The Courage of Others
Before the Fleet Foxes, the band whose retreat to early 70s hippiness was most successful was Midlake, and their lovely 2007 second album The Trials of Van Occupanther. With The Courage of Others, Midlake move closer to English folk (Pentangle, Fairport Convention) and a Woodstock-y/ Age of Aquarius vibe – it is never happy, and built around a theme that modern life sucks. Fortunately, the music makes up for that by being in itself gently uplifting. Plus ca change and all that, but there isn’t much here that wasn’t explored 40 years ago – Midlake may sound boldly unconventional now, but only by sounding conventional for an earlier time. The Denton, Texas band clearly have a wonderful feel for pastoral melody, dynamics and harmony, but too often here the feel is of earnestness and ennui.
ACE rating 7/10
Anyone who got The Girls and their debut Album will be dead centre for this EP, from Brooklyn band The Drums. It will help if they come armed with their Joy Division, Stone Roses and The Cure chops, but that is only a starting point – The
Drums sound is a clear, 60s surfer-dude sound, with all of the exuberance that entails. In fact, the band that they most resemble is the Shout Out Louds, who have made this kind of thing their own in recent years. If new music for you means finding bands whose youthful energy overwhelms any over-production or world-weariness, The Drums will be an easy listen – the EP is not polished, and just raw fun in certain places, but it fizzes with that certain something that makes people start bands. Knocks Vampire Weekend into a cocked hat.
ACE rating 8/10
The Len Price 3
Another revisit to older times, Len Price 3 take the period when the Beatles made pop records, and The Kinks threw out radio-friendly single after single. No one in the band is called Len Price, oddly, as it suggests the band chose the name to refer back to a golden 60s period. The way that the record sounds mirrors that – there seems to have been too great an attempt to make it sound as though it could be an uncovered 60s gem. The Kent trio do mix in some nice The Who, Squeeze-y, Jilted John cockernee punk, and the 13 tracks come in around the half hour mark, so no song outstays its welcome. Signed to Steve Van Zandt’s Wicked Cool label (van Zandt has a strong view that music has been downhill since 1970, and that mono is where it is at), The Len Price 3 have recently been knocking out some stellar singles, which are front-loaded into this album – the rest feels like a valiant attempt to pad the 30 minutes.
ACE rating 7/10