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Somewhere In Time

Ilias

Untitled

Despite its misleading imagery that will no doubt have the rockabilly fraternity salivating in droves, Sydney based producer and songwriter Ilias has constructed an album’s worth of material best suited to the genre of indie. The end result is ‘Somewhere In Time’ which lives up to its moniker as the whole album gives the impression of fleeting memories rather than detailing the intricate parts of a succession of broken relationships. Such emotions are given credence due to the dreamscape atmosphere wafting through nearly each and every song from the opening hazy shimmer of ‘Never Utter The Word Never’ to the delicate strumming and texture running through ‘One Of A Kind’. ‘This Life’ provides a bit more meat on the bones in terms of the central protagonist only to head straight into the same cryptic tunnel once more with  ‘Lonely’ despite a more robust tempo. Clearly one to not give too much away, Ilias has conjured up an album that is beautiful in its execution, recalling elements of Radiohead, Travis and even more encouragingly the sparseness of a latter-day Talk Talk, and remains equally beguiling in terms of its scant narratives.


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Raise The Alarm (single)

Rayne

Untitled

One of the definite highlights from an otherwise patchy debut album, ‘Raise The Alarm’ opens in what sounds like a mass of sprawling guitars before settling down into something of a melodic and melancholic indie-rock number à la Muse. Nothing wrong with that of course as Rayne seem to have a knack of being able to conjure up wonderful anthemic delights that pull at the senses long after the player has grinded to a halt. New single ‘Raise The Alarm’ will definitely do their cause for indie-rock stardom no harm, especially with such lovelorn lyrics as, ‘And days roll into one, since the day you had gone, I’ve missed you forever’. Likely to be among the contenders next year.

 


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An Autobiography

Old Gray

Dog Knights Productions

Far from being a laugh a minute as songs muse over fears of dying and the curiosities associated with this very subject matter, Old Gray release ‘An Autobiography’, their debut album on Dog Knights Productions. The gradual encroachment of ‘Wolves’ with its delicate strumming and choir-esque vocals literally sensing the doom-laden content encircling before a Who-esque guitar jangle reminiscent of ‘Pinball Wizard’ provides a temporary lull before collapsing into a heap of gut wrenching emotions, marks the start of this full-length album in compelling style. The foreboding ‘Coventry’ (not about that one, although…) is full of self-loathing and hanging by the barest of threads only to be surpassed in the emotion stakes with the desperate escapism of ‘The Graduate’. Where ‘An Autobiography’ differs from several of its contemporaries’ efforts, however, is the scope and vision given to songs ‘Show Me How You Self-Destruct’, which allows for a differing tempo and instrumentation as does the enthralling structure of ‘I Still Think About Who I Was Last Summer’ giving the impression that Old Gray will be confronted without difficulties when it comes to developing their sound for album number two.


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Random Access Memories

Daft Punk

Columbia

Daft Punk returns after a lengthy absence of some eight years with ‘Random Access Memories’, the band’s fourth studio album, which has been causing much discussion within various media circles. The reason for such hot debate is due to the French duo’s innovative thinking that has redefined pop and electronic music, as well as leaving a lasting impression with their unique videos captured best with the unforgettable ‘down on his luck’ of ‘Da Funk’. ‘Random Access Memories’ will continue these discussions as it certainly lives up to its pre-billing with the catchy disco of single ‘Get Lucky’, to the slowed tempo of ‘The Game of Love’ replete with its electronic vocal and closing refrain ‘I just wanted you to stay’ recalling the album’s thematic. It is the breadth of musicality present throughout ‘Random Access Memories’ that truly impresses, running a scale from funk/disco, indie-esque electro-pop (‘Instant Crush’) to completely outrageous theatre dramatics (‘Touch’) and therefore providing a wonderful kaleidoscopic of sounds literally plucked from the memory banks of Daft Punk. ‘Random Access Memories’ is the sound of a band once more leading the way.


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London With The Lights On

Stooshe

Warner Music Norway

Spilling forth in glorious fashion, London-based three-piece Stooshe reveal their debut album to be something of considerable depth, setting it high above sea level of the overpopulated run-of-the-mill formula of girl bands. ‘London With The Lights On’ is anything but formulaic as Stooshe open up their world in a sassy ‘Supremes-esque ‘Slip’ and complimented with the quasi-Motown sounding ‘Love Me’, complete with spoken worded exchanges between band members and in the process revealing their sense of humour in the broadest of London accents. The knockout blow arrives, however, with the sublime ‘Black Heart’ showing the girls can play it straight and oh boy, what a song! At your own peril, avoid prejudging Stooshe on face value as you will leave severely empty-handed because ‘London With The Lights On’ is a glorious treasure-trove of stunningly good songs.


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Secondhand Rapture

MS MR

Sony

‘Secondhand Rapture’ could very well be a contender for album of the year if it were not for sounding like the smaller sibling of an already established act. Right from the off former single, and opening track, ‘Hurricane’ tugs at the senses with its pendulum beats and confessional lyrics delivered in a near detached execution and setting the stall out for a promising encounter. However, this is where the problem lies, despite being a more than solid effort, as nearly the majority of the album has more than a whiff of prime Florence & the Machine about it. This is something MS MR will have to get used to as ‘Bones’, ‘Ash Tree Lane’, ‘Head Is Not My Home’ et al prise up this more than worthy comparison and while there is nothing wrong with that, it just feels that the world is not in dire need of this right now which, unfortunately, the album’s title adequately sums up.


