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There are only two rules of pirate metal: 1) pirate metal exists, and 2) shitty costumes.

The third rule (of two) is that you must always – ALWAYS – cover a seafaring shanty from a popular children’s TV show. US pirate thrash band Swashbuckle pioneered the art way back in 2008 with their cover of the SpongeBob Squarepants theme tune, but ballsed it up by making it really, really, really, really, really, really shit. I mean fuck. Pirates aren’t even cool. These people didn’t shower for fuck’s sake, and pissing yourself after 11 bottles of rum is not as attractive as Disney make it out to be.* Just ask your girlfriend.

Scottish outfit Alestorm made a better fist of things, pulling the pseudo-genre from the brink of Mariana’s Trench with their own spin on ‘You Are a Pirate’ (from the BBC show Lazy Town) on last year’s Back Through Time. ‘You Are a Pirate’ is by no means the authoritative sea-plunderer’s manifesto – the only criterion it lays down is that “if you like to sail the sea, you are a pirate,” leading to the rather dubious conclusion that Simon LeBon is a pirate – but as far as pirate metal goes this is  about as innovative and forward-thinking as it’s ever going to get.

*None of the above applies to this badass motherfucker.

I recognise this isn’t exactly going to bolster my hipster cred.

“WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE SONG, DUDE?” – for years, my go-to response when faced with this ludicrous question was Feeder’s ‘Just A Day’. On the not infrequent occasion that my tormentor didn’t know the song, or thought it was called ‘All By Myself’ (because all pop songs’ titles are their hook lines, duh), I would gleefully drag it up from the depths of my collection and admire the hold it still had over me. It astounded me that the sheer adrenaline and energy of that guitar riff (do do-do do, and so on) never wore off or ran aground; it still does the same things to me today, though now I have to measure my enthusiasm through an artistic spectrum because somewhere along the line it became not okay any more to just love awesome rock songs.

Except, you know, it is. I don’t drive, but if I decided to learn, it would be purely due to an imaginary scenario in which I just drive down the M1 and (probably) back all night listening to songs like ‘Just A Day’. But inside our adventurous natures (we’re all here because we explore music, right, instead of just absorbing it?) we sometimes manage to convince ourselves that the only things worth listening to are the abstract, the weird and the ironic. As a result of that conceit, we fail to care about those direct, simple songs, and as a result of…

 

We get a lot of e-mail sent to our Sputnik G-Mail account and most of it is crap. It seems that most of it is spam, sales pitches and random links meant to ‘enhance’ your computer, but it is worth sifting through because we also get a lot of cool promos and even occasionally unheard gems such as this. The artist is named Miriam Bryant this is her first single, ‘Finders Keepers’. It’s a strange mix of piano melodies, electronics, subtle orchestral elements, programmed beats and the strong vocals of Miriam herself. Her bio says that she is twenty-one, English born and Swedish raised. Let’s hope that this isn’t the last we hear from her. With childhood friend Victor Rådström, 20, writer & producer, Miriam is now releasing her debut single, ‘Finders, Keepers’.

Miriam Bryant Facebook

Spotify

The press release for Wake up to the Waves – the first full-length album from Dublin electronic two-piece Last Days of 1984 – says the duo “are influenced by afro-beat, chill out music and tropical electronica.” To me, this seems like a rather long-winded and contrived way of saying “Animal Collective” but, hey, you know me. I’m all about getting to the point.

A couple of years ago when the indie media was collectively shitting itself over Merriweather Post Pavillion, I was literally (and by ‘literally’ I mean ‘figuratively’) swamped with PR for bands calling them the ‘next Animal Collective’ or some equally horrendous prospect. Before Animal Collective it was Radiohead. I don’t know who it is now, probably Azealia Banks or whatever number of photogenic, post-ironic blog bait douchebags it currently takes to suck Dilla’s dick.

