Friday, June 27, 2008

Album Review - Death Cab For Cutie

Death Cab For Cutie - Narrow Stairs [Atlantic Records; 12/05/2008]

Depends on who you're talking to, Plans was a successful record, being that it won the band a ton of new fans and the music continued to be catchy. Long time fans have been sceptical of the band ever since selling their souls to the evil of a larger record company, that being Atlantic Records. Time has flown and it's time for the Cutie's second outing on Atlantic. In a quote that was posted on the Wikipedia late last year had me frothing at the mouth for the follow up as some of the quote mentioned a "10 minute long Can jam", anticipation ensured. Being excited as I was for the release of Narrow Stairs I was duped into a faux version of the record, some German band? Feeling the sting, finally a real version was released.

On first listen I was a little underwhelmed as i was wanting/expecting an album full of space flavoured jams but after a few more listens the songs really started to reveal themselves. For starters "I Will Possess Your Heart", (the first single and the song in which the quote came from) is song of the year material, strangely different from past material, smooth and excitingly creative. In fact the album sports a few song of the year candidates, as in opener "Bixby Canyon Bridge" Gibbard showcases his influences in beat poetry with his lyrics over an incredible slice of musical bliss. "Grapevine Fires" apparently written about the fires which spread across L.A last year is the Cutie at the top of their game. The album is certainly a mixed bag of sorts as "Long Division" is the upbeat rocker and "You Can Do Better Than Me" is the Death Cab trademark insecurity song, which carries over the similar themes from past albums and "Pity and Fear" could be that song to become your favourite song on the album after listening to the others too much. Guitarist/Producer Chris Walla is at the helm of the bands sixth effort and he does it justice.

Being a guy who hasnt been with them since the beginning (as I'm far too young) it's great to see a record of such quality even if there is no comparison to some of their Barsuk material, depending on the listener and when they started with the band I still really feel this is a really fine album. For those who haven't already dismissed the band for becoming to popular expect to see Narrow Stairs at the top of a few polls at the end of the year.


Lullaby Recommended

Stay Tuned for Lullaby's Best Music of 2008 so far...

Live Review - My Morning Jacket

My Morning Jacket
Date: 25/06/2008
Venue: The Leadmill
City: Sheffield, United Kingdom

Louisville, Kentucky's My Morning Jacket hold the reputation of unleashing one the best live shows around and despite the Sheffield's Leadmill only sparsely filled, those who attended the bash (MMJ's first on the current tour) left with the performance well and truly ensconced in their memory.

My Morning Jacket are a different proposition in the live arena. Their expansion in musicianship is undoubted, with bassist “Two Tone” Tony's bouncing bass throbs simmering underneath the guitar combustion of frontman Jim James and fellow axeman, Carl Broemel.

'Evil Urges and 'Highly Suspicious' are falsetto driven numbers that explore a new avenue for My Morning Jacket, even more so live, with a trajectory that doesn't compare between the respective mediums. The zenith of MMJ's catalogue is certainly 'Gideon'; jam packed with bass notes that make one numb, the turbulent spasms and guitar breakouts end with James, TTT and Broemel coalescing to the centre of stage for a rock 'n' roll conclave. The swelling grooves of 'Lay Low' and 'Anytime' follow in seismic waves where guitar freak-outs and swirling bass jams have bystanders glued to this assault.

The no-nonsense swathe that is 'Smokin from Shootin' and the reverberating trance of 'Touch Me I'm Going to Scream Pt.2' rank among the highlights off Evil Urges , while It Still Moves' country bumpkin stomp that is 'Golden' is a lush rendition of southern fried rock. 'One Big Holiday' closes the show with more of an epic vibe and rocking hybrid in comparison with the record cut.

Although Jim James is the obvious epicentre, each band member extrudes a unique virtuosity that almost appears to be purposely tucked away on record. Material off Z is expanded upon in ferocious fashion, appearing as the obvious yardstick in the 'Jacket's arsenal, despite the haphazard brilliance that material off Evil Urges possesses. There's no doubt whatsoever that My Morning Jacket immerse themselves when “playing” live, exceeding expectations and mesmerizing the masses along the way.


1. Evil Urges
2. Off The Record
3. Gideon
4. I'm Amazed
5. Highly Suspicious
6. Lay Low
7. Touch Me I'm Going To Scream Pt.1
8. What A Wonderful Man
9. Sec Walkin
10. Golden
11. Thank You Too!
12. The Way That He Sings
13. Remnants
14. Smokin From Shootin
15. Touch Me I'm Going To Scream Pt.2


16. Wordless Chorus
17. It Beats 4 U
18. I Will Sing You Songs
19. Run Thru
20. Anytime
21. One Big Holiday


Review & Photos by Simon K

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Album Review - Errors

Errors – It's Not Something But It Is Like Whatever
[Rock Action Records; 03/06/2008]

In many respects, Glasgow's Errors are a version of Mogwai that you could hit the dance-floor to. It's no coincidence that the latter have drafted this young trio in to releasing their debut album on Rock Action Records (the 'Gwai's own label). After all, RAR's roster of artists all claim to present one raging similarity; making noise and equally doing it in fine fashion.

