Friday, May 22, 2009

back in fifteen minutes

Three great new records that you should hear.

The Yeah-Yous Fifteen Minutes is nice, breezy fluff of the highest quality.

Show Me What I'm Looking For by Carolina Liar is a great bit of American pop-rock in a Fray-esque style.

Finders Keepers is the new single from You Me At Six. Again, great, catchy tune.

Finger on the pulse, kids. Stay cool.

Monday, May 18, 2009

if you give me something then i'll believe it

A couple of years ago I reviewed the promising debut album from Ben's Brother, a new British band destined for great things. Despite an Ivor Novello nomination (their track Let Me Out was beaten by Amy Winehouse) and a top Forty hit they haven't really broken through into the pop mainstream.
2008 nearly saw that, though, as brilliant single Stuttering secured much Radio 2 airplay but agonisingly peaked one place outside the UK top Forty. Dropped by their record label, the future of the band (I say band, it is basically Jamie Hartman and various assorted musicians) looked bleak until Hartman signed a deal with Island records for the release of second album Battling Giants.
Battling Giants took the same path for me as their debut Beta Male Fairytales. On first listen, I liked it. On second listen, I liked it more. From then on (and it has not been off my earphones for a week now) I like it more every time I hear it. It is an utterly brilliant album even in comparison with ...Fairytales and somehow Hartman has managed to take his superb songwriting into another dimension. The songs are punchier, fuller - somehow more rounded and, in places simply noisier as his trademark voice soars over piano and guitar.
From opening track (and single) Apologise, you are aware that you're listening to something polished and classy. It is difficult to pick out specific highlights, but the duets with Jason Mraz and Joss Stone (the latter is the stunningly beautiful Stalemate which would surely be a huge worldwide hit with, say, Leona Lewis on board) are a good place to start. Upbeat, catchy tunes If I Let The Ladder Down and Therapy are also terrific and the album highlight is the soaring What If? which wouldn't sound amiss on something by the likes of Coldplay or U2.
I had the pleasure if meeting Hartman at his gig in Nottingham last week and he is clearly delighted with this record. If anything, the live performance improved the material (if that were possible) and so after a combination of a chat with a very nice man, repeated exposure to the album and a fantastic live performance Ben's Brother are now officially my favourite band that nobody has heard of.