Running out of new tunes? Well we hate to see our readers go without, so here’s the latest releases from Morby, The Magnetic Zeros. Le Bon and Lush to keep you fuelled up for the week. For our readers in Australia, we know we’ll be spending tomorrows public holiday lazying about listening to these kickin’ tracks, how about you?
Album Title Blind Spot
Label Edamame Records
Genre Shoegaze, dream pop
Moments Of Ride, Slowdive
Stand Out Lost Boy
We left a lot of things behind in the 90’s but Lush, as fate would have it, was not one of them. After almost 20 years the English shoegazers are back with their their new EP, Blind Spot released through Edamame Records. Just four tracks long, the EP is a family of songs designed to float right through you.
Lush were at their peak in the 90’s crafting ethereal dream pop, making them stand out from their peers My Bloody Valentine, Ride and Slowdive. As they evolved from swirling, over-driven guitars to a more accessible realm of Brit-pop, their trajectory picked pace. They gained a cult following in the UK underground scene and were widely seen as one of the most influential bands of the “shoegazing” genre (a term coined by the British press, referring to the singers staring at their feet while they played due to excessive pedal boards). In 1996 the female-fronted band was shattered by the death of their drummer at the time. Lush disbanded to deal with the tragedy.
Now, original front women Miki Berenyi and Emma Anderson, bassist Phil King and drummer, Justin Welch are making new music with a ‘now or never’ mentality. It’s safe to say the band isn’t in any hurry to move away from their tried and tested 90’s sound. Blind Spot is a modest four tracks, certainly not enough to flesh out a whole new set for a band that hasn’t played live for almost twenty years. The sound of the EP reflects a loyalty to their dreamy beginnings and doesn’t stray far from the original swirling guitars and airy vocals. There are inevitable moments where it’s all too murky but for the most part Blind Spot is otherworldly. The vocals are pronounced and quaint, the guitars highly decorated with effects and the drums distant enough to keep things light.
“Out of Control” is a captivating start with the airy vocals sitting back in a mix of head spinning guitars. The whimsical lyrics “I’m out of control and I love you so much” leave room for a distortion-heavy solo. Then in “Lost Boy” the shiny guitar sound and sleepy tambourine play a background too shimmery for the melancholy vocals, the effect is haunting. Where “Lost Boy” wears the sad-song hat, “Burnham Beeches” follows with a pop approach. It’s nostalgic and uplifting, complete with sharper vocals of “doos” and ‘aahs’. Last but not least comes “Rosebud” with a dreamy, metallic feel and darker lyrics delivered by breathy vocals.
In a recent BBC documentary, front woman Miki Beheye admits that “Swirliness and effects…cloaks a lot.” With its soundscape of effects, shoegaze opened a door to writing music without worrying too much about what it sounded like, and people lapped it up. In the soupy sounds of shoegazing, Lush stand out as a girl-power dynamo. Blind Spot blurs together in the best of ways as one song becomes another, orbiting around each other like little celestial globes.
Artist: Kevin Morby
Album Title: Singing Saw
Label: Dead Ocean
Genre: Folk Rock
Moments Of: Woods, Kurt Vile, Steve Gunn
Stand Out: Singing Saw, Drunk and On a Star, Dorothy
Kevin Morby has a long list of musical accolades to showcase in his trophy cabinet. Two records with his band, The Babies, four as the bass player in, Woods, and his latest album Singing Saw marking his third foray into solo territory. This latest offering from Morby sees him take a more soothing direction, preferring light and acoustic stylings amidst his unique style of folk, with an overwhelming sense of being utterly whole. It seems as though this is where Morby belongs, a solo career more complimentary to his creative flair and needs than any band ever could be.
Singing Saw is a collection of simple yet considered songs. There’s no smoke screen here, Morby sings about what he sees and what he hears, like “watching the old men fish” on the buzzy, upbeat track “Dorothy”. Sometimes the album takes a more relevant grounding, like on “I Have Been to the Mountain”, about the tragic death of Eric Garner at the hands of a NYC police officer in 2014. Singing Saw is suitably scored by melancholic instrumentation, painful and heartfelt, making it a rather gloomy affair. There is light behind every cloud though, a subtle bass groove underlines the whole album, driving it along at a slow but comfortable pace.
Opening with the haunting swell of the singing saw (yes it’s a real instrument), “Cut Me Down” is a bleak introduction to the album. In between the strum of the acoustic guitar, Morby sings of his own death “and you’re going to do/What you came here to do/So why not do it now/Oh and cut me down.” Constant strumming and a little touch of fuzz bring in “I Have Been to the Mountain”, a driving song backed by the eerie sounds of a choir and stark trumpet.
The title track “Singing Saw’ is like a haunted house. A progressive sense of unease sweeps over you as you venture deeper into the ghostly textures of the singing saw and Morby’s unsettling vocals “Then I saw a singing saw/Singing after me.” Following such a melancholic song, it seems necessary to brighten the mood of the album. “Drunk and On a Star” does just that, as Morby leads a set of light strings into the uplifting chorus stating “Have you heard my guitar singing/As it rises from the earth/And the company it’s bringing/Is beautiful and nothing worse.”
Continuing where the last song left off, “Dorothy” kicks in with an upbeat, fuzzy groove. Morby’s voice seems most at ease here, rolling through the lyrics as if it was just as easy as walking. “Dorothy” is easily the strongest song on the album, a marriage of Morby’s strengths, even managing to fit in a call and response with a piano and trumpet.
“Ferris Wheel” is a heavily considered song, slowing the album right down as wandering piano intertwines with sweeping vocals. The song is a poignant metaphor for losing your mind on a roundabout, as Morby almost speaks “Well I lose my mind sometimes.”
