Twelve Track Review #1

1. Hooded Fang – Ode to Subterrania
First piece of advice. Check the volume level on your headphones before starting this track – the alarm-like sound at the start will shake you apart. Nice sort of post-surf, echo-ey pop to start this review of twelve off. The vocals are beautifully lazy and microphone gritty enough that you can’t hear all the lyrics. About 2.30 in, the guitar solo kicks in and the whole track begins to self destruct. Very nice.
2. Hookworms – Radio Tokyo
I really want to like this track. There’s a a little Datsuns in the vocals – but without the hooks. Some really nice deep purple style keys in the chorus and the band are tight. But for some reason it’s just not clicking. With a nice crisp finish, I get the appeal, but I’m afraid this track is just not for me.
3. Mount Kimble – Blood and form
A little bit post-dubstep, like James Blake, and with similarly great synth sounds to match. The simple drum track gives the mix a little space to breathe, and sounds like it was (partially) recorded live. The vocals are sporadic and are perhaps closer to speaking than singing – but with a nice chorus effect applied. I’m not enthralled by the track – it’s found its level and doesn’t shift from it – but I’m going to look up Mount Kimble for sure.
4. Fair Ohs – Green Apple Milk
A busy, and rather predictable bit of indie punk here. A nice use of brass post-chorus, and the guitar twangs like a western movie in places. I don’t think this track will set the world alight, but it would be rather good fun to see it played live.
5. The Graphite Set – I see no lies
Tightening a drum skin as you play it can sound pretty odd. But at the start of this track, it sounds bloody brilliant. Weighty, powerful Adele-like vocals kick in over the minimalist backing – and the whole thing begins to crescendo around half way through. The track skips through very quickly, I can’t quite believe it’s over 3 mins 30, and before long we’re at the fade out. Nice. 
6. Dirty Beaches – Love is the devil
The strings at the start of this track are haunting – beautifully arranged, atmospheric and thick like honey. To me, it sounds like it’s been recorded to mimic the dark soundtrack of an old black-and-white tragedy. Can’t wait to hear the rest of the album. 

7. Ghostpoet – Meltdown

I’ve liked Ghostpoet for a little while now, so was glad this track was as good as the previous. The drum track is tight, and the piano sounds like it’s been reversed – which is nice. The female vocals (around 1.30 in) sound great too. The strings around 4.30 in build beautifully, and offer a smart segue into the next track (of which I’ll definitely be checking out!) Really like this.

8. JAWS – Surround You

Effected keyboard kicks this track off and it’s only around 20 seconds in we hear the band in its full force. A guitar track mirrors the vocal line during the verse and it sits quiet – before everything kicks in again for the chorus. There’s quite a brit-pop feel to the reverb on the vocals, but the track is way past that. It’s great – kind of ‘Empire of the Sun’ with a brutal hangover that’s preventing them from being so damn upbeat.

9. William Basinski – Nocturnes (excerpt)

The first thing you notice is its run time – 11 mins 23 second. Uh oh.
It sounds a little like a recording of some kids hammering away at a piano. Except the recording is being played back at 700 x slower than it was recorded. Or perhaps it’s a little bit like a computer’s first attempt at writing incidental music. Either way, I have to say it’s actually kind of nice. Despite the dissonance, it’s fairly relaxing.

10. Dutch Uncles – Flexxin (Eve session)

If I’m honest, the vocal line grates a little on this one. But the overall mix is nice, and there’s some nice cello and xylophone lines in the background. I’d like to listen to a couple of other tracks to give them a fairer review – but this one didn’t do it for me.

11. Amateur Best with Chilly Gonzales – Ready for The Good Life

The track starts with some beautiful piano riffs, building quickly to the lead vocals. Gospel style choir quickly joins the number – which sounds great. In many ways, I wish a full band had kicked in to support the piano – but I’m sure that’s my over-produced mind playing tricks. The piano plays us out in a Steve Reich repetitive arpeggio. Very nice track.

12. Bibio – A tout a l’heure

The last Bibio track I heard, I loved, so I had high hopes for this one. And it delivered.
The track is perfect montage music I think. A tight rhythm section provides solid footing for the squeal of a synth and the twang of a 12 string guitar, with the vocals kicking in around 45 seconds in. The vocals are drenched in echo and chorus – but in an analogue sort of way. In fact, the whole track sounds like its been put through a sort of ‘last summer’ graphic equaliser – I really like it.


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