Tag Archives: Indie Rock

Album Review: The Dears – ‘Degeneration Street’ (2011)

9 Mar

The Dears – ‘Degeneration Street’

(Dangerbird)

Skipping the alpha and going straight for the omega, Montreal neo-romanticists kick off fifth studio album Degeneration Street with the funk laiden, groove departure ‘Omega Dog’. It’s a statement of intent from leader Murray Lightburn that see’s his recently reshuffled ragamuffins give their emphatic rock a new twist and a little added spice.

Having fallen off the radar somewhat it’s clear they are willing to make amends. The album is long, weighing in at the one hour mark, and as dense as they come. It’s a lot to wade through. The lasting impression however is nothing on said opener. The music ebbs and flows, reaching dizzying highs on the beautifully melodic ‘Unsung’, ‘Thrones’ and the reminiscent poignancy of ‘Yesteryear’. But it is fundamentally too bi-polar as it then immediately sinks in tracks like ‘Galactic Tides’ and the hysterically operatic closer ‘Degeneration Street’. There simply isn’t enough consistency and we’re left feeling
slightly miffed as with such great individual composition the mish-mash of styles and themes never really come together as one coherent album.

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Favourite Album of 2010: Tame Impala – ‘Innerspeaker’

2 Feb

"The tracks individually are little pop-fuzz rock gems..."

Tame Impala – ‘Innerspeaker’

(Modular Recordings)

Being a self-indulgent person with little to no music knowledge in a technical sense, I often find that my favourite albums are ones that stick with me because of our history and experiences together, rather than impressive musicianship.

For 2010 it was Australia’s psyc fuzz rock band Tame Impala’s debut ‘Innerspeaker’ that stole my heart and memories.

Our time together began in Autumn (around April) while I was visiting the old record store where I used to work, I instantly became mesmerised by Innerspeaker’s other-worldly landscape cover by Melbourne artist Leif Podhajsky.

I had listened to Tame Impala’s 2009 EP a little earlier, but didn’t really ‘get it,’ the drawling fuzzy guitar, stoner vocals and relaxed tempo didn’t capture my tiny generation Y attention span.

Nevertheless I thought I’d give Tame Impala another chance, bought ‘Innerspeaker’ and rediscovered the art of appreciating an ‘album’.

The tracks individually are little pop-fuzz rock gems that could be mistaken as lost tracks from an undiscovered 60s psyc-rock band with Lennon-like vocals.

As a complete package however, Innerspeaker reminds you of what an ‘album’ is supposed to sound like, and how an album is meant to make you feel. Tame Impala main-man Kevin Parker takes the listener on a journey where you find yourself sitting by a dusty turntable, air hazy with pot, immersed with the feeling of carelessness.

This album was also the soundtrack to me meeting my partner, our first night together on a tiny broken mattress on the floor of a friend’s kitchen, our awkward text message courting and our nervous dates. Their discovery of my copy of ‘Innerspeaker’ on the bookshelf gave us something to bond over and introduced me to a whole new world of psychedelic music, which has improved my attention span immensely.

Listening to this album is like feeling high, without the greening out (and in my case the occasional vomit) or attack of the munchies. So basically that’s probably why it’s my pick from 2010.

Favourite Album of 2010: The Foals – ‘Total Life Forever’

31 Jan

"...the album enthralls a listener such as myself, through its capabilities in being chilling, vibrant, stunning but yet so simple."

The Foals – ‘Total Life Forever’

(Transgressive)

A band with a fierce knack for writing a good song returned in 2010 to fill your ear holes with bliss. After firing, and publicly slating the producer of their first album ‘Antidotes’, the band set off to the bright lights and very showbiz city of Gothenburg, Sweden.

The album they returned with showcases their ability to make original, ever changing and somewhat claustrophobic songs. They described the sound themselves as “the dream of an eagle dying”. This doesn’t come as a surprise, as I find it equally hard to strap down and define their sound.

