February 2012, A Big Bowie Poster and Some Nice Curtains

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Mar 8 2012, 14h08

Loads to cover for February: it started busily enough with Visions by Grimes, Blues Funeral by Mark Lanegan, Air's Le Voyage dans la Lune and the gorgeous new songs & outtakes by the late Trespassers William. By the end of the month there were albums by SoKo, Tennis, School of Seven Bells, Gotye, Tindersticks, Perfume Genius and Sleigh Bells, and even that's not including the cracking Underworld retrospective....

My favourite has to be School of Seven Bells's Ghostory. Like a host of recent albums that sound like they've been mined from the depths of 18 year old me's record collection, it's not going to win anything for innovation, but it is a belter. The Night kicks things off sounding like 1990 Lush meeting 1995 Cocteau Twins. As it progresses, vocalist Alejandra weaves her way between Miki Berenyi and This Mortal Coil's Louise Rutkowski, which only adds to the nostalgic feel. Musically it sounds like an ace Scene That Celebrates Itself supergroup, with little flourishes of Curve, Ride and Chapterhouse dotted all over the place, though at heart there's also a bit of a Music for the Masses-era Depeche Mode stadium pop sound, especially on the awesome Low Times. The biggest kudos have to be saved for epic closer When You Sing, though. Like a crash involving My Bloody Valentine's Soon, Die Like a Dog by Curve and Blonde Redhead's 23, it's towering and immense, and designed to tear any house down live. Subtly building with layers of feedback and beats, the only down side is that it's taken 20 odd years for me to hear something worthy of being a successor to all that showegazey stuff I love from that long ago.

Even without having everything they've recorded, I've lost track of the amount of times that Tindersticks have dropped the ball. After the brilliant The Hungry saw, I was very disappointed by 2010's Falling Down A Mountain. The great thing for me is that opener on newie The Something Rain, Chocolate, immediately trounces everything not only from both those albums, but is good enough to be considered the equal of anything from their mercurial debut and the even better Tindersticks [II]. While the rest doesn't reach those lofty, lowly heights (or should that be point?) it's still a great album.

Another good 'un is Grimes' Visions. It's always easy to think Grimes albums will be things to scratch your beard to rather than actually properly enjoy, but then when you listen that all just melts away... Infinite ♡ Without Fulfillment kicks things off in a Lovesexy fashion, both typographically and groovily. Circumambient, Visiting Statue, Genesis and Symphonia IX (My Wait Is U) are just some of a host of catchy, glitchy pop that fills this album, like Thom Yorke given a proper, erm, happy make over.

new songs & outtakes by the much-mourned (by me at any rate) Trespassers William slightly took the pain of their breakup away, but it also made it a little worse. Songs as thoroughly gorgeous as What I'm Not And What You're Not or bells are fine enough to grace any of their albums, and the fact that this was the stuff they threw away makes you wonder just how good the next album would have been. I'd put my house on What I'm Not And What You're Not being in my top 10 tracks at the end of the year, and they gave it away fer free...

Something I've noticed while mulling over Gotye's Making Mirrors is how impossible it is to make it sound cool with the range of 80s influences I can hear. For the record, I do have a soft spot for the likes of Tango in the Night or Running in the Family, but this album really is better than those influences make it sound... looking at the comments box for Somebody That I Used to Know it's probably for the best that I don't listen to mainstream radio, but without being on heavy rotation it's a sweetly quirky little track that's actually very endearing. What business it has going chart-bothering with the likes of Lady Gaga or Rhianna is anyone's guess...

And because a blog has got to stop somewhere, here's the charts...

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