Listen to the new, Danger Mouse produced 7th studio album ‘Evil Friends’ before its general release on the 4th June.
IndiePoint was already uncontrollably excited about two of the most consistent and remarkable artists collaborating on an album together and upon early listens the end result is quite psychedelically brilliant.
In a recent interview with Aaron Marsh, the former lead vocalist of Copeland proposed the idea that his old band may return under the right circumstances for a new album but in the process ruled out the possibility that the band would head out on tour again.
Casually roaming around on here, you could be mistaken for thinking you’d touched down in the delightful surroundings of ghost town Centralia, and it came to my attention that It’s been over 8 months since I last posted anything of particular value on here, though it could be debatable whether anything that I posted before was in any way meaningful in the first place. For an individual who would post on here at such a frequent rate that there were hushed murmurings that I was hunched behind a laptop throughout the day, wired in and oblivious to the changes in the weather beyond my room’s walls - the sudden and abrupt disappearance from here presented itself with another extreme from yours truly.
Swapping the keyboard and arming myself with the pen and books in preparation for the different war that was to begin in the guise of my final year at university took me away from the rooms and after 8 months I can tell you first hand that observing the changes in the weather is a rather fruitless task here - it’s always grey and it never stops raining. Regardless, even without me to account for them, music continues to be released and 8 Months is a long time in any perspective that you take; Obama renewed vows in the oval office, Thatcher passed away and the Royal couple are having a baby (so nothing particularly significant, right?) and some things really don’t change too much with the passing of time; the world economy is still faltering deep in recession, “expansionary austerity” is still amusingly considered a viable economic philosophy, Syria is still locked in a brutal civil war and perhaps more surprisingly i’m still 21.
Whilst time may not alter things too drastically, they can usher in moments of reflection and help you to see how you would like to improve things. In this regard, IndiePoint will continue to deliver new and interesting music to all of you in a broader grasp of genres. In terms of improvement…well I gave it a second’s thought, literally just a moment ago, and realized there’s nothing at all to change - call it brash stubbornness or an exuberant confidence but I think IndiePoint did and will do just fine.
Long established on the indie scene, Minus The Bear can hardly be accused of inconsistency if at times acute innovation appears to have been slightly lacking in previous efforts. They are a band that has evolved over each album, building on their math rock sound and incorporating further developments in the guise of electronic and occasional dance sounds as revealed in their controversial hit-or-miss last album ‘OMNI’. However, here with their latest album ‘Infinity Overhead’ they have reverted back to their roots somewhat with their math-indie rock hybrid and impressively expanded upon their song-writing skills to create their maturest effort yet.
The summery tinges of OMNI’s memory dissipates in Infinity Overhead as lead guitarist, Dave Knudson, calculates through the album with a gritty exposition of math rock, the notes more determined and the riffs almost as unpredictable as the band’s own musical direction. This path permeates through the album’s first few tracks as the band opens up with ‘Blood and Steel’, a song that distils erratic time signatures over an accessible progressively-layered rock number and flows into the melancholic and sombre sounding ‘Diamond Lightning’ that parallels their former experimental psychedelic album ‘Planet of Ice’. The penmanship is also evidently a lot stronger and cohesive here as well, as Snider opts for a mature direction and drives the band away from the lustful imagery of sexual innuendo which peppered their last album ‘OMNI’, discussing loneliness in lyrical highlight, ‘Heaven Is A Ghost Town’; “And since they outlawed love/it gets too cold/there’s no one to hold/there’s no one here/heaven is a ghost town” and dysfunction in ‘Empty Party Rooms’; “So let’s keep it boxed up/a fiction we don’t know we’re living/pretending we have time to take until we get it”.
As the tempo slows, Snider picks up into center-stage, easing in his vocals over the smooth funk riffs in tracks such as ‘Empty Party Rooms’, to soothe the album into a calming and sedated place, before emphatically picking up tempo into the latter depths of the thumping beats of ‘Zeros’ and in penultimate track ‘Lonely Gun’ where aching lyrics are traded off against a backdrop of crashing hooks and the band’s progressive roots are teased with a brief saxophone encounter, before closing the party with a cataclysmic electronic explosion on album finale ‘Cold Company’. Whilst ‘Infinity Overhead’ doesn’t give the band it’s opportunity to explore new musical depths it does allow them to nostalgically revisit several areas from their musical career to date, giving them a platform to retouch their roots after wandering so far astray with ‘OMNI’ and the result is a wonderful expose of their math and indie rock sound.
Overall: ‘Infinity Overhead’ is a sweeping return to form for the band and is an album that sees them re-explore their musical roots with a gritty show of math-rock.
Recommended Songs: ‘Blood And Steel’, ‘Diamond Lightning’, ‘Toska’ and ‘Heaven Is A Ghost Town’.
Muse have announced that their upcoming 6th album ‘The 2nd Law’ has been pushed back for release on the 1st October 2012. The second single off the impending album, ‘Madness’, will be released on the 20th August.
