Another week in music another week of writing some personal words about what we thought from the likes of Muse, SOAK, No Joy and Sweet John Bloom. It is another ecclectic week of music starting with the eagerly anticipated return of Muse and it wasnt just Jermoe, who gave it many spins this week who was uncertain about the result. Shan took dibs on SOAK, a talented young songwriter from Ireland and discovered joy. Speaking of No Joy, who released an album that noded to the 90s genre of shoegaze, an album that got Matt, our writer from Sydney liking it more each time he gave it a listen. Finally, we had Shauna listen to Sweet John Bloom, an album that was described as fun but perhaps a little all too familiar. See you next!
Album Title Drones
Label Warner Bros
Genre Rock , noise rock
Moments Of Smashing Pumpkins, Queen, Muse
Stand Out Psycho, Mercy
Matthew Bellamy mentioned it after they released their latest album (The 2nd law in 2012) that the group wants to return to a purer and simpler music mind set of a rock perspective . This is exactly what we get on their latest release Drones, which sees the stadium indie rockers go back to a drums-bass-guitar formula. This is an album of great darkness that shows a return to their roots that made their success, reviving their spirit and essence.
No need to present MUSE! The British group of the (somewhat) iconic Matthew Bellamy as I selec to review their 7th studio album. After the delivery of what many fans would call cult albums that include Origin of Symmetry in 2001 and Absolution in 2003, not to mention their shift towards some electric sound (Black Holes and Revelations (2006) Muse have returned to their noise rock roots and do not lose sight of their obvious influences of Queen and, to me, Smashing Pumpkins. While previous albums presented an evolution and progression for the group, for me the originalityis much less with Drones, which gives the impression that the group have begun to close in and lose what gave them their strength. The songs are quite repetitive, the construction of each song almost rehashed from one another that gives the album a feeling that it just goes in circles.
With the exception of two songs that strike at my mind like a musical bomb, those tracks being Psycho and Mercy, that are coincidentally the two lifted singles from the album, I think that the trio and their bass/guitar/drum formula have failed to offer me much enthusiasm that made me a fan on their earlier albums. The songs are very rock, more noise, but less original, they just feel far less involved than their previous efforts.
I did not find that the album was a complete miss I was just a little bit disappointed from agroup that used to bring us the kind of energy and power that created a musical revolution.
The concept of this album is very original and plays out a character, a soldier, and their journey during World War III, usin gthemes that are declared dear to the group such as deep ecology, empathic gap and mental manipulation. This story is told through the always punchy and lyrically poignant craftsmanship of Bellamy their is no denying the full sentiment and his intention. If I focus merely on this well then, the album is very successful.
For this reason I am divided for as a MUSE admirer I struggle between joy and disappointment. Although the style and the imprint MUSE is completely present, I just feel that it lacks the usual musical risk and progress, that is replaced with something that is recycled from their past. Maybe I just expected too much of this new MUSE? The future will tell….and I am sure many of you may completely disagree.
Label Rough Trade Records
Genre Indie Pop, Folk Pop
Moments Of Feist, The Concretes, Victoria Bergsman
Stand Out Sea Creatures
The May 29th release of Soak’s debut album Before We Forgot How To Dream marks a playful and confident entrance into pop music. The Northern Island native has a reputation that precedes her yet has a voice that is on occasion shy, assured, bold and spirited. I hadn’t known a great deal about Soak before reviewing this album but what I did learn left me pleasantly surprised.
I had very little acquaintance with the works of Soak, for this week I was flying somewhat blind. I had heard Sea Creatures and was pleasantly persuaded with her juvenile like charms but once I really had a good listen to this album, I found a depth of character that spoke to me long after I had finished listening.
As I mentioned in the preamble, Bridie Monds – Watson or more affectionately known as Soak is indeed Irish, and when she wails, there is a whimsical dexterity that pervades the music. Not to mention that voice. In Sea Creatures there is a delicate balance that takes place when it might simply be easier to dismiss the vocal as belonging to a 5 year old boy. It’s very special to hear, especially in lyrical pearls like ‘I’ll pray for you/ and you know I don’t like Jesus’. The innocence is juxtaposed against those unlikely lyrics and its just whimsy at its finest.
The first song is B A NoBody is a slow burning ballad that builds delicately mostly in part due to that wafer thin falsetto that weaves through the verse, it almost feels like a young Gomez in parts, with some abandon, probably polite restraint at best in that chorus but there are hints of excitement, peeping out from beneath that whimsical and child – like demeanor. Reckless Behavior is decidedly more pop but still manages to carry some of that magical sheen. Monds – Watson voice has an inherent innocence makes these songs just seem to float. There is sheer whimsy, even at times where Soak is dealing with much heavier subject matter. There are glimmers on the album that belie a much more mature artist despite the seeming adolescence portrayed in the vocal. There is also a lot of talk of family and friends on this album, content that is parallel to your average 18 year old so there are unexpected nuances all over the place on here.
My verdict. An extremely solid debut from Soak, its dreamy, moody, heartfelt and elegant. I really enjoyed this album, it very much had a throw back vibe to the late 60s, and I enjoyed Soak’s quirky arrangements and deliberate platitudes.
It’s a cosy album that has plenty to offer, appropriate for Sunday arvo drinks or dinner with the parentals. Its whimsical and imaginative and by far worth your attention.
