Sunday, July 22, 2018

Night Club : " Scary World"

This duo from LA takes the Halloween trapping of gothic dark-wave and pairs it up with some pretty banging pop beats that have drive to them. This is layered with sugary sweet female vocals not unlike Chrvches. Lyrically their is more an edge looking at the underbelly to the City of Angels, with lyrics looking at drugs and mental illness. Though in an almost cartoonist way. The smooth 80s inflected grooves begin to run together on "Your Addiction" with the more whispered vocal on the verse the only separating it. The frequently synth arpeggio patterns do create this more uniform sound against he grooves. While this formula is infectious the deeper we move into the album it begins to lose a little of the edge it first delivered.

They get some of this back with more Nine Inch Nails influenced beat of "Candy Coated Suicide". Their vocalist might have a voice that drips with Lolita like sex appeal, but her range is also limited to this.This doesn't mean there is no sense of dynamics as they do capture a wider range than say the new Lords of Acid. "Therapy" finds the synths taking on more of the Stranger Things synth wave feel while keeping a pulse with more in common with the groove the Eurythmics used to use.If we are still tracing back this music's origins the slight disco feel of "Imaginary Friend" is not unlike Blondie.Granted this is Blondie through the filter of modern pop.

"Vampires" is marginally darker, I mean it would have to be that is pretty much a no brainer. Aside from that it does little to set itself from the uniform formula applied to the other songs. There is piano to "Survive" that provides a little different color , but it's the more aggressive beat that wins me over.This provides the kind of dynamic contrast these kids would do best to implement more of .     Despite this being a pop album posing as dark wave for Halloween in Hollywood, I think they are good at what they do regardless of the band wagons they may or may not be hopping on. I'll give this album an 8.5 and see how it grows on me.

the Column : "Oracle"

Yes, new post-punk is still coming out. I might not cover as much as I once did hear, because I got tired of rehashing a bunch of Joy Division wannabes. So these guys break the mold to some extent in order for me to take the time and listen to this album . Vocally this is falling closer to Echo and the Bunnymen with the bass line taking on more of a Joy Division like drone. Sure the Cure can always be a reference point for all post-punk that gives it a once more with feeling. The single note guitar melodies that trickle around things also contributes to this comparison to some extent. So this is not the most original thing under the killing moon, so we will see how Rueban Sawyer works with the parts he has assembled here. Gary Numan is also reference point when the synths replace the guitars as the melodic vocal point for the vocals to work around. By the time we get to the stiff drum machine driven "Reasons" despite the cooler Brit pop vocal it begins to sound the same and the album fades slightly into the background. When I tune back into this song it is revealed that the melodies have improved.

"White Smoke" gets more sinew to it's bass line , but it's competing in the mix with the keyboards. The vocals to this song are less interesting as the keyboards begin to dominate things in the Gary Numan manner. "Ladder of Love" has more of an 80s new wave feel, ass it splits the difference between organic instruments and a more plastic electronic sound. I would not cal this dark wave as it's not all that dark and fairly upbeat . I think of this projects two sides I prefer the more Echo and the Bunnymen side as it's darker and more brooding. I think with a full band and better production this project could flourish. All of the weight being placed on the sole talents of Swayer is asking a little too much.  Dark is often my answer to most musical question , but the pulse to "Turn Around" is the exception to that rule as the darker ambiance finds it still droning to a promise it never fulfills. The last song "Covers" sticks to a similar path, perhaps a little more minimalist in the sparse arrangement, that assumes the vocals are interesting enough to carry the song which might be a slight over estimation.

I'll give this album a 7.5 , I think the issues with it have been spelled out pretty well. It's not the most original thing, but I think it comes at some of these post rock staples with a different angle to them claiming most as their own while wearing his influences on his sleeve. It could be darker. It could use a real drummer than might cater to groove less droning. It could do a lot of things, but this album is what is it, not too shabby, will keep an ear out for what the future brings.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Hopesfall : "Arbiter"

I have never really paid any attention to these guys , but a friend told me Hopesfall just put out a new Hum album. While I can hear that in the guitars, the vocals are more of a throaty scream when it opens , the Hum like vocals don't come in until what might be the chorus. The pace picks up for the second song , it's almost more Helmet like. The melodic sections it ebbs down into fall into place in a similar fashion as what the Deftones are known for though less dark and brooding. "Bradley Fighting Vehicle" could easily be Cave In or many of those bands from that era. These guys sound pretty genuine in what they are doing, so I am not admonishing their love for the 90s. Even though this recalls the days of Myspace when it comes to how the vocals are shouted out, it's better for the atmospheric guitars as it gives their overall sound more grit.

