Monthly Archives: April 2014

Hang On To Each Other EP – Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra

A mere few months after the release of the phenomenal ‘Fuck Off Get Free We Pour Light On Everything’, Canadian rockers Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra offer up a new EP ‘Hang On To Each Other’. The new EP takes an old recording from the 2005 album ‘Horses In The Sky’ and reworks it into something perhaps nobody would expect to hear from Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra. The new ‘Hang On To Each Other’ EP features two tracks at roughly ten minutes in length, and offers us a phenomenal electronic dance music experience that is a little bit bizarre and odd, yet somehow wonderfully enjoyable and accessible.

‘Hang On To Each Other’ is unlike any previous release from Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra. This time around we’re not being presented with the harsh crunching of guitars and stabs of violins, but instead we’re presented with electronic beats and percussion that wouldn’t sound out of place in any kind of night-club. It’s an interesting release from the band, who aren’t parodying the electronic dance genre for their own amusement, but instead are making their own tribute to the genre. For the most part it all work wonderfully, and comes across as some of Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra’s most accessible music to date. Perhaps though the structure of the two tracks on the EP are a little bit flawed in places, as at times in both tracks, there’s an element of everything dragging on a little bit, and not really heading into any interesting direction.

Even though both tracks are rather long (which we should expect from Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra), there is still a lot to be enjoyed from the new EP. We’re being presented with a new part to Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra’s style, who show that they can tackle a great range of genres now. Each track both works well within their genre as well, both sounding like music that people could easily get involved with and dance to in any kind of setting. ‘Hang On To Each Other’ might polarize a few fans of the band, but it will still remain as one of Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra’s most interesting releases in their current repertoire.

Album Rating:

  • ★★★★☆  4/5

Selected Songs:

  • Any Fucking Thing You Love
  • Birds Toss Precious Flowers

Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra’s latest EP ‘Hang On To Each Other’ is set for release on 29th April 2014.

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Everyday Robots – Damon Albarn

Musician and song-writer Damon Albarn offers up his first solo-album effort titled ‘Everyday Robots’. The new album features Albarn pushing out his own creative ideas, offering us an album experience that we might perhaps expect from the prolific musician, and yet also surprises us here and there. The overall album is one that features a phenomenal number of strengths, with the instrumentals in most of the songs being particularly note-worthy. ‘Everyday Robots’ features so many elements that make it a strong album, with Albarn bring right at the forefront of everything.

On ‘Everyday Robots’, Albarn seems to really push forward his own creative ideas, creating an album experience that is ultimately his own. There’s something intimate about ‘Everyday Robots’, making the album one that is incredibly appealing and enjoyable, as Albarn offers us something more than what was featured on the albums of Blur and Gorillaz. ‘Everyday Robots’ also features some brilliant collaborations, none of who use the opportunity to steal the limelight of the album itself, but instead use their talents to help progress the songs’ experience on the album itself. Tracks featuring Natasha Khan and Brian Eno are particular highlights on the album, whose collaborative efforts with Albarn bring so much to the music itself.

Whilst there is an incredible amount to be enjoyed on ‘Everyday Robots’, there is something that isn’t quite together there with the new album. As the album draws to a close, it leaves an impression that there might have been something missing on the album that would truly make it a recognizable and worthy album. Much of the album is made up of more down-tempo and melancholy tunes, and whilst it is all enjoyable to an extent, it feels a little bit that Albarn hasn’t actually done enough to make the melancholy album work well for himself. Many tracks on the album are brilliant and highly enjoyable, but the album itself seems to be missing a few key elements.

On ‘Everyday Robots’, Albarn has certainly painted us an interesting picture, even if it is a little bit hard to stand back and see the whole thing at times. Musically, ‘Everyday Robots’ is rich and offers us so much that can easily be enjoyed. Albarn has cemented his position as one of the best and most creative people working in the music industry today, with ‘Everyday Robots’ being another wonderful addition to the already phenomenal selection of works we’ve seen from Albarn. Perhaps ‘Everyday Robots’ hasn’t exactly presented us with everything we might want to know from Albarn, but at the end of the day it is certainly a strong album of brilliant music.

