Rogue Wave - Out Of The Shadow

By all reasonable accounts, I shouldn’t know about this band. You see, a lot of my music is found through other sites, such as Pitchfork and Coke Machine Glow and while I don’t agree with their opinions a good deal of the time, they save me sorting through a heap of mediocre music. But anyway, I was reading a review for some band (not only is their identity irrelevant but I’ve forgotten it) and an off-hand mention was made of Rogue Wave’s ‘Out of the Shadows’. Was I interested in the reviewed band anymore? Clearly not. My rationale was that if they were worthy of a mention, I should know about them. Well thankfully it paid it off cause this is an album I thoroughly enjoy. It is simply well-crafted, pleasant music that often reminds me of The Shin’s ‘Chutes Too Narrow’…..wink, wink. I say this because it is not only similarly lacking in loud distorted guitars but also because the vocals are just…….good. Like the singer was actually born to sing (contrary to my previously expressed opinion, a good voice DOES help). It is generally a slow and soft and album meaning these vocals get put under the spotlight quite a bit. Thankfully they come up trumps and the album emerges as an intimate listening experience. So as you can see, I am extremely lucky to know this wonderful album and it just goes to show that you must remain vigilant on your hunt for great new (or in this case slightly old) music.

Be Kind + Remind – For those that follow the site, this is the ‘slow’ song I had been promising. If this doesn’t put your baby to sleep, I don’t know what will. It almost makes me want to give up my daily activities in the pursuit of world peace

Every Moment – It just so happened that I got into Napoleon Dynamite, in which this song is used (according to the soundtrack), at the exact same time as I did Rogue Wave. And both through completely unrelated means. Divine intervention no doubt.

The Cribs - The New Fellas

As I listened to this album recently, I began writing the review in my head. “A catchy, energetic sound that reminds me of the likes of Maximo Park and The Futureheads. However, while they make some great music, they lack the diversity to make them special”. But as I continued to listen through I discovered this initial analysis to be horribly wrong. I suppose I should note that this was on my 4th time through, after not listening to it for a while. The problem was that the opening track (which I love and in fact got me onto them) had locked me into a false impression. As it turns out, The Cribs, who actually consist of three brothers, have ample variety. In fact, they even match it with their fellow Englishmen in this department. This is important, because as the aforementioned bands, along with others such as The Vines have shown, your upbeat, exciting tracks can only take you so far. Only when you back this up with quality slower tracks will you have an album worthy of praise. This is exactly why The Cribs do not disappoint. When the tempo slows, the vocals remain unwavering and they prove they’ve got nothing to hide behind the noise. While this record may not be groundbreaking, it is well rounded and highly enjoyable because of how they’ve managed to succeed on so many levels.

Hey Scenesters! – You guessed it, this is ‘the first song’, both in terms of track listing and me hearing them. To its credit it’s one of the few times I’ve gotten an album purely on the merit of one song. But well, it’s just a great song

Martel – I couldn’t give that speech and then not include a slower song. Admittedly, none of their songs are exactly ‘slow’, perhaps ‘restrained’ is a better description. Either way, this is the song that led me to change my tune (see above) and is again a great song.

The Little Intro That Could

Once upon a time there was a little intro that huffed and puffed so hard in pursuit of meaning and relevance that it developed into a full-grown rant…

My embrace of indie music over the last couple of years has led me to make two significant realisations. The first, is that you don’t need to have a perfect singing voice to make great music. So many bands these days have singers, which to be honest, are average. But the music they create is fresh, intelligent and most importantly, full of well-crafted hooks, such that the vocals cease to become relevant. In some cases, the vocals are so poor that they become a form of obscurity, actually adding to the bands appeal. Well maybe it doesn’t go that far but you get what I mean right? The second realisation is that there are two types of great albums; those that will be recognised by generations to come as the best of our time, and those that will only ever be appreciated by us, the people who experienced it first hand. A cynical name for these later albums would be ‘gimmick records’ but I like to think of them in a more positive light, for I say they can still be great. They offer something very different to the ‘classics’; they our keep our minds stimulated and our attention spans occupied by giving us something we’ve never heard before. You may have noticed there are a lot of these records on this site. I don’t care if they make it big or not, they’re music satisfied me and hence served its purpose. Now don’t think I’m promoting quantity over quality, rather I’m just celebrating the fact that in this day and age, we have both. I am constantly blown away by the wealth of interesting new ideas that are continually being translated into brilliant music. Sometimes I question my own motives when I spend more time listening to bands I’ve never heard of than the bands I love. But the reward of discovering something new makes it absolutely worth it. It makes me so excited that I just wanna tell everyone!

