Album Reviews: October 2, 2017

The Killers – Wonderful Wonderful (Las Vegas)

While the Killers may not score as many hit singles as they used to, their power as performers and writers hasn't weakened a bit. Coming in hot on this release the band is bigger and has loose electronic edge that makes their synth work even more appropriate this time around. Bringing big drums on a dark opener with "Wonderful Wonderful," they carry a sense of unease as they deliver an ominous ballad unlike any they've played before. "The Man" fires with a strange mix of character and authentic Brandon Flowers through its swagger-driven funk, as it both feels empowering and critiquing of people who are full of themselves. As Flowers takes the retro pop of his solo work back to the band on "Out Of My Mind" he truly makes the style transcend as he finds deeper grooves and bigger harmonies than ever before. Rolling the drums for U2 like sprawl of a track, "Life To Come" tumbles with a wide open feel and soaring vocal moments that feel utterly brimming with life.

Ephex – Star City  (Ottawa)

Ephex returns with another classically inspired electronic dance-funk jam that's sure to scratch that itch for those who need a little more disco in their EDM. Fusing more clever samples from obscure catalogues, Ephex really dazzles on this release. Booming from the opening notes on "Dance Tonight" the trumpets are blaring and the bass really growling as the beats never let up throughout the entire track. "Something Special" has a cloudy mystique to its tones as it floats through slowly and with a relaxing wash of keys, all the while feeling like something all too familiar. Taking in the Prince influence and a sample that only the most devout 80s music connoisseurs will know, "Straight Outta Star City" moves from catchy vocal moments to soaring key and guitar breaks that fly high before each remix session. Letting the electronica loose for a distinctly visual motif, "Star City Driving" brings a city alive through its clever synth work, really fleshing out the feeling of a metropolitan centre at the same time.

Omni  – Multi-Task (Atlanta, GA)

Straddling the lines of pop and weird art-rock beautifully, Omni really bring their best for their sophomore release. Taking their unorthodox riffs to some upbeat rock, with even weirder tones to twist it all, they really make a standout record. "Southbound Station" lets the record loose with a flurry of clangy riffs, and a steady, driving beat, all set to some accessible lyrics about relationship troubles. Taking the grooves into a more dynamic space, "Equestrian" lets the chords rest more simply, while accenting each of the guitars to make the key melodies really jump from the sound. "After Dinner" plays with sound a lot more as it pull instruments in and out of the track, and makes itself unique through this unconventional use of dynamics. Going retro on "Calling Direct" there's a dark pop to its smooth drive, while feeling a little to unfocused sonically.

Blve Hills – I Scream Love (Ottawa)

Never ones to let their sound grow old, Blve Hills have expanded their sonic pallet for a release that spells the end of summer. A short but tight stepping-stone for their writing and exploration as a band, it still delivers on the songs. Wide open and fuzzy riffs take the lead on "Where Did You Go" as they bring a light psychedelic edge to an eccentric breakup track, going from slow and simmering to explosively pained screams of agony. With a more reggae edge, "Do You" goes down dark and demented routes, before its guitar licks really drive up the rock to push them into catchier territory than the rest of the track. "On Me" is the most distorted and wild track overall on the record as they really set their amps alight and let the drums go wild. Using some fun stereo panning, "I Scream Love" has the most sonic play of the entire record as the band takes a simpler riff-based track and tries their hand with exciting effects.

Metz – Strange Peace (Ottawa)

For their third album, Ottawa-Toronto transfers Metz finally found the perfect pairing to take their hard-hitting noise-rock to the next level with producer Steve Albini. Capturing their live sound and perfecting their pop-edge, the band has some fire on their hands with this latest record. "Mess Of Wires" starts the record with an obtuse mix of beats, lifting their massive sound to a fever pitch without ever overpowering the actual hooks. "Drained Lake" comes fast with sharp choruses and a palpable sense of energy, while the riffs set the listeners souls aflame. "Cellophane" delivers on the pop-tendencies Metz has always had, as they loop all their dizzying feedback into a catchy loop of melodies and memorable choruses. Bringing in the simple and sheer excitement on "Common Trash" they go fast and gritty to bring their most unrestrained punk without holding back.