I’m falling behind on—well—just about everything these days. I’ve got months worth of music to review and not enough time to post them, so I am going to be crazy efficient today one band from each of the three largest exporters of music in the world. If, at any point, you feel you’re falling behind, feel free to stop, backtrack, and read again. I’ll wait.
Draygo’s Guilt, Great Britain – If you’re unfortunate enough to be mired in the dankness of American college radio, you’ve no doubt noticed the oppressive stranglehold the new Seattle scene has on indiekids nationwide—everyone wants to be Fleet Foxes and Fleet Foxes want to tucked up in a mountain pass somewhere with their beards and their ostinatos and their echoing voices (oices-ices-ces-es-s-…). So, in a time when everyone seems to be unplugging their amps, it is impossible to overstate the welcome sound of anyone willing to turn theirs up to eleven—and when that band is good at what they do, the results can be ravishing. Draygo’s Guilt are very good at what they do. When I was first introduced to them, the music was described to me as The Doors meets Joy Division. Personally, I would throw The Animals in their as well (and not just because “House” is a version of “House of the Rising Sun” that captures all the energy and passion of the classic recording but with better vocals). The single, “Pulse” is bluesy fuzzpop with a hook to die for and a groove to match. You can head over to MySpace to hear a handful of tracks or download the entire album, Trust Me…, from draygosguilt.com (hint: free music is good).
Lars Ludvig Löfgren, Sweden – From Swedish DIY label Häleri comes the debut album from Lars Ludvig Löfgren, Heterochromia. I will admit that, at first listen, Heterochromia comes off as a pretty decent pop record. It’s not until a few hours (or even days) later that the music really begins to take full effect. But once the high-powered sixties-laden pop has seeped into your brain, there really is no hope of ever separating yourself from it. You can stream the whole album as well as download a couple of the singles for free on Lars’ Bandcamp page. I’ve been listening to it as I’ve been writing this, which has made the writing process rather laborious because all I can think is holy crap, this is brilliant. So, please, excuse my uncharacteristic lack of eloquence and varied vocabulary. A couple of months ago, I was chatting with Geert from The Black Atlantic about this album (at least I think that’s who I was talking to) and he said that he reckons Heterochromia is one of the best albums of 2009. In retrospect, I think I agree with him.
New Canyons, USA – I met Adam Stilson of New Canyons at a Starbucks in Chicago back in October. It was on the same night, in the same Starbucks where I interviewed Emilie Simon (still one of the top 5 highlights of my life, by the way). No, it wasn’t quite so serendipitous as it sounds. Adam was working the show that night, and we got to talking after exchanging a couple of those awkward “don’t I recognise you from somewhere?” looks. After a few minutes of chatting about how sweet Emilie is and why she would ever take the time to talk to a loser like me, he mentioned his band New Canyons, and I am glad he did. New Canyons are another one of those bands deeply ingrained in the 80s revival, owing a great deal to both shoegaze and new wave, with lots of synths and drum machine and a touch of ambient noise. Listening to New Canyons is like 1983 all over again, but in good way, kind of like it would be if MTV decided to show music videos again.