Monthly Archives: July 2013

Turn Your Love Up – Laneway

The latest album by duo Laneway, titled ‘Turn Your Love Up’ features many of the typical elements of folk music, whilst also fusing more alternative rock elements in at various times. It is in many ways a typical folk record, though it seems there’s a lot of appeal from a band that just seems to exude honesty with their music. Laneway offer gorgeous folk ballads featuring gorgeous vocals that form the wonderful sound that is their own. There’s some nice talent at work with Laneway, both in terms of their performance on the album and in terms of their song-writing abilities, which at times is certainly impressive. There’s definitely some nice elements at work here, though it seems that Laneway may have perhaps fallen into a few of the limitations that folk-music features.

‘Turn Up Your Love’ is in some ways, a simply nice record. There’s some incredibly nice songs on the album that simply put a smile on the face, often helped by the gorgeous vocals by Louise O’Reilly. O’Reilly’s vocals seem a little soft, but very rich in sound at times, making it a delight to listen too. When this is backed up by Laneway’s second member Paul Hannan, it forms a wonderful combination that makes some incredibly appealing and enjoyable music. The album opens up in typical folk-music fashion, though at various points there’s some interesting techniques or ideas which seem to just give the album a little bit more shape and character than perhaps the bog-standard folk album. It’s incredibly enjoyable, and there’s some wonderful emotion present in many of the various songs.

Laneway certainly offer an appealing and enjoyable album, though it does seem limited by the limitations of the genre itself. It’s disappointing to say, but it does seem that as the album progresses from track to track, it seems to offer just a little bit less each time. Certain tracks near the end of the album are certainly stronger, though it seems to take some time for the album to really come into it’s own. A few of the tracks also seem to be somewhat repetitive after a while, with similar instrumentals being used for a number of various songs.

On their latest album, Laneway certainly have offered up an enjoyable and nice musical experience. Their latest album has many nice elements that simply make ‘Turn Your Love Up’ a good folk record. Both members of the band offer a lot to their overall sound and scope, giving them a great amount of appeal. It might not be the most impressive folk release of all time, but it does manage to do most of the elements right. Those who enjoy the simple elegance of folk music will find a lot that is enjoyable from Laneway, though they’d be hard done to truly impress those who are fans of the genre. It is easy to say though that they are definitely a cut above the average bog-standard.

Album Rating:

  • ★★★★☆  4/5

Selected Songs:

  • Love Is A Devil
  • Bleeding Heart
  • The Past Is Furious
  • I Saw

Laneway’s latest album ‘Turn Your Love Up’ is out now, and can be purchased at: http://lanewaymusic.com/

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Search Beneath Earth – Mobility Chief

Mobility Chief offer up a somewhat reserved post-rock experience (or instrumental rock to those who abhor the post-rock label). Their latest piece of work titled ‘Search Beneath Earth’ showcases some brilliant ideas and techniques, and features some brilliant tracks, making it a great album of instrumental rock music. Mobility Chief’s style seems to be somewhat more reserved than most bands, with the whole album experience not completely indulging in the thrashing guitar elements of so many other post-rock bands. It’s refreshing to hear something that is a little bit different, and it certainly gives a lot of strength to Mobility Chief as a band.

‘Search Beneath Earth’ features 5 tracks, ranging from 5-7 minutes each in length. In many ways, there’s the typical elements and nuances of post-rock music, though it seems that Mobility Chief have tried to put their own slant on the whole genre by offering up their own musical experience. The album opens up brilliantly with ‘Immersion’ which showcases their style brilliantly, though also doesn’t reveal all the secrets and offerings straight off the bat. There’s brilliant guitar hooks and lines which punctuate through the songs, sometimes interrupted by brief interludes of silence. It gives the track, and in some regards, the whole album some brilliant flair and character, and makes it a simply interesting album to listen too. The album itself seems to go from strength to strength as it offers up more and more with every coming song.

There’s a lot to be enjoyed by Mobility Chief, and although they’ve strayed away from the common ground of post-rock music, by not completely over-indulging in thrashing elements and what-not, it does seem that they have fallen into the other common trap of producing an album where each track is somewhat similar. It seems most post-rock bands have this difficulty of offering true diversity and range with their albums. There’s even the element of a few of the tracks dragging on for a little bit too long, but I find this particular element comes down to simply how enjoyable one finds the music or not.

Overall, Mobility Chief have produced a brilliant album, that is certainly great to listen to. There’s a great story going on underneath the layers of instrumentals, told purely through the instrumental music itself. It may not be as emotional or as heart-tugging as some of the leaders in the post-rock genre, but it is to some extent every bit as interesting. There’s certainly a large number of strengths at work here, and Mobility Chief definitely have a lot to offer, and have definitely already started to do so.

