It's been a while since I've written about music so here are some quick reviews on some tracks from new-to-me artists I've been sampling.
Kings of Convenience - "I'd Rather Dance With You"
Kings of Convenience are the Norwegian duo whose last album proclaimed that "Quiet is the New Loud". Unfortunately, their manifesto was ultimately counterproductive, as their acoustic low-key approach was a bit too quiet, making all their tracks sound the same. Since then, KoC have put out a remix album featuring mixes by Ladytron, Four Tet, and Royksopp among others. Singer Erlend Oye also found time to moonlight as a DJ and released a solo record featuring collaborations with electronic artists. Judging from "I'd Rather Dance With You", the Kings have decided to incorporate the electronic elements into their sound permanently. "I'd Rather Dance With You" is more Pet Shop Boys than Simon & Garfunkel and it's one of my favourite songs of the year so far. The lyrics, which ruminate on the pointlessness of the club chat-up, are some of the best I've heard in while. ("Even if I could hear what you said, I doubt my reply would be interesting for you to hear. Because I haven't read a single book all year and the only film I saw I didn't like it at all")
The Bees - "Horsemen"
Here's another album I'm looking forward to. The band's last record, Sunshine Hit Me was vastly underrated piece of sunny brilliance which managed to blend lots of obvious influences (psychedelica, tropicalia, dub, etc.) without ever sounding derivative. The songs I've heard from the new album Free The Bees sound like they come from an entirely different band. The music is more instantly identifiable as "rock" but it's still got a unique twist and vibe. This is a really talented band I only hope they can get some more recognition this time around.
Bloc Party - "Banquet"
I really liked Franz Ferdinand but after a while I found that songs like "Take Me Out" got too repetitive on repeat listens. Bloc Party have a similar angular vibe, but with more of an American indierock feel. It'll probably annoy me eventually but in the mean time I can't stop listening to it. I'm making a new CD of recent tunes and this song is the leadoff track. I can't wait to blast it out of the car stereo.
Keane - "Everybodys' Changing"
I first heard about these guys when I read their album prevented Morrissey's You Are the Quarry from reaching number one in Britain. I figured they were probably another tedious indie band made up of students who listened to too much Coldplay and Travis. I was right, but I didn't think I'd actually find myself enjoying their song! It's so just so damn catchy.
Razorlight - "Vice" and "Rip it Up"
Now that I'm an old fart I'm starting to understand what music fans were griping about when I was listening to Britpop in the '90s. Razorlight sound like a lot of other bands thrown together in a blender. But these two songs are good enough that I'm willing to overlook the lack of originality. "Vice" has a very strong Pulp influence in the singer's phrasing and the "L-O-V-E" spell-a-long chorus but the rest of the band are more straight-up rock. "Rip it Up" is also good, in a G-rated Libertines kinda way. For what it's worth, I'm impressed enough that I'll probably pick up the album when I see it.
Xiu Xiu - "I Luv the Valley OH!"
I have no clue what this guy is singing about and certainly no idea why he's so worked up about it. It's undeniably intense and yet I feel no emotional connection to it. But I'm sure someone out there is carving the band's name into their arm to this tune. Me, I just think the guitar riff is nifty.
More to come. Maybe.