Category Archives: music

ALBUM REVIEW: Catfish & The Bottlemen – The Balcony

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This article first appeared on The AU Review

Fans of the UK indie-pop scene rejoice, there’s a new “Next Big Thing” on it’s way. They go by the name of Catfish & The Bottlemen,  and they should be awarded this title with good reason. Illuminating the best parts of the old school Brit-pop alumni, circa Oasis, while booming with the freshness of current day colleagues like Artic Monkeys, their debut full length The Balcony is set to be released in Australia on the 19th of September and if I didn’t insist you pick it up this Friday I doubt I’d be able to look myself in the mirror again.

The musical saga that is The Balcony all begins with Homesick, the most perfect opener I’ve heard in a very long time. Guitars and vocals stalk an imaginary scene, setting up an album that references sex and alcoholism so many times you might think it was in fact frontman Van McCann who invented Rock N’ Roll.

While boasting sophistication in spades, The Balcony emulates a kind of British version of pub rock grittiness with anger infused throughout. It’s clear in the vocals of tracks like the previously released Kathleen, sweet with suburban working class spirit and confused emotional angst. The single, Cocoon merges the sounds of early naughties acts like Fastball, Travis or even further back to the aforementioned Oasis, with funky folk outlines surrounding the tale of a drunken adventure.

In amongst all the garage rock delight, Catfish & The Bottlemen sneak in some brilliant, straight-forward pop highlights in tracks like the emotionally charged Pacifier and the beautifully simplistic ballad, Hourglass. Towards the back end of the LP, songs like 26 and Sidewinder rough-house the playlist with stellar backing vocals and thrashing garage inspired guitars, while the 2013 single Rango brightens with familiarity and a little bit of folk.

It’s probably Business that really sums up the vibe of the album though. The lyrics glide with a kind of naivety and hopelessness, topped off by drunken shenanigans and promises of commitment. Guitars follow the vocals politely, melding to make a killer hook after killer hook. The whole act combines to really reach out through that one – and yes, Catfish & The Bottlemen, after listening I also want to make it my business.

All in all, The Balcony is a very solid and consistent debut from the Llandudno lads. One that sticks in the brain like TP to your shoe on a crazy night out. It’s all a bit disheveled but you’re enjoying yourself too much to notice or care.

*****

8.6/10

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Move Over David Arquette, It’s Tan Vampires

Last week, Tan Vampiresbarged back onto my radar with their latest EP, Ephemera, which despite  the wanky name is a pretty sweet 6-tracker jam packed with ambient folk pleasantries.

Their debut album, For Physical Fitness, was a welcome surprise for me during a time when electronic indie had claimed in me a sort of musical favouritism. Tracks like the simply romantic I Found A Body, the harmlessly rebellious Digital Rot and the clearly flowing desperation in I Can Hear Them In The Dark made me curse out loud the jerks that weren’t following them yet on facebook. “Give this band your urgent and immediate attention!” I cried via this blog! Sadly, no one actually reads this blog.

Not only do I love this band because their lead singer kind of resembles a young David Arquette, but with songs off the new EP like, Into The West, it’s just so damn hard not to appreciate.

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The Naked & Famous Are Back

I love these guys. Even if it is mainly because they remind me a lot of my time living in Canada. But of course, also because they’re pretty epic. The Naked & Famousin case you’ve recently been in a freak super-modified-shovel-racing accident (yes it’s a thing) and found yourself trapped in a coma from early 2008 until this specific moment, are a brilliant (apparently) post-punk revival outfit from Auckland, New Zealand.

Their debut album, Passive Me, Aggressive You, was a thing of beauty, rearing instant festival classics like Punching in a Dream, Young Blood and an amazing electro-ballad that turned out to be my personal favourite, No WayThe album reached a height of #25 on both the UK and Australian charts while peaking all the way to #1 in NZ.

