Normally, January is a quiet time for new album releases but 2023 seems to be bucking that trend. In order to bring you the best in new music, Into Creative have been listening intently so read on for some cracking recommendations
Artist: The Murder Capital
Album: Gigi’s Recovery
Label: Human Season Records
It is fair to say the Dublin based five-piece hit the ground running with the release of their debut album When I Have Fears in 2019. It was a more than assured opener, blending dark melodies, atmospheric tunes and a number of rock out tracks which received almost universal acclaim.
Often however, the difficult second album syndrome kicks in like a mule. Afterall, a debut album has had a lifetime to gestate, develop and has little to compare against. A second album has a more limited time to be written, expectations are higher, pressure builds and sometimes artists who seemingly have so much to offer can fall flat.
Pleasingly then, Gigi’s Recovery sees The Murder Capital brush those fears aside with aplomb, returning with a new album that shows the band to have not only consolidated their sound, but expanded musically, so much so that the new long player is an instant hit on first listen and grows with each subsequent hearing.
There is real, layered texture here to the songs, notably on Crying, A Thousand Lives and the ominous title track, Gigi’s Recovery. There is the occasional nod to luminaries such as The Walkmen and The Strokes but really, The Murder Capital are forging their own path, one that we should all be following.
The vocals from James McGovern throughout are rich and deep. Check out The Stars Will Leave Their Stage and early single Only Good Things as prime examples. Behind McGovern, there is a confident band, musically adept and in tune with each other producing what is an early contender for one of the albums of the year.
Difficult second album? Not a chance. The album is out now and the band are currently touring Europe with upcoming U.K. dates including one at Glasgow SWG3 (18 February). Find out more via The Murder Capital website here.
Artist: Peter Hall
Album: About Last Night
Label: Subjangle Records
The Nottingham based singer/songwriter has the unerring knack of coming up with sublime indie-pop tuneage and with the release of what is quoted as a mini-album, that reputation has been firmly cemented.
Eight tracks feature all coming in at three minutes or so, featuring melody, hooks, harmonies and tunes that flutter and fly upwards. Opener About Last Night is a case in point. It features bold guitars and a daring vocal, setting up the rest of the album perfectly.
A heady mix of striking guitars and plaintive keyboards knit together well on In Plain Sight. Hall slows things down somewhat on the more reflective and laid back Nothing Happens which allows the listener to readily tap into the singer’s lyrical content. The track also benefits from an orchestral feel. The album closer The Autumn Stone is perhaps the stand out track. It mixes psychedelic pop/folk and features another cool keyboard motif, crashing drums and a guitar riff that fits like a glove with Hall’s crisp and clear vocal.
With a solid back catalogue already, Peter Hall is fast garnering a reputation as an artist at the top of his game.
To order the album, head over to the Peter Hall Bandcamp page here.
Artist: Thomas Truax
Album: Dream Catching Songs
Label: Thomas Truax Bolchunos
Thirty seconds into the album opener Dream Catching Song I was already halfway to being smitten. With a vocal that stands out and stands up with the likes of Cohen and Cave, a drum beat from Budgie (yes, that Budgie from The Banshees/Creatures fame) and a repetitive but highly effective guitar riff, the track meanders along. The listening itch needing to be scratched, questioned, who the hell is this?
Well, Thomas Truax is a singer/songwriter, performer and inventor (of musical instruments) from New York City and has been releasing music since the early 2000s. This album sees Truax team up with Budgie and Mother Superior (a motorised mechanical drum machine invented by Truax) to produce ten songs of varying styles which are innovative and different, and consistently keep the listener on their toes.
The vocals at times are spoken word (see Everything’s Going to be All Right and The Anomalous Now) while we see elements of rockabilly on the excellent Birds & Bees and rocking jazz on A Little More Time.
The album was recorded in Berlin, finished in Birmingham and inspires a real sense of joie de vivre, mixing steampunk, electronica, Americana, anti-pop and post-punk themes. Free Floaters provides a simplified yet catchy beat whereas A Wonderful Kind of Strange captures the true spirit of Truax. Offbeat and idiosyncratic, like an American Edwyn Collins singing “you are just a wonderful, kind of strange”. Splendid!
Often we get fed bland, monotonous music by numbers but you could never throw that accusation at Thomas Truax and his music is all the better for it. Album closer The Fisherman’s Wishing Well Player is perhaps the most expansive track on the record allowing Truax to croon and holler a vocal against the solid backbeat of Budgie’s drumming and a tinkling piano.
An excellent, invigorating album that while spanning several genres, remains balanced and surprising. It really does grow with each listen. Do check it out.
For more on Thomas Truax, including headline gigs in Glasgow, Dundee and Edinburgh later this month, head over to his website here for details.