Arc, Born Under Saturn, Distant Past, Django Django, Duet, Everything Everything, First Light, Get to Heaven, Hail Bop, Hand of Man, Kemosabe, Life's A Beach, Reflections, Regret, Spring / Summer / Winter / Dread
Bands so great, they named them twice: Django Django and Everything Everything. Django Django caught my ear for their totally unique songs and sound – one part New Order bass synth, another part oddly retuned Brothers Four vocals, strung together with some killer Ventures-like guitar lines. It all sounds vaguely familiar while being completely original. It is hard to single out just a few songs to feature from their records, despite the fact that it is still a rather sparse catalogue (just two albums, an EP, and some remixes).
2012’s self titled debut album showcases all the band’s strengths in instrumentation, songwriting and clever vocal interplay. “Hand of Man” has the warm acoustic guitar and harmony vocals of a new millennium folk sound. “Hail Bop” brings out the synth but then surprises us by adding some bright and sparkly electric guitar.“Life’s a Beach” reinvents the party surf sound, with airy vocals riding a great set of trebly guitar riffs. Hand of Man They followed this with the masterful Born Under Saturn in 2015, an album with even more surprising twists and turns than their debut. “Reflections” never hits a false note: electronica as if it were indie poprock. And there is something about “First Light” that reminds of this 1970s Light Brite commercial.
Everything Everything are another band with a unique sound that attend closely to songwriting, taking songs places you don’t expect. Their best material builds out a song from some interesting ideas, putting them together and taking them apart repeatedly. Key examples would include “Kemosabe” and “Duet” from 2013’s Arc. The transitions between the verses and pre-chorus and chorus of the former are exquisite, pivoting on careful vocal arrangements and the word ‘hey’. The latter kicks off with a string section that reminds me of Kate Bush’s “Cloudbusting” in general ambience, transitioning on the phrase “but I don’t know what’s real or what’s going on” into a very different sounding song, then shifting again into the chorus. 2015’s Get to Heaven continues to develop their sound with great singles like “Distant Past” and “Regret” but the song that really stuck in my head was the more unusual “Spring / Summer / Winter / Dread” with its intimations of both joy and dread. There is something 1980s going on with it, though I can’t quite put my finger on what it is.
Django Django and Everything Everything are bands whose material is off the beaten track of everyday music, and thus benefit from repeated listening. Find them on their websites and/or Facebook pages.