Album  Rating:

  • ★★★★☆  4/5

Selected Songs:

  • Immersion
  • Acquiring Minds
  • Tailfeathers
  • Ether Way

Mobility Chief’s latest album ‘Search Beneath Earth’ is out now, and can be purchased at: http://mobilitychief.bandcamp.com/

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Jurassic Pop EP – Hunting Ulysses

Alternative rock outfit Hunting Ulysses present their latest EP release ‘Jurassic Pop’, featuring roaring upbeat alternative rock/punk songs. Featuring 6 tracks, spread out over roughly 20 minutes, the EP release showcases everything the band is willing and ready to offer the music scene. Hunting Ulysses seem to channel many of the typical elements of the alternative rock/punk style, and present it in what seems to be a somewhat lighthearted yet fun and exciting way. There’s certainly something to be enjoyed here, which is simply fun and exciting, though there is perhaps elements that don’t seem to work as well as they should do.

‘Jurassic Pop’ is every bit as fun as the name itself suggests, with Hunting Ulysses simply launching straight into the heart of the fun-filled and raucous alternative rock style. To some extent, it is almost American sounding, which is perhaps a wide generalization to make in regards to their music, though it is simply how it makes me feel. It feels as though Hunting Ulysses music wouldn’t sound out of place if it was included on a Tony Hawks Pro Skater soundtrack. It’s pumped up, fun and features many of the best elements from the styles it incorporates. Hunting Ulysses certainly have a lot going for them, and ‘Jurassic Pop’ is a rather good EP that does manage to showcase their style in a great way. I find perhaps though that whilst ‘Jurassic Pop’ is fun and enjoyable, it seems just that tiny bit immature in terms of the style and sounds that are being produced. There is certainly enough to garner the band fans, though i’d assume they’d be more of a hit with younger audiences. There’s is nothing wrong with this, though it is arguable that the appeal of the band is limited by the style and genre they have chosen to incorporate into their music. It is also arguable that the tracks on the EP itself become a little bit repetitive after a while, which on an EP record is perhaps forgivable. If this was a full-album release though, there’d need to be more diversity amongst the tracks to make it a truly appealing record.

All in all, Hunting Ulysses have certainly managed to produce a rather good EP. There’s enough material on ‘Jurassic Pop’ to give a nice understanding of the direction the band are taking, though there are perhaps a few problems that will hopefully get ironed out as the band progresses. There’s certainly some nice elements at work here, and ‘Jurassic Pop’ is certainly a fun and enjoyable record. It would be nice to see the band try new things as they progress, though that isn’t to say that what they are doing now isn’t working. On the contrary, the band have certainly got off to a great start, producing a great introductory EP.

Album Rating:

  • ★★★☆☆  3/5

Selected Songs:

  • Byron By Queens
  • I Sold My Soul (To Disney)

Hunting Ulysses latest EP ‘Jurassic Pop’ is out now, and can be purchased at: http://huntingulysses.bandcamp.com/

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Baby Alpaca EP – Baby Alpaca

Building up gorgeous layers that create somber and delicate sounds, Baby Alpaca demonstrates a wonderful style of song-writing on his 4-track self-titled EP. Elements of indie-pop and gentle rock all combine to make somewhat ethereal layers that seem to be some of the strongest parts of Baby Alpaca’s music. The EP uses four tracks to simply introduce the wonderful style being created by Baby Alpaca, coming in like a gentle storm of deep music. Baby Alpaca uses many techniques on the album to really bring out his own strengths in terms of song-writing and composing. It is an impressive EP, and one that makes one wish for more when the album finally ends it’s four-track journey.

‘Baby Alpaca’ opens up with a gentle, yet harrowing sound that throws the listener straight into the almost ethereal journey that is being created. At times, everything seems just a little bit dark and emotional, yet each element is blended together perfectly to create what is a dark yet gentle listening experience. It is a wonderful EP, and one that showcases Baby Alpaca’s style in fine form. There is a lot to enjoy from the music, which builds up haunting layers in fine form. Although it sports a vocal style that is perhaps a little unusual, it certainly adds a lot of depth to the music itself, which both compliment each other brilliantly. It is a vocal style that might perhaps be a little polarizing, though it it utilized in a very artistic way. It could be argued also, that Baby Alpaca does have a slightly repetitive quality to his music, and the downbeat elements to the music make it a very daunting experience to those who perhaps enjoy more upbeat music. I find though that enough artistic and creative elements come through on the EP to simply make it a wonderful little album that showcases Baby Alpaca’s wonderful style in fine form.

‘Baby Alpaca’ is certainly a strong EP, and it leaves the listener yearning for more when it ends it’s short musical journey. It seems to be the main purpose that any EP should serve, and it is one that Baby Alpaca does in brilliant form. There are many enjoyable elements coming through in this music, that certainly paves the way for whatever more will hopefully come. Although there seems to be a rather hauntingly dark element running throughout the EP, it is one that simply works with the style Baby Alpaca has gone for, and one that is incredibly enjoyable if the music is appealing to your tastes.

Album Rating:

  • ★★★★☆  4/5

Selected Songs:

  • Wild Child
  • On The Roam
  • Run With You

Baby Alpaca’s self-titled EP is out now. 

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Crescendo – Novanta

Novanta’s style incorporates many elements ranging from instrumental post-rock, where clanging guitars build up for moments on end, to shoe-gazing, where droning indiscernible vocals slide in amongst the many layers of instrumentals. There seems to be a clear element of fusion of a  number of genres on their latest album ‘Crescendo’, though they’ve all been utilized in a way that produces an album that is clear sounding and concise. Each track seems to fit well in the overall album itself, making it a fairly impressive album from what is, I assume, a fairly unknown band.

