Record of the Week
Pink Moutaintops - Outside Love
'Any Colour, So Long As It's Black Or Pink'
It comes as no surprise that the latest Pink Mountaintops comes off like a more relaxed Black Mountain, for many of the band members and leaders are the same. Black Mountain is their symbolic outlet for quality slabs of stoner rock, this loftier version in rose, home to gentle pysch-rock, more in line with Spiritualized's recent, and excellent, Songs in A&E, than with the heavy riffing of last year's In the Future.
Outside Love is less jarring and challenging than Pink Mountaintops' mostly unchallenging Axis of Evol, and it is with very welcome arms that the listener greets afresh the trademark warm drone and fuzz. `Execution' borrows all of Phil Spectre's drums patterns and condenses them into one repetitive and smile-inducing `bm, bm, chk'. An alt-country riff blends seamlessly into the mix, and is reprised in `And I Thank You', a track awash with pleasing steel string. `Vampire' confirms the similarities with Jason Pierce's latest offering and is insidiously affecting. Elsewhere the affect is less strong, but `While We Were Dreaming' and `Holiday' are nevertheless complimentary.
Penultimate rocker `The Gayest Of Sunbeams' is closest to bigger brother Black Mountain and breaks into a pummelling pysch-rock riff wig out, after starting in a more pared back manner. However, Pink Mountaintops are no longer but a weaker sibling in this range, and have peaked into contender category, which should draw the mountain puns to a close, or summit.
Casiotone For The Painfully Alone – Vs. Children
First Pains Of Being Pure At Heart and now Casiotone For The Painfully Alone, 2009 is shaping up to be dominated by GCSE poetry-like monikers. Whilst these questionable names are inadvisable, both these bands revered output is to be recommended. Casiotone For The Painfully Alone is Owen Ashworth of California, a man with an impressive repertoire to date, but one that is likely to be eclipsed with this release. With a vocal that recalls Murray Lightburn of The Dears, Ashworth speaks rather than sings and his melancholic tales are more stories than songs.
His lo-fi backing comes in the form of minimal, childlike keyboards and simple percussion, which all combine to intelligent and startlingly competent effect. A better brace of tracks you're unlikely to hear than the second and third here available. The wry bounce of 'Optimist Vs. The Silent Alarm' is particularly affecting and its appeal is reprised in 'Travelling Salesman's Young Wife Home Alone On Christmas in Montpellier, VT'. That his song titles do what they say on the tin only confirms Ashworth's storytelling approach.
He has Neil Hannon's knack for catchy and unobvious songwriting, Pulp's counter-culture approach to pop, and with the duetting on offer in 'Man O'War' comes across like certain moments of Canadian band Stars' excellent album Set Yourself On Fire. Vs. Children is consistently engaging and surprising, though questions could be raised over the album's longevity as a cruel projection may see these charming tracks become annoying after time, but for now they are anything but painful.
Sleepy Sun – Embrace
Sleepy Sun are a blinking, lolloping pysch-rock and soul beast crawling out from under some remote rock. 7 minute epic, New Age, opens the album with stark drum patterns and dreamy vocals that envelop the listener. Lord is next up and introduces Sleepy Sun's range, with soulful crooning and melancholic piano to come off like Magistrates with talent, or Cold War Kids with a desire to be anything but safe. White Dove is in Black Mountain country with huge, brain-frying riffs and heavy pysch-rock wig outs. The two closers are closer to folk than any of the above and witness acoustic, campfire-like sing alongs reprising the bucolic feel of punning-track Sleepy Son's harmonica. Poor marks for consistency, and stodgy in parts (see, Red/Black), Embrace is nevertheless a welcome addition to this year's roster.
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