HAIM – Something To Tell You Review 

It’s been four years since Este, Danielle and Alana, aka Haim, released their debut album ‘Days Are Gone’, almost instantly crafting a distinctly recognizable sound. Now, after relentless touring and memorable festival appearances, the trio return with their much anticipated second full-length album ‘Something To Tell You’. 

Working once again with Ariel Rechtshaid, as well as with the added input of Vampire Weekend’s Rostam Batmanglij and musicians Greg Leisz and Lenny Castro, the message Haim are so desperate to share is wonderfully bitter-edged. 

Returning to their love of seventies swaggering guitar lines, breezy harmonies and touches of folk-ish elements, not to mention a healthy mix of the snarled gloss lips and pointed stares of the band’s R&B idols, the message is clear – someone tried to break Haim’s heart, but these sisters are not about to let that stop them. 

Opener ‘Want You Back’ starts things off comfortably within Haim’s signature punchy multi-part harmony battleground, with all its finger-snapping catchiness. Rechtshaid’s production crafts a lush, expansive sound that feels as equally cinematic as it does crawling out of a tent in the early hours still clutching the remnants of a snakebite. 

Things continue in a polished cinematic feel through ‘Nothing’s Wrong’, which takes Haim’s retro-leaning and adds just a little more seventies soft rock – if that’s even possible. 

Where ‘Want You Back’, ‘Nothing Wrong’ and ‘Kept Me Crying’ brood Stevie Nicks style as the sisters sing through the struggles of relationships, though lyrics focus on an external suffering rather than anything too introverted, ‘Little Of Your Love’ takes the album’s heartache themes and skips along in a burst of hope fuelled, almost boastful, sunshine, like the retro intro to a much-loved Los Angeles TV show. Not too surprising as the track was originally meant for the soundtrack of Amy Schumer’s movie Trainwreck.

Though most tracks stay within the band’s comfort zone – ie luscious harmonies and soft rock licks – Haim’s sophomore album doesn’t stay exclusively within the era of denim flares and tinted sunglasses. ‘Ready For You’ and title track ‘Something To Tell You’ juts Haim’s tough-girl stance a step towards the eighties. While ‘Walking Away’ whispers with the feel of a mid-nineties R&B classic. Even the soulful ‘You Never Knew’, returning mostly to the soft sounds of warped vinyl and sepia-toned Polaroids, has the slightest hint of 1984’s ‘Dancing In The Dark’.

Not every track is instantly likable. Lovelorn, stripped back, power ballads such as closer ‘Night So Long’, see’s Danielle’s sparse vocal build, letting go of the bitterness that builds throughout ‘Something To Tell You’ before the album comes to its abrupt end, and ‘Found It In Silence’, ironically turning up the strings and pushes things forwards towards the edge of a tense crescendo, never quite hit home. 

Album highlights are without a doubt its ludicrously catchy, strutting singles, ‘Right Now’ and ‘Want You Back’, which pulse with simmering aggression, exuding just the right amount of ‘frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn’ amongst the trio’s harmonies to draw you ever closer to recreating a Destiny’s Child dance routine on your walk to the corner shop.

Though it’s not just harmonies that are layered into each track. Haim moves towards a more surefooted inclination, seeming to dampen just a little of the eclectic song structures that fuelled their debut, there are still some interesting effects. Snippets of synths clash lightly with the squeak of special effects to create a captivating complexity to the band’s familiar sound. Overall ‘Something To Tell You’ is a collection of carefully crafted melancholic tracks that take Haim’s vintage style and hypnotic harmonies into an ever more slick production. 

HAIM – Something To Tell You = 8/10

Hayley Miller

Single Review – Cults – Offering

The New York based, Indie duo of Madeline Follin and Bryan Oblivion have released their first new material in four years; their second album Static being a more direct version of the sweetened Indie Pop of their debut. Their new single ‘Offering’ is the title track of their third studio album expected on October 6th. This track features more bombastic surges via churning electronica, overlayed with resonant and frayed chords. A strong back beat and a more anthemic, layered vocal from Madeline only adds a point to the gradual driving nature of the song. The track shows their capacity to generate a multi-faceted sound without losing the crisp appeal of a single. It is a considered and well thought out track that leaves the door open for perhaps their best album yet; should they take the opportunity.

Owen Riddle

Single Review – London Grammar – Rooting For You 

The Nottingham based trio are back with their first new material since 2013’s If You Wait. That was Album praised for its delivery and emotive imagery, but was seen as lacking in vitality and dynamism. It is hard to tell from their new track ‘Rooting For You’ if they’ve addressed the latter, for it is a swooning track with limited instrumentation aside from a delicate riff, piano nudge and some feathered string sections. It is chiefly a track to showcase Hannah Reid’s deep and at times ethereal vocals. There is little much to add beyond that, for we know how good she is and she seems to have improved further, but perhaps we’ll have to wait for the next track to see what the rest of the album may look like. 

Owen Riddle

Single Review – Bleached – Wednesday Night Melody

 

Those lo-fi, dream rockers from L.A are back and I mean the Clavin sisters this time. Bleached are returning with their second studio album Welcome The Worms which is out on April 1st. 2013’s Ride Your Heart was the ideal balance of introspection and throwaway melodies. These were backed up by wistful harmonies for an album with a hard nose, but a heart too. ‘Wednesday Night Melody’ is arguably a little weaker than their lead single ‘Keep On Keeping On’, yet it still maintains the groups more direct and tangible sound with sturdier percussion and more prominent rhythm sections. This translates into a more stomp-rock track in this case, but it is lifted by sweeping harmonies and strong vocal performances in general.

