Album Reviews: January 29 2018

Starcrawler  – Starcrawler  (Los Angeles)

While hard rock is getting harder and harder to bring a fresh voice to, Starcrawler's ecstatic youthful energy certainly brings the right energy. While most of the band is barely out of high school, their electric sense of passion flows through every song like a burning fire. "Train" roars with raw grit as the band's steady pop hooks make their grimy production feel powerful. They let guitar licks lead the way on "Love's Gone Again" to make the track a constant barrage of melodies that never lets you get comfortable. "I Love L.A." is the clear single on the album, as they boast seductive melodies and the right explosive dynamics to have anyone jumping around on their first listen. They even dive into some 90s tones on "Full Of Pride" as their mix of dance and power chords keeps the song booming.

P.J. Walsh – Last Chance  (Ottawa)

Ottawa's P.J. Walsh would make you think he's a simple folk-artist, he brings a deep blend of genres to the sound that will make it feel fresh again. Walsh's sense of mood is at its sharpest on "The Devil You Kow" as the track's dark sound makes it easy to overlook the occasionally cliché lyrics. "Zeroes & Ones" pulls listeners away into a surprisingly organic but dreamy sound, as it skewers love in a logical age. The digital wash of "Parallel Times" give an uncertain energy to the piano drive of the track, but it's Walsh's sublime progressions and arrangements that make the track a heavy-hitter. Walsh dives into a cheesy 80's tone on "New Dance Moves" making for a track that blurs the lines of pastiche and tribute.

The Limiñanas – Shadow People  (France)

It's hard to find the right sense of ambiance in rock anymore but The Limiñanas bring it with a cinematic quality. While their latest album is a little light on pop power, their ambitious writing is a consistent joy. The smoky energy of "Overture" starts the album with a sweeping pallet of sounds, and highlights each one to the point that each note feels detailed and lush. There's a joyously self-aware tone to "Le Premier Jour" as it starts on heavy pop, while it slowly grows more experimental to make its finale seem dark and mysterious. "Istanbul is Sleepy" carries a menacing aesthetic to its distorted guitars and thudding drums, making the track feel like an otherworldly onslaught of sound. "Shadow People" leans into their influences with more playful writing, as they bring in a little glam and hard rock for a more magical and psychedelic sound.

Torpor – Culture Sanglante (Ottawa)

As Ottawa's punk scene continues to push the limits of the city's underground sound, Torpor brings a raw and sizzling energy that is hard to ignore. A raucous drum line sets the stage for the experimental feedback of "Intro" as the band shows they are ready to take punk beyond simple power-chords. Their fury comes to a peak on "Le Néant" as Elo's wailing vocals ring out with desperate anger and pain. They focus this emotion with more purposes on "Culture Sanglante" as they create a blender-like drive of bass and drums into something surprisingly melodic and moving. "Terre Mère" has the most addictive pop writing of the album as they grime up the bass and let simple hooks spin their music to somewhere accessible.

Shopping – The Official Body (London)

Revitalizing the punk energy that has slowly faded from dance-rock, London's shopping never ceases to give their songs direction. On their latest LP, the band creates a sense of place while not always pushing their songs to a fully fleshed out idea. The glistening but monstrous guitars of "The Hype" underscore the beats perfectly and the band's constantly weighted harmonic chants give the song a strong hook. Letting the grooves run on "Wild Child, they drip into a more garage aesthetic to punch up their sound without making the writing satisfying. They build a glorious tension on "Asking For A Friend" between the two vocalists that makes the song's dance beat feel like a battleground. They dive into their heaviest punk sounds on "Shave Your Head" creating a snowball of energy that somehow survives all the way to their burnout ending.