FAO#28 (Cornershop, Fredrik and Samson & Delilah)

Although one-off singles and EP oddments were the original impetus behind this on/off/on column, albums have continued to rule the review-writing roost.  Despite assertions that the album is a dying art form there seem to be more of them than ever released week-upon-week, with barely any seasonal breaks.  Digital downloads also promised to kill off physical singles and EPs, yet the market for them continues to sustain itself for dedicated music fanatics who prefer smaller collectable doses or need between-LP fixes.  So, without further proselytizing on the subject of musical formats, here are three freshly-squeezed short-players worthy of examination.

CornershopThe Battle Of New Orleans EP (Ample Play, CD)

Cornershop - The Battle Of New Orleans EP

If last year’s comeback album – Judy Sucks A Lemon For Breakfast – was somewhat lacking in stocks of humour, diversity and all important sonic squelching, then this four-track precursor to another Cornershop album (due around February) certainly makes an admirable attempt refill those temporarily deficient shelves.  Thus “Houston Hash” brings in an irreverent mix of squelchy layered slow-funk and a very handy read-out recipe for those fond of traditional American trucker food; “Soul School” (from Judy Sucks A Lemon…) returns in much niftier remixed form; Lonnie Donegan’s “The Battle Of New Orleans” gets a joyful sitar-framed makeover; and the wordless “Lynndie England” eases us out of the short but sweet selection with some laidback wah-wah, balmy keyboards and a steady almost Neu!-like rhythm track.  If these four unqualified pleasures are any indicators for the directions of the forthcoming LP, we could be in for an eclectic aural banquet fit for truck drivers and lovers of genre-melding alike.

FredrikOrigami EP (The Kora Records, 7” with download)

Fredrik - Origami EP

Now enhanced to a three-piece – with the addition of multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Anna Moberg – since the release of the sublime Trilogi album earlier this year, Nordic post-folkers Fredrik return with a three-track 7” that reveals another alluring progression.  Taking the otherworldly atmospheres of Trilogi into more sensuous and indeed more feminine directions, the trio of tracks spread across the two grooved plastic sides may sound a little transitional in character, but they still sustain and build upon the group’s charms.  The wintry yet warming “White On White” blends interwoven choral vocals with meticulous percussive intricacies; “Dance Of The Peacock Phantom” adds more rustic guitar figures and brass to mix in with the co-ed vocals and shifting rhythms; and the wonderful wordless “ABC” rounds things off even more mysteriously with ghostly shades of Dead Can Dance being redolent in its mordant beats and chimes.  As with Cornershop’s EP, this bodes well for the ensuing long-player, due in March of next year.

Samson & DelilahBlack Dog EP (Little Red Rabbit Records, CD/download)

Samson & Delilah - Black Dog EP

Yet another 2011 album path-maker, this three-track CD picks-off unpretentiously where 2009’s promising eponymous Samson & Delilah debut LP left-off.  With the opening titular-cut (also on the soon-to-come And Straight On Till Morning album), the duo-led Manchester group tap into summery Green Man Festival-friendly uplift with a gleeful folk-pop stomp, which is most welcome as a Siberian chill surrounds this listener’s Victorian dwellings.  The two nominal b-sides cast a less euphoric penumbra but are no less likeable in showcasing Anna Zweck’s plaintive Vashti Bunyan-influenced fragility (“Orchid Soul”) and Sam Lench’s more sorrowful side (“Proud Of You”).  Together the three pieces don’t profess to change the world but they do provide some vintage rural comfort in the midst of our tumultuous urban-domination times.