Archive for August, 2012

Review: Coastal – Crumble Blue

Coastal is a new project from Belfast’s Paul J Fox who “aims to make timeless guitar music that’s been to the bottom of the ocean and back again”. It’s not an inaccurate description either as Fox injects these Beach House-style sounds with his own singer/songwriter values.

In keeping with the air of attractively-rendered melancholy, ‘Heart Of Tin’ informs us that it’s “time to squeeze another heartache in” accompanied by a classic jangly melody. If that song was a throwback, then ‘Black Stars/Flash Cars’ is a full blown surf rock revival with only the glistening production indicating the song was made in the present day. The song comes equipped with eerie harmonies too which call to mind the recent endeavours of The Drums.

At the album’s centrepoint another highlight occurs. Even if the track is called ‘The 90s’, it’s possible to hear clearer echoes of 1960’s beat groups and psychedelia in this swinging, thrilling slice of dream rock. After this, the spare ‘Night Moth’ feels like a comedown but – just when you think Fox is flagging – the ringing hypnotic guitars and chilling vocals on ‘To The End Of’ create a warped but stunning finale.

‘Crumble Blue’ is far more than an indication of promise. Most of these songs are magnificent and fully realised statements of an extremely talented musician. Bring on the album please.

Web Sites:
Coastal Bandcamp
Coastal Soundcloud

Further Listening:
Beach House, The Drums, The Pretty Things

Review: Markus Mehr – On

‘On’ is the second in a triptych of releases from ambient specialist Markus Mehr. Whereas the first, ‘In’, concentrated on two lengthy pieces clocking in at about twenty five minutes each, ‘On’ contains a mammoth eight tracks but stylistically it’s an almost seamless follow-up from Mehr.

The most startling factor about ‘On’ is its choice of song titles. ‘I’m Gonna Make You Love Me’ may leave the audience fearing the thought of a 1980’s soul crooner being brought in on guest vocals, rather than the fairly abrasive selection of glitchy beats which arrives instead. Taking a relatively delicate approach, ‘Flaming Youth’ hardly classifies as easy listening but its harshness is negated with a sample which has a touch of Bacharach and David about it.

Thereafter the hard and the soft layers of music become a common theme. To the untrained ear, ‘Barcelona Waltz’ may sound like a noise but – rather like listening to records by The Jesus And Mary Chain or My Bloody Valentine – peel back the layers and there is melody and beauty to behold. Only at one point does the album lose its flow when the cartoon-like antics of ‘Olympia’ come to the fore but by the time of the dramatic finale, ‘Tunnels’ (pummelling rhythms duelling against elegant piano keys), Mehr’s weird sense of order is restored.

‘On’ is the aural equivalent of the sinking of The Titanic as a once mighty vessel fights valiantly to stay afloat whilst chaos ensues around it. Happily though, Celine Dion does not feature this time and if the final part of the trilogy maintains the standard of the first two, the final destination should be well worth a visit.

Web Sites:
Markus Mehr Official Site
Hidden Shoal Recordings Label and Shop Site

Further Listening:
Talvihorros, Paddy McAloon