Posts Tagged With: 2015

Resonance – Slowrun

First posted on echoesanddust.com.

Finnish post-rockers Slowrun finally showcase the follow-up album to their 2013 effort of ‘Prologue’ with their latest slab of instrumental rock ‘Resonance’. Once again, Slowrun delve deep into their generally pleasing and enjoyable aesthetics of post-rock music, offering a familiar and approachable sound that rises to the surface, showcasing its strengths in a subtle manner. The new album sees the band improving upon the promising sound of their debut effort, utilizing their talents and skills and honing in on everything, in the creation of a strong and enjoyable post-rock experience. At times, ‘Resonance’ may falter in some of the same ways that ‘Prologue’ did, though much of the work feels like a generous improvement.

On ‘Resonance’, Slowrun dive deep into their understanding of the post-rock genre, relying hard on some of its formalities, but utilizing them brilliantly in ways we may have forgot. It is perhaps arguable that at times, Slowrun method of post-rock relies a lot on its existing concepts, but its in the natural talent the band possess, in their ability to interpret and showcase the genre, that makes ‘Resonance’ such a strong and enjoyable album experience.  Certain tracks do oddly resonate brilliantly with the listener, with the band balancing some gentle and sparse moments of beauty with more sudden yet still subtle walls of noise.

Like certain parts of ‘Prologue’, there are a few of the same little problems on ‘Resonance’, though perhaps less frequent on the whole album itself. Certain sections may come across as feeling a little bit like Slowrun simply presenting what everyone would come to expect from a band working within the genre. This may be felt by the more cynical fans of the genre, but those who simply enjoy things for what they are will find a lot to enjoy on ‘Resonance’, which feels like a band really trying their all to create something they can be proud of, which they should most definitely be in this case.

Overall, ‘Resonance’ feels like a very strong effort from a band who seem to be taking great strides in their understanding of what they’re achieving. Slowrun have certainly advanced comfortably from their first effort, hardly overshadowing ‘Prologue’ to the point of irrelevancy, but simply building up upon the groundwork they originally set down. ‘Resonance’ feels like a step in the right direction, like a band starting to really work out their identity and using their strengths and talents to achieve that goal. There’s definitely something work keeping an eye on here, and something we hope will continue to grow over the years.

Album Rating:

  • ★★★★☆ 4/5

Selected Songs:

  • Blinding Light
  • Introspection
  • First Hour
  • The Way

Slowrun’s second album ‘Resonance’ is out now and is available here. 

Advertisements
Categories: Albums, Reviews | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

rootless – rootless

First posted on echoesanddust.com.

The moniker rootless, the platform for which Brooklyn-based Jeremy Hurewitz released his solo music endeavours, offers his latest effort ‘Rootless’. This un-capitalized self-titled release comprises three new tracks, and three remixes of those tracks, each encompassing Hurewitz’s style of ambient post-rock drone set to spoken word dialogues that help to set the tone of the entire work’s body. Hurewitz certainly presents some nice ideas on this latest effort, which sees some good concepts coming together harmoniously, though we are let down by a second half to the album which essentially starts the whole cycle again, albeit a more dull cycle.

The strengths of ‘Rootless’ come from Hurewitz independent style of music composition, which has resulted in a creative and mostly enjoyable form of post-rock whilst also encompassing styles of ambience and psychedelic. Hurewitz’ spoken word helps create the setting for the songs, something which is often a struggle in experimental post-rock music. Here though, it is competently achieved, and results in some enjoyable musical passages, where synthetic elements combine comfortably with analogue music to create harmony. It’s a little cosmic and noisy on occasion, but when it works, it works nicely, with there being some lovely and gentle post-rock aesthetics accompanying some fairly interesting poetry.

When it doesn’t work though, it becomes tiresome, and sadly this is due to Hurewitz’s decision to muddy up his album with three remixes of the same three tracks on the first half. Although these remixes do their best to draw out some new elements from the original source material, it just feels entirely unnecessary. We’re essentially made to listen to the entire album all over again from the very beginning, except this time everything is just less colourful and less interesting, making this part of the endeavor pointless. This is helped less by the fact that although most strengths are in the first half, it is let down by this weird element of everything building up, without ever leading up to something. It’s almost as though each track is an introduction to something, though we never find out what it’s trying to introduce.

There’s some merits here and there, and definitely some nice ideas across the album, though there’s a fair amount to wade through before you find anything you might attach yourself too. One might consider the more recent work of Sun Kil Moon’s Mark Kozelek, and his spoken word styles accompanied by a variety of different musical genres. There’s definitely some enjoyment to be had here, though the main body of work is far from perfect. It’s certainly nice at times, with there being very enjoyable drone and post-rock elements, though sometimes it feels a little thin on the ground.There’s also that annoying thing where none of the song names are capitalized in a result to make it all feel different and interesting to everything else, personally it just feels annoying and unnecessary.

Album Rating:

  • ★★★☆☆ 3/5

Selected Songs:

  • buildings on fire
  • the camel and the moon

rootless’ debut album ‘rootless’ is out now.

Categories: Albums, Reviews | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Reversal – Takénobu

First posted on echoesanddust.com.

Nick Takénobu Ogawa, operating under the moniker of Takénobu, offers his latest solo album ‘Reversal’, released independently by the artist himself. The new album from the artist features his trademark style of modern classical music, layering instrumentals over each other to create rich textural music. ‘Reversal’ comes across as another strong album within a genre where we see can see a lot of flak from those simply doing their bare minimum, and hardly trying to create anything of interest. We can argue that at times, Takénobu is guilty of this, though there’s some lovely moments on ‘Reversal’ that we can attach ourselves too.

‘Reversal’ builds up gentle classical tones in a slightly modern fashion, using current time signatures and methods to create gentle and comfortable soundscapes. It’s in Takénobu’s competent abilities as both a composer and performer do we see the strengths of this album effort. Everything comfortable glides along at a pleasant pace, until we confronted by the more challenging and interesting ideas the record possesses.  Takénobu seems to be trying to break up the monotony of classical records by including various other ideas, including slightly darker and more experimental tracks.

This doesn’t detract from the fact that many of the tracks on ‘Reversal’ fall into the trap we often see on records like this. Many performers of classical instruments, whether it be cello like Takénobu or whatever else you can think of, it seems most people are only able to get one tone and one sound out of their instrument, making most tracks sound too similar to each other, resulting in the same old sluggish album experience we’re so often confronted with. Takénobu has tried to combat this with a few tracks on ‘Reversal’, though it’s perhaps not enough to stop the whole album experience from becoming a little dull at times.

Though the whole album itself becomes a flawed listening experience, we’re still offered some very nice ideas from a clearly talented composer who definitely has some nice ideas to offer. The album’s third track ‘Curtain Call’ definitely has some merits with its more modern approach to composition, mostly down to its inclusion of vocals. Certain elements come across as a little cheesy perhaps, but it still remains an enjoyable listen, and definitely a highlight from the album itself. This is perhaps one of those albums where you’ll find yourself ignoring the more forgettable tracks, but definitely enjoying the more memorable ones.

Album Rating:

  • ★★★☆☆ 3/5

Selected Songs:

  • Reversing
  • Curtain Call
  • Snow Day
  • Swimmin’

Takénobu’s latest album ‘Reversal’ is out now.

Categories: Albums, Reviews | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The CD Critic’s Top 5 Albums of 2015

5: Strangers To Ourselves – Modest Mouse

‘Strangers To Ourselves’ was certainly an album many believed to be in a limbo, always being recorded but never being released. The announcement of Modest Mouse’s sixth studio album ‘Strangers To Ourselves’ certainly brought with it equal amounts of anticipation and skepticism, though this reviewer believes that the album delivered perfectly, with the album featuring some of the best and most memorable songs from the band thus far. The album itself might feel a little muddled at times, and offer a few tracks that don’t really work all that well, but when Modest Mouse push out tracks like ‘Lampshades On Fire’, ‘Ansel’ and ‘The Ground Walks With Time In A Box’, we hear once again what it is that makes Modest Mouse so amazing to listen to.

4: Ones And Sixes – Low

Low’s previous album effort of ‘The Invisible Way’ may have polarised some people, but there was something wonderfully gentle and gorgeous about the whole album effort. The band’s latest album effort of ‘Ones And Sixes’ didn’t continue this gentle expression of music, but did see the band offering something of equal intelligence and creativity. ‘Ones And Sixes’ hearkens back to the early days of Low’s career, whilst still sounding modern and up-to-date in some respects. The album itself is a mostly dark and macabre affair for the most part, whilst still sporting some rather upbeat and fun tracks. At the core of everything though is the perfect partnership of husband and wife team Alan Sparkhawk and Mimi Parker, whose talents of song-writing suggest that they can truly do anything.

3: Universal Themes – Sun Kil Moon

Mark Kozelek’s previous album effort of ‘Benji’ received near unanimous acclaim from many critics, though this one feels it’s his latest effort of ‘Universal Themes’ that stands out. The latest album released under the Sun Kil Moon moniker saw Kozelek offering up one of his most challenging album experiences to date, where beautiful acoustic passages find themselves intertwined amongst hurried vocals and spoken passages, before giving way to rough sounding garage rock. It’s wonderfully immersive, with each song sucking the eager listener right into Kozelek’s head, showing them his own fractured viewpoint of the world around him. It’s not the easiest album to listen too, but it’s one of Kozelek’s most brilliant and amazing ones thus far.

2: Nervous – Siskiyou

Siskiyou’s third studio album saw a band whose arguably relatively unknown truly immerse themselves in the creation of an album, working absolutely everything to the best of their abilities until something they could truly be proud of was produced. ‘Nervous’ saw Siskiyou push out a truly wonderful album, one that was a little challenging in places, but ultimately sincere and full of creativity. ‘Nervous’ was released early in 2015, but somehow tracks like ‘Deserter’, ‘Bank Accounts & Dollar Bills’ and ‘Violent Motion Pictures’ stuck around in memory throughout the entire year. The amount of effort and creativity pushed into this album is incredibly evident, with everything resulting in one of the band’s (and one of Canada’s) best albums of the year.

1: Benoît Pioulard – Sonnet

Benoît Pioulard’s ‘Sonnet’, released on Kranky, seemed to go by relatively unnoticed this year, but for some reason or other it completely ingrained itself into my head and refused to let go. Benoît Pioulard (Thomas Meluch)’s previous albums have all featured an ambient edge, though ultimately dominated by an experimental folk ideology. ‘Sonnet’ saw Meluch completely immersing himself into an experimental ambient album, where walls of noise and static turned into some of the most beautiful music released this year. ‘Sonnet’ earns The CD Critic Album of the Year spot purely for it’s wonderful experimental notions, its sheer amount of creativity, and the under-stated beauty of its music. Perhaps a little out there at times to earn this position, but the amount of joy this album has given me this year is too hard to ignore.

Categories: Reviews | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

25 – Adele

Singer-songwriter Adele follows up her previous album effort of ’21’ with the much anticipated release of ’25’. On her latest album, we see Adele changing things up a notch, incorporating some new musical ideas into her work, whilst still offering an album of the same emotional caliber as her previous works. It seems Adele has managed to reflect on her recent years once again, translating her many experiences into gentle and enjoyable songs. Adele’s ’25’ is a very easy record to enjoy, one that just seems to work on many different levels.

’25’ sees Adele continuing the same approach to song-writing and lyrics, though when it comes to the musical elements of the album, there’s some interesting ideas at work here. At times, we see Adele incorporating some current trends in popular to music to surprisingly great effect. Most of the tracks feel sincere and gentle, with Adele flourishing in her vocal performances. For fans of the performer, ’25’ will offer a wonderful selection of songs to fill in the void that has been there since the short hiatus following ’21’.

Whilst there’s much to enjoy on ’25’ it seems that the album’s second half lacks considerably in comparison to the first half. ’25’ gets off to a very strong start, featuring some of the best songs Adele has written yet, though sadly it all seems to diminish slightly as the album progresses, getting a little weaker and weaker with each and every song. There are some nice moments on the album’s second half, though a portion of the songs feel largely forgettable, not really standing out in the same way the rest of the album does.

Adele’s latest album does lack in some areas, though overall, ’25’ comes across as a very lovely and strong album effort. It’s arguable whether there is or not, but the album seems to have a great sense of sincerity about it, with Adele once again really tapping into what makes her own song-writing so special. At the core of everything though is Adele’s own wonderful vocal performances, which translate her own experiences into some truly wonderful songs. Whether or not ’25’ holds its own against Adele’s previous album efforts is anyone’s guess, though it is lovely to hear Adele returning to music once again.

Album Rating:

  • ★★★★☆ 4/5

Selected Songs:

  • Hello
  • When We Were Young
  • River Lea
  • Love in the Dark

Adele’s third studio album ’25’ is out now.

Categories: Albums, Reviews | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Pitch, Paper & Foil – Christopher Bissonnette

First posted on echoesanddust.com.

Composer Christopher Bissonnette offers his latest solo-album endeavor ‘Pitch, Paper & Foil’, the follow-up album to last years effort of ‘Essays in Idleness’. Bissonnette’s latest album further pushes forward a fascination with analog synths, creating new worlds through an experimental ambient style. Whilst Bissonnette’s previous work seemed to incorporate a scattering of varying ideas, creating an almost mosaic sound collage of sounds, ‘Pitch, Paper & Foil’ seems a little more structured in places, with Bissonnette pushing forward everything he knows into something incredibly cohesive and strong.

‘Pitch, Paper & Foil’ seems to be a step  up from Bissonnette’s previous solo album. It seems everything that worked on the artist’s last album has been pushed forward to a even greater extent, with the whole endeavor resulting in some of the most intricate and gorgeous work from Bissonnette thus far. Static and drone lay the groundwork for Bissonnette to build upon, incorporating his great range of ideas into something that truly works. There seems to be more at play here on ‘Pitch, Paper & Foil’, with most of the tracks contributing nicely and comfortably towards the overall effort.

Bissonnette’s more experimental style of ambient/electronic music certainly suggests a great amount of creativity and talent, though at times it does create something most might view as inaccessible. As on most of Bissonnette’s albums, there’s a few moments here and there where experimental ideas seem a little too out of reach, and the main context of which Bissonnette is trying to push forward seems a little hazy in terms of the overall picture. Those who perhaps enjoy the very unique head-space experimental music can put one into will certainly enjoy ‘Pitch, Paper & Foil’ for a large number of reasons, with many of the experimental ideas working nicely.

Christopher Bissonnette’s latest album certainly continues on from what we’ve already seen from the artist previously, though there seems to be more advancement on this latest release. The album itself might be a little inaccessible at times, but it’s a wonderful project of experimental visions. ‘Pitch, Paper & Foil’ easily comes across as one of the strongest albums Bissonnette has released thus far, and once again presents us with an album full of ambient notions without properly adhering to the genre’s philosophy, and thus showing what more can be drawn out from it.

Album Rating:

  • ★★★★☆ 4/5

Selected Songs:

  • Epoch
  • Diminution
  • Surcrease
  • The Rate Of Delay
Categories: Albums, Reviews | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Asperities – Julia Kent

First posted on echoesanddust.com.

Musician and composer Julia Kent offers her latest solo album effort ‘Asperities’. The new album follows on from 2013’s effort of ‘Character’, showcasing once again Kent’s brilliantly bittersweet and haunting musical style. On her latest album, Kent flourishes with a phenomenal musical effort that showcases a great amount of talent and creativity. Whilst ‘Character’ arguably saw Kent coming together musically, ‘Asperities’ sees Kent push out everything she has to offer, incorporating some new ideas here and there and creating what is arguably her strongest album effort yet.

