Album Reviews

Filter :

Released Out now

 

Paying For More (Single)

Jo Below

Inverse Records

Flipping through the catalogue of rock music’s past, and then applying their own modern twist on the genre, is Finnish (alt) rockers Jo Below. Surfacing in 2017, the four-piece band quickly got to work writing and recording tracks that will feature as part of a forthcoming EP scheduled for release in September 2020. Providing a flavour of this upcoming record is the track ‘Paying For More’, which is available now via all good digital streaming platforms. The song itself is an energetic rocker that melds the previously mentioned influence of traditional rock music, but with something more modern where rock and punk music fuse and produce something akin to the likes of Blink-182 largely due to the melodic passages appearing in various places of ‘Paying For More’. From such a confident beginning, the anticipation for the rest of Jo Below’s debut EP is greatly anticipated when that arrives this autumn.


Released Out now

 

Glass Island

Richard Luke

Moderna Records

Happening purely by chance only recently, the artist and compositions of Richard Luke entered the office at FLW via news of a remix of last year’s ‘Glass Island’ recording. With 2019’s ‘Glass Island’ also being a fresh set of recordings to this very music paper, a request was wired to the pianist/instrumentalist for a chance to experience, first-hand, the tracks making up this sophomore album. With ‘Glass Island’ displaying the singular name Richard Luke, the truth unveils, once liner notes are perused, a second and yet equal main staple of this recording by the name of Amira Bedrush-McDonald. Providing plenty of bittersweet moments and added tension by means of violin and partnering the chief vehicle of piano driving this long player, immediate impressions suggest ‘Glass Island’ is a record filled with much melancholy. That said, it is a beautiful sadness and deeply touching as it grips the senses between its teeth from the initial notes of ‘Everything A Reason’ to the concluding steps of ‘Breathe’. It’s cinematic in its visions as well as intimate where songs build brick by brick and provide optimism via such delights as ‘Silent Story’ and the all-to-brief ‘Last Call’, which captivates via a weaving spell of strings and piano. However, this short moment of beauty flowers into something far greater (‘Freda’) where tears cascade in unision to the delicate sounds peddled by the two musicians at work here, giving way to much reflection and bring to mind Scotland’s romantic poets’ The Bathers circa ‘Sunpowder’ minus the vocals on this occasion of course. There is simply no fault with the second offering coming from the stable that is Richard Luke (and Amira Bedrush-McDonald) because ‘Glass Island’ is an album to break the strongest of hearts yet also provide reasons for optimism that all is not lost. A true work of art.


Released Out now

 

Less One Knows

Benjamin Finger

Dead Definition

Appropriate really considering the title of Norwegian Benjamin Finger’s album ‘Less One Knows’ that there is no press information accompanying this latest release and, therefore, leaving any theories and conclusions solely at the feet of the individual. An album wide open to interpretation therefore, and leap into a blackened wilderness, but most certainly not into the unknown considering Famous Last Words’ previous commentary on the works of Benjamin Finger. That said, ‘Less One Knows’ removes those comfy slippers Mr Finger was becoming accustomed with and immediately throws a U-turn where sounds were previously ethereal, wispy and largely communicating in electronic jargon, and replaced by such examples as the opening cacophony of noise illustrated by ‘Open Phase’. It is the start of this journey and it is one trying to remove itself from the confined space it finds itself in. It is the sound of a traffic jam in rush hour largely demonstrated by use of guitar. It is this very instrument that shapes and steers this new record and sounds somewhat alien when considering previous albums of Benjamin Finger. It is an angry record in several places given the hardened, charcoaled textures of ‘Screaming Mind’ where one can visualise sheets of rain beating down, to one that has been listening to and taking notes of post-rock and shoegaze. More specifically, the ghost of Joy Division is a reference point given the heavy melancholy of captivating ‘Bothered Earwaves’. Something has certainly shifted in the sea of sounds when it comes to Benjamin Finger because ‘Less One Knows’, in all of its details, is a record attempting to make sense of an episode that provides no comfort, only sadness, where memories surface and fade from thought and illustrated compellingly from start to finish via mainly electric guitar and, more or less, a first on this very manor, strong(ER) use of vocals where direct commentary between artist and audience is almost given, but then that would be a disservice to the title and overall context of this magnificent body of work. Sometimes in life, ‘Less One Knows’ really does provide more consolation.


Released Out now

 

Climate (Single)

Rylos

Rylos Music

Another release that rightly feels the urge to address the current environmental issues that are constantly in the media right now. The band in question is Rylos who hail from Helsinki in Finland and their new single, appropriately titled, ‘Climate’ is a rather catchy affair. With its sound crossing borders between alternative rock and hard rock, ‘Climate’ introduces itself via tumbling drums, buzzing guitars and near-operatic vocals, before taking a moment to catch its breath and then continue its journey with a hard-hitting message to basically take care of this planet. ‘Climate’ was recorded at Astia Studio with Anssi Kippo in early January 2020, and it’s recorded completely using analogue recording technology. With the band adding to the mix new bassist, Riina Suikkanen, it looks like 2020 is going to be a serious year for Rylos judging by the energy and addictive qualities of latest single ‘Climate’ that combines its efforts equally between being a compelling tune and one with a conscience.


