I imagine most people's first reaction to Nottingham, UK's The Soundcarriers is the same as mine. "Is this Stereolab? Oh wait, it's Broadcast. It's not?" The band, who's second album, Celeste, is due out on Melodic on August 2, don't deny their influences. In an essay by BBC 6 Music presenter Justin Spear on Celeste's inner gatefold (very 1960s Columbia Records), he writes:
Here we have another blast of summer flecked sound. Last year's Harmonium found a lush and spiked musical template; music so inspired and languid one's thoughts were drawn to Broadcast and Stereolab and like minded cosmic travellers. Exactly where The Soundcarriers were really 'coming from' was long in debate: Nottingham? The West Coast? Saturn? The sound moves between all three locales. It doesn't really matter where you land, the atmosphere is always perfect.
After a few listens, most of the Stereolab and Broadcast comparisons melt away and the record begins to take on more of a classic late '60s feel. You can hear the influence of Ennio Morricone, and Alain Goraguer's work with Serge Gainsbourg in the pop of the rhythm section, and the groundbreaking work of shortlived The United States of America in the vocal arrangements especially.
More importantly, the songs are great, from the opening blast of "Last Broadcast" to dreamy rush of "There Only Once," the languid beauty of "Long Highway" and "Rise and Fall" to the acid funk of the title track. Celeste is immaculate without sounding clinical, the musicianship impressive, and the attention to detail spotless — from the production to the lovely packaging of the gatefold double LP.
Of that, if you dig the MP3s below, I should just say Celeste is the kind of record that just sounds a million times better on vinyl. (180 gram vinyl, natch.) Clearly this band are sonic fetishists and this is the intended format. The 12-tracks are spread across three sides, with the last side filled with instrumental versions of four of the album's songs. Hearing it on vinyl made a very good record jump to Best of 2010 status. Get it now.
MP3: The Soundcarriers – There Only Once
MP3: The Soundcarriers – Long Highway
Want another? The Soundcarriers' "The Last Broadcast" is on Summer Fridays 3.2.