Brian Elliot – Better Than Dead
Rock music folklore has a few tales that come up again and again. Many would-be stars wish to perform in their own versions of these stories. There’s the one about Bowie and Iggy travelling to Berlin, putting their lives together and making sparse, tense music for the future. There’s the story of Dylan going electric and pissing up his loyal folkie fans. And also, there’s the story of Scott Walker who renounced his early pop star career, only to make a few brilliant, lush sounding records, inspired in no small part by French pop and by jazz.
While the first true myths get explored quite often by those looking to put their spin on them, the latter is watched, with respect, from a safe distance. The Lash Shadow Puppets have, of course, been one of the few acts to try their hands at Scott Walker-style records. But, even that sonic exploration was made available once Alex Turner came into his millions on the back of his more famous Sheffield indie-rock group.
Brian Elliot is a relatively new arrival to the tempestuous world of popular music, and he’s already equipped with a sound as large, soft and imaginative as the luminaries we mentioned earlier. Better Than Dead sounds grand as if the artist has just been commissioned to write the soundtrack to a 1960s blockbuster. Melodies sit pretty while surrounded by a gorgeous arrangement. It’s the work of a man that has already found his way.
Melby – Common Sense
For a country whose climate is as cheerful as expressionist cinema, Sweden holds a perennial edge over contagious, blissful melodies. It’s no surprise, in this case, that so many Swedish groups over the years would tend to gravitate towards the sounds being shaped in the United Kingdom back in the 1960s.
Don’t get the wrong idea here. Melby aren’t merely some naive imitators. No, they resemble a band who’ve lived with their sound long enough that they know well what they want to do. They aren’t out to start a riot or make a dance-pop banger.
No Common Sense sounds like the soundtrack to an elegant, artsy foreign movie made in the 60s. Melby incorporates elements of psychedelic-rock with ease, while the simple drumming could have belonged to a garage-rock number. It’s mind-expanding music for retro-obsessives.