The Wandering Lamb is a bit all over the place this week, and we dont mean a state of mind, more geographically. It has been a big week in music from all around the world both in news and in fresh new borns. Late last year their was some talk going around about some tall handsome chap called Joshuam Tillman, better known as Father John Misty, an American folk-singer songwriter who although has been around the traps for over 10 years now, will deliver and album that is finer than a tasty wine. So is it as good as they say? Well after a memorable performance on David Letterman, I guess there arent any suprises. From Seattle, we leap back over to our shores and deliver the latest album from Pyschedelic rocksters, Pond, before checking into London town and visiting Duke Garwood who delivers a damm fine album of soulful, bluesy tracks, and being signed to Heavenly Records, you know your on a good thing. Crushed Beaks also reside in London and make fuzzy indie pop tunes melded with sweet mencing lyrics. US singer/songwriter Mikky Ekko steps away from the shadows after writing Rihanna’s hit single Sway, and debuts his album Time, our lastest contributor from France, gives it a whirl and gives us his low down. Finally, its to noise rock band A Place to Bury Strangers, a band that have spent the last 12 odd years supporting their music hero’s (Jesus and Mary Chain, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, The Big Pink, Nine Inch Nails) and return with their fourth album. Its a big week of brilliant new music.
Album Title_ I Love You, Honeybear
Label_ Sub Pop
Genre_ Indie Pop, Ballad, Folk Pop
Moments Of_ Perfume Genius, Ryan Adams, Fleet Foxes, Sufjan Stevens
Stand Out_ Bored In The USA, I Love You Honeybear
Father John Misty, better known to his family as Josh Tillman, has released his second album under this name to a global acclaim and wonder. Former member of Fleet Foxes, Father John worked on this album with producer Jonathan Wilson (who also produced on his debut Fear Fun) to put together this album, which has certainly not succumb to the dreaded second-album syndrome. Following in a familiar fashion to his debut, I Love You Honeybear is an album dripping in lush melodies, delightful instrumentation and Father John’s unmistakably dreamy, reverb coated vocals.
“It has a decidedly more soulful presence than Fear Fun, due in no small part to the fact that I am truly singing my ass off all over this motherfucker.” If any sentence is going to give you an idea of what to expect on I Love You, Honeybear, it’s that one. Taken from a letter written by Father John for the press release accompaniment to the release of this record, it’s a truthful slab of reality into the concepts and ideas behind this album. It’s truly worth a read; it gives you an idea that Father John is a man with a lot going on in his head, and a sense of humour to boot.
These mind ramblings translate onto songs filled with such emotion, realisms, confusions, and unconventional love stories that leave you with a sense of grounding; it’s true, even famous people get messed up too some times. The true star of Father John’s work are his lyrics, sung with an uncompromisingly heartfelt and truthful tone. A few brief examples of such great work include the steady sway and string accompanied The Night Josh Tillman Came To Our Apt which features such stellar lines as “She blames her excess on my influence but gladly Hoovers all my drugs…I obliged later on when you begged me to choke ya.” Also, on Bored In The USA, Father John sings of the disappointment of everyday life, followed by canned laughter. It really reinforces the blatantness of the subject mater, like a daily sitcom and it’s fake sheen on reality. Whilst sweet piano lines and strings fill out the track, it’s definitely a unique song that makes a long lasting impression.
The depth of the subject matter fills the entire album – there is no respite from the though provoking tales of love, fear, personality and intimacy. With this said, this album is worth the repeated listen. At least once to appreciate the gorgeous melodies and arrangements, all the way from building strings of the title track, the authentic folk and horns in Chateau Lobby #4 and the electronic shuffle of True Affection. The following listens should retain this appreciation for the music whilst now trying to absorb the plethora of lyricisms. Each repeated listen unveils something you missed the previous time, provoking a wonder of contemplation, maybe even an audible laugh. There will be something here for everyone to relate to.
As stated by Father John himself, I Love You, Honeybear is a more soulful and epic step forward from his debut Fear Fun. It’s surely got the world talking; looking at his growing popularity through moving TV appearances, huge acclaim from worldwide blogs and fans of his previous work with Fleet Foxes. He hasn’t left any emotion unturned, and the world has listened, with arms and hearts wide open.
Album Title: Man, It Feels Like Space Again
Label: Caroline Records
Genre: Psychedelic Rock, Psychedelic Pop, Neo-Psychedelia, Space Rock
Moments of standout: Track 3 – Holding Out For You.
