As The Wandering Lamb frolic through it’s first musical August we are reminded that its indeed a quiet time in the world of music, the perfect time to take a bit of needed respite. With Europe and much of the surrounding area basking in their festival sun, we poor little Australian souls resort to our cosy local venues for whatever it is we can muster for our musical ears. So to this weeks New Borns, there was no escaping a review of Spoon’s eighth album They Want My Soul and without spoiling the fun, we jumped the bandwagon and equally…… loved it. Naomi Punk love their guitars and if you like a bit lo-fi dirty, we urge you to tune in to this New Born and being signed the brilliant Captured Tracks record label, we think youll be hearing more from this trio. Adult Jazz also release their debut album and we loved it, what a debut, dont be fooled by title, we urge you to give this a listen when you can. Finally, Twin Peaks release their much anticipated debut and it 20 minutes long, its short, punchy and youthful, go figure, these lads are fresh out of school. Give them some time. Let us not forget the wonderful return of Angus & Julia Stone, as they quietly deliver a self-titled album that really made our week. A splendid return, so good to have these Australian siblings back.
Artist_ Angus and Julia Stone
Album Title_ Angus and Julia Stone
Genre_ Acoustic, Folk, Blues
Moments Of_ Lisa Mitchell
Stand Out_ Get Home, Wherever You Are and Grizzly Bear
Australian brother and sister folk blues duo Angus & Julia Stone have released their third full studio album, self titled Angus & Julia Stone. From late 2011 they began working on their solo projects and both agreed to continue their separate ventures. This left a sad hole in the hearts of fans, until they announced in April this year that they had been working together with producer Rick Rubin. The siblings are now back together and producing the goods for this album.
Do you remember what you were doing in the year twennyten? Cos, if you didn’t hear Angus & Julia’s big hit song Big Jet Plane, I have no idea where the hell you were or what you were doing. This tune was absolutely evverrryyywhere.
I am going to be honest, after hearing it over 100 times on the radio and after Julia did her Triple J Like A Version cover of Feeding Line by Boy and Bear (her vibrato lamb voice irritated the poo out of me) I was a tad sick of the duo. Contradicting that though, I have always been a fan of A&J. In regards to this album in particular, Death Defying Acts by Julia really won me back. Not saying that it’s my favourite track on the album but it was this song that I definitely reconsidered my opinion on her vocals.
“I’m everything that slowly falls, I’m everything but I am nothing at all” sings the second half of the chorus, but the 1.37 mark is where the song really hits the mark, and only gets better from there on, in my opinion.
At this point I should probably mention the two main album single releases, being A Heartbreak and Heart Beats Slow. Personally, I like A Heartbreak slightly more, and I am going to narrow it down to the punchy lyrics. “I saw your friends at the drive-in. They were falling in love. I met your friends. They were lying about falling in love.” I adore these quirky lyrics, not only that but I love the way both Julia and Angus sing them together. They have a kind of laid back attitude across most of their songs, even when the lyrics are as strong and painful as “They were lying about falling in love”. As for Heart Beats Slow, it has a more upbeat catchy rhythm to it, whilst still staying true to the much loved Angus & Julia Stone feeling.
I absolutely wouldn’t call them filler tracks by any means, but some songs on this album I found to be a bit more average than others, such as track 10 Other Things or bonus track 15 Do Without. Other Things has a slow boring acoustic tempo to it, that in some cases can definitely be relaxing and chilled, but with this track I found it to be almost annoying and somewhat careless. The mixture of Angus’ monotone voice and the average repetitive lyrics “I’ll see ya later, tomorrow” made this song my least favourite on the album.
Get Home, Wherever You Are and Grizzly Bear are three of my favourite tracks on this album. Instead of reviewing each individual song though (as it can often be a tad nitpicky) I will just say that this release as an entirety is pure gold. In the past, the siblings have sung mainly harmonies with each other, but on this album it is really exciting to actually hear them both singing together and sounding more comfortable with each others/their own voices. This definitely makes both Angus and Julias vocals sound stronger as individuals and as partners.
A&J Stone for sureee get the ol’ double thumbs up and I highly recommend purchasing this album, yes actually purchasing it!! Don’t be a pirate this one time! Easy 9 lambs from me.
