June 2011, I think they heard a rumour

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4 Jul 2011, 13:08

The first three weeks of the month were spent rediscovering plenty of gems from the past, as varied as Please by Pet Shop Boys and Pandemonium by Killing Joke (there can't be too many people with the same number of plays for both these albums in their charts). Then I decided to have a go at a pile of promos that the missus had won, and found a few crackers.
First choice was Grimes' oddly-titled Halfaxa. Much like the way it's very easy to overuse the phrase 'excellently titled' when reviewing a Mogwai album, there's a danger 'oddly-titled' will pop up several times when discussing this one. Weregild was the electro ethereal cracker that pulled me in, but there are several other otherworldly-monikered beauties within, like Sagrad Прекрасный and ≈Ω≈Ω≈Ω≈Ω≈Ω≈Ω≈Ω≈Ω≈. Musically, it is a broad pallet: there are shades of Fever Ray and Bjork , but also there's space too: in places it's like Slowdive's Pygmalion but stripped of it's summery haziness and replaced with a spacey winter chill, and I'd swear that Devon is the sound of early 80s Cocteau Twins going down the disco with Crystal Castles. It feels a bit self-consciously odd in places, but given that her best stuff is apparently on other releases I can't wait to look up some more.
Another goodie was Fading Parade by Papercuts.: imagine Belle and Sebastian, Beach House and Galaxie 500 having a beach party. Yes, it's that good. I previously only knew of the Cuts' cover of Boys of Summer, which was merely okay, but this is definitely gone up a gear or two. Marie Says You've Changed and swoonsome closer Charades are the highlights, but really it's one of those mood albums that carries you along in one delicious summery swoop.
Of a similar summery disposition is Within and Without by Washed Out. More sun-kissed tunes with a melancholy twist, it's got a Balearic quality reminicent of the finer Cafe Del Mar albums (5 and 6). Taken individually, there are several tracks of note, but when listened to as a whole they tend to cancel each other out a bit. Still, Soft, Far Away and Before form a delicious trio at the heart of the album: Soft is the sunnier cousin of the Chemical Brothers' Star Guitar, while Far Away reminds me of some of the finer moments from Bent's fantastic Programmed to Love. I'm not sure if Before really does have someone singing 'doggy' through it, but it does sound like a lost take from some early 90s William Orbit or Andy Weatherall session.
I'll just give a quick shout to Laki Mera, whose The Proximity Effect also fell into my lap. They boast of an eclectic range of influences including The Blue Nile, Radiohead and Cocteau Twins. What's odd is that you can hear elements of all these in there, but somehow it still sounds a little, er, beige. It sounds like it's been engineered to within an inch of its life, and I get the impression that live it would be a whole lot better. However, I have to say that one track does tower over everything else on it: the gorgeous Solstice is a thing of pure melancholy beauty, echoing the likes of Cranes or Slowdive at their most rainwashed and downcast.

And a little peep at the last three months on my iPod...

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