Blondie, Sinead O’Connor, Mogwai, James Murphy, Kelis, Neneh Cherry, The Horrors, Duke Dumont, Twin Shadow, Ham Sandwich, Clean Bandit, Drenge, The Orwells, Glass Animals, Wolf Alice, The Districts, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Vancouver Sleep Clinic, Vaults, Benjamin Booker, Moko.
As The Horrors progress in their career, they appear to dig deeper into older music, yet find their own place in it. ‘I See You’, the first song from their fourth album Luminous (May 2nd on XL), sounds part of the late ’80s rock world, as much of Skying did, and like that album, there’s still room for grand gestures, in this case light disco-synths and a dark and sparkling outro. This is a natural continuation of what came before – epic ambient rock with a sweeping of knowledge of historical music in its DNA.
From punk rock caricatures on their debut album Strange Life to psychedelic Kraut-rockers on Primary Colours and now ’80s revivalists, The Horrors have traversed an increasingly interesting path over the last six years. Skying finds them celebrating and re-appropriating strains of British rock music from “baggy” to late ’80s histrionics to ’90s indie rock. That the band assimilate all of this into their third album and add another string to their bow without sounding like copyists is a testament to their growing talent andd why you should be paying attention.
That’s not to say that the entirely self-produced Skying is an easily identifiable record. While much of the album has a laid-back, room-filling, brooding feel, there are diversions into psychedelia and lush soundscapes. In the same way that bands like Primal Scream and Death In Vegas have done so previous, The Horrors are echoing the past while sounding totally themselves.
First single ‘Still Life’ could be a Death In Vegas joint with its Contino Sessions-esque backwards Indian guitar, heaving bassline and uplifting synths. That song has also been compared heavily to Simple Minds thanks to Horrors’ vocalist Faris Badwin’s similarly spectral vocals (his voice is a consistent record highlight) to Jim Kerr but there’s certainly a valid comparison to be made with early ’80s Simple Minds music too as there’s the same snaking drum, bass and guitar insistency on a lot of Skying.
Synthesizers play a big role in adding colour to the songs – they effortlessly breathe in and out of the other instrumentation adding an certain swash of ambience to proceedings while brass is used to great effect on ‘You Said’, ‘Endless Blue’ and ‘Wild Eyes’ inviting the Primal Scream comparison. There’s an overall less frenzied fluidity to the record with occasional diversions into uptempo passages.
It’s somewhat ironic that a band who arrived with a style over substance tag are now making some seriously substantial music, forging their own take on marginal genres of rock music made in the past 30 years. The Horrors are so stylistically out of step with what’s happening, that they are now even more interesting than anything thought they ever could be.
Skying is out on XL Recordings in Ireland this Friday and everywhere else next week. Stream it below…
Not many bands can say their debut gig took place in The Vatican but Cat’s Eyes, a duo consisting of The Horror’s singer Faris Badwan and the Canadian opera soprano Rachel Zeffira (who plays piano, violin, English horn, oboe, cathedral organ, harmoniuma and Indian tambura) did just that. The contrast between the scornful-sounding rocker and classical musician is at the heart of Cat’s Eyes appeal as they take on ’60s girl group sounds with psychedelic tropes, synthesizers and multi-tracked vocals. It’s an expansive project. The album came out yesterday in the UK. Listen to 30-second samples after the jump or check out three full songs from it first.
A selection of photos by The Noise In Our Heads‘ Danielle Graham from Electric Picnic. In order of appearance: The National, The Horrors, Friendly Fires, Two Door Cinema Club, LCD Soundsystem, Hot Chip, The Antlers, Villagers, Redneck Manifesto, Hypnotic Brass Ensemble, ASIWYFA, Roxy Music, Foals, Jonsi, Laura Marling & Marc Almond.
The good (no make that GREAT) folks at Lex Records sent some sweet remixes and mixtapes this way this week. Hold on to your pants.
First up a proper dub remix of Willie Isz’ ‘The Grussle’ from Hyperdub’s LV. Grab the original which is on the album Georgiavania out now from eMusic or Lex Shop. Proper dub-sided. Willie Isz are Jneiro Jarel & Khujo Goodie.
Tomorrow I’m splitting from dull overcast Dublin for the weekend in favour of the three-day Rock en Seine festival near Paris. The lineup includes Vampire Weekend, Bill Callahan (really looking forward to this), Oasis, Faith No More, Passion Pit, School of Seven Bells, MGMT, Baaba Mal, Klaxons, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Bloc Party, Vitalic, The Horrors, Dananananakroyd, Metric, Yann Tierson and The Asteroid Galaxy Tour.
There’s even a free mini-Rock en Seine for kids who haven’t got too old to scoff at Oasis yet. Should be good.
The trip has been made possible by Eurostar and We Are Social who are bringing myself and some UK music bloggers over for the festival on a little break (see previous art and fashion breaks). I’m looking forward to travelling by the Channel Tunnel for a laugh (especially as it’s a FREE bloody trip – blogging can have its perks and it’ll be a nice respite from 18 hour days). If you’re interested in following suit, check out Little Break, Big Difference for ideas for entertainment and culture-themed breaks to Paris, Brussels and Lille. Here’s a track from Danish band The Asteroid Galaxy Tour which reminds me of something else.. Anyone know it?
Tomorrow (Tuesday) sees the announcement of the shortlist for the 2009 Mercury Music Prize and the BBC Music Blog have asked various blogs (myself included) to give their thoughts on a possible shortlist. The Mercury Prize is awarded to albums of any genre, with the only key entry condition being that they had a UK/Ireland release between July 15 2008 and July 13 2009 (full rules here). Where possible, I’ve linked the album name to the Spotify page so you can listen yourself. So let’s start building my list: (more…)
Remember those archaic days when you picked up a magazine or a free newspaper and saw a playlist of what people were into that week and you would then immediately check it out if you thought it was interesting. The Aussie street press magazines reminded me of the power of those subjective charts. I’ve always got loads of great stuff from them so I’m going to re-introduce them here. No great fanfare or descriptions just ten of the best song around right now you should know or you might already know.
Of all the musically-challenged groups to appear over the last few years, The Horrors were perhaps one of the most offensive. Their cartoonish style and unfathomable NME support were laughable to me. This band were generally annoying. Even an attempt at reaching for greatness by working with Chris Cunningham on the video for ‘Sheena Was a Parasite’ came across as vapid.
So then, would someone like to explain to me, why exactly their new album Primary Colours is all kinds of awesome??? Sure, it channels Joy-Division and their post-punk contemporaries a little too closely but the drive and immersion evident is as impressive as fuck. They’ve gone from a joke to a band in my estimation. Nice work. Their superb 8 minute single ‘Sea Within a Sea’ should change your mind too..