After a first listen, I am a bit lot for words. If I didn’t recognize Pryor and Suptic’s voices, I would not in a million years have known this was a Get Up Kids album. Portions sound heavily influenced by some of the grittier keyboard-based sounds of Dewes’ Reggie and the Full Effect. The track “Birmingham” would fit well on a Japandroids release. “Shatter Your Lungs” seems out of place – fitting better with the likes of “Fountain of Youth” from Pryor’s side-project New Amsterdams‘ album, At the Foot of my Rival.
There are Rules is dominated by lots of fuzzy distorted bass, distorted effects on vocals and electronic noise – none of which are elements familiar to longtime TGUK fans. In addition, the timbre and tone of the guitars is strikingly on the treble end – little bass-end distortion on the guitars – little traditional punk palm-muted rhythms.
This is one of their more consistently noisy efforts since Woodson or Four Minute Mile. The more pop-oriented sensibilities of more recent releases make appearances, but they are fleeting and isolated to a few tracks. A lot of noise here. It sounds a bit like a band, now reunited, wanting to reemerge with a new and evolved sound. This would be par for the course, as each of their previous releases signaled significant departures in sound. However, this new effort sounds like that evolution was a bit forced. It sounds like they are trying to NOT sound like their previous albums (and they succeed), but the result lacks a consistency that most of their other big changes (On a Wire, in particular), did maintain. I get that this isn’t the same old Get Up Kids – they have made that point loud and clear.
I am left asking myself, however, what then is this? I hear a bunch of fractured sounds, ideas and approaches thrown together. It is not that I don’t like it. In fact, I rather enjoy all the noise, angst and gritty vocals. But, I am not sure how well it all holds together… Perhaps after a few more listens things will start to gel and make sense…we’ll see…
Followers will know that I have been just nuts about the last few J. Tillman records (2 of them last year). Thus, it was with great excitement that I heard he is putting out another on already. It is available now on Western Vinyl – for sale on iTunes, amazon, emusic, etc . . .
Here are my thoughts. I divide Tillman’s discography into 2 phases. Tillman’s first 3 LPs, I Will Return, Long May you Run and Cancer and Delirium were sparsely beautiful, but quite lo-fi. For many people, the scratch of low quality recordings won’t allow them to really appreciate the great songs that are hiding underneath on those records. The most recent 3 LPs, Minor Works, Vacilando Territory Blues and Year in the Kingdom, brought both better production value AND a much richer sound with increased instrumentation. Singing Ax is a hybrid of these two phases.
Instrumentation is SPARSE. Almost nothing there. In this regard, it is much like his first releases. Production value, however, is much improved – like his more recent releases. So, if you like “Dry” folk with great songwriting and lyrics, this will be a great record for you. I will likely gravitate back towards the LPs with fuller instrumentation, but Tillman hasn’t lost me here. I am still fully in the fan camp.
And, as long as he keeps on cranking out this high volume of records – I will definitely stay a fan. There is something to be said for a guy that writes songs, and just records and releases them – instead of waiting to release every 2-3 years. I know some bands are constricted by record companies on how often they release so its not their fault . . . but I really commend Tillman on this.
Make music, make it often.
I posted details on Drew Danburry new (and final . . . or is it?) album, Goodnight Dannii previously, but wanted to give it a more thorough treatment. First the details:
You can stream and purchase it at www.drewdanburry.com
The album is $8 for a CD or $20 for a CD+book with illustrations by Drew’s wife, Lady Danburry.
Here are a couple samples:
A quick few thoughts on Ratatat‘s upcoming LP4 [out June 8 on XL Recordings]. Their self-titled debut LP, Ratatat, was AMAZING. Its its lead-off track, Seventeen Years [mp3], is still one of my all time favorite indie electronica tracks – hands down! Classics had some good tracks, but LP3 kind of bored me.
LP4 combines a lot of the best elements of their previous 3 albums, reintroducing the heavy electric guitar edge that was too absent from LP3. There are LOTS of new textures and sounds on this album as well. If not for Seventeen Years, LP4 might be my favorite Ratatat album. Well . . . maybe it will be in any case.
I will explain more in June, but for now here are some samples:
High Violent does not disappoint.
The album regains its composure in track 5, Way Back Home, but alternately shines and falters throughout. The album closes with “Bartlet + James,” an epic track that may rely a bit heavily upon the grandiose, but Band of Horses carry it well.
I wouldn’t say that “the jury is still out,” but a few of the tracks have yet to stick.
We’ll see . . .