We all have a band like this, love one and only one release and be practically indifferent to anything they've released besides that release, and this is mine I'd like to welcome you to 'Memory Tapes'. I loved 2009's 'Seek Magic' to the point of it my album of the year, it was bright and fun, it took you threw a journey of ideas without ever seeming cumbersome or lost. 2011 saw 'Player Piano' come out and I honestly couldn't tell you a thing about it, it was an album that failed to hold my attention, and I must've listened to it no more then 2 or 3 times... this coming off the back of an album I still listened to frequently at the time of 'Player Pianos' release. Now we end up at 'Grace/Confusion' an album which has some fantastic moments and ideas but it sure likes to take it's sweet time getting to them & whereas the more ambitious moments found in 'Seek Magic' were equally as long and as adventurous each song felt like it had a sense of purpose and it held your attention the whole way. 'Grace/Confusion' has a lot of moments which will make you really pay attention but more then half the time is spent transitioning from moment to moment and it fails to hold your attention whilst doing so. The are 2 songs on here that I cannot recommend enough though 'Neighbourhood Watch' is a beautiful song with moments of melodic sombre and frantic epic electronic infused noise, it was a build that I loved with results that paid off. The second song is the lead single 'Sheila' which really feels like it could have been one of the stronger moments from 'Seek Magic' and it has found the long lost groove found on that album, both these songs are excellent and would've made a fantastic single, in fact the is enough here for a great EP but as it stands at least half the material here is disposable and whilst it does make those bright moments shine that little bit brighter I'd be lying if I said the journey to get there wasn't a bit of a slog..
Saturday, 15 December 2012
Tuesday, 16 October 2012
Patrick Wolf has already been with us for 10 years & that's quite a hard thing to get your head around. I got into him fairly late in 2004 when I first heard Lycanthropy pouring out of my friends stereo and immediately fell in love with his electronic folklore. Over the years Patrick Wolf has gone under a bit of a diva transformation, gained and lost fans on every passing release & is constantly evolving his sound. The heart is still there but where it was in an incredibly bleak place before it's now dancing on the beaches of San Fran with a huge smile on it's face & good on him. This song concentrates on stripping down some old favourites to their bare acoustic roots & whilst it is for the most part a collection that provides some memorable renditions it has to be said that given most these songs were made with a showy composure in mind some of these songs simply don't work. The are moments in songs like 'Paris', 'Bluebells' & 'The Magic Posistion' in particular where he goes into chanting and without the grand composure behind the lyrics the songs begin sounding a little bit on the comical side. Some songs translate surprisingly well such as 'Hard Times' & a lot of the material from 'The Bachelor' in particular come out far better then I thought it would with it's more sombre approach foregoing to schizophrenic production on that album. Patrick's vocals are also the strongest I have ever heard them, he's certainly not the shy 17 year old any-more he sings his songs loud & proud and that really helps carry this album. As an artist that relies so heavily on electronic beats on his songs this is a surprisingly good experiment & works as your very own acoustic session of Patrick Wolfs greatest hits & whilst they rarely improve on the originals it's a very good way to cap off your 10 year anniversary Even the most jaded Patrick Wolf fans should give it a shot even if it's to hear some reworkings of your favourites from yesteryear.
Sunday, 14 October 2012
It's Sunday so I think I may start sticking to a religious regiment of songs to feel 'sorry for yourself to' as that's quite frankly what most of us do on a Sunday. A shining example of this is the very sombre 'Morning Hollow' the very apt title is about feeling Hollow in the Morning and feel this to be a fantastic song to listen to when you're nursing a hangover. It's 7 minutes long but it'll pass you by like a freight train as you close your eyes and pad your thoughts out with the emotion felt in this song.
Hear the rest of the 'Song Of The Day' playlist here: Pitch&Key Song Of The Day
'Morning Hollow' is from the bands 2006 release 'Dreamt For Light Years In The Belly Of A Mountain'
Friday, 12 October 2012
Side project of Modest Mouse front man Ugly Casanova really ushered the more wholesome and folky sound the band would adopt with 2004's 'Good News For People Who Love Bad News'. This song is a particular stand out from this body of work with 2 vocals interlayering over each other over an incredibly delicate and pretty acoustic backing track. The album 'Sharpen Your Teeth' is pretty damned good but I just wished it hit these highs more often.
Hear the rest of the 'Song Of The Day' playlist here: Ugly Casanova – Hotcha Girls
Hotcha Girls can be heard on the bands 2002 releases 'Sharpen Your Teeth'
Cold Showers is the debut album LA band 'Love & Regret' who formed around about 2 years ago & they combine pop music with traditional angular guitar riffs and shoegaze to create a sound that's heavy in atmosphere and heavy in hooks. On first listen it may seem that 'Cold Showers' and it's 8 songs sound a bit nondescript & for the most part this is kind of true, I could imagine any number of shoegaze influenced bands putting out this record & this would be a problem if some of the songs weren't so damn catchy. This album does one thing particularly well and that's throwing you some incredibly catchy and simple guitar riffs that feel immediate and garners your interest pretty quickly 'In Terms Of Pleasure' is a favourite of mine with it's bass line and indie pop guitar tone and female/male vocal harmonies making up a very simple yet very strong chorus, & 'Seminary' is a pretty strong closer offering an increase in tempo and overall presence which works really well for this band. The one thing that can be laid against this album that whilst for the most part songs are very enjoyable the is nothing really to them that allows them to truly stand out from the crowd, whilst all the songs have their quirks which make them unique within the context of the album, they really do not stand out in an oversubscribed genre. I guess the best way to sum up this album would be 'good but unspectacular' & I don't mean that in a horrible way either. The just isn't enough in this album to make me get overly excited about it, is a fairly accomplished debut with some very strongly crafted pop influenced shoegaze treats.
Thursday, 11 October 2012
With the feeling of 'Lawrence of Arabia' to it, this song is incredibly hypnotic and groovy and catches the ear with some very clever sampling, sinister bass line and lively percussion which jumps out at you in a way you just don't hear in a lot of electronic music. This beat just has so much going for it that I find myself listening to it again & again & again, a great marriage of sampled melodies and live percussion.
