Los Campesinos! – No Blues
Los Campesinos! fifth album ‘No Blues’ offers an impressive variety of songs, showcasing their development in sound; however, it is difficult not to be constantly looking back longingly at their 2007 debut which overflowed with youthful excitement. The songs are undeniably well crafted but this doesn’t necessarily make them outstanding, a number of tracks in the middle of the album blur together, not jumping out at you. Although, amongst the somewhat forgettable, there are certainly a few gems which will have you nodding your head and tapping your feet nostalgically.
The two tracks released as singles manage to recapture the band’s distinctive vitality most effectively. ‘Avocado, Baby’ brings the most enjoyable moments of the album, powerful in its loyalty to the unashamedly indie sound which has given the band the attention they deserve. Beginning with thumping bass drum and guitar riff; instantly reminiscent of the charm and simplicity of ‘You! Me! Dancing!’- the song culminates triumphantly with its layered chorus. The repetition of cleverly obscure lyrics can’t help but capture your attention also. ‘What Death Leaves Behind’ is similarly enticing; displaying the energy and depth of sound that Los Campesinos! are more than capable of.
The albums loss of momentum is regrettable; slower songs such as ‘Glue Me’ don’t capture your attention instantly and you have to consider the difficulty of sustaining a sound which relies solely on noise and vigour across an entire album. Six years on from debut album, ‘No Blues’ has you wondering how much longer Los Campesinos! can justify their exclamation mark.
DJ Rashad – Double Cup (3/5)
The first listen of Double Cup is a disorienting one. While quite obviously formed of the things that music made to dance to is made of, there’s something slightly off about it.
DJ Rashad is something of an Ambassador for Chicago’s footwork scene, a dance scene which my youtube history informs me is based around the mind expandingly fast movement of one’s feet resulting in an effect not dissimilar to the way running is often depicted in cartoons. This is not music to two step to. Tempos float around the 160 BPM mark and the frequent instances of high hats get considerable faster, which next to the slightly off kilter bass lines makes for music that sounds like it’s always on the verge of collapse, apt given how often people footworking do collapse. That footworking is somewhat competitive then, is largely unsurprising; dances often resemble a less pristinely choreographed (but certainly more impressive) ‘You Got Served’-y dance battle.
Amidst the unfamiliarity does lie familiarity and it’s this that means DJ Rashad’s music will never struggle to find a place on the more unskilled dance floor. Chopped and screwed vocal samples, catchy as fuck two note synth lines, Addison Groove, all have place and purpose on Double Cup. And it is this makes DJ Rashad a worthy ambassador. Through a certain amount of what could almost be described as ‘cultural appropriation’ he has brought footwork to the masses. He’s the Omar Souleyman of Chicago.
Chas and Dave – That’s What Happens (2/5)
Last week Chas and Dave returned to us with their first new album release in a generation. Surprisingly, it seems not much has really changed for the Cockney pair in those 27 years, Not even a little bit. Yes, ‘That’s What Happens’, incorporates all the same ‘Rockney’ rambling as they always have in their 50 years working together.
Consistency is good in some aspects of life, I love it how my toaster cooks my toast just right everytime, and I think everyone would appreciate it if they consistently had a good hair day. With music however, the same is not really what we want. Firstly, in terms of lyrics, when two men, about to hit their 70’s are singing about meeting the family of the ‘Pretty Baby’ they are in love with: ‘I wanna meet your sister, Mum and Dad and Papa too,’ It all just gets a little bit creepy.
Creepiness aside, if country cockney rock’n’roll music is what you’re into, ‘That’s What Happens’ might be what you’re looking for. The album combines a spice of early R&B, skiffle and rock’n’roll, into the ‘Rockney’ sound that is so trademark to Charles “Chas” Hodges and David “Dave” Peacock.
Tracks ‘When Two Worlds Collide’ and ‘Glory of Love’ definitely brings some emotional clarity and almost peaceful melody to the album, whereas ‘Right String Baby’ adds a bit of fun. The instrumental ‘Rocking Gloworm’ in the middle of the album is slightly random, but each to their own I guess. Closing track ‘All By Myself’ features piano solos from Jools Holland and Hugh Laurie which is kind of cool, despite cringe worthy introductions like ‘Take it away Jools, all by yourself.’ A decent effort hwoever I think it is safe to say the two more-than middle aged Cockney’s aren’t going to be expanding their fanbase from middle aged Cockneys any time soon.
photos: The Sun & Interview