Conundrum In Deed - Gentlemen Gentlemen… Ladies welcome too

LPs round-up: Conundrum In Deed, Hero & Leander, Cairo Gang, Roedelius Schneider

Published on August 12th, 2013 | Jonny Abrams

A wee round-up of some albums we’ve enjoyed lately? Why, we thought you’d never ask…

Conundrum In Deed – Gentlemen

Hey, you! Do you ever wonder would happen if Talk Talk’s classic Spirit of Eden LP was actually a person, and someone spiked that person with a cocktail made up of David Bowie and Pink Floyd? And then Nick Cave and Morrissey started singing about it in a single, unified voice?

Well, look no further than the brooding, autumnal jazz-pop-prog-edelia of Conundrum In Deed’s debut album Gentlemen, which is sure to appeal to the autumnal jazz-pop-prog-edelia fan within us all.

This London troupe’s majesty is laid bare right from the word go: opener “Falling Leaves” oversees all of its elements gathering momentum, majestically, and tops it off with a majestically proggy guitar solo and majestic upwards swipes of piano. It is, in case you were wondering, majestic.

“Strangers in Sympathy” is a particularly superb piece of songwriting, Michael Sadler’s stately, classical tinkles of piano enriching Greg Shields’s swoonsomely swinging chorus to the point of near-unbearable exquisiteness.

As for that rich, warm counter melody of the bass line in the verse…ooh, you just want to hug it. Ooh, it’s lovely.

Shield’s knack for lyrical talking points is well evidenced by “I wonder if your pearly white tombstone teeth are inscribed with my name” from “Laughing Man”, while this track and the ensuing “Rise (Church Bells)” both display a commendable aptitude for infusing doom into beauty. Or is it the other way around?

Conundrum In Deed (great band name too, like) deal in sophisticated songwriting and musicianship that never seem in danger of feeling oppressively or overbearingly so, especially when – as on the closing title track, which enters as a frenetically crashing rhumba, slips into sparse late-night fare then lets fly with clattering, tangential tumult – they’re so gosh darn playful with it.

Smashing stuff.

Gentlemen is out now.

You can buy Gentlemen on iTunes and on Amazon.

Rocksucker says: Four Quails out of Five!

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Hero & Leander – Tumble

This actually came out as far back as May but we never got round to reviewing it. Since it’s one of the most accomplished and downright joyous pop records we’ve heard all year, our inactivity on this count has gnawed at us somewhat.

Hero & Leander are a bit like a less smart-arse Everything Everything with flashes of XTC, Bowie, Dexys and Fiery Furnaces to boot: brilliant boy/girl vocals, high-class harmonies, marvelous melodies and an underlying eccentricity that keeps things bubbling along quite wonderfully.

“Collider” is one of this year’s most exuberant, instantly striking singles – we’ve embedded the video below for your delectation – but we must also make mention of “Kiss Me By the Water Cooler”. It’s sassy, it’s sexy and it’s bloody lovely, like Elvis Costello bonding with The Divine Comedy over a cascading piano part.

Tumble plays out quite theatrically, even pop opera-ishly, with lyrics as delightfully steeped in intelligent and engaging humour as its melodies and progressions are in gentle sophistication.

We’re glad we finally got around to this, because Hero & Leander deserve all the rave reviews we can throw at them.

Tumble is out now on Tapete Records.

You can buy Tumble on iTunes and on Amazon.

Rocksucker says: Four Quails out of Five!

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The Cairo Gang – Tiny Rebels

…not to be confused with the group of British Intelligence agents who were sent to Dublin during the Irish War of Independence to conduct intelligence operations against prominent members of the IRA.

At just six tracks this is really more of an EP, but Emmett Kelly and co. are in sufficiently fine form here for us to grant them a ‘bye’. (Can we mention that Kelly has collaborated with Will Oldham and Bonnie “Prince” Billy? That’s some good keyword jerky right there.)

The entrancing, stargazing psychedelia that inhabits Tiny Rebels feels beamed in from the mid-to-late ’60s via a nutritional pit stop at ’90s lo-fi, its dual electric 12-string guitars fanning flames equal parts The Byrds and Guided By Voices, or at least the two groups dropping acid with each other across the time/space continuum.

