Elbow – Seldom seen kid

While Madonna, David Bowie and Kylie Minogue embrace emerging or popular sounds, with varying degrees of success and cynicism, others only slightly alter what they do over time. Others like Neil Young, 50 Cent or Elbow. A fourth album from Guy Garvey and chums ushers in an occasionally more cheerful and experimental era for the Bury band, but for the most part it's brilliant business as usual.

The Seldom Seen Kid begins with Starlings, a tender effort that, aside from its insane horn blasts and Sigur Ros waves of feedback, comes on like a very now version of Fleetwood Mac's Albatross.

Next up we’re in familiar territory. Chanting, flamenco flourishes, a lyric that aches with lines of cryptic longing like, ''I'm five years ago and 3,000 miles away'', inventive percussion and a haunting yet uplifting Garvey vocal. The Bones Of You is so damn Elbow it should have half an arm coming out of both ends. It is followed by Mirrorball, a beautiful acoustic guitar and piano-led drift into dreams with an epic widescreen synth and strings chorus. It may not be a huge leap of originality for these men, but there is no one else who does it this well.

Elsewhere, Grounds For Divorce, the album's big single, is immense. It snarls, bites, chants and thrashes like Alabama 3 wrestling alligators in a Louisiana Bayou. Pedal steel guitars, handclaps (the hallmark of so many genius singles)… You can imagine Guy watching The Wild Bunch and wearing a Stetson as he laid down the vocal in the studio.

From here only the ponderous An Audience With the Pope dips below the high standard set. Special mention must go to The Loneliness Of A Tower Crane Driver, which is so huge it sounds like a weight-lifting welder building a giant ship from concrete blocks and The Fix, which features a duet with Sheffield troubadour Richard Hawley. It evokes a doomed funfair ride and is probably the best tune about gambling since The Card Cheat by The Clash.Those who find Elbow drab will still probably be unmoved by this Talk Talk-inspired band's latest. But for everyone else who likes to be moved, relaxed, and cheered by superior, soulful Mancunian lullabies, The Seldom Seen Kid is essential.

 

These two 45rpm discs cut that way for better sound quality are more natural sounding than a lot of today's discs but do sound a little compressed. The vinyl is quite heavyweight and housed in a gatefold sleeve with details and lyrics printed on the inside. Inner sleeves are standard die cut white. The sleevenotes also reference the website turnmeup.org an organisation dedicated to the return to a more natural mastering process.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/music/release/2bcz/

Glasvegas – Glasvegas

Every so often, Glasgow produces a band, say Primal Scream or Franz Ferdinand, who seem so effortlessly capable of massive success that it makes you wonder why the city isn't the centre of the musical world.

To many, Glasvegas are the next heirs to such a crown. Named in a colloquial nod to their beloved hometown, they have been creating a buzz since catching indie mogul Alan McGee's ear 18 or so months ago.

They were the one band every industry high-flier and music hack agreed on at last year's In The City, despite not actually playing at the conference, and started this year nestled snugly behind The Ting Tings at the head of the BBC's Sounds Of 2008 poll. And now, they have every chance of mimicking the Salford duo's success, though they couldn't be more different if they tried.

Glasvegas' music sounds like the east end of Glasgow that gave birth to it; rough, raw and epic, it is a stunning wall of sound that strains the rich rockabilly and doo-wop of the 50s through the raucous brooding rock of The Jesus And Mary Chain to create something timeless.

It was a sound showed off brilliantly in the three independent singles that got them noticed to begin with – Go Square Go, Daddy's Gone and It's My Own Cheating Heart – and it's one that is driven hard across the whole of their eponymous debut.
All three of those starter singles are included, with Daddy’s Gone still standing out as a devastating slab of emotion-soaked songwriting, but they are by no means the only worthy inclusions.

A nod to front man James Allan's former career as a professional footballer, the catchy echo of Flowers & Football Tops, opens proceedings and the exhausting excellence of the band's oeuvre barely lets up until the smacked-out gospel of Ice Cream Van shuts the album down, with only the slightly odd spoken-word piano drama of Stabbed allowing some breathing space.

It is everything you could have asked for from the band. With the pressure on to produce an album worthy of the hype, they have succeeded where others, notably The Ting Tings and fellow Sound of 2008 nominees Foals, failed and delivered a genuinely classic debut. Scotland's second city has done it again.

Horribly horribly compressed. Simple vinyl packaging. Outer pic sleeve and inner pic cleeve. Heavyweight normal vinyl.

Gary Reynolds and the Brides of Obscurity – Santiago’s Vest

I don't know much about this singer and band.

 

Its a quirky mixture of sonically interesting experimentation and big big choruses. Its mainly guitar and percussion driven but brings in plenty of organ and some Cello to keep things off the beaten track.

'Capital state' is a slightly paranoid ball of tension, led along nicely by solo piano, haunting vocals and organ. 'Everybody's somewhere' brings in some gorgeous Beach Boy style harmonies that will definitely having you singing along. The pumping percussion and slightly retro sound reminds me somewhat of Supergrass.

'Rolling over' drags us from this reverie into an electric organ spiced three and a half minutes of building repetitive tension. More chiming choruses and tinkling organ ring in the end of side one on 'Wall eyed girl'.

Flip it over and we start off with another jolly singalong, Mrs Lowe. I'm not sure what this is reminding me of but it sounds very familiar and I can't stop stomping my foot and shaking my body. This is in a good way 🙂 Some lovely piano on this as well. 'Where do we go from here' sounds like a continuation.

 We seem to delve into heavy metal territory on 'You are what you see'. A strong guitar riff is sometimes interrupted by a mellower sound, then concentrating on Gary's vocals before kicking in again.A bit of a mosher one this. Would go down great in the gigs.

 'Who do you love' is almost Japan like in its spartan approach. But then it kicks in. 'Wake up sugar' is a lovely cello led ballad to end the album.

 

Gary's vocals are quite raspish which are sometimes effective and sometimes annoying. They are probably exaggerated by the actual recording which is quite harsh. Presumably digital and possibly compressed.

 

Musically its a very interesting album. There are a wide variety of styles and/or influences. Its cinematic at times, straight ahead rock at others. Possibly the closest match is Supergrass with the same shared love of sixties influences and harmonies. And organ! There are musical twists and inflexions all over which keep the listener interested.

 

Its a decent pressing on standardweight vinyl. Interesting picture sleeve but the record is housed ina  normal white paper sleeve. Its a small label and I guess they need to keep costs down. As mentioned above the recording or mastering is quite harsh and would actually stop me from listening repeatedly. Perhaps for their next release they should pay more attention here.