Well, what can we say about this weeks picks? With such and absurd array of talented music spanning every genre imaginable, it’s always hard to pick just a handful to review. If it was up to us, we’d be banging on about every single new release! For now, sink your teeth into these quality releases and challenge that boring notion that great music was something of the past!
Artist Kyle Craft
Album Title Dolls of Highland
Label Sub Pop Records
Genre Glam rock, blues
Moments Of Bob Dylan, David Bowie, Queen
Stand Out Three Candles
Dolls of Highland was forged from the fire of a painful breakup in a small Southern town. Kyle Craft’s debut album doesn’t shy away from paying homage to the forefathers of big, theatrical glam rock. Craft leans towards Dylan, Bowie, even Freddie Mercury with a massive vocal range soaring over clean cut rollicking production, sparkling lyrics and pure harmonies. The album has a retro familiarity of classic song writing but harbours stories of temptresses and heartbreak in its juicy, fearless merging of many a muse.
Churchgoer turned rocker, Craft marries gospel inspired organ with cheeky lyrics delivered with a confident growl. Making it clear he came to preach the debaucherous word of rock and roll, opening track ‘Eye of the Hurricane’ pulls out all the stops right from the start. It features demons and devils, clean honkytonk piano and sizzling electric guitar. The rest of the album follows suit, and we have no choice but to be swept along with it at a hold-onto-your-hat kind of pace. When ‘Eye of the Hurricane’ leaves us, second track ‘Balmorhea’ begins seamlessly with a straight beat accented by old school tambourine and embellished with a recurring harmonica solo. With the harmonics of ‘Balmorhea’s’ last chorus still reverberating so begins ‘Berlin’, the blood red painted picture of a girl who lives in a world of disco balls, high heels and cat calls. An organ sound fades out and we’re left in the first few moments of silence since the start of the album.
Craft’s songs beeline straight for their soaring choruses, fleshed out with pure blue grass harmonies along the way. ‘Lady of the Ark’ begins stripped back, a winning combination of committed guitar matched by equally compelling vocals. ‘Gloom Girl’ arouses imagery of a mystery woman, inviting a horn section to the party with Bowie-like versatility. Every track on the album is worthy of mention, but sitting at an even dozen it’s quite a full body of work, surprising its audience with new details to be found on every listen. ‘Trinidad Beach’ is very short and very sweet, with a pace that rests at the slow-dance end of the spectrum. While ‘Future Midcity Massacre’ sees Craft reach for melodies with a sweeping range over a punchy bass line, guitars and keys, ‘Black Mary’ melts away to just piano and heart wrenching vocals for a striking ballad-like outro.
Throughout the record Craft turns his chin to the sky and his back on the ghosts of love that live in his hometown. In last song ‘Three Candles’ a melancholy harmonica solo slices right through your heartstrings, heralding the bittersweet acceptance of the end of something good. A fluttering guitar sound and beautiful crackly electric guitar embellishment comes out in the most luscious break up song on the record. Dolls of Highland is an amazing debut from one of the freshest, genre spanning voices of the year.
Artist: Plants and Animals
Album Title: Waltzed in from the Rumbling
Label: Secret City Label
Genre: Indie Rock
Moments Of: Arcade Fire, Dirty Projectors, The Shins
Stand Outs: Stay, No Worries Gonna Find Us, We Were One
Waltzed in from the Rumbling is Plants and Animals’ fourth full-length album. An indie rock masterpiece with a generous dash of Americana you will want to sink your teeth into. With over a decade of making music together under their belts, Plants and Animals have unleashed a beautifully crafted album. Their fresh, playful and at times unexpected style is not to be missed.
Based out of Montreal, this Canadian trio, Warren Spicer (vocals, guitar) Matthew Woodley (drums, vocals) and Nicolas Basque (guitar, keyboard, bass & vocals), have been releasing music together for almost thirteen years. Their music introduces an element of precision and sonic depth to indie rock and Americana. Their mash of different styles creates a collage of sound; the quirkiness of Dirty Projectors meets the indie rock royalty and slick production of Arcade Fire.
From the beginning, Waltzed in from the Rumbling is an immaculate album. The first track ‘We Were One’ builds a hunger for what is to come. The keys in the opening riff suggest that the band has developed in a different direction from their previous 2012 album The End of That, yet before you know it they give way to the melody of the guitar and drums in a way that is utterly tantalising. As Spicer’s vocals enter, the track develops a yearning that continues to build until the drop of relief that comes with the first chorus. The whole album is full of unexpected and experimental instrumental sections.
The total mastery of their instruments allows the trio to be playful here. The third track ‘Fata Morgana’ is the perfect example of this sheer musical confidence. It also is the perfect interlude to break up the intense musical texture of the first two songs and give way to the tenderness and simplicity of ‘Stay’. The narrative of the build-up and release of energy recurs throughout the album, demonstrating how developed and considered this album is as a whole
While the musicality of the album is spectacular, the vocals cannot be disregarded. From the gentle and playful vocals in ‘Stay’ to the tender and sensual words of ‘Off the Water’ the album plays with different attitudes in a really effective way.
Waltzed in from the Rumbling is a strong progression from the band’s previous albums, not only from their 2012 release ‘The End of That’ but also from their 2010 album ‘La La Land’. It is significantly more confident and musically textural than anything the band has produced before. Plants & Animals’ Waltzed in from the Rumbling is exciting, bold and utter bliss – get lost in their insanely addictive sound.
