Rest is important and the hard listening people of The Wandering Lamb took a week off New Born reviews to refresh and ease our little ears. Now, back with cleansed ears, free of noise and confusion we again are spoilt for choice on new album releases over the last week. With many of our lambs away warming their wooly skins, we managed to scrape in 4 albums for you to consider. Jamie T, the london lad with an axe to grind, returns with a much aniticipated album, Carry on the Grudge, an album that had us questioning his direction. Caribou, never fail to delight and following on from his outstanding last 2 releases, particularly Swim, Our Love continues to pave the way for progressiving electronic music. Fresh from New Zealand are Broods, a silbing duo have delivered an album that is everything fans could have hoped for and would take the accolade of new born of the week this week. To complete the biasedly electronic theme of the week, Flying Lotus continues his obscure view of electronic fused music with the release of Your’e Dead!, we weren’t to sure, perhaps you should decide. See you next week.
Artist_ Jamie T
Album Title_ Carry On the Grudge
Genre_ Alternative Rock
Moments Of_ Jake Bugg, Arctic Monkeys, Miles Cane
Stand Out_ Zombie, Limits Lie
Jamie T’s latest offering is a tricky one; every artist must evolve and mature their sound, but sometimes it’s not welcome for the sake of listening nostalgia. Carry On the Grudge is stylistically more mature than his last two albums but I think this listener got a little too into the personal reflection and what his albums mean to me, so apologies for that in advance. But read on if you also want to know what goon means to me
I’m a big old Jamie T fan, ever since 2007’s Panic Prevention blew my speakers with his cheeky cockney rhymes and erratic riffs. His honesty on messy, often shitty nights out reflected my own alcoholic adventures as a sixteen year old trying to navigate the new adult world that had just opened up to me. Then when 2009’s Kings and Queens got to me I was working in a music store, my drinking habits had matured from teenage experiments with cruisers to vast quantities of cheap goon and various drugs. His next album had matured as well – more polished, tighter but still with that messy cheekiness that made him a favourite for pre-drinking soundtracks. He recieved criticism for this second album, but songs like Chaka Demus and Sticks N Stones proved he was still the king of cockney charm and candour.
I’ve realised that this new album reflects me as well – at the risk of too much introspection – matured yet again, but this time I’m not sure if I’m ready for it. The album opens with Limits Lie, and it’s a good start. Jamie T has grown yet again, his voice is softer, his lyrics more comforting and less self-depreciating. But what is also lost is the sense of chaotic cheeriness that infused even the darkest of this songs. Don’t You Find to me seems like a leaning towards that Artic Monkeys-esque slinkiness that has infused their recent albums. They have roughly the same timeline, is it the inevitable course for the rough-and-tumble English lad? It’s a good song though, Jamie pulls it off well. But there are quite a few fillers in this album – Rabbit Hole and The Prophet are undoubtedly his style, but they aren’t doing anything special to my ears.
For me stand out track is the popular single Zombie. As simple love song with a twist, it is reminiscent of his messy love ballads with streaks of endearing earnestness. Maybe I’m complaining too much about this album, it still is a rollicking ride through his painful insecurities about relationships, boring jobs and nights out. It probably is because I’ve changed too, I can’t remember the last time I drank goon – the last night out I had I was drunk after one whisky sour and went straight to bed – so it’s denial of my own changed life. After all, musicians have to evolve or they end up like Mick Jagger. I just didn’t want Jamie T to, because he was the link to my own messy memories of youth. Sigh, this review has gone seriously belly-up.
It’s still Jamie T, so decide for yourself. Sure, there are a few misses, but it comes down to what his music means to each listener; and I’ll bet there are a few drunken nights soundtracked by Jamie T in all that nostalgia.
Album Title_ Our Love
Label_ City Slang
Genre_ Electronica, Dance, Downtempo
Moments Of_ Four Tet, Washed Out, Gold Panda, Neon Indian, Tycho
Stand Out_ Can’t Do Without You, Our Love, Julia Brightly
Caribou is a type of North American deer. It is also the stage name behind the very talented Canadian composer, musician, and recording artist Daniel Snaith. Snaith emerged in the early 2000s, and has since solidified himself in the electronic music scene, producing music and working under the stage names Manitoba, Daphni and of course Caribou. Our Love is his latest release, swaying even further from alternative, indie electronica to electronic dance, mixed with downtempo chillwave. With an epic rolling bassline underlying the whole album, Our Love is sure to send the dance floor into a spin.
