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Reviews

Music Round Up Summer 09

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The summer always seems to be about a soundtrack. Often it's either the classy pop singles that somehow embody sunshine, or the nerve crunching one-hit-wonders that come back from the beaches and cause you to run to the hills. The third way (sorry, couldn't resist), is That Wonderful Underground Album, the one that's released in the summer-slump and not expected to achieve much, but floats into the collective consciousness.

 

My top contender so far is the strangely named Veckatimest by Grizzly Bear. The Brooklyn four-piece's second album builds beautifully from their well reviewed but somewhat inaccessible debut. Not a million miles away from last year's summer-underground-smash Fleet Foxes, the wonderful songwriting, simple instrumentation and beautifully layered vocals are sweet and uplifting.  If your heart doesn't swell with joy upon listening consult your doctor.

 

Eels return after a four-year gap with the always-scary offering of a concept album.  Fear not, for though Hombre Lobo maybe a group of love songs through the skewed vision of a wolf-man, the themes are universal. You don't need to have an enormous beard to want to be seen and loved for who you are and, as ever, Mr E (sporting said biblical beard) echoes human frailty and hope in the gorgeous way that only he can.

 

The best debut I've heard this year is from the massive lungs of Florence & The Machine (above).  A darling of the London scene, she offers a fantastic collection of female-songwriter-indie-pop songs (genre invented) that manages to bring a lovely old-school production value without sounding anything like Amy Winehouse or (God help us) Duffy.  Florence's voice is a treasure, and I think we'll be lucky enough to have her around for a long time.

 

Finally, things that should be wrong but are oh-so-right:  Elvis Costello does Bluegrass. Secret, Profane and Sugarcane sees him reunited with producer T-Bone Burnett (who also produced Spike) and the cream of the pickin' world.  It's remarkable how wonderfully his inimitable style sits within this genre.  A delight.

Jude Adam