Much like Errors' debut EP How Clean Is Your Acid House?, It's Not Something But It Is Like Whatever contains a fair underpinning. 'Dance Music' is a sardonic title that we've witnessed Mogwai using throughout their career. Errors portray this well enough, with flowing beats that are catchy and equally raw enough for the village idiot to shy away from.

'Salute! France' stands as the album's finest moment with it's melodic drive created by a gliding keyboard encapsulating what Errors set out to achieve on their debut, albeit if it's only momentarily. 'Still Game' provides the come down, with a more guitar orientated dirge, while closing track 'Alot of the Things You Don't Isn't' maybe just that, hauntingly closing the album with darkness and mystique.

Although the basis prevails with solidarity, at times, INSBIILW feels like a chore, with large pieces of deadwood floating in between the finer bits; most of which are mentioned above. If Mogwai made dance music then it would probably sound like this, but unlike Errors, when they lay foundations, you'd well and truly know about it. It's hard not to sit Errors next to their label mates, but as they say, when you've made your bed...

By Simon K

Album Review - The Fall

The Fall – Imperial Wax Solvent
[Castle; 28/04/2008]

Mark E. Smith has recently come under scrutiny, being harshly scathed for his alleged self-parody and cynicism of certain quarters in England and for that matter, the World. However, as always, Smith will just fob this off and probably write about it for The Fall's next album. In fact, there's no “probably” about it. Imperial Wax Solvent is once again Smith throwing musicians on the conveyor belt to re-define the boundaries his band have disintegrated time and time again over the 30 plus years of The Fall's existence.

“I'm A 50 year old man, and I like it” spits Smith, during '50 Year Old Man', which entrenches us right into the now of The Fall. With bass rhythms undulating with a post-punk trademark during tracks like 'Strange Town' and 'Tommy Shooter' it's lyrics of Smith that once again steal the show. Still taking a swipe at the working class beer consumers and weekly bingo attenders of his nation (none better than 'Alton Towers' and 'Senior Twilight Stock Replacer') there's a seismic shift during this affair, with the mocking undertones of 'I've Been Duped' rendering a steely pop aesthetic.

The Fall have never been pinned down and taken hostage by anyone over their three decade life-span. Constantly transforming mutant soundscapes, altering tactics with personnel, and the perpetuating scathing lyrical barrages from album-to-album, it's no doubt The Fall continue to prosper. Imperial Wax Solvent might not rate as the best Fall album to hit the shelves, but it's far from the worst and as long as the platform is still there, Mark E. Smith will continue to rant and do it damn well.

By Simon K

Album Review - Martha Wainwright

Martha Wainwright – I Know You're Married But I've Got Feelings Too
[Drowned In Sound; 10/05/2008]

The sibling of singer-songwriter, Rufus, Canadian born Martha Wainwright stole our hearts and trampled all over them in 2005 with her debut self-titled full-length. Full of vigorously written folk songs, a plethora of anger was let off the leash to cause havoc and distress, with the brashness MW employing clearly showing one message; this women could hold her own with anybody. Martha's second album, I Know You're Married But I've Got Feelings Too, follows a similar path in themes, but in the case of sound, there's a significant ushering.

With IKYMBIGFT, proceedings flow a little smoother, with turbulence at a premium. Pink Floyd's classic hit 'See Emily Play' is covered in more of a come-down/folk fashion, while earlier tracks on the album such 'Hearts Club Band' and 'The George Song' sight the scope to more of an undercurrent of angst, which essentially is what the the album is all about.

Although not as in-your-face with the cold harsh fists and gashing red hot blood like her predecessor, IKYMBIGFT still alludes to personal set-backs and heartbreak. It's just in more of a metaphorical sense this time, making the listener work a little harder (album title being the exception). It shows that Wainwright can vent her anger through various channels, which for the most part, is commendable. Still, it sounded better when the boldness and feisty interplay was at the table.

By Simon K

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Album Review - Silver Jews

Silver Jews – Lookout Mountain, Lookout Sea
[Drag City; 17/06/2008]

David Berman has always smashed boundaries in the aesthetic of your run-of-the-mill song-writer. Always in close company with the likes of Stephen Malkmus, the influences of the Pavement main main has always rubbed off on Berman, who has never called the proverbial spade a spade lyrically or musically.

