The first Monday of the month and you all have a few bucks in the pocket post payday. So obviously the first question on your minds is what album I should go out and buy this lunch time.
Well fear not dear readers for the Monday Music Review is back to guide you through the minefield of this week's album releases, picking only the cream of the crop (and those we could get our hands on) to assist you with this most tricky of decisions.
The Subways - Young For Eternity
First up is indie pop's latest grand couple. Charlotte Cooper (Bass/Vocals) and Billy Lunn (Guitar/Vocals) of The Subways first came to public attention as the winners of the Glastonbury new bands competition last year. Unfortunately this year they were denied their Friday opening slot as someone in the field had made God very angry indeed who smote the Pyramid Stage with all his might. Still we hope it's nothing personal since the star crossed young lover supported by Billy's younger brother Josh Morgan (Drums) have delivered a fine bouncy perky brash piece of punky pop that should hopefully see them in a more forgiving slot in 2 years time.
Young For Eternity rolls along in flurry of simple, sparse driven tunes that fuses the punky aggression of The Vines or Nirvana with the early Oasis way of writing a damn fine pop tune and knowing it. We're surprised no one's yet labelled them as the new Ash. Everything bounces along with a youthful joy, devoid of cynical teenage angst, full of hope and dare we say it slightly soppy.
Opening with an urgent acoustic strum Billy's voice has a certain Gallagher-esque edge to it and he seems eager to crash the guitars in as soon as possible crunching over a tribal beat. Holiday picks up the pace with a jumpy dash through Green Day guitar lines and that ever present Oasis blast of confidence. Rock & Roll Queen harkens back to Nirvana's aggression filtered through a Brit Pop filter, Billy worshiping at his missus's feet.
Young For Eternity follows in a similar vein, crashing thrashing guitars and has us bouncing around the room looking for the nearest tennis racket, or failing that a decent sized mosh pit. We are of course denied but hope is at hand with Oh Yeah which if there is any justice in the world will one day spend half a life time at number one and will cause frantic dancing amongst the unsuspecting teenagers of the world. And so it crashes on fired by some unknown danceable rocket fuel, raucous, noisy and yet utterly infectious. None of this is breaking any rules of originality but it's hard to fault something that's so damn entertaining and outright FUN. No Goodbyes somehow manages to splice the spirit of The Beatles, Dexys and Dodgy and still sound utterly brilliant. Only She Sun breaks the party with a semi Wonderwall on mogadon feel to it and although Somewhere with it's slightly trippy Dandy Warhols doing Sabbath grunge rumble ends the album on a darker note it's also a sign that there's more waiting in The Subways arsenal to delight and surprise in equal measures.
All Hail the young ones.
Album of the week? Not 'alf, but just in case you don't believe us it's here
Sufjan Stevens - Come On Feel The Illinoise
Sufjan Stevens has a plan to record a 50 album cycle. One for everyone of the mainland US States, each one musically representing the feel and history of the state. Illinoise is only the second. And yet somehow the task doesn't seem to daunt this horribly talented Michigan born multi instrumentalist who has created 22 tracks of astonishing beauty, complexity, harmony and good ol' fashioned good feeling. Curse you Mr Stevens and you ability to reduce noisy Londonist to a sobbing heap of smiles.
In rejecting the stripped back banjo sound of the excellent Seven Swans and bringing in full orchestration he's created an invigoratingly joyful sound that drinks from the same well as that other bunch of loveable loons, The Polyphonic Spree. We defy anyone to listen to Chicago and not want to tear your clothes off and run naked through the streets kissing complete strangers. Wonderful isn't the word.
Even the more gentle tunes such as Casimir Pulaski Day have the same mellow beauty of Eels. Sometime the songs are so fragile that they break your heart just wondering how they exist and yet at the same time they still fill you full of joy. Occasionally they shimmer like spring rain whilst threatening to break into some full blown musical number, (To The Workers of the Rock River Valley Region, I Have An Idea Concerning Your Predicament, even the titles are wonderful), or throw in some rocking guitars besides a layered choir who you sense were dancing their arses off in the studio, (The Man of METROPOLIS Steals Our Hearts).
It's well over an hour long and is going to take multiple listens to find your favourite tracks, as each one brings new pleasures. Dischordant strings, a touch of funk, haunting pastoral voices, classical piano, jazz trumpets, a touch of gospel infused rag time all jostle shoulder to shoulder with each other as ideas spill everywhere, without a chance to look at the lyrics it's apparent that these stories and history lessons didn't just fall out of thin air. What amazes is the sheer damn scale of it all, so that it often sounds like a film soundtrack for a collection of new wave and avant garde directors rather than a pop album.
You know what, we love this thing so damn much we're going to give it Album Of The Week as well and you can find out why here.
Hard-Fi - Stars of CCTV
Move over Ali G, the new Staines massive is here and it looks as if they've already clocked up more airtime on Channel 4 than you did. They're the new darlings of the indie press (NME) this week and last time Londonist encountered Hard Fi we ran like hell. Luckily this time round we're a little more forgiving. But only just.
Cash Machine kicks off proceedings with an electro post punk riff that if might just be what happens if Howard Jones and Bloc Party were fused in a Brundlepod.
Tied Up Too Tight is built on a cast off Paranoid Android riff and a piano playing London Calling. It's the kind of thing that the Beeb use over shots of suburban waste land. Gotta Reason might have been written whilst listening to Blur's Crazy Beat and a couple of Coxon's solo albums. Hard To Beat is a little dreary coming off as a bad jam covers band that haven't quite injected enough soul into the proceedings to rise above being a council block Athlete.
With Unnecessary Trouble introducing a little funk shrug into proceedings but it's hardly the new summer of ska or whatever the hell we're meant to be experiencing this year. Move On Now sits on another Thom Yorke piano line and Pyramid Song didn't exactly fill you full of joy now did it? It takes Better Do Better to inject a little much needed dance hall shuffle that opens out into a big rock chorus that would indicate Hard-Fi have their eyes on bigger stages. There's definitely more to them than just the Specials / Clash thing that's been cast about a little too much for our liking, although both are present. There's not as much Jam as we first suffered and the band even occasionally touch on some more old school pop with the occasional echo of Roxy Music.
What separates Hard-Fi from The Subways is that Hard-Fi are writing from the suburbs, the sound of bored and disaffected youth (Feltham Is Singing Out) and in doing so there's a tendency for the sound to be a little too sludgy (Living For The Weekend). You can dance to it but you also feel like you should be spending the day hanging out at a mall trying to smuggle in your hoody. After the happy-go-lucky thrashing of The Subways you just want to scream at the band: Lighten up you miserable fuckers you're in a rock'n'roll band fer chrissakes.
See if you disagree with us here
Also released this week
Royksopp - The Understanding
The Offspring - Greatest Hits
CKY - An Answer Can Be Found
Missy Elliott - The Cookbook