Monday, 20 February 2012
Album: Have Some Faith In Magic
Release Date: 27/1/2012
Scottish soundscape warriors transport you to a beautiful, dream- like and thrilling world and sound totally at home on album number three
When bands make an album in which the music is the main entity and should be pushed to the forefront, it is essential that it is the MUSIC that contains the largest part of their effort and focus, and thus is the most prominent feature. Scottish sonic wanderers Errors have, over the course of their increasingly electronic catalogue, manipulated and shifted instruments, noises and atmospheres into affecting, often criminally underrated soundscapes. Their third full- length "Have Some Faith In Magic" features the same kind of clinical precision and emphasis on the music, as well as being perhaps the band's most vocal record to date.
Whereas before it was guitars, drums and math- rocky intelligence by which Errors chose to make their creative mesh work, "Have Some Faith In Magic" is there most electronic album to date. Having included inflections of dance music in the past, it's not a total re- invention. Coupled with the fact that Errors are not the kind of band to put their name to a sound without having a good crack at it, it's a sound that the Scottish trio find themselves totally comfortable with. "Tusk" opens up in a flurry of looped swirls before becoming a chiming duel- force of clear- cut post- rock guitars and glacial synths. Throughout, Errors adapt to their new climate by keeping the sense of epicness and a background of dextrous synths to use as a platform, and this skill and passion runs through "Have Some Faith In Magic" almost unfalteringly.
"Magna Encarta" is a 6- minute epic of beautifully shimmering synth interplay that ends up sounding rather pensive and paranoid, and as a whole composition it's fantastic. "Blank Media" is the album's first slow- number, and is beset wuth reverb- laden synths that are eventually lured in to becoming a soft and pattering background noise to a gorgeous lead- guitar line and vocals soaked in haze. The album's most unashamedly cheesy moment (not that there are many) comes with the Pet Shop Boys- on- acid romp of "Pleasure Palaces." It swells and grows, is persistently percussive and rhythmic whilst being awash with a whirlwind of different and often glorious synth melodies as well as reverbed vocal harmonies.
As the album progresses it consistently marries the sublime, dream- like melodies with wake- up- call epicness to brilliant effect. "Earthscore" contains a pulsating bass line and ampidextrous bouts of percussion and a rolling synth undercurrent inflected with stabs of Ibiza- esque euphoria. "Cloud Chamber" is perhaps the most otherworldly moment here, a fest of calming guitar repetition and squelching synths.
"Have Some Faith In Magic" keeps any intricacies of former works in toe and places them in a new environment which Errors, more or less, make completely their own. When it's not thrillingly adventurous it's passively pleasant, and endearingly comfortable. It seems that Errors, in more than one sense, have got the best of both worlds.
Download: 1) "Magna Encarta", 2) "Pleasure Palaces", 3) "Cloud Chamber"
For Fans Of: Holy Fuck, Battles
Thursday, 16 February 2012
Release Date: 23/1/2012
Sonic adventurer's second proves he's not quite out of ideas yet
Gonjasufi, aka Sumach Ecks, has adopted a more straight forward and straight- thinking viewpoint for his second album "MU.ZZ.LE," but that's not to suggest that there aren't moments of masterful innovation here. "Skin" revolves around a melody purely comprising of soft and gorgeous vocal harmonies and fractured drums, whilst album standout "Blaksuit" samples shimmering and twanging guitars. It's less versatile than "A Sufi And A Killer", but in no way suggests that Ecks is out of ideas.
For Fans Of: Shabazz Palaces, Flying Lotus
Wednesday, 15 February 2012
Album: Onwards To The Wall EP
Release Date: 6/2/2012
Old tricks provide an ever powerful punch on the Brooklyn trio's new EP
For years, Brooklyn trio A Place To Bury Strangers have been understated members of the top ranking noisy bands around, but their new EP, "Onwards To The Wall" is as good an introduction to the band as any. "So Far Away" marries the band's trademark cavernous fuzz with melody through clear- cut Joy Division- esque riffing, but it's the final track "Drill It Up" that's the real ace here, a driving, grimy and snarling slice of noise- pop that races along at thrilling pace. Matching up to the intensity of their live shows will always be tough, but APTBS show on "Onwards To The Wall" that there's still plenty of room for them to be potent on record.
