Jun 17, 2007

Voxtrot, Late Reviews, Other Thoughts and Ruminations; or Does It Ever Stop Raining In Sydney?

So much new music, so little time to write about it all. But I will try here, mostly in abbreviated form. I will try to cover things that are moving me musically.

The debut album for Austin pop merchants Voxtrot was released about 3 weeks ago. I haven't been able to listen to it consistently since its release, until now. After 3 EPs dripping with pure pop perfection, the glare was always going to be on any full length debut. Despite mixed reviews, I think they have generally succeeded. I give them credit for not taking the easy way out (that is, re-recording the EP tracks), but instead they have written 11 brand new songs. I imagine that would be a daunting prospect for any young band with the spotlight firmly on them. The good news is this album has several pop gems that are insanely catchy. "Introduction" is naturally first and the hummability synonomous with the band is there straight away. Highlights abound after that. "Kid Gloves", "Ghost", "Firecracker" and "Brother In Conflict" are all dynamite songs that will have legs moving and hips swaying. The front end of this album is definitely stronger then the back. As a form of song growth the band has placed some slower numbers there and whilst they are decent songs they don't demand your attention. Of these the closer "Blood Red Blood" is probably the best. So "Voxtrot" is definitely worth your effort to purchase. It is very solid, enjoyable pop music that will have you smiling. There are enough memorable tunes to make the experience worthwhile.
MP3: Kid Gloves

Cloud Cult have been flying under the radar for quite a while. However it does seem that their most recent release "The Meaning of 8" is starting to gain them greater exposure. Hailing from Minnesota, USA and the brainchild of Craig Minowa, they are very committed to their music and their ideals. If you read the liner notes you find out that is a green album in every true sense of the word. This album is a richly complex, emotionally powerful piece of music. Brimming with ideas it is perhaps sometimes over long. But their unique blend of indie rock and folk can be at times spellbinding. I especially love "Pretty Voice" and "Chemicals Collide".
You can purchase "The Meaning of 8" direct from the band here.
Chemicals Collide

"Mapmaker" is a sonic assault that is at once unsettling and also thrilling. Representing the latest release for Brooklyn noise punks Parts & Labor, this album is full of intricate rhythms, shredding guitars and shining hooks. I do believe that is a step up from their previous work. It involves more melodies, catchier choruses and more light then dark. However it still retains the intensity and hardness that is the trademark of the band. The opening song "Fractured Skies" will definitely become one of my favourite songs of 2007. The addition of horns only delivers it to greater heights. Other standouts are "The Gold We're Digging" and "Knives and Pencils".
MP3: Fractured Skies
It can be bought with great ease from Jagjaguwar.

Canada is currently a great reservoir of talent and one more band to pay attention to is Shapes and Sizes. They call Montreal home and they have just released the intriguingly titled "Split Hips, Winning Hips, A Shiner". If you like inventive, bouncy, indie pop rock you will like this album. If you like the dichotomy of male/female vocals you will definitely like this album. I like it because every song is a little journey full of surprises and I especially like the endearing voice of Caila Thompson-Hannant. This album is endearing and pretty, one that gets a little better with every listen. You can track it down on Asthmatic Kitty Records. And it's streaming here.
MP3: Alone/Alive

Some other thoughts-

I have heard a few tracks from "Challengers", the upcoming August release from The New Pornographers. Now I am biased because any band that involves Neko Case (sigh) and Dan Bejar has my undying love and affection. But what I have heard is keeping me happy. I actually like that the songs feel more subdued and considered. Neko sounds perfect as ever and Dan's contributions prove he is nearly without peer as a songwriter. Wait until you hear "Myriad Harbour". Go here for some extra special Matador Records magic.
MP3: My Rights Versus Yours

I am still thinking about the Dead Letter Chorus show from Friday night. I need to see this band again soon. Apparently they are playing again at the Hopetoun on Friday, July 7.

Is "Icky Thump" great or what? I bought it yesterday and am loving it. Jack White has done it again and I am very happy. So far I am loving "300 M.P.H. Torrential Outpour Blues", "Rag & Bone" and "Catch Hell Blues". A review will be up shortly after a few more spins.

I wish I was at Bonnaroo to see stuff like this.


  • At June 18, 2007 , Anonymous Angus said...

    Jack has well and truly done it again!

    It's always great to see such consistency from a truly talented artist.

    Right now, I have a real soft spot for "Little Cream Soda".

  • At June 18, 2007 , Anonymous Sean said...

    I have yet to by Thumped. Hopefully I can pick it up tomorrow! If not Friday for sure.

    And file me under the "Disappointed" section re: Voxtrot's debut. Too samey for me. Too many similar melodies. Maybe my expectations were unreasonably high.

  • At June 18, 2007 , Anonymous Karen said...

    I like everything I have heard from Icky Thump thus far. I'll give it a proper spin tonight though.

    Also, I love your new header :)

  • At June 18, 2007 , Blogger Wayne said...

    Angus- I agree with you, Jack White alway delivers and his inventiveness with the guitar always amazes me.

    Sean- I know what you are saying re Voxtrot. I hoped it would be better, however I think it still has enough good songs to hold my interest.

    Karen- The new header is the work of my nephew. He has developed 9 revolving headers for your viewing pleasure.


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