Tap Tap - Lanzafame

That quite lengthy ‘intro’ was in fact inspired by this record, the debut album by some band I’ve never heard of before, Tap Tap. Because like so many other albums these days, it isn’t perfect, but when I put it on it makes me happy and reminds me why I love music so much. After only a couple of listens through I began to identify with every single song and was swept up in their beautifully created sounds, tapping and singing along with every twist and turn. But at the same time I was perfectly aware that after writing this review I would most likely be putting it aside for the next new fad. Does this mean the album isn’t any good? No! Just because it may not make any ‘best of” lists, doesn’t mean I haven’t thoroughly enjoyed listening to it and will continue enjoy it whenever I put it on in the future. Going back to when I said I enjoyed singing along, I suppose I should say that humming or perhaps wailing is a better description. Because their singer’s voice is kind of whiney and often hard to understand, but who cares! It fits in great with their sound and that’s all should matter. Now in describing their actual sound I’m gonna go ahead and piss off Pitchfork by purely using references. Because to be quite honest they truly do sound like Arcade Fire, Tapes n Tapes, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah and Figurines, all rolled into one nice package. But at the same time this is brand new music, full of fresh ideas. Plus they’re British. What more could you want!?

Little Match (Big Fire) – Interestingly, after writing this post a week ago, I returned to it and picked two completely different songs. Why? I really don’t know (‘On My Way’ and ‘Off The Beaten Track’ were the previous choices for anyone who cares). I think it was more down to poor judgement than anything else. Because while no two songs will be able to do the whole album justice, these two come closest. This song contains a bit of the wailing I mentioned earlier plus a whole lot more.

100,000 Thoughts – This song holds a special place in my heart because seeing as it is the first track, it was the first to hit me with it’s greatness. It was on the third of fourth listen through and since then I have not looked back. It’s quite a bit longer than the norm which allows for quite a bit of welcomed variation.

Red Riders - Replica Replica

I’ve written so much about this band, I literally had to go back and make sure I wasn’t repeating myself. Red Riders are a local Sydney band who are renowned for making incredibly catchy indie/pop/rock music. Suffice to say, I was REALLY looking forward to this album. Well now I can happily tell you that in typical Red Riders style, it is a blast. It definitely gives off a far darker feel than their previous work, almost to the point that it is unrecognisable. In fact when I heard their first single, Slide In Next To Me, on the radio, my first reaction was “oh, so Red Riders must be covering this song when they play it live”. To find out that it was actually them playing was quite a shock. But fear not because it won’t take long before you’ll begin to familiarise (and fall in love with) this new sound. It will take even less time if you’ve heard them live recently. This is because Red Riders are an awesome live band and you must really experience them in both formats to gain the maximum effect. I didn’t actually appreciate either of their two EPs until I heard them play live and was blown away. Having since become familiar with their live show, which incorporated many of their new songs, from the very first spin I was in love with this record. It’s clear that a lot of production effort went into it and thankfully it has resulted in their energy being nicely captured. Red Riders are band to get excited about. You simply MUST see them live, ideally as many times as possible, because it’s a great experience. They seem to be touring non-stop at the moment so don’t miss out. As for this record, it is an incredibly impressive debut effort and a must for every fan.

C’mon – Anyone who has seen these guys live will recognise this song. It grabs your attention right from the start and in no time gets you moving. It’s a perfect set (and album) opener

Scream – This song seems to have slipped under my radar, only sounding vaguely familiar. But after just a few listens it was propelled to the top and now I can’t wait to see it live.

The Shins - Wincing The Night Away

Has been removed by request. Due out January 23rd. Get it.

