Fuck Buttons – Slow Focus...

Forget everything you think you know about Bristol based electronic duo Fuck Buttons. Forget their first two albums, forget the economic crisis, Daft Punk, summer festivals, Michael Buble and the recent freakishly good weather. Forget all of this and prepare yourself for Slow Focus, an album of jaw-dropping moments of brilliance, quite unlike anything you have heard so far this year. Over the top? Perhaps. But there is no question that with Slow Focus, our crudely named pioneers have produced an album that is their best to date, and one that wipes the floor with much of what passes for mainstream electronica at the moment. And forget that last sentence, because this is an album that goes beyond the confines of its genre and lays waste to nearly everything out there in the cosy world of pop and rock in 2013. The admittedly excellent new Boards of Canada album appears quaint and pedestrian compared to this behemoth – Fuck Buttons are not interested in minimalism, the concept that less is more or settling for a single musical idea and mining it for all its worth. Fuck Buttons bludgeon you into submission with layers and layers of electronic noise and monstrous beats. Subtlety is the enemy. More is more, and just when you think you have had enough, guess what? Here’s another slab of electronic meat to gorge on. Go ahead – treat yourself. It starts with the tribal drums and pitch shifting synths of ‘Brainfreeze’ and immediately we know we are in unfamiliar territory; Slow Focus is strikingly darker in tone than previous album, Tarot Sport. ‘Year of the Dog’ screeches and squeals over a fluttering synth before a choir of massed voices from Hades joins in to add a little levity. The hip...

Halves – Boa Howl...

Halves are a band that strive for perfection in everything that they do.From their album artwork right through to their stunning live visuals and meticulously honed songs there is a commitment to their craft that is integral to their identity as a band. In short, Halves care about their art, and how that art is presented to the world. Their debut album, ‘It Goes, It Goes (forever & ever)’, released in 2009 announced Halves as one of Ireland’s most innovative acts, peerless in their pursuit of excellence and they were rewarded with a richly deserved nomination for a Choice Music Award. They should brace themselves for more plaudits and award nominations because Boa Howl is another beautifully fashioned collection of songs and a front runner for Irish album of the year; a record of hushed, sombre beauty that draws you in with every listen. This trio of Brian Cash, Elis Czerniak & Tim Czerniak continue to forge a unique presence on the Irish music scene – their blend of ambient electronica, strings, brass and guitars are fused together to create something truly special, closer in spirit to bands like Efterklang and early Sigur Ros than to any of their peers on the local music scene. Opening track ‘Drumhunter’ sounds more than a little like Radiohead but from there on in the influences are harder to discern – Boa Howl is an album steeped in atmosphere, trading in light and shade and a melancholic splendour that is both haunting and affecting. The wonderful ‘Tanager Peaks’ features a stunning vocal contribution from Gemma Hayes, a perfect fit for a melody of such glowing beauty. ‘Best Summer’ emerges from a fog of electronica, a whispered secret that we are privileged to bear witness to, while ‘White Boa...

Miike Snow – Happy To You...

Forgettable electro-pop from Swedish trio Miike Snow.