Album Review: Peace-In Love

ImageIn recent times, there’s been a whole bunch of British bands that are channeling scenes of olde. Palma Violets are doing 80’s British pub rock quite well and Temples are blowing up with Madchester written all over their tracks. Well, Worcester’s Peace are perfectly reminiscent of all the better Britpop acts, and not just in the vague one-word band name’s either. Blur, Oasis and Pulp are super involved in the sound of Peace, and for the most part, it sounds pretty great.

Unfortunately, Peace don’t get off to the greatest of starts. Opener ‘Higher than the Sun’, which shares the name of one of Primal Scream’s better songs off their best album (furthering my Britpop affair hypothesis), seems flat and uninspired. The chorus, assumedly meant to be a full on flush of colour and sound, seems to me to just mimic that to the best of it’s abilities. However, with the slaughter of that over, Peace really pick up on their next few tracks. The caterwhauling, careening ‘Follow Baby’, future Vampire Weekend single ‘Lovesick’, and the Foals-meets-Babyshambles ‘Float Forever’ are all tracks that, despite maybe rubbing shoulders with influences a bit too much, are able to stand out as strong and enthusiastic.

Things continue in the vein of pop-friendly, very British rock that, as mentioned before, is hard to separate from early Oasis or later Blur, but still highly enjoyable nonetheless. ‘Waste of Paint’, ‘Delicious’ (which features the best guitar solo on the album), and ‘Toxic’ are all tracks that infect you with the rock bug. It’s hard not to imagine that these songs will become popular favourites, ready-made stadium anthems. And don’t confuse ready-made as some sort of formulaic system either; these songs are concoctions, carefully constructed but in a way that makes the band closer with the audience. I call it the Pete Doherty effect, and it’s evoked pretty damn well on ‘In Love’.

For all the short titled songs, dripping vocals and plucky music, Peace are actually a good band. At times, they can come off as a little too commandeering of influences, and other times they can wander directionlessly on a song, but for the most part, Peace are a fucking good Britpop revival act. Fuck it, they’re a good band all round. If you’ve heard ‘Parklife’ or ‘What’s the Story Morning Glory’ a few too many times, try ‘In Love’, I guarantee you’ll love it. For those that have been soaked in Nirvana fumes for their whole lives, then ‘In Love’ will provide some welcome relief, as did the first wave of Britpop bands. And if your looking for some nice, modern powerful rock full of swooning vocals and honeyed guitars…well, Peace couldn’t be a more perfect band to fit that category. If you can ignore the fact that ‘Waste of Paint’ has nearly the same chorus as ‘She’s Electric’, and just enjoy the overwhelming presence of ‘In Love’, then you’re fucking sorted for your Monday morning pick-me-up on the way to your shitty office job. Sorting files has never been so spectacular!

Peace are doing a tour of Australia in September, and support is coming from the Brissie lads Millions, who are pretty killer live. They’re playing OAF on Saturday, 21st September, and I’m going to be there.

Advertisements

Album Review: Hebronix-Unreal

Image

Two ATP Recordings reviews in one week? Gee Whiz that’s a lot! Not it’s not you patronising fuckwad, ATP put out some of the best shit on this planet. You heard the SQURL EP? That shit was balls deep in amazing, helped along slightly by the fact that Jim Jarmusch was in the band.

What was I saying? Oh yeah, the new Hebronix album. A little history lesson for those struggling with Trials at the moment (a list that includes myself-damn you standardised testing!). Hebronix is the moniker of Daniel Blumberg, who used to be in Cajun Dance Party, and Yuck. You probably know Yuck as being one of the coolest bands of the past couple of years. You are not wrong. However, Blumberg has left that group, and now most of the creative energy is focused in this new, Greek-hero-sounding project Hebronix.

As Yuck is to Pavement, Hebronix is to Elliot Smith. It seems that Blumberg just can’t get enough influence from critically lauded bands. Even though this album is super Smithy, it’s also got some other shit in there, like Neil Young, Bright Eyes, and Sparklehorse. So, yeah, it would be fair to say that ‘Unreal’ is like an indie orgy of some of the best acts of the past decade, all tied up with Blumberg’s stunning voice. It’s a soaring masterpiece of the melancholy underachiever.

The first two tracks, the 10 minute ‘Unliving’ and ‘Viral’ are excellent, but the album really hits its stride on ‘Wild Whim’.  The lyrics of ‘Your the girl I se in my recurring dream/the girl that took the time to learn the tambourine/your the girl that doesn’t give a fuck about anything’ may or may not go in the box for best guilty pleasure/beautifully cliched lyrics of the year, something that The Kooks wet dream about. Then there’s the serene descending solo that balances out agains the fuzz like a careening drunk on a New York Sunday night. ‘Wild Whim’ is an  astonishingly beautiful track that is by far the highlight on the album, something you can play whilst philosophising on a bus on a rainy day. In fact, I guarantee a Pitchfork employee is doing that somewhere in the world right now.

The rest of the album never quite reaches the lofty heights of ‘Wild Whim’ but it comes damn close. Earthy and lightly wafting ‘Unreal’ sheds a tear, ‘Garden’ digs in it’s heels and bares it’s Dinosaur Jr. teeth, and ‘The Plan’ is a delightful mash of the quaintness of Bright Eyes with the heart-on-sleeve of  Built to Spill. Musically, ‘Unreal’ is a top fucking notch. However, most of the songs seem to drift for maybe just a tad longer than they necessarily should. One 10 minute track is asking quite a lot already, but when everything bar one song is far beyond the six minute mark, Blumberg is certainly asking a lot of patience and dedication from an average listener keen for a geez of entertainment. It’s like wanting to see the Bearded Lady and ending up watching Cirque Du Soleil. Sometimes it’s just too much.

