Single Review – Dan Auerbach – Waiting On A Song

Dan Auerbachs latest released single is called ‘Waiting on a song’ and is the title track of his new album which will be released June 2nd.The Black Keys frontman called ‘Waiting On A Song’ his “love letter to Nashville,” the city he moved to seven years from his native Akron, Ohio.

 The track itself is very old school country with rockabilly vibe and construction. You can hear guys like Crosby, Stills and Nash, a bit of Neil Young and Fleet Foxes in there too. All the harmony vocals are really good, but maybe a bit predictable, it’s a good track but it’s just a bit middle of the road. If you are not actually trying to listen to the lyrics, it just sort of floated past me without making too much of an impression But all in all it’s nice to listen at.

Lea Fabbrini 

This Week’s Music Video with Blur, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, The Arcs, Kurt Vile, Viet Cong and Girl Band

Lana Del Rey – Ultraviolence Review

Lana Del Rey returns with her hotly anticipated third studio effort and with a new approach. Ultraviolence is produced by The Black Key’s Dan Auberach which is a smart move as he’s successfully produced a few groups now as well as co producing The Black Keys albums. Perhaps the main gain is that it is just one producer and not the multitude she had for Born To Die. It was an album that fell down as some songs were produced far better than others and this is a problem she won’t have this time around and it will only be a good thing for her and the flow of her third LP. The last piece of the puzzle is Lana herself. ‘Born To Die’ was brazen, bold and provocative but hammering the point home or offering up an alternative could work for her either way, but the latter always holds that risk of failure.

West Coast is the first single off Ultraviolence and the progression is evident from the off. The sleek, streamlined sound is given life by the oscillating sounds and the refined melodic riffs feeding off it. It generates a fluid sound that changes shape for the chorus and just as easily slip backs into the verses. On top of this, it is intertwined with what is Lana’s more tuneful and haunting vocal that is spread finely to filter back into the sounds while the main body of her vocal sweeps over verse and chorus and the songs dynamic structure showcases just what she can do as a vocalist. A charged and pulsating track. ‘Shades of Cool’ still has that wonderfully distant and subdued feel of the previous single, but unlike the undulating pulse of ‘West Coast’; this track is a delicately formed ballad with the traditional thin instrumental arrangement with strings, the gentle pluck of the guitar and the brush of the snare drum. This song is made by Lana’s vocal. It trembles and rises to higher tones with comfortable effortlessness and is more of a fragile, floating swoon as opposed to the more driven and direct vocal of the previous track. The big guitar solo breaks the entrancement a little, but it just as gracefully falls back into place. If this track has taught us anything, it’s that Lana is becoming a far more versatile vocalist than even ‘West Coast’ had suggested and this has perhaps been unlocked by Auerbach and his production.

‘Ultraviolence’ operates more on the stylish and graceful grandeur of ‘Shades of Cool’ but with darker and shadowy undertones and corners of the production and the lyrics. Lana’s relaxed and throaty sound resonates against the echo of the stuck piano as she shifts to the sweeping and chiming vocal that floats through it’s own echo and the carefully placed strings. All of this is loosely tied together by a simple strike of the drum. The parts of the song are so intricate and basic, yet they are maximised to their fullest extent and potential to form a soothing and tragic sounding piece of pop music. Though it was something she had many a stab at back in 2012; it is here that she has found a way to convey it’s feel with sincerity and fragility that makes it much more believable. ‘Brooklyn Baby’ again sees a shift in vocal and style packaged through the strung out and distant production. The soft, undulating riff is glazed over with the space around it and then Lana’s swooning soar over it all. So then falls back to the close and intimate vocal on the verses where the echo pitches back and forth across the whole space of the song. The lyrics here are more sentimental and the subdued and slightly obscured feel of the track almost realises a hark back from the past. ‘Cruel World’ opens the album and offers up similar twist and turns to ‘Brooklyn Baby’ with the subtle rise and falls of sound. The vocals again rise and fall with it. The eerie and wiry vocal at the close of the verses and the low slung slur of the chorus. ‘Old Money’ has Lana’s more solid vocal set around the piano and string ballad instrumental which ever so timidly fluctuates as it dares to increase it’s volume. The slung out and gentle rock of ‘Pretty When You Cry’ features a bold, yet simple riff as it twangs and twinges before the drums lay themselves down upon it. It does go and indulge in a few too many ripping leads riffs at the end of some tracks and this is no exception. There are also a few occasion where it can get a little repetitive despite the album’s effortless flow and beauty of arrangement and production and perhaps the sort of feel of ‘West Coast’ and it’s ideas weren’t exploited as much as they could’ve been. Nevertheless, this is a sizable improvement on Born To Die and Ultraviolence has showcased her development as a vocalist with much more versatility and dynamism.

