Posts Tagged ‘2012’

Foxygen – We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic (Jagjaguwar)

March 13, 2013

Q) What do you get if you consume records by Velvet Underground, Jefferson Airplane and Mercury Rev? 
 
A) Well apart from terrible indigestion you get ‘We are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic.’ The second album from Californian duo Foxygen.

Foxygen’s level of Magpiery is almost overwhelming on first listen. Musically centred on the experimental rock sounds of early 60’s British Invasion & late 60’s San Francisco. The title is reminiscent of records by The Kinks and Pink Floyd which would be lavished large over 12 inch Vinyl LPs. Incidentally Foxygen is an appalling name for a band.

The opener begins the voyage tellingly from the darkness introducing optimism of alien races and non-scepticism leading in to “No Destruction.”

Which  begins with ‘Candy Says’ by VU with a Spandau Ballet (Bah, ba ba, bah bah) beat. The themes of emerging Americana are littered throughout “I’m sending you this photograph of me in my brand new car.” The ubiquitous pot references, “someone who smokes pot in the subway with me“, and “but the door of consciousness isn’t open anymore. Oh you think it’s over, oh, you think it’s over to me”, possibly lamenting the end of the flower power era.

” The pitfall for any modern Psych-band is sounding more like Scooby Doo on crack than the 13th Floor Elevators.”

“On Blue Mountain” introduces the overarching religious theme that creeps through this album “I was looking through the bible”, “Try and be what God wants you to be…”  It’s the most MGMT-like track on the album so far, the pitfall for any modern Psych-band is sounding more like Scooby Doo on crack than the 13th Floor Elevators. The ‘spot the song’ accolade in this track goes to Elvis Presley’s ‘Suspicious Minds.’

Track 4 is the most representative song on the album. For fucks sake it’s called San Francisco with a Magic Roundabout refrain. This song channels the male/female duo espoused by popular bands of the hippy era. The vocal goes a little Syd Barrett at one point and references to “The new sensations” are reminiscent of early British Invasion, The Kinks et al.  And happily (depending on your outlook) it carries on the Christian theme with “Jesus was from Israel” and a bit of Hindu mythology with the introduction of a sacred Cow, perfectly summarises these fickle times and reflected by the lyrics “I left my love in San Francisco. That’s okay I was bored anyway.”

Kicking in to the saxophone thumping, desert drive interlude. “Bowling Trophies” feels like it’s been ripped straight out of Las Vegas desert road-trip film (Wild at Heart or Fear in Loathing in Las Vegas) a sentiment alluded to later “I’ve got a movie playing in my mind…”

The album listening journey (oh no) plays like a fabled acid trip, the album goes up a hill, interspersed with jazz interludes and psych freak outs. The titular track has everything from Mick Jagger aping vocals to staccato 13th Floor Elevators freak outs right across the board.

Despite all its obvious faults, We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic, is actually a pretty enjoyable listen. I gather it’s what others get from modern day throwbacks like Tame Impala, who I’ve never been able to stick. Maybe the Australians over-reliance on Merseybeat era Beatles feels awkwardly hollow, much in the same way as an actor adopting a poor imitation Scouse accent causes me immediate anger and pain. Maybe in these economically rife times we need the nostalgia of times when faux-spirituality, reckless drug-taking and free love were de rigueur and no one was arsed if it made any sense.  I mean try listening to “Oh Yeah” and not being happy, the beat is practically begging for a hip hop remix.

The Money Store – Death Grips (Epic Records)

December 16, 2012

tumblr_m7e1ulr6QJ1qjpnsmThe album of 2012 is The Money Store by Death Grips.  It’s a chaotic, turbulent and an uncomfortable listen on first digestion. Perfectly representing a year of  financial and economic uncertainty, political unrest across the world and yadda yadda. Oh yeah and the Mayan Apocalypse…

Death Grips have had a pretty mad year. Getting signed to Major Label Epic Records then getting subsequently dropped for giving away their album for free on file-sharing sites behind the labels back. This band epitomise punk subversiveness  and self-destruction as exemplified by the outlandish album artwork.

As a novice/fraudulent music critic its’ hard for me to verbalise my thoughts when it comes to why I like a band. “Sound that” is usually adequate for most. The good thing about  Death Grips is probably nobody knows what they’re talking about when describing them. Probably not even the band.

The Money Store is like smashing a light bulb into your wrist. Or musical MDMA if you prefer, immediately dangerous sounding and infectious.

It’s a stretch to call this genre of music anything, least of all electro/rap/rock so I won’t bother. Basically
it’s an angry sounding black dude shouting over a barrage of sound effects, samples and a relentless wave of percussion. And it’s fucking great.

The best three songs are the stuttering, bass-beating call-to-arms “Get Got”,  the soulful, cruising (in the context of the album anyway) “I’ve Seen Footage”  and the paranoid, relentless album closer “Hacker.

