Dutch Uncles – O Shudder
Seems to be getting harder and harder to actually decide on a favourite release each week at the moment. It’s either down to the amount of great stuff that’s pumping out of the meat grinder that is today’s music industry or it’s just cos I’m getting double indecisive in my old age. The first one, definitely the first one. It’s a tough old job this, you should feel very sorry for me having to make these incredibly tough decisions every tuesday. Seems like each week for the past few months (not including december obvs, cos that’s always a shit month for new releases) I could easily pick one of three, four or sometimes five albums as the tip of the tops, and the pressure’s almost unbearable, knowing that my decision could be the difference between a band/ artist either gaining or losing one or two extra record sales. It’s make or break stuff. Luckily, I am man enough to still put my neck on the block and make that decision. I do it all for you. And this week I’ve gone for the fourth album from Manc four piece, Dutch Uncles, O Shudder, despite ferocious competition from fantastic records from Champs, Sea Change & Dan Deacon (also luckily for you and those bands/ acts, they don’t lose out completely, as all three are still featured below as the ‘Best Of The Rest’ and you should defo still check that shid out).
So the Dutch Uncles and O Shudder, why’d it win this week? Simple answer is cos it’s close to faultless. You could say it perhaps doesn’t have as many obvious hooks as the others, it may not have the standout singles or be as instant as them either, but invest a bit of time in it, and you’ll discover an album that actually doesn’t have any weak tracks. A formidable achievement I’m sure you’ll agree. Where their previous records have been a bit more on the upbeat side of indie pop, this one takes things down a notch, and in doing so completely smooths out any previous rough edges to create a gorgeous synth based pop sound similar but topping that of All We Are’s debut of a few week’s back (that also claimed my POTW, so if this is better you knows it must be good). With lead singer Duncan Wallis‘ fragile yet soothing falsetto pitching somewhere between Kate Bush & Alexis Taylor, topping laid back disco, funk & math rock grooves, if you imagined Wild Beasts’ brilliant Smother without the occasional over theatrics, or Foals ditching the stadium ambitions for a more intimate sound you’d be getting close. It’s thoughtful, intelligent & perfectly crafted pop for those who don’t normally like pop.
BEST OF THE REST
Champs – Vamala
Last year Isle Of Wight brothers Champs released their gorgeous folk pop debut, Down Like Gold which having been released on the same day as Elbow’s last record shared the that POTW crown. This year they’re back with second album Vamala which if it wasn’t for the brilliance of the Dutch Uncles record very very slightly shading them, would have repeated the trick. But that’s just my opinion, a fair few of you may see this as the better album, and I could not blame you in the slightest if you did, as Vamala is a truly outstanding piece of work. Going a bit more pop and a bit less folk than on it’s predecessor, tracks like ‘Desire’, ‘3000 Miles’, ‘Blood’ & title track ‘Vamela’ are all incredibly beautiful. If the distinctive vocals and gorgeous pop hooks don’t instantly grab you, then after a couple more spins the sheer quality of the songwriting most definitely will.
Sea Change – Breakage
If you’ve been following this blog at all over the last few months you’ll recognise the name Sea Change (aka Norwegian Musician/ Producer Ellen A. W. Sunde), from the numerous times we’ve featured her glacial synth pop, first as one of my New Music Takeaway’s and then in loads of Pick ‘n’ Mixes since, covering the release of each of her wondrous singles. So in case you haven’t already guessed, we love her. And now, after a long and patient wait, the week is finally upon us where we excitedly get to lay our hands on her full debut Breakage. And it don’t disappoint oh no. Sounding like she’s cherry picked all of the best aspects of Fever Ray, Lykke Li, Zola Jesus before adding her own sprinkling of scando coolness to create nine stark & incredibly powerful tracks. An extremely impressive debut.
Dan Deacon – Gliss Ritter
Almost last up for this week is the latest from electro weirdo (his words not mine) Dan Deacon, Gliss Ritter. Any idea what that album title means? Nah I didn’t either until I used my vast intellect to logically work it out (I typed it into google). Turns out it’s Dan’s very own phrase as far as I can tell, and it means the manipulation of loops of layered glissando (rapid ascending and/or descending streams of sequential notes). Know what that means? Me neither, but instead of using google this time I decided that it must refer to the sounds on the album, so I just stuck that on, and now it all makes perfect sense. However, given that I still lack the intellect to really explain it any clearer to you guys, I’d suggest you just do the same. And once you do, you’ll realise, that on top of the record eductaing us on the topic of glissando, it’s also great fun, combining those trance inducing layered loops in percussion, vocals & synths with pop hooks to create a sound that’s both experimental and incredibly infectious.
Negash Ali – Collage E.P.
Normally I don’t really pop E.P.’s into my POTW’s but I’m happy to make an exception this week for our favourite Eritrean artist Negash Ali, who as with Sea Change above, if you follow this blog at all, you’d surely already know about, via our New Music Takeaway & Pick ‘n’ Mix segments. Alternatively, you may well have heard of him elsewhere, as his tracks have graced the likes of BBC 1xtra, Huffington Post, MTV UK, and SBTV too, but I doubt it cos you I imagine you only ever come here to YHM for your new music right? And who the hell are those nobodies anyways? Back to Negash though, his dazzling debut (alliteration’s fun innit) E.P. Collage, got it’s full release via iTunes and Spotify (you can also stream it on soundcloud now) this very week, and it’s is completely and utterly brilliant. If you’re into guys like Kanye, Drake & The Weeknd, you’re gonna wanna check it out.