NEWS/TOUR: Powderfinger split and tour + Karnivool tour!

Yesterday I learnt of the sad news that Australian rock band Powderfinger would be splitting up after one final tour. After the release of “Golden Rule”, the band felt inclined to quit after what they felt was a fitting last album.

They’re planning a tour of Australia, for which I and many other fans are very grateful. They’re a good band and deserve a proper send off. Over the course of 7 weeks they’ll not only be playing the obligatory major centres and capitals, but they’ll also be travelling to certain regional centres along the way.

Check out the tour dates and details here. Tickets go on sale at 9am on Friday the 30th of April.

In other news, Australian prog-rockers Karnivool are planning another Australian tour in support of their brilliant sophomore LP “Sound Awake”. Having just returned from a tour in the states, the New Day Tour will run through June and July, and it’ll be their last set of tour dates for 2010. I certainly don’t want to be missing this one.

You can find out more about dates and details here. Tickets go on sale on Friday the 23rd of April (I’m not sure what time). Here’s hoping for a fair few all ages gigs.

BRAND NEW: The National – "Bloodbuzz Ohio"

“Bloodbuzz Ohio”, the new track from The National, has been floating around the internet as live bootlegs for a while now, but today it was premiered on BBC 6 Music. Shortly afterwards, it was made available as a free download from the band’s website.

Matt Berninger’s deep vocal melodies are present, as expected, and they don’t disappoint. However don’t expect any “Mr. November” style shouting on this track. The drumming seems to have taken a slightly more off-beat approach than previous material (in a good way), but it’s so subtle that it’s almost not worth mentioning. The string arrangements sit at the back for the majority of this song, effectively adding flourishing undertones to the track.

“I’m on a bloodbuzz. Yes, I am.”

I’ve got a good feeling about “High Violet”.

Grab a free download here.

BRAND NEW: MGMT – "Flash Delirium"

I awoke this morning to the sound of my lovely radio playing triple j for me. Then I remembered that Tom and Alex would be premiering the new MGMT track today. And oh the surprise! They played it about 5 minutes after I woke up! I didn’t have to wait around listening to the track being hyped up for hours on end.

But as for the song. Everyone wants to know what kind of album MGMT’s new one is going to be. Everyone wants to see where they’re going with their music.

Well, let me tell you this. It won’t be what you expect.

To me the song still has that MGMT feel to it (some may say it’s an… electric feel. I’m sorry. That was terrible.). But "Flash Delirium" is a little more unconventional than their other work. It doesn’t sound like the same kind of radio-friendly music that I heard on "Oracular Spectacular". Don’t get my wrong, I really enjoyed "Oracular Spectacular". It was quite a good album. But this new song really has me doubting exactly how good "Congratulations" is going to be.

"Flash Delirium" has no discernible structure, no chorus. It’s a flow of sounds and ideas, building up to frantic jumping yell, before being abruptly cut off. There’s even a little flute (?) solo in the middle! It really needs to be heard to be understood. The layered vocals, the trumpets, just everything feels a bit out there.

This kind of music, as an album, can be pulled off successfully. It’s different. It’s a bit strange. It’s a bit out there. But if it’s done right, it can be quite successful. I get the feeling "Congratulations" isn’t going to be the album of instantly catchy hits its predecessor was. I get the distinct feeling that "Congratulations" is going be what will be described as a more mature album. I think that if anything, "Congratulations" is going to be one of those albums that grows on you. And there’s nothing wrong with that at all.

At the risk of giving a premature evaluation of the quality of the song, I’m going to give it a score. The song may grow on me in the future, but this is how I feel now after 5 or 6 listens.

Score: 3/10

Grab a free download here. You don’t even need to give up an e-mail address.

The score was bumped down on 18/03/10.

BRAND NEW: Thom Yorke/Radiohead songs!

This weekend just gets better and better!