Aussie psychedelic superstars POND have come together once more for the release of their sixth studio album Man, It Feels Like Space Again. The album is very experimental piece to say the least. If you’re not really open-minded when it comes to music, the majority of songs can come across as clustered, unorganised and poorly mastered. It can come across as though all band members were as high as a kite whilst writing the perfect soundtrack to get high to –which may well be the case, who knows?- but even so, there are some really amazing moments throughout this album. Pushing the boundaries of music you would hear on radio and displaying sounds in general which you may not have ever heard in your life. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the genre of psychedelia.
The album kicks off with the song Waiting Around for Grace. This is quite slow and confusing at the start, but picks up a real consistent upbeat tempo for the remainder. A solid start. Track two jumps into the promotional song which has received a fairly decent amount of airplay on triple j, Elvis’ Flaming Star. This one is one of the anchors of the album, serving as the groovy, catchy tune that hooks in all of our attention to see what else these lads from the west can offer us. With such awesome slow breakdowns throughout a predominately upbeat, dance worthy tune – all wrapped within such an unusual theme of bringing Elvis back from the dead – it is easy to see why this was the lead single.
Track three is actually my stand-out for the whole album, titled Holding Out for You. Coming into this album, I was expecting more of the same, with all songs being eerily similar to the singles released so far; Elvis’ Flaming Star, Sitting Up On Our Crane & ZOND. However, Holding Out For You absolutely dismissed this pre-conceived opinion, instead being a very slow-moving yet feel good song, it’s the type that you could pick out that special someone in a ballroom and slow-dance the night away to. Still maintaining some insanely different sounding guitar hooks in the background, this song blew me away.
We’re then transported into ZOND, the single that’s currently making its route around the scene. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying ZOND is bad, it’s just a tad boring, not changing tempo or sound hardly at all throughout its four minute and five second life-span. Track five, Heroic Shart baffled me that it actually made it onto the finished LP, sounding more like a chilled, improvised jam rather than an actual song.
After sitting through Heroic Shart, it is greatly appreciated to hear the familiar Sitting Up On Our Crane. Clear lyrics, clear structure, very mellow. Brilliant. Track seven, Outside is the Right Side delivers a VERY funky vibe to POND town. Sounding quite similar to Mark Ronson and fellow Tame Impala member Kevin Parker’s current hit Daffodils. Track eight, Medicine Heart is the simplest song on the whole album. Being 100% acoustic and clearly sung, this is definitely a case of less is better, it serves as a much needed break from the complicated sounds of all songs previous.
The last song is the title track; Man, It Feels Like Space Again. Which, to be brutally honest, is a mess. It sounds like they tried to write a quick summary of the album by combining every single song together for this 8-minute long piece, and it’s a bit of a disappointing way to finish something that could have been great.
Overall, Man, It Feels Like Space seems a bit rushed and not thought out. If it were instead released as an EP with Elvis’ Flaming Star, Holding Out For You, Sitting Up On Our Crane, Outside is the Right Side and Medicine Heart, it would have been one of the best releases of the year. As an album though, it is quite disappointing. I give it a total of 5.5 lambs, with 0.5 of that being due solely to the absolutely incredible album artwork.
Album Title_ Heavy Love
Label_ Heavenly Recordings / [PIAS]
Genre_ Acoustic, Folk, Singer/Songwriter, Blues
Moments Of_ Iron & Wine, Nick Cave, The Doors
Stand Out_ Disco Lights
Its like as soon as you head out to the desert with producer Alain Johannes your musical sex appeal goes up ten points; Queens of the Stone Age and consequentially the Arctic Monkeys, is this guy some kind of rock sex shaman?? Doesn’t matter, he done good again with Duke Garwood’s fifth studio album Heavy Love. It’s a sneaky one, don’t be fooled by the folky overtones, this guy is one super duper blues man with an aching love story ready to sensually growl into your ear. I think I use sensual too much this time, but bear with me.
Duke Garwood at first seems a little bland; a little too Jack Johnson on a moody day, or Iron & Wine version 2.0, even though there already is an Iron & Wine and we only really need one, thanks. But listening to Heavy Love is an important lesson in how we listen, or rather, don’t listen. As the opening twangs of Sometimes drum into the air, its all like, ‘oh here we go, another friggin’ folk dude’ and wrote off the whole album as I was listening to it. I was stereotyping based on genre, without actually taking in the music. But suddenly, as I was half listening while surfin’ the ol’ world wide webaroo (check out OldLoves tumblr page, best way to waste a good three hours), Duke Garwood actually sunk in, and he was brilliant.
