Tag Archive | "Fleet Foxes"

Tullycraft – Lost in Light Rotation

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Tullycraft – Lost in Light Rotation

Posted on 22 March 2013 by Joe

Who knew “nasal delivery” could be a compliment for a singer? Turns out that for Tullycraft lead singer Sean Tollefson even his PR company refers to his singing style with that phrase.

However, there’s a reason these nose based vocals have been flagged up as on this album, their first since 2007’s Every Scene Needs A Centre, they’ve drafted in Phil Ek, a master of bringing out the best in an artist’s voice.


For a band that were at the forefront of the mid 90s American twee scene the vocals are still geeky and the songs are still cheery indie pop as you’d expect, but under Ek’s direction there’s a renewed sense of confidence. Ek, who has produced the Fleet Foxes, has also brought a sense of intimacy in Tollefson and other vocalist Jenny Mears’s singing, as if they are  telling their tales right up to the listener.

Does it sound out of place, old fashioned even? No, it sounds like a welcome fillip and good to know that there’s still some cheery people out there, especially from a band that formed 18 years ago.

While many of their peers are still drinking weak lemon drink from a flask and grumbling about this and that, Tullycraft have added a good splash of gin to this poor metaphor of a flask and are belting out optimistic happy pop, as if the recession and all the other ills since 2007 had never existed.

Across each of the 11, two to three minute, tracks there’s a strong sense of consistency. The pace and nods to pop culture throughout the decades never let up and Lost in Light Rotation is all the better for it.

Musically each track seems perfectly weighted as well with the opening, choppy guitar chords of tracks such as Agincourt and Westchester Turnabouts offering a superb introduction to the confident vocals of Tollefson and Mears. They even carry off pop culture references to Hanson’s MMMbop, on Westchester Turnabouts, and Bobby Freeman’s hit Do You Wanna Dance, on Wichita With Love, with aplomb. The rousing singalong of the title track is another of many highpoints.

Tullycraft are back, happier than ever and showing indie pop bands just how it should be done.


by Joe Lepper


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Top Ten Albums of 2011….so far

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Top Ten Albums of 2011….so far

Posted on 08 June 2011 by Joe

Welcome to our round up of 2011’s album releases so far. Our early thoughts are that compared to the same time last year 2011 hasn’t been as great. True, there’s been some fine albums, but far less competition to get into our top ten and only one runaway contender for the top slot.

The list below  picked itself fairly easily but whereas in June last year we pretty much already our Top 20 Albums of 2010 list in place. There were a handful that did narrowly miss out though, and are more than likely to feature in our end of year Top 20. These include Johann Johannsson’s classical masterpiece Miners’ Hymns and newcomer Alice Gun’s Blood and Bone.

Another feature of this year’s list is the dominance of American acts with a folk, country leaning, with just three UK acts making our list and one Canadian.

Sit back, get your early Christmas lists ready and enjoy Neonfiller’s Top Ten Albums of 2011 ….so far.

10.Singing Adams – Everybody Friends Now

Featuring former Broken Family Band singer songwriter Steven Adams this UK act hark back to a golden era of indie music from the likes of Teenage Fanclub and The Wedding Present. Underpinning this debut are some damn fine tunes. The future of UK indie music is in safe hands. (Read our full review here)

9. The Leisure Society – Into the Murky Water

A beautiful, inventive and thoroughly English pop record that more than matches this former Willkommen Collective act’s stunning debut The Sleeper. (Read our full review here)

8.Bill Callahan Apocalypse

With its stripped back feel, punctuated with squealing electric guitars and flutes, Apocalypse can be an unsettling listen at times, but not for too long as Callahan’s luxuriously deep voice has a calming influence and can easily draw you back to normality.  (Read full review here)

7.Fleet Foxes – Helplessness Blues

Timeless harmonies and lush pastoral folk arrangements are the hallmarks of Fleet Foxes and this their second album sticks close to the formula. It’s beautiful stuff at times, with real care taken over production values. (Read full review here)

6. The Decemberists – The King is Dead

A  change of pace and style for Colin Meloy’s band on an  album that is most influenced by the radio safe country pop of REM.  (Read our full review here)

