ft. The Lemon Twigs, C. Duncan, Lanks, Jagwar Ma and Mono

Every week we are reminded at the absurd amount of talent out there in the world. Despite what some may claim, creativity isn’t going anywhere and we thank all the artists who put their blood, sweat and tears into their work to connect with us. Whether it be through shared heart break, joy, anger or any other experience on the vast emotional spectrum that is the human experience.

LilylemonArtist: The Lemon Twigs

Album Title: Do Hollywood

Label: 4AD

Genre: Alt-pop / progressive pop / surf-rock       

Moments Of: Bowie, Queen / The Turtles

Stand Out: As Long As We’re Together / Hi+Lo

The Lemon Twigs are the D’Addario brothers, Danny Ayala (keys) and Megan Zeankowski (bass), and they’re making a splash with the weird and wonderful tracks on their debut studio album. The Long Island NY band brings Bowie, baroque and brotherly harmonies together in a kaleidoscope of 60’s sounding pop on their brilliantly melodramatic record Do Hollywood.

The look is Bowie glitter rock and the sound is sunny 60’s pop (think The Turtles and The Zombies). The Lemon Twigs certainly don’t hold back on the warm theatricality of their Beach Boys meet Broadway debut.

The fluid tempos on opening track ‘I Wanna Prove To You’ sigh and soar with a pure, innocent vocal line. ‘Those Days Is Comin’ Soon’ is layered with images of “Insects ‘crawling all over you”. The drums thrum like impatient fingers on the knee of a teenager who can’t sit still in class, before the song finds ecstatic freedom in a swirling circus-like outro. ‘Baby-Baby’ boasts crunchy guitars and moves with the ups and downs of a stage show, while Queen influences are strong on ‘Haroomata’. The beginning of ‘These Words’ sounds like the opening theme to a 90’s ABC Kids show, but then the song bows its head to become a tender ballad. Nothing on the album comes across as too serious, apart from the sweet love song ‘As Long As We’re Together’. Here we find delicate acoustic guitar running beneath delightful lyrics of “arm to arm and thigh to thigh even though there’s plenty of room”. ‘How Lucky Am I’ is full of Beatles’ harmonies and classic piano, where as ‘Hi+Lo’ rocks with a lo-fi sound. Love or hate the lemons, they’ve got style.

 

LilyduncanArtist: C. Duncan

Album Title: The Midnight Sun

Label: FatCat Records / Cooking Vinyl

Genre: Electronic / alternative             

Moments Of: D. D Dumbo / Sufjan Stevens

Stand Out: Do I Hear / The Midnight Sun

Released on the heels of 2015’s Architect, C. Duncan continues to soothe and spellbind on his latest release. The sentiments on The Midnight Sun are innocent and pensive, delivered with deliciously tranquilising slices of electro keys, the patter of percussion and layer upon layer of enthralling vocals.

Hailing from Scotland, C. Duncan’s homeland can be felt in the misty, wispy songs that make up the wintry dream-pop of The Midnight Sun. Duncan’s vocal delivery is ethereal yet centred, letting lyrics rise and repeat on the hypnotic choruses of ‘Like You Do’ and ‘Last To Leave’. The record is less dancey than one could expect, going by this year’s line up of electro-infused releases. With artists like Bon Iver, Solange and Frank Ocean pushing towards a new frontier of no-rules dream pop, C. Duncan emerges with a less-is-more approach on The Midnight Sun. Duncan sticks to soft melodies and keyboard mallets to create a fresh-sounding, wholesome record. ‘Wanted To Want It Too’ flashes with the pulse of streetlights passing by on a late night drive, swelling with synth sounds and ghostly affected vocals.

The songs have a depth of production that finds the perfect blend of textures, like on achingly gentle ‘Who Lost’. The inviting soundscape of ‘On Course’ sees Duncan’s vocals become an instrument of the production, airy and open like the synths they interlace with. ‘Do I Hear’ is lush with seamless harmonies and its sweet melody makes it a highlight on the album. The title track has moments that swell like a haunting choir in an empty church, before ‘Window’ offers access to a deep, dream-filled slumber.

 

Jack 2lanksArtist: Lanks

Album Title: Viet Rose EP

Label: Independent

Genre: Alt-Pop              

Moments Of: Robert DeLongh / Bonobo

Stand Out: Golden Age

Viet Rose is here and for us at the Wandering Lamb, Christmas may have just come early. The latest release from LANKS has been a joy to tear through; the sound that’s being crafted here has such an enjoyable, straying-into-unique feel to it that consistently hits the mark.