Album Title More Faithful
Label Mexican Summer
Moments Of Slowdive, Lotus Plaza
Stand Out Everything New, I Am An Eye Machine
four piece ‘No Joy’ present their latest offering ‘More Faithful’, a punk and doom laden sprawl with a shoegaze foundation that makes for an exciting listening experience. Formed in 2009, the groups third effort is their most polished and highly refined work to date. Recorded in studios in both Brooklyn and Costa Rica, it’s no wonder the sounds on the album are varied and expansive!
When you hear the word “shoegaze”, certain sounds come to mind before you even hit play. Dreamy tones and lowly sung vocals make it the optimal chill out tunes. The problem with the genre is that it doesn’t leave a heap of room for variety and that’s not necessarily a bad thing, it just means that only the best of the best tend to stand out. So is there any joy in ‘More Faithfull’, or does the band live up to their name?
Opening with a rather fast number, ‘Remember Nothing’ starts with some punk inspired drums and some melancholic chords, kind of like a friendlier, slower version of Deafheaven. It sets a surprising pace for the album and leaves you wondering where it will go from here. ‘Everything New’ is a little gentler, straight up shoegaze offering reprieve from the previous track. It’s not pushing any boundaries, but it achieves its objective comfortably. ‘More Faithful’ does this quite a bit throughout the LP and it tends to work well. Providing contrast keeps the experience interesting.
‘Hollywood Teeth’ jumps straight back into the faster pace, picking up where the opener left off. It’s short and punchy, sticking around just long enough to keep you wanting more. But just as you settle in to the pace, ‘Moon in my Mouth’ slows it right down again. It makes for a fun listen when you’re never sure where the album will turn next. I can’t applaud them enough for the masterful change in dynamics that are on show on this record.
Taking it down even further, ‘Burial in Twos’ is so damn relaxing I’ve put it straight into my immaculate chill playlist. Perfect for that inevitable Sunday hangover.
Second last track ‘I Am an Eye Machine’ is by far my favourite track on the LP. So much so that when it finished, I immediately played it again. Entering softly with paced drums, drifting into a quiet middle section, then ending with an incredible, emotive crescendo.
If I’m honest, I didn’t really like ‘More Faithful’ on my first listen. It wasn’t all that exciting and I just wasn’t interested. After a few more spins, it’s definitely grown on me in a big way. No Joy has created a stable shoegaze foundation with subtle, but clever blends of punk and even some fleeting stoner rock influences. The change in dynamics from song to song is more than enough to keep it interesting, while maintaining the overall motif of the experience; a fine line to walk for most. Overall, pretty good! Have a go.
Album Title Weird Prayer
Label Tiny Engines
Genre Indie Rock, Pop Rock, Pop Punk
Moments Of Jawbreaker, Pavement, Weezer
Stand Out Moving Target, Blood Moon, Weird Prayer
You may not have heard of them before, but Massachusetts indie/pop/rock band Sweet John Bloom are sure to soon appear on the radar whilst the 90’s guitar pop revivalists are currently enjoying a spot in the limelight. Like a number of others, Weird Prayer is an album that possesses a tinge of nostalgia, but with a vibe of modern understanding and songwriting. While there is a immediately refreshing sound to the album, the aftertaste is pretty dull, because it really seems just a little too familiar.
With a limited internet presence and a name that suggests they could be a relaxed folk band, Sweet John Bloom have burst out onto the world with Weird Prayer, a full pelt blast of distorted guitar pop songs which hardly stops for breath. Clocking in with 15 songs in 35 minutes, SJB have got a truck load of ideas for their debut album, and want to show you every single one.
This four piece are undeniably Generation Y. With an album that does very well at representing their influences, you can almost plot out their personal musical education and tastes as they were growing up. Each of these influences can be heard a little bit here and there, crammed in together to make sure nothing is forgotten. This gives the whole thing a kind of FOMO (that’s Gen Y for fear of missing out) with the patience of a whippet. Get in done and present it or no-one will get a chance to see, is the kind of mentality here. This is great for ensuring the album is not at all too same-y and makes for a listening experience that never lets you even think about being bored. The major concerning thing about this is that the longevity of a band is therefore compromised. Sure, you can show off now with all the fancy tricks, but could you even possibly consider doing that for a second round? We’ll just have to wait and see.
All the shots are pulled. An epic singalong, crunchy chorus and a rollicking pace makes the title track Weird Prayer is a good start for the uninitiated. This is the general feel for the majority of songs, each possessing a pop melody, some nineties guitar tones and familiar Gen Y lyricisms (songs names such as New Identity Crisis and Ageing In Place give you a pretty realistic idea). Some wind it down a little with a bit more emotion, in songs like Nothing Is Natural and Bury Ruby that sit well within the album to provide a chance for your brain to catch up. This is also were the realisation kicks in – this band market themselves as a indie pop band, but a leaning towards the terribly unfashionable pop-punk genre becomes slightly apparent. Nasally vocals, blokey singalongs and pop hooks sure do hint to that, but most people should be able to excuse them for it.
Without doubt, Weird Prayer is a fun album. There’s enough here to get their melodies stuck in your head for at least a few days, if not more. The main downfall is the lack of originality and the overabundance of bands that are doing the exact same thing at the moment, meaning that this is an album that is likely to be listened to a few times and then forgotten about.