Five albums reviewed this month: the debut album from Crystal Castles, Soma Coma Volume 2, The Black Ghosts Mixtape, I Need You To Hold On While The Sky Is Falling by Kelley Polar and third album Growl by Radioactive Man.
Crystal Castles - Crystal Castles
In the last month the debut album from Crystal Castles has zoomed to the top of my most-listened-to list on Last FM. Enough said? Well... if you need anymore convincing let's just say Canadian duo Ethan Kath and Alice Glass have produced a strong contender for album of the year.
Across the sixteen tracks the pace and style vary consistently; boredom or indifference never get a look-in. Cleverly mixing electronic J-Pop with coarser, punk-flavoured tunes, this eponymous album might be difficult to get into at first due to the few slightly-screechy tracks like Alice Practice or Xxzxcuzx Me but in a wider context these tracks add essential balance, perfectly sandwiched between poppier ditties like Vanished and Courtship Dating.
There's talk on the interweb that the general Crystal Castles sound (electronic game bleeps - best heard on my favourite track Untrust Us - hear it on their MySpace) is not entirely original. Make your own mind up.
35 listens | 10/10
Soma Coma Volume 2
The two main components of a successful compilation (mixed or unmixed) is great tracks, well sequenced. This new release from Glasgow music label Soma manages to satisfy both these criteria perfectly.
Things start gently with spacey opener Prologue 1 by Envoy before the tinkling, ivory chords of Vector Lovers' Piano Dust lift the pace... just. And the song remains the same from there on, thankfully. There's some really beautiful tunes in there, like the Dot Allison vocal-led Kill The Pain by Slam and the amazing The Crete That Crete Made by The Black Dog. Highlight moment though has to be 6am by Alex Smoke. Highly recomended.
13 listens | 10/10
Kelley Polar - I Need You To Hold On While The Sky Is Falling
Hmm. A mixed bag this one. I absolutely loved Kelley Polar's first album Love Songs of the Hanging Gardens and was rather excited about this follow-up but still haven't decided if I rate it yet. The first problem is opening track A Feeling Of The All-Thing, which, because of the annoying repeated vocodered vocals, doesn't work for me and as a result puts me off actually wanting to play the album. Then there's the general lack of oomph overall, by which I mean most tracks kinda sound alike and almost begin to merge into each other, even after a few listens.
Don't let me mislead you though, there's plenty of wonderful pop moments like Entropy Reigns (In The Celestial City) and A Dream In Three Parts (On Themes By Enesco), both reminiscent of Scritti Politi. It's inoffensive and unchallenging.
7 listens | 6/10
The Black Ghosts Mixtape
In contrast to Kelley Polar (and Soma Coma 2), here's a challenging mix (that's chock-full of upbeat tracks). A great compilation from ex-Simian Simon Lord and ex-Wiseguy Theo Keating. Treat is as a taster for their forthcoming debut album if you like.
Comprising an hour of bouncy tunes from the likes of Boy 8 Bit, Fake Blood, The Gossip and of course themselves (including a couple of remixes of their last single Anyway You Choose To Give It) it's ideal party music.Top moments include the bubblegum pop of the The Black Ghosts remix of The One by Trabant and the trancey Mars by Fake Blood. Get hold of it asap.
16 listens | 10/10
Radioactive Man - Growl
Third album from Keith Tenniswood aka Radioactive Man (one half of Two Lone Swordsmen). A good mix of quality chuggers like 5 Armed Skeleton and Growl balanced with utterly sublime works of genius like acidy Pieces Of Eight, with it's delicious fat baseline refrain and Lungfull Of Bass with it's squelchy head-nodding goodness. And Dot Allison puts in another sterling guest vocal on Nothing At All, a pure pop gem! (Not so sure about the the other Lone Swordman Andrew Weatherall's vocals on Double Dealings though). Overall more than enough to satisfy.
11 listens | 8/10