Archive for the 'Electro' Category

Album – The Apneist – A Life of Science

Posted by admin on 9th November 2009

Of the many albums that I’m asked to consider for review, it’s often not much more than a few songs that capture my imagination. This was pretty much how it was, for The Apneist. One song in particular caught my attention, “Barnacles of Time”, and was used in a recent podcast. It wasn’t until I had a chance to really sit down with the album and to pur over the sleeve notes, that I was able to fully experience the story that unfolded before me.

Set in a distant future, the hopes of mankind have fallen on the shoulders of “John”, whose whole life has been engineered by his parents for the greater good. Born on the same day as “Sarah”, his kindred spirit, when they become too close, the powers that be, see fit to separate them, and so begins “John’s”, isolation and his goal, to create a robot that will end all war, at the same time, never forgetting his true love.

The style of the album, sways a little between electronica, pop and rock, with an element or two of screamo. Yes you heard me right, I said screamo, but don’t let that put you off the album. While there are a few songs, that feature this, they are very much in context with the gloom and desperation that underlines the whole album, and are used to good effect. While I feel theres not many songs that could be potentially used as singles, that’s really not what this album offers. This is an album, of a kind that’s not often attempted, let along successfully. To me one of the best examples is Jeff Wayne’s, War of the Worlds, a sheer classic adaptation of H.G. Well’s book of the same name, or The Who’s, Tommy.

Opening with the whimsical title track, it’s easy to be fooled into thinking this is going to be some light weight, electronic, ballad album. However as “Barnacles of Time” begins, a darker side begins to emerge. This for me is the highlight of the album, with soft emotive vocals, backed by a wonderful electronic score.

The beginning of the album has an air of desperation, but it’s soon replaced by frustration, bordering on hate, which is very evident in “Carving a Canyon”. The point of this review however isn’t to pick apart the album, but to review it as a whole. As I mentioned earlier, you get a much better sense of immersion by reading the liner notes, included with the download, as a PDF file. For those wanting even more background, there is also a full comic available for purchase, which I have to say is wonderfully illustrated and gives even more background information, making the album really come alive.

Conclusion : An absolutely wonderful find. Whether you consider it a rock, electronic or concept album, there is much within to delight and enjoy. Certainly one of my top finds of 2009.

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Album – SLAVE to the SQUAREwave – SLAVE to the SQUAREwave

Posted by admin on 11th August 2008

80’s hairs, 80’s fashion and not forgetting 80’s music. It all came flooding back when I heard SLAVE to the SQUAREwave (STTSW) for the first time on Pete Cogle’s PC Podcast. Although the band are virtually right on my door step, here in Canada, it would be easy to transplant them back into 80’s England, were time travel possible. The first track “Sinners of Saint Avenue” sounds very much like The Associates, who had a big hit with “Party Fears Two” in the early 80’s. The vocals don’t quite cover the same range, or have the same intensity of the Associates lead singer Billy McKenzie, but they share that similar Bowiesque vibe. “New York’s a Go-Go”, begins in a very electrofunk style, but that is soon quashed with heavy guitars and then a more contemporary vocalist came to mind, Neil Hannon of the Divine Comedy.

“Big Change” has that electronic swirling string sound, but it’s upon hearing the vocals that the power of the 80s’ washes over me again. Although “Pumping up the P House” follows in a similar formula, there’s just something about it, that disagrees with me. In fact with 14 tracks on the album, there’s a wealth of music, resulting in an album that’s an hour long and whilst I enjoyed the majority of tracks on the album, there was the odd one or two that seemed slightly out of place, the aforementioned, being one of them.

Of the remaining tracks, I loved “London Baby”, with it’s hint of 90’s pop and “Hopeless Believers” with a great acoustic guitar intro, or I’m assuming it’s acoustic, but knowing this band it’s probably all electronic. “Gorilla Swingin’ Discotheque” would have to be included in the tracks I like, be it just for the title, fortunately there’s also a driving, relentlessness, that while alienating the bands 80’s hallmark, has an almost hypnotic charm.

The album finishes off with a remix of “Pumping Up the P House”, which while not my favorite track, is much preferable to the original.

A really interesting band, that has their feet firmly in the 80’s, but manage to add a more contemporary edge. As an album it feels a little disjointed, but there are enough gems to make the album a worthy addition to your collection. They’re certainly a band I’d be interesting in seeing live, as I’d be quite interested in how they bring this all together live.

Conclusion : A wonderful 80’s bitchslap, which brings back vivid memories of growing up, but also allows me again to wallow in some great music, of a style that is often overlooked.

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Album – No Vertigo – Cavedoll

Posted by admin on 20th July 2008

There seems to be a resurgence of electro pop music coming to the fore, harkening back to the 80’s. Cavedoll seem to have one foot firmly planted in this genre, with the other foot playing loosey goosey, introducing a whole raft of different influences.

With 16 tracks in this album, it may seem a lot, but this pales, when you find out they are in the process of releasing 10 albums over the coming year, after having released 13 over 2007. This slew of new releases will consist of a huge array of new, re-mixed, re-packacked and re-mastered tracks.

“Decoder” is a track I’ve heard on various podcasts and is the first track on this 16 track offering. It’s a great track, which really could be a lost recording from decades ago. I love the whimsical synth/keyboards and the 80’s encrusted chorus. This is just an amazing collection of catchy pop with that electro underpinning. “King of the Clouds” is a particularly wonderful track, which just effortlessly washes over you.

As soon as “Taste Like a Hurricane” began, I was in aural heaven, with a most incredible synth intro. I wasn’t expecting the female vocals, but they compliment the music nicely. It’s when the chorus starts that I can almost hear a subliminal nod to Abba. OK call me nuts, but the vocals just have that texture to them. It’s probably no surprise that “Now is Our Time” also stood out with it’s hint of the Beatles’ “Strawberry Fields”, but that’s mainly due to the synth, which opens the track and is also featured lightly throughout. The track unfolds nicely and is firmly one of my favourite tracks on the album.

“Leaking Out the Nose” despite a wonderfully horrid title, shows the bands songwriting chops, resulting in a track that unfolds like a book and this is a prime example of great song. Although their styles are radically different, they share a wonderful storytelling skill, which gives us a track that is over all too quickly.

While there is much to love on this album, there is one track that left me cold, “Full of Awe”. While it has a great production, the song itself is very sterile. I certainly wouldn’t miss it, if it were to be removed, which thankfully is pretty straightforward with iPods and the like.

The album ends with two covers. First is the Rolling Stone’s “Paint it Black”, which is very nicely done. I love the almost harpsichord synth and the wonderful energy, which for me is somewhat lacking in the original. The final cover is of David Bowie’s “Heroes” and again it’s a wonderful interpretation, which Cavedoll manage to own.

Conclusion : A wonderful mix of classic electro and modern day pop, delivering some wonderfully catchy and memorable songs. When I first listened to this CD, I found that it felt a little too eclectic. However after a few listens, it almost seems to envelop you. This is an album that is so easy to listen to and enjoy and the covers for me are the icing on the cake. Certainly a release that should be lauded with the attention and praise it deserves.

Posted in Electro, Pop, Rock | 2 Comments »