Alabama Shakes – Sound & Color

It is difficult to look past the revivalist visage of Alabama Shakes. They are exponents of roots-rock, the genre that most bands either adopt in incredibly formative stages of their careers, or in the stages well past their prime. But, with the culture of nostalgia that we find ourselves in currently, Alabama Shakes have managed to carve out a foot-hold into musical relevancy on the back of their debut 2012 album Boys & Girls, and especially that album’s Grammy award nominated single Hold On, an enlightening track full of promise and power. While talent was there, the question had to be asked: Where does roots-rock go to next? It is a difficult genre to suddenly spring new attitudes into. Sound & Color finds Alabama Shakes attempting to break out of the box and try some different things. Continue reading

Django Django – Born Under Saturn

Ah, sophomore albums. They can either spell the end of a newly fledging band, or approve their validity. There is no denying the importance of the second outing; do you offer up more of the same, or do you mix things up? This is the situation London band Django Django find themselves in currently. Django Django found themselves heavily praised for their self-titled 2012 debut album and its updated take on psychedelia and early 2000s guitar rock. There was something a little exciting about them that seemed definitively indescribable. Sure, every listen to every one of their songs yielded more comparisons to other artists, but Django Django did it well. They had our attention. So going back to big ‘Second Album’ question? Do you stagnate or move on? Well oddly enough, on Born Under Saturn it seems as though, that despite an impressive display, Django Django have actually gone forwards, backwards, and yet still stayed the same. Confused? You should be. Continue reading

Track Reviews | The Creases – Point

Ever since the release of their debut single I Won’t Wait in late 2013, Brisbane’s The Creases have been on nothing short of a dream run. Catchy retro-yet-forward-thinking tunes, stellar live shows, last year’s terrific E.P., The Creases seem well on their way to the release of a much anticipated debut album. However, until then, The Creases have given us Point, a stand alone single that reaffirms what we already know: The Creases are great.

While sonically and lyrically, Point may not deviate incredibly from The Creases’ output thus far, one has to remember that this is a band still early in their career, so such excuses can be made. And at any rate, quibbling over details like that would detract from the sheer exuberance and energy of the music. Over a bed of surging guitars soars a thick synth line that perfectly creates a euphoric listening experience. During the choruses in particular we hear some phenomenal drum work, all tight and successively quick percussive rolls that dare not be ignored.

But as always, The Creases’ strongest asset is their uncanny knack with a chord progression. They know how to take simple progressions and construct them to be deeply moving as well as enjoyable. Point is no different, with the glistening production (the best so far of any Creases release) punctuating the finer moments of every minor fall and jangly guitar fill.

Once again, another fine addition to The Creases’ small-yet-growing discography, and one that proves a simplistic yet irresistible delight.

Yanni Markovina

Track Reviews | Jonny Debt – Waiting “Love”

There is something intrinsically sprightly and carefree about Jonny Debt’s Waiting “Love”. Maybe its the crunchy, banjo/guitar hybrid instrumentation (‘banjitar’), maybe its the foot-stomping rhythm section, maybe its the charmingly low budget music video. Either way, Waiting “Love” is simple love yearning paean wrapped up in a sonic declaration of good time fun. There is a bit of a Michael Hutchence vocal twang to this number, and a couple tasteful falsetto sections. In summation, Waiting “Love” is fun and happy-go-lucky, even if it does lack anything really substantial. But stuff doesn’t have to be substantial all the time does it?

Album drops in September.

Sammi – Small (E.P.)

Beauty in music is a very broad term. One can describe relatively any piece of music as beautiful and it can be individually justified. But with 21 year old Sammi’s debut E.P. Small, beauty is isolated in its purest and most definitive form, and expressed over the course of five songs in an aesthetically pleasing manner. The music on this Small E.P. (I think that could be a pun?) can adequately be likened to its cover. Across the five tracks, Sammi appears as she does on the album art itself: as a waif, slowly fracturing with each fragile moment slipping by, and with every mellifluous note sung about the failures of the heart. So without further ado, what do you say we take it track by track? Continue reading

Muse – Drones

Muse have existed and persisted long enough in the public spotlight to demand respect for their individuality. Throughout their career, they have been dogged by musical and creativity comparisons to Radiohead and Queen, but after 15 commercially successful years of making some of the most flamboyant, technically inspiring music of recent years, Muse have developed their own distinctive style. Drones is the latest addition to this discography, however, as wise old Jeff Goldblum once said: “they were so preoccupied with whether or not they could do it, they never stopped to think if they should!”. Continue reading

Track Reviews | Spells Of Vertigo – Baby Born (With No Brain)

Look past the gruesome image supposed in the title, and you find a cloudy psychedelic track with a commanding grasp on hazy melody. Spells Of Vertigo are a three-piece rock band who have their sound firmly planted in the musical renaissance of the first half of the 1990s. And while Dizzy, the first single off their awaited E.P. Soaked (out 30th of June), managed to find the precise intersection between American and British alternative rock, Baby Born (With No Brain) is classic American psychedelic grunge.

A deceptive low tempo lulls the listener into a relaxed state, allowing the silky bass tones and high pitched croons to wash over like a dreary dream. However, in the last minute and a half, Spells Of Vertigo kick things up a notch, by launching into an aggressive guitar attack that calls to mind the freak-out moments of Smashing Pumpkins’ mid 90s output.

While it may not be a track that could change minds, (and definitely not a new sound) Baby Born (With No Brain) a fun little diversion into a nostalgic re-imagining of the past. As the band state, “the results are different each time but the raw DNA is always the same…”

Yanni Markovina

Soaked EP available June 30th on iTunes

Track Reviews | Jade The Moon – 5 6 7 8

Maybe it is to do with the lack of significant exposure thus far, but Jade The Moon are a mystery. The kind of mystery that you can’t help but want to tell other people about.

Jade The Moon is a brand new project featuring the vocal talents of Vancouver’s Jade Moon and the production duties Toronto’s Bad Cop // Mean Cop. While their debut single Broken Angels is a vibrant and emotional display of shimmering production and Grimes/Beach House inspired pop majesty, 5 6 7 8 is a sharp left turn. But a left turn, into a good direction.

Described by the band as being recorded in a session with “no preconceived ideas about where the session would go”, 5 6 7 8 is a dreamy collage of gurgling synths and celestial music-box tinkling, that threatens to engulf Jade Moon completely. However, Moon maintains eerily stoic amid the aural confusion around her, swaying with ease with the mystic chant of “5 6 7 8”. What does ‘5 6 7 8’ mean? What are the other lyrics? What of that haunting final line, “You’re only good to us sleeping”? All of this adds to the intrinsically ephemeral nature of the song. At only 2 minutes and 18 seconds long 5 6 7 8 succeeds in conveying an atmosphere of blissful immediacy, in which you can achieve anything or nothing.

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Florence + The Machine – How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful

Florence Welch is not the most subtle singer: she possesses such a thunderous vocal quality that it could rivalry that of the legendary Valkyries. Markus Dravs is not the most subtle producer: he has substantially assisted in bringing the anthemic rock out of Arcade Fire, Coldplay, and Mumford & Sons, amongst others. Their collaboration on Florence + The Machine’s long awaited third album How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful is more than just a good match, it was inevitable. Florence Welch has already perfected her image; that of a flailing, windswept siren in the same vein as literature’s most emotionally devastating heroines like Catherine Earnshaw and Ophelia. This is not an image that Welch detests. She welcomes it. She wishes for her feelings to be taken as seriously as great literature, and in bringing Mark Dravs on board, she has definitely got a substantial case on How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful.

Continue reading