Yeasayer, Odd Blood Album Cover

Yeasayer are an “experimental” band from Brooklyn, self-described as “Middle Eastern-psych-snap-gospel”. I tend to associate Brooklyn with gangsters and strong accents, so its refreshing to have something so unusual come out of there.

Yeasayer seem to slot perfectly into the Indie genre but seem different from everyone else if only for their versatility. There is a sense of madness mixed with good solid back-to-basics musicianship. A sense that psychedelic rock can be pop yet remain true to itself.

This is an album that is jumpy and twitchy, boppy yet relaxing. “Rome” wants to be a party in a box with driving rhythms, quirky solos and punchy runs. The lyrics are the grounding while this mad bouncy music happens all around you.

“Ambling Alp” is a song you can listen to over and over. I knew I needed to get more into this album because I kept finding myself going back to Hype Machine and re-playing this track – either early in the morning when I just got to work, or when I was relaxing with my SO, or when I was amping myself up to go out. It rambles, it shambles and it just wants to be listened to. Fun-folk psych-pop.

“O.N.E.” seems to be the track getting the most airtime from this album and it is probably the most fun light-hearted track off the album. Its accessible and its almost hard to accept its a break-up song (according to wikipedia it is about breaking cocaine addiction). You feel like grabbing a maraca and shaking along. Its a moving on song, that feeling you know you don’t need to see that person ever again.

“Madder Red” feels like it approaches the Arcade Fire in layers and epicness. I don’t want to move to this song, I close my eyes and picture all the instruments dancing around my headphones. I am frustrated by how much is happening but then it all stops and I feel teased. I have a feeling this will be my favourite track soon, but I’m not yet comfortable with the pace of change in this track.

Yeasayer feel like they have the potential to create a huge catalog of music to me. This album feels raw and honest, I have a feeling the next one will be more layered, more polished and more epic. This is a good listening here in the meantime.


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The Gorillaz are back with little rest, and why would they need any? They are cartoon characters, right? When listening to them you always know just what to expect….. a lot! With “Plastic Beach” still warm on the stove top Damon has released the follow-up without wasting any time.

The album opens with “Phoner to Arizona” which is close to my least favourite Gorillaz’ song. Well after the first few listens it was. It appeared to be just a combination of electronic noises without any vocal or direction. There is an odd vocal type noise which doesn’t work so well for me later in the song. The track does grow after a few listens however it feels like it drags as it takes it time developing into something meaningful.

Comparatively speaking “Revolving Doors” pulls on the hand brake and does a one-eighty spin back in the right direction. That familiar vocal of “Stuart” is reinstated over a bold acoustic sound crossed with electronic beats to quite dramatic effect. “Hillbilly Man” continues with a soft introduction which grows as the song morphs into a quite odd beast. This album is obviously taking steps to challenge the listener more than previous albums, which were  a little safer. The backing vocal is a little on the nose and there is a lot happening towards the end of the song and I am not so sure that it is comes together. It’s a worthy track which challenges the listener.

“Detroit” seems to be written specifically for someone who is not me. It is short and sharp and is not written to be listened to when driving to work half asleep at 6am. The extremely repetitive beat to the song can get a little grinding however the other aspects of the song are quite enjoyable which gives this track real love-hate quality.  “Shytown” brings the album back towards traditional Gorillaz framework. The song is well constructed being quite relaxed and “un-rushed” which induces a celestial feel to the sound.

The term “outer space” seems to have lost its meaning since the 70s and 80s and “Little Plastic Bags” does its best to renew the meaning of the term. There is a real feeling sense of being lost when listening to this album and no song sums up the sentiment more that this one. But, then you get to “The Joplin Spider” which is a musical reenactment of a Star Wars battle with vocal accompaniment. “The Parish of Space Dust” moves into a more post-apocalyptic vein with dark tones through the vocal contrasting against an up-beat melody and background radio reporting which flows into “The Snake in Dallas” which with “Amarillo” continue to timeless/spaceless feeling of the album which is quite haunting in parts and is achieved in part by using a lot of short tracks.

The back end continues to flow with a similar tone with out any greatly noticeable high or low-lights to mention. “Bobby in Phoenix” is probably one of the more forgettable tracks. If there is anything to fault this album by its that there is not too much variation in song structure or tone of the lead vocal.