5. The Mountain Goats – All Eternals Deck

John Darnielle’s song writing and survival instincts grow stronger with each release.  With three different producers there’s a surprising consistency as The Mountain Goats expose their hidden demons and offer some bittersweet tales of the famous along the way, from Charles Bronson to Judy Garland.  Uplifting stuff.  (Read our full release here)

4. David Lowery – The Palace Guards

The Palace Guards is the first solo album from Cracker and Camper Van Beethoven front-man David Lowery. It’s taken a while but  its worth the wait as this is among his best work. (Read the full review here)

3. Okkervil River- I am Very Far

The Texas act are back with an ambituous, cinematic indie rock album.  Among our highlights are opener ‘The Valley’, with pounding drums and a string arrangement that is part ‘Bellbottoms’ by Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, part Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. (Read our full review here)

2. Destroyer – Kaputt

Although this was the only one of our Top 10 that made NME’s lacklustre Top 50 albums of 2011 so far list, don’t let that put you off. Dan Bejar has never sounded better, harking back to an early 80s sound, it is part Prefab Sprout, part New Order as Bejar takes the role of world weary rockstar reminiscing in style. (Read our full review here)

1. Darren Hayman – January Songs

Our runaway top placed album goes to former Hefner frontman Darren Hayman and his successful attempt to write, record and release a song a day in Janaury. Not only did he come up with 31 excellent and diverse songs,  featuring a range of artists such as Allo Darlin’s Elizabeth Morris and Spanish band Litorol, but he also created a multi-media experience that gave his audience a unique insight into the song writing process. Each day to compliment the song, he also released a video, video diary and artwork. People were invited to submit ideas and help with lyrics and our co-editor’s runaway dog Arthur even inspired a song. January Songs is a  superb effort that is going to take some beating if it is to be toppled from first place by December. (Read our full review, including a link to buy this download only album, here)

Compiled by Joe Lepper and Dorian Rogers


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Fleet Foxes – Helplessness Blues


Fleet Foxes – Helplessness Blues

Posted on 05 May 2011 by Joe

Timeless harmonies and lush pastoral folk arrangements are the hallmarks of Fleet Foxes and this their second album sticks close to the formula.

But there are some noticeable differences. On the plus side they’ve ramped up the production value. There’s a crisper feel to the music. Another positive is that even greater care and time has been taken over the arrangements.

Under the production of the band and Phil Ek the album takes what were once jams around lead singer Robin Pecknold’s melancholy songs and adds depth and feeling. Just at the right point on second track ‘Bedouin Dress’ for example a beautiful violin comes in. On the title track the build up of electric guitars from the middle onwards is another great moment  as is the transition between ‘The Plains/Bitter Dancer’, which form the fifth track.

It is this latter track that heralds the best segment of the album that includes the Pentangle-esque instrumental ‘The Cascades’ and my stand out track on the album ‘Lorelai’.

On the downside Helplessness Blues lacks the killer tunes and melodies of their debut, such as ‘Tiger Mountain Peasant Song’ and ‘White Winter Hymnal’, or those on their Sun Giant EP.

Does this matter? Maybe over time it will, but for me it doesn’t matter too much at the moment. The vocal harmonies, guitar parts and inclusion of flutes are supurb enough to carry this album straight to a provisional slot on this site’s and many others’ end of year lists. Surely the point of music is to please the listener anyway and what Helplessness Blues lacks in strong melody it more than makes up for in its beautiful sound.

This reviewer is helped by living in the Somerset countryside in the UK, and this album has been mostly heard walking the dog through butterfly filled meadows; the very imagery Pecknold holds dear.


by Joe Lepper


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Record Store Day Reviewed

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Record Store Day Reviewed

Posted on 17 April 2011 by Dorian

Heading down to Brighton’s Resident Records at 7.15am I was shocked to see that the queue already stretched to the end of the street. This was a pretty clear guarantee that any items I was interested in would sell out before I got there, so I headed a few streets away to join the long (but significantly smaller) queue to Rounder Records.

Somewhere around 9.20 I entered the shop, and around 15 minutes later I was at the till. By this time a number of the ticked items on my list had already sold out, but I did manage to pick up four of the records I had selected. Now, one quick whinge. Record Store Day is a celebration of the record shop, but also of the record shop customer, so would it have killed the record labels to make the items a little bit cheaper? I know that the items are limited, but the cost of most of them was almost double what you would expect to pay for a similar record normally stocked in the shop. The Flaming Lips box-set was a nice package, and contained their five best albums, but was an eye watering £99. But hey, I guess that nobody is forced to buy anything.

So, on to the records. Here is my first-impressions review of the three singles and one CD EP that I picked up on the day.

Broken Bells – Meyrin Fields EP

The Broken Bells album was one of the best albums of 2010 and Brian ‘Dangermouse’ Burton seems to have developed one of his many excellent partnerships with The Shin’s James Mercer.

The Meyrin Fields EP is an evolution of the sound found on the album. Nothing radically different but the emphasis here has shifted a little and the tracks have more of the electronics, bleeps and sounds that you would associate with Dangermouse, and less of the melodic guitar pop you’d expect from the Shins frontman. This is particularly true of the title track and ‘Windows’ both of which sound like Broken Bells but wouldn’t have fitted in neatly on the album. ‘An Easy Life’ moves back to the more familiar sound and features some strings and effects that recall ELO. ‘Heartless Empire’ mixes cheap keyboard sounds with Jesus and Mary Chain guitar and is probably the song with most in common with the Shins.

In all an interesting and intriguing set of songs which we can only hope is a teaser for another full album lateer in the year.

Radiohead – Supercollider/The Butcher

Just a couple of months after the surprise release of The King Of Limbs Radiohead deliver two new songs ‘Supercollider’ and ‘The Butcher’ as an exclusive 12″ single.

It is no surprise to report that the band haven’t decided to go back to The Bends’ style indie guitar pop for this release, it is very much a counterpart to The King Of Limbs. ‘Supercollider’  is a long mellow track that will be familiar to anyone who has seen the band live at recent concerts, although it was new to me. It is track with precious little drama but as an exercise in atmospheric mood music it is very well executed. ‘The Butcher’ is more interesting with some doom laden piano and echoed funky drumming be the main backing to Thom Yorke’s typically ethereal vocals.

Not a release that will convert any listeners who have tired of the current Radiohead sound, but a couple of tracks that fans of The King of Limbs will love.

Of Montreal

Of Montreal

Of Montreal/Casiokids – Expecting To Fly/London Zoo

I’m not familiar with Casiokids, but I picked this up as I’ll buy anything that the great Kevin Barnes (AKA Of Montreal) releases.

‘Expecting To Fly’ is a production heavy version of the Buffallo Springfield song featuring just piano and some multi-tracked vocals. It would probably be a big disappointment to someone wanting the more histrionic Prince influenced Barnes as featured on his last couple of albums, but is is actually a very effecting performance and makes me wish that Barnes would do an album of more low key tracks to showcase that side of his personality.

‘London Zoo’ starts with a dour organ sound and some synth trumpet before a range of instrumental sounds and some sprightly drum machine kick in. The vocals are high pitched and the (presumably) Norwegian lyrics make it impossible for me to identify the songs meaning, which initially sets up a barrier for me. However, it is a really interesting building sound with a nice bass groove running throughout. Certainly enough for me to give the bands album a try.

Fleet Foxes – Helplessness Blues/Battery Kinzie

I like the Fleet Foxes and their debut album is a joy, and one of those rare albums that everyone seems to like, but this is one of the weakest Record Store day releases. Not on a musical level but as an artifact. It features two songs that will both be on their much anticipated second album one of which is  freely available already and the other has received radio play (and the subsequent illicit distribution). So in terms of exclusivity it is pretty weak, and at £7.99 it is quite an expensive promo. However, I got carried away, and a little flustered in the queue, and I only have myself to blame.

The songs themselves are good if unexceptional and lack the impact that the band had when they first appeared. It is inevitable that second time around the band is going to sound more familiar and it means that they have to raise their game more than is on evidence here. ‘Helplessness Blues’ is nice enough but the vocals seem less haunting and the melodies less inspired than on their debut. ‘Battery Kinzie’ is a more upbeat piano lead effort that brings Simon and Garfunkle to mind, it is an enjoyable few minutes and shows that the band want to try something more than just emulate their first album.

By Dorian Rogers


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