Monday, March 31, 2008

Album Review - Clinkerfield

Clinkerfield – A Head Full of Rain and a Heart Full of Puddles
[Green/Media; 15/03/2008]

Having been around the traps for quite some time now, appearing on various compilations and releasing demos, Melbourne’s Clinkerfield have finally unleashed their debut album. The shrewdly titled A Head Full of Rain and a Heart Full of Puddles.

Lyrically, Clinkerfield seem to capture what is was like to live ‘back in the day’; something another Australian band has taken upon in modern times. Clinkerfield also don’t do themselves a lot justice in the sound stakes, either, rubbing too close to the shoulders of their modern day contemporaries, The Drones (the same band in question initially). Nothing backs this statement up more than through ‘Bonnie Come and Save My Soul’. The influence of Tom Waites (evident during ‘Bonnie’s Little Finger’) also creeps into play, which is a slight welcoming, as segregation from the former becomes established.

Despite the close proximity of sound templates, ‘Someday We’ll Get Married’ has a nice rhythm with a sliding guitar effect that shies away from their influences, while ‘Stormy Heather’ is close to the album’s pinnacle, without sounding like a Drones B-side.

AHFORAAHFOP maybe an album to get pissed around the campfire too, whilst spinning a yarn and sporting a flannelette shirt, but to be honest it sounds so much better when The Drones delivered it with harsh cacophony, not to mention sounding a little more bona-fide.

By Simon K

Friday, March 28, 2008

Album Review - Daturah

Daturah – Reverie
[Graveface Records; 28/03/2008]

Hailing from Frankfurt, German post-rock outfit Daturah caused a nice fuss with their self-titled debut album in 2005, when they combined influences of Mogwai and Godspeed You! Black Emperor, whilst adding layers of sample to create climaxes of noise and trepidation. The band returns with their follow-up, Reverie.

Similar formulas are carried out during this five track opus, with ‘Ghostlight’ opening the album, with loud/quiet pace changes and ringing feedback that all good post-rock bands hold in their arsenal.

The midway point of the album follows in much the same manner, with ‘Hybrisma’ and ‘9’ respectively reaching climatic stages, but it’s the final two tracks that hit the greatest heights for the Daturah. ‘Deep B Flat’ moves in and out of a swift melodic twang, while the sonic firewall that is ‘Vertex’ could pose at the post-rock track of the year, with feedback that does its best to blow holes through your eardrums and droning bass that’s equivalent to a hammer pounding against ones skull.

A formula’s been set, but the results are broodingly effective, with slick melodic power combined with shredding force of sonic bliss that is loud enough to make Daturah’s influences themselves, be taken aback with the results of Reverie.

By Simon K

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Album Review - Beach House

Beach House – Devotion
[Carpark; 26/02/2008]

Beach House is a band that’s not the easiest to pin down. The aloofness their music portrays begs questions about the whole set-up. There will be undoubted appeal to their latest album, Devotion, which conveys a lush sensibility of vocal music and a bare minimum of everything else. Some may pass it off as The Besnard Lakes without the cathartics but, to be honest, the two bands are coming and going from two different angels.

Devotion isn’t captivating enough to grab your undivided attention, so it’s be wise to experience this 44 minutes of sound with ear phones in tact. ‘Wedding Bell’ sets the scene with singer, Victoria Legrand, delivering lyrics that seem, like the rest of the album, very close to home and perhaps referencing to her band mate Alex Scally. The other main highlight lies within the dreamy cluster that is ‘Turtle Island’, with Langrand’s octave shifts the prominent force.

In most cases, dream-pop is a blissfully sound that often fills over the cracks of darkness. With Beach House, they somehow manage to create their darkness with brooding lo-fi undertones, while still able to preserve the dreaminess. Although, at times, Devotion is an irresolute piece, there are subtle notions that this is a growing quality that, with time, could become a better listen. If one thing’s for sure, a band that was once hard to pinpoint are starting to get their message across.

