Have I bitten off more than I can chew? Perhaps.
But with so many album releases this week, it was hard not to talk about at least five albums worth discussing.
Weezer – White Album
Everyone knows Weezer.
And depending on which album you started with, your view on the California alt-pop group can range from “Holy moly!” or “Meh”. They had such a phenomenal track record until they felt the need to release two D-side (not even B-side worthy) albums Hurley and Death to False Metal back in 2010 (BOTH of which I picked up at the same time from a Boxing Day sale – I thought I was getting a deal). But then they bounced back with Everything Will Be Alright in the End in 2014, resorting faith in their fan base that they could, in fact, still create fun, entertaining music that wasn’t complete trash.
Now in 2016, with my trust slightly broken from the 2010 Boxing Day Fiasco, I wearily took a chance with White Album. Just like the good ol’ days when Weezer would name their albums after a colour, they’ve also returned to their earlier sound of upbeat four-chord rock and unbeatable hooks. It’s not as good as their pre-Red Album work, but it’s right up there with their 2014 collection.
White Album is a record that goes down easy, doesn’t make you question their sanity (too much), and can be blasted with the windows down in the middle of the summer with a sense of mindless euphoria – which is not a bad thing.
Follow-up and enjoy the album for free via Spotify.
Must-haves: “King of the World”, “Summer Elaine and Drunk Dori”, “Jacked Up”
Yeasayer – Amen & Goodbye
“Have I heard of Yeasayer? Psh, yeah of course…”
Who am I kidding – before this week, I hadn’t experienced the atmospheric, shape-shifting sound that is the Brooklyn experimental rock band.
But the more I listen to their fourth LP Amen & Goodbye, and the more I read up on them, the more I wish I had heard of them before. Breaking into the indie rock world back in 2007, Yeasayer have become a pivotal name in the ever-growing genre.
Their music is intellectual, layered, and best of all: easily digestible. It feels like an indie pop album that has been left to ferment and age like expensive wine. Everyone can enjoy expensive wine – it always tastes good.
But the more experienced you become with their music (like wine), the more you pick up on their intended details. Harmonies, melodies, and synthetic textures form a full-bodied flavour, that opens with a smooth, cherry taste, and closes with a 36-second, soft oak finish (to complete the metaphor). The spiritual and psychedelic layers underneath the appealing melodies give the album a deeper meaning and captivating existence. If you want to travel to the heavens, outer space, and your deeper world of introspection without paying airfare, Amen & Goodbye is there for you.
A little bit of TV on the Radio, a sprinkle of Grizzly Bear, a dash of Phoenix, and a whole lotta Yeasayer.
Must-haves: “I Am Chemistry”, “Silly Me”, “Divine Simulacrum”
Three Trapped Tigers – Silent Earthling
There’s this weird part of me that loves articulate, instrumental progressive rock. It’s so captivating and engaging and relentless.
But it has to be just right.
Anything too over the top takes away from the enjoyment, and anything too simple is often boring and repetitive.
Every so often comes along an album (such as And So I Watch You From Afar’s Heirs, or Animal As Leaders’ The Joy Of Motion) that fits the criteria it’s hard not to get excited. This year, London, England trio Three Trapped Tigers steal the show with their sophomore full-length Silent Earthling.
And as the name suggests, it seems to come from another planet. Intergalactic effects and synthesizers create a star-grazed backdrop for their intricate instrumentation. Dense effects often reserved for metal and hardcore music take on a new role as Three Trapped Tigers create uplifting melodies and tangled webs of vibrant textures in a less aggressive setting – although it’s still easy to thrash around to.
With the right set of speakers or headphones, and a comfortable spot, Silent Earthling can be taken in like a 9-track, 47-minute journey.
Must-haves: “Silent Earthling”, “Kraken”, “Engrams”
John Congleton & the Nighty Nites – Until the Horror Goes
I wish I knew how to categorize John Congleton and his strangely entertaining album Until the Horror Goes. From the guy who’s produced and recorded with almost every modern indie/alternative rock group (seriously, it’s impressive), his creativity and musical mastering was given a chance to flourish in a very unusual way.
Until the Horror Goes is like a warped dream that switches back and forth from being amazing to nightmarish. Upbeat melodies and colourful harmonies clash unexpectedly and spontaneously with eerie sound effects and haunting chords. After listening to the entire album, it feels like a handful of popcorn wedged between the cushions of indie pop and hallucinogenic rock of your strange aunt’s couch. Industrial, singer-songwriter, hip-hop, piano power pop, and everything in between can be found in the melting pot that is Until the Horror Goes.
If you stare closely at the album artwork while you listen, you can hear your childhood teddy bear whispering in your ear “the world is weird” over and over again.
Is this one of the best albums from 2016? No.
Is it extremely entertaining? Yes.
Enjoy for yourself with a full stream over at Consequence of Sound, and head to his website
Must-haves: “Animal Rites”, “Canaries In the Coal Mine”, “Who Could Love You Lucille”
The Last Shadow Puppets – Everything You’ve Come to Expect
If you’re a fan of Arctic Monkey frontman Alex Turner,then there’s a good chance you’re already familiar with his side project with fellow Brit-rock musician Miles Kane. Under the name The Last Shadow Puppets, the duo first started the gig back in 2007 with The Age of the Understatement, almost won a Mercury Prize, and then it sort of fizzled out as the Arctic Monkeys continued to grow in popularity.
Well, Turner and Kane have returned as one almost nine years later with their follow-up record Everything You’ve Come To Expect. They’ve also recruited their original backing team once more including drummer/producer James Ford, bassist Zach Dawes, and Canadian musician Owen Pallet for string arrangements. So, as expected, Everything You’ve Come To Expect is just a continuation of their debut.
Pensive, moody, and slow-burning Brit-rock influenced by the ’60s and ’70s, lead by the siamese voices of Turner and Kane means Everthing You’ve Come To Expect sounds like if the Arctic Monkeys were asked to create the soundtrack for a Cold War spy film. It holds back from the dance rock days of Turner’s earlier work with the Arctic Monkeys, and embraces the slick sounds of AM and Kane’s post-punk roots. Pallet’s contributions go a long way on the record, providing a dramatic edge courtesy of the string section.
Don’t expect to be blown away from the collection, but there are a few gems on it that shed a new light on Alex Turner and his mind outside of the Arctic Monkeys (although it is near impossible not to compare).
Must-haves: “Everything You’ve Come to Expect”, “Bad Habits”, “The Dream Synopsis”