ALBUM REVIEW: This Year – Ask

This Year

Ask 

The fact that this is an old school blues album recorded in the middle of the flower farm just makes it that much cooler, really. And it really is old school too – the ringing strums of electric guitar, the solid and curling vocals set above the popping bass – it’s all a bit early 70’s.

 

Written, recorded, mixed, mastered, produced – whatever else goes in there – by the band themselves, Ask is a surprisingly smooth release for being recorded in a shed. The songs are carefully constructed, rarely stepping a toe out of line, except for the occasional swerving guitar solos. This is in many ways an old record, but recorded with a new ear.  

 

Even more than that, there are some great tracks here: opener ‘Ask’ jumps out of the gate with a hopping drum line and a nice chorus hook. ‘What’s In A Name’ relies on a swaying backbeat and low, thrumming bass line to take things down a notch. “Eliza Jane” goes a bit California Americana, and ‘I’ll Be Back Someday’ has probably the sweetest opening lick of the album. There are only a couple of misses – ‘Angel’ doesn’t have the kick of the others, and ‘You’re On A Ride’ only really gets going at the solo.  

 

The lyrics, whilst pretty simplistic, do the job – and who really listens to a blues/rock album for the lyrics anyway? What really kicks about this is that it’s easy – it doesn’t demand much in the way of a cerebral workout to listen to it, and it shouldn’t. 

Probably more than anything, Ask, is just a great listen, brimming with musicianship and some thoroughly good sounds.  

 Rating: 7.0/10 

New Single: Matt Corby – Resolution

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Matt Corby

Resolution

Matt Corby, of the wild wolf screams and paper-thin falsetto fame, is set to release his highly anticipated debut record later this year.

At first glance “Resolution” is classic Corby: hushed acoustic picking lying steady under Corby’s pillowy vocals. But it’s the addition of the clattering afro-drums and gospel claps that turn “Resolution” from a skeleton into a fully fleshed out being.

ALBUM REVIEW: Half Moon Run- Dark Eyes

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Half Moon Run

Dark Eyes

What goes on up there in Canada?? For such a polite, chilly country they’ve managed to turn out some of the most prolific and successful artists of the last 50 years (Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, Leonard Cohen, Alanis Morisette, Tegan and Sara…), completely altering the musical landscape in a thoroughly unreserved and un-Canadian way.

From this great bed of influences, it’s not surprising that Canada still cultivates some of the most interesting music around. Emerging from Montreal with debut record Dark Eyes, indie rock outfit Half Moon Run have created one of the most impressive albums of recent years. In just under 40 minutes, the group have cut 11 tracks that balance skittered percussion with dreamy vocals, intricate guitar lines with bouncing keyboards, and three part harmonies that the Dixie Chicks would kill for.

It’s this profound ear for balance that gets the mind humming. Songs that manage to hold down atmospheric soundscapes with danceable grooves at their base work so well you wonder why nobody does this all the time. As a bewitching case in point, opener ‘Full Circle’ is a cold piece of folk – a thumping percussive beat with Devon Portielje slip sliding his way through the lyrics atop a crisp acoustic. On the jittery ‘Call Me In The Afternoon’, the harmonies touch down momentarily before leaping to the next line, spurred on by the clacking drum sticks.

They’re alright on the slower stuff as well. ‘Need It’ is perhaps the obligatory love song, but luckily the pillow soft harmonies will get you through. ‘Nerve’ may just be the standout, a twisting mid-tempo groove with a softly pawing hook. Sure, they may shamelessly channel Radiohead on cruisers ‘Drug You’ and ‘Give Up’, but it’s still viewed through their own prism. And it’s that distinct, complicated prism that make Dark Eyes such a sonically arresting record.

Rating: 9.0/10 

The Trouble With Templeton release huge new single “Like A Kid”

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The Trouble With Templeton

Like A Kid 

Spawned from the solo musings of Thomas Calder, Brisbane rockers The Trouble With Templeton have let slip with another single from their upcoming debut.

Ringing with ambition and big rock dreams, “Like A Kid” thunders all the way from the huge opening drums, to the shrieking choir finale.

