REVIEW: Dead Letter Circus – "Disconnect And Apply"

Dead Letter Circus’s debut album, "This Is The Warning", is going to be released on May the 14th, and on the announcement of their album launch tour (through late May to early June) I thought it seemed appropriate to introduce them to those of you who haven’t heard of this excellent band. It’s been a long wait for many fans for their first LP, but when it’s in the hands of Forrester Savell (who’s worked with Karnivool and The Butterfly Effect, the former for which he produced a brilliant sophomore album) I’m sure they needn’t worry too much.

After a small exploration of their work, it’s evident that Dead Letter Circus are heavily influenced by the growing number of quality Australian hard rock and progressive acts that are emerging. Which isn’t a bad thing at all. So if you’re a fan of Cog or Karnivool, this might just be your kinda band.

"Disconnect And Apply" opens with a flying guitar riff and pounding drums. Right off the blocks and the song seems to be going at 100 miles an hour. Building up to an expansive chorus, there is a great deal of talent evident in the vocal melodies, which lift the song up. Moving between the rushing verses, the song leaves you hanging just for a moment, before one last explosive chorus. Tying it all up, Kim Benzie yells "See you at work on Monday", before fading out. It might come in at just over 3 minutes, but it’s enough. The song doesn’t feel like it’s cut short. This is 3 minutes of quality music.

Whether they’re touring near you or not, I urge you to give Dead Letter Circus a go. Even though "Disconnect And Apply" won’t be on it, I really think (and am hoping that) "This Is The Warning" could be a landmark point in another great Australian band’s career.

Score: 9/10

Grab a free download of "Disconnect And Apply" here.

Worth checking out are both their new song, "Here We Divide", which you can stream on their website (just scroll down a little bit for the post), and "The Space on the Wall", which you can watch here. Watching Luke Williams play the drums with bread rolls and what appear to be leeks is kinda funny. It’s a good song too.

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.

REVIEW: Emperors – "Favourite Colours"

I heard Emperors one day on triple j and was blown away by the fact that they were unsigned.

"Favourite Colours" is simply a damn catchy rock song. I can imagine the energy seeing these guys playing live would be through the roof if the quality of their playing is on par with their recorded work.

The vocal lines are powerful, despite not having a massive range. They compliment the guitar rhythms. Acoustic guitars provide a great bridge to the build-up of the song and it’s finish.

I think they have the potential to be a great, energetic addition to the Australian rock scene, and if they continue producing work of this calibre and keep up the hard work, their fan-base will expand without a doubt. Well worth checking out.

Score: 8/10

Grab a free download of "Favourite Colours" here.

BRAND NEW: Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros – "Home"

"Home" has a certain country/folk vibe about it (though not the stereotypical kind of sound you’d expect). It really sounds like the musicians involved are really having fun. It’s got a carefree vibe about it.

Trumpets flourish between verses and build the song up, and the chorus is simplistic and catchy, with the lines "Ah home, let me go home. Home is wherever I’m with you" holding a certain bare-all truthfulness about them.

Most of all, "Home" is refreshing. It’s something you can sing along, something you can relate to, and it’s not what you expect. In a good way.

Score: 8/10

You can grab a free download from RCRD LBL here.

NEWS: We Are Scientists set single release date.

The 5th of April. New single “Rules” will be released from their new album “Barbara” (due out June).

I can’t wait. We Are Scientists hooked me with a few singles from their album “With Love and Squalor”, which is full of typical, yet brilliant indie-rock riffs and melodies. Refining their style with “Brain Thrust Mastery”, where they seemed to mature and branch out in their own direction whilst retaining the infectiousness inherent in their music, I can’t wait for this new album to drop.

REVIEW: Japandroids – "Young Hearts Spark Fire"

The noise pop duo involving Brian King on guitar and David Prowse on drums are known as Japandroids, and are another excellent example of how two musicians can buck misconceptions in the musical community about the size of bands and their potential. They create a raw, distorted, expansive sound, with both members sharing vocal duties for the band.

Their debut album, "Post-Nothing", is currently up on my "need-to-acquire-desperately-soon" list, and received some very good reviews on it’s release mid last year. The "Post-Nothing" wiki page classifies them as "Garage Rock" as well, but I’m going to be honest, linking this band to a genre that also includes Jet is just unacceptable.

"Young Hearts Spark Fire" is a brilliant energetic song, and hopefully an indication of the quality of the rest of their work. The repeated lines "Oh, we used to dream / Now we worry about dying / I don’t wanna worry about dying / I just wanna worry about those sunshine girls" indicates a youthful outlook on life, yet not one rife with arrogance or overconfidence. For all of it’s abrasiveness and movement, the song still contains a sense of insight and understanding about the nature of things. It’s not just loud and fun.

