So as we enter the second quarter of the year, of all the newly trumpeted artists, who’s lived up to the hype?
The one album from a new band that is as brilliant as the world and its wife’s music critics say it is, is Vampire Weekend. It's all been said - the songs might sound throwaway and trite at first, but they’re intricate and indispensable after a couple of listens. And they do sound like Paul Simon’s Graceland meets the Strokes or the Smiths. It's all true.
The other stand out for me is Laura Marling’s Alas I Cannot Swim. It is absolutely bizarre that a teenager has delivered an album as accomplished and mature as this. Marling has been underhyped in the blogosphere, partly because she hasn’t got her album released in the US yet, but she's got a fair bit of coverage in the British music press. My impression of the scattering of British reviews I’ve read is that people are seriously underrating her. 'Alas' is a classic grower album, and while the initial impression for most people hearing it for the first time may well be. ‘hey, there’s nothing as catchy as the opener, ‘Ghosts’ on this',sticking with it really pays off . She’s not a million miles away from Beth Orton or earlier Joni Mitchell if you’re looking for comparisions. There's a real depth there.
The American critics are getting worked up by this Bon Iver guy. In the rush to compare him to Iron & Wine and Bonnie Prince Billy, how come nobody’s mentioned John Martyn?! Fine album whoever he sounds like.
Hercules and Love Affair’s debut is also worth the hype. And Foals' Antidotes didn’t blow me away but it is good - essentially Bloc Party's first album meets a bit of Fela Kuti meets early U2 though I’m sure they hate the last comparison.