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New Album Roundup: 17th January 2011

February 6, 2011

Hey chaps and chappesses, this is the first of what will become a sporadically irregular column from my good self that provides a brief summation of a weeks new major label releases.

A few caveats before I begin. I will be using the almighty Spotify to listen to the new albums. If the album is not on Spotify then I cannot listen to it without being a thief. If I miss an album, as I have done this week, then I will let you know what is not there. Check out some other featured songs from our blog here.

Also in the sense of fairness and the fact that some of my favourite albums took more than one complete listen to appreciate and enjoy, I will listen to each album in its entirety twice through with as few distractions and breaks as possible.

If anyone has any problems with the rules then poor you.

So what was released on the week of 17th January 2011 you ask? Lets get cracking.

White Lies Ritual [Fiction Records]

Second album from these guys. Having seen them support Coldplay at Wembley I had some experience of their previous output. White Lies seem to have a reasonably large following with their first album reaching number 1. Could this second album match the heady heights of “To Lose My Life”? Well, yes.

As soon as the first notes hit it is obvious that this is exactly the same band. In an effort to write 10 new songs for Ritual, they appear to have written 1 song and put it on repeat.  That is not to take anything away from what they have achieved. White Lies have created an album of music that is so insanely monotonous and without charm that they have to be congratulated.

White Lies – Bigger Than Us

This album sounds exactly the same as the last one.  The singing is monotonous with what feels like a distinct lack of passion for the craft or belief in the lyrics. The music is equally dull with the songs persistently anthemic in an effort to create a soundtrack for the disillusioned youth of today.

Despite all of this I am sure that the album will be very popular and sell well as the monotony of this sound is very popular at the moment with The XX and Glasvegas proving very successful.

If you like the old album then you will probably like this. If you didn’t then I don’t think you will.

The DecemberistsThe King is Dead [Rough Trade]

The Decemberists have been around for a few years so I was hopeful that this would prove a better listen than White Lies. In this case experience is a great asset as the first track, “Don’t Carry It All”, launches into a bluesy country tinged Americana number with an essence that carries into the more upbeat “Calamity Song”. “Rise To Me”, the third track on this 6th studio album, is a more morose affair with the pedal steel and harmonica coming into to the forefront to add to the despair in the lyrics.

The Decemberists – Down By The Water

At the midpoint of the album we come across “Down By The Water”, a more straight ahead rock song which picks The King Is Dead back into an upbeat place more akin to the first two tracks.  The very country sounding “All Arise!” follows this. Featuring a banjo, fiddle and others, this sounds like The Decemberists are happy to genre hop, or skip, a sign of a band confident in their own identity.

The vocals sound reminiscent of an Irish folk singer with occasional flecks of James Taylor that I found works very well with the sound that the band has gone for.

“June Hymn”, track 8, is another downbeat tune that fits in very well between the country sounds of “All Arise!” and the penultimate track, “This Is Why We Fight”, which goes back to a more traditional sounding indie track with similarities to The Shins.

The album ends on a pretty little number with “Dear Avery”, a good summation of The King Is Dead and a nice introduction for myself of The Decemberists.

At only 40 minutes this is not a long album but one that I have found very enjoyable to listen to more than once. If you fancy your indie with a country/folky/bluesy (delete as appropriate) feel then I would recommend this album.

Scarlette Fever – Medication Time [Starfisch Records]

Scarlette Fever, born as Karen Louise Barrow, is a British singer songwriter. With some very good female singer songwriters around at the moment I was hopeful that this could be another in the same vein as Laura Marling or Adele. Or alternatively the rather cool Janelle Monae.

Scarlette Fever – Crash and Burn

Unfortunately not. When the first song, “Crash and Burn”, begins with the line “When was the last time you did something for the first time” and continues in horrible clichés including “20-20 hindsight”, “running through a red light” and “plenty of other shite”. OK I added the last one, but you get the point.

The tune is passable but it’s sung in a stupid American twang. This girl is from Hertfordshire. It sounds like a bad version of American Idol, Kelly Clarkson, or a tamer Avril Lavigne (yes, there is such a thing). There is no discernible attitude from this girl and the same can be said of this album.

It was a real struggle to listen to this twice through. I have found that the mark of a good album or good song is that it will make me tap with my fingers or my feet. At no point on this album did I feel tempted to do anything resembling finger/foot tapping.

As far as inoffensive pop pap (there is a lot of good pop music around) goes this is in amongst it. Apparently she has had some airplay on Radio 2, which sounds about right as that always seems pretty dull to me.

Avoid it, please.

Any who, those were the albums that were available to me during this week. I missed a notable album (according to BBC Sound of 2011 list and NME), in Anna Calvi’s eponymous debut album. Having heard one song of hers it sounded very similar to Florence Welch and her machine. Big voice, big drums.

I also missed out a Fujiya and Miyagi’s new effort Ventriloquizzing. I am informed that they are an electronic sounding band.

My final miss of the week is a live album from Pearl Jam.

I hope you enjoyed my musings on some of the album releases from 17th January 2011. Tune in, in about 3 weeks time, for the next weeks releases including a return for Mr P Diddy and a Jack White produced album by rock-a-billy legend Wanda Jackson.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. mDilsh permalink
    February 7, 2011 9:49 pm

    Great post, Will! Keep it up. Surely no-one can slag off new music quite like you.

  2. j-diz permalink
    February 8, 2011 12:19 am

    I heard Anna Calvi’s “Suzanne and I” the other day and really liked it. I listened to a few other things quickly in an attempt to find this song, and it all sounded crap in comparison. Or maybe they are all growers. I think I’ll find out by listening to her album, coz that one song is good enough to warrant further inspection.

    Oh, and sweet post willman. More please!!!!!

  3. Athénaïs permalink
    February 8, 2011 9:08 am

    Yes really nice post!!! I laughed so much, especially while reading the part on Scarlette Fever! It was a very refreshing article 🙂 MORE MORE MORE!

  4. Chris Bingo permalink
    February 14, 2011 8:14 pm

    Oh Will…cracked me up reading this. Agree in most parts…have to say I don’t entirely hate White Lies. I don’t like them by any means but their last single was a minor improvement on the whole of their last album that I had the misfortune of trying to give a decent listen to.

    This Scarlette woman…fuck me. Reminds me of why I used to struggle listening to female vocalists. Maybe her and every other female pop singer are actually created from the same person, cloned and minorly changed over and over and over again by that callous twat Simon Cowell as part of his world domination over good taste and good music.

    Meanwhile, I googled her name as I thought she was someone else and I instead got this:


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