Showing posts with label psychedelic rock. Show all posts
Showing posts with label psychedelic rock. Show all posts

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

video review: 'hot motion' by temples

And here we go - a little disappointed with this one as a whole, but we'll see if maybe a few moments linger.

Next up, I'm feeling like some country, so stay tuned!

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

album review: 'hot motion' by temples

You know, this is the third time I've reviewed a Temples album and had the feeling that either everyone else is missing something in the experience... or it's just me and I'm maybe putting a band on a pedestal that doesn't belong there.

And that's a pretty rare thing for me - normally I'm confident when I praise an album I can point to exactly everything that works so damn well, and I'd like to say the same thing about Temples... but it feels a little less tangible with this band, especially as I've come down pretty heavily on blatant retro throwbacks with oblique lyrics before. Normally my answer has been, 'well, the compositions are so remarkably catchy and hook-driven to match a well-produced mix and underrated songwriting, that has to be it'... but outside of specific songs I don't tend to revisit Temples albums in the same way I do other acts I've praised to hell and back... until I put together end of the year lists and enjoy them back to front all over again! And while a bunch of musicians tend to agree with assessments of this band, a lot of critics don't - pretty consistently too, especially coming on their pop pivot with Volcano in 2017 that I loved just as much as their 2014 debut. So yes, I was setting myself up to adore this album and probably make many of the same defenses, even if this time it looked like critical reception was harsher than ever, but screw that: how was Hot Motion?

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

album review: 'king's mouth' by the flaming lips

I was nearly done with The Flaming Lips.

Seriously, I was - I may have been way more forgiving to a project like The Terror than anyone should have been, but between Wayne Coyne's questionable antics, the mess of work done with Miley Cyrus that sucked, and the undercooked, badly produced mush that was Oczy Mlody that I was probably way kinder to than I should have been, I was nearly out of patience. Hell, I started my last review with the line, "when did you stop liking the Flaming Lips"!

And yet here I am, willing to give them another chance with King's Mouth, which many have described as a genuine return to form and was released on vinyl in April of this year, only now getting a digital release. And I had reason to believe this could be good - Dave Fridmann was no longer producing with the band handling the majority of it in house, and after the mess he delivered on the last Baroness album that was only going to be a plus - and as far as I can tell this is their shortest-ever full-length project. Hell, I even saw comparisons made to Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots and other projects from The Flaming Lips' glory years, I had every reason to hope... so did The Flaming Lips win me back with King's Mouth?

Thursday, July 12, 2018

video review: 'a laughing death in meatspace' by tropical fuck storm

So unsurprisingly this got flagged to hell and back already... eh, whatever, it's a great record, I'll take the loss for this, the record is certainly worth it.

Next up... hell, whatever comes off of the schedule, we'll see. Stay tuned!

album review: 'a laughing death in meatspace' by tropical fuck storm

So this is one of those cases where my scheduling process can get aggressively irritating - because I should have been out of the gate first with this review.

I'm serious about this: when Tropical Fuck Storm were first added to my schedule months back when their debut dropped, I didn't really have anything to go off of but a great band name and there were so many established acts on my schedule that got more votes first. And thus it fell back to lower tiers but eventually got the organic groundswell to rise up my schedule for me to be covering it now... two months late and after critics both on and off YouTube are cheering its praises. Maybe I should have taken the steps to engineer coverage earlier, but I can only do it for so many acts and it sadly becomes a real balancing act what I get to cover and when, especially if I'm trying to aggressively stay on top of new releases.

But enough of my complaining: Tropical Fuck Storm! An Australian indie rock act, affiliated with King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard and formed by the former frontman of The Drones Gareth Lilliard - a band that probably deserve to have been a lot bigger stateside in the past decade - and already developing a reputation for wildly colourful rock music for those in the know - as in pre-Pitchfork coverage, although they'll be saying otherwise when this band blows up as big. And sometimes you just need some unstable riffs to compensate for the inevitable fact any video I make will get flagged to hell and back by YouTube. But since I'm not about to censor a good 'fuck' here, what did we find from A Laughing Death In Meatspace?

Sunday, November 12, 2017

video review: 'sketches of brunswick east' by king gizzard & the lizard wizard + mild high club

Man alive, I really wish I could have covered other King Gizzard records than this... eh, I finally got it, we'll see what happens for the rest of the year.

Beyond that, I think Taylor Swift is up next, so stay tuned!

album review: 'sketches of brunswick east' by king gizzard & the lizard wizard + mild high club

So before we get into this in earnest, we need to start with a certain Facebook meme I've seen spreading around - no, before you click away, there's a point to this, I swear. Basically it was one of those twin pictures with bottom text that shows what you think you're doing versus what you're actually doing, one with a guy sensitively explaining at length something... and the other a picture from It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia with Charlie losing his mind next to his conspiracy board from the episode 'Sweet Dee Has A Heart Attack in Season 4. The tagline was guys talking about music, and the band referenced in a speech bubble for such a sensitive explanation... was King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard.

Now one could argue it's a meme that is targeted at how music nerds will try to explain at length music nobody knows to the indifference of male or female company alike - which yes, of course I've been there - but to offer a counterpoint, I'm not sure there's an easy way to explain King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard to anyone without sounding insane. They're a seven piece Australian psychedelic rock act that has put out eleven full-length records since 2012 that have careened from garage punk to progressive rock and all manner of high concept wildness - the sort of band that almost demands the sort of nerd-heavy cult following and at some point will disappear directly up their own asses if they don't burn out. And since over the past few days I've marathoned through their discography, what do I think? Well, as I've said in the past, I'm a sucker for great psychedelic rock and tacking on elements of blues, country and desert rock will only hook me more, and while I might hold a pretty big soft spot for the spaghetti western-inspired concept album Eyes Like The Sky, the essentials here are the heavier grooves I'm In Your Mind Fuzz, the remarkably charming folk weirdness of Paper Mache Dream Balloon, and of course the pretty damn terrific and ridiculously catchy psych-metal powerhouse of Nonagon Infinity, which probably would have had a shot to make my year-end list last year if I had taken the time to actually review it. But King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard was aiming even higher for 2017, aiming to release five records this year - and look, I get nervous whenever an artist threatens to release two albums a year, and as much as I like this band, I was not remotely convinced they could churn out that much consistent quality that couldn't be crafted into one stellar record. And here's the weird thing: early this year in February they put out Flying Microtonal Banana and I actually really liked it - maybe a shade away from true greatness, but the usage of microtones gave the record really fascinating melodies and for a band that has such a strength for hooks as they do, it opened a wealth of potential going forward. But then Murder Of The Universe happened and was a lot less structured or interesting, and when I heard that they were collaborating with Mild High Club and it was trending towards 70s AM rock... look, that's a genre I tend to appreciate more than I probably should but that's not really what I want to hear from King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard! But who knows, it could be another Paper Mache Dream Balloon, so what did this translate to on Sketches of Brunswick East?

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

video review: 'woodstock' by portugal. the man

About time I got to this, especially given the peculiar story I have surrounding it.

And on that note...

album review: 'woodstock' by portugal. the man

Oh, this is awkward - mostly because if you had told me a few months ago I was going to be putting together this particular review under these circumstances, I would have called you crazy, and yet...

Okay, let me back up. A couple months ago, I was actually contacted by Portugal. The Man and their management to produce a video where I could give a 'review' of one of their upcoming songs for their new album Woodstock, that they would use in a tongue-in-cheek sort of way in their promotional material. Now I know a bunch of critics I like and respect contributed to this, but I didn't for three main reasons: one, it felt perilously close to something that might compromise my critical ethics and I'd prefer to be safe than sorry; two, if I had done that video I'd feel obliged to cover the record and I'd prefer to use my schedule additions for records I had a vested interest in reviewing; and finally, it's a Portugal. The Man record, who the hell was going to care? 

Yeah, I know, in retrospect now it feels a bit dismissive, but Portugal. The Man has never been an indie rock act I've ever had interest in. They've never been a huge critical darling as they flirted with electronic and psychedelic textures, and I personally am not a huge fan of frontman John Gourley's vocals or songwriting, but I wouldn't begrudge anybody being a fan of the group. They were fine enough, I guess, but I never found them interesting enough to pursue more, especially once they signed to Atlantic and brought Brian Burton behind the production boards - and if you've seen my reviews talking about Burton's production over the past few years, you'd understand why. And then 'Feel It Still' broke the top 40 and topped the rock charts and suddenly over a decade into their career Portugal. The Man actually had a bonafide hit! It's a weird feeling seeing that and realizing you could have been part of their promotional effort, but now I at least understand why so many people want me to cover this, so let's give 'em what they want: what did we find with Woodstock?

Friday, March 10, 2017

video review: 'volcano' by temples

I'm not sure anyone should be surprised that I loved this, but there's a part of me that still kind of is. I mean, it's ridiculously fun and smart and nuanced, what's not to love?

Anyway, Little Big Town is up next, so stay tuned!

album review: 'volcano' by temples

You know, if I were to characterize nostalgia among most music critics, I'd say most that it's inconsistent. We appreciate acts that pay tribute to the past, but we don't them sounding too close to that sound or they just become imitators. We like winking references... to a point. We tend to love musical subversions and deconstructions of certain antiquated genres and styles, often at the expense of the song structures and sounds themselves, but if an act earnestly tempers or refines similar sounds and material, they're 'stuck in the past'... unless it happens to be a sound we like, and then we'll throw all the praise in the world at them.

And look, I'm not going to say I'm immune to these trends, but if you want to see a band that divides a lot of music critics on this line, it's the UK psychedelic band Temples. Their debut album Sun Structures was very plain in its worship of mid-to-late 60s psychedelic pop, and yet it divided a lot of critics, a significant chunk saying that they weren't really doing that much to differentiate themselves from their forebears. And of the surface, I'd mostly agree with that, if you're fond of that particular sound they're an easy sell - and yet it was the details in the writing and the thicker punch in their production that pushed that debut up several notches for me. Yeah, I could see the callbacks to T-Rex and The Byrds, but there was enough between the lines in the melodic composition and writing make them feel distinctive. You could make disparaging comparisons to Foxygen or Tame Impala all day, but Temples knew how to structure hooks and cohesive songs, and unlike Kevin Parker they could write lyrics that weren't utterly insufferable.

But now we have the follow-up three years later, and while a good retro interpretation can have a lot of mileage on a debut, following it up and keeping things unique and interesting is tougher - and yet with that in mind, I still had high expectations for Volcano, even despite critical reviews that were, once again, all over the map. But did Temples stick the landing?

Friday, January 20, 2017

video review: 'oczy mlody' by the flaming lips

Well, this was a real disappointment. Probably should have come down even harder... but then again, I do tend to like a lot of these textures, so take it as you will.

But next up... hmm, stay tuned!

Thursday, January 19, 2017

album review: 'oczy mlody' by the flaming lips

So here's a fun question: when did you stop liking The Flaming Lips?

A bit of a bizarre question to start things off, but if you take a look at the output of this band since the 2000s, you slowly start coming to the realization that Wayne Coyne seems to be taking steps to alienate pretty much everybody. Was in the late 90s with Zaireeka, an album designed to be played on four separate sound systems simultaneously? Was it in 2006 with At War With The Mystics, the Grammy award-winning step that tends to be regarded as a dip in quality coming after their stronger work around the turn of the millennium? Was it the 2009 dive into nightmares of Embryonic, or their full-length cover of Pink Floyd's entire The Dark Side Of The Moon the same year? Was it the massive collaboration in 2012 that called up everyone from Nick Cave and Bon Iver to Chris Martin and Kesha? Or was it The Terror, a more subtle brand of nightmare fuel in 2013 that might be one of the most bleak cuts of nihilistic existential horror ever made? Or was it the full, track-for-track cover of Sgt. Pepper's in 2014 that recruited everyone from Foxygen and Dr. Dog to Tegan And Sara and Miley Cyrus? Or was all the collaborative work they did on Miley Cyrus & Her Dead Petz, an album for which you could make the argument is one of the worst records of the decade? Or was it their assortment of public stunts that alternated between incomprehensible and just in horrifically bad taste?

