Completely recharged and back with a new approach to the way we do things around here, New Borns take a slightly different approach. Each week we continue to review a varied selection of new releases, but we have keep it to 3 or 4 reviews so that we keep this segment short and sweet. Gone are the ratings out of 10, gone are the black sheep and golden ram votes and instead we rate the albums out of 5. Of course we keep things tongue in cheek and lambesque focussed, rating each album according to it being undercooked (Rare) to a job well done (Well Done). The ratings feature as stamps on each albums so you before you read what each of our writers thinks. So to kick things off this week, we had a writers listen to the much anticipated TAME IMPALA, while taking a step back in grunge time with VERUCA SALT and finally welcome the routine to the ground-breaking DJs and Producers, THE CHEMICAL BROTHERS. See you next week.
Album Title Currents
Label Interscope Records
Genre Psych-Rock, Soft-Rock, Dance-Rock
Moments Of Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Daft Punk
Stand Out The Less I know the Better, Past Life
After winning the much coveted Album of the Year title from Rolling Stone and Triple J with 2012 release Lonerism, Tame Impala’s follow up Currents has been highly anticipated to say the least. Frontman and mastermind Kevin Parker drags his distinctive aural signatures through new 80’s territories, crafting a psychedelic journey that would sound both at home in a record shop’s bargain bin, yet totally unlike anything else you might find.
Currents is the next stage in Tame Impala’s slow, yet sure, drift from psych-rock towards the prevailing indie-electronic sounds you might hear on the Triple J radiowaves these days. Kicking things off is Let it Happen which combines familiar soaring bass lines and Parker’s recognisable vocal delivery with some interesting production techniques. Layers of prog-rock synth melodies, chilled vocoder and vocal hooks, funk-inspired bass lines and orchestral strings sound like a fusion of Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories, Discovery track Something About Us.
The prospect of taking Tame Impala’s reputation for quality song writing in new directions sounds incredibly promising, and from time to time, it really pays off. Disciples is a soft-rock track that sounds like it’s been fed through so many crappy radio speakers that it sounds like it was found in the back of Unknown Mortal Orchestra’s abandoned garage. Past Moment Life brings a down pitched spoken word sample you might expect in a Cyndi Lauper track, or the soundtrack of the Breakfast Club. Interlude Nangs shows synths reign supreme on this album, and The Momen’ shows Parker’s ever increasing appetite for vintage psych-rock influences with Eastern inspired melodies.
The swooning, romanticism of re-envisioned 80’s love ballads Yes I’m Changing and Love/Paranoia are where Tame Impala’s new explorations fall flat. Initially coming across as cute, this new direction soon becomes saccharine, cloying. Their first two albums were about social isolation and this has been interpreted as a break-up album. For me though, it’s made me wonder if I’m just scared of change – what I wouldn’t give to relive that sense of blissed-out mind expansion from their earlier releases. Parker may want his music played in clubs and communal settings, but can you call changing your art for that kind of broad appeal alone anything but a compromise?
I’m sure this will be Tame Impala’s most successful record, but it’s definitely not the psychedelic Tame Impala that toured with Pond’s Nick Allbrook. The concise conceptual execution of Innerspeaker and the sheer sense of awe from the songwriting of Enders Toi and other parts of Lonerism aren’t to be found here. It’s a well-crafted album for sure, but take note: it’s not your older brother’s Tame Impala.
Album Title Ghost Notes
Label El Camino Records
Genre Alternative Rock
Moments Of Liz Phair, Juliana Hatfield, Nada Surf
Standout Black and Blonde, Eyes on You
Formed in 1993, Veruca Salt’s original line up consisted vocalist-guitarists Nina Gordon and Louise Post, drummer Jim Shapiro and bassist Steve Lack. For 5 years they were a staple of American alternative rock until Nina Gordon, departed in 1998 to pursue a solo career. This spurred over a decade of new line ups and controversies until an indefinite hiatus was officially announced in 2012. The hiatus was short lived and in 2013 it was announced that they would be returning with their original line up.