Just yesterday, exciting happenings happened when the band debuted their latest track, Hearts Like Ours, across various social platforms. The single is in line with a lot of their previous stuff. The sound is equally as huge as their previous summer anthems and just as enjoyable, with brilliant melodies and harmonies spanning the chorus enforced by grunge-toned guitar and  passionately paced keyboard.

The new album, entitled In Rolling Waves, is set for a September 16th release.

A couple of years ago, they also released a really awesome remix of Austere by the similar sounding Canadian favourites, The Joy Formidable.

Last Dinosaur Standing

Founding Member Of Last Dinosaurs Quits Band

Since the release of their 2012 masterpiece In A Million Years…Brisbane based indie four-piece, Last Dinosaurs have been highly regarded in Australia, playing string after string of sold out shows to adoring crowds around the country who lapped up tickets like a herd of thirsty llamas.

But disaster has struck this week. Whilst in the middle of being bunkered away to work on the already anticipated sophomore release, it was revealed that Bassist and founding member Sam Gethin-Jones will be leaving the outfit, announcing his departure via the band’s facebook page. In the post, he says, “…Sam here. I come with the unfortunate news that I will no longer be a part of Last Dinosaurs. For the band to move forward in the strongest way possible it is best that we part ways now. I can honestly say that the best experiences in my life have been with the guys, and I’ll always be grateful for the memories we’ve shared.”

Now, this is sad news indeed. When The Indie Rock Summit was still playing it old-school and hosting our biz on blogger, I highlighted In A Million Years…as album of the month in July 2012 (I think?) and have been very keen for the follow up ever since. There’s always that tightening of a fan’s stomach when an original member leaves as thoughts of hopelessness and despair cross our minds, especially when it’s a band with a short catalogue like Last Dinosaurs. Will the rest of the band fall apart? If not who will replace this memeber? Will the music go down the drain? I’m afraid of change!!

The band, and Gethin-Jones himself, assures us that the second album is still on track and is sure to “blow our minds”. Whatever it turns out to be, let’s just hope that the departure of young Gethin-Jones doesn’t make the hugest impact on the all important second release, which is sometimes the decision maker on whether a band stands the test of time. Will this departure bring on the threat of extinction in the long run? With gems like these from the first album, I certainly hope not.

Don’t Fear The Dream-Pop

He’s been called “The perfect dream pop” artist (according to one image I found on Google images…) and yet is still unsearchable on Spotify? Geez, what is this world coming to!

Robin Huqueleux a.k.a FEAR CLUB is a cool little relatively unknown act from Paris, France who says he’s heavily influenced by the dreamy sounds of Washed Out and, you guessed it, M83. After reading his bio I find it hard to come up with a clever-er way to describe the sound, so in the words of the man himself, …Fear Club aims to capture ‘our nostalgia of sunny days when summer is gone. As it’s currently the middle of winter here in Australia, I can think of no better type of music to be lured in by.

In a similar vein to Mike Landry’s ‘Heartbeat‘, the latest track, Escape, is contradictory in essence. It’s repetitive but catchy; the beat of the drums make it static at its core yet smooth overlaying tones typical of dream-pop purveyors make it mesmerizing to listen to. As FEAR CLUB says, it has the unmistakable tone of a summer memory stained with a dark chill that really could portray any one of the season. But don’t think about it too much, to be honest it’s just a really cool tune.

He also did a remix of Surrender by Lockets that is pretty damn cool…

Phoenix: Rising from the ashes

OK, so maybe this header applies more to the legendary mythical bird than the French-born band version of Phoenix. They’ve not come from the ashes so to speak, since riding high on the success of their last release, Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix back in 2009. Regardless, they have been one of my favourite acts for a while, especially after seeing them live for the first time at one of the most stunning venues I’ve ever stepped foot inside, The Orpheum in Vancouver.

But they went missing for a while. You have noticed only about a month ago I posted 5 albums to look out for in early 2013 and this was one of them. At the time it was very hush hush about when the first single was to drop but finally it’s here and received a good flogging of enthusiasm on social media. Sadly, I’m a bit late to the punch. But nevertheless, I am a massive fan of Phoenix, so I absolutely have to plug their newest single, Entertainment. 

