Wednesday, April 30, 2008

My Top 10

Personally this year is already off to a flyer, posting this on the night entering into May, so much has been released, so much quality and so many albums i'm yet to even pay my attention to. With artists like Weezer, Death Cab for Cutie, Conor Oberst and the Hold Steady with follow up albums just around the corner, there's so much to look forward to. Here is my scathing list of songs i've paid a great deal of attention to thus far.

1. Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks - Hopscotch Willie

Throwing out his most jammiest set of songs yet, I can't go past HW, just bouncy and great throughout.

2. British Sea Power - No Lucifer

Simon summed it up well, brilliance. I'll be listening to this for the rest of the year no doubt.

3. Constantines - Million Star Hotel

Slow burning rock opus, the grunge guitar sound returns as does the enchanting gravely voice. No one seems to care much about these guys though I've noticed. The Feist song aint too bad either.

4. Destroyer - Plaza Trinidad

Dan Bejar will be rememberd for his songwriting no doubt, and this is no exception, terrifc melody and magical guitar work.

5. Hot Chip - Out at the Pictures

Great rocknroll electronic song, probably only rivaled by LCD. If you're not dancing by the 1st 30 seconds you have no soul.

6. Death Cab For Cutie - I Will Possess Your Heart

Delivering immensley on the long winded krautish style jam as promised this see's DCFC in a different light altogether and i've definitley eaten it up, have you? it'll be interesting to see how fans feel about the upcoming album I hope it follows in the same vein of this song. Consider me impressed.

7. Wolf Parade - Call it a Ritual

The album is out soon and this is the first snippet, and what a fine snippet it is. The pianos just bend. I wonder how many mobile phones Mr Krug has.

8. Cut Copy - Feel the Love

An opening track I just can't seem to skip. With a bunch of great Aussie albums still to be released this year, this will be hard to top.

9. Atlas Sound - Recent Bedroom

Can't get enough of that Deerhunter sound, this is the next best thing. Thanks Mr Cox

10. Tapes n Tapes - Blunt

Not a massive fan of this band but there's a few tracks on the new album "Walk it Off" that i really dig and this one has been of my most played of the year. Incoherent rock and roll, i dig.

Feature - Top 10 Songs Of 2008 So Far

Due to the initiative shown by Mr. Beardmore, we’ve (or rather, he) decided to knock this little feature together so that things don’t get too stale from our end.

Thus far in 2008, there’s been a profusion of quality on the song front and with four months of the year almost passed, here are some of our respective favourite songs, thus far. Sean may number his top 10 beauties, however due to my mind changing like the English weather, I’ve decided just to give you 10 without any preference. Enjoy!

Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks – Baltimore

It seems Mr. Pavement has been hanging out with Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore and he's used the time quite usefully, aspiring to the jam tendencies his alternative rocking hombre has made his own over the last 25 years. For six minutes and 37 seconds, this tracks has fuzzy guitar jams, lo-fi bass lines and those trademark vocals from Malkmus whose never called a spade a spade. Definitely the epicentre of what Real Emotional Trash is all about.

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – More News From Nowhere

Was Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!! a surprise to any of you? Probably not! Nick Cave has always been capable of closing albums in jaw-dropping fashion and he may have just reached the pinnacle of doing just that with this track. “And it’s getting strange in here, yeah it’s getting stranger every year”. I don’t want to reek with sentiments towards the man, but you know; some things just have to be done.

Constantines – Life Or Death

There’s so many highlights on the new Constantines album, so I thought I’d go for the most climatic song out of the bunch, which is what the above essentially is. Hospital beds and patients are often the topic throughout Kensington Heights, and with the intensity this track portrays, things do point to towards an autobiographical nature. Either way, this is a great track that needs more listeners holding an ear to it.

British Sea Power – No Lucifer

Single of the year (okay, I said I wasn’t doing the number thing, but you know). Whatever people begrudgingly say about British Sea Power’s new album trying to follow the shadows of The Arcade Fire, to me, they can use the highway. This song has the pulling power like a salesman who could sell ice to Eskimos. The melody is just something else and puts their UK contemporaries of today to absolute shame.

Atlas Sound - Bite Marks

With the production very reminiscent of My Bloody Valentine's Loveless, this song best represents what Bradford Cox has set out to achieve with Let The Blind Lead Those Who Can See But Cannot Feel. The bass line hides under a looped synth and Cox's slow vocal drawl that all comes out in the wash with a brooding effect, but indeed a catchy one at that.

