Sleigh Bells – Sleigh Bells (2009)

The easiest way to describe this is like a lost Destiny’s Child EP made by hipsters. And by that I mean it’s quite possibly the dance record of the summer. It’s also incredibly addictive in the best possible way.

Sample.

Myspace.

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Richard Youngs – Beyond The Valley Of Ultrahits (2009)

If there’s any justice, Richard Youngs will be remembered as one of the great musical auteurs of the last two decades. There is literally no genre the man cannot succeed at – from the exquisite  minimalist folk of Sapphie to the maximalist folk of Air Of The Ears, the drone chanting of Under Stellar Stream to the psych-electro of Like A Neuron, not the mention a stint playing bass for Jandek, it’s hard to think of someone more diverse and successful.

No-one counted on the “pop album”. Apparently on something of a dare, Youngs made this record in a limited run of 100 copies, which is why it’s so important that the blogosphere helps to spread it. This is too amazing not to hear. Echoic drum machines, sequencers, perfect harmonies and the odd gratuitous guitar part spiral around these songs. This will simultaneously appeal to the current taste for ‘chillwave’ and the like whilst also rendering the entire idea irrelevant.

SAMPLE REMOVED – Jagjaguwar are releasing this properly now. They are an amazing label (dude, those Spokane records are the best thing ever) and you should support both them and Richard.

PENS – Hey Friend! What You Doing (2009)

Download here

Myspace

They say lo-fi is the new hi-fi. If that’s true, let’s call these guys post-lo-fi. PENS are three grrrls from the UK who sound like the pissed off punk sisters of the Vivian Girls. 

Radical Face – Ghost (2007)

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Radical Face is a largely overlooked Electric President side project of Ben Cooper that I would consider the superior of the two bands. Many of the songs build slowly into incredible pieces for a one man bedroom project. For fans of largely orchestral pop with occasional electronic influences.

Myspace.

Sample.

Freelance Whales – Weathervanes (2009)

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If I were quickly scanning a post about a band I had not heard of and making the decision whether or not to check it out I know that several of the following would help to sway me: Arcade Fire, Ravens & Chimes, sweeping orchestral pop, Boy/Girl vocals and a bedroom production vibe that adds to the whole deal.

Myspace.

Sample.

Jóhann Jóhannsson – Fordlandia (2008)

Contemporary Song Cycles Pt. 3


Did you, as a matter of reference, know that Henry Ford tried to establish an Americanised city in the middle of the jungle in Brazil, in the 1920s? He decided it would be a really good way to get cheap rubber. He forced indigenous workers to live in white picket fence style surrounds and eat hamburgers. They rioted in 1930 and the ruins are still there. Henry Ford never once visited the place, and they also never succeeded in exporting a single iota of rubber back to the USA.

Majestic strings alongside blipping electronics, deep looming bass and old creaky pianos. And a killer backstory to boot. Jóhannsson is surely one of the better composers currently making recordings – not to mention that he’s labelmates with the Pixies and the Shins whilst doing so. If you have an appreciation for the delicate and the grandiose all at once, this is a wonderfully moving record, and a wonderful gateway into his other works too.

Please click here to sample this album. (link now fixed)

A Sunny Day In Glasgow – Ashes Grammar (2009)

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Download here

Definitely contender for a spot in Best Albums of ’09, A Sunny Day In Glasgow’s sophomore release is a gorgeous, lilting, ghostly echo of great shoegaze bands of years past.