I’m not sure if it was his suedey, bottomless vocals rubbing themselves coyly along my eardrums, or the deep reverberations that hide behind every song, but hot dang this guy is something else. Maybe it was the sensual apocalyptic love story that seems to dominate the album – lyrics like ‘Crush my chest with all your heat, and you can take all of me’ in Heavy Love, and ‘My love and me, we’re bound by sin’ in Burning Seas hint at some kind of dangerous woman complex mixed in with a little religious conflict going on. Maybe its because my BF has been away on work assignment for a month and I’m reading weird sex and emotional shit into everything. I wont even tell you what happened when I watched My Best Friends Wedding for the first time last week.
In Disco Lights the guitar solo is so desolate, lonely, sexy, bluesy and beautiful it almost deserves a song on its own. Its like a lonely dog howl. Each song has this ache in it somewhere – and I guess that’s his style, lucky the tension created by his low growl saves it from being too mushy.
Its not a musically original album – we can hear snatches of blues greats, steel guitar nods and classic rock all over the place, see if you can pick out The Doors in there – but don’t mistake this for blandness or imitation as I did at first. It’s hard to capture and describe his sensual growls and echoes of love – the best I can do is maybe sexy Grinderman? Nah, they are sexy, in an old man kind of way – so just go listen.
Genre_ Indie Rock
Moments Of _ The Smiths
Stand Out_ Overgrown
London collective Crushed Beaks have debuted their seminal effort Scatter. A project that has come into fruition after two years of slog, the band that started out as a duet sharing mutual loves of slasher films and bad rock are notorious on the circuit for their gritty, visceral and alcohol induced live performances. This week I reviewed Scatter from the comforts of my car and to my astonishment, was pleasantly surprised.
I’m semi over indie rock. Don’t get me wrong, I am an advocate and it has always resonated with me on a very intrinsic level but I feel like over the last five years or so we have been inundated with this persuasion of bands. In short, I have been feeling somewhat ‘bored’ with it all. Growing up I was exposed to a lot of The Smiths, Joy Division, Sex Pistols and The Cure by my uncles who were like big brothers to me. As you could probably imagine I managed to ingest a lot of their musical proclivities and take them on as my own (as most children do when they aspire to be like their older and much cooler family members, usually a brother or a sister) so for me, I had become acquainted with the best of the best, the titans of the genre if you will. So of late, I had been tending to think of modern indie rock as it were, as somewhat diluted. Which brings me to Crushed Beaks and although the band name doesn’t exactly have me belting adoring platitudes from the top of my lungs, there is something to be said about form and the kind of energy that this band espouses in their work.
There is a kind of spirited aggression that underpins the tracks on here, and I love it because it harks back to the genres forefathers. At some points you may also be privy to a type of juvenile effervescence throughout Scatter that is seemingly a signature kind of trope within their framework. The first track on here is April, a beautifully taut, sweeping overture, clearly demonstrative of the axing prowess of Matthew Poile as he oscillates between a fumbling, reposed brashness and a lulled roar. I also experienced a strange case of dejavu listening to this one, I know it reminds me of another song but I still haven’t been able to figure out which it is yet. I also really enjoyed Overgrown, it did some very different things texturally which I found a fairly nice little surprise, kinda like when you eat one of those chewy caramel éclair lollies and you find a little chocolately surprise inside. Melodically it’s very disarmingly pleasant too. This track is very Morrissey – esque in tone and slant as well, which really isn’t at all bad. In some places you kind feel a decidedly more indecisive slack in the framework, for example Feelers has some great potential but despite the melodic intent, it just doesn’t feel quite like it gets there.
Verdict? This soars in places, and I really like the heady unpredictability that permeates in parts. There is solid development that hints at real glimmers of a well put – together final product. Next album may very well incline to a more definitive, polished outlook. For a debut, Scatter has all the markings of a formidable up and coming addition to London’s prolific indie rock cannon.
Album Title_ Time
Label_ RCA reccords
Moments Of_ How To Dress Well, Active Child
Stand Out_ Comatose
Two years after writing Rihanna’s hit “stay” along with a handful of other collaborations with s of like David Guetta and French Montana, Mikky Ekko releases his first album “TIME”. Filled with all kinds of music influences, the South American songwritter/singer brings us to a personal world that is full of love, sorrow, joy and fear.
