They may sport skinny jeans in press shots, but if their debut album is anything to go by, Peace are bringing back baggy.
There’s enough funky drumming, pounding keyboards and surreal lyrics about love to thrill anyone whose top musical moment from last year was seeing the Stone Roses reunite.
But it’s not just the dance-influenced anthems of the Happy Mondays and Stone Roses who Peace look to for inspiration. There are also inevitable echoes of Britpop and, in particular, the anthemic choruses and universality of that movement’s two leading lights – Blur and Oasis.
It’s hard not to feel a little sorry for Palma Violets. Four London lads who – like The Vaccines, Arctic Monkeys and The Libertines before them – have been anointed as the saviours of British guitar music.
It’s a familiar story. There they were earnestly going about their business when suddenly someone decided their (admittedly excellent) garage pop would be the next game-changer in British indie music.
With this in mind, it’s to Palma Violets’ credit that ‘180‘ doesn’t suffer from any sense of exaggerated self-importance.
Now you’ve been through our extensive Essential Listening 2012 series, which includes all our top choices from a past twelve months of albums, gigs and tracks, here some of our frankly super talented band of writers pick out their own favourite album of 2012, each making a convincing argument for the selected records in the process.
For the uninitiated, Angus Stone is one half of Australian brother-sister folk duo, Angus and Julia Stone. While his first solo album, ‘Smoking Gun‘, was released under the moniker Lady of the Sunshine, this time his name is proudly emblazoned on the front.
From that alone, one can assume ‘Broken Brights‘ is more than just a few songs Stone had lying around.
Solo records are often bold declarations of musical freedom and discovery. That can lead to inspired work, as the artist in question breaks from the shackles of overbearing and over-conservative band mates. But it can also mean quality control is thrown out the studio door with the removal of the last barrier between questionable material and the public.
On ‘Broken Brights’, Stone experiences the pros and the perils of being on his lonesome. Still, anyone expecting a wild departure from earlier work will be disappointed. One glance at the cover – its colour palette spans different earthy shades of brown, say from The Band to Harvest– would be enough to know Broken Brights is rooted in Stone’s usual earnest folkisms. Indeed, the thirteen songs on ‘Broken Brights’ are what you’d expect – well written, melodic folk songs.
The View are sick of being called ‘scallies’.
In their early days they were styled – by the press and themselves – as Scotland’s answer to The Libertines; confrontational, irreverent and armed with an exciting run of clattering punk singles.
But while The Libertines implosion was fairly spectacular, The View’s demise into indie irrelevance has been a far more muted affair. It’s a shame because, scallies or not, ‘Cheeky For A Reason‘ is a delightful pop record. Even if it is, by the band’s admission, about the same old stuff: birds, drinking and fighting.
So, Maximo Park are back.
If that’s a sentence that fills you with any sort of measurable excitement, the good news is that you’ll be pleased by what follows in this review. To be fair, if you’ve never liked Maximo Park before, there’s likely to be no reason why this album will change your mind.
In the late 80′s, somewhere on the east side of the Berlin Wall, a young girl was developing a love for the world of performing arts, particularly ballet and opera.
When the wall eventually fell, that same girl was drawn to the Western pop music that, before then, was mostly out of earshot for East Germans.
I Am Harlequin, the brainchild of now London based songstress Anna Freier, will appeal to fans of all things sophisticated and left-of-centre but also, importantly, to anyone with a soft spot for big songs backed by an even bigger voice.
With only charming accents to betray their Belgian roots, The Black Box Revelation are a collision of the best garage rock sounds each side of the Atlantic. Those accents, and they are charming, belong to frontman Jan Paternoster and drummer Dries Van Dijck, who are only 22 and 20 respectively.
The duo, known by fans as The BBR, formed in 2005 and since then have released two full length albums, with a third, stateside debut ‘My Perception‘, due to hit American shelves next year. Out already however, is their ‘Shiver of Joy‘ EP, and it offers Americans an enticing preview of The BBR’s raucous rock ‘n’ roll.
In only two albums, Melbourne natives Little Red have already navigated 50 years of pop music. While their charming debut ‘Listen to Little Red‘ was a fun, 50′s doo-wop party album, their sophomore release ‘Midnight Remember‘ is rooted in decidedly more modern sounds.
For such a well-kept secret, it’s quite impressive that LA’s Letting Up Despite Great Faults can already boast of airplay on BBC News and rave reviews from the US music press. Letting Up, as they are known casually, achieved both recently, after soundtracking a new Facebook trailer.
The video was all over the internet and TV, exposing the band to millions of potential listeners. If the song featured – current single ‘Teenage Tide‘ – is any indication of their talent, the release of upcoming EP ‘Paper Crush‘ should soon see them convert many of those listeners into fans. With their previous releases lauded by the blogosphere and many key North American reviewers – think Rolling Stone and Canada’s Exclaim! - Letting Up have built a solid reputation for making dreamy and melodic indie pop.
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