The Top 5 Records of MMXII / 20:12

August 31, 2012

The year of our Lord: MMXII or 20:12 if you’re digital. What follows is a brief appraisal of the years musical offerings to the fickle hydra that is music. Lay down your first-born at the Great Pyramid of Tenochtitlan.

Where are we? Ah yes. Music. Follow me…

Beach House – Bloom (Sub Pop)

Ethereal. Otherworldly. Dream Pop. Which means? Beach House have created a fantastic summer record made for lying on the grass and staring at a clear blue sky. Alternatively it can be enjoyed through headphones sitting next to the patio door, pining, as the great British summer pours from the grey heavens.

The title ‘Bloom’ conjures up Nirvana’s ‘In Bloom’

‘Bloom’ can be seen as the evolution of the surf-rock revival fad a few years ago, bands such as Wavves, Best Coast, etcetera. Yet it is the wiser, more grown-up brother to the anarchic stoner punks that preceded it.

The record has a euphoric quality which is summed up most perfectly in ‘Lazuli.’ – (which I sounds a bit like ‘Life in a Northern Town‘)

Django Django – Django Django (Because Music)

“Our name has absolutely nothing to do with Django Reinhardt”,

Django, Django, Django, Django. Are they named after four Gypsy, digit-impaired musical maestros? Well apparently not.

The band occupy a new wave of ‘geek-rock’ along with  proceeding band (*spoiler warning*) alt-J, therefore a seemingly impenetrable name is de rigueur.  Add to that a flourish of obscure lyrics and occasional smatterings of computer-related sound effects and you’ve kinda got the idea. The band stroll down a path previously paved by fellow-Scots Franz Ferdinand & non-fellow Scots  Hot Chip.  The stand-out single is the stomp-box, computer-inspired pop-song ‘Default.’

The band have an experimental avant-garde sound combined with radio-friendly tunes akin to the *excellent* Beta Band.

2012 has been without a doubt the year of the disastrous sophomore album. Either critically or commercially or any -ally that actu-ally matters. To list but a smattering – Santogold, Marina & The Diamonds, Sleigh Bells, The Temper Trap, Miike Snow & Best Coast. Have all either been shite or failed to meet expectations. I won’t review what I haven’t heard but reservations remain for The xx’s follow-up along with *shudders* Mumford & Sons upcoming record.

 

***Death Grips review here*** 

 

Grimes – Visions (Arbutus) AND  Purity Ring – Shrines (4AD)

“Cut open my sternum and pull my little ribs around you,”

Yes two albums for the price of one, i.e. nothing. Due to the limited space I’ve imposed upon myself by arbitrarily declaring this the five best albums of 2012 so far, I’ve had to economise. And with what style. These two albums are perfect bedfellows. Furthermore I gather the two artists are pals. Perfect.

“Grimes is easily my favourite artist of the year. Her often wonderfully haunting vocals over such well produced tracks works so perfectly to me.” – @loluke

Grimes’ album is a mix of dirty ethereal electro, the grimey (urgh) beats are contrasted starkly with Claire Boucher’s sweet vocals.  The album is hard to pin down and therefore I won’t.  Safe to say ‘Visions’ is highly progressive and Grimes is one of the shining lights of the ever blossoming Montreal music scene.

Purity Ring’s offering is slightly more upbeat-pop than Grimes’ effort, but by no means is it Passion Pit levels of accessibility. Your Grandparents wouldn’t approve. Comparisons can be drawn with The xx at their most voluminous. The titles of the songs are reminiscent of  newspeak from George Orwell’s ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four’ (Grandloves, Belispeak, Crawlersout)  synthesising two words to create new meanings.

Musically ‘Shrines’ is more dub-steppy than ‘Visions’  highlighted by ‘Ungirthed’ -another Newspeak word, maybe. Which features the tried and trusted ‘whomp, whomp’ baseline and ‘yeah yeahs’ -if there’s a better description for those tropes I’m all ears btw.

alt-J – An Awesome Wave (Infectious Records)

Other band name considerations included FILMS & Daljit Dhaliwal

I’ve reviewed this record in depth here. Needless to say it’s easily one of 2012 best, a benchfellow to Django Django’s LP. ‘Tessellate’ is described rather marvellously by Sam Wolfson as being “an onomatopoeic puzzle of angular beats and pointed sexual advances.” It’s perfect coffee-shop faire, as a former barista myself I mean that as high praise.

I firmly believe alt-J’s music is a result of earlier works by bands such as Bloc Party Wild Beasts & Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. With Joe Newman’s marmite-like vocals being comparable to the latter two.

To conclude 2012 so far has been the year of geekrock, or post-dubstep electro , or dreampop, or the shit second album ….

Basically anything that wasn’t L*n* D*l R*y. I need more Pale Ale. All hail Tlaloc!