Herman Dune – Next Year in Zion
David-Ivar Herman Dune claims that this is the first album he’s recorded when he was happy, and the instrumentation bears him out; upbeat brass bubbles under the surface, Dave Tattersall of the Wave Pictures contributes clean, virtuoso lead guitar lines and bandmate Neman’s clip-clopping percussion would give Eeyore a spring in his step if someone surreptitiously added it to his iPod. Yet this is a record characterised by absence; brother André has gone off to start a new life as Stanley Brinks and with him have gone “the dots from the u”. The lead track is named My Home Is Nowhere Without You and the mournful Someone Knows Better Than Me with its naive disappointment at ready-made Ingmar Bergman obituaries, seems like it might also be a disguised eulogy. On its predecessor, Giant, André’s songs were the dark, brooding counterpoints to David-Ivar’s home-sick, love-struck but playful Dylan/Cohen wordplay. On Next Year in Zion there is only the latter, and enjoyable as that is, the absence is felt.
The Aliens – Luna
The Aliens clearly believe in the art form of the album – not as a collection of separate, well-defined singles but as an epic, sprawling magnum opus of Pink Floyd proportions. And Luna is a retro beast, each song reminiscent of something from the past – whether it be Theremin’s fragile Brian Wilson harmonies, the Neil Young guitar sprawl of Boats, or the psychedelic space odyssey of Blue Mantle. As well as replicating other sounds they reference their own; lead single Magic Man is the playful – but logicial – bridge between this and previous album Astronomy for Dogs. But there’s a sense that the Aliens are too busy playing at the past to truly find their own voice, perhaps leaving the casual listener short of patience to wait for the tunes to reveal themselves. Their hardcore fans however, will be delirious at the treasures contained here.
Rozi Plain – Inside Over Here
There is a problem when trying to review an album like this, which woos you with its easy charms, which stills your spirit with its banjos rippling like a bubbling stream. Rozi Plain’s catherine wheel vocal harmonies set your mind a-wandering and you begin to recline into the sound of her voice and melodies like you would a warm bath surrounded by candles and shared with a lover. Plain, the latest signing to Fife’s Fence Records, has made an album of such charm that there lies a problem in critiquing it effectively. Let me bathe in it, instead, let me reflect. Oh OK then, some facts: it was produced by a handful of folk including Fence brothers Kenny and Gordon Anderson, and a few friends from Bristol where she’s from; and it’s bloody good. There, now let me close my eyes and chill.
All written for the October 2008 issue of The Skinny Magazine.