Album Reviews

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Asymmetry

Karnivool

Columbia

Hailing from Australia, Karnivool raise their collective heads once more for album number three ‘Asymmetry’. Calling on the production services of Nick DiDia (Rage Against The Machine) ‘Asymmetry’ is ambitious in its approach with a sprawling mass of sounds relying on various programming spliced with standard instrumentation. What is particularly appealing here is the lack of posturing as Karnivool, despite the heavy chords, more often than not remain restrained when it comes to the vocal delivery and sounding all the more sincere. Elsewhere it’s the manner in which songs take a nosedive before applying the brakes only to follow another trajectory as expressed by the pummelling noise of ‘A.M. War’ and awe-inspiring elements of ‘Aeons’. Recent single ‘We Are’ is about as commercial as it gets for Karnivool, which is not revealing too much, as it remains dense in its layers only to be surpassed by the utterly compelling ‘The Refusal’ with its interchange of aggressive and controlled vocals before entering territory normally reserved for fellow Aussies Big Heavy Stuff. Clearly, ‘Asymmetry’ will take several sittings before the intricate details become clearer which, in the current climate of instant gratification, can only be a good thing.


Released Out now

 

Back To Forever

Lissie

Columbia

It seems an eternity since critical appraisal was bestowed on Lissie’s debut album ‘Catching A Tiger’ but the wait has certainly been worth it as ‘Back To Forever’ is bristling with energy and a little more robust than its predecessor. There is also a maturity to the songwriting as there is more of a consistency overall, such is the depth in quality ranging from the borderline country-rock ballad ‘They All Want You’ to the pounding rhythm and confessional ‘Shameless’ as both songs refer to the superficialities associated with fame. ‘Sleepwalking’ is straight out of Stevie Nicks’ handbook with its pop-rock catchiness. ‘The Habit’ and ‘Further Away (Romance Police)’ also get in on the act with their fleeting resemblances to Fleetwood Mac; the latter of which impresses the most with its brooding attitude and climatic finale. ‘I Bet On You’ is further evidence of the full-bodied approach adopted by Lissie, and all the better for it, as it is one of those songs that possesses a slow release when it comes to familiarity that will creep up on you days later with its infectious hooks hammering away at your senses as it is simply that good! ‘Cold Fish’ is an oddity whereby it works on certain levels but sounds clunky on other occasions whereas ‘Can’t Take It Back’ lands on more familiar turf with its driving pop and a reminder that Lissie can forge a path along such lines if the desire becomes too great. There is none of the second album blues when it comes to ‘Back To Forever’ as it is a resounding success that makes it 2- 0 to Lissie.


Released Out now

 

The Button Moulder

Robert Post

Bobfloat Music

Taking its title from Henrik Ibsen’s Peer Gynt, ‘The Button Moulder’ sees the welcome return of multi-talented musician and songwriter Robert Post. Having returned to his native Norway after a stint in the UK some years ago, Robert Post made a return to his roots in more ways than one. Musically, this meant a stripped-down affair that resulted in the quite sublime ‘Rhetoric Season One’ and saw Robert Post work overtime by raising the bar when it comes to defining the role of a one-man band. Such was the quality of this previous album and critical reception that a season two was hinted at consisting of a fuller sound. Finally, that moment has arrived with only the title shifting from its original conception as ‘The Button Moulder’ consists of more flesh on the bones, despite early indications suggesting differently with the exquisite vocal delivery and bare strings of a singular instrument of introduction ‘Be Kind’. Despite bringing a more comprehensive sound overall, ‘The Button Moulder’ retains a considerable amount of intimacy, due to the fact that Robert Post continues to sail alone when it comes to instrumentation duties, with warm recollections of (a) family life during ‘Safe and Sound’. ‘My Body’ is revisited, this time beefed up from its previous incarnation on ‘Rhetoric…’, and proving to be a definite thorn in Robert’s side as he attacks it with a tad more venom in a doomed attempt to stave off that bugbear of growing old. ‘The Button Moulder’s Walk’ really provides an atmosphere of wide-open spaces before arriving at its destination all too soon. Robert Post’s most compelling instrument, however, remains his vocal as there is a unique and ancient quality about it that can be traced back to earlier folk roots and best served up with ‘Feeler’. Descriptions such as a return to form do not apply when it comes to Robert Post as each and every album contains its own unique merits. In terms of ‘The Button Moulder’ it’s business as usual as Robert Post continues to evolve musically and creatively as all good artists should.


