A sporadically-updated music collection blog. Send questions to twitter or email me.

Monday, 24 September 2012

Frightened Rabbit - State Hospital EP

It's been a good while since I had the joys of doing a Frabbit post but finally, there's a new release to talk about. The State Hospital EP is their second EP since The Winter Of Mixed Drinks album (you can find a post about the first EP here), and serves as somewhat of an appetiser for their 4th album due early next year (I believe). I pre-ordered this from the band's store (unfortunately missing out on the print that Piccadilly Records offered with their pre-order a few weeks later) and it actually arrived on Friday, 3 days before its release. Excellent.

Another lovely cover from Frabbit. The knife pictured here actually had the EP title engraved onto it, and looks really effective. Also nice is the implement on the right hand side, a triple-barred version of the double-barred cross used in a lot of the artwork relating to TWOMD that the band had made specially for this artwork. What such an implement could be used for, however, is totally beyond me.

Black vinyl should come as no surprise. I long for the day that they do a coloured pressing, but I can stay happy as long as they keep releasing vinyl. The back cover is lovely. It looks as though the "FR EP II" has been embossed onto the drawer containing the spoon, and the piece of paper with all of the information is really nicely laid out. The record itself comes in a nice black inner sleeve, and features wonderful labels that reference the cover art (as seems to be done with all Frabbit vinyl releases, much to my delight). Also, there's a download code - hooray! I had some issues with my download, but Warner's customer services sorted it out very quickly for which I am hugely grateful.

Now since this EP only has 5 tracks on it, I feel it's only right to go through each in turn. We begin with the title track (and the only song from this EP that will be on the band's next album), State Hospital. It begins with an introduction reminiscent of The Wrestle from TWOMD, but builds to a lyrically delightful chorus and eventually a repeated cry of "all is not lost" which is just great. Boxing Night follows on, featuring one absolutely outstanding line (listen to it, you'll know it when you hear it) and quite a catchy little guitar melody. I can see myself growing to love this one a lot. After that, it's some quiet-loud dynamics for Home From War and the decidedly quiet Off. The former is great, the latter puts me off slightly with its backing vocals but is not bad by any means. The final track on the EP is Wedding Gloves. Clearly, the band enjoyed having Tracyanne Campbell and Archie Fisher guesting on the last EP as this time they've roped in none other than Aidan Moffat to sing on this track. Scott's vocals sound slightly feminine next to Moffat's low drawl, and the call-and-response style of the track early on is brilliant. Of course, I was always going to love this song - the combination of two vocalists I greatly enjoy could never not appeal to me. As usual with any Frabbit release, Scott has written his own track-by-track which you can find here, which is a far more informative piece on this EP than anything I might write. For what it's worth though, I quite like this EP. It's definitely got me excited for the band's next album, and I'm sure I'll end up hooked on this between now and when it is finally released. It had better not take too long.

Monday, 17 September 2012

Tall Ships - Hit The Floor

That BSM competition I mentioned in the previous post? Let's talk about that now. Banquet Records had an excellent advent calendar for Christmas last year, where each day there was some kind of free thing up for grabs and a whole load of competitions. One day was BSM's day, in which there was a free sampler and a competition to win a bunch of CDs and records. Miraculously, I won it and thus a month or so down the line received a huge parcel containing a lot of CDs (including Algiers' incredible EP, which you should all go and listen to), that Bear vs. Shark record and this single. Rather fittingly for this blog, the competition question related to The Torso Has Been Severed In Mid Thorax by Meet Me In St. Louis, aka the first track on the first record I ever posted about on here. I like that. This, then, is Tall Ships' Hit The Floor single. It's their first 7", following on from the two EPs before this.

It's a very plain cover, but an effective one. The front and back are both screen-printed (by Harriet Bridgwater, who I believe has done all of the Tall Ships artwork), and look lovely as a result. I really like the band's logo, and it works well on a plain sleeve.

Again, the back cover is very understated. Nicely done. Plain black vinyl with wedding photos used for the A and B-side labels, which are great. Number 170 out of 300 here, as you can see. I wasn't aware this release was that limited, so that's cool.

The single also came with a screen-printed insert. The patterned side deserves to be framed, frankly, and I might just do that when I get the chance. On its reverse are the lyrics to Hit The Floor, which are always a good thing to have, and some info about the recording of the songs.

It's a shame I've not posted about Tall Ships before because they really are a fantastic band. Their long-overdue debut album is out 3 weeks today (expect to see it on here shortly after, I've pre-ordered it already) and if it matches up to their previous recordings then it'll be incredible. These two songs, however, won't be present on that release. I really hope that doesn't mean Hit The Floor gets "lost", as it were, and disappears from their live set (looking at you, Hope For An Angel) because it really doesn't deserve to. It's a brash song with an excellent breakdown in the middle and sounds incredible live. On the other side we have Safe As Houses, a much calmer song that is pretty much the polar opposite of Hit The Floor. Honestly, I think it's one of their weakest songs but saying that it's still a reasonably enjoyable listen. I can see Tall Ships becoming huge once that album is released, so you should definitely give them a go while they're still touring small venues. Rad band.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Bear vs. Shark - Right Now, You're In The Best Of Hands. And If Something Isn't Quite Right, Your Doctor Will Know In A Hurry

After that minor diversion, my love affair with Big Scary Monsters is going to continue. This is an album I bought from BSM well over a year ago that I've been meaning to post about for a long time, but just haven't got round to doing. I bought the album based solely on the strength of a free download posted on the BSM site, with some minor persuasion from Kev. I ended up getting a second copy of the album after winning a BSM competition (more on that soon) so I suppose I'm kind of hoarding it. Oops. It's sold out in the BSM store now, but there may be a few copies left with Banquet if you're interested. It's actually a repress of the album (possibly the first UK pressing?), which was first released on vinyl by Friction Records in the US way back in 2003 (1000 first press, 500 second press in a variety of colours).

Excellent cover. I'm not entirely sure who the two boys on the cover are, but they look cool. The cover is also different to the covers of both the CD version of the album and the Friction Records vinyl version, which is a nice touch.

Such a lovely colour choice. I really like records with a colour "haze", and of course red and black is a good colour combo. There are also some more really nice little touches. The penguin on the back is a drawing by Marc Paffi (the BvS lead singer) that I believe was used in the artwork for the CD version, as was the art used for the record labels here. Lovely.

As I said, two different copies of the record. The one that I bought is number 9, the one I won is 210. They're printed as being out of 250, but there are actually 254 copies in existence. Bit of needless trivia for you, there.

Okay so MUSIC CHAT. This is the first of the two albums Bear vs. Shark released before they sadly broke up, and what a loss they are. The band specialise in gloriously unhinged post-hardcore (in the vein of Meet Me In St. Louis, to offer a direct comparison to previous posts), the most striking factor of which is Marc Paffi's spectacular vocals. Ranging from the gentle croon of Second to the explosive yelps of Ma Jolie, it's his voice that drives what is an excellent album. It's a very well-paced album at that, with a few slower and more subdued songs (such as the aforementioned Second) offering a welcome respite from the sheer energy of the rest. Now if only BSM could do a repressing of the band's second album...

p.s. I have avoided saying the album's name for the entire of this post because LOOK AT IT. I think I did pretty well.