Entertainment is a weird mix of past Phoenix combined with an exciting musical avenue that they will hopefully be exploring in the wider album. The verse sounds like it could have easily fit in amongst the sterling track listing of Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix, yet comes with it a kind of fast-paced ruggedness that I have only noticed in a quiet few of their past tracks. The chorus, to be honest, takes a little getting used to. I read an article raving about this track that admitted it took 12 solid listens to fully appreciate it. I’m not up to 12 but I see where the guy is coming from. It’s not the catchiest thing you’ve ever heard. But it’s Phoenix,so you’ll of course give it a solid go and like most of their songs, end up loving it.

Can’t wait for the full album to drop. It’s going to be called Bankrupt! and if Phoenix are the same band I think they are, it should be an absolute machine. In the meantime, what does everyone else think of the new single, Entertainment?


TIRS Snapshot

Inspired by my complete lack of energy and the fact that I in all honesty shouldn’t have the time to post regularly on this blog, I noticed an absolutely great outlet on Instagram by the name of @goodindiemusic (also on facebook here). This guy (or guys/girls) posts one or two songs a day from just whatever they are listening to or think is sounding tops at that particular point in time.

Got me thinking that this phenomenon takes all the effort out of writing about music and songs. It’s perfect for this blog given that all I do anyway is post YouTube clips about which songs I like at the moment. So if you read my posts and like getting some new tunes to check out for breakfast, lunch and dinner…

Add me on Instagram @theindierocksummit

Fresh Tracks: Everything Everything

In December 2012, the world was supposed to end. God had planned on a rapture the likes of which had only been seen once before. Who by you ask? By Noah of course. The legendary bearded gentleman that built that fine wooden arc we’ve all heard about countless times throughout our youth. He and his family were chosen out of everybody in the world to carry on the human race because of their devotion to awesomeness.

Well this time around God chose a band named Everything Everything to build an Arc that would outlast the end of the world. But when December 21st, 2012 came around, to his surprise (and absolutely no one else’s) he was foiled by science. When the end of the world had been avoided, God said to the band, “Fuck. Sorry boys, I really thought that would work. But as long as you made that Arc we might as well do something good with it”. So in two fell swoops, God uncapped his magic marker, gently sniffed the tip of it, and turned their Arc into what will be one of the most impressive albums to come out in 2013.

So there you have it. Everything Everything’s new album, Arc. Engineered by God. Powered by divine intervention.

But seriously, this is only the tip of exciting news in releases to hit stores of all sorts this year but holy hell is it a fantastic start. When Everything Everything released their debut album Man Alive, it was interesting to say the least. Their attempt at mixing a kind of prog or art rock-esque styling with smooth pop didn’t seem too polished except for a few stand out tracks that became singles such as MY KZ, UR BF. It seems like they’ve well and truly crossed their T’s and dotted their lower case j’s in this second release.

The reviews for Arc are just beginning to come in from the major outlets and so far the sentiment is that it’s the work of a band at the top of their game. Described by most of the top reviewers as a more “honest” album than their first (whatever that means), the first single, Cough Cough, is being flogged like crazy here in Australia on Triple J and I believe it is one of the top 100 most played songs of the year on that particular channel. It’s fresher tracks like Kemosabe, Duet and Torso Of The Week that have me giddy like a twelve year old girl about this record. Showcasing all the best elements of the band including the most original use of falsetto in all the perfect places combined with hallmark Everything Everything harmonies and that static, creepy-crawly style guitar with soothing electronics. I know that description sounds like a whole lot of different noises and flows crashing around, but believe me it is such a perfectly melodic mess from beginning to end.

Everything Everything’s, Arc is available on iTunes as of right now. You can like their facebook page HERE.

