New Soundbites Extra: Album reviews

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Getintothis’ Liza Williams on the sexy Interpol man, women can’t get enough of.

Julian Plenti: Julian Plenti Is Skyscraper
Matador
A lot of women are sexually obsessed with Paul Banks. In a sort of scary stalker way. Maybe that’s why he felt the need to create a solo work pseudonym – he hoped they wouldn’t cotton on.
But to be honest it’s a pretty inadequate disguise.
The Interpol front man’s baritone vocals are so distinctive that even a really shit panellist on Buzzcocks couldn’t fail to make the connection.
So on first listen …is Skyscraper isn’t a huge departure from ‘Julian’s’ previous work with the New York post punk four piece.
But that’s hardly a bad thing, and there are some really interesting surprises.
The electronic bleeps and loops on songs like Fun That We Have sound genuinely new and lift the entire album.
The title track is quite beautiful, as is On The Esplanade – all Spanish guitars, aching violins and a constant feeling of unease.
Lyrically it can occasionally become a bit staid – Games For Day is probably the weakest track in this sense, and you would be forgiven for thinking Banks just chucked the song together as an excuse to make a nonsensical video involving a hotel room, a women in stripper heels, some hand cuffs and a rather fetching hat. But we will forgive him.
The album flows, almost zipping by too quickly after a few listens – and definitely proves the Plenti alter ego was worth persevering with.
8/10
For fans of: Attractive men with moles, Interpol, split personalities.

Micachu and the Shapes: Jewellery
Warner Bros
I think Mica Levi is a bit of a clever lady.
OK, so she has a musical family, classical training and probably loads of hipster friends from Shoreditch, but to create music like she does takes a stroke of genius too.
Along with Raisa Khan and Marc Pell – or the Shapes – she has produced a hugely inventive gem of an album.
The originality and complexity in each track show what a musician of her calibre can do with a keyboard, a guitar, some cardboard and a vacuum cleaner.
Each arrangement is so unpredictable, the album is exciting from beginning to end.
Curly Teeth‘s bass line and synth sounds are great, and Golden Phone‘s vocals and melody are infectious.
And despite all this stuff going on in each song, it just seems to come so easy, as if the three of them are not even trying.
No doubt production from Matthew Herbert has helped to clarify the band’s sound resulting a mini marvel which is incomparable to anything else out there.
8/10
For fans of: Instruments made from cake tins, University Challenge.

Times New Viking: Born Again Revisited
Matador
Charming lo-fi American indie records have been in vogue for sometime now and while New Times Viking have perfected the trick their second stab rarely touches on greatness.
On first listen there’s much to get your teeth into but after a few plays little more is revealed. Move To California is the stand out with its throbbing bass line, sweet vocals and keyboard melody.
Opener Martin Luther King Day is also a highlight, and single No Time No Hope has a distinctive catchy style.
The band’s lo-fi style does toughen up their twee brand of pop to perfection, crystal clear production would ruin the contrast, and there is a fresh, youthful quality to the album.
But less is some cases is definitely not more.
6/10
For fans of: Alternative fonts.

The Cubical: Come Sing These Crippled Tunes
Dead Young Records
Someone give that man a Strepsil.
Dan Wilson‘s vocals have such an intense gravelly sound that it’s a wonder his voice lasted to the end of the recording – his poor throat must be cut to ribbons.
But to listen to they are actually pretty impressive, and contrast well with the perfectly formed 60’s psychedelic tunes. Strong elements of blues swim through the album and it is a proper grower.
Echoes of fellow Scousers The Zutons are vocally heavy on Great White Lie but they seem to fade as the album progresses and takes on more primal elements and complex guitar work.
And the battle of wills between man and vermin on Ratty is worth the listen alone “Get that rodent out, get that rodent out of my house,” Wilson pleads.
6.5/10
For fans of: Tom Waits, top hats.
http://www.myspace.com/thecubicalthecubical

The Lovvers: OCD Go Go Girls
Wichita
There are muffled lyrics and then there’s not being able to hear a bloody word.
Well you can’t on this record, and without knowing what the words are it is hard to say whether this is a good or a bad thing.
The Lovvers‘ tunes are good though, with West Coast melodies thrown together with noisy garage rock guitars.
There is a bit of the New York Dolls early punk sound in there somewhere too.
The pace of the album is punchy and there are some nice keyboard sounds that cut through the fuzz.
6.5/10
For fans of: Feedback, speeding, typos

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