Category: Music Reviews


Courtney Barnett/ Kurt Vile
Lotta Sea Lice
Matador

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Australian singer, songwriter meets up with American singer, songwriter and the outcome is really darn good. Perhaps a bit surprising given stylistic differences; Barnett’s sometimes weird, rambling spoken-word style and Vile’s blend of rock, folk, new wave, and country-pop. The duo does come into alignment, but it seems as though Vile is the dominating influence, i.e., Courtney drifts closer to Kurt’s sonic signature than vice versa (take “Over Everything”, for example). There is some foot tapping to do through “Continental Breakfast” and “Blue Cheese”. This is a nice autumn release; maybe find the groove by thinking bright-colored leaves on sunny New England day. Even if you’re not into one artist or the other, or both, open up and give it a listen.


The World
First World Record
Upset the Rhythm

Visit The World at Upset The Rhythm and iTunes

Lots of good recordings out there this week, but in the end the HorizonVU pick goes to The Word for their release “First World Record” on Upset the Rhythm. This album is juiced up post-punk. If you can imagine X-Ray Spex minus Poly Styrene with some Slits here and there and some LiLiPUT combined with a signature wicked sax duo – you’re pretty much there. The Oakland-based band features Amber Sermeno on bass and vocals, Elyse Schrock on drums and vocals, guitarist Andy Jordan, Alexa Pantalone on bongos and Stanley Martinez on sax. Pantalone and Martinez are the saxophonists contributing in a big way to the band’s sonic signature. The album takes off with “Hot Shopper” which streaks by in under two minutes, but you’ll enjoy boppin’ along. “Chet Baker”and “Namaste” really deliver what it seems fair to say is the band’s sound. The album closes out with “I Fell in Love With a Slumlord” a melodic in sort of scratchy way accompanied by a heavy dose of sax. This is the kind of album that makes one want to see the live show. It just screams fun! Read more about this band and follow the tour schedule at Brooklyn Vegan.


Wolf Alice
Visions of a Life
RCA

Ellie Rowsell (vocals, guitar), Joff Oddie (guitars, vocals), Theo Ellis (bass), and Joel Amey (drums, vocals), aka Wolf Alice, have put forth an album of rock, grunge and shoegaze blended with lyrics that are sometimes melancholy and sometimes hostile or pernicious. The band’s arguably at its best in dreamy alt-rock as with the opening track “Heavenward”. The bad-tempered “Yuk Foo” brings out rage and hostility – “I want to fuck all of the people I meet” and “St. Purple and Green” alternates between a composition which is mellow and wet and grunge. The final track “Visions of a Life” is an adventurous journey through disquietude clocking in at just under eight minutes. In addition to the performance, the track is notable for both it’s production (Justin Meldal-Johnsen) and mix (Tom Elmhirst).


Shout Out Louds
Ease My Mind
Merge

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The Swedish band, Shout Out Louds, is back! Adam Olenius, Bebban Stenborg, Ted Malmros, Carl von Arbin, and Eric Edman have released “Ease My Mind”, a stellar contribution of dream pop. The opening track, “Jumbo Jet” makes puchasing the album worth your while. The song was motivated by Olenius’ fear of flying gives some special understanding of the composition and lyrics. If you’re in the market for some nostalgic, shoegaze, indie pop, ” “Ease My Mind” is for you.


The Willowz
Fifth
Thrill Me

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California-based garage punk rock band, The Willowz, is back with more of their trademark fusion of punkrock and blues. The trio of Richie James Follin (Vocals and Guitar), Jessica Anne Reynoza (Bass Guitar and Vocals) and Loren Shane Humphrey (drums) haven’t lost their edge and in comparison to previous work, Follin has done a most sound-worthy job of getting the mix to the next level. The album takes off with melodious and catching “Don’t Let Them See” and “Never Let You Go” at just under two minutes offers up a brilliant adrenaline rush. The final track “Lily” is an achievement of richness bolstered by instrumental (string) embellishment. Not to take away from the sheer enjoyment of listening to the album, but you might want to put on a set of high-end earphones and pay attention to the technical work on this contribution.


