Our writers here at TWL have your new music cravings covered for another week. Our latest musical selection brings with it nostalgia, potential farewells and the beginning of new stars. Jeff Buckley’s posthumous release You And I will surely be an emotional experience for many while Iggy Pop’s Post Pop Depression will keep the fire of resistance in music well and truly alive.
Album Oh Inhuman Spectacle
Label Dot Dash/ Remote Control Records
Moments of Melody’s Echo Chamber, Tame Impala
Stand Outs Twilight Driving, Idée Fixe, Rogues
Perth’s very own Jake Webb on guitar and vocals, Thom Stewart on bass and Chris Wright on drums, Methyl Ethel’s debut studio album oh inhuman spectacle, brings themes of anxiety, paranoia and doubt together in a glazed, disarming creaminess of a sweeping psych-rock soundscape.
Oh Inhuman Spectacle has set the groundwork for a band likely to impress well into the future. With a combination of reverb soaked guitar hooks, catchy bass lines and Webb’s distinctive voice. Webb somehow sounds as if he is singing off in the distance while whispering in your ear at the same time, It’s eerily soothing.
‘Idée Fixe’ is a great opening song. It has a cinematic feel to it, it’s all-encompassing, emotive and a definite seat-filler. With songs like ‘Rogues’ and ‘To Swim’ to follow, it’s a strong top-half. ‘Rogues’ is magnetizing in the development of its lyrics, while ‘To Swim’ serves as a short experimental interlude of clashing natural and unnatural sounds; a feature a lot of bands are deciding to place into their albums.
‘Twilight Driving’ is the obvious standout. The difference in tone to the rest of the albums songs is apparent as you reach one of the catchiest melodies in recent memory. “Twilight driving, better watch out for the roos, It’s the early morning baby, I say, why don’t you hit the snooze”. Accompanied by a sexy-as-fuck sax solo, it’s an easily loveable song. It also makes you wonder what direction Methyl Ethel will head in with future sounds, showing how comfortable they are in different fields of music.
It’s easy to compare Methyl Ethel to Tame Impala, they encompass that same psych-pop arena and of course both hail from Perth. I would say that Webb finds the middle ground between the experimental side of Nicholas Allbrook and the dreamscape psychedelia of Kevin Parker. Methyl Ethel comes out the other end as a delicate pop sound that is layered with obscurity. This only serves to make them even more fascinating and is perhaps why they’re starting to form a following overseas, currently playing at SXSW in Austin, Texas.
The slow, methodical builds throughout Oh Inhuman Spectacle make the album seem a lot longer than it actually is. This definitely isn’t a bad thing, helping you to really get enveloped in the imagery created by the lyrics, especially on ‘Rogues’ with lines like “I was riding on the coattails of a stranger, who was caught under house arrest, and his room became his tomb”. Accompanied by the interludes of ambient sounds they seamlessly create a sprawling landscape spanning from start to finish. An interesting beginning for a band that is likely to impress in the future as it really defines its sound. Oh Inhuman Spectacle is definitely one to sit back and ponder to.
Album Title Post Pop Depression
Label Rekords Rekords/Loma Vista
Genre Alternative Rock, Punk
Moments Of Queens of the Stone Age, Arctic Monkeys and David Bowie
Stand Out Break Into Your Heart, Vulture and Paraguay
After over 50 years in the game it seems that Iggy Pop may be “closing up after this”, his 18th Solo LP. Post Pop Depression is a triumphantly scored backing for Pop’s final farewell, exploring what it means and how it feels to let go of the music and persona that defined his seemingly ageless career. The record was produced by Queens of the Stone Age frontman Josh Homme, also recruiting help from the likes of Matt Helders (Arctic Monkeys), and Dean Fertita (QOTSA).
Post Pop Depression is as much Homme’s album as it is Pop’s. It’s almost split down the middle, balanced by Pop’s harsh lyricism and Homme’s polished instrumental backing. When both of these seemingly opposite forces collide they create an almost perfect yin and yang, and put forth the very album we’re talking about now. Having said that, there is obvious influence from Homme’s last studio album …Like Clockwork with Queens of the Stone Age. This is most noticeable on the track ‘Break Into Your Heart’ where Pop turns what would otherwise be a beautiful notion into a line out of a horror movie as he sings “I’m gonna break into your heart/ I’m gonna crawl under your skin.” The album opener is a lurid overload of inhospitable grinding bass and rough textured guitars, much akin to what we already associate with Josh Homme.
