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Tag Archives: record review

Regular readers will know I have written about Pivot before. First they were one of those unexpectedly great support acts you don’t expect (supporting Battles). Then they signed to “influential” UK label Warp. I also saw them support Sigur Ros earlier in the month, although I don’t think I really wrote about them. Anyway, after waiting for the vinyl to arrive in my local, I finally have the new album, O Soundtrack My Heart.

I love this album. It is a “wacky” electronic album with live instruments, but not too wacky. It is an “accessible” electronic album, without being too accessible. So yep, we are in Battles territory, but a shade more easy for the listener. Unfortunately it is probably not going to be accessible enough to do massive sales, but I think it is certainly going to be on lots of lists at the end of the year.

I think what I am loving most is that there is no obvious single… each track is as cool as the next. I don’t have hooks running around in my head or anything (yet), however when each new track surfaces I think “sweet, I dig this one!”. What makes it even better is that the are Oz boys doing good.

So after not many awesome albums coming out recently, I am pretty chuffed to get this one on the record player. Finally, another one in my top ten (but Mogwai and Drones are coming soon so fingers crossed for those).

… muttler

Yes, yet another “let’s get it out there quickly on the interwebs” release is the new album by Bloc Party. Called Intimacy, this is an odd one. For a fiver (quid that is), you can get your hands on it now from their website. It is coming out in physical form with extra tracks in October, but what we have here is effectively a full length album anyway.

Anyway, I call it odd, because at first listen I wasn’t sure what to think. Pitchfork didn’t really like it (but then you have to take any review of theirs with a grain of salt), but then the EG in The Age did. So while I was doing some work today I gave it a few spins. And you know what? I think I don’t mind it.

If you think you are going to get part 2 of either other albums then you are a little mistaken. What we are getting is a little bit of Silent Alarm, but a lot more Flux (the bridging single between albums). If you have heard lead single Mercury, then be prepared for a bit more of that. As I mentioned I wasn’t sure what to think, but I like this direction. No it might not scale the heights of their debut, but this is a nice step in staying on the forefront of British music I reckon.

… muttler

I wonder if the cover art will change? Surely…

If you are from Melbourne and you don’t love Eddy Current Suppression Ring, then go away. Hang on… that is a bit rough…but I mean it.

I am a recent late convert to the Eddy Current fold. I had seen them live a couple times and they intrigued me. But I had never grabbed their album. Then album #2 Primary Colours came out and Fee on RRR started playing it over and over and over. Next thing the songs were right under my skin. So I patiently waited to grab it on vinyl and got it a few weeks ago, so finally here is my 2 cents.

I love this album. It is just so joyous. Reading the back of the cover, it was recorded in 2 days, and it sounds like it. Not in a bad way, but in a way of it being 4 guys banging out great songs together. The whole album is just so infectious.

The first album is great too, if a slight touch patchy. But this is 10 tracks of gold. No filler here. I haven’t ripped the LP to mp3 yet, so the only place I listen to it is when I am in the kitchen making dinner, or reading the paper. And I tell you, it goes round and round and round (listen number 3 already on this Sunday morning). I will do it today only so I can have it going round and round and round in the car or at work.

What more can I say? If you don’t have it, go get it. Support an awesome local band. Or if you are from overseas, visit missinglink.net.au and get them to send you a copy. If you like garage rock/pop a little rough around the edges then this is your new best album of 2008. And please don’t get too big Eddy Current… I want the next album recorded in 2 days again too.

… muttler

This has been out for a little but and I have been meaning to mention it.

Let me first say, I hate the expression “return to form”. Not sure exactly why. Usually I hear it and think “hang on… the stuff in between hasn’t been that bad?!”. It is just a more credible way of saying “I didn’t like the stuff where you tried to vary it up a bit… please sound more like you used to”. Why do I mention that? Well, the new Beck album Modern Guilt has in some circles been trumpted this “return to form”.

OK… so The Information was a bit patchy (but how sweet was Nausea and the opening few tracks), but Guero was great and I remember everyone gushing about Sea Change at the time. So why is Modern Guilt illicting this response? I am not sure. I guess because it is great, not because it sounds just like Odelay (which it doesn’t). Maybe because it is just a fun record where Beck sounded like it was cool to make.

Maybe it is because of the brevity too. If The Information was pared back to 12 tracks it would be pretty killer. This is 10 tracks at a bit over half an hour. And you know what? I don’t feel cheated at all. All it makes me want to do is listen to it again.

Sound wise you can hear Danger Mouse‘s fingers all over it. A couple tracks sound like they could have come straight from . But is a nice mix between him, Beck, and some songwriting that seems a touch more straight forward.

So anyway, this is just a brief note to say go grab it. I really dig it.

… muttler

Well, you have seen a few posts from me about Sigur Ros in the last fortnight. And here is one more. The band has their new album streaming on their website right now, a week or two before it is in stores. The full title being Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust (With a buzz in our ears we play endlessly). So I have got to live with it for a week or so now. And what do I think?