Album Title_ They Want My Soul
Label_ Loma Vista
Genre_ Indie Rock, Alternative Rock, Blues Rock
Moments Of_ The Cure, Cold War Kids, Arcade Fire, The Bad Seeds
Stand Out_ Do You, I Just Don’t Understand, They Want My Soul, Rent I Pay
An indie institution predicated by a rapid amount of success in the early 90’s, Spoon aren’t exactly the new kids on the block. The band, fronted by all-round musical entrepreneur Britt Daniel, have put together a re-envisioned musical styling and collective work in the form of ‘They Want My Soul.’ Word on the blogosphere is that Daniel’s took inspiration from the work he was doing with the Divine Fits at the beginning of the year. In an almost Beatles like collaboration, Daniel’s brings in the band’s pop sensibilities while Jim Eno and Rob Pope ground the band’s authentic styling.
‘They Want My Soul’ instantly takes me back to the early 90’s, Veronica Mars was on the telly and nothing hurt. Although, the band have definitely done some serious growing up since that era, they definitely haven’t been able to shake that distinctive Spoon sound – a sound almost like a Schizophrenic combination of Lennon, and The Cure. In fact, this album is slightly more musically manic than any of their other albums, which doesn’t detract at all from the downright sophistication of their musical journey that brought them to ‘They Want My Soul.’ If you had to take more modern comparisons when looking sideways at this album you might even say they now had a bit of Cold War Kids, or Arcade Fire about them as well as some bluesy tracks which distinctively ring of the Bad Seeds.
‘They Want My Soul’ is a slightly more inward reflection lyrically which in turn gives them a more folky feel content-wise. The album kicks off with the slowly building into a 70’s ass-kicking Beatlesy track ‘Rent I Pay.’ Unlike most of the other track, Rent I Pay comes across as an outward look at society generally. Whereas, tracks like “I Just Don’t Understand” is an unequivocally bluesy track with an acoustic guitar in which the Bad Seeds definitely come to fore. The lyrics are even equally bluesy with melodies like “well you say that you need me like the ocean needs sand.” The entire track is overlayed with a simplistic acoustic guitar and classical piano. This album is already being heralded as one of those ‘youll-be-humming-this-for-days” kinds of albums and that is most personified in the track ‘Do You.’ ‘Do You’ has just enough pop sensibility to make you want to jump around without offending that ‘I’m too cool to listen to anything that sounds mainstream’ crowd, which in many ways is a difficult feat. Seriously, though, you’ll be singing “do you want to be understood” in the shower, on the way to work, wherever.
‘They Want My Soul’ is named aptly because it reflects inwardly at the soul and then produces the soul for production. An example of how much soul the band do indeed have left. ‘Let Me Be Mine’ is another almost 70’ish track that is almost post-punk but definitely wholly indie. Lyrically, the track is very much a break up song with the hook “you’re gonna take another chunk off me with you” set to a slightly more upbeat Joy Division style of indie rock. Spoon have definitely returned as a band for the concerted alternative rock lover and doesn’t once make you once wish for a better more Veronica Mars filled time which in essence makes it an absolute winner.
Artist_ Naomi Punk
Album Title_ Television Man
Label_ Captured Tracks
Genre_ Indie Rock, Grunge, Art Rock
Moments Of_ Nirvana, Thee Oh Sees, Deerhoof, Battles
Stand Out_ Firehose Face, Television Man, Linoleum Tryst #19
Olympia, Washington State locals Naomi Punk are an atypical breed. Yeah sure, there’s your usual crunchy grunge style guitars, mash ups of strange noises and a whole lot of chaos. Signed to trendy Brooklyn label Captured Tracks, (also home to Mac Demarco, Beach Fossils and Perfect Pussy), these guys are pushing the barrier with something ever so slightly fresh. Sure, the weirdness of it all might not appeal to everyone, and it sure isn’t ground breaking work, but it’s sure enough to hold the attention of many a curious ear.
Given that these guys grew up in the Pacific Northwest, it’s pretty hard to not associate their sound with their obvious influences, growing up in the birth state of the grunge movement. It is however, exciting to hear how modern sufferings can encourage the observers of the era to make their own statements. Naomi Punk have, on their third album, refined their sound and delivered an album of eccentricities, confusion, modern culture and of course, early nineties Washington State.
