wears the trousers magazine


sounding off: january 2010 (iii)

In this month’s roundup, we’ll be looking at a bunch of stragglers from last year that we ran out of time to publish before Christmas, plus a few early 2010 releases in brief.

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Vanessa Paradis
Best Of •••
Wrasse

In many ways, Vanessa Paradis’ 1987 hit ‘Joe Le Taxi’ still sums up how the English regard French female popstars: the heavy accent, delivered with a babydoll pitch, cute as a kitten with a little bit of vixen thrown in. Such was its provocative, innocent-girl charm that, out of nowhere, the song launched Paradis, then just 14 years old, on the path to a lengthy career. Next came a slightly more sophisticated album, Variations sur le même t’aime. Produced by Serge Gainsbourg, it ushered in a second wave of huge success in France, with the wonderful ‘Tandem’ barely off the airwaves, helping to really nail a credible career for the still young ingénue.

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sounding off: july 2009 (v)

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Reverie Sound Revue
Reverie Sound Revue •••½
Boompa

The career path of Reverie Sound Revue doesn’t speak of a band intent on world domination. They released a self-titled EP in 2003 and then promptly split up. But six years later, here they are again, releasing an album which is, confusingly, also self-titled. Their latest Wikipedia entry states, somewhat tersely, that the band “have no plans to play live”. Oh well. The music of Reverie Sound Revue is in keeping with their skittish image. Lisa Lobsinger (who, like most Canadians, is an occasional member of Broken Social Scene) coos serenely over undulating, vaguely Krautrock-y basslines, twinkly, unobtrusive guitar arpeggios and the occasional vibraphone. Imagine School Of Seven Bells with the noisier shoegaze influences shorn off.

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mirah: (a)spera (2009)
March 9, 2009, 7:51 pm
Filed under: album, mp3, review | Tags: , , ,

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Mirah
(a)spera •••
K Records

In the five long years since her last solo studio album, Mirah Yom Tov Zeitlyn has kept up appearances through a remix collection (Joyride), an entomologically-fixated collaboration with Spectratone International (Share This Place), and last year’s compilation of miscellaneous odds and ends (The Old Days Feeling), but nothing has been quite as anticipated as (a)spera, the follow-up proper to the brilliant C’mon Miracle. From the bizarre ‘Superman II’ meets ‘Barbarella’ album cover to its two-pronged Latin title, there’s a sense that Mirah has made a complex record that relies as much on inference and layered meaning as it does on her reputation for seductively intelligent music.

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sounding off: january 2009

February already!? Yikes. Here are 11 releases we didn’t get time to review in full last month…

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Blue Giant
Target Heart EP •
Amore!Phonics 

Blue Giant, a supposed Portland ‘supergroup’, toured with The Shins in 2007 and consists of members of The Decemberists, Swords and, principally, Viva Voce’s songwriting and marital team of Kevin and Anita Robinson. How then did they end up sounding so drab? Target Heart, their debut EP, is disappointingly full of blandly unimpressive Americana that would doubtless serve well as background catalogue music for a roadtrip movie, or better still a roadtrip scene in ‘Gilmore Girls’, but is otherwise limp and generic. Even a duet between Kevin Robinson and Sleater-Kinney’s Corin Tucker flounders without discernable purpose. If you like Animal Liberation Orchestra or Jack Johnson you might like this, it’s the same kind of inoffensive rural rock, seasoned with a mild Southern flavour. With four of the EP’s six songs coming in at less than the time it takes to soft boil an egg, the only time it really hits the mark is after 19 minutes when, blessedly, it ends. Phew.

Simon Christopher
UK release date: 19/01/09; www.myspace.com/bluegiantland

 

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fever ray: fever ray (2009)
January 15, 2009, 4:31 pm
Filed under: album, review, video | Tags: , , , , ,

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Fever Ray
Fever Ray •••••
Rabid

Even if you haven’t seen Andreas Nilsson’s fantastically creepy video for ‘If I Had A Heart’, Fever Ray‘s opening track, you’ll instantly pick up on the fact that there’s something mysterious and perhaps a little sinister taking place in Karin Dreijer Andersson’s head. Perhaps it’s the effect of the deep, droning bass line that rumbles evilly throughout the whole song, but it feels like the internal soundtrack of someone sitting on the floor in the corner of a dark, locked room with ankles clasped tightly, rocking back and forth, spitting out her private soliloquies. Dreijer’s voice is low and deep, echoing the sombre, almost tribal rhythm that sets in to your bones like a cold, slow march towards the sea, up and over the jagged edge of a cliff.

Fever Ray has been arranged with an expert hand and considerable thought, so to get the full effect it’s inadvisable to listen on shuffle or in any other order than that in which it is laid out. Right from the start, the album builds and builds towards something, an ever more familiar sound, growing ever more Knife-like. The end of each track qualifies the beginning of the next; for example, ‘When I Grow Up’ makes its entrance with similarly sombre dark tones as ‘If I Had A Heart’, with shades of Knife-ness creeping in before the end comes in the guise of familiar steel drums, blips and clicks and, of course, Dreijer’s grossly worked-over drones and bizarre, intangible lyrics. Karin Dreijer is “very good with plants”.

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au revoir simone: reverse migration (2008)
December 31, 2008, 1:45 am
Filed under: album, review | Tags: , , ,

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Au Revoir Simone
Reverse Migration ••••
Our Secret Record Company

Unlikely to earn Au Revoir Simone much club exposure, Reverse Migration is a remix album that initially proves largely unappealing (particularly when listened to in reverse order – oops) but, over time (about a week) and a few plays (about 5), will hopefully earn the listeners respect, not for its booty shaking suitability – which is lacking – but rather for its transformative approach. All of the remixes on this album are far removed from the original versions found on last year’s The Bird Of Music.

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