Today seems to be a day to be talking about music, and that got me thinking about the fact I’ve not done a NAF entry for ages. It’s not that I’ve not been buying new music (on Fridays or any other days), just that I’ve had very time for those kinds of posts. Hopefully I’ll resurrect NAF in the near future, but it in the meantime, to keep anyone that actually comes here for music recommendations(!) happy, here are few of my recent favourites.
Black Light / Diagrams: Diagrams came to me as a Christmas present from my brother (their first ep and two tickets for their Tuts show last week). That’s a pretty firm recommendation. On the basis of the ep, I bought Black Light when it came out and the smallish crowd that turned up at Tuts last weekend were treated to a captivating performance of the material. So, it’s safe to say that while the band were new to me, I’m a freakin expert now. And a fan. A huge fan.
Diagrams are one of those bands (they remind me of Grizzly Bear in this respect) that seems to have absorbed a lot of the music of the last 40 odd years, and have carefully distilled all of that learning into their arrangements. The songs are completely contemporary but there’s something in the choice of synth and drum sounds that reminds me of certain strands of 80s pop. There’s bits of Yazoo in there, maybe, and OMD, married perhaps with something from a little later in that decade that I can’t quite put my finger on (is it Dream Academy? Really?).
None of this matters, of course, except to say that in the 80s you could have easily heard thoughtful, original and rewarding songs like Ghost Lit, Antelope and the joyfully anthemic Tall Buildings in the charts. These days, that’s not what the charts are for (if they’re for anything at all) – thank fuck for 6Music, eh?
Buy this album, go and see the band on their forthcoming support slot with Gomez, and do yourself an extra favour – seek out the earlier ep for the stunning Icebreakers which for no doubt perfectly sensible, but still unfathomable to me, reasons was overlooked for the album release.
Vertical / 2Storeys: This has to be one of the most slickly produced independent albums I’ve heard in years. It’s a huge silky slab of yummy, soul-infused pop. In fact, it’s the Tesco Finest luxury tiramisu of recent indie releases. The vocal production is especially impressive. Angie Gray’s delicious vocals slip around the ear like kahlua and cream, and (giving up on the dessert metaphor now, it was a silly idea) the precision of the backing arrangements give her talents the perfect platform to shine. These songs were made for after hours, high-rise city watching, with Sleepless, Control and Got My Attention being my standouts.
D / White Denim: This band are one of the first confirmed for this year’s Stag & Dagger, and I’m pretty certain my £12 for that day in May is already well spent. Simply put White Denim are the best 70s rock act you never heard. They’re more than that of course, there are modern subtleties to these songs, but what hits you first and stays with you is the Zepplinesque combination of Jansch-style folkish finger picking and stomping rock riffs. Take a listen to Bess St and Is And Is And Is and Drug. See? Great band, and an album I simply cannot stop listening to right now. Awesome.