Dutch Party | Astral Nights EP

Back in December I featured a track by the band Dutch Party and summed it up as 60s inspired music that “has that 60s attitude with just enough edge to not be Simon and Garfunkel.” Well the EP was released yesterday and is another instant charmer, although I’m easily swayed. Continuing in the rich vein of plinky plonkey piano and 60s inspired tube amp guitars the EP is ideal for the days I’m currently spending in the Sun smoking far too much and day drinking wine out of a box.

The second single “Storm of the Century” is below and fiercely reminds of “Telekinesis.” If you can compare favourably to the current king to catchy indie tunes then I think you’ll do just fine kid. Grab the EP from iTunes and do yourself a massive favour. Trust me, it’s worth it.

My Little Empire | New Emperors

So I’ve had a bit of a break blogging lately due to an exhibition that I’ve been putting up over the last 2 weeks that has left my jaded in pretty much every setup. So as a reward for any outstanding loyalty here is a wonderful chance to pick up some new music to compliment your already impeccable and well informed iTunes library. To celebrate the launch of “My Little Empire Records” the aforementioned label have put together a compilation LP of emerging and new acts that 2015 is set to celebrate. Filled with 19 acts that may or may not have flown under your radar it’s a fantastic opportunity and, as it’s released on a pay-what-you-like basis, you can get it for free should you so choose. But don’t be that guy, at least donate a quid? Below is one of the standout tracks from the LP by Tenterhooks that definitely flew under my radar when it was released. I’ll be back more regularly now that my exhibition has closed.

Dan Mangan + Blacksmith | Club Meds [Album Review]

There’s something in a name. “Club Meds” is the first Dan Mangan record released under the Dan Mangan + Blacksmith moniker and it’s amazing how much this alters our perception of the music presented in this latest release. The chosen name is an acknowledgement of the influence of his band in his music and their continued growth into the creative process of making an album.

This really does make a big difference in how we read the music. Regardless of it’s similarities and callbacks to past Mangan releases,  we will inevitably read it like a new chapter because after all, it’s under a new name. There are some throwbacks though. Recently featured single Mouthpiece has some definite comparisons with “Oh Fortunes'” track “Post-War Blues.” Mangan though has got darker and these similarities are enriched with a growing minor discord that sends an excellent shiver up the record. Managan’s distinctive voice begins to enact a violence and aggression in certain tracks. It’s a great statement of further musical development because as great as “Nice Nice Very Nice” was you can’t keep banging the same drum forever. A lot of music fans can’t get behind this because they will always pine after the band that stole their interest originally. This is understandable but a ridiculous complaint. Tracks like “Vessel” below seem to make the most of his new found musical freedom and this should be celebrated, we need our artists to develop to avoid stagnation.

I’d definitely recommend this album. Darker and experimental whilst still retaining Mangan’s excellent songwriting prowess. It’s an excellent layered album and a short excerpt in an MP3 blog won’t do it justice, just buy it and see for yourself.

Blake Mills | Heigh Ho [Album Review]

I’ve been a very naughty boy. Since starting my Masters program I’ve become swamped in work and the ohfuckfestival annual parade. This has meant blogging has entirely and completely fallen by the wayside which is a massive shame.

For those who don’t remember my first post was actually Blake Mills’ “If I’m Unworthy” and has been on mixes and playlists since. Heigh Ho is beautifully polished without being completely overwhelming. Crucially it’s unpretentious. It starts with the previously mentioned track building in sweetly but the stand out track for me is “Don’t Tell Our Friends About Me.” Featuring Fiona Apple it’s a fantastic track specialising in gradual building of layers to carry Blake Mills laconic yet urgent drawl.

Sorry it’s not particularly long today but I’m tired and stressed. Heigh Ho is out now, get it here.

Owl John Album Review

Okay so it’s time for my first ever album review so everyone strap in because it’s going to be Kubrick-esque in it’s originality and style. Only joking although I will almost certainly spill bias ebullient praise on this album as, and most of you will already know this, I am a huge fan of Frightened Rabbit’s Scott Hutchinson.

Owl John for those who aren’t aware is Frightened Rabbit frontman Scott Hutchinson’s side-project. The self-titled album was released on the 4th of August (I would have been more prompt but Budapest has lousy wifi) and was the product of a needed creative output after extensive touring and recording. The clear need for creative output is evident in that it was only recorded in 2 weeks. I don’t know about anyone else but in 2 weeks I achieve slightly less.

As expected the album is no confident stride through 60s indie pop but a melancholic exploration for those of us who find black moods more of a permanent climate than passing cloud cover and it radiates with Hutchinson’s usual wit and subterfuge. “Cold Creeps” opens the album with subdued pianos and messy feedback guitars with Scott crooning over the top in his melancholic brogue “Cold creeps through my fingertips like the frost in the night” before building in a rousing progression.

Their are the more bombastic songs that we associate with Frabbit’s measured aggression in “Hate Music” and “Red Hand” but it’s in the details that “Owl John” really sets itself apart. “Songs About Roses” exemplifies Hutchinson’s perspective on current music and the false charade performed by our musical heroes. Lyrics such as “Chloroform the singer who has nothing to say and stare in wonder as the masses sing along anyway,” really ram home that their is a commodifying of false connections within the music industry which has been alluded to in many of Hutchinson’s interviews (if I ever interview the man I’ll buy every reader of this blog a beer.) The standout track though closes off the album in “Stupid Boy.” Stupid Boy resounds with crackling drums and melancholic piano as Hutchinson laments “How can I be such a stupid boy?”

Overrall the album is a worthy inductee into the great side albums and elevates Hucthinson’s musical canon much like “The Postal Service” did for Ben Gibbard or “Broken Bells” for James Mercer. It doesn’t depart dramatically from the music that made his name but Owl John develops a frustrated poet and places him amid an unfolding landscapes of otherworldly slide guitar and distorted vocals offering a more personal landscape in which to carve our melancholy.

The album is out now on Atlantic and is available to buy directly from the website.