Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Adult Contemporary Essentials 24.01.10

Vampire Weekend
XL/ Beggars
A lot of people liked Paul Simon’s Graceland and Rhythm of the Saints period. It’s not so cool for kids to say they like it now, though, so what they say they like instead is Vampire Weekend. Contra is such an updated Rhythm of the Saints in all but the presence of Paul Simon that it is hard to understand the hype and adulation that has accompanied the band. Fun, unassuming and as world-y as music gets – they have (as Simon had) added in some Jamaican, Brazilian and some of-the-moment Bangra, and seem to feel passionate about none of it. There are a couple of good tracks here – Cousins is fun and punky, Taxi Cab a little Strokes-y. There are many more reasons to avoid paying for Contra than there are to – the band and their promo are a little too college-boy smug about themselves, and there are a lot of times that this is just too clean and sweet.

ACE rating 7/10

Beach House
Teen Dream
Bella Union
When it comes to buzz, Beach House have it in spades. The band have slowly built up a remarkable reputation based on unassuming, quiet, Brian Wilson-flavoured dream pop/ indie rock (and the support of arch opinionistas Pitchfork, a US website). Somewhere to the dreamy side of Department of Eagles, Grizzly Bear and Mercury Rev, this is an album that is meant to be consumed as a whole, rather than in discrete songs. As such, it takes some time to let it sink in – there isn’t much hummable in here. Perfect for the bloggers of the world, this duo (Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally) rely on intimacy and subtlety to draw in the listener. Beach House is their best album, although it sounds a lot like its predecessor, Devotion – quite a lot of icy coolness and haze to leave the listener with the impression of a still lake with the barest ripple. It is lovely, if not quite the step ahead we might have hoped for.

ACE rating 8/10

California Guitar Trio
On Tour With King Crimson
California Guitar Trio
Rodrigo y Gabriela have rather revived the indie interest in finely played classical flamenco guitar. Unfortunate title aside (there aren’t many proggie moments), the California Guitar Trio follow the Di Meola, McLaughlin and Paco de Lucia format to the hilt – nailing a fusion jazz, classical mix with aplomb. This album mixes in some electric guitar for texture, and throws some fun in The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, Pipeline and Walk Don’t Run to the Toccata and Fugue in D Minor mix. This is a hugely enjoyable album, if you’re a fan of the guitar – none of the players have a Di Meola-like virtuosity, but that somehow stabilises the music –it isn’t all about the speedy runs and frills, and the trio behave like a trio rather than a rolling showcase for individual talent.

ACE rating 7/10

No comments: