In the space of a month we’ve got garage rock titan Ty Segall’s album ‘Emotional Mugger’ and now the lead single for another industrious (they’ve released 5 albums in 6 years) garage act, Parquet Courts. Hailing from Brookyln, the band’s slacker rock style has attracted the ears of critics mainly since they’re second album, ‘Light Up Gold’. The band’s third and fourth albums highlighted the band’s witty lyrics which can be overlooked given their cool but lazy style of delivery. The titular track, ‘Content Nausea’ is a great poem let alone song, as the band lament modern life. By the way, it ends with a great refrain, ‘I am a land mine, wrong supplier’. Just thought that deserved a mention. Musically they’ve never really strayed too far from their messy garage roots, it has been the bands clever lyrics that has kept (me at least) interested.
Dust, from their upcoming album Human Performance, feels as gritty and dirty as the lyrics are. Musically the track shows some change for the band who retain that core garage rock sound they’ve crafted but incorporate new elements. The jangly guitar that starts the track is replaced quickly by distortion; as if someone has just walked in a dusty motel room from the outside. The chorus hypnotically reminds us that ‘dust is everywhere, sweep’; the germophobes worst nightmare. Dust ends with a distorted, almost choked up trumpet which eventually merges into the rest of the rest of the horror-like distortion. Overall, it sounds promising for the upcoming album, due for release on 8th April.
Brooklyn Indie Rockers DIIV return with a follow up on their 2012 album Oshin with their second studio album Is the Is Are. Their particularly predictable strand of Indie slanted dream-pop has not been something ridiculed like their counterparts Swim Deep and Peace etc. At the same time they are far from the standard of Beach House or even the Horrors in mastering the genre. Oshin was the solid debut all of their British ‘B-Town’ counterparts didn’t get as their sound had much more substance to it and an air of genuine quality. The notorious second album is where your reputation is cemented however.
‘Bent (Roi’s Song)’ very much follows the path of many Indie groups who dip their toe into Psychedelica. The loose riffs echo modestly across the track and are underpinned as always by a steady and lightly rumbling bass line. The nonchalant and dazed vocals ink into the instrumentation and it is perhaps because of this, the song progresses uncomfortably and indefinitely until you get the guitars hook in the chorus. Musically, it has a little more mystery to it then most of their Indie counterparts produce. ‘Dopamine’ offers you those loose riffs again with a swooning echo of a vocal which is presented as a little indefinite next to the rest of the instrumentation. Once replicated across the whole track, the whole song sounds unsure of itself until they pour in some ringing guitar solos into the mix and the rhythm becomes more solid. ‘Under the Sun’ is a track with more of a kick and tangible structure to it with more solid percussion behind it. The frayed vocals work better in this environment as it gives an element of depth and light and shade to the track. It is completely plucked from a late 80s indie disco however, so if offer nothing in the way of novelty, but it is a keen rocker of a song. ‘Is the Is Are’ is mirrors TOY but with a little less psychedelia and with those wispy vocals. The tones and variations of the instrumentation are more prominent though. They offer more than one dimension with this track.
‘Blue Boredom’ offers up the same instrumentation and rhythm format that’s on offer in pretty much every track on the album. Sky Ferreira offers up a whispered vocal and provides a welcome variation in the vocal department. You find near identical sounds on ‘Incarnate Devil’ minus the guitar solo they borrowed from a couple of their singles. ‘Healthy Moon’, Loose Ends’ and ‘Dust’ regurgitate sounds from the album you’re already familiar with and just familiar with in general. They would have been able to conceal the lack of variation from track to track with a ten track album, but at seventeen it is a long, tedious slog to get through. ‘Waste of Breath’ is welcome at the end for a couple of new ideas like a distorted guitar solo, but the fact you find joy in such a simple thing is perhaps a clue to the quality of the album. They have really took a step back here with such a lack of imagination and dynamism. An echoed vocal and loose riffs aren’t going to get you anywhere in 2016 and someone should have told DIIV that long, long ago.
DIIV – Is The Is Are = 5.5/10
Owen Riddle @oriddleo1995
The multi-genre and multi-layered Austin quartet that is White Denim are returning on March 25th with their seventh studio album Stiff. The band is known for their organic home recordings that add a sense of authenticity to their sound and a better correlation to their live performances. Their new single ‘Ha ha ha ha (Yeah)’ continues this method of recording as the band utilise a more Jazz and Funk induced sound which effectively has the guitars revving up through the chords. It is a track stuffed full of energy and natural groove whilst James Petralli offers up that slick vigour behind his vocals that simply add to the strong hooks flowing through the track. Another sound that White Denim have captured brilliantly.
