Saturday, March 8, 2014

The Wooden Finger Five – March 2014

Bombay Bicycle Club is a band that I have always liked but never really enough to purchase one of their albums, but their new LP ‘So Long, See You Tomorrow’ is my favourite album of the first couple of months of 2014. In keeping with their name, the band recently spent a month in Mumbai, and frontman Jack Steadman has said that he absorbed as much Indian culture and music as he could. The apex of this influence is on two of the album’s later tracks, ‘Feel’ and the marvellous ‘Come To’. Both have a warm, communal feel, and a decidedly different take on using Indian sounds to the mid-‘60s Beatles. Hopefully this album puts BBC into the big leagues.

2.       Morning – Beck

Beck’s new album, ‘Morning Phase’ has been much ballyhooed as a kind of sequel to ‘Sea Change’, which given that was my favourite Beck album, sounded promising to me. And it is good, but I’m in a bit in two minds about the result, as evidenced by the second track (and the first main track ‘Morning’). It’s not the best track on the album – that honour goes to ‘Blue Moon’ – but it is in many ways a replica of my favourite Beck tune ‘The Golden Age’, with its slow, strummed guitar, simple lyrics, keyboards, and even the windswept ending. ‘The Golden Age’ though was like a cold blast to the face because it was so unexpected, now we have heard Beck do this sort of thing before it does not have quite the same impact. Still even recycled Beck is better than 80% of the music out there, so it’s worth a listen.

According to this Pitchfork article, the opening track of St Vincent’s latest album is about Annie Clark taking her clothes off while walking around her friend’s cattle ranch in order to get back to nature, and coming across … well, you can guess. The track though is somewhat more joyous than its subject matter would suggest, particularly when Clark launches into a ripping guitar solo that is reminiscent of anything but a hideous reptile slithering around on its belly. Does this indicate she secretly liked the slithering danger? Probably not … but at least she’s been able to use her fear for her art.

‘Wanderlust… it’s a feeling that I’ve come to trust’ sings Wild Beasts’ Hayden Thorpe on the single and opening track of their new album. But what is wanderlust anyway? Apparently it’s a strong desire to wander or travel the world. Which is not the type of feeling this song gives me at all – listening to it I thought ‘wanderlust’ meant to go into the back room with some stranger you fancy and read poetry or something. Although I suppose you could do that while travelling the world as well. Anyway, Thorpe’s voice aside – which will always sound like a 19th century dandy – this tune signals that, right or wrong, Wild Beasts have become a bit more ‘modern’ than on their previous efforts. 

5.       Mesmerize - Temples

Are English band Temples really Australian psychedelic rockers Tame Impala in disguise? Their names are similar, their sound is similar, their singers are similar, and their song ‘Mesmerize’ isn’t that far removed from Tame Impala’s ‘Solitude Is Bliss?’ Temples though have crafted an even more epic debut album in ‘Sun Structures’, in the sense that every time I thought the album was going to end it would go into another three minute guitar freak-out. This song, along with the album’s second track, ‘Shelter Song’ will likely be part of the soundtrack for young English stoners this summer.   

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