Sleepy Sun, Eskmo - Singles Round-Up - 06/09/10
Luke Langlands 11/09/2010
A new week, and a new deluge of music for everyone to get their teeth stuck into. Hopefully I've got my weeks right this time round and won't send this in a week late! I did have a bit of a worry-on yesterday when my Internet wasn't working, knowing that this was due in soon. Thankfully the nice man at TalkTalk saved me from going back to the Dark Ages of no Internet. This article sees me typing it up in my new flat in Edinburgh, waiting for another university year to unfold. Instead of the cramped Riego Street student digs, I now call the high-brow, up-market area of Leith my home! It may not be everyone's favourite place in the world, but right now it's overcast, dank, and quite dark. Looking out the window the panorama of the Scottish capital is enthralling. Hello September, hello Autumn, hello next year at university. And, hopefully, hello to some brilliant new artists that will colour the picture of my new Edinburgh adventure.
In my last reviews round-up I mentioned the surge of electronnica music that's been seen during the last few years (Hurts, Little Boots, Violens…). More evidence to prove this (and I'm not complaining about it, this type of music is excellent when created properly!) comes in the form of Karoshi, and their new single 'Not Sitting'. Described as "CSS meeting Human League in a warehouse party," I'd like to think The Ting Ting's were somewhere in the vicinity also. Karoshi seem the perfect remedy to the nights getting longer and the weather becoming colder. The track wouldn't quite work as a summer song, it's got too much bite - too much grandeur about it. But for this time of year it's perfect. It works well no matter what situation it's found in - be it nightclub or buying a new loaf of bread, with sensible, singable vocals akin to Goldfrapp supported by heavier keyboards and samples. 'Karoshi' is a Japanese term meaning 'death from overwork', and reflects the love/hate relationship people have with the modern world we live in. "This is the real world. Your hair isn't red, people don't walk around on stilts. Maybe somewhere you can earn a living sitting around, drinking margaritas through a curly plastic straw, but in this world, you've got to turn up, log on and grind out" (thanks Peep Show, you describe it much better than I ever could). 'Not Sitting' embodies this perfectly. It's about the desire to break-out from the mundane, the tedious and the dull. The natural longing for new experiences and adventures. Escaping the 'real' world. The main protagonists of Karoshi should be called Neo and Morpheus, not Dan and Sam. 'Not Sitting' is released on September 6th, with a promo video for the track to follow.
The second single from their self-titled debut album, Pulled Apart By Horses release 'High Five, Swan Dive, Nose Dive' this week. With a name like Pulled Apart By Horses, it was never going to be akin to Sigur Ros or Mew, but you'll also perhaps be surprised at how well-formed PABH songs are, in particular their new single. One of the fastest rising bands in post-hardcore rock (not too sure what pre-hardcore rock was, or what dictates post-hardcore, but oh well), an ace up this band's sleeves is the unpredictability in their music. Their last single, 'Back To The Fuck Yeah' was furious and unrelenting, but in contrast 'High Five, Swan Dive, Nose Dive' is subtle in parts, and builds to explosive climaxes. I thought it sounded a bit like Biffy Clyro, but I don't know if that's just me. It's classy hardcore. Something everyone will be able to reach and enjoy, and because of that, it's the perfect single for Pulled Apart By Horses.
If this next song doesn't make you want to do crazy shapes on the dancefloor, or even just in your front room, then I'm afraid to break it to you, but you are a robot with no soul! London three-piece The Slips have forged the head-bob, leg twitch, toe-tap monster that is '4 Elements To Make Good Music' which is released on iTunes and other good online stores (and a few shit ones too). It's just an excellent dance song with all the perfect ingredients, which according to the Steven Hawkins vocals on this track, are: Hydrogen, Helium, Lithium, and Potassium. It starts slow, builds up nicely and then explodes in a superfluity of 'Banging Chooooooons, mate!' If you're going out tonight but don't really fancy it, then play '4 Elements To Make Good Music'. After about 20 seconds in, you'll already have your shoes on and be darting out the door.
If you like your music a bit more rock, and a bit more 'classic', then Sleepy Sun's 'Marina' will cause similar reactions to listening to The Slips, but with a completely different genre on offer. The title-track of acclaimed new album Fever, the opening few bars will make many reminisce back to Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin and Jimi Hendrix. At over six minutes long, the track feels like a whole album in itself with bluesy, sledgehammer guitar notes penetrating an otherwise symphonic and majestic piece. All this goes along with soft, delicate vocals to create a wonderful track that deserves to be listened to by many more who actually will - those who do, however, will be sold on the confidence oozing through Sleepy Sun immediately. The band originates from California and it shines through in their work, it sounds as if they bathe their tracks in low-hanging sunshine and sprinkle rolling hills on top. It's a bit different to where I'm sat right now - it's started to rain outside, but the sentiment still remains.
If Sleepy Sun is a musical representation of California rock, then Eskmo's 'Cloudlight' must be pretty close to embodying a wet and windy British city (even though he's from Connecticut…is Connecticut rainy?). A mixture of hypnotic dubstep beats and atmospheric synth, my immediate reaction was to think of it as a more dramatic Royksopp. Brilliantly obscure and strangely uplifting, 'Cloudlight' is certainly unique. Eskmo's album in October will certainly be interesting, to say the least. Normally, I don't really like this type of music; it's just too obscure for me (I guess I'm a bit of a snob). But I really like this. Looking out the window and seeing a modern-day city, with modern-day music in the background, it links perfectly. I 'get' 'Cloudlight', whereas I normally don't.
Wholly different to everything else I've covered this week is 'Barricades' by Fyfe Dangerfield A comment on YouTube summed this song up perfectly: if it becomes even remotely well-known, 'Barricades' is destined to spend it's existence whored out on reality TV shows such as the X-Factor - you know the bits I mean, when little Timmy who loves music 'soooooooo much' tries his hardest (God bless him!) but nasty Simon Cowell says he isn't good enough and doesn't go through to the next round. It's a 'nice' song. It's not offensive in the slightest and won't raise any eyebrows. Nothing against it at all, it's 'nice' enough. But, you're not really going to listen to it and think 'Wow! What is this amazing shit?!” If songs were countries, Fyfe Dangerfield's 'Barricades' would be Switzerland - neutral.
Speaking of X-Factor, hugely talented Alexandra Burke releases 'Start Without You' this week. Featuring Laza Morgan, the song doesn't do Burke justice. Last year's X-Factor winner has a genuine gift for singing, and shows exactly why a programme like X-Factor can be a positive thing. But her new single, is just…strange. The chorus sounds like the songs redcoats used to sing at holiday camps when I was a kid. It's pineappley and sickly-sweet, and shouldn't be covered by this singer. The inclusion of Laza Morgan is bizarre - he barely does anything! Maybe I'm being a bit harsh on the song, and I'm really just jealous of the six-packs of the semi-naked men in the music video.
I honestly believe that Orchestral Maneuvers in the Dark are one of the most underrated bands of the late seventies/early eighties (I'm well aware that many people will be projectile vomiting at that sentence). Enola Gay, Electricity and Souvenir are all stone-cold classics, and Andy McCluskey looks a bit like Jeremy Paxman in some videos. Well, like it or not, OMD are back with a new album this month (Hurrah!), and 'If You Want It' is the first single from the record. Straight away it sounds like OMD tracks of old, which is both excellent and a bit disappointing in equal measures. The same OMD watermarks are there, complete with the squelchy synth sample that's found in many OMD tracks that sounds like an orange being zapped with a laser (that's the only way I can think to describe it.) This track will divide listeners - I imagine most of the original fans and those who have listened to OMD before will love, or at least, like it, whereas those new to OMD will struggle to latch onto the feeling and spirit of the piece. A grower!
SINGLE OF THE WEEK
Well, there was a bit of everything this week: post-hardcore rock, California Sabbath-esc guitars, an X-Factor winner and something I think Bez would have loved to twist his melon over in the nineties. But, my single of the week has to go to Sleepy Sun's 'Marina', for the simple fact that it's so grand and confident that it ought to have been written by a band that's been around for decades. I really hope people listen to them, I'm ordering the album now. I mean, seriously, these guys are DEFINITELY from a past generation - it's not even a question of 'Do' they have a time-machine - the question is 'WHERE IS THE TIME MACHINE!?'. They don't make them like this anymore!
At the beginning of the article I hoped to find some new talent to kick-start my academic year - and I definitely have, in the form of Sleepy Sun, The Slips and Eskmo.