Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Adult Contemporary Essentials 21.03.10

Fang Island
Fang Island
Sargent House
Do you know what ecstasy sounds like? Well, chances are it sounds something like this Brooklyn's band, whose blend of Built To Spill guitars, Go! Team infectious enthusiasm, Minus The Bear jags and Fleet Foxes harmonising is a treat if you're properly sugared up.
Many of the songs here aren't songs at all, but seemingly riotous celebrations of a theme. As such, it is the Battles of 2010 - a set of music that is likely to end up in places that didn't know they needed something exactly like this. The musicianship is very good, which given that there aren't many lyrics about (and few good lyrics anywhere) is a real blessing. It is easy to come away with the impression that a concert by this 5-piece would be a joyous hoot, if the exuberance on this second album can be channelled on stage. The album is only 30 minutes long, but it's unlikely that your first hit of porgy punk like this will need more than that to get you hooked.

ACE rating 8/10

The Whigs
In The Dark
Now this is a real shame, of the order of OK Go's recent new album shame. The Whigs seemed like Athens, Georgia's new awesomest band for the whole of their 2008 album Mission Control. Now, they release this tossed-off re-tread. Aping both themselves and Kings of Leon's breakthrough in the sub-stadium dirty rock space, there are two proper songs here - In The Dark and Kill Me Carolyne. And those two songs are genuinely excellent, especially the title track, handily released as the free mp3 single prior to the album's release for the usual reason - to convince you the record would be this good. Elsewhere, songs like I Don't Even Care About The One I Love sound like some horror 80s rock pastiche, and Naked exactly like someone ingested a Walkmen album on the way to the studio. It may be too early to add The Whigs to the 'oh no, what happened' pile, but they seem to have mistaken the interest in their straightahead rock for interest in their danceable variety.

ACE rating 6/10

Sarah Jaffe
Even Born Again
Summer Break
This is an older record, all of 2008, but well worth a revisit. Sarah Jaffe contributed some vocals to the Molina and Johnson album, and her amazing voice has, as a result, been somewhat more in demand. This lovely little album is all the proof that you need that this bluesy, folky indie singer songwriter is something special - her voice is not traditionally beautiful, but goes right to the core, like a more in tune Janis Joplin. Even Born Again manages to be perfectly romantic and soft, while hard and hurt at the same time - the voice expresses such vulnerability. Like Rachel Yamagata, she mixes in electricity perfectly when needed (as on Under), or takes it back to simply picked guitar to illustrate the wonder of simple beauty. This is a gem of a record, and shouldn't pass unnoticed.

ACE rating 9/10

No comments: