Thursday, 31 January 2013

Eddie's Album Round-up: January

Instead of ignoring new album releases, it's time we reviewed the albums that slipped through the nets. This will be a monthly edition taking place at the end of each month. We feel the need to review or at least mention all the major releases over the past month so we don't slip in to disarray and scramble to cover all the necessary albums like we did at the back end of last year. Don't be afraid to shout at us and mention albums we have missed.


 Pur:Pur - Nevertheless

Pur:Pur are one of Ukraine's biggest music exports. Nevertheless is the trio's third studio album and is a stark contrast to the bands poppy debut album Pure which featured the cute single "A Kiss". Pur:Pur open Nevertheless with "Fall Apart", a mellow track with brilliant electric guitar and Nata Smirina's twirling vocal. Tracks such as "GoGoGo" and "Bubble" sound like Portishead with a hint of krautrock. This is of course acoustic music and features three musicians at their peak.  

Nevertheless is extremely well produced and features all the vocal hooks, guitar riffs and clear drumming that the listeners of sophomore mini-album Understandable fell in love with. At times Pur:Pur sound like Muse, then they sound like a lounge band covering Marvin Gaye. it's incredibly surreal to listen through Nevertheless because Pur:Pur cross genres so often. They don't quite fit into one given genre, and although you could say that about any artist, it really does apply to Pur:Pur. 

6.6




Pere Ubu - Lady From Shanghai

Pere Ubu haven’t quite returned to their roots with 15th studio album Lady From Shanghai. The album opens with an industrial bleak version of Anita Ward's "Ring MyBell". And Pere Ubu's version is arguably the best track on Lady From Shanghai. The second track "Free White" offers some stiff competition and these opening two tracks standout as lo-fi industrial tracks with exceptional drumming techniques and odd ball vocals. It's not quite the post-punk that Pere Ubu created with 1978s Dub Housing, but it's still Pere Ubu. 

The once experimental masterminds behind The Modern Dance have shrivelled up with old age.  With age comes cynicism and Pere Ubu certainly have plenty of that to give on Lady From Shanghai. The adequately titled "Musicians Are Scum" shows moments of interesting guitar work, but ultimately falls in on itself when the track goes nowhere. And that pretty much sums up Lady From Shanghai. There's no real reason for Pere Ubu to release this album. It doesn't have the same quality as past releases and to call this experimental would be very pretentious of me. We have simplistic structures, poor at best lyrics and terrible vocals by David Thomas. 

At the end of the day it’s not as if Pere Ubu actually care about their output. They've said on many occasions how little they care about their commercial status. It takes a lot of effort not to take musically so seriously, and as 'musicians', Pere Ubu doesn’t do themselves any favours. They must welcome the average / mediocre to negative reviews of their albums, and laugh at the few that still give positive reviews to what is quite simply music written and recorded in one hour. 

4.2





Wave Machines - Pollen

Liverpool wouldn't be the first place on your list to look for new music. It's as if musical exports from Merseyside are considered gimmicky because of The Beatles success. Furthermore, you always remember when a band is from Liverpool. It's not like the Manchester bands we remember because of the effect they had on 80's, 90's and 00's music, it's just common knowledge to remember their whereabouts. Who can forget the big C's, The Coral, Clinic and Elvis Costello? So now when a band from Merseyside is described to me as 'indie rock with some funk and electronics', It's not a surprise that my level of interest is immediately dropped. 

Pollen is Wave Machines' second album, and it's no surprise that their debut album Wave If You're Really There was off the radar in 2009. Four years later and Wave Machines are still releasing the art rock like material they were back when Merriweather Post Pavilion came out. "Ill Fit" has a great electronic beat, and if it wasn't for the funky bass and ambient intro, it could be used by Rihanna. Theirs a serious pop aesthetic going on in this track. That's repeated on "Walk Before I Run" and "Gale". Pollen sounds like a well-produced and almost entirely electronic version of Tame Impala. The structures are exciting, as are the vocal effects and ambient segments, which are unexpected and unique. 

I'm struggling to find any authenticity and that’s very bad, especially when you have taken four years to release a sophomore album. Pollen is an album that rightfully isn't on the radar. Just like Wave Machines' debut album, Pollen never comes across as different and it certainly fails to capture my attention and memory. It does have three / four enjoyable tracks, "Ill Fit" being the better of these, with its pop structured dance beat and brilliant electronic drum pattern. Wave Machines just aren’t strong enough to breakthrough and compete with the Everything Everything's of today.


6.2





Serafina Steer - The Moths Are Real

Serafina Steer left Trinity College of Music with 1st class honours, something that doesn’t surprise me when listening to The Moths Are Real. It's her third album, and again, the third time Steer has been featured in the Sunday papers and alternative online music websites. You know the kind I'm talking about, where a 50 year old critic reviews the album in five sentences, gives it 3/5 stars and then signs off with his initials. The Moths Are Real is an album that suits this style of review, because although it's not the most commercially viable of albums, it's clearly not left-field either.

One artist pops into the mind when listening to this album, Joanna Newsom. If you've listened to JoNo before then you'll make this connection after 30 seconds of "Night Before Mutiny", one of the stronger tracks on The Moths Are Real. It doesn't compare to the standout track that follows, "Machine Room". Here we see Steer deliver a brilliantly written song with her Vashti Bunyan-esque vocals with light percussion and an absolute killer bridge. The album goes from strength to strength with "Ballad of Brick Lane" and then the atmospheric "Lady Fortune". 

Steer doesn't have the vocal ability or structural capacity as America's Joanna Newsom. But Steer stands out as a classic British folk / singer-songwriter artist who plays one of the hardest instruments to master, the harp. The listener can hear classic medieval instruments that work together such as a recorder, an organ, Steer's ever-present harp and a flute. It reminds me of Anthems In Eden, the classic British folk masterpiece by Shirley and Dolly Collins. Steer has another album which enhances her position in British folk music. The Moths Are Real is an interesting addition to her catalogue of joyous folk music. 

7.8 




The Peoples Temple - More For The Masses

I've been sitting on this album for four months, which is a long time to be sitting on an album to be honest, it hurts. I saw The Peoples Temple live in 2012, where they played facing the skyline of downtown New York City, where the sun was setting and their fans came out to enjoy the show. More For The Masses is The Peoples Temple's second album, after Sons of Stone dropped a year prior in 2011. This genre of music is incredibly hard to critique, because it's always too bloody good to be cynical towards. Like fellow garage rockers Allah-Lah's, The Peoples Temple just have that 60s vibe, that excites me no matter what mood I'm in, or what the weather is out of my window. 

More For The Masses, just like Allah-Lah's self-titled album falls flat on its knees. There are many reasons why I enjoy More For The Masses, many of them to do with the garage rock frenzy "Looter's Game" and the psych masterpiece "Nevermore", it's just a shame they take a different direction. Thankfully for us reviews, we can be critical over this change of musical direction slap bang in the middle of the album with "Restless". They go from this cool Creation-esque rawness to the delicate rhythms and tranquillity of 1990s shoegaze such as Ride. Now that's incredibly confusing and somewhat silly of The Peoples Temple. "Restless" isn't a bad song, it's arguably one of the best on the album; it just doesn’t fit.

This is of course the genre The Peoples Temple has to follow. And mixing genres and decades like this is foolish and not at all innovative. There's only one reason as to why I didn't review this album sooner, and that's because it's not a very good album underneath all the distortion and 60s vibes. The tracks that are psych / garage rock sound very similar and offer no modern twist, just like Allah-Lah's, which is why I have not reviewed that album either. 

4.0 

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