'The Forgotten People' can be found on Thievery Corporations 2008 release 'Radio Retaliation'
I have been quite a huge fan of Bat For Lashes for quite some time now, the first time I heard 'What's A Girl To Do' I knew I found the quirky female musician for me. Fast forward to 2012 and we see Natasha grace us once again with her third album 'The Haunted Man' and where the kookiness has left Bat For Lashes ambition has never been greater... unfortunately this leaves a distinctive lack of charm and identity. Bat For Lashes has never released a killer album, I found Two Suns to be a bit top heavy, but for me it's always been about those great moments Bat For Lashes produces on quite a consistent basis. This year it's all about the likes of 'Laura' which is an incredible conventional ballad with some real power behind it with an incredibly strong vocal performance, 'The Haunted Man' is quite an epic , 'Rest Your Head' has a really nice dream scope underlying the driven momentum & 'Winter Fields' hits you in the face with an incredibly haunting yet driven sound. However this album falters, where the low points of previous efforts where mealy disappointing, the lulls in this album often feel soulless and lifeless & this can mostly be blamed on incredibly limp production. The synths and drums on this album sound particularly pathetic as you hear snare hits quietly whimper in the background & with synths that leave no impression at all, I honestly couldn't pin point a single tone or sound a synth produced on this entire album despite their heavy presence. 'Oh Yeah', 'Horses Of The Sun' & 'Deep Sea Diver' are three clear examples of an idea not quite coming together they all sound like songs with killer ideas in them but they never feel like cohesive and engaging songs threw and threw. This album is a collection of some incredibly ambitious ideas & to her credit she does have more then her fair share of moments where the album all comes together to produce something fantastic but unfortunately about half the duration of the album left me incredibly frustrated, underwhelmed and bored. I think these songs will for the most part translate really well live but I cannot stress how truly awful the production is at times & this hindrance really shows up some of the flaws of the song writing.
+ 'Laura', 'Marilyn' & a few others are really strong songs; some of her best to date
+ Shows a lot of ambition
+ Should translate well live with a lot of big moments which will sound much better without lifeless drums
- A lot of songs don't quite come together as well as I would have liked
- The production is awful, the drums & synths have no presence and it's often way too bassy
- This album lacks true identity, relies a bit heavily on sounding 80's & conventional
+ 'Laura', 'Marilyn' & a few others are really strong songs; some of her best to date
+ Shows a lot of ambition
+ Should translate well live with a lot of big moments which will sound much better without lifeless drums
- A lot of songs don't quite come together as well as I would have liked
- The production is awful, the drums & synths have no presence and it's often way too bassy
- This album lacks true identity, relies a bit heavily on sounding 80's & conventional
'Fabulous Muscles' from the album of the same name is an incredibly soft, warped & heartfelt offering from Xiu Xiu and probably is the most intimate song ever released under the guise. Forgoing the usual distorted noise that Xiu Xiu usually lace their songs with this song is simply nothing more then Jamie singing over a very minimal acoustic guitar, it's very warm and incredibly beautiful.
'Fabulous Muscles' can be found on the bands 2004 release 'Fabulous Muscles'
Tuesday, 9 October 2012
'First' by the Chariot starts off a solid enough hardcore track but what makes this song so very special is the way it evolves into an incredible half which would best be described as spaghetti western. This is a fantastic song which takes an unexpected turn which makes this track really catch the ear. Superb at everything it does, but especially the spaghetti western theme.
'First' can be found on the bands 2012 release 'One Wing'
Monday, 8 October 2012
I discovered this song & this band whilst I was looking up some of the bands playing the fantastic 'Park' stage at Glastonbury in the year 2011. I looked up this band & this song and instantly fell in love, this is just a fantastically dreamy pop song, with female vocals softly singing over a whole lot of fuzz. It's a truly brilliant little song which progresses in a very pleasant way, I will never tire of this song.
Skinnybone can be found on Sea Of Bee's 2010 release 'Songs For The Ravens'
This song really needs no explanation as to why it's here does it? It's just motown perfection with the upbeat and uplifting chorus and it's heart felt & soulful delivery of the verses is what motown is all about isn't it? And this song embodies it better then any other, just music in it's purest and most perfect form.
This Old Heart Of Mine can be found on the bands 1966 single release of 'This Old Heart Of Mine'
Sunday, 7 October 2012
Definitely one of my go to songs of the last summer 'Space Is Only Noise If You Can See' is a remarkably groovy and organic electronic sound with a bassline that encourages compulsive nodding. Full of space, atmosphere and with the air of the hypnotic this track makes for great mood music but also great personal listens. Lazy & memorable.
This Track is found on Nicolas Jarr's 2011 release 'Space Is Only Noise'
Friday, 5 October 2012
It's A Shame About Ray is one of the only albums I listened to in my early years that I still listen too frequently to this day, I know this thing very well & it has been a good companion to me over the years. A particularly strong song 'Rudderless' has a great mix of acoustic and electric guitar which blend together so very well when the songs main riff is played. The song builds and progresses threw out it's 3 minute 19 duration and ends with a great chant along. Fantastic song.
Get the rest of the song of the day playlist here: Pitch&Key Song Of The Day
This track is found on the bands 1992 release 'It's A Shame About Ray'
Continuing from the previous song on the playlist we have Yo La Tengo's Sugarcube which featured on their 1997 LP 'I Can Hear The Heart Beating As One' which is incidentally my favourite Yo La Tengo album. The song is arguably the band at their most commercially viable with a music video to match, with it's understated fuzz and mellow vocal hook, this song has all the makings of a great lazy summer rock song.
Get the rest of the song of the day playlist here: Pitch&Key Song Of The Day
This track is found on the bands 1997 release: I Can Hear The Heart Beating As One
Tuesday, 2 October 2012
Bottomless Pit is a song that pretty much embodies all my favourite elements of indie rock, mainly with the guitar tone, it's a very understated song with an incredibly catchy guitar riff and vocals which you end up singing along to even on the very first listen. The are many bands that do this sort of thing but when it's done as well as it is here it'll always become a long-standing favourite of mine.
