Thursday, February 14, 2008

Album Reviews - British Sea Power, Black Mountain, Dead Meadow

British Sea Power – Do You Like Rock Music?
Rough Trade; 14/01/2008]

The title begs a rhetorical question to most. No doubt a bold question, too, and in some respects British Sea Power’s most ambitious effort for different reasons. Following the same path as The Arcade Fire with their “Neon Bible” album, The English foursome have gone for broke on an expansive sound (well a little more than before, anyway). The end result; well, put it this way; don’t bother with any other modern U.K guitar bands. It really isn’t worth the time not to mention the effort.

The lyrical genius from brothers Scott Wilkinson (A.K.A. Yan) and Neil Wilkinson (A.K.A. Hamilton) continue from where “The Decline of…” and “Open Season” left off, with their obsessions of Russian Novelists and World War leaders manifesting into a little more than an obscure obsession.

‘No Lucifer’ has to be a contender for single of the year and if you start chanting ‘EASY, EASY, EASY’ to an unoccupied room, don’t panic; it’s perfectly normal. The edgy guitars and lyrical banter is at a premium during “DYLRM?” and although some may see this as a bold move from BSP’s point of view, it’s an instant orgasm to the ears, no matter which way you dress it up.

When you hear so much U.K. rehashed guitar fodder, suicide is contemplated while people championing this rubbish add to pros of this theory. Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse “Do You Like Rock Music?” was worth waiting for. Just about, anyway. It may not be the band’s finest record, but the fact that something good has come out of this “new crop” of English bands is a moral victory in itself.

Black Mountain – In The Future
[Jagjaguwar; 21/01/2008]

Vancouver noise beast, Black Mountain, return with a sophomore effort that expands on the collective's sound cavalry. Those same cluster fucking stoner jams can still be found on this 10 track opus; however there’s been an evident alteration within their virtuoso, tapping into more of a grandeur psychedelic hub, as apposed to a stripped down rock foray that made 'Future’s predecessor such a great listen.

Large proportions of this album take this path with the falsetto driven ‘Stay Free’ and gospel esque drone of ‘Nightwalks’ underpinning what the Black Mountain have set out to achieve on the majority of this disc.

The growling guitars don’t always stay in their cage, with opening track ‘Stormy High’ picking up where ‘Mountain left off last term, while ‘Tyrants’ is a track that Wolfmother could only dream of writing, these days.

“In The Future” is a more crafted effort from a band that’s obviously willing to move boundaries throughout their own sound. A lot of bands in Black Mountain’s position would have gone down familiar and safe avenues, but this is what separates pretense from the real deal and I can safely say that Black Mountain full in the category of the latter.

Dead Meadow – Old Growth
[Matador; 02/05/2008]

After the release of their landmark “Feathers” album it was always going to be something of a feat to surpass the next time around. The psychedelic, amplifying sounds of Dead Meadow’s “Old Growth” do their best to kick their older brother off the pedestal and over time it just may do that. Their music has always had a growing effect on the listener and this release continues in much same way.

Dead Meadow have always built their music around sleepy melodies and haunting guitar jams and this is evident during ‘Between Me and the Ground’ while ‘What Needs Must’ and ‘Til Kingdom Come’ encompass the psychedelic aesthetic the band throw between their two main traits, which works to a tee.

Musically, Dead Meadow haven’t really progressed within their sound an awful lot, however “Old Growth” possesses a solid collection of songs and let’s face it; as long as those wa-wa pedals continue to be used in the same vein, their sound will never grow old and always be welcome to many peoples’ ears around the indie community.

By Simon

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