"C.S Luckyone" has the vocals expanding their croon beyond the plaintive slacker rock. The riffs have a more angular modern rock touch as the drums groove behind them. "I Catapult" devolves into the kind of Jimmy Eat World middle of the road rock that I typically try to avoid.  This kind of runs  into "Tunguska" which is more dynamically and a better written endeavor.  "Aphelion" at a minute an a half if more of an interlude than really allowed to mature into the kind of fully fleshed dynamic piece most of these songs are.  "Drowning Potential" might default to the good cop / bad cop dynamic made popular in the 90s, but it's well done here with a balance of angry stomping and atmosphere.

"To Bloom" works of ambiance set against a solid groove. The guitars provide a big explosive backdrop to propel it. The last song is not far from what they have been doing for the bulk of the album, more melodic than aggressive, it has a syncopation that keeps it moving forward. I'll give this album a 9, and see how it grows on me , some of the songs kinda run from one another, with punchy moments the only things separating them, I think this is a mature step forward for this band.

Friday, July 20, 2018

Scars On Broadway : "Dictator"

Despite the fact I refuse to call this Daron Malakian and Scars on Broadway the new solo album from Daron Malakian is the closet things you are going to get to new System of a Down. Much like his first solo album, this is more rock n roll and less nu-metal than System of a Down. I have always like Malakian's vocals with System of a Down , perhaps more than Serj's. "Angry Guru" is less impressive than the more tightly written opener. The title track is more up tempo, but has a darker tension to that recalls some of System's best moment. It seems like this song was probably written for the next System of a Down album that never happened, as his takes on a lower croon that has more in common with Serj's vocal style. He also uses more of a stomping scream that really brings System back from the grave.

The dark and melodic nuances I prefer from his work continue to seep over the more bouncy rock of "Fuck and Kill". While I like the exotic touches when you compare it against the title track it's not the same caliber. Though it's not shabby either.  "Guns Are Loaded" is a little more of a power ballad in terms of dynamics. It's dark almost like something Marilyn Manson might do in one of his more organic moments. "Never Forget" is more of a straight forward rock song, that is energetic but doesn't capture everything I want from him as much as some of the other songs do. I'm not opposed to the more rock n roll side of what he does at it is done much better on "Talkin Shit". This album is somewhat hit or miss in this regard as the very next song fails to hit this very same sweet spot as effectively , maybe it's a case of going to the well too many times.

The guitar has a more frantic metal attack on "We Won't Obey". It's palm muted in an almost punk manner. More straight forward than your average System of a Down song, there are moment of quirky punch injected into it. "Sickening Wars" has a similar punk feel to it. It ends with two covers of these is an instrumental, the other is a Skinny Puppy song. It sounds nothing like the original Skinny Puppy song. I'll give this album a 9 as it's very solid and well done though not as hard hitting or gripping as the first one.

Hollow Sunshine : "Lose Your World"

We have been following the project for sometime, while a huge fan of their first release the second did not grip us as strongly. This EP finds them heading more firnly in a shoe gazing direction. It works of drone more than dynamics. The groove seemed to have a similar tension in the riff as "Stranglehold" though perhaps if it was covered by Stone Roses. "Awake and Dry" finds the vocals claiming a more substantial melody why the music simmers in a surreal murk beneath them. Still rather than going somewhere it lingers on this droning pulse with guitars toying around it.