Download: Drill It Up
For Fans of: The Jesus And Mary Chain, Crystal Stilts, Joy Division
Saturday, 11 February 2012
Release Date: 23/1/2012
Colorado duo join the '80s revival in an unashamed and joyous way
Chairlift's 2009 debut "Does You Inspire You?" showed that the Boulder, Coloardo trio, defined by their poppy, angular guitar riffs and electro bleepery, just wanted to have a bit of fun. Having lost guitarist Aaron Pfenning in 2010, the remaining members (vocalist Caroline Polachek and multi- instrumentalist Patrick Wimberley) now had to operate within the boundaries of a strict make do and mend policy. Whilst the '80s synth- pop via chillwave seems generally sincere, it seems that Chairlift, as should everyone born post- '85, see '80s synth- pop as a platform to have fun with, as well as giving it the unashamed nod of respect for being such a staple sound.
Opener "Sidewalk Safari" is fueled by abstract, futuristic synths and a quietly palm- muted guitar, while Caroline Polachek's breathy vocals give the song a sensual feel. "Wrong Opinion" is smothered in a hazy, Talk Talk- esque synthy fog and what sounds like '80s cutting and sampling, giving the song a more cavernous depth. "Ghost Tonight" is unashamed in respecting its heritage, full of squelching synths and the rattling percussion and pounding drum techniques often employed by Tears For Fears.
Whilst the "chillwave" genre now shrivels up in the corner of a dark room for fear of being subject to the blogosphere's literary perpetration, Chairlift are making the '80s seem like fun and almost relevant again, as well as being lyrically heartfelt and dark."Something" is a record so happy with its musical heritage that this in itself becomes one of it's key strengths, and gives the record an almighty boost in terms of just how joyous it is. A wonderful throwback if ever there was one.
Download: 1) Wrong Opinion, 2) Ghost Tonight, 3) Met Before
For Fans Of: Class Actress, Tears For Fears, Cocteau Twins
Album: Tough Love
Release Date: 20/1/2012
Leeds' finest refine their terrifically exciting and noisy rock on album number 2 and get that one step closer to greatness
Over the course of the last two years or so, Leeds quartet Pulled Apart By Horses have quickly risen from strength to strength to become one of the best loved rock bands Britain has churned out in years. Even now though, considering their ball- breaking, full- throttle screamo- noise take on punk has never really been a sound that appeals to the indie masses it should be hard to explain just why. It isn't though; humongous, sweaty and chaotic riffs, pummelling beats and ferocious live shows characterised the band's rise and their 2010 full- length debut. In short, PABH's ball twisting racket was the most terrifically exciting rock that British people had heard in years.
Their self- titled debut featured some inspired slabs of meaty heaviness, lead headlong into the rock 'n' roll battlefield by the insane riffs and deranged, grizzled howls of frontman Tom Hudson. Claims from the band that they're "definitely better musicians this time" in reference to "Tough Love" however certainly don't go amiss. PABH have kept all those old traits- the riffs, the fire, the energy- and thrown them all together for a much more refined and (production wise) clear sound, and in some cases some career- defining songs, in the same way that "High Five, Swan Dive, Nose Dive" or "I Punched A Lion In The Throat" will always be.
Opener "V.E.N.O.M." crashes in in a flurry of furious off- kilter drums and a complex but catchy powerhouse of a riff. Straight away it's a more cohesive (and as a result arguably more powerful) sound. It's followed up by the delectable "Wolf Hand", a rollicking punk 'n' roll screamer carried through by one of the finest riffs the band have ever conjured, whilst the verses see the band fuse melody with noise expertly for the first time on "Tough Love" with James Brown's chiming lead line.
"Epic Myth" grooves along with a sleazy riff reminiscent of '70s stoner metal, and has a thunderous classic rock ending that London beer- guzzling throwbacks Orange Goblin would wish they had written. "Some Mothers", which clocks in at 1 minute 43 seconds, is a gut busting and furiously paced but hugely melodic crack at beefed- up punk, and comes off superbly. The real "Fuck Me!" moment however is "Give Me A Reason", a storming, crushingly heavy Nirvana- esque stomp- along featuring another monolithic riff and seeing hatred and revenge pushed to the centre of Hudson's mind as he yelps "I never liked you/ I never liked you/ You're not the same as me!"