By Simon K

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Album Review - The Helio Sequence

The Helio Sequence – Keeps Your Eyes Ahead
[Sub Pop; 29/01/2008]

The Helio Sequence is one of those pleasant surprises you just stumble across every once and a while. The Portland duo comprises of vocalist/guitarist Brandon Summers and drummer/key boardist, Benjamin Weikel. The latter, a touring member of Modest Mouse and although there’s departure from the West Coast sea breeze sound, the term “indie” remains eminent on the band’s latest release, Keep Your Eyes Ahead.

The cadence of The Helio Sequence’s songs remains on an even plateau, despite the album comprising of both acoustic and electric sounds. This is mainly due to the strength of Summers’ vocals, which is the primary element that makes The Helio Sequence quite the force to be reckoned with.

‘Shed Your Love’ and ‘Broken Afternoon’ are elegant numbers that are evocative to the sound template of Bob Dylan’s Blood on the Tracks. The title track grabs you for different reasons, with angular guitar riffs and a free flowing beat that many other band’s could take a note or two on, when trying to write a catchy song. ‘Hallelujah’ stands in exile from rest of the album, with its slightly more drawn out quality that shows the band stretching their boundaries. .

Although straightforward, there’s a quality about Keep Your Eyes Ahead that makes the mind tick over just that little bit more. A simple record that combines elements of alt-country and rock ‘n’ roll, delivered with grandeur and very little fuss. Maybe the question is simple; what’s not to like about it?

By Smon K

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Album Review - A Silver Mt. Zion & Tra La La Band

A Silver Mt. Zion & Tra La La Band - 13 Blues for Thirteen Moons
[Constellation Records; 25/03/2008]

Following on from the post-rock cannon that were Godspeed You! Black Emperor, ‘spokesperson’ of the band, Efrim Menuck carries on producing records for others and churning out more wicked soundscapes with A Silver Mt. Zion & Tra La La La Band. This time the band return with their fifth album, 13 Blues for Thirteen Moons.

Although different to their previous works, 13 Blues… is just as haunting as anything the band has created. This time, however, the driving force is Menuck’s vocal ranges, as apposed to the lengthy instrumentation build-ups and variations of tempo that the band has always been at the helm of manufacturing.

The evidence lies within the title track, with Menuck bellowing “the hangman’s got a hard on” around the firmly executed instrument bending notions we’ve always come to expect from the band. Various other lyrical confrontations Menuck explores are bound to raise a few eye-brows, but equally work a charm.

Previously, Menuck’s vocals were disjointed and somewhat swollen within the music the band orchestrates. This is certainly to the contrary with 13 Blues for Thirteen Moons, with the band bridging a confident medium within the serrated vocal style employed by Menuck, and the epic music ‘Zion extrude. If ever you could deem this band’s music as ‘accessible’, then this is the album could fit the bill as good as any other in the band’s catalogue.

By Simon K

Friday, March 21, 2008

Album Review - Fuck Buttons

Fuck Buttons – Street Horrrsing
[ATP Recordings; 18/03/2008]

Fuck Buttons is a duo that has been causing quite a stir since the beginning of the year. The duo from Brighton - known as Benjamin Hung and Benjamin John Power - has built up a rapport alongside some worthy production candidates, with Mogwai guitarist John Cummings in the production seat while Shellec’s Bob Weston partakes in the mixing duties for the band’s debut album, Street Horrrsing.

The buzz, in some instances, is more than worthy with tracks such ‘Sweet Love for Planet Earth’ and ‘Bright Tomorrow’ almost sounding like Mogwai without guitars. Drenched with feedback, haunting distorted vocals and a melodic drone, these two tracks alone are the peak of what Fuck Buttons extrude from their speakers.

