Don’t be afraid of a MEDIUM, after all this is just what we think, not necessarily what you do, and besides it is above average, say a 7 out of 10. Welcome to another week of new album releases in the way of New Born deliveries from some mighty fine new artists/bands. Last week we tuned our ears to Human Rites, the band from one of our live photographers, Chris. As for the rest, well, we have five pieces of musical works that may well change your musical world.
Artist: Meat Wave
Album Title: The Incessant
Genre: Post Punk / Garage Rock
Moments Of: No Age / Greys / Beach Slang
Stand Out: Run You Out / Bad Man
Chicago’s Meat Wave specialise in punchy, abrasive post-punk, invoking the sweaty mosh pits in which their music thrives. Their new album The Incessant, produced by industry heavyweight Steve Albini, excels in providing these moments but falters when diverging too far from their established sound.
The Incessant keeps a blistering pace for its first half, channelling a manic energy that allows each song to flow comfortably into one another. Opener ‘To Be Swayed’ and follow-up ‘Tomosaki’ strike hard and fast, neither song exceeding two minutes, both barreling forward over relentless cymbal crashes and static drenched riffs. Album standout ‘Run You Out’ pulls back the aggression momentarily for some memorably cleaner guitar licks and an impassioned vocal turn on the hook-filled chorus. The band deviate into particularly loopy kraut-rock territory on ‘Leopard Print Jet Ski’ and ‘Bad Man’ with the former divulging into a battle of interlocking guitars and the latter’s bizarre bass loop collapsing before vocalist Chris Sutter’s depraved proclamations.
The album lags considerably over its middle stretch, particularly on misfires ‘Glass Teeth’ and the title track. ‘Glass Teeth’ attempts to capture the intensity of the opening tracks while stretching the run time past four minutes, undermining their snappy pacing and making the track exhausting. The title track suffers the same fate but with a slightly more interesting grunge influenced soft/loud dynamic. These rough patches aside, The Incessant shows its strength as an album when sticking to the band’s roots.
Artist: The Courtney’s
Album: ii (cover)
Label: Flying Nun Records
Genre: Power-pop, Fuzz-rock
Moments Of: Pavement, Eddy Current Suppression Ring
Standout: Tour (link)
Rock around the Commonwealth with the Canadian trio and their latest release II courtesy of New Zealand’s Flying Nun Records. It’s an offering awash with power-pop sensibilities that takes you on a half an hour journey across blissful fields of feedback.
We’ve been keeping an eye on this release ever since the lead single ‘Tour’ came crashing through our desks. The album itself builds on that feeling of nostalgia and safety that so effortlessly surrounded their initial offering.
There’s nostalgia in the classic 90’s bass lines of ‘Silver Velvet’ and ‘Frankie’, a sound that’s been honed to a point so fine you could almost forget the world isn’t in free-fall. There’s safety in the familiarity of the guitar hook that pulls ‘Virgo’ up to and over the edge of bliss.
The at times relentless homogenous nature of the release is easily the biggest flaw in the release. They’ve nailed a sound, a sound that remains enjoyable, but when this writer was searching for a specific, beautifully tongue-in-cheek lyric (“You’ve been the same since 1986, that’s why you’re a vampire teenage boyfriend”) it became almost impossible to discern one fluffy feedback cloud from another. Variations in tone, texture and energy, even subtle changes would have defined this album a little more clearly, and only served to highlight the existing majesty of what is otherwise a solid release.
EP Title: Middle Kids EP
Genre: Indie Rock
Moments Of: The Grates, Big Thief
Stand Outs: Edge Of Town, Never Start, Fire In Your Eyes
Sydney trio Middle Kids manage to capture something special on their debut EP which bands spend a lifetime trying to grasp. The indie rockers have the uncanny ability to give weight to their songs, making each feel as momentous as the last.
The Middle Kids EP is impressive. But of course it is; they’ve been forcefully sticking signposts into the ground that read “Meant for big things’ since the beginning of 2016. They begun with the unravelling ‘Edge Of Town’. The song that has earned high praise from Elton John and has just recently been unleashed upon the world with a performance on ‘Conan’ in the U.S. This was then followed by more excellence in the form of ‘Your Love’ and ‘Never Start’ which garnered similar praise and airplay to the debut single since release.
Each of the three opening tracks are as engaging as the last, with each being different enough in execution to evoke new interest and appeal. This is while still possessing the same formula which results in an eruption of emotions. The most important thing about this is that every outburst feels earned. Each build is characterised by decisive guitars from Tim Fitz or the persistent rolling drums of Harry Day. Soon the cup runneth over and what we receive is the unbridled passion of Hannah Joy’s vocals, which has you grinning from ear to ear everytime.