LANKS could very easily fall back on established tropes, particularly given how well that voice would fit in run-of-the-mill pop, so we admire the dedication to push for new territory in these sounds. The vocal manipulation on ‘Sometimes’, ‘Golden Age’ and ‘Holla’ hearken back to tracks such as ‘Hold Me Closer’ from their Banquet EP, but it pushes that sound further with stronger arrangements, stronger production, and stronger lyricism. It’s clear that they’re learning, improving, particularly in the quieter moments. Airling’s feature on the breathy ‘April’ nestles wonderfully in the sound.

It genuinely adds to the music, something which many features can fail to do. Rounding up the album on an unexpected, but appreciated pared back piano ballad we have ‘Kyneton’. It’s a decent counterbalance to the at times hectic pace of the release.

The skill and creativity that LANKS has shown over the last three years has done nothing but continue to peak our curiosity. These EP’s can be achingly short, however, so we’re eagerly looking forward to see what they can do with a longer format.

 

Jack 2jagwa-maArtist Jagwar Ma

Album Title Every Now And Then

Label Mom / Pop Music

Genre Electronic / Alt-Rock               

Moments Of Tame Impala / Foster The People

Stand Out OB1

Australia’s love-affair with surf rock remains as strong ever. Riding the crest of that wave comes Every Now And Then, the sophomore release from Jagwar Ma. Much like their debut, it’s a release that has us firmly in two minds. There are glaring inconsistencies in the production and curation of the release but there are also moments of pure joy and genuine satisfaction. At the very least, we’re cautiously optimistic.

Hidden among the seemingly overwhelming acclaim of their debut Howlin’, the most common criticism was easily the lack of overall consistency.

In their overly zealous attempts to rectify that complaint they’ve ended up with a product that’s homogenous, and largely devoid of charm. You can shuffle play through this release and not notice any disconnect, which speaks to an overall lack of direction. This album doesn’t take us anywhere, even on seven minute long odysseys like ‘Give Me A Reason’, which starts strong before descending into a poor imitation of The Stone Roses ‘I Am The Resurrection’.

Tracks like ‘Batter Up’ show genuine improvement. The vocal lines are missing that grating element the detracted from much of the first release and the brilliant synth programming in ‘OB1’ just barely makes up for the de-tuned mess that is ‘High Rotation. Barely. Overall it seems like every time they take a step forward, they take ten steps back and we’re left with a great template, but not a honed product.

 

jamesnewborns-ratingsArtist: Mono
Album: Requiem For Hell
Label: Post Rock
Stand Out: Death In Rebirth
Moments Of: Explosions In The Sky / God Speed! You Black Empero

What is noticeable about the new Mono album is its raw production quality, an album that has an honest live quality, that makes it sound fragile, vulnerable and extremely volatile at times.  Mono are a live band, a band that have the ability (like their counterparts Sigur Ros, God Speed!, Explosions In The Sky to name a few) to create visual musical journeys with a relatively simple approach to songwriting.  

Each of the 5 tracks on Requiem of Hell stand alone, but together they play out with the same tone and majestic ethereal quality.  The production remains tight while the music is played out with impeccable precision and intensity.  Mono are far from a cheery bunch when it comes to song-writing, they are the thinkers of the musical world.

Opening track, ‘Death in Rebirth’ relies heavily on a marching snare beat to progress this 8 minute intense jam (most of them are) through two guitars playing off one another until they fall into one big disintegrating wall of noise. It’s as touching as it is heart-wrechingly painful.  ‘Stellar’ provides the listener with a moment to gain composer with sweeping strings and the simple strike of a piano key that forms an emotional melody, its beautifully heartbreaking.

https://soundcloud.com/monoofjapan/death-in-rebirth

At 17 minutes 48 seconds, the title track ‘Requiem for Hell’ is Mono at its best, a slow burning journey where again, the two guitars intricately play with each other building momentum to a frenzy of guitar noise, while the drums follow suit peaking to a timely 10 minute interlude at which point we take a breath before being thrown back into the punishing world of Mono.  

Ely’s Heartbeat, draws instant comparisons to the core makings of Sigur Ros and Explosions in the Sky, the emotion and passive aggressive nature gives a sense of  vulnerability and sadness.  Perfectly titled, ‘The Last Scene’ sweeps into Mono’s musical abyss, brining together every element of this album into one beautiful closing track, strings gripping our emotions and guitars penetrating an incomfortable bliss.  

Mono are a truly exceptional band that requires a certain mind sight to appreciate and adore, the momentary forusity may well be uncomfortable to be some but bliss to others.  Another outstanding

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