Thursday, March 22, 2007

Solid good times.

Just taking a little break from all this mixtape nonsense...

When you're navigating the blog minefield these days, you tend to come across thousands of different blogs all hyping the same things. Right now, it's all Panda Bear this, Modest Mouse that, LCD Soundsystem the other and while I'm aware that I do this kind of thing myself every now and then (only when the record deserves it though), I'm going to try to make a concerted effort to give blog space to records that haven't been under the blog microscope (blogroscope?) as much as they probably should have.

Swedish duo, Dan Lissvik and Rasmus Haag, aka Studio, have finally got around to releasing an album on CD after five or so years of sporadic 12s and 7s, not forgetting last year's vinyl-only album, West Coast - an album whose omission from my end-of-year top 50 still wakes me up in the night covered in terror sweat. The resulting CD, entitled Yearbook 1 is both an expansion on the ideas laid down on West Coast and a sonic leap forward.

Yearbook 1 is certainly a tough cookie to pin down, in that it leaps between genres with youthful abandon and touches on some very of-the-moment, fashionable sounds whilst dipping into musical waters that haven't been traversed in quite some time. For instance, there's 'Life's A Beach!' which bubbles along on a kind of extended space-disco vibe for a languid, but totally justified twelve minutes and forty-seven seconds, but Studio also serve up the likes of 'No Comply' and 'Self Service (Short Version)', both of which, with their combination of laddish vocals and laidback groove could almost be - dare I say it - baggy. In fact, the pan-pipes in the former could be misconstrued as a call-back to Flowered Up's second summer of love wannabe anthem, 'It's On'.

Unwanted mental images of Barry Mooncult aside, Yearbook 1 is a fine album indeed. It's bright, bold, colourful and, crucially, accessible. I know that some purists may find this to be a bit of a crude way of assessing an album's worth, but its been a mainstay on my mp3 player since January, while other, more hyped but less fulfilling albums have come and gone (I'm talking to you, Neon Bible!). One thing I won't be doing though, is forgetting about this one come December.

Studio - No Comply (mp3)

The kind of music that Alex Delivery make is not the sort meant for widespread consumption, but after hearing their debut album, Star Destroyer I'm glad that there are still bands out there that are wholeheartedly committed to being adventurous. While the album isn't exactly groundbreaking or thoroughly new, it's certainly a bit of a diversion from the usual fare and also quite different from anything else released on Jagjaguwar lately.

Equally in thrall to pioneers such as Can or The Boredoms as they are to harmonious, multi-layered modern indie rock acts such as Broken Social Scene, they pile layer on layer of backwash and noise atop a solid foundation of melodic, almost-pop arrangement. Then they jam the fuck out of it until it reaches breaking point.

This is most evident on Star Destroyer's two most audacious pieces. Both clocking in at over ten minutes, the opening 'Komad' and late-album wig-out, 'Sheath-Wet' are blistering pieces of aurally-exciting, yet emotionally engaging noise-pop. Monoliths that threaten to overshadow the rest of the album, but to say that they do would be unfair to the other five songs assembled here, as Star Destroyer ultimately hangs together as a wonderfully cogent, pleasingly obfuscated whole that rewards more and more with repeat listens. If you like your music a little left-of-centre, only not too out-there, then don't sleep on this one.

Alex Delivery - Sheath-Wet (mp3)

Have I ever steered you wrong before? Actually, don't answer that.


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Anonymous jen murse. said...

this studio track is soooooo good. do you know where i can get the entire album? it seems like you can only purchase it directly from the band in sweden for like $27 with shipping...

2:39 am  
Blogger James said...

It seems that, for the time being at least, that's the only place you can buy it. It's getting a fair bit of buzz since Pitchfork gave it a good review, so expect a full release at some point.

Although I wouldn't condone illegal downloading, I'm pretty sure that you'd be able to get it from most p2p networks. Be sure to buy it though, if you like it. Support the artists!

12:48 pm  
Anonymous jen murse. said...

oh yea i'm all about supporting which is why i want to buy! hmm....maybe i'll break down and get it from sweden.

1:59 am  

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