As the sentiments on "Give Me A Reason" suggest, Pulled Apart By Horses are not a band to be tested on the strengths of "Tough Love." From start to finish it's an absolute powerhouse, one that may be more refined and melodic than it's debut, but one that finds the almost- perfect medium between heaviness and writing brilliant songs. "Tough Love" is a record where pretty much everything works in the band's favour, and it's for that reason that with "Tough Love" Pulled Apart By Horses edge ever closer to the British rock throne.
Download: 1) Give Me A Reason, 2) Wolf Hand, 3) Wildfire, Smoke & Doom
For Fans Of: The Bronx, Nirvana, At The Drive- In
Album: Born To Die
Release Date: 27/1/2012
The newly re- developed Lizzy Grant certainly knows her way around a good pop tune, but it's with "Born To Die" as a whole that there are problems
It's not entirely common for artists, in terms of their appearance at least, to undergo a complete alteration unless their desire for money and success is so overbearingly great that the thought of selling less than a million records a year is more painful than being force- fed your own shit and skinned alive by Lady Gaga. Lizzy Grant, aka Lana Del Rey, failed miserably at overground progression with her debut in 2010, but 2011 marked her as the centrepiece of probably the year's biggest stylistic reformation. With her newly adopted Nancy Sinatra - esque "bad girl" look and two sultry, heartfelt and affecting anthems in "Blue Jeans" and "Video Games" that had a large proportion of the world's population weak at the knees, Grant cast herself as the next candidate to freshen up the world of pop since Gaga first emerged.
On "Born To Die" Grant certainly pursues a left- wing field, more a slightly stoned American version of Adele than the cheese- ridden party- pop of Katy Perry. And she certainly doesn't seem to have many problems working her way around a monolithic pop chorus. The title track is awash with glacial and dextrous string arrangements and a clinking trip- hoppy backtrack, whilst the chorus takes the song down an organically grandiose path. "Blue Jeans" builds up from a dark and subtely penetrating guitar riff, as well as managing to be an anthemic slow jam, something like a more instrumental Beyonce whilst keeping it interestingly crafted with a swirling cycle of samples. Some of the more understated moments are amongst the prettiest moments here, such as the blissfully blazed "Diet Mountain Dew" or the moody and graceful '60s soul- pop groove of "Million Dollar Man."
However, Grant's ideas of what makes a relevant, girly pop star seem to be awfully screwed at times. There are problems with the songs themselves. For example, "National Anthem", one of the more electronic tracks here, boasts an enormous, audacious and lyrically confident chorus, however the verses see Grant almost rapping, giving "Born To Die" its first rating on the cringe- factor. The record is also full to the brim with lyrical cliches, like on the pounding and glacial "Dark Paradise" as Grant pleads "I hope you'll be waiting for me on the other side."
Perhaps the biggest issue with Grant's new found idealism and image is her wannabe "bad girl" persona and her apparent lack of perspective. Closing track "This is what makes us girls" recounts times when Grant and her friends would stay up all night drinking. Firstly, it would be interesting to see what other women thought of Grant's general portrayal of how girls "are" throughout the song, but also staying up all night and drinking hasn't been enough to give you "bad girl" status since 1970.
Whilst "Born To Die" flashes streaks of brilliant tunefulness that will almost certainly rule the charts for weeks to come, for those amongst us who are fed up with the idea of the conventional pop star, Lana Del Rey doesn't exactly present a wholly welcome option. Sure, musically it's a world away from the fabricated synth- club crass heaviness of Gaga or Perry, but it's neither sophisticated or clever enough to appeal on that deep a level. Still, anybody who wants yet more huge but organic anthems and chart- stylised "heartfelt" pop, Lana Del Rey is a completely viable option.
Download: 1) Born To Die, 2) Blue Jeans, 3) Video Games
For Fans of: Florence & The Machine, Lady Gaga, Adele