A Silver Mt.Zion & Tra La La Band – 13 Blues for Thirteen Moons

“I just want some action” screams Efrim Menuck. Quite ambiguous in an unambiguous way, if that makes sense? Some people just can’t build a relationship with this band, due to Menuck’s highly unconventional vocal wails. But like I said in my review, there’s a nice bridging in gap between the music and vocals with this album, and the title track is the peak out of the bunch, which I believe is the band’s finest yet.

Cut Copy – Heart on Fire

The crowd this Melbourne trio caters for are one of my personal disdains of the modern music society. Scarves and t-shirts, anybody? However, fair's only fair and after all, you can't choose your fanbase; they do make a killer pop song, and this one is just that. The melody is pop redefined and is destined to reach a wider audience. For a band that has made music that’s always threatened to move down the more popular paths, the threat is no longer.

Daturah – Vertex

Germany’s finest post rock band may not be on many peoples radar, but as far as post rock goes, this tune is right up there. With swelling grooves and climatic guitars, this one is a must hear. Do yourself a favour, folks; if you don’t want to indulge in instrumental music for an hour, then at least do it for 15 minutes by listening to this track. You’ll not be disappointed!

Destroyer – Introducing Angels

Maybe the most simplistic track on Trouble In Dreams, but you know what they say; simple, but effective. The repeated lyrics delivered by Daniel Bejar and his nasal like vocal are met with a neat rhythm that gives a fitting outcome indeed. Not to mention that the track itself fits well around the others on the album.

Boris – Next Saturn

After seeing the Japanese rock ‘n’ roll extraordinaire live, my appreciation for Smile has grown immensely over the past couple of weeks. By saying that, this song has prevailed and made it to the list. The samples make this a brilliant listen, while Takeshi’s vocals follow the music, much like a lot of the vocal work on this album does. Like the Constantines record, I could pick various other tracks, but this is the one that’s pushing the right buttons at the moment.

By Simon K

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Album Review - Portishead

Portishead – Third
[Island; 28/04/2008]

To say it’s been a while between drinks for Portishead could be the understatement of the century (it’s up to you, Axl!). We all know the effect that Dummy had on the world all those years ago, while Portishead’s sophomore self-titled affair also left many of their contemporaries in a sense of awe. So, a new era, a new sound and it’s no better place to unleash the beast that is Third.

Due to the band’s idleness with the music world for so long, Third could be described as something that’s gone full-circle. With Beth Gibbons leading from the front with her moody vocal splendor, this is the only trait that – at times - seems familiar with previous sounds we associate with the band, as the instrumentation drastically takes a more upbeat shift from time to time. ‘Silence’ begins with subtle guitar work and syncopated beats that starts off this diverse trend, however in saying that, ‘Hunter’ is more of what we’d expected from the trip-hop pioneers, with somber ripples of sound dictating proceedings.

The guitar twang through ‘Nylon Smile’ is a nice undercurrent for Gibbons to shed her vocal grandeur, while ‘We Carry On’ could pose as the busiest track on the album, led by a guitar riff almost hand picked by Bernard Sumner of his Joy Division days.

If anyone doubted Portishead’s so called “return”, then ‘Machine Gun’ is to prove the doubters wrong. With Geoff Barrow producing a swelling industrious loop that overshadows Gibbons’ vocals, it could rank as one of the best tracks the band has penned yet.

Some artists just have an edge that will always be with them no matter what, and Portishead are undoubtedly one of those acts. 11 years is too long in anyone’s book and to be honest, no one is worth waiting for in this amount of time. However, Portishead weren’t asking to be waited on. They’ve seen various music scenes come and go over the past 11 years, equally brushing it all aside and creating their own thing, equating with something worthy and once again groundbreaking.

By Smon K

Monday, April 28, 2008

Album Review - Constantines

Constantines – Kensington Heights
[Arts & Crafts; 28/04/2008]

The Constantines brim with solidarity and this has been the case since the opening note off their self-titled debut album. With a sound encapsulated with abrasive grooves, acutely wrangled guitar riffs, rumbling bass lines and a gravel throated delivery from front-man, Bryan Webb, their template manages to embed itself in the hearts of many music followers. Thankfully, their fourth opus, Kensington Heights continues the trend.

Due to the quality of these songs, it’s evident that natural progression has prevailed within the band. They’ve made so much awe-inspiring music that it’s hard to believe they’ve flown under the radar for so long. If they were the World’s best kept secret, then that could soon change.

