The Vietnam War hail from New Zealand. They were voted for in our Top Ten of 2011 for their self titled debut. The album is lovely. Reminiscent of Son Volt, Wilco et al and with massive staying power and varied styles. Re-playing is an essential joy!
I could not put my finger on the vocal style, which sounded familiar even with, the unfamiliar harmonies supplied by Vivian Ginn which, lend an angelic aura to the songs. Then, I discovered that ‘Heirlooms’, is a side project of Jerry Vessel, former Red House Painter and touring member of Mark Kozelek's Sun Kil Moon which, meant that everything then fell into a lovely place.
Each song is sweet and introspective; ‘Andrew and Emma’, ‘Marianna’s Peace’ and ‘Blackness from Blue’ are exquisite.Acoustic, pedal steel and bass guitars interweave with violins and vocals. A buried treasure uncovered. This is a gorgeously fragile record that weaves itself into your consciousness
Information on the project and band is very sparse, one quote say’s “Inspired by the rural surroundings in which he now lives, Vessel found the time and solitude to reflect and write...". Certainly, this is a beautifully reflective record.
The band features members of American Music Club and Ani Difranco's band. The album is released on the Caldo Verde label.
The latest, and best, release from Audio Antihero this year is the brilliant debut album from singer-songwriter Benjamin Shaw The title track lasts for less than a minute of scratchy, acoustic piano and vocals, before giving way to possible the best track on the album, 'How To Tell The Depth Of A Well'. Great lyrics and a melancholy melody make this a brilliant track that deserves to be heard and loved by all - my favorite lines are probably "You shouldn't blame it on the Tories even though they're vile, and you shouldn’t fill their lungs with water just to make my smile", although "I shouldn't fill you up with babies, we wouldn't know what to do, and you shouldn't tell your man he's useless even if it's true" comes a close second.
'Interview' is next, a sad tale of our need to work for The Man to earn a crust, even though we'd rather be doing something else. This is followed by Somewhere Over the M6, a slow, sad tale of love turned sour (there's a lot of sadness on this record). Next up, is the instrumental (but still sad) 'An Exciting Opportunity' and this is closely followed by 'Hey, Where's My Deputy?' which to me portrays the tedium of a dumb day, where literally anything happening would be an improvement.
The Mars Volta, Yeasayer, and generalGarage Rock noize spring to mind immediately the album kicks in with ’Keep Time’. Two singles were released before the album ("I Was Thinking..." b/w "Our Scenery") and ("Out, Don't..." b/w "Heave") neither of which make it to the album but came highly recommended.
The debut album was recorded in the Chicago area last spring and that Chicago rawness carries onto the album‘s rock sound. So if you like your rock with a big sound, then Gauntlet Hair is a great listen and much like Seattle’s duo ‘My Goodness’ looks like making 2011 the year of the rocking duos!
One of the best albums of 2011 comes from a sextet from Newcastle; Lanterns On The Lake, even the name of the band conjures up a haunting feel. Fragile vocals and words, fused together with widescreen guitars and instrumentation.
Following on from some lovely EPs, which came out earlier in the year with handmade covers and a wax seal (how do you actually open them, without spoiling the effect?) comes the debut album, ‘Gracious Tide, Take Me Home’.
This is one of those very rare albums that lifts the hairs on the back of your neck, and from the first listen sounds just perfect. The Last Town Chorus had a similar effect back in 2006, with the ’Wire Waltz’ album.
Hazel Wilde is Megan Hickey this time around and a Laura Marling-esque figure she is too. Adam Sykes shares vocals and between both of them they cast a magical spell along with Paul Gregory’s soaring guitar.
‘Lungs Quicken’ opens the album with an ambient feel before Hazel’s sublime vocals take effect. Adam takes lead vocals on ‘If I've Been Unkind’. After these ten minutes have passed free free to fall in love with this record on ‘Keep on Trying’.
Don’t think the whole album is celestial either. ‘A Kingdom’ is an up tempo song even though it is inspired by a book of letters sent home by WW2 soldiers. The album actually contains eleven wonderful songs for you to curl up with on a cold winter’s dark night, in the warmth of your favourite chair.
By rights, with this album and the constant touring the band seem to be undertaking, they should be enormous this time next year….well at least headlining the Shepherds Bush Empire!