Monday, 29 February 2016

ALBUM OF THE WEEK: BURLAP - BURNOUT KING

ARTIST: BURLAP
ALBUM: BURNOUT KING
https://open.spotify.com/album/6T0lY5HZDgHDhaZPNKvupe
Burlap are a noisey, heavy, punk rock 4-piece from Sydney, Australia, who have just released their debut album 'Burnout King'. The record is available as a split release through Trait Records and Black Wire Records, as a digital download and on a limited edition 12" vinyl run.

The 8-track record comes in at a little over 30 minutes and to be honest that's about all you need with this lot. The half an hour with Burlap will leave your senses tarnished for good, or bad, as they put together a mix of detestable vocals, churning guitars, pummelling drums, and unrelenting rhythms. On a side note the album was recorded and mixed by Ivan Lisyak of The Paper Scissors fame.

There is a forthright intensity throughout the album which makes you feel a little uneasy, but at same time you get the impression that Burlap are toying with us a little and aren't taking things too seriously. Our favourite track on the album - 'Bubbles' shows this with the doomy sludge riff but pop sensibilities. 'Burnout King' is not an easy listen but for those who like their music to have a darker edge and a defined transition between moods and intensity, then this may just be for you.

Monday, 22 February 2016

ALBUM OF THE WEEK: SNØSKRED - EMPTY HOUSE

ARTIST: SNØSKRED
ALBUM: EMPTY HOUSE
LABEL: RIOT FACTORY

Snøskred are a 4-piece from Trondheim in Norway, who have been together since 2010. This year sees the release of their new album - 'Empty House', which follows their 2012 debut 'Whiteout' both through the Riot Factory label.

The 8-track album has been self-produced by band members Karl Klaseie (vocals/guitar) and Kyrre Laastad (drums), and was recorded in the Greener Studio in Trondheim with help from Simen Hallset of Gold Celeste. Karl and Kyrre are joined by Lars Ove Fossheim (vocals/guitar) and Martin Hvidsten Berger (bass), who together have been working on this album for over year.

Having initially released the album in their homeland and receiving a very warm reception for the single 'Puzzle', now it's time for the rest of us to sample the band's delightful blend of gentle vocals and subtle musicianship, which puts rock and pop together in a delicate yet unhinged way.

Opening tracks 'Motor City' and 'Matador' ease everyone in before the tempo is moved up with 'Preparations'. Next is our favourite song 'Blurred Out Lights' which contains a multitude of guitars and climaxes with a feedback led onslaught (of sorts). This is followed by the new single 'Mirage' and another fuzzy guitar led song in 'Lexington Hotel'. The final two songs are the aforementioned 'Puzzle', and the final track 'Homeless' which typically follows the nature of the whole record in being unassuming, yet purposely so to allow the listener's thoughts to interweave with that of the band.

Empty House is a beautiful album which has clearly been thought through well, with much time spent ensuring the flow, tempo, direction, and feeling are all in perfect alignment. We're left with a record that is wholesome, honest, and ultimately a compelling all-round listening experience.

Monday, 15 February 2016

ALBUM OF THE WEEK: DEEP SEA DIVER - SECRETS

ALBUM: SECRETS

This week sees the release of 'Secrets', the 2nd record from Seattle's Deep Sea Diver. The album is coming out through the bands own label - High Beam Records, and follows up the 2009 EP 'New Caves', and 2012's self released debut LP 'History Speaks'. Here's an album stream on CoS.

The band are led by Jessica Dobson on vocals and guitar, and she's a pretty big deal having been a part of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Beck, and most prominently with The Shins. Now though she's putting all her effort into Deep Sea Diver, where she is joined by Peter Mansen on drums (he's Jessica's husband), Garrett Gue on bass, and Elliot Jackson on guitar and synth.

The 10-track album was produced by Luke Vander Pol and was recorded at The Bank Studios in LA by Darrell Thorp. The opening track is 'Notice Me', where we get four and half minutes to hear what makes Deep Sea Diver tick - a collection of gorgeous layered synths, sweet pop melodies, and swathes of guitar riffs. This formula is repeated throughout the album, with 'Secrets' being one of our favourites for this - with the prominent guitars being flanked by Dobsons defined vocals, and the groovy bass and synths.