Midnight Sister
Saturn Over Sunset
Jagjaguwar

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This genre-defying debut release from duo Juliana Giraffe and Ari Balouzian, “Midnight Sister” (co-produced by Alex Izenberg), conjures up a gripping music buffet of pop; groove; Southern European yé-yé à la manière de Serge Gainsbourg; Beatles-esque, Moody Blues-y, Bowie-Visconti “Space Oddity”(get the idea?) Mellotron-fuelled wafts; woodwinds and strings that are sure to play on your psyche. It’s been said that the album is Hollywood cinematic, which is true, but moreover, it is an mature standout in the line of new releases this year offering the listener a journey, which might feel uncomfortable or weird at times, but it’s worth the ride. You’ll surely be swept off your feet by “Blue Cigar”. The instrumental “The View from Gilligan’s Island” has elements of Baroque pop and with “Showgirl” you’re likely fall into that heightened, magical world of the musical production. By the time you reach the final track don’t be surprised if you feel like you’ve been immersed in a Lynchian surreal exposé where the familiar seeems strange – “Mulholland Drive” or “Twin Peaks” Bang Bang Bar – but you’re alright and with “Their Eyes” Giraffe’s mesmeric vocal will leave you feeling that the journey has ended happily and the end credits are rolling.


INHEAVEN
INHEAVEN
PIAS

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INHEAVEN are a four-piece alternative rock band from South London with members Chloe Little (bass, vocals), James Taylor (vocals, guitar), Joe Lazarus (drums) and Jake Lucas (guitar). There’s just no other way to say it, but this debut album rocks big time! Yes, there’s some shoegaze, but it’s artfully blended with dominant rock and grunge, so it’s certainly not more dream pop and you won’t get sucked into dreamblends of undifferentiated sounds (of which the market offers plenty). The opening track, “Baby’s Alright” offers up an excellent up to now/then statement on American culture which is surely enough to get Mr. Trump raging away on Twitter. Politics aside (not possible, really), it’s a rocker brought to accentuated heights by Joe’s drums, Chole’s bassline, and buzzed guitars. And while there’s been a lot said about the tracks “Bitter Town” and “Regeneration” (neither should be ignored), there’s still a preference here for the uncontrolled agitation of the band’s debut single, “Bitter Town”. Add the album to your collection for it’s social sensitivity and fanfuckingtastic alt-rock.


The Lovely Bad Things
Teenage Grown Ups
Burger Records

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The Lovely Bad Things have released their second album, “Teenage Grownups”, so brace yourself for exceptionally energetic rock-punk-garage. The Lovely Bad Things is brothers Camron (guitar, vocals) and Brayden Ward (drums, vocals), Lauren Curtius (guitar, vocals), Tim Hatch (guitar) and Wesley Baxter (bass). The album opens with a frantic “I’ll Listen” that’s sure to wake you up and keep you listening. The album’s title track “Teenage Grown Ups” is next up and if you’re young and anxious for the future or if you’ve already joined the masses of disillusioned adult office workers, this song has to resonate. But either way join the band in keeping your sense of humour (check out the video). You can slow down a bit with “Cartoon Food”. You gotta love the “woo-woos”! “I Just Want You To Go Away” shows that while the songs are often quite amusing and melodious, the band can also slap you…

“I’m not gonna hide
But honey, you better
Get on a bus go downtown
Get a life

And the boys that hear you sobbing– don’t give a shit
I don’t know what I’m searching for– but I know that you’re not it
Where have you been all my life?– so I know where you can stay
I don’t know what I want anymore– I just want you to go away”

Go ahead and download “Teenage Grown Ups” and enjoy. If it doesn’t make your day better, well sorry, “Get a life”!


The Accidentals
Odyssey
Masterworks

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The Michigan-based trio comprised of singer/songwriter/multi-intstrumentalists Savannah Buist and Katie Larson along with drummer Michael Dause, has released a strong folk-rock album. The songs certainly make for great listening, but it’s important to recognize the technical achievements of the group. Without advocating study of music theory, it’s enough to say that a lot of effort has gone into the construction and delivery of the songs perhaps most evident in “Memorial Day” and “Cut Me Down”. Yes, the end of summer is upon us, but you can extend your holidays at least one more day by downloading “Odyssey” and taking some time to enjoy this LP.


Amy O
Elastic
Winspear

Indiana-based Amy O’s (Amy Oelsner) “Elastic” is justly titled owing to the artist’s penchant for out of the ordinary song structures, changes in pace (moving from opening track “Lavender” to “Soft Skin” or “History Walking to “Sunday Meal”, for example) and melodies. The twelve track album is a quick listen with only two tracks (“Cherry Blossom” and “Spill”) running over three minutes. But, the briskness of the album along with the changes in tension and mobility moving track-to-track and the melodic relationships are what makes this debut album work. Oh, it’s a fair bet that there’s a hook or two that will stick in your head. “Elastic” is a worthy debut.

Visit Amy O at Facebook and iTunes


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