‘Hard Feelings’ is a raucous opener and lead single, with a disjointed drum line and Webb’s uncanny way of just letting the words roll out of his mouth without even caring about the rhythms his band-mates knock out. ‘Trans Canada’ possesses a bass line that beings like a motor running, only to be cut off at the pass by those intricate guitar pieces this band has made a living off by delivering. The short and sweet flow of ‘Credit River’ is modern music delivered at its finest, while ‘Life or Death’ is an epic notion that’s almost too much to handle.

If you take the charisma of Bruce Springsteen and the crushing tempo shifts of Fugazi and throw them into a bull ring then you’d get the Constantines. Kensington Heights is arty so much that it’s poetic, while the raw edge of rock ‘n’ roll that gauges at your ears is about as working class as music in 2008 could possibly be.

By Simon K

Sunday, April 27, 2008


50. Nova Dando & Petra Storrs (Designers)
49. eMusic
48. Franki Chan (DJ)
47. Ian Rogers (Software developer)
46. Adem
45. Spank Rock
44. Owen Pallett (Producer)
43. James Rutledge (Remixer)
42. Strange Place Club (Promoters)
41. The Hype Machine
40. Honey Owens (Atlas Sound/Valet and Rad Summer)
39. The Horrors
38. David Brewis (Producer, Promoter, Field Music)
37. Mike Skinner
36. HeartsRevolution
35. NASA (Supergroup)
34. Tony Allen (Percussionist)
33. Ladyfest (Festival)
32. Diplo
31. Sam Kilcoyne (Founder Underage Festival)
30. Huw Stevens (DJ)
29. JME
28. The Futureheads
27. Bjork
26. Samuel Dust (Late of The Pier)
25. Tetonik Kids of France
24. Alex Hancock (Head of music for Skins)
23. Danja (Producer)
22. James Ford (Producer)
21. Santogold
20. Jonathon Ive (iPod designer)
19. The Canadian Government (Subsidies to bands)
18. Kate Moross (Designer)
17. Dirty Projectors
15. Geoff Barrow (Portishead)
14. Italians Do It Better (Label)
13. Wiley
12. Dev Hynes (Lightspeed Champion)
11. Club Smell
10. Crystal Castles
09. Alex Turner
08. Damon Albarn
07. Rick Rubin
06. Saam (Video director)
05. Burial
04. Fucked Up
03. Radiohead
02. MIA
01. David Sitek

In the latest issue, NME have concocted a list of sorts upon the future of music. Some I totally agree with, some are WTF? and then I think about all the possible artists they've deliberately missed. I'm not sure Dave Sitek deserves a number one slot but I'm pretty fine with that.

What do you think?

Friday, April 25, 2008

Album Review - Sleepercar

Sleepercar – West Texas
[Doghouse Records; 22/04/08]

Jim Ward has always threatened to dabble into the World of alternative country music. Although releasing his debut solo EP last year, his Sleepercar project has been in the works since the days of At The Drive In. The results end in the band’s debut album, West Texas.

With the sounds of Wilco heavily in the mix, Sleepercar is Jim Ward’s way of an outlet from the rigours of his main priority these days that is Sparta. Jeff Tweedy is all over ‘Heavy Weights’ and ‘Wednesday Nights’, despite Ward delivering the respective tracks with gusto. His band mates get into the action throughout the album, too with ‘Wasting My Time’ and ‘Fences Down’ decreasing the tempo bringing more of a country feel towards things.

In terms of quantity, Jim Ward’s Quiet EP has more of an alt-country feel to it as apposed to Sleepercar’s West Texas, with the latter sounding like a Sparta off-cuts album from time to time. Opener, ‘A Broken Promise’ and ‘Sound the Alarm’ both lead this notion, with Ward’s vocals along with the top-heavy chord progressions rising to prominence.

Overall, there’s something in this for followers of Sparta and At The Drive, but personally, I’m much more intrigued in what Ward has to offer on a solo front as apposed to throwing a couple of various El Paso hombres into the studio like he has done to release this latest batch of songs.

By Simon K

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Film Review

Forgetting Sarah Marshall - 3/5 (Released 17th April 2008)

That's a solid 3 by the way. Another notch on the Apatow production belt continuing in the tradition of his latest "dramedy" films.

The film never reaches levels of massive awesome but it was great fun all the way through. Awesome TV Cast, Nick Andopolis (Segel, who also wrote it), Veronica Mars (Bell), Jackie Burkhart (Kunis), Kenneth Parcell (McBrayer) with the regular alum of Paul Rudd, Bill Hader, Jonah Hill and Carla Gallo etc with a special appearance by Jason Bateman. English comedian, Russell Brand was pure awesome.