Album Rating:

  • ★★★★☆  4/5

Selected Songs:

  • Lonely Press Play
  • The Selfish Giant
  • You & Me
  • Heavy Seas Of Love

Damon Albarn’s debut solo album ‘Everyday Robots’ is out now.

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Performs The Cautionary Tales Of Mark Oliver Everett – Eels

Musician/Song-writer Mark Oliver Everett (or E as he likes to be known as) offers up the eleventh studio album under the moniker of Eels. The new album ‘Performs The Cautionary Tales Of Mark Oliver Everett’ follows on from last years release of ‘Wonderful, Glorious’ and offers a brand new selection of tracks that fall into E’s brilliant style that we’ve come to know and love. There’s a lot to be enjoyed on Eels’ new album, which offers us a somewhat bittersweet and melancholy perspective on live events, whilst also coming across as a little bit more hopeful for the future.

On his latest album, E delves deep into themes we’ve often come across in previous Eels albums. On ‘Performs The Cautionary Tales Of Mark Oliver Everett’ though, everything seems much more refined, much more thought out and much more planned than what has been present on previous albums. The new album comes across as one of Eels most intimate and most enjoyable records. Each track feels carefully crafted and written, and feature some incredibly enjoyable elements. The instrumentals in each track feels more expanded upon, whilst still sounding distinctively like Eels. At the centre of it all though is E’s brilliant lyrics, which tell us a brilliant array of tales, stories and ideas. Each track seems to contribute wonderfully to the overall album effort, making it one of Eels’ best records thus far.

Although ‘Performs The Cautionary Tales of Mark Oliver Everett’ comes across as a wonderfully strong album, full to the brim of brilliant tracks and brilliant ideas, it has to be said that the album itself does nothing to truly expand upon the sound being offered by Eels. As with all the previous albums by Eels, little elements have been branched out here and there, but the core of the music all sounds the same with each album. In some ways, it gives a little bit of charm to the music being offered by Eels, though on the other hand it’d be nice to really see Eels branch out, hold on to the heart of their music, but really branch it all out.

Whilst ‘Performs The Cautionary Tales of Mark Oliver Everett’ doesn’t branch out enough to suggest anything new from Eels, what the album does offer us is a really refined and crafted version of what Eels has offered us before. Everything is much fresher and more enjoyable on the new album, making it one of Eels strongest albums to have come out in years. There’s everything one could want from Eels on ‘Performs The Cautionary Tales of Mark Oliver Everett’, which features fun and quirky tracks and some more somber moments that we’ve come to know from Eels. All in all it’s a very strong album, and definitely one of Eels most enjoyable in their current discography.

Album Rating:

  • ★★★★☆  4/5

Selected Songs:

  • Parallels
  • Kindred Spirit
  • Mistakes Of My Youth
  • Where I’m Going

Eels’ latest album ‘Performs The Cautionary Tales of Mark Oliver Everett’ is out now. 

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Sacrifice & Isolation – Collapse Under The Empire

Hamburg based post-rock outfit Collapse Under The Empire offer up their second part in their double-album concept that first began with ‘Shoulders & Giants’ back in 2011. The new album ‘Sacrifice & Isolation’ follows on from the album, offering us an electric mix of post-rock tracks that are certain to please both fans of Collapse Under The Empire, and fans of the post-rock genre. The new album dives headfirst into the genre as they always do, conjuring up dark images through their music. ‘Sacrifice & Isolation’ comes across as an incredibly strong post-rock album that features so many of the elements that make up a great record within the genre.