Lookout Mountain, Lookout Sea is a Silver Jews album that many can relax and enjoy, posing as the most straight-forward of albums that Berman has penned since this project kicked started in the late '90s.

'What Is Not But Could Be If 'sounds like Johnny Cash's bastard son knocking out the land-locked blues. 'Suffering Jukebox' is a striking to-and-fro between Berman and his wife, Cassie, who adds a country twirl to the ditty. 'Strange Victory', 'Open Field' and 'Party Barge' are all in-you-face indie country numbers that are arguably the most accessible Berman has ever written.

Although the core base of Silver Jews' listeners maybe put off by the accessibility Lookout Mountain, Lookout Sea portrays, in truth this was an avenue that Berman was always capable of enduring upon. Now that he's actually taken this step, it may catch people a little off-guard. Rather than bending the listener's mind with ambiguity and instrumentation that's hard to pierce, his unearthed an album that one can indulge in with very little effort and for this it's just an extra string to bow of David Berman.

By Simon K

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

DVD Review - Gimme Shelter (Rolling Stones)

Gimme Shelter is a documentary/concert film that was released in 1970 portraying the Stones on their 1969 US tour. The film begins with footage shown from their famous Madison Square Gardens concert with some takes featuring on their live album "Get Yer Ya-Ya's Out", and random shots of them hanging about in hotels and listening to fresh cuts of their songs, but at the centre of the film is the tragic events that took place at their free gig at the Altamont Speedway in San Francisco. On December 6, 1969, merely only a few months after Woodstock, the Stones were to perform alongside Jefferson Airplane, Ike and Tina Turner and the Flying Burrito Brothers for charity at Golden Gate Park, though they were denied as another event was already taking place so through much stress a decision was made that it would take place at the then currently unused Altamont Speedway.

Not long after the film starts rolling we see a very emotional Jagger and Watts as they are dealing with the aftermath of the murder of 18 year old man Meredith Hunter that took place as they played. We then hear from the most prominent member of the Hells Angels, Sonny Barger telling his side of the story via radio. What is so special about the footage captured is not only the events that take place but to witness what it was like back then to be a music fan. Seeing people on drugs, the violence, the love making, producing a very real and somewhat intense portrayal of a time not so innocent as we might have thought. The intensity builds up throughout the film as the crowd infiltrates the stage and at one stage an Angel punching out Marty Ballin from the Jefferson Airplane whilst they are performing. For what sparked the act of violence that ended in murder is still a little shady, but rest assured this event remains one of the most intriguing subjects in music history. To find someone to blame for the unfortunate event would be hard to get to the bottom of as the Hells Angels, what were they really doing there? The fans, drugged up and seemingly aggressive, what about the music? All of these elements combine to what is frequently called the event that closed up shop in the department of peace and love of the 60's. This is purely a must for anyone who calls themselves a music fan, this is an intense and exhilarating documentation and most definitely essential viewing.

Lullaby Recommended


Album Review - Evangelista

Evangelista – Hello, Voyager
[Constellation Records; 11/03/2008]

Despite being born in New York, in many respects Carla Bozulich (now residing in Los Angeles) is the West Coach equivalent to Lydia Lunch. Dabbling in various forms of art, creating in many shapes and forms, it was Bozulich's solo 2006 album Evangelista that gained a plethora of critical acclaim. Naming her latest project after her last album, along with some different musicians, Bozlulich unleashes Hello, Voyager.

'Lucky Lucky Luck' trickles with the sound of alternative country while her label mates, A Silver Mt Zion unleash some influences, with screeching instrumentation rumbling under the framework. 'The Blue Room' is a disjointed ballad with rigid guitars that are plucked out of time and Bozluich's unconventional vocal is shed for the whole world to hear. 'Truth Is Dark Like Outta Space' is a punk number inspired by the New York No Wave movement, but extruded with a little more accessibility, while 'Frozen Dress' establishes yet another example in genre hop-scotch with evocative sheets of noise peering through cracks of the wall.

Hello, Voyager is a release that genre-surfs from song to song, making it very unpredictable, which essentially is what art is all about. With the listener on the edge of their seat with ears pricked and eyes wide with intrigue, Bozulich's latest batch of songs certainly have the ability to unease. Depending on how one approaches their music will purely determine whether they strike a chord with this release or not.

By Simon K

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

DVD Review - Low: You May Need A Murderer

Low – You May Need A Murderer
[Stemra; 03/06/2008]

Over 15 years of recording albums and touring on the back of them, Low have finally been paid homage, with a documentary filmed by Dutch filmmaker, David Kleijwegt.

You May Need A Murderer is a 72 minute documentary based around the natural habitat of Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker; two thirds of the seismic force that is Low. Filmed over 30 days throughout America, this documentary touches on the pair's family life in Duluth, Minnesota, which encompasses their dealings as parents, musicians, whilst also emphasising on the duo's religious involvement within the Mormon community.

