There’s always an unwarranted level of cynicism when an accessible new band gets a lot of press coverage and then is signed to a major label, as is the case with LA trio Haim. The assumption is always made that the major label has been behind the image and the music the whole time, pulling strings and manipulating the music media. Maybe I’m just being naive, because I’m sure that that does happen sometimes, but it is also the case that great pop music will naturally get a lot of press attention and major labels will naturally want to sign music with such obvious appeal.
Whichever is true for Haim is next to irrelevant – just watch the new video for ‘Forever’ and attempt to be cynical. I am effortlessly grumpy and even I cannot think of a good reason to be mildly suspicious about the machinations behind such an obviously brilliant pop song. The retro-pop stylings are reminiscent of a more chilled out Cults, but the rest is all Haim; precise, quirky pop music that is next to impossible not to love. Even if the whole thing was planned out by the label, it’s hard to care, because it doesn’t feel at all like it has been, and that’s all that really matters; it’s believable. And a believable lie is just as satisfying as the truth, sometimes.
You can get the ‘Forever’ EP for free from their website.
There are more albums this month than there are licentious, secretary-lassoing Frenchmen in positions of authority. There is, of course, a potential that this is because I might have forgotten/did not have time to continue this groundbreakingly original feature last month. Maybe. So for the sake of our collective sanity, I’ll keep it brief, but if you’re a real fan of brevity, just do yourself a favour and go and buy/steal them all. Especially Austra and The Antlers. We don’t have an “Album Of The Month” title like everyone else, but if we did, we’d have to share it between those two.
Arctic Monkeys – Suck It And See
They got beards, and they sound like it. Their morphosis from cheeky Sheffield chaps being chased by chavs with pool cues to hairy psychedelic rock druids popping pills with Josh Homme was most unlikely, but Alex Turner’s words have never bitten more keenly than on “Suck It And See”. They’re pushed to the fore of the trippy guitars here, and really dig into your brain. They’re no longer the Arctic Monkeys of 2005, and haven’t been for quite some time; they’re muscular and mature and just keep getting better and better.Arctic Monkeys – The Hellcat Spangled Shalalala by Not Many Experts
Bon Iver – Bon Iver
On the subject of beards, Justin Vernon has still got his wiry asset, but that’s about the only thing that hasn’t changed on “Bon Iver”. His newly positioned band take his emotive wanderings and twist them with orchestral crescendos, deafening drums and even, in one troubling moment, 80s inspired keyboards. It’s all quite unsettling, but once past the shock that this is not “For Emma, Forever Ago Continued…”, moments like “Perth” start sounding like some of his most beautiful moments. The poignancy of his debut, though, was never going to be re-created.
Tall Ships provided the heartbreaking moment of the festival and even were single-handedly responsible for making my festivaling comrade cry (he claims it was simply the man menopause again) as their front-man miserably closed his case of unsold vinyl after just 10 fruitless minutes. The lack of people wading into their wallets was actually hugely surprising, as the band had just ripped through a spellbinding set of intricate and yet hugely appealing math-rock. Take the precision, passion and intelligence of Foals, remove their huge popular appeal, and replace it with the confusion and avant-garde of Battles and there you have Tall Ships. I sound enthusiastic and sympathetic, but to be fair, I didn’t buy one of their vinyl either (please don’t judge me). Give them some time to find their audience and they’ve got the sort of rare experimental appeal to actually sell quite a lot of records to quite a lot of quite infatuated fans. And we might even crack the wallet out ourselves.