‘Sacrifice & Isolation’ follows on in many ways from what ‘Shoulders & Giants’ first established for Collapse Under The Empire. It seems though that the new album has a few ideas of its own, and isn’t merely just a follow-up. As an album, ‘Sacrifice & Isolation’ stands on its own legs with brilliant strength, with each track featured on the album contributing wonderfully to the overall image being presented by Collapse Under The Empire. Dark and unsettling soundscapes push the album along, before giving way to phenomenal guitar lines that give power and energy to the music itself. There’s a wonderful balance on ‘Sacrifice & Isolation’, with each track adding much character to the overall album itself, making it a very strong post-rock album experience.

Collapse Under The Empire have certainly created a brilliant album experience with ‘Sacrifice & Isolation’, which both works as companion piece to ‘Shoulders & Giants’, and as its own separate album as well. It seems though that as the album progresses, it starts to offer less and less ingenuity than what some of the earlier material on the album suggests. Motifs and techniques start getting repeated and re-used, giving some of the tracks in the middle of the album, a rather stale quality. Collapse Under The Empire seem to have done their best in keeping everything fresh and enjoyable, but perhaps some of the bands’ efforts just haven’t worked as well as they’d have liked.

Although ‘Sacrifice & Isolation’ features a few flaws here and there, the end result of the album is one that is incredibly enjoyable. It’s a pure post-rock experience throughout, and one that is hard not to indulge in, especially if one is a fan of the genre. Collapse Under The Empire seem to have opted for a few different techniques here and there, rather than going for what the average post-rock band indulges in. The result is an album that is a little bit fresher than most albums of the same genre, and one that is a phenomenal experience as well.

Album Rating:

  • ★★★★☆  4/5

Selected Songs:

  • Sacrifice
  • Massif
  • Stars to the Redemption
  • The Path

Collapse Under The Empire’s new album ‘Sacrifice & Isolation’ is set for release on 23rd May 2014.

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High Wire & A Heart Of Gold – Halsted

Following on from the 2010 release of ‘Life Underwater’, rock-band Halsted offer up their brand new studio-album titled ‘High Wire & A Heart Of Gold’. The new album cements the obvious talents of the band, who just offer up a highly enjoyable range of tracks that are hard to dislike. There’s a lot to be enjoyed from with Halsted’s music, who manage to create a somewhat varied album experience that ranges from incredibly upbeat and positive tracks, to a few more down-tempo yet equally enjoyable tracks. Halsted have managed to push a lot of great strengths into their new recording, but it seems the album itself is let down on a few occasions that don’t live up to the rest of the album.

What makes ‘High Wire & A Heart Of Gold’ such an enjoyable album is in how Halsted just seem to give off an impression of truly enjoying themselves in their music. It’s delightful to hear a group of people really enjoying their work, and this makes Halsted’s latest album such an enjoyable record. Many of the tracks on the album contribute to this overall image of being happy and upbeat. It seems that many of the elements needed to produce a great record have been ticked off by Halsted, who have managed to push forward some great sounding music, combined with great lyrics and great presentation from the band themselves.

Whilst much of ‘High Wire & A Heart Of Gold’ works well as an album, it does seem that one or two moments on the album just don’t live up to the expectation that the album itself has made for itself. At times on ‘High Wire & A Heart Of Gold’, the songs themselves start to sound a little bit repetitive and not different enough from the preceding songs. At these points, the album starts to feel a little bit dull as it drags on with material that we’ve already heard before. Considering the strengths of the album itself when it does work, it’s a shame that not everything has been so finely polished as it should have been.

Although there’s a few stale moments on the album, Halsted have still managed to come through with a fine album effort that can’t fail to put a smile on your face. The album itself exudes positive feelings here and there, as well as throwing in a few somber moments into the mix, keeping the album itself from going too stale. A little bit more work here and there might perhaps make ‘High Wire & A Heart Of Gold’ a truly brilliant album, but for now, Halsted have done enough to make their latest album a strong album effort.

