Here are five more album reviews! It looks like I’ve written a bit more about these this time, so bear with me. They’re great albums, so it’s not like you’re going to be reading about bad music. That isn’t flawed logic, eh?
But yeah, if you didn’t see the last one, I’m going to be catching the blog up to the present by writing about five albums a post, all being on my “Top 50 Favorites of 2012” list. These albums are those I have not yet featured on the blog previously and if I had it would have been with a song or two. I’m pretty behind! Also, these won’t have scores, because you can go to any other blog and read their score which is probably a lot more justified than mine. I just write about the albums.
Have a blast!
The Invisible have stayed true to their name, I think. I remember seeing them being interviewed in Under the Radar Magazine a while ago, decided to look them up on iTunes and they weren’t there. I looked online and there are not many articles on them either. I do some more research and I find their debut album was iTunes “Album of the Year” in 2009. How can an album win iTunes album of the year when it isn’t even on iTunes?
Anyways, I’ve finally nailed down a release from this band, this year’s spacey “Rispah” which is a tribute of sorts to bandleader Dave Okumu’s mother, who passed away during the creation of this album. It’s full of melancholy melodies backed up by beautiful synth washes and arpeggiated gutiars that immediately bring Kid-A/In Rainbows era Radiohead to mind.
Not saying this is a bad thing, though. There are plenty of things that separate the two bands, like a very lively percussion section and more influences from traditional African music and jazz rather than British pop or alternative. The African music influence comes from Okumu’s background and there are interludes of Kenyan chants performed at Okumu’s mother’s funeral laced within the record, cementing an aura of sorrow in the music.
This record, like a few others this year, is not one you can just put on and listen to in the background. The first few tracks have shimmering light in them, but I can only compare progressing through this album to going deeper into the ocean. Light is far more scarce, things are more droning and dark, you have to pay more attention to your surroundings or else you’ll get eaten by something bigger than you. But, even in this harsh environment, there’s still a feeling of relief. There is still life at the bottom of the sea, light can still enter the darkest reaches of the ocean floor, so not only is this album about grief, it’s also about hope. Accepting the things in life that have brought you down and using those things to make you a better person. I know that’s what Okumu did with this.
Overall, it’s a very rewarding album to put your concentration into. I highly guarantee you’ll enjoy this.
The feelgood record of the summer? Well, one of the better ones, anyways. Diiv is a side project off of the band Beach Fossils, which are also known for laid back tunes that evoke a hot summer day. Heck, they even have a song called “Lazy Day.” DIIV, I think is directing themselves more into the “dream pop” territory by slathering just about everything in reverb, so much so that most of the time the lyrics are unintelligible. But that doesn’t matter, it’s all about the vibes, man! These are some catchy, feel good songs that are meant to be played on lazy days out on the beach or in the countryside.
There’s one exception to this collection of tracks, which is the penultimate track “Doused.” This is the only track that the band seems actually awake for (not saying that’s a bad thing) and features a driving, hard bassline accented by just as driving guitar lines. It’s a truly badass affair. But the rest of the album sits back and watches this one wail. I’m fine with that.
Liars – WIXIW
If you’ve never listened to Liars before and you like what you’re hearing when listening to this album, I have some news for you: this isn’t how Liars usually sounds. On this record, the band is primarily using lots of electronics: synths, samples and other interesting sound effects, which is new to them. Usually they’re full of screeching guitars and smashing drums; synths are used occasionally to create that perfect uncomfortable texture. Of course, the trio usually reinvent their sound with each LP, but this time they took a totally different and unexpected step.