Lana Del Rey – Ultraviolence = 8/10

Image from lanadelrey.wikia.com

 

Single Review – Lana Del Rey – Shades of Cool

Lana Del Rey continues the intrigue over her upcoming third studio album Ultraviolence and follows up on the release of the dazzling ‘West Coast’ last month. It showed early signs of promise from the Dan Auerbach produced album and could be a sign of the how albums potential as a whole. This will likely be the result of having just a single producer and one with experience at the other side of the microphone with The Black Keys as opposed to having several with Born To Die. ‘Shades of Cool’ still has that wonderfully distant and subdued feel of the previous single, but unlike the undulating pulse of ‘West Coast’; this track is a delicately formed ballad with the traditional thin instrumental arrangement with strings, the gentle pluck of the guitar and the brush of the snare drum. This song is made by Lana’s vocal. It trembles and rises to higher tones with comfortable effortlessness and is more of a fragile, floating swoon as opposed to the more driven and direct vocal of the previous track. The big guitar solo breaks the entrancement a little, but it just as gracefully falls back into place. If this track has taught us anything, it’s that Lana is becoming a far more versatile vocalist and this is perhaps been unlocked by Auerbach and his production.

Image from popdust.com

The Black Keys – Turn Blue Review

It’s been two years since El Camino and in that time Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney have been looking to progress from the stocky, bold and traditional Rhythm and Blues outlook from a 21st century band. It worked pretty damn well for the time and environment of 2012, but they couldn’t go back to that sound again if they wish to maintain their reputation as one of the most sought-after bands in the world. This decision was perhaps made easier by the wave of bands now copying the styles of their most recent albums but to a lesser standard. Danger Mouse (Brian Burton) should also receive much praise for his production of their recent work in making their songs more direct and to the point. If Turn Blue see’s the large shift of direction that was promised then both sides of the recording studio should be well capable to deliver.

 ‘Fever’ offers up that initial changing sound. It features snappy percussion, a more prominent bass line generating a driving buzz in the immediate background. The chiming bursts from the old style synths add that hook and melody of repeating effectiveness. The vocals are scaled up and added to on the chorus to continue the enhancement of latching on to the listener and it does so well. The guitars on this track are merely here for ballast to the song as they have opted for other routes for their primary functions. ‘Turn Blue’ is a much more smoother track with a slow fluidity to it with the strung out and nudging riff along with the rotating bass line. When this is joined by the winding and manipulated synths and effects, it provides an easy churning quality which keeps the song on the move so to speak. Dan’s vocals are simple but matching of the songs feel with more wistful and closer sound of the lyrics that he easily alters for a softer and subtle sounding falsetto which adds to the songs gradual growth in the chorus before reverting back to the intimacy of the verses again. Both tracks are very classic viewpoints with some more modern novelties thrown in that maintain the intrigue.

‘Weight of Love’ opens with a classic prog rock intent as the soaring lead riff breaks through the easy and drawn out sound. The bass and the rhythm after this are again so fluid and easy on the ear along with the lightly oscillating synths and organs. The vocal combination of Dan and the backing vocalists, which has been tried and tested, also works well here amongst a very distant and open musical landscape with the guitars growing from his lyrics. The song seems to evoke that sort of nothingness of regret in singing about ‘not giving in to the weight of love’. ‘Bullet In The Brain’ opens in much the same fashion with more classic methods of creating a spaced out and expansive sound though minimalism and simple echo and modulation. This steps up along with the songs tempo as it garners more of a purpose with gentle, flashes from the synths before the chorus kicks in with Dan’s wistful and echoed vocal. The contrast between the expansive elements and the more immediate guitars and percussion offer up that dual quality of being engaging on a distant level and enjoyable on a more basic level. ‘Waiting On Words’ features an indulgent falsetto that links in with the light shimmer of the organs and guitars. ’10 Lovers has more prominent and fluctuating bass line with simple acoustic fringes and wiry electronica to provide a more eccentric hook. ‘Gotta Get Away’ has a more classic rock pop feel to it with the rocking and swaying guitars, the thin organ melodies and the backing vocal harmonies. The album as whole is a faithful take on the past with a more soulful element along with more modern fringes and sides through effects and production from Burton. I like this new take they’ve taken up as it’s slick and easy in it’s entirety along with it’s delivery and even though it isn’t wholly innovative, it is an accomplished album which showcases their musical variation and prowess.

The Black Keys – Turn Blue = 7.5/10

Single Review – The Black Keys – Fever

The Black Keys return from 2011/12’s El Camino with a new single entitled ‘Fever’ and an announcement of their new album Turn Blue which will be set for a May 13th release. El Camino was a raw garage and blues rock triumph and their has been a string of albums that have featured heavy and brash distorted guitars. A bigger shift in sound was certainly needed and it will an opportunity for them to reaffirm their talent. ‘Fever’ offers up that initial changing sound. It features snappy percussion, a more prominent bass line generating a driving buzz in the immediate background. The chiming bursts from the old style synths add that hook and melody of repeating effectiveness. The vocals are scaled up and added to on the chorus to continue the enhancement of latching on to the listener and it does so well. The guitars on this track are merely here for ballast to the song as they have opted for other routes for their primary functions. An intriguing first track from the album that leaves room for improvement but is a good enough first step.

Image from consequenceofsound.net