wears the trousers magazine


sounding off: november 2009 (ii)

In the second part of our November roundup, we pour some love on the new EP from The Good Natured, get smitten by The Happy Hollows and swoon a little to Catriona Irving.

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The Good Natured
Your Body Is A Machine EP ••••
Self-released

If the title of this EP is to be believed, I think mine’s the kind that sells Twixes and Skittles for 65p. Still, the gadgets on this four-track set from Sarah McIntosh (aka The Good Natured) are certainly used as familiarly as bodies on this well paced and highly impressive second release, her electronic bleeps and winding synths forming the strong and steady heartbeat of the record around which the melancholy vocals entwine with purpose.

Having attracted praise from Channel 4 to Steve Lamacq, there is already a substantial amount of interest circling around the 18-year-old Home Counties acoustica luminary, and with an EP this strong it’s easy to see why. There are a range of comparisons which could be made – the Guardian has labelled her a “techno Dido”, amongst other things, and there’s even a bit of Bat For Lashes in the slightly plummy, occasionally neo-hippy vocals – but Your Body Is A Machine is fundamentally an original and irresistibly packaged slice of bittersweet dancehall drama. Imagine The Postal Service with an Oriental lilt and a sung-from-the-sidelines diffidence (as well as a woman singer) and you wouldn’t be so far wrong. Better still, have a listen and find out for yourself; these machines are Herculean.

Katy Knight
UK release date: 13/09/09; www.myspace.com/thegoodnatured

 

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The Happy Hollows
Spells ••••
Autumn Tone

Since forming in 2006, this Los Angeles trio have slowly been perfecting the edgy indie-pop stylings that characterise this bewitching debut. From humble beginnings that saw them performing in small local clubs, laundromats and Japanese eateries, they’ve established a credible reputation through hand-picked support slots for the likes of Deerhoof and Silversun Pickups.

Overseen by returning producer and former Mighty Lemon Drops guitarist David Newton, Spells stands apart from needing such endorsements. Vocalist/guitarist Sarah Negahdari sways with metaphoric grace between fierce, speakerphone vox (‘Silver’) and sweeter, softer notes (‘We Will Find You’), while the band’s arrangements are just as variegated, veering between wildly frenetic and restlessly inventive to rhythmic, melodious and peaceful. There’s really no space for pigeonholing as each song manages to thread notes and strands of everything from skinny-jean indie, college rock, ‘90s grunge, punk, dream-pop, experimental noise and even a number of fine, finger-tappingly epic metal solos. A very solid debut, full to the brim with inspired, original sounds.

Charlotte Richardson Andrews
UK release date: 06/10/09; www.myspace.com/thehappyhollows


Catriona Irving
Sitting On The Shelf EP •••
Need No Water

The first in a planned trilogy of EPs, Sitting On The Shelf marks the welcome return of feted cottage industrialist Catriona Irving. At four tracks long, it’s her most substantial offering to date, following on from 2007’s Stitch EP and the single ‘Running On Empathy’. The fact that it still barely squeaks over 10 minutes long should tell you a lot about the kind of artist Irving is. That, and the fact that the record label she runs is the same one responsible for those lovely This Is The Kit, Soy Un Caballo and Tunng split singles earlier this year.

Whereas her own previous releases have been defiantly DIY, Sitting On The Shelf finds Irving opening her doors to collaboration. Existing fans needn’t worry though; the presence of various members of The Sleeping Years and Soy Un Caballo on the first two tracks can’t coax Irving away from her trademark timidity. ‘Sitting On The Shelf Without Shelly’ (optimistically described as radio-friendly in the press release) certainly benefits from Tom Page’s drums, just as Alex Beaumont’s cello adds colour to ‘Untitled’, but it’s one small step at a time. Things feel least slight on the Plaisir de France remix of the title track, a sympathetically choppy reinvention that points to a promising future direction for Irving, but mostly this EP is a little too wispy to make a lasting impact.

Alan Pedder
UK release date: 16/11/09; www.myspace.com/catrionairvingmusic


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