Album Reviews: Shades of Gomez in Wirral mates' debut
Hooton Tennis Club – Highest Point In Cliff Town
HOOTON Tennis Club's stumble to success has been as endearingly ramshackle and insouciant as their lo-fi music. The four mates from the Wirral were signed to Heavenly Records just six months after leaving university and their debut album, Highest Point In Cliff Town, is full of hazy guitar pop classics from the first listen.
The songs catch all the arrogance, messiness, in-jokes and carelessness of youth in a way not heard since Gomez's Bring It On, another great debut. Songs such as Jasper and recent single Kathleen Sat On the Arm Of Her Favourite Chair tumble into life on the back of instantly hummable solos from guitarist James Madden, and Ryan Murphy's laidback vocals.
Some tracks threaten to fall apart and mistakes seem to be embraced, but effortless pop hooks abound in every track. Fall In Luv sprints by in two minutes of Buzzcocks-like vim with Madden's solos firing all over it. Like the rest of the album, it sounds like youth in a bottle.
Foals – What Went Down
OXFORD five-piece Foals have an enviable trait. With each of their album releases, they've been able to change up their sound without it sounding forced or too self-aware. Their 2008 debut Antidotes was an anthem to an indie-dance party, while the deliciously depressing Total Life Forever was one of the albums of the year.
Then Holy War came along with a bolder direction. So what of their fourth LP? Well, this is very much a 'solid' rock album. The tracks are ones you can imagine being sung late into the evening at festivals next summer. The opening two tunes are title track What Went Down and Mountain At My Gates, which showcase the band's developed, heavier sound.
There are driving drums and guitars and the lyrics are half sung-half shouted. Yet it's the quirks along the way that stop the LP becoming just another release; from the warped organ intro on What Went Down to the distorted beats on Albatross, these intricacies keep the album interesting from start to finish.
There are touches of their previous releases on here, Night Swimmer could well be on Antidotes and Lonely Hunter on Holy War. As a complete work, the album doesn't quite reach the heady heights of TLF, but that's more of a compliment of that album than a negative of this one.
Yo La Tengo – Stuff Like That There
THE 14th full-length release from the American indie-rock quartet Yo La Tengo is a collection of covers, two new songs, and reworkings of their old material. A strange mix, to be sure, but one that works beautifully.
Georgia Hubley, Ira Kaplan and James McNew, along with guitarist Dave Schramm's signature laidback sound ties all the tracks together, making a collection that sounds as original and complete as any other YLT album.
Stuff Like That There is a long way from the group's other cover album, Yo La Tengo Is Murdering The Classics – a largely improvised take on classic songs as requested by listeners of a radio station, which the group immediately performed live on air in one take. A fun album, but Things Like That There contrasts it by displaying what the band can do with other people's material when they're given the time to hone and craft their own selection of covers.
Special mention goes to their cover of The Cure's Friday I'm In Love, which compliments the original but draws out a new beauty to the song in a way that only Yo La Tengo can.
Beach House – Depression Cherry
THE dream pop duo – Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally – have built up a huge underground following thanks to the sleeper success of their last three albums. Each one took their drone keyboards, arpeggio guitar and breathy vocals formula to new heights, culminating in the soaring melancholy of the aptly titled Bloom.
The Baltimoreans have pared things down on their latest effort and large sections certainly resemble their more claustrophobic early work. The lack of catchy hooks and expansive production is disappointing at first but the experimentation of lead track Sparks, all clutter and My Bloody Valentine noise, hints at an intriguing, darker future.
Songs like Levitation and PPP will please existing fans and their trusted celebration of sadness is still intact enough to mark Beach House out as a band to treasure.
The Bohicas – The Making Of
THE Bohicas are an indie rock band hailing from the east end of London and Essex. Comprising Dominic McGuinness on lead vocals and guitar, fellow guitarist Dom John, bassist Ady Acolatse and drummer Brendan Heaney, the Bohicas' brand of scuzzy rock 'n' roll brings to mind a hybrid of early Oasis and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club at their best.
The thunderous drumming of Heaney, who clearly fancies himself as a latter day John Bonham, underpins the 11 tracks with McGuinness' vocals equally impressive. Squalling guitars also dominate, proving they know their way round a decent riff, especially on rip-roaring opener I Do It For Your Love.
But the tempo doesn't drop throughout, with XXX and To Die For other notable highlights. The Bohicas may be be playing sweaty small clubs at present, but stardom surely beckons, with The Making Of a debut to savour time and again.
Reuben James Richards – About Time
IT'S been more than 20 years since Reuben James Richards, then known as Reuben James, released the track Hold On My Heart in 1994, which drew praise from former Atlantic boss and the late music producer Jerry Wexler who described the soulman as "one of the greatest voices he had heard in a decade".
Having reunited with producer Dave Williams, Richards has finally released his debut album, About Time, filled with ten original songs, all written by Williams with accompaniment from Muscle Shoal brass band, as well as musicians from Memphis, New Orleans and Nashville.
The easy-listening record opens with the jaunty notes of We'll Always Be Together, but Richards' s poignant vocals shine best on Please Let Me Down Easy, Who's Foolin' Who, Sugar Cane and Hold On My Heart. Good things may come to those who wait, but here's hoping Richards won't make us wait another 20 years for his follow-up.