It's kind of cool to see the Freaks and Geeks guys get some spotlight even if nobody really knows about it/or them. Basically a familiar plot filled out with good jokes, plausible characters and a predictable but somewhat sweet ending.

lol on the Segel nakedness.

Gone Baby Gone - 4.5/5 (Released 17th April 2008)

First I'll say how long i've anticipated this film but damn, it's a rare occasion I give films this score but I think this film earns it for many reasons. For one, Cudos for Affleck on a brilliant directorial debut.

The film never dull or lacking in intrigue, you can really feel the authentic Boston dialect, plus exceptional performances all round but mainly to Casey Affleck, dude is massively brilliant.

The end approaches and as the story untangles you may either be surprised or unphased by the twist but it's the ending that is heartbreaking. The last scene is one I'll remember for a long time.



Hey guys,

Just to let you know, we are now apart of the Facebook community. There's a link provided at the right hand side of your screen that will take you to our new group page. Feel free to add comments and join up as a member.


Simon K

Album Review - The Drift

The Drift – Memory Drawings
[Temporary Residence; 08/04/2008]

San Francisco ensemble, The Drift, finally crack the proverbial nut in terms of depicting post-rock as a unique entity. With the typical instrumental elements shining through in the band’s music, a dub instilled jazz sensibility bathes itself upon what The Drift creates, and on their sophomore LP, Memory Drawings, the elements combine as supple brilliance.

‘If Wishes Were Like Horses’ is controlled by mental trumpets, simple chord sequences and a water tight rhythm section that lays the platform for Memory Drawings. ‘Golden Sands’ and ‘Lands End’ are climaxes of the album, with the dub bass lines disguised as undercurrents for wailing trumpets that bring a jazz accessibility to the table. The remaining tracks work around these three respective pieces of work, with a balanced tempo creating an atmospheric niche that The Drift has tellingly mastered.

Very few bands fail to capture the submergence of other genres to the essential post-rock cannon. However, The Drift have with Memory Drawings and with this, they’ve explored intently, infusing a jazz aesthetic to their manual transmission like sound of instrumental rock, with the outcome ending in innovative fashion.

By Simon K

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Album Review - M83

M83 – Saturdays = Youth
[Mute; 25/02/2008]

Unlike Anthony Gonzales’ looks, M83’s music has always stayed in ‘80s. Fortunately the Rod Stewart haircuts don’t evoke from the suspect days of hairdressing, however what Gonzales manages to construe with M83’s latest album, Saturdays = Youth is a refined catalogue of sounds that will make you avoid the skip button on your preferred choice of listening device.

‘You Appearing’ is held together by a perpetual piano line that brims with beauty and a vocal loop of “It’s Your Face”. ‘Kim & Jesse’ could lead a French contemporary soundtrack of music, with the instrumentation a near mirror of what Air have created over the last 10 years; all in a good way, though. ‘Skin of the Night’ and ‘We Own the Sky’ both rank as contenders for dream-pop tracks of the year, with a real Cocteau Twins aura about the respective tracks. Lead single, ‘Graveyard Girl’, sounds like Gonzales has taken the best part of a Killers single and transformed it into something worthy.

Apart from Dead Cities, Red Seas, & Lost Ghosts, M83 have shown an inconsistency, with solid singles covering the weaknesses of their ability to created solidarity in the ranks of a full-length album. Thankfully, Saturdays = Youth can match their previous yardstick, with Gonzales managing to unleash a consistent and cathartic form ‘80s keyboard esque shoegazing sounds.

By Simon K

Friday, April 18, 2008

Album Review - Clinic

Clinic – Do It!
[Domino Records; 8/04/2008]

With the aftermath of the UK rock revival that was started by bands beginning with “the” Liverpool’s finest mask bearing rock quarter, Clinic, made their scouser traits very well known, holding two fingers up to the mediocrity that the NME continue to embellish upon.

The band’s fifth opus, Do It!, is the representation of a band getting back to basics (if you could describe their music as that), touching the nerves that made the embryonic stages of their career such an interesting one, with their landmark double-whammy of Internal Wrangler and Walking With Thee.

‘Memories’ is a speedy opener with the trademark disjointed chord progressions and squeamish vocals possessed by front man, Ade Blackburn. ‘Shopping Band’ is a cacophony of noise Clinic extrude with their vintage instruments while the slower haunting sounds of ‘Corpus Christi’ explore avenues where Clinic have achieved success in the past.

Do It! is somewhere in the middle of Clinic’s catalogue. It won’t show up on too many polls for album of the year, but the simple fact is that the World needs a band like Clinic. The band itself seems content on continuing to supply to a hardcore base of listeners, who in return, hold the band in high regard for their efforts. Along with this is the fact that Clinic presents a form of indie rock with a different spin. These two factors alone are ones that a lot of other bands fail to possess.