Alan Sparhawk is the focal point of the film. With the epi-centre of the documentary touching on the precarious economic situation his country currently possesses, Sparhawk merely points out that America is nothing more than a third world country; a notion many people are finally starting to catch on to.

Kleijwegt, unafraid to ask the tough questions, refers to the situation of Sparhawk's illness three years ago, which Sparhawk himself and Mimi Parker go at some lengths to explain, embarking on yet another tangent that forms intrigue for the viewer.

The use of of songs from the band in the live arena is integrated perfectly within certain scenes throughout this documentary. None better than 'When I Go Deaf' that washes in the background while Sparhawk embarks on a run, sporting shorts and a t-shirt.

You May Need A Murderer is a story about two entities growing up together and forming a relationship that comprises of giving their life to religion, parenthood, and against the odds, being in a band. It's refreshing to see a documentary about an artist that doesn't exactly make music the focal point, while the nature of which Kleijwegt captures Sparhawk and Parker pinpoints towards a humanly organic texture.

By Simon K

Album Review - Elvis Costello & The Imposters

Elvis Costello & The Imposters – Momofuku
[Lost Highway; 22/04/2008]

The beauty about Declan MacManus is that he's never fitted in. From the realms of London pub rock during the '70s, Elvis Costello has always delivered something that defies the odds. This time it's with his band, The Imposters, and in the shape and form of Momofuku.

Costello has swayed towards the angle of writing a love song with Momofuku. The lyrics he conjures swathe between a clear dabble with pop and it's evident, drafting in Rilo Kiley's Jenny Lewis to guest on vocals during the album.

Guitars merely progress past a couple of chords, while Costello unleashes lyrics that come across in light-hearted fashion, however - as always the case – things are never as they seem when relating to this artist. Even with the sound, opening track 'No Hiding Place' culminates with an alt-country stomp that hits you all the way from left field, which is what Costello has basically made a career out of doing.

'Flutter and Wow' is up there with the highlights of the album. A ballad in typical sense, this track wouldn't be out of place in your local boozer on a Sunday afternoon, with the local crooner doing his best to murder it. 'Go Away' closes the album, with a loose pop jangle and catchy melody making it the most straight-forward song on the album.

Many are saying that it's Costello's best album since the days of Brutal Youth. These mutterings could be somewhat off the mark, based on the fact that Costello is always striving for something different, making comparisons between his works an all but impossible task. The work Costello has released over the years may not always reap the rewards, and the same goes for Momofuku, where some listeners will evidently gain more fruition than others.

By Simon K

Monday, June 16, 2008

Album Review - Wolf Parade

Wolf Parade – At Mount Zoomer
[Sub Pop; 17/06/2008]

Despite the slew of projects Dan Boeckner and Spencer Krug indulge in, people have still suffered from anxiety in the hope that a new Wolf Parade album would surface. So much so, that on the back of their genre defining debut, Apologies to Queen Mary, the band's sophomore effort, At Mount Zoomer is arguably one of the most anticipated releases of the year.

Although it was always going to be one hell of a battle to surpass the sounds of their first at-bat, after the dust settles, many would have thought that Wolf Parade could have done a little better with 'Zoomer.

'Soldier's Grin' picks up from where the band left off, displaying all the strong traits Wolf Parade had initially shown on Apologies'. The one two indie-punch combo of 'California Dreaming' and 'The Grey Estate' also demonstrate Wolf Parade expanding on their sound in catchy fashion, but sadly there's not too much else to elaborate on without wasting column space. The catchy indie pop songs that we fell in love with the first time around seem to be sparse and at a high premium, making this album very patchy and skip prone.

Wolf Parade have presented a different proposition with At Mount Zoomer. Despite the obvious Boeckner fans, who will judge the album with over zealous emotion based on the fact that this is new material - to put it bluntly - their first album was brilliant and this one isn't. There's a middle ground in the world of music and although there's some decent songs here, this time around Wolf Parade haven't found it in terms of producing a decent album. Sadly, there lies the problem.

By Simon K

Friday, June 13, 2008

Album Review - Pyramids

Pyramids – Pyramids
[Hydra Head; 2008]

What happens when the metal dude sporting black cloths and corpse paint locks horns with the meek looking dude trying to emulate Kevin Shields circa 1990? Well, after the alcohol is exchanged and persona's loosen up, then your answer is the wicked sounds of Pyramids.

Pyramids' sound is defined by a bunch of friends getting together, exchanging record collections and pulling the best bits out and throwing them down in the studio (or basement, which is most often the case these days). The end result is the band's debut self-titled affair.

