Houses – A Quiet Darkness [News]

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Houses have been very quiet since their debut album All Night (2010). They’re one of my favourite ambient / electronic artist, and I had the pleasure of seeing them live last year in London. Finally there’s some movement from within their den; a video preview of their new album A Quiet Darkness has creeped out, and is due to be released on the 16th of April via Downtown Records. Continue reading

Andrew Bird – Hands of Glory [Review]

Andrew Bird’s distinct sound is the reason why I remember first listening to his track A Nervous Tic back when I was 18. Earlier this year his much anticipated album Break it Yourself valiantly galloped its way through music stores and blogs leaving dust clouds of positive reviews. Click here to check out Sam’s review of it.

Andrew Bird has been touring through the summer, and due to the highly positive response to his performances, he decided to record a mixture of reprises from Break it Yourself, along with a few classic Americana folk songs that he had performed. The result is Hands of Glory, another satisfying hit of Andrew Bird goodness.

From the age of 4, he’s been plucking and playing the violin, and so without making obvious comment to the beauty of it in his previous work; getting to hear him cover classic folks songs – especially, If I Needed You makes this compilation extra special. The rendition of Orpheo is another favorite, it’s completely stripped and played so slow that every word and creak of the bow lends itself to producing a more delicate and soothing song.

You can listen to the whole album on the Guardian website here. It’s a great collection of songs that make the perfect soundtrack to your Autumn walks. My only criticism is that I wish at least one track had him whistling!

Tracklist: 

  1. Three White Horses
  2. When That Helicopter Comes
  3. Spirograph
  4. Railroad Bill
  5. Something Biblical
  6. If I Needed You
  7. Orpheo
  8. Beyond the Valley of the Three White Horses

Woods – Bend Beyond [Review]

Sometime in June, before summer had sunk its teeth in, Woods announced their new album, Bend Beyond. Much excitement instantly circulated the alternative-folk scene; their track record has been consistently strong. Sun and Shade which was released last year was a personal favorite, and reassured the fans they were still on the right track.

Firstly, let me begin by saying Bend Beyond will not let you down. It’s a highly enjoyable, and extremely well executed album which demonstrates a maturity in both the songwriting and the production – which fits perfectly. The lo-fi indie-folk band from Brooklyn have a distinct sound, predominantly down to Jeremy Earl’s vocals, which this time round acquire a clarity like never before. It’s this factor for me that makes Bend Beyond different. Not only can you appreciate the layers of instruments that create their psychedelic sound, but the vocals are refined to the point where you can listen and enjoy the lyrics on a level which you couldn’t do before.

The first track, Bend Beyond sends you back to the woods, with their familiar riffs and guitar solos. It’s the longest track on the album, and paces itself nicely. It sets the tone that Woods is a band, not just Jeremy Earl. The second track, Cali in a Cup was in fact an early release, and has a nostalgic Super 8 music video to accompany it. This song is a prime example of the high quality production value they’ve got going.

One of my all time favorite songs by Woods was the final track on their last album, Say Goodbye. The gently strummed, stripped down style is apparent in a couple of tracks in Bend Beyond, most notably in It Ain’t Easy. It’s a moment of calm that engages you with the simpler harmonies and lyrics that Woods are so good at writing. It’s as essential as the much expected instrumental jams which remind you these guys are having fun making this music.

My top picks from the album would be, Back to the Stone and Is it Honest?, both encompass all that there is to love about Woods. The album is released as of today, and is available on iTunes.

Tracklist below.

  1. Bend Beyond
  2. Cali in a Cup
  3. Is it Honest?
  4. It Ain’t Easy
  5. Cascade
  6. Back to the Stone
  7. Find Them Empty
  8. Wind Was the Wine
  9. Lily
  10. Size Meets the Sound
  11. Impossible Sky
  12. Something Surreal

Here is Cali in a Cup and a few others to get you back in the zone.