Album Review: Lakes – The Constance LP

Lake The Constance LP cover art
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I knew I was onto something good from the moment I first heard Lakes. Someone had recommended their new album The Constance LP on an internet thread dicussing Into It. Over It.

Regular readers will know that I’m a big IIOI fan. He was the first musical act that I travelled overseas to see play live. So if I hear someone comparing an act to IIOI, I’m going to check them out.

And good thing I did, because this album is fantastic. Insomuch that The Constance has become my easy pick for favourite album of 2019.

Lakes decribe themselves as “glock-rock”. Don’t let that put you off – it’s not an NSA advertisment – it’s because they have a glockenspiel. Is that significant enough to warrant naming their genre after it?

Well the glock certainly adds to their sound, placing bright accents in just the right spots. The interplay between the glockenspiel and the other percussion in “Ontario” nothing short of sublime.

To describe their sound further: it’s happy music. Sometimes relaxed, usually upbeat. They play mathrock, but the time signatures switch so subtly that you’d only pick it up if you’re listening for it. There are elements of emo, indie and pop-punk threaded through as well.

The vocal harmonies are devine. This much is obvious from the very opening notes of the album. Then we hear the chiming glockenspiel and trumpet come over the syncopated rhythms and it’s instantly clear that this is not your standard pop or rock music.

The singing is outstanding. The Bandcamp liner notes state that the vocal duties are shared between four people throughout the album, but it sounds like more voices are in there. On tracks like “Reindeer”, the singing is ernest and urgent, but for most of the record things feel pretty calm. The tender “Erie” sounds like painful memories, with sparse acoustic guitar and gently layered singing. I just love it all, from the chanted shouts of ‘Hey!’ in “Geneva” to the staccato delivery of the chorus in “Lucerne”.

I hope I’m not being too misleading here, But Lakes remind me a lot of Toe: fantastic musicianship, quirky time signatures, busy drumming that isn’t overpowering, and songs that are perfect for putting you into a great mood.

Lakes didn’t do themselves many favours when they chose their moniker. It’s not an easy name to search for. On top of this, when I’ve had friends give me a lift in their car and offer me a chance to choose the music, I haven’t been able to find Lakes on streaming services. I’ve included a songwhip link at the end of the article that you can use to find them, so they are available, but I’ve never managed to find them on a friends phone when searching for them on Spotify or Google Play when driving in the car.

This is not a criticism of the music. All of their songs are named after Lakes, so it’s an apt name. But it makes it harder for me to share and recommend their music if I don’t have a URL link handy.

It’s a hard choice, but I’d consider “Ontario” the highlight of the album, thanks to the aformentioned glock accents, the vocal hamonies, and the soaring trumpet and great drumming in the outro. Everything comes together into a georgeous package.

Lakes are worth your time. I don’t blame you if you haven’t heard of them, but there’s no more pleading ignorance now. Treat yourself to some georgously catchy and carefree music. Like I said before, Lakes were my surefire choice for best music of 2019. Check them out and see if if you agree.

Listen to The Constance LP: https://songwhip.com/album/lakes/constance


Lakes links:

Buy physical copies: https://thelpcafe.com/product/the-constance-lp-lakes/?fbclid=IwAR1_QSMl9ft39zXz8ZTc0_A5abs1GlS7b974Lnr57VFKZBoC5T5ULsXyqEI

Website: https://www.ourbandlakes.com/

Bandcamp: https://ourbandlakes.bandcamp.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ourbandlakes/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ourbandlakes

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ourbandlakes/

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC5TizUcJWoPu6QwTZnlsqVA

Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/ourbandlakes

Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/artist/3FsRoxn81LEbOBSHb60T8G

 

Joseph James

Album Review: We Lost The Sea – Triumph & Disaster

We Lost The Sea Triumph Disaster album cover art
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The last ten years has seen the mushrooming of an important and flourishing progressive post rock / post metal /math rock scene in Australia, much centred around Sydney. Melbourne’s Laura had passed the baton to the likes of Meniscus and sleepmakeswaves, while We Lost The Sea started playing around in that blackgaze space – not Deafheaven or Alcest, not Cult of Luna, but bringing some new ideas with their first release Crimea.

