Feist – How come you never go there?
Feist is both Canadian indie royalty and set to release her 4th studio album, ‘Metals’ in October. Don’t worry, it’s not going to be a boring look at science, but if single ‘How Comes You Never Go There’ is anything to go by, it will be relaxing. You’re not getting big beats here, just an absorbing, hypnotic tempo and vocals which would once have been called smokey and cigarette stained, had the EU not banned us from mentioning them. (Non-EU readers: that’s an EU joke, they haven’t really done that. Yet.)
The jazzy rhythm teamed with Feist’s unique country styled voice is reminiscent of an earlier period, before the synthetic pop of our generation. The lyrics are also from a more innocent time, with the simple, repeated refrain of ‘How comes you never go there/ How comes I’m so alone there’. After a summer of frantic songs Feist has hit the autumnal vibe perfectly, although it’s not her fault we’re hoping the current heatwave keeps this waiting on our stereos until the leaves really do drop.
Ben Howard – Keep Your Head Up
Ben Howard’s debut studio album, ‘Every Kingdom’, is set to be released 3rd October and he’s rushing into the market pitched somewhere between Damian Rice and Mumford and Sons: pastoral, acoustic music with a gently husky voice. Folkpop, if you really have to assign a genre. Where single ‘Keep Your Head Up’ differs from Rice is the overt pop sensibility, as it’s a feel good track, as emphasised by a music video which features people gushing down a homemade water slide – but one in the country, natch. What’s really going to affect whether you like this is the feelgood lyrics. If you’re up for a man who might wear a straw hat telling you to keep your chin up on a bad day, this is your anthem. If you’re a cynic, you’re going to hate this, with both sides magnified like a child beaming light onto a spider. We’ve given him the benefit of the doubt here.
Skylar Grey – Invisible
Skylar Grey gained the attention of music fans earlier this year, having written the chorus of Rihanna and Eminem’s hit, ‘Love the Way You Lie’, and featuring on Doctor Dre’s ‘I need a Doctor’. In fact, you could argue she was the best thing on that (by you, I mean me at parties.) Now Grey is preparing for solo domination, with a 2012 debut announced. One listen to this though and you get where Grey is positioning herself: angst ridden teenage girls. Take the opening lyrics “I take these pills to make me thin/ I dye my hair and cut my skin.”
Some people are going to accuse these of just being shock tactics, and maybe they are, but it’s important to remember than for a substantial portion of the music market, those lyrics just described their life. This isn’t Rihanna shooting a man. So if you’re willing to concede that teenage emotions, as strange as they may seem to adults, exist, than you might find your younger sister loving this, and you might want to forgive it just a little. But for most people, it won’t stick.
Viva Brother – Time Machine
So Viva Brother have called their new song ‘Time Machine’, which is strangely appropriate as this could have been written by someone in the sixties and by a feeble Oasis copyist in the 90s. Yes, just like the rest of their album, Viva Brother are here majoring in the nineties rock revival which might hit one day. It’s not a bad song if you’re either a. nostalgic, or b. young enough to have never heard this stuff before. So a six, on the basis we can listen to it, but seriously lads, it’s like you just nicked an Embrace record.
You Me at Six – Loverboy
Well I’m here, it’s six where are… oh, I see, these aren’t instructions. Okay, let’s listen to the song. This is standard pop-rock, but done really rather well: they’re catchy, they’re sing along, they’re probably going to colonise Radio 1 for a few weeks and have a hit. . Just imagine the Kooks if they’d ever been to a frat party.Purists / music snobs (delete depending on whether you think ‘hipster’ is a term of affection) will hate this, but it’s going to give a lot of kids something to dance too. But there’s 800 other bands who sound like this, and one will be along next week.