Album Reviews: March 8, 2017
Temples – Volcano (UK)
Creating a psych-rock album that sounds new and old takes work so it’s understandable it’s taken Temples a few years to bring out this strong of a sophomore release. From the grimy yet bright opening notes of “Certainty” that echoes with endless waves of delicious hooks, the record promises something special to fans that have waited so long. The wait has found the band much more mature with glistening sounds across the synths and even drums on tracks like “I Wanna Be Your Mirror,” “Oh The Saviour” and “Mystery Of Pop” to name only a few. Still cranking out some truly memorable singles with the aforementioned opening track and “Open Air,” the album’s step away from this kind of writing is clearly based in an intention to craft a deeper record that seeks to mix sonic exploration with interesting melodies without forcing a creative dump in trying to be exclusively pop, despite their sharp ability to crank out pop tracks in the midst of it all.
Jonny Yuma – The Poseidon EP (Ottawa)
With how imprisoning our winters can be it’s surprising we don’t have more dark and introspective music coming out of Ottawa like the haunting release from Jonny Yuma. This record is brimming with intensely pained and thoughtful emotional weight, and each track feels like a stroll through the mind of someone who’s seen a lot. Falling into the depths on “Descending Aegean” the album pulls you in on a bubbling mix of synth and guitar. Tracks like “The Soul is a Battlefield” and “Enter Atlantis” however simmer with a brooding, glitch-fueled float of sounds playing on top of the humming bass drone of the record. By the time it’s reached the more ethereal sounds of “Echappe” and “Return to Silence” the album has pushed the listener through some mysterious and worrying tones, but the utter brilliance of its minimalistic simplicity has one hoping Yuma finds a collaborator in the film community to find his talents perfectly scoring thought-provoking indie cinema.
Ibibio Sound Machine – Uyai (UK-Nigeria)
In the age of the internet, the term World Music has lost most of its meaning but the startling new record from Ibibio Sound Machine, an African-infused British group fronted by the energetic London-born Nigerian singer Eno Williams, will definitely be turning heads as it gains attention this year. A melting pot of influence from African-rhythms and sounds, mixed with dance-electronic music from the 70s to now, along with dashes of dance-punk from bands like the similarly named LCD Soundsystem or Grimes, the album is a refreshing listen that will have you dancing to music different from anything you’ve heard this side of the Atlantic. Dance tracks like “Give Me A Reason” and “The Chant (Iquo Isang)” bring the beat, slower songs like “Cry (Eyed)” and “One That Lights Up (Andi Domo Ikang Uwem Mi)” take the emotions high and the record even finds an alt-rock feeling with “Joy (Idaresit)” among others for an album so well rounded you’ll wonder why you hadn’t heard of this band sooner.
Jeepz – Echoes (Ottawa)
Ottawa’s hip hop scene is alive and kicking if Ottawa’s Jeepz is to be believed. Balancing a sound that’s parts modern producer without the vocals and throwback weirdness that has all the right bits of hip hop history there's a lot to unpack on this record. There's playful self-awareness on the beat heavy "Dilemna" where Jeepz even drops a bit of Nelly's "Dillema" and a factory thump to the bass and vocal warping on "Happy." But there's a compositional range to the writing as Jeepz clever use of string samples, brings an exotic flavour to tracks like "Fill.Me.In" and sunny bounces to the euphoric "Deep" that has a pleasantly sedated overtone to its mood. While it's often so easy to claim how amazing it would be for any producer to expand their work to a vocalist, the beautiful thing about Jeepz work is that his songs work so well on their own, that it would be a whole other record to add such a layer, especially considering his excellent use of vocal samples on such a finessed record.
Chicano Batman – Freedom Is Free (Los Angeles)
Finding an album that is as relaxing as it is interesting is a rarity these days, but L.A. outfit Chicano Batman manages it on their latest record. The calming reverb and sunset tones of “Passed You By” sound like a Saturday afternoon with beers in musical form, while the bass grooves that persist through the album on tracks like “Run” and “Friendship (Is a Small Boat in a Storm)” keep the album’s dance factor up. The baritone to falsetto across the album are soothing to ears as they also sneak in much more ambitious writing and sounds throughout, notably on tracks like “Angel Child” and “Flecha al Sol” where they take a simple song and make it more brilliant than anticipated. If you’re looking for an album that sounds like The Budos Band trying to sum up the entirety of the 70s, this album manages that in a uniquely beautiful way.