However it’s tracks such as ‘Let’s Talk About Magic and ‘Race You To My Bedroom/Spirit Rise’ that almost seem comatose and futile, with sound loops that although seem vicious, really fail to hit home with any conviction this band so brilliantly portrays through other parts of this affair.

Street Horrrsing is like a violent mood swing. There’s one half, which shows vision and a propulsive aesthetic that deems effective and extremely innovative. The other half is a band experimenting in literal sense of the word, with insipid noise that hauls itself into dead ends and blind spots.

Fuck Buttons could go either two ways, but there’s enough evidence to stick around and see which road they choose to take because potentially where talking about results that could be groundbreaking.

By Simon K

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Album Review - American Music Club

American Music Club – The Golden Age
[Merge; 19/02/2008]

American Music Clubs’ 2004 comeback, Songs for Patriots, had its fair share of moving lyrics and fitting acoustic sounds that are raw enough not to cater for the masses. After all, Mark Eitzel has been an artist that’s flown under the radar ever since his involvement with music, failing to engage himself in any kind of ‘scene’ and reaping the rewards for it.

The Golden Age is a sparse affair that experiences very few peaks and a profusion of troughs. The cutting edge and the urgency that made the band’s previous album a solid listen seems to have departed this time around, with a sound template that very rarely moves out of first gear.

The album’s title is ironic enough, but it begs one question; what’s it really all about? In an era that was glad to see Eitzel get his band back together, one feels that this time around he could have done the job all by himself without the assistance of his hombres. For every intriguing moment The Golden Age provides (‘All My Love’ and ‘The Sleeping Beauty’), there’s two or three dull moments just around the corner, which insipidly brings the album to a grinding halt.

By Simon K

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Album Review - Destroyer

Destroyer – Trouble in Dreams
[Merge/ Rough Trade; 18/03/2008]

Daniel Bejar is a musician that has his fingers in a lot pies. Forever an active spirit in the indie music scene, Bejar is embroiled in five different projects, which doesn’t include his solo work, which is essentially why we are here today. The Vancouver native unleashes ninth solo album, Trouble in Dreams that is an accessible beast that witnesses Bejar in a slightly different manner.

Bejar has always been a hard strength of mind to nail down. With a nasally vocal at the forefront, some listeners tend to endure a complexity whilst in the company of one of his records. This time around, however, it’s most definitely not the case.

‘Blue Flower/Blue Flame’ is full of melody and beguiling guitar riffs, while ‘My Favorite Year’ is a longwinded affair with gusty instrumentation leading the forefront. ‘Introducing Angels’ is Bejar at his simplistic best, improvising with a single verse and drawing it out like an elastic band, singing ‘Common of scars, brought us together, ahhh ahhh’.

Sometimes when listening to Destroyer records, you feel compelled to listen to the entirety without necessarily enjoying it. Trouble in Dreams doesn’t possess this inferiority, as there’s far too much eminence to show nothing but willingness and gratification at the same time.

Coupled by unique vocal pipes and haunting lyrics are some very distinguishing guitar thrusts, which are like the last piece to a jigsaw puzzle. Don’t be surprised when Trouble in Dreams ends up in people’s best of 2008 polls, because although it’s quite early in the year to be thinking about such a thing, it’s evident that Destroyer’s latest opus is a mainstay.

By Simon K

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Album Review - Elbow

Elbow – Seldom Seen Kid
[Fiction; 18/03/2008]

How many other bands in this era have made four solid records on the bounce? It’s hard to raise a thought of content let alone compile a literal fist-full of artists. Elbow certainly isn’t the exception, and in truth, who thought they would be? Seldom Seen Kid doesn’t rank as the band’s most striking release to date, but it has shades of the quality the band has delivered to its listeners over their previous three-album career.

Despite the weakness of the lead single, ‘Grounds for Divorce’, the free flowing pace through ‘The Bones of You’ and ‘Mirrorball’ and the bulky choir racket through ‘On A Day Like This’ see Elbow playing to their strengths, with front man Guy Garvey finding his lyrical niche while his band mates provide the fitting rhythms.

