Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Rear Window (Part 1 of 2)

An anxious glance back at Dead Kenny's July music purchases, guilty secrets and unnerving flashbacks an occupational hazard. Or in other words, an album review compendium that puts the fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-fashion back into 'fashionably late'. The august, and indeed, August, sequel to follow shortly. Whoever Shortly is. If you see him, be sure to point us in his direction.

Get Behind Me Satan - The White Stripes

As much as I loved Jack 'n' Meg's previous four albums, I was in no great rush to buy their latest offering, waiting a full month from its release before putting my hands in my pockets. A White Stripes album almost entirely devoid of guitar is indeed a strange thing to behold, but the contrast between the warm melodies and bitter score-settling lyrics works in its' favour. Not exactly a compelling listen at times, but if you're in the right mood its enigmatic charms are quite intoxicating.

Buy it if...the prospect of getting inside the scary place that is Jack White's mind appeals.

Warnings/Promises - Idlewild

This has been something of a commercial misfire for Roddy Woomble and the boys, which is a shame as it's one of their most consistent albums in terms of tone and concept. REM is the obvious (to the point of shamelessness) reference point here, but the songs have a sufficient sense of their own purpose to have an appeal that extends beyond mere pastiche, and Woomble's vocals and lyrics remain as beguiling as ever. Don't be put off by references to an acoustic or folky sound, either - there's enough noisy guitar on tracks like 'I Want A Warning' to keep the rock fans happy.

Buy it if...you want to indulge in tuneful, radio-friendly guitar music that's a few notches up on the likes of Athlete or Feeder.

Tales From Turnpike House - Saint-Etienne

Classy, elegant concept-pop as the group eavesdrop on the lives of various characters on a London housing estate, David Essex even popping in for a duet with Sarah Cracknell on the woozy 'Relocate' debate. 'Milk Bottle Symphony' and 'Teenage Winter' are the most ambitious contructs and obvious standouts, but the wistful acoustic strum of 'Side Streets' and breezy romanticism of 'Stars Above Us' also provide notable moments. Worth searching out for the limited edition where the bonus CD shows the band letting their hair down a bit more, including the irrepressively childish 'Let's Build A Zoo' ('and there's a gnu/at the back of the queue!' etc.).

Buy it if...you're in love with London past, present and future.

The Magic Numbers - The Magic Numbers

Initial feelings were that this was all a little bland for my tastes, but as the months wore on their good-natured melodies and well-judged harmonies did a good a job as any in soundtracking my summer. There's still nothing on here, though, that quite matches the inspiration of 'Close Your Eyes', their collaboration with The Chemical Brothers on the dance duo's 'Push The Button'. If Tom and Ed could be persuaded to produce the Magic Numbers' follow-up we could have a genuine corker on our hands.

Buy it if...you're feeling nostalgic for summer-just-gone already.

Fisherman's Woman - Emiliana Torrini

Icelandic chanteuse Emiliana follows up her 1999 trip-hop debut with a set of hushed acoustic come-down lullabies perfect for dazed clubbers, or anyone with a hangover for that matter. It's physically impossible to be depressed when listening to something as beguilingly chirpy as 'Nothing Brings Me Down' or pleasingly bittersweet as 'Sunny Road' and 'Heartstopper'. As charming as a winter morning's conversation with a robin, and at times lyrically it makes about as much sense. An acquired taste perhaps, but every home should have a copy.

Buy it if...you need to make yourself feel remotely human on a Sunday morning before the in-laws come round for dinner.

Engineers - Engineers

Genuinely astonishing achievement from London-based Mancunians to deliver a debut album that is so distinctive and yet so perfectly realised. Vocally, there's a slight resemblance to the likes of Doves or Elbow, but musically this record eschews dour quasi-prog for huge beatific swathes of sound that recall the majesty of the shoegazing era, albeit with the added discipline of well-constructed songs. Every track makes a significant contribution, and it has a strikingly good cover to boot.

Buy it if...you're in the mood for a right rivetting listen.

Tesri - Barbara Morgenstern and Robert Lippok

Bought this after being hugely entertained by the German duo's live show at Birmingham's Supersonic festival in July. Predominantly instrumental, this is low-key but strangely rousing electronica that captures much of the charm and mischief of their live performance, standouts being the opener 'Please Wake Me For Meals' and a memorable 'Sommer'.

Buy it if...you like the sound of listening to East and West Berlin in harmonious collision, with added clicks, whirrs and glitches.


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