On ‘Asperities’, Kent presents her now trademark style of cello-based performances, throwing in a few elements here and there into the mix to create something full of life and energy. There’s somewhat of a varied mix at times, with a few tracks sounding urgent and almost intimidating, whilst others offer a more dark and macabre setting, presented in a slow yet undeniably beautiful way. Each track offers something to the listener without any agenda or pretension, with the album speaking for itself through its immense beauty.

Certain elements of the album seem to suggest less experimental techniques that on Kent’s previous releases. One may argue that on ‘Asperities’, Kent seems to fall back on the genre’s common norm, and offers up tracks that arguably do the same as what most people are already doing. Although to some extent Kent is offering more of the same, there is a great number of strengths to Kent’s music that others simply lack. It’s incredibly difficult not to get engrossed in everything Kent offers, making ‘Asperities’ an incredibly strong record.

Julia Kent seems to have outdone herself on her latest full-length album. Everything we’ve seen from Kent before seems to have evolved into something truly wonderful, with everything coming together in such a beautiful and cohesive manner. To some extent, ‘Asperities’ may not be the easiest album for one to get involved in, though on the other hand it’s a lot easier than other albums being offered in this genre. This is a truly wonderful record that deserves all the praise it has coming to it.

Album Rating:

  • ★★★★☆ 4/5

Selected Songs:

  • Lac Des Arcs
  • The Leopard
  • Empty States
  • Heavy Eyes

Julia Kent’s latest album ‘Asperities’ is out now. 

Categories: Albums, Reviews | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Noyaux – Benoît Pioulard

First posted on echoesanddust.com.

Musician and composer Thomas Meluch, better known under his moniker of Benoît Pioulard, has certainly been busying himself this year. With the release of his latest studio album ‘Sonnet’ on the Kranky Record label, and the two companion releases of ‘Stanza’ and ‘Stanza II’, Meluch now offers his latest EP release of ‘Noyaux’. The new EP continues Meluch’s ambient projects, offering four new droning compositions. Those who enjoy and are familiar with the work of Meluch, especially his most recent releases, will most likely find ‘Noyaux’ to be another enjoyable and strong release, once again showcasing the musicians talents as an ambient composer in a great light.

‘Noyaux’ comes across as an interesting ambient release, and one that perhaps has more strengths than the previous releases of ‘Stanza’ and ‘Stanza II’. On this latest release, Meluch bookends the EP with two long droning compositions, lasting 9 and 8 minutes respectively. This sandwiches together two shorter compositions, that have less time to make themselves known, but do so with effortless ease. All in all it’s another beautiful and dreamy release, and one that lovers of ambient drone will find delightful and easily accessible. Although ‘Noyaux’ is less daring and experimental than Meluch’s album release of ‘Sonnet’, and is perhaps a release that doesn’t showcase the absolute greatest limits of Meluch’s abilities, it does offer a simple and enjoyable ambient experience.

‘Noyaux’ is perhaps less ambitious than some of Meluch’s earlier works, though it achieves what it ultimately sets out to do. The droning qualities of the opening track slowly lull us into the album experience, washing over us through two shorter tracks and then slowly escaping away on the final track, leaving us with a sense of calm and perhaps refreshment. It’s easy music to get lost into, as well as perhaps rewarding those who are more attentive to each and every detail in each of the songs. It seems that Meluch is continuing to push out releases at an incredible rate this year, and one wonders what will be coming out next.

Album Rating:

  • ★★★★☆ 4/5

Selected Songs:

  • Noyaux
  • Remind

Benoît Pioulard’s latest album ‘Noyaux’ is out now.

Categories: EPs, Reviews | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Head Full Of Dreams – Coldplay

British background-noise band Coldplay follow on from last year’s effort of ‘Ghost Stories’ with another totally underwhelming and weak album experience titled ‘A Head Full Of Dreams’. The new album from Coldplay follows on from the current string of lifeless and dire albums where effort is replaced with whatever is easiest, and creativity is replaced with an adherence to the current popular norms in music today. There’s certainly a lot here that is fun, bubbly, upbeat and enjoyable to most, but at the very core of each and every song on ‘A Head Full Of Dreams’, there’s just nothing.

