As winter brings the chill, artists keep pumping out the music to keep the fire alive! Anti-establishment is a re-occuring element this week with Camp Cope’s feminist dialogue along with Grey’s post punk critique on society and it’s treatment of mental health. Andy Stott then takes us on a challenging journey through the perceptions of music before we wind it down with Free Time’s jangly Melbournian-via-New York indie pop.
Artist: Camp Cope
Album: Camp Cope
Label: Poison City Records
Moments of: Courtney Barnett, The Smith Street Band
Stand Out: Stove Lighter, Song For Charlie, Lost (Season One)
Newly formed Melbourne girl band Camp Cope have only been on the scene for six months, which is quite outstanding given the fact they have already managed to release a single earlier this year “Lost” and now self-titled LP Camp Cope. The trio is made up of lead singer and guitarist Georgia Maqs, bass player Kelly-Dawn Hellmrich and drummer Sarah Thompson. Now under the wing of independent Melbourne music label, Poison City Records, who The Smith Street Band are also signed too, Camp Cope are already heading in the right direction. Being so new and already having such a sound down pat, it really can only go up for them from here.
It’s safe to say that every song on this LP is a great. Similar sounding to Courtney Barnett in regards to talk singing and being very real lyrically, each song on Camp Cope tells a story about the struggles of love, depression, being a woman, and other relevant issues within society today. This fundamental aspect makes the audience able to empathize with the tracks. Camp Cope’s guitar riffs are so simplistic and smooth; this element matched with Maqs strong melodic vocals makes for an effortless listening process. ‘Song For Charlie’ is a very striking ballad; emotionally driven, the song really takes a toll on your heartstrings. The song presents no difficulty musically, its honest and unblended with uncomplicated chords played on the guitar. This is also similarly heard in the song written about depression ‘Stove Lighter’ which has a little bit more progression, embodying the frustrations of life challenges through a more deeper, punk-angst sound.
With this just being the beginning on Camp Cope, its only fair to say that this trio can only sky rocket from here. Already delivering a promising LP that is nothing short of innovative talent, Camp Cove has a bright future ahead of them. Their next musical endeavor will be eagerly awaited.
Artist: Andy Stott
Album Title: Too Many Voices
Label: Modern Love
Genre: Experimental, Electronic
Moments Of: Tim Hecker, Oneohtrix Point Never
Manchester producer Andy Stott returns with his fourth Album Too Many Voices, again an album that finds solace in the distorted and broken. Much like Stott’s previous work on standouts Faith in Strangers and Luxury Problems. His new endeavour morphs together a variety of adventurous industrial sounds to create an atmosphere which honestly is hard to define.
“Butterflies” is the least abrasive track on the album. A combination of hi-hats, rebounding electronics and hushed vocals are all a part of a progression that floats above the brusqueness heard on previous albums. Previous piano-teacher, now relied upon vocalist, Alison Skidmore, appears again as she did on his previous two albums to bring a human element into the mix of mechanical and electrical sounds. Although not utilised as much on Too Many Voices, when she is used it’s to the major benefit of these tracks. The title track for example is eerily playful and soothing, adopting a less jarring sonic experience and opting for a smooth infatuation likeable to the sounds of Björk.
One of the best things about Too Many Voices is the amount of space each texture has to make its impression. Never a cacophony of noise but rather a methodical dissonance where each layer makes a statement that has time to add to a culminating atmosphere, whether it be ominous or inviting. Sometimes with each sound in direct contrast to the last, Stott succeeds in keeping us guessing, but more importantly, keeps the listener wary of what could be lurking around the corner. Because of this the listener remains engaged. “Selfish” is a prime example of the war between man and machine, with the mechanical clanks and pings almost drowning out the yearning and gasping vocals. It’s an interesting battle between the two.
For some though this album may be a little taxing or draining, especially for those that aren’t accustomed to Stott’s disjointed sounds. Songs like “New Romantic” and “Butterflies” are among the most accessible. There are moments where we may feel unsettled, but never truly alarmed. Something artists like Oneohtrix Point Never or Gessaffelstein have succeeded in evoking from their listeners. But for those who truly appreciative the technical prowess shown on Too Many Voices can sculpt their own narrative. It’s an album that’s forthright with its complexities and most of all unapologetic for them.
Artist Free Time
Album Title In Search Of Free Time
Label Bedroom Suck Records / Underwater Peoples Records
Genre Indie pop
Moments Of Real Estate, Kurt Vile
Stand Out The Genius of the Revolution
Free Time is the loveable brainchild of Dion Nania, former Panel of Judges front man. Nania’s new line up borrows band members from the likes of The Twerps and Terrible Truths to seamlessly bring together alt Americana and Aussie surf rock in their second album In Search of Free Time. The Melbournites mull over love and listlessness in a jangly offering written and recorded between Melbourne and New York City.