Its opening title track is a fuzzed-out comedown march à la Can/Velvets, but with a richly melodic and harmonic top soil in the form of Kelly’s delicious vocals, while the ensuing “Take Your Time” takes this formula and heaps ‘early Beatles’ goodness over the top of it…

…at least until it collapses in on itself with a confounding array of conflicting jangly guitar parts doing battle atop the foreboding rumble of vintage psych percussion. As for lyrical concerns, “As if I don’t want to really be useful / And I don’t fucking feel much like gaining control of all the retarded bullshit I must be able to shake off” from “ShakeOff” feels both striking and instructive.

“Shivers” sees the pace drop to a slow stomp propping up major chords so idly strummed out as to match the dolour attendant in lines like the opening gambit of “I’ve been contemplating suicide / But it really doesn’t suit my style / So I guess I’ll just act bored instead / Contain the blood I would have shed”.

Bundle of joy that might not be, but it contrasts really quite effectively with the juddering synth and sudden crazed yell of “In the eyes of the LOOOORRRRD!!!” in “Father of the Man”.

Let’s have either another EP or a full album now, please.

Tiny Rebels EP is out now on Empty Cellar Records.

You can buy Tiny Rebels EP on iTunes and on Amazon.

Rocksucker says: Three and a Half Quails out of Five!

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Roedelius Schneider – Tiden

“If you love Eno…”

Pianos, drones, zippy electronic bits, all-round calming feeling of gently rushing isolation threatening to break out into crashing post-rock but seeming to make the right choices in refraining from doing so…you know, that sort of thing. Tiden is gorgeous even in its sparser moments, which feel benevolent rather than creeped-out.

Love the track titles, too: “Indie Woogie”, “Frankly”, “Toast”, “Bald”…hats off, Messrs Roedelius and Schneider. “Toast” brings out the cross-sensory electronica as one might bring out the fine china – nice glitchy restraint, like – and in doing so displays just how versatile these chaps are within their framework. Smart work.

Tiden is out now on Bureau B.

You can buy Tiden on iTunes and on Amazon.

Rocksucker says: Three and a Half Quails out of Five!

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White Hills – So You Are… So You’ll Be

What with this and Magna Carta… Holy Grail, 2013 is the summer of the ellipsis-wielding album title.

“FUZZED OUT MOTORIK SPACE ROCK” screams the heading on White Hills’ Twitter page, and this is certainly about right. “InWords” provides a 25-second intro of gloopy electronics before “In Your Room” axes its way through the door “heeeere’s Johnny!”-style, all thrashy power chords, crashing drums, sinisterly whispered Marilyn Manson vocals and incantation-y backing vocals.

It’s certainly very different to “In My Room” by The Beach Boys, in case you were wondering whether their similar titles inferred any musical parallels. Which would be a stupid thing to be wondering, anyway.

This thrashiness signals the way forward – ‘nihilistic power sludge’, we want to say – although the title track reintroduces a spot of twittery bleepery.

“Outwords” offers another brief spot of electronic respite before the arrival of seven-minute-plus monster twins “Forever in Space (Enlightened)” and “Rare Upon the Earth”, and by now you’ll have a good idea of what So You Are… So You’ll Be is all about.

It ain’t easy, but then whoever said that fuzzed-out Motorik space rock would be easy?

So You Are… So You’ll Be will be released on August 19th through Thrill Jockey.

You can buy So You Are… So You’ll Be on iTunes and on Amazon.

Rocksucker says: Three Quails out of Five!

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Data70 – Space Loops: The Complete Sessions

Does exactly what it says on the tin.

This collection of fifty-odd Space Loops feels a little like tripping balls with the Clangers, with all the bleeps and gloopy, high-end electronic twittery that might reasonably entail.

Some of them are floaty and wondrous, others hissing and paranoid, the occasional one pupil-dilatingly raved-out ‘n’ comedown-y by dint of whirring, KLF-style synth pads. Goodness knows how to rate something like this, so we’ll just express our approval and leave you with a SoundCloud link.

You can hear Data70’s Space Loops series on their SoundCloud.

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About the Author

Editor of Rocksucker and the website's founder, Jonny is passionate about the music he listens to, both good and bad, as well as interviewing his favourite musicians.