Good afternoon and I hope you’re ready to give Penny a warm welcome back. This month, in an effort to invite some more reader participation we’ve switched things up a bit and instead of sharing the album artwork, you can now click the images below and hear the albums and songs that Penny is reviewing. I know a lot of you read at work, but we figured if you do fancy looking into her recommendations, then it’s darn sight easier this way. Do drop us a comment if you like the new interactive style.
This is it – summer is here, whether you believe it or not. Put away your moody broody music and pick some pop for June! Now, because this series is about discovering new music, we’ve decided to embed samples in with the reviews this month, so you can suck it and see…. Let us know what you think in the comments below.
Regina Spektor: What We Saw From The Cheap Seats
Regina Spektor is the kind of artist I imagine hipster librarians listening to, although you’ll be pleased to know that you can enjoy her music without any formal training in the Dewey Decimal system. Incubated in the hip East Village anti-folk scene, this is Regina’s sixth album and boy has she got her trademark kooky ditties down to a fine, whimsical art. This is a really solid, consistently good record that knows exactly what it is – jazzy, poppy, stylish and intelligent. You’ll get it straight away if this is your bag (probably because it won’t be a bag, it will be a satchel).
Citizens! : Here We Are
Here’s a treat – something that’s indie enough for festival season, and yet glam enough to still be cool and interesting. Ladies (and gentlemen) of a certain age will remember how way, way back in the 1990s there was a whole army of velvet-jacket wearing, leather-trousered bands, marched into battle by Brett Anderson of Suede (Damon Albarn nicked his girlfriend, remember?). Anyway, I think this sounds a bit like all that business. Really catchy, stylish indie rock with a B-movie, David Bowie post-punk glaze. If you liked Franz Ferdinand when they were about, I think you’ll like these.
Niki & The Dove: Instinct
Swedish babies must learn to write beautiful pop music in the womb. This is the debut album from Swedish three piece Niki and the Dove – one of those buzz bands I always expect to be a bit flimsy and rubbish, except they’re not. From the soaring hits like single Tomorrow all the way down to the murky, brooding brilliance of The Gentle Roar, Niki & The Dove brandish style and substance like a shaman waving two large and impressive rain-sticks at the sky. Vocalist Malin comes on like the lovechild of Kate Bush and Cyndi Lauper, flitting between a soft, lilting coo and an impassioned battlecry over a soundtrack of shimmering, glossy synths and tribal percussion. The dynamics are seductive – a sense of oncoming danger and tension building, exploding periodically into euphoria. It’s the same trick that made Hounds Of Love such an iconic album, but you can’t complain about the template being borrowed when it’s done with so much panache. They’ll get comparisons to Florence & The Machine, but they’re so much better than that.
Catcall: Warmest Place
If that all sounds a tiny bit pretentious, then Australia’s Catcall will be just the tonic. Singer/songwriter Catherine Kelleher makes catchy, bubbly music with a twist of 80s pop. This is her debut album, and though she is already beloved of music blogs and tastemakers she still has yet to break over here in the UK – unbelievable when she’s got songs as ear-wettingly hooky as Satellites and Shoulda Been. Music to lie by the pool drinking cocktails to (something fruity with a plastic monkey in). Catch her while she’s on the cusp!