Seldom Seen Kid has a budding quality to it, and for those that stick around long enough, you may just find that quality. Although many people will pass this of as mundane soft rock, Garvey still has that knack of using attention-grabbing catchphrases, which gives him the jump over his contemporaries, who are fast becoming icons for those who over indulge in expensive champagne and caviar. Elbow maybe tiptoeing down this path, but we can be grateful that they’re not there just yet.

By Simon K

Friday, March 14, 2008

Album Review - Witch Hats

Witch Hats – Cellulite Soul
[In Fidelity; 01/03/2008]

Every year, there’s a band that everybody holds on the tip of their tongues. In the music circles of Australia, Witch Hats are no doubt the band we’re talking about here. The Melbourne quartet renders a bold mentality and an abundance of raw noise with their debut offering.

Cellulite Soul is a brooding affair that stands up and asks to be counted. Although the opening note of ‘Before I Weigh’ starts off with sound very similar to that of Sonic Youth circa Bad Moon Rising, things quickly shift, with the track transforming into a disjointed haunting cacophony that rolls through the entire album. ‘Climbing Up Yr Cable’ is about the catchiest number out of this kin of dissonance, with its busy instrumentation and frontman Kris Buscombe wailing “I climbing up your cable, to spill my guts under your table.”

Witch Hats are a band with attitude and furthermore, a band with a certain edge. Cellulite Soul is a dark representation of music that - at one time - was probably played in the local pub only to be taken to somewhere a little more ominous. Probably a rat infested shelter for the homeless.

If The Birthday Party ever instilled melody within their punk cannon, then chances are they would have come up with something similar to what Witch Hats have formed. It’s not as haunting as their influences, but it holds enough gloom to strike a chord.

By Simon K

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Album Review - Hot Chip

Hot Chip - Made in the Dark [Astralwerks Records 4/2/2008]

Hot Chip have never really interested me alot, though with being mesmerized by LCD Soundsystem on their summer tour and getting into Sound of Silver a bit later than expected, I found myself motivated to hear the Chip's follow up to their mightily enjoyable sophomore "The Warning". The thing about coming into this album was interesting as one would think there could be no way the band could top such catchy tunes as "Over and Over" and so on. Here we have yet another diversified effort full of bits and pieces spread throughout, i guess the most frustrating thing sometimes is when you hear them place quality music moments in such sub par songs. Plus you can tell they're not shy to show their hedonism especially in "Shake a Fist".

The album overall kind of dwindles in quality as more filler material outweighs the good. Let me finish though this album is a must for any music fan. Opener "Out at the Pictures" is such damn impressive way to begin your third album. "Touch too Much" is fun and catchy as "Hold on" is mightily intriguing. Stick around though as the most impressive track comes in at number eight, "One Pure Thought". The title track also reminds me of the Streets. As I keep listening, the more it comes together, even if I'm not consistently stimulated.

By Sean

Album Review - The Kills

The Kills – Midnight Boom
[Domino Records; 10/03/2008]

Someone either turned down Jamie Hince’s guitar amps or maybe The Kills were just renting their equipment and couldn’t pay the installments? Either way, some form of memo needed to be sent to The Kills stating that they must use guitars. That’s what they’re good at. Not lo-fi sounds and sludgy vocal drawls, which is what their new album Midnight Boom essentially comprises of.

Raw distortion and low guitar tunings were two facets that made The Kills’ previous releases such an enjoyable listen. Something of a contrast as far as Midnight Boom is concerned. ‘Last Days of Magic’ and the opening single ‘Hook and Line’ show glimpses of the old Kills sound, which is fast becoming a distant memory if the remainder of the album is anything to go by.

