Hey, ho, away we go, album round up. YEAH.
Olof Arnalds – Sudden Elevation
What a delight. Olof Arnalds has a wonderful way of using her voice as a musical instrument. The gentle lilting almost elfin voice (with a hint of Ms. Newsome) is heard for the first time in English on this third outing. Sudden Elevation is a gentle affair, minimal and slightly sparse but never cold. Perhaps the overall feel is a folky wistfulness but , damn it, this is lovely. ‘Return Again’ for example has a great melody counterpointed by violins, ‘ Treat her Kindly’ is warm and engaging and has an almost ‘70‘s California style. Icelandic musicians have a way of absorbing influences and producing something unique that gives a really different slant . Take ‘Call it What You Want’ where the voice captivates you and takes you by surprise.
Melancholic? Reflective? Yes, but captivating and beguiling. If left field folk is your bag you will love this it’s a real gem. – Keefy
Atoms for Peace – AMOK
I hate it when people say “to be honest with you..” BUT to be honest with you, the idea of Thom Yorke getting together with a gang of top boys supergroup kinda put me off . Eraser was pretty cool to my ears, but this is not gonna be Radiohead is it? Anyhow, from the word go, AMOK“ is really decent. Scratchy beats, thunking basslines, great percussion and, naturally, Yorke’s haunting vocals full of that yearning intensity we all love. Sonically, this is awesome, there’s tons of stuff happening in this electronic landscape and yet the overall feel is modern and minimal. Did I mention intensity?
So can you dance to Amok? Possibly, because there is an underlining funky groove thanks to Mr Flea. Accessible, hypnotic and strangely beautiful. Music for today. Don’t miss out. – Keefy.
Kimmy Yeah – Yan Tan Tethera
A strange beast, this one, as it starts with a morose, accordion-led track that sounds like nothing else on the album. There is, however, an organ interlude in lieu of a flip the album/change the side of the tape moment. As you do. Kimmy Yeah favour the screamo approach for vocals, but there are times for harmonising while a barrage of hard rock riffs are peddled (‘Fourfive’). It’s a fierce rollercoaster, as the hootin’ hollerin’ vocals will keep you on your toes (see ‘Eat’ and ‘Ask the universe’ for ol’ school shouting). It’s not the most dynamic of affairs but they do know how to do the loud stuff quite well, with even catchy shoutalongs (‘Loincloth’) that would make any straightedge band from the late 90s happy. If you are not used to the louder shades of rock that don’t involve at least one bandmember being Scandinavian, this might not be for you. However, if you want your punk fast, your bass shining on the limelight (take a bow, ‘Steamship’) and general husky-voiced experience, Yan Tan Tethera is your Huckleberry. – Sam.
Dead Gaze – Dead Gaze
The schizophrenic dreamy spools being unravelled in front of your eyes are not the crashing down after several fresh pots of coffee, but Dead Gaze by Dead Gaze. Vocals are processed up to a meeting point between Cyberman and Beck‘s rap in ‘Loser’, and the mood changes from dreamy rock belters (‘Remember what brought us here’) to slightly 80s pop rock songs with a very fresh twist (the lovely ‘Glory days for sure’ – my fave of the bunch.) Not a single slow moment here, nor a time to stop; Dead Gaze is doing 90 mph in a crotch rocket down the Santa Monica freeway. There are no lights in the horizon and no sound but a screaming exhaust and a loud, reverberated chord progression whipping us into shape (‘There’s a time to be stupid’.) Need weird pop, i.e. pop that’s not mushy and has a bit more substance than “I love you, I miss you, ad nauseaum?” Here’s a good antivenom. Sure need one right now. – Orestes “Dumped” P. Xistos.
The Growlers – Hung at heart
Somewhere, in the great San Fernando Valley area during the late 50s, a bunch of teens jumped into their modified hot rod. Inspired by their love of the Santa Ana Drag Strip, they floored it and somehow managed to appear in 2013, quiffs and all. They were well versed in music, so it was a sure shot they would decide to live off the rest of their temporal misplaced lives as musicians. Calling themselves The Growlers, they offered the lesser known sounds from their era in one sweet album called Hung at Heart. Oh, well, it could very well be what happened, as The Growlers sound like a lost band from the late 50s, with some 60s pop psychedelia thrown in for good measure. The song titles are quite amusing (‘Pet Shop Eyes’, ‘Use me for your eggs’) but don’t think of them as a gimmicky band; a full serving of reverb and some swaying are all included in Hung at Heart. Prime choice? ‘Beach Rats’ is my suggestion but if you want a good one early on the album, ‘Salt on the slug’ is equal parts hypnotic and scary (slightly The Twilight Zone too!) – Orestes P. Xistos
Shugo Tokumaru – In Focus?
Confusing but rewarding. That’s what I said the first time I heard In Focus? by Shugo Tokumaru. That’s not a backhanded compliment, that’s my honest discombobulated opinion. Like The Matrix, you can’t be told what it is, you must experience it by yourself. But for a moment, I’ll pretend to do my reviewing job and give it a shot: Math Pop. Think a bit of Maps & Atlases, a bit of Bossa Nova and a bit of pure pop perfection (i.e. anything in the Polyvinyl back catalogue). Frowns are turned upside down with songs as bubbly as ‘Poker’ and ‘Katachi’, with their myriad of musical ideas blend together like a nice fruit smoothie.
Shugo Tokumaru manages to be like a multiclass character in an RPG game, only instead of having a slow but steady growth while slaying kobolds, he’s gone for a baker’s dozen of minotaurs, winning a lot of experience in one fell swoop of intricate pop music. You need to raise a smile and maybe shake your hips? Have a round with this. – Sam.