If you grew up loving their 90’s grungy-alternative rock, lipstick lesbian appeal than you won’t be disappointed by their most recent addition to their discography, Ghost Notes. Veruca Salt stays true to form. So much so that for the first ten minutes I was convinced I had made a mistake and put on the wrong album. Ghost Notes is a chronical of mismatched lovers that have taken part in their individual lives throughout the years. They succeed in their attempt to explore the many ways a relationship can fail, articulating with a simple clarity that some endings are regretful while others can be liberating. The band endeavor to explore even more subtle realities of relationships, such as abuse, self-worth issues and how personalities can consume or enhance each other. Touching on these topics was certainly appreciated, but were somewhat shaky and even shallow at times. Unfortunately, this leaves you with the impression that they were more after-thoughts than the original intent of each song as they were being written.
This album’s biggest strength may also its biggest weakness. If you want to feel that 90’s nostalgia than this is the album for you. Fuzzy distortion, raw feeling over technique, disingenuous fragility by strong leading females and tension built through repetitive bass and lead riffs to be released in a crescendo of distorted, loud and harsh cluster fucks. We’re talking simple lyrics with cheesy lines that take themselves a little too seriously, classic 90’s stuff and, to be frank, it’s awesome.
Ghost Notes however lacks any modern sensibilities at all which is startling. It sound as if they were cryogenically frozen in 1998 and thawed in 2013 without any knowledge on how far music has evolved. It was a shame that these artists failed to either recognize or participate in that evolution any longer. This wouldn’t be an essential critique if the lyrics didn’t try to emulate a sense of maturity and growth since their teenage years but simultaneously wants to be a fun, ‘not-to-be-taken-seriously, how good were the 90’s right?’ album that is expressed through their music arrangement. They’re trying to have it both ways and one element only serves to degrade the quality of the other.
Ghost Notes is a pleasant one trick pony that will make you remember all the best of old school greats like Smashing Pumpkins, Primus, Garbage, Nada Surf, Pavement and a host of other 90’s classics. You’re going to have fun with this album but ultimately it’s a modern time capsule of a bygone era and as such it won’t be one that defines it.
Album Title: Born In The Echoes
Label: Virgin EMI
Genre: Alternative Electronic
Moments of standout: Go
After 3 years of silence, everybody’s favourite EDM specialist duo from Manchester, UK, also known as The Chemical Brothers have returned to our attention this week, with the release of their eighth studio album; Born in the Echoes. The Grammy award-winning duo show no signs of falling short of making awesomely banger music, even though they formed a staggering TWENTY-SIX years ago! Born in the Echoes shows off their experience and ability to stay cool.
Born In The Echoes is the first we’ve heard from The Chemical Brothers since 2012, and it seems as though they’ve been as keen as beans to get some new stuff into our earholes. It starts off with the quite repetitive Sometimes I Feel So Deserted. Although repetitive, oddly enough it actually hyped me up more than anything. A simple, cool bass loop playing throughout, it’s definitely a running track.
We’re then taken into my personal favourite song of 2015 so far; the first released single, titled Go! Everything about Go! Is great. An extremely catchy bass line that gets stuck in your head immediately, and with the very smooth vocals of Q-Tip. Go! Is definitely the standout of this album, such a cool hook also, absolutely love it.
After Go!, we’re taken into Under Neon Lights. This, like many other of the remaining songs, has a million things going on at once, layer upon layer of sound, beautifully crafted textures as to seem organised, even with so much happening at once.
So far there’s a hit single with Go!, a hype-up track with Sometimes I Feel So Deserted banger in EDL, a philosophical hook in I’ll See You There, A late night Friday mix-up on triple J type sound in Just Bang. A pretty awesome album so far if you ask me.
The last four songs on this 11 track LP take a bit of a back seat, and ride in cruise control. Meaning they’re a lot more chilled and peaceful rather than being in your face as much as the other songs have been. No Honey is a primary example, with a very simple looping brass being played, accompanied with a strangely addictive xylophone-being-stroked-up sound (don’t know how to describe it to be honest, go and listen to see what I mean).
Track 10, Radiate seems like an emotional celebratory song, in that it’s something you’d put to an inspirational montage of looking back on something (perhaps The Chemical Brothers looking back on their amazing careers?). The album ends on Wide Open, a very chilled way to finish the album, as if to say “yeah this is just what we do, you can like it or dislike it, but we’ll keep going with it”.