We’re all for progression in music. That’s the whole point of actually creating. However, in progressing, playing to your strengths is essential and The Kills’ instrumentation was the main weapon that achieved maximum damage. It seems to have disappeared in the haze of Alison Mosshart and Jamie Hince’s chain-smoking laden. Instead of burning, though, things are beginning to fade and that’s never a good sign.

By Simon

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Album Review - Boris

Boris – Smile
[Diwphalanx/Southern Lord; 07/03/2008]

How long is a piece of string? It’s not worth answering in Boris’ case. Only a band with vision could extract noise the way Boris does. Their catalogue covers a wide range of influences ranging from drone, post-rock, doom, sludge, metal, and straight-up rock ‘n’ roll. With this wide array of influences comes the one thing that amalgamates things together; noise. This is the Japanese beast in a nutshell. Granted, it’s the biggest fucking nutshell known to man.

Boris has always kept their listeners hanging on a knife’s edge with what they produce from album to album. Whether it is stripping notes bare through their drone aesthetic, or attempting to blow a hole in your ear drums with their bellowing guitar mess through vintage Orange amplifiers, the Japanese trio has never failed to extrude a menacing wall of sound.

In many ways, their latest opus Smile is a claustrophobic jaunt of drawn out, manipulating sounds that poke and prod up until to the final two tracks. ‘You Put Up Your Umbrella’ and ‘You Were Holding An Umbrella’, are the album’s two main attractions, with tempos that waver and large walls of sound that fly left, right and centre throughout the 27 minutes and 39 seconds the respective tracks total.

The sound exploitation during ‘Next Saturn’ is Boris yet again dabbling into new areas (what’s new?), while the lead single also stamps its authority and shows Boris manipulating noise whilst in possession of their respective instruments in beautiful intimidating fashion.

The order was always going to be tall in surpassing Pink, but if there were any band that failed to rest on their laurels then Boris is that band. In truth, Boris doesn’t care one iota of surpassing anything they’ve created in the past. If anything, Smile is representation of a band intent on not only breaking their own boundaries but creating new ones for others.


Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Album Review - Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!
[Mute; 04/03/2008]

Australia’s God amongst men has created his fair share of modern musical masterpieces, but unlike many of his rivals, Nick Cave is hell-bent on simply ‘creating’. Yet again, those early mornings of trudging to his office in Brighton & Hove have given the ever receding ex-punk more lease of life - this time with the unbridled menace that is Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!

‘We Called Upon the Author’ is vintage Cave, with his unique vocal delivery transforming into a rant follow by a chorus of instrumentation ala ‘Baby I’m Fire’. ‘Hold On To Yourself’ slows the tempo down and is as superior as anything No More Shall We Part had to offer, while the rigid sounds of the ‘Night Of the Lotus Eaters’ will have you squirming out of your seat. In contrast to the latter, the closing ‘No Tears from Nowhere’ is one of the most accessible pieces the band has written, yet is still bound together with the band’s idiosyncratic qualities.

Sound wise, Nick Cave has created something that’s somewhere in between the foul mouthed, feedback driven clamor that is the Grinderman, and the subtle heart wrenching ups and downs of his previous collaborations with the Bad Seeds. Lyrically, it’s yet another idea that his fellow contemporaries could only dream upon conjuring up, but that’s the nature of the beast; always one step ahead.

Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!! signifies Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds shattering more of their boundaries, which is hardly surprising, seeming as though they’ve been doing it since day one. You can’t teach the old dog new tricks. In this case, it’s for the better and not the worse.

By Simon

Monday, March 10, 2008

Album Review - The Raveonettes

The Raveonettes – Lust Lust Lust
[Vice; 19/02/2008]

The Raveonettes have always possessed an uber-cool quality, not too dissimilar to that of Lou Reed and Nico, which was loved by followers and scenesters, alike. Unlike their heroes, though, The Raveonettes don’t prevail in the artistic stakes, but they have all the fun for trying.

