Album Reviews: March 28, 2017
Finn – Godsend EP (Winnipeg)
Short and sweet is better than long and boring, and that’s obviously what Winnipeg alt-rockers Finn thought when crafting their new EP Godsend. Across the concise effort the band layers a dynamic range of melodies with amazing sounding results.
Opening tracks like "Godsend" and " " ring out with fat bass, echoing guitars and even some bells and whistles in manner of speaking, all mixed in with the bands effortless hooks.
Tracks like "Lines" however find the band in a more upbeat and groove-driven place, making a song you can dance to that soars in its layering. "Mason Hall" even finds the band pushing their ability to slowly build a song to an epic finale, and between the harmonies and focus-grabbing percussion, it doesn't do it blandly either.
The Jesus And Mary Chain – Damage And Joy (Scotland)
You'd be hard pressed to find as strong of a return from bands on five-year hiatuses than the almost two decades between records for these Scot-rockers. Overall there's a great record that can be parsed out of this release, that is only hampered by a handful of updated older tracks and strange creative choices.
Their sound hasn't grown tired or relevant thanks to some minor tweaks, making tracks like "Always Sad" and "Song For A Secret" amazing back-to-back features for the band, with harmonies and their old-school simplicity.
Somehow they've managed to even take some more subtle notes on their production and direction from the bands they influenced like The Raveonettes and Veronica Falls, upping the grit and soft moments respectively and making the sound of the record feel accessible.
Songs like "War On Peace" find them digging into a slow-burning and even more psychedelic sound that their usual flair whereas, "Facing Up To The Facts" is classic JAMC in all their glory.
Together with some misfires like "Amputation" and the lyrically questionable "Simian Split" this is a great comeback for the band after such a long break, but hopefully in the future they can trim the fat a little.
Empty Nesters – Sweer (Ottawa)
If you needed any more reason to check out Empty Nester's set for the Debaser Spring Thing in April, their latest EP is certainly convincing. The tonally inviting indie acoustic stylings create lulling but gripping sounds that make for a smaller release that's hard to put down. "Dank Chat" breezes in like a cold sunset, with a looming echo and gloomy vocals with just the right hint of hope to give it a pleasantly ambivalent feeling. Going even darker on the moody instrumental break of "Improv Night," light melodic hooks provide catchy moments while the song builds the tone and brightens up the rest of the record by contrast. "Taste The Happy" recalls parts Angel Olsen with more overtly darker overtones. The drone mixed with a haunting set of ooo's making for a chilling listen. Bringing a little more light to the record on "Disappointed Dads" there's a lyrical deepness that's contrasted beautifully by a more excited and eager guitar performance. The dissonant harmonies work well to add to the emotional weight of each chorus with something simple. With a delightful rock close on a Surf Curse cover, there's a lot of promise for the future of Empty Nesters, left all the more intriguing given this energetic cover.
Soulwax – From Deewee (Belgium)
In the dark depths of electronic pop lies the new record from Belgian trio Soulwax, who despite being on their eighth album may still be best known for their LCD Soundsystem remixes and the Soulwax FM feature in the latest Grand Theft Auto installment. Their record echoes of a band full of experience however, drifting between electronic pop, cinematic synth sounds and even a a bit of jazz. The seamless run between tracks like "Preset Tense" and "Masterplanned" show off a band that knows how to develop a sound while still keeping it hook-based. "Missing Wires" however pulls in a distinctly jazz hooked influence to make their pop feel smart, along with the head-percussion they pack with it. There's something utterly perfect about the sound and drive of "Is It Always Binary" though with its gutteral drumming and more prog rock focused riffs and attitude that make it a cool moment in the middle of the record with all the sonic finesse of the tracks around it. Even by the end of the record, simple bass-driven tracks like "Goodnight Transmission" aches of a band loving to make music and feeling out every part of their sound, for some delicious pop that can appeal to everyone without compromising the band's voice.
Jacques Greene – Feel Infinite (Montreal)
It's always fascinating to see producers making their own albums, as more often than not their skills come from a deep of music itself. The deeply pop influenced, but experimental in tone record from Greene is an intriguing listen, and notable for being his first LP after many EPs and singles since 2010.
Tracks like "Feel Infinite" and "Real Time" feel born for the club floor with their powerful beats and looping voice-tracks, leaning more to house influence than anything else. As a pop producer however, Greene's most accessible and memorable tracks come on "True" which features How To Dress Well, giving a fully fleshed out feeling to his pop production, as well as "You See All My Light" which bursts with life as a powerful Synth pop track with club overtones, making for something powerfully ethereal in its growth.
This first full length from the Montreal producer is amazingly intriguing, while admittedly having certain tracks much more clearly cut for certain crowds than others.
Overall though after this listen a lot more people are going to be clamouring to hear what he's up to than when he was just that producer known for appearing in Azealia Banks "212" video.