Filed under: feature, single of the week, video, words in edgeways | Tags: 2009, alan pedder, hugh armitage, interview, kianna alarid, music, tilly and the wall
interrupting yr broadcast: tilly & the wall
Having made their name as cartoonish urban-bohemian pranksters with a strong line in feelgood stompy pop, Nebraskan big-hearts Tilly & The Wall got a few people’s tutus in a twist last year; first with the single ‘Beat Control’ that traded in their twee card for a neon disco edge, and then with their third album O, which took their riotous pop, enrolled it in assertiveness training classes and taught it naughty words. “What a ho, what a bitch, what a slut,” the Tilly girls pout on new single ‘Pot Kettle Black’ (out this week), a modern would-be garage-rock (via a school gym) anthem that delights in its own playground silliness. It’s still good two-dimensional fun, as if straight out of the Natalie Dee college of creative cussing, but also has a slightly menacing side. Employing a 10-person stomp group injects the song with a contagious strop that has us chanting along in the office like born-again cheerleaders. Someone had to pay for this outbreak so we collared Tilly singer Kianna Alarid to account for her part in this mischief. Sort of. Behold, the queen of the exclamation mark.
Filed under: review, single of the week, video | Tags: 2009, charlotte richardson andrews, music, peggy sue
‘Alice In The Kitchen’ / ‘Lazarus’
Katy Klaw and Rosa Rex are one of London’s best alt-folk duos and a firm Wears The Trousers favourite. While their monthly downloadable cover albums are immense fun, it’s Peggy Sue’s steady flow of beautiful EPs and singles that reveal them as consistently mesmerising artists. Their Body Parts EP, which we pretty much gushed about back in the autumn, was proof positive of the pair’s very special compositional skills, and their latest offering is no exception.
Released through the Too Pure Singles Club, double A-sides ‘Alice In The Kitchen’ and ‘Lazarus’ are a veritable slice of blues-tinged, alternative folk, with Peggy Sue’s customary maritime slant adding a bit of spice here and there. The dizzying, almost shanty-like charm of layered guitar and ukulele strums cast ‘Alice In The Kitchen’ deep into romantic escapist territory, while the elegiac passion of ‘Lazarus’ is carried with a funeral-march, rolling drumbeat, sharp strings and the ladies’ characteristically soulful vocals. Like most of Peggy Sue’s ever-growing catalogue, a gentle melancholy pivots alongside the bluesy, impassioned vocals, working perfectly in tandem with the imaginative lyrics to create a sense of poetic layering. More like this please.
Filed under: review, single of the week, video | Tags: 2009, alan pedder, first aid kit, music
First Aid Kit
‘You’re Not Coming Home Tonight’ / ‘Tangerine’
We recently evangelised about these talented teen sibs in our guest column for Drowned in Sound, but that won’t stop us from doing it again. This double A-side single is First Aid Kit’s debut UK release and comes as a surefire sell-out limited edition with only 500 copies pressed. Taken from their award-winning debut mini album Drunken Trees, about to get its domestic release through Wichita Records, ‘Tangerine’ was the song that first brought Johanna and Klara Söderberg to the attention of radio programmers in their native Sweden.
Recorded at home shortly after the sisters began writing songs together (when Klara was just 13!), it’s an arrestingly simple song that gently saunters along acoustic guitar chords, softly played drums, subtle washes of keyboards and perfectly placed glockenspiel chiming. Think Jaymay’s Autumn Fallin’, and you’ll be along the right lines. But what really sets them apart, even on this uncomplicated ditty, is the way their cracked and broken voices sound so much older than their years. Yet from the opening line of “Another business trip / another reason to stay away” to the last, the Söderberg sisters make inhabiting the marital stumbles of a much older woman sound completely believable, natural even. Scary.
Filed under: mp3, review, single of the week, video | Tags: 2009, alan pedder, music, stina stjern
‘The Horizon’ / ‘Sex, Lust & A Teddy Bear’
Oops. In all the excitement of finally completing the yearbook and planning our Kristin Hersh extravaganza, we forgot to tell you what our single of last week was. To be honest, it was a pretty poor week for lady singers. It was essentially a choice between Jem and Enya, so we felt compelled to cast our net a little wider. So glad we did, because we found this unexpected pop-rock gem from Norwegian newcomer Stina Stjern.