In Search of Free Time is an excellently crafted album from well-established musicians. Dion Nania will undoubtedly grow tired of hearing this comparison between him and Kurt Vile but beyond Nania’s relaxed, Vile-like vocals the album draws on a range of other influences. Reverby riffs carry echoes of Real Estate and highlight track “The Genius of the Revolution” has a Lennon/McCartney melodic influence as Niana poetically sings “dressed in red, waving her flag“. while a psychedelic organ sound preludes a chorus that echoes the feel of America’s “Horse With No Name”.
Nania delivers these melodies with familiar, understated vocals that cut through the jangly guitar pop. First track “Among the Reeds” is one of the more Kurt Vile-ish of them all, so much that if you’re into Vile the likeness of Nania’s vocals almost distract from the song’s otherwise refreshingly rockabilly feel. “Fifth Floor” is a nine-minute outlier that starts off stripped back then strays from the surf sound with the addition of saxophone. But it feels like a song that could have got where it was going in a third of the time. Sleepy “Peter Green” has a mad warped guitar solo while “Blue Pillow” is surprisingly heartbreaking, still with a great authentic guitar sound.
The album is deceptively lo-fi. Despite the relaxed aesthetic it is full of shiny guitars and poppy hooks. “All Four Seasons” is immediately reminiscent of Real Estate, though it’s unclear who would have inspired whom in the musical scheme of things. It’s a song with a punchy, catchy chorus just begging to be heard performed live. Coming in a cool second last on the track list “Who Owns the Moon?” is a beautifully poetic song, its rhetorical lyrics interspersed with twangy guitar hooks. Last but not least Nania sings “I saw myself from space, just like a tiny ant with a sad look on my face” in closing track “Stirring Up Dust”. Dion Nania definitely has a knack for delightfully simple lyrics, innocent in their stories but touching in their account of everyone’s uncertainty about love and life.
In Search of Free Time is an album that sits comfortably in its place between overly indie pop and full on alt rock. It’s the type of album that will be dusted off every summer, transcending landscapes with a universal carefree feel. It could easily sound track a road trip through the American desert or a cruise down the Australian east coast and thus will transport you to a place under an open sky no matter where you’re listening to it.
Album Title Outer Heaven
Label Stop Start (signed to Carpark Records but the album was released by Stop Start)?
Genre Alternative Rock
Moments Of Sonic Youth, Foo Fighters, Blink-182
Stand Out No Star, Erosion, In For A Penny
Releasing their sophomore record Outer Heaven, post-harcore quartet Greys are here to spit some truths at you. The Toronto band, recording in Montreal, have gifted us 10 tracks and a realm of sound. Sometimes they’re a punky garage band with sharp lyrics and sometimes they’re contemplating mental health with seriously 70’s indie soundscapes. Either way, Greys are working to unpack some difficult feelings and we’re coming on the journey, distorted guitar in hand and teenage angst in heart.
Shehzaad Jiwani, the frontman for Greys, wrote and recorded Outer Heaven in less than a month with Cam, Braeden and Colin, the three musketeers who slay every damn song alongside him. After their last album If Anything, they had some expectations to live up to and they did not disappoint. From beginning to end, Outer Heaven is a cacophonous concoction of post-punk chaos and entrancing indie influences. If you’re a true lover of lyrics, you’ll worship this album when you hear Jiwani sing about the disconnected feeling towards society or the horrific Bataclan killings. Punk for grown-ups
The production and organisation of this record is superb, Greys have really thought about the layout in it’s entirety. “Cruelty” is the first song, a start-up to make sure you’re paying attention but still holds up as a stand-alone Sonic Youth style cruiser. Next up is “No Star”, a cheeky wink to 90’s punk that feels like you could have stumbled upon an old Green Day b-side. There’s a quick, rhythmic balance that plays with heavy lyrics and the noise-rock screech, the kind of wording that doesn’t escape your mind for hours paired with textured guitars and killer hooks.
Jiwani digs deep into the current music scene, explaining “if you’re a band in 2016 and you don’t have anything to say about the world around you, then you’re wasting people’s time” and he’s keen to inform you. Songs like “Complaint Rock” and “Sorcerer” are both post-hardcore jams, heavily distorted guitar and vocals, paired with anthemic drums and a hypnotic assault of lyricism. Even in their heaviest of songs, you can hear the gracious nod to indie legends Smashing Pumpkins and Velvet Underground, which they say influenced them as much as David Bowie, Carrie Brownstein and even Public Enemy.
“In For A Penny” is a golden nugget, anarchistic and strutting flawless guitar work. “My Life As A Cloud” wraps up with a melody straight from The Pixies, almost surf-rock and gentle. “Outer Heaven” is such a terrific example of both mature content and teenage desire, it’s perfectly created an old-school punk interbred with alternative indie sounds, an adult’s playground of epochal racket. Greys have developed a fierce noise-rock album which counteracts our teenage angst with their modern take and we’re so much better off because of it.