Happy Björk-day!

Those naughty hackers. Nowadays, a ‘leak’ isn’t necessarily a household disaster or an embarrassing bodily malfunction (Geek forbid!); nope,¬†it’s just as likely to refer to the illegal file-sharing of new music from A-list artists, and not necessarily the intended final versions of the songs. Madonna found out the hard way when new tracks from this year’s ¬†‘Rebel Heart’ were¬†first heard in¬†demo form when she was the victim of one such leak late last year.

Björk Vulnicura
Sometimes though, despite the whole violation-of-the-artist¬†thing,¬†it does actually work out for music fans. Following pre-release circulation of songs from her new album ‘Vulnicura’, Bj√∂rk today rush-released the album in its entirety on iTunes¬†to beat the hackers at their own game¬†– no doubt¬†pleasing her legion of fans in the process. If the music is out there illegally, why prolong the wait for the genuine music lovers who still BUY the bloody stuff?

A ‘heartbreak’ album with the Icelandic singer’s usual sonic shape-shifting twist, ‘Vulnicura’ is one of the year’s must-listens. I know I’m off to iTunes right after I post this – you too?

Christmas Campesinos!

Deck the halls, feed the world, and have yourself a merry little Christmas! Festive music runs the gamut from cheeseboard whiffy to just plain brilliant, so it’s always nice to sit down with a mince pie or five and listen to some new Crimbo choons – and hope for the best.

Thankfully, the new short-but-sweet EP from indie-pop folksters Los Campesinos! (aptly titled ‘A Los Campesinos! Christmas’) doesn’t outstay its welcome, filling your ears like an all-the-trimmings turkey dinner fills your belly on Christmas Day – only you won’t be so stuffed you’ll feel sick after.

Other than a tongue-in-cheek cover of ‘It’ll Be Lonely This Christmas’, the collection comprises five LC originals that put bells and whistles on the band’s usual blend of folk, indie rock and tantalisingly twee songwriting. The highlight is ‘Kindle a Flame in Her Heart’ which mixes a Pixies influence with ’90s grunge guitars, with a lovelorn chorus that captures the bittersweet hangover of Christmases past.

Check out my Los Campesinos! review.

Albums of 2014

So, if you’re anything like me, you will have asked Santa to bring you lots of CDs (or iTunes vouchers, you modern maniac) in order to catch up on the year’s best music. Despite trying my hardest, there are a fair few critically lauded long-players that have managed to slip me by, so come Boxing Day I’ll be playing catch-up living inside my Sennheisers.

With just over a week to go until the big day, there’s time to get your orders in if you too are looking for some much-needed new music. In need of inspiration? Here’s one Geek’s choice playlist for the year, covering everything from skewed indie rock (alt-J, Jack White), sumptuous songwriters (Perfume Genius, Tori Amos, Owen Pallett) and lovely ladies (Lana, Lykke and Jenny Lewis).

There’s something here for everyone, and all of it is pretty damn awesome. Happy listening!

2014 music

Electric League Dreams

the human league

All together now: ‘I was working as a waitress in a cocktail bar, that much is trueeeeee’!

Last weekend, I caught The Human League in concert and proceeded to write some words about it. In a nutshell, my Human League review covers the same main points made in my previous coverage of the group’s live shows (having seen the ’80s pop pioneers twice before, not to mention at festivals) which is to say that those capital-C Choons are evergreen and even better when played out to a party-ready crowd on a Friday night. ‘Love Action’, ‘Electric Dreams’, ‘Mirror Man’, the list goes on and on – and, although ‘Being Boiled’ is sadly absent, Phil Oakey and his gals deliver the goods.

With Crimbo party season coming up, no doubt this beaut will be getting a few plays…

Boy Genius

Prior to his recent Birmingham live show (which I reviewed earlier this week here), I had the chance to sit down with Perfume Genius aka Mike Hadreas and chat about new album ‘Too Bright’, loud and scary songs, and crying to Cat Power. Among other things, of course.

