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Album Reviews

Posted 22 Feb 2017 @ 4:27pm

★★★★

 

You can judge this one by its cover. That garish pink eyesore, with that awkward, atonal band photo slap bang in the middle?

 

Yeah, that about sums up the hobbled horror that is Pissed Jean’s new outing, a kitsch, brutal exercise in upsetting snotty-nosed critics and punk purists alike.

 

In their quest to offer up the most unpleasant tones...

Posted 22 Feb 2017 @ 4:26pm

★★☆

 

Dirty Projectors founding member David Longstreth has done well to hold the group together for the last decade, what with the ever-changing roster of members and subsequent updates to their style of music – but lately he’s needed to do so with greater urgency, following the departure of vocalist Amber Coffman.

 

Coffman’s absence has somewhat tarnished the...

Posted 22 Feb 2017 @ 8:00am

★★★★

 

Take one part Vampire Weekend, one part Circa Waves, sprinkle in some pluck, prep and pep and you’ll have something akin to the sunny jams served up in Landmark, the debut album from Minnesotan millennials Hippo Campus.

 


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Posted 22 Feb 2017 @ 12:00am

★★☆

 

Being one of the most prolific bands out there, it’s hardly career-ending for King Gizz to (finally) release something a little undercooked.

 

Flying Microtonal Banana’s opener is a low point, lacking the energy and rhythmic play of last year’s spectacular Nonagon Infinity, settling instead for repetition. After eight minutes, two things will be clear: you’ll...

Posted 15 Feb 2017 @ 2:53pm

★★★★

 

Electric Guest are back with a stimulating follow-up to their 2012 debut, Mondo.

 

Their new record, Plural, has everything from breezy vibes to ’80s pop tones, a little reggae and a little rap, and really it’s quite astounding. It flirts with going too far over the top, but it still keeps everything fresh.

 

As a collection of individual songs...

Posted 15 Feb 2017 @ 2:50pm

★★★★

 

Melodic and melancholic, Oslow’s pensive full-length debut proves why they are Sydney’s best-kept secret.

 

Vocalist and bassist Dylan Farrugia has said, “The songs themselves seek to express our personal experiences as young people in Australia and what that means at this juncture in history.” And that resonates: Oslow is a snapshot, a time capsule of the...

Posted 8 Feb 2017 @ 3:10pm

★★★★☆

 

There’s a captivating whimsy present across the new release from Elbow.

 

The British alt-rockers have been hard at work producing their seventh album Little Fictions –their first without long-time drummer Richard Jupp – and the results embrace a more minimal aesthetic, yet still retain Guy Garvey’s songwriting mastery. It’s an addition to their discography...

Posted 8 Feb 2017 @ 2:41pm

★★★☆

 

It’s ironic that on his official Facebook page, Ahmed Gallab (AKA Sinkane) pegs his unique amalgamation of sounds as “fake jazz”.

 

‘Fake’ definitely doesn’t describe the soul-infused scope of this London-born, Brooklyn-based musician, nor his sixth album Life & Livin’ It. 

 

With a distinctive funk undertone that runs through its nine...

Posted 8 Feb 2017 @ 12:45pm

★★★☆

 

Coventry Cathedral, a half-bombed-out monolith in the north of England, is a haunted building. After being ravaged by Nazi air raids during World War II, the structure was only partially rebuilt, and stands now as part wreck, part modern structural miracle. It’s incomplete even in the ways it is complete; distinctly eerie in its Janus-like mix of old pain and new devotion...

Posted 8 Feb 2017 @ 12:38pm

★★★☆

 

We’re only a few weeks into 2017, but already it’s been a year of women standing up, making noise and sticking it to the man. 

 

It’s entirely fitting, then, that Holly Throsby – musician, author, and total boss lady – is releasing her fifth studio album, After A Time.

 

Even though After A Time has much more of a full-band energy than Throsby’s...

