New albums: a hit and a maybe

Welcome to September. There are plenty of new albums out around this time of year, so as part of my civic duty I will now force my entirely subjective prose into your consciousness by giving you one pretty stellar new release…as well as warning you of one to avoid, thus leaving you with more pennies in your pocket and more time to sort out your pencil case, pack your bags for uni etc. Embrace this rare act of generosity, and feel free to fight your corner by commenting/emailing me via hannah [at]


American Goldwing – Blitzen Trapper (Sub Pop) – out Sept 12th

As much as I hate to paraphrase a press release, Blitzen Trapper’s Eric Earley proved that sometimes an artist’s own perception of their work needs little further analysis. Earley recently mused that “the earthiness of these songs will make you want to get loaded and get in a fight, or find a girl and fall in love forever, simultaneously” and it seems that Blitzen have achieved this feat, creating a multi-faceted rock album with appeal for both the lovers and the fighters. The sixth studio release from the Portland, Oregon-based quintet is a diverse collection which brings together classic country (complete with harmonicas and Dylan-style vocals) and twangy pop with more than a nod to Tom Petty. Squeezing decades of rock into a pulp of nostalgic americana, it’s compulsory listening in full for those who need an entry level country rock album. To everyone else: a few key downloads to mix and match – plus an obligatory Jack Daniels – is enough to get the idea without turning into a SXSW groupie. The idea being that this is the faux-vintage ‘record’ that works in the same way as your pre-grunged Abercrombie jeans – perfectly engineered with high production values to help you party like it’s 1971. Without any dust or broken LPs in sight.


Go and download: “Street Fighting Sun” – a forgotten White Stripes B-Side produced by Motorhead?! “Might Find It Cheap” – gutsy Western grooves permeated by a compulsive, stirring, ‘Gimme Shelter’-esque bassline. (Stream the album in it’s entirety here).


I’m With You – Red Hot Chili Peppers (Warner)

Red Hot Chili Peppers have survived a fair few changes throughout the years, but has John Frusciante’s latest departure irrevocably damaged the band? This writer would be inclined to think so. Oddly enough, the queasy didn’t-get-a-bike-for-Christmas brand of disappointment I felt on the first play of “I’m With You”was the same feeling I had when Stadium Arcadium landed five long years ago. That album did, admittedly, become a grower, but I’m not sure I’m With You will sustain my attention long enough so I can find out whether, like a fine wine, it will get better with age. Unfortunately – please do ignore my mixed metaphors and alcoholic analogies – fine wine is not supposed to be mixed with new blood. Josh Klinghoffer (he who sounds like a Smashing Pumpkin in Dot Hacker/Frusciante’s Ataxia contemporary) is a worthy musician, but his inclusion in the Chili roster is incongrous. He was just five when the band released their first album, and I fear that rather than continuing the band’s legacy alongside his ageing confreres he will be forced to imitate pal Frusciante for as long as possible in order to survive the murky waters of cult band land, where fans congregate on forums and ignite faceless vendettas at the mere mention of a lousy chord progression. I doubt that anyone will be chasing Josh with a torch in hand, however. Whereas Stadium Arcadium was a mix of concepts and styles (Frusciante seemingly paid homage to every guitarist he’d ever admired) tightly packed together in multiple tempos, and arranged over two planetary-named CDs with copious B-sides on a third, I’m With You is 14 safe and familiar failsafes with little deviation from by-numbers funk and Kiedis’ trademark weird lyricism. Rather than being an organisational mess like it’s predecessor, it’s a stylistic bore of idly peddled beats with little dimension. “Monarchy Of Roses” demonstrates this most pointedly – repetitive and nonsensical, but not in the genius way that characterised classics like The Zephyr Song. What was it I said earlier about surviving changes…one of the reasons why Jane’s Addiction’s Dave Navarro was able to replace John Frusciante in the mid 90s was his ability to reprise and reinterpret the groove as John himself had had to do at the beginning of his first dynasty (he was drafted in following the death of original RHCP guitarist Hillel Slovak).

New Kid On The Block: he might be lunching with the cool kids, but Josh Klinghoffer needs to bring more than a half-eaten ham sandwich if he wants to survive in a huge band like RHCP

Klinghoffer’s attempt is far from complacent, but whether he can stamp his mark on such an established outfit is indeterminable from this forgettable debut. “Annie Wants A Baby” is the nearest that the band gets to their “By The Way” glory, but overall it’s overproduced and predictable fare. In short, diehards will love “I’m With You” for those simple bedroom jam moments where Anthony and Flea reprise their usual roles, and those too young to remember Californication (e.g.: the profitable tween market) will treat it as a stepping stone into rock/a counterpoint to Bieber et al. Invariably, it will be a hit – I’ll just have to let you know whether I’m With You on that in due course.


Go and download: “Brendan’s Death Song” – Kiedis stands out on a touching tribute to a late friend. The only song with staying power on the album in my opinion. “The Adventures Of Rain Dance Maggie” – it’s not big and it’s not clever, but it is fun and the trippy title sounds like it’s been lifted from a Dr Seuss book.

Coming up this month: Bestival coverage (!!!) and more (gosh that sounds ominous)…

HJ x

Singles Apr/May + Royal Wedding

If I wasn’t boring I’d be at the Camden Crawl blogging with Vice, enjoying fringe events such as the Nightjar (voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch, Cumberbitches take note) and the film festival curated by Guillemots, as well as obviously listening to music from the likes of Tom Williams and The Boat, Little Comets and Beth Jeans Houghton. Except I’m cripplingly boring and my A Levels (officially) start this week.