Artist: King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard
Album Title: Nonagon Infinity
Moments Of: Thee Oh Sees, Black Sabbath, Ty Segall
Stand Out: People Vultures
King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard are one band that sure know how to keep their fans thirsty for more garage psych goodness. ‘Nonagon Infinity’ is the band’s ninth full length album since 2012, and their most ambitious to date. Many bands have dabbled in concepts albums before, but not quite like King Gizzard; from western shootouts, to psychedelic trips, sweet acoustic lullabies and unadulterated garage rock intensity. This latest album sees the band tackle the daunting concept of infinity and succeeding seemingly with ease.
Nonagon Infinity is like the scary pocket of your dreams, the part where everything goes wrong, the part where you’re being chased by an invisible force and satanic chants ring in your ears. Squealing guitars layer sinister melodies over the relentless drive of the drums and groove of the bass, while Stu Mackenzie’s vocals seem to meld into the rest of the instrumentation. Flow is a big part of this album, as you would expect for anything that infinitely loops. Each song cleverly slips right into the next, with recurring motifs like the lyric “Nonagon Infinity opens the door” tying the album together through songs like ‘Evil Death Roll’, so that it seems as if it’s one big writhing mess.
Once you open the door there’s no stopping. Nonagon Infinity will suck you into the swirling geometric vortex of fear that it infinitely sustains, as the satanic like chant “Nonagon Infinity opens the door” pulls you into the first song of the album ‘Robot Stop’. There’s no pause for consideration here, the band thrusts you straight into the album with an intense and wild jam (and a sneaky ‘I’m In Your Mind Fuzz’ reference), setting the pace for the rest of the album, and that pace is blistering. Without dropping an ounce of energy, we are seamlessly plunged into the next song ‘Big Fig Wasp’. The change is almost unnoticeable, and if not for the standout melodies or hooks of each track on the album, it would be hard to discern where one song ends and the other begins.
‘People-Vultures’ is one of the standouts of the album. Ominously large and looming, this sinister track is a fiery garage rock anthem, full of crunch and bite and the lo-fi sound that we associate with the band. Songs like ‘Wah Wah’ and ‘Mr. Beat’ take the edge off of things, slowing the pace right down to a consistent groove, momentarily clearing the air of the dark atmosphere that permeates the rest of the album. Relaxation isn’t something that the band finds much comfort in though, preferring the chaotic guitars and screams of songs like ‘Evil Death Roll’.
It’s hard to tell where ‘Nonagon Infinity’ stands in comparison to King Gizzard’s other albums, and that’s because you can’t really compare them at all. If not for the few tell-tale trademarks of the band’s sound, it would be hard to believe that the same band that gave us ‘Paper Mache Dream Balloon’, have now given us this entirely different album. One thing is for certain though, Nonagon Infinity is a step in the right direction for King Gizzard. With no signs of slowing down, it’s impossible to tell when we’ll hear from the band next, or what we’ll hear, but it will certainly be a brand new tantalizing treat for our ears from these maniacal wizards of garage psych.
Artist Rogue Wave
Album Title Delusions of Grand Fur
Label Easy Sound Recording Company
Genre Indie rock, experimental
Moments Of Sea Wolf, The Shins
Stand Out Ocean, What is Left to Solve
Rogue Wave has produced a new album called Delusions of Grand Fur, with 12 songs that plays indie rock and experimental sounds for 46 minutes. Formed in California in 2002, after Zach Rogue left his position in the previous group The Desoto Reds. Rogue was finishing his first record when he decided to form a band on order to be able to perform the material live.
Rogue Wave has had a rocky history, losing a member in a fire in 2007 and then rotating through labels due to clashes between the band and producers befreFinally settling with Easy Sound Recording Company ot release Rogue Wave’s 6th album, Delusions of Grand Fur. With many changes of musicians, the last album introduces Zach Rogue on vocals and guitar, drummer/keyboardist Pat Spurgeon, Dan Lead and Masanori Christianson on multiple instruments and Rob Easson on bass.
‘Take it Slow’ starts off with a leisurely beginning that sounds a bit like Kate Miller-Heidke. The acoustic guitar over a simple keyboard melody combined with the soft vocals creates a calming sensation. The song uses extremely simple lyrics that don’t give you much of a story line, purely relying on how the listener wants to interpret it. A song that had more of a story line to it was ‘California Bride’; the lyrics are poetic and more specific than most of the other songs on the album. The guitar solo is like of one of The Cure songs, but Rogue’s vocals create a different spin on it. The lyrics could be interpreted as someone running from something they don’t want to face. The singer encourages the listener to take a chance, or else will never find love.
Highlights were ‘What is Left to Solve’, with it has a 80’s techno sound and reverberated vocals. Its fast bass and steady drums create an urgency of exhilaration and eagerness. It is a little different to Rogue Wave’s usual indie rock sound. It leaves traces of Krautrock, which is an experimental style of rock music with hypnotic rhythms. Rogue has mentioned in previous interviews that “Human League” was definitely an inspiration for the making of this track.
The other highlight was ‘Ocean’, that sounds somewhat like their older music but with a fun twist. They have picked up the beat and added more instruments. The lyrics can be interpreted as someone mind wandering when you’re with them, feeling as though the person is in the ocean. ‘Momento Mori’ finishes the album perfectly; it is a calmer track with Rogues higher vocals telling the story.
Rogue Wave now have six albums, 12 years in and still producing music that the fans love and gaining more along the way. Touring in the US, they have not released any dates in Australia, but hopefully they do.