Which is why it’s so refreshing to hear a band come along with such obvious smug indie douche credentials and make a conscious effort to downplay them and let people just judge for themselves. Yes, ‘River’s Edge’ sounds like Brian Rice and Darren Moloney spent their entire college experience listening to ‘My Girls’ on repeat and asking themselves just how do they DO that? But when the execution is so perfect and the result such a sweet, fluffy cloud of off-kilter Brian Wilsony pop, it’s hard not to laugh at the indie media’s myopic obsession with originality.

(For the record, the rest of the album does incorporate the aforementioned afrobeat and tropical…

The Neighbourhood

Oh yes, I can dig this. Give me indie-pop made solely with hooks and blow ‘em up. Cut the beat so they stick in your head. Give that familiar indie-wail a little swagger. The lyrics? They weren’t that important anyway. Make them vague and sexual enough to blend into the song, but give me a lyric or two to hold on to. “One love one house/ no shirt, no blouse”? That’ll do.

The Neighborhood have of yet released only two songs, which makes it difficult to say if they’ll blow up the way “Sweater Weather” demands to blow them up, but here’s hoping. “Sweater Weather” is a masterfully done series of ear worms, bridging RNB and indie-folk-with instantly recallable pop-hooks, the kind of genre mish-mosh that likes to explode. It’s simply too irresistible for some company looking to corner the grad-student demographic to not nick the song’s phenomenal chorus for an ad. If that doesn’t sound appealing, I don’t blame you. But if indie-pop with this much potential mass appeal is this good, I’m totally okay with it.

Sweater Weather by theneighbourhood

~In a While Now, I Will Feel Better~

It’s rare for me to draw inspiration from an artist as commercialized and famous as Shinedown. Typically, I like to find songs by bands so anonymous to the general public that I feel like they only apply to me. But for some reason, I have felt a particular connection with the title track off of Shinedown’s most recent album. ‘Amaryllis’ is a towering ballad, complete with shimmering acoustic guitars, crashing electric riffs, and a movie-climax type of chorus. It’s all so easily accessible yet emotionally intense at the same time. I compare it to The Goo Goo Dolls’ “Iris”, with which I feel that it shares many parallels. Even though the album itself was a disappointment in my opinion, ‘Amaryllis’ just might be my favorite song of the year so far. If you haven’t heard it yet, give it a chance. If you don’t like it at first, give it a few more listens and see if it sinks in. I think you might be surprised at how well this song relates to you (or alternatively, it just relates to me a whole fucking lot right now and I’m projecting that onto all of you). Either way, I present to you Amaryllis – the song that is keeping me going right now. Enjoy.

So in case you haven’t heard, indie-pop legends The Shins are releasing their fourth studio album, Port of Morrow, this Tuesday. The entire album is actually streaming via iTunes (and it is pretty damn good) but “Simple Song” really stuck out to me. Its breezy, carefree chorus takes me back to the days of Oh, Inverted World. Listen and let me know what you think.

I for one am very excited.

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Radiohead pulled through Dallas last night on their tour supporting last year’s The King of Limbs, and while the main set contained most of the tracks off that album (including “Little by Little,” “Feral,” and “Morning Mr. Magpie”), they did manage in a few lovely standouts from their OK Computer and Kid A (“Karma Police,” “Everything In Its Right Place,” “Idioteque”). Most notable though, even among the few new tracks currently in the tour’s circulation, was the live debut of a b-side that the band wrote over ten years ago. The track is called “The Amazing Sounds of Orgy,” which sounds almost exactly how one might expect.  You can view that below.

And so it would seem that another Burial & Four Tet collab is on the way. Uploaded about an hour ago to Soundcloud by Hebden himself, ‘Nova’ is the natural extension of Wolf/Moth Cub, and is for lack of a better description, fucking spectacular.

