New Soundbites: Peggy Sue, The Loud, Dan Sartain, Crookers, So So Modern, We Are Scientists,
Foreboding folk, the kind you find in Hamish Macbeth. So, err, not that foreboading. Getintothis' John Maher is on the brink of something seminal.
Peggy Sue: Fossils and Other Phantoms - Album of the Week
Unaccompanied acoustic guitars, banjos, strings, accordions, a couple of pastoral-like girls singing about things they've lost, others they're trying to get back and more they're not sure about?
This never would have happened in 2005. But, due to the efforts of Laura Marling, Mumford & Sons et al, what's over-generally known as 'folk' is directly in the media's gaze.
Peggy Sue trade in the more mainstream variety - great tunes on the face of it, yet they are blessed with an untouchable quality. I like to imagine bearded men (and women) at places including the Green Man festival belting out Yo Mama while a campfire lights their greasy faces.
All these basic fossils of sound have that qualityÃÂ foreboding insistence, like the music they used to play in Hamish Macbeth just before something truly seminal was about to happen. Maybe it is here as well.
As a listener you appreciate these personal doubts/struggles that are also universal in scope. We can believe we too smell the burning firewood as we dive in: 'I have a love that will linger till I learn to doubt it.'
Crookers: Tons of Friends
Southern Fried Records
Day N Nite, the Crookers' breakthrough hit, despite being a bit tacky was still charming in its subtlety - this LP is not. There's an A-Z of famous faces (will.i.am, Kelis, Tim Burgess) who spread their sentiments over the 20 tracks here, but half the time you're praying for some kind of let up to relentless jump-up noises.
Perhaps the tone is set on opener We Love Animals, which attempts a random vibe; all zany vocals and twisted synths. And a headache grows throughout cuts featuring Pitbull then Spank Rock. Next when the Black Eyed Peas' front man appears - Let's Get Beezy - it is easy to feel as though we've walked into the future where a BEP tribute band are romping through a set of the Americans' songs in pastiche mode.
Lighter chunks happen with an emotive Remedy and the excellent Royal T, which plucks a vital chorus up amid Roisin Murphy's pillow-soft tones. It probably isn't enough: tons of friends, not much restraint.
So So Modern: Crude Futures
Coming out of the ether, coming slap bang into the eardrums, Kiwis So So Modern swashbuckle their way through the undergrowth: their beginning echoes These New Puritans. Angular riffs bounce from robust rhythms to well-programmed chords.
Hyperactive organ bellows kick start The Worst is Yet to Come before a huge collage of sounds emerge - think Foals, At the Drive-in, even spectral tissues of The Postal Service. But somehow I got thinking about significantly less esteemed fellows during the middle section (the slump?), confused aggression-heads such as Hadouken! That is a pretty rare life-changing mixture.
It's best just to erase this though and keep in mind the more epic moments, including those gloom-lifting piano stepping stones on Berlin. Coupled with some soulful choruses on Holiday, So So Modern grasp clarity most when they ditch the emo temptations.
We are Scientists: Barbara
From the way they goof around in interviews you'd expect the Scientists to peddle dumb homogenous college rock but somehow they don't. On Barbara there's an endearing thread which makes them ultimately likeable and listenable - and that cheeky risk-taking mentality comes across.
Single Nice Guys offers what all the best WAS' tunes do: spiky intro, inoffensive build-up, infectious chorus that is crammed with XL-sized melodies. In fact, when Keith Murray and co really get into motion - the harmonious Pittsburgh - they resemble the best bits of Ben Gibbard's Death Cab for Cutie.
Yeah, we all know this band won't make an OK Computer, but if you're thinking that you're missing the point. Get the kicks from the simplicity. And if it IS jokes you want, they come on the inlay message: 'We offer you our sincerest hope that you will not waste this opportunity to love Barbara and use your position to secure it a position in the Canon of Great Art.'
Dan Sartain: Lives
One Little Indian
Putting on this record is similar to placing a DVD on - the Western cowboy jangles of Those Thoughts paint an image; Clint Eastwood (obviously) riding through the rough terrain. Did Dan Sartain predict such a reference point? There he is beside the song titles, hanging out at the vegetable stall, eying the camera with epic dubiousness: a kind of skinnier, younger Huey Morgan.
He's got a bit of that funk too. In spite of the often coarse lyrical content he grapples with irresistible hooks and the hooks win. Atheist Funeral chugs along, I don't Wanna go to the Party provides a decent quota of bitterness, there's heartfelt positivity on Prayin' for a Miracle.
At times it's as though our very own Pop Levi has entered the room - yet this essence is unravelled as we progress, Lives loses its scope as an LP, becomes just a collection of songs.
The Loud: The Loud
The Loud on myspace
Sometimes it gets a bit frustrating when there's a constant deluge of guitar-wielding prototypes unable to change the game. Luckily, Liverpool three-piece The Loud seems talented enough to break free from all that indie bondage. And when the songs are good then there's no reason to change them.
On A Little Taste of Home, singer Pennington Lee actually comes across for a short time like a grainier Tom Meighan of Kasabian. Such comparisons soon disappear, however, thanks to structurally towering rock strength; any doubts lost in a magnificent flurry of Fenders.
Some nice production values add a sheen to it all. It's Nothing starts quietly, making you believe your speakers are bust - and then the full noise kicks back in, bashing your senses, making your head nod. Maybe if these kids can find a label willing to take them on then they'll get the licence to mine even deeper ground.