Instead I’ll just churn out five of these babies:

“You never review new singles!” “Done” (Apr/May)

The Shoes – Cover Your Eyes (Crack My Bones LP released March, single TBC on Southern Fried)

Late night French radio is good for two things as far as I’m concerned. Besides the super-detailed meteo, sometimes a gem slips through the wireless with all the ease of a Parisian breeze. They’ve mixed for a menagerie of indie bands and had their music featured on Gossip Girl but that’s where the comparisons with serial remixers Justice, samplers Daft Punk and advert song duo Air respectively should end. As brilliant and French as those acts are, Cover Your Eyes is a brooding, dramatic slice of indie which leans more towards the pop than the electro. Seemingly taking its lead from Gaelic influences as well as British indie, its main hook and lyrics (e.g.: the “mathematics of a heart laid bare”) could have been plucked from 80s new romanticism…but how fresh it sounds. I think the whole album could be a winner, as long as I don’t hear “Cliche” on a cliche-d Toyota advert before 2016.


For fans of: Delphic, Zach Hill, Sebastien Tellier.

Japanese Voyeurs – Get Hole (was released 18th April on Fiction)

It’s not very often that I get ridiculously excited about a band who were formed before about 1997, or a band like Japanese Voyeurs who are possibly all talk. Question: is it possible to be a grunge band in 2011? Question: is it possible to have a pain-inducing riot grrrrl wail when the only Veruca Salt of your childhood probably courtesy of Roald Dahl? I’m going to stop asking questions because its ruining the crazy contrast between Exorcist-girl vocals and irregular Pantera-esque chords. Japanese Voyeurs aren’t Japanese but they’ve definitely been doing some voyeurism into Courtney Love’s back catalogue (is “Get Hole” actually a ridiculously obvious ref?!) … and, coupled with even more angry postmodernism, it works. Question: is this for real? Answer: I stopped caring after the first 30 seconds. Memo to Taylor Momsen: watch and learn from Romily Alice, Little J.


For fans of: the 90s, Rolo Tomassi.

The Sound of Arrows – Nova (was released 25th April on Geffen)

Winner of the most self-indulgent video ever award (they made it themselves), this is most certainly a guilty pleasure from the Swedish pair. This is Basshunter and MGMT collaborating at a party hosted by a porn baron, and it fails to conjure up the 80s vibe of Hurts because its a join-the-dots attempt at mainstream electronica with a homoerotic vid I think was intended to go viral. Controversial its really not, however it is strangely compulsive thanks to their Scandinavian pronunciation and predictable themes of stalking (“I’ll never stop following you”). The Top comments on the video sum it up…at the tenth play, I think I have Stockholm Syndrome.


For fans of: Saint Etienne, Pet Shop Boys, The Teenagers

Barbara Panther – Empire (Album to be released 16th May on City Slang)

Barbara Panther is a Rwandan singer from Brussels via Berlin, mixing potent electronic beats with poetically gothic lyrics, however because she is black she will ultimately draw superficial comparisons with that other black electronic pop singer, Santigold. I personally think any such comparisons would be a waste of time…Barbara Panther sounds like she’d be far more at home among the 70s and 80s artists on my favourite leftfield compilation ever, Disco Not Disco from Strut (which I’m lucky enough to own in physical form). She is vintage and trance-like without wearing her influences too obviously. The Lom remix of Empire deconstructs and reassembles this colonialist anthem (just kidding) with ease, and it is possibly better than the (utterly crazy) original.


For fans of: Flykkiller, Bjork, Summer Camp

Frankmusik – Do It In The AM (released May 3rd on Cherrytree/Interscope)

Club 18-30 choon which is the wrong side of electronic. Frankmusik’s polished-up vocals plus an appearance from Far East Movement (“who?” I hear you cry) can’t save this turgid cross between an X Factor winner’s third single and the theme tune of a BBC3 documentary on safe sex. Do it the morning kids, in the AM, before your parents find out or you fail your GCSEs! Oh, how the (relatively) mighty have fallen. On the subject of this vacuous piece of Americana, Mr Frank told some kind of Far East Movement fansite that “this new record has got a bit more finesse to it”, which I’m assuming he thinks is the French word for overproduced.  “I’ve finessed the songwriting, the songs are a lot more punchy”, he continued, before defensively adding that his critics could “suck a dick”. FYI that would be in the PM because the AM is far too jam packed with bitches and hoes and Facetime with the lads back in East London. Pitbull circa 2009 he ain’t.


For fans of: Rohypnol

Got me feeling like a royalist…or not

Watch!! There are royalists and republicans alike in VBS’ latest production Rule Britannia: Royal Wedding. I loved the wedding myself (softy at heart), as well as tat like this  , but this vid shows the crazy extremism of some and the anger at what is seemingly a symbol of conspicuous consumption by the firm during crazy austerity era 101, as well as the view from the Kings Road and the set of a porn film which really does have the crown jewels. Another great doc which explores the politically sensitive relationship from the point of view of the great unwashed and beyond – some royalists, others ready to burn the palace.

*For what its worth, I love them, and genuinely wouldn’t have had any objection to them shredding quantitively-eased money into beautiful confetti and endless rainbows.

HJ x