I’m Scared of Vinyl

Charlotte Gainsbourg – IRM

Posted in Albums by Catriona on February 28, 2010

I’ve been a bit of a fan of Charlotte Gainsbourg ever since she released 5:55 back in 2006, but IRM has definitely surpassed all my expectations. Since the album was produced by Beck, I was expecting high level of musicality, but as well as this, the entire album has a delicate instrumental quality that melds perfectly with Gainsbourg’s vocals. For such a nostalgic album, which begins in a very acoustically driven manner, the title has surprisingly clinical origins. Apparently, IRM takes its name from MRI scans, something which Gainsbourg has had ample experience of, having suffered a brain hemorrhage in the wake of a water skiing accident several years ago. Listening to this album has certainly been one of the highlights of my week, and “Me and Jane Doe” in particular will certainly stay on repeat for quite some time to come.

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Vampire Weekend – Contra

Posted in Albums by Catriona on January 12, 2010

I’ve read a couple of pretty disappointed reviews of Vampire Weekend’s second album on the internet recently, and yes, the album will probably not prove to be as universally popular as their debut was, but I still like it. I’m more inclined to agree with Mike Powell, who wrote a far more positive review for Pitchfork, and gives a particularly good description of the album saying “Vampire Weekend sound like they’ve fallen in love with what they started and are hugging it tight without shame or apology”.

Once you get past the fact that there’s not going to be another “Oxford Comma” or “A-Punk”, you begin to appreciate just how genuine Contra really is as an album. They’ve really developed their sound and in particular their influence by world music, especially with the diversity of their percussion instruments. It’s so interesting to finally hear the full album – when “Horchata” was released about a month or so ago, I kept wondering if it would be representative of the entire album, or whether it would have the same anomalous factor that “Mansard Roof” had on Vampire Weekend’s debut. It turns out it very much belongs to the former category. Contra truly was contrary to what I was expecting, but it’s an album that grows on closer acquaintance and has a summery quality that’s particularly welcome at this time of year.

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Love Is All

Posted in Albums by Catriona on January 11, 2010

“Kungen”, the first track from Love Is All’s latest album has just been released. The Swedish five-piece are due to release their third album, Two Thousand and Ten Injuries, at some point this year. I’ve always had a bit of a soft spot for the band – they always produce such up-beat pop that’s ever so slightly off-kilter and their sound is also very similar to Robots in Disguise, another band which I had a short-lived obsession for. Their album titles are also fantastic – the name of their second album A Hundred Things Keep Me Up at Night captivated me instantly and I spent a good two weeks playing “Wishing Well” practically on repeat, to the intense irritation of all around me. I tired of it eventually, but now “Kungen” has come along, with it’s catchy keyboards, echoing vocal harmonies and unexpected saxaphone, I’ve become temporarily obsessed with Love is All, all over again.

The Ambience Affair

Posted in Albums by Catriona on January 5, 2010

The Ambience Affair are back with a new EP, “Patterns” which you can order from Road Records. For now, here’s a little sample of what you can expect on the EP, the track “Devil in the Detail” – it’s brilliant!

The Ambience Affair – “Devil in the Detail” mp3

Kitsune Maison 8

Posted in Albums, News by Catriona on December 2, 2009

I’ve been wildly curious about the latest Kitsune Maison compilation (Vol. 8 ) that’s just been released and have been trawling the internet in the hopes of being able to listen to it somewhere. So far, I’ve been thwarted, but that could just be due to my limited google-searching abilities. What I did discover, much to my amazement, was how scarily upmarket the Kitsune myspace page has become. It extensively advertises the rather classy looking Kitsune shop in Paris, and I spent a good few minutes admiring their clothing line before realising that I was actually on a Myspace music page. What with Ed Banger’s (i.e. Busy P’s) collaboration with Colette, it seems that the French electro scene is certainly becoming part of the Parisian establishment.

