• By: Owen Maxwell

Album Reviews: February 25, 2019

Swervedriver – Future Ruins (Oxford, England)

Those looking for furious rock that cuts through pop hooks with ease, Swervedriver give you that with a touch of anger and grit. With such a colossal weight to the sound Swervedriver bring to the table, it's only a shame they're not taking it further. With a roar from the outset on tracks like "Mary Winter," there's a great sense of heat from the playing while feeling visceral and dangerous at the same time. As you tumble through the breakneck speed of "The Lonely Crowd Fades In The Air" you'll be having too much fun at first to really pick up on its familiar roots. There's a lot more exciting tension however on "Spiked Flower" as Swervedriver really up their abrasive tones and throw their vocals with the same fierce attack. Even the jam notes of "Radio-Silent" start to push the band's own limits in terms of writing and sonics to leave you excited for their next release.

Cwn Annwn & Moddey Dhoo – Desolate Derelicts (Ottawa)

In their ability to drift between a kind of atmospheric composition and sharp pop, Cwn Annwn & Moddey Dhoo deliver music that transcends drama with endless smoky production. Something like "Aftermath" quickly escapes its simple club beats to become this eerie and menacing beast of a song that never stops descending into darkness. If you can embrace the glistening folk tones of "Cascadia" you'll find a song with tons of rustic charm, that only suffers from its overtly descriptive lyrics. These bits of instrumentation and more demented tone work shine brightest on "Sheena" as the vocals dance in equally unpredictable directions as the percussion. The breathy qualities to "Horizon" are a constantly foreboding sound that lets its simmering guitars really play around the entire sonic range of its production.

Stephen Steinbrink – Utopia Teased (Oakland, CA)

In the world of the singer-songwriter cleverly using aesthetic can turn something personal into a subversive listen. In the psychedelic and often spacey sounds of Steinbrinks record, he creates a record that's as satisfying as it can be intriguing. Regardless of its garage sound, "Bad Love" transports you to this other world, while providing so much rich detail that lo-fi feels like a deceptive way to describe the music. "I Wanna Be Free" takes a more ambient approach to the its movement, as each lick comes in with own unique character to add to the more additive looping of the song. With grooves that feel reminiscent of the last Daft Punk record, "Empty Vessel" pulls in a vintage energy while bringing a great sense love to comfort listeners on ever play through the song. Despite its title, "Zappa Dream" takes a slower approach to let each instrument breathe fully and really get the most out of each one emotionally.

Melt With Miami – Half As Much, But Twice As Elegant (Ottawa)

Though much of this record cuts in with a strong synth-driven sound that coats the album with retro Miami energy, "Techno Rockers" brings in its current soundscapes with touches of hip hop. In an album that sneakily mixes in bits of samples and lush synth and chip-tune sounds, "Alien Disco Machines" brings you to a whole other world on its own. It's interesting to see this album treated as a true soundtrack, with songs like "Sail" and "Clint Eastwood" not so much covered as blended into an aesthetic mix to become a part of the album's world rather than a totally new song. In this way however, it makes you start to wonder where the roots of creativity meet on songs like "Cornelius" and how much that matters in the face of something so explosive and insane to hear.

Architects – Holy Hell (Brighton, England)

There's something to be said about the inspiring power of great post-punk music, regardless of your feelings about the genre as a whole. While there's a lot of pulling from the current vein of rock and heavy alternative sounds here, Architects are sounding hungrier than ever on this record. As you even note the grinding rock chugs that open things on "Death Is not Defeat" there's such an all-or-nothing attitude that you'll feel fuelled to go out and do something. They start to really lean into their own riffs however on "Mortal After All" and give you a rock song with weight that may just touch on something you've heard before. They play not only with dynamics on "Royal Beggers" however but their own instrumental interactions to create a song that feels tonally diverse and alive. "Modern Misery" is the most violent sounding track on the record as it shrieks while subverting many of the band's usual writing techniques for something more exciting and new.

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