Monthly Archives: April 2014

On My Loop: Gorillaz – To Binge ft. Little Dragon

Sure Gorillaz are known for songs like ‘Feel Good Inc.’ and ‘Clint Eastwood’ but this track is gorgeous. ‘To Binge’ is where synthesizers and “computer” beats are used to it’s full potential. The gentleness of this track from the short and spacy rhythm from the  guitar makes it even more so atmospheric. The smooth voice of Little Dragon and the soul from Damon Albarn makes the story of a complicated relationship involving substance abuse, even more touching. 

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There’s Not Always Serenity at Shangri-La

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Jake Bugg |Shangri La|

The 19 year-old critically acclaimed Jake Bugg has more to offer with his second LP, rightfully named after the studio where his album took shape. After being nominated at the Mercury Awards for ‘Best Album’ presumably for being able to musically express his home-grown experiences with earnest tunes, Bugg seems to have more stories to share about the struggles back home.

Despite the tranquil album title, the LP opens aggressively and fast-paced adding on with Bugg’s fiery vocals concerning about our inner fury and how often we give in to it in “There’s A Beast and We All Feed It.” After clarifying callously and hurriedly about the unrefined nature of ‘slumvilles’ in “Slumville Sunrise,” Bugg goes on to be inflamed about the constant challenges life throws at you and how we just have to make our case with it and better ourselves from it in “What Doesn’t Kill You.”

The following tracks in this LP, with exception of the gritty and high-energy “Messed Up Kids,” we are reminded of Bugg’s sensitivity that endeared us in his debut album. “A Song about Love” and “Simple Pleasures” allow us to experience another side of the seclusive and shy boy. The former track covers a tenderer topic than what we’ve typically heard from him and he seems to be slightly more pessimistic about it than before- “a song about love’s just not enough.” The latter track though sounds more polished with this metallic and crisp guitar twangs that feels more soulful and grim.

It’s enjoyable to listen to the growth and sophistication of Bugg’s musical career. Shangri La may not be able to match the sincerity an spontaneity of his debut but it definitely shows that he’s growing as a musician and I’m keen to see what he’ll grow up to be in the long haul.

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They’ve Got The Ocean, Babes, Sun & Waves Into 1 LP

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Best Coast | The Only Place |

Getting ready to hit the beach? Remember to update your playlist with Best Coast. Apparently they’ve “got the oceans, got the waves, got the sun, they’ve got the babes.” The band that is full of perfect cheery summer songs has come up with a second album and has that signature Best Coast sound but with a slight hint of gloom this time round.

The album introduces itself with its title track busting out all breezy and bright with the busy guitars. ‘The Only Place’ screams out a tourism-like tagline “why would you be anywhere else?”, but gets you to sing along to the cheesy slogan anyway cause that’s how catchy this track is.

It takes a different turn from the second track onwards. Bethany Cosentino’s fruity voice was absolutely radiant in their first album singing about potential boyfriends and giggly relationships. Tracks in this album such as ‘No One Like You’, ‘How They Want Me To Be’ and ‘Up All Night’ shows how Cosentino has moved on from juvenile boy-girl relationships and is growing to be more mature and sophisticated. Just like in its title, ‘How They Want Me To Be’ is basically showing us how she makes her own decisions and can be with whoever she wants, even if it’ll end up in heartbreak. ‘Up All Night’ is definitely heart wrenching despite its repetitive lyrics. The repetitiveness is somehow a key to this track, it reveals compelling emotions from the singer and gets the listener all mushy and weepy really.

Now there’s no reason to doubt updating your summer playlist with songs that have been describe weepy. The album still offers an enlightening array of smooth and even upbeat guitar tunes in each song, especially in ‘Dreaming My Life Away’. This particular track lets you daze away with Cosentino’s voice being drawn out in a delightful way.

Best Coast’s second album may not have been experimental, but it has shown growth, which i appreciate. The album lets you have that perfect combination of feelings of heartbreak despair and summer bliss. How every teenager’s holiday sums up.

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Ra Ra Ra-ing Their Way Onto the Top

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The Vaccines | What Did You Expect From The Vaccines? |

The current icon for alternative pop rock- The Vaccines. They achieved this oh so high status with their jingly rock sound in their debut album that you just tap your feet along to.