Look, the point is that intentional or not, The Flaming Lips seem to have spent this decade in particular burning whatever good will they have left with an audience that seems to be diminishing, especially when it is coming at the expense of the music. Even as someone who liked the majority of the records I described - with the exception of the Miley collaborations and the covers albums, obviously - it's been hard to work up a lot of excitement about The Flaming Lips, especially for this upcoming record. I've already said my lengthy piece about their continued work with Miley, but buzz was suggesting that those pop influences would be drizzling into their upcoming record Oczy Mlody, which might have been described as 'back-to-basics' but raised every indicator of following the Miley-influenced sound that did not flatter this group at all. Coupled with the loss of long-time drummer Kliph Scurlock, I wasn't sure what to expect with this, especially considering despite how alienating it was, I actually found The Terror pretty compelling in its monolithic darkness. But hey, I've actually stuck with The Flaming Lips for this long, so how is Oczy Mlody?

Monday, December 21, 2015

video review: 'tell me i'm pretty' by cage the elephant

Oh god, this review was torture to make. Reshot it twice, had too many takes... and yeah, it was just painful. Thankfully, only two more left before the end of the year and they both look solid, so Pusha T, Baroness, and a new episode of Billboard BREAKDOWN coming up before the lists begin, so stay tuned!

album review: 'tell me i'm pretty' by cage the elephant

So I'll be the first to admit that there are some producers that tend to rub the wrong way - and if you've watched any of my rock or country reviews, you'll know the name that leaps to the top of my list is Jay Joyce. Most well-known in the country sphere for working with Eric Church, he's got a knack for production that can have impact with chunkier riffs and rougher edges, but it can lack subtlety or finer instrumental details. The funny thing is that if you flip over to the rock side, there's also been a band he's been working with since the start of their career who have had some success on modern rock radio: Cage The Elephant.

And I've always been kind of on the fence about this group, in that I really wish I liked them more than I do. They've got a knack for melody and there's are broad strokes to their explosively messy sound I find appealing to go with the occasionally twisted lyrics, but they're also not a subtle group, and it's led to their past three records being good but not quite great - you can definitely see why Jay Joyce worked with them. Part of this was the gradual maturing of their lead singer Matthew Shultz, as his early vocals has a nasal quality that got grating, especially on their wilder, more punk-inspired second album Thank You, Happy Birthday. Things improved the most on their third record Melophobia in 2013, which was a much thicker, heavier, more bluesy and psychedelic album, but despite a fair few great songs there were a lot of instrumental flourishes and genre shifts that I wish were a little more grounded or given more room to breathe, especially considering most of them served as outros that didn't really fit with the rest of the songs. That said, it was their most diverse and well-structured and helped define their most unique sound to date, and it seemed like they had a good groove going...

So naturally it makes sense to pitch their lead guitarist, Jay Joyce and start working with frontman of the Black Keys Dan Auerbach on production for their newest album. Now in theory you could have seen this coming - Cage The Elephant toured with The Black Keys, they were moving more towards blues rock, Jay Joyce is busier than ever these days, and Dan Auerbach has handled production before. Unfortunately, the last thing I covered that he produced was Lana Del Rey's Ultraviolence - not a good sign, and neither was the buzz suggesting that early singles for this album had shed some of Cage The Elephant's newly defined sound in favour of sounding like The Black Keys. But hey, this was my chance to evaluate if the compositional strength and writing could hold up in a different production environment, so I gave Tell Me I'm Pretty plenty of listens - what did we get?