The second half of the EP shows us just how diverse Middle Kids can be. ‘Old River’ proves to us that they’re not married to the catch and release method of anthemic choruses, instead instrumental prowess shines through in a flurry of guitars and drums. While, at the conclusion, Hannah Joy shows her chops as a classically trained piano player on ‘Doing It Right’. It’s a change in tempo. Although, it’s positioned perfectly at the end of the release to serve as a critical reflection of an encompassing and eclectic EP.
Artist: Human Rites
Album Title: In The Wooden Eye
Label: Self Released
Genre: Psychedelic / Shoegaze / Alternative Rock
Moments Of: King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard / Pity Sex / My Bloody Valentine
Stand Out: Downer
In The Wooden Eye is an album of transcendent high moments . Melbourne-based Human Rites valiantly synthesise numerous disparate genres and despite protracted song lengths and repetitive instrumentation leaving many tracks blurring together, this is a worthy debut.
Opener ‘The Black Ant’ perfectly epitomizes the albums conflicting dichotomy. The track starts promisingly with rustic acoustic guitar strums and a warm, inviting bass line reminiscent of the lo-fi folk-blues of Woods’ early discography. Yet it loses its way as the static ridden electric guitars take over and the song meanders around in a rudimentary psych-rock breakdown. Similar passages bog down ‘Momentary’ and ‘The Wooden Eye’; with the former in particular stretching the patience of the listener with it’s self-indulgent, near eight-minute guitar squall.
The album truly excels when Human Rites commit to more conventional song structures. ‘Liebestropfen’ packs wispy reverb drenched vocals and sweeping shoe-gaze guitar into a lean three-minute rock song, while ‘Nausea’ boasts a punchy, driving tempo and energetic guitar hooks reminiscent of the now disbanded Pity Sex. If one song on the album justifies its length, it is the monumental album centrepiece ‘Downer’, a sprawling bluesy dirge that sounds like a spaghetti-western soundtrack dropped LSD.
In The Wooden Eye is sometimes an inconsistent but ultimately enjoyable album that, if they had whittled back their indulgences and focused on tighter song structure, could have been even better. A band that will certainly find their stride.
Album Title: Saturday Night
Genre: Alt-indie, post-punk
Moments Of: Preoccupations, Xiu Xiu
Stand Outs: Tall Glass Of Water, Saint Germain
Tim Darcy, whose voice you may recognise as the lead singer of the famously raucous Montreal band Ought, provides us with a solo effort that definitely holds back on the thrills, but is by no means withdrawn.
Saturday Night is a peculiar beast. Some of Darcy’s songs show hints of the carefree comfortability with chaos that made Ought albums so infectious, in particular More Than Any Other Day. The select songs that have the Ought brandish are certainly the most engaging, but definitely not the purpose of the album. Instead, most of the songs walk the tightrope of obscure and insightful.
Although, Saturday Night is what it is, a vessel for Darcy’s poetry. Uneasy, disquieting and hard to engage. That’s just the form poetry takes sometimes. It is what it is to be therapeutic. The best thing about the album is that it’s unapologetic about its intentions.
Darcy worked on the release on the weekends, while also working on his band’s second album Sun Coming Down, hence the apt title. Ought are known for treating angst with a rush of adrenaline, fighting their fear with fire. Whereas, Saturday Night is an introspective cool down period where Darcy doesn’t need to put on “the show”. He can just be himself, unrestrained by expectations, giving himself the personal vent to get back in and do what he does best. Unfortunately for listeners, what is therapeutic for someone can be hard to understand for someone else.
Album: Like Heaven In The Movies (cover)
Label: LISTEN Records
Genre: Italo-Pop, Avant-Pop
Moments Of: Donny Benet, Giorgio Moroder
It’s an odd brand of narcissism and paranoia to honestly believe that an album was specifically created with your personal taste in mind. And yet here we are, surrounded by the joyous electronic commotion of Biscotti. Here, this writer feels very much at home.
The overarching sound of Like Heaven In The Movies is uniquely comparable to two opposing synths competing in a Venetian jousting tournament. The opening credits of “Soda Pop” very much sets up what the establishing shots on “Instamatic” lock in to place: this is going to be good.
It’s difficult to ascertain a complete understanding of the release without taking into consideration the various visual aspects associated with it. We simply don’t have time to be that comprehensive. The sounds are fun, they’re aesthetically interesting, and they wield tropes from the past without relying too heavily on nostalgia. “Fantastico” shreds Italian cinema through what could almost be a trip-hop lens. There’s a baroque flavour to “Lucianos Jalopy” even without the heavy references to Italo-culture, and when it spills over into that rapid fire spoken word it completely transports you away from reality. It’s amazing.
We’re overwhelmingly pleased that they’ve successfully avoided falling into swampy cliché. With an album this reliant on tradition, everything could have gone to hell quite quickly, but it stands strong, remains enjoyable and continues to pull out new points of interest with every listen.