 

Owen Riddle @oriddleo1995

Single Review – Deap Vally – Royal Jelly

California’s premier fuzzed up rockers are returning after their bold and solid debut album Sistrionix from 2013 with what will be a second full length album next year and they’re kicking things off with their new single ‘Royal Jelly’. It is a track that is even more hard hitting and bold then what they’ve produced thus far as they turn everything they’ve got up to eleven. What makes the crunching guitars here even more pronounced is the sparseness around it with the duo choosing to record it with just their guitars and drums. This does nothing to ease up their intensity however and the powerful lyrics only back this up. A change in methodology here which has yielded maximum results for them.

Owen Riddle @oriddleo1995

Sunday Suggestion – Gaz Coobes – Buffalo

Gaz Coombes is one of those 90’s Britpop figures still churning out material, and like many of them; its of a pretty decent standard. His solo debut Here Come The Bombs has a very solid album full of slightly spaced out acoustic and general rock moments. It seemed that with his next release, the then 37 year old looked about flexing his muscles a lot more. ‘Buffalo was the very early first release from some recording sessions two years back that would turn into Matador early this year. The song is characterized by the solemn piano bursts, the more spaced out and edgier beat with the distorted and echoed effects. The verse then see’s him turn the volume up on his vocals with great power and just enough rough edged quality with large soundscapes exploding around him. The third phase of the song see’s it suitably tail off with an acoustic and distorted bass sound while he softly sings the song out. The song progressions and altering themes and tones are fantastic as was his second album.

Owen Riddle @oriddleo1995

Single Review – Arcade Fire – Get Right

‘Get Right’ is the new track from Arcade Fire’s 2013 album Reflektor deluxe EP, The Reflektor Tapes and it demonstrates a more low slung, Desert Rock inspired track akin to The Black Keys and Jack White and they deliver it with that sonic charge and tense atmosphere that the two aforementioned acts don’t do as well. The dropping, distorted guitars and given a kick by the saxophones behind them and the whirring and rising synths and bring the track to bear at it’s conclusion for a cool and slick piece of Desert Rock; adding a bit more life into a well worn sound.

Owen Riddle @oriddleo1995

Sunday Suggestion – The Killers – Just Another Girl

The Killers really drew out the promotion and the process of releasing their greatest hits album Direct Hits in 2013. It may seem a bit excessive on their part but they’ve been pretty successful for the last decade in various guises of the pop and 21st Century Indie sound with some electronic tinges. They’ve enjoyed worldwide success in the charts and have largely survived the rise of Plastic Pop and are one of the worlds biggest bands as a result. You can’t really knock them down on that. They’ve never really gave in to the focus on the fast food equivalent to music of recent years but they have always been in an odd place where they can make these subtle changes of direction and a wide enough fan base to stay up there. One single for the greatest hits album was called ‘Just Another Girl’. It is almost a culmination of the last decade of their sound into one song. Rather apt it seems. It has the typical strikes of the acoustic guitar, The light and feathery synths and the staccato trickling of the lead guitar. When this is paired with Brandon Flower’s higher toned vocal and the crashing and churning percussion; it is another great pop tune. The Killers can do that with their eyes closed. It’s something you’ll have to savour as the bands extended break goes on.

Owen Riddle @oriddleo1995

Really Good Remixes – Maximo Park – Leave This Island (Mogwai Remix)

Maximo Park and their sorrowful single ‘Leave This Island’ from their 2014 album Too Much Information is often viewed as an appeal to Scotland during it’s growing desire for Independence from the Northumbrian band, to consider the region in the debate. It seems only apt that this song was remixed by Glaswegian band Mogwai who do a brilliant job of giving the song even darker and more sorrowful depths musically, but interestingly remove the lyrics and by extension the message of the song. Nevertheless the sonic charge they give the song works wonders in achieving their aims whilst not changing the musical emphasis of the it.

Owen Riddle @oriddleo1995

Sunday Suggestion – Jagwar Ma – Man I Need

Jono Ma and Gabriel Winterfield make up Syndey’s Jagwar Ma and with their excellent debut album Howlin became the first album of the year for Musicandotherthingz. Not only was it an eclectic clash of genres within tracks but also across the album, it was also one of the most efficiently produced albums we’ve ever set our ears on and cemented our new fixation on Down Under as the place of dynamic and innovative music. ‘Man I Need’ is one of the standout tracks from Howlin which instantly sets the tone with the psychedelic whirring along with the wide scope and relaxed urgency of the percussion which is pretty typical of a psychedelic style. The slight echo on the drums allow it to fill a lot of space on the song and it acts as the primary element. Guitars enter in a subtle way in the chorus to gradually construct a wall of sound with some little synth flicks in between. Winterfield’s vocals in their tuneful yet shouty style work especially well in the chorus to punch through the subtleness of the instrumentals. The song has been methodically considered and carefully puzzled over as all the elements of the song feature at the exact amounts at which they are needed and despite being all a little soft and subtle, they combine and work with each other to create the big wall of sound. Such attentiveness to detail and to get the exacting amounts of each element spot on is a very skilful thing to do; even more so when Jono Ma has chose these knowing they would combine effectively on the chorus. I recommend you all give this song and the album a listen…. now!

Owen Riddle @oriddleo1995