I am digging it. As indicated by the opening track (and free download) Gobbledigook, it is a lot more playful at times, especially the first 3 or 4 tracks. But is definitely an album of two halves, my only criticism of it is that it has a definite upbeat vibe in the first half, which then turns into more a mood piece in the second half. Not necessarily a bad thing, but I find I get really enthusiastic about the first half, and then find the second half tracks pretty much indistinguishable. But I don’t mean it in a bad sense… they flow beautifully and before I know it, the album has finished.

Regardless, it is a great album… just a little different to show Sigur Ros can be a little different, but still with quintessential Sigur Ros parts. Some tracks though, especially Festival, are going to blow our socks off live come August. Giddy up.

… muttler

They nearly lost me. Well, not really. Death Cab For Cutie that is. Their last couple of LP’s, while I didn’t mind them, I didn’t listen to them flat out. Both were half-great albums, where for every song I really dug, there was another I thought was a bit yawn-o. Then I saw them last year (or was it the year before?!) at the Forum, and it was just OK. Nothing obviously wrong, but just OK.

So Narrow Stairs comes along. I heard the lead single I Will Possess Your Heart, and thought, hmmm, this is OK. Then heard another track or two, and I thought, maybe we are on a winner. And you know what? I think we are.

This is the first Death Cab album I reckon where I see quite a significant change from the last. Each was a steady change from great (We Have The Facts), to perfect (Photo Album), then back down a couple pegs. But this LP has some clear change in direction. Your New Twin Sized Bed is the best thing Death Cab have done for ages. But then I can’t remember anything in their back catalogue that is in the same ball park as Talking Bird. Death Cab doing My Bloody Valentine? Who would have thought.

So I really digging this. A couple of my friends who are rabid Death Cab fans aren’t digging it. But I think all they need is a little time, cause I reckon this is a bit of alright.

… muttler

P.S Where are all Jase’s posts coming from?! Man, he is either very busy, or not busy at all 🙂

Sporadic posts from me in the last couple weeks. So like Jase’s recent posts, here is a quick recap of some new music I have got (in order of most listened to downward) that is sneaking in some playtime between Portishead and Flight of the Conchords.

1. Get Awkward by Be Your Own Pet

This album is great. I dug the first Be Your Own Pet album…. it was bit of a sleeper where I thought I kinda liked it, and I found I was listening to it quite a bit. The newy is 15 tracks of the same cool Punky-Poppy-ChickSinger goodness. I didn’t know it was coming out and on RRR one morning I heard the track The Kelly Affair and I was in heaven. What genius band writes a song based on one of my all-time favourite movies, the Russ Meyer classic Beyond The Valley Of The Dolls. Well, it was Be Your Own Pet so I was all giddy up. Sure they may be a one trick band, but when the trick is this fun, who cares?

2. Volume One by She and Him

And so we go from punk-pop to country-pop with She and Him. Normallly I wouldn’t touch anything related to an actor deciding to play music. But when I heard Zooey Deschanel was teaming up with M. Ward I was curious. Then I heard some great reviews. Then I heard a track and I was hooked. I like my alt.country chanteuse. All my friends know of my Neko Case obsession. Well, Zooey is no Neko, but this is 12 absolutely sweet tracks. And by sweet I don’t mean sweet as in cool, I mean sweet as endearing. Zooey’s voice is not the most technically great you have heard, but M. Ward has captured her strengths really well, and considering she wrote these tracks (besides a couple covers), I certainly take my hat off to her. Maybe the actor as failed musician stereotype has some exceptions.

3. Narrow Stairs by Death Cab For Cutie

This is out formally next week, but like Jase I have heard a bit. And I am liking what I hear. I thought Plans was a little so-so. Some of the tracks I have heard though hear sound like Death Cab but a little more adventurous. I heard the track Talking Bird and except for Ben’s vocals, you would not know it was DCFC. This is not to say I don’t like the trademark Death Cab sound, but it was about time to change things up a little, and Narrow Stairs sounds like a step really in the right direction. Better review once I have heard the whole thing.

4. The Age of the Understatement by The Last Shadow Puppets

Who you ask? Well, a vehicle for Alex Turner of Arctic Monkeys fame. I picked this up on the strength of Turner and some decent press, but not so sure it was a great move. To be fair I don’t think I have yet given this time to sink in, but I just can’t make out where this album is coming from. When the opening track started I thought I was in a Sergio Leone western. I will try and give it some more time, but I most certainly prefer the energy and wit of the Monkeys.

5. Svn Fngrs by Black Francis

Oh Charles, you frustrate me. How does the genius behind such songs as Bone Machine, Velouria, Planet of Sound and Wave of Mutilation (and even songs like Los Angeles) produce things like this. Not that it is that bad. But when (ok, unfairly) compared to a back catalogue of Pixies, this is just so lacklustre. Maybe it is because he has become Black Francis again that I get upset. Like every Black Francis/Frank Black release, there is some cool stuff in there. The punkish stomper I Sent Away, and closing track When They Come To Murder Me are pretty sweet (as in cool), but when the release has filler on it and it is only 7 tracks long, you worry.

