Daniel here! Back at it again with the white vans! Are you looking for something new to listen to from February? Say no more, and have a gander at these gems from last month.
The Dirty Nil – Higher Power
What’s more garage rock than an album cover featuring an average suburban neighborhood and an array of quaint houses lining the street? I’ll give you some time to think about the ever important question. In the meantime, combine the energetic potential of three Canadian rockers by way of Ontario, The Dirty Nil. These punk rockers take crunchy power-pop hooks and bristling feedback to create a quick output of rock numbers for eager ears. Take Foo Fighters affinity for loud, dominating waves of sound, and the overpowering abrasive nature of Against Me!, and give The Dirty Nil a well deserved spin.
GoGo Penguin – Man Made Object
Everyone can appreciate musical chops, whether your take on the apex of music is found watching “American Idol”, or if the dude from “Whiplash” creeped his way into your jazz-dabbling heart. Gogo Penguin isn’t a traditional example of the big band or bebop roots of jazz’s pioneers before them. However, where the band stands out in addition to the entry level requirement of being amazing at piano, bass, and drums is in their cohesiveness as a trio to present jazz fusion in an innovative fashion. Man Made Object is deceptive as an album cover, and uncanny aspects of their music (and appearance for that matter) such as remixing tracks can turn longtime jazz aficionados away, but above all, these songs are simply fun to listen to. The basis of the tracks possesses great depth in addition to the standard elements of strings and drumming.
Hypno5e – Shores of the Abstract Line
It’s been a long time coming as 2016 is poised to reveal the next addition in Amia Venera Landscape’s catalog. To hold us over, try Shores of the Abstract Line on for size, and marvel at the mammoth compositions that Hypno5e provide. This record is long in length, but stands at just eight tracks, one being a build up type introduction to the record. Even so, the progressive instrumentation hits hard, equally as technical as it is brutal in nature. Each entry into the comprehensive journal reveals pounding heavy riffs intertwined with soft spoken interludes in French whispers. Breakdowns are welcome.
The Jezabels – Synthia
Dine Alone Records
In the midst of a cancelled tour upon official announcement of keyboardist Heather Shannon’s diagnosis with ovarian cancer, The Jezabels are down, but certainly not out. Even in sporting such a strong display of records in their repertoire, each with their own fine tuned pop sensibilities, Synthia exists with melodious power and booming epics. As per usual, Hayley Mary’s sensual vocals crank the passionate levels of each song to their apex, boldly marking the beginning of the record with the massive “Stand and Deliver”. As evident by the album cover, the news of Shannon is a big roadblock to stomach, but optimistically, Synthia is a courageous and incredibly well crafted display of synths and just about every facet of modern art-pop influence. This is an already mature band reaching enlightenment, and the step up in songwriting reflects the Aussie veteran’s knack for tugging our collective heartstrings.
Nap Eyes – Thought Rock Fish Scale
Paradise of Bachelors
Thought Rock Fish Scale (I’ll call it TRFS) is an intimate love affair with early 1990’s indie rock. Given the monotonous vocals of lead singer Nigel Chapman gently guiding somber tracks like “Lion in Chains”, versus the upbeat body of Pavement worship ditties, it’s altogether pleasant and fitting to label TRFS more of a nostalgia trip than anything. Simple guitar and bass combinations provide a slow burner version of your sister’s “chill” playlists, and as with all things Canadian, TRFS is a guiding warmth and sincerity in presentation.
Pinegrove – Cardinal
Run For Cover Records
Boasting the marketing and release from my recently dubbed favorite label, Run For Cover, and a unique blend of emo tinged indie-rock, Pinegrove return with the brilliant Cardinal, follow up to a series of EP’s spanning the last 6 years . As is stereotypical of most records of this caliber, the striking lyricism can be equated to a relationship gone sour, yet as the reluctant narrative shows a cunning bitterness, the longing passion for an ex-lover is still present. Combine that with the steady pacing of easy going guitar melodies, and you have yourself a combatant for best record of it’s class in a young 2016. Hopefully, Pinegrove’s contemporaries sadboys have good things in store as well.
Submotion Orchestra – Colour Theory
Throw this on your “Chill” Spotify playlist. Ruby Wood’s vocals have always made Submotion Orchestra, but the immense flavor amidst downtempo vibes is the centerfold of the band’s latest, Colour Theory. Like an of their previous outputs, Submotion Orchestra thrives on the niche jazz and dub influences, but to a lesser extent. Where the group looks for inspiration this time around is a straightforward allure to pop sensibility and sheer vocal talent. In their library of work, this is merely an additional page logged, but is great as far as sophisticated singing serenades are concerned. Throw in guest spots from Andrew Ashong and Ed Thomas among others, and Colour Theory is a compelling journey of pensive reflection.
Two Inch Astronaut – Personal Life
Exploding in Sound
If it weren’t obvious enough by the album cover, Personal Life is nineties indie rock revivalism at it’s most standard envelopment. Taking their biggest hint from Jawbox and even The Dismemberment Plan’s wordy lyricism, Two Inch Astronaut more or less find their newest output utilizing the same patterns found on the band’s first couple of records. So then, if the lifestyle of dragging your best buds in a van and spending all of your band money on booze still suits your post-grunge fantasy, Personal Life deserves a comfortable place in your tape deck.
Witching Waves – Crystal Cafe
Soft Power (UK)
Straight out of the UK, Witching Waves return with textbook power melodies and post-punk influenced murkiness that makes for a compelling, albeit sweet listen. Emma Wigham takes duties on drums, and if that weren’t enough reason to give Crystal Cafe a spin, she also shines as a vocalist, cunningly shoeing in heart feelings of self-reflection and loathing. Crystal Cafe is a clear picture of the band’s geography, proudly displaying the triumphs and doubts that come along with tampering with darker feelings.
Be sure to check out these other February reviews…