Pull In Emergency, Hjaltalín - Singles Round-Up 08/11/10
Luke Langlands 11/11/2010
It's that time yet again folks - the moment that typifies and defines your entire day…neigh, your entire week. Yes, it's the GIITV singles-round for the week! Yay! PLEASE DO TRY TO NOT WEE YOURSELF IN EXCITEMENT! AT LEAST NOT ON AN ABSORBENT FABRIC. Normally, I listen to the singles I need to write about whilst writing this wee little opening paragraph (which I'm doing right now). A few minutes ago I started a song at random, not looking at the name or band and about thirty seconds in thought 'Jesus, this is brilliant!' When I went back to press 'Play' for a second time, it was a completely different song…like literally not even the same in any way (although still quite good). I'm losing my mind, but madness creates really good music apparently.
I start this week with Delta/Alaska and their new single Start With The Cage. It's very Foals but with a bit more of a meatier bite…there's brawny guitar with nice distortion and a pummeling drum beat, rather than just the predictable twangly guitar with no soul, like other Foals wannabes. The chorus works excellently, with the male/female vocals adding depth to a song that would have otherwise been diluted and very predictable. Delta/Alaska sound like they're definitely onto a music journey that could eventually turn into something epic. I do worry that the North London five-piece might become a little predictable, and the b-side begins to confirm this. However, it's early days for Delta/Alaska and I still really like the track. I'm certain that there's a lot more to come from them.
When the first words you read about a band in the PR email are 'Swedish psychedelic rock', you know that the track has a lot to live up too. With images of a mental Scandanavian blonde-haired fellow going ape-shit on a guitar bounding a-plenty, I delved into Mono Stereo's Me and My Machine. From the slow-build up opening to the moment it really kicks into life, this is a real feelgood, psyched song. Supergrass with a different accent singer? Yes, please! That'll do me! Gorgeous sixties guitar accompanies a jangling tambourines and hypnotic vocals. There's nods towards everything from BRMC to Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel (and there's certainly a bit of Pinball Wizard in there too). Listening to this warm, vibrant song on a night like this, whilst The Dreaded Winter batters and harasses my window with hail and rain, it really does make me wonder - WHY WAS THIS SONG NOT RELEASED IN THE SUMMER!? If it had done then it has 'Hit' written all over it, with car stereos blaring it out in the midst of Bank Holiday traffic-jams while ice-cream drips all over your hands. However, it's been released now when the car won't start because it's too cold, and the ice-cream is simply 'ice'. Ach, but it's hardly the song's fault. Me and My Machine is just so utterly different to most things around at the minute - it's like being slapped on the face with an enormous psychedelic fish. If you want a wake-up call to something not full of reverb, contains no woe-is-me lyrics and not a trace of crap synthesizers, then Mono Stereo are well worth a listen.
Now for something else that is (thank God) also a little different to other things around today. Pull In Emergency give us The Problem doubled-up with Backfoot this week. The young five-piece have been stirring up a shit-storm at 6Music (the good type of shit-storm) for their inspired lyrics and excellent power-pop guitar riffs, and the trend continues with this release. Faith Barker's vocals are stupidly powerful - particularly in The Problem, where she absolutely belts out the chorus. Pull In Emergency are creating music that you can get lost in - it's the sound that turns into a soundtrack, which then genuinely accompanies life - when people look back at 2010 they'll have Pull In Emergency tracks in their head. This isn't something that just bypasses you - it gets into you. Both tracks are excellent (The Smiths on Backfoot, perhaps) but different enough to keep the listener interested, yet the watermarks of the band - Barker's bullet-stopping voice, the snare-happy drums and fast-paced guitar - remain throughout. The band have just released their debut album…I've not listened to it yet, but this sound like they could be one of my picks for 2011. Normally I can't stand bland, jangly-indie guitars, but Pull In Emergency have much more going on than anything like that. They're dark and brooding, whilst still being sunny and enthusiastic…like a Lion that's just been given some sweets from the shop. Maybe.
Younger Brother are probably the biggest least-known band in the world. With over a million hits on YouTube and a similar amount on MySpace, it's bizarre that they aren't more of a recognized group in mainstream terms. This week they give us Night Lead Me Astray (not Ashtray, which is what I first read it as). It's a little different to what we're used to hearing from Posford/Vaughan/Campbell, but certainly not in a bad way. The track sounds like a real consumer piece, and deserves to do very well. This could be the point where Younger Brother evolve from underground giants to overground behemoths. They could easily be compared to Royksopp and the like (not The Like), as well as Doves, but their sound is so vast, that even beginning to compare them to anyone is borderline stupidity (even though I just did, har har). The track flows lovely, and is never boring. The drums about three-quarters of the way through the track burst into life, as if gaining a second wind just when the listener's attention might have began waning. Night Lead Me Astray is a very solid single that millions will fall in love with - it certainly doesn't sound like a release from a band that most people will have never, ever heard of (despite the fact that they sold-out Brixton Academy in 2008).
With lyrics more confusing than solving quadratic equations during a bungee jump, and an opening that could be the soundtrack to a Disney bad-guy, we have Hjaltalin and their absolutely crackers single Suitcase Man. I can safely say that the Icelandic group has created something that's certainly original! Recounting the story of a photographer who steals people's faces and identities with his photographs (Yep!), this is ultimate escapism. You think you've got problems all because the dishes need doing, and the dog has just shit in the living room? Well YOU don't have to deal with bumping into a bloke with a 'bag of faces' that steals your soul! I LOVE the fact that the track on the 'face' of it has nothing to do with real-life - when you listen to Hjaltalin you can forget everything. The amount of stuff going on in this single is brilliant - forget the three-piece drums-guitar-bass…here we have maracas, congos, a brass band - the lot! Suitcase Man is atmospheric, dark and sadistic, and I bet it sounds bloody brilliant when it's played live.
One of the finest songwriters in Britain, Gruff Rhys releases Shark Ridden Waters this week. Somewhat of the thinking man's writer in this single - a bit of a chin-stroker. The track is a dreamy, and somewhat melancholy affair, with spacey jangling guitar along with Rhys' musings on top. It's got a lovely bassline, and has a bit of a sixties-vibe to it. The track (to me, anyway) is about not really knowing someone, even though they've been in your life for a long time - the idea that no matter how long you've known a person, you still don't really connect with them. Facebook, Twitter et all have a lot to answer for. It's a nice song, but maybe could have done with having more about itself - not much really happens during the 4:45 of the piece (but I guess that's part of the point). There's nothing really WRONG with Shark Ridden Waters, but it feels more like an album filler song, rather than hit single, to me.
Well then, that's it all done for another week. This round-up has been the best one for a very long time (perhaps not in writing style, but in terms of the content). I'm a little disappointed that I have to choose just one song, 'cos most of them would have walked it if they had been released any other week! Well, for the sheer 'lets really bang a tune out' of the track, and the wonderful lyrics, guitars, chorus…just everything…it MUST to go Pull In Emergency's The Problem. The main thing that sets Pull In Emergency apart from anything else around that inch towards being somewhat similar is that they're still incredibly different to the millions of other guitar-heavy bands out today - it's not just 'raw', but 'RAWRRRR!'
Pull In Emergency at MySpace.
Unfortunately for our winners, they don't have any videos or embedded material that I can find of the single…so instead here's our very,very, very close runners-up, Hjaltalin: