Monthly Archives: November 2014

Kirtland – Glacier

Post-rock band Glacier offer up two new releases, ‘Kirtland’, and an accompanying release ‘Black Beacon’. Across the two releases, Glacier showcase a phenomenal post-rock style, demonstrating great creative ideas in an interesting and diverse way. The first of the two albums ‘Kirtland’ showcases a rather heavy and aggressive style across two rather long yet satisfying tracks. Glacier’s style comes across as rather raw and rough at times, though the standard seems to be on the same level as many notable bands within the genre. ‘Kirtland’ is perhaps a little rough around the edges, though it pushes forward a great aggressive style in a remarkably confident fashion.

Glacier’s own slant on the post-rock style offers up some incredible creative ideas, fashioned together using the genre’s format, and presented with great confidence. Glacier offer up two rather lengthy compositions, both of which allow the band to really explore the genre and draw out some great ideas. There’s a great range of dynamics within the songs, ranging from slower moments that build up a base for the song, before reaching out into loud noisy crashes of post-rock aesthetics. It’s indulgent to avid listeners of the genre, who might go on to find Glacier’s slant on the genre to be one that offers incredible range and scope.

Glacier’s ‘Kirtland’ certainly offers an enjoyable post-rock experience, and whilst Glacier inject incredible amounts of confidence and creativity to most of their songs, other parts of the tracks seem don’t seem to come through so strongly. Certain sections of the track seem to present Glacier following on typical post-rock formats, without adding much more to the method except for their own enthusiasm (which does work on some level). Considering the great strengths Glacier have as a post-rock band, strengths which come through in many sections, it seems a shame that the band fall into the same trap many other post-rock bands do, which sadly results in a few sections on ‘Kirtland’ that is typical post-rock and nothing more.

Certain elements of ‘Kirtland’ present a rather safe bet from Glacier as a post-rock band, and whilst this is true to an extent, there’s also many other elements of the album that express great strength and great talent. What ‘Kirtland’ has that other post-rock albums might not is an incredible raw passion that is rare to find, as well as an incredible enthusiasm to create and present something great. ‘Kirtland’ is typical, but it is also passionate, and an incredible album effort in its own right. Perhaps Glacier could benefit from really drawing out their own ideas and concepts from the post-rock genre in the future, but for now they’re clearly on a good path.

Album Rating:

  • ★★★★☆  4/5

Selected Songs:

  • You’ll Love It Here Forever
  • Kirtland

Glacier’s latest albums ‘Kirtland’ & ‘Black Beacon’ are out now.

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Black Beacon – Glacier

Post-rock band Glacier offer up two new releases for the new year, the first being their main studio album ‘Kirtland’, and the second being an additional release ‘Black Beacon’. The new albums see Glacier really exploring the post-rock genre, drawing influence from a number of different bands, many of which explore very different sides to the genre. ‘Black Beacon’ offers up a rather grand post-rock experience, taking very strong influence from Godspeed You! Black Emperor. It’s easy to see why Glacier have opted to release ‘Black Beacon’ separately from ‘Kirtland’, though elements of the track do make it a weaker release by comparison.

On ‘Black Beacon’, Glacier seem to tread different ground than what is presented on ‘Kirtland’. ‘Black Beacon’ offers up a dark unsettling experience, showcasing great natural talent from the band. There’s a raw style being presented by the band, though this seems to work better for the band, expressing great passion for their own music. There’s natural raw talent from Glacier, which is expressed effortlessly on ‘Black Beacon’. There’s a lot to enjoy on ‘Black Beacon’, which certainly demonstrates its own right as a separate recording rather effortlessly, though elements of the track do raise some questions.

There’s many strengths to Glacier’s music, which is easy to see with each and every release the band pushes out. Whilst ‘Black Beacon’ does offer something interesting and enjoyable, it seems that the recording is perhaps a little too similar to Godspeed You! Black Emperor’s ‘East Hasting’ at times, particularly with the bass guitars. Certain sections and motifs in the track seem uncannily similar to the track, making the creative strengths of Glacier a little lost at times. Where Glacier’s own elements come through on the track, we see why the band have opted to showcase the recording, though there’s clear evidence why it was omitted from ‘Kirtland’.

‘Black Beacon’ comes across as heavily flawed in places, though elements of the track come across as highly enjoyable in their own right, pushing forward the creative talents of the hard-working band. ‘Black Beacon’ works well through its raw and edgier sound, whilst still sounding highly professional. The recording benefits from its own touches, though is let down by elements that lack originality. Even so, Glacier seem to be on the right path when it comes to their own branch of post-rock music, with both ‘Kirtland’ and ‘Black Beacon’ both demonstrating their strengths nicely.

Album Rating:

  • ★★★☆☆ 3/5

Selected Songs:

  • Black Beacon

Glacier’s latest albums ‘Black Beacon’ & ‘Kirtland’ are out now.

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Let’s Take The World – Kevin Ahart

Jazz singer Kevin Ahart sets up for the release of his debut solo album ‘Let’s Take The World’. Inspired by his own idols Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennet and Nat King Cole, Ahart takes the opportunity to really showcase himself, letting his own voice guide the way through a selection of covers of classic tracks, and a few additions of his own. ‘Let’s Take The World’ offers up a rather typical solo-jazz performer type of album, letting nice sounding vocals croon their way into people’s hearts, though Ahart’s material does raise a question of what exactly is new or interesting here?

‘Let’s Take The World’ is a quintessential album experience within its genre. We’re presented with Ahart at the foreground, everything else simply being a vehicle to move the vocals forward. It’s evident that Ahart is incredibly proficient at his craft. We’re presented with an incredibly natural and effortless voice that confidently pushes its way through each and every song. The album itself balances between cover tracks, both of classic jazz tracks and some more unusual selections, as well as compositions by Ahart and his team, all of which push forward the natural vocal talent.

Ahart has certainly pushed forward some interesting creative ideas, and whilst many of the elements on ‘Let’s Take The World’ sound naturally great, there doesn’t seem to be much ingenuity in the tracks. Most of the tracks just seem to just show off Ahart’s voice, without adding in anything that makes it sound unique. The album also demonstrates incredibly poor choices in song selections and arrangements, including a very questionable version of ‘Ain’t No Sunshine’, which seems to suck all the life out of the original with a newer and poorer arrangement.

Ahart has a lot of natural talent, but it seems very little of it has translated well on his debut album effort. All the technical aspects of the album are not just good, but incredible at times, but without something unique and special from Ahart himself, all we’re left with is another pale imitation of classic-sounding jazz albums. One can’t help but wonder why bother with Kevin Ahart if there’s other albums that not just sound exactly like this, but also better? Each and every technical element is here, but until Ahart can draw out himself into his performances, there’s not really much point in bothering at all.

 Album Rating:

  • ★★☆☆☆ 2/5

Selected Songs:

  • Oh So Good
  • Nightlife
  • A Heart That Will

Kevin Ahart’s debut album ‘Let’s Take The World’ is out now.

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Tides – Second Hand Heart

Melbourne’s alternative-rock band Second Hand Heart present their debut album ‘Tides’, showcasing an interesting slant on the alternative-rock genre. The debut album effort presents some very nice ideas and concepts, all enveloped in a rather dark and moody sound. Everything seems to contribute towards a very cohesive album experience, where each track contributes towards the album, whilst presenting the many talents and creative ideas from Second Hand Heart. It’s a rather impressive album experience, one that suggests very interesting things to come from this band.

‘Tides’ seem to be a more subtle album affair than most, taking great strides in its efforts to hold back, rather than over-do everything. Beautiful harmonious vocals present an eerie and dark yet somehow oddly comforting concept that runs throughout the album. The tracks being presented by the band come across as well constructed, with little elements coming in here and there to help push the music forward, adding to the picture being conjured up by the band. It’s an interesting slant on the varying genres being presented by the band, and one that results in a rather strong album effort.

Though there’s many strengths to ‘Tides’ as a debut album, we as listeners are being presented with a very unsettling album experience for the most part, and therefore one that is almost inaccessible to a point. Second Hand Heart do present a very strong sound, and with great confidence that works incredibly well for them, but those looking for a comforting sound will not find it here. ‘Tides’ comes across as a strong album experience, though it is one that perhaps shouldn’t be taken so lightly.

Second Hand Heart push out many strengths on their debut album effort, offering up some great ideas and concepts, both in the nature of the songs, and in how they are being presented by the band. Despite its dark and unsettling nature, ‘Tides’ is a very enjoyable album experience, offering up nicely composed tracks that really push forward all the natural talents of the band unit. It’s easy to see the strengths of the band, and hopefully this’ll be a band who’ll continue to push out strong music each and every time.

Album Rating:

  • ★★★★☆  4/5

Selected Songs:

  • Spending My Time
  • Don’t Look Away
  • Trouble
  • Lions

Second Hand Heart’s debut album ‘Tides’ is out now.

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Nonversations – Summon The Octopi

Musician Mark Vogler, working under the moniker of Summon The Octopi, presents his latest musical effort ‘Nonversations’. Offering up an odd and varied selection of tracks, Vogler showcases an interesting style that draws out different ideas from the post-rock genre, presenting it in a refreshing and enjoyable way. There’s typical formats and aesthetics here and there, though there’s an interesting element running throughout the entire album, keeping it enjoyable as it progresses from track to track, offering surprise after surprise. There’s a fair amount on offer here, which is definitely not a quintessential post-rock experience.

The post-rock genre seems to anchor the entire album together, though a complete listen to the EP doesn’t offer the same results as one would expect from an album of this genre. Vogler pushes forward the post-rock aesthetics on his latest recording, resulting in an enjoyable album experience, though there’s a few twists and turns here and there to keep things alive. It’s not typical, giving it its own feeling of vibrancy. For the most part, the EP effort is very enjoyable, showcasing some great strengths of Vogler as a musician and composer. At times, things seem to get a little hectic here and there, and whilst it doesn’t seem to ruin the overall experience of ‘Nonversations’, it does present an odd feeling that doesn’t tie in with the rest of the album. Perhaps this is Vogler’s intention, to keep the listener on their toes, but it doesn’t seem to have much meaning in some respects.

‘Nonversations’ is certainly odd and a little crazy here and there, though it offers a very enjoyable selection of post-rock styling, presenting in a refreshing enjoyable way. It seems Vogler hasn’t allowed himself to be restricted by the genre, and instead just pushes forward whatever he feels like presenting (including some non-post-rock tracks it should be mentioned!). It’s bizarre in places, and rather unpredictable, but there’s still a weird accessible element running throughout the album, keeping the listener’s attention rather comfortably. ‘Nonversations’ comes across as a very enjoyable EP effort, one showcasing Vogler’s talents in very strong ways.

Album Rating:

  • ★★★★☆  4/5

Selected Songs:

  • Slobodan The Sloth
  • Apricots Apricate (Alligators Alligate)
  • Rehabosaurus Rex
  • Lulling Wave, Sullen Gaze (All Is Space)

Summon The Octopi’s latest release ‘Nonversations’ is out now.

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Loud To Sleep – Jet Plane

Russian Post-Rock band Jet Plane pave the way for their latest album effort ‘Loud To Sleep’. The new album sees the Russian post-rockers taking the typical aesthetics and formats of the post-rock genre, and dressing it all up nicely in a very natural sounding way that suggests great strengths of the band. Jet Plane’s own slant on the genre offers up an oddly comfortably sounding mixture of heavy aggressive post-rock styles with more gentler approaches. Much of the album benefits from the addition of arguably unusual instruments, who don’t dominate the tracks with their unusual sounds, but instead elevate the tracks to greater status.

‘Loud To Sleep’ showcases many strengths of Jet Plane, who seem to have an incredible amount to offer the genre. There seems to be much more at play here rather than typical elements that often make up the genre. Electric guitars, bass and drums make up the crux of the tracks, as one would expect within the genre, but even underneath these rather typical layers is something much more at play. There’s an almost experimental slant on the genre, which manages to incorporate Bagpipes into a number of the tracks, in an incredible natural and comfortable way. There’s a nice craft in each of the tracks, which diversify themselves with different instruments, and different levels of intensity.

As far as Post-Rock albums go, Jet Plane’s ‘Loud To Sleep’ seems to be one of the more enjoyable efforts of this year, which manages to explore different creative ideas without a loss to the music itself. Towards the end of the album, it’s arguable that things start to get a little sluggish, where the creative elements feel a little less focused. Each and every track seems to offer something great towards the overall album experience, but to the end it seems a little less is being offered, suggesting the closing tracks are perhaps not as strong as their earlier counterparts.

With all the efforts Jet Plane have gone through to make not just a strong post-rock album, but an interesting one at that, it seems that the band have resulted in their most enjoyable album thus far. There’s a great range of ideas and notions being demonstrated by the band, many of which come through perfectly, whilst others come out slowly through repeated listening. With the post-rock genre starting to become a little stale in recent years, it’s certainly enjoyable to see bands exploring not just their own capabilities, but the genre’s capabilities as well, and drawing out some new ideas here and there. There’s a lot to enjoy from Jet Plane, who certainly have a strong understanding of what they’re doing, and how they can do it.

Album Rating:

  • ★★★★☆  4/5

Selected Songs:

  • Laurel Trees/21 Guns
  • Loud To Sleep
  • Snow Rock
  • Sundog

Jet Plane’s latest album ‘Loud To Sleep’ is out now.

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Lino Cosmos – Lifecycle

East-London electronic act Lifecycle offer up their debut album effort ‘Lino Comsos’, featuring an interesting blend of conventional electronic music, combined with (arguably) alternative rock formats that result in an interesting album experience. On ‘Lino Comsos’, Lifecycle seem to go for everything, showcasing each and every idea they have, all presented in a rather comfortable fashion that melds the songs together. For the most part, ‘Lino Cosmos’ demonstrates some nice ideas here and there, though there’s something severely lacking on the debut album effort, resulting in an experience that seems to bore rather than entertain.

‘Lino Cosmos’ offers up an interesting blend of electronic music, with alternative rock aesthetics. It’s a somewhat odd angle Lifecycle have opted for, but one that keeps their music rather fresh and interesting. Electronic beats dominate the tracks, pushing everything forward whilst the vocals go for the alternative-rock approach instead. For the most part it seems to work well for Lifecycle, giving their music a little bit of an edge in terms of most else in similar genres, and showcasing some nice creativity that at least is attempting to push the boat out a little.

Whilst there’s some admirable elements to ‘Lino Cosmos’, it does seem that much of Lifecycle’s debut album effort is a rather poorly composed concept with little happening to retain interest. The electronic elements of the album, combined with different styled vocals does work on some level, but it doesn’t seem to be enough to make things interesting. Each and every song follows an incredibly similar format and style, as well as all dragging on a little too long. The ideas are certainly here, but the execution seems to have been entirely misfired, making ‘Lino Cosmos’ a very dull album experience.

Lifecycle’s blended style of electronic and rock is nice on some levels, but it seems the bands’ debut album effort is one that just doesn’t work all that well. There’s almost a rushed quality to each track, with there being little attempt to take away the strong working elements, and refine them into something great. It’s a shame considering that when the album does demonstrate some strengths, they’re strengths that are incredibly interesting and worthwhile, being ones that we’d perhaps want to see more of. Sadly, this isn’t what the overall album experience results in, which is instead a sluggish and dull album.

Album Rating:

  • ★★☆☆☆ 2/5

Selected Songs:

  • Patterns
  • Greed

Lifecycle’s debut album ‘Lino Cosmos’ is out now.

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Proposte Monochrome – Kissy Suzuki

The latest album for Soft Recordings offers up the latest album from the label’s founder David Teboul (working under the moniker of Kissy Suzuki). The new album ‘Proposte Monochrome’ follows on comfortably from the previous releases on the label, offering up a seemingly challenging yet enjoyable ambient album experience. ‘Proposte Monochrome’ is a rather typical ambient album in some respects, offering long droning passages that continue for incredible lengths of time. Much of the album is dominated by somewhat bleak and stark sounding instrumentals, though there’s something brimming under the surface of the music.

The work under the moniker of Kissy Suzuki seems to explore different ideas and notions that other work we might have heard from Teboul. For one, ‘Proposte Monochrome’ feels much more minimalist in its approach, though there’s evidence of careful dedication to the crafting of the music itself. ‘Proposte Monochrome’ is rather lengthy in duration, though it offers its listeners a relaxing escape from the busy stresses of the modern world, letting listeners get completely lost in ambient notions without requiring their full attention or ever demanding it. It’s effects are subtle for the most part, but its results are one that come through brilliantly after listening.

‘Proposte Monochrome’ is in many ways a rather typical ambient album experience, offering up synthetic drones design to relax rather than amuse. The album achieves what it sets out to do, but there’s a notion of why is ‘Proposte Monochrome’ an album worth listening to, when there are many other more enjoyable ambient albums that achieve the exact same? With an opening track of 40 minutes in length, ‘Proposte Monochrome’ comes across as a little too challenging, and thus seems off putting for most people. Whilst there’s also an enjoyable ambient notion running throughout the album, it seems that once the album has finished, nothing seems to stand out and make a mark, making the album itself feel a little odd in some respects.

Teboul’s latest album certainly continues and pushes out his love of ambient composition even further than some of the previous efforts we’ve seen, and whilst the album achieves its goal of creating a relaxing and calming environment, certain elements of the album feel a little redundant. ‘Proposte Monochrome’ seems to push out more elements and ideas from Teboul’s part, showcasing even more capabilities, though it doesn’t seem to do all that much for the genre it inhabits, instead just falling neatly into everything else without truly standing out all that much. ‘Proposte Monochrome’ is certainly enjoyable on some levels, though it’s place within the genre is somewhat questionable.

Album Rating:

  • ★★★☆☆ 3/5

Selected Songs:

  • Proposte Monochrome

Kissy Suzuki’s latest album ‘Proposte Monochrome’ is out now on the Soft Recordings label.

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Belong – Susan McKeown

Irish singer/song-writer Susan McKeown offers up her latest solo-album endeavor titled ‘Belong’. The latest album effort sees McKeown offering up an album of original songs, showcasing some lovely song-writing talents. Much of ‘Belong’ is pushed along by McKeown’s presence, backed up incredibly comfortably by her selection of backing-musicians and the odd guest or two. Everything results in an enjoyable album experience where nothing is rudely thrust upon the listener, but instead presented calmly and comfortably, inviting the listener into the album experience without agenda. At times, there’s some elements to ‘Belong’ that could be deemed as unoriginal or dull, though McKeown’s natural charisma and personality helps keep things moving at a lovely pace.

‘Belong’ seems to weave between conventional adult contemporary settings, combined with elements of folk and folk-rock, resulting in an interesting experience with levels of diversity between the tracks. There’s common themes and motifs running throughout the tracks, mostly through the instrumentals, as well as how they’re being presented on the album itself. For the most part it’s all rather enjoyable, mixing up between up-beat and catchy tracks, with some more down-beat yet equally enjoyable gentler moments. McKeown’s lovely vocal talents help push the tracks along, lamenting about experiences or little notions and ideas, sometimes backed up by lovely complimenting vocals from a few guest friends of hers.