Track 1 of the running Song Of The Day Spotify playlist found here: Pitch&Key Song Of The Day
Tuesday, 18 September 2012
Lets get this right out of the way, the self titled album, yeah I didn't like that (aside from a few choice moments) I thought the album was several levels of bland and had nothing in the way of sincerity or even likeability as this very stylised and constructed image that swamped the band from the get go tried to cover up quite shallow and insubstantial music. 'Coexist' seems to only continue in this trend as it seems to strip what little character the was to be found on the debut entirely leaving a collection of very minimal and broody songs that have that fake emotional whimper slapped all over it. I understand why they're popular and even had a few awards thrown their way but this album just amplifies all of the XX's weaker moments and makes a whole album out of them. The songs are mostly forgettable with a few moments occasionally shining through, the synth sound on 'Try' is really hypnotic for example, but it's thrown in between incredibly contrived, uninspired and incredibly flat verses & this is par for the course on this album. Aside from some interesting pieces of production from Jamie XX this album is coffee table music in the worst sense of the word, it's just very bland & the sort of thing people in middle management would throw on if they're feeling conservative.Recommended Tracks:
Thursday, 6 September 2012
Menomena are one of my favourite bands & have been for quite some time, their mix of experimental and traditional indie rock has always drawn me in, & when they announced the band would be losing long time member Knopf so he could focus on his other band 'Ramona Falls' I grew a bit worried as some of his contributions where my favourite. Luckily for me 'Moms' doesn't sound like a band in disarray at all & in fact feels even more reassured and better put together then previous release 'Mines' which was a pretty great album but didn't quite tickle me in the same way the magnificent 'Friend & Foe' did. This album starts off incredibly strong with 'Plumage' & 'Capsule' being incredibly ear catching with bold, memorable & loud melodies being thrown at you from the word go. 'Capsule' also given time to breathe with an incredibly nice and sombre ending which shows Menomena's gift in being able to take what sounds like a predictable pop song into an entirely new direction as if it comes second nature. 'Pique' is the track that follows & this maybe the highlight for me with it's quite sombre build and brilliant vocal harmonies playing a particually ear catching drum beat and a fantastic ear catching chorus and some brilliant uses of horns, it's busy but incredibly pleasing to the ear, it's one of the most fully realised songs Menomena have put out to date. 'Heavy Is As Heavy Does' is an album with quite frankly stunning progression which Menomena have shown signs of before but never so clearly & it's ball grippingly brilliant. Both approachable and off the wall experimental, 'Moms' is an album full of all the highs of Friends And Foe but it's also an album that feels a lot more consistent, complete & accomplished. Menomenas strongest experimental and conventional song writing is to be found here and it's a great marriage.
Thursday, 30 August 2012
'Breakup Song' has this very strange honour of not only being Deerhoofs strangest and most bizarre album to date but also the most approachable, yes it's time for some quirky pop music, & honestly I couldn't think of a better band for the job then 'Deerhoof'. 'Vs Evil' to me felt like an underwhelming change to the Deerhoof formula, it seemed to lack all the energy and fun found in earlier releases, well I guess the nap really paid off as 'Breakup Song' is anything but lacking in energy & it certainly has a lot of fun thrown in. The pop music is a strange blend of their old stabbing guitars and jazz like percussion over an orchestra of sampled sounds, electronic beats, synths, strings, horns & pretty much anything else you can think of. You would be forgiven for thinking this album would sound incredibly cluttered and way too busy from that description but the songs are structured as such as to give each individual element of their new style to interact and breath with each other and the results are often, if not always, brilliant. 'Mothball To The Fleet' for example has a very traditional Deerhoof chorus but in between it gets filled with processed guitars and synth keys but it doesn't feel at all disjointed. Personal highlight 'The Trouble With Candyhands' has quite the sixties vibe about it but also the air of the Caribbean with a very gentle vocal hook & it'll remain one of my highlights of the year & that's for sure. 'Flower' also a fantastic demonstration in the merging of sounds is a fairly disjointed and uneasy sounding song up until a chorus which frankly reminds me of Jackson 5 and it's insanely catchy. This album is just the right length & whilst I think it could maybe stretch out for another 10minutes or so the are some signs within this album that anymore and it may have started to collapse under it's own weight & ambition, but as it is this is a very enjoyable album which sounds incredibly fresh and has breathed some new life into Deerhoof & this little taster leaves me very excited for more.
Monday, 27 August 2012
Before this review & listening to this record I honestly couldn't tell you who Stealing Sheep were but from listening to this album I hear a band with lots of influences stuck in psychedelic rock from the 60s but what I also got was very dreamy and hypnotic beats which certainly add a bit of character to a genre of music which can often come across as very cliché and contrived. This album is the 2nd from the Liverpudian trio offer plenty in the way of harmonies, melodies and grooves which can really plant you into a nice little atmosphere & world if you enable to lose yourself into it. The opening 5 tracks made me an immediate fan of this band with 'The Garden' has it's somewhat sinister and hypnotic guitar and synth being interwoven amongst some very soft vocals and some very dreamy and chimey guitar sounds, it creates a very nice contrast within the song and offers some very strong dynamics. Other highlight 'Genevieve' just is the great pop song with all the 60s aesthetics that the album had hinted, but it still sound remarkably modern and not at all dated, & 'Shut Eye' sounds like a very folky build on the formula with a very strong hook and sound which draws the listener in. The thing the album does so very well at the start is it throws a lot of ideas and sounds into a base formula which creates very interesting, diverse but surprisingly cohesive start to the album. However the 2nd half of the album really fails to hold my attention as it just starts to sound all a bit monotonous, the ideas feel like they have dried up and the songs no longer grab or hold my attention as much as those that proceed it in the first half of the album. The thing I found after every listen is that I come out remembering the songs on the first half but I remember next to nothing about the closing half & after 4 listens that becomes a bit telling. In my opinion this album falls a bit short of the potential shown at the start but for the most part it's still an enjoyable listen, you have a great EP here but a fairly luke warm album, that being said I do look forward to hearing more from the band.