At the moment details remain rather scarce as to the fate of this track, though Four Tet has confirmed via twitter that the track will see a physical release at some point (lucky number 13 for Hebden’s Text Records imprint). I’ll keep you updated as any news becomes available, but in the meantime enjoy….

One album that I’ve been holding out for ever since its announcement (and after hearing the My Old School EP, knowing that, one day, he’d have to present us with a full-length of some kind) is John Talabot’s debut LP, fin.

One of those rare house releases that purposefully avoids existing in any particular time frame, it eschews immediacy by slowly and patiently building itself up under waves of liquid tension and sun kissed melodies. Borrowing greatly from the ’90s Ibiza house scene, as well as using the more minimal tendencies of Europe’s more mysterious stalwarts, the Barcelona based artist has crafted one of those rare and magical albums where everything  seems to work comfortably unperturbed with its surroundings or context. As a teaser for the night ahead, it’s a tantalizing call to arms; as the afternoon medication it’s simply sublime. Best served under a  scorching sun with partners close at hand.

‘Last Land’ represents the pinnacle of Talabot’s production talents, featuring perhaps one of the most creative loops this side of The Field. It holds the kind of melody that house producers just seem to avoid these days, as if they’re afraid at creating a kind of anthem that they won’t be able to contain. For Talabot however, this kind of thing just seems to come naturally to him.

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You can purchase fin through Permanent vacation here.

From Ingrid’s upcoming January 2012 release, Human Again, I invite you to get swept up in “Ghost” with me. Personally, I thought Everybody was a bit unimaginative for this whimsical, often quirky pop star…but it seems like she is on the right track again after teaming up with producer David Kahne (Imogen Heap, Bangles).

Enjoy.

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If there are two things I can credit Sputnik Music for, expanding my love of esoteric and ugly metal and raising my overall level of hipster douchebaggery stand high at the top. So here now I present to you a glorious amalgamation of the two:

As part of the second wave of French House, Justice were pretty big in 2007 with their debut album (Cross). The reception to early releases from upcoming album Audio, Video, Disco (due for release October 25th) has been mixed. Clear though is the change in direction signaled with the upcoming album, with rock elements present on Cross being drawn out and put centre stage. Out now are three more tunes in which this new direction can be seen clearly.

The new direction taken by Justice is reminiscent of drum and bass act Pendulum’s transition in sound from Hold Your Colour to In Silico. For Pendulum the move proved to work out commercially, but saw a lukewarm reception critically, so how will the turn in sound fare for Justice? Well here are three tracks for you to be the judge of.

Justice – Canon

Justice – Helix

Justice – Newlands


Radiohead released their eighth studio album to some fanfare earlier in 2011. Forthcoming is TKOL RMX 1234567, an two-CD remix album of content from The King of Limbs.

The pitfalls of remix albums are not that difficult to determine. Whether from artists rushing a remix to earn a quick buck and get their name seen, or from limitations and hurried timetables enforced; almost always remix albums come out inconsistent in their quality.

Suited to the remix treatment or not, Radiohead have at least turned the album over to a superb collection of electronic artists. With remixes by Caribou, Jamie xx, Four Tet, Jacques Greene, and Shed, the artists featured are both talented and well versed in the field of remixes. Featured below is a remix of Bloom by Blawan off the album, a fair departure away from the sound of the original.

Belfast punk trio Empty Lungs have been knocking around for about a year now and ‘Identity Lost’ is their first formal release, a three-track single produced by Rocky O’Reilly (of the late, great Oppenheimer).

The band cite Jawbreaker and Hot Water Music among their major influences, but the one that springs immediately to mind is Rancid, particularly in the way lead vocalist Kev Jones and wingman Ryan Holmes trade off vocal lines on ‘Hope and Apathy.’ The title track is more of the same with a thumping bassline and scratchy chord riff that call to mind Gang of Four at their most catchy.

The entire three-track single will set you back two of your Great British pounds on Bandcamp. Check out the video for ‘Identity Lost’ below the player.

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