It starts strong with ‘Wreckin’ Bar’ making you “ra ra ra” with the roaring lead singer. The high energy doesn’t stop there, ‘If You Wanna’ captures the indie-pop rock sound perfectly in my opinion. ‘A Lack of Understanding’ takes a moody turn for the spirited band, but the drum beats and guitar remain boosted and lively. ‘Blow It Up’ then continues the similar mood with the lead singer yelling the title repeatedly with immense feeling but the guitars here are bright, pulling the track together.

‘Norgaard’ a tribute track to a young gorgeous model and is absolutely vibrant which compensates for its unfortunate time length which is a mere one and half minute. Their popular single ‘Post Break-Up Sex’ is less upbeat than the first track of the album but is still pretty catchy despite the supposedly explicit content. ‘Wolf Pack’ is one the highlights of the album for me with it’s tight guitar and zappy drums.The chorus is irresistibly memorable, “I don’t even know you, you’re just someone new I don’t want to talk to, you’re wild, I don’t find you crazy at all.”

The album wraps itself up with tracks like ‘Family Friend’ and ‘Somebody’s Child’ which both definitely slowed down the pace of the entire album which is actually rather nice after all those peppy songs. Tracks in The Vaccines’ debut album may be quite short, but they’re not at all disappointing. The tracks all feel complete and full, you don’t have to wonder why The Vaccines are pretty much at the top.

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It’s a Big Love Letter Cause He’s Got a Big Heart

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Alex Turner | Submarine Soundtrack |

Alex Turner, lead singer of the Arctic Monkeys, the poet of our generation in my opinion and the sex symbol of many teenage girls. The man has many worthwhile songs during his time in the Arctic Monkeys but his solo work is something to be in awe of. It has gentle ballads and an acoustic sound that could leave you feeling sentimental.

Submarine is a movie about an ambitious pubescent boy going through the awkward stages of his teenage years. There’s the typical boy meets girl story here. But there are some heartwarming scenes from their struggles while making you chuckle at their comedic moments as well. Alex Turner’s voice, lyrics and melodies fit so well with the movie- like a snugly sweater really.

A favorite track of not only mine, but many others and the man himself, Piledriver Waltz. The track is able to tell a story that you don’t quite get but want to find out more anyway, “you look like you’ve been for breakfast at the Heartbreak Hotel, and sat in the back booth by the pamphlets and the literature on how to lose.”

‘Hiding Tonight’ is another highlight reminding you of the feeling of ease that there’s no reason to worry about tomorrow. The track allows you to connect with the lyrics that know you’d rather do it another day, “I’m quite alright hiding tonight.”

‘Stuck on the Puzzle’ sounds like a flustered young man who’s trying, to no avail, to avoid an immature girl. ‘Glass in the Park’ is a honeyed ballad about two lovers just having a delightful time with each others’ company.

Alex Turner’s entire soundtrack is absolutely stunning to listen to and it shows the sophistication of his writing and what he’s matured to be today.

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Ode to Mac Demarco

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Mac Demarco |Salad Days|

Behind Mac Demarco’s gap-toothed and “slacker” type demeanour lays actually this genuinely eccentric and colourful personality that draws you in just as his music does.  Anyone who was lucky enough to catch him in Singapore quite some time ago might understand what I’m trying to say. He’s lucky enough to be able to rouse you with his charisma and even luckier to do so with his artistic work. Demarco may have made his way into the indie rock scene with his individualistic debut ‘Rock and Roll Night Club’ but maintained his impact in the scene with “2”.

“2”’s growth from “Rock and Roll Night Club” definitely conveyed the person Demarco is and his willingness to open up to his listeners. The standard expectations of a second LP after a successful debut should overwhelm a musician with a mounting pressure but Demarco ably brushes it off and makes space for innovation probably prompting one his more successful singles “Ode to Viceroy,” a chill track perfect for the typical Sunday mornings with of course, a cigarette at hand. Demarco’s ability to make something hazardous, like a cigarette, come out to be laid-back and easy is undeniably impressive.

The essence of “2” is heard here in the title track, almost like a continuation of “Cooking Up Something Good.” First with the bouncy verses leading to the long drawn-out chorus and lyrics pertaining to a supposedly dead-end life he’s living. “Blue Boy” one of the stronger tracks in the LP is nicely structured, twinkly guitar twangs and warm drumbeats brought together amiably with casual vocals singing not to worry about your haircut. “Brother” the more sedate track comes off as shiftless and uninspiring however. The abrupt climax of it doesn’t exactly excite either with just Demarco softly wailing. “Goodbye Weekend” is recycled from “Blue Boy” but its similarity is what makes it likeable. “Let My Baby Stay” is a humdrum of an acoustic track not showing much of his lyrical chops. “Treat Her Better,” another acoustic work from the man is more spontaneous and compelling.