So yes, whilst Daniel Blumberg might have crafted one of the best listening albums that the snobby music fan will champion, (myself included), sometimes it looks like it might just be a bit too much filler and not enough ‘Wild Whim’ to entice the middle of the road Yuck fan. Still, it’s undeniably good shit, and an obnoxious round of applause is in order to Mr. Blumberg for ‘Unreal’.

Album Review: Fuck Buttons-Slow Focus

Image

Fuck Buttons have the kind of band name that attracts attention. They also have the music to back it up. Listening to Fuck Buttons for the first time was a polarising thing in my life, like the first time I played Crash Bandicoot, or watched South Park. And whilst those things have faded in my personal popularity, (to be replaced by Bubble Trouble 2: Rebubbled and Workaholics, respectively) Fuck Buttons are still at the forefront of my mind. ‘Slow Focus’ was one of my most looked forward to albums, and it certainly has not disappointed. The grotesque and deliciously disturbing melancholic sounds of Fuck Buttons is one that might take a while to get used to for some listeners, and others might not even have the will to stand it. However, those that can bluster through some truly sweltering distortion-oriented disturbia will be glad they did so.

The opening track of ‘Slow Focus’ is traditional Fuck Buttons. Giant, hammering drums that thunder across the sky of ‘Brainfreeze’, whilst shimmering synths, and animalistic escapades echo to create a howling masterpiece. So far, orgasmic. I can’t believe there was an ounce of doubt in my mind. Sure, eight and a half minutes might be pushing it, but do you think Andrew Hung and Benjamin John Power give a solitary fuck about your feelings? I’ll leave you with that existential debate, and continue onto the next track, ‘Year of the Dog’ which is a brilliant, goopy mess, slimy to it’s core. After horror-movie string sliding and futuristic spaceship travels across the galaxy, ‘Year of the Dog’ sounds a shitload better than the year of the pig, or the year that I was born and represent. Unlike the lazy and satisfied pig-like nature of myself, ‘Year of the Dog’ is a transcendent, horrifying piece that sounds like Blade Runner banging Alien (both Ridley Scott movies-the more you know). 

After a while of getting the living shit scared out of me, it’s onto ‘The Red Wing’, of which the radio edit came out a while ago. The full version is that much more intense, which is really saying something. Starting with a gentle, trip-hop beat, we move into space n time format again, grooving placidly through the muck of dizzying electronica. It’s a glitch-ridden and buzz-saw laden track of techno that will both jolt you awake with frequent electric pulses, and lull you into a deep sense of insecurity. When ‘The Red Wing’ climatically finishes, ‘Sentients’ comes on and lives up to it’s name. Lasers shoot through a galactic inter-war battle, and giant robots do destruction with each other, all in the name of electronic music. In the most avant-garde way possible, the destruction of the Death Star is put on in a slow motion, audio-centric format, and it’s goddamn mind-blowing, and definitively enormous. You can never prepare yourself enough for the inter-plantary apocalypse speech that interrupts the closest thing to a reverie that Fuck Buttons can come to. The warm down and after effects of this is seen in ‘Prince’s Prize’, a shimmering Pac-Man interpretation that transforms into a breakbeat, entrancing hypnotism of the senses. Holy Fuck Buttons Batman, I think I just experienced Tron through the power of music! Take me back to a point in Jeff Bridges’ career where he isn’t at that low of a point in his life (I am, of course, referring to, The Big Lebowski)

The final end of the album comes in the two, huge 10 minute slabs of ‘Stalker’ and ‘Hidden X’s’. The former is a towering and intimidating figure, the other a succulent and entrancing track that swims with the grace of Derek Zoolander in his Merman commercial. Although ‘Hidden X’s’ is a damn beautiful track, it’s ‘Stalker’ that leaves the bigger impression, mainly because it seems to follow in the format of ‘Slow Focus’ more solidly. ‘Stalker’ is fucking huge, booming and throwing it’s weight around, not just shoving but actively defying anything to get in it’s way. It’s like an evil Optimus Prime, mechanic, whirring and death-defying in the most belied sense of every adjective. The way it jilts and heaves, just when you think the menace might be over, it amps to another level, blasting away your faith in humanity with that giant fucking laser sword thing that Optimus Prime has. 

Overall, Fuck Buttons have created a powerful force of technology. Yes, that’s right, this isn’t just an album of electronic music, it’s a fucking piece of technology, like the iPod you’ll listen to it on. I would say that ‘Slow Focus’ was so powerful and layered that it could hypnotise Megatron, but that would be portraying a hypothetical, and we haven’t been attacked by any inter-galactic space robots in the recent past, have we? ‘Slow Focus’ is fucking sick, and if you’re a fan of having your head chewed off and spat back out in a crumbled mess in front of you through the glory of sound, then you should get this album. It’s glorious in every sense of the word. It’s the kind of shit that Skrillex goes all corporal mortification in an effort to create (that’s the crazy whipping stuff that the albino monk from The Da Vinci Code does). ‘Slow Focus’ is everything I hoped it would be and more.

For those wondering, the vagrant slangshot of ‘Fuck’ was used only 14 times. I’m really sorry. I’ll try better next time.