Mikky Ekko said it himself “we took the time to put together a really rally strong album full of songs that at least represents exactly where i am”. He wanted to create his personal world and fill it up with his own music and his own feelings and as a result we have a debut album that is a quick vision into mikky ekko’s personal life. He shares his thoughts and feelings about love, loss, his fears of times, his hope for the tomorrows or his sorrow for the yester year. Ekko takes us by the hand and slowly takes us some deep places starting from the sweet and delicate piano song that is Comatose to the rythmed modern rock Riot. He moves us from the disturbing beautiful twisted dark ballad mourning doves to the purist pop -almost accoustic song time.
Mikky Ekko carries us through 48 minutes throught different style, track by track, and he manages to guide you in it with his voice who fit completly to this biographic mixtape, with only one goal ahead : the expression of itself. Mikky ekko ‘s texts illustrate this musical painting. Even if i found the global theme of the album a little bit imature (i mean…he is 30!), Mikky Ekko remains a good songwritter who knows how to put words to feelings, fears and thoughts.
Either you want to join the personal tour or not, it remains that every tracks are individually pretty good. Personally I am not really one for the genre of RNB/Pop styled song ,like U, but I have suprised myself and before I knew it, there I was tapping the beat during the chorus. Equally, I am not the biggest fan of these particular themes for songs ( I mean “Love ?? Again?? come on! ) but i must confess I had Pull me down chorus singing through my head by the end of the day.
Mikky Ekko does not pretend to revolutionize the music industry or create something new (Thanks god, we got enought of them already), he simply uses the tools he knows and invites you in to follow him. Time does offer the listener a taster of all genres within its 12 songs, so its most likely that you will find at least one song that you will like. There is no risks took here , nothing new around the corner, just a safe and sweet album to get you on your way this year.
Album Title_ Transfixiation
Label_ Dead Oceans
Genre_ Noise Rock, Post-Punk
Moments Of_ My Bloody Valentine, Deerhunter
Stand Out_ Straight, Now it’s Over
Brooklyn noise rockers A Place to Bury Strangers return with their fourth album ‘Transfixiation’. Opting for a less melodic approach this time round, the album feels a little different to their previous offerings, but still holds the same essence of noise driven rock. Over the top distortion and screaming feedback is the backbone of any APTBS album – you’ll know to expect this here. What isn’t particularly expected is how so much noise can sound so empty.
A Place to Bury Strangers was formed by David Goffan and Tim Gregorio in 2002. Oliver Ackermann joined shortly after the death of his previous band Skywave, adopting a darker, more distorted version of the former. Known for their dense walls of sound and deafening live shows, the group’s fourth LP has dropped some of its melodic approaches for a more rhythm driven sound that most will find a little empty.
Simply put, ‘Transfixiation’ is disappointing. It’s not horrible, but it’s nothing special either. It seems that the band has decided to ditch a lot of the aspects that made them stand out in previous LP’s. The licks and melodic riffs of ‘Exploding Head’ have been replaced by unmemorable, repetitive rhythms that don’t really go anywhere. When done right this can be enjoyable, but the noise elements of the album lack any edge and that seems to dull the whole experience.
Longest track ‘Deeper’ is a good example of noise done right. It’s sludgy, heavy, overly distorted guitars drone out the same thing throughout the entire song, but still manage to hit an entertaining crescendo. The only thing that lets the song down is its lyrics. The main line of the song – “Deeper, deeper, deeper still, deeper than the deepest well” feels about as lazy as the majority of the song writing. While we’re on the subject of lyrics, they seem to be the main feature that the band has maintained from previous efforts. Themes of despair and overwhelming depression are what you’ll get on ‘Transfixiation’, along with the occasional threat – “If you fuck with me, you’re gonna burn”. Intimidating.
Standout tracks ‘Straight’ and ‘Now it’s Over’ is where A Place To Burry Strangers get it right with their approach to rhythm-over-melody, letting the vocals carry most of the lead. Album single ‘Straight’ is the most memorable and straight forward song on the album, showcasing a little more velocity and direction than the rest of the album. Had they stuck closer to this style throughout, ‘Transfixiation’ may have been a little more interesting.
I’ll be honest, I fell off the bandwagon with A Place to Bury Strangers after their album ‘Exploding Head’, not for any particular reason, they just kind of fell off my radar. That being said, this set my expectations for ‘Transfixiation’ fairly high, as ‘Exploding Head’ was a stellar release. I wanted to love it, I really did, but it just feels empty and uninspiring. The writing is lazy and for the most part, void of any conviction or passion. That’s not to say that it’s terrible, there are some enjoyable moments, though they are few and far between. Stick to the stand out tracks, that’s all you really need to hear.