‘Bird-Brains’ is the work of lone songstress Merrill Garbus, recording her extraordinarily rich and untamed voice onto a digital Dictaphone
while piecing the rest of her beats’n’ukelele music together with free-to-download software. For the most part,
it’s an intense and dizzyingly exciting listen. The record revolves around Garbus’ voice,
which recalls a feral Regina Spektor fighting with early Nina Simone, and,
at its best, is some of the warmest and most sensual singing you’ll
hear all year. The vocal performances on ‘Hatari’ and ‘Fiya’, in particular, command instant attention
the former for its guttural nonsense syllables and looped, chain-gang sounding chant,
the latter for its soulful, heartfelt tenderness. Elsewhere, ‘Sunlight’ feels like a great lost Beck record,
all cut-up hip-hop beats and swaying grooves, and ‘News’’s melody is full of head-fuck chromatics that are stomach-churningly deviant and satisfying all at once.
Endlessly original and addictive, ‘Bird-Brains’ is a gorgeously alien, furiously independent sound.
If you think they are hard to pin down aesthetically, try explaining their sound.Yards
Somewhere between Brian Eno, Motown Records and a Scottish Flaming Lips, it’s a glorious sketchpad of ideas that sounds Yards
different every time you hear it. “One guy said we sound like early Happy Mondays but I have no idea what he’s on about,”
drawls Jamie before suddenly remembering another comparison “…and that review! My god, we had our second gig and someone came down to
watch and wrote we were a
cross between Roxy Music and King Creosote, just because I’m Scottish!” Dave and Dan erupt into laughter as Jamie strokes his beard.
Being likened to the sounds that thwacked from Factory Records’ early stable – sinister yet danceable – we get; King Creosote,
less so, but living in a lo-fi year, Horse and Condor manage to primarily sound big, producing soaring soundscapes opposed to the fashionable
format of scuzzy guitars and washed out vocals. Still DIY,
the band record everything at home. “We want to sound huge but you can still do that yourself,” explains David.
“We aren’t going to sit around and wait for it to fall on our laps. Who is to say if you are recording yourself you can’t make brilliant soundscapes?
‘cos most of these bands are purposefully going for a lo-fi sound, we just want to try new things and do the opposite.”
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