THEY may not be as festive as their name would imply, but dance act Sleigh Bells sound like they’re trying very hard to get some form of festivities going.
The problem is on Treats they’re trying too hard – with speaker-busting levels of samples and sound effects taking their toll, even the sturdiest of speakers will struggle not to fart out these tracks.
On the occasions everything gels – like the Funkadelic-sampling Rill Rill – Sleigh Bells really are a treat.
The rest of the time they need to treat their work with a less is more attitude.
TRANSATLANTIC RPM, the new album from Incognito, packs in more energy than a jet engine.
Having invited along a guest list including Jamiroquai bassist Stuart Zender, icon Chaka Khan, spoken word goddess Ursula Rucker, Motown legend Leon Ware and more, the tracks here are all slick as they come.
Sure, a lot of it is very cheesy, but you can’t help get caught up in the sheer exuberance of it all.
LIKE compatriots Turzi (see yesterday) French act Emilie Simon knows her way around a computer – and sometimes even inside of one.
Live Emilie has an experimental side – playing with a gadget known as “the arm” which locks onto her limb allowing her to tinker with her sounds.
However the established singer-songwriter’s fourth album The Big Machine – inspired by her time living in New York – sees her aiming at the mainstream, embracing the poppier elements of her electronic sound and singing in English.
And the results of her latest studio jaunt sees the talents which have seen obvious comparisons made with the vocal gymnastics of Kate Bush and the musical ambition of Tori Amos tempered by the limitations of Little Boots-style cheery electropop backing.
As a result long-time listeners may be a little turned off, but nevertheless there’s enough to like on The Big Machine in tracks such as The Way I See You and Rainbow to see her gather enough new fans to replace them.
I’M A massive fan of Reef – the band are even a proud owner of a Classic Collection LP in the form of Replenish – so it’s hard for me not to compare Yard to their body of work.
StringerBessant, a duo of distinctive Reef vocalist Gary Stringer and Reef bassist Jack Bessant, is undoubtedly a different beast – but also undoubtedly a lesser beast at present.
Because the almost entirely acoustic act come across as a bit wet and wussy for nearly all of the album.
Things only pick up around track 10 onwards, songs like Lord Please Come, Make It and Song Worth Singing, tracks tellingly are the ones which finally hark back to their more exuberant predecessor.
THE excellently-named Canadian synth-punk Randy Twigg is Redone from Monday with a series of remixes of her Undone LP.
The knob-twiddling here does have a pretty full-on, low-rent feel – but after listening to the loud and lairy originals you wouldn’t be expecting anything subtle.
Luckily the likes of Mt Sims, Syntronics, Kid 606 et al offer plenty of variety – with the likes of house, jungle, dubstep, techno and more piled onto the shouty Twigg sound.
In fact, Redone does it more than the original LP for me.
WINDMILL’S EP sees the problems with the woozy sound of the one-man band’s album Epcot Starfield both improved on and compounded.
Matthew Dillon’s infuriating vocals, which sound like a drunken Arcade Fire doing an impression of Owl City, remain on the title track, one of the livelier cuts from the aforementioned LP.
Then it’s onto the remixes – with the Pocket Remix and Gentleman’s Losers Remix of Big Boom improving on Windmill’s at-times plodding sound, while the Saroos Remix of Imax Raceway provides an even more nebulous take on the sound, making it almost impossible to get a grip on.
SECOND city act Sick City Club aren’t exactly nauseatingly repulsive, but debut LP Talking With Lies is no mouth-watering prospect either.
An indie act with an epic tinge, the Birmingham-based group sound a bit like an optimistic version of The Editors or a happy-go-lucky counterpart to The Enemy.
If you’re into your indie, then you’re in for a treat – otherwise Talking With Lies has nothing out of the ordinary to appeal, and that’s the truth.
SENEGALESE singer and guitarist Carlou D’s music on Muzikr may catch many listeners by surprise.
As D is best known as a member of African rap outfit, you would expect a hint of hip hop here.
But while the social commentary you would expect of an MC coming out of a developing nation is here – with songs about slavery and poverty as standard – there’s not a head nodding beat or a fast-paced patter throughout.
Instead we’re treated to some fairly run-of-the-mill roots music, with pleasing faster tracks like Ila Touba juxtaposed with slower, more Westernised tracks like the jazzy Yaay Fall.
LISSIE, whose now-redundant surname is Maurus for the record, is a hotter tip than a rubbish dump that’s on fire.
The singer has been touted as 2010’s top female singing sensation, the American Midwest’s answer to similarly-single-named Duffy, if you will.
And yes, her vocals are sublime, with a distinctive warble weighted with a hint of Sheryl Crow gravel.
But for me her country pop is all a bit, well, meh – catchy without hooks, cool without being edgy, twee without being corny.
She may be driving towards becoming a household name, but she’s doing it down the middle of the road.
IN SOME instances, it’s difficult to fault Example’s clup pop hip hop on Won’t Go Quietly, and in others it’s hard to find any merit.
Case in point – the Hammersmith rapper opens the album with From Space then singles Won’t Go Quietly and the excellent Watch The Sun Come Up, before launching into the dire Time Machine, undoing all his own good work.
The best tracks here are paragons of pop circa 2010 – the aforementioned opening trio, Kickstarts, Sick Note – but over the course of a full album, Example is an illustration of inconsistency.