The Low Anthem
- Oh My God, Charlie Darwin
(Bella Union )
IT BEGINS with the titloe track, a reverie about the great Charles Darwin, all gently picked acoustic guitars and vocals by Ben Nox Miller so fragile and pure it recalls Art Garfunkel at his best.
Midway through the album, everything changes as the band let rip on some barnstorming folk, where Miller belts out such rousing, anthemic tracks like ‘The Horizon Is A Beltway’ in a whisky soaked and cigarette scorched voice.
For many, the Rhode Island trio’s ability to switch from the gentle and melodic, to the rowdy and rambunctious is jarring and unnerving. What they fail to understand is that both the gentle and the bawdy is at the heart of folk music. The Dubliners understood this. Fairport Convention understood this. The Low Anthem understand this.
This is an album by turns beautiful, melodic, rowdy, and rousing. All Indie and folk fans should have it - a definite contender for one of the albums of the year.
- Manners (Columbia )
THE CAMBRIDGE, Massachusetts, quintet have been described by some as 2009’s MGMT, but there is a very important difference between the two bands.
MGMT had only three decent songs on their debut, Passion Pit have a load of them on their first long player, Manners. The stand out track is arguably ‘Sleepyhead’ (if you go to the Róisín Dubh at all, you’ll have heard it countless times ) and yes trad fans, that is the classic Irish trad song ‘Oh Rah Mo Bhaidin’ speeded up to sound like it’s from a Japanese opera.
Unfortunately the mighty ‘I’ve Got Your Number’ is omitted, but otherwise, it’s very satisfying Indie dance pop, with a decent dollop of Prince influence, and a rake of old skool US 1980s synth sounds and beats. Dancing shoes are mandatory.
- Waxing Gibbous (Full Time Hobby )
THE FORMER Arab Strap man has maintained a solid run of top quality solo albums over the past five years and a high work rate - this is his second in less than 18 months.
After the mostly solo-acoustic Sleight Of Heart, Waxing Gibbous returns to the full band sound of A Brighter Beat. This time though, Middleton is more ambitious with song structure, changes in mood and tempo, and sound textures. Nothing over the top, but the difference is noticeable and largely succeeds without straying much from a sound that is recognisably Middleton’s own.
Key tracks are the marvellous, anthemic ‘Red Travelling Socks’, ‘Carry Me’, and the folk styled ‘Ballad Of F**k All’. Evidently this is to be Malcolm’s last solo album for a couple of years. Let’s hope the hiatus doesn’t last too long though.