Our Love is an album that has clearly been produced by an experienced, passionate and confident musician and recording artist. A product demonstrating versatility and variety, Daniel Snaith has pulled together an album that displays a good balance of dance floor/deep house, and downtempo/chilled electronica music. Never sounding distorted or grimy, the album is tight, consisting of clean, polished tracks incorporating synthesisers, drums, guitar and bass.
Snaith is the intellect and mastermind behind Caribou, and besides pulling it all together, he understands the mechanics of the dance floor. And although he does not impress with his imperfect vocals, his voice is perfect for the overall sound and the instrumentals. This makes Caribou recognisable and distinguishable from other electronic bands and artists that slot into the pop house music category, mainly because of their bellowing pop singers. Not taking away from the electronics, the vocals are subtle and act as an added instrument. This is best demonstrated in two of the more chilled tracks on the album, All I ever need, and Back Home.
Our Love opens with the track Can’t Do Without You. And why not make the first track the best one. This is an apparent trend across all Caribou albums: Yeti from Milk Of Human Kindness (2005), Melody Day from Andorra (2007), and Odessa from Swim (2010). The pace of the album has a noteworthy trend, peaking at three different tracks, Can’t Do Without You, at the very beginning, Our Love somewhere in the middle, and reaching one last peak at Julia Brightly before coming to a cruisy close over the last 3 tracks. Certainly an enjoyable ride, surprisingly flowing together and fitting together nicely. These dance floor tracks are my favourite tracks, and share similarities to fellow electronic acts; Four Tet, Gold Panda and Tycho. The more chilled tracks on the album sound a lot like fellow singer-songwriter and producer; Washed out, veering more towards chillwave or downtempo. The track Our Love is a stand out track of mine, which has a deep infectious and memorable 5-beat drum interjection throughout the song, similar to that of Teengirl Fantasy’s song Portofino.
It’s hard for me to review this album because of it’s complexity and the fact that I’ll never know the technical aspects behind it’s creation. However, this review after all, is just my opinion. Fortunately, I don’t have to understand the thoughts behind this masterpiece or how it’s put together. I can only conclude that Our Love is a complex, compelling album that I would enjoy listening to at home on my own, from the centre of a dance floor, or as a live set. On that note. BOOM. Got my Laneway festival ticket. See you in the new year Caribou, its been too long since our last rendezvous.
Album Title_ Evergreen
Label_ Dryden Street, Island Records, Polydor.
Genre_ Indie Pop, Synth Pop, Electronic Pop
Moments Of_ Lorde and Chvrches
Stand Out_ L.A.F, Sober and Medicine
New Zealand brother and sister duo Broods, released their self titled debut EP in January of this year, which featured their hit single Bridges. This EP was quickly followed by their debut album Evergreen. Released August 22nd, this record has been out for a couple of months now and after plenty of dance filled listens, I could not resist reviewing it a tad late.
Mother & Father is the opening track and leading single for Evergreen. My first impressions were definitely good and held a high expectation for the rest of the album. It opens with a strong drum beat and clap hook that is becoming exceedingly popular. This track, like a few others on this album actually, have an upbeat rhythm to them, yet very melancholy lyrics, e.g. “I don’t wanna wake up lonely. I don’t wanna just be fine”. These lyrics in contracts to the instrumental work by Caleb and catchy hooks however, definitely don’t make the song any less singable or dancy. It is one of those tunes that fans can definitely be singing along and having a jive to, while not actually knowing or caring about what the lyrics mean or the emotional connection behind them.
Bridges, their hit single off their self titled debut EP only made it in peak position of 51 on the ARIA charts, but is definitely well known and loved, so having this popular song feature as track 4 on their latest album Evergreen is not much of a shock.
As much as I love Broods and Georgia’s out of this world vocals, I actually think Meg Mac covers this song on Like A Version so perfectly (no insult to Broods). Having seen Meg Mac perform this cover live, I have to say that her performance not only wowed me but also took over the Broods title that I associated with the track.
Following Bridges comes my favourite track of the album, L.A.F. This song has a sense of familiarity about it and can’t help but make me feel a sense of excitement and happiness. Its choppy rhythm, popular electronic claps and deep base are the things that I think people will love about not only this song but also Evergreen as an overall great album.
Slowing it down for tracks Killing You, Medicine, Four Walls and Evergreen, Broods never lose their spark or sense of emotion. Georgia’s vocals are top notch through the whole album and show such delicacy and control in tracks like Medicine for example.
