Every fortnight, The Corner’s Gavin Coughlan will highlight the latest indie music releases with his new column Down The Wire. For the latest in the series, he focuses on tracks from Foxy Shazam, Julianna Barwick, Cymbals Eat Guitars, Guided By Voices and First Aid Kit.
Foxy Shazam – Story Told
Foxy Shazam released their fifth album, Gonzo, completely unexpectedly, and for free, in April. This was not the only surprise, for it also stripped away all of the bands usual theatricality and was recorded live from the first song through to the last. And to top that all off, it was also produced by Steve Albini, who may well be the godfather of recording without frills.
They do lose a little bit of magic with this approach, as the steadily increasing pomp inherent in their music was a big part of their appeal. But the relative failure of the last album, the Justin Hawkins (of The Darkness) produced The Church of Rock and Roll, seems to be what made them go back to basics. It’s not all bad though, the final track on the album, ‘Story Told’, is a gem and one that actually benefits from the pared back production.
Julianna Barwick – Meet You At Midnight
Julianna Barwick creates mesmerising ambient music by layering her own voice and using minimal instrumentation. She released a beautiful album, The Magic Place, back in 2011, and 2013’s Nepenthe repeated the formula with only slightly diminishing returns.
Her ethereal, hypnotic music doesn’t make you think about knocking back a few pints, but her new EP just might. She has just collaborated with Dogfish Head Craft Brewery to create her own beer, Rosabi (featuring a “touch of red rice and wasabi” apparently). The Rosabi EP, which features sounds made during the brewing process, is being released on June 3rd and each physical copy of the EP comes with a six pack. It all seems very odd, but the first track sounds comfortingly like the sort of sublime ambience we have come to expect from her.
Cymbals Eat Guitars – Jackson
New York’s Cymbals Eat Guitars have announced their third album and released the opening track, ‘Jackson’, to give us a taster. The new LP will be called Lose, and deals with themes of personal loss. Frontman Joseph D’Agostino lost a friend and collaborator before writing the songs, but also says the album’s title refers to a nostalgia for a time when you listened to an album and truly believed it could change the world.
All that background makes it sound like it could be a bleak set of songs, but Jackson is actually quite a life-affirming six minutes. Cymbals Eat Guitars tend to have one huge epic per album, and while it doesn’t quite hit the heights of ‘Rifle Eyesight (Proper Name)’ or ‘As The Hazy Sea’, it’s still an emotional rollercoaster.
Guided By Voices – Table at Fool’s Tooth
You may have been concerned that Guided By Voices haven’t released anything in the last ten minutes, but don’t worry, they have a new song out now, ‘Table at Fool’s Tooth’.
I often feel that the band could do with some quality control and not feel like they have to release everything they put on tape. But I have to admit, the second single off the upcoming Cool Planet (album number twenty one) is a great song and made me realise that releasing lots of music is actually a fantastic thing. It’s not something that every band can or should do, but we are lucky to have Guided By Voices back together and doing what they do so well.
First Aid Kit – My Silver Lining
First Aid Kit rocketed to fame when their cover of Fleet Foxes’ ‘Tiger Mountain Peasant Song’ went viral in 2008. It’s a charming and impressive clip, but most would not have guessed that a few years later they would have performed that song with Fleet Foxes live, released two critically acclaimed albums, toured the world and sung backing vocals on Conor Oberst’s latest release.
Their third release, Stay Gold, comes out June 6th, and promises a bigger sound for the band with the introduction of new elements, including a 13-piece orchestra. The lead single, ‘My Silver Lining’, certainly displays some of the fuller instrumentation and should see them plastered all over the radio if there is any justice in the world.