‘A Head Full Of Dreams’ features much of what Coldplay have been pushing out in their more recent years. With the last few albums, Coldplay seem to have abandoned their more alternative rock/post-britpop sound in favour of the more current and popular sound. In fairness to the band, they certainly have a strong understanding of what is working well in the current music scene, as well as how to tap into it all and adapt themselves to these current scenes in music.

The problem is that Coldplay seem to have stopped caring. This seemed suggested on their 2011 effort of ‘Mylo Xyloto’, evidenced on last year’s ‘Ghost Stories’ and now confirmed on ‘A Head Full Of Dreams’. Everything sounds so horribly plastic and shallow, with there being nothing that’s inspiring, creative or even interesting. Most of the tracks on the album follow very basic formulas, both musically and lyrically, and never is there anything that just stands out in its own right. Some fans of the band may find their efforts on this album to be enjoyable in their won right, which is perfectly fine, though this effort does feel incredibly empty and lifeless.

Whilst ‘Mylo Xyloto’ and ‘Ghost Stories’ each sported at least one song that was enjoyable and creative in its own right, it seems there’s nothing on ‘A Head Full Of Dreams’ worth holding on to. This comes across as Coldplay’s weakest work thus far, and one that suggests that the band have truly just lost their way and no longer have any interest in pushing out creative and enjoyable music. New fans will find something to latch on to here, but for those who grew up with Coldplay in their early years will no doubt find themselves disappointed once again that the band have failed to live up to their own standard.

Album Rating:

  • ★☆☆☆☆  1/5

Selected Songs:

  • None

Coldplay’s latest album ‘A Head Full Of Dreams’ is out now.

Categories: Albums, Reviews | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Dodge And Burn – The Dead Weather

American super-group The Dead Weather, return after White’s hiatus to further pursue his own solo career, with the release of their third studio album ‘Dodge And Burn’. The new album follows on from the bands’ previous album ‘Sea Of Cowards’, released a little over 5 years ago. On their latest album, The Dead Weather further push out their roaring and raucous selection of blues/garage rock tunes, offering another wonderfully indulgent and delightful album effort that would have most nodding their heads. ‘Dodge & Burn’ arguably at times shows little progression from the band, though it does showcase them all doing exactly what they do best.

 On ‘Dodge & Burn’, The Dead Weather go for a fully-blown blues/garage rock album experience, utilizing the great chemistry each band member possesses in order to push out an enjoyable and simply fun album. There’s some wonderfully indulgent rock riffs in a few of the songs, with everything coming together in a wonderfully raw yet cohesive manner. Some of the tracks being presented on the album come across as strong as some of the bands’ best and most loved songs on their earlier records, showing that the band clearly still have what it is that makes them so great.

Whilst there’s some enjoyable and strong moments on the album, the whole overall effort is one that seems a little stiff at times, as though The Dead Weather are perhaps struggling a little to push out everything with the same caliber as their earlier material. At times it works well, and there’s some very enjoyable songs being offered by the band, though other moments feel a little lackluster, as though the band are trying a little too hard to show off absolutely everything they can do, instead of just focusing on what makes their music so great to begin with.

There’s a few faults with ‘Dodge & Burn’ from time to time, though there’s enough here to make an enjoyable album effort. The Dead Weather haven’t seem to have completely lost what it is that makes their music so fun and indulgent. The dirty and raw rock elements work their way into the music with effortless ease, with there being a few memorable songs that might hold themselves up to the bands’ best known songs. It’s certainly nice to see this particular project of Jack White’s being continued, and perhaps this signals the beginning of much more to come.

Album Rating:

  • ★★★☆☆ 3/5

Selected Songs:

  • I Feel Love (Every Million Miles)
  • Buzzkill(er)
  • Open Up
  • Cop and Go

The Dead Weather’s third studio album ‘Dodge & Burn’ is out now. 

Categories: Albums, Reviews | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Blog at WordPress.com.