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Album Review: Strange Talk - ‘Cast Away’

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Fine Time / Sony Music; February  19, 2013

Australian electro-pop quartet Strange Talk debuted their first ever full-length album ‘Cast Away’ a couple days ago after 2 years single releases and a handful of gigs. Strange Talk is a band you easily get attached to especially if you are listening to any of their singles for the first time.

There is just something about synth filled records that is irresistible. Of course the right hook and lead are recipes you can’t overlook when making the right electronic pop track. And Like Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Two Door Cinema Club, Strange Talk may have succeeded in figuring out this recipe in Cast Away. Every track though they carry their own weight definitely reflects on the lively-hood of the entire album.

You may have heard “Climbing Walls” or “Cast Away” more than a hundred times but trust me, you will listen again when you get a hold of this album. Aside from the fact that you may not be able to resist playing them, They are the key tracks that made Cast Away what it is.

While there are a couple songs that just aren’t up to par with atmosphere created by the first 3 songs in the album, they helped put some sort of human touch on the entire record. Examples of songs in this category are “Come Back Home”, “So So La La” and “Morning Sun”. These tracks If anything, are not to be underestimated. Though they don’t carry the same tone as the rest of the album, they are well executed and definitely deserve a second listen to fully absorb.

Overall, Cast Away is fun! You are fed with enormous synths and you just what more, and you are given more. Songs like “Falling In love”, “Another Day”, “Take Me As I am”, and of course “Cast Away” and “Climbing Walls” are the life of this record. Trance inducing dance record at it’s best.

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posted by Gabriel A.

Album Review: The History of Apple Pie - “Out of View”Marshall Teller; January 28th, 2013
After two years of tantalising teasers in the form of ‘You’re So Cool’,  ‘Mallory’, ‘Glitch’, Do It Wrong’ and ‘See You’, the London five-piece The History of Apple Pie, are finally going to release their debut album, ‘Out of View’ unto the world. The album, having been crafted by the band for the past couple of years has yet to disappoint in the sheer precision in all areas of the album. Their choice to take their time, amidst honing their craft by playing electrifying live shows and supporting none other than Graham Coxon during his UK tour last year, has paid off immensely, delivering an album that shows how they have progressed from the early versions of most of the tracks that feature on the album to a completely new, fuller, and very much accomplished album from the young band.
‘Tug’ thunders in and holds strong with heavy guitars soaring over sweet vocals from singer Stephanie Min of young love and joy creating nostalgia for a time long passed, followed by ‘See You’ and one of their earliest released songs ‘Mallory’, with more oohs and aahs, but still holding its own and is just as fun, encapsulating what this band is all about, each of the tracks transitioning with a sound evocative of My Bloody Valentine á ‘Loveless’. ‘The Warrior’ delves deeper into what THOAP can do, showing a slightly tougher side to them as the name might suggest, verging on psychedelic territories meeting lo-fi punk and almost reminiscent of early Radiohead around Pablo Honey to The Bends-era in the sound of Aslam Ghauri’s and Jerome Watson’s unrelenting  ‘Greenwood-esque’ guitars.  
‘Glitch’ bounds in with its chugging rhythm and blissful vocal harmonies, and ‘You’re So Cool’ takes us all the way back to the very beginnings of the band in an absolute embrace with pop harmonies and a laid-back beat with a summer romance vibe, much like penultimate track ‘Long Way To Go’.  ‘I Want More’ is a mellow lo-fi affair with shimmering guitars building into a full on thrash fest with no holding back with crashing drums from James Thomas, also of the band Parakeet, rumbling low with strong and fuzzy bass courtesy of Kelly Lee Owens, but making way for ‘Do It Wrong’, powering through full throttle.  Album closer ‘Before You Reach The End’ is their darkest, and very emotive of a Loveless-era MBV, featuring Horrors guitarist Joshua Hayward (who also engineered the album), rhythmically mesmerising and haunting in its repetitive nature.
There’s a lot of power behind this album, but they rein it in well, letting the joy of pop bleed through. Taking the best parts of pop lyricism and sweet and gentle vocals, and blending them with the raw power of thrashing guitars and drums and melodic bass lines, The History of Apple Pie have successfully managed in creating the perfect blend between pop and fuzzy punk, infectious and memorable and channeling the very best of 90s guitar music, be it shoegaze, grunge, britpop or whatever other 90s prominent genre you can think of, without it sounding dated or mimicked.
It may seem like complete and total bias coming from me, being a huge fan of the band, but there’s no denying just how good this band are and what hard work, time, and effort has been put into this album. In a time when many are shouting about the demise of guitar music, with The History of Apple Pie you can see that there is no need to worry about it; it’s in very fine hands.
posted by Zainab Hassan.