Florida-based alt-rock band Anberlin have announced that they will be releasing their new album ‘Vital’ on the 16th October 2012.
Anberlin, working with producer Aaron Sprinkle, have previously stated that this will be ‘their most aggressive record’ yet and IndiePoint will be keeping on top of it with news on singles and an album review when they become available.
Some things in life just seem to go naturally hand-in-hand, things like listening to Perry Como while laying next to the fireplace in winter, playing conkers in the autumn or the blooming of flowers in the spring. Listening to Passion Pit in the summer is just another one of those pairings that plays together so well in the same, effortless manner. However, here with their sophomore album ‘Gossamer’, there’s a certain immaculate deception at the hands of a summery, cheerful demeanor as darker elements play just beneath the surface.
Listening through Gossamer with it’s effervescent sugary synths ringing through each track, one can be easily forgiven for losing sight of the album’s themes and these are something that Gossamer is packed full of. Frontman Michael Angelakos runs through a plethora of different concepts and issues, ranging from mental illness to economic hardship and there’s something very admiral about someone trying to deter pop from it’s sunny, negligible existence and steer it into a whole new darker and significant place. There’s a brooding march-like feel to the first track ‘Take A Walk’ as Angelakos cries out lines such as “Practice isn’t perfect/with the market cuts and loss/I remind myself that times could be much worse”, reveling in an optimistic outlook on economic struggles. Angelakos continues with his emotional outpouring as we turn to ‘I’ll Be Alright’, that at times is reminiscent of the chorus from Friendly Fire’s ‘Blue Cassette’, as the Passion Pit frontman offers hope in place of the personal struggles with lyrics “Well I’ve made so many messes/and this love has grown so restless/your whole life has been nothing but this/I won’t let you go the mess/I’ll be alright”.
Allusions to drawn out battles with alcoholism and addiction play out and add further to the mass of thematic imagery, as Angelakos uses his falsetto to full effect in album gem ‘Constant Conversations’, which sparkles elegantly in it’s alluring neo-soul casing, as he sings of self-destruction “And you’re pouring out my drink/well there’s a very obvious difference/and it’s that one of us can think/if there’s a bump in the road yeah you fix it, but for me i’ll just run off the road”. It’s one of the few times that Passion Pit slow down the relentless upbeat nature of Gossamer and leaves you wondering how much more it could have benefited from further showcases of soulful style as a slight criticism of the album is that at times it appears to try too hard to chase uptempo beats which are likelier to translate into hits such as ‘The Reeling’ from first album ‘Manners’.
The album addresses this towards the end with the atmospheric and hauntingly beautiful closer ‘Where We Belong’ that throughout, builds verse by verse to it’s crushing conclusion as it addresses accounts of a suicide attempt and the song is rendered ever more potent with the water-shower sound that concludes to compliment Angelakos as he sings “And then i’m lifted up/out of the crimson towel/the bath begins to drain/and from the floor he prays away all my pain”. Throughout Gossamer, you can’t help but feel this is Angelakos’ way of laying down a personal challenge to the listeners, asking them to see beyond the distracting and deceptive confines of summery synths and sugar-cased beats. To join in his journey of lyrical therapy, and to understand an album that’s ultimately laced with dark elements whilst dressed up well in a flamboyant attire. This is pop as it should be, polished in its purest form; both significant and fun at the same time, ominous and optimistic in equal measure - passion pit have created a standard here and others should start to fly the flag.
Recommended Songs: ‘Take A Walk’, ‘I’ll Be Alright’, ‘Constant Conversations’ and ‘Where We Belong’.
Overall: Passion Pit return with a grander expanse on their synth filled sound, whilst Angelakos steals the show with an emotional outpouring of lyrical content.
It’s been two years since the release of ‘American Slang’ and in that short time The Gaslight Anthem’s frontman Brian Fallon successfully set up a side project, ‘The Horrible Crowes, and struggled with doubts about a return to his main band, let alone being able to conjure up new songs for The Gaslight Anthem. In that sense, we can consider it a blessing that we can listen to this fourth effort from the band in the first place.
Never a band to downplay their influences, with ‘Handwritten’ The Gaslight Anthem continue to channel Springsteen in all but name, with the not so coincidental expertise of Brendan O’Brien in production, who just happens to have worked with the man himself and the addition of an extra guitar in the guise of former touring guitarist Perkins, serving to add deeper layers to their sound. These are layers that run right across the songs meticulously as evident through the erratic riffs in songs such as ‘Too Much Blood’ and ‘Howl’ that revel in a raw grittiness which propels the listener into the depths of their anthemic choruses. You can sense the band’s desire to lay claim to the much promised land of stadium filled glory, with guitar approaches as the one in “Keepsake” really letting lead guitarist Rosamilia loose with heavy, southern-laced riffs that deserve to be heard echoing through the chambers of mass-filled arenas.
