Monday, 29 August 2011

Recommended music: 'Unknown Mortal Orchestra' by Unknown Mortal Orchestra

Something a bit different to the usual electronic-tinged music that I recommend for you. I listened to this album a lot on my summer holiday, so it's good to know that it sounds as good on a wet Tuesday in London as it did on a sunny beach in Italy. I recently described it to someone as 'early Pink Floyd visits The Beatles on a journey with Sly Stone', and although that doesn't cover all of the influences on display here, it should give you some idea of the type of sounds you'll hear within.

Album opener 'Ffunny Ffriends' is the first track I heard from the band (as is often the case it was on the Tom Ravenscroft show on BBC 6Music). It's a good introduction to the band, with shuffling drumbeats, a catchy guitar line, and melodic but slightly fuzzy vocals. 'Bicycle' (a sequel to Pink Floyd's 'Bike' perhaps?) feels a bit like The Kinks musically, although the 'All of you can eat my dust' lyrics bring the track up to date. Next track 'Thought Ballune' opens with some guitars stolen from The Beatles, and matches them with an equally Beatles-esque chorus.

'Jello and Juggernauts' is a slightly more mellow track with some typically psychedelic words, while 'How Can  You Luv Me' ups the pace, with a funky bassline and some equally rhythmic drumming. Next up is 'Nerve Damage', which has an irritating Peter Frampton / Bon Jovi guitar/voice/tube/thingy intro & outro, but in between becomes the punkiest thing on the album, very much in the Stooges line. Meanwhile 'Little Blu House' is one of the most melodic tracks, a 60s tune fitted to a simple drum machine which comes in at exactly 3 minutes long - the perfect length for a pop song. It's followed by 'Strangers are Strange, which brings the funky bass back.

'Boy Witch' resurrects the ghost of Syd Barrett to close the album - it's very Floyd influenced and could easily be a track from 'The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn'. On the iTunes version of the album there are a couple of bonus tracks - 'I Want To Be Left To My Own Devices' and 'Cyrus' Theme'. The former is a distorted acoustic ditty, while the latter is an engaging instrumental.

Overall then, this is an album that draws its influences from each of the last five decades, and wraps them up in something that's both comfortably familiar and enjoyably unusual.

You can listen to the whole album below.

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