Saturday, 23 February 2013

What I've been listening to this month: February

February has never been my favourite month. It promises spring but almost always delivers a bone-chilling reminder that we’re still in winter’s clutches. This year has been no exception. Fortunately, I’ve spent the month writing about myriad records for Under the Radar and Drowned in Sound, while even managing to sneak in my own listening when I’ve had the chance.

It’s been a consistently good month for music, in my mind. Girls Names, !!!, and Rhye are all about to drop some fresh and highly listenable records. Cherubic London trio Theme Park’s debut LP is a welcome blast of jangling indie pop while, on the other side of the age scale, Nick Cave and the Bad Seed’s 15th outing sees  them return to the statesman-like splendour of old.

But, unlike many an indie-rag, I wasn’t so sure about the new Foals record. Holy Fire, their third album, swung between up-tempo earworms and fairly mundane, mud-treading dirges. I’m not entirely convinced they’re an “album” sort of band. Likewise, I was left a little underwhelmed by the new Darkstar albumNews From Nowhere, which is still to congeal as sounds that make any sense to me. I'll keep trying on that front though.

Already a contender for record of the year, however, has to be Local Natives sophomore LP Hummingbird. A stunning sonic concoction of washed out orchestration and sparkling melodies, the LA outfit have produce a gargantuan, wonderfully engrossing record that, with any justice, should put them on par with The National as crafters of tear-stained tunes.

As for surprises, I’ve found Japanese pop maestro Shugo Tokumaru’s In Focus? an infectious, smile-raising listen that’s perfectly poised for my daily (well, every other day) gym sessions, while Deptford Goth’s sublime Union is a swelling, gorgeously cut glide of tender beats and synths. And K-X-Ps maniacal II is continuing to serve up fresh surprises in my ear canals

So, all in all, this month hasn’t been that bad. Hopefully March will pick up where  February left off and maybe give us a little more sunshine.

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