Loving This Right Now.

April 12, 2011

thumbs up

What’s dominating the 160GB slab that rocks about in my pocket, right now…

Wild Beasts, Smother (Domino, released 9 May)
I’m not sure I’ve loved an album more than this in 2011 so far. It’s a special record, Smother; one that gets into the blood so instantly one wonders if its effects will be only short-lived. Not so. I’m not much of a betting man, but if I was I’d have a tenner on this for the Mercury. And how beautiful is the video to Albatross? Very.

Wild Beasts – Albatross

Gang Gang Dance, Eye Contact (4AD, released 9 May)
I’m still getting to grips with this new LP from NYC’s best whatever-they-want-to-be ‘indie-dance’ (loosest-possible-sense application) combo. Beats that spark fire from sticks on skins; synths that shimmer like a desert mirage; vocals like Kate Bush wired to the International Space Station. Incredible fare – and the rush doesn’t seem to be subsiding anytime soon.

Gang Gang Dance – MindKilla

Beastie Boys, Hot Sauce Committee Part Two (EMI, released 2 May)
There’s no way this should be as good as it is. Three 40-something dudes essentially doing what they did back in the mid-80s. But with superlative production and a real sense in the vocals that the Beasties are hungrier than ever to be heard – especially after MCA’s health problems – Hot Sauce Committee Part Two is a scintillating listen. Every bone in my body is shaking with gratitude that it’s turned out as well as it has.

Beastie Boys feat. NaS – Too Many Rappers

Three Trapped Tigers – Route One or Die (Blood and Biscuits, released 30 May)
I’ve already said plenty on this particular slice of sonic brilliance – click here to read as much.

Three Trapped Tigers – Cramm

True Widow – As High As the Highest Heavens… (Kemado, released 2 May)
This second album from the Texan post-metallers (?) has a ridiculously long title. But it’s the music on it that’s leaving me breathless at the moment. Like Autolux meeting Queens of the Stone Age for a secret liaison in some underground club that only those with the right tattoos gain entry to. Not me, then. Check out Skull Eyes below.

True Widow – Skull Eyes


Three Trapped Tigers – Route One or Die – some words on (for press release purposes)

March 6, 2011

Three Trapped Tigers

I’ve been quite fortunate to pick up a little extra writing work of late, penning press release information for a handful of bands I really like. Already published on these pages are words relating to the new This Will Destroy You album, Tunnel Blanket; and now, since it has a release date confirmed of May 30 via Blood & Biscuits (news on DrownedinSound.com), I thought I’d pop up the following on Three Trapped Tigers’ phenomenal debut album, Route One or Die. Really, it’s Quite The Special.

Three Trapped Tigers
Route One or Die

Tom Rogerson – keyboards, vocals, piano
Matt Calvert – guitar, synths, vocals
Adam Betts – drums, electronics

When told to expect only the unexpected, the average listener will
leap to a conclusion that, actually, what’s about to unfold within
their ears is merely a trite retelling of something heard before. As
such, surprises in contemporary music are at a premium – while
technological innovation expands the musician’s palette, frequently
inspiration is left lagging. This is not true of London’s Three
Trapped Tigers, however. This is a band whose embracing of the
experimental has guided them to a debut album rich in blindsiding
blows built from a set of blueprints entirely theirs alone.

It wasn’t always so – every band needs a firm footing from which to
develop their sound, and Three Trapped Tigers’ original modus operandi
of taking Warp catalogue-style electronica and translating it into a
live, drums-and-guitars-and-keys set-up was theirs. A trio of EPs –
tracks numbered, sequentially, from 1 to 12 – allowed them to
gradually grow in confidence, within the skin they’d assigned for
themselves initially, and later into brave new forms. Jazz, rock,
electro, dance, metal – elements of conventional genres could be heard
in their music’s DNA; but as time passed, it became apparent that
Three Trapped Tigers weren’t about pigeonholes. There was no
check-list of traits to cram into a four-minute composition. So,
freedom took hold and the ultimate result is Route One or Die, a
collection of inspirational instrumentals with no tick-boxes in mind.
The music finds its own way.

And it does so from simple beginnings – the majority of Route One or
Die’s numbers started life as melodies played out on Tom’s piano. Then
these skeletal pieces were introduced to Matt and Adam, who added
their elements. While this might seem like a compartmentalised
process, the intent is always to be able to take the pieces into the
live arena. As such, tracks have a focus and ferocity more commonly
associated with acts whose material comes together in a practise
space. And anyone who has seen the band in the flesh to date can
certainly testify to their remarkable power as a live act. Adam’s
drumming – incessant, covering every square inch of his kit, arms like
pistons – provides each piece’s solid but snaking backbone; around
him, Tom’s keyboards – sci-fi skronk and celestial chimes – and Matt’s
nimble, precise and punchy guitar work paint the kind of pictures that
a thousand words just wouldn’t do justice. That they can generate just
as much energy in the studio – evident throughout Route One or Die –
as they do on stage is the mark of a truly remarkable act.

A remarkable act with incredible ability, a studied edge that sets
them aside from any peers you might want to (probably wrongly) peg
them beside (please, this is unquestionably not post-rock). Best of
all, their exploration of new textures and insatiable ambition to go
further never gets in the way of the desire to rock out ‘til all are a
mess of sweaty grins and clenched fists. And that, perhaps, is what’s
most brilliantly unexpected about Route One or Die: you might well
start the album thinking it’s fare for weirdo-beardo types with
catalogue numbers ingrained on the brain, but you’ll come away moved,
touched by a record with a great human heart at its core. Sure, it
fizzes and crackles, pulses and groans, robotics churning – but
underneath its sharp, steely exterior there’s a rawness and passion
that can’t be denied, let alone defined by categorical customs.

Here’s something old that the band did.