Monday, September 29, 2014

video review: 'manipulator' by ty segall

First review of tonight, and it's pretty damn solid, definitely like and recommend it.

Tove Lo review coming momentarily, stay tuned!

album review: 'manipulator' by ty segall

Occasionally you see people working the music industry who generate an insane amount of music. They've got work ethics like none other, they drop albums every year, they write perform and even collaborate and seem to do it all. And it's even rarer to find acts who can maintain some vestige of consistent quality along the way, because let's be honest, if you continue churning out material, eventually you're going to slip up. And for some critics, it becomes something of a waiting game, eager if you're not a fan or nervous if you are. 

And if you're a fan of lo-fi indie garage rock, the name that leaps to the top of your list would be Ty Segall. Originating from San Francisco, he's managed to drop a frankly astounding number of records, collaborations, and projects since 2005 - and the amazing fact is that the majority of the albums are pretty damn solid, be it on his own, with his band, or with Fuzz, Mikal Cronin, and White Fence. And that's not counting the truly excellent records he's released, the most notable being the noisy and aggressive Slaughterhouse with the Ty Segall Band in 2012.

Now in recent years, some of the darker edges of the 60s blues and psychedelic rock have bled into Segall's work, which coalesced most on 2013's Sleeper, a more acoustic leaning album that showed consistency but didn't always click for me. That's more because the quieter focus meant more emphasis on the lyrics, which have probably been my one big hangup with Ty Segall. Now he's not a bad lyricist, per se, but a lot of his songwriting has fallen into his brand of simple and aggressive self-deprecation that can lack nuance. And that can work when you're playing fuzz-saturated raucous guitars and howling into the microphone - not everyone is trying to be Perfect Pussy, after all - but a more acoustic ambiance naturally draws more focus to the songwriting.

That said, Ty Segall's music has steadily been becoming more polished with every release, and with early reviews suggesting his new album Manipulator was his most lush, expansive, and long to date, I wasn't sure what to expect. So what did I get?

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

video review: 'turn blue' by the black keys

Well, this was an interesting record to talk about. Once again, not exactly good, but definitely intriguing.

Okay, I'm going to talk about Rascal Flatts, because I listened to the album and hoo boy, this'll be fun...

album review: 'turn blue' by the black keys

If you're a male music fan, there is one statement I can make definitively: over some period of time, either in the past, present, or now, you will be a fan of the Black Keys.

For me, that period of fandom lasted about three weeks in the middle of August 2013. That's not saying I don't like the Black Keys or think they aren't a solid rock band drawing back to the grimy, lo-fi era of garage rock, but my fandom of this act has receded a fair bit over the months the more I've had a chance to reflect on their music. After all, the band's greatest strengths have been their knack for textured, rough-edged melody-driven hooks with a swaggering blues-inspired edge. But here's the thing: the band has long been aware of this advantage, and over the course of seven albums from 2002 to 2011, they milked that advantage as long as they could. Now that's not saying they didn't get some killer songs along the way, but the Black Keys had a formula, and outside of a few stylistic ventures - mostly thanks to Danger Mouse collaborations - they tended to stick to it. And while that formula made for great singles, it didn't exactly make for great album statements. That, combined with the fact the duo has written some pretty obnoxious lyrics - especially when talking about women - did mean that I cooled on the weaker parts of the Black Keys' discography in record time.

And thus when I heard they were planning to switch up their formula with their newest album Turn Blue, I was both intrigued and concerned. I'm all for bands like The Black Keys to experiment, but the opening singles gave me a lot of pause, because not only was the distortion gone, but the synth tone being used seemed really unflattering. A few enterprising critics made a Foster The People comparison, and while I'd disagree somewhat with that assessment, it certainly was a sound far removed from typical Black Keys and not exactly for the better. And thus, I wasn't exactly looking forward to the new album: did I get proven wrong?