Album Rating:

  • ★★★★☆  4/5

Selected Songs:

  • Figure 8
  • Alibi
  • Don’t Cry Your Eyes Out
  • Autumn Rain

Halsted’s latest album ‘High Wire & A Heart Of Gold’ is out now.

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Dream Sequence – Snoqualmie Falls

Musicians Jeff Stonehouse and Alicia Merz both team-up again, returning to their moniker of Snoqualmie Falls with their new release ‘Dream Sequence’. The new album by the ambient duo is completely made up of one hour-long track titled ‘Dream Sequence’. The single track that makes up the whole album expresses some great new ideas from the duo, who expand upon their previous EP release of ‘Red Fire Dark EP’. For the most part of ‘Dream Sequence’, large droning elements dominate the tracks, pushing it through at a glacial speed, often coming into contact with a few experimental ideas here and there that really draws out a lot for the album experience.

‘Dream Sequence’ is in many ways an incredibly interesting album. The track isn’t made up of movements that many other bands do who produce long-form songs. The track is completely dominated by the most sparse and gentle of ambient drones, which pushes the track along very slowly. At times, we’re treated to a few little incidental moments that draw more into the song itself. Some moments include just a small passage of vocal styles, which adds an ethereal quality to the track itself, giving it so much more character than the droning aspects could provide. Fans of ambient music will find a lot to be enjoyed on this album, which conjures up a whole image based upon dream sequences for each listener, taking them on a journey through the imagination.

There’s a lot to enjoy on ‘Dream Sequence’, but despite the strengths the new recording has, there is still a small issue with the fact that the album itself is comprised of one track that is just shy of being an hour long in length. Whilst there is nothing inherently wrong with long recordings, it does mean that the album itself can be viewed as a bit of a challenge to listen to, as there are no breaks or pauses to ease the song up a little bit. That being said though, ‘Dream Sequence’ does also work well as one long-form track as it allows the listener to just sit back and let the recording take over in its own way.

Snoqualmie Falls seem to have taken a huge step forward with their latest recording, which expands upon the projects previous recordings in a very significant way. There’s a lot to be enjoyed here, which presents a very gentle and enjoyable ambient experience that is perhaps similar to some of Eluvium’s more lengthier recordings. ‘Dream Sequence’ is perhaps everything one would want in an ambient album, as it certainly manages to tick many of the boxes one might think of. Considering the brilliance of ‘Dream Sequence’ as an ambient album experience as well, it will certainly be interesting to see where the duo will take their project to in the future.

Album Rating:

  • ★★★★☆  4/5

Selected Songs:

  • Dream Sequence

Snoqualmie Falls’ latest album ‘Dream Sequence’ is set for release on 1st June 2014.

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Endings EP – Life Savings

Three-piece outfit Life Savings present their debut effort titled ‘Endings’. The new EP comprised of four track showcases the bands heavy style of alternative rock, utilizing elements of grunge and hard-rock at times just for some good measure. The new EP from the band serves as an interesting introduction into what it is that Life Savings is trying to do when it comes to their own branch of music. Some elements come across rather well, with the EP at the very least showcasing some interesting elements that suggests good things to come from Life Savings, although sadly it seems that the whole effort has managed to somehow miss the mark completely.

Life Savings certainly have some interesting merits to their music, which seems to sound something like Nirvana meets Slint. ‘Endings’ features some very lo-fi elements of music that is presented in a very aggressive style, giving the band a fairly interesting element that express their music fairly well. In many ways the style that Life Savings have gone for has worked well enough, but as enjoyable as some elements of the music is on the EP, it seems there’s just not enough to truly make it an EP worthy of any recognition. All the songs features on the EP are just indiscernible tracks of noisy lo-fi music that has very little that sucks the listener in. As much as Life Savings might be trying to do their own thing, they simply haven’t done enough to separate their music from everybody else. Much of the EP comes across as styles we’ve all heard before, giving the EP itself a sort of dry lackluster presentation.

