Oh dear me I’ve got *so* behind here… Jan-March I’ll have to write off as a lost cause…
So – before we get into June here are April’s purchases!
Ed Harcourt – Back Into The Woods
Ed Harcourt is definitely on the Rufus Wainwright singer-songwriter axis. Back Into The Woods is very stripped back low-key affair, rather an about face after the lush arrangements of Lustre. There’s certainly an intimacy to the record, which works best with the simple piano arrangements, but it teeters on the brink of aural wallpaper. Pleasant enough, but doesn’t demand your attention.
Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark – English Electric
The sound of the 80s has never been more popular, so it shouldn’t be a surprise to see the originals re-appearing to prove they can still have something to offer. OMD always struck me as one of the second-league of 80s electronic bands and while McClusky and co do have a way with a tune, they never really struck gold in the way bands like The Human League did. Sonically the here and now fuses perfectly with the 80s synths but I can’t help thinking that the actual song-writing is just re-treading past glories.
The Phoenix Foundation – Fandango
While The Phoenix Foundation are well established in their native New Zealand they only started to be known in the UK with the release of 2011’s wonderful Buffalo. Fandango is a fairly sprawling affair, most of the tracks clock in at over 5 minutes, with a languorous feel. It doesn’t, however, feel over-long or in desperate need of editing which is no mean feat for an album that finishes with a 20 minute track!
Serafina Steer – The Moths Are Real
I picked up this album after hearing a session she did for Lauren Laverne on 6 Music (you may have noticed this is a common thread). With Serafina being a harp player it would be easy to package her into a similar box as Florence Welch or Joanna Newsom. While comparison with the latter has a certain justification there is a definite influence from dance music (most obvious on Disco Compilation) that, along with the kitchen sink lyrics, gives a twist to the delicate folk sounds that dominate and saves it from veering into twee-ness.
Karl Bartos – Off The Record
Imagine Kraftwerk in a gay club circa 1988 and you’ll have a pretty good idea of what this album sounds like! Camp in that way that only a very earnest German could be!
Neon Neon – Praxis Makes Perfect
It wouldn’t have surprised anyone if Stainless Style had been a one off – a wonderful Delorean influenced 80s throwback from Gruff Rhys and Bryan Hollon. Fortunately for us it wasn’t and this full-on concept album (a biopic about Italian leftist Giangiacomo Feltrinelli) is great stuff. While there is nothing quite as shimmeringly-wonderful as ‘I Lust You’ and the biographical element is probably only evident to those in the know Praxis Makes Perfect is a more cohesive affair than its predecessor with a definite Italio tinge running through it.
The Knife – Shaking The Habitual
Quite a difficult listen this one – especially given that I’m more familiar with The Knife of Deeper Cuts – but I’ve no doubt it is worth persevering with…