'Sleds' sounds like the Animal Collective trying to put their spin on Boris' 'Farewell' with moody layers of sound and wavy undercurrents at the helm. The proceedings move into a different direction from here, with 'Igloo', 'End Resolve' and 'Monks' soaring with layers of white noise while being backed by a rhythm section that wouldn't look out of place in the black metal community.

A Place To Bury Strangers created the sin of throwing their eggs into one basket. This is where Pyramids prevail. They've pilfered sounds from a wide array of influences and have conformed this with layered textures and evocative soundscapes, culminating in one big cluster-fuck. Listening to Pyramids is like getting taught by three different music teachers at once; you just don't know whether you're coming or going, which is the whole beauty of it.

By Simon K

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Interview - The Forms

The Forms are one of those bands that have ducked and weaved through the music scene over the past five years. In the heart of Brooklyn, where ground-making music is perpetually being made, it seems, The Forms (frontman/guitarist Alex Tweeen, guitarist Brendan Kenny, bassist Jackson Kenny and drummer Matt Walsh) continue to trudge along making a primitive rendition of indie rock, without stealing the headlines.

To simplify it, their second self-titled album is a great listen. An easy listen, but again, it's difficult to define. After their 2003 debut opus, Icarus, many knew we had a good indie band on our hands and this time around this notion still swirls with conviction.

I first came across The Forms back in the Anemic Magazine days. Since then, the band have evolved onto a wider scale, rubbing shoulders with the likes of Battles, The National, and Nick Cave at the recent New York Plug awards, while an appearance at South By Southwest shortly followed. A European tour is also being mooted for Brooklyn's best kept secret. Frontman, Tween, was kind enough to agree in answering some questions that centre around the band's latest album.

Lullaby Magazine: Hey Alex, it’s good to talk to you again?

Alex Tween: Likewise, Simon.

LM: It’s been a while, but I’m really glad it’s under the circumstances of a new album. Tell me, how’s life with The Forms?

AT: Very good. A lot of projects going on. It took a long time for us to put out new music, but that is going to change.

LM: A lot’s been happening, too. You just played The Plug Awards, playing along side the likes of Nick Cave, Battles, Dizzee Rascal. How was that experience?

AT: It's really strange to go from working on a song in your bedroom where you're just by yourself and no one's around, to suddenly playing the same song as part of a show such as that where you're in a massive venue all day with 100 crew and lights and camera people milling about, and then eventually thousands of people watching you. we've played a few shows like that and tend to feel a little like a fish out of water, but that said i think we all had a good time.

LM: Did you meet any of the bands afterwards?

AT: We met St. Vincent; they're super nice and a great band. Also The National, though we had known them from before. Nick Cave had an entourage and an entire floor of his own dressing rooms so we didn't meet him.

LM: You’re also off to South By Southwest. Is this your first time at the showcase event?

AT: It was our second time.

LM: What would you say an average day at SXSW involves?

AT: The first time I went, I had a list of five to six bands to see every day, and I think you get so caught up in seeing bands that it's difficult to actually have any fun. This past year, I just more or less did what I felt like doing at the moment. I ended up seeing fewer bands, but having more fun.

LM: The new album’s been out in the States for a while now, how’s the response been towards it, thus far?

AT: We felt we had a lot to live up to after our first album Icarus, and since our new record is pretty different, we didn't really know what people would think. But most people seem to like it better than our first one, which is cool.

LM: I see you’ve dropped the alias’ and now are using your real names. Any reason behind that?

AT: We did it because we wanted to de-emphasize our personalities and place the focus on the music. But we would do radio interviews and it was so awkward when we'd say our names using those names. It just works better on paper I guess. Also, I think our new record is more up front and in the light, so it fit in that respect, too.

LM: It’s longer than ‘Icarus’, it’s also self-titled. In terms of sound it’s a lot more straight forward then the first album. Do you ever get asked the question that this album is something that bands usually make first time around as apposed to the second, given the way your first record, Icarus, was recorded?

AT: Well I agree that bands usually make the self-titled earlier, with some exceptions (the Liars' last album, The Beatles' white album, etc.). In our case, anytime we tried to append some sort of concept to the album, it felt really contrived. It was best left open. As for getting more straightforward later, I think the new record is more straightforward in some ways (song structures, louder vocals) but less in others. For example, I felt a lot of people thought of our first record as emo, whereas i think the new one is a lot tougher to pin down.

LM: You recorded it Steven Albini again. He’s gone on record as saying he’s never seen a band take on a particular part so many times. It seems that you guys took a lot of time perfecting this effort?

AT: Yeah, and he said that about Icarus, which we spent significantly less time on. We spent about 50 days in the studio this time around. We worked from morning until night every day, with scarcely any time off. It was grueling and I nearly had a breakdown towards the end, but I think it was definitely worth it considering how everything turned out.