6. Raise The Dead by Phantom Planet

Ahh, speaking of actors-cum-musicians. With Phantom Planet it is a bit grey what actually came first… the band or acting. But anyway here we are. No Jason Schwartzman in Phantom Planet anymore, the actor mantle is held my Alex Greenwald. Liking Phantom Planet is a bit embarrassing on another level. Yes, the opening song of The O.C was their track California. But I liked them before that! I swear! Anyway, we are talking about this album. Since we are at number 6 in a list of 6, you probably know what I think. I just don’t like it. The songs are pretty uninspired. Apparently this is the best of some 100 demo tracks. That’s a worry. Again, maybe I need to give it some more spins, but lots of other things are edging it out. But I should get my money’s worth I guess. Or maybe I just cut my losses.

… muttler

… but this one is completely free. No token 5 bucks. As Trent Reznor says “Thank you for your continued and loyal support over the years — this one’s on me.”

Called The Slip, it is available to grab gratis right now. The progressive guy that Trent is, he even provides it a number of formats, from *yawn* mp3, to *whoa* 24-bit, 96-kHz WAV files that is over a gig in size.

So, how is it? A review is kinda superfluous given it is free. Jase and I had a debate about album reviews the other day and whether they are out-dated given someone can just download something, listen, and form their own opinion. I guess that is true in this case. But it wouldn’t be a blog wihtout an opinion right?

Well, remember that this thing just came out overnight, and has had only a couple spins here at work. So far? OK. Ghosts actually surprised me how much I liked it. This is a bit more traditional NIN. As a result I am not digging it as much. Not to say I don’t dig NIN… I thought Year Zero was a consitently great album. This one though not sure first few times around. Maybe I just need to get it cranking up loud I think. It is a bit industrial, a bit grimy, a bit dubby. I think a few more listens and it might get under my skin. Unfortunately for an album only 10 tracks there is a little filler in there. But hey, it’s free!

So this is primarily a heads up more than a review. Defintely go grab it. It is alright (see, I have already changed my tune from OK to alright) and in a matter of minutes and 80mb you too can have your own copy. That is unless you are shooting for the 1 gig option.

… muttler

ThirdWho thought this day would come? 11 years after the last studio album (10 even since the PNYC live album), Portishead are back with a new album, Third. You have to be a bit scared though about the prospect of a new album after so long. Lots of questions pop up… are they still relevant, was it worth the wait, and ultimately should they have even bothered? My word.

Let’s address some of the questions. Are they still relevant? Well, I would argue that Dummy and Portishead still hold up really well to this day. Forget all the “trip-hop” associations, I think these two albums transcend any decade specific genre. But more importantly how does Third stack up? Really really well. It is certainly Portishead… Beth Gibbon’s voice makes sure of that… but it is a Portishead that has moved on. That is not to say that Portishead have veered off in another direction, but it just sounds like it did take 10 years to arrive.

If you are after the more mellow, soulful Portishead on Dummy, then Third may leave you cold. But if it is the darker places of their self-titled album that you go back to I think this will sidle up quite nicely. This is by no means a bleak album (which many criticised the second album of being), but it is certainly more harsh in places. Lead single Machine Gun is testament to that. But then there are moments of Beth Gibbons beauty, albeit wrapped up in quite obtuse beats. Ultimately it is all wrapped up in a menace that says “it may have taken 10 years, but we are back”.

So was it worth the wait? Well, it’s all relative. 10 years is a long time to wait. But it is an awesome album. Given how much I have listened to this in just a very short space of time, I think this is definitely going to be near the top of my list at the end of the year. Yes, I am glad they bothered. Take note My Bloody Valentine.

… muttler

I am pretty late on to Flight of the Conchords. I had heard of them and had a couple of friends urging me to check them out. Finally I got the DVDs and watched all 12 episodes in the space of a few days. I loved it. Jermaine and Bret are great, but it is also the bit characters, Murray, Dave, and especially Mel that are fantastic too even though they don’t burst into song. I was trying to think of the last time I had watched something and found I was laughing out loud while watching it by myself. The songs I thought were genius… lyrically hysterical yet also funny as a genre-bending exercise. So when I read that the official album was coming out on Sub Pop I thought sweet.

So I now have it and have been listening to it all day. First of all, the songs have not been messed with. Sure they are “official studio” recordings but they don’t sound very far removed from their TV counterparts which is great. Next, almost all the gold is there. Sure some songs are missing, but the highlights are here… A Kiss Is Not A Contract, The Most Beautiful Girl In The Room, and everyones favourite Business Time. I mean as I type away here I have it on and I still smile. I mean how can you not love a lyric like this from Think About It:

There’s people on the street, gettin’ diseases from monkeys

Yeah that’s what I said, they’re gettin’ diseases from monkeys

Now there’s junkies with monkey disease, who’s touching these monkeys puh-lease

Leave these poor sick monkeys alone, they got problems enough as it is

Genius.

… muttler