Review: The Dø – Both Ways Open Jaws

Artist: The Dø
Title: Both Ways Open Jaws
Label: Village Green
Review @ The 405
Score: 9/10

While Helsinki-born singer Olivia Merilahti and Paris multi-instrumentalist Dan Levy could so easily have sought to repeat their success with more of the same, they made the braver choice. Still as hooked on new and exciting sounds as before but also full of determination to make the best possible music, The Dø have spectacularly surpassed themselves with Both Ways Open Jaws – indeed, they have produced one of the most inventive, accomplished and engaging albums of the year.

Read the rest of the review at The 405

Ready, Steady, Still Going: An Interview with Shonen Knife

Now here’s an opportunity that doesn’t come around every day. Japan’s premier all-girl punk-pop noisemakers Shonen Knife are celebrating their 30th anniversary this year, and they’re doing so by releasing an album of Ramones covers. Osaka Ramones has got to be one of the most plain fun records put out by anyone all year and I was lucky enough to have Shonen Knife frontwoman Naoko Yamano answer a few of my questions about the project.

Read the full interview at The 405 here

Interview: “Not the Beginning of the End” For Laura Veirs

Laura Veirs’ song “July Flame” is one of my favourite things of the last few years – there’s something about that vocal and the atmosphere it creates that is incredible. When its parent album proved to be a real critical success for the Oregon-based singer-songwriter, she didn’t choose to simply do the same thing all over again: instead, Veirs has just released an album of songs intended for children. A while back I gave her a call and asked all about the background and recording of Tumble Bee, which has earned some glowing reviews over the last couple of weeks. My interview is now up over at PopMatters.

Read the full interview at PopMatters

Review: Jonathan Coulton – Artificial Heart

Artist: Jonathan Coulton
Title: Artficial Heart
Label: Jocoserious
Review @ PopMatters
Score: 7/10

A few years ago after a show in Seattle, singer-songwriter and former computer programmer Jonathan Coulton was approached by two developers from multi-billion dollar videogame empire Valve Corporation. Agreeing to work with them on their new project, Coulton wrote “Still Alive”, the song which closed Valve’s 2007 puzzle game Portal. Featuring the vocals of a deranged artificial intelligence played by opera singer-turned-voice actress Ellen McLain, the piece drew on Coulton’s experience with geek culture and added millions of gamers to his expanding audience. Given the break of a lifetime, what is a self-described “internet superstar” to do next?

Read the rest of the review at PopMatters

Unsung Heroes #2: Daughter

Unsung Heroes is the new semi-regular feature on Wordcore in which I extoll the virtues of an artist I just don’t think gets listened to or recognised enough. This time around I bend the rules to introduce a badly-kept secret: the bruised and powerful “folk” sounds of Daughter.

Some clever soul on Twitter the other week commented that next time they had the chance, they’d ask someone what it was like to be a man in a band. It’s a wry joke but one with a real point behind it – in 2011, the incredible emerging artists seem much more often to be women (or bands heavily involving women) than men. Without wanting to conscript Unsung Heroes into the sex war, that tweet is on my mind as I choose to highlight this particular artist. More

[Video] The Dø – “Too Insistent”

Released in France back in March where it reached #14 in the chart, Both Ways Open Jaws is the second album by experimental pop duo The Dø. I’m lucky enough to be reviewing the record on its forthcoming UK release, and an early favourite is this incredible track “Too Insistent”.

Review: Manic Street Preachers – National Treasures

Artist: Manic Street Preachers
Title: National Treasures
Label: Columbia
Review @ The Line of Best Fit
Score: N/A

For a band that claimed they would never write a love song, Manic Street Preachers have inspired some strong emotions. For a band that also claimed they would record one album and break up, they have been doing so for 25 years, being met variously with adoration, derision, acclaim and scepticism. Having formed in South Wales in 1986 as four idealistic upstarts, the Manics became three elder statesmen of British rock, a cult force with international recognition and an uncommonly devoted fanbase.

Read the rest of the review at The Line of Best Fit

Review: Shonen Knife – Osaka Ramones

Artist: Shonen Knife
Title: Osaka Ramones
Label: Good Charamel
Review @ The 405
Score: 9/10

Our often deep-seated cynicism about cover albums isn’t without justification. Routinely deployed by creatively exhausted bands to fulfil contractual obligations in the absence of new material, tribute records can be a dispiriting prospect. Then of course there’s the prospect of Japan’s premier punk outfit raiding the back catalogue of the Ramones…

Read the rest of the review at the 405
My interview with Naoko Yamano of Shonen Knife is coming soon

Live: Ley Lines Festival, Oxford, 15/10/11

Ley Lines is a new festival which comes with a reassuring sense of ambition and renewal. Moving from venue to venue in Oxford’s cultural hub, it feels like things are on the up; drawing bands from around the country to a varied set of venues, this is surely the most exciting new live event the region has seen in some time.

An event I’d been excited about for some time, the inaugural Ley Lines urban festival in Oxford two weeks back was a great thing to cover. Featuring photos from Stevie Denyer, my TLOBF review includes thoughts on the likes of Jamie Woon, Catherine A.D. (pictured), and much-hyped acts Alt J and Theme Park.

Read the rest of the review at The Line of Best Fit

Review: Ane Brun – It All Starts With One

Artist: Ane Brun
Title: It All Starts With One
Label: Balloon Ranger
Review @ PopMatters
Score: 5/10

An idiosyncratic use of the English language, a seemingly impenetrable mystique, and songs that balance emotional expressiveness with a kind of northerly chill—when it comes to Scandinavian singer-songwriters, Ane Brun ticks many of the boxes. While in recent years contemporaries of hers like Robyn or Lykke Li have built increasingly successful pop careers on these foundations, Brun has always been different. More a serious chanteuse than a pop princess, she has nevertheless found a warm response in her native Norway.

Read the rest of the review at PopMatters

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"There's a flaming red horizon that screams our names..."

Jeff Buckley - "Eternal Life"


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