Second Quarter Check Up

Published on July 20th, 2009 by

bibio-yppah-fanfarlo-trentmollerThe year in music has been going pretty smoothly.  In fact, another look at my first quarter check up shows it may be going just alright.  The only full-length album I’m still listening to from the first quarter of 2009 is Animal Collective‘s Merriweather Post Pavillion. And I’m still ALL OVER anything by Aeroplane.

I have to say it looks like the second quarter has grown a set!  From Bibio‘s transition from beautiful to unbelievable and an unexpected debut from Fanfarlo, this selection is filled with full-length works which I can’t get enough of.  Check it!

BibioAmbivalence Avenue/Vignetting The Compost– Bibio, aka Stephen Wilkinson definitely belongs on WARPAmbivalence Avenue is an oddly schizophrenic record which has the flow of a conceptual Prince album, but sounds nothing like him.  Rather, it has echoes of WARP’s roster in the form of Four Tet, Flying Lotus, Boards of Canada and Grizzly Bear.  There’s also the undeniable influence of Fleetwood Mac and J Dilla – I know, and odd pairing, but one listen to it and you’ll understand why Bibio has one of the freshest approaches to making music these days.  Wilkinson has another album which came out this year as well.  Vignetting The Compost is a lovely record with a sound which Bibio has become most noted for.  The most obvious comparison would be to Boards of Canada’s embryonic guitar daydream that is The Campfire Headphase with layers of found sounds and laptop trickery. I was just telling a friend how it reminds me of those little bits between tracks on Boards of Canada records, but longer.  Besides great production and studio trickery, Vignetting The Compost showcases Bibio as a capable and dexterous guitarist.  Groove to Ambivalence Avenue and chill out to Vignetting The Compost  – you have the choice, but I highly recommend getting both immediately!

FanfarloReservoir (with Bonus Tracks)– I was directed to this by the Sigur Rós mailing list.  My immediate impression was how powerful it was.  Fans of Arcade Fire, Doves, Belle and Sebastian and of course Sigur Rós will be seriously happy.  Toss in some British Sea Power and you have yourself the album that will finally reach its deserved popularity sometime this fall – a perfect season for this dramatic piece of work.  The Sigur Rós connection?  Jonsi’s sister, the bands namesake, Sigurrós and her cousin Disa appear on the cover in a photo by Jonsi’s other sister Lilja.  Awesome.

TrentemøllerHarbour Boat Trips (Copenhagen)– This is not the overdue new album by Anders Trentmøller, but a compilation of songs which he listens to in his “most intimate hours, coming down after gigs, cleaning my apartment, waiting for friends to arrive…”  Harbor Boat Trips looks to be a forthcoming series similar to that of The Trip, Back To Mine and Late Night TalesCopenhagen could easily join Bibio’s Ambivalence Avenue on a Saturday night before going out or during recovery on Sunday morning.  The song that really got my attention was “Somersault” by a band I’d never heard before called I Got You On Tape.  It’s sort of like a This Mortal Coil record crashing a Polyphonic Spree soundcheck.  Copenhagen grows right before you, beginning with the narcotic sounds of Grouper and Beach House and ending with a stunning mash-up of Copenhagen Collective and Soft Cell‘s (cover of) “Tainted Love“.  I promise this compilation will make you want to go record shopping!

The HorrorsPrimary Colours – Is this the follow up to The StrokesIs This It?  Besides a couple filler/stinkers in the middle of this album, I like it.  There is a sort of disposable element which I can’t seem to nail down – kind of like the feeling that you won’t be listening to it in a few years.  But for now, this homage to every important pop group of the last thirty years (MBV, The Jesus and Mary Chain, Joy Division, and on and on) is doing it for me!  I can say that “Scarlet Fields” is hands down my favorite pop song of the year – so far.

J DillaJay Stay Paid– This is about as respectful as a producer can get approaching material left after the unfortunate, untimely loss of J Dilla.  Pete Rock (yeah, like Pete Rock & CL Smooth) was J Dilla’s hero and it’s pretty obvious with his treatment of Dilla’s postumous discoveries that the feeling is mutual.  From the opening introduction and the trademark siren which is heard throughout the classic Donuts, Jay Stay Paid becomes a companion piece, or better yet a sequel to Donuts.  All the tracks are produced by J Dilla and perfectly arranged with a few new additions to the Donuts recipe – most obvious is the use of a few guest vocalists including Dilla’s brother Illa J, MF Doom, Black Thought and Blu on one of the coolest songs on the album, “Smoke”.  Fans of Donuts will love some of the short but amazing tracks like “Milk Money”, “Mythsysizer”, and my absolute fave on the album, “On Stilts”.  Summer is still young, and this should be your backyard BBQ soundtrack!

YppahThey Know What Ghost Know– As majestic as Godspeed You Black Emporer or Mogwai and catchy in the vein of St. Etienne and Chemical Brothers, (try “Gumball Machine Weekend” for that exact match) Yppah will give you an instant lift.  His recipe is a base of  blippy electronica, a generous layer of live drums and heavy guitar with loads of reverb and effects.  This is a very, very new release so I’m still just getting into it, but it’s instantly catchy and I can’t stop listening to it.  Fans of the above mentioned bands plus Stereolab, Go! Team and anything on MORR Music, especially projects like Lali Puna and B. Fleischmann’s Duo 505, should get this right away.

Other tracks which have been in constant rotation:  School of Seven Bells – “Face to Face On High Places” (Jesu Remix), Gui Boratto – “Besides”, Styrofoam – “Like a Daydream” (Yes, the RIDE song!), Bibio – “Under The Pier”.

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