Released last Friday, this limited edition 7″ was complemented digitally by two additional tracks (‘Spend My Stars’, ‘Scandals’), and you can download the whole lot for nothing. The downside? Only the 128 kbps MP3s are ‘free’ (in other words, in exchange for your email address); higher bitrate MP3s and other formats are available for a minimum donation of $2. If you’re quick, though, it’s well worth getting the 7″ as the first 100 copies all come with hand-knitted covers, each one unique. Amazing. You can see them all in the video below the cut. Because we’re nice, we’ve also given you the first track for actual-free. Well, thank Stina really. She’s nice too.
Filed under: mp3, review, single of the week, video | Tags: 2009, alan pedder, little dragon, music
‘Fortune’ / ‘Blinking Pigs’
Like fellow Göteborgers El Perro Del Mar, Love Is All, Audrey and The Knife, Little Dragon are well worth gluing your ear to. Their self-titled debut was one of the highlights of 2007, largely due to the unconscionably soulful vocals of frontwoman Yukimi Nagano and a willingness to experiment with a previously unfielded marriage between organic pop, alluringly off-kilter electronica and accents of jazz. New single ‘Fortune’ first surfaced as a bonus track on the Japanese release of Little Dragon before being touted as a (very) preliminary taster for second album Berlinmaster in March 2008, while Hideyuki Katsumata’s animated video for the song went online in late October.
The album may have taken the band much longer to complete than was originally thought, but if this double A-side 7″ is anything to go by, it will be worth the wait. ‘Fortune’ is by no means an obvious single but it successfully furthers the Little Dragon sound without losing sight of everything good that the debut had to offer. A gauzy ballad that sticks with the reclining ease of earlier releases but adds in more emphasis on Håkan Wirenstrand’s otherworldly synths, it bodes well for the band in 2009. ‘Blinking Pigs’ ups the synth-pop ante, delivering a gently insistent grower that’s easily good enough to rival the likes of Little Boots and Telepathe. Fortune favours the patient.
Filed under: review, single of the week, video | Tags: 2009, a camp, alan pedder, music, nathan larson, nina persson, the cardigans
‘Stronger Than Jesus’
Nina Persson and her Cardigans bandmates have always had an uneasy relationship with religion – most notably on the atheistic anthem ‘Godspell’ from 2006’s Super Extra Gravity (“It’s not murder, it’s an act of faith”) – that stems from growing up as Black Sabbath-loving future rock stars in Jönköping, arguably Sweden’s most Christian city. Nina’s other band A Camp – not technically a solo project – dealt with these themes too on the fuzzed-out racket of ‘The Oddness Of The Lord’ from their 2001 self-titled debut.
After a long 8-year wait for a follow-up album that many believed would never come, Nina is back, this time without Sparklehorse’s Mark Linkous but with her husband Nathan Larson and long-time A Camp collaborator Niclas Frisk making up a trio. ‘Stronger Than Jesus’ is the first single to be lifted from the excellent Colonia (out February 2nd) and is full of clever and evocative lyrics that border on pure poetry at times. “Who told you love was the alpha and omega?” sings Nina after a classic Cardigans style guitar intro, subtly tying together the song’s two themes of heartache and religion with a reference to the Bible’s Book of Revelation. “It’s a poison hidden in a bonbon,” concludes the first verse, and on it goes. Lovely metaphors abound, and it’s tempting to think that the line “any monkey looking like a saviour” is a dig at the now departed 43rd President of the USA.
Filed under: free music friday, mp3, review, single of the week | Tags: 2009, alan pedder, maria taylor, michael stipe, music, REM
‘Time Lapse Lifeline’
Maria Taylor has always been a well connected lady but for her third solo album, Ladyluck, due on April 6th through Nettwerk, she’s wheeling out the big guns with REM’s Michael Stipe chipping in. Somehow. The press release doesn’t elaborate further so fingers crossed for a duet. The usual Saddle Creek crew are in on it too, of course, with Mike Mogis and Andy LeMaster helping out on production and Nate Walcott of Bright Eyes on keys. Lukas Burton (Dido, A Fine Frenzy) makes up the trinity of studio whizzes.
‘Time Lapse Lifeline’ is the album’s first single, released this week, and comes with an exclusive B-side, ‘Orchids’ [iTunes only]. You may already have heard ‘Time Lapse Lifeline’ (and ‘Ladyluck’ for that matter) in simpler form on Maria’s collaborative EP with Andy LeMaster, Savannah Drive, released last year [review]. So what does this new version have to offer that’s different? Well, a beefed up rhythm section, more oomph in the vocals and strings that really add some drama to the song. Overall, it’s a lusher sound that, excepting the recent EP, Maria has been gradually building since she embarked on her solo career in 2005, and makes a nice taster for the album to come. And you know what? You can download the song for free right now…