Whilst there’s many appealing and enjoyable elements to ‘Belong’, certain parts of the album seem to come across as rather typical of the genre being represented, and not really showing us anything new or incredibly interesting. Though there’s rather a lot of strengths to ‘Belong’, it seems that the album is for the most part simply playing things a little safe, and not really exploring ideas to their fullest extent. The album experience works well for the most part, but certain tracks seem a little too held back, and whilst they benefit from not being over-produced and muddied up with unnecessary elements, it does feel like a little something could be added, just to give it a bit more of a boost.

Susan McKeown’s latest album effort is one that is easily enjoyable and immensely accessible. McKeown demonstrates a comfortable and approachable natural talent of song-writing, one that comes through without pretension. Most parts of ‘Belong’ just feel natural and comfortable, with the music hitting the right notes to create a nice and easy-going album experience. It’s a rather strong and enjoyable effort from McKeown, highlighting a number of strengths in her song-writing talents, a talent that should perhaps be explored more in future releases.

Album Rating:

  • ★★★★☆  4/5

Selected Songs:

  • On The Bridge To Williamsburg
  • The Cure
  • Lullaby of Manhattan
  • Delph

Susan McKeown’s latest album ‘Belong’ is out now.

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The Endless River – Pink Floyd

Progressive-rock band Pink Floyd offer up the incredibly surprising album release of ‘The Endless River’, described by David Gilmour as a ‘Swan Song’ for Richard Wright. The new album offers up some new compositions and ideas cobbled together from the recording sessions of the bands’ 1994 release of ‘The Division Bell’. ‘The Endless River’ offers up an album experience unlike any other we’ve heard from by Pink Floyd, offering instead a wholly instrumental album experience (bar the album’s closing track). For the most part it’s an incredibly interesting listening experience, though one that few people will regard as the best Pink Floyd album.

Whilst elements of ‘The Endless River’ are somewhat challenging in some respects, there’s much to be enjoyed here. Much of the album is centred around the old recordings of Richard Wright, with Gilmour and Mason adding to their departed band member’s creative ideas with some notions of their own. ‘The Endless River’ seems to be one of the few albums to really showcase Wright’s talents, offering something truly wonderful for Pink Floyd fans who even care. There’s a wonderful flow to the album, with each track moving seamlessly into each other to create wonderful instrumental passages.

‘The Endless River’ is an interesting offer to Pink Floyd fans, the release being somewhat of a surprise considering there didn’t seem to be much need or desire for a new Pink Floyd album. The album experience offers up some wonderful moments, though the music being showcased on the album is hardly the strongest or best we’ve heard from Pink Floyd. It has to be said that the absence of Waters has affected the album’s output, as most of the sound seems to have the David Gilmour touch, sadly making some of the songs sound the same. A fair few tracks on the album seem to be little experimental ideas rather than fully fleshed out tracks, and thus their inclusion on the album is somewhat questionable.

The absence of Waters on what is highly likely the final Pink Floyd album is somewhat of a disappointment, though we shouldn’t forget that albums driven forward by Waters are equally poor as albums driven forward by Gilmour. Pink Floyd at their best featured each and every member of the band contributing towards one goal. ‘The Endless River’ misses this concept that makes Pink Floyd so great, though it does at least offer up a final memento to one of the bands’ most under-rated members. It’s not the absolute best material from one of the greatest progressive rock bands, though many fans of the band can at least be happy with the fact there is now another addition to their incredibly extensive discography.

Album Rating:

  • ★★★☆☆  3/5

Selected Songs:

  • It’s What We Do
  • Anisina
  • Autumn ’68
  • Calling

Pink Floyd’s latest album ‘The Endless River’ is out now.

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