Baby, it’s starting to get cold outside, but that’s no reason your playlists should be frozen in time. Cue PHOENIX’s resident musician Tom Rabin with this month’s unmissable album release and gig, guaranteed to pump some melodic warmth into your bloodstream.
The album: Half Moon Run, ‘Sun Leads Me On’, October 23rd
Gurus of the vocal harmony, guitar arpeggios and driving percussion, Half Moon Run are back with their second album, ‘Sun Leads Me On’, due for release October 23rd.
Debut LP ‘Dark Eyes’ had some honey-sweet, mouthwatering singles, fronted by the epic ‘Call Me in the Afternoon’, and the more tender, but equally handsome, ‘Full Circle’. If the first album has proved anything, it’s that the band offers more than just a handful of good songs, with numbers like the ‘Nerve’, a contradiction of somber undertones and a gorgeous chorus, and Radiohead inspired ‘Give up’ adding weight to the record.
Perhaps the group’s biggest asset is in the vocal department; Devon Portielje and Connor Molander are masters of synchronization and texturing, often flitting in and out of straight rhythms like an unstable electrical current. ‘Sun Leads Me On’ is an opportunity for the singers to explore new techniques with tracks featuring more drawn-out and balanced vocal lines. Thankfully though, the soothing harmonies are still plentiful.
As for stand-out tracks, pop- inspired ‘Trust’ steps away from the HMR we know stylistically. The new synth-heavy and funk driven direction might take some getting used to, but still, behind the instrumentation the song is catchy and well executed. ‘Turn Your Love’ is the single getting fans feverish; drummer Dylan Phillips states that this was written a while ago but is intended as a transition between the albums. Here, we are back to a dynamic display of driven guitar picking and intelligent harmonies.
Most recently though, the band have revealed ‘Hands in the Garden’, a song featuring acoustic guitars that wouldn’t raise eyebrows in a Travis single. Sweeping ‘oohs’ come straight out of a Beach Boys chorus, leading to a harmonica section that proves the band are moving into new realms. But they are not venturing alone. With producer Jim Abbiss as their guide, qualified from experience with the likes of Arctic Monkeys and Adele, this record is set to take Half Moon Run beyond North America and across the Atlantic.
The gig: Beach House, Shepherds Bush Empire, October 30th & 31st
Dream pop duo Beach House stop off in Shepherds Bush Empire for 2 dates on the European leg of their autumn tour; a majestic venue for an equally majestic act.
Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally have been in collaboration since 2004. As their chemistry and fruitful writing partnership have flourished, they have developed a powerful stage presence. They entertain Londoners for two back-to-back displays this month to showcase a glistening selection of songs, now spanning five albums.
The most recent LP release, Depression Cherry, has bought the group another foot towards the centre of the indie spotlight, and for good reason. Beach House make intelligent pop music, crafted from shimmering guitar arpeggios, grounding key drones and Victoria’s cavernous vocal that rides over the mechanical, analogue drum tracks. There is a beautifully haunting undertone to this music which is clearest in singles such as ‘Saltwater’ and ‘Wild; a combination of the sheer reverberated production and the sometimes soothing, sometimes sinister chord progressions featured across records.
Beach House differ from a lot of popular acts under the indie-pop bracket today. At a first listen, the duo can be hard to ‘get’; songs may leave you feeling unmoored, but within your daydream don’t be fooled into thinking this is music for music experts. Each song is pop mastery- entrancing, absorbing, moreish.
Look out for the elegant ‘Myth’, the dreamy ‘Silver Soul’ and of course the uplifting ‘Walk in the Park’. A must for fans of Neil Young and Brian Wilson.
Words: Tom Rabin