Thom played these live at a solo gig last night (depending where you are). I think it’s fairly safe to assume they’re stripped down new Radiohead songs, considering they’ve been working on a new LP recently.

“The Daily Mail”

A stripped down piano rendition. You know, even though people always make jokes about Coldplay and Muse copying Radiohead (or some other variation of the joke), I’ve never seem the strong similarities there apparently are. Maybe the vocal styles of Matt Bellamy and Yorke are slightly similar. But I digress. If anything, these songs will probably be done up for the album and sound completely different recorded. But as a live rendition on the piano, I can see where a Coldplay comparison might originate from. Though I think this sounds better than a lot of Coldplay’s stuff.

“Give Up The Ghost”

Looped backing vocals bring out a delicate sounding track. Sounds like top-quality material.

“Mouse Dog Bird”

Great song dominated by acoustic guitar.

I’m sure these songs are going to sound infinitely better once they’re recorded with the full-band and put on an LP, but for now, these solo stripped-back versions are going to have to tide us fans over. And even at this level, they sound very good.

BRAND NEW: We Are Scientists and Gorillaz songs

Talk about making my day!

I get home after a long week at school to be pleasantly surprised by an excellent new WAS song, and a new Gorillaz song which absolutely stomps all over Stylo, in my opinion.

“Rules Don’t Stop”

“Superfast Jellyfish”

Might review them properly later, but suffice to say I think they’re both very good.

BRAND NEW: Broken Social Scene – "World Sick"

After 5 whole years, Broken Social Scene are releasing a new album. Titled "Forgiveness Rock Record", I’m getting the distinct feeling that this is an album I’m going to have to pick up on it’s release (which is around May the 4th, apparently May the 3rd in Europe). Though I never caught onto Broken Social Scene when their other albums were released (likely due to both terrible taste in music 5 years ago, I would’ve been 12, c’mon, and not being exposed to them at all), I have heard very good things about them. I know that the current line-up has been pulled back to 6 members (a relatively low amount compared to previous line-ups), but that various other musicians, including older members, have popped in to contribute to the album.

"World Sick" begins with some rolling drums, and a simple light-hearted guitar riff. Echo-laden notes drop in once the vocals come in, and lead in an absolutely epic, clashing, and soaring chorus. The drums make me want to bounce, and the chorus makes me want to sing along . This song really brings together what grand majestic indie/baroque rock should be made of. It brings back distinct memories of those moments of pure explosive movement and great song composition, not unlike those that I experience when I listen to Arcade Fire’s "Funeral" (despite stylistic differences, this comparison was inevitable for me). "World Sick" moves between expanding chorus’ and bopping verses, and for once, I’m genuinely excited about what I’m hearing. If this is an indication of what’s to follow on "Forgiveness Rock Record", I think I’m going to be very pleased.

Perhaps in the future I should be harsher with my review scores, to allow a clearer distinction between what is brilliant and what is just pretty good. But this is brilliant.

Score: 9/10

Grab a free download here. Do it now.

BRAND NEW: Operator Please – "Logic"

Operator Please have new album "Gloves" slated for release on the 26th of April, with the new single "Logic" available now as a free download (that is, in exchange for an e-mail address).

A pounding descending bass riff opens the track, but Logic seems to have lost that kind of urgency or vibe inherent in the singles from their debut album. Not a massive problem, perhaps on the whole they’ve matured as a band. In fact I hope they have. That ping-pong song was alright as a novelty at first, but ended up getting on my nerves rather quickly. To be perfectly honest, it feels like "Logic" doesn’t go anywhere fast. The chorus is at least a bit of relief from the slightly-better-than-mediocre verses, which just don’t have any redeeming qualities for me. I was hoping I’d like this single, and initially the bass-riff really caught me by surprise. It was good, but the rest of the song just doesn’t hold up for me.

I wonder if the commercial radio stations will pick up this single for some airplay or not, sometimes it’s hard to tell.

Score: 2/10

If you’re interested, you can grab a download here.