By Simon K

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Album Review - Tapes 'n Tapes

Tapes ‘n Tapes – Walk It Off
[XL Recordings; 8/04/2008]

Tapes ‘n Tapes caused quite a stir with their debut LP, The Loon. The minority (myself included) wondered what all the fuss was about and to be honest, I still do. However, the same can’t be said for their sophomore effort, with Walk It Off hitting home on what this band is all about, despite the masses choosing to think otherwise.

The low-fi sounds Tapes ‘n Tapes unleash are more of a cheaper recording outlet as apposed to a self-indulgent ethos that some other bands have chosen to embark upon this year when associating themselves with the “lo-fi” tag.

Unlike its older brother, Walk It Off brims with catchiness, melody and staying power. The fuzz overcoat during ‘Headshock’ is just a security blanket for a straight-up indie rock tune, while the rollicking beats during ‘Conquest’ make this period of the album a fine double-whammy assault. The top-heavy bass swoon during ‘Demon Apple’ and disjointed indie ruckus throughout album highlight ‘Blunt’ continue to put the album in good stead.

Tapes ‘n Tapes aren’t hell-bent of trying to fit into any scene, as such. This is a band that is all about the no frills in music, who are content to just get up and do their thing. It all seems to have come together with Walk It Off, which on the grand scheme of things is a blessing in disguise.

By Simon K

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Album Review - Sun Kil Moon

Sun Kil Moon – April
[Caldo Verde; 01/04/2008]

Mark Kozelek’s has always crept under the radar, whether it be with the Red House Painters, Great Lake Swimmers or more recently under the Sun Kil Moon moniker; the latter, a project which he conducts all the song-writing duties. After several fine releases, including a Modest Mouse covers album, Kozelek returns with arguably his most heartfelt release to date; the enchanting sounds of April.

Again, Kozelek attacks from a different angle with April; this time opting to delve a little deeper into issues he’s experienced on a personal level. Unlike your stock standard three minute singer-songwriter ditty, Kozelek once again draws his songsmith qualities out, which boarder along epic combustion.

The intertwining of Kozelek’s wistful drawls and the tweaking of guitar sounds are striking facets of what make Sun Kil Moon’s music such a captivating listen. ‘The Light’ and ‘Tonight in Bilbao’ portray these qualities and are two of the many highlights April possesses.

A rich autobiographical journey into Kozelek’s ups and downs in life; if ever there was an album that was heartbreakingly beautiful then April stands as tall as any candidate. The drawn out instrumentation and the subtle dabbles of reverb are a pleasant blend with his vocals, that not only tug at the heart strings, but rip them straight out of your chest.

Although an album that won’t feature on repeat, April maintains a quality that will be treasured and listened to at certain times by the listener. Thankfully, this is where the best albums are usually kept in one’s collection.

By Simon K

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Album Review - Gregor Samsa

Gregor Samsa – Rest
[Kora Records; 08/04/2008]

With their moniker deriving from Franz Kafka´s short story, The Metamorphosis, Gregor Samsa are yet another pleasant find amongst the ranks. Releasing their debut album, 55:12 in 2006, the seven-piece collective from Virginia continue to hunt for greener pastures with their dreamy sophomore, Rest.

Layered with elegant piano, spine-tingling vocals and an aloofness that could melt your heart, Gregor Samsa are a must listen. ‘The Adolescent’ is an opener that was made for headphones, with the striking vocal from Nikki King and haunting pianos setting the tone for what’s to come. ‘Abutting, Dismantling’ is also backed with desirable vocals along with a piano sequence that can only be described as darkly enchanting.

The epic emotional journey that is ‘Jeroen Van Akon’ is a gorgeous integrated vocal power-play between King and frontman Champ Bennett. The layered rhythm section that’s at the low end of the mix results in a rollercoaster of emotions for its eight minute and 22 second entirety.

If you take the bare bones of what Low have produced over the years and combine with the stage presence of what God Speed You! Black Emperor achieved during their tenure, then Gregor Samsa isn’t too far off being the bastard son. It’s hard to split Rest from its predecessor, but in terms of quality, nothing’s lost whatsoever. If anything, this time around things seem a little more opulent.

By Simon K

Album Review - The Raconteurs

The Raconteurs – Consolers Of The Lonely
[XL Recordings; 24/03/2008]

March 17 and Jack White announces The Raconteurs will be releasing their second album in seven days times. Nice ploy, Mr. White. For a guy who unleashes material at least once every 12 months, I guess it’s refreshing for him not to tow the line with a record company for once.

