End of year sampler CD from Brighton based record label FatCat Records….
1. Traams ‘Selma’ Good opener, punchy drumming, spiky guitar and forlorn vocal giving way to a singalong chorus. The lyric is a bit deranged, the sound a bit retro and all over too quickly.
2. Mazes ‘Astigmatism’ My favourite track on this disc, the lead song from the third Mazes album. A rolling riff, punctuated with some strange backward sounding guitar lines and intriguing words about obscured vision and devotion. ‘You are a winning quiz team, you are a morning sun…..beam’
3.The Growlers ‘Big Toe’ A 5-piece band from California, describing their sound as ‘beach goth’.This is a jaunty pop song, jangling guitar belying a lyric of post-relationship dislike. Quite intense dislike really. ‘Her love’s so uncomfortable, she strikes down like a hammer on your big toe’ and plenty more…
4. Paws ‘Owl Talons Clenching My Heart’ A great title from this Glasgow trio and another difficult relationship in the lyrics. Super-low thumping bass and fuzzy distorted vocal with a frequent chorus line packs a strong punch. It reminds me of The Wytches, another dark but sensitive trio.
5. The Twilight Sad ‘There’s a Girl in the Corner’ Formed in 2003 and described by one reviewer as ‘perennially unhappy Scottish indie band’ this is another tale of love gone wrong, with the repeated phrase ‘she’s not coming back’ over layers of stadium keyboards and booming drums. Quite addictive in an unrelenting way.
6. C Duncan ‘Silence and Air’ New Scottish talent Chris Duncan with a meld of vocal and distant choral effects over a soothing multi-layered instrumental background.
7. Vashti Bunyan ‘Across the Water’ Recording her first album in 1970, influential folk legend Vashti Bunyan restarted her music career 35 years later. This new release from her 2014 album Heartleap is a lovely song. Gentle acoustic guitar, flute sounds and strings float by, blended with her ethereal voice, taking the listener to another place and time.
8. Tlaotlon ‘Myriade’ A contrast to what has come before, this is frenetic electronica samples and loops. A challenging listen, any logical patterns or structure dismantled as quickly as they arrive.
9. Gentle Friendly ‘Shake Up’. Not sure about this one, some electronic drones, drums and vocal from this London-based duo. Claustrophobic and a bit relentless, I may have to listen to a few more of their recordings.
10. Honeyblood ‘Super Rat’. This is more like it, Number 20 in the NME Top 50 tracks of 2014 and not even the best track on their album. The two members of Honeyblood make a rich dense sound with just guitar and drums and certainly do not hold back on the lyrical vitriol, ending with ‘I will hate you forever, you really do disgust me’. For the brighter side of HB, see my live review on this site…
11. We Were Promised Jetpacks ‘Safety in Numbers’. Nostalgic band name, sound and song. So many influences here, it starts with a pure voice and keyboard weaving around then bursts into life with a big Indie rock flourish, well honed since their debut album in 2009.