Music reviews

Calvin Harris and Bird Names release new material this week. We've already listened and reviewed

Music feature
Music feature
1/2
Calvin Harris

3/5
Ready For The Weekend

There’s something wonderfully prankstery about Scotland’s lankiest dance master. Check out his new YouTube show, JamTV, where the 25-year-old invades the personal space of passing celebs – Goldie, Katy Perry et al – and asks them to unscrew a jar of jam. Totally pointless yet weirdly amusing. In April Harris hit the headlines when he claimed his laptop containing the only copy of his new LP had been lost on an aeroplane. Like a schoolboy who hadn’t done his homework, this story turned out to be total gumph: a delaying tactic because label deadlines were looming. Mind you, it’s not like he hasn’t been busy. Since the release of his debut album, I Created Disco, he’s tinkered with Kylie, turned down Gaga and scored a UK number one with Dizzee Rascal.

Much like his other recent chart-topper, ‘I’m Not Alone’, this album is awash with what he’d call ‘stadium dance bangers’ that utilise ’90s house synth, bass-quivering electro and a whiff of Prince-shaped funk-lite. Big and brash, it’d be churlish not to join the party.
Kim Taylor Bennett
Available in stores.


Bird Names

3/5
Sing The Browns

This Pilsen-based five-piece has spent the last half decade hitting up every conceivable loft space in the city with its ultra lo-fi, scrappy psych-pop. It’s the type of music – amiably brash and brimming with ideas and struggle – that sounds best live, when the members’ personalities shine through. Plus, you can witness drummer Nora Brank pounding away dressed in a coverall and a winning smile.

In an interview a few years back, frontman Dave Lineal hit the nail on the head when he described Bird Names as ‘cursed with a finger-painter’s eye for precision’. Their mad scramble of ideas thrives on technically off-the-mark musicianship as they leave constraints outside the door to concentrate on sheer fun and whatever else they feel like.

Sings The Browns, the band’s fifth album, has a lot going on but doesn’t lose focus. Any one song features country, dub, punk and swing influences without being over-burdened with ideas. The unpolished sound and repetitive motifs on the more spacious tracks at times recall Kurt Vile, especially on ‘I Had A Girl,’ and their enthusiasm is often infectious.

But while the recording’s analog scratchiness clearly reflects the band’s rough-and-tumble aesthetic, sometimes the subtleties that would make the songs stronger are lost in the fug, making the record’s impact more a swallow tweet than an eagle’s cry.
Mia Clarke
Available online.

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