Jan 31, 2011

2011: Cut Copy - Zonoscope

Cut Copy appears to be embracing their new-wave/synth-pop influences even more, to the point where their music frequently resemble that of Depeche Mode/New Order/Erasure. And perhaps that is the point of Zonoscope - the group's third studio album.

As a result, the album features several more subtle and strictly dance-oriented tracks than previously heard from the group, sometimes limiting their scope and appeal. From the emotionally imprinted opener "Need You Now" followed by "Take Me Over" (which is excellent despite a somewhat tacky chorus) to the ambitious, 15-minute long space-disco "Sun God", these tracks are sometimes excellent.
However, the real gems of the album lie with the psychedelic ventures of indie-rockers "Where I'm Going", "This Is All We've Got" and "Alisa".
This is also exemplified by how these trippy melodies elevate songs, such as the excellent dance track "Corner of The Sky"; the bridge of "Pharaohs & Pyramids"; and the relaxed "Hanging Onto Every Heartbeat". All futher proof that Cut Copy are at their best when fusing infectious dance rhythms and sometimes tastefully applied guitars with acidic and synth-heavy psychedelia.

Zonoscope is a very enjoyable album. Despite not running as smoothly as its predecessor, or having the same melodic immediacy; it holds enough lush melodies and inspired songcraft to be a worthy, and not to mention, a highly danceable follow-up.

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Jan 25, 2011

2011: Deerhoof - Deerhoof Vs. Evil

Deerhoof Vs. Evil is a messy, noisy and ultimately enjoyable album that has Deerhoof covering even more genre-twisting ground. Marked by Matsuzaki's haunting and slightly monotone, sometimes beautiful, but mostly cute vocals; the songs mix noise-pop with guitar-heavy indie-rock infused with elements of avant-garde.

For the most part, Vs. Evil focuses on the more poppy sides of indie-rock; utilizing synths, bells, acoustic strings and softly sung vocals to create a cold or warm atmosphere that is crushed the next minute by distorted guitars.

Songs like "Behold a Marvel in the Darkness", "No One Asked to Dance", "Super Duper Rescue Heads!" and several other tracks sound as if they could only have been written and performed by Deerhoof; merging the best parts of the band's sound with well-crafted melodies and sparkling instrumentation, which makes this such a thrilling and fun album. Vs. Evil is one of Deerhoof's most accessible and solid efforts.

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Jan 17, 2011

2011: Mogwai - Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will

Mogwai delivers yet another beautifully constructed post-rock album that doesn't derive much from previous albums.
Instead, the sentimentality has become more focused as Mogwai slowly build interesting soundscapes with pounding rhythms and textured guitars. The album builds itself on the foundation of the tight instrumentation of the band; which is fleshed out with strings, pianos, vocals through vocoders and synthesizers/keyboards.

The end result is an epic and sweeping album which doesn't drag out the songs but rather moves on to explore other muscial ideas. There are outstanding songs like 'White Noise', 'Rano Pano' and 'Too Raging To Cheers' that are marked by Mogwai's signature style of heart-melting composition. Not to mention the epic closer 'You're Lionel Richie' which slowly builds up to a satisfying climax. Then there are songs that utilize pounding, motorik rhythms that are skillfully applied to the post-rock style on tracks like 'Mexican Grand Prix', 'San Pedro' and 'How To Be A Werewolf'.
Although Mogwai has used vocals on previous albums, the track 'George Square Thatcher Death Party' might come as a suprise to some due to its less subtle use of vocoder vocals. This works suprisingly well, but the album would probably have been better off without it.

Hardcore
is a strong addition to the Mogwai catalogue, that is sure to entice fans of post-rock and alternative music in general.

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Jan 7, 2011

2010: Gorillaz - The Fall

Recorded with an iPad and almost reducing the number of collaborators to zero, The Fall is a more stripped down version of previous Gorillaz albums, that has an apparent playfulness to it.

The result is a slightly more consistent album than Plastic Beach, that is mostly electronica/synth-pop, with several instrumental/'ambient' tracks. Damon Albarn does almost all of the vocals with the exception of Bobby Womack on the aptly named 'Bobby in Phoenix'.

However, the quality of the songs vary a bit at times; the tracks that come out the strongest are the vocal tracks with a large focus on melodic hooks. Several of the instrumental tracks are sometimes a bit too emotionless when put up against such melodically great tracks as 'Revolving Doors' , 'The Parish of Space Dust' and 'Amarillo'.
Overall, The Fall is an enjoyable album that hosts some very good songs and almost no bad ones, making it worthy of a listen. And since it's free there's really nothing to lose.

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Jan 5, 2011

2011: The Go! Team - Rolling Blackouts

Rolling Blackouts - the third studio album from the group, is as fun and exciting as you would expect from such an energetic act such as The Go! Team.

The album continues with their signature mix of rap, indie-rock, pop, noise and psychedelia. It doesn't stray too far away from their previous albums, but brings enough fresh-sounds to the table to make it an impressive album.

However, the production is less noisy and more fine-tuned compared to especially the thin production of Thunder, Lightning, Strike. This is more than welcome when after several listens the album reveals a set of richly textured and fun songs with plenty of clever melodic hooks and shifts to go along, namely 'Buy Nothing Day', 'Secretary Song' and 'Apollo Throwdown', all delivered with solid vocal and guitar work.

The second half of the album continues almost just as strong with great songs such as 'Back Like 8 Track'; featuring an excellently applied rap to a beat-heavy indie-rocker, and 'Rolling Blackouts'; a shoegaze-inspired track that could just as well have been a track from pre-Loveless My Bloody Valentine.
Rolling Blackouts is wonderful, bursting with colour, and without a single second wasted - In other words: a magnificent album to start off 2011 with.

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Jan 1, 2011

2011: 2010 Round-up

Before I finally review an album in 2011, here's a list of the albums that I have listened to the most in the last year, released in 2010 of course: