Category Archives: dEUS
This has got to be a mistake – a new dEUS LP less than a year after the last? Nope, it seems to be a new record.
So is ‘Following Sea’ a record of out-takes? Or a side step from the mainstream in the same way that ‘My Sister Is My Clock’ was?
No to those too – ‘Following Sea’, seems to be, no, is a proper dEUS LP – in just 8 months – which is quite an achievement for the band that once took 6 years between releases.
Last year’s ‘Keep Me Close’ was something of a return to form after the disappointing ‘Vanishing Point’ and I’m pleased to report that ‘Following Sea’, despite its short gestation, maintains the upswing.
It’s a strong, consistent LP although it perhaps lacks the stand-outs that the last record had. But it does maintain a couple of strong dEUS traditions – closing track ‘One Thing About Waves’ lives up to the remarkably high standard of dEUS LP closers and may be the best thing on offer here whilst, on a less positive note, ‘Crazy About You’ (ironically) delivers the almost compulsory slightly annoying track that many dEUS records seem to have built into their DNA.
Single ‘Quatre Mains’ is unusual in that it’s sung entirely in French, the first such song for a very long time, whilst the fractured, jagged funk of ‘Girls Keep Drinking’ seems an obvious choice for a second single.
So whilst ‘Following Sea’ certainly isn’t the most radical dEUS record of recent years it’s certainly more than good enough to keep up the interest.
Here’s the video for the single:
and an audio chance to hear the same song
Got to call a halt at some point. There’s two or three 2011 LPs kicking around which may well prove good enough to make it into this list when I’ve had a chance to listen to them properly, but I could go on for a while. So, with apologies to Low and United Fruit at least, I’m going to dive right in.
A couple of things. There’s at least 2 LPs, maybe even 3 or 4, on this list that would have been top 10 in previous years, no question. Which kind of confirms that, if the standard of the first quarter perhaps wasn’t maintained throughout the year, 2011 still finished up the strongest year for albums in the 5 years of the blog.
Also, reviewing this list I decided to expand my original list from 20 to 25 because in truth there’s nowt much between around 18 to 25. So without further ado:
11. Zoey van Goey – Propeller versus Wings
12. The Wildhouse – SOLANIS
13. dEUS – Keep You Close
14. Ringo Deathstarr – Colour Trip
15. Rob St John – Weald
16. Wild Flag – Wild Flag
17. St Vincent – Strange Mercy
18. The Fruit Tree Foundation – First Edition
19. P.J. Harvey – Let England Shake
20. Thurston Moore – Demolished Thoughts
21. You Already Know – Petrol Money
22. The A Forest – The A-Forest
23. British Sea Power – Valhalla Dancehall
24. The Raveonettes – Raven In The Grave
25. R.E.M. – Collapse Into Now
Numbers 1-10 tomorrow.
Having spent 7 years waiting for the fourth dEUS LP, the fact that they’ve produced two further records in the 6 years since represents something of an acceleration of productivity. 2008’s ‘Vantage Point’ though was something of a disappointment and suggested that a bit more time could profitably have been spent on the record.
Three years on and there’s (already) another dEUS LP – ‘Keep Me Close’. Is it another case of too little too soon?
First single, ‘Constant Now’ gave grounds for cautious optimism. Whilst firmly rooted in the AOR dEUS of recent years, it had enough of an edge to keep me interested.
Then when the LP finally arrived, the lead and title track also instantly created a favourable impression. Although cut from similar cloth the associated orchestration lends the song an imposing grandeur.
But on the first couple of plays there were few of the other songs which jumped out, other than epic closer ‘Easy’. And even ‘Keep Me Close’ and ‘Constant Now’ seemed to pale against the band’s illustrious past.
Repeated listens however cast the LP in a much better light. The reality is that, despite the big production, dEUS are a more subtle band now than the one that recorded ‘Suds and Soda’ all those years ago.
‘Dark Sets In’ and ‘Ghost’ offer welcome shots of adrenaline and only ‘The End of Romance’ and to a lesser extent ‘The Final Blast’ disappoint being too reminiscent of the unmemorable tunes on ‘Vantage Point’.
‘Keep Me Close’ then is pretty decent record. But in lots of ways it’s comparable to late period R.E.M. – enjoyable enough for what it is but, not something which is going to stand comparison with their best records.
The video for the single:
Buy the LP here.
dEUS continue to tour in support of the LP in Europe through October, November and December.
Today is officially Record Store Day. It would be nice to think that people will make the effort and get down to their local store and spend some cash today. Regrettably, it seems that in Scotland at least finding a decent record shop is likely only in the cities. In recent years I’ve seen the likes of Sleeves in Kirkcaldy and Goldrush in Perth fall by the wayside.
Browsing then buying in person at a decent record store is still be the best way to purchase in my book but due to georgaphy I don’t get the chance very often.
I’m at Homegame today so won’t be able to make it to a shop but at least had the opportunity when in Edinburgh on Tuesday to spend some cash in Avalanche.
Here’s the video for a second hand single I got there this week:
A belated Happy New Year to both my readers! I confess I’ve been putting this end of year malarkey off in the hope that I may find something late on to bolster my end of year LP list. But I never did so here goes nothing …
When I look back over the last 12 months what strikes me is that there’s hardly anything from the second half of the year. I kept expecting to find some gems late on, but for whatever reason it just never happened.
So rather than go for a conventional 1-10 listing I’ve got my three medallists followed by the best of the rest because on reflections there’s a group of records which I find almost impossible to separate out in any meaningful way. But three releases do stand out fairly clearly from the crowd.
It’s rare that I’ll find difficulty picking out 1 record from the pack in any year, no matter how strong a year it’s been, but this is the easiest task I think I’ve ever had.
‘Midnight Organ Fight’ represented such a huge leap forward from the debut in terms of the songwriting and recording it’s quite startling. Fusing any number of Scottish indie-influences, Frightened Rabbit managed to produce a record that transcended all these influences yet managed to make all the songs contained just a bit different from each other. It’s a brilliant record so if you don’t own it already, you should make doing so a priority.
Frightened Rabbit – Heads Roll Off
Only picking up on BSP at album three means that I don’t owe them any sort of long term allegiance. Yet ‘Do You Like Rock Music?’ is such an accomplished record it stands out above the rest of the pack. What’s surprising now is the fairly lukewarm reception that I gave it back in February. Now I’m not sure it would merit such an exalted placing in other years but it’s way better than that review and, in my 2008, there was very little that was better.
British Sea Power – Canvey Island (live on Later)
Bronze – Appendices – De Rosa
As an on-line only release, ‘Appendices’ doesn’t qualify for most end of year lists. Which is a hell of a shame given the staggering variety that Martin Henry and co have offered up for free over the course of the year. Hugely undersold by its original ‘peripheral recordings’ tag (perhaps to soothe Chemikal fears) the scope of ‘Appendices’ matches that of upcoming second LP proper ‘Prevention’ but is all the more remarkable by virtue of the fact that it was recorded as the year progressed. It’s not all brilliant but there are at least half a dozen songs that stand amongst the band’s best. And, as promised, it’s also now gone from the Net so you’ll have to wait until the physical release, hopefully later this year.
De Rosa – Robin Song
The Best of the Rest
I couldn’t really rate the following LPs in any sensible order, nor cut them down to just seven so here are the other records which excited me at least in part in alphabetical order (with links to the original reviews where appropriate);
Sleep Forever – The Big Sleep (review)
Mountain Battles – Breeders (review)
Microcastle – Deerhunter
The Evangelist – Robert Forster (review)
Stay Positive – The Hold Steady (review)
Sleight of Heart – Malcolm Middleton (review)
Accelerate -REM (review)
Dear Science – TV On The Radio
[Buy them all here]
There are only 2 records listed above that I’ve not previously discussed. Not quite sure why I’ve never got round to talking about TV On The Radio since I’ve had the download for some time (legitimately, I hasten to add) but it is an excellent piece of work even if a lot of it’s somewhat out of my comfort zone.
Deerhunter meanwhile released two LPs simultaneously – I’ve only heard ‘Microcastle’ but it’s a good American indie record with some great songs and also one or two not so good tracks.
Saturation Point’s ‘A Black Sun Rising’ came very close to joining the above group but somehow, whilst worthy enough in its own right, it still felt like something of a stop-gap re-tread ahead of ‘Mechanisms’ which will hopefully be out in the coming months.
Of the spec purchases, I’m still fairly new to the Bon Iver LP, ‘For Emma, Forever Ago’ but the majority of the record hasn’t grabbed me yet, whilst undoubtedly my worst spec purchase of the year was Black Mountain’s ‘In The Future’.
There are some notable absentees from the above list. It’s unusual for records by Bob Mould, dEUS and Mercury Rev not to be quoted but I confess I was somewhat underwhelmed by their efforts this year. Equally Robert Pollard’s solo LP ‘Off To Business’ was OK but failed to match the best Guided By Voices material.
Will 2009 be better? I think so – I’m reasonably confident that 12 months hence the new LPs from De Rosa, the Phantom Band and TV21 will match the 2008 medallists. So bring it on!
A final round-up of the best stuff I’ve heard for the first time this year (or re-released in one case!):
I’d no sooner purchased their last LP than S/K inconsiderately split up. At least I have the back catalogue to explore and ‘One Beat’ is pretty good stuff, a league above the likes of Be Your Own Pet.
The ex-Go-Between’s first solo LP since the death of bandmate Grant McLennan has been covered on here in the last fortnight. Here’s the title track, another example of how good the record is.
Unfortunately ‘Vantage Point’ hasn’t grabbed me to the same extent as previous dEUS LPs. Which isn’t to say that there isn’t plenty of good stuff on it, just that it perhaps lacks stand-outs like ‘Suds & Soda’ or even ‘Sun Ra’. ‘Oh Your God’ is the liveliest track on the record.
For whatever reason ‘Accelerate’ didn’t fully convince. The stodgy production led to more than one person saying that the whole thing sounded like one long song and that’s maybe part of it. But as a way of blasting away the cobwebs of the recent records, it did just fine.
The main Triffids’ LPs have now been covered in the Domino reissue programme following (deep breath) the simultaneous releases of ‘The Black Swan’, ‘Treeless Plain’ and ‘Beautiful Waste and Other Stories’. This is the opening track, which was actually an old song that featured on one of the earlier Triffids cassette LPs.
Back to live shows next post.