LM: On Steve Albini, he requested that artists acknowledge him as a “recorder” and not a “producer”. I guess that’s a case of you guys having free reign with no influence from him, would this be right in saying?

AT: I think so. Steve has the utmost respect for the artist, and would never try to impose his will on a band, as some producers do. That said, I think he does put his aesthetic stamp on recordings whether he wants to admit it or not, for it's always easy to tell when a recording is done by Steve. But that stamp happens to sound pretty damn good, which kind of makes it OK.

LM: Your music is so hard to pin point, it’s like you’re adding elements to what is deemed as “indie rock”. You must really find it fitting that people find it hard to pigeon hole your music?

AT: We aren't really a band that hears something and tries to emulate it. I think we probably do have "influences" but I'm not really sure what they are. They're probably as much life experiences, fiction, or whatever, as they are music. We don't really think about it, and I think because of that, the end result comes out sounding different from other things.

LM: I find the opening track, ‘Knowledge In Hand’ quite interesting. It’s like the band’s epic track, so to speak. Your vocals seem at the height of everything. Was it important to choose this track as the opener?

AT: At least for me personally, if a listener were to hear only one song from the album, I'd want it to be that one. It captures a lot of ideas that the the album has throughout well: the jarring transitions, the focus on melodies, the hard-to-pin-down emotion.

LM: How big an influence does living in Brooklyn have on the band?

AT: I'm reminded of Michelle Obama's statement "for the first time in my adult life I am proud of my country." I feel that way about Brooklyn right now. There are really some great great bands here at the moment: The National, Battles, Dirty Projectors, High Places, Apes and Androids, etc. It's inspiring and exciting to be around.

LM: Last time we chatted it was bands like Interpol and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs that were taking New York by storm. Now it’s transformed and things are a lot different. Do you see the kind of music that bands like Animal Collective and Battles make as the future of music itself?

AT: I'd say yes in both cases. Both of those bands are fusing technology and rock music in very progressive ways that will be influential. That said, I think Animal Collective takes a lot from the Beach Boys/60s and that Battles takes from 90s Chicago bands like Don Caballero (unsurprising since Battles' Ian Williams played guitar in Don Cab'). But then again, borrowing from the past will probably always be a part of the future of music as well.

LM: You run Threespheres (record label) while Matt plays in The Desert Fathers. How do you guys prioritize from different projects so things down run into each other?

AT: The Desert Fathers are on indefinite hiatus, though Matt is working on a new project called First Nature with Keith from Desert Fathers that should be out in a few months. Threespheres' label activity has lessened in recent years. Labels don't really make much money anymore. Just ask Clive Davis.

LM: Finally, do you guys plan to tour abroad anytime soon?

AT: There are tentative plans for a European tour in the fall.

LM: Thanks for your time, Alex. Good luck with The Forms for the rest of the year and beyond.

AT: Thank you, Simon. Take care.

For more information about the band please visit the following.

The new album The Forms is out now on Threespheres

Interview by Simon K

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Album Review - Shearwater

Shearwater – Rook
[Matador; 03/06/2008]

Without too much notice from music listeners around the world, Shearwater have been trekking around for the last five years. Up until now, frontman Jonathon Meiburg has kept busy with Okkervil River, but with his main band attracting more and more attention, he has now left Will Sheff and Okkervil' to concentrate more on this project (despite Sheff actually being a part-time member of Shearwater, too). Shearwater extract a more folk orientated form of music as apposed to Okkervil River and their fifth album, Rook, displays this trait quite contently.

The noise levels abrasively rise at times, with opening track 'On the Death of the Waters' portraying this nicely, but for the most part Meiburg croons to his listeners in an attempt to melt hearts ('The Snow Leopard' and 'Hunter's Star'). 'Rooks' moves in ebbs and flows with Meiburg's thick vocal the standout, while 'Century Eyes' is a more intense rocking affair that moves away from the rest of the album.

In a lot of ways Shearwater's music is very similar to Okkverill River's ('Leviathan Bound' and 'Home Life'), but with more of a gracious representation. Meiburg chooses to sooth his listeners with grandeur and lust, as apposed to jumping out of the speakers and shaking them like his Texan cohort, Sheff. At times this is commendable on Shearwater's behalf, but at others it can a little tedious and difficult to engage with, with the music sounding more like candle light dinner material as apposed to Gothic folk.

Rook is an album that needs your undivided attention, which makes it a tough journey if you're not in the mood. Along with a set of headphones - which are an essential if you're to fulfil the album's potential – patience is a virtue. There maybe something festering here and although things may not come to fruition from the outset, it's still worth sticking around, because like all good albums, things could just take a little longer to burn.

