Although the name conjures up images of a Japenese duo hunched over a pair of technics Fujiya & Miyagi are actually an unassuming four piece outfit from Brighton who have been quietly plying their breezy mix of minimalist krautrock and post-punk for several years. Lightbulbs was their third album and contained large helpings of pneumatic drums, moody synths, thick bass and scratchy guitar underneath breathy speak/sing vocals spouting seemingly nonsensical phrases, more for the sound they created than for any narrative value, sorta like Underworld covering Wire. Lightbulbs was a breath of fresh air and one of 2008’s real finds. (Caleb)
For a band once in danger of becoming a parody, You Am I defied expectation and recorded an album that demanded a repeat listen. Stylistically it was a different sounding band from the one that made 2006’s Convicts. Here they tempered their tone and cut back on the rock clichés, recalling the art of song-writing. Dilettantes evoked memories of past greatness, when the band could reap the benefits of quasi-country Kinks ballads mixed with Rolling Stones riffs. It was that kind of dynamic shift which added to Dilettantes’ charm, proving the writing wasn’t on the wall for You Am I just yet. (Craig) Full review.
Stripped back but still bleak and bitter, Scot Malcolm Middleton found favour with his fourth album Sleight of Heart. Originally intended to be an EP of cover versions, Sleight of Heart was expanded to a full release although the three covers (Madonna’s “Stay”, King Creosote’s “Marguerita Red” and Jackson C. Frank’s “Just Like Anything”) were a highlight. A laidback, acoustic approach was laced with touches of venom and what could’ve have been a overly depressing listen wass saved by Malcolm Middleton’s frank, sardonic observations and ability to write (or cover) a cracking tune. (Caleb) Full review.
It’s an astonishing debut, something that is needed every once in a while to reaffirm to the traditional indie music fans that the era of epic guitar-based bands aren’t entirely a dying breed. Despite the hype leading up to the release, knowing that this record would house all previous singles to date meant this was already verging on classic status. Glasvegas are liken to a photo-negative of Oasis, the songs are anthemic, but not in a celebratory sense. This is a brutally honest statement of the times and hopefully that message will get through. Glasvegas have made their own “Definitely Maybe” that might just define the current state of music for years to come. (Craig) Full review.
Seattle’s Fleet Foxes released the one debut album that seemed to have everybody talking. With songs that bore traces of Neil Young and Bob Dylan and harmonies that rivalled those of Crosby, Stills and Nash, Fleet Foxes brought together a mix of folk rock and baroque pop as if it came fresh from Woodstock. Released as a single “White Winter Hymnal” was the song that summed Fleet Foxes up best with its swelling harmonies and campfire backing. First witnessed by Webcuts at the Way Out West Festival in Sweden, Fleet Foxes were an unexpected surprise that had our tongues wagging. (Craig)
British India’s debut in 2007 Guillotine was a bold, brash debut which gained generous Triple J support and countless moshing teenagers at their (seemingly) never-ending gigs. It was a little rough around the edges though, so we were elated whenThieves, released almost a year to the date after their debut, continued Declan Melia’s line in angst and world weariness but with a more subtle approach. Those who dug British India’s shout-a-thons were still catered for, but their knack of crafting catchy, classic rock songs like “Said I’m Sorry” and “Put it Right Down” showed enormous potential and could see British India become this generation’s You Am I. (Caleb)
Although less ambitious and leaner than 2006’s opus Never Here The End of It, Parallel Play showed there was plenty of fire left in Canada’s leading export of 70s influenced power pop/rock. Their catalogue of air guitar anthems and George Harrison-eqsue dreamy pop numbers was well stocked as usual but there was also some playfulness in the garage rock of “Emergency 911”, the Dylan inspired country-blues of “Down in the Basement”, and dub reggae on the closing “Too Many”. On the flipside it also dealt with the usual Sloan dysfunctional relationships, childhood and the issue of growing up while still rocking out, best exemplified in “Living the Dream”‘s chorus — “I don’t dream for a living, I’m living the dream”. After a couple of listens to Parallel Play you’d wish you were too. (Caleb)
Third album in from moustached, crazy ass mofo Jess “The Devil” Hughes and some other dude (okay you got us, it’s Queens of the Stone Age’s Josh Homme) was a dose of super heavy riffs, falsetto vocals and dumber than dumb lyrics coming across like an unholy union between Devo, The Cult, and QOTSA. Unlike their forebears such as AC/DC The Eagles of Death Metal don’t take themselves seriously as evidenced by the Spinal Tap-esque titles such as “I’m Your Torpedo”, “(I Used to Couldn’t Dance) Tight Pants” and “Heart On”, yet the sterling musicianship, nuanced production and knack for a hook elevated TEODM far beyond the realms of ’70s pastiche. (Caleb)