Peter Bjorn And John - Writer's Block

A few months ago I heard a song called “Young Folk” by Swedish band Peter Bjorn And John. I thought it was alright, but not really to my liking. Then it started to be played on the radio. At first just every now and then, but soon it was played more and more and MORE. I don’t know if it has happened everywhere, but here in Australia this song has been absolutely thrashed. This is largely due to the radio station Triple J, who christened it “the whistling song” and let their requesters lap it up. I almost didn’t look into the album because I was so damn sick of this song. Well as it turns out, the rest of the album sounds nothing like it. For starters, there are no more female vocals, with singing duties shared amongst the three male band members, John, Bjorn and Peter, who each have their own unique singing style. This is really important because barring the opening track (more on that later) and Young Folk of course, most of the songs are slow and stripped back, focusing largely on the vocal work. It is here where they succeed. Because each song comes on with fresh new sound, making for quite an interesting record. On top of this, they all have really great voices, such that the whole album has an inviting, soothing feel. Though I must admit, the last three tracks are an exception to this. While they’re not horrible, they are a bit of a let down. But thankfully they don’t detract too much from the overall album. Don’t let Young Folk fool you. This is a completely different sound!

Objects Of My Affection – With Young Folk permanently etched into my brain, guiding my expectations, you can imagine I was suitably blown away when this song came blasting on. It really is the only fuller, faster song on the album but still fits in well.

Let’s Call It Off – The album is full of these slower, laid back pieces. They’re not trying to impress anyone, they’re just making straight up pleasant music. I’ve found myself singing this quite a bit, proving their gift for catchiness goes well beyond Young Folk.

Sophomore Selections

It seems that a number bands that delivered brilliant and highly successful debut albums are all releasing their follow up albums around the same time. It really is a test of greatness to see if a band can continually produce quality music and the second album is always the biggest test. Now I’m sure that a number of you, having heard these bands’ previous efforts, will be interested in how their latest albums turned out. While normally I only review albums that have stood the test of time and I’ve come to love, I’ll be making an exception for this worthy cause. This may mean you will see something never seen here before, a negative review! But don’t worry; I’ve been listening to these records non-stop for the last few days so my analysis should be accurate. The bands that I’m talking about and whom I shall be reviewing are: The Killers, The Rapture, Jet and Scissor Sisters. There could very well be more but these are the four that stand out to me (though as I write this, Razorlight comes to mind, will it be any good?). The reviews will appear below this intro in the usually slow interval of one every three days (sorry but I also have a life to attend to), hope you enjoy.

Razorlight - Razorlight

I was surprised to find, despite anticipating this album, that it had been released a few months ago. Clearly it made a big impact. But I’ve got it now and I must say it’s a pretty intriguing record. In terms of sound, it’s largely the same as before. It still features the same standard guitar sound and a mix of upbeat and slower songs. But what is most important, to this record and to their sound in general, is that Johnny Borrell’s vocals, which personally I enjoy, are still central. Though this could just be due to my limited experiences, he sounds really unique to me and I always find their music fresh and interesting. And when I say central, I mean it, if his vocals annoy you, this album is not for you. Because ultimately Razorlight = Johnny Borrel. This also applies offstage, and it just so happens that he is one of the most obnoxious rock stars Britain has ever produced (that’s saying something). Between putting down every rival band to claiming to his own band to be the “best ever”, you could say he’s little outspoken. It’s up to you whether to brush such antics off or hold his music responsible. But what is clear with the second album is it definitely gives the impression that the band has matured. While the first was an ambitious hit-and-miss collection of rock anthems, this is a more restrained effort, as if they’re trying to justify themselves as respectable musicians. This works both for and against them. In cleaning up their act, Razorlight have removed the extremities from their music. While this means you won’t find any of the duds or excessive dragging on that plagued their debut, it also means it lacks the hits required to make it a truly great album. It will be loved by some, hated by more and forgotten by most.

America – This song often sounds rather awkward and yet I’m continually drawn to it. I think it highlights how their songs don’t have to be perfect to be enjoyable.

Fall To Pieces – And now for an upbeat number….this song is similar to some of their earlier work, the catchy, fast-paced pop music, though it fails to reach the same level

Previously - Stumble & Fall – This song was far and away my favourite off Up All Night and is even up amongst my favourite modern songs. It features great vocals and its intensity makes it quite exciting.

