We have the exuberant, the reserved, the rambunctious and the political this week. A diverse range of of great music for your ear holes, because we don’t want your music roation to grow stale and these musicians are killing it.
Artist: The Pattern Forms
Album Title: Peel Away The Ivy
Label: Ghost Box
Genre: Chill-wave / Synth-pop
Moments Of: M83 / Electric Youth / College
Stand Out: Black Rain / Don’t Let Me Dream
The Pattern Forms is the brainchild of Ed McFarlane and Edd Gibson of Friendly Fires and Jon Brooks from The Advisory Circle. Since the release of their first single ‘Fluchtwege’ in February 2015 they have created a journey through pastoral melancholy, dreamy vocals, skeletal acoustic guitar and keening synths, Peel Away the Ivy is the remainder of that odyssey.
The Pattern Forms introduces us to some of the last remaining sounds of the dreamy but euphoric chill-wave genre. The light, summery and easy going electronic direction of this album is a perfect listen if you don’t want your buzzed harshed. The disco-tinged ‘Black Rain’ is an ambitious track filled with synths loaded with atmospherics and tight instrumental grooves. Follow-up track ‘Don’t Let Me Dream’ epitomizes the boy’s noticeable gift in combining upbeat electronic rhythms and dreamy acoustic interludes.
It’s hard to put a finger on what makes Peel Away The Ivy so diverse. Maybe, its the constant flirtation with 80’s sounding synthesizes, Especially in the tracks ‘A Simple Walk’ and ‘Daylight’. Channeling their inner M83 the trio have tapped into a timeless sound with a new fun edge.
Album Title: Alone
Moments Of: The Black Keys / Blondie
Stand Out: Alone / Gotta Wait
Old dogs The Pretenders return with Alone. Lead singer Chrissie Hynde pairs up with the Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach, who undertook production duties on the new 12-track effort. While the album sports all kinds of modern-retro sounds, her vocals propel the fast ones and elevate the ballads with her usual empathy and vulnerability.
Album opener ‘Alone’ sets the tone for the rest of the album with vintage rock guitars complimenting a sound that is both stripped back and infectious. Hynes wonderful voice, one of rock’s best, is heard in ‘Roadie Man’. The incredibly soulful sound is the tracks saving grace as it falls short of any sought of momentum with its subdued groove.
Auburach’s and Haynes musical relationship is a great fit. ‘Gotta Wait’ sounds eerily similar to a Black Keys track with its beefy drums, basic instrumentation and gritty sound that fit surprisingly well with Haynes vocals and energy. ‘Blue Eyed Sky’ and ‘Man You Are’ rely heavily on the acoustic guitar hooks that dictate the songs rhythm but sadly merge into each other. Lead single and album closer ‘Holy Commotion’ shows a band that wants to move forward with the times. The synth-based hook and poppy drum beats are admirable, and it’s a perfect closer for the record.
As a whole, the albums gritty rock aesthetic makes for a well-produced record. The array of modernized but nostalgic blues shows a band not eager to rest on their laurels.
Artist: The Radio Dept.
Album Title: Running Out Of Love
Label: Labrador Records
Genre: Dream Pop / Shoegaze
Moments Of: Cocteau Twins / A Sunny Day In Glasgow
Stand Outs: Swedish Guns / Occupied / Committed To The Cause
The Radio Dept. third album is there most political to date. Running Out Of Love strings together the same dynamic hooks and instrumentals the duo are known for, but this time with an agenda involving more than just breezy shoegaze tunes.
We’d forgive you for not realising there is political unrest in more than just one country at the moment. But we’d also give you a huge pat on the back if you hazarded a guess that one of those countries is Sweden. The far-right Swedish Democrats continue to have their foot wedged firmly in the door of future policy as they gain momentum on the back of a stronger immigration stance.
This and more forms the crux of The Radio Dept. songs of critique, as they openly voice their protest on Running Out Of Love. Songs like ‘Swedish Guns’ and ‘Occupied’ feel forthwith in both their sound and the diligence of message. With both songs concerning the growing concern of Swedish weapon exports, the tracks both hold a disquieting tone that suits scrutiny. It’s when The Radio Dept. reach a more upbeat timbre with voice and synths that message and music clash heads.
By clashing heads, The Radio Dept. by no means do anything wrong. It could be argued that these moments are one of the album’s strengths, like on ‘This Thing Was Bound To Happen’ as the title is repeated and surrounded by fluttering and engaging synths. But the hazy vocals and the seemingly laissez faire progression of The Radio Dept. sound sometimes undercuts the purpose of the lyrics. It’s enticing but for the average listener, context might get lost in the groove.
There’s no reason to complain when it comes to Running Out Of Love, but while listening we’d encourage you to find the happy medium between listening intently and relaxing into the rhythm.
Artist: Weyes Blood
Album Title: Front Row Seat To Earth
Label: Mexican Summer
Genre: Baroque Pop
Moments Of: Perfume Genius / Jenny Hval
Stand Outs: Diary / Do You Need My Love / Seven Words
Front Row Seat To Earth is Natalie Mering’s newest and likely her best release to date. This fourth full-length effort from the California singer is led by atmospheric intensity as each track is a siren song that draws listeners closer and closer.
Front Row Seat To Earth is an album that emits such strength, which soars above the uncertainty of some of the lyrics. The first track ‘Diary’ for instance has so many self professed doubts, “Where does my life go?” or the repeated, but unconvincing back and forth of the line “I’ll change my mind”.Yet the grandiose and resplendence of Merrings voice shines through the doubt.
You’ll have to excuse the cheesy analogy, but each song is like a flower that’s come into bloom early, slowly emerging first despite risk or reprise. This analogy only strengthened during the song ‘Do You Need My Love’, an album highlight. Mering again showing strength through voice and conviction, but still laying it all on the line, “Do you need me, the way I need you?”.
Mering is a gifted singer, each melody is accompanied by unfolding instrumentals like the piano or harp which never eclipse or counteract her voice, they just act as zephyr for her vocals. Overall, Weyes Blood’s Front Row Seat To Earth could have been a weird vehicle for the time. But, the luminous and intricate vocal delivery mixed with 21st century Easter eggs prove that genres can persist through time, if done right.