The album feels like Damon just wanted a low-key release with some more experimental ideas. This is light on the big pop tracks that have dominated the past three albums, but is still true to that familiar Gorillaz sound. There is a sense of a concept album which tells a story of being lost in deep space and the songs seem to hold each other up. On their own they are a little confusing and lack substance at time, but as a whole they become “The Fall” which is aptly named and tell a story full of emotion and fear. Electronic samples and random talk or chatter are used to good effect to deliver on this vibe. Some of the tracks achieve this feat better than others but as a whole the album will probably be overlooked by some, while taking others on a musical journey.

ALBUM RATING: An insight into how it would feel to be lost in space

Following up from what an album which was full of angst and could have taught those Emo kids a thing or two about being Emo, The Orchestra are back with their new album “Simple Math”. Despite “Mean Everything to Nothing” bearly making a blip on the radar, these young guys from Georgia have big things waiting for them on the horizon.

“Deer” takes the kick-off an immediately takes control of possess with a gentle, country inspired acoustic track which really eases you into the album. It is an unusual way to start the album especially given way that the  song conflicts against the introduction of “Mighty”. Having said that as I have listened to the album more it has really grown on me.

“Mighty” starts with what can only be considered a cheesy 80s rock intro however as the song progresses it feels as though it is aiming for a stadium rock sound. The vocal takes some getting used to, it is a little clunky in some ways. The bridge feels a little flat and predictable at first however after a while the construction of the song begins to make sense. The chorus really saves the song which otherwise would be a forgettable song and this fact really is testament to the dedication of the song writing.

By the time the album reaches “Pensacola” I am a little confused about the varying tracks and how they are intended to fit together. The lead in to this song is horribly predictable and on the nose however the song gets better as it progresses. I am a little confused by this songs inclusion on the album. I feel like I have heard this song a thousand times on mainstream radio (there’s something 2000’s Green Day about parts of it). There are aspects of this song which work, if any this is that must skip track on the album, however I can understand that others will like this for the same reasons I don’t love it. The chorus is really quite enjoyable and fun, just needed to trim the crusts off the sandwich for me I guess. To this point, I think that that the vocal and the bands sound really carries the song writing at times and is a little bit of a surprise given what I was expecting. It’s like ordering the Peking Duck Pancakes at yum cha and then you bite into it and get a mouthful of cucumber and wrap, just not quite what you were hoping for.

“April Fool” immediately pulls the album back in the right direction with a bang of Orchestra anger which is a really catchy and fun song with a big chorus. The vocal takes over what is otherwise a pretty simple song and turns it into a powerhouse. It’s often said that less is more, well this songs agrees with this statement and contradicts it in the same breath with a super-sized serving of Hull’s tonsils. This song could easily slot right into “Mean Everything to Nothing” and is the tightest song on the album as it is very direct in what it is attempting to achieve and does it in bag fulls (yes that sentence doesn’t make sense, but I don’t care).

“Pale Black Eye” is a throw back track in terms of vocal sound from the past. Violins are a lot more prevalent on this album and combined with the guitar work on this song builds into ball of emotion with builds to a stadium rock chorus. This song is no “Shout it Out”, it is just so different from what they have done previously, it’s more matured and constructed with millimetre precision, where as previously it felt like the songs were written to fit around the vocal and not the other way around. Either way the songs work, but it’s nice to see a talented band explore with their song writing and find new ways to reinvent their brand without having a producer rebrand the sound. The guitar work is delicate and deliberate allowing the song to build and the vocal to flow.

The chorus effect which is used through “Virgin” has a big sound which with the horns that give this track a familiar feel. The use of children for backing is something that hasn’t been used for many years now and combined with the heavy guitar sound which runs through the track makes for a dark and angry piece of work. This takes me back to Pink Floyd’s “We Don’t Need No Education”. The lead vocal is normally the core feature of Orchestra songs however this song really breaks that tradition and gives great contrast with the various vocals used. By this stage we are right into the meat of the album and the edges may be a little fatty but I am pretty sure this is a rib eye fillet.