Despite what Jack White has said in the past regarding the importance of this band, The White Stripes remains his number one baby. Anyone who works as hard and fast as White himself, deserves a little fun and that is what The Raconteurs essentially is. Like Broken Boy Soldiers, the band’s second album, Consolers of the Lonely has its moments, but as a whole package lacks a knock-out punch.

Things start of strong enough with the catchy title track, while ‘Salute Your Solution’ and ‘You Don’t Understand Me’ continue in much the same fashion. From here Consolers of the Lonely trudges on in fits and starts and really fails to gather any real momentum.

The concept Jack White and his compatriots have taken upon to release this album wasn’t the World’s best kept secret. However, you have to take your hat off to a guy whose hunger to create music is never satisfied, despite the events not always resulting in an earth shattering manner.

By Simon K

Monday, April 14, 2008

Album Review - This Will Destroy You

This Will Destroy You – This Will Destroy You
[Magic Bullet Records; 29/01/2008]

Texan quartet, This Will Destroy You, are one of those bands who always appear on various internet blogs and message board mutterings, yet you always seem to turn a blind eye for some reason. Once you get around to checking the music out, it’s a pleasant surprise; the irony of life, again playing its part, perhaps.

Their self-titled debut full-length packs a fine punch that really defines the term “post-rock”. With brimming guitars, shifts in tempo and a water tight rhythm section, the band has lived up to their name, so to speak.

‘A Three Legged Workhorse’ is the perfect opener for a band who displays an instrumental ethos, with all the qualities mentioned above prevailing. ‘Threads’ is another highlight, and although shorter in length, brings the elements together a little more, which is contrasting to album highlight ‘The Mighty Rio Grande’, as ominous background effects and moody guitar soundscapes create a luscious cinematic touch.

This Will Destroy You isn’t the most original piece that will collide with your ears, but in the highs and lows of the post-rock landscape, the question has to be asked; what is? In general, it’s not re-defining, but for curious virgin ears to this particular genre, this would be as good a place to start as any.

By Simon K

Friday, April 4, 2008

Album Review - The Black Crowes

The Black Crowes - Warpaint [Silver Arrow; 3/03/2008]

It's been seven years since we last heard from the 90's rock and roll collective. I guess the Robinson brothers got sick of releasing solo albums that close to no one heard so probably thought it was a good idea to get the band back together. Following up on 2001's Lions, the crowes deliver us Warpaint, a cruisy bluesy rock and roll affair with an almost even ratio of soft to hard tracks.

"Goodbye Daughters of the Revolution" gets their hiatus off to a good start (also the first single) with a laid back but rocking feel, make sure you keep an eye out for the background piano parts. Already the band makes their song craft seem effortless. "Evergreen" an early highlight displays the band at their catchy best. Stirring the track list up a bit, we get handed the grandiose of "Oh Josephine" the long and drawn out ballad that gets better after every listen and the southern twang of "Locust Street". "Movin On Down the Line" picks up where "Evergreen" left off with the hazy like guitar picking of Rich with Chris chanting "It's alright sister, It's alright brother" repeatedly over the top, delivering yet another comfortably catchy rock tune.

From then on we get a similar pattern, rock song then softer song. Apart from the very fun but odd "God's Got It" the 3 minute 12 bar blues ode to god? I don't know if I've been hanging out in the wrong circles but nobody seems to be talking about the band and their return whatsoever. Even though there is no real strong material present on disc number 7, there is still alot of great stuff to wade through, the record may lack cohesion through track list arrangment but it's great to see the band hasn't lost it even if it strays from keeping itself in focus from time to time. It's always exciting listening to this band as any other writer would say they are not of this time.


Thursday, April 3, 2008

Album Review - Cut Copy

Cut Copy – In Ghost Colours
[Modular; 22/03/2008]

It’s been a while between drinks, and despite some sharing the belief that Melbourne’s Cut Copy seemingly had fallen off the face of the earth, their sophomore album, In Ghosts Colours, proves otherwise.

Cut Copy have been a religious force for the uber-fashion poser-esque types, whose arsenal largely comprise of Ministry of Sound discs, tight v-necks, scarves and Presets badges. Maybe that’s why we associate the band and their contemporaries in the culture of what’s deemed as popular?

Despite the dubious masses Cut Copy’s music appeals to, the band can take pleasure of being the innovators of this current wave (or ‘scene’, if you will) and their latest affair will continue to push the fact. ‘Out there on the Ice’ is a dancey number that has a slew of catchy soundscapes while front man Dan Whitford delivers his thick innate vocal.