Jet - Shine On

I can’t believe I’m saying this but the new Jet album isn’t that bad. It’s a shame that I find this surprising because I used to be quite a big fan of Jet. Their performance at Big Day Out 2004 was a favourite and even today it’s hard to deny that their first album was pretty impressive. But like so many others, I turned against them due to either the direction they took or the nature of their newfound fans. I expected and almost hoped that their second record would be a failure. I put down the 4-year gap between albums as a sign of incompetency, that they were struggling to repeat the process of writing good material. Well the album has finally arrived and I can happily admit that I was (to an extent) wrong. Shine On definitely isn’t as good as Get Born. It doesn’t have the massive tracks that will shoot it to the top. But it is full of quality music and more importantly variety. They haven’t just re-hashed the one riff that worked three times on their first album; this is fresh new music. If you liked their first album you will most likely enjoy this. For while their sound may have matured slightly, their overall style remains largely unchanged. You will still find the powerful, upbeat rock songs and the characteristic stripped back ballads that made them famous. This isn’t the brilliant album that many hoped for, but at least it isn’t the dud that many more expected.

Rip It Up – This song is an energetic little piece that’s a great example of their fresh new sound. I really enjoy the chorus, which is why I just couldn’t go past it here

Bring it On Back – This song carries all the hallmarks of a slower Jet song. It occasionally feels like it’s going to get big but then at the last minute pulls back. The guitars are also restrained allowing you to focus on Nic’s great vocals.

PreviouslyRollover D.J. – The music to this song may sound suspiciously close to a number of others on the album but that doesn’t stop it from being catchy and great to dance to. I also enjoy this song for its simple but suggestive lyrics.

Now that you’ve read an amateur review, click here for the professional opinion.

Scissor Sisters - Ta-Dah

I should probably let you know that I wasn’t the biggest fan of the Scissor Sisters’ self-titled debut effort. That’s not to say I didn’t like it. It contained a number of highly entertaining songs which I’d enjoy if they ever came on, yet I was never compelled to listen much to the album. I guess I saw it as more of a novelty (with a flamboyant homosexual on lead (high pitched) vocals, can you blame me?). Well with their second album they’ve produced largely the same effect. There’s no doubt that it’s an entertaining album and a lot of fun. It contains all the high-pitched silliness and funky electronic beats that made their first album so dance-worthy. The piano seems to play a greater role here, probably due to the influence of Elton John who actually features on a couple of tracks. But again, I doubt I’ll be putting it on in a couple of months when the novelty wears off. I do however get the feeling that this is more due to personal preference than the quality of the album. How you yourself receive the albums really depends on how you felt about their debut. It contains all the elements that made the first such a success, so if you loved that, I dare say you’ll love this too. If, on the other hand you despised it, you should keep well clear of this because there’s little here to bring about a change of heart. Overall it’s an impressive follow-up effort, guaranteed to keep their fans happy and make their live performances even more exciting.

Kiss You Off – This song follows the circus-worthy “Intermission” and catches my attention every time it comes on. It’s definitely at the rockier end of their sound but doesn’t stray too far from their regular formula.

Might Tell You Tonight – Here’s an example of one of the slower songs. For the most part I find it fairly ordinary, but when it gets to the chorus it actually becomes quite soothing. Rather impressive for a band I rarely take seriously.

Previously - Tits On The Radio – I choose this because it was the song that first made me aware of them. In typical Scissor Sisters style, it’s got a great high-pitched chorus, which come to think of it, probably isn’t matched on Ta-Dah.

The Rapture - Pieces of the People We Love

When I think back to The Rapture’s first album, I think weird. Sure there were the dancy tracks, but they felt more like fillers, while the obscure, indie-rock songs led the way. Well on their latest album the dance tracks rule supreme and while it’s a fairly significant shift, I actually don’t mind it. The clear and constant mood throughout this album is quite simply, fun. I think the film clip to the lead single “Get Myself Into It” summed this up perfectly. Synchronised dancing on roller-skates is by far the most appropriate way to listen to this album. In fact it’s pretty much guaranteed to get you moving, even if you’re sitting down, you’ll be flailing your elbows around in no time. Sticking to the idea of fun, I think this album very closely follows the pattern of a party. It opens with unrestricted energy, with this hyperactive state continuing for quite a few tracks. But then towards the end the tempo starts to drop, perhaps out of exhaustion and it settles into a slower rhythm, fully aware that the end is near. Then comes the final track, the mellowest of all, signalling to everyone that it’s all over and time to go home. These later songs are still good in they’re own right, they just don’t posses the upbeat bounciness that may draw many to the album. Many of you may be disappointed at their move towards a safer, more mainstream sound, but if you loved the first album for it’s dance tracks or you’re simply looking for something to move to, you will more than likely enjoy this album.