The guitars gain a moderate amount of heft on "Heavens Sings the Soul to Sleep".  The vocals are little higher and over the dreamy wall of dense sonics sound almost like Jane's Addiction. The guitars are way noisier than Janes, and there is none of the hooky punch Perry and the boys once carried. Also the bass feels pretty buried the My Bloody Valentine like hypnosis they are trying to induce here. This song does kind of have a little more of a build than most of the others on the EP, though it introduces layers and there is never a tempo shift of any kind.

"Thank You" is not a cover of the Led Zeppelin. It's dreamy drone that reminds me a little of Jesu if their shit had been moree stripped down and basic. It's pretty much just guitar and vocals . The drums come in at the end the Led Zeppelin feel occurs in more of a "When the Levee Breaks" kinda of way. Even then the drums are no as powerful as Bonham, but who does play like that anymore? Ok I guess Clutch. But rock music is not what these guys are ultimately trying to craft here, it is something much more surreal . I'll give this album an 8, the vocals are really improved which adds to the overall sound. It is a little droning for my tastes but I think they suceeded in making the album they set out to.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Imperial Triumphant : "Vile Luxury"

The albums begins with a great deal of literal fanfare, before going into some well done , yet cut and paste black metal that really only catching my ear when the trumpets come back in, so it more Imperial Trumpet than Triumphant.The more angular death metal with touches of jazz found on "Lower World" works better for me. The drums seem to sit back a little far in the mix. Then their is a shifting dissonance to "Gotham Luxe" that moves like brackish water and while I appreciate the dark feel of the song like free form jazz it barely manages to contain this into an actual song. "Chernobyl Blues" starts off simmering and brooding then just kinda falls back into their same old bag of tricks. This becomes the problem with these guys while they do some tricky mathy discordant black metal it all begins to sound the same which is not progressive at all unless it progresses and goes somewhere.

I find myself letting this fade into the background when I return to "Cosmopolis" . The smoky jazz of "Mother Machine" snags my interest again. If this was black metal for  a David Lynch movie I might like this album more. Things do begin to progress on "the Filth". It has a woman wailing away in the background in somewhat operatic singing. This reminds me a little of Igorr when they go about it in this fashion and it finds their zaniness working with them rather than against. They really pull it together in the last three songs as even the one with the woman screaming mindlessly at the end still works.

I think the problem this album starts off with is trying to hard. It's a concept album, though not like say "Operation Mindcrime" but conceptually tries to convey something that might be forced rather than eased into. I''l round this down to a 7.5 for the initial pretentiousness and hope to hear more that is like the last three songs from them. 

Monday, July 16, 2018

Teksti-TV 666 : "Aidattu tulevaisuus"

This odd band from Finland is not just jumping on the shoe gaze band wagon they are giving the wheels a spin of their own. Where most shoe gaze tends to be slow and dreamy these guys are pretty up temp and let the guitars get spacey in the back ground as the bass and drums drive the ship. The vocals are also delivered with more of a post-punk energy rather than the more sedate breathy kind that are the norm.The kind of pop punk injection of the second gives them more of a Cure feel. My initial thought is it's a little happy. The melody has a very 80s feel.It's not until the thrid song to they finds them selves in the kind of droning groove that is set against the more typical trappings of shoe gaze that you feel like you are in more familiar territory. The guitar feels a little more like Sonic Youth in how it lays down the ground work for the vocals .

They continue band the road that's more traveled on "Severny". This has more of a Stone Roses feel. Though the first few chords hold more weight than Brit Pop and have a more My Bloody Valentine like ebbing down when the vocals come in. There is a more Led Zeppelin like pulse to the song that follows this one. It also dies down into more dreamy drift, but it does prove in the transition that their drummer has some chops. The bass leads back in with a slinky groove that the effected guitars play around. I think this song would transition well live. It swells into something more dense and sonically intense. The last song finds them racing off into a more upbeat take on 90s indie rock mixed with 80s new wave pop in the melody lost in a boozy swirl of shoe gaze guitars. +

They take enough familiar elements and polish them up before adding their own weird spin. I think this album is a more unique take on modern shoe- gaze than simply re-booting as a tribute band to Slow Dive . I'll give this one a 9 as it stays interesting, at times it can be rough around the edges and noisy, but the charm of these songs smooths even those moments over to make this a fun listen from start to finish.