Following a well worn formula, this album is really about the guitars. The drums are utilitarian and the vocals are distorted, lo-fi, rendering them mostly indecipherable. The format of two guitars and drums can be both advantageous and a burden, but these guys use this as a tool of their individuality. What shines is the structure, irregularity and industrial stagger of each song. Examples such as Eleven Inches, a dive into pure late 80’s, early 90’s grunge, a real marching pulse of confusion and angst. Similarly, Song Factory shares the same guitar tones but really is Naomi Punk at these obscure finest. The verses are formed of a looping, math-prog oscillation, melding with an anthem chorus and an quickening, nervous finale. Title track Television Man also sports the math-y verse and duelling guitars, but with and almost heartfelt, singalong chorus.
Another notable point of the album are the peculiar instrumental tracks, scattered throughout the running time of Television Man. Plastic World no. 6 is exactly what it says it is, almost like being held captive in a drab 80’s video game or even an elevator, and not being quite sure how to get out. Whirlpool of Anguish mirrors this with an almost alien keyboard piece. Really it seems these tracks are here to give you a break from the exhaustive onslaught of riffage that is to follow. When the guys, singer/guitarist Travis Coster, second guitarist Neil Gregerson and drummer Nic Luempert, have been asked about these particular ‘filler tracks’, Coster states “I feel like they’re the main tracks, kind of. We worked on them a lot! They took a lot of time. They’re written to complement the music and build on it.”
Having spent some time touring with Parquet Courts through the US earlier this year, their likely pairing is notable given both the bands have something individual and innovative, not just about their sound but about their attitude. Even thought Naomi Punk’s sound may not be strictly (and ironically) ‘punk’, it really is more for the fact that they are doing it to be different. Sure, the ties to there home and influences are obviously evident, but instead a totally modern incorporation of their favourite genres.
Artist_ Adult Jazz
Album Title_ Gist Is
Label_ Spare Thought
Genre_ Folk, Jazz, Jazz Fusion
Moments Of_ Grizzly Bear, The Dirty Projectors, Wild Beasts
Stand Out _ Am Gone
Leeds four piece Adult Jazz has released their debut album Gist Is, an enigmatically quirky, wistful and unpredictable ode that pulses with deliberate discord and sonic splendour. This album is self – released, self – produced and self – recorded, which may in part account for the effortlessly sublime end product which is curious, methodical and cohesive. There are dalliances in several genres on this record, whether it’s folk, pop or jazz the quality is unmistakably progressive, irreverent and moody with just enough shade throughout to make it unpredictable in the most satisfying way – this album beams with possibility. These guys have been receiving some pretty fervent hype and this week I had the opportunity to have a look at what all the fuss is about
I’ve always been easily seduced by the phantasmagorical. Anything uncanny, remotely strange or any kind of narrative that potentially promised unpredictability, unrepressed peculiarity or even the faint whiff of refracted weirdness could effortlessly garner my attention, and even as an adult, I find it’s really no different. So when I listen to an album, the first time is usually just go for broke with a general feel. Later on I’ll consider technicality, production, hype and the market place, which at times can seem superfluous but it all aids in the process. Gist Is dabbles in the kind of fantastical quirk that screams promising without bordering upon inflated indulgence. So many factors on this album that get the tone, mood and setting just right, I immediately knew this was an unapologetically vibrant debut, filled to the brim with moments that border at times upon deliberate, shiny, thoughtful, unpredictable and just plain artistic brilliance. There is also and unforgivably present kind of swinging mechanism that takes place throughout – one minute it’s forceful, considered, direct and corporeal and the next it’s melancholy, ethereal, unbridled and carnal. This textured quality gives the album an impressively fresh, acute and pleasantly dimensional feel that drew me in quite early in the piece. There is a real sense of letting go at times on this album which is at times seen on a sophomore release once an artist decides that relinquishing control can actually be a good thing.