The basis has always been there for The Raveonettes, but they have fallen just under average, until now with Lust Lust Lust rendering a menacing aura of guitar noise and caterwauling fuzz. Once, a sound that peered through the cracks, now Sune Rose Wagner and Sharin Foo have made an album that perpetually shreds at your ears. Look no further than ‘Hallucinations’ with its bellowing riffs, echoing drumbeats and window shaking feedback.

The Beach Boys influence still remains in spics and specs, while the influence The Jesus & Mary Chain’s piercing cold harsh noise is truly prominent. Despite boarding along the lines of being merely a tribute band, Lust Lust Lust is actually a palatable representation of how modern day rock ‘n’ roll should sound with distortion, fuzz, feedback and the rest of the tricks that are worthy of making one’s ears dysfunctional.

It’s not the most original thing floating around, but maybe the most intriguing message out of all of this is that The Raveonettes have shown that it’s never too late to make a good record.

By Simon

Friday, March 7, 2008

Album Review - Grand Archives

Grand Archives – Grand Archives
[Sub Pop; 19/02/2008]

Timing is everything, so they say. In the Grand Archives case, these rules apply. The Seattle quintet, who are led by former Carissa’s Weird and Band of Horses member, Matt Brooke, render a West Coast breezy rock sensibility that holds a southern tinged smell to it, with their self-titled debut album.

Grand Archives is an album that will have one intrigued, and with songs such as ‘Sleep Driving’ this is no more than the band deserve. Sometimes you can’t deny good music, and its evident that the Grand Archives posses bits and piece of quality song-craft.

Some people like a good ditty; some like originality; some like both. If we quickly cast our minds back to the ‘timing is everything’ theory, a more triumphant outcome could have been found had Brooke and the Grand Archives released this album a couple of years earlier. His former jam acquaintances, the Band Of Horses have rendered a near identical sound template and the results have seemingly proved more fruitful for the latter.

If only Brooke pilfered the master tapes on his way out the door, then things could have been so much different. As it stands his former band and Sub Pop stable mates have their cake, which has already been eaten.

By Simon

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Album Review - Howlin' Rain

Howlin’ Rain – Magnificent Fiend
[Birdman Records; 4/03/2008]

Yet another musician that is productive in the sense of dealing out shiny discs, Ethan Miller establishes firm continuity with the second album from his side project, Howlin’ Rain.

Unlike the neo-psychedelic sounds of Comets On Fire, Miller has dropped a gear - or two - with “Magnificent Fiend”, the ‘Rain’s second opus. Those wailing vocal howls do unleash themselves every now and then throughout the album (none better than ‘El Rey’), but unlike the caterwauls of noise that make Comets On Fire such an ear-splitting adventure, country-esque bass lines and hair-blowing-in-the-breeze guitar riffs predominately fill up the contents of “Magnificent Fiend”.

It’s like Miller concept of Howlin’ Rain is the comedown effect. A nice chilling listen that would be best summed up as Miller’s adaptation of rock ‘n’ roll. When musicians – particularly frontmen - partake in side projects, most of the time there’s very little difference between their primary and secondary focus, but the feeling is different for Miller, who segregates his respective musical adventures quite well.

If you’re into your long drives along the coast-line, then “Magnificent Fiend” is the first record you’ll listen to once that sea breeze enters the nasal cavity. You couldn’t say that about Comets On Fire and visa versa.

By Simon

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Album Review - The Gutter Twins

The Gutter Twins – Saturnalia
[Sub Pop; 04/03/08]

What do you get when you coalesce the minds of Mark Lanegan and Greg Dulli. Simple; music that doesn’t fail! Lanegan in many ways, shapes and forms has been on some sort of recording at least once a year, since his days of fronting The Screaming Trees, while Dulli boasts a similar C.V., with The Twilight Singers; the band he has made four albums with, since fronting the now defunct ‘90s rock outfit, The Afghan Whigs.