“Simple Math” was released as the lead single from this album and displays a different approach from MEtN. This is a really elegant song built on the back of a more main-stream sound with a smoother vocal from Andy Hull and an injection of violins through the chorus. The mood of the track is not as intense as on previous releases however it is still not lacking in emotion which builds with the power of the guitars through the song. Despite being a change in direction for Manchester this is evidence to a mature approach to song writing and is a real power ballad in the Orchestra sense of the word. It has taken quite a few listens, but this is a really powerful track which pulls you in a lot of different directions.

“Leave It Alone” delivers that gentle Orchestra beat with more and more voilins being used, which is not over used as it really suits the bands sound. This song really sells the modesty of the sound that these boys from Georgia can deliver, which gives a sense of intimacy that other bands could only hope to deliver. “Leaky Breaks” is a great closing song in a similar vein that “505” was for the Monkeys as it leaves you wanting more and floats off into the background. This is probably the biggest screwball thrown by the Orchestra’s pitching rotation. With a smooth vocal Hull, takes us on a journey and leaves us with some soothing “oohs” to end the album.

The review took me some time to write because initially I started out writing a “meh” review as the album took some getting used to. The big punch that “Mean Everything to Nothing” seemed to be missing and there was a lack of flow between the songs especially at the start of the album. There is a distinct attempt to stretch the sound of the band and to explore its possibilities, there are some softer tracks which really are great on their own, but feel a little out of place next to some of their colleagues at times despite being great songs on their own. It is a genuinely good album without requiring any coat tails of previous albums to keep it aloft.

ALBUM RATING: Lacking in continuity but not in substance

Image of The Hazard of Love album coverTheir style has been calling out for a complete concept album, and with The Hazards of Love they’ve delivered. Oh my how they’ve delivered. With this album The Deceberists have reached back into the primeval and produced a dark, Grimm-brothers-like tale of bewitching forests and star-crossed lovers.

Like any good rock opera this is an album that needs to be listened through in one whole piece. There are certainly songs that can stand on their own, but you’ll only be doing yourself a disservice if you shuffle through it. It really needs your complete attention to experience it fully.

The vocals are strong and vivid. Shara Worden manages to dominate in the role of a dark forest queen with a wild, yet regal ferocity. Her impact lingering long after her sections have past. The role of the maiden Margret is taken up by Becky Stark, and she brings an ethereal yet nurturing affair to her parts. Lastly Colin covers the multiple male roles with his trademark rustic, warbling style; grim as the rake, heartfelt as the protagonist, and warm as the narrator.

One of the joys in this album is listening to the interaction across the huge variety of instruments. Within single songs you’ll find unique combinations such as harpsichords conversing with heavily distorted electric guitars or a piano accordion mingling with a slide guitar.

Forming the basic unit of this album, each of the characters and environments have strong themes which recur throughout in a somewhat emergent, though careful curated way. The merging of these themes is done in such a way that gives the story a smooth transition from one situation to another. Examples of these themes abound, for instance The queen’s strong theme will introduce itself into a song as a portent of her future arrival.

There’s another good example of these recurring themes with the major river that forms a focal point near the end of the album. It’s theme is a hymnal style organ, such as you would hear in gospel music. In ‘The Crossing’ it’s combined with the queen’s powerful motif for a very heavy rock vibe. Then in the following song though it’s soothed by the protagonist’s plea, and slows to a relaxed, pastoral pace. Then lastly it appears as a figurative and literal undercurrent in the final ‘The Wanting Comes in Waves’.

I can’t say that I have fully untangled all the different themes, but there’s certainly no need for one to do so to fully enjoy this album. Part of the reason the themes work so well is because they come across in such a visceral manner. Each of them communicates effectively the ideas that underly it, so the feelings come through in a natural way.

Given all this diversity there is careful attention to not going overboard in any single song. The songs are artfully layered and aren’t crowded with too much different media.

With the story playing such a heavy part in this album none of this would be possible without Colin’s unparalleled lyricism. An extensive vocabulary and outstanding choice of phrasing bring you into his world like few other writers are able to. Just like with the different themes, his choice of words and their delivery convey the spirit and intention deep within each song.

