CHVRCHES Soar With Thrilling, Excellently Executed Debut

Photo Courtesy of anotherrainysaturday.com

Coming off of last year’s monster single “The Mother We Share,” many (including yours truly) have been hotly anticipating more from Scottish synthpop band CHVRCHES. Could they sustain the rush of that song over a whole album? Would they be able to bring enough variety in their sugary-yet-melancholic sound to last an album’s length? Thankfully the answer to both of those questions on debut The Bones of What You Believe is “mostly yes.” With the sonic layers to please synth-heads and the songwriting prowess to please everyone else, CHVRCHES has delivered one of the year’s most fully realized debuts and one of the best pop records I’ve heard in ages.

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The 1975′s Self-Titled Debut is Driving and Relaxing All In One

Image courtesy of gigwise.com

I discovered The 1975 while browsing r/listentothis on Reddit last year, probably in September or October.  I was immediately enthralled with this band with an interesting name and a catchy, if unpolished, sound and I began looking for a larger catalog .  Or, attempting to find one rather; at the time they had only two EP releases to their name.  Very little information was to be found.  And so I was left to wait patiently for a debut album to appear, only to be met by consecutive EP releases that were interesting, but at the same time so short and left me wanting something fuller.  However, after all of my waiting, their self-titled debut album has finally arrived, filled with songs that sound like they could all be singles yet still find cohesion as a whole work.  Suffice it to say that I am not disappointed. [Read more...]

Meet Human Don’t Be Angry

Photo courtesy of malcolmmiddleton.blogspot.com

Malcolm Middleton, a musician from Falkirk, Scotland, was once part of the duo Arab Strap before embarking on a solo career and releasing five albums in the span of seven years. However, seeking yet another creative outlet, Middleton decided to take on the pseudonym of Human Don’t Be Angry, a translation of the German board game “Mensch ärgere Dich nicht”, releasing his first self-titled album in 2012. This new solo project is a completely new departure from his previous heartachey lyrics and mellow indie rock sounds; Human Don’t Be Angry is a largely electronic instrumental album. [Read more...]

Volcano Choir Repaves Sound for Sophomore LP

Photo Courtesy of Jagjaguwar

Bon Iver may be done for a little while, but between popping up on hip-hop albums big (YeezusMy Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, Watch The Throne) and small (P.O.S.’s We Don’t Even Live Here), playing with his band The Shouting Matches, and collaborating with The Blind Boys of Alabama, Justin Vernon hasn’t exactly been quiet. Nevertheless, the announcement of another album from Volcano Choir, a collaboration with post-rock band Collections of Colonies of Bees, was a bit of a surprise. Their 2009 album Unmap was a solid collection of abstractions with the occasional killer song (“Island, IS”, if you haven’t heard it, is still awesome), but it was a bit unstructured (and quite strange for my tastes). However,  it seems to have been an important project for Vernon. Just look at the world of difference between For Emma and Bon Iver, Bon Iver: all the layered, more complex instrumentation. The odder, instrumentally complex, direction of Volcano Choir definitely had a hand in influencing that album’s left-turn from the dude-in-a-cabin scrappiness that defined his debut. On Repave, however, it’s Bon Iver that is influencing Volcano Choir.

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The Belle Game’s Solid, Traditional Debut

courtesy of Yours Truly

Like many of you (or at least those who don’t have their ear to the ground in the Vancouver indie scene), my first exposure to The Belle Game came from indie-rock kingmakers Pitchfork, who named their single “River” as a Best New Track earlier this summer. They were right, but to call this band “new” isn’t entirely correct. After amassing much acclaim in Vancouver with two EPs over the course of four years, debut album Ritual Tradition Habit is a chance to cement The Belle Game as a new player in indie-rock (and another chance to prove the good ol’ Pitchfork effect). While it doesn’t quite follow through on the promise of that aforementioned revelation of a track, The Belle Game’s familiar sound lends itself to a solid debut.

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Neko Case Impresses on Stunning Return

A solo artist since the 90s and a core member of the Canadian supergroup The New Pornographers, Neko Case has worn many hats throughout her career.  But while her output has always been strong, her last release—2009’s “Middle Cyclone”—didn’t do much to push the envelope of Case’s sound, and it seemed as though we might’ve seen all she had to offer.  Fortunately, 20 years into her career, Case has crafted her most innovative and engaging album yet.

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No Doubt “Push and Shove” Their Way Back into the Spotlight

The last time No Doubt came out with an album, the year was 2001.  Modern staples like the iPhone and Facebook weren’t even ideas yet, Barack Obama was a virtually unknown name, and Justin Bieber had probably just lost his first tooth.

Needless to say, the culture in which No Doubt finds itself today is worlds away from the music scene they dominated in the 90s, which means the band needs some its strongest work yet to win over this new generation of listeners. It’s unfortunate then that Push and Shove, while a thoroughly pleasant listen, may not be the home-run they need to put them back on top.

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