Life Savings seem to have some good points to their music, although equally there’s a lot of negative traits that prevent the EP itself from being anything more than average. It seems that Life Savings haven’t really pushed enough of their own heart and soul into their music to really elevate its position, and instead seem to have produced a rather basic re-hashing of those who have preceded them. This of course isn’t to say that there isn’t some merit to Life Savings as a band. Some elements on the EP do suggest some good ideas and techniques. All Life Savings need to do is to really tap into this to really push their music forward.

Album Rating:

  • ★★★☆☆  3/5

Selected Songs:

  • Soft Clippers
  • Adoptees

Life Savings’ debut EP ‘Endings’ is out now. 

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Into The Failing Light – Lost Harbours

Musicians Richard Thompson and Emma Reed, both working under the title of Lost Harbours, offer their brand new album ‘Into The Failing Light’. The new album features a beautiful array of musical styles and techniques, offering us a post-rock musical experience with elements of folk music and ambient music thrown into the mix. The result is an album that offers a brilliant amount when it comes to the music it features, showcasing Lost Harbours own style of music in a very positive light. There is a tremendous amount to be enjoyed on this album, which will certainly appeal to many fans of post-rock music, and perhaps certainly more to those looking for a little bit more than a traditional selection of music from this genre.

What seems to make ‘Into The Failing Light’ such a strong album is the work and the presentation of everything that has gone into the album itself. Each track contributes to a very melancholic story, which utilizes droning techniques from varying instruments. The album features a nice contrast of different idea as well, which fleshes out the whole album, giving it a lot of flair and a lot of character. At times, we as listeners are presented with gentle acoustic riffs, accompanied by some droning aspect that keeps the music moving along, whilst at other times we’re presented with incredible feedback that charges through everything in its path. For the most part it does all seem to work incredibly well, with each song contributing nicely towards the overall album effort, giving it a very strong presence as it runs from song to song.

There’s some wonderful strengths to ‘Into The Failing Light’, which is in some ways a more interesting post-rock musical experience than the average album produced by the average band. Lost Harbours seem to be really pushing themselves to present something really creative, and something that is really enjoyable. The album itself though does seem to feature one or two weaknesses, mostly within the first track which seems to act as a rather confusing starter to the album itself. The album’s opener seems to move along at such a glacial speed that it doesn’t do enough to get us involved in the album from the moment go, giving the whole album itself a very rocky start.

There’s a few elements on ‘Into The Failing Light’ that need a little bit more work, but it seems the overall album has managed to do enough to present itself as a strong album experience. There’s some wonderful creative and experimental ideas at play on the album that make it an incredibly interesting and involved album experience. At times, the album itself might feel like a little bit of a challenging listen, but eventually it all seems to give way to some truly enjoyable tracks that are very accessible and which also showcase Lost Harbours’ brilliant style of music.

Album Rating:

  • ★★★★☆  4/5

Selected Songs:

  • …And They Fade Away
  • Whispers In The Night
  • Evening Vessel/Into The Gloom
  • Portal

Lost Harbours’ latest album ‘Into The Failing Light’ is out now and can be purchased at: http://lostharbours.bandcamp.com/album/into-the-failing-light 

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More Than Any Other Day – Ought

First posted on Echoesanddust.com

The latest addition to the Constellation Records roster features the youthful post-punk outfit Ought. The band’s debut album effort ‘More Than Any Other Day’ expands upon the bands’ previous self-released EP, offering an electric and unique blend of alternative rock and punk styles. Sucking us in with phenomenal hooks, Ought command their music with such confidence that is much more mature than the band’s original EP effort, and instantly more satisfying, enjoyable and accessible.

Ought’s debut album ‘More Than Any Other Day’ is highly fitting for a Constellation Records release. Stylistically it departs somewhat more than what the record label usually produces, which the only similar band perhaps being Clues, whose 2009 self-titled release offered a similar electric post-punk style. Ought ultimately make musical style found on ‘More Than Any Other Day’ sound their own, pushing their own stylistic ideas and formats to create an album effort that is truly enjoyable. Ought command their music with phenomenal presence, utilizing a number of more experimental techniques not normally seen within the genre to give the music wonderful flair and character that could perhaps be described as Talking Heads performing the music of Arctic Monkeys.

