Singles & Downloads
My New Year’s resolution was to give all music the benefit of the doubt but Travis are making it difficult. According to their press release they’re now at their ‘loudest, edgiest and most arresting’ since their debut. If only that description bore any resemblance to the dreary, anaemic strum-fest that is ‘Song to Self’ (Red Telephone Box) •.
Much easier to like is ‘Bulimia Sisters’ (This is Fake DIY) ••• by fellow Glaswegians We are the Physics. Jagged, shouty, riffy, angry and a bit bonkers, it rattles, plinks and shrieks along in an almost completely nonsensical fashion, all the better for that. Equally fun is Cuddly Sharks’ ‘Woody Woodpecker’ (Armellodie Records) •••, which begins like an electro-orchestra then transmogrifies into a stroppy rockabilly thing before going all metal, all in under two minutes.
After such ragged guitarniks it’s good to hit the dancefloor with Ratatat. The Brooklyn duo’s ‘Shempi’ (XL) ••• is a wonky future-retro groove thang, like Daft Punk launching a raid on the Dr Who sound effects box.
Time for some peace and quiet next with ‘Paint Your Face’ (Brushfire) •• from Neil Halstead. Whispery of voice, plucky of guitar and plinky of piano, it’s a rather underwhelming facsimile of labelmate Jack Johnson’s sleepy acoustic surf-pop.
More engaging is Rob St John’s ‘Like Alchemy EP’ (Fife Kills: Records) ••••. Combining lo-fi folk with traditional finger-picking guitar and a sonorous voice, he’s in the same stubbly field as James Yorkston and has enough originality to stand out from the pack.
And so we end with a couple of American eccentrics. First up are TV on the Radio with ‘Dancing Choose’ (4AD) •••, a song which starts off lo-fi disco, turns into whiny rap, gets funky, then punky, then ominous, then dreamy, then pretty much just ends leaving you smiling but wondering what the fuck you just heard.
Same goes for Single of the Fortnight, ‘Festival Thyme EP’ (Superball) •••• by art-rocking loons … And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead. Epic of intent, the four songs here range from sweeping guitar chaos to piano-led poignancy, from Mariachi mayhem to apocalyptic post-rock noise. It’s unhinged, but gloriously so.