The Gutter Twins are not only a collaboration that’s aptly named, but their debut album “Saturnalia” boasts a good balance of cleanliness and a rough around the edges production techniques, which shrewdly compliments the contrast of vocal ranges Lanegan and Dulli respectively unleash.

Lanegan’s gravel throated moans have always had a brooding effect on listeners and the emotions run wild yet again, with ‘The Stations’ starting off album in a haunting fashion. Lanegan also lends a voice to a higher tempo ditties, with ‘Idle Hands’ and the album’s clincher, ‘Bete Noir’, rendering a sound that could have made Queens Of The Stone Age’s “Lullabies To Paralyze” such a better listen.

Individually, Dulli has his moments, too, taking the baton with ‘God’s Children’, showing the former ‘Whigs’ frontman in a slightly different light, with the tempos decreased and the emotions a little more guided and un-ambiguous.

Once, two former successful grunge stalwarts churning out records for Sub Pop; now, seemingly growing a little longer in the tooth, it’s like a maturity has grown over within their music. This has been the instance for Lanegan ever since he started producing solo material, so in a sense, it’s not particularly uncharted waters for him. However, his influence has certainly grown on Dulli, who has been strung along for the ride, and although the darkness is at a premium and the emotions are running high, “Saturnalia” is evidence that he and his old mate/new accomplice are at a creative high.

By Simon K

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Album Review - Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks

Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks – Real Emotional Trash
[Matador; 04/03/2008]

After a long association with the Jicks, Stephen Malkmus and his buddies return with their finest release yet. With the addition of former Sleater-Kinney drummer Janet Weiss, along with longstanding Jicks members, bassist Joanna Bolme and keyboardist/guitarist Mike Clarke, the quartet have reached their peak with “Real Emotional Trash”.

Lyrically, Stephen Malkmus has always kept his listeners hanging on with neat witticism, but he’s always had the ability to really hit home with a verse that does its best to destroy you. This time around, those gut-wrenching lyricisms are embellished all through the band’s fourth album, along with the fuzzy guitar solos and disorderly instrumentation, which will have you raising the question: “is this rock ‘n’ roll?” Well no, but that’s the whole point!

This is displayed no better than during ‘Hopscotch Wille’ the epic title track and the rocking affair that is ‘Baltimore’. ‘We Can’t Help’ and ‘Wicked Wanda’, in contrast, are nice indie ballad-esque tunes that round off the album in tasteful fashion.

In some instances, “Pig Lib” and “Face the Truth” were curtain-raisers to “Real Emotional Trash”. The instrumentation from the Jicks and the addition of Janet Weiss strengthens this musical collective up even more, and quite frankly this batch of sounds is as good as anything the band have achieved, thus far.

By Simon

Monday, March 3, 2008

Album Review - The Duke Spirit

The Duke Spirit – Neptune
[Youarehere/Love Token; 04/02/2008]

The Duke Spirit is one of those bands that seemed to have dropped off the radar. However, while their country has been flooded with inadequate guitar bands, the ‘Spirit have been holed up in the studio creating the follow-up to their underrated debut, “Cut Across the Land”.

“Neptune” is quite a fun little rocking affair that manages to sustain the edge that the band created with their previous opus. Opening ditty, ‘Send A Little Love Token’, importantly sets a trend for the album to follow, with a unique quirky vocal from frontwomen, Leila Moss, while the riffs maintain their catchiness without diving in the realms of a pop sensibility.

Like every other term that is used in an attempt to pigeonhole a band, garage rock, although not the number one suspect, is what The Duke Spirit manages to create. This isn’t a pigeonhole by any stretch. In fact if anything, it’s a compliment, as the band does it quite successfully.

“Neptune” isn’t a far cry from its younger sibling, but its enough to equate in transcending above their modern contemporaries who attempt to fish in similar waters; particularly the ones in their own country, who really aren’t within earshot of them.

By Simon