That being said and everything being positive so far, I do have to be horrible for a sentence or two and mention my two least favourite tracks on the album. Superstar and Evergreen were the two songs that I found to be the least interesting. I think I was most disappointed about Superstar as it is an average closing track and extremely ‘Lordey’ (no offence Lorde). Give it a listen and if you tell me you can’t hear the slight sound of Lorde, you are a liar. Just kidding, but for real, I think Georgia’s vocals along with the lyrics were just a bit lackluster and careless almost.
Being a fairly new up and coming duo, in my opinion Broods have done such a good job in distinguishing their unique sound, as well as creating an impressive debut EP and album.
Evergreen is easily a record you can listen to over and over again without getting sick of it straight away, so for that reason I will give Georgia and Caleb 9 happy lambs.
Artist_ Flying Lotus
Album Title_ You’re Dead!
Genre_ Electronic, experimental, jazz fusion
Moments Of_ The Roots, J Dilla, Nas
Stand Out_ Never Catch Me, Dead Man’s Tetris, Tesla
You’re Dead! is the fifth studio album from music producer, rapper and general maverick Flying Lotus. Steven Ellison, between known by his aforementioned FlyLo moniker, picks up where he left off on 2012’s well-received Until the Quiet Comes and 2010’s Cosmogramma, exploring the unexplored musically. Indeed, much like his uncle John Coltrane (who was a pretty good jazz musician apparently), Flying Lotus is not afraid to push the boundaries of what could be considered more conservative electronic music. However,You’re Dead! – whilst being recognisably a Flying Lotus record to a discerning listener – does take a slightly different and more accessible approach from Ellison’s previous work.
For whatever reason, I have never gotten into Flying Lotus as much as I think I should based on my musical tastes. I’m a huge fan of artists like J Dilla, Erykah Badu and other trailblazers of the neo soul movement, but there was something a bit too eclectic and off the wall about Flying Lotus and his experimental jazz fusion stylings. You’re Dead! certainly feels like a more accessible album from a listening perspective, more confidently structured and hence tends to flow better.
The nature of the tracks themselves – often instrumental and limited to under a couple of minutes -allow a prolific musician like Flying Lotus explore lots of different creative ideas without interrupting the continuity of the album. When considering the genres that are most influential in Flying Lotus’s repertoire, it can be said that he reliably and consistently introduces elements of jazz to amalgamate with others such as electronic and trip hop. Flying Lotus has made it no secret that jazz is highly influential in the creation of his music, but this seems to be particularly true on You’re Dead!. Indeed, “Tesla” – a track from the album and brilliant in its own right – is co-written by jazz fusion pioneer Herbie Hancock.
Death, the desire to evade and transcend it and it’s inevitability are deeply embedded themes on You’re Dead! “Never Catch Me”, which explores this very concept, is the first single off the album and features the ingenuity of renowned world beater Kendrick Lamar. It is without doubt the highlight of the album. By the nature of their musical ability, everything Flying Lotus and Kendrick Lamar respectively touch turns to gold. Therefore, this track is an absolute gem.
“Dead Man’s Tetris” is a really interesting contrast to the transcendent and inherently optimistic “Never Catch Me” and marks where You’re Dead! moves into a different domain musically and lyrically. Unlike “Never Catch Me”, the tempo is less defined, lyrics less clear and generally presented in a haze of vocal and electronic effects.
By the time the album reaches tracks like “Descent into Madness” – featuring Thundercat, another regular collaborator with Ellison – we are moving towards to obscure and almost hypnotic realm of Flying Lotus’s music. “The Boys Who Died in their Sleep” lulls us into an even deeper dream-like state, with hypnotic synth effects acting in tandem with Captain Murphy’s (another of FlyLo’s alter egos) mesmerising rhymes.
I interpreted this obscurity and haziness musically as perhaps the inevitability of the death – after an energetic and complicated series of opening tracks on You’re Dead! – the hypnosis and dream-like nature of the penultimate tracks from the album almost emphasise this. However, Flying Lotus leaves this concept open for discussion through the last couple of tracks on the album – “The Beyond” and “The Protest” respectively – allowing the listeners to reach their own conclusions.
I prefaced this review by saying I have never really appreciated Flying Lotus’s contribution to neo soul and electronic music due to it being perhaps a bit too inaccessible. However, having been taken on this journey through You’re Dead!, I would be lying if I said that this album isn’t an intriguing listen. Looking at the album objectively, the content of the album is quite macabre. It feels like it shouldn’t be heart lifting but it is because of the “fuck you” attitude it has towards death. That’s where it’s appeal lies for me.