FEATURE: Albums Of The Year – 2009

1. Karnivool – Sound Awake:

An experimental outing relative to their debut, Karnivool have crafted nothing short of a masterpiece with this album. Put simply, this album is a grower. It’s one of those seemingly magical works that transcends logic by becoming more intriguing and enjoyable after every single listen. Rhythmically, Karnivool work on a level superior to most other bands I’ve heard. I’m not sure it’s possible to overstate how great this album is. Ian Kenny’s vocals are really something to behold. However if I was to recommend this band to someone, I would tell them to try their debut album “Themata” first. It’s more accessible and easy to get into, though it has many of the elements of “Sound Awake” in a slightly less experimental form. It’s a great stepping stone for approaching this amazing album.

Link to full review.

2. The Antlers – Hospice:

Hospice evokes a great deal of emotion in observant listeners through it’s tales of death, cancer, and relationships. A very moving album, it makes use of simplistic piano chords that resonate through low levels of ambient electronic noise, that contribute to the songs tonally. Lyrically it’s thematically similar throughout, though it’s incredibly well crafted. With lines like:

With the bite of the teeth of that ring on my finger,
I’m bound to your bedside, your eulogy singer.
I’d happily take all those bullets inside you and put them inside of myself,”

you just might wanna sit down and listen to this one carefully. It’s well worth the effort.

3. Taking Back Sunday – New Again:

Though nothing fancy and special, it’s a great catchy album full of typical pop-rock/punk songs. Nothing revolutionary, but it’s strong and fun, and I liked it. It’s as simple as that.

Link to full review.


Other honourary mentions, in no particular order of importance or worth:

The Temper Trap – Conditions:

A blend of catchy pop hooks and stylistically distinct vocals made “Conditions” the strong album that helped The Temper Trap achieve a moderate level of mainstream exposure across Australian commercial radio stations. Though this point is often associated as the beginning of a band’s downfall in terms of originality and livelihood – the fall into being controlled by industry giants in terms of creativity and sound – “Conditions” builds the foundations through which The Temper Trap can continue to grow and explore music. Hopefully they will.

Metric – Fantasies:

The electro-pop synths of Metric merge together with agile guitar hooks, all overlayed by Emily Haines’ entrancing vocal lines, to portray the confident sense of maturity inherent on this album. Moving from the dominating songs like “Sick Muse” to songs like “Twilight Galaxy”, which show a more delicate side of the album, helps display the diverse range of moods that are explored over the course of the LP. An engaging album that is an exciting look at what seemed like – to me – a stagnating style of music.

Passion Pit – Manners:

Infectious pop melodies dominate the debut from Passion Pit. The first 4 tracks are very good indeed. After that, it drops a bit, but manages to pick up before the end. “Sleepyhead” is short, but very catchy. Not a bad effort for their first album. I like it for the most part.

Future of the Left – Travels with Myself and Another:

Taking a raw, alternative rock sound, Future of the Left created an album full of simple and strong riffs, interspersed between harsh and powerful vocal lines. Stripping songs down to what seems like the essential qualities of fast, angry rock music, the album has it’s moments, with fills in-between that leave just a little to be satisfied. Despite giving it a score of 6.5/10 (maybe I was a tad harsh), it’s well built, and it’s just plain fun.

Link to full review.

Phoenix – Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix:

Catchy french pop/rock with distinctive vocals. This album really propelled Phoenix into a musical limelight. It’s quite good, but hasn’t caught on with me as much as I’d have liked it to. It’s one of those odd times when I can recognise how good something is, yet still not feel compelled to listen to it for some reason. Nevertheless, it’s a pretty good album.

The xx – xx:

The xx make slow, relaxing, and dare I say minimalistic music, that gives off an aura of spaciousness, while still seeming defined and not coming off as some band’s attempt at improvisation. Though the songs do seem to lag a bit in the middle, and the first half of the album does seem great deal stronger, they’re worth checking out. Plus the first track, “Intro”, is actually a very good introduction, which sets them apart from those bands who have introductions that seem to contribute absolutely nothing to the album.

