wears the trousers magazine


sounding off: april/may 2009 (I)

Time to round up some of the releases we haven’t had time to cover in full over the last couple of months. We’ve got 15 mini-reviews for you – a bumper edition as we skipped out on doing this in May. Our bad. In Part I, reviews of Allo Darlin’, Alondra Bentley, The Breeders and CocoRosie.

* * *

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Allo, Darlin’
Henry Rollins Don’t Dance EP ••••
WeePOP!

The latest EP from the twee world of Elizabeth Darling, aka Allo, Darlin’, is a perky, playful uke-pop confection of namechecking goodness. The title track is a clever, bittersweet yearning for mutual musical understanding between the ‘Grease’ loving singer and a committed non-shape throwing angry punk boyfriend. The image of Henry Rollins raising his tattooed fist in the disco when the DJ plays ABBA will stay with me for a very long time. ‘Dear Stephen Hawking’ mixes science and affairs of the heart, as an obsession of with the love life of the eminent physicist is played out against a jaunty, vaguely antipodean musical backdrop. “Every body attracts every other body” sings Darling, as she wonders if Hawking can use his brilliant mind to calculate how a happy marriage might work.

That staple of twee pop, the literal kitchen-sink drama, also gets a look-in on ‘Heartbeat Chilli’ as Darling longs for her cooking partner to make a move as the handclaps keep time and the onions get sliced. In a world that’s not spinning right on its axis Allo, Darlin’ want the chance to make it all better. A sunny optimistic treat of an EP.

Martyn Clayton
UK release date: 18/06/09; www.myspace.com/allodarlin

 

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Alondra Bentley
Ashfield Avenue •••½
Absolute Beginners
 

Spanish singer-songwriter Alondra Bentley’s debut album is largely indebted to Feist, whose staple use of banjos, handclaps, acoustic guitars and shimmering vocals on The Reminder are very much in evidence here. But where Feist’s French–Canadian infusion furnishes her with a distinct sound, Bentley’s Spanish–Catalan styling helps distinguish her from her contemporary. This patchwork quilt of miniature folk songs are all cut from the same cloth – arpeggio guitars, Alberti bass, and piano – but the crafted melodies make each song unique. Although the rest of the album never quite matches the glorious and confident opening track, ‘Giants Are Windmills’, there is still enough here to tempt the listener.

‘I Feel Alive’ is this album’s ‘1234’, complete with banjo, birdsong, and crooning backing vocals, while ‘Meltdown’ sounds as though it could have come straight from Emilíana Torrini’s last album. The melancholy of ‘The Petal House’ comes as surprise after the brightness of the opening tracks, allowing Bentley to show off her lyric prowess; “What went wrong? I left the womb”. ‘Some Things Of My Own’ proves Bentley can craft a memorable melody, while the ghostly ‘Star For Mummy’ is equal parts pretty and unsettling. While mainstream success such as Feist’s may prove elusive, this is still a very self-assured debut album with much to recommend it.

P. Viktor
UK release date: 30/03/09; www.myspace.com/alondrabentley

 

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The Breeders
Fate To Fatal EP •••½
Self-released

One year on from Mountain Battles, the Dayton, Ohio rockers released this four-track limited-edition EP in honour of Record Store Day, an event designed to encourage music lovers to support their local, independent music outlets with rare and covetable goodies. The EP’s physical run of 1000 12” vinyls sold out fast but you can still get the songs from various digital outlets – question is, should you bother?

Naysayers be damned for Fate To Fatal doesn’t disappoint. The title track captures the easy, garage groove of their signature heyday sound, and is easily the catchiest of the bunch, even if it is over too soon, while end song ‘Pinnacle Hollow’ comes off with an almost demo-like rawness, elevated with a mid-song bridge that cuts in with typical Breeders magic. With Mark Lanegan adding his scabrous vocals to the blissful, shoegazey number ‘The Last Time’, and a bittersweet acoustic version of Bob Marley’s ‘Chances Are’, the Deal sisters reveal both a love of reinvention and a return to what they do best: lo-fi rock with killer licks and steady, jangling chords.

Charlotte Richardson Andrews
UK release date: 16/05/09; www.myspace.com/thebreeders 

FREE MP3: The Breeders, ‘Fate To Fatal’

 

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CocoRosie
Coconuts, Plenty Of Junk Food EP •••½
Self-released 

Having spent the last two years hunting for beautiful boy faeries high in the Tuscan Appenines, and taking their musical inspiration from these delicate creatures, Sierra and Bianca Casady are back with a self-released five-track tour EP of twisted fairground cabaret. We had been told to expect more songs along the lines of the whacked-out “spiritual dance music” of last year’s one-off single ‘God Has A Voice, She Speaks Through Me’, and lead track ‘Happy Eyez’ comes closest to that with a classic CocoRosie sampled beat overlaid with a trippy, swirling carnival motif. “They call me Wee Willie Winkie / I’m tired and blinky,” croaks Bianca, but there’s an underlying sadness to this nursery rhyme that balances out the surface nonsense.

The black cloud hanging over the sisters doesn’t go away either. Beneath the brass and cutely piping sampled woodwind of ‘Coconuts’ lies another sorry tale, while piano ballad ‘Milkman’ finds Sierra practically weeping into her Rice Krispies. Things don’t get much sunnier in ‘Joseph City’, an eerie waltz through crepuscular side streets where a cracked, ghostly voice eerily chants the names of colours. Finally, ‘Spirit Lake’ takes us back to the river with some spiritual gospel, drunken keyboard samples, a scratchy beat and some pretty glockenspiel. As a taster for the Casady’s next album, Coconuts, Plenty Of Junk Food shows them stepping back from the hip-hop stylings of The Adventures Of Ghosthorse & Stillborn and skipping through much dreamier terrain. There’s so much going on here, though, and it’ll take a while to unravel if it’s all effective.

Alan Pedder
Available from the merch desk on the band’s current tour; www.myspace.com/cocorosie


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[…] The black cloud hanging over the sisters doesn’t go away either. Beneath the brass and cutely piping sampled woodwind of ‘Coconuts’ lies another sorry tale, while piano ballad ‘Milkman’ finds Sierra practically weeping into her Rice Krispies. Things don’t get much sunnier in ‘Joseph City’, an eerie waltz through crepuscular side streets where a cracked, ghostly voice eerily chants the names of colours. Finally, ‘Spirit Lake’ takes us back to the river with some spiritual gospel, drunken keyboard samples, a scratchy beat and some pretty glockenspiel. As a taster for the Casady’s next album, Coconuts, Plenty Of Junk Food shows them stepping back from the hip-hop stylings of The Adventures Of Ghosthorse & Stillborn and skipping through much dreamier terrain. There’s so much going on here, though, and it’ll take a while to unravel if it’s all effective.——Alan Pedder-Wearsthetrousers.com […]

Pingback by CocoRosie-Coconuts, Plenty Of Junk Food EP « Music For Humans

[…] Moon Asked The Crow’, and last year’s self-released Coconuts, Plenty Of Junk Food EP [review], are anything to go by, expect another weird and wonderful entry in the Casady sisters’ […]

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