I think I could probably spend an age describing all the outstanding things about this album, but to end I want to mention the rhythm. All the layering, themes, and lyrical qualities are for naught if the rhythm can’t effect you, and fortunately, there’s no need to worry on that front. This is the Decemberists at their best in that regard; managing to keep it fresh throughout. With a lot of the commonalities coming from the instrumental themes they were freed from the need to maintain a overarching rhythmical balance, and they’ve used that keep you on your toes with lots of gorgeous movement and mixed pacing. By changing the staging and layering of the different themes they are able to effectively move between slower and more intense sections.

This was without a doubt my album of the year for 2009. Individually none of the songs on the album would make it into a top ten list, but taken as a whole it’s an absolute epic.


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I will kick off with a confession that I have not listened to Noah and the Whale in the past, however with all of the fuss that I have heard about this album, I kinda felt that with little else to review at the moment that they probably deserve a run.

I totally understand what the band was trying to achieve when they wrote “Life is Life” and they have almost achieved it with probably the best song that I listened to. This song is driven by the vocal which is well constructed without being mind blowing.

Following this is “Tonight’s the Kind of Night” which should not be listened to by anyone with a dairy allergy (waiting, waiting, yes a cheap joke is coming you know it)…..cause this song has every type of cheese forced into it. It’s like a giant block of swiss with people standing around it holding in all of the other cheeses (I don’t care if this is a word, cause it is now) in but its so cheesy that it’s about to errupt in a cheese explosion. Yes this song will probably be popular with  the current generation of kids, well I ain’t one of them. This song is just horrible in every sense and if you can’t see that for yourself than you need to get yourself some ear glasses (bad jokes are really flowing right now).

“L.I.F.E.G.O.E.S.O.N.” achieves everything that the group failed on with that other thing I just had to listen to. It is still borderline cheesy however the song is fun and light, but is well enough written that it doesn’t quite have permanent residence in Gouda Country. “Wild Thing” is ok in parts but feels like a hundred other soft rock songs that I have heard before that I feel like its wasting my time.

This is an album which I have difficulty getting past the first few songs as the vocal is a little whiny and girly. I fight myself and try and make myself overcome my issues with it, but it’s just not happening for me. I am cutting the review short on this one, cause I found that vocal so bland, uninteresting and constantly got on my nerves. There is not enough  musical content for me to get past it as everything about this album is so predictable and although there are some ok/tollerable songs here, I really didn’t enjoy this album. There is simply nothing indentifiably unique about their sound that would draw me to listen to their music, everything seems to revolve around the vocal which I can’t stand. Next!

ALBUM RATING: Heaven for some, Hell for others

“Nine Types of Light” is the fifth album by a truly talented band, who recently lost long-term multi-instrumental member Gerard Smith. If you haven’t heard of TVOTR by now then it’s probably time to reassess what you use as your sources for finding new music.

The album ironically opens with “Second Song” because it doesn’t come second chronologically or in terms of quality. TVOTR haven’t mucked around here, they have moved straight into a multi-layered, multi-faceted song which have a bit of everything on it, synth, sax, effective backing “oohs” which all contribute to produce a killer song without ever over powering the sound.

“Keep your Heart” is yet another beautiful TVOTR track which continues the theme of using whatever instrument required to get the sound just right, clapping, more backing oohs or electronically produced sounds. There is no drastic changes to the classic TVOTR sound on this album and it is used to full effect on “No Future Shock”. The song builds elegantly to a climatic chorus (get your mind out of the gutter) and using the horns to great effect.

“Killer Crane” slows the pace of the album right down with a wandering vocal which grows and has too many elements that I can’t begin to describe it without disrespecting the song. Just when you think that you have heard the best of what TVOTR have to offer they drop “Will Do” in your lap with all of its balanced beauty and power. If you don’t like this song then you should consider getting your hearing checked or consider major oral replacement surgery, no its by no means excessive.

“New Cannonball Run” pulls the album in a more electro direction with a heavy synth sound, which provides a platform for a vocal exchange (duet sounds insulting) which is full of toe-tapping energy that flows into “Repetition” which I must say is really poorly named. You can call TVOTR a lot of things but not that. Ok so maybe he does repeat the word around 25 times towards the end of the song, but it works.

Listening to a TVOTR album, much like writing a review of one, requires a lot of dedicate. On both accounts I feel that the input required is well rewarded. At first listen I am constantly trying to understand the concept of their songs, but it doesn’t take long before the album and its endless energy take over your musical world. The song writing is meticulous and controlled to the point that every song feels inviting and effortless in execution. The guitars often feel secondary in the layering of the songs however they repeatedly deliver punch and timely energy.