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What I Saw

Maia Hirasawa

Sony

By some transcontinental journey, Maia Hirasawa’s ‘What I Saw’ landed in the lap of FLW and what a stroke of good fortune that was due to being completely dumbfounded by the quality of the eleven glorious indie electropop and ballad-esque ditties on display. Hooked from the beginning with the irresistible emotional pull of ‘You’ that lives long in the memory even after the events of the unreciprocated love has fizzled out, Maia Hirasawa has a knack of constructing infectious melodies whether shifting tempo with the more upbeat ‘Lights Out’ or coming back down again with the sparse offerings of ‘Still Think Of It’. There is definitely talent at work here, and ‘What I Saw’ is one of those rare unexpected finds that will still have a place in your heart in some years to come.


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Take A Look At The World (single)

Ralph Myerz

Sony

Preceding forthcoming album ‘Supersonic Pulse’, Ralph Myerz offers a timely reminder of his craftsmanship with the persuasive dance tones of ‘Take A Look At The World’. There is, however, a darker undercurrent to this floor-filler not in the sense of the bleakness projected by many an indie band but more in conjunction with a notion of time running out. Incorporating the electronic pop nuances of fellow Norwegian Annie into the mix reveals further astuteness as her almost ethereal shades perfectly compliment the driving beats. ‘Take A Look At The World’ is a promising precursor to hopefully an even more promising long player.


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Tidal Lock

Old Soul

Dog Knights Productions

As first impressions go, don’t be dissuaded by the artwork because Old Soul muster up a guitar fest that is as epic as it is dense. Despite being only four songs in length, the opening sprawl of ‘Ethereal Faultless’ is a perfect example of this grand vision as it stretches for little over ten minutes. With ‘Tidal Lock’ being Old Soul’s third output, clearly the Michigan band has progressed their sound considerably as there is a painstaking attention to detail as second in line ‘Ghost Incomplete’ is full of claustrophobic rage before fizzing out into obscurity. The complex structure of ‘Paradigm Pendulum’ is awe-inspiring in its audaciousness, and the final declaration of ‘Watermouth Mirage’ burns out in a raging intensity leaving one to ponder the merits of ‘Tidal Lock’ and the realisation that they will take some beating.


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Rough Hands

Rough Hands

Holy Roar Records

There are no compromises to be found here as Rough Hands deliver an inducing set of post-hardcore songs of brutal intensity that never outstay their welcome. The eponymously titled EP clocks in and clocks out without so much as a whimper as perfectly orchestrated with opener ‘Dilute’ and then proceeded with the headlong assault of ‘Maledictus’. ‘Toska’ nearly offers more of the same only for Rough Hands to deftly change tactics midway through with skeletal guitars leaving room for the finale of ‘Spite’ to offer a similar manoeuvre but with more abrasive intent. It will be interesting to see how Rough Hands develop with a broader canvass of a full-length player.


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Home

Rudimental

Warner Music Norway

Title track and opening up the front door to Rudimental’s debut ‘Home’ starts proceedings sublimely as it meanders at mid-tempo with a constant wary glance over the shoulder which is in stark contrast to the explosive drum & bass and soulful vocals of former UK No. 1 single ‘Feel The Love’. This London-based collective have truly ploughed their own furrow musically by years spent in dancehalls (not that type), listening to pirate radio, improvised DJ set ups as well as sourcing material from older siblings who had that advantage of age on their side in terms of arriving at the sounds first. Of course London’s urban surroundings has also provided inspiration – ‘Hell Could Freeze’ reflective of this with its mix of sweet vocals that now and again rub up against a more abrasive surface. With various artists offering their services – Emeli Sande weighs in with the brooding ‘More Than Anything’ and closing ‘Free’ – Rudimental’s ‘Home’ brings to mind Massive Attack’s seminal ‘Blue Lines’, due to the level of collaborations, and in the process reviving a much-missed concept.


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Bankrupt!

Phoenix

Warner Music Norway

The title of Phoenix’s fifth studio album ‘Bankrupt!’ is perhaps more a statement of a growing mediocrity when it comes to the creative industries rather than the continuing fiscal meltdown the world is still experiencing.  Such attention to details may also have inflicted upon the band members themselves as ‘Bankrupt!’ has been nearly four years in the making not because of a general fatigue due to past successes but more to do with a general desire to maintain the creative progressive thinking. The four years has definitely been worth the wait as ‘Bankrupt!’ continues in slightly similar vein to its predecessor ‘Wolfgang Amadeus’ with its glossy pop exterior only there is enough here to suggest a more indifferent centre. ‘Entertainment’ is a product of the former as it dances in the sunlight whereas ‘The Real Thing’ glistens round the edges but never fully projects itself due to its colder interior, which is further compounded with the more upbeat ‘S.O.S. In Bel Air’ and icy breeze of ‘Trying To Be Cool’. The tempo decreases once more, however, towards the latter part of the album and inflicts darker shades of electronica with ‘Chloroform’, ‘Don’t’ and appropriately titled closer ‘Oblique City’.

Despite possessing enough immediate charms, ‘Bankrupt!’ will require a little more investment if you truly want to get to the core of this work as Phoenix continue to remain one step ahead.



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