‘More Than Any Other Day’ opens up in phenomenal style, going from strength to strength in each song, that is until the album reaches its second half. After a wonderfully strong opening half, the album seems to wane in comparison, delivering a little less on a few of the songs and at times sounding a little bit lacklustre. The tracks are perhaps enjoyable in their own right, featuring some of the similar hooks and techniques that make the album itself so interesting. ‘More Than Any Other Day’ certainly does deliver a strong and sometimes powerful album experience though it seems all the magic and all the wonder the band presents is mostly contained within the album’s first half.

Ought might be young and a little inexperienced, but it seems their raw natural talent provides for an amazing album experience that certainly delivers when it needs to. Ought’s style seems fitting for Constellation Records, featuring a perfect blend of varying experimental styles that the record label has become so famous for. Ought certainly aren’t afraid to do things differently from time to time, injecting wonderful motifs and elements that branch their music off from normal conventional senses. ‘More Than Any Other Day’ is unrelenting in how it presents itself, which makes for an incredibly satisfying release.

Album Rating:

  • ★★★★☆  4/5

Selected Songs:

  • Today, More Than Any Other Day
  • Habit
  • Forgiveness
  • Gemini

Ought’s debut album ‘More Than Any Other Day’ is set for release on 29th April 2014.

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To Be Kind – Swans

Swans return to the music scene with their epic thirteenth studio-album effort titled ‘To Be Kind’. The new album features 10 new tracks from the band, evenly sprawled out across two discs.  The new album from the post-punk band offers a fantastic medley of drawn out compositions that keep on delivering with every note. There’s a brilliant quality featured on ‘To Be Kind’ which just draws the listener in, enveloping them in a worrying world full of unsettling ideas. ‘To Be Kind’ is in many ways a challenging record, even for fans of Swans’ music, though it is one that is very rewarding in its own right.

‘To Be Kind’ is one hell of a musical journey, offering us a very challenging experience. The album itself seems to be another step up from Swans’ previous album releases, continuing their vein of incredibly drawn out and complex musical ideas, but all together a little bit more experimental on the new album. Tracks on the album range from a modest five minutes to an incredible 34 minutes at most. There’s a lot going on, and it’s a little bit difficult, and yet there is a brilliant accessible strain running through the album. There’s so much that is present on ‘To Be Kind’, making it a phenomenal album experience that fans of Swans can easily get involved with and enjoy.

The album itself is a very challenging music experience in many ways. The inclusion of very long songs isn’t unusual for Swans, but it still contributes to making the album somewhat of a difficult listen. Although Swans do their best to present what is in many ways an interesting album experience, there is still at times a somewhat sluggish quality to some of the tracks. Long sections seem to drag on and on, which is a difficult experience to really get involved with. In some odd way, the album’s longest tracks are some of the most appealing parts of the album experience, but it is something that isn’t for everyone.

Despite being a challenging experience, there are still a great number of enjoyable elements on ‘To Be Kind’. The new album offers us even more of Swans’ amazing creative ideas, which are presented in one cohesive package that can appeal to more people than just the bands’ already existing fans. Swans have crafted themselves another phenomenal album experience that easily fits in with their already brilliant repertoire. Perhaps there’s an alienating quality to what is presented on ‘To Be Kind’, but in many ways this is what we can expect from a band who are full to the brim of creativity.

Album Rating:

  • ★★★★☆  4/5

Selected Songs:

  • Just A Little Boy (For Chester Burnett)
  • Bring the Sun / Toussaint L’Ouverture
  • Kirsten Supine
  • Oxygen

Swan’s thirteenth studio album ‘To Be Kind’ is set for release on 12th May 2014.

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