Thursday, 27 February 2014

Review of "Love Death Immorality" by Glitch Mob

Glitch Mob’s debut, Drink the Sea, was rich in atmosphere and although the tracks were a little too quirky for your average night club they had a unique character to them that pulled in the listener. Love Death Immorality, the electronic three-piece’s second album, seems to be a step in the wrong direction. Although pristinely produced and rich in texture, the group’s new sound has the personality of a plank. It’s a mixture of Skrillexy brostep and generic electro house that’s far too calculated. The build-ups and melodies are predictable and fail to cling to the cortex. I’d like to say the group got more accessible, but the multiple layers make this almost too complex for the mainstream club scene. It’s a shame – the group have clear bags of talent and a definite ear for texture. What’s sorely missing is a playful sense of creativity. 


Friday, 21 February 2014

Review of "The Brink" by The Jezabels

Eighties New Wave is being revived to death. The Strokes, Foals, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Interpol and Franz Ferdinand are just a handful of the indie bands that have been getting their hussar-style jackets on and grooming their bouffants to embrace their inner Duran Duran. Australian group, The Jezabels, are also riding the bandwagon. However, unlike their contemporaries, The Jezabels have thrown away all the groove and vivacity of New Wave, reviving the genre whilst simultaneously sucking all the life out of it.

To be fair, there are occasional instants on this record in which its airy, sunny synths succeed at being quite pretty. However, for all its mellowness, it suffers from a lack of dynamics that makes it altogether about as pretty as a kitten without a pulse. Lead singer, Hayley Mary, can certainly sing but her vocals just aren’t emotive or catchy. The banal chord progressions accompanying her contribute to a record that’s overall just forgettable. Impressively forgettable. Unforgettably forgettable? Let’s not get silly now... 


Thursday, 20 February 2014

Review of "Civilia Demo" by Isaiah Rashad

Top Dawg Entertainment’s latest inductee shows off his versatility on this super-chill so-called “EP” (since when did a nearly-fifty-minute running time not constitute as a full album?). The young Tennessee rapper knows how to switch up his flow and deliver a sweet hook. He’s also real and he knows it. Aided by some smooth, lush, loungey beats, Civilia Demo makes for a truly engaging hip hop record great for vibing to! I can’t say I was all too enamoured by the lyrics. The tributes to his hip hop idols, Scarface and Master P, were pretty nice and he has some touching stuff to say about fatherhood. Other than that nothing really stuck with me. The dude sure likes the herb, I got that much. 


Thursday, 6 February 2014

Review of "Benji" by Sun Kil Moon

At a glance, some of the track titles on this album – “I can’t live without my mum” and “I love my dad” – initially struck me as the soppy corniness only a kid would come up with. However, this succinct openness swiftly reveals itself to be the thing that makes Benji so goddamn good.

Folk singer Mark Kozelek (aka Sun Kil Moon) exchanges poetry for simplistic storytelling. The songs centre largely around tragedy, Mark recounting rose-tinted tales from his past that all seem to end unhappily with death. The tracks are by and large intensely intimate and intensely depressing: some designed to be genuine tearjerkers, others so bluntly depressing that they become comical - I think intentionally so. When Mark sings “my uncle died in a fire on his birthday” (pretty bloody depressing stuff) he seems to not be wallowing in the sadness of it but instead admiring the irony. There are moments in which the humour is certainly much less subtle, like in the track “dogs”. Even most gangsta rappers wouldn’t dare to reach the jarring levels of sexual explicitness found in this song. Then there’s the closer, “Ben’s my friend”, perhaps my favourite track on the album. Some of the vocal hooks such as “blue crab cakes” and “sports bar shit” are hilariously bizarre and the arrival of a bass guitar, drums and a smoky sax into the mix all help to create a classy and elegant crescendo to the record, transporting the listener to a swanky apartment overlooking the moonlit New York City skyline. Well, that's the scene I pictured anyhow.

An emotional maelstrom, Benji is an album that will certainly stick with you for a while. Indeed, the album is obsessed with death and loss, but it leaves you feeling somewhat enlightened. Mark seems to overall be celebrating life’s tragedies rather than mourning them, valuing them as experiences that have built him as a person, experiences that make us all who we are. But anyway, I won’t pretend to be a philosopher. In simple terms, Benji is deep stuff that made my mascara run and yikes, life is fragile! #manscara #yolo #listentothisalbum


Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Review of "So Long, See You Tomorrow" by Bombay Bicycle Club

So Long, See You Tomorrow is a vibrant, jaunty record buzzing with cosmopolitan sounds from all around the globe. Guitars have been stripped back, along with most other traces of the indie rock template, to create an unclassifiable and exotic genre soup. Choppy samples and prominent bass showcase a clear hip hop influence. Meanwhile, the use of tribal percussion and Asian-inspired melodies demonstrate world music influences. Songwriter and front man, Jack Steadman, was travelling whilst writing a lot of the material for this album and at points the oriental aromas and foreign sights really come to life through the melodies and sounds. If the lyrics were a little more concrete they could elevate this album into something truly dizzying in flavour. A truly animated and creative listen that's worth checking out. 


Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Review of "Rave Tapes" by Mogwai

This is my first encounter with Glaswegian post-rock group, Mogwai. I’ve never liked the term “post-rock” but because I don’t know how else to categorise this group I’ll roll with the term just this once.

 “Rave tapes” is the group's eighth studio album. Soft eighties techno synths dovetail with twangy electric guitars to create an instrumental album worthy of a movie soundtrack, soothing and gentle in mood. I say “instrumental” – there are occasionally spots of vocals on this record such as the lullaby whispering on “Blues Hour” and the incomprehensible vocoders on the final track “Lord is Out of Control”. Fragments of bizarre spoken word are also employed on the track “Repelish” detailing the use of Satanic subliminal messaging in Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven”. It’s a bit of a weird moment on the album but quite frankly the record could do with a few more weird moments. Indeed, “Rave Tapes” succeeds at creating a brilliantly calming and consistent atmosphere and every track flows excellently, but a scarcity of standout moments prevents this record from being anything other than decent background music.