Posted 8 Feb 2017 @ 12:00am

★★☆

 

 

There’s a new type of ballad in town, and gone are the big chords, big voices and bigger hair. These tunes of communal catharsis are roomy and gloomy affairs; vocals wafting over fudgy chords, thrumming basslines speckled with electronics.

 

Such is the case in Melancholia, the first EP from Melbourne singer-songwriter Bel, which – as the ominous...

Posted 3 Feb 2017 @ 2:38pm

★★★★

 

Over 20 years ago, a band named Chavez wrote and released two all-time great records, toured with bands like Guided By Voices, Sonic Youth and Pavement, and then disappeared. 

 

The brainchild of multi-disciplinary master Matt Sweeney, the group might not have officially ever broken up, but they sure shut up, releasing no new material since 1996’s Ride The...

Posted 1 Feb 2017 @ 2:11pm

★★★★☆

 

Gathering his serpent minions to his court, Frank Carter – the former frontman of English groups Gallows and Pure Love – has drawn upon his alternative rock and hardcore history to bring us a scalding record of character-defining musicianship that makes no apology for its politically powerful core – and nor should it.

 

Though there’s some uncertainty in...

Posted 1 Feb 2017 @ 2:11pm

★★☆

 

Never a band for going easy on the theatrics, AFI have pretty much made a name for themselves with their flamboyance and drama, both in appearance and in their music.

 

They’ve twisted and reformed rock’n’roll for over two decades now, and ‘The Blood Album’ sees the former emo punks throwing themselves way back in time to channel some heavy New Romantic...

Posted 1 Feb 2017 @ 2:11pm

★★★☆

 

Lzzy Hale is Pennsylvania’s answer to Janis Joplin.

 

The Halestorm singer’s voice has a power like you’ve never heard; raspy, crooning and mighty. She belts out music in such a compelling way that her sound can make you quiver. Make no mistake, this is a once-in-a-lifetime talent.

 

Her presence on the band’s latest release is all the evidence...

Posted 1 Feb 2017 @ 2:11pm

★★★

 

If you’re a fan of pop-punk, then chances are As It Is’ new album Okay will hit the spot.

 

It’s the UK five-piece’s second full-length record after their debut in 2015 and they’ve pulled no punches when it comes to opening up in their lyrics this time around. 

 

To the inattentive ear, it may seem like just another generic pop-punk record, but...

Posted 1 Feb 2017 @ 2:11pm

★★☆

 

It’s pretty telling that Cherry Glazerr are carefully rising from the depths of the LA underground garage punk scene to float somewhere more around the belly of the beast.

 

With Apocalipstick, you can tell the band is trying to show a little more development in sound and production – only it’s probably best to ignore the lyrics and just appreciate the music...

Posted 1 Feb 2017 @ 2:11pm

★☆

 

The swagger breaks free as Black Star Riders present a blissfully classic vibe on their new album, Heavy Fire.

 

The album’s title track groans with the promise of feel-good rock and flashy guitar licks, while ‘Dancing With The Wrong Girl’ epitomises that roof-down-drive-at-sunset feeling – think a reincarnation of the Eagles. 

 

Then all is lost...

Posted 1 Feb 2017 @ 2:11pm

★★★★

 

Some albums demand your attention.

 

Reflection quietly requests it, drawing you into a fully realised aural world with no physical counterpart.

 

Brian Eno’s focus here isn’t on world-building, but augmenting reality, crafting a hypnotic, dreamlike soundtrack to an unseen film where the listener is director. The music comprises a single 54-...

Posted 27 Jan 2017 @ 11:45am

★★★★★

 

Brooklyn-based songwriter Gabriel Garzón-Montano has created an album that is truly weird, often dark and very, very affecting.

 

There’s a sense of absolute conviction within its surgical editing: there are no uncertain musical choices or production ambivalence. Garzón-Montano has given himself no quarter to hide. Each note is absolute and the composition...