Released Out now

 

Hold My Hand

Ecovillage

Eilean Records

Limited to a mere 130 copies is the new album from Ecovillage. ‘Hold My Hand’ is the latest creation from collaborators Emil Holmstrom and Peter Wikstrom. Despite working together since 2001 on different music projects, it wasn’t until 2006 that the pair decided to set up Ecovillage after a period of travelling around South Asia and being inspired greatly as a result of this trip. With several albums already to their name, Ecovillage issue album number six, ‘Hold My Hand’, with a “less is more attitude” that sees the creative duo let go of any past constraints in terms of creating their music and allow for a more minimalist approach. Such working conditions in terms of ‘Hold My Hand’ are evident from the beautiful artwork with its bright colours gracing its cover where nature is expressed in a patchwork/jigsaw effect, to the ambient music flowing from its contents. If you’re searching for peace and tranquillity then you’ve come to the right place as ‘Remember The Sky’ opens a doorway to a quiet corner of the world where there is a secluded beach and only nature’s inhabitants for company set to a gentle acoustic guitar and the barest sound of a piano. Other tracks such as ‘Heaven In Your Eyes’ offer a more melancholic feel yet capture the senses equally with its cello taking a star turn, only for the mood to swing via the liquid gold impression of ‘Novus Lux’. There’s a fine balance created by Ecovillage and ‘Hold My Hand’, where the cello often brings out the darker atmospherics lingering in the background, but there remains much light as well and therefore capturing the different moods no doubt experienced when the previously mentioned journey helped to inspire this latest album.


Released Out now

 

Illuminate

offthesky

Eilean Records

Described as an “experimental sound artist” is offthesky (all lowercase). Such a label is a fitting description once the contents of latest album ‘Illuminate’ begins to unravel its tapestry of piano, synths, percussion, cello, oboe, viola, violin, sax and pretty much the whole kitchen sink (!), where it soon becomes apparent that much thought and attention to detail has been considered. This becomes clearer once the background details of current album ‘Illuminate’ reveal that it began its inception during autumn 2017 and was spread out in terms of its recordings with stints in Denver and Kentucky and the European destinations of Latvia and Poland. It wasn’t until two years later that the recording of ‘Illuminate’ was completed. With offthesky presented as the solo work of Michael Jason Corder, the new album includes a variety of musicians who offer their skills. As often with Eilean Records, the music is often a purely instrumental affair, but every now and again you will hear the faintest of vocals, something of which is utilised during ‘Illuminate’. As mentioned already, the sounds are often experimental and lean towards ethereal sounding compositions (‘Eyes Like Isles’) or moody reflective numbers such as ‘Future Fire’, held together by a compelling saxophone. There is often the suggestion of late-night wonders under moonlit skies (depending on your interpretation of course) via dreamy ‘Neon Aeon’ and more tense ‘Monomystic’ with its shades of folk music. Having released a mammoth number of albums, latest addition ‘Illuminate’ is another strong and moving record to add to the catalogue of offthesky.


Released Out now

 

Crossing

Seabuckthorn

Eilean Records

Clocking up an impressive eight studio albums is Seabuckthorn otherwise known as Andy Cartwright. With latest album ‘Crossing’ finding a home at Eilean Records, Seabuckthorn gets to showcase fourteen new tracks of instrumental passages. Beginning with ‘Crossing’ where its use of bowed resonator guitar certainly grabs all of the attention as it vibrates loudly and can still be heard echoing faintly on occasions during the following, yet far quieter, ‘Premonition. The picking, sliding and scratching of strings continues and blossoms to fuller effect during the daylight breaking ‘The Cloud And The Redness’. As mentioned, with fourteen tracks to fall on, there is much to consume here, and for Seabuckthorn to explore, which shows via the faint synths and use of bow grinding across strings, albeit in the same faint sounding manner, and allowing for much reflection during ‘The Observatory’. ‘The After Quiet’ offers something quite different with its sounds illuminating like a flashing beacon cast adrift at sea. The introduction of banjo and percussion (‘Cleanse’) adds further dimensions to the overall sounds and reveals further talents of the musicianship of Seabuckthorn. ‘Crossing’ is an album that requires repeat listens due to the detail on display, but once these details become more known, you will not be able to let this album go.


Released Out now

 

Surface Textures

Andrew Tasselmyer

Eilean Records

Far from being a newcomer to a corner of the music world that exists on a diet of field recordings, samples, electronics and numerous other instruments when called for, American Andrew Tasselmyer sees his latest creation ‘Surface Textures’ released via Eilean Records. Going to great lengths to capture the sounds included on ‘Surface Textures’ with visits to Japan, China, Europe and the USA between 2017 and 2018, there is a sense of a journey captured here that is attempting to recall the past. Whether that is a means to unravel certain memories that continue to perplex or relive happier times then that is a matter for the artist at the centre of this record to workout. But what does transpire is a series of atmospheric tracks that suggest moments where surface noises aid suggestions of memories felt, such as the darker tone of ‘From Out The Depths’, and then lead to clearer paths (‘Nara Sunset’) although (and interestingly) the murkier shades of any such fog never fully dissipates. A fourth outing for Andrew Tasselmyer with latest album ‘Surface Textures’ and it is one that will really get under your skin for numerous good reasons.


