Thursday, 10 June 2010

Music Mid Terms: Mini Reviews From 2010 [Pt. Deux]

Continuing the H-T-A spring cleaning catch up, here's another batch of albums that really should have been scribbled about at least a month ago.  However, a smart Roman chap did point out - not directly to me, obviously - that "time discovers truth", so perhaps that validates the delay...how's that for a spun out excuse? Onwards...

Alkaline Trio This Addiction

The Chicago band's seventh album doesn't stray too far from their trademark brand of dark, acerbic-yet-accessible punk pop/rock When held up to its forebears, though, it fails to hit either the highs of the outstanding singles or the overall consistency of an album like Crimson. Were they making bold moves into new sonic territory it might not be reasonable to hold past success against this release, but that isn't the case and it's a fair criticism to say that This Addiction feels lacklustre, paling in comparison to what has come before it. There are standout, memorable tunes in Dine, Dine My Darling and the playlist-worthy Piss & Vinegar, but overall there are other Trio collections that newcomers should definitely seek out first.

 

Buy it at Insound!
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Mumford & Sons Sigh No More

Having been available in the UK for some time now, it was a blessed relief to finally wrap my wars around Sign No More in full earlier this year, after being steadily seduced by various freebie downloads and videos. It was worth the wait...and then some. From the self-titled opener, through gorgeously intricate tunes like The Cave and Little Lion Man, this album is painstakingly tight musically and vying with The National for pure lyrical gems. With fast-moving banjo providing the backbone on most tracks, the dashes of country and folk are perfectly balanced to add substance to the sound rather than making it hackneyed. Better still, Pitchfork slated this one, a testament to its lack of pretense or need to be of its time. Sometimes, it's acceptable to step away from the chillwave. Sometimes.



Mumford & Sons // Little Lion Man by Stayloose

Buy it at Insound!

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Midlake The Courage of Others

A much anticipated release here at the turn of the year, The Courage of Others did initially satisfy but hasn't yielded a great deal of return value thereafter. At least not in the same way as its excellent predecessor, The Trials of Van Occupanther. This one is undeniably beautiful, with reflective folk laments and the faintest of instrumentation underlining them. The air of the early 70's and similar period Fleetwood Mac informs the atmosphere of this album too, with an elegance and poise that few bands can maintain across multiple releases. So although there are plenty of positives to take from Midlake's latest, something about the execution makes it more of an occasional pleasure than a daily requirement. As a counterpoint to such an exceptional sophomore effort, though, that's just fine.

MP3: Midlake - Acts of Man (via Insound)


Buy it at Insound!
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Local Natives Gorilla Manor

Emerging with a healthy buzz from CMJ last year, these Los Angeleans soon signed to indie stalwart Frenchkiss Records and the label must be thrilled to have as luscious a debut as Gorilla Manor on their books. Crammed with sumptuously crafted, vaguely-tropical tunes heavy on the melody, this album has any number of plus points to recommend. The percussion is stunning, achieving fills, clicks, and tribal elements where any regular drummer would simply maintain a basic beat. It adds enormous interest and repeat value to every song, opening track Wide Eyes providing an exemplary starting point. Elsewhere, fluid guitar lines subtly lap against the shores of the rhythm section, as soothing vocals add memorable but unobtrusive lyrical asides. It's a combination that is held throughout Gorilla Manor and marks Local Natives out as one of the more skilled, exciting new bands of the moment to keep an eye on.

MP3: Local Natives - Sun Hands (via Insound)

Buy it at Insound!

 

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