Post Pop Depression isn’t about the slick production though. More than anything, Pop’s harsh and brutal lyricism cut through as he sings of sleazy romps in a “cheapo motel” on the groovier track ‘Gardenia’. Giving seriousness to the claims of his musical mortality as he sings “I’ve nothing but my name” on the track ‘American Valhalla’. Weight is given to these questions of mortality as Pop sings “I hope I’m not losing my life tonight” on the aggressive guitar possessed track ‘In the Lobby’.
‘Vulture’ is one of the most interesting pieces on the album, with its raw acoustic drive and western styling. Sharp piercing guitars seem to spring from behind every note in this track. Ringing out like gunshots and corresponding screams from their unsuspecting victims, as the song draws to a chaotic close. The next track ‘German Days’ is equally as haunting as the previous. Pop’s low wails and the formidable team-up of sludgy basslines and sharp distorted riffs ensure that, while also showcasing the eerie string ensemble that pierces through the fog at certain points throughout the album.
Closing track ‘Paraguay’ is a blues induced burner. It begins with a simple chant “Wild animals they do/ never wonder why/ just do what they goddamn do”. This simple chant is the perfect explanation for Pop’s musical career and his lyrics. Like a taxiing plane, the song slowly rolls along the tarmac to the runway, before building speed and excitement at a blistering pace. The guitars begin to crunch and bellow, rough, tough and in your face, as Pop begins to fire up. Speaking to society in general he begins to rant, snarling ugly lines with his middle finger in the air as he yells “You take your motherfuckin’ laptop and just shove it into your goddamn foul mouth/ down your shit-heeled gizzard you fuckin’ phony, two-faced, three timing piece of turd”. What seems to be the last spluttering words from the father of punk are fitting. They show that nothing has changed since his beginning over 50 years ago, he’s still an outrageous and offensive soul, and not scared to say exactly how he feels.
Album Title Of Desire
Label Invada Records
Genre Alternative Electronic Rock
Moments Of Joy Division, The Cure, Spacemen 3
Stand Out Night Games, Never Enough, Mirrors
With 11 releases to their nme,since 2010, U.K. duo The KVB have delivered unto us a stunning collection of minimal electronic jams. With some instrumental numbers, heavy vocals, perfectly timed percussion, Of Desire is possibly their greatest work yet. Nicholas Wood, who started The KVB as a solo project, and Kat Day (joining in 2012) have such an enticing sound, it’s almost impossible to stop listening.
The KVB are one of the most underrated acts of the last few years. With Nicholas Wood starting as a solo artist in his Southampton abode, it wasn’t too long after releasing hits that Kat Day became his partner in musical crime. They’ve officially put out 11 different collections, some singles and some full albums. A band who understands the youth, a current obsession and demand for more. Taking some time away from their shared home in Berlin, the English duo took up the opportunity to record Of Desire in Geoff Burrow’s studio, the founder of Invada Records (and many other recoding companies) who often dabble in soundtracks for film.
Instrumental tracks placed in perfect position, with woozy lyrics, icy guitars and a very sensual soundscape, songs like ‘White Walls’ and ‘Primer’ absolutely hit the spot. Nicholas explains the album really encapsulates the work, “This new record is much more considered in terms of dynamics, arrangements and instrumentation. There are a lot more layers to it”. In your head you can visualise it, silky, dark and kinky.
‘Never Enough’ is the standout, a minimal-wave glitter beat that oozes sex appeal and confident 80s aesthetics. The drums are golden, there’s a cinematic quality and a textured guitar sound. “We like that we can appeal to different crowds, and are able to play techno and electronic festivals as well as more guitar based festivals – it’s who we are” and that’s correct. Thought it rings true from The KVB’s previous work, Of Desire really fits the bill therefore the audience is broad, if you like music at all, there’s something for you.
The last half of the record sounds similar but also strays away from pop and into soundtrack. ‘Awake’ feels like a horror-movie tune with playful terror while Mirrors, yet another winner, has incredible depth, seeing it live would melt your face off. As they’ve mentioned before, Nicholas and Kat agree that exploring the world of cinema is something they’d be interested in and they’d definitely be successful.