Demarco tries to come out of his comfort zone of clever guitar coordination and touches on the sound of synthesizers. “Passing Out Pieces” might be the lesser of the two synthesized tracks when compared to “Chamber of Reflection,” almost resembling an inferior Tame Impala. The latter track however, is a pleasant surprise. It gives off an ambience of being in a disco back in the 70’s boogieing to a Lionel Richie classic. You almost have to double-check that it is in fact a Mac Demarco track. The track just goes to show that the man is capable of notable experimentation.

The LP does not leave you riveted though and feels as though Demarco ran out of material. But I do believe that with his musical flair and a few more listens to “Go Easy” and “Johnny’s Odyssey,” I might be able to be swayed and call “Salad Days” an immaculate LP, but for now, I’m not too convinced just yet.

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Indie-Pop Geniuses’ Return

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Phoenix | Bankrupt |

The band behind incredible indie pop tracks such as ‘Lisztomania’ and ‘Too Young’ is still standing strong with their fifth album ‘Bankrupt’. The album stuns you with a Chinese – like chime in ‘Entertainment’ that just gets you going and continues going with a chorus that gets you on a high “entertainment, show them what you do to me.”

It progresses with tracks like ‘The Real Thing’, ‘SOS in Bel Air’ and ‘Trying To Be Cool’ that leaves you feeling that you’re tapping your feet to the 80’s beat in Chinatown. And that’s not a bad thing, they’re extremely catchy and exhilirating.

But the thing to hear out here in my opinion is the transition from ‘Drakkar Noir’ to ‘Chloroform’. ‘Drakkar Noir’ sounds like a party anthem with the lead singer enthusiastically going on about a “jangle jungle, jingle jump before you stumble.” The end of this track then transitions into the next track ‘Chloroform’. It makes you feel lightheaded as the singer sings so kindly “my love, my love, my love is – cruel.”

The whole albums ends off with upbeat tracks like ‘Don’t’ and ‘Oblique City’ that just has that Tina Turner feeling with its fun drum beats and synthesizers. ‘Bankrupt’ is a journey through Phoenix’s indie-pop genius that is incredible.

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Skinny Bones & Dreamy Sounds

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Swim Deep |Where The Heaven Are We|

Debuting themselves with the likes of Peace and JAWS, Swim Deep have made their mark with their dreamy bubble gum sound that delivers the perfect summer songs which hipsters these days would crave for. The indie-pop band presents themselves with their fresh baby faces, worn-out oversized clothes and uncombed hair that just works for them. Even the album cover looks suspiciously similar to a young Britney’s album art but it still manages to briefly escape the cheesy 80’s feel into the perfect indie image.

Despite the fact that many are referring to them as indie-pop’s dream, the Intro mellows you into the LP with a soothing bass line, short guitar twangs and accompanied with Austin Williams’ soft and easeful vocals. Almost like a trance. ‘Francisco’ definitely interrupts that peace with its bright keyboards and drums that remind you of pop songs back in the day. One of the best tracks from the album, ‘King City’ progresses with a slight gloom but still with the ever-merry “ooh oohs” in the background. The track gives off a carefree vibe while encapsulating the ideal youthful experience of playing hooky and fantasizing about some cool girl without the restrictions of standard relationships just as Williams puts it crudely, “Fuck your romance I wanna pretend/ that Jenny Lee Lindberg is my girlfriend.” It’s hard to doubt the track’s assistance to the Birmingham’s band claim to fame.

Swim Deep could claim to have a more distinct sound than other bands and actually get away with it. However, the dreamy-bubble-gum-pop sound that the band seem to be recognised for carries the album almost independently with tracks like ‘Honey’, ‘Colour Your Ways’ and ‘Make My Sun Shine’. After a while, it seems repetitive and uninventive. It’s forgivable knowing that this is their debut album and experimentation can come later as they mature as a band.

Despite the redundancy of a number of tracks, the album closed off nicely with ‘Soul-Tripping with Me’ and ‘She Changes the Weather’ showing a different side of the band but still intact with the distinction of Swim Deep. The former track gives you a ride of euphoria on a possible magic carpet. The latter track is also a favourite amongst many being on par with ‘King City’ and echoes the core of the ‘Intro’ of the LP.

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