February 1, 2014

Today's Hotness: Screaming Maldini, Burning Alms, Palehound

Screaming Maldini -- Soweto (detail)

>> The curious hints that popped up this past week did little to prepare us for the massive return of Sheffield, England-based ultrapop savants Screaming Maldini, whose new, Afropop-tinged tune "Soweto" is as strong a single as the sextet has ever released. The chorus is so uplifting and potent that it completely absconds with the second half of "Soweto," elevating without pause on the strength of the thumping 7/4 tempo and the jaw-dropping vocal arrangements and harmonies. Singer Gina Walters is at her most formidable and enchanting in the song's final moments, playing off the singing of Maldini mastermind Nick Cox to turn in a performance that tops even her singing on the last great Maldini single, 2012's "Summer Somewhere." The visual promotion of the single, we should note, is rather enticing, suggesting some sort of espionage or archeological theme. While no full-length has been announced, the single art labels "Soweto" as "3/12," which we'd venture means three of 12 of something, yeah? A photo on the Screaming Maldini Facebook appears to be a bill of lading of some sort from "The Maldini Institute," with the subhead "Miscellaneum Of Wonders." Could the latter be the title of a forthcoming collection? We shall keep our fingers crossed. Screaming Maldini is set to embark on a small strand of UK house shows in February. Its self-titled debut LP was issued a year ago by HipHipHip in France and we reviewed it right here. Stream "Soweto," and then stream it again and again, via the Bandcamp embed below.

>> Birmingham, England noise-pop luminaries Burning Alms Friday released to the wilds of the Interzizzles a second taster from its long-awaited debut full-length, In Sequence. The bracing brace of songs, "So Unreal" b/w "The Pastoral," highlight the opposing forces that pull at Burning Alms' songwriting, as "So Unreal" bashes and pops through 150 or so thrilling seconds of Swervedriver-styled guitars and punching percusion, while the acoustic ballad "The Pastoral" embraces its titular adjective, establishing a gentle, waltz-timed reverie with more subdued vocals and quiet dynamics during an even more brief 100 seconds. The tunes -- which the band describes as being part of a two-track EP, despite the fact that there is nothing "extended play" here -- are available as a paid digital download or stream via Bandcamp and Soundcloud. Within and without the context of the band and its related projects (Calories and Sunshine Frisbee Laserbeam), "So Unreal" and "The Pastoral" are compelling listening, and make us all the more eager to hear In Sequence. In December we wrote here about "Matadors," the blunt and aggressive first single from the pending collection. No specific release date or other information about In Sequence has been proferred by the band (which, as we've previously reported, consists of John Robert Biggs and Thomas Whitfield with former Sunset Cinema Club guy and recording-engineer-to-the-stars Dom James), although the trio maintains it will be issued in 2014. This Facebook status indicates a release is moving one step closer, as the set is presently being mastered. Watch a video for "So Unreal" right here, and stream or download both tunes via the Bandcamp embed below.

>> We're as surprised as you to find that we haven't yet turned our attention to young indie rock concern Palehound. The act began as the vehicle for the music of one Ellen Kempner, a sorta protégé of Speedy Ortiz's Sadie Dupuis (Kempner = Eminem, Sadie = Dre). For her initial release, Palehound's entirely charming Bent Nail EP issued by Exploding In Sound in October, Ms. Kempner was abetted by the label's de facto in-house production due of Julian Fader and Carlos Hernandez. Palehound's whole deal snowballed all fall, with the addition of three new players (say hello to Mssrs. Lombardi, Kupperberg and Scherer on bass, drums and guitar, respectively) and the blogosphere spheorizing about what made this wonderful little band and songs like "Pet Carrot" and "I Get Clean" tick. Come now this four-piece iteration of the presently Yonkers-based Palehound, who issue via EIS Feb. 25 the Kitchen 7", the band's first recordings as, well, a band. The top side of the platter touts the tune "Holiest," with "Pay No Mind" on the flip. "Holiest," as we blurbed on Facebook, is a swaying gem with a terrific cascading hook that showcases well the new four-piece configuration of the hotly tipped band. Palehound plays a smattering of dates in New York and Philadelphia this month before embarking on their first U.S. tour, during which the 'hound makes the obligatory pilgrimage to Mecca. Sorry, not Mecca, Austin, they'll go to Austin for the annual SXSW music confabulation. We can expect another 7" after the release of Kitchen, at least according to this CMJ interview from November. But let us live not in the future, but in the now, a point in your life in which if you have enough time to read these words, you certainly have the time to click the button on the embed below and stream "Holiest." It's a fine rock song that we believe you will like.

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