The song slows down at points for lyrical emphasis, and the loud guitars buzz on the in the background. Building up again, it quickly escalates to it’s former pace and enthusiasm.

I can’t claim to be a big fan of noise-based genres, but Japandroids have got me hooked with this one.

You can grab a free download from Spinner here.

Score: 9/10

REVIEW: Born Ruffians – "Hummingbird"

Pure light-hearted catchy indie-rock fun. It’s the kinda track you forget exists sometimes.

It bursts out with ascending guitar riffs that pave the way for the "Oh oh oh"’s throughout the song. Simplistic drumming keeps you tapping along, with captivating rhythms and melodies flying throughout the whole song, never relenting or letting up for a moment.

Bass lines fill the void in some verses, but it’s really the hooks in the vocal parts and the guitar riffs that drag you in. The layered shouting from various members brings the song to a close, but leaves you wanting more and more. This song is so catchy it’s unbearable. Clocking in at 3 minutes and 8 seconds, it’s short, jumpy, and fun. And it’s great.

Grab a free download here from Stereogum.

Score: 10/10

REVIEW: Foals – "Balloons"

With great precision, this track from Oxford 5 piece Foals seems to have a mechanical balance about it. Lightly dispersed pop-sensible guitar lines move over the top of a catchy drum beat, but it isn’t the individual parts that define this song. It’s how it’s executed.

With the introduction of some ascending trumpets in the background, the repeated lyrics ("We fly balloons on this fuel we call love") build up to a breaking point in the bridge. It’s very climactic, and despite it’s use of repetition, it’s very infectious. Warning you of my lack of in-depth genre knowledge, I’m going to describe it as progressive-indie-dance-pop. Because that’s what it sounds like. And it’s kinda fun.

"Balloons" is less about the individual parts, and more about the energy the song gives off as a whole. It isn’t exactly the kind of conventional indie-pop in regards to it’s structure, so it’s something slightly different for most people at least.

Grab a free download from Stereogum here.

Score: 7/10

REVIEW: Death Cab for Cutie – "Plans"

Well renowned indie rock group Death Cab for Cutie released their 6th studio album, "Plans", in 2005, to much acclaim.

There is a soft ambiance which inhabits the whole album from start to finish, respectfully adding to the overall tone by taking second place next to the subtle instrumentation, and the lyricism of Benjamin Gibbard, which are both high-lights of the album. Death Cab don’t do over-the-top. They have fluctuations in speed in their songs, yet retain an overall feeling in the music. The album has a style, as do the band. Which is a good thing if it’s pulled off well.

"Your Heart Is an Empty Room" seems to slow the album down a little. Not literally, but it doesn’t really contribute much, I feel, and seems a bit boring. "I Will Follow You into the Dark" is too worn for me. I’ve heard it a lot, and for some reason, as good as it is, it doesn’t really seem to fit in. Though I don’t think anything other than an acoustic guitar would have suited the song at all. "Different Names for the Same Thing" begins badly with the faux crackly sound quality seeming more tacky than a real contribution to the song. It may sound like I’m picking apart songs and ripping the album to shreds, but these are all minor aesthetic inconveniences to tell the truth. They don’t weight the album down and make it terrible in anyway.

"What Sarah Said" features simplistic piano used to great effect, as Gibbard sings about love, as he often does on this album. But the penultimate song is the real high-light of the album for me. "Brothers on a Hotel Bed" is full of off-beat drums, and the beautiful piano lines compliment Gibbard’s astonishing lyrics wonderfully.

"Plans" seems to drop at a few points, and there are qualities about it which I don’t enjoy, but those aside, it is a very good album. Its few faults are offset entirely in the long-run.

Score: 7/10

REVIEW: The National – "Alligator"

The National’s third album "Alligator" is a testament to the writing abilities of Matt Berninger and co., who take listeners by the hand and drag them through a crowd of deep-rooted human emotions that so often plague our minds, leaving us, instead of frustrated and helpless, content and strangely hopeful in the world-weariness that sometimes overcomes us all.

Moving around delicate finger-picked melody lines to loud emotional roller-coasters, it seems incredible that Berninger’s distinctive vocals can have such a diverse range of forms, all weaving an irremovable sense of sincerity between the songs, and subsequently into the album as a whole. It seems like there’s a story hidden behind every song, and as intriguing as it is to know the origins of these tales, it’s just as satisfying to listen to them with your own life in mind, as self-indulgent as that may seem.

It might seem dark or gloomy to some, but the song-writing is incomparable to any other modern band I know. Songs gradually build up to dizzying levels, sometimes merely to diminish back again, and without relying on traditional rhyming conventions, a musical picture is painted. These pictures can be melancholic, angry, subtle, explosive, regretful, pensive, and observant, among other things, and if this record is given more than a moment, it will grab you and show you it all, before gently letting you back down to react in your own way. What more could you ask for?

Score: 10/10