Fan of early 1980s Rush, but don’t like Ayn Rand? Then Holy Holy are for you. Paint is their sophomore album, building on an already sublime debut, When The Storms Would Come. With hints not only of Rush (‘True Lovers’), but also The Police and Foreigner, Paint captures an era when rock ruled supreme. But it’s no fake copy. No paint-by-numbers, if you will. The colours are fresh. The experience is vivid. It’s full of inspired touches. The break out at the end of ‘Willow Tree’. The riff on ‘Darwinism’. The bass on ‘Shadow’. With Paint, Holy Holy have delivered a modern-day masterpiece. And one thing’s for sure, their work will only increase in value.
Happy New Year. Surely, 2017 can only be better than 2016. But who knows at the moment? What’s for sure is that music will always be a comfort. In that spirit, highly anticipated 2017 releases include confirmed albums from Elbow, Fleet Foxes, Foxygen, Grandaddy, Grizzly Bear, Horse Thief, Nadia Reid, Nikki Lane, Real Estate, Ryan Adams, The Shins, Son Volt, Strand of Oaks, and Sun Kil Moon. And then there’s always the H-LM wish list. This year, it includes Adrian Crowley, Alela Diane, Anaïs Mitchell, Bill Callahan, David Vandervelde, Feist, Field Report, Fionn Regan, First Aid Kit, Israel Nash, Jason Isbell, Jim White, Laura Veirs, Lewis & Clarke, Noah Gunderson, and Phosphorescent. Mind you, some of these artists were on my wish list this time last year. So, fingers are tightly crossed. Whatever happens, let’s start the new year with some good news. Word is in that Kramies is recording new demos. I can’t wait to hear the end result. In the meantime, here’s Kramies (feat. Jason Lytle) with ‘Clocks Were All Broken’.
In the dog days of summer, new releases are hard to find and good ones even scarcer. So, this is a chance to catch up some albums that really should have been reviewed.
There’s a definite riot grrrl thing going on here. Just drums, guitar and vocals. This is serious Glasgow girl power. “I will hate you forever, Scumbag, sleaze, Slimeball, grease, You really do disgust me”. But this is no nostalgia trip, or musical equivalent of an episode of Xena: Warrior Princess. This is an album full of fantastic hooks. And on songs like ‘(I’d Rather Be) Anywhere But Here’, ‘Biro’, and ‘Choker’, the vocals by Stine Tweeddale are utterly mesmerizing.
The Söderberg sisters experience a certain crisis of conscience on their follow up to the The Lion’s Roar. Low key. Reflective. Doubtful. Well, it was recorded in Omaha by Bright Eyes’ producer, Mike Mogis. But, don’t worry, Johanna and Klara haven’t invented a new genre of emo-folk. This is still First Aid Kit at their uplifting, anthemic best.
More beautiful bardology from the Bella Union label. This time from new signing, Horse Thief. Packed full of indie-guitar hooks, there’s an infectiousness to the sound. Plus, there’s the first ever song to begin with the line ‘I want to be a Human Geographer’. Physical geographers have apparently taken umbrage.
This is perhaps the closest James Jackson Toth will ever come to a mainstream album. Darn if ‘Sinking Feelings’ don’t sound like ‘Pocahontas’. And both ‘Dambuilding’ and ‘When The Trail Goes Cold’ are instant Harvest-era classics. But this is still a Wooden Wand album. It’s scarcely prime time listening. And that’s the very appeal.
The Black Keys are an easy target. Global success has ensured that. Yet they’re still worth a dispassionate listen. While they could have delivered another album full of T-Rex-influenced, three-minute earworms, they’re confident enough to take a step back and slow things down. The opener, ‘Weight of Love’, is a particular favourite in that regard.