How else to describe this wonder? Their otherworldliness, an underground sound with immense allure, Of Desire is flawless. Both parts of this distinguished duo hum with devotion, with a gloomy mystique and a motorik beat throughout. “It’s about longing to be with someone and getting lost in a world that you create together”, couldn’t have asked for anything better. To The KVB: you are heavenly, you are gifted and you are captivating.
Album Title You and I
Label Columbia Records
Genre Alt Rock
Moments Of The Smiths
Stand Out I Know It’s Over
One of the best things to happen to music this year, the posthumous Jeff Buckley release of You and I. Ten simple tracks: eight genre-spanning covers, a newly revealed original and the first version of Buckley’s iconic song ‘Grace’. The album is a godsend and though it can’t be heard without the weight of Buckley’s poignant legacy behind it, You and I is destined to be a timeless album with or without its context.
Revisiting the Jeff Buckley archives in preparation for the 20th anniversary of the prolific songwriter’s only studio album Grace, the one-take demos that would make up You and I were found. Perhaps it is naive to hope anyone could be respectful or insightful enough to put something together that could represent an artist even after their passing. However, You and I was curated with the best of hands, Buckley’s mother. You and I, as its name suggests, feels so real: just Jeff and a guitar, just Jeff and you.
Most of the songs were recorded in 1993 and are apparently untouched, apart from being mastered. The album has a thoughtful trajectory and sits comfortably in its own simplicity. The first track is a well-loved Bob Dylan song, which sets an intimate tone with Buckley’s haunting touch. This is followed by a Sly & The Family Stone cover, almost cheeky with super raw vocals and bluesy guitar. Then comes the original version of ‘Grace’ which is breath taking. There’s a rendition of ‘Calling You’ as you’ve never heard it before, and you can feel every nuance of Buckley’s voice. It’s so raw it almost feels vulnerable, and this goes for most of the album if not most of Buckley’s work in general. The authenticity that fans fell in love with decades ago is preserved, even heightened, in this album. It has the magic of live performance and the quality of studio recordings. Halfway through the unheard original ‘Dream of You and I’, Buckley gently but confidently recounts that he heard the music in an actual dream that he had. The speech is a wonderful, heartbreaking touch to the album.
The last track is Buckley’s take on The Smiths’ ‘I Know It’s Over’. I think it’s the highlight of the album, and the poignancy of the lyrics can’t be unheard. The fact that they’re not his own words makes it feels like he’s sharing one of his favourite songs with us… “Oh mother, I can feel the soil falling over my head, you see the sea wants to take me…” If there is a way to be haunted like you never want the feeling of heart brake to leave you, this is it. You and I will stay with us for a long time.
Album Title Second Love
Label Bella Union
Genre Singer/Songwriter, Electronic
Moments Of Lana Del Ray
Stand Out Lost in You, Phoenixes
Second Love is an album that was written and recorded all over the world. The opening track ‘Swimming Pool’ was written in hotel rooms in a handful of Asian metropolis’ while Emmy The Great toured the region. It was during this time that she decided her album would explore the future and technology. However as she progressed, it didn’t feel right. As she states on the Bella Union website, “It was only when I started using these things to write about love that everything came together.”
While the concept of love is clearly a central theme of the album, this notion of technology and futurism being integral to the entirety of Second Love is arguable. There are a number of references. On ‘Hyperlink’, she observes the changed café landscape as she notes ‘all these people tapping keys, where once they would read magazines’. On ‘Shadowlawns’, she describes caffeine as leaving her ‘glitchy’. Overall though, the album is a touching look at love, with only a faint string of technological references weaved throughout.
Fittingly, the production on Second Love is more electronic than some of Emmy The Great’s previous work. On ‘Dance w Me’, acoustic guitar dances with a drum machine and a sped up vocal sample. A few clips of people conversing and laughing are also interspersed throughout the song. This has an interesting effect, giving the track an added feeling of vibrancy and life.
On the beautiful closing track, ‘Lost In You’, the movement from acoustic to electronic is encompassed in one song. It begins simply with a wistful piano riff and heartfelt vocals. Towards the back of the track, some brief moments of house and trance build up together, before they fade away and we’re left once again simple piano. If you wanted to get really analytical, you could read this song as allegory for the world’s rapid technological advancement.
On first listen, Second Love may seem a fairly stock-standard project. It’s undeniably pleasant, but there aren’t any tracks that really stand out instantly as being exceptional. Is it anything special? For the answer to this, you need to listen multiple times, with an understanding of the album’s context in mind. It is then Second Love unveils an extra layer of beauty.