, and it is simply the most beautiful, haunting thing ever. Sounds a bit like something off the Gladiator soundtrack, which is probably because the lady singing it went on to do that soundtrack, so that’s that.

This month’s Guilty Pleasure

Queen . Yes, Queen. I know, I know. But dear reader, I urge you to put aside thoughts of that moustache, latex pants and bloody Live Aid, and give Great King Rat from their very first album back in 1973 a really loud try. I was into Queen when I was ten, and loved everything up to Radio Bloody Ga-Ga, and this was a fave back then. It doesn’t actually sound like Queen (which is good) and actually sounds more like Led Zep. Fast, bollocks-out rock with hints of Flamenco guitar and some gorgeous changes of pace, it’s a nasty classic that doesn’t deserve to be unknown nor resented just because it is by the Village People of Rock. Cat-startle rating of 100.

Live and vids

Oh man, this article is really long now. OK, if you like Elbow then check out these YouToob vids for Leaders Of The Free World and Great Expectations. Also, don’t forget the exhaustive free concerts over at Fab Channel, especially excellent I Am Kloot and CSS gigs.

Finally, one to make the ears bleed

Mark Ronson has made an album called (pretentiously) Version, which BBC 6Music is hammering, and his face is all over the London underground. Although a very talented producer and DJ, I’m not sure who told him that covering classic songs by The Smiths, Radiohead and The Charlatans would be in some way within his ability. Still, it’s a free world, and he “owns” these records in his heart as much as I do.

Quite frankly, that Robbie Williams is even allowed to cover The Charlatan’s The Only One I know makes me want to have all children put humanely to sleep before they can grow up to understand the brutal and senseless world in which we live. Anyway, the album is selling in it’s tens of thousands, so good luck to the chap.

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