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Headed down to the Enmore with Ben on a warm summers evening to check out Interpol on their “Falls Festival Sydney stop-over tour”. We arrived around 7:30pm and stopped in for a quiet beer at the Queen Hotel across the road.

Got to the venue halfway through Bridezilla’s support act to find a sound that reminded me of Howling Bells in terms of vocals. After a couple of songs the conversations from the pub continued on and Bridezilla were relegating to the status of background noise, however they left me wondering why an internationally recognised band like Interpol can’t manage to pull a decent support act. Then I got to thinking of any decent support acts that I had been to and couldn’t really come up with anything. And then I felt reallly ripped off.

Much to my delight though despite my ticket indicating “Floor – Rear” there was no “Barricade” (that was cheap I know) and we took up a spot half way back in the middle of the floor.

After a brief sound check Interpol took to the stage with little fuss and opened with “Success”. Bass guitar sounded a little off (out of tune or something) for half of the song but pulled it together in the later. The crowd was a little anxious for set to kick off which didn’t really take place until the 3rd track “Narc” which was when we realised that we were positioned next to some 18-20yo wanna-be’s displaying a little too much man love for my liking.  After half a dozen or so tracks it had become apparent that songs from “Antics” and “Interpol” were clearly in favour with the band, much to my delight as I had been heavily listening to “Antics” in the lead up to the concert with tracks like “C’Mere” and “Summer Well” grabbing my attention during the set. A few tracks left me wanting for a little more improvisation and variation for the standard record versions of the songs.

After what seems to be somewhat of a weak chant (seems to be common of late) for an encore the band returned and play four more tracks finishing off the night with “Not Even Gaol” which was a wonderful way to complete an enjoyable musical adventure. Ben added that he thought that the band had just done a lap of the backstage and come out the other side which I found a little humorous.

The set itself was really not that glamorous and seemed like they had paid the venue for their cheapest lighting package available, with nasty looking green and purple lighting and no sign of a back drop to boot. I have seen a few gigs where bands have managed to achieve very effective sets (Grizzly Bear come to mind) despite what seem to be a minimal lighting budget. The band themselves were not the most energetic that I have ever seen, with a small outburst of sorts from the lead guitarist showing the only signs of life on the stage for the evening other than a very lively violinist for Bridezilla. The poor keyboardist was tucked up the back next to the drummer and I forgot he was even there for half of the night so I guessed that the visual aspect of the concert left a little to be desired and I felt like I was watching a 4 piece for much of the night.

I had a hard time remembering the last time that I was Interpol at the Hordern a couple of years and many other concerts and festivals ago, however from what I can recollect not a lot has changed with the band despite a change in bass guitarist.  A poor visual in terms of lighting and energy left me feeling as though the band was passing time before they were ready to punch in their time cards and head off for a beer and left me wanting a little more from such a high quality act despite this the depth of the repertoire  ensured that the night was not doubt an enjoyable one.

Below I have tried to put together most of the play-list. This has proved to be a difficult task for me as I struggle to remember album names let alone track names.

Set List (to the best of my ability):

Success
???
Narc
???
???
Barricades
???
Evil
???
Lights
C’mere
Summer Well
Take you on a Cruise
Heinrich Maneuver
Memory Serves
Obstacle 1

ENCORE:
???
???
Slow Hands
Not Even Gaol

Zounds Album Art
“Would you be open to a night of total Chaos?”, asks Dappled Cities.

Yes please!

This album holds you close, then closer until it’s smothering you with wave after wave of electric fussed desire. It screams at your senses: a jet engine thundering by, delivering a cluster bomb of staccato electric indie rock fragments.

The album is relentless in it’s ability to get within your comfort zone, then push you back out to a distance. It has no middle ground. It’s ever toppling forwards; just catching itself from falling before moving headlong into the next phase.

If I was to play the mix and match game I’d call it a fusion of Midnight Juggernauts, the Gorillaz, Wagner and 80’s post punk.