‘Lights and Music’ continues the latter quality that’s tangled up in a raw guitar sound that Cut Copy has integrated successfully into their repertoire. ‘Unforgettable Season’ is definitely the rockiest tune out of the bunch, with a top end guitar sound and a melody that any pop band would be proud of.

Without moving too much from the boundaries they set with Bright Like Neon Love, Cut Copy have refined their song-writing prowess with In Ghost Colours. Given the length of time between the two respective releases, it’s understandable that the band have penned a top heavy record, with things dipping somewhat after the brilliant lead single ‘Hearts on Fire’ and, overall, a barnstorming beginning. There’s no denying a catchy pop record that IGC is certainly that and some.

By Simon K

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Album Review - Supergrass

Supergrass - Diamond Hoo Ha [Parlophone; 24/3/2008]

Easily one of my most anticipated releases in recent times, I won't hide my subjectivity, the grasses fifth album blew me away, it came at a particular time just after I had gotten familiar with a fair amount of their material and it was just brilliance. It was a record that grasped a sound they hadn't fully ventured yet and between then and now my fingers were crossed in hoping Mr Coombes could follow up that sound and continue to blow me away. As cliched as it gets, all good things must come to an end.

I heard the single "Diamond Hoo Ha Man" and went numb, it's not that it wasn't cool it just wasn't what I was hoping for. Still then my fingers remained crossed for the arrival of the whole album. A few songs into album number six and it's becomes clear that not only have the boys bypassed the sounds of their previous effort but they have completely gone back to basics and kind of re-invented themselves, if you want to call it that. If anything Gaz had loaded up his record player with T Rex, Roxy Music and Bowie albums and that clearly shows, this album portrays a very glam like presence with a squeaky clean production to add.

"Diamond Hoo Ha Man", "Bad Blood", "345", "Outside" are the simple but fun glam rock and roll numbers. "Rebel in You" and "Ghost of a Friend" provide the pop flavour and the only real progression the album takes, is with the closer "Butterfly" and possibly "Whiskey and Green Tea" with its avant-garde like brass section roaming about the track. Don't get me wrong it's still a fun rock record and can be enjoyed on maximum volume of your surround sound system, but really at the end of the day it's a real slide in form from the trip they had taken us on with Road to Rouen.


Album Review - Jarboe/Justin K Broadrick

Jarboe/Justin K Broadrick – J2
[The End; 14/03/2008]

Ex-Swans member Jarboe has always flirted with the weights of beauty and darkness throughout her career. This time, she collaborates with Napalm Death/Godflesh co-founder and the current brainchild of Jesu, Justin K Broadrick.

Broadrick returns the favour to Jarboe, who contributed vocals to Jesu’s Lifeline EP last year, with J2; an affair that pushes and pulls into different directions right from the outset.

The unfathomable vocal range of Jarboe undoubtedly succeeds in making one feel at unease. The lengthy shrieks through the opening track ‘Decay’ portray this factor no better. The Bjork esque static filled ‘Let Go’ provides a diverse delivery from Jarboe, while Broadrick’s studio manipulating skills are at the fore.

Broadrick stamps his authority on this release with the mechanical low tuning guitars through ‘Magick Girl’ to accompany the opulent vocal from Jarboe, while ‘Tribal Limo’ is filled with Jesu guitar shudders with Jarboe’s shrieks and shrills being maneuvered into a sonic jumble.

Due to similarities in ethos the two respective artists have engaged in throughout the past, this collaboration is one that Jarboe and Broadrick were destined to make. Although, J2 isn’t exactly compulsive listening in comparison to Jarboe’s solo material and Broadrick’s work with Jesu, the emotion both artists convey is an energy that’s worthy of enough plaudits.

By Simon K

Album Review - Devotchka

Devotchka – A Mad & Faithful Telling
[ANTI-Records; 18/03/2008]

Devotchka; damn fine moniker, it has to be said. Sadly that’s the last thing that scores brownie points in the realms of depicting a certain sound. Gypsy, Mexican, and whole host of other mind baffling terms have been thrown around the room when describing the quartet from Denver, Colorado’s latest offering, A Mad & Faithful Telling.

Anyone passing Devotchka’s delivery of music off as something of a new entity truly hasn’t been listening outside the square. Beirut and A Hawk and A Hacksaw have seemingly mastered the sounds of modern Eastern European sounds and although Devotchka deliver it in a more user-friendly sense, they still seem to manage to encroach on what their contemporaries have set in stone prior to this reckoning. Even the first track ‘Brasso Profundo’ can be passed off as Tapes ‘N’ Tapes changing their identity, playing in some village pub across Europe.