Whilst ‘Handwritten’ provides a platform for the band to explore and expand their heavy rock and blues influenced sound, it also allows for a key change in the approach of Fallon’s lyrical disposition. Fallon has always been a cultured and engaging story teller in his songs, but here he lays that aside and as with the heart-on-their-sleeve musical style, he wholeheartedly adopts an honest, emotional lyrical tone immediately showing on the imposing title track ‘Handwritten’. “And to ease the loss of youth/and the many, many years I’ve missed you/pages plead forgiveness/every word handwritten”, with that last line of the chorus revealing an ironic insight into the very feel of his lyrical style. Furthermore, Fallon guides the hauntingly soulful ‘Mae’ on with lines such as ‘While this city pumps its aching heart/for one more drop of blood/we work our fingers down to the dust/and we wait for kingdom come’. But, perhaps The Gaslight Anthem save their best for last with final track ‘National Anthem’ laying itself bare before the listener with only Fallon’s infallible and distinct voice running through the song amongst the backdrop of a hushed acoustic setting with lyrics such as “Now everybody lately is living up in space/flying through transmissions on invisible airwaves/with everything discovered just waiting to be known” serving as an ode to life, love and faith.
Before the release of ‘Handwritten’, Fallon spoke in length about how he wrestled with the idea of how to follow the success of previous albums ‘The 59 Sound’ and ‘American Slang’ and with the former in particular, you always feel that it’s been an album that’s served to haunt them in the past as it flaunts it’s perfection in the shape of a bar that they will always find difficult to reach again. It’s that bar of perfection that so often destroys band’s, artists and writers in their lives as they spend their years chasing the forlorn notions of emulation, but that also every so often can help propel people to channel the heights of further brilliance. Handwritten isn’t better than The 59 Sound, but neither does it ever try to be. It’s a behemoth of it’s own standing, with it’s own flaws, an album in which you really feel a band at total ease with themselves and Fallon himself seems to sing as if a huge weight were lifted from his shoulders as he cries “Hey hey, turn the record over/hey hey, and i’ll see you on the flip side” on the grandiose ‘45’. With ‘Handwritten’, The Gaslight Anthem have finally turned ‘The 59 Sound’ record over and arrived to produce the finest album you’ll hear all year, let alone the summer.
Recommended Songs: ‘45’, ‘Handwritten’, ‘Mae’ and ‘National Anthem’
Overall: Not quite as flawless as their second album, ‘The 59 Sound’, but certainly the album of the summer and a very good addition to The Gaslight Anthem library.
With the release of ‘Wincing The Night Away’ in 2007, The Shin’s were fast approaching their apex at the forefront of indie mainstream, garnering the popularity that their critical success so wistfully demanded. However, as any other self-respecting indie band would have it, they promptly withdrew and slowly ebbed away from public consciousness.
Five years on, they returned with a timely reminder of their talent as if they were simply laying patiently to resurface from their self-imposed musical exile just when the very credibility of indie rock’s relevancy was being most questioned. With Port of Morrow, mercurial front-man James Mercer, has taken the fast-paced and polished musicality of his Dangermouse partnered side project, ‘Broken Bells’ alongside trademark self-effacing lyrics to deliver the most well produced Shin’s album to date.
The first single ‘The Rifle’s Spiral’ begins affairs with a jangly-guitar reprise set against a backdrop of opaque lyrical passages, that with it’s rather light-hearted tone sets the scene for much of the album. ‘Simple Song’ and ‘No Way Down’ run along further in similarly nonchalant mannerisms, with the latter channeling off-road similarities with The Smith’s ‘Cemetery Gates’. The effervescent new-wave sounds of ‘Bait and Switch’ drives us deeper into this uncharacteristically light-hearted musical world that the Shins have revealed to us and if it wasn’t for the familiar enigmatic and swerving lyrical veneer here, I could easily be pardoned for mistaking ‘Port of Morrow’ as an album from a different band.
The Shin’s are often best placed to serve as the voice for a certain outsider complex and the vague allusions to disillusionment forms the semblings of an overall theme for the album, which is best witnessed on ‘40 Mark Strasse’ with such as “Well, you play in the street at night/you blow like a broken kite/my girl, you’ve giving up the fight”. The kite representing a play on innocence and youthful nonchalance with its delicate nature as it soars higher showing a reference to the difficulties of growing up, the fragile nature of happiness and the ever-changing facets of life. Furthermore, the title and lyrics of ‘It’s Only Life’ offer explanations into the more light-hearted musical tone evident in ‘Port Of Morrow’ as it alludes to acceptance of a situation (“Well I guess it’s only life, it’s only natural”) and optimism in facing past struggles and disarray (“I’ve been down the very road you’re walking now/it doesn’t have to be so dark and lonesome”). Taking all themes aside, ‘Port of Morrow’ represents a solid return for The Shins who follow a natural progression in their sound with more polished production whilst retaining Mercer’s lyrical fabric that sets them apart from any average imitators to their indie crown status.
Recommended Songs: ‘The Rifle’s Spiral’, ‘It’s Only Life’, ‘Bait And Switch’ and ‘40 Mark Strasse’
Overall: A deft and consistent addition to the Shin’s library that doesn’t take itself too seriously as compared to their earlier work.