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Travel notes #2

And, as always, there's new stuff coming in from younger folks, along with a new release from another of the sparkier sexa-and-septuagenarians...

Three to recommend:

Brasstronaut, from Vancouver, are one of the most striking new bands I've come across in the last couple of years. I really enjoyed their first album, Mt Chimaera, and a great live show at last year's Great Escape. Intricate arrangements, blending brass and electronics: an entirely distinctive sound.

I was disappointed with their second record, Mean Sun, when I first heard it last month. 'More of the same', was my initial reaction. Nothing grabbed me as immediately as the songs on their debut, and I put it to one side in favour of other new releases.

I'm happy to report that I was wrong. It's clearly the same band that made Mt Chimaera and, of course, those 'difficult' second albums are difficult precisely because you can't ever repeat the first thrill of finding an engaging and different new band and immersing yourself in their distinctive sound. But, on further listening, this is an entirely worthy follow-up, full of twists and turns, with both subtlety and power. 

I still hear arresting lines in the lyrics, rather than grasping overall stories. There's something going on that puts me in mind of someone fairly geeky talking in their sleep...

In other news, Hiss Golden Messenger are giving a limited edition vinyl release to a previously digital oddments collection, Lord I Love The Rain. The vinyl has yet to arrive, but I'm really enjoying the advance download - a broad mixture of things, from Michael Taylor's lo-fi acoustic strums to bigger band electric stuff. Essentially, his is just one of those voices that makes a real connection to me.

Meanwhile, the owner of another of those voices, Michael Chapman, has put out a second experimental instrumental album - after last year's feted release, The Resurrection And  Revenge Of The Clayton Peacock. I only had chance to listen to Pachyderm a couple of times before having to travel again - and it's a shame that the beautifully packaged vinyl doesn't come with a download - but some really interesting and striking improvised sounds from a true master, with a variant remix on the B-side. 

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