Usually Liars records are brash and destructive, creating albums about witchcraft or making an album that mostly consists of percussion. These exploits have earned them the title of “dance/art-punk,” usually there to cross boundaries and challenge their fans. This, unlike their other wild discography, is far more reserved and almost sounds like it was grown underground in a lab. This leads to the imagery being dark and isolated, like on “Ill Valley Prodigies” which I can only compare to the environment of Texas Chainsaw Massacre after the action goes down: there are crows cawing, a strange chopping sample, a sample of a man screaming, other samples of woodland creatures, a bit of static and a plethora of other eerie sound effects. This really paints a picture of a forgotten valley community of sociopath lunatics, lost in time and forever enshrouded in a dirty cloud of dust. Not the brightest picture, eh? Don’t worry, not all tracks evoke that much morbid imagery. The synths are to thank for that. Sort of.
The electronics, at times give the music a sterile and unloving feel, but in other times it’s warm and almost soothing at times. Same with the vocal delivery, sometimes it’s cool and collected and the next has tinges of paranoia dripping off of it. The push and pull of polarizing emotions is said to be a central theme on this record, having one song be beautiful and calming and the next be demented or maybe even vengeful.
Take the opener, “The Exact Color of Doubt,” a dreamy love song backed up by hazy synths, cooing vocals and a really unique drum sample. The song after it, “Octagon,” is started off by a very off-putting, immediate synth patterns and a schizophrenic drum beat and are then joined by a sneering vocal delivery that just puts you right in an uncomfortable place. After this, you’re put back into the comfort zone with “No. 1 Against the Rush” that features more ear-pleasing synth effects and samples of plucking violins. The contrasting ideas are constant on this LP, which is a reason that makes it so great.
This record has garnered many Radiohead comparisons, I read one saying this album was the “Best Radiohead album since Kid A” which I mean, is a huge statement, since all of Radiohead’s albums are amazing, but you get the point. Sure, there are a lot of Radiohead-like things on here, but it’s all about what the band does with the music and how they organize it. I think Liars succeeds.
If you’ve never listened to Fang Island, I’ll take this time to describe their sound to you. Imagine waking up one day and you have the powers of any super hero. So, using your super hero powers, you go up into space and watch cosmos explode while space dinosaurs fight meteors with rocket launchers. You land on a random planet and you see thousands of volcanoes erupt around you, while jetpack tigers leap through the air while shredding on a triple neck guitar. Then everything just comes together in a magnificent high five in total, universal victory.
So yeah, that’s Fang Island. It’s loud, radical, totally unique, righteous, awesome, etc. While listening to Fang Island you’ll probably want to: sprout wings and cure cancer; create a new community of shark people that eliminate world hunger just by being there; grab your pet and superman hold he or she around the house; grow other appendages and become extremely productive; or just high five everything you see. It’s crazy motivating, it’s really an instant pick-me-up and it is extremely radical. Shred on, kids. Shred on.
I have a list of albums that I’m going to write about in these next few days and I was having trouble deciding which one I was going to write about next. Then, an epiphany occurred when the song “March to the Sea” came on my “Best of 2012” shuffle. We’ll get back to that song later.
Baroness’ new LP, a massive, 76 minute affair is my first experience with this band. I also haven’t really listened to any other bands like this, besides Mastodon’s album from last year, “The Hunter” which I’ve heard is a lot more tame than their other releases, like this release compared to Baroness’ other two albums. Even though I don’t have much experience with the band, I could totally pick that up after the first listen: “A ‘metal’ band with acoustic guitars featured on a lot of songs? What’s goin on here? Is this song basically post-rock?” These are things that went through my mind while listening to this album.
I actually really really like this album! I can’t really say I like Baroness as a band yet because I haven’t heard their other, harder material, but where I stand with this is a very favorable position. The first song I heard off of it was the previously mentioned “March to the Sea” which is just a zeitgeist of harmonious, shredding guitars, crashing drums and images of valiant pirates fighting a sea monster or something like that. Previously, I had thought that metal is just about lots of energy and pure fury, but there are tons of really musical moments on this record, these guys truly know what they’re doing.
Even if you’re not a metal fan, or sludge/prog/experimental rock advocate, check this out. There are some really killer moments and some of the lighter tracks on here are really enjoyable!
Some really good albums this time! Well, great albums last time too, but a lot of vareity!
Hope you have a great day! Happy listening!