Another fortnight, another trio of fresh DiScoveries for you - all of them very different kettles of musical fish.
Copy Haho are taking guitar music back to basics in the best possible way with some (very timely) sunny melodies and turbocharged guitars - if the latest Franz album left you cold, fear not for the 'Haho are here to make you smile. Mt. St. Helens Vietnam Band, meanwhile, are one of those bands with a really young member, but don't dismiss them as a gimmick. Their self-titled debut is another fine addition to the Dead Oceans stable. As for Papercuts, UK listeners really need to catch up as the new record, his third, is the first one to get a proper release over here - thanks for that, Memphis Industries. You Can Have What You Want is one of those slow-burning releases that might not impress instantly but reveals more of its charms with each listen. Give it a try.
Live-wise, we've got Wild Beasts playing for us in Sheffield next Wednesday (February 25th) with Napoleon IIIrd and Cats:For:Peru - check them out on Last.fm and confirm your attendance on Facebook if you feel so inclined. And really, you should - that Wild Beasts album still sounds amazing to me.
Good, old fashioned indie-pop has its place and, historically, that place has more often than not been Scotland. See: Orange Juice, The Pastels,etc etc. But Copy Haho are four young whippersnappers from Stonehaven - a small town north of the border currently with two claims to fame: the inventor of the fountain pen was born there, and it's also the home of the battered Mars bar - who take their cues from way more than just that oft-referenced jangly Postcard sound. Indeed, it's a more American influence we hear in their throbbing guitars, and that, married with a frenetic, effervescent energy, is what makes forthcoming Big Scary Monsters EP Bred For Skills & Magic a vital addition to your 2009 DiScover playlist. It's the sound of four young men with a real ear for melody letting their exuberance get the better of them: why horde your sharpest hooks when you can pack loads into one song, as they do here on the likes of 'This Retro Decade' and 'The Last Dash'? Copy Haho are no one-trick pony, however. The Pavement-ish 'Bad Blood' reveals a lyrical dexterity you might otherwise have missed if every number hurtled along at a million miles an hour, as the aforementioned pair do. Its inclusion also suggests Bred For Skills & Magic might be only the latest - albeit most impressive - document from a band who've plenty more in their locker. Copy Haho are Joe Hearty (guitar/vocals), Stuart McIntosh (guitar), Richard Scott (bass) and Rikki Will (drums). Stonehaven's third claim to fame? You bet. Rob Webb
- The Bred For Skills & Magic EP is released on March 2nd via Big Scary Monsters.
Video: Copy Haho 'You Are My Coal Mine' (Live)
Mt. St. Helens Vietnam Band
Now here's an interesting proposition. Mt. St. Helens Vietnam Band (that's one hell of a moniker) are: Benjamin Verdoes on vocals and guitar (formerly of Seattle indie types In Praise Of Folly), his 13-year-old drumming brother Marshall, Matthew Dammer (Moog, guitar, trumpet), Jared Price (bass, vocals), and Traci Eggleston (percussion, keys, vocals) – also married to Verdoes Snr. With a forthcoming debut album produced by Scott Colburn of Arcade Fire and Animal Collective tinkering, you could pitch this band somewhere between the grandeur and off-kilter tendencies those two revel in. That they sound very much of the Modest Mouse-Wolf Parade school is inarguable also; in their layered, multi-segment songs it's those bands' roving, stirring spirit they wholeheartedly evoke – a definite good thing. A cursory listen to Mt. St. Helens might see you baffled, perhaps thrown by the crowded nature of their songs, but it's this abundance of playful melodies and hooks that endears, given time. As evidenced on 'Cheer For Fate', the band also hold a surprising aptitude for muscular guitar interplay, which can veer from said song's tap-happy glee to the likes of grandstanding solos in the tradition of (gulp) Queen on the frenetic, scuzzy 'Anchors Dropped'. Don't let that put you off though: these Seattleites are easily charismatic enough to pull it off. For evidence of that look no further than the homemade Public Service Announcement videos available on the band's MySpace blog: leaning heavy on the charms of young Marshall, they're a refreshing, winningly silly collection. James Skinner
- Mt. St. Helens Vietnam Band is released on March 9th via Dead Oceans. Get a free download of 'Anchors Dropped' here.
Video: Mt. St. Helens Vietnam Band 'Anchors Dropped' (Live)
Papercuts is the project of commune-raised, San Francisco-based Jason Quever, and startlingly fine it is too. It's not, we must hasten to add, a "new" venture: come April, You Can Have What You Want will constitute his third full-length, following 2004's Mockingbird and 2007's critically lauded Can't Go Back. Indie cool stats come courtesy of producing Cass McCombs' debut album, involvement with Casiotone For The Painfully Alone and the forthcoming album including guests like Beach House's Alex Scally. With influences ranging from '60s pop, '70s girl-group basslines and krautrock rhythms – all cloaked in iridescent, fuzzy reverb – it's fair to say Papercuts don't hit the sweet spot with immediate effect. A few minutes in the company of tracks such as the outright gorgeous 'Future Primitive', however (to all intents and purposes a vintage pop song of the highest order), and you run the risk of coming over instantly gooey-eyed in admiration. Even better is the title track, which sees Quever's soft, insistent vocals rest atop a pulsing backdrop of oddly comforting melancholy; tinkled ivories mingling with languorous acoustic guitar, multi-tracked vocals and synth. Committing all his work to tape ("it sounds better") and identifying The Twilight Zone as a prominent influence on the "mysterious, melancholic" vibe permeating his recent work, we're willing to stick our necks out and suggest that in You Can Have What You Want Quever has up his sleeve a warm, gentle piece of work, and one that might ultimately emerge one of 2009's most beloved. James Skinner
- You Can Have What You Want is released on April 13th via Memphis Industries. Download 'Future Primitive' from their site by clicking here. A UK tour is scheduled for that month also, including a spot at our DiScover club in Manchester.
9 Manchester The Deaf Institute (DiScover show with The Week That Was)
16 London The Legion