'The Glorious Dead' is at it's very core a rock album this has been heavily influenced in sound by soul and blues, think of bands such as The Black Keys & 22-20s, but whilst many of these bands would typically focus on the slower more broody side these genres this album is quite often the sort that throws in the more jubilant and upbeat vibes from both genres by offering a strong arrangement of loud, bombastic and fast songs that are designed to get you to dance as much as they are meant to sound moody. Personally the stand outs on this album are the ones that embrace this ethic to the umpteenth degree with tracks such as 'Big Bad Wolf' ,with it's very present and stupendously catchy horn section cutting in between a fantastic vocal hook, 'Can't Play Me Dead', which adds a very hypnotic groove complete with soul filled vocals blasting behind the main gruff vocals & 'What Makes A Good Man?', with it's very large upbeat sound complete with what sounds like backing choir found in your typical African-American church. It's the songs with the inclusions of the more eccentric side of Bluesy Soul rock that stand out the most but to say this album is without it's filler would be a bit of a lie, & whilst not much of it, songs such as 'Same Ol' & 'The Lonesome Road' seem kind of lazy and uninspired in comparison to the rest of the album. But besides those few faults this album is full of very strong songs & whilst lacking a truly defining sound this album is full of tracks that embrace the more eccentric & upbeat side of Soul filled Blues Rock, & I recommend it to fans of the genre.
Tuesday, 21 August 2012
The is something I really love about melodic and understated pop music & provided it's well produced then the concept of it alone is probably enough to carry it to a seal of approval. Devotion is such an album & after hearing 'Wildest Moments' & 'Running', which sounded like instant classics to these ears, I was already expecting this album to meet my expectations. So the question I have to ask is does it exceed my expectations & once again the answer to this question would be a resounding yes. As said earlier in the review 'Wildest Moments' & 'Running' are both the sort of instant classics that most musicians could only dream of having with their strong hooks, strong performance & incredible production the really isn't a single thing you cannot like about those songs. But it's also the sheer amount of other songs on this album that also reach the dizzying heights of 'Wildest Moment' & 'Running' which really took me aback, for example '110%' is a more upbeat song with lush chorus but all achieved without really ever hitting the volume dial; the energy and melody carries song so as a result it never really needs to, and 'Something Inside' is an incredibly beautiful song with some fantastic melodies and harmonies in the chorus.... hell even the bonus track 'Strangest Feeling' is the sort of track that would normally stand head and shoulders above the rest of it's contemporaries. The vocals on this album are really top notch and accompany the understated melodies and use of instrumentation incredibly well, the vocals are definitely at the forefront & are generally significantly louder then the music the accompanies it, but such is the strength of the instrumentation you will remember and pay equal attention to both. 'Devotion' does bog down a little bit in the middle, the highs are not quite as high and the themes become slightly repetitive but this is something I found become less of an issue on repeat listen & I eventually found it serves as a reliable bridge between the start and the end of the album. Some people may say think this album is a bit 'Radio 2' or 'MOR' for them but for me I think this is an incredibly well crafted album with some of the most memorable songs you're likely to hear this year; it's clever, it's catchy, it's memorable & as far as I'm concerned it has all the makings of an instant classic.
Thursday, 16 August 2012
I often find that even my favourite bands are often fully capable of releasing an album that does absolutely nothing for me, usually right when I feel the band is capable of doing no wrong, it was in 2009 that Why? became the latest addition to this ever growing list of bands. 'Eskimo Snow' was an album I found to be rather bland, it kept all the melodic scope of Why? but it seemed to lose the quirkyness along the way & I found it made for a collection of rather dull forgettable songs. As a result this latest EP from Why? felt like a bit of a re-evaluation, are they going a direction not meant for me, or was 'Eskimo Snow' just a one off? Thankfully 'Sod The Seed' passes this test with flying colours as it seems to be calling back to the sort of sound found on 'Elephant Eyelash' with it's focus on melody still firmly intact but with the added bonus of their quirky sound and hooks, something I felt was missing almost entirely from 'Eskimo Snow' and as a result the personality that drew me to Why? seems to be back in full force. The album opens off with title track and 'Sod In The Seed' which in particular reminded me of the 'Elephant Eyelash' days with it's soft chorus and rapped vocals over bass line and organ. This is followed by personal favourite 'For Someone' which does more of the same and then the very church organ inspired 'The Plan' comes in full force with a very catchy melody which could come off a bit hokey but the uplifting feel of the organ tone really suits this song. The closer 'Shag Carpet' follows a couple of incredibly short but very much enjoyable tracks which almost trade off as interludes between the start of the album and the closer which carries the slightly darker feel found on 'Alopecia'. On the whole Sod The Seed has the very much unmistakable sound of 'Why?' about it and whilst 'Elephant Eyelash' had this sparingly this album breams with 'Why?'s' very distinct character and that's what I like about them more then anything, it's the concept & sound of the band that first drew me to them & whilst the lyrical prowess remained threw out Eskimo Snow the sound I fell in love with was no there but with Sod The Seed it appears to be back.
Monday, 13 August 2012
To put it politely I have had no time for Bloc Party at all for quite some time, Silent Alarm was excellent and A Weekend For The City was a flawed but still by all accounts strong sophomore effort by the band, however everything since then has been a confusing mess of experimentation of the house variety which quite frankly simply didn't suit the band. Kele seemed down right intent to silence his incredibly talented friends by making them take a back seat to his new love of electronic music & making some truly trash tracks in the process of doing so. So it's to my surprise that 'Four' isn't only not embarrassing but it's actually rather good with some of the bands strongest output since 'Silent Alarm' won all our hearts way back in 2005. The band have embraced the raw sound once again with the traditional bass, guitar & drum formula they'd become famous for, but whilst this may sound like they've just retreated back to old territory, that would be an inaccurate assumption to make. 'Four' is far heavier then anything they've put out before with a lot of Grunge influences to be found on this album, 'Kettling' for example sounds like something Smashing Pumpkins would've put out in their peak, and the first 2 tracks 'So He Begins To Lie' & '3x3' slap you in the face with distorted guitar and creepy vocals. The are a lot of incredibly melodic moments to be found here as well 'Real Talk' sounds like a very strong Red Hot Chilli Peppers song and 'Day Four' grabs the listener with it's subtle build and captivating atmosphere. This album is by no means perfect and I don't think it reaches the highs set by 'Silent Alarm' but it's a very consistent collection of good songs which will make Bloc Party fans everywhere sigh with relief; the band hasn't sounded so together and cohesive for a long time.