Like A Kid is released in June

Ladyhawke- “Anxiety” Review

Ladyhawke

Anxiety

2012

Returning after a long break, Ladyhawke has slammed together some crunchy guitars and heavy eighties riffs and produced her second album.

There’s a lot to like about this record, the first half is full of deliciously catchy riffs (the opener- Girls Like Me– is a heartbeat slow dirty dance track, and a standout on the album), and cleverly crafted songs from a lady that knows her way a composition. Sunday Drive is a sci-fi sprayed pop song whilst Vaccine is a thundering ode to drum kits everywhere.

The single, Black, White & Blue continues the pounding with a killer hook and icy vocals. Affected and produced down to the last half-note, it’s electro pop with a rock heart.

But somewhere along the line (after Vaccine), the record falls decidedly flat, the synths are still boring into your brain but the songs don’t contain enough melody to hold them up. It doesn’t progress beyond the foot tapping, and after the 7th song a keyboard induced headache starts to appear.

Cool tracks, but a slightly disappointing whole.

Tracks to hear: “Vaccine”, “Girl Like Me”

The Temper Trap- Album Review

The Temper Trap

2012

The heavy, driving synths and powerful vocals of Dougy Mandagi open The Temper Trap’s self-titled second record. After selling nearly half a million copies of their debut, Conditions, the Melbourne band regrouped and have turned out an album of broad musical vision.

Turning away from the soft rock of Sweet Disposition, the opening track, Need Your Love, is a festival geared, sing-a-long rock number with heavy drums and a huge chorus. They may have abandoned the sound of their smash hit, but the radio-feel remains.

We’re then steered through a curious post punk number with London’s Burning, which opens with news reel interviews taken during the course of the London riots last August. The chorus harmonies are spat out above clangy guitar and and pitch bent synth notes. The punk revival party ends abruptly with the next track Trembling Hands, which resurrects their love of sweeping, epic choruses and echoed vocals. It’s a standout track, with an insatiable hook and a spaced, soaring backing.

The reverb remains on The Sea is Calling, a bittersweet soft rock that weaves intricate guitar patterns around the waves of Mendagi’s vocals. Likewise on later track Rabbit Hole, a creepy, acoustic song that evolves into a heavy guitar jam.

There are smatterings of influences all over this album, such as the odd eighties feel of Miracle, and the U2 sounding This Isn’t Happiness. The spectre of Radiohead is ever present, particularly on the softer, slower tracks. Where Do We Go From Here sounds like what would happen if Prince and R.EM decided to collaborate on a sci-fi film.

The griping hooks return with Never Again, but retract quickly with the surprisingly weak tracks of Dreams and I’m Gonna Wait.

The finishing song, Leaving the Heartbreak Hotel, is a splutter of piano and electro beats under an Anthony Kiedis inspired vocal. It spaces out toward the end in an ocean of guitar noise before falling back to earth with the sharp piano chords.

Perhaps because they’ve trodden the boards and proved themselves, The Temper Trap is a comfortable record, not spreading beyond the indie/rock/electronic world that they’ve wound themselves in. That being said, it’s a much more expansive record than their first, chucking in influences from all over the place. At it’s core though, it’s pure and distilled Temper Trap.

 

Let us know what you think guys! Of the album, songs, or the review itself. Feedback is greatly appreciated!

What went wrong Madonna???

 

Madonna, “Girl Gone Wild”

MDNA, 2012

It’s pretty simple, really. Throw some repetitive, electronic beats along with generic lyrics sung with a highly affected voice, and then you have a dance/pop track ready to be released to the public.

For that’s what Girl Gone Wild is. The most stereotypical pop song that someone with a laptop could whip up in ten minutes. It’s all pumping beats and doubled up vocals, easy to listen to but pretty mindless. The songs greatest attribute is it’s ability to get stuck in you brain, thanks to it’s annoying catchy hook in the chorus and Beiber-esque lyrics:

“Hey-ey-ey-ey-ey-ey-ey-ey-ey/

Like a girl gone wild/ A good girl gone wild”

It’s textbook dance-pop. Nothing more.

The bridge throws up the usual spacey, half-time electronic sounds under Madge’s warped vocals. When she sings:

“I know, I know, I know/ I shouldn’t act this way.”

One could be mistaken that she’s talking about the song.