ALBUM RATING: Contender for AOTY

The Crystal Axis Albumn Cover
Stepping out of your capsule, you survey an unexplored wilderness, fresh with opportunity and danger. The natives are restless, the natural environment astonishing, and the onset of darkness urgent. Everything is set for a great adventure. Except that, well… it isn’t.

Midnight Juggernauts have previously sent us hurtling out to the unknown edges of space, and with this album they bring us down on a new planetary frontier. Mixing the primitive with the futuristic, The Crystal Axis combines pulsing electric currents and vast harmonic grids with raw aboriginal beats and organic sounds.

Flashes of artificial arpeggios blast out and ricochet through a dark jungle of rustling rhythms and savage drumbeats. All the while exotic riffs chitter in the undergrowth, and synthetic cicadas saw into the night. Elsewhere; wafting, wavering chords explore the electronic echoes of great subterranean depths.

Midnight Juggernauts have really outdone themselves in creating a virtual biomass within this album’s soundscape. While there are a few places where they return to the vaster and more open style of their previous album, for the most part this album is a dense, claustrophobic affair. But for all the technical brilliance in creating and bringing these sounds together, none of it really speaks to me. No more than listening to the sounds of a real jungle would.

And that’s the problem here. It may sound paradoxical, but this incredible hive of sounds is simply too intangible. It’s full of wonderful imagery; yet it’s impossible to find anything within it to latch onto. I can’t find the story, the human element, amongst the mass of noise. So in the end as far as my ears are concerned it’s all just a bit of aural wankerey. I applaud the effort, but not so much the result.


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Finally. With much anticipation and feeling very nervous about what I was going to hear, the second album from The Wombats was before me. I had already heard “Tokyo (Vampires and Wolves)” and knew that the much-loved harmonies that were prevalent throughout the first album were on the way out, which was to be expected.

The album kicks off with “Our Perfect Disease” which makes it very clear that these boys have moved on since 2007. It’s a dark way to kick off an album and reintroduced a few of the tools that were really effectively use on Guide. Lyrically, you can feel the anguish in this song with “I need you” being a resonating through the song.

“Tokyo (Vampires and Wolves)”, which I first heard somewhere around July last year, should require no introduction to ‘Bats fans. Following from OPD, it feels as though you are waking up the next day after something tragic. When I first heard this track I wasn’t a huge fan, but now it has a real familiarity to it which does assist in getting acquainted with this album. It is quite heavy on synth however it does this in a professional manner and the song possesses good balance.

The darker side returns with “Jump into the Fog” and the song possesses a very gloomy feel, with the keys that are being used and as the song progresses the vocal contrasts well off it, while maintaining that angsty feel that ruled “Guide to Love, Loss & Desperation”. This is a real deep song from a band who were all about pop and the fears of teenagers only 4 years ago. The drumming on this song is much more involved than on their debut which was a lot more vocal centric. The sound used with the keyboards gives that musty feel of fog horns across a bay that provide a strong backdrop for the optimism that grows through the vocal trying to find a way out. It is obvious that this stage that this release is the yang to the debut albums yin in terms of mood.

The violins that open “Anti-D” have a very morbid feel to them especially of the back of Fog. As I try to comment on this song I can only think one thing… This is not at all what I expected while day dreaming about this album. Someone must have been constantly chewing on prozac while writing this track to get the feel just right. By this point it is quite evident that these guys are determined to drop the pop rock tag, however, I get the feel that this may not convert into chart success, but then that’s only one of many reasons to write an album. “Last Night I Dreamt…” follows this and makes no attempt to change the tone of the album. Not my favourite song on the album, yet it warrants its place providing the ebb and flow of emotion that rolls through the album with a release of confused feelings, “I tend to cry in a room full of laughter”.

“Techno Fan” is oddly named and it is not at all what you might expect, I pictured a funny song making fun of techno fans, but it actually turns out to be an enjoyable little pop song. Not too far removed from their debut album in terms of the techniques that they have employed, although in this instance the backing vocal being implemented seems to be feminine to work with the softer feel of the synthesizers. Unfortunately, I don’t like the use of synth as much on “1996” which I really don’t understand, it sounds a little too boy-band mainstream in parts.