Tuesday, 31 July 2012
I have been quite the fan of Eugene McGuinness, ever since his debut single 'Monsters In The Bed' I have followed his career fairly closely; something thats actually been quite easy as it's been 4 years since his last full length album release. 'The Invitation Of The Voyage' is his 3rd record after the excellent 'The Early Learnings Of' and the strong but flawed self titled that came out in 2008. I have always viewed Eugene as an artist full of potential just waiting to come out and with 'The Invitation To The Voyage' once again we get glimpses of this but perhaps a more pressing issue we see lots of it being repressed in generic stylistic pop. I never thought I'd see the day where Eugene McGuinness would put out something as frightfully dull as 'Videogame' but lo and behold it actually happened. Having said that the are a few moments on this album which are actually incredibly strong 'Lion' & the title track 'Invitation To The Voyage' are both stellar moments and the final run of tracks is exactly the sort of thing I hoped for from Eugene but it doesn't really make up for the early body of the album, at least not enough to give it a whole hearted recommendation.
Monday, 23 July 2012
One could be said that I'd be bored of 80's inspired pop by now, but if it's done well & with a somewhat modern twise, it is easily one of my favourite genres of music being released at the rate that it is. 'Twin Shadow' is the latest album I've heard to provide me with such thrills and it does achieve the aim of both sounding positively huge and 80s but is also a cannon full of incredibly catchy songs. The first 4 track of this album in particular sound like would be classics with 'Five Seconds' simply being one of the finest pop songs I've heard in quite some time. This album isn't = in it's self a bona fide classic though, the album does to lose it tremendous momentum going into the final 3rd, but it's still a great album to check out if you're a lover of 80s inspired pop music such as myself.
Wednesday, 18 July 2012
It's taken me a while to acquaint myself with 'Eleni Mandell', in fact this album is my first taste of here & after hearing some pretty great things I can't help but feel a slight bit disappointed with this album. It's not that it' bad, far from it, the opening track 'The Future' is a thing of beauty & 'Magic Summertime' more than makes up for this gaping Camera Obscura hole in my heart right now, but quite often the album sort of finds it's self stuck in a kind of aimless rut with many songs laying down the same foundations as 'The Future' but with a structure of a kind of slap dashed construction and end up feeling almost incomplete. I guess what I'm trying to say is whilst this album is a good listen on a sunny day, it just doesn't quite get me going in the way I thought it would; but I'm still glad I listened to this album as it introduced me to a couple of very good songs.
Friday, 6 July 2012
Shonen Knife are the cult all girl punk band from Japan & by all accounts make the music scene a more fun place to be, the is simply no denying this. 'Pop Tune' is the latest effort from the trio and whilst it presents a handful of quality straight up punk tunes it has to be said I do feel it falls a bit short as a whole. The problem for me is that the majority of the songs are just plain out forgettable, the exclusion of the first few songs I didn't really take anything away from listening to this album, it left pretty much no impression on me. The high points 'Welcome To Rock City', 'Pop Tune' & 'Osaka Rock City' are worth getting a hold of as they prove the be the exceptions to the rule with strong song writing, memorable riffs and catchy hooks but I honestly really couldn't tell you anything about the songs past track 3. Whilst the is plenty here that hardened fans will enjoy; it just didn't quite thrill me enough.
Holiday but Port St.Willow is an album created with 2 very simple rules; Atmosphere & Falsetto. 'Holiday' is what I'd like to call a cohesive album and is something that really needs to be listened to as a whole piece and probably in solidarity with your eyes shut and preferably with headphones. Despite it's sparse song arrangements and atmospheric approach the is something really quite grandiose sounding about this album, it manages to pull off quite a large and urgent sound, and this gives some tracks a sense of umph about them that a lot of 'atmospheric' albums tend to lack, at least whilst not jarring the listen at all. Songs such as 'Hollow', 'Amawalk' & 'Consumed' are pretty great and have already become some of my favourite songs of the year, this album will be a nice tickle to the senses for fans of bands such as Sigur Ros and The Antlers, however on the whole I feel this album just doesn't quite tick all the boxes for me and as such falls just shy of being a great album.
Thursday, 5 July 2012
This album just feels like a very traditional album, I don't know how to put it into words but it gives the feeling that this could have been released in any other decade and it'll probably fit. As a result this album does feel a tad nondescript and really does nothing to stand out but, if you give this a few listens, you will find a few choice moments start to come out and reveal themselves. For example the piano driven 'Solar Circus' is an incredibly beautiful song which just holds your attention with it's simple yet effective melody and sincere vocal work. The album starts off pretty strong as well with 'Throw It To The Universe', 'You Are the Beginning' & 'When We Fall' all jumping at you from the get go with their strong guitar riffs and strong song structures, that whilst nothing remarkable, do a good job at investing your attention into the album. However I have to say that fair share of this album proves that first impression aren't always wrong and the majority of 'Throwing It To Universe' does indeed just sounds a bit too safe and nondescript.
Friday, 29 June 2012
To say this album was a bit of a curve ball would be accurate, I became familiar of Jesca Hoop after someone recommended me 'Silverscreen Demos' which, hinted at by the name, was an incredibly lo-fi collection of folklore sounding tracks. Now whilst at it's core Jesca Hoop retains her folklore sound on this latest record it's certainly a lot more pop and rock influenced then before with lots of incredibly up tempo'd and polished songs creeping threw, whilst for most artists this will strip them of their charm, Jesca Hoop's songwriting helps her pull threw the transistion coming out stronger then ever. This sounds like a breakthrough album with some interesting little riffs, lyrical ideas and sound hiding underneath the abrasive uptempo pop sound. It's a very enjoyable album and somewhat of a evolution of Jesca Hoops sound that I'm sure existing fans will lap up; whilst attracting an entirely new fanbase.
Monday, 25 June 2012
This album is the kind of album that'll get an immediate pass from me because it's an album with an experimental edge but has it's roots firmly rooted in pop music & for anyone that knows me that's pretty much a winning formula in my ears. Often this album actually reminds me of bands such as 'The Go! Team' just in terms of the energy and chanty vocal delivery often shown on 'Army Of Birds' & 'Power Of Money' in particular show this side to them with their 2 most concise and catchy songs taking center stage early. Songs such as 'Gaslight' focus on the noiser element of the band with lots of really interesting sounds and experimentation thrown in amongst the forumlar established in the early goings. Personal highlight for me is the beautiful and majestic swooping 'Hello Spider' & the hypnotic album closer, 'Leave The City', which truly shows 'Gaggle' as a band with an incredibly fresh, dynamic and unique sound & that 'From The Mouth Of The Cave' is an album that should hopefully put the notions, that this 23 piece all girl band are nothing more then a novelty act, to bed.
