Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Adult Contemporary Essentials 17.01.10

Local Natives
Gorilla Manor
It didn’t take long for someone to try themselves out as another Fleet Foxes. This Silverlake, California band are the subject of a lot of buzz, although the record itself doesn’t do enough to justify the adulation. Running Fleet Foxes’ eponymous album through some Yeasayers/ Dirty Projectors messy shouty post-modern indie isn’t enough to properly distance it from Fleet Foxes. That reference runs all the way through this pretty good debut – the music uses its uplifting mass harmonies and swelling melodies well. Like The Morning Benders, or Delta Spirit, there is a lovely sense that this is a band that enjoys making music, even while it stays true to its influences (to be gentle). The lead single, Camera Talking, does at least head off in another direction – that direction being Vampire Weekend... Originality may (or may not) be an overrated virtue in modern music, as here it could detract from what is a fun and much better than average debut. A fan of any of the bands above will be pleasantly surprised by this new addition to their listening material.

ACE rating 7/10

Kevin Devine
Brother’s Blood
Big Scary Monsters
Kevin Devine is like the sweeter, nicer, cuter version of Manchester Orchestra’s Andy Hull – intelligent indie rock played acoustically, like an updated version of Freedy Johnston. Brother’s Blood is undoubtedly the best record of his career – this is his fifth album – maintaining the ‘eloquent simplicity’ of his fame – often simply acoustic until a dynamic change elevates the song.
Look no further than the Neil Young/ Crazy Horse-ish title song which is both long and good (better than short and good?), and Carnival which goes wonderfully nuts at the end. Devine also mixes in some sweet pop with his indie to great effect – songs like Yr Husband and I Could Be With Anyone are infectious, neatly crafted gems in the mix. The genre may well overlap with emo, but it is a more adult, more intelligent version of the same, a Colour Revolt version. Do find it and give it a listen.

ACE rating 8/10

Of The Blue Colour of the Sky
OK Go may not enjoy the kind of credibility among the hip tastemakers who decide if a band is fashionable or not, but their remarkably creative videos (the treadmill video is something of a pop culture classic), and consistently great music, mark them out as a proper adult alternative band. What they do really well is make tight, literate rock with a knowing nod. Of The Blue Colour Of The Sky sees them move in the same direction My Morning Jacket did, towards Prince-y funk, rather than their more straightahead rock of previous albums. Unfortunately, as with My Morning Jacket, while there is some merit in the album, it isn’t what an OK Go fan might expect to find. The tightness is still there in manicured lines, but there is little rock on display – a lot of falsetto, a lot of effects, electronics and a few songs in the 15 on the album. OK Go had it in them to be one of the great unsung rock bands, but Of The Blue Colour Of The Sky will hopefully just go down as an experiment.

ACE rating 5/10

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