Just as the world anticipates the arrival of Portishead’s much awaited album after 11 years, they release first single ‘Machine Gun’. Don’t let the angry drums scare you away though. Third still contains Beth Gibbons’ familiar torture-stained lyrics and despairing vibrato even if she’s less coy and more confused than ever. Geoff Barrow throbbing beats are a lot harsher, but the torment and gloomy atmospherics cuts as deep. Sorely missed is the scratching apparent on previous albums and Third is really as far removed from trip hop you can get and still be quintessentially Portishead. Missing its smoky fug, the record is unwaveringly dark and ominous, and after spending some time with it, you’ll less likely be high than dismally low, but hey these are sour times we live in. Get used to it.
Pillowface & His Airplane Chronicles
We interviewed him in Vegas, hung out with him in KL and bumped into him in Singapore. Yup, Kid Millionaire and JUICE, we’re this tight. But even if you have only a passing acquaintance with the Dim Mak label head honcho and DJ, you’re gonna dig this. A little like having Steve DJ at your house party, he drops some of his fave mixes from friends such as Kid Sister, Spank Rock, Justice, Uffie and Hot Hot Heat’s Steve Bay on this debut and continues to be instrumental in pushing the indie, art-rock and electrosound in America and here in Asia and opening the door for bands signed to his label like Mystery Jets and Scanners. Featuring extended dancefloor-friendly remixes of some of 2007’s hottest tracks, flash your camera and your party could even pass for having his mate The Cobrasnake there too.
OST Dan In Real Life
The prodigous Norwegian folk pop troubadour, Sondre Lerche, composed most of the tracks featured on the soundtrack to this Steve Carell-helmed romcom, and throws in a couple of covers and Phantom Punch’s ‘Airport Taxi Reception’ on top. Trademark jangly guitars, romantic lyrics and brilliantly structured songcraft shine, but it’s match made in JUICE music heaven, duet ‘Hell No’ with Regina Spector that made us fall in love all over.
The World Is Gone
No, no, this is not a multi-artist album. Various is the name of the band. Their music? Folkish melancholy dubstep. Okay, we know that sounds ridiculous, but not when you hear it. With Portishead’s penchant for electronic-noir, Various cook up a moody storm full of awkward vocal samples, stormy atmospherics and guttural beatmaking. Sadly we’ve had to self-censor the beautifully designed sleeve for which they have gained a rep, but it’s what’s on the inside that counts.
Various Artists and Bugged Out Presents
Suck My Deck: Mixed by Boys Noize
After the critically acclaimed Oi Oi Oi, Boys Noize’s works have been followed closely by techno/nu-rave/electro fans everywhere. Suck My Deck sees Boyz Noize take 37 individual tracks, then cut, paste, mash and mix them into a kick-ass mix. Justice spins around with old skool Outlander, Alter Ego and Lil Louis do the jig with Reel 2 Reel and Laurie Anderson, and everyone gets plastered. Sound like the kind of party you want to get invited to.
We Are Scientists
Brain Thrust Mastery
With Love And Squalor was one of our fave albums of 2005. How this album strays far from it remains a mystery. Perhaps it’s down to the departure of drummer drummer Michael Tapper, but Brain Thrust Mastery sees the preppie Brookyln crew reaching out and experimenting in 80s revivalist territory. It may disappoint some fans and it doesn’t always come together but as frontman Keith Murray might archly suggest: listen with an open brain.
The Real Thing: Words and Sounds Vol. 3
Jill Scott IS the queen of neo-soul. Period. But for those who still need convincing, this album is proof positive. The Real Thing is no match for her now classic debut but it does mark a different level of Scott’s career. Insightful and personal you can’t help wonder if she’s drawing on her divorce. It doesn’t all dwell on sadness though, the girl knows how to bring it, whether you’re in the mood for sexy time or down for some girl-powah.
Boogybytes Vol. 4
The fourth volume of this Boogybytes comp is not your average party mix. Curated by minimal proponent, Ellen Allien, the Bpitch founder describes it as “emotional, noisy, trippy, weird and sexual.” Pilling on her personal faves from Ricardo Villalobos and Gaiser, as well as newcomers Melon and Lucio Aquilina, this tidy trick of eclectic minimalism also contains Berlin spoken word poet AGF and Swedish indie-pop quartet Little Dragon.
Guillemots is a melodic indie outfit that have been churning headspinning records for the past four years with a reputation of performing eccentric concert sets. Red is their second studio album and while review are mixed, we think it’s a slice of brilliance. A slick pop record with tones of r ‘n’ b here, throw in a bit of 90s techno, glam, and even Bollywood and ‘mots’ your uncle.
Be Your Own Pet
Punk rock from Nashville doesn’t sound any better than in the able hands of this four-piece band. This sophomore effort is a more matured work than their debut but it still comes loud and fast. Their sense of humour remains intact with lyrics lovingly devoted to a mad variety of topics from food fights to zombies. And if that’s not enough, vocalist, Jemima’s tantalising voice will make you love this record over and over again.
Mojo Rocksteady Beat
Sound Dimension has recorded some of the most important reggae songs since the late 1960s. This compilation contains 18 of their best instrumental tracks including the heavily recycled ‘Rockfort Rock’ and ‘In Cold Blood.’ Musically exerince with your own ears the progression from rocksteady into reggae and get yourself an education. It beats boring lectures with laser pointers any day.
The Boggs is underrated, but JUICE wants that to change. Frequently compared to the Pogues, Echo and the Bunnymen and even Talking Heads, the band’s Myspace page, describes their music as ‘proto post folk garage punk folk punk blues and disco’. Sure, it’s a mouthful but doesn’t sound all that strange, what with them being part of the ‘New New York’ scene alongside groups like Yeah Yeah Yeahs, The Walkmen, and the Rapture. And if you like them, you’ll like this.
It may only be June but we’ve still got the knackers to say Antidotes is one the best albums to come out from the UK. Which is impressive stuff given that it’s also their debut album. Rammed with melodious math rock influenced tracks with unexpected key and tempo progressions and abstract lyrics, if like the rest of the world you can overlook the sometimes distracting yowling of frontman Yannis Phillipakis, this could turn out to be your most important musical discovery this year.
The band formerly known as The Management offers an interesting mix of psychedelic pop with trails of new-wave synth. When most bands just sound outright confused when mixing up disco, glam rock, and new wave, this band excels like an experiment done right. First single, ‘Time To Pretend’ is infectious, but it’s the pervy disco-nostalgia of ‘Electric Feel’ that’s getting heavy rotation in the office.
This article was first published in the June 2008 issue of JUICE
Text Ili Farhana