So this is the difficult second album by our friends dan le sac Vs. Scroobius Pip, not so – it’s a gem. For those of you that have seen them live recently you would already have been introduced to two of their new tracks ‘Great Britain’ and ‘The Beat’. Remember, they were the ones that had you jumping about like you were 16 again or maybe are you are 16 and jumping around at gigs is still par for the course. This album has all the elements that make lesacVsPip so lovable: Pips rhymes are as on it as ever and still coated nicely in his trademark Essex twang, it has their mix of hip-hop, choppy electronica, dance floor bombs, heart-swelling anthems, witty social commentary and poppy goodness (now that’s not something I say very often). It’s this heady combination of genres that make these guys so difficult to pigeonhole.

In my opinion ‘The Logic of Chance’ comes in a much improved, more accomplished package, Mr le sac has been busy in his sonic laboratory and pulled all the stops out, the production on this record is first class, tracks sound bigger, better, rounder. There also other production elements that make me happy, little things like messing about with the police sirens at the end of ‘Last Train Home’ and building them into the intro of ‘Snob’. Things like that are important to a geek like me and I think show a form of respect for the album as a format, something the digital age runs the risk of losing (yeah alright, shut up granddad I hear you call).

The highlights on the album generally fluctuate depending on what mood I’m in and what I feel like listening to. Today they are ‘Great Britain’, ‘Cowboi’ and ‘Get Better’ other days ‘Snob’, ‘Last Train Home’, ‘The Beat’ and ‘Cauliflower’ vie for the top 3. ‘Great Britain’ sees Pip explore his love/hate relationship with this island home of ours. Diversity and music = good, knife crime = not so good. Obviously I am paraphrasing somewhat. The track kicks and thumps and is catchy as hell right from the opening synth hook. Another plus is that halfway through Pip’s vocals get all shouty and personally, I think his vocals sound best when he sounds a bit narked.

‘Imagine a song that really reached out and touched kids and not in a Daily Mail way’. What a way to start a track. ‘Get Better’ (in the player below along with a very special remix from the Errors) will be the first single from this album and to be honest I wasn’t overly keen when I first heard it. But this is all quite normal for me with lesacVsPips work, there are always the odd tracks that trip my ‘oh no thats a bit poppy for me’ alarm, on ‘Angles’ it was ‘Look For The Woman’ and like ‘Look For The Woman’, ‘Get Better’ has grown on me like a well trimmed beard. It’s a very skillfully crafted tune with a strong inspirational message for da kids about their proclivity to breed.

Get Better (7″)  by  lesacvspip

Released 1st March
Pre-order here

And finally we come to todays favorite track from the album ‘Cowboi’ which features the vocal talents of one-time label mate Kid Carpet. The track is both fantastic and horrific, on one hand the strings and beats are rousing and the chorus is beautifully sung. On the other, it is a story about a women who nearly gets raped in an alley. I love the dialect, with Kid Carpet’s Bristolian lilt in the chorus and the way Pip’s Essex accent makes ‘killed’ ‘kiwed’. It’s not the Queen’s but very homegrown, very British . . .. ‘Great Britain’ indeed.

These guys are known for their live shows, (they managed to fill a tent going head to head with Rage Against the Machine at Reading for God’s sake) and I can promise you that their next set of tours are going to be something you do not want to miss, you can just tell that the ‘The Beat’ is going to blow speaker stacks and ‘Cowboi’ will become another sing-along anthem that will be rolling around people’s heads weeks after the show, I do hope they bring Kid Carpet on tour with them.

NB: This review is a little inaccurate as it has taken a while to write (I got distracted by the darts, a couple of amazing semi finals at Lakeside – come on Woolfie) todays favorite tune is actually ‘The Beat’ but I’ll be buggered if I am going to re-write it all now.

Released 8th March
Pre-order today

Enjoy

Album of the Year: 2009

January 4, 2010

As this is the first review of the new year (and first I have written in years) I thought it appropriate to review my top album of last year: Dead Man’s Bones (Featuring the Silverlake Conservatory of Music Children’s Choir): Dead Man’s Bones (available at Rough Trade with exclusive bonus DVD)

Dead Man’s Bones is one of those albums where the front cover intrigued me so much I just bought it. This is something I did quite often as a young’un back in the days before the internet made buying music so easy. To be honest this tactic did not pay off very often and as such there are many records in my collection condemned to the fate of being unwrapped, listened to once, filed and then forgotten about until I move house. This album makes all those wasted pounds worth it.

If I had read anything about this album before I saw it winking at me from the record shop’s shelf I probably would not have picked it up. It is a concept album (hmm), based on the supernatural (hmmm), with a gothic theme (hmmmm), features a childrens choir (hmmmmm), is a collaboration between two actors (hmmmmmm) and was going to be a stage musical (and that’s enough, I’m off). Thank goodness for my ignorance.

The album is a collaboration between Zach Shields and Ryan Gosling (yes that Ryan Gosling, the one who plays the smacked up teacher in Half Nelson) born from their shared, unhealthy obsession with the supernatural. In fact Zach was so obsessed with ghosts as a kid he was put into therapy. The album handles its themes of death, ghosts, graveyards, werewolves and zombies surprisingly well, it’s gothic but not goth and manages to be genuinely eerie without being cheesy: kids singing about being Zombies has more than a bit of the Omen about it. The experience that Zach and Ryan have had as actors is well reflected in the music, it is all very cinematic – conjuring up visions of old-fashioned horror films and atmospheric sounds are interspersed as if they have their own foley department working on the rain, creaking doors, thunder, foot steps, screaming, crying and werewolf howling FX used. Although this is not the case because the duo played everything on the album (including instruments they had never used before) as part of a set of rules for making the album that resemble Lars von Trier’s Dogme 95 vow of chastity other rules included banning click tracks and electric guitars and only ever recording three takes of a track no matter how bad the outcome.

I get the impression that they recorded everything they played as lots of mistakes and hiccups have been captured and weaved into the tracks giving the album a great ramshackle quality which is incredibly charming. Zach and Ryan’s vocals will not win any Saturday night TV shows and the choir is not be best you will ever hear but it all comes together perfectly . My Body’s A Zombie For You (in the player below) is perfect example, the song sounds like a track from a schools Halloween performance the kids choir pretty much shout the refrain and at it’s end the song descends into the kids shouting, clapping their hands and stomping their feet. Eventually this breaks down into what I am sure was initially an out-take as you can hear their teacher asking them all to sit down and some kids starting their vocal warm ups in the background. I love it! The whole album just oozes character and a freakish, idiosyncratic zeal which has made my decision to crown Dead Man’s Bones my favorite album of 2009 a very easy one.

As mentioned earlier The Dead Man’s Bones project was originally planned as a stage show however, as they started to make the music it dawned on them just how much time and money the show would need investing to get it off the ground and decided to stick to the music. Initially the fact that this could have been a musical put me off, now I urge you to do your duty go buy the CD so Zach and Ryan have enough cash to fulfill their dream. You only need to check out these videos to see that they would make something very special indeed.