April 11, 2013

Today's Hotness: Colleen, Army Navy, The Bilinda Butchers

Colleen -- The Weighing Of The Heart(detail)

>> Given how strongly we were moved by her recordings in the middle of the last decade -- even naming one of her records among the best of 2005 -- we have a hell of a time keeping up with Colleen, the project of one-time (and perhaps current, we've really lost the thread here) French school teacher C├ęcile Schott. But by a stroke of good fortune we saw Colleen's name dropped in a Facebook status posted today by UK electronic music heroes Isan, along with a link to Fact's exclusive on a new Colleen track, "Push The Boat On To The Shore." The song is from Colleen's forthcoming fourth full-length The Weighing Of The Heart, which will be released by London's Second Language Music May 13. In 2005, we called Ms. Schott "an iconoclast whose singular style seems predisposed to produce resplendent music." Based on an album sampler we've embedded below, that is still completely the case. Colleen continues to create placid, textured, thoughtful and otherworldly electro-acoustic music consistent with her first three records and various EPs and one-offs. Criminally, Clicky Clicky last wrote about Colleen here some six years ago, although fortunately it appears Colleen has not released a full-length since then, based on a glance at her discography. Still, there is plenty of music to catch up on, and we certainly will keep a much closer eye -- well, ear -- on Colleen going forward; it's not worth the risk of missing such intelligent, pure and beautiful music. Check out a sampler of all 11 of the tracks from The Weighing Of The Heart below. We can't find a buy or pre-order link at the Second Language site, but we're hopeful the record will get a domestic release, as The Weighing Of The Heart has "potential album of the year" written all over it. And, well, we don't want to pay import if we can help it. If you are interested in learning more about Colleen, we highly recommend revisiting Ben Sterling's excellent 2004 interview with Schott for Junkmedia right here.

>> We struggle to understand Los Angeles and its indie rock community. The city is linked so strongly to the music industry, has such as rich history of music, and yet in the last decade we can only think of one truly excellent band from LA, The Henry Clay People [Exh. A]. Whenever we've mentioned this in casual conversation (and we readily admit this all may just be ignorance on our part), people always remind us of the very good indie pop act Army Navy, to which we typically say something brilliant like, "Oh yeah, right!" Well, this time it was the band itself offering a friendly reminder in the form of a delectable new freebie. The nine-year-old trio fronted by Justin Kennedy earlier this month issued the digital single "Pickle," a gently rocking number populated with glistening guitars and gorgeous melodies. The swaying strummer hints at a strong appreciation for the Sarah Records aesthetic, perhaps hints a bit at the resolute poignance of Small Factory, and is eminently listenable -- a perfect spring time jam. "Pickle" is a precursor of Army Navy's forthcoming third long-player. Its most recent full-length collection, The Last Place, was issued in 2011 on EMusic's Selects label and the band's own imprint, The Fever Zone. No additional details are as yet available about the forthcoming record beyond the fact that it is already mixed (at least in part by the great Adam Lasus, legend) and expected to be released this year. While you wait, stream and download "Pickle" via the embed below. Also below you will find a stream of Army Navy's cover of Yaz's extraordinary electropop ballad "Only You," which was released as the B-side to the threesome's "World's End" 7" released in August 2012. Army Navy offers up a straight, guitar-centered version, but for those of us old enough to be haunted by the original, its well worth listening.

>> Much is made about the sound in dream-pop and shoegaze, from plaudits for its ethereal release to complaints about "buried vocals," but surprisingly few realize just how sexy the genre can be. For the properly attuned, it can be easy to identify a distinct femininity permeating many tunes. Hell, one could argue that Cocteau Twins and My Bloody Valentine redefined sexuality in pop music. Regardless, that influence has been snatched by certain bands, who have run off to the best parties, leaving stray vinyl behind like photo albums of that one perfect night. You just had to be there. Enter The Bilinda Butchers. Taking their name from one of indie rock's most graceful and mysterious sex symbols, the San Francisco-based duo proffers incandescent, soft-focus party songs on its latest single, "The Lover's Suicide!" b/w "Love So Estranged," which was released early last month. Yes, that B-side is a cover of a song released on a split single by '90s dream-pop legends Rocketship. The A-side is giddily paced and coated in just enough lo-fi studio fuzz and odd warping in the background to approximate quite well the rush of youthful and inebriated celebration. That splash of water at the beginning? It's not dour rain, but rather the fountain outside of the casino, because once the hi-hat beat and driving bass line come in, the intention is pretty clear. The singer's soft vocals bring to mind The Pains of Being Pure At Heart, while the strange, quarter note siren noise that enters a little more than a minute into the tune indicates the band knows its way around some exotic effects pedals. As is often mentioned by this reviewer, the dream-pop and shoegaze scene is regularly plagued by artists that have little substance beneath the dialed-in tones and obvious fretwork generating half-baked ideas that feign some epic purpose. We remain hopeful that the modus operandi of The Bilinda Butchers -- who work as hard to move people's feet as they do to get them to stare downwards -- can be a model for another wave of dream-pop acts. "The Lover's Suicide!" b/w "Love So Estranged" is available as a digital download via The Bilinda Butchers' Bandcamp right here; a vinyl 7" was released by the band's European label Beko, but it has already sold out. Stream "The Lover's Suicide!" via the Bandcamp embed below. -- Edward Charlton


DanP said...

Jay, your comments about the sexuality of dreampop & shoegaze are so spot-on & well put! Hope you don't mind that I've quoted you here: http://whenthesunhitsblog.blogspot.com/2013/03/bandcamp-track-of-day-bilinda-butchers.htm All best!

DanP said...

Oops, I see that my praise was due to Edward, not Jay, in this instance!