A month in Music: February 2014

The year continues to be filled with beautiful music so here’s a quick run down of what’s been getting in my ears and heart this month.

Firstly, a January release (read my recommendations for January here) that didn’t really get into serious rotation for me to be included in last month’s round up:

Egg Hell – Once Part of a Whole Ship

Paddle through the shallow hatred you feel toward the band’s name and swim out into the deep of this album – somewhere between Radiohead (before they got too noodly) and last year’s great release by Steve Mason you’ll find this fine release of top-of-the-range electro indie. Well worth seeking out.

My recommendations for February

Lakefield – Swan Songs (album)

There is a particular brand of bittersweet reserved for band’s that make you fall in madly in love with them just as they break up: so it is with Lakefield. The Candadian group decided to call it a day but go out with a fully realised album of melodic hardcore / indiepop rather than just fade away.

I reviewed the album over on Louder Than War and said: “It’s more than that, a hybrid of gentle indiepop and that scrubbed clean big hardcore sound. It’s the witty intelligence of Belle and Sebastian lyrics with the brute of Far. It is the sound of a band not just accepting the end but taking it on their own terms, and blazing more brightly for it.” Read the full review here or get the album from here.

Nebelung – Palingenesis (album)

Described on the press release as a ‘deep and transforming listen’ this second album from German dark folk band Nebelung builds up chants and layers of multi-instrumental melodies to mix the industrial loops and drones with shimmering pastoral folk.

Keel Her – Keel Her (album)

There’s a lot of samey-sounding stuff around in music. Band’s or artists catch onto the same corner of zeitgeist or draw on similar influences and realise their own creativity in a way not unlike others. There’s nothing wrong with this, it is after all what makes a ‘scene’. But Keel Her’s debut is one of experimental creativity, it’s fun while being both emotionally and intelligently engaging.

I reviewed it on Louder Than War and said: “A vein of lo-fi production runs through the album and a sense that this is a very solitary, but never lonely, sonic adventure that Keel Her is on. Roaming off the beaten track of current pop sounds, content in her own exploration,we’re able to gaze in wonder in as her creativity and inventiveness flutters by.

Read the full review here.

Hatcham Social – Cutting Up the Present Leaks Out the Future (album)

I’ve been waiting for this album since I first heard tracks from it get an airing at Kendal Calling. I was grinning from ear to ear and my heart was racing as I realised Hatcham Social were creating something very special indeed. The full album has not disappointed.

I reviewed on (wait for it) Louder Than War and said: “Hatcham Social told me they wanted this album to sound like: “Summer all-nighters and dark melancholia, drug-addled dreams and mood-age rage.” And it does, it sounds like all of it thrown through the sharp relief of legislated nostalgia for birth of rock ‘n’ roll, the creation of teenage culture at the 1950s All American prom, drive-in movies under big skies, the jukebox at the diner.

“But it starts by sedating you, ready to accept these memories you don’t actually have; Ketamine Queen provides a delicious slowing of the senses, syrupy synths pulling languidly on the limbs.”

Read the full review here.

Vulkano – Live Wild Die Free (album)

A great album of female power and punk rock spirit from this Swedish riot grrrl duo. Over on Louder Than War I said: “Live Wild Die Free is an album of exuberant, organic, discord proving that music doesn’t have to conform to convention to have beauty, that liberation is found in the power of punk sound.”

Read the full review here.

Mark Morris – A Flash of Darkness (album)

New solo album from former Bluetones’ frontman Mark Morriss is the sort of wry and intelligent polished indie you would expect.

I’ve lived most of my life by the wisdom of a Bluetones lyric so it’s always a relief and a pleasure when the albums from the band members’ afterlife don’t disappoint.

You can read a review on Louder Than War here.

Notable mentions

I’ve also enjoyed a few rotations of the new Reverend and the Makers album, the Coil remixes of Nine Inch Nails and a few bands from my local ‘hood.

Yes, Derby has always had an underrated music scene but right now there are some real corkers of bands emerging. Last month I mentioned Gold Codes and Prizefighter (did you check them out) and this month I have three more – Base 8; Slowraiders; and Scribble Victory. I never seem to get time to write new band pieces these days but if I did these bands would be top of my list.

Into March (yes, I know, it’s already the middle of the month) and I’m already loving Lorrelle Meets the Obsolete, Simone Felice and Dean Wareham lots.

What are you listening to?

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