Will September provide us with the same wonderful New Born deliveries as August? For us we rate August as the best month in music so far, for 2015. With the great new releases from Beirut and Foals, we at least know that we have 2 contenders for worthy listens for September. The disappointment for our New Zealand writer Shan, was Prince’s new and much anticipated album. It really is hard to rate such an artist as it is not so much what he is now producing, but more so, what the man has done for music. We need to respect that right? But, this is a wee little blog after all and we do have a voice, as a little as it may be. Unfortunately we also missed out on a handful of New Borns that got away but we urge to listen to this weeks new releases from Richard Hawley, The View, Empress Of, WindowSpeak and FIDLAR.
Album Title No No No
Genre Indie Folk, Melancholy Pop
Moments Of Fanfarlo, Belle & Sebastian
Stand Out Gibraltar, Perth
Beirut is led by Zach Condon a clever songwriter and a quiet achiever. No No No is the bands 4th album and is also 4 years since the release of the fantastic The Rip Tide, an album that benchmarked the band and their melancholic pop offering. The album was recorded over a blistering cold New York winter. This was an anticipated album by many of their fans to see whether Zach Condon would choose a different path for the band. Safely there are no surprises here, but who wants to be surprised when things are doing just fine!
Gibraltar, opening track and first single taken from the album is a reminder of just how unique and instantly catchy the song writing ability of Condon is. To put the first single as opening track is always a daring move, you tend to find artists putting their best somewhere in the middle, or track 3, just in case things don’t work as planned. Not so for this album. Each track stitches together like one complete song, one very little message of around 35 minutes.
Beyond the now obvious musical signs that it is a Beirut song (trumpets, plonkity plonk piano keys, and swooning strings) it has to be the recognisable nasal voice of Zach Conran that makes Beirut, well Beirut. Slightly effortless, uncertain, heart felt and vulnerable, it may well be a vegemite relationship for some, but for me, it is soothing and a warm wintery back rub.
Title track, No No No, has me thinking about the best way to describe Beirut and their quirky but accessible brand of melancholic pop. Take away lead singers vocals and the music toe taps along with what to me has an ethnic tone to it. French in some parts, Spanish in others and then the unmistaken sense of watching a big band quietly trudge through your little sleepy town. With shuffling drums and their quintessential yearning trumpets that Beirut love so much, they create a feeling in your heart, that if you try hard enough, you may just make it through life.
Tracks such as At Once, a small instrumental diddly track and Pacheco, are the delicate fillers of the album but pack enough interest to hold the album together.
August Holland, who on quick research is some famous American painter, who had a bit going for him in the 1960s seems odd to have a song written about him, perhaps it is not written about him at all, either way, what is lacking in impressive art doesn’t lack for a highlight track of the album. Lets call it the feel good track of No No No.
Perth, toe tapping and as close to a groove as Beirut will deliver, proves how a simple repetitive lick can become so addictive on its 4th bar. This had me thinking, 6 tracks in, this album is mighty short!!!!!. Jangly guitars meet us half way and tick the box for the best track on the album. Condon makes it seems pain free to pen down tracks that remind you why simple pop music can be so important to the soul. And just before the smile of goodness kicks in the track is over.
35 odd minutes later, the album comes to a sweet and gentle end with So Allowed. Barely an album in its duration, it does show a writer who slowly but surely making his mark as an influential songwriter with an ability to create carefully constructed pop tunes with just enough individuality added to each track that will only have Beirut delivering consistent and heart-felt indie pop music. It is hard to not like this album.
Album Title What Went Down
Label Warner Music Record
Genre Electro Rock, Indie Rock
Moments Of Queen of the Stone Age, The White Stripes
Stand Out London Thunder, What Went Down
After three albums and five years of good and loyal services to their former label Transgressive Records, Foals return this time under the banner of Warner Music Records with a new mind-blowing rock album! Between pop rock and aggressive rock, beauty and darkness, exciting and relaxing, this album unravels just like the first single What Went Down. It is an album that can be as dynamic as it can be melodic. It looks like The British group have finally found itself for this fourth album!
Far from their native city of Oxford, lead singer Yannis Philippakis and his band Foals opted for a studio in the south of France (La Fabrique in Provence (one of the best studio that can be found in France) in order to “suck in a bit of that madness put in a psychiatric ward” as Philippakis Said himself. It goes to explain why What Went Down mixed up with melodies, chaos, beauty and madness.
From the extreme darkness (Snake Oil) to the extreme beauty (Give It All), the extreme sadness (London Thunder) to the extreme “dancing-like” song (Birch tree), impressions, passions and feelings come together while remaining true to the roots of rock, especially thanks to the saturated guitar riff or acoustic folk melodies. The themes of separation, loss, human fragility and mortality are approached with great depth and fit perfectly into their musical atmosphere. A perfect mixture that gives an energetics album it’s complete success.
This album is both mature and fully “mastered”, as if the band have arrived at the end (or beginning) of their musical cross road, a band that are at their peak of glorious atmospheric stadium rock. I got completely carried away with tracks like London thunder and air drumming the rhythm of Mountain At My Gates. In fact every song on this great album has its own little touch! There is simply no doubt that Foals have managed to deliver such an accomplished and professional album that is both personal and completely accessible. I think it is about time that non-fans step up and discover this band and then commence the journey into a growing back catalogue.
Album Title HITnRUN Phase One
Genre Psychedelia, Funk, R & B
Moments Of Ummm, well – he’s Prince …
Stand Out It’s Prince!
He’s comes in the smallest and most elegant of packages. He’s James Brown incarnate and the champion of all things purple. Decades on and he still brings the shock value. But has the time finally come when we’ve truly had enough of all things that Prince offers us? This week I reviewed his latest HITn RUN Phase One and what I found was … in truth? Somewhat underwhelming.
As a child, well even as an adult actually Prince was always a staple on my mother’s stereo. I have a deep affinity for this man, despite all of the sexually over content that permeates his work, as a youngan this man spoke to me on ‘a level’. I mean granted, there was a phase that all popular artists go through where their work is stale and considered uncool but, Mr Nelson has always seemed to occupy a very niche space in my mind and therefore, has always been standalone.
However, when I look at Phase One which is the latest addition to his cannon, I can’t help but be – errrrmmm, sufficiently disappointed. Now all day long, I will champion his musicality chops. As I’m sure no one would care to dispute, this man is otherworldly when it comes to talent. But there must come a point where he pushes that talent and attempts to deliver something, well… fresh.
Phase One attempts to revisit a space Mr Nelson has already taken us numerous times. Whilst there is always that lurking promise of seduction and provocative content with his art, there just comes a point where it doesn’t cut it. Actually, it hurts me to say that. Because I have such love for this man, when I saw him in Melbourne I literally cried on sight and was catatonic for a good 20 minutes into the show. I mean, aside from the sheer spectacle of this show, it literally felt like I had transported in the delorian back to a much happier, more purple time.
Ok so, to watch on this one. My Name is Prince sounds farcical and on par with Bitch Im Madonna but there is something at work on here that I actually liked. Like A Mack I just frankly did not understand and it was somewhat bewildering to listen to so for all intents and purposes, its difficult for me to recommend you run out and add this one to your collection. The hype always seems to precede something that never is quite as fulfilling as it promises. Of all his efforts and for the most part there was the all out plagiarism of Prince borrowing off … well, Prince. As much as I love the Purple One, medium at best guys.