Archive for November, 2011
At the tail end of 2011 we’re beginning to look back upon the highs and lows of the year that was. I won’t into the details here (we’ll save that for the impending 2011 wrap-up post) but I can decidedly say that one of the coolest things to come out of 2011 was The Alabama Shakes. They were the talk of the town for the most of the mid year and after being the most discussed unsigned artist of the 2011′s first half they’ll be heading into 2012 with a Rough Trade deal under their belt.
The Alabama Shakes – ‘On Your Way’
There’s southern blues guitar out the eyelids and a real original soul feel that most bands can only dream of capturing. The titanic vocals of Brittany Howard are the centrepiece on most tracks, rising, falling, swelling and peaking, constantly laden with believable emotion. I was going to polarise The Alabama Shakes with Jinja Safari but really, it’s time I laid off Jinja Safari, they’ve had their fill of my snarky comments. I don’t know, who else is a visuals band? You know the kind I mean, all about craziness, costumes, themes and catchphrases. There are bands like The Flaming Lips that have spent the last thirty years demonstrating that you can do both, but I’m thinking about that real vapid, taste of the present type of thing with the headdresses, the bedouin fashion sense etc. I don’t know where I’ve gone with this, what i’m really trying to say is that this is what The Alabama shakes aren’t.
You just have to watch the below clip of The Alabama Shakes playing in a little record store to realise that there’s very little affectation to what you’re hearing. Hear and purchase the rest of their EP on their bandcamp.
When Tommy asked me to write a few things for Sound Doctrine I was intrigued to say the least, and when I heard that my cut would be a full 50% of the $0.00 this weblog makes daily, I considered myself headhunted. However, feeling I’ll never be able to keep up with this guy on a new music front makes for some apprehension on my part. Out of respect for my most Jewish friend I still took the job, despite feeling somewhat like the blogger Carlton to his Fresh Prince, or the musical Haddock to his TinTin (which I’m seeing tomorrow – keen).
And thus without segue I give you Forest Mountain Hymnal, a pretty pleasant husband and wife duo that use a banjo and some voices to great effect on the folk standard (I’d never heard it) Buckeye Jim, below. It’s always a shame when a band’s best song is a cover and it’s possibly true in this case but their EP Fitcher’s Bird and Other Tales of the Macabreis worth a listen nonetheless, and shows a dedication to storytelling not often seen in today’s folk scene. I promise never to say scene again in my Sound Doc career.
Forest Mountain Hymnal – ‘Buckeye Jim’ [FREE MP3]
Purchase/Hear more at the Forest Mountain Hymnal Bandcamp
Last week/last night, depending on when I get round to posting this, I saw the movie Drive. It was the best film I’ve ever seen (this year), though hotly contested by Richard Ayoade’s Submarine. In short, Ryan Gosling (who I didn’t previously have much time for) is brilliant as the nameless protagonist in this black, Tarrantinesque (ish), noir (ish), crime thriller. Events suddenly spiral out of control mid way through the film and the ensuing graphic violence polarises the tense peacefulness of the film’s first half. I haven’t seen a similar treatment of dialogue in any film I’ve seen to date. I strongly, strongly recommend you see this movie.
I’m not here to review movies though, I’m here to
get paid share tunes. There’s an overarching 80s sensibility to Drive that’s evident in costume, car, cinematography but to point, in soundtrack. I’ve chosen a few of the most poignant tracks but even without their cinematic significance, these songs would be stand-alone awesome. Throw your hands up if you feel me.
This year was the year that we all got a hold of Smoke Ring For My Halo, the most recent album from Kurt Vile, and then smugly pretended we’d been tracking his career since 2008. “Yeah, Smoke Ring is cool”, we’d say, “but have you heard Childish Prodigy? No? Oh dude, you’ve gotta hear it, it’s waaaaaaay better, you can’t even imagine.”
Kurt Vile – ‘Blackberry Song’
Well, I haven’t even given Smoke Ring For My Halo a proper listen since I’m such a reactionary cat, but what I have listened to is his 2009 album Childish Prodigy, which they say is way better – you can’t even begin to understand. The album administers a healthy dose of 70s DIY psychadelia that would lend itself to a week long roadtrip. Sometimes inaudibly mumbled, other times yelped through stoner drawl, Vile’s lyrics are simple and picturesque, concrete enough to speak of real experience, broad enough that they’re not alienating. The record has such a strong sense of coherency that you really should listen to it through, start to finish. I’ve picked the most accessible song from the record, the beautiful ‘Blackberry Song’ for you to partake of in a quiet place at a quiet moment. Please buy this album. Do it for me but do it for you.
Sures were guaranteed a write up, mostly because Matt Hogan sings in a little band called Sleepyhands (and he’s a swell dude) but also because this track Poseidon draws a straight line from the Beachboys to the present via The Explorer’s Club. Big ol’ harmonies deepen up the effect heavy guitar line, which itself cuts free at the tail end of the track. Good things with a promise of better things from Sydney’s Sures.
Sures – ‘Poseidon’ [FREE MP3]