Released November 11

 

Done Days (single)

King Prawn

Yo-Silver

After a sold-out London Forum in 2003, King Prawn appeared to disappear off the edge of the map. However, there appears to be life in the old engine yet as new single ‘Done Days’, backed with ‘Solemn Man’, marks a return for this London-based band. A joint collaboration with music and clothing label Yo-Silver, ‘Done Days’ shows no sign of fatigue, considering the band’s longstanding in the industry, with its perky opening of jangling guitar complete with brass propelling the song forward revealing a penchant for ska that helps keep spirits buoyant and lyrically a suggestion of maintaining a momentum when life fails to conjure up anything conducive. The steadier ska groove that is ‘Solemn Man’, accompanied by horn section once more, is equally reflective, “Dreams that I once had are memories now”. A change in fortunes might be the outcome next year with news of a full length player scheduled for a spring release. In the meantime, King Prawn has just made the comeback single to ease any doubts concerning their relevancy in 2013, as their work is far from finished.


Released Out now

 

Ground Zero (single)

Inherit The Stars

Ambicon Records

Having attracted considerable attention with their first full-length album ‘We Were Made To Walk The Skies’, Sheffield’s Inherit The Skies make a return with a brand new single available as a free download before the band embark on their next album quest. Rather than simply plugging a gap, ‘Ground Zero’ is an impressive song held together by elements of metal and hardcore but with enough melodic interludes that is somewhere between Linkin Park and Avenged Sevenfold and therefore residing in good company. Explosive this single most definitely is, and something which can be viewed due to the band’s accompanying video that concludes the final chapter of their apocalyptic themed Orbis Trilogy of video singles, Inherit The Stars look set to take on the world.


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Om du vill vara med mig

Melissa Horn

Svedala / Sony Music

Despite seeing a wealth of promotional posters at nearly every turn for Melissa Horn’s previous work ‘Innan Jag Kände Dig’, it seems uncanny that it has taken until now, fourth album in, that finally a voice can be applied to the face adorning those promotional images. Expecting yet another perfectly executed and delicate sounding female singer-songwriter, what actually transpires from the speakers is far more interesting in fact. Sounding like Sweden’s answer to Edith Piaf ‘Om du vill vara med mig’ with songs to match that often depict much sadness when it comes to issues concerning relationships. There is a real tenderness about ‘Säg att du behöver mig’ suggesting a song close to the heart whereas the steady climb of ‘Jag har inte gett upp oss än’ brings out the aforementioned Piaf inflections to great effect, adding to the tension, and signalling this particular song out as a highlight among several. ‘Om du vill vara med mig’ definitely has a welcome home.


Released Out now

 

Last Train Home (single)

Burning Condors

Snakehand Records

Possibly Britain’s hardest working band and definitely prolific when it comes to single releases, Burning Condors unveil ‘Last Train Home’ from their debut album ‘Round Our Way’. Normal service prevails as ‘Last Train Home’ reveals the band’s cross-pollination of influences whereby a gritty indie sound has a habit of meeting up with its distant neighbour over the pond consisting of a more rootsy American flavour and, in this instance, the end result is a catchy ditty reflecting on the moment love takes a firm hold. The flipside ‘Gambling Hearts’ – recorded at Sawmills Studios that has seen the likes of Oasis and Muse committing various wares to tape – opens in a wonderful distorted tremolo effect and supported with rolling drums that paves the way for a more restrained vocal that offers a dash of variety. If it’s variation you’re searching for, however, then head to the band’s Bandcamp page for a real treat with a version of Red Foley’s ‘Never Trust A Woman’ as it is something rather special indeed.


Released November 12

 

Departures/Moose Blood EP

Departures/Moose Blood

Fist In The Air & No Sleep Records

As far as EPs go, this joint effort from Departures and Moose Blood is definitely up there with the best of them. Kicking off proceedings with equal amounts melodic guitars combining with an impassioned vocal is Departures ‘A Song For The Sunset’ sounding at the end of its tether in its declaration “everything goes full circle”. Second offering ‘Closing Doors’ is equally claustrophobic in the lyrical department but is set to a less frantic rhythm yet retains a burly edge that heightens the raw emotions spilling forth. Moose Blood follow in similar fashion with heartfelt lyrics detailing the finer details of relationships but with a slightly lighter edge when it comes to their overall sound. With that said, however, the two new compositions – ‘Stay Here’ and ‘Girl’ – see Moose Blood evolving to greater heights as there is a real sense of a band honing their craft and coming up with the goods. Such progression is notable for the harder edges of ‘Girl’ as it accelerates towards its conclusion, but also for the manner in which the band rein in any loose strands by creating tighter song structures that leave longer lasting impressions. There is simply no separating these two bands as this EP is one heck of a triumph.


Released Out now

 

Mechanical Bull

Kings Of Leon

Columbia

Something of a return to previous glories after the damp squib that was ‘Come Around Sundown’, ‘Mechanical Bull’ is the sound of a band rediscovering their form. ‘Supersoaker’ is the natural opener as it is full of vim and passion, setting things up nicely for the rest of its contents. Look no further than the aching qualities, in more ways than one, of ‘Burnt Out’ that slows the pace a little before applying the gas once again with the charged ‘Don’t Matter’. The Kings Of Leon’s ability to scribble a stirring ballad sees no subsiding with ‘Beautiful War’ and in the process reveals a band still smarting, considering their last album’s critical reception, and all the better for it once hearing the surging guitars of ‘Coming Back Again’ and – take your pick – ‘Comeback Story’ and ‘On The Chin’ to suggest that they still care.


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Weapon In Mind

Maria Mena

Sony

Interesting is definitely the word to use when describing Maria Mena’s latest album ‘Weapon In Mind’. Starting off in trademark fashion with vocals that suggest hope  when pretty much all else has failed, ‘Interesting’ literally takes its moniker to heart and decides to erupt during its chorus in flashes of electronica and a vocal that is abrasive as it hollers behind its sweeter sounding sibling. The honest confessions of ‘F*** You’ is reminiscent of Radiohead’s ‘Creep’ lyrically, in the sense that it leaves nothing to the imagination and this remains its undoing despite the beautiful, soaring qualities of the music. Such negativity stretches to the grating vocal delivery during the chorus of ‘All The Love’ before normal service resumes with the introspective and beautiful vocals of ‘I Always Like That’ and darker tones of ‘Madness’ with its moments of wonderful tumbling guitar sounds. ‘I Love You Too’ is skeletal in its arrangements with the faintest hint of piano and Maria softly singing, “It’s not been an easy ride, no count of the tears I’ve cried” that will have you reaching for the nearest box of Kleenex to help stem the tide due to this tearjerker. Things take a slight dip once more with the rather pedestrian ‘You Make Me Feel Good’, only for the head turning curiosity ‘You’re All Telling Stories’ and shadowy ‘Lover Let Me In’ that propels ‘Weapon In Mind’ to the heights of previous glories. As said previously, interesting is definitely the right choice of word because despite its flaws ‘Weapon In Mind’ finds its targets more than it misses.

 


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Flightless Birds (single)

Svalbard

Tangled Talk Records

Svalbard being a cluster of islands situated in the Arctic Ocean and constituting the northernmost part of Norway, is a far distant cry from its musical namesake situated in the city of Bristol. It seems fitting, however, that such desolate islands receives recognition when hearing the isolated and frustrated emotions running through this four-piece band. Immediately launching in to a vocal and sonic assault that is equally raw and melodic, ‘Flightless Birds’ is a song on the verge of losing all hope and terrified at the prospect of remaining grounded as indicated by the lead vocal that is hanging by the merest of threads. The flipside, ‘For What It’s Worth’ offers no respite from the crushing disappointment felt within, compellingly played out with moments of Fugazi-esque vocals rubbing shoulders with the more frequent and harsher sounds. It looks like Tangled Talk Records has an emerging talent on their hands.


Released Out now

 

Mire

Stallone

Tangled Talk & Enjoyment Records

Being hailed as one of the most impressive debut albums in recent memory, Stallone release ‘Mire’ via Tangled Talk and Enjoyment Records. A seven-track playlist that doesn’t hang around for too long due to its frenetic pace, the working progression was in fact a much longer period and clearly evident with the attention to detail throughout. Look no further than the red hot ‘As A Serpent’ spitting bile and climaxing in heap of blaring guitars. The equally impressive ‘Without A Home’ maintains the intensity yet is slightly more spacious than its predecessor with moments of reflection before giving way to pummelling guitars. The jaw-droppingly good ‘A Chalice’ highlights a range of influences that the band appear to incorporate with ease yet churn out with painstaking attention to detail as evidenced here. Technically astute and screaming from the heart, Stallone is heading for a very bright future indeed.



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