Then with their second release in 2012, The Quietest Place on Earth, We Lost The Sea had found their style and were poised to push forward, before the tragic loss of singer Chris Torpy.

Their momentum broken, they hit back two years later with the four stories of sacrifice in Departure Songs without a vocalist. As great as the album was, it relied heavily on a couple of spoken word passages and long intros. It was as though there was not enough confidence to tell a story with music alone, and it meant less of the light and shade was provided by guitar, bass, drums and keys. Closing an album of pure crescendocore, “Challenger Part II” is as triumphant and melancholic a build-up and release as you will ever hear, but we were left with a degree of structural sameness that sold their ability short.

Image: Intrepid Photography

It’s taken four years to release a follow-up: Triumph & Disaster. And it’s certainly a triumph. Built of seven tunes, the epilogue with vocals from Louise Nutting (Wartime Sweethearts), everything good about Departure Songs is there, with a whole lot more. If the code for Departure Songs is found in A Quiet Place, Triumph & Disaster owes more to A Day and Night of Misfortune: Day, but that comparison shows just how much more thought and effort, not to mention experience, went into the new record. I can only imagine the discussions held over which note should be played next.

There are themes that reappear through the album and within songs. A wailing alarm appears as a warning at the opening, only to find it was an unheeded portent as the end of the world is soundtracked by a far more desperate and distressed siren. Within each song phrases and riffs come and go and return, and there is so much depth and variation in the structure and moods and between the songs.

Gone is the reliance on crescendocore, with “Towers” and “The Last Sun” each starting off at full strength with those sirens. Which is not to say we don’t get that powerful and emotional build-up because we do, but WLTS have brought a whole new level of complexity to these tunes.

Where Departure Songs was all about the destinations, Triumph & Disaster is about the journey. It’s a very different experience.

It’s hard not to feel a strong influence from Tangled Thoughts of Leaving, or at least some commonality of ideas and influence, and indeed Ron Pollard appears as a guest on the album and has sat in on performances of “Towers” in recent shows while supporting Russian Circles. What this marriage means apart from subtle intertwined melodies and interlocking phrases, is the intense driving moodiness and darkness that underlies so much of the album.

Image: Intrepid Photography

WLTS already knew how to create long, heavy, driving, repetitious passages and contrast them with sprinklings of dynamic, fluid exploration. Five years of playing Departure Songs has simply given them a treasure chest of ideas that have taken them to the next level of telling a story without words.

And it’s a bleak story. We all die. What can I say? We didn’t listen. If “Give Peace A Chance” and Edwin Starr’s “War” were the songs of the peace movement, it’s hard not to feel right now that Triumph & Disaster isn’t the tragic theme for Greta Thunberg’s address to the UN:

“We are in the beginning of a mass extinction and all you can talk about is money.”

 

Triumph & Disaster is out October 4 via Bird’s Robe Records (Australia) and October 25 via Translation Loss (US), Holy Roar (UK) and Dunk!Records (EU).


We Lost The Sea links:

Bandcamp: https://welostthesea.bandcamp.com

Website: http://www.welostthesea.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/welostthesea

Facebook: facebook.com/welostthesea

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/WeLostTheSea

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/welostthesea/

Review by Gilbert Potts. Follow him on Twitter: https://twitter.com/GlbrtPtts1

Photos by Bern Stock of Intrepid Photography.
Taken at Manning Bar in Sydney when We Lost The Sea opened for Russian Circles.

Album Review: Petricor – First Breath

Petricor First Breath
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Petricor enter our awareness with their debut release on Fluttery Records. What better place to start! First Breath releases during a year that has seen a resurgence of quality releases after what some have said has been a drought in instrumental music. Fitting that Petricor is the name they chose to help frame their identity. Emotive, crescendo brimming Post Rock at its finest. Even the album art can be seen as the duality of the internal narrative. Their music toes the thin line between introspect and what we project to those around us to see, or hear for that matter.