Yes, many parts of A Mad Faithful Telling have an assortment of sounds. However, these diversities comprise of Devotchka sounding very familiar to the bands that flood the music scene today, and not in the past. Examples are at a premium, but I think you get the picture.

Simon K

Album Review - EF

EF – I Am Responsible
[And the Sound Records; 01/02/2008]

Sweden’s EF is one in a long line of formulated post-rock bands. There was always going to be a time where it all sounded a little too similar. Because vocals are all but none existent in the manner of post-rock, the generic time scale was always going to come sooner rather than later.

Although EF’s sophomore album, I Am Responsible weighs in with a pale amount of solidarity, once again timing is the issue as to when the Swedish collective have entered the fray.

Their drawn out songs like ‘TVA’ and ‘Bear’ seem a little precarious and lack a killer blow, unlike their shorter tracks, with ‘Thrill’ holding enough kilter to weigh up with some of the best acts in the genre. ‘Appendix’ is slower track that introduces vocals, but not enough to really remain exiled away from their contemporaries.

EF could be passed off as an orchestrated sound of Explosions In The Sky. Vary rarely does the band employ the ear-splitting sounds of feedback, much preferring to tread the waters of a cleanly produced and melodic sound, which their Texan forefathers have so brilliantly mastered in this era. I Am Responsible is nothing new on the radar of the post-rock genre and although it’s obvious that EF know what they’re doing, it’s hardly alarming that many others around them are doing the same.

Simon K

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Album Review - Why?

Why? – Alopecia
[Anticon; 11/03/2008]

It’s slightly energizing to see an artist weave in and out of musical genres. Jonathon ‘Yoni’ Wolf is no slouch when it comes to meeting this particular criterion. With hip-hop projects cLOUDDEAD and Hymie’s Basement, Wolf transforms styles, fronting his indie rock project, Why?. The band’s second album Alopecia is more of Wolf’s sharp lyricisms that have laid the foundation for the artist’s previous successes.

Wolf’s nasally rants are not too divergent to Destroyer’s Daniel Bejar, minus the octave shifts. There are certain tracks that are true indie rock songs during Alopecia; none better than ‘Fatalist Palmist’ and ‘Simmeon’s Dilemma’. Others sound like off-cuts from cLOUDDEAD transformed into a rockier hybrid, with the perpetual guitar line and Wolf’s stylish lyrics during ‘Good Friday’ leading the cause, while ‘Song of a Sad Assassin’ follows in a similar vein, trading guitar for piano.

Wolf’s aptitude is evident, not only dabbling in other areas from where he originally set out, but narrating certain stories and stretching his lyrics with a mind bending form of intelligence. Although certain parts fail to surpass the strength of cLOUDDEAD, Alopecia is certainly up there with some of Wolf’s finest work to date.

By Simon K

Album Review - R.E.M.

R.E.M. – Accelerate
[Warner Bros.; 01/04/2008]

Michael Stipe maybe a lot of things, but sometimes he doesn’t earn the praise he truly deserves in the stakes of being clever. Openly admitting that the band’s more recent material – at times – failed to live up to expectation, Stipe, Peter Buck and Mike Mills have done their best to rectify the situation with their latest opus, Accelerate.

R.E.M’s fourteenth studio album is 33 minutes full of bare bones college contemporary rock that saw the band shine back in the ‘80s when their music was religiously flowing through the corridors of various University campus’ around the United States Of America.

The political undertones throughout the band’s songs are truly analytical, while the stripped back nature of the band’s sound is like a nostalgic trip from yesteryear. ‘Living Well is the Best Revenge’ pulls R.E.M. out of the studio rut they have recently found themselves in and is delivered with vigour and a slick melody. Lead single ‘Supernatural Superserious’ continues the upbeat tempo the band sets through the album, while maintaining the quality R.E.M. have possessed through their career when it comes to drilling out a single.

Other stand outs include the acoustic driven ‘Until the Day is Done’, while closing track ‘I’m Gonna DJ’ is a rocking affair that sees R.E.M. winding down the album by having a little fun.

Many people will be surprised with the outcome Accelerate attains, with the band heavily leaning towards their philosophy of the past and ripping it through the speakers, resulting in a somewhat return to form. It’s not that their previous material in this era was that bad; it was more so the manner of the how the songs were constructed and delivered. If there were any doubts previously, then they will instantly dissolve this time around.

By Simon K