November’s listening was marked by the arrival of debut albums from three bands who take their inspiration from very different places in the musical universe.
Wolf People -Steeple
Wolf People is a ‘psychedelic/folk rock’ band from Bedford,England; featuring Jack Sharp (guitar/vocals), Joe Hollick (guitar), Dan Davies (bass) and Tom Watt (drums).
Clearly inspired by a love of late ‘60s/early ‘70s rock and roll, their debut album Steeple is filled with heavy riffs and psychedelic grooves that bring to mind the likes Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page and Jethro Tull. This is no simple pastiche though. Marked throughout by stunning guitar work and brilliant percussion, like Midlake with ‘Courage of Others’, Wolf People have used their influences as a jumping off point from which they have created a great classic rock album.
Warpaint – The Fool
Warpaint is an ‘experimental, art rock’ group from Los Angeles, California. Originally formed in 2004 and now composed of Emily Kokal (vocals/guitar), Theresa Wayman (vocals/guitar), Jenny Lee Lindberg (bassist/vocals), and Stella Mozgawa (drums/keyboards).
Perhaps because of the time they have taken to perfect their sound Warpaint seem to sound like nobody and everybody at the same time. Belonging to no particular movement and drawing influences from a wide range of sources, they have proved satisfyingly difficult for reviewers to pin down. Comparisons have worked their way through the decades from early Van Morrison, Joni Mitchell, The Smiths, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Nirvana, Yeah Yeah Yeahs right up to the XX, with who they recently toured.
Frequently tagged the ‘Next Big Thing’ and already making the BBC Sound of 2011 longlist, Warpaint’s debut album is a satisfying and rewarding listen, let’s hope it doesn’t take 6 years to make the follow-up.
Darkstar – North
Released on the Hyperdub label, spiritual home of Dubstep, North is the first album from Darkstar; producers James Young and Aiden Whalley and singer James Buttery.
The album includes hit single “Aidy’s Girl Is a Computer”, but everywhere else its clear that Darkstar are moving away from traditional dubstep. Their inspiration seems to be a search for the music of the future.
Opener, ‘In The Way’ is an aching ballad, full of dropouts and glitches that sounds like it was assembled from a hybrid of cracked electronics and pseudo-classical instrumentation. It perfectly sets up what follows – softly pulsing synth-pop, peppered with sound effects and samples that constantly unsettle and provoke the listener, to create a haunting, atmospheric mix of soothing reverie and impending dread.
‘North’ must surely rank as one of the year’s most stylistically inventive and impressive debuts.