Now there are nine songs on this album, and the opening is offered in the form of Hum, a droning disenchantment, which begins minimalist before working itself into a lilting frenzy and following onslaught of curt percussion. It’s a dizzying yet wildly anticipatory insight into the proceeding content. It’s Bon Iver and Grizzly Bear out on a Friday night in Brunswick. There seems also to be employed, a type of farcical nonsense that takes place in spots lyrically, at times their charms completely lost on me, I had to ponder if they deliberately pompous or simply markers of deep introspection. Am Gone is a minimalistic homage with sparse sensibility and classic scat intonations, which have been likened to heavyweights such as George Benson whilst Donne Tongue and Be A Girl also provide less frenetic soundscape, leaning more toward a minimalist contemplation. I also make mentions that frontman Harry Burgess’ vocals are as contributory and imperative as all the other instruments on board. Burgess’ vocal provides a grounding quality whilst the rest of us are still suspended mid air. There are incremented invasions of sound in parts, blaring horns, sampled harps and gritty strings with the sum of the parts proving mostly hit and rarely miss. If you like heavy surprises, you’ll adore this one.
I enjoyed this debut immensely. It was wistful, humorous and enigmatic. The only real criticism I would make is that despite all of its blinding promise and intention, there was a condensed feeling where attempts to display technical ability were at the mercy of really letting go and reaching for greatness. In saying that, this is a debut, and a poignantly solid one at that. Gist Is is a defining piece for Adult Jazz, a peeping marvel that creeps up on you and gets better every time.
Artist_ Twin Peaks
Album Title_ Twins Peaks
Label_ Underwater Peoples
Genre_ Power pop, garage pop
Moments Of_ Supergrass, Wavves
Stand Out_ Fade Away, Sweet Thing
After listening to the debut release from Twin Peaks last year that received the customary massive Internet hype, I couldn’t help but think it was all a bit of a tease. Less than 20 minutes long, 2013’s Sunken was a brash and heady foray for the band from Chicago that made the music blogosphere get a bit too excited over their Macbook keyboards. Having set the stage as one of the most buzzed bands of 2013, Wild Onion is an opportunity for Twin Peaks to live up to the hype and show the world how they want to be seen.
The band stated in an interview with NME from the start of the year that we should expect this album to be ‘all over the place’ musically. On first listen, it’s obvious they weren’t lying. Twin Peaks don’t pigeonhole themselves into one genre, but rather run the power pop and rock gamut to produce a wide variety of tracks on Wild Onion. The album moves from tame and blissful tracks like “Mirror of Time” to garage rock tunes like “Fade Away”, then heading in another direction altogether musically on bubbly pop track “Sweet Thing”. This is a ever-present theme on Wild Onion, a desire to amalgamate a wide variety of musical influences into one selection of tunes. The desire to introduce a broad spectrum of musical influences into their songs adds an element of unpredictability to Twin Peaks music. Being self-professed Beatles, Stones and Beach Boy fans – it probably doesn’t come as a surprise that we see some of the key musical features of these iconic bands strewn across Wild Onion.
After hearing Sunken – a debut that packed a lot of colour and verve into 20 minutes of music – it was clear to me that there was some tantalising raw talent through the haze of power chords and reverb effects. Has to be said, it seemed pretty fuckin’ awesome that a band so young was replicate the loose and messy sound that’s so reminiscent of the power pop and garage rock eras. It’s easy to fall on either side of the fence when it comes to the critical appraisal of the variety of sounds we encounter on Wild Onion. Some of the original champions of Sunken – bloggers that will remain unnamed – defended Wild Onion because it was such an adventurous musical endeavour. For me, I saw it as an opportunity to clearly define a unique sound that was in it’s nascent stages on Sunken. I was hoping that Wild Onion would show that Twin Peaks are capable of achieving that delicate balance between refining their sound but also avoid removing the grit and soul from their music that made Sunken really intriguing. I have to give them credit, they haven’t strived too far away from what made Sunken one of the more exciting debut releases last year – it is both lackadaisical but also adventurous musically. However, it is an album – with all of the different musical influences that the band has – that does appear a bit ‘all over the place’.
However, I’m hardly concerned about where they’re heading musically. The kids are hardly out of high school, yet already have quite a mature sound that just needs to be refined. Perhaps the third release from 2013’s buzziest of all buzz bands will be what catapults them into the mainstream. The teenagers have certainly got plenty of time on their hands.