By the time the intro of “Walking Disasters” comes around I am starting to get over the electro sound a little. Just when you are thinking that it is over it returns through the chorus, there are elements of this song that are enjoyable and it could have done with a little more work and a stronger chorus. “Girls/Fast Cars” is full of background noises which I find are not contributing to the song which disappear as the song progresses and it feels a little Muse inspired with the sci-fi feel. “Schumacher the Champagne” ends the album in an odd tone leaving the listener a little confused as to the two sides of the album, the dark and gloomy and the last few tracks which kinda just happen and drop any mood that was built.

This album makes you want to crawl under your doona (duvet/comforter, I make no excuse for being Aussie) and find a reason to feel sorry for yourself. The album feels like a journal of what seems to have been not the standard rise to fame for a group of young lads hitting the big time. It full of anguish and emotion and the most grim album I have heard in a long time. Having said this there is a real beauty and elegance to the songs, it’s just too bad it just doesn’t carry it for the full ten tracks.

ALBUM RATING: Very different/dark output from a very versatile band, worth the wait

OK so yeah this was released over a year ago, but I kinda missed this one even though I was familiar with many of the tracks through the radio. Two Door Cinema Club bring a big electro/rock pop sound that has drawn a lot of comparisons since their debut album with their primary tool of choice being lots of energy.

The album opens with a very Bloc Party inspired twaggy intro that develops further into “Cigarettes in the Theatre” with enough punch to leave you with a nice shinner. The drumming beat is quite simple but it ensures that the song never lets up and provides the base which allows for contrasting tempo as the song develops. The vocal which doesn’t stray too much through the album, is quite boyish or feminine and is not off-putting and reminds me of Phoenix lead singer Thomas Mars.

For a band who have only one album to their credit they immediately follow-up with another big pop song “Come Back Home” which is very easy to identify with as it is loaded with more pop beats and flowing vocals. At first listen you might be tempted to think that a young band is trying to make a name for themselves with a couple of singles on a front loaded album but this never develops. “Do You Want It All” has skip me written across its face with a very predictable sound and feel, however it provides a change in tempo for what is a very up tempo album. Don’t be fooled though cause this song changes pace and is bouncing off the walls before you know it. With the introduction of “This is the Life” quickly following I find myself pushing this album away, however this song sits on the border of Cheese Town.Depending on my mood decides whether I consider it to be an inhabitant or not.

This is quickly forgotten though. “Something Good can Work” follows and is such a fun, drag your woman to the dance floor tune that is over almost by the time you get there, but that is ok because you can just stay there for “I Can Talk” and work on your robot dancing and watch her return to her seat as you bounce around like a tool. This song shows of the guitar driven side of the band which to me is the strength of the band who fall back on electro sounds to fill in the gaps.

By the time “Undercover Martyn” reaches your ears, you think that you have seen all that TDCC have to offer, but these guys have energy in their sound. The sound is a little one dimensional, but having said that, it works. “What you Know” proves this by providing a platform for Trimble’s gentle vocal which is a perfect fit for the general sound of the band, which is light and fluffy. The song rolls and gains momentum until it reaches the point where it is firmly stuck in your head.

The back-end of the album continues with much of the same rush that the remainder of the album just left with. This could easily be cut back in order to make the album tighter, given their sound they shouldn’t be trying to put out double albums, more love me and leave me nine track numbers. There are some borderline forgettable songs here, I am looking at you “Kids” while they aren’t horrible they just don’t add to the album.

“I Can Talk” has to be one of the catchiest and fun songs of 2010. This has to be pretty close to what musical heroin must be like, as the song ebbs and flows it ends but holding you in its arms and then dropping you onto the dance floor. Having said this, it is hard to decide by the end which song is your favourite as there are quite a few strong tracks here to the point that I always worry about young bands and whether they should hold on to one or two to ensure they don’t become one hit wonders. This is a really enjoyable album which could liven up a funeral, however every time I listen to it I worry what their second album will be. TDCC could easily get into bed with the wrong producer and cut back on the guitars which I have seen all too often to the detriment of bands.

ALBUM RATING: LSD in musical form

Looks like someone is cutting back on their budget: