Short reviews of 8 recent Fat Cat releases by múm, Songs of Green Pheasant, Amandine, Welcome, David Karsten Daniels, Ensemble, Nina Nastasia and Giddy Motors.
múm – The Peel Session [CDFAT057]
An EP with four tracks that the Icelandic group múm recorded in 2002 in the show of the legendary late John Peel. It’s a very enjoyable session, whith the playful mix of glitchy electronica and post-rock dynamics which the groups is famous for. Most material is taken from “Yesterday Was Dramatic – Today Is OK”, but the highlight for me is the unreleased instrumental ‘Now there is that fear again’, with its girlie vocals and melancholic accordion.
Songs of Green Pheasant – Aerial days [CDFAT058]
After last year’s pleasant debut album, Songs Of Green Pheasant (a project of Duncan Sumpner from Sheffield) is back with a follow-up. “Aerial Days” contains seven songs of subtle singer-songwriter pop, including a Beatles cover, ‘Dear Prudence’. It’s very personal, introspective material, with hints of psychedelica and rural folk. Dreamy, timeless music for patient listeners.
Amandine – Waiting For The Light To Find Us [CDFAT053]
After the excellent “This Is Where Our Hearts Collide” (2005), Amandine from Sweden is back with a 6-track EP. Again they present acoustic folky music with a hint of Americana, strong melodies and harmonic vocals. Early R.E.M. or Crosby Stills Nash & Young are obvious references. The song material presented here is very good, with the uptempo ‘Sparrow’ as highlight. Listening to “Waiting For The Light To Find Us” feels like taking a warm bath where you don’t want to get out yet.
Nina Nastasia – On Leaving [FATCD47]
A new name for me, but this is already the fourth album by Nina Nastasia, a songwriter from New York. Her music is warm and comforting, but also fragile at times. Some songs are minimal acoustic pieces, others like ‘Brad Haunts A Party’ have a more elaborate arrangement with piano and strings. Nina has a nice voice, the songs quickly feel familiar and the album evokes quite some subtle emotions. An artist to follow.
Welcome – Sirs [FATCD52]
The artwork already predicts a healthy dose of madness. Welcome from Seattle presents 10 songs in under 30 minutes. They play a typical brand of chaotic guitar rock, which often comes closes to conventional songs, but constantly takes a unexpected turn. There are both elements of 60’s psychedelica and the late 80’s indie scene. The music on “Sirs” is quite varied and dynamic and especially the songs with female vocals are interesting. Overall there are not enough tracks though that really impress me.
David Karsten Daniels – Sharp Teeth [FATCD51]
This experimental songwriter from North Carolina already produced a couple of self-released albums, but now he has the chance to reach a wider audience. The songs on “Sharp Teeth” have Daniel’s rather high voice and acoustic guitar as the base elements, but they are coloured by rich arrangements and many guest musicians. Most songs have a bit of a nostalgic Beatle-esque mood to them, like the warm opener ‘The dream before the ring that woke me’, which reminds me of The Polyphonic Spree. Overall “Sharp Teeth” contains solid, somewhat quaint acoustic pop songs which didn’t appeal to my taste completely.
Ensemble – S/T [FATCD44]
The man behind Ensemble is Olivier Alary, born in France, based in Canada. He started Ensemble in 1998 and released the debut Sketch Proposals in 2000. Since then he worked with a few noteworthy artists, including Björk. On Ensemble’s new self-titled album interesting guests are present too, take Lou Barlow (Sebadoh) and Chanelle Kimber (Cat Power). The music on “Ensemble” is a rich mixture of electronica and indie pop. Sound experiments are alternated with pleasant melodic parts. A few tracks are pure soundscapes, most songs combine glitchy electronica with soft acoustic sounds and dreamy vocals. A very suprising album, of which especially the parts with female vocals are to my liking.
Giddy Motors – Do Easy [FATCD45]
After all the delicacy of the other Fat Cat releases, Giddy Motors come round with a dirty dose of noise rock. The London-based trio offers 8 hectic tracks in just over half an hour. Think of The Jesus Lizard, The Birthday Party or Big Black. Lots of anger is expressed in the often screamed vocals, the drums are furious, the bass is heavy, the guitar eruptions are recalcitrant and the sax adds to the cacophony. An exhausting record which is not entirely original but convincing in its energy.