I can however describe how the album enthralls a listener such as myself, through its capabilities in being chilling, vibrant, stunning but yet so simple. Yannis Philippakis’s voice through the record stretches from creepy and vulnerable to powerful and commanding. The music varies so much throughout the record that you are really left stumped as to what is coming next. I will use the well known cliché and banal word ‘journey’ to describe this attractive bundle of songs, because that is exactly what it is. In summary, I love the very bones of ‘Total Life Forever’.

There was no surprise when the album was nominated for the 2010 Mercury Music Prize. It features in nearly every 2010 top album list and is hailed by many critics to be the album of the year.
The Foals are the future of the presently struggling indie scene. Yes they are pretentious, and yes NME think they are great. But these are just trivial matters that will not (I hope) affect Yannis and his buddy’s from making an even more impressive album next time round. I look forward to it with immense anticipation.

2010 Retrospect: The Phantom Band – ‘The Wants’

13 Jan

Ermmm two hands coming out of a cauldron. Pretty self explanatory really!

The Phantom Band – ‘The Wants

(Chemikal Underground/ Other Tongues)

This is a review penned by The Quilted Generation at some point during 2010. We will be revisiting some of those reviews over the next few weeks as a way to draw your attention to some of those albums you might have missed in the year gone by. Enjoy.

The Phantom Band’s 2009 debut Checkmate Savage was a rough-yet-transient effort that sketched out the band’s future without laying down any real or impressive foundations. It’s a surprise then when the Glaswegian sextet return stronger, bolder and ultimately darker on their sophomore album The Wants; a dark and intimate tryst into the realms of mesmeric, dense and unmistakably rewarding songwriting.
Opener A Glamour fizzles from the start and the almost primal, tribal beating of the Damien Tonner’s tom-toms sets the bar. It unrelentingly throbs throughout, building towards a synth-laden, guitar-driven coda that pushes expectations further. And as the pulsating energy subsides into the new wave inflections of O it is replaced by yet more sonic invention, with the emphasis now on vocals as Rick Anthony experiments with pitch and range. The sheer level of experimentation both electronically, vocally and structurally is impressive but what is more striking is the band’s ability to confine such trials. Although long and meandering, each note and whirl is tightly controlled, meaningful and purposeful.
Whether it be the folk heavy Come Away In The Dark, the acoustically built The None Of One or the processed beats of Into The Corn the whole album seems to come together as one. Weird that. Indeed, it seems that throughout the entire album The Phantom Band do their best to transmogrify themselves just enough to keep us on our toes – not so much them thinking outside the box musically but more thinking about the box itself and helping make that box as interesting and relevant as possible without fucking about with its parameters too much. As elusive as this comes across upon first listen, it’s refreshing and will eventually be the reason you reach for the play button again after the album crashes to a halt.

Track of the day: 12.01.11

12 Jan

Belle & Sebastian: I Want The World To Stop

Zach Galifianakis may have named his balls after them but Belle & Sebastian are a much classier act than said bearded one. They’ve been floating these shores for umpteen years, gathering followers like some kind of indie pied-pipers, caressing the souls of all they touch along the way.

Last years Write About Love was a severe return to form after a few, dare we say it, miss hits. They seemed to capture something with Tigermilk and The Boy With The Arab Strap that they just couldn’t since. Like, Wild E Coyote they chased that elusive Roadrunner record since and with this latest effort they seemed to catch the little fucker.

Without going into a massive critique of the album as a whole I will say that ‘I Want the World To Stop’ is a personal highlight from the record. I think we’ve all been there. I mean, check out this verse…

Let me step out of my shell
I’m wrapped in sheets of milky winter disorder
Let me feel the air again, the talk of friends
The mind of someone my equal

That’s just class. And that’s all that needs to be said about those lyrics. Class.

So, enjoy the warm January feel of the track, with it’s flowing, defiant and relentless upbeatness and it’s optimism. Yes, it is a track about wanting what cannot be. About longing. But it teaches us to be patient with life. We can’t have everything we want when we want it. So, if your sitting there thinking, ‘I want January to be over’ then this track will help you through. It reflects that sentiment exactly and may just be happy and carefree enough to help pull us all through this godforsaken month.

And here’s their glorious webpagesite http://www.belleandsebastian.com/