Album Review: The History of Apple Pie - “Out of View”

Marshall Teller; January 28th, 2013

After two years of tantalising teasers in the form of ‘You’re So Cool’,  ‘Mallory’, ‘Glitch’, Do It Wrong’ and ‘See You’, the London five-piece The History of Apple Pie, are finally going to release their debut album, ‘Out of View’ unto the world. The album, having been crafted by the band for the past couple of years has yet to disappoint in the sheer precision in all areas of the album. Their choice to take their time, amidst honing their craft by playing electrifying live shows and supporting none other than Graham Coxon during his UK tour last year, has paid off immensely, delivering an album that shows how they have progressed from the early versions of most of the tracks that feature on the album to a completely new, fuller, and very much accomplished album from the young band.

‘Tug’ thunders in and holds strong with heavy guitars soaring over sweet vocals from singer Stephanie Min of young love and joy creating nostalgia for a time long passed, followed by ‘See You’ and one of their earliest released songs ‘Mallory’, with more oohs and aahs, but still holding its own and is just as fun, encapsulating what this band is all about, each of the tracks transitioning with a sound evocative of My Bloody Valentine á ‘Loveless’. ‘The Warrior’ delves deeper into what THOAP can do, showing a slightly tougher side to them as the name might suggest, verging on psychedelic territories meeting lo-fi punk and almost reminiscent of early Radiohead around Pablo Honey to The Bends-era in the sound of Aslam Ghauri’s and Jerome Watson’s unrelenting  ‘Greenwood-esque’ guitars.  

‘Glitch’ bounds in with its chugging rhythm and blissful vocal harmonies, and ‘You’re So Cool’ takes us all the way back to the very beginnings of the band in an absolute embrace with pop harmonies and a laid-back beat with a summer romance vibe, much like penultimate track ‘Long Way To Go’.  ‘I Want More’ is a mellow lo-fi affair with shimmering guitars building into a full on thrash fest with no holding back with crashing drums from James Thomas, also of the band Parakeet, rumbling low with strong and fuzzy bass courtesy of Kelly Lee Owens, but making way for ‘Do It Wrong’, powering through full throttle.  Album closer ‘Before You Reach The End’ is their darkest, and very emotive of a Loveless-era MBV, featuring Horrors guitarist Joshua Hayward (who also engineered the album), rhythmically mesmerising and haunting in its repetitive nature.

There’s a lot of power behind this album, but they rein it in well, letting the joy of pop bleed through. Taking the best parts of pop lyricism and sweet and gentle vocals, and blending them with the raw power of thrashing guitars and drums and melodic bass lines, The History of Apple Pie have successfully managed in creating the perfect blend between pop and fuzzy punk, infectious and memorable and channeling the very best of 90s guitar music, be it shoegaze, grunge, britpop or whatever other 90s prominent genre you can think of, without it sounding dated or mimicked.

It may seem like complete and total bias coming from me, being a huge fan of the band, but there’s no denying just how good this band are and what hard work, time, and effort has been put into this album. In a time when many are shouting about the demise of guitar music, with The History of Apple Pie you can see that there is no need to worry about it; it’s in very fine hands.

posted by Zainab Hassan.