The album is driven by an diverse beat filled with whirs, swooshes, bumps and the occasional drum. It’s like a kid rummaging around in a futuristic box of toys.

At the next level a crunchy 80’s synth sweeps and dives throughout the songs, with Dappled Cities showing of their abilities to subvert the instrument into delivering a parading rhythm and effervescent harmony. The harmony, like a hot air current holding a glider aloft, encompasses and supports the melody with the odd guest appearance of a punchy post-punk guitar backing it all up.

The voice relentlessly moves forwards; leaving everything else to play catchup. Reverberating through a space of it’s own making, the understated vocals lead us through a world of jaded memories and jagged dreams.

This album… We’ll it’s actually quite hard to get into. All the dissonance and odd structures make this an album you can’t connect with easily. It took me quite a few listens before I was able to unravel the signal from the noise, but you know what; often that’s a good thing. If I connect with an album straight away usually it’s because I’ve listened to many similar things before. Then soon enough that familiarity makes it just sound repetitive and dull. But not this album. You’ve never heard the likes of this album before.

All that said it’s not a perfect listen through. For all the hits there are a number of misses which you’re probably going to want to skip past. With the album becoming weaker towards the end.

But add it all up and on that total line you’re going to find the words ‘Great Album’. Yes, you’re going to need some patience to discover its depths. It’s seriously worth it though.

8.5/10

Evil Urges is a damn good album which manages to ruin itself with a horrible start. After a couple of listens to it I had pretty much delegated it to the bin as I was simply unable to get past the third song.

Fortunately, when I’m working I often put all my new albums on shuffle, and quite a few times I would find my self really getting into a song, switching over to iTunes to check out what it was, and seeing it was from this album. Even then it took quite a while for it to click that these same songs I was enjoying, and that crappy album I couldn’t get into were actually the same thing.

So I’ll start with the bad. The first and third song are like a dentist drilling in search of my mouth’s most painful spot. Someone must have lost a serious dare, because there’s just no call for the atrocities the singer is inflicting upon us with his horrible falsetto “Prince”-like attempt at singing. My suggestion: If you do get this album delete the songs “Evil Urges” and “Highly Suspicious” and save yourself a lot pain.

Whew. Now onto the good stuff. The rest of the album is a wonderful mix of Country flavoured rock and indie power ballads. Ever since the mid naughties indie has been migrating south, producing a host of great artists like Iron and Wine, Necko Case and Band of Horses. My Morning Jacket is a continuation of that process, and at the same time mixes it up with an almost Boston like area rock vibe. Not that an overarching style is an easy thing to pin down here. Even ignoring the Princeish songs, the album still has a load of variety, coming across at times more like a collection of singles than a single work. All be it a very good collection of singles.

We have songs that hammer along, slow ballads, poignant introspective ones, and songs that would fit perfectly in clichéd RomCom montages. In fact at times I find myself unconsciously trying to link these song together into an imagined film script. Their different themes perfectly capture the gamut of scenes you would find in a movie with a enough similarity between them that they could form a joint narrative.

Each song takes good care of it’s listeners with My Morning Jacket showing a deft touch at gradually building a song up to a peak, then lightly letting it settle back down. The songs have been tuned with just the right amount of emphasis on each instrument’s phrasing, providing a full sound via a weaving rhythm section and a variety of strong counter melodies which fill any empty space. Given all that, it manages to feel quite natural throughout; dodging the trap of excessive production.

In the end this isn’t an album I’d blithely recommend to people. There’s too much experimentation and stylist diversity for someone who isn’t really really into their indie rock. But personally, as much as I wouldn’t recommend this to a stranger I think it really is quite a neat album.

6.5/10

The Rhumb Line Album CoverThe Rhumb Line is a lush and energetic indie rock/pop album with a mournful and tragic side. Although it deals with loss and regret, it always feels breezy and optimistic. It is a cathartic and fulfilling experience, rather than one that’s moody and overcome with emotion.

Ra Ra Riot is a large 6 member band with a strong strings section. Their size gives them a dense and lush sound which they use to great effect, and they have a keen jazz influence at play; reminding me in parts of Django Reinhardt.

