Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Autumnal anticipations

           I have now spent two days working in the rain and wind so I think I can confirm that the summer is officially over.  Although, given that similar weather conditions typified August perhaps the summer ended weeks ago. Whilst it is easy to allow one’s mood to mirror the gloomy skies, there is one reason to be excited that a new season is upon us.  For some reason, I suppose because theoretically we are all frolicking in the blistering sunshine, the world of art and culture largely switches off in this country during the summer months.  All the good television programmes dry up (my apologies to the makers of the The Hour and Shooting Stars), few interesting films are put out (my apologies to the makers of Beginners , The Tree of Life) and record companies too are wary of releasing new material in July and August (um, nope, can’t think of any apologies to make).  Whilst I am not sure I believe in the logic of this situation, there really does appear to be a trend because suddenly a number of hotly anticipated albums (at least they are hotly anticipated by me – hell, I’m allowed to be subjective in a blog) have appeared or are fast approaching on the horizon. 

Of the albums in the shops right now, Bombay Bicycle Club’s A Different Kind of Fix, Fionn Regan’s 100 Acres of Sycamore and Beirut’s The Rip Tide are the stand-outs. It is BBC’s third effort, an incredible achievement considering that they are all still in their early twenties, and has won much critical acclaim. 100 Acres is a record that may have slipped your attention - publicity is not one of Regan’s strong points - but I think it is a bit of a hidden gem. The track The Lake District glows with the kind of beauty fitting of the place it describes and may well be the best thing he has ever written.  And finally Beirut, the brainchild of the immensely prodigious Zach Condon (who has now reached the grand old age of 25), return with another heart-warming record that retains their trademark Eastern European influences and still contains generous portions of trumpets and accordions. The title track is the stand out.  

As exciting as these three records are the albums which are due to hit the shelves, both physical and digital, in the next few weeks.  If you haven’t heard it already please have a listen to the new single from Florence and the Machine called What the Water Gave Me. It does take a couple of listens but it certainly has got me salivating for more. Journalists often speak of the infamous ‘Second Album Syndrome’ but if the rest of the record is as addictive as this taster then she may have discovered the antidote to that troublesome condition.  I heard the new Kasabian single Days are Forgotten on the radio today and although it is not as radio-friendly as, say, Fire or Empire, the vocals are still punchy, the guitar still bites and the Primal Scream influence is as obvious as ever. It might be one of those songs that works better live.  Another artist who, like Bombay Bicycle Club, is mature beyond her years is Laura Marling (21 years old). She has set an extremely high bar with her first two truly remarkable albums and it will be fascinating to see how she fares with A Creature I don’t Know, released on the 12th September.  Finally, a band, whose self-titled debut album was curiously and unforgivably underrated, The Drums put out their second album Portamento...oh...news just in that The Drums’ album is actually out now, apologies.  Well you should definitely grab their record right now because although it does not deviate hugely from their previous winning formula there is no one quite like them right now. Their brand of sunny, short and sweet pop is very refreshing. There’s this band called The Vaccines who are quite popular at the moment. Well, imagine the Vaccines and then think of a band that is about 100 times better and you sort of get the Drums.

                So yeah that is my round up of the new albums that are exciting me at the moment.  I am sorry to brush over all the artists so quickly but I wanted to mention as much as possible without losing your attention. One thing that I have learnt from this article is that, judging from the ages of those bicyclers from Bombay, Marling and Condon, I really need to blooming well hurry up if I am going to make it as a world famous musician. I don’t even need to be world famous, just to make it into somebody’s blog would be nice. Creedence.