Tuesday, 31 January 2012


Hey everyone, hope you're managing to wade through this tough month. I suspect I'm not the only one taking a financial and psychological kicking. Anyway, let's talk about music.

There has been a resurgence in lo-fi style 'bedroom' pop over the last couple of years and today from that genre, I'm going to talk about my favourite album of the 2011 calendar year. Youth Lagoon is the stage name of a rather talented American musician called Trevor Powers. The Year Of Hibernation gives us an insight into his life, in a stripped to the core, emotional journey.

In early 2011 fans were granted an early insight to The Year Of Hibernation with the track 'July'. It generated quite a buzz, with praise even being received from the much loved (and much hated) Pitchfork. The track itself is gentle journey of quiet keyboard chords and angelic ah's before the identity of the song and the album  presents itself. A brilliantly simple, effective 4 chord piano part emerges from the mist over a simplistic bass heartbeat. The vocal verses arrive and the heartfelt lyrics are delivered in a sublime fashion. YL sounds like child sat in the corner crying his eyes out as he sings 'I made a bridge between us then I slowly burned it, Five years ago in my backyard I sang love away, Little did I know that real love had not quite yet found me' I realise that sounds like a derogatory comment but believe me it isn't. The delivery is so incredibly honest, and touching.

The album is decorated with similar moments of pure emotion, that above all, are completely believable. In 'Seventeen' he sings 'When I was 17 my mother said to me, never stop imagining, the day that you do is the day that you die'  and 'Posters' recalls an even earlier age 'When I was only nine years old, I had a poster, and with that alone I had the education, the motivation, I knew what I wanted to be'. Finally in For a first release of a young man, The Year Of Hibernation is remarkably strong in terms of lyrical prowess. I don't think there's a single throwaway line.

Daydream, Posters, and The Hunt all have great simple guitar riffs, written in a textural style to help embody the songs, rather than a more prominent solo over the top fashion. As well as this, there is never a sense of self-indulgence or over-production. Sometimes it can't be easy to truly know when a record or track is complete, but Trevor has escaped attraction of going back and fiddling any more than required.

It's so pleasing to hear someone who isn't an insanely good multi-instrumentalist convey such emotion into their work. This was not achieved by accident, the record itself is not chock full of producer's tricks and witchcraft, but interesting methods of recording experimentation. The vocals for example were recorded normally and left dry, then played through low quality speakers into a garage. Only with great mic placement re-recording the vocals were the final results achieved.  The friends who aided production did a fantastic job. The talent that Trevor has is a gift which I believe he will use to even greater effect in the future.

In short, the album is seriously good. It's by no means perfect, in my opinion there are some bland instrumental areas, but not many. It took me a few listens to let it get to me, but once it does you can feel every word.

Listen to: All 8 tracks

Friday, 20 January 2012

TMV Announce Return

El Paso prog-rockers The Mars Volta have announced their anticipated follow up to 2009's The Octahedron. The news comes just days after At The Drive-In confirmed they would reform after a 12 year absence. A cryptic tweet stated 'This station is now operational'. This is of course relevant due to the 2 groups sharing lead guitarist Omar Rodriguez Lopez, and lead vocalist Cedric Bixler-Zavala. TMV was born from the ATDI split, with 2 halves forming 2 different bands. Sparta being the other, overall less successful of the two.

So here's the cover for Noctourniquet which will debut worldwide on March 27.

The album is said to tell the story of a character inspired by Superman villain Solomon Grundy and the Greek myth of Hyacinthus. Well, what else did you expect? This is the volta we're talking about!

Touring in support of the album will have to be done around At The Drive-In's expected dates. They are already confirmed to play both weekends of Coachella in April and are expected to add more shows throughout the year.

Here's the track listing, Zed and Two Naughts has been confirmed to feature on the MLB 12: The Show soundtrack.

'The Whip Hand'
'Empty Vessels Make the Loudest Sound'
'The Malkin Jewel'
'In Absentia'
'Trinkets Pale of Moon'
'Zed and Two Naughts'

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Coachella 2012 Lineup Announced

Yesterday was a big day for this year's music. After much speculation, (which is pretty much guaranteed every year) , Coachella have announced their first double weekend lineup for this year's festival in Indio. The two weekend long shows will be in April. First weekend from 13th to 15th, and the second a week later from the 20th to 22nd. Here's the full poster:

Senstaionally, At The Drive-In make a return after splitting up 11 years ago. No new material is expected, but some kind of tour defnitely is. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

This Year's Best Prospects

Hello and happy new year everyone! 2012 is looking like a major year for music. To be honest I felt the majority of mainstream releases last year were a little lacklustre. Everyone went mad on Adele around March, Foo Fighters and The Strokes put out something a little different, Coldplay stuck to their guns. I was personally disappointed by RHCP's latest effort, I'm not quite sure if they ever will reach the Blood Sugar / Stadium Arcadium heights.

This year we can expect studio album number 4 from The Killers, who are apparently moving back to the more guitar led sounds of Hot Fuss and Sam's Town, after the rather mellow, electro-tinted Day & Age. I think that sounds like a good move for them. They have been incredible since getting signed but many (myself not included) felt that their last album couldn't quite match the first two.

The Vaccines, who hit the UK scene pretty hard this year with an album recorded before their fame are expected to return in 2012 with a follow up to What did you expect from The Vaccines?

It is also possible Muse's follow up to the Grammy award winning The Resistance will surface toward the end of the year, although in all honesty we can probably expect early 2013 for that. Pictures have been posted by the band from the studio, mainly on front man Matt Bellamy's twitter page.

Usher, Madonna, Green Day and Mumford & Sons are also due back. With the latter of those four I'm eager to see if they can take their sound to a new level. If not, the 'one trick pony' tag could stick for good.

Away from the charts, Tame Impala, who's debut album Innerspeaker I reviewed last week are rumoured to have already finished album #2. Ex-Chili Peppers guitarist John Frusciante is also back in the lab again after a 3 year break. He has been collaborating with R&B vocalist Truth Hurts amongst presumed others.

Is there an upcoming release you are looking forward to? I'd love to hear your views.

Stay tuned for a good year for music in 2012.

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