Late For Class

Late Of The Pier

Where has Late Of The Pier gone? Their online presence has me believing they are on “hiatus” but really, are they going to come back? They’re like that newly single girl that tells you she’s “staying away from boys for a while” but really she just simply doesn’t like you. Tear. But seriously guys, just make a decision and be honest with us. It’ll be much easier for fans in the long run without the hope that some day you’ll change your mind and come back to us. If you do decide you don’t want to come back, we can all at least find solace in the fact that the stuff you did release was just spiffing and without fault and you’ll never ever get the chance to disappoint us. Except for it being disappointing to never hear any new stuff from you.

For me, their only released album Fantasy Black Channel was a like journeying through levels of a video game. Almost like every song had a completely different landscape from the one before, sometimes becoming harder to get used to but much more rewarding when completed. If you don’t understand what I mean just check out the difference between songs like The Bears Are Coming and Mad Dogs & Englishmen. The sheer musical brilliance in the mix of sounds whether instrumental or digital is mind blowing. Truly a band for every occasion whether it’s breaking out like a retard on the dance floor or thrashing around angrily in your living room when your alone (not that I do that ever). Late Of The Pier, you will be sorely missed.

If you haven’t already heard of Late Of The Pier, here is some of the best and brightest from their collection. Although at the end you’ll be just as sad as I am about them not being around anymore.

Issue Nine

It’s almost the end of Movember. I’m upset about it. I know you’re all upset about it. But don’t wallow on the end of this great month. Let us reflect on the tremendous times that we’ve had. Let us remeber the hair that has sprouted aloft on our upper lips. For you ladies it might be the playful tickle you got when kissing that guy you’ve had a crush on for months, just waiting for November when he of course looked his best. For the men it could be the 16 year old Whiskey that aged that little bit more whilst encaged in your face jungle, becoming a delicious blend of malt liquor and unwashed hair, perhaps mixed with day old toothpaste and toast crumbs and released during a shower for maximum taste. Ahh the good times.

But alas, these glorious days are behind us and what better way to reminisce than with a good old fashioned “high-school leavers” style slideshow of all your greatest moustache moments. Hell, while you’re at it, why not chuck in a soundtrack to back it up and really jerk those tears from your sockets. Here are some suggestions I prepared earlier.

10. Hunting Grounds – Star Shards

This weeks top ten starts with a couple of haggard rock tunes. This particular one comes from Aussie outfit Hunting Grounds off their debut album “In Hindsight”. It’s becoming very hard to get noticed in the current Australian indie scene with all the amazing talent that has been seemingly popping out of nowhere as of late but these guys have gotten a lot of airplay on Triple J (and a cheeky shazam from myself) and rightfully so. I have to say their sound does stick out a little from the plethora of hyper trendy general pants employees that have sprouted into the scene; at least Hunting Grounds brought talent along for the ride.

9. The Cribs – Come On, Be A No-One

Worst music related blog ever. This has been out for so long and I actually really love The Cribs. Got all their past records and all that stuff but still failed to catch the news of this release on it’s way out. But who cares. The blog isn’t about what’s new and cool, it’s about me and what I’m listening to. It’s like the super sweet 16th of the music blogosphere and everybody knows you only tune in to that show to watch the spoilt princess have a tantrum. Speaking of which, sounds kind of like the lead singer of The Cribs and how he comes across in recordings; just a wailing rocker having a massive whacked out tantrum but in a cool way. Doesn’t make sense I know, so just listen to the song and hear the brilliantly crazy mess that is this band.

8. Strange Talk – Falling In Love

Once again I’m on the fence about Strange Talk’s latest release. It’s got a lot less of those edgy, indie vibes we heard in the first EP and has broken out in a frenzy of corny pop lyrics and pockets of electro dance rubbish. Still, it’s better than that first single Cast Away they dropped the ball on about a month ago and I still believe in the band so much that I am hopeful the album will reveal a whole bunch of shining white knights to swoop in and take us away from the evil musical dungeon that has been these last few releases. Who knows, maybe you’ll like it?