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Annie – Don’t Stop

Posted in Albums by Catriona on November 30, 2009

It’s been five years since Annie’s debut album Anniemal, and with the recent flux of female electro artists, it looks like her time to finally make a breakthrough to a more mainstream audience may be at hand. Why the Norwegian electropop artist remains in so much in the genre of alternative music is a bit of a puzzle – she seems to have everything necessary to get more widespread acclaim – catchy pop-hooks, tonnes of attitude and music you can dance to. This album’s been a long time in the pipeline – and it’s well worth the wait – though the finished product is definitely a testament to the talent of producers Paul Epworth, Tino Kaukolampi and Xenomania, as well as to Annie herself.

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Autumn Owls – On the Trail of the Disappearing

Posted in Albums by Catriona on November 15, 2009

Autumn Owls

“On the Trail of the Disappearing”

With influences such as Sparklehorse and Radiohead I knew there was a huge likelihood that I’d enjoy listening to the Dublin based band, Autumn Owls and I wasn’t wrong. Their second EP, “On The Trail Of The Disappearing” was released in December 12th 2008 and even though it is almost a year old, it is still as relevant and absorbing as ever. Autumn Owls have had a great reception, with golden reviews from the Irish Times, State.ie and Amplifier Magazine just to name a few. Their five song long EP is twenty minutes of moody, atmospheric rock. Listening to it, it is hard to believe the band is homegrown, their sound is quite unlike the usual Irish rock band. Autumn Owls are currently working on their debut album. For now though, I advise you to download “The Trail Of The Disappearing” from iTunes today.

Vivian Girls – Everything Goes Wrong

Posted in Albums by Catriona on September 12, 2009

Vivian Girls

Everything Goes Wrong

In the Red: 2009

It has only been a year since insanely cool indie trio the Vivian Girls released their debut on an eager audience. The self-titled album went on to be hugely successful with gems such as “Where Do You Run To” and “Tell The World” .The album was even included in Pitchfork’s “Top 100 albums of 2008” list. The Brooklyn trio cite The Shangri Las, Nirvana and The Wipers as influences to their shoegaze/punk style sound. Their newly released second album Everything Goes Wrong delivers much of the same of what we heard first time round. “When You’re Gone”, the first single of the album is an enjoyable enough mixture of hazy vocals and half played guitars mixed up with a dose of retro candy pop. The rest of Everything Goes Wrong follows in the same mould with few surprises or stand out tracks. I think I will be sticking to their debut.

The XX

Posted in Albums by Catriona on September 3, 2009

The xx

The xx

Young Turks: 2009

The xx are creating a serious stir with the release of their self-titled debut, and no wonder. For a first album, their songs are remarkably sophisticated and atmospheric, a collection of languid love-songs propelled into a dialogue by the male-female vocal duo of Oliver Sim and Romy Madley Croft. The album invokes a sense of neatness and care in the composition, the measured floating vocals and instrumental precision heightened by the use of a drum machine. With no overtly apparent influences, the xx have appeared fully-fledged, with an unusually progressive sound for such a young band. The two singles that have been released so far, “Basic Space” and “Crystallised” are not stand out hits, but blend seamlessly with the rest of the tracks on this understated, lyrical album. The band are currently supporting Florence and the Machine as a preamble to their upcoming solo tour, and look set to become progressively more successful.

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Felix Da Housecat – He Was King

Posted in Albums by Catriona on August 30, 2009

Felix Da Housecat

He Was King

Nettwerk: 2009

Heavily inspired by Prince’s 80’s synth-pop, the album takes its cue from the La Roux school of electro that’s currently taking over the charts. He Was King is dominated by dreamy female vocals –  courtesy of guest singer Nesh –  and is evidently aiming for a Kittenz and Thee Glitz cross-over appeal instead of sticking to the rather more niche house audience. Unfortunately, it was presumably this desire that led to the creation of the two weakest tracks on the album “Do Not Try This at Home”, and “Turn Me on a Summer Smile”, which veer too far from Felix’s trademark electro and bellyflop into something else entirely. Don’t let this put you off – there’s some truly, truly brilliant tracks –  “Elvi$” and “LA Ravers” see Felix on top form for sheer electro-house, dancefloor craziness, while “Kickdrum” promises to be the sort of club favourite that you’ll be dancing to for months to come.