Friday, 22 June 2012
This album is a set of some very nicely understated songs, which is something I often feel missing in the modern indie pop, which usually relies heavily on that catchy chorus which can sometimes remove the delicate feel and build of any song. This album however excels on that side of things with tracks such as 'Waltz For Pony' which is so delicate, fragile and soft sounding it swarms you with its hypnotic intimacy whereas the following track 'Boris' starts off in much the same vein before exploding into a bombastic ending after a nice gentle build. This is the kind of music that gives you a reassuring cuddle, a gentle whisper in the ear and makes you smile when needed. It's not THE perfect indie pop album as I still find myself forgetting a fair amount of the songs despite repeat listens, but when it hits the mark it hits it pretty convincingly and as a result I think 'Mutual Friends' shows a band full of potential with a key understanding for their craft & a band with a very strong debut.
Thursday, 21 June 2012
It's summer & that means I need my indie electro pop album to pull me through the inevitable lack of sunshine & 'Light Of The North' is stepping up to the challenge & doing an admiral if unspectacular job of doing so. Now this may sound a lot harsher then I intended it to, for what it's worth I really do enjoy this album, but it's nothing remarkable. This album is a collection of very bright electronic songs paired with delightfully catchy piano loops which reminds me of the likes of 'The Postal Service' coming through particularly strong on tracks such as album opener 'Sweep Clean'. The isn't much in the way of originality on this album and I do find my attention span waning a little bit towards the rear of the album but I find 'Light Of The North' by Miaoux Miaoux to be a collection of some very strong electro pop songs & one that should at the very least be considered for your summers listening. Especially if you're just looking for some delightful, melodic and upbeat electro pop songs.
Monday, 18 June 2012
I guess the most surprising thing I can say about Oceania is that this is the first album under the Pumpkins moniker to sound like what most would expect a Smashing Pumpkins album to sound like. Zeitgiest was a truly awful record seeing the band sink to a low that many didn't think possible; with 'Starz' being the centerpiece and at the heart of an album which was, put kindly, a self indulgent egotistical mess. 'Oceania' is by no means in the league as the bands 90s output, but the are moments where it comes staggeringly close. This album is full of the scope and ambition that made 'The Smashing Pumpkins' such a cornerstone in 90s alternative music. The songs are well crafted and thoughtout and truth be told this feels like the album that fans expected to follow Mellon Collie & The Infinate Sadness. Quite frankly I've been taken back about how much of a U-Turn Billy has done on this album and it's a record that will probably shut a lot of his critics up, shame this wasn't the come back record because 'Zeitgeist' was unforgivably shit.
Doseone has been a central figure in my music taste for as long as I can remember. Being a member of cLOUDDEAD, Subtle, 13&God as well as Themselves and being a co-founder of the always incredible Anticon label he has been in, some way shape or form, my gateway drug into alternative hip hop and electronic music for quite some time. This album sort of carries on from Subtles excellent 'exitingARM' in that each song feels like a combination of many whilst carrying a coherent arc & it works very well. The production is quite alienating at first but on repeated listens it reveals its self to be a very catchy and strangely beautiful set of compositions with some truly brilliant/odd sampling. On top of Doseones ever weird, wonderful & creative vocals I find it very hard not to recommend this album, it's brilliant.
Saturday, 16 June 2012
Future Of The Left are easily one of my favourite bands of recent times but it has to be said that the EP 'Polymers Are Forever' left me really cold & a bit concerned about the quality of the upcoming album 'The Plot Against Common Sense'. Luckily though these fears mostly go unanswered and what we get is the bands most adventurous album to date. Whilst not a perfect release, it could easily be argued that the album be 2 or 3 songs longer, when this album hits the mark it hits it a lot stronger then it has ever done before. Particular stand outs being 'Beneath The Waves An Ocean' & the closer 'Notes On Achieving Orbit' are arguably the 2 best songs Falco has ever penned. Mostly brilliant & lots of fun and with a few exceptions such as the rather lacklustre pairing of 'Anchor' & 'Rubber Animals' this is as good a follow up as you could have hoped for from the band & I am glad they're moving their sound forward as opposed to flogging the same shtick over and over.
Friday, 15 June 2012
Always had a soft spot for Maximo Park & whilst their albums have generally been accepted as those with diminishing returns, rarely straying from their long-established formula, I always look forward to a release from this band because, as said earlier, they always offer a couple of killer singles. 'The National Health' does deliver in the singles respect but as an album it could be the bands strongest yet, it's just full of incredibly effective indie rock songs, the sort of stuff I've been vying for. Not since the mid to late 2000's has a major British Indie rock bands sounded so relevant, energetic and exhilarating. Okay one could argue the sound is a bit dated but as far as I'm concerned this album sort of focuses on all the strongest aspects from that era of music and that's very strong well written guitar driven songs with strong hooks and tickles your ear with it's major keys. If released 5 years earlier I'm sure this album would go on incredibly strong and be a huge success but I'm glad I've finally got long awaited hit from the dying genre.
Friday, 8 June 2012
I have a very strong feeling that this will be one of the most polarising albums of 2012, Laurel Halo on 'Quarntine' combines some beautifully produced and crafted electronic music with some of the most disjointed, jarring and awkward vocals I've heard in quite some time & couldn't be happier with the overall direction of this album. Dreamy avant garde pop scopes are often met with dreamy vocals and whilst that's all well and good I just love the way this totally tears apart the rule that this should happen every time. At it's heart this album is experimental avant garde music that sounds distant, dreamy & other worldly and has an incredible pop edge to it but the vocals are incredibly direct, confrontational, blunt and well don't feel like they fit at all. It gives this album an unsettled feel to it which just adds to the appeal, but as I said I can see people tuning off the moment 'Years' kicks because the vocals are so jarring, however I still say give this album a try because if you can get over the vocals then you'll find a very rewarding & different album.
Infadels are in a genre of music which I find very easy to dismiss, the kind of electro rock pop that is so very often very generic and disposable and at first I felt it would easily fall into this category. But after a while I found something strange happening, I was nodding along, I was enjoy the simple in you face romper stomper uplifting electro pop on offer here with it climaxing perhaps at the anthmatic 'Mercury Rising' which just sounds massive. Under no circumstances will I ever trick you into thinking this band where anything more then just a straight electro pop band playing very straight forward electro pop songs but that's why I think I enjoyed this album; they aren't trying to be anything else, but having said that they do take some risks at the end of the album. It's not reinventing the wheel or anything but for what it is I really enjoyed this album and for those looking for that next electro pop hit to dance along to when the sun finally comes back out then 'The Future Of The Gravity Boy' is a very safe bet.
I love the self titled album that came out in 2008, it was a great blend of rock and 80s pop sensibilities with huge songs and even bigger hooks and interesting song writing that just came around as so effortless, natural and just had a spark to it. 'Anxiety' on the other hand is a stodgy uninspired collection of songs which, for whatever reason, decides uninspired 90s britpop revival was the best course of action. With the exceptions of 'Sunday Drive' and 'Black White & Blue' ,both of which I quite like, the album just sounds like any number of female fronted brit pop bands we've long since forgotten about & the is reason for us forgetting them & that's because it was all so forgettable. This album is totally disposable, the are some ideas here which lead me to believe Ladyhawke can come back with another fantastic pop album, but this isn't it & certainly wasn't worth the 4 year wait.
Thursday, 7 June 2012
I think it'll be the guitar driven sound with the uplifting woah's and ooh' that makes it so whenever I hear a song by these guys I find it a thrilling experience. The difference between listening to a single song by Japandroids and an entire album though is quite telling; whereas I find listening to a single song utterly exhilarating and brilliant, I always find listening to an album very difficult and quite dull. Japandroids are to me a single listen band, a band I'll get their albums just so the songs can crop up on random or be put on a playlist but the moment I start listening to successive tracks the appeal goes right out the window because I find it all too repetitive. Up until the weak cover of 'For The Love Of Ivy' I was quite content with what I heard but beyond that I just wanted to turn the thing off. It wasn't the song quality, the are some great songs all over this thing it just outplayed it's welcome. Will still recommend this album for the tracks but not as a complete listening experience.
I've always been one of these people who will always say 'I enjoy but do not love The Walkmen'. I don't know why this is the case, they produce music that sound like my cup of tea and the sort of thing I should go wild for, up until 'Lisbon' I never really considered them a band worth following but here's the thing 'Lisbon' really grew on me and showed me more of what I liked about The Walkmen then ever before with some really nice interplay between band and vocals. This album though, frankly, is a choir to sit through. It's not bad it's just very dull with the exception of a few songs such as the fantastically brooding and building 'Line By Line', 'Heaven' & 'The Love You Love' but for the most part this album comes off very predictable & flat and is the first album I've heard of theirs where I felt this way. It feels over long as well even though it's only 47minutes & to me seems like a shadow of their discog up until this point, fans however, appear to really enjoy it so maybe I don't know what I'm going on about but for me this a load of songs I think I should enjoy but don't actually enjoy.
James Blackshaw's guitar playing style is one you can pick off a mile away, for starters he rock as 12 stringed acoustic and he just has this way with it, the way he plucks and constructs a melody is fairly unique and bespoke to him. It has to be said that 'All Is Falling' his last album released in 2010 really didn't do much for me & was the first release of his to leave me feeling that way but I'm glad that this album seems to have gone back to what makes James so unique and stand out and that's those songs mostly constructed with nothing more than his 12 string and a couple of keys thrown in for good measure. Unlike many guitarists that noodle and frantically pluck at their guitars this album doesn't do it at the expense of emotion or song structure. This album is just here to swallow you in sheer acoustic beauty and it does it so well that if you like the sound of that in anyway then I suggest you pick this record up, though the heavy breathing you can hear which many might describe as intimate can be a bit distracting at times.
Monday, 4 June 2012
I love 'Life Is Full Of Possibilities' and the 'Give Up' so much that I think it's a bit odd that everything else DNTEL has produced has left me so very cold. 'Dumb Luck' the collaborative album with various indie musicians was by no means bad it just lost a lot of the electronic charm that drew me to Jimmy Tamborellas production in the first place. After several bits and bob compilations being released I sort of lost track on the guy until 'Aimlessness' came up on my feed of recommended releases. Now I wouldn't call this the level of either 'Life Is Full Of Possibilities' or 'Give Up' it does come appealingly close. It's got more of the DNTEL feel that I love, it's both sparse and totally rammed up the arse with pop quirks & with vocals being used more sparingly it allows DNTEL to experiment a bit more like he did in 'Life Is Full Of Possibilities' as opposed to the rather monotonous approach of 'Dumb Luck'. Aimlessness is a good album with some glorious moments but while not quite up to his best, it is a defiant step in the right direction.
After 2 releases which toned down the experimentation a few notches we see Liars return with WIXIW (pronounced Wish You) an album which see's the band embrace all things electronic. Fans of the bands later 2 albums 'Sisterworld' and 'Liars' may be slightly disappointed with the direction taken on the more experimental 'WIXIW', which see's the bands more contemporary influences in the last 2 records all but disappear, in favour for sombre atmospheric electronic sounds. It's all a lot more chilled, with the exception of the frantic, noisy & pounding sounds found on 'Brats', this album is all about the atmosphere which is incredibly easy to get lost in. This album is one probably best listened to in solidarity & threw headphones, when listening to a few of the tracks released prior to the album I found they bit left me feeling a bit cold, but as a collection of song's it's pretty great & see's the band feeling reinvigorated. *Note: I do actually really enjoy Sisterworld but am glad they didn't get stuck in a contemporary sound, that's not what Liars are about*
Wednesday, 30 May 2012
I've always enjoyed Phil Elevrum's song writing, it's always been so atmospheric and hypnotic but it has to be said I've mostly been left a tiny bit cold ever since it evolved from 'The Microphones' into 'Mount Eerie' and despite being impressed by the songs when I saw him support Earth earlier on in the year I hardly jumped into this album the moment it was released. In fact it's taken a bit of a back seat for other newer artists that I thought I'd try out instead of falling back on the old dependable ones & what a fool I was as 'Clear Moon' by Mount Eerie is a fantastic album. From the beginning where the album starts off fairly conventional and warm it slowly progresses into an almost apocalyptic atmosphere in such a seamless & engrossing way that I feel it's a ride anyone should try at least once. It's dusty, atmospheric, medative & at times very noisy, so it follows Phil Elevrum's song writing ethos & is my favourite Mount Eerie release to date.
Having produced the excellent Killer Mike album 'R.A.P. Music' would it be too much to ask for 2 gems in one month from EL-P? Well the answer to that would be of course not as 'Cancer For Cure' not only knocks it out of the park it may be, in my opinion at least, EL-P's most enjoyable release to date. As expected the album is very electronic influenced, distorted and frantic in rhythm and pace & much like the Killer Mike album 'R.A.P. Music' it doesn't allow the slightly off kilter production get in the way off a good hook. This album is, as one would probably expect, an absolutely required addition to any hip hop fans library as well as fans of alternative music in general. EL-P is still the thinking mans emcee and he still pushes the envelope as far as beats and lyrics are concerned, however I think I prefer 'R.A.P. Music' just that tiny bit more, I think I prefer Killer Mikes delivery.
Tuesday, 29 May 2012
I love straight up Indie Pop, the dancier and catchier the better, especially in the Summer and that's why I always throw my arms out ready to embrace a band such as Citizens! when they come around. Justification for this comes in quick with the quite frankly brilliant 'True Romance' opening off the album to a glorious sunshine filled indie pop funkathon. Now I'm not gushing here, Citizens! are a band who won't show you any new tricks, they sound very much a hybrid of Phoenix and The Spinto Band & this album is a very firm step into the indie pop arena without it being a game changer. But as a rule of thumb if you enjoy either The Spinto Band or Phoenix you WILL enjoy this album and if you don't then you won't. I really enjoy it, even if it does begin to outstay its welcome a little bit towards the end. An accomplished and incredibly solid debut.
I appear to have a real thing about Scandinavian female pop this year, I am finding myself just naturally drawn to their music & here is the latest one in for my collection 'Karin Park'. Karin Park is an incredibly strong vocalist, I'm going to get it out there right away, she sounds like a blend of Bjork & Karin Dreijer Andersson, but not in a way that sounds like pure imitation as she carries her vocal patterns with real confidence and swagger. These vocals are put to good use against some really quite textual backing tracks mostly made up of synth and drums, these compositions are both incredibly catchy & complex with some really interesting ideas going on amongst the dancey flair. The more outright experimental track on the album stands out for me '6000 years' sounds like Bjork if she were to front The Residents... a prospect that always excites me. On a whole this is straight up Scandinavian pop goodness with dancing shoes but with some real depth ,complexity and a sinister feel to it & as a result I love it.
Monday, 28 May 2012
Partially covers and partially original material the aptly named 'Electric Sound Of Summers' (I consider it a bit more analog myself with electronic elements) was apparently almost a decade in a making and featured esteemed guest musicians Stephen Lawrie of 'Telescopes' & Willie B. Carruthers of 'Spiritualised' which is what makes it all the more surprising that, for the most part at least, this album really does nothing for me. The tone of this album is a very spaced out one, one that encourages you to shut your eyes in the midst of a hot summers day and to get lost in the music and whilst this works in some places such as the later half of 'Cheree' I just don't feel it working a great deal. It's the sort of album I would throw on in the background if I had it in a limited pile if it & were sunny out, but this one isn't likely to stick around in the memory banks very long & I would be hard pressed to really recommend it to anyone. It just lacks imagination and immersive qualities similar albums have & whilst I did kind of enjoy the cover of 'Some Things Last A Long Time' I'm not sure if the world is ready for yet another Daniel Johnston cover. The album is by no means bad just decisively 'okay'.
It's time to don the devil hands as I take a look at CVI an album but stoner metal band 'Royal Thunder'. I had never heard of this band until this album came about so forgive me if my knowledge of the band is pretty much bugger all but what I do know is this band are sludgy, progressive, hypnotic, stoner rock fun with a powerful female vocals. Now this album is by no means anything out of ordinary for the genre, it's mostly slow and very grungy discords playing over some anguished vocals but it does the formula very well especially in the 2nd half where an above average album becomes a very good one. The album seems to take more life when it experiments a bit and from 'Blue' onwards you get driving rock, stoner rock bliss in the fantastic 'Sleeping Witch' and even some calming melodic tones in 'Black. Yes this album is good and if you're looking for something to do this to \m/ you could certainly do a lot worse & for what it's worth I think this is one of the better heavier releases from the year.
Thursday, 24 May 2012
This is one of those albums that immediately make you think 'How have I never heard this guy before?' to my astonishment Dr. John has been releasing records since the 50s and influenced artists such as 'Captain Beefheart' and 'Tom Waits' & yet I had never heard of him. Expect this to all be changed for 'Locked Down' is not only an incredibly enjoyable introduction to an artist with a truly gigantic discography it's also one of the best albums I've heard all year. The grooves found on this album are unrelenting and the hooks are plentiful, the is a lot of imagination going on here as well with some really interesting song writing... way more interesting and fresh then the majority of his younger peers. I highly recommend this album, it's a blast from start to finish & I cannot wait to get deeper into this mans discography.
The is a reason that the Indie rock scene that populated the UK in such great abundance the past decade no longer matters & that's because the music got incredibly lazy and dull. Though I should know better I do still give these bands opportunities because I believe that British flavour of 'Indie Rock' when done right to still be one of my favourite genres and the latest band to attempt to reignite my love for such music is London based band 'Some Velvet Morning'. To get straight to the point, no this isn't the glorious come back of 'Indie Rock' and nor it should be. Asides from a few songs being plenty hooky and melodically strong the majority of the songs would have been considered dated even back in 2005. This isn't the worst album from this genre, not by a long shot & it does have a few redeeming features with tracks such as 'National Valentine', 'The River' & 'Allies (Reprise)' actually being pretty good but for the most part it's an indie rock album that could have been done by any number of bands but for those looking for a quick fix for this sort of thing, then it might do the trick.