'Great Light' and 'New Day' are two of the finest pop songs we've heard in a while, both being incredibly touching piano led tracks that are filled with emotion and intent. Tracks like that are then followed by a song like 'See These Eyes' which is built upon a disco beat, or the cool as anything lo-fi guitar led tracks 'It Takes A Moment' and 'Body On The Tracks'.

After playing 'Secrets' for a few spins there's a beautiful moment when it becomes apparent that the body of work here will yield plenty on repeat listens, and indeed please those that can catch the band playing live. Jessica Dobson has clearly always been talented, and no doubt learned from working with her illustrious piers, but now is the time for Deep Sea Diver to stand out and be counted.

Monday, 8 February 2016

ALBUM OF THE WEEK: FALL SEATTLE - FALL SEATTLE

ARTIST: FALL SEATTLE
ALBUM: FALL SEATTLE
LABEL: FAUX DISCX
https://open.spotify.com/album/5uuFcoKXn1hqQBPHQvYxZL 

Fall Seattle are a four-piece from Reston, Northern Virginia who have been together since 2012 and this year are releasing their debut self titled album. The record is coming out through Faux Discx, an excellent independent label based in Brighton and run by Dan Reeves, who is making the album available through a limited edition run of tape cassettes as well as a digital download.

This 11-track album is varied both in style and tempo, as tracks come in anywhere between 2 and a half minutes to 5 and a half minutes, with a multitude of reference points along the way particularly centred around dreamy shoegaze pop rock. Perhaps that's no surprise when the band express their love for the likes of Can, Faust, and Kraftwerk, alongside pop, post-hardcore, noise, and punk acts.

Our favourite tracks from the album range from 'Wanda Johnson', a song which evokes memories of warm summer days and nights, to 'New York' with it's chunky guitars from Evan MacDonald and heady mix of soft and abrasive vocals from Orsy Campos. 'Boyhood' is another strong track, with the tempo slowed right down, allowing the guitars to stretch out in feedback, again at odds with the delicate tones from Orsy. 'Nothing You Can Hold On To' and 'All Night' shows off the bass guitar skills from William Campos and drums of Jack Erickson, very much in a Cure-esque style.

This debut record from Fall Seattle was apparently 2 years in the making, but for our ears it's certainly been well worth the wait; they've created a compact, varied, and recurrent album which traverses the spectrum of guitar music with great aplomb.

Monday, 1 February 2016

ALBUM OF THE WEEK: EMILY WELLS - PROMISE

 ARTIST: EMILY WELLS
ALBUM: PROMISE
https://open.spotify.com/album/4DgmQRzv0fWjjaXzxRrKT2

Promise is the fourth album from Emily Wells, a multi-instrumentalist, composer, and songwriter from Texas, USA. The new LP follows up her previous albums 'Beautiful Sleepyhead & The Laughing Yaks', 'Symphonies: Dreams, Memories & Parties', and the most recent from 2012 - 'Mama'. This latest record is the first to come out through Emily's own Thesis & Instinct Records.

As you might expect from someone who started in music as a 13 year old, where she wrote, produced, played, and released everything herself, there's many influences and styles that can be found on this album - from classical, folk, and electronica, Promise has little boundaries. The album's lead single is 'You Dream Of China', but for us its the middle tracks of the record that really stand out with 'Pack Of Nobodies', 'Take It Easy', 'Come To Me', and 'Fallin In On It' flowing effortlessly.

In total there are 11 tracks on this album, with the shortest coming at just under the 4 minute mark - meaning there's a lot for the listener to take on board. That's part of the beauty of 'Promise', there's a journey to be had, whereby you get to know these intimate songs which aren't necessarily going to grab you straight away, but with some time and effort you can really appreciate the work Emily Wells has put in here. It's a body of work that must be incredibly personal for her, and to share that with the world would have been daunting, but ultimately it's a significant release and her strongest to date.