Tuesday, February 9, 2016

The Hedge Schools - Never Leave Anywhere

The Hedge Schools debut album was released in 2008.  It opens with Day One, all plaintively picked guitars and piano touches, allowing Pat Barrett's voice to soar over it.  The track brings you into a world, along the lines of The Blue Nile, as the music soars around you.  This is considered, sensitive music, tracks like Breathe It In and Butterfly are beautifully moody, the latter a perfect evocation of sitting, staring out the window watching the world go by.

Sunday Song represents a change in gear, preventing the album becoming too samey, with prominent drums and a wash of keyboards.  However the default setting of pensive returns with Don't Call It A Heart.  A gorgeous guitar and piano provides the backdrop for Barrett to implore the listener to "put your day in rewind", and later, on In The Morning he sings romantically about "if we spend the day just drifting... cos this is what I like." 

But if that suggests the album is over-serious and a bit of a trudge that would be wide of the mark, Kansas even allows a bit of whimsy in.  There are no weak tracks on this album, and the pacing works really well, it's an album to just sink into and wallow in.  An immersive, and impressive debut album.

Monday, February 8, 2016

The Apartments - the evening visits...and stays for years

The Apartments are an Australian band who released their debut album in 1985.  The opening track Sunset Hotel sets their stall out.  An acoustic guitar backed by piano picks out a blissfully moody Go-Betweens style melody with Peter Milton Walsh warbling melodramatically over it.  A bit of cello introduces Mr Somewhere, a downbeat track which wouldn't have been out of place on any of Lloyd Cole's albums.  What's The Morning For is very much in the vein of the Grant McLennan side of the Go-Betweens, and features some really fine guitar playing.  It's a tremendous opening trio of tracks, however the rest of the album doesn't quite measure up, and Walsh's voice is inclined to get wearing.  That's not to say the rest of the album has no merit, it's just not as good: the dramatic, angst-ridden All The Birthdays features doom-laden brass but is almost cartoon-like in its misery.  Speechless With Tuesday betrays a band who own all The Cure's albums, while the carefree guitar on Cannot Tell The Days Apart evokes the wide-eyed intricacies of early REM.  Lazarus, Lazarus is rockier, but the guitars jangle rather than riff (it WAS 1985).  So a decent album overall, with plenty of appeal for those who enjoy intelligent, moody pop.