“I’ve been dreaming, hoping, wishing…”

“Desperately” by Jegs Benedict | Apparently, I have written about this song. Sort of. We first mentioned Jegs Benedict on this blog almost two years ago, on an installment of the Local Outsider. I didn’t spotlight this song, but I mentioned it. “If you’re looking for something more, um, conventional, there’s ‘Desperately’,” I wrote, “which does calm me down after frantic, yes, cramming.” But then, Jegs Benedict is now a band of four, and this single – which they released a couple of months back, but hey, it’s Valentine’s week, so why not today? – has inevitably gotten a do-over. (Okay, I’m writing about this in part because Jegs tweeted me. I miss a lot of things, I told you.) There’s some extra magic in this version: I’m sure the vocal harmonies did the trick. Now I imagine the band serenading some girl in some sort of high-stakes pre-prom moment. Oh, right, it’s prom season! This fits. [NB]

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Review: Olympic Girls by Tiny Ruins

Olympic Girls by Tiny RuinsTiny Ruins is Hollie Fullbrook, or, as time passed by, her and a few friends, but across her albums there remains one constant: her songs are affecting and beautifully crafted. Olympic Girls sees the New Zealand band move to a new label, thankfully without much change to their sound – but nonetheless it sees them in some sort of crossroads, integrating a few more elements while still keeping a sense of drama, a tinge of suspense, the listener not knowing where the songs will go. But, really, it can only go inward: Olympic Girls feels more essential, at least in understanding what Hollie is thinking, with songs informed by tragedy and upheaval, but not outwardly so. These songs, however, shimmer, but in a grounded manner, one that both is a bit certain of what lies ahead, and apprehensive of whether it really is what lies ahead. (“Holograms” is a definite spotlight, an ode of sorts to online alienation and memory.) Tiny Ruins is firing in all cylinders on this album. [NB]4/5

Review: Gallipoli by Beirut

Gallipoli by BeirutConventional wisdom says that if you’re feeling a bit stressed out, nothing beats going back to something comfortable. Well, this week has been stressful, with a big event looming (it’s actually going on, like, right now, as this goes live), so during a rare gap I’m listening to Beirut’s Gallipoli. Zach Condon has mastered the sound of the pastoral, atmospheric side of indie pop, and that’s pretty much what you should expect here. If anything this record feels more atmospheric than before: more instrumental interludes, more soaring trumpets, more little things here and there. I’m pretty sure this album literally glows like a flame. But then, this is the sound Beirut has done for years, and while it is comforting, I wasn’t quite sure if an out-and-out throwback is really what I need, or what we need in these times. I mean, now and four years ago, when Beirut last released an album – there’s a pretty stark difference, and you don’t deal with it by just escaping. It’s one thing to recall a rose-tinted past; it’s another to be stuck in it. Gallipoli feels a bit stuck in it. Whether that bothers you, well, that is the variable. [NB]3/5

“I ain’t never gonna let her go.”

“Never Gonna Let Her Go” by Katey Brooks | I was sold this song on the basis of the vocal harmonies. It’s standard PR stuff, but sometimes I feel the press release knows me, because I’ve been getting these songs in the past few years more often. But it’s more than that. There’s a lot – there’s a lot – going on in “Never Gonna Let Her Go”, the new single from London-based singer-songwriter Katey Brooks. There’s a faint hint of the mystical. There’s a strong undercurrent of the rowdy blues. There’s this bassline you can’t exactly place, but you definitely know it’s there. And, again, her voice, which somehow manages to traverse all that and combine what could be a mess into something pretty coherent. And yes, I know, “a lot going on” has been done well before. I’m thinking of ELO and Queen, for some reason. Is this worthy of the comparison? Perhaps. [NB] (Have things I should hear? Drop me a line here.)

“No voy a perder ni un minuto en volver a pensarte.”

“Malamente” by Rosalía | Still on the “see how late I am” track, well… well, to be fair, considering my listening habits (which, if you’ll put it one way, is too white) I won’t really cross paths with Rosalía unless I really tried, which, in this case, is that James Blake record I reviewed a couple of weeks back. But then, I really first heard her just a few weeks prior, because I have shifted to the European stations and they have “Malamente” on gentle rotation (because, while the album this came out of dropped just last November, this song has been poking around since May or whereabouts). So, now, I’m thinking about how much she contributed to “Barefoot in the Park” and how we tend to forget how sultry Spanish sounds, especially in the right circumstances. But then, this is just me catching up. [NB]