After telling you what our favourite gigs and tracks of the year so far are, it’s now time for our favourite albums. Such a mixed bag…
Grammatics – Grammatics
Tired of the sparse, post-punk inspired music scene of mid 00s Yorkshire, Grammatics formed to bring the depth and scope back to our ears. And with the debut LP Grammatics, they succeeded. Owen Brinley’s mournful, high-registered voice, twisting from plaintive murmur to throat-shredding roar often in the space of the same song, is aided by backing vocal coos, ricocheting drums, bone-crushing fuzz bass, crunchy vintage synths, weeping cello, cavernous, twisting guitars and a thick, crackling layer of radio static. Quite a repertoire. Of course, all of that instrumentation would be useless if the quality of the songs didn’t match up, and this is where Grammatics truly shines; the band’s impressive ear for melody creates barbed hooks that are positively viral, and their mastery of dynamics takes you on one hell of a trip. And although it’s very difficult to figure out what exactly Brinley is going on about, his tales of tragic females and otherworldly landscapes is a transcendental one entirely their own.
Soap and Skin
Soap and Skin – Lovetune For Vacuum
Let’s get it out of the way first, because I’m hoping you will be fed up of hearing this part of the story. Anja Plaschg, 19, grew up on a pig farm in an Austrian village and can “answer and reflect on what Soap and Skin is” (i.e. it’s a method to distance herself from her onstage persona.). The album, is haunting, melancholic and bruised, and dominated by her piano work – it’s augmented by the occasional string, electronic beats (which do seem to click and burr up out of nowhere) and on ‘Extinguish Me’, an accordion. An album it reminded me of is Nico’s Desertshore and there are elements of John Cale and even Antony and The Johnsons to it. There’s a lot billowing around beneath it but it’s not as dark a record as her fragile demeanour suggests; with the clank and click of ‘Turbine Womb’ offsetting the piano, there’s shades of mid-1990s Björk there as well.
Future Of The Left
Future of the Left – Travels With Myself And Another
Curses was a great debut album filled with catchy, memorable slices of witty, riffy rock. What it did lack though, was longevity. A few tracks were maybe too simple and a few song mechanics were repeated across the LP. Travels With Myself And Another takes the best bits of said debut and deftly nudges the quality knob up a couple of levels. Each song feels rich, despite still being immediate, catchy and simple. Andy Falkous’s barbed tongue spits out darkly comic rants on topics such as shoddy music venue chains and the shame of using plastic cutlery. The music is propelled along by Kelson Mathias’s thick, groovesome bass lines, some feeling almost tangible, like kids skipping giant lengths of chewy candy strawberry laces. It’s so very quotable too – picking a single example would feel like I’m cheating the other songs. Falkous and co have really nailed a balance and variety of tones and themes that becomes more impressive as you near the album end realising that the steam is not running out. … Continue Reading