Don Gon Do It – This is such a perfect opening to track to get you in the right mood. It’s great to dance to and doesn’t get repetitive like so many other dance songs.

Down For So Long – There’s easily better songs than this but since these reviews are designed to be informative rather than the usual persuasive, I thought I’d offer you a later track so you could get a feel for the whole album

PreviouslySister Saviour – This is an example of how their dance elements used to be a lot subtler, infused with a rocky, abstract sound. I really liked this old sound but at the same time enjoy the new stuff so I guess fans of Echoes could go either way

The Killers - Sam's Town

The sound of The Killers’ new album holds all their familiar traits, but at the same time represents a move in a new direction. The guitars and keyboards still dominate and the vocals remain unchanged, yet this album sounds significantly different. I think the main difference lies in the tempo. They either seem rushed or stuck in two minds over what pace their aiming for. The result is an album that overwhelmingly feels off. Another thing that is immediately noticeable with this record is the divide between the first and second halves. The first half contains a number of upbeat, catchy songs, the ones you’ve likely heard on the radio already, while the second half is largely unimpressive. In fact for my first few listens I really couldn’t stand these later songs. However I must say that the more I listened to the album, the better (less bad) they got. I think what this familiarisation has shown is that they are not horrible songs, just ordinary. But the area in which they fail most is the slower songs. Listening back to their first album, you’ll find that the slower songs are well-crafted and quite moving, perhaps even the strong points of the album. Sadly the same cannot be said for this record. Where in the first you got simple melodies and great vocals, here they try too hard and you just get excessive instrumentation. Sure it contains a number of enjoyable and memorable songs, but as a complete package, Sam’s Town is a clear step backwards.

Sam’s Town – Originally I didn’t like this song mainly because of the bridge towards the end. But it’s pure energy won me over in the end. It’s quite an impressive opening and title track

Read My Mind – I thought I should pick a slower song for you to sample. This is probably as good as they get and as you may notice it’s not that great. At least here the sound is reasonably stripped back, as it should be in a slow song.

PreviouslySmile Like You Mean It – This song was always a favourite off the first album. You only need to take a look at this and other songs of Hot Fuss to see where they went wrong. Simple and seductive does it every time.

The Hype Machine 2

Just a couple more reposts to check if I'm working on the lovely Hype Machine

The Paper Scissors - We Don't Walk
Belles Will Ring - The Coldest Heart

That is all

The Hype Machine

Just a couple of reposts to check if I'm working on the lovely Hype Machine

Bridezilla - St Francine
Mercy Arms - Half Right

That is all

The Chalets - Check In

When I was first introduced to The Chalets it was to their profanity filled ‘Love Punch’ and let’s just say it didn’t set my expectations high. It’s not that I’ve got anything against swearing, definitely not, but in such excess was just too much. But knowing full-well how misleading first impressions can be, I went out and got their album anyway. The Chalets are two girls, two boys and a drummer (their own joke) from Dublin, who formed because it sounded like fun. But lucky for them, they possess a number of distinctive qualities that has allowed them to become successful. Firstly is the intensity of their music. It is loud, fast paced and in your face, guaranteed to get anyone’s attention. Secondly is the boy/girl interaction. In most songs they are playing off each other, often maliciously, creating quite an impressive effect. Thirdly are the highly polished vocals. Pretty much all their singing is done in harmonies, either with multiple singers or layering and it adds incredible depth and a nice crispness to everything they do. Finally is their image. Not content with standard Irish fashion, these guys dress in all sorts of colourful and outrageous outfits, which as you can imagine has definitely got them noticed around town. When you add to this lyrics that range from intelligent social commentaries to pure absurdity, you have one….interesting…band.

Two Chord Song – Clearly a parody of their own questionable formation, this song is short, sweet and incredibly addictive. It’s a perfect introduction to their music.

Checkout - What a struggle it was to pick a song here. There were about 8 contenders, each highlighting a different aspect of their music. I picked this mostly because I was sick of choosing, plus it’s a good song