After a rather quiet few months music-wise, we’ve decided to combine our favourite new releases from Dec ’17 and Jan ’18 in one post. Read all about them and listen to the playlist at the end!
Song: Deadly Valentine
From album: Rest
Rest just may be Equilibrio’s favourite album of 2017. A collection that opens with a new take on an old children’s nursery rhyme and closes with a hidden track remixing Gainsbourg’s toddler messing up the ABC song. A metaphor for the circle of life perhaps? Most likely, given the circumstances under which this record was produced.
Charlotte Gainsbourg is the daughter of Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin (themselves producers of some pretty saucy music). She is also an acclaimed actress, winning a Cannes Best Actress award for her role in Lars van Trier’s Antichrist. Gainsbourg grew up in Paris with her half-sister and subsequent Vogue photographer Kate Barry. Kate’s death from suspected suicide, inspired the album Rest.
Surprisingly then, the album is no morbid affair. Rather, most tracks are gliding indie-pop with stunning backing tracks that only French producers seem able at achieve. Deadly Valentine is the lead single and is sung partly in French and English (as is most of the album). Also try the haunting song Kate for a more direct tribute to Gainsbourg’s sibling.
(Also download these songs from the album: Kate, Ring-a-Ring o’ Roses, Lying With You)
Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds
Song: It’s A Beautiful World
From album: Who Built The Moon?
In 1997 Oasis released the Be Here Now album. What was meant to be a triumphant follow-up to the brilliant (What’s The Story) Morning Glory landed up being a coke-fuelled, sprawling mess. Nothing the band concocted since was any good and, finally, the sibling warfare between Liam and Noel Gallagher became too much even by their very high standards of antagonism, and the split arrived in 2009.
Since then, they have fronted separate bands that produced two albums each. Frankly, none of those were that great either. And now, within a few weeks of each other they have released a third offering. Liam’s As You Were, is still rubbish. But older brother Noel has produced something much more interesting and what possibly should have been the follow-up to Morning Glory all along.
The obvious Beatles copy-catting is gone. Instead we have a set of intriguing guitar-led numbers that require repeated listening to really get into. And (shock, horror) the lyrics are less banal than in the past too. The album opens with the largely melody-free Fort Knox, which is followed by first single Holy Mountain, also a fairly difficult proposition. It’s not until the third track It’s A Beautiful World where some of the Gallagher magic slips through. A worthy effort that hopefully signals a long-awaited change in direction.
(Also download these songs from the album: She Taught Me How To Fly, The Man Who Built The Moon, Holy Mountain)
Song: Love’s A Stranger
From album: Warhaus
Warhaus is the name that Balthazar frontman, Maarten Devoldere, uses for his solo releases. Rather than the sleaze-indie/dance of his main band, Warhaus is more sleaze-lounge/pop. Yip, sleaze is the constant.
Belgium isn’t exactly a hotbed of new, vibrant musical acts so the uniqueness of Devoldere’s style and approach is a bit surprising. Even more surprising is that Balthazar came to the national Belgian consciousness by winning a number of regional and then national song contests. Love’s A Stranger is a catchy song that asks how a couple who choose to have series of one-night stands with each other will steadfastly refuse to label their relationship love.
(Also download these songs from the album: Mad World, Bang Bang, Kreusch)
Song: Till The End
From album: Face Your Fear
The inevitable response to an increasingly digitizing planet, is a desire for vintage. Started by hipster communities, the demand for quality retro is accelerating. The money-people have now climbed in, pushing the cost of refurbished turntables and valve amps to dumb levels. Sadly, these ‘investments’ are fuelled more by ego than a true desire to own something beautifully designed in a mass-produced age. So, isn’t it cool then that Curtis Harding produces retro-soul very true to its roots, but charges no premium to us the listener? Think falsetto vocals, wah-wah guitars, brass stabs, strings and, in particular, rolling, skilful bass. A former backing vocalist to the stars, Face The Fear is Harding’s second solo album. Song Till The End, is the album’s centrepiece, with its hilarious backing response lyrics. Oh, and listen out for the glorious acoustic guitar that arrives towards the end.
(Also download these songs from the album: Need Your Love, Ghost Of You, On And On)
From album: Take Me Apart
Every so often an album comes along that pushes a particular genre forward. R&B has seen a number of these shifts in the last couple of years and has become more accessible and interesting to a wider audience as a result. Take Me Apart, the latest album release by Kelela, continues the trend. Ethiopian-American Kelela Mizanekristos works with a number of producers and co-writers. But rather than opting for the typical big names, she seeks out more underground talent. The result is an electronic sheen quite unlike anything else out there. LMK is an abbreviation for ‘let me know’ and is the lead single from the album. On a record that alternates between break-ups and new relationships, LMK is sultry and sensual and firmly in the latter category. The song is a co-write with UK electronic musician/DJ Jack Latham and is produced by Kwes, a London-based experimental artist.
(Also download these songs from the album: Frontline, Better, Blue Light)
In case you missed it…
Song: Only Love Can Break Your Heart
From album: Foxbase Alpha (from 1991)
In the early 90s in the UK, rave was the primary scene and pop and indie bands were left floundering in its wake. For their debut album Foxbase Alpha, Saint Etienne opted to rather embrace dance music, integrating house grooves into their majestic 60s pop, and kick-starting the indie-dance movement. Formed in London by two former music journalists (Bob Stanley and Pete Wiggs), and fronted by the ever-elegant Sarah Cracknell, Saint Etienne have produced nine albums of classy dance-pop. The latest of which, Home Counties, only came out this year, demonstrating the longevity of their approach.
Only Love Can Break Your Heart was the first single, and breakthrough hit, from their debut. The track is a much-changed cover version of a Neil Young song from his 1970 classic album After The Goldrush. Young’s waltz was changed to more appropriate 4/4 timing. The album is chock-full of other great songs, including the three other singles released, and remains one of the finest examples of the genre. The band is named after the small and picturesque capital of the Loire region in France, probably as a romantic throwback to Saint-Étienne’s status as a well-known stopover for early 20th century automobile tourists.
(Also download these songs from the album: Nothing Can Stop Us, People Get Real, Kiss And Make Up)
LISTEN TO OUR PLAYLIST
You can listen to previews of each track by clicking on the icons next to the song titles below.
If you have iTunes and an Apple Music account, you can listen to the full songs and add the playlist to your library. Simply click on the white Apple Music icon.
Read more of our music reviews here.