First Breath rises from the sediment and ash like a heat wave you can see through the distance. Frail waves of texture deftly coat your senses, and slowly lift your mood like an Elysian zephyr weaving beneath a deep canopy. Melodies that shimmer with an ethereal construct designed to reconcile our varied perception into one accord. Each track begins with a coy hook to ignite my interest and cement my commitment to listen beyond a long proven Post Rock formula. Prudent synths augment the whole versus overshadowing their arrangements. Petricor do a classy job in staving off overproduction and do not succumb to the addition of too many elements.

The only song with vocals, the album’s title track, articulates the dichotomy that lies within the debilitating manifests of emotion, that wanting to flee that which perils us to feel. But no matter how far you run, you are still right there. The old adage of “Time heals all wounds” is only superficially sound in its context. Surface wounds yield in time, but those that exist beneath have their own life cycle.

Petricor’s first musical statement urges us to shake off the saddle of the ties that bind us to a static being and embrace growth as a mission, not only a far flung idea. There is no silver bullet for Post Rock. And yes, we have heard this musical equation before, but Petricor execute it just right! Listen further. Trust me.

Petricor links:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/petricortheband
Bandcamp: https://petricor-band.bandcamp.com/album/first-breath
Fluttery Records page: https://flutteryrecords.com/flttry173

Lance Turner

Album Review: Pillars – Cavum

Pillars Cavum album cover
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Despite having only one album to their name, Indiana post-rockers PILLARS have already built an impressive reputation for themselves. Of course, being major players behind Post. Festival certainly helps, but they’ve more than earnt their place within the scene based off their music alone.

Put simply this second album, Cavum, is worth your time.

Conceptually, the album explores the dichotomy we find ourselves in, in this current day and age. Technology connects us more than ever, yet also isolates us. Mankind is reaching all manner of pinnacles, yet depression is ever prevalent. Somehow our lives are increasingly intertwined, yet somehow many of us feel more lost than ever. I, for one, find this super relatable, and after having listened to the record a great deal, can see how the music represents both the light and the dark.

Cavum commences with a brooding riff, primal drumming and eerie swells reminiscent of the almighty Jakob. And of course, anyone even remotely familiar with the world of post-rock should know that there is virtually no higher praise than a comparison with Jakob. It builds steadily with nice pacing before the explosive overdriven phase knocks your head in. A groove laden breakdown transitions back into crescendos – and I must say, as someone who reviews a fair deal of post-rock music, I do tire of the same old crescendo cliches. But this isn’t stale, no, no. This, ladies and gentleman, is how to write a damn tasty song. It hooks you in with just enough primal attraction, and then hammers itself into your consciousness.

If that dense riffy goodness wasn’t enough for you, maybe the killer double-bass drumming and urgent guitar line that starts “Dissolution” will tickle your fancy. Heck, it could tickle your eyebrows for all I care, just get a load of the sheer power behind this incredible music. The intensity does ease off after a period, but as Sir Isaac Newton said: “For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction”. So according to that, for every quiet passage, we should get some awesome metal passage too. Is that how science works?

I’m a drummer. The drumming on this album rules. Shout outs to Zach Frizzell for being a percussive beast. Zach, I hope to meet you during my travels some day. Maybe I can come to a future Post. Festival and make a drunken scene like I did at dunk!USA. Or you could come to New Zealand and I’ll give you some home-made beard oil and confuse you with my weird accent. It’s probably best if I come meet you though, because then we can also have Taco Bell, which my country does not have (criminal, I know!).

