Jamie Woon makes use of the same minimalist aesthetic that has seen the rise of James Blake and has catapulted The xx to success in 2010. A Burial remix of “Night Air” only served to earn himself another stripe. It’s meant that there’s been no end of hype and his name being repeated on ‘Sound of 2011’ lists, but for every in-depth and enthusiastic article on this Brit School graduate there’s one scornful naysayer who’s critical of this exact qualification.
His debut effort ‘Mirrorwriting’ has been three years in the making and a lifetime in writing and recording. He has clearly paid attention to the details and simplicity that encompasses Burial’s work. Whereas Burial uses fresh beats to create an ambient and chilled soundscape to accompany an urban backdrop, Woon gives an album that offers subtlety without being withholding, enough emotion without being too earnest. Another notable difference between is that Jamie’s voice is framed front and centre throughout the album; tracks like “Shoulda” give the sort of minimalist serenity that would flowed quite well on The xx’s debut.
Yet tracks like “Lady Luck” is reminiscent of a slick r’n’b number; the sort you’d find on Justin Timberlake’s sophomore effort ‘Future Sex Love Sounds’. “Spirits” is another stand-out track; soulful crooning by Jamie as well as the sort of big beat (thats the sound not the sub-genre) production one would expect from Timbaland. ‘Gravity’ is a beautiful album-closer and takes things down to an even more chilled notch and accompanied by a soft acoustic guitar, it’s a track to unwind to.
Woon’s got soul, there’s no doubt about it. Stood up next to his contemporaries his sound is a lot more accessible.
It comes down to matter of preference, there’s enough here for the post-dubstep fan but it too often borders in territory thats not to my taste, hence the score has been dragged down. Which is a real shame as you can see the potential of Jamie Woon here, you really can. There’s moments of brilliance throughout just not enough to keep me coming for more listens.
It’s almost to easy to over-analyse a band these days. Fret over the reverbs, contours, effects pedals and whether it’s good to riff too much on an open string. Sometimes it’s good to just collapse after a long day at work or from propping up the bar (it can happen) and simply kick back and let the music wash over you and take it for what it is.
Sure TV On The Radio have shown stretched their musical palette from their EP, debut to their last record to their side projects – Maximum Balloon and Rain Machine – as well as twiddling the knobs behind the scenes for the Yeah Yeah Yeahs; they have proven they don’t exactly rest on their laurels but push boundaries and stretch themselves creatively but these guys are fun, if you just listen for enjoyment (just the once Madame/Mr. Hipster – go on I dare you), the groove is definitely there.
‘Nine Types Of Light’ has to be their most fun party themed album to date “Second Song” is reminiscent of Prince, themes of weather and dancing are all undercurrents but its the slow burning 80s synths that really showcase this particular influence, but then the familiar TV groove is unveiled and they immediately come into their own. “Repetition” is a fine example of brilliant wordplay and clever lyricwriting “What’s the matter with your next door enighbour?/I heard he ha sex, drugs and danger?”, they’ve lost none of their charm or early twenties nostalgia. “Caffeinated Consciousness” is when the album really reveals it’s charm and the funk kicks in.
This is an album that will make the shoegazers listen and lose control in typical ‘happy feet’ fashion.
For those who are looking for a a satirical James Murphy fix now that he has has called time on LCD Soundsystem then you can look no further than this, but even then that would be too much over-analysing; a slow burner which evolves into a marvellous summer party romp.
By now most of you will have heard “White Limo” and “Rope”. Both songs being very different from other; “Rope” is you standard beer-chugging, hands in the air, fist-pummelling each other stadium-rock anthem whilst “White Limo” is probably the heaviest I have ever heard of the Foos.
It’s also worth clearing the reunions on this album. All merely coincidence and in danger of completely overshadowing release of this album; Pat Smear is now fully at the helm, Butch Vig who produced Nirvana’s ‘Nevermind’ is at the reigns this time, Krist Novoselic plays accordion and bass on “I Should Have Known”, and it has been twenty years since the release of ‘Nevermind’. But “I Should Have Known” is not about addressing the pink elephant in the room; it is not about Kurt’s suicide.
The geek in me was excited when I heard that the Foos would be returning back to basics for their new record. Recording straight to tape, working from analogue and recording in their garage. They’ve ticked every single box in their fifteen year career including a double album that was stretched pretty thin in places to be honest, so their last album left me wondering where could they possibly go from there; do they record and ‘Echoes…pt. 2’ or do they pursue in covering new (ish) territory and take their formula and turn it on its head.
