May Music Review part 2 – Katzenjammer, Django Django and Here We Go Magic

Continuing our review from the best month we’ve seen for ages in terms of new music, here are 3 relatively new bands with excellent releases.

We raved over Katzenjammer live; four multi-talented, multi–instrumental women from Norway, providing one of the most enjoyable gigs I’ve been to in years.  A Kiss Before You Go is their second album, but the first to be promoted widely. Does it live up to the live performance?

In general, yes. There are some very strong songs – I Will Dance is a slice of insanely catchy and charming folk / pop, while Land of Confusion is one of the most original cover versions I’ve heard in years (if you see what I mean). Rock Paper Scissors, Lady Marlene – more great songs. The only problem is perhaps the breadth of different styles used here  – while that works brilliantly live, the switching between 50s harmony kitsch; dark, waltz-time piano ballads; Balkan/Irish folk-rock, and blues / rock gives the album a slight lack of coherence. But it’s still highly enjoyable, and you feel that Katzenjammer will make an even better album one day when they’re a bit clearer themselves how to put their formidable talent to the best possible use.  8/10.

From the good to the even better. Django Django by (believe it or not) Django Django was released a couple of months back but I missed it then. This is the Scottish band’s debut album and if there’s a better debut this year, it will have to be pretty special. You might have thought that combining twangy surf guitar, Beach Boys / CSNY Californian 60s style smooth harmonies, a contemporary indie-dance rhythm section, and an occasional off-beat sense of musical humour would all combine into a bit of a mess.

But it doesn’t - it leads to an album you can happily have on in the background, listen to more carefully, or Dad-dance to around the kitchen like a lunatic!  (Really, if you can keep still to tracks like Zum Zum   you’ve got more disciplined feet than me).  They’re apparently great live, and they’re playing Reading / Leeds festivals, so we’re excited about that... and what an excellent and enjoyable album this is. 9/10

Here We Go Magic are the brainchild of Luke Temple from Brooklyn. A Different Ship is their second album, and has been plugged by the likes of Radiohead, which is quite an endorsement. And there are some similarities – the music is complex at times, but never goes into the more tuneless experimental side of Radiohead’s more recent work. But it is very hard to categorise HWGM – there’s something of the Animal Collective / Grizzly Bear vibe there as well, some indie/pop/ folk, but then we get How Do I Know, simply my favourite song of the year so far, and which has a touch of “All my friends” by LCD Soundsystem about it, but with a better tune!  Anyway... 8.5 / 10. Close to a 9.

(Weird but great video - persevere beyond the first few seconds!)

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