A Wintry Cheerio From Me (Featuring Midlake)

Right, I’m off for a few days of snowboarding. First time in four years (aside from an odd little episode in Richmond Park1), so it’s likely to be painful and hilarious in equal measure.

To celebrate this wintry event, I thought I’d post this from Midlake, whose new album “The Courage Of Others” is a thing of dark, wintry beauty. I’ll write more about it when I see them live later this month, but for the meantime, here’s “Acts Of Man”, as performed live for The Guardian (courtesy of the marvellous Bella Union Records). Hope you have a great week and I’ll be back Monday. Or possibly Tuesday.

1 I realised looking at this that I’d missed the site’s first birthday, on 31st January. Anyone who knows me IRL will know this is entirely like me. I am truly the world’s most forgetful man. Sorry, blog, I love you very much and I won’t do it again.

MP3: Acts Of Man (Live) by Midlake

Buy “The Courage Of Others” (CD/MP3)

Yeasayer? No, I Sayer.

Always look out for the bright new thing. That’s going to be the advice I give to my son when he gets a bit older, along with “No, drinking that mescal really isn’t a good idea”. Yeasayer have been getting loads of good press for “Odd Blood”; people saying it’s this year’s Animal Collective.

I think that’s about right. Animal Collective always struck me as a band with big brains but little soul, and without the keen sense of melody and tone that makes ostensibly similar bands like Grizzly Bear so damned wonderful. So it is with Yeasayer. Now, I’m the kind of guy who needs to compare and contrast, and here is my Yeasayer C&C:

Erasure meets TV On The Radio.

Prancing Electro keyboards? Check. Dramatic, wrought vocals? Check. Juicy horn parps. Check! At times, they sound like a particularly outre Pet Shop Boys song.

Well, It's A Better Cover Than The Last One

The album’s out on 8th February; maybe once I’ve heard the whole thing properly it’ll start to settle in. But I tried that with Animal Collective and it just didn’t click. In other words, everyone else raves about them whilst I sit on the sidelines going “What are you all on about?”. In the meantime, try “Ambling Alp” for yourself (below), and if you’re still Yea-Curious, you can download “O.N.E.” from their website here (you need to give your email address, which seems a fair trade).

MP3: Ambling Alp by Yeasayer

Pre-Order “Odd Blood” (CD)

Popular Songs, Or How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love Yo La Tengo

Yo La Tengo are one of those bands that have always made me feel suspicious. That famous Onion story from some years ago1 “37 Record-Store Clerks Feared Dead In Yo La Tengo Concert Disaster” absolutely nailed it for me. There’s the whole indie schmindie aesthetic that made me want to run away screaming “Hair clips! Ribbons! Aaaargh!”. I did once venture out into Tengoland and got “And Nothing Turned Itself Inside Out”, but “You Can Have It All” aside, it didn’t really make much of an impression.

The Annual Spot The Drummer Contest Was Not A Success

But last year, I thought I’d give “Popular Songs” a try. It’d had good reviews, some stating that this was probably their most complete album ever, and the omens were good. And you know what? It’s really good. Didn’t manage to listen to it enough to be able to call it an album of the year, but I’m listening to it more and more and finding new depths. The sheer variety – from Sonic Youth-esque 12 minute guitar freakouts to dream-pop to bossa-nova to indie-schmindie Belle And Sebastian songs (but done exquisitely well) – makes for a great album.

And this morning, after listening to the new Yeasayer album (see tomorrow’s post, if you’re a time traveller), I needed something a bit more pleasant to listen to. What came up? Yo La Tengo. So there you go; if a newish band comes squawking out of New York with music they hope is new and shiny (but ends up coming across as plain irritating – you can see where I’m going to with this), then listen to an old New York1 band to salve the pain. I can safely say I’m through my Tengophobia.

I’m now going to start going back through their catalogue, starting with the aforementioned “And Nothing Turned Itself Inside Out”, freshly copied to my new iPhone. Any suggestions?

1 Ok, Hoboken. You can see New York from there.

MP3: Avalon Or Someone Very Similar by Yo La Tengo

Buy “Popular Songs” (CD/MP3)

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