The answer, I’m pleased to say, is the latter. Hanging out with Joshua Homme has clearly given Grohl a new lease of energy and creativity; I’ve always been a fan of the heavier Foos tracks (like Low and Have It All) and it seems they explore these avenues on this album, “Bridge Burning” has to be the album opener of the year with its gutsy riffs and drum rolls that will no doubt get all the kids jumping like loons at Milton Keynes bowl later on this year. Another notable example is “Dear Rosemary” where Nirvana and Foo Fighters influences are fully addressed by duetting with Husker-Du/Sugar icon Bob Mould; heavy in emotion and conveys a rawness never felt on previous work but carries enough restraint to truly showcase its warmth and beauty without feeling repetitive or cheesey.
“Arlandria” kicks in with a familiar groove and subtlety with its rhythm and throbbing bassline that wouldn’t feel too out of place on a Queens Of The Stone Age album, definite favourite here for obvious reasons.
This album benefits from painstaking production. A lot of time and care has gone into making this album sound good. It really is a disservice to listen to it on shitty laptop speakers, it has to be listened cranked to 11 on the your stereo speakers, you can hear the fretboard buzz, fingertips brushing strings, before the guitars cascade over you, without ever having the essence of a wall of sound scape like Muse. It feels like a friendship that was at a crossroads, what you fell in love with is still there but what has successfully worked has been turned into something fresh to engage old hardcore fans and to attract new listeners. The formula for good old fashioned rock anthems is still there and less cookie-cutter-y but this time with an omnipresent harder and faster delivery and this benefits all the more from it.
Mirror and Ego
Three names, constantly associated with each other due to remixes etc etc. But a song they have collaborated on a 12″? It sounds too good to be true, non? But no it’s true, you can find it online – I’m not sure if you can get physical copies as they were released last Thursday and limited to a 1000, but here have a listen:
These are amazing. so for those of you who were waiting on William Bevan a.k.a. Burial to release some stuff this year, then I’m sure this will satisfy your tastebuds ’till then.
My friend who works at King’s has blogged about her most recently played on her iPod so I thought I’d do the same…
Feel free to judge:
1. Going to California – Led Zepplelin
2. Distant Lights – Burial
3. Stairway to Heaven – Led Zeppelin
4. Not in Love (Album Version) – Crystal Castles
5. Dismantle Me – The Distillers
6. Ghosts (Toxic Avenger Mix) – Ladytron
7. Solar System – Crystal Fighters
8. Beautiful Trash – Lanu
9. Best in the Class (Soulwax Remix) – Late of the Pier & Soulwax
10. Thou Shalt Always Kill (De La Soul Remix) – dan le sac Vs Scroobius Pip
11. Headlights Look Like Diamonds – Arcade Fire
12. Bring the Light – Beady Eye
13. Bubbles – Biffy Clyro
14. Sinister Kid – The Black Keys
15. Yeyo – The Bloody Beetroots
16. Galvanize – The Chemical Brothers
17. Moar Ghosts ‘n’ Stuff – Deadmau5
18. Some Chords – Deadmau5
19. Desire Lines – Deerhunter
20. Traynor – Dinosuar Pile-Up
21. Building Steam with a Grain of Salt – DJ Shadow
22. Kill The Music – Every Time I Die
23. Dan’s Song – Frank Turner
24. Here’s Looking At You, Kid – The Gaslight Anthem
25. Dare – Gorillaz
After their triumphant release yesterday, of their third album “Last Night on Earth” Charlie Fink and co. took to the stage at Rough Trade East in Brick Lane, London and performed to a packed venue.
They kicked things off with not a moment to spare with album opener “Tonight’s the Kind of Night”, which had me bopping along like a pop-loving loon.
They then kindly gave us “Blue Skies”. Taken from their break-up themed second set (surprisingly Laura Marling was nowhere to be seen), it was played with a new passion, almost comparingly in the same vein from anything you may hear from “LNOE” – new life, moving on; that kind of lease of energy. This song of the set is interesting, as it’s a pointer to how far this band have progressed in recent years in terms of, dare I say it, their change in sound.
The rest of the set was peppered with gems like “Life Is Life” which according to the band is “the closest they’ll ever come to writing a hip-hop track and “5 Years Time”.
They finsihed of the night’s proceedings with “L.I.F.E.G.O.E.S.O.N” which in case you haven’t heard, is very much a Lou Reed inspired number. In went a down a storm with the crowd, which is a given as most set-closers do go down well.
One thing that struck me throughout the whole gig was how transfixed everyone was in the audience, short a few head-bops here and there everyone was in awe. Which is rare these days, as usually gigs can be destroyed by inconsiderate goons slopping red stripe everywhere, shoegazers, camera ‘hores, and unnecessary shoving. But this was a dream; probably one of the most intense gigs just for this reason.