From the start this album hits with blast of energy in the form of a thumping, punching beat. Every now and then the beat lets up to give some space to an instrumental, only to come bounding back in to heighten the intensity of a passage.

The album is constantly pushing, then pulling you through the songs. It masterfully changes pace and aural intensity to keep you on your toes, while not going so far that the songs lose definition and become unfocused.

An artful cello brings a level of pathos that accentuates the singers yearning voice and heartfelt lyrics. Along with a violin it can regularly be heard offering a wonderful counterpoint to the vocals. Weaving at first between supporting the rhythm with the guitar and then coming out of the background to emphasise the vocal phrases with an offset harmony.

The vocal style leans towards the pop side of things with a decent amount of movement and energy, though never becoming overpowering. It pulls the album forward and is the primary reason why the album retains a lighter feeling than its lyrical subject matter would suggest.

The album contains a broad selection of styles, ranging from the subdued, to the non-stop. Wonderfully it manages to keep a common framework of instruments throughout all the different styles making the album strongly connected even as it changes. One-off instruments (such as a xylophone) and a changing emphasis on the core instruments keeps the album diverse the entire way through.

This is an absolute joy of an album. Managing to be uplifting while leading you through a negative landscape.

9/10

At Mount Zoomer like many albums I find came through Amazon’s “Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought” feature. I don’t know what I did before it. It’s truly one of the best ways to find new music that matches up with your existing tastes.

From the first track of this album you can get a good feel for how the whole thing will play out. Indie rock of course, but with a neat mix of 8-bit retro synth that was popular a couple of years ago and southern/country influence. Those may sound like a rather odd couple of styles to add. But on the whole they work well, and support rather than overpower the music.

Throughout the album the band relies on strong rhythm to keep the songs in context and flowing well. This is done with some really interesting and imaginative guitar and keyboard work. The way they flow and compliment each other is wonderful to hear. The highlight of the album.

But the rhythm work does have it’s darker sides. At a few points the emphasis is lost and the songs lose their focus. But more than that, the rhythm section contains too many contrasting ideas, and after a good start many of the songs seem to lose their consistency. With so much movement within single songs they start to lose their structure and unravel in the mind of the listener.

Bringing me to the vocals. The vocals rarely ever rise to take a dominant role. In fact in many of the songs you’ll find the keyboards are used to prop them up. There’s nothing particularly wrong with the singers, but in the production work on this record the vocals have been pushed into the background. And it really does hurt the album. I don’t know if it’s because both Dan Boeckner & Spencer Krug are sharing the roles. But it doesn’t work.

And so, for me at least, it’s a good, though fairly forgettable album. At the beginning of many of the songs I’m thinking to myself, “Oh yeah. Really love this into. Good Song”, but by the half way point I’ve already tuned out and I’m busy thinking about what I’m having for lunch. With average vocals and inconsistent song structure it’s not an album that enters my playlist very often. There are some really stylish parts, but unless you’re really struggling for new music to sink your teeth into I’d skip this one.

6/10

Mystery Jets album Twenty One is wholesome straight good pop/rock. “Two Doors Down” is as straightforward and catchy as it gets but the vocals stay with you long after the song finishes. “Flakes” is something else – I just kept playing this song long after the album finished craving to hear it one more time which is extremely unusual for me.

I can’t explain why this album resonates so much with me, but whatever it is this has it.

For a bit of music trivia, this album was produced by electro powerhouse Erol Alkan. I have no idea how he came to produce this album as it doesn’t seem to fit with anything else that he has done, but he is a man who always looks for polish and finish and I hope that is his influence over this album.

Delphic – I saw these guys at Oxford Art Factory recently and they were incredible. They seamlessly blend between trance music and rock music, mid-song, without the crowd so much as batting an eyelid. Having not heard much of them before I wasn’t sure what to expect, and I’m still not sure what I saw but I know the music was fantastic. Something for your chin-stroker who loves to jump around and cares not for genres.