7. The Preatures – Take A Card

Sorry is this an actual film clip? I didn’t realise. For a second I was suddenly inside a daydream or montage and this was the backing track for the first time I ever saw the keyboardist/singer from The Preatures. You have to admit, she is gorgeous and it makes the song that much more enjoyable to listen to. It’s just a chilled out fun song with everything your traditional mus-o could love; attitude, grit, talent, fun, that “Who gives a fuck” vibe and of cause there’s the sauce. Side note, I feel like the male lead singer reminds me a lot of my Dad in his old band in the 80’s which is absolute gold.

6. Architecture In Helsinki – Escapee

Funnily enough I’ve seen these guys live before. They’ve been around for a while, much like this song has apparently been around for a while. But I’ve never taken to them. Until now. My word this is a fun song. Kind of reminds me of Passion Pits stuff from Manners. It’s an epic tune built for those drunk, don’t-care-how-I-look-I-just-need-to-move moments, most frequently seen at festivals. I cringe at how being messy at a festival became cool yet habitually makes people look like tipped cows just flailing about with their udders exposed, half having the time of their life, half scared out of their wits; but if they’re doing it to this song, I’ll allow it.

5. Little Comets – The Western Boy

I wrote about this song being the stand out track on October’s Album of the Month and I stand by my decision. It’s coming in 5th only because it’s a little late in the season now and much more pressing matters have arisen. Anything you need to know about this song I wrote about in that post so check it out if you want a second opinion (given by the same person so I don’t know if you’d call it a second opinion really). Just enjoy.

4. Ben Folds Five – Drawing A Card

I haven’t always been the biggest Ben Folds fan. I know he’s huge and widely liked so it’s hardly new or unheard of tunes in this slot, but it’s a great song. The only other thing I’ve really liked was “You Don’t Know Me” with Regina Spektor. That was fantastic but every other thing really fell flat with me. Regardless I don’t have much personal insight or criticism into his music. He’s so well known, you either like him or you don’t. The song’s pretty good though.

3. Foals – Inhaler

Foals are FINALLY back with a new single and the album is to be released soon. I love these guys as do most people I know and it’s been a long time coming. It’s no surprise this track has been demolishing the Triple J hitlist for the past week or so. I once heard that these guys played backyard house parties even after they were already big enough to play University arena tours in the UK. Man, that would’ve been some killer party and it just makes them seem like absolute champs. Inhaler starts off very reminiscent of their better tracks from Total Life Forever but then suddenly busts out into a beautifully angry chorus. Terrific stress relief.

2. Buchanan – Run Faster

Great indie tune. I like to crank this one when I’m on the train home from the city just thinking about things and stuff. Don’t know much about the band but I’d liken it a lot to Gypsy & The Cat’s ‘Bloom’ that was on Issue Seven I believe. I think Buchanan are just at the beginning of what looks to be an amazing career and this track is the right way to start things off. For fans of High High’s or maybe Grizzly Bear, I recommend breaking this out on a Sunday.

1. Fenech-Soler – All I Know

Yes. Yes. Yes! I’ve been waiting and waiting since my time in Canada (which ended up July, 2011) for a new track to come out from Fenech-Soler. Not so well known in many places, I was shown this by a good friend of mine when we were driving around in a Van in the BC Rockies and loved them ever since. Kind of like the British version of The Presets, not so much in sound but in the way there’s two dudes rocking electro, dance sounds and managing to find that perfect mash between enjoyable, catchy pop and sweaty underground club anthems. When I play them, EVERYBODY asks who it is and immediately downloads it, so make sure to do the same. Thank me later.

I’m in the process of making this here site more use-able so make sure to check it out in the next couple of months to see the changes. Currently it’s pretty confusing to follow without having to sign up for twitter or a Google account but you can follow me on instagram @jessesmonster as I’ll be posting my favourite tunes throughout the week as well as many of the stupid-ish things I think are funny or interesting.