Owen Riddle @oriddleo1995
Bloc Party are open to many sports analogies at the moment of a team in transition. They are Manchester United after Alex Ferguson or the McLaren F1 team after Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton. They’re trying new things with new methods after their glory days and are uncertain of the future. The Indie revival of 2005 is long dead and buried and arguably Bloc Party were the true essence of it; the Pulp to Arctic Monkeys’ Oasis if you will. The fact is that fans of Ratboy (who accompanied Bloc Party on the NME Tour) could barely talk when their debut Silent Alarm was released in 2004 as the Independent pointed out. Ratboy himself was Jordan Cardy: the eight year old primary school kid. Cardy is the symbol of everything that went wrong with that Indie revival and why the term ‘Indie’ is linked to the popular insult of ‘Hipster’. Kele Okereke jumped that ship long ago, but with Bloc Party they are yet to set a new course. Half the band has changed and with it their sound too, but is it enough to redefine them and give them a new purpose?
Many have likened ‘The Love Within’ it to a Christmas Carol and a song from the imagination of a child, but with it’s heavy, splurging synths and monotonous beats I feel like someone head-banging a keyboard is a more apt description of this bizarre track with it’s simplistic melodies and messy structure. The only saving grace for this track is the grown-up chorus which marks the only point in the song where the sounds make sense in a rising progression and is almost a completely different song, but this is too short-lived to save this random track. ‘The Good News’ is a vastly different track which verges more a blues track with an alternative fringes. It has a steady, stomping beat and a rumbling riff that leads into feather-light piano chords. This progression is simply the lead into the ‘bluesey’ section of the track with resonator guitars to accompany that stomping beat. It is a decent track from which the standout is Kele’s seamless vocal performance which continues to develop brilliantly and this track is evidence of it. ‘Virtue’ moves back into the fields of electronica with splurging synth blasts accompany a polished rock set up. These fall away into sparseness with Kele’s soft melodies joined only by a more sweeping piece of electronica and this feeds back into a dance beat and the standard guitar, bass and percussion instrumentation. The song has a keen rhythmic hook and manages the transitions within it smoothly to make for one of the highlights of the album.
‘So Real’ is a minimalistic track that relies with smooth melodies and harmonies and soft edged instrumentation bar a metallic riff that rattles through the organ-like electronica. A soft and safe track here. ‘Only He Can Heal Me’ begins in an intriguing fashion with the vocal instrumentation and trip hop instrumentation behind it. Though the production is neat, the hammering electronica it accommodates does little to help the track and this is a common theme with the album as a whole. ‘Living Lux has a terminal problem with this as the track never settles on a rhythm. It is a waste of the production and of Kele’s vocals. Other track’s are verging on decent Indie filler with some showing flashes of intrigue such as ‘Different Drugs’. The album has many tracks rigidly opposed to each other resulting in no flow and parts of the album suffer from unimaginative electronica, over-production or simply a lack of direction. I’m sure once Bloc Party finds their way they will just a prominent and attention grabbing as before, but only brief flashes of those qualities are on show here.
Bloc Party – Hymns = 6/10
Owen Riddle @oriddleo1995
Copenhagen’s finest duo of Lo-fi surf rock shoegazers; The Raveonettes are back with an intriguing prospect for what is in effect their eighth studio album in The Rave Sound of the Month Series. Their plan is to release an albums worth of material gradually at one new track each month with ‘This World is Empty (Without You)’ being their first. It is a track that sees the duo shift their emphasis away from the heavily distorted and washed out guitars they utilised in recent years and instead opt for a more resonant and vibrant electronic style. Their icy harmonies work just as well in this environment as they have ever done. The track is neatly packaged at under three minutes and still conveys the duos ability to convey loss and darkness through seamless pop harmonies. Drip feeding the album in such a way is also a smart move as it gives fans the assurance of a new track each month; almost a Raveonettes musical calendar. Be sure to mark down the month of February for this track for these quiet legends of 21st century music.
Owen Riddle @oriddleo1995
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