The stereo is cranked up for summer, and here’s three bands firmly ensconced on the stacker (in alphabetical order!):
One of the things I like about the Jezabels is that I can tell it’s them when I hear them. Their identity is in the drumming — man, Nick Kaloper works hard! — and the unmistakable vocals of Hayley Mary, the ebb and flow structure of their tunes that makes the most of her range. The Aussie band landed their debut album, Prisoner, this year, after wowing with three EPs and a considerable reputation for live performance. It’ll be interesting to see where they go with their next album, but for now, I’m enjoying the here and now, in particular the album’s strong openers ‘Prisoner’ and ‘Endless Summer’, those bars of sultry summer guitar that pop up all over this smooth road trip of an album with its sign posts harking back to the ’80s.
The video for ‘Taxicab Messiah’ inspired a bit of a binge on this US duo’s music, and the albums sampled so far — 2004’s Trickstereprocess, Trypt0fanatic from 2010 and the most recent, this year’s EP The Invisible Plan (free track available for download) — are remarkably consistent.
Probably the hot fave at the moment is Trickstereprocess, a revamped issue of the band’s 1998 album, Trickster, with a few bonus tracks. It opens with the aforementioned attention grabber and unfolds like the best of sonic rollercoasters, melding trip hop, rock and synths on a solid foundation of compelling bass grooves. At the fore is the rather fetching vocal style of Free Dominguez, hitting buttons ranging from Portishead’s Beth Gibbons to Collide’s kaRIN to Berlin’s Terri Nunn. (Speaking of Berlin: a new album is in the works — wunderbar!) The album exhibits plenty of light and shade: thumping drums on ‘Pretty’, for instance, standing out from the favoured fuzz guitar attack — there’s a rock ‘n’ roll heartbeat under the synths, for sure.
Slinkier, but no less intense, is Trypt0fanatic, with an array of strong tunes: the grab bag of ‘Beg’, the full speed ‘Size of Always’, the sexiness of ‘Lick You Clean’ and catchy ‘Dead Girl Walking’ are highlights.
The Invisible Plan ups the electro quotient yet further, heading into sultry terrain.
Any of these Kidneythieves outings would provide an ideal soundtrack for building up a party sweat under Chrissy lights.
UK-based Ladytron released their fifth studio album, Gravity the Seducer, this year, following up from a greatest hits collection. It’s so very smooth, gliding along with synthesisers and twin vocal melodies from lead voice box Helen Marnie and Mira Aroyo (whose accented delivery adds flavour when she steps up front). The album doesn’t have such immediately fetching tunes as previous singles ‘Destroy Everything You Touch’ (Witching Hour) or ‘Runaway’ (Velocifero), but there are some beautiful arrangements: on ‘White Gold’ and ‘Altitude Blues’, for instance, and the comparatively up-tempo instrumental ‘Ritual’ (one of three on the album); ‘Ambulances’ has a cinematic quality, a tinge of dread absent elsewhere. A suitable album with its steady, almost carousel, rhythms for setting the mood to ‘chill out’.