Hello and welcome to this week’s Albums Round Up. Good things come in pairs don’t they? Like sunglasses, shoes, gloves and nostrils. This week’s column has a pair of pairs for your musical delight.
My Album of the Week is Bigfoot by Cayucas. The band’s debut opens with ‘Cayucos’: its echoing vocal, hi-hat driven percussion and punchy guitar interjections have a surfy charm that reflects the location of the title where the “wave’s coming”. ‘East Coast Girl’ has “hey”s and “oh-oh-oh”s that you can instantly sing along to as well as charmingly relaxed handclaps and a catchy, bubbly bass line driving it forward. ‘Deep Sea’ is a more chilled affair with its chimes, jazzy piano line and “worn out shoes”. ‘Ayawa’kya’ is a bouncy faux flute and strings number with a hint of early Vampire Weekend in its energetic cross cut rhythms of kit, electronics, and wood blocks. “No need for corduroys” in the lyrics of this song, and studies of “English literature” in ‘East Coast Girl’ further mark out the territory of the album as the educated elite on holiday. Closer ‘Bigfoot’ opens up with a keyboard line that is a slowed-down version of ‘Mr Sandman’ before the song continues at a relaxed pace, with that reverberating vocal from Zach Yudin, intricate piano lines and ear-catching rhythms. Bigfoot is a fresh and vibrant album, almost as relaxing as visiting a California beach. Highly recommended.
Pair: of surfshorts.
My Wildcard of the Week is In Guards We Trust by Guards. Opener ‘Nightmare’ has an insistent snare beat and pleasant meanderings on the keyboards and faux flute. The vocal has tons of echo, creating a hazy, slightly psychedelic effect in the verses before the chorus attacks with passion: “oh it’s hot, like a nightmare”. ‘Ready To Go’ chimes in with a classic pop feel to the clear guitars and bouncy synths, whilst maintaining some echo on the vocal to give a woozy sheen. ‘Coming True’ puts a clearer vocal in the foreground of a steady rhythm section, creating an intimate feel. The chorus explodes with a swell of pop verve: “what’s a boy supposed to do with a girl like you?”. ‘Your Man’ gradually builds an eerie psychedelic atmosphere with its ticking tambourines, glassy guitar slides and additional female vocal: “I’ll be there with you”. In Guards We Trust is a pleasing collection of indie-pop. Recommended.
Pair: of eyes, dreaming.
Daniel Johnston gives us Space Ducks tomorrow. The American songwriter is somewhat of a legend with multiple albums to his name as well as being a renowned artist. His latest album is the soundtrack to his published comic book of the same name. The album brings Johnston together with collaborators such as Jake Bugg, Eleanor Friedberger and Fruit Bats. But there’s also plenty from Johnston himself here. The title track gives enough exposition for those unfamiliar with the comic to understand the story: “Space Ducks fighting all the evil… in a war in outer space”. The arrangement is delightfully off-kilter, with elements of pop and folky piano colliding to set the album’s mood. In contrast, ‘Wanting You’ is a heartfelt meditation on love with slack percussion and a bar room piano, whose sentiment is echoed by Lavender Diamond’s ‘Moment of Laughter’, a delicate ballad. Closing track (also called ‘Space Ducks’) is a rollicking rock number with wonky synth sounds from Deer Tick. Space Ducks is a must for fans of Johnston’s artwork as well as those who love his music. A refreshingly different album.
Pair: two little ducks.
Those light-hearted chaps The Pigeon Detectives remember that We Met At Sea this week. This fourth album delivers what you would expect from the upbeat, easy-going lads from Leeds. It’s got plenty of energy, with opener ‘Animal’ setting out the stall for the band’s guitar-led, punchy rhythms. ‘I Won’t Come Back’ pushes the pace forward, as does ‘Hold Your Gaze’, which both have decent melodies and gutsy guitars. ‘Light Me Up’ is poppier, whilst ‘Unforgettable’ takes the album in a different direction with its ringing guitars and big finish. We Met At Sea is another mainstream indie-pop album by a bunch of cheeky chappies.
Pair: of bangers.
And that brings this week’s column to a close. I’ll see you next week for more new music.
Words and thoughts of Amanda Penlington