“Water” is the final track on the album. A slow building crescendo starts to swell and rise following Morby’s growing vocal strength, eventually breaking into a jangly folk hop. It’s as if he finds his place in the album, his voice belting as he sings “If you find water/Please call my name/Put me out like a fire/Cover me in rain.” As the song starts to peter out, it becomes clear that Morby has done what he set out to achieve on the album, and his fire is ready to be put out. Singing Saw is undoubtedly his strongest solo performance, a considered and haunting piece that gives us an insight into how exactly Morby views such simple topics like death, rebirth and symbolic gestures like baptism.
Artist Edward Sharpe & Magnetic Zeros
Album Title Person A
Label Community Music.
Genre Indie/folk rock
Moments Of Of Monster and Men, Local Natives, Band of Horses
Stand Out No Love Like Yours, Hot Coals, Free Stuff
Edward Sharpe and Magnetic Zero’s are an American indie folk rock band formed in California in 2007. Alex Ebert is the brains, multi-instrumentalist and lead singer behind this 11-piece group. Releasing their 4th album Person A, an album that portrays their signature quirky sounds as well as a little extra. The album delivers 10 tracks with more than 40 minutes of brand new songs.
Think of a hippy family from the 60’s and 70’s with shameless amount of happiness and energy. Ebert was behind of the bands name, Edward Sharpe, a character he created during a difficult period of his life. Their only female member, singer, Jade Castinos left in 2014 leaving the members to reimagine their sound. Due to this, Zero’s new album has stricter and deeper lyrics comparing to their previous works.
Zero’s song “Hot Coals” has a slow and eerie feel to it. The song has some jazz and obscure funk thrown in. Although the lyrics make no sense, something about “hot coals laying on a motorcade, and slag revering in love”. It somehow all works with the melancholic sound that allows the listeners to create their own interpretation. The track opens with a slow acoustics and builds upon it with piano and jazz drums as the song progresses.
The album provides a range of different songs that make the listener question what album they’re listening to. “Lullaby”, for instance, seems to be off a kids TV show, the piano is dominat in the song, with Ebert’s singing voice. The song is slow and very much like a lullaby for a sleeping child. It creates climb and drops dramatically at times throughout the song. The lyrics can be interpreted that the singer wants their child to keep their adolescence, and to not feel rushed to grow up.
Their second song on the album, “Uncomfortable” is the perfect title for how you feel listening to this song. His voice goes monotone, and repeats lyrics about getting uncomfortable. The music is eerie with a slow banjo, loud piano jumping from key to key that give an unease and anxious feeling throughout.
These three songs were a stand out for me, as it was very different from their previous works. However, “No Love Like Yours” has a warm feeling to it that provides their chirpy and colourful music. His falsetto voice and gospel choir in the back round almost cheering him on, as if he had just fell in love.
Overall, Zero’s have provided an album that has tuned in with tighter sequence. Yet again, they have added some experimental songs, which is in their nature as they are always trying new things. I am looking forward to what they think of next.
Artist Cate Le Bon
Album Title Crab Day
Label Turnstile Music
Genre Indie Pop/Avant Garde
Moments Of Courtney Barnett, Regina Spektor, The Beatles
Stand Out Love Is Not Love, I’m A Dirty Attic, What’s Not Mine
Welsh in the blood, Californian by postcode, Cate Le Bon is back to surprising us with her new album. Crab Day is a mish-mash of cheery xylophone, giddy guitar solos and her iconic haunting vocals. The fourth studio album to her name is confronting in its obscurity. Lyrics from aliens and instrumentals from deep sea creatures, Le Bon has yet again taken us on an adventure into her world, through those heavily lined eyes.
After moving to Los Angeles from her native land of Wales, Cate Le Bon has produced some fresh sonic sunshine for our ears. Recording this album in her new home, state California and announcing it with an album trailer as kooky as the songs themselves, get prepared for the organised chaos.
“Crab Day” is the first and title track of this new record, a wonderful glimpse into what the rest of the tunes will feel like. The wonky guitar sound, twitchy intelligence and her richly accented vocals play a big role in the entirety of the album. Not to mention the lyrical component which Le Bon makes sound so natural, feeling “like geometry and a dirty attic” and “crying in your mouth”. She is wild, she is eclectic and at times, she is spooky.
“Love is Not Love” is the twinkling soulful tune we had wished for. With wry saxophone and an old school vibe, a song to fit the old and new. Her playful single “Wonderful” is so vibrant, it’s almost like if you added xylophone to a Country Barnett song, full of punchy guitar and a real indie-rock feel. Though the genre is murky, the goal is clear: spiky cubism and uncertain power. Certainly not in a bad way. Whether the song be a 60’s soul tune or an abstract post-punk groove, there is always a defining element of quirk.
This album feels childish at times and that may be because of the origin. Le Bon explains that the title came from her niece who wanted no part in the tomfoolery of April Fool’s day, instead wanting to draw crustaceans; thus Crab Day. Songs like “Find Me” and even “I Was Born On The Wrong Day” are almost immature. They’re so abrupt and nonsensical, sometimes it’s hard to enjoy such a Bjork-style record when the songs chop and change so much.
“What’s Not Mine” ends the album with a pat on the back, a reminder that Cate Le Bon knows exactly what she’s doing. She’s weirding up the music world with her cooing, her exotically influenced lyricism and a love of glockenspiels. Her sharp tracks are fun and playful, occasionally difficult to follow but worthwhile for their catchy and creepy psychedelic riffs. In fact, maybe we should celebrate Crab Day instead of April Fool’s day, for both art and silliness, just like Cate Le Bon.