On ‘Crescendo’, the album’s title offers some sort of clue to the music held within. The crescendos aren’t specific to the songs themselves though, but instead to the album, which seems to build up and up, until the roaring second half of the album explodes onto the scene. There’s some wonderful instrumentals at work here, all of which creates incredibly interesting and ultimately listenable music. What is satisfying, is how Novanta haven’t allowed themselves to be trapped by the post-rock genre, and simply produce an album where there’s a number of interesting songs that sadly all sound the same. Instead, Novanta take liberties in presenting different styles and genres, producing a much more diverse and interesting album that the common norm.

Novanta certainly have a lot of talent, and that much is evident on ‘Crescendo’. Although I do like the use of a number of different genres, it does make me question whether or not Novanta have a clear perspective of what they want to achieve musically. Each song seems to work well on the album, with there being a good enough flow to stop anything sounding too jarring, but at the same time, it makes me wonder whether Novanta have any real idea of what they want to do with their music, whether they have a genre they know they’re good at, or whether they’re simply producing whatever they like. It must also be said that ‘Crescendo’s album cover is perhaps one of the more poorer ones see  in recent times. The grey-scale photo of an acoustic guitar implies to some degree that ‘Crescendo’ is simply an acoustic album, featuring singer-songwriter orientated songs. It’s misleading to a point, and perhaps Novanta should opt for more suitable album covers that suit the direction of the album’s music.

Overall though, I find that Novanta’s music speaks for itself at most times, and that ‘Crescendo’ is a fairly strong album. Although some elements of the band’s direction and choices seem to weaken some of the impact of the album, it still remains an album of very strong material. It could be argued that some genres that the band use are stronger than others (I’d argue personally that the post-rock elements far outweigh the shoe-gazing elements). However, each element still seems to come together, presenting great amounts of talents and strength.

Album Rating:

  • ★★★★☆  4/5

Selected Songs:

  • My Love, A Fast Emotion
  • A Door
  • Abbi Cura Di Me
  • Pierpaolo Faggiano

Novanta’s latest album ‘Crescendo’ is out now, and can be purchased at: http://novanta.bandcamp.com/album/crescendo

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Live in KwaZulu – Guy Buttery

Using his own talents as a phenomenal guitar player, Guy Buttery presents a live album that delves deep into the art of instrumental music. Guy Buttery’s style features acoustic guitar playing that sails and soars around varying emotions and depths, offering an incredibly rich and vibrant experience. The live experience of the album seems to add to the music itself, truly showing off Buttery’s sheer amount of talent. It is a brilliant experience, and one that those who enjoy more quiet and relaxing instrumental music, will enjoy.

‘Live In KawZulu’ is very much a typical live-album, in that there’s the somewhat typical inclusion of cheering crowds and occasional chatter from the performer. Sometimes, there’s a bit of a sense with live albums, that it is only really worth hearing if you’re actually there, and thus the notion of the live-album becomes a bit pointless. However, Guy Buttery seems to completely indulge in the strengths that the live-album offers. The album shows off in phenomenal style, the talent he has as a guitarist. Each note builds up and up to the point where it becomes confusing how the tracks are even being played. The live setting implies that there’s no effects or fixes being added on in post-production, and that each song is sounding as it would in any true setting. The nature of the music itself is what helps it work well with the live-album, in that it is music that is truly easy to appreciate being played live. There’s some wonderful dynamics with the types of tracks as well, with some being very upbeat and almost manic to some point, whilst others are much more gentle and tug at emotions.

There’s so much to enjoy on ‘Live In KawZulu’, but the album struggles at times with Buttery’s incredibly energetic style. Each song truly demonstrates the enormous capabilities of Buttery, but a few seem to just drag on, and what first sounds impressive when heard, soon becomes a little bit boring and gimmicky when it is repeated over and over. It is undeniable, that it is impressive, what is being played, but it sometimes feels like there’s only so much on can take, and after a while, it would be nice to hear something different. To an extent, it mostly comes down to preference, and there’s many people who might find a lot to enjoy from these moments, due to their technical nature.

‘Live In KawZulu’ is a wonderful artistic and creative album. It echoes the style of guitarist Andy McKee in many ways, though only in terms of the nature of the music itself. The creativity and talent is all Guy Buttery’s, and it is a talent he can clearly be proud of. The wonderful emotive elements of the live album come through the instrumental music itself, making it a wonderful experience. What is interesting is how at some points, ‘Live In KwaZulu’ doesn’t seem like a live album, and instead sounds like a wonderful studio album. Luckily, there is the righteous cheering of the crowd to remind us of how much we can enjoy the live music.

Album Rating:

  • ★★★★☆  4/5

Selected Songs:

  • December Poems
  • Smithfield
  • Half A Decade
  • Fox Hill Lane

Guy Buttery’s latest live album ‘Live In KwaZulu’ is out now, and can be streamed, and purchased on digital or physical copy at: http://guybuttery.bandcamp.com/

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