February Album Review (part 2) – Peace, the Districts, the Bots, Father John Misty

Having featured four very impressive albums from the girls yesterday, today it's the boys turn.

First of all, boys in a band – Peace, with Happy People, their second album. Their debut, In Love, was number 2 in my personal chart of 2013, so I’m a fan, and this is a very enjoyable album. They’ve got a classic indie sound, which takes some of the dance- influenced Madchester Stone Roses / Happy Mondays sound and blends with a bit of Oasis-like tuneful straight-on swaggering rock, but all presented in an engaging and not too serious manner. That’s why their live audience has proportionally more girls than most indie bands.

However, whilst this is not a bad album by any means, it’s not a clear progression from the first. In fact, it lacks a bit of the variation of the first and I’m not sure there are any tunes here quite as memorably catchy as Float Away or Lovesick. Some tracks are somewhat generic indie-dance, and you shouldn’t listen too carefully to some of the lyrics if you’re a literature fan... Pleasant enough, but a little disappointing so 7/10.

 But showing that there is life in the genre that is lazily known as indie, we have The Districts with A Flourish and a Spoil. We saw them at Reading and they were good but didn’t stand out of the indie crowd, but this is a seriously good debut. A four-piece from Philadelphia, just left school in 2013, this is raw and tough but with surprising sophistication in terms of varied tempos, volume and styles, all accompanied by clever lyrics that do repay some listening.

Not many bands can pull off a nine-minute epic like Young Blood, but it works perfectly and sounds like a future “classic rock” track. The Strokes, Killers, Libertines, Pixies, Kings of Leon, Vampire Weekend are the touchstones here, with just a touch of an Americana sound, but they’ve created their own distinctive sound here remarkably well for such a young band (average age under 21). Really a very impressive rock album and what’s the betting on them headlining Reading Festival by the time they’re 25? Anyway, a surprisingly but deserved 9/10 from me.

And another rock gem, released late last year to be honest but not reviewed by us at the time, is The Bots with Pink Palms. Two young Californian brothers, only 18 and 21 respectively, they are super cool and look like R ‘n B dudes, but play a tough drums and guitar grungy, punky rock, tuneful but with real muscle. Discernible influences include the Black Keys, Nirvana, Blur (Song 2), the Pixies, and the White Stripes, but the songs are much more than pastiches. The album never gets boring, it is varied and interesting, and should have got a bit more attention really. An excellent rock album and another band with huge future promise. Good video too and another rockin'  9/10.


Now a totally different animal. Father John Misty is the musical persona of singer songwriter J. Tillman, who was briefly in the Fleet Foxes, but now has released his second album under his new name, I Love You, Honeybear . The music is classic Californian country-tinged pop, with nods to Gram Parsons, Nilsson, Ryan Adams and Nick Drake. It’s lovely in places, for instance the mariachi band on Chateau Lobby#4 (In C for Two Virgins) turning a pleasant song into something rather gorgeous.

But as you might guess from that song title, it is the lyrics that make this something different. Often very personal, dryly amusing at times, and very filthy more than once (another song is titled “When You’re Smiling and Astride Me”), they’re very much worth attention, and add a real edge to the more MOR tracks. Bored in the US is the big talking point, where Tillman sings a beautiful tune about the ennui of modern life but then intersperses a canned laughter track, subverting himself. See him do it on Letterman here and pick up the confused reaction of the audience. Anyway, it’s a tough one to mark, but let’s say 8/10.


Which means an excellent month for music sees the girls beat the boys by just the odd mark. But all eight of the albums we’ve discussed this weekend are well worth checking out.

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