Released Out now

 

El Mar De Junio

Ciro Berenguer

Eilean Records

Strictly limited to 130 copies, latest album ‘El Mar De Junio’ (‘The Sea Of June’) from Argentinian Ciro Berenguer sees the musical composer and guitarist set out his stall in a combined use of field recordings, electronics, loops and electric guitar that results in much sound experimentation. With the sound decibels barely rising above three and the approach to the majority of tracks being minimalist at best, it remains an interesting collection of atmospheric tracks that can shine gloriously in a moment (‘Antu’) as well as remain touching and tender during others (‘Camino Al Espinillo’, ‘Luz Entre Los Bosques’). With the album taking its time to bear fruit, and finally being completed during the summer and autumn of 2017, ‘El Mar De Junio’ brings together six years’ worth of memories and emotions (Ciro Berenguer now resides in Barcelona, Spain) that are transformed into a collage of sounds that quietly go about their business and offer moments of genuine beauty.


Released Out now

 

Captivity

Forth

Secret Entertainment

Having spent a bit of time with FLW recently via interview ‘Free of Limitations’, Canadian – Finnish alternative rock band FORTH see their second album released. The band’s latest album ‘Captivity’ marries influences from alternative rock, grunge, hard rock to even Elvis Presley himself. The twelve tracks on offer certainly wear their musical influences on their sleeves where pure 90’s grunge seeps from every pore of opening songs ‘Master and Slave’ and ‘Black Angel’ with nods to both Alice in Chains and Stone Temple Pilots. Elsewhere, there is much passion to be heard in the vocals of lead singer Brian Forth who cuts a defiant figure during the ballad-esque ‘Can’t Bring Me Down’ and then switches emotional camps with the equally good and more playful rhythm of ‘Let Me In’. With ‘Captivity’ drawing on the past in terms of its influences, FORTH is a unit that remains out of synch in terms of the here and now. That is not a negative, and meant in praise because FORTH is a band who are genuine fans of music (clearly indicated by the tracks on offer) yet remain unique in their quest by sticking to their own beliefs and producing an album with a strong 90s sound in the year 2019. Such a career path is to be commended by going against the status quo and realising your dreams. FORTH has managed that with their current long player as ‘Captivity’ subtly rages against any notions of musical trends and associated constraints with a barrage of songs that also finds the time to reflect on the highs and lows of love.


Released Out now

 

DANCE!

Freedom Fuel

Secret Entertainment

Second album for Finland’s Freedom Fuel and what a ride this second outing turns out to be! Pumped up and ready to unleash a combined sound of indie rock, garage, pop and swamp blues that made up their debut album ‘Happy People’ as well, Freedom Fuel begin season two (if you like) with the delightfully creative, weird and wonderful epic that is ‘Dancing’. It starts off with an indie rock stomp, before spiralling skywards and seriously loosening up via some bluesy swamp rock and then entering a third phase of mellow electronica and back to where it all began at the indie disco. A truly beguiling start and one that will leave you speechless such is its magnitude. The energy continues with the bristling and bullish rhythm of ‘Planet Away’, which also knows how to have fun judging by its lyrics. ‘DANCE!’ also knows a few moves of its own as there is plenty of room for experimentation during its playback with ‘Suspension Of Disbelief’ providing the strongest example with its static sounding electronica and lone vocal sounding like a direct transmission from space itself. The following ‘Goddageda’ explores this experimental side further by adding more weight to the instrumentation and ends up a combined mix of indie rock and blues rock that trips along another intergalactic space tunnel that is a journey to the other side. A massive leap forward as far as the creativity is concerned when it comes to Freedom Fuel and their latest long player ‘DANCE!’, which almost defies description and will leave you scratching your head in disbelief one minute, and the next grinning in sheer delight. This is down to its overall audacity and, yes, sense of freedom. A remarkable achievement, ‘DANCE!’ deserves to be heard.


Released Out now

 

When She Is Here (Single)

Rain On Monday

ROM Music

It’s been a while since any word from Swedish singer-songwriter Rain On Monday (real name Raimond Nurmilampi) and his last output ‘Hiding Places’. With the silence finally broken this month, Rain On Monday signals a comeback via new single ‘When She Is Here’. This latest offering ushers in a more stripped back approach compared to its predecessor with the new single being mainly acoustic driven with the faintest of electronics whispering in the background. The focus of the record is the beginnings of a new relationship and the joys and fascinations this can bring, but not without forgetting the anxieties that can bubble to the surface in those isolated moments, which is all brought to the fore via the hushed tones of Rain On Monday. New single, new start and time for a full-length album judging by the ongoing high quality that ‘When She Is Here’ clearly displays.



Back To Top