Who? The Ruby Suns
Title: Fight Softly
Label: Memphis Industries (UK) / Sub Pop (US) / Lil’Chief (NZ)
Tell me more: The Ruby Suns are the baby of Ryan McPhun, an American Kiwi (two stereotypes for the price of one) who veer between Auckland and California. Nice.
The Lowdown: Fight Softly shares a spirituality with the Signer album I reviewed in Lowdown … 11, the breezy electro pop and obscure sampling and lush vocals being built upon on The Ruby Suns third album. I can hear effects and synths, and an imaginative mind. Guitars are used sparingly, there’s a hint of 90s disco, and on Cranberry, the genes of Paul Simon, Graceland, 1986, are discovered. Stun me McPhun.
Who? Electric President
Title: The Violent Blue
Label: Fake Four
Tell me more: They’re a duo from Jacksonville, Florida, been around for six years and this is their sixth album.
The Lowdown: The Alex Kane-Ben Cooper tag team do a nice yet uninspiring indie take that spans shoegazing and maybe emo. It’s difficult to look at this kind of music subjectively if those genres fail to ignite the inner brash teenager inside of me. Porky’s ears lit up on the near-pop, chant-heavy Safe and Sound, which would undoubtedly fit in with a programme like Dawson’s Creek but alas, Cooper’s brittle vocals and the insipid melodies on much of the rest doesn’t endear it to Porky.
Anything else? According to the eating/ sf blogsite, The Violent Blue is best consumed with bruleed baked oatmeal.
Title: Adventures in Modern Recording
Tell me more: Recorded in 1981 and only released in France. Includes various b-sides, mixes and demos, should you wish them.
The Lowdown: In 1980 Buggles and their bespectacled frontman Trevor Horn were everywhere with Video Killed The Video Star. You will have heard of it, even if you can’t remember the chorus. It was, on the initial listens, an excellent piece of electro-pop from the burgeoning snythesiser scene. It was, after a week of radioplay, a piece of irritating bleeps and blips. Listening to this, an archive of the heady electro days of the early 80s, today you feel a sense of aloofness. It’s awfully dated, dear boy. I doubt in an age when technology in music was moving so fast, with the Human League about to dominate the entire world, that this album would have any impact at all but it’s worth listening to a historical document more than anything else, as Buggles were one of a select band who paved the way for a decade and beyond of music that left the guitars in the stand.
Anything else? Horn was once in Yes. Oh no.
Who? Sarah Blasko
Title: As day follows night
Tell me more: All the way from Sydney, Blasko is now being marketed in the UK with her third album, recorded with Bjorn Yttling in Stockholm.
The Lowdown: Blasko is a pretty brunette with a beautiful, fey voice. The world is full of solo female singers so Blasko has to have something above and beyond the roll call of glamorous/ frumpy, talented/ hopeless starlets (delete as appropriate). It’s an album that doesn’t just fade away, it draws you in and grabs your attention. But you’ll fight. You’ll battle against the humdrum harmonies and unimaginative bass, drum and guitars. Her voice is a boon: “Is my baby yours?” she wails over and over, giving me the creeps.
Anything else? Blasko grabs a snippet of Talking Heads’ Road To Nowhere and tags it on the end of Over & Over.
Who? The Olive Branch
Title: Drummers Hill Experience
Label: Invisable Records
Tell me more: It’s always helpful if a band can label themselves, and on the cover, The Olive Branch inform the listener that it’s ska/punk/ reggae. A bunch of ska-nuts from Leeds, hugely influenced by the 2-Tone sound of the Specials, the Beat, Madness et al and who can possibly object to that.
The Lowdown: I always cringe at the term, ska-punk, it invokes imagines of Americans armed with punk records but little knowledge of the Jamaican ska scene of the mid-6os. These three tracks, plus a bonus one, aren’t in that vein, this sounds like they were fed Gangsters and One Step Beyond with their baby food.
Anything else? http://www.myspace.com/theolivebranch1