REVIEW: Karnivool – "Sound Awake"

"Sound Awake" retains the atmospheric environment that debut "Themata" created, and develops it to the next, more consistent level. With the songs ranging from a mere 1 minute and 49 seconds to the 12 minute long penultimate track, "Sound Awake" has often been described using the ever so clichéd word "epic". Despite the popular term now being used so loosely, "Sound Awake" is clearly deserving of it in a more serious sense.

Off-beat and syncopated rhythms display a clear level of technical integrity, both in the drumming and guitar lines, and Ian Kenny’s magnificent vocals interspersed between these two often varying patterns seems to somehow fit in perfectly. The seemingly experimental nature seen within a vast majority of the pieces (for example, opener "Simple Boy" makes use of a xylophone) separates the album from something another progressive rock band could or would do.

Kenny’s simply amazing voice and lyrics go hand in hand, as he manages to make simple lines like "It’s a new day" soar. Four simple words become four infectious words that sound so clear and free.

"Sound Awake" consistently impresses, throughout it’s entire 72 minutes. Long tracks like "New Day" don’t bore at all, as many bands who aspire to such song lengths often do, and in fact leave you wanting more. Many believe "Sound Awake" inferior to predecessor "Themata", claiming that the debut’s tracks are instantly addictive and awesome. Whilst to a certain extent they do have a point, the defining feature of "Sound Awake" is that it grows as an album. With each listen, it becomes more interesting and enjoyable, which is an attribute of music that should be cherished, encouraged, and most of all enjoyed! The ability to create music that people discover something new with in every listen is a great ability indeed. To be able to go back to an album and enjoy it even more than the last time you listened to it is brilliant. This is exactly what makes "Sound Awake" so good. Thundering guitars, off-beat drumming, technical riffs, beautiful vocal lines, and an experimental edge all merge together to create something very special.

Score: 10/10

REVIEW: Taking Back Sunday – "New Again"

Taking Back Sunday don’t exactly reinvent the wheel with "New Again", but they do deliver, for the most part, a solid album of infectious pop-punk tunes.

With the loss of guitarist Fred Mascherino, who is replaced by Matthew Fazzi, the band doesn’t exactly seem to shake things up much. However, why try and fix something if it isn’t broken? This is the kind of music Taking Back Sunday make, and there’s nothing wrong with it.

The album begins strongly with title track, "New Again", and as the thumping bass riff opens, it becomes evident that though the band’s sound hasn’t been drastically altered, you’re in for a ride. The first single "Sink Into Me" further ingrains this notion, with a healthy dose of "hey!"’s, and a great bridge that builds up for the final chorus. "Swing" brings out the high guitar riff for its chorus, but unfortunately the album then hits a disappointing snag. "Where My Mouth Is" just slows the album down, and though the song is of a good quality, it seems like an inappropriate place to put it. Luckily, immediately after, "Cut Me Up Jenny" picks up the pace and the album keeps rolling. Penultimate track, "Carpathia", with all it’s strong rhythms, provides a smooth transition into closer "Everything Must Go". Despite the fact it seems "Everything Must Go" takes a little too long to start, it’s verses are appropriately slow and seem to work very well. Building up to a strong chorus, the album ends on an aggressive tone, but fades out nicely.

Lyrically, nothing is new or different for the band, and vocally Adam Lazzara is still as strong as before. That’s not to say the lyrics aren’t satisfying or interesting, because when it comes to catchy chorus’ in a few songs, the band really nails it. They just aren’t different.

If you’re a fan of some good ol’ alternative rock, or you’ve heard some Taking Back Sunday before and liked it, pick up "New Again". It expands on the band’s sound without changing anything major, and the songs are mostly great, with a few exceptionally brilliant stand outs.

Score: 7/10