By Simon K

Album Review - My Morning Jacket

My Morning Jacket – Evil Urges
[ATO Records; 10/06/2008]

My Morning Jacket is a band that attracts respect from all quarters. Not necessarily because they make amazing albums, but more so because of their diversity and their ability to immerse from static creativity, which a lot of their contemporaries fail to do. They've had their fair share of success in the past with album's such as At Dawn and Z topping many listeners' favourite polls, but the one thing MMJ have always lacked is quality control. They rectified this situation with the latter album, however there were still some weak tracks that lay within the release.

Z was a shift in gear, with a longevity of experimental guitar jams and stomping riffs two of the many great features MMJ decided to embark upon within their music. Smashing their boundaries, the band continues on underlining their intentions to move forward, with their latest album, Evil Urges.

Jim James mixes up his vocal range throughout this album, with more of a pop glee at the helm. 'Highly Suspicious' is the aptly titled track where James' falsetto does its best to unsettle the listener and is the high point of the band's change in musical climate.

'Librarian' is a cleverly worked lyrical parade which seems a lot easier on the ear than a lot of the band's previous works, while 'Looking at Working' flows in much the same vein. 'Touch Me I'm Going to Scream Pt. 2' is the epic closer that flows on the back of guitar reverb and James' beefy shrills, which never grow dull.

Many will disagree with me on this point, but Evil Urges is arguably the most enjoyable MMJ album that can be listened to from front to back. It's the band's ability to inter-surf within the genres of rock and alt-country making no one track sound alike, which is a complete contrast to the majority of work they've previously released. Much like the steps that Wilco took with A Ghost Is Born and even to a lesser degree with Ryan Adams on Rock N' Roll, MMJ don't care about pleasing; they care about moving forward within their own sound, creating something that makes the listeners brain tick just that tad faster. Evil Urges is definitely that something.

By Simon K

Friday, June 6, 2008

Album Review - Fleet Foxes

Fleet Foxes – Fleet Foxes
[Sub Pop; 03/06/2008]

After the release of their Sun Giant EP earlier in the year, it seems the indie world went into an upward spiral for more sounds from Seattle outfit, Fleet Foxes. In the name of Internet leaks, the indie public's wishes were granted, with the band's self-titled debut album shortly following in “digital format” onto various music blogs for all to enjoy and seemingly wank over.

Fleet Foxes have been branded as the best thing since sliced bread and it's quite apparent, with their sound the equivalent to the summer sunshine. Unlike some bands who get crucified for pilfering sound templates from others, the Fleet Foxes seem to gain praise for it. Some are comparing their sound to the Animal Collective making pop music, but in my opinion this is quite a stretch off the mark.

If anything, it seems as though frontman Robin Pickenhold has sedated My Morning Jacket's Jim James and extracted his vocal chords from his throat with a scalpel. Yes, it's a more conventional sound than his American brother's, however it seems as though the market for these bands is becoming quite congested due to these types of scenarios occurring on a regular basis.

Yes, Fleet Foxes could have done a lot worse with their self-titled debut and despite the praise this album will receive from the masses, there's no escaping the fact that this is rehashed from their modern contemporaries, albeit delivered with a sweeter pop sensibility. The majority of music listeners will be swayed by critics' reaction to this album. Sorry, but I'm not one of them.

By Simon K

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Album Review - Grey Daturas

Grey Daturas – Return To Disruption
[Neurot Recordings; 22/04/2008]

Melbourne's Grey Daturas have been around since the commencement of this era's noise faze, with their debut album Dead in the Woods comprising of sounds that would aptly fit the aftermath of a car wreckage. The twisted grinding dins presented by the Grey Daturas were something new to the listener, despite sometimes veering off on a tangent and creating an easier listen, such as the elegant post-rock number, 'A Japanese Romance'.

Their second album falls somewhere in the middle of the two extremes created with their debut affair. With the results a little easier on the ear, but still managing to render a sound as vicious as ever, Return to Disruption is truly one of the great surprises this year will bring.

Despite the title track and 'Undisturbed' holding onto the unconventional spasms of noise the band's debut album presented, it's numbers such as 'Answered in the Negative' and 'Demarcations Disputes/ Unity' that embark on a journey of rolling feedback and washes of noise sending the band's music into overdrive.

Return to Disruption is the Grey Daturas unleashing their cacophony of freight train colliding noise, but in a more melodic fashion. You just feel the band was treading water with the ways of the world with debut opus, but this time an underpinning of sound has given the band more of a solid framework, resulting in one of the noise albums of the year.

By Simon K

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Album Review - Weezer

Weezer – Weezer (The Red Album)
[Geffen; 03/06/2008]

When Weezer told the World that their latest effort was going to be titled “The Red Album” many thought the band's music would dramatically coil back to the good old days where geeks felt truly liberated when hearing the guitar crunches of Rivers Cuomo and Co. Then this whole “this is out most experimental album” quote pushed the boat out even further with anticipation, which seemingly felt like it was the highest it's been for the band for quite some time. So, Weezer (The Red Album) is here and guess what? I think you know the result.

Just when a nice little rhythm sequences and those Weezer guitar chords get going, Cuomo comes out with some lame rant that brings the impotency to the table for all to hear. 'The Greatest Man That Ever Lived (Variations on a Shaker Hymn)' and lead single 'Pork and Beans' – musically – are Weezer showing signs of strength, but it's left to Cuomo to butcher proceedings with his lack of solidarity on the songwriting front. Let's be honest; who really gives a fuck about the fame of Timbaland?

'Dreamin'' is one of the higher points of the album, with Weezer expanding on their guitar pop sensibility, with that vintage melody making itself known. 'I Thought I Knew' has guitarist Brian Bell at the heart of the vocals, which results in a half decent pop number, while 'The Angel and the One' sees Weezer dropping gears in the tempo, resulting in one of Cuomo's finer constructed songs on the album.

With quality in very sparse amounts, it's evident that Weezer are running out of steam in the ranks of creating something fresh. Although The Red Album seems to be an improvement on the band's 2005 affair, Make Believe, this still doesn't touch the band's back catalogue of work, with 2002's Maladroit culminating in anything of true importance when associating with Weezer.

Simon K

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Album Review - Spiritualized

Spiritualized – Songs In A&E
[Universial Records; 25/05/2008]

It's been one tough ride for Spirtualized's Jason Pierce. Literally staring death in the face with bilateral pneumonia, the former Spaceman 3 member has lived to tell a story about the roller coaster ride he's entailed over the last three years and that story is behind the orchestrated soundscapes of his latest album, Songs In A&E.

'Sweet Talk' kicks off the doctrine of events in true Spiritualized fashion, slowly shifting into gear for 'Soul On Fire', which is undoubtedly one of the singles of the year. With its lyrics clearly alluding to Pierce's dabbles with certain substances barely extruding the words “there's a hurricane inside my veins and I want to stay forever”, it's nothing short of a renaissance.

'Baby I'm Just A Fool' is yet again a number that Pierce establishes his near anti-metaphor beliefs, with his fragile vocal running at a parallel with a swathing riff, while 'Borrowed You Gun' is Pierce once again laying groundwork of his song-smith qualities with a symphonic twirl sifting below the vocal mix.

With the sequences of brass noise through Harmonies one to six, this breaks the album up at regular intervals, initially leaving it a little hard to break through. Despite this not really reflecting on the album's bona-fide song-craft, had these little noisy interludes been culled from the tracklist, the album itself would flow better, despite the adamant intention for their inclusion, it seems.

Like many of his previous releases, lyrical topics fail to take the exit route from the highway, and although people may see it as contrived or wish to brand Pierce as merely a one-trick pony, the solitary trick that the man himself performs is rendered in a way that's as good as any other in the business. How he can get away with this time and time again is one of music's great mysteries, but he still manages to come out smelling of roses time and time again. Songs In A&E is really no different.

By Simon K

Monday, June 2, 2008

Album Review - Earth

Earth – The Bees Made Honey in the Lion's Skull
[Southern Lord; 26/02/2008]

It's hard to transform your feelings into words when encountering drone/experimental music. As one of the pioneers of the genre, Earth continue their journey in stripping down singularly notes and altering as much out of them as humanly possible on their sixth long player, The Bees Made Honey in the Lion's Skull.

On a personal note when it comes to listening to drone, Earth have always stood out. Barely shifting out of their comfort zone, they still manage to improvise with little margin for error within their music, yet still maintain maximum results.

'Rise to Glory' and 'Miami Morning Coming Down II (Shine)' are numbers that hit down the low end but keep the listener intrigued with the guitar twangs of frontman Dylan Carlson instilling a psychedelic aesthetic. 'Engine of Ruin' is more of a confined heat generating affair that moves towards more of a stoner jam frenzy that edges around guest guitarist Bill Frisell's chunky riff. 'Omens And Portents II_ Carrion Crow' also features Frisell and his sleepy riffs leading the line, this time, for more of a doom waltz, while 'Hung For the Moon' sees the band moving into more of a post-rock frame of sorts with higher pitches of piano replacing showers of low tuning bass.

The Bees Made Honey in the Lion's Skull is yet another string the bow for Earth. Although maybe not as dissonant as previous releases, you may find yourself listening to Earth before going to bed rather than using the band's music as a wake up mechanism, which - at the end of the day - is a progression of sorts.

By Simon K