Album Review: Tame Impala - “Lonerism”
Modular Recordings; October 5(AUS), 8(UK), 9(US) 2012 
‘Innerspeaker’ was a much lauded album in 2010 when Tame Impala, the then Australian four-piece, driven by front man Kevin Parker, walked in their own stride, musically doing something that most bands wouldn’t dare do in the tidal wave of indie-pop bands forming on every corner of the globe. Welcoming them back in 2012, their long awaited and highly anticipated sophomore album, ‘Lonerism’, picks up where ‘Innerspeaker’ left off, more mature and another member stronger, they are still continuing to ignore the recurrent themes of guitar band twang that is slowly dying, and stand prominently at the forefront as a creative driving force in music today, showing that it’s worth making a sound that is completely different.
Kevin Parker, front man of the band, and having recorded the majority of the album himself, puts forward an amalgamation of influences from his heroes and psychedelic predecessors, much noticeably bands like The Flaming Lips (with  whom the band had collaborated with on a track on their recent album ‘The Flaming Lips and Heady Fwends’), The Beatles as we can hear from his Lennon-esque tone of voice, holding a rhythm of their own as they soar over the album opener ‘Be Above It’ as it steadily draws you into the world of ‘Lonerism’; thundering, echoing, reverberating, with the consistent repetition, ‘gotta be above it, gotta be above it’ and on heavy bass driven tracks such as ‘Elephant’, plodding along steadily, elephant-like in itself,that harkens back to the sound of Pink Floyd’s ‘Money’, equally as bass powered with strong guitars throughout. Songs like ‘Mind Mischief’ and ‘Feels Like We Only Go Backwards’ prove to be essential slow grooving moments on the album, heavily rhythmic, as is a consistency throughout the album. ‘Apocalypse Dreams’, a two part voyage casts a wave of joyous optimism crashing into a huge wall of sound winding into the end of the track.
‘Lonerism’ also plays with ambient sounds that create another dimension to the album and bring the listener into a different experience, not just musically but emotionally, on tracks like ‘Keep On Lying’ and  ‘Nothing That Has Happened…’ we hear the sounds of a conversation through the barrier of sound that is the track, in some way making the listener feel isolated or alienated from the conversation, ‘Sun’s Coming Up’ doing the same with the sound of lone footsteps mingling with the sound of the wind reaching the end of the track.
 ‘Music To Walk Home By’ explodes with such bounce and uncontrollably addictive groove, as there is throughout the whole album, it’s almost too easy to miss out on the melancholy of the lyrics. Lyrically, the album seems to showcase a quite an isolated and lonely outlook, much in contrast to the album sonically, but very much in link with the title of the album, probably making it more cohesive as an album than their début. On songs like ‘Why Won’t They Talk To Me?’, Parker questions his isolation, similar to ‘Music To Walk Home By’ where he again questions his difference from everyone else even though he tries to fit in, having both the sadness in the lyrics hidden by the happiness within the sound of the music itself works to balance the whole album out, making you feel good to feel bad.
Closing track ‘Sun’s Coming Up’ turns a head and is the simplest song on the album in the sense that the first half of the song comprises solely of a sombre piano sequence and Parker’s vocals. It seems to me that even through all this happy sounding sadness, it comes to a head where there is a silent point of realisation that there is a real unhappiness within, but this soon ends when it that bursts into a reverberating guitar outro falling back into the ambience of what was running through the album previously, a sort of reassurance that you can still put on a brave face even the greatest moments of alienation from the rest of the world.
Tame Impala’s second offering provides a fresh outlook on the forever revived genre of psychedelia without playing to standard clichés, but using the past to create something that not only sounds as if it has come straight out of another decade than the present, but still remains refreshing and creates a completely new sound in a time where very much of everything sounds the same and a contender to be one of the best albums of the year. It is very easy to draw comparison to the sounds of the 60s and early 70s when talking about Tame Impala, but there’s no point in denying that there is that influence. With this band, there is not so much an experimentation in the aforementioned genre, or an attempt to revive it, but a full immersion in all that is laid before us in the music of the past, and with that and a genuine understanding of using music to emote, Tame Impala have created something truly exciting.
posted by Zainab Hassan.

