Current QT  Soundtrack

The Yeah Yeah Yeahs- Mosquito

Ignoring the hideous album sleeve artwork this album by the New York arthouse rockers is a natural progression from 2009’s ‘It’s Blitz’. Opening with the future classic ‘it’s Sacrilege the pace never lets up throughout and although the electronic synthpop of their last album has been replaced by more traditional instrumentation the experimentation and studio wizardry remain in place and combine to capture a futuristic feel on tracks such as ‘Subway’-with a sampled subway train as the songs pulse-‘Under the Earth’ ‘Don’t Despair’ and ‘Always’. The collaboration with Dr. Octagon on ‘Buried Alive’ actually sounds relevant as opposed to so many other team ups which often reek of trying to break into another market.Definitely an album which will take root and grow on you revealing itself as essential after several plays.

Nick Cave- Push The Sky Away

On this his fifteenth solo album Cave turns in his most impressive, coherent and consistently breathtaking collec tion for years. Beautifully haunting songs such as ‘We Know who U R’, ‘Jubilee Street’ ‘Mermaids’ and the title track conspire to make this one of Cave’s finest in a long and illustrious career.

David Bowie- The Next Day

After nearly a decade’s hiatus Bowie returns with an album worthy of his  seventies output. Spiritually the follow up to ‘Heroes’-the remaking of that album’s cover is a bit of a giveaway- ‘The Next day’ is perhaps the album ‘Lodger’should have been. The biggest surprise is not that he has made it but just how good it really is. Stand out tracks are the title track, ‘The Stars are out Tonight’, ‘You Feel so Lonely You Could Die’ and the single which the world woke up to on his sixty sixth birthday the melancholically wistful ‘Where are We now?’. Many of Bowie’s albums over the last thirty years have been hailed as his best since ‘Scary Monsters’ this one though actually is. A more than welcome return to top form!

Fiona Soe Paing- Tower of Babel EP

Innovative and interesting electronic three song EP from this Aberdeen based songstress who uses language as another instrument by incorporating traditional Burmese into her music as if it were another emotional tool. A full detailed review of this outstanding work can be found here.

 Richard Hawley- Standing at the Sky’s Edge

Following his own tradition of naming his albums after landmarks in his native Sheffield the sometime Pulp guitarist’s 2012 offering inhabits a much more psychedelic influenced terrain than his usual works. On initial inspection it may not be his most accessible work but repeated plays reap huge rewards and it could be the one to bring his talents to the attention of a deservedly wider audience.

Bat For Lashes- The Haunted Man

The third album in for Natasha Khan’s alter ego and this time the trippy, hippy ethos which has informed her work so far has been abandoned in favour of a more streamlined attitude which brings the strength of her new material to the fore and wraps it in a stripped back but still glossy production. After the effective atmospherics of 2009’s Two Sons this approach is more of a sidestep rather than a step forward but it has resulted in her strongest work yet.

 Mark Lanegan Band – Blues Funeral

The former Screaming Trees frontman turns in only his second solo offering and it was well worth the wait. Adopting his whisky soaked, nicotine stained persona and attaching it to tracks such as Harborview Hospital. St.Louis Elegy, Grey Goes Black proves an intoxicating mix. Best of all is Kraut-rock stormer Ode to Sad Disco which will set any indie dance floor alight with its relentless throbbing, pulsating beats and world weary vocals and inspirational lyrics. One of the years best unquestionably.

Jack White- Blunderbuss

On this his first solo outing Jack White has removed all the clutter which has surrounded most of his work since the first Raconteurs album in 2006. This is very much to the new records advantage and White adopts a variety of styles successfully even if his lyrics veer into the spurned bitter lover territory a little too frequently. Sixteen Saltines and I’m Shakin’ are riff tastic and assist White in finding his groove whilst Poor Boy , Hypocritical Kiss and Blunderbuss show an emergent maturity.

Grimes- Visions

23 year old Canadian Claire Boucher turns in a stunning set of electro mini outerspace transmissions- think side one of Bowie’s Low- incorporating elements of Kraftwerk, Kate Bush, Depeche Mode and Bat for Lashes for starters. Conventional song structures are more or less eschewed but somehow melodies twist and insinuate their way into your psyche until the album attains an identity and terrain all its own. This album fizzes , pops and intrigues with youthful vigour and knowing intelligence and intrigue from beginning to end and whilst not always perfect this in now way works against its ambitions and ultimate achievements.

Dr. John-Locked Down

Produced by Dan Auerbach-of band of the moment The Black Keys- this album from the 68 year old stalwart injects a new lease of life into a long and singular career path. Whilst not really a comeback -Dr. John has never really been away in any conventional sense- it introduces a the interesting method of creating a groove in the studio which the good doctor then hangs a melody onto with successful results. The title track, Big Shot, My Children My Angels and Ice Age are immediate standouts although the whole album moves around at its own sinuous pace.

