Monday, September 1

August - Albums Of Last Month

That's right. For the second time in Shout And Twist's history there shall be joint winners for Album Of Last Month. Why? Because there's no way I was gonna choose between these two. That's why...

Noah and the Whale - Peaceful, The World Lays Me Down - Young And Lost Club
I thought I had my Album Of The Year all worked out. But now I'm not so sure. No matter how many a time '5 Years Time' gets spun to death on stations and channels nationwide, 'Peaceful, The World Lays Me Down' is undoubtedly the best debut album released this year thus far. Harmony for harmony, horn for horn, heart-rending bowed violin string for heart-rending bowed violin string; there's just not a second-rate strain on here. Leader Charlie Fink's eggshell tones are spell-bounding, firstly laid out in the ever-intensifying '2 Atoms In A Molecule'. "If love is just a game, how come I've never won?" he appeals, pretty much gauging the temper of the next ten tracks. Best of all is 'Do What You Do', a poignant merge of stirring strings and Fink's call to just be yourself. Dark and intense wordplay seated above quite the opposite in soft and charming acoustic pop is what Noah and the Whale do best, and this record is everything early admirers could've hoped for. Long-time friend Laura Marling and her own awe-inspiring notes are evident throughout, though shine more than ever on 'Mary'. If this truly is the age of folk then Noah and the Whale are the absolute kings.

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Do What You Do

Bloc Party - Intimacy - Wichita'Rush-release.' That is the term being endlessly flung around in attachment to the description of this album. Thing is though, I have an inkling this was by no means a rush-release whatsoever, especially as far as Bloc Party were concerned. It is kinda revolutionary (and probably typical of this lot) how they simply chucked up some news on their site just days before it came out, while their coevals from the 04 art-rock shift are either in the middle pages of NME trying to solve an identity crisis (See under The Killers), following all else by releasing two records in one year (See under Kaiser Chiefs), or taking flipping ages perfecting their third album in the backwaters of Scotland (See under Franz). Not that such competition would ever affect Kele and co, because this is a record evident of Bloc Party's constant need to bring forth fresh and stirring music whatever, reflective of the time and space they're in as beings, as well as a band. But is it any good? Well, yes. It's f*cking great. It's raw and it's dirty. It drifts back to the frantic edge of 'Silent Alarm' (Paul Epworth-produced half) at points, moves forwards to the calmer landscapes of 'A Weekend In The City' (Jacknife Lee-produced other half) at others, while adding a whole load more far-out fuzzy guitar backdrop and a darn tough acidity right through. Ten tracks is perfect too, ideally incisive spreading thrusts of love and, well, making love. Such a topic has always been somewhat evident in Kele's wordplay, but here it all seems more personal than ever. If they're are any digs at The Daily Mail or the American government there a whole more subtle this time around. And below the utterances of his imposing relationship are some of the best tunes they've ever devised. Straight off 'Ares' is the ideal smack to get things going, wistfully screaming "War, war, war, war!"; 'Biko' is a model Bloc ditty soused in patent Lee-fashioning; 'One Month Off' mingles Russell Lissack's one-day trademarked pungent string-picking with solar jamboree; then there's 'Ion Square', quite simply the best song Bloc Party have ever made. Though the essence of what 'Infinity' endeavors to put across is much less thought-provoking than the previous two, here they've plainly reveled in their own euphonic class. They are no longer the Gang Of Four-fanatics that once earned them the cover of NME. They are the band who'll clutch you and I into an unknown sweep of sonic blares we'd otherwise dare scope out. And I don't want anyone else to take me there. Bloc Party: The New Radiohead.

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Ion Square