“Black Prayer” is an absolute belter. Think along the lines of when you have a Caspian record spinning and it reaches a part that’s so good you just want to scream and thrash about, knowing that you, a mere mortal, will never be able to craft such perfection. Well goshdarnit, PILLARS just have to rub it in, because they’ve managed to reach such unobtainable heights. There’s a section towards the end of this track, where the bass cuts out, the drum sticks are rapping on the rims, the guitar line is soaring, and then everything comes back in like an angelic tonne of bricks. It somehow crushes my soul and elevates my spirit at the same time. Don’t ask me how. I’m not a priest. (Nor am I a scientist, as you would know if you’d read the paragraph about “Dissolution”). Just know that you may need to change your pants after listening to this track.

Pillars

I’m half tempted to photoshop myself into this photo to see if anyone would notice. I have glasses and a beard, and have been known to frown at times, so I think I could fit right in

Listen closely to album closer, “Coda” and you’ll hear interesting snippets hidden in the background. It’s a touching piano ballad that evokes strong emotions, especially once the light guitar swells kick in. Surprising, considering the quality, but the piano recording was done on an iphone. Marc Ertel sat down at the piano and recorded with his phone while his family made breakfast and got ready for the day. The background noises – you can hear Ertel’s children playing, and his wife washing dishes – give a nice sentimental feel that’s homely and authentic. It’s a great reflective piece to end a superb album.

So yeah, if PILLARS aren’t on your radar yet, then Cavum should see to it that they are. It’s a fine album worthy of your time. It’s a devastating monument to beauty, heaviness, and musical talent.


PILLARS links:

Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/pillarstheband

Order physical copies of Cavum:

Joseph James

Album Review: Undersound – No More Shooting Stars

Undersound No More Shooting Stars
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Undersound is Gareth Evans, a Welsh producer bringing 90’s styled hip-hop back with latest album No More Shooting Stars.

You know the sound – funky, with DJ scratches and slower, enunciated rapping. Think along the lines of Jurassic 5.

Reading Evans’ bio reveals that he used to play in ska bands. He’s clearly put that experience to use, adding gorgeous horn sections to some of the songs. This is one of Chance The Rapper’s signature – adding trumpet to everything he touches, and Evans is wise to replicate the idea. If you browse his Facebook page you can see clips of Evans recording multiple instruments, including trombone, trumpet and french horn, as well as guitar and piano.

There’s a fair bit of variety on the album: from the eerie, mystic “Intro”; to the funky horns and jangly guitar the typifies many of the songs; to the samples and scratches of “Party Arrangements”, to the more down tempo title track that segues into a piano intermission.

In fact, this title track shows a mature aching that stands out from the more party hip-hop feel that many of the other tracks exude. Evans also sings on this one, unlike most of the other songs that he raps over.

The best track is “Another Catastrophe”, a fun number with carefree rapping that revolves around brass hooks. The slight shuffle on the drumbeat makes it feel more laid back, while smooth basslines and faint organ bring Motown to Cardiff.

Another favourite is “No More Lies”, reminiscent of Kids These Days – the under-rated Chicago group that spawned the likes of Vic Mensa and Donnie Trumpet. The laid back beat and brass section atop gospel organs and soulful singing provide a wonderful feel. Ben Thorpe helped out with trombone and singer Bella Collins sang vocals that are especially similar to the KTD song “A Man’s Medley“. 

Collins also features on album closer “Should’ve Known Better”. In fact, Evans recruits half a dozen collaborators to add different influences to the album. Some add soulful feel, like Collins and Harri Davies. Others distinctive hip-hop parts, like the scratches courtesy of MC Sober, and rapping from Redeye.

No More Shooting Stars is a fun, funk-lite throwback with good vibes. It’s hip-hop that subtly borrows from other genres to enhance the music, and works wonderfully to offer laid back listening.


Undersound links:

Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/album/2QpFxtJWlWlkOJtWvYdpZY?si=b5brU8xgTm2HqNNghlT61g

NextGen music: https://www.nexgenmusicgroup.com/artists/undersound

Twitter: https://twitter.com/undersounduk

Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/undersound-1

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Undersounduk/

 

Joseph James