Album Review: Tame Impala - “Lonerism”

Modular Recordings; October 5(AUS), 8(UK), 9(US) 2012 

‘Innerspeaker’ was a much lauded album in 2010 when Tame Impala, the then Australian four-piece, driven by front man Kevin Parker, walked in their own stride, musically doing something that most bands wouldn’t dare do in the tidal wave of indie-pop bands forming on every corner of the globe. Welcoming them back in 2012, their long awaited and highly anticipated sophomore album, ‘Lonerism’, picks up where ‘Innerspeaker’ left off, more mature and another member stronger, they are still continuing to ignore the recurrent themes of guitar band twang that is slowly dying, and stand prominently at the forefront as a creative driving force in music today, showing that it’s worth making a sound that is completely different.

Kevin Parker, front man of the band, and having recorded the majority of the album himself, puts forward an amalgamation of influences from his heroes and psychedelic predecessors, much noticeably bands like The Flaming Lips (with  whom the band had collaborated with on a track on their recent album ‘The Flaming Lips and Heady Fwends’), The Beatles as we can hear from his Lennon-esque tone of voice, holding a rhythm of their own as they soar over the album opener ‘Be Above It’ as it steadily draws you into the world of ‘Lonerism’; thundering, echoing, reverberating, with the consistent repetition, ‘gotta be above it, gotta be above it’ and on heavy bass driven tracks such as ‘Elephant’, plodding along steadily, elephant-like in itself,that harkens back to the sound of Pink Floyd’s ‘Money’, equally as bass powered with strong guitars throughout. Songs like ‘Mind Mischief’ and ‘Feels Like We Only Go Backwards’ prove to be essential slow grooving moments on the album, heavily rhythmic, as is a consistency throughout the album. ‘Apocalypse Dreams’, a two part voyage casts a wave of joyous optimism crashing into a huge wall of sound winding into the end of the track.

‘Lonerism’ also plays with ambient sounds that create another dimension to the album and bring the listener into a different experience, not just musically but emotionally, on tracks like ‘Keep On Lying’ and  ‘Nothing That Has Happened…’ we hear the sounds of a conversation through the barrier of sound that is the track, in some way making the listener feel isolated or alienated from the conversation, ‘Sun’s Coming Up’ doing the same with the sound of lone footsteps mingling with the sound of the wind reaching the end of the track.

 ‘Music To Walk Home By’ explodes with such bounce and uncontrollably addictive groove, as there is throughout the whole album, it’s almost too easy to miss out on the melancholy of the lyrics. Lyrically, the album seems to showcase a quite an isolated and lonely outlook, much in contrast to the album sonically, but very much in link with the title of the album, probably making it more cohesive as an album than their début. On songs like ‘Why Won’t They Talk To Me?’, Parker questions his isolation, similar to ‘Music To Walk Home By’ where he again questions his difference from everyone else even though he tries to fit in, having both the sadness in the lyrics hidden by the happiness within the sound of the music itself works to balance the whole album out, making you feel good to feel bad.

Closing track ‘Sun’s Coming Up’ turns a head and is the simplest song on the album in the sense that the first half of the song comprises solely of a sombre piano sequence and Parker’s vocals. It seems to me that even through all this happy sounding sadness, it comes to a head where there is a silent point of realisation that there is a real unhappiness within, but this soon ends when it that bursts into a reverberating guitar outro falling back into the ambience of what was running through the album previously, a sort of reassurance that you can still put on a brave face even the greatest moments of alienation from the rest of the world.

Tame Impala’s second offering provides a fresh outlook on the forever revived genre of psychedelia without playing to standard clichés, but using the past to create something that not only sounds as if it has come straight out of another decade than the present, but still remains refreshing and creates a completely new sound in a time where very much of everything sounds the same and a contender to be one of the best albums of the year. It is very easy to draw comparison to the sounds of the 60s and early 70s when talking about Tame Impala, but there’s no point in denying that there is that influence. With this band, there is not so much an experimentation in the aforementioned genre, or an attempt to revive it, but a full immersion in all that is laid before us in the music of the past, and with that and a genuine understanding of using music to emote, Tame Impala have created something truly exciting.

posted by Zainab Hassan.