Album Reviews: June 3, 2019
Amyl and The Sniffers – Amyl and The Sniffers (Melbourne, Australia)
With the saturation of rock acts these days, hearing a band like Amyl and The Sniffers really go all out in their music is exhilarating. By injecting a fierce amount of energy and punk writing chops the genre only seems to get in parts, this Aussie outfit really tears it up. Once the dust has settled from the blistering intro to "Starfire 500," the vocals scream out with a primal wail that only Amy Taylor can manage. It's this kind of spunk charisma that carries much more straightforward tracks like "Gacked on Anger" or "Cup of Destiny" as they really inflate the fury behind the instrumentation as well. However this all plays to a fun end on "GFY" where pure punk fire is unleashed in a fast, shredding calamity. "Monsoon Rock" lets Taylor's vocals guide the nutty riffs, as she seems to race through her lyrics to just unleash another explosive wave of fun distortion.
Okies – Once A Fisherman From Spain (Ottawa/Gatineau)
With some lo-fi charm in the mix, Okies truly make a dense sound out of their simple means. And for as many times as you can hear how simple the pieces behind this record are, it never stops the whole listen from feeling like magic. "Hondarribia" beats out with a heavy energy and enchanting harmonies before it finally bursts and lets its torrential energy hit you. There's a much darker energy to "Edmonton" as the band seems to meditate on the feeling of the Prairies to create a sense of space. "Alexandria" tumbles out with a much more haunting and enigmatic feeling to its harmonies, as it presents listeners with a menacing and unruly listen. The growing fidelity of "Saint-Aug (Townie)" shows a personal growth, as the you see a simple point of view expanded well beyond its original blinders.
Sundara Karma – Ulfilas' Alphabet (Reading, England)
Halfway between David Bowie and Oasis lies Sundara Karma, with all the glam, noise and wonder that both acts offered. Though they do it all in a way that's all their own, it's really colourful and fantastic to see so much classic energy channeled in this record. "A Song For My Future Self" is a chorus of triumphant screams and dance grooves, as the band layers plenty of explosive guitars over their hefty bass lines. In the rush of "One Last Night on This Earth" they take a much more party-driven approach as the saxophone and shuffling beats make you want to get up and move with them. As they slow into more soul-driven tones for "Illusions" their strong rhythms shine as they prove how much their sense of passion for music really elevates the listening experience. Though their more modern pop direction on "Sweet Intentions" is certainly familiar, they let the bass and drums hit with right smack to really drive the song well.
Olen – No Ruby EP (Ottawa)
Somewhere between Bandcamp producer pop and a personal singer-songwriter record lies Olen, and their electronic-fusion. "Whatever Happens" itself exemplifies how much Olen's compositions can transform within seconds, as you find a vocals and even the instruments passing off between filters and tones to create a constantly evolving piece. This knowledge of aesthetic lets a hip hop track like "I'm Confessin'" feeling classy while really knowing what each effect can bring to the emotional impact of a piece. There's a distinct video-game score feeling to "I Remember" as the entire piece tumbles back and forth between a mesmerizing glow and pained modern pop. Though this also comes out in parts of "Whatever Happens (Olen Remix)" the track reaches for more of a general radio energy to expand Olen's original song to a wider breadth of listeners.
PUP – Morbid Stuff (Toronto)
Pup certainly know how to bring a weight within their music, but it's their ability to define themselves beyond that that is making their music stand out now. In the sonic depths of Morbid Stuff, Pup appears a band that is maturing faster than ever. Despite the shredding of "Morbid Stuff," Pup quickly show a more tense mix of build-ups and downbeat breaks, and they create a lot more dynamic fury in their choruses as a result. The pummel of drums gives "Kids" its driving feeling, and lets the guitars play around with a lot more sharp punches than many tracks Pup has ever put out in the past. While "See You At Your Funeral" certainly plays with the pop fun of many riff-rock tracks, Pup pulls out so many fun hooks that you won't really care. It's the blown-out excitement of "Full Blown Meltdown" on the other hand that really shocks us, as they hold nothing back to really hit ears hard.