Check out what he had to say by checking out the interview and then, if you haven’t already youcrazyfool, immediately go out to the nearest record store and buy all his albums. Okay? Good.

know your indie queen

Perfect Perfume

It’s that time of year where chin-stroking muso list-makers compile their top albums of the year, and Mike Hadreas aka Perfume Genius has a lot to be happy about. His third effort ‘Too Bright’ has become something of a minor hit beyond the indie blogs and core fanbase his first two brilliant albums attracted, garnering five-star ratings all over the shop and ensuring a high spot on many of this year’s ‘best of’ lists.

However good the album is though, the perfect way to experience Hadreas’s music is in a live setting. I caught PG at his recent Birmingham gig and, after a four year wait to catch him live, was not disappointed; stark, stirring and something to behold, Hadreas and band combined stark emotional piano ballads with the new hard edges of rock and electronica that mark ‘Too Bright’. In a word? Genius.

Read my review (and keep in mind my interview with the Genius himself, Mike Hadreas, is coming soon) and then glam it up to the anthemic ‘Queen’ by pressing ‘play’ below.

Faith in Paloma

paloma faith

In her concert at Wolverhampton Civic on Saturday, Paloma Faith acknowledged how she frequently gets labelled with the ‘quirky’ tag due to her outlandish fashion sense and gabby chatshow persona.

Well, I for one think the flame-haired starlet’s single-minded approach to the music biz is what has the interest of many people piqued – especially when her music would be pretty straight-laced if it weren’t for her often oddball leanings.

Find out more of my thoughts on Faith, her music and her Saturday night show by checking out my Paloma Faith live review over at The Music Fix.

Trailer Tuesday: Anne Hathaway Feels Heavy Metal – or a Bit Folky

Riding into Trailer-land straight from a Broadway showing of ‘Once’, new indie rom-non-com ‘Song One’ has a few things going for it. Sure, the trailer suggests a bit of a grim set-up and we’re all used to Anne Hathaway looking glum for an hour and a half, but the girl can sing – and the musical nature of this folk-inflected drama may give her a chance to flex those Miserables vocals alongside her co-star, none other than Brit coulda-been Johnny Flynn.

Well, I say coulda-been. After witnessing his comrades Laura Marling, Mumford and Sons and Alt-J hit it big in music, the singer-songwriter looked like he was swapping guitars for innuendo as lead in Channel 4 sitcom ‘Scrotal Recall’. However, now he’s combining acting chops with credible choons, hooking up with the dependably fantastic Jenny Lewis to provide the songs for ‘Song One’. With Christmas outta the way and post-New Year blues setting in, the movie – and its soundtrack – could very well be the cinematic warm cuddle every hipster’s after in cold, dank January. Could ‘I Dreamed a Dream’ be given a fiddly bluegrass makeover? Waiting to see is part of the fun.

A Classic Christmas

Zooey Deschanel doesn’t need another reason for us all to find her totes charming, but it must just come that easy to her.

Backed up by indie guitar maestro M. Ward, Zooey is set to sing her way into our hearts all over again in December with her fifth record as one half of She & Him. On December 1st, the duo’s new studio album is set to provide some respite from The X Factor and Crimbo #1 hopefuls thanks to Deschanel and Ward choosing to cover proven classics and deliver them under the catchy title, erm, ‘Classics’.

classics

A cynic could choose to term this musical move as lazy, but Zooey’s voice has always worked wonders with a golden oldie and the duo’s own originals have perfectly captured a sense of neo-nostalgia, thanks to various retro influences they will readily admit.

The tracklist is as follows:

1. Stars Fell On Alabama
2. Oh No, Not My Baby
3. It’s Not For Me To Say
4. Stay Awhile
5. This Girl’s In Love With You
6. Time After Time
7. She
8. Teach Me Tonight
9. It’s Always You
10. Unchained Melody (feat. the Chapin Sisters)
11. I’ll Never Be Free
12. Would You Like To Take a Walk?
13. We’ll Meet Again

Although we’re all overly familiar with a few of the above, I have faith that they will offer a credible spin on these songs. A recent US performance of ‘Time After Time’ (see below) supports this, so it looks like previous covers album ‘A Very She & Him Christmas’ may get fewer plays this Christmas season…