Stephen Wyatt: Has Warp records ever released anything remotely mediocre? Bibio’s Steven Wilkinson is no exception, celebrating ‘70s classic R&B and borrowing from the era’s greatest luminaries, Isaac Hayes and Curtis Mayfield with his standout track, “Feeling”. Wilkinson blends the funk with the end-of-the-house-party mood, imploring his suppliant that “You shouldn’t mess with the timing”. And timing is everything as Bibio ensures that a good time should be had by all. [8/10]
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Canadian indie rockers Paper Lions have been on a hot streak of late. Last year the band’s 2007 video for “Travelling” suddenly went massively viral and it has opened all kinds of doors for Paper Lions. They now stand poised for a huge mainstream breakthrough and they are most definitely ready as their new set of songs from Full Colour, releasing this April, is jam packed with arena-sized pop nuggets that could easily see some major chart success. Perfectly fittingly, Paper Lions titles their new single “Believer” and fills the tune with soaring harmonies declaring that they “want to believe”. So do we because we still need our pop heroes.
Stephen Wyatt: Nearly seven years after Mercury Rev’s last gift to the world, Snowflake Midnight, rumors abounded that the much beloved band was no more. To the delight of many fans, the rumors were unsubstantiated. The fact that their music would be a slight return to the heralded Deserter’s Songs-era—the band’s crowning musical achievement—generated further enthusiasm from a fanbase eager to welcome them back. True to form, Mercury Rev released “Coming Up for Air”, a song that delights in the language of Brian Wilson while penning a cavity-sweet chorus that swirls around the band’s familiar baroque orchestration. Jonathan Donahue’s boyish vocals and gentle performance emboldens the song’s charming ode to difficult break-ups. [9/10]
Barcelona’s Obsidian Kingdom will release a new full-length album, A Year With No Summer, in March and has just issued the video “Black Swan” as a taste. And what a delicious bite it is. The group’s sound has never been easy to classify and this track is certainly no exception to that rule. Driven by a gently throbbing electronic pulse and atmospheric keyboards, the track is carried by an emotive vocal performance that places the track somewhere between Porcupine Tree and Radiohead with dashes of more traditional progressive rock swirling in the mix as well.
Stephen Wyatt: When a band unabatedly declares that “White men are black men, too”, their design is to extend the conversation on race past the rigidly defined parameters. “Old Rock N Roll” by Young Fathers confronts racial identification head-on. Liberian-born and Scottish transplant Alloysious Massaquoi spits fiercely over West African samples and tribal beats about how he’s tired of blaming the white man for the scope of his personal trials. The syncopated loops and grimey production provides the perfect backdrop to add a new voice to the ongoing, and much needed, dialogue on race relations. [8/10]