A Summery Summary
Think of this as a hipster guide if you will. I’ve mainly included releases from July and August, because June was ages ago and I still can’t really count September as summer in this bloomin’ country. So, have a browse and see what you might like…
Samiyam, one of the founding members of the Brainfeeder collective (think Flying Lotus, Gaslamp Killer, Teebs), released “Sam Baker’s Album” at the end of June. Filled with a lot of good beats, quite a few bad beats and as always, some great sound effects. Highlight for me are the meows featuring in ‘Kitties’.
Washed Out released his debut album Within and Without [Sub Pop] half way through July. Sounding like his 2009 EP but less interesting, It’s one of those albums to float away on an inflatable crocodile to. One of the “founders” of “Chillwave”, you’ll probably know within the first three minutes of opener “Eyes Be Closed” whether or not you’re going to enjoy this album, as Mr. Washed Out, Ernest Greene, never really deviates from his pattern of dreamy synths, loops and other dreamy things.
Fink’s 5th LP, Perfect Darkness, came out in June to an unfairly mediocre reception. Fin Greenall is in the rather unlucky situation where he produces albums of great quality, harking towards an acoustic/ pop/blues sound, yet due to his being signed to Ninja Tune, an independent label centred on Jazz and electronic music, they don’t really have the marketing budget required to push some singles out there. Luckily for him, however, getting mentioned in a positive light in such an esteemed publication as the Zahir will no doubt send him flying towards the charts. We can only wait.
Serengeti: Family and Friends [Anticon]
The first thing I heard from this alt-rapper was a verse on Sufjan Stevens’ two-part charity contribution you are the blood, which was a rather bizarre electronic epic. He now returns with a real release, produced by Why?’s Yoni Wolf. You can certainly spot similarities between Yoni’s work and Serenjeti’s, bar Why?’s music is really good, while this hits just above average. It could, in fact, be Wolf’s fault more than Serengeti’s – the beats by the end of the record feel a little too similar and, although very different to the norm, don’t pack enough alternative punch for that to be a good thing.
HUDMO Satin Panthers EP [Warp]
My favourite Scottish beatmaker (sorry Unicorn Kid) comes out with a new EP following 2008’s Butter. There are some very big beats on this, but as is the problem with HudMo’s stuff, sometimes it gets a little bit too weird, and we miss out on what could have been a fantastic club banger. However look out for a side project of his, the truly fantastic (and slightly unofficial) “pleasure principle” – now this DOES have a pop appeal, and I really think HudMO should focus future efforts in this area, despite Warp Records probably not being so keen.
Shlohmo: Bad Vibes [Friends of Friends]
Shlohmo’s Bad Vibes is a bit like Mount Kimbie’s Crookes and Lovers, but less pace, and much more sleepy (If you’re familier with Mount Kimbie,think Tunnel vision) . It’s a great background album, but while Crookes and Lovers had some great hooks and somewhat of a club appeal, Bad Vibes was never going to end that way. The production however is super-tight, and is still a nice one to fall asleep to.
Beirut: The Rip Tide [Pompeii Recordings]
At the turn of August we saw Balken indie brass superstar Zach Condon return with Beirut and a brand new LP, The Rip Tide. His last two albums both superbly capture what is now Beirut’s niche sound: lush Eastern European influenced instrumentation and a voice fighting between opera and town crier. However, The Rip Tide is not really in the same league as what has come before it. I’m putting it down to the production being too clean and the horn parts too well rehearsed, but I’m still not sure. Basically, I would recommend anything else that you can get hold of from Beirut, apart from this album. It’s just not as good.
CANT: Dreams Come True [Terrible]
CANT’s Dreams Come True came out on Terrible Records (surely not a great way to sell CDs?) and is the solo attempt from Grizzly Bear’s Chris Taylor. Anyone familiar with Grizzly Bear’s spacious and entertaining indie pop will recognise the vocal, as Taylor sings on many of their albums. However the sound is a lot more electronic, with influences perhaps from Caribou’s Odessa. Wherever it’s come from, it’s good stuff, and is worth tracking down.
Laura Marling: A Creature I Don’t Know
Laura Marling’s 3rd LP came out at the beginning of the September. Although another solid effort my the singer-songtress, A Creature I Don’t Know has Marling putting her American hat on for a large part of the album, which for me is a big disappointment, seeing as what really draws me to her music is her amazing vocal sound. Although I’m also a big fan of Joni Mitchell, someone who is clearly an influence on her music, it seems like she’s trying a little bit too hard to sound like her this time.
Well there were plenty more where they came from, but even I couldn’t spend all day just looking at the sunshine! And they probably weren’t worth your time anyway.