Posted 27 Jan 2017 @ 11:45am

★★★★

 

Bonobo’s sixth studio album is more or less exactly what you’d expect from the veteran British producer: an evocative, easy listening record that’s a pleasant journey from start to finish. 

 

Across most of its tracks, Migration builds on Simon Green’s fifth release The North Borders.In his typical downtempo style, he develops peaceful soundscapes, as heard...

Posted 27 Jan 2017 @ 11:45am

★★★

 

Two-and-a-half years ago, Cloud Nothings released their peak achievement. It was called Here And Nowhere Else, and it was scrubbed, and it was scratchy, and it was near-perfect – a lean, melodic serving of everything they’d been trying to do for almost half a decade. 

 

But such success has evidently left the group in a tricky place. Understandably, too – it’s...

Posted 27 Jan 2017 @ 11:45am

★★★☆

 

The follow-up to 2014’s I Am King and Code Orange’s first LP on metal label Roadrunner Records, Forever is a culmination of nine years of savagery.

 

The method remains the same – ruthless metal-infused hardcore, laced with end-of-the-world electronic samples and, you bet, breakdowns for days. 

 

Previous efforts, Love Is Love/Return To Dust and...

Posted 27 Jan 2017 @ 11:45am

 

Cover records are, by their very nature, bizarre beasts.

 

When too organised or extensive, they have a habit of feeling pointless – save an oddity like Ryan Adams’ 1989 project, there’s not always much reason one would listen to a song-by-song reworking of an album over the original – but without structure, they run the risk of appearing like a lazy,...

Posted 27 Jan 2017 @ 11:45am

★★★

 

Night People is like a book with a great beginning and a great end – it’s just such an epic shame that the chapters in between are just ordinary filler blighting what could otherwise have been a powerful volume for You Me At Six.

 

The opener and title track comes grumbling in with a catchy-ass riff and the appealingly dull and husky soar in vocals that we’ve...

Posted 27 Jan 2017 @ 11:45am

★★★★

 

Opening with a triumphant fanfare of horns and a bassline fit for the bedroom, this is not The xx you remember.

 

“You’ve had faith in me / So I won’t shy away” croon Romy Madley Croft and Oliver Sim on the danceworthy ‘Dangerous’, indicating their newfound confidence in a record that reiterates their turned leaf as often as possible. Just check the tracklist...

Posted 14 Dec 2016 @ 7:03am

★★★★☆

 

Graciously sharing this tasting plate of tracks that were written around the same time as those that made it onto Skin, Flume keeps fans’ hunger for new music satisfied with an aural smorgasbord of decadent and cerebral ear candy.

 

On opener ‘Trust’, there’s a dreamlike nostalgia and memories of childhood conveyed by the Kalimba sample that weaves its way...

Posted 14 Dec 2016 @ 7:01am

★★★★

 

Sydney four-piece Den wield a significant sonic clout on their self-titled debut EP – a pummelling barrage of modulated guitars and sinister synth replete with melody that brings nuance to the bruising assault.

 

‘Life In Chains’ opens with a militant drum beat and from sparse beginnings builds to grandiosity, with haunting keys and swirling synth surrounding...

Posted 14 Dec 2016 @ 7:01am

★★★

 

Lurking somewhere in the shadowy, liminal space between Portishead and Chvrches are New York duo Phantogram, dipping deep in their own darkness while continuing to pump out pop you can really feel.

 

As soon as the glitchy synth bass of ‘Funeral Pyre’ kicks in, vocalist Sarah Barthel stretches to the height of her range as she eulogises herself. Guitarist Josh...

Posted 14 Dec 2016 @ 7:00am

★★★☆

 

It’s fitting that Redspencer’s debut album Perks arrives right on the cusp of summer, evoking the warmth and haziness of the season in effortless fashion.

 

Beyond their shimmering guitar pop is an exploration of existential themes that come together to create an album of great depth.

 

On opener ‘G-Talk’, Dave McMillan’s laconic vocals sing of...

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