Lana Del Rey- Born To Die

Ignore the simultaneous hype and backlash this sis one of the most perfect  dreamy pop albums in years and grows stronger with each repeated listening as individual tracks distinguish themselves. Heavily criticised for her re-invention and (in)authenticity -like those things ever held David Bowie or Madonna back- Del Rey smooches, croons and smoulders her way through a collection of songs such as singles Video Games, Blue Jeans and the title track as well as other future standards as Off to the Races and Radio. All through her voice adapts itself perfectly without losing her distinctive tones. True she may not be furthering the cause of feminism too radically but then again neither does looking like an unmade bed and not shaving your armpits.

The  Black Keys- El Camino

Released at the end of 2011 this album was slightly overlooked in the pre-Xmas rush but luckily helped in assisting in kicking 2012 into action and out of the listlessness which usually accompanies the post-festive comedown. The duo’s seventh offering is also their most commercial endeavour yet and the Danger Mouse production gives it an interesting glam/disco tinge previously undetected in their output. Gold on The Ceiling, Little Black Submarine and lead off single Lonely Boy all conspire to make this album sound like a greatest hits singles collection.

Lana Del Rey-Video Games

Opening with haunted bell chimes before harps sweep in and carry Del Rey’s mournful, fragile yet tough vocals over a melody simultaneously glacial and warm towards a chorus claiming repeatedly ‘It’s you, It’s you’ all of which combine to make the spectral and almost Lynchian ‘Video Games’ the stand out track of 2011 and Del Rey a talent to watch out for in 20102.

Death In Vegas – Trans Love Energies– On initial inspection this latest offering after a seven year hiatus from this Scottish group is underwhelming seemingly churning out the same robotic rhythms of the bands heyday. Repeated listenings reveal hidden depths however and theb album proves itself a grower and Death In Vegas the ultimate proponents of  mulfunctioning android drones that occasionally resemble a dalek fighting its way out of a huirricane. Stand out tracks include the single Your Loft My Acid, Coum, Witch Dance and Scissors. Best to avoid the ‘deluxe’ package however as it does tend to overplay things and go on too long.

Bon Iver Bon Iver -The eponymous second album from Justin Vernon’s alter ego after the huge critical and commercial success of his lo-fi debut 2008’s runaway success For Emma Forever ago. With those melting vocals still in place this follow up takes things a step forward whilst retaining all the qualities that made his debut an album to fall in love with. The whole thing moves along at its own pace and on its own terms with no track being an immediate stand out as it is really an album that grows with its own organic movement and needs to be fully appreciated in its entirety.

The Gun Club  -The Las Vegas Story – Jeffrey Lee Pierce and cohorts with a much underrated classic from 1984 that was initially ignored after its predecessor 1982’s Miami had suffered from bad reviews due to the thinness of Chris Stein’s mix which failed to capture the sonic kudos of the band despite housing a clutch of memorable tunes that should have catapulted them into the stratosphere. With much of the bands output unavailable until recently  due to legal label wranglings this is as good an introduction as any to a band that were blighted with misfortune and plagued with drug and alcohol problems as well as bad management. Jack White doesn’t understand why this bands music is not taught in American schools as a part of their musical history legacy and he has a valid point. This album redeemed the band but it was just a case of too much but unfortunately too late to save them.

  P.J. Harvey -Let England Shake- Polly Harvey’s eighth album is very much a return to form and very likely her most consistently satisfying offering so far. Up there with Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea, To Bring you my Love and Rid of Me this collection draws on the idea of a dreaded concept album drawing on a variety of themes including patriotism, Goya and World War 1. Its remarkably upbeat melodic swoops contrast vastly with the darkness of the lyrical themes but somehow collate to create a work of strong cohesion.

Arcade Fire- Speaking in Tongues- A band so obviously peaking that they could afford to leave a song of this calibre off 2010’s The Suburbs. Available on the deluxe edition this slinks along with a groove all its own

Little Dragon- Ritual Union

With 2011 not shaping up as a particularly classic year for music Swedish electronic cool kids Little Dragon make a very welcome entry into the frey with this delicious third offering. ‘Ritual Union’,’Shuffle a Dream’ ‘Crystalfilm’, ‘Please Turn’,’ Nightlight’ and ‘Precious’ reveal themselves as instant classics whilst many others will no doubt do so in time and after repeated listenings. After Goldfrapp veered off course with last years ultimately underwhelming ‘Head First’ this lot could sweep in to fill the void for superior darkly delicious, intelligent, frothy electronic music  tasty enough to make you want to lick it.

Laura Marling- I Speak Because I can

Although released March 2010 this timeless album will have to do until Marling’s third opus is released in mid-September although it has been ready since the end of last year. Always on my playlist and indelibly etched into my psyche this album still resonates with lyrical complexity alongside instrumental simplicity that belies its authors tender young years. Unquestionably mature in its outlook it comes on like a pagan Kate Bush meets winsome Joni Mitchell whilst staking out a territory all its own. Can’t wait to hear Marling’s next stage of development until then this will -still- do nicely.

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