Posted on 04 October 2012 by Bowlegs
2010’s gut-punching psych-fest Innerspeaker was a real left hook from no where, quickly establishing Tame Impala as THE name to drop in indie circles. Genius at the helm, and Kylie Minogue fanatic, Kevin Parker has produced a quick turn-around to indulge us with this year’s release – Lonerism.
The record starts confidently with the self-assertive Be above it. The repeated lyric, a statement
of intention that the band won’t be shaken from their style. Overdriven percussion, processed vocals and guitars return – with a touch more subtlety this time. Endors Toi then introduces a heavier use of synths to Parker’s palette.
Apocalypse dreams flows on nicely with an ELO influenced piano riff. The optimistic lyrics “this
could be the day that we push through, the day that all our dreams come true” are cathartic and stirring. On the contrary Why won’t they talk to me plays out like the lament of a socially inept astronaut. Morose subject matter works in bittersweet juxtaposition with space rock squelches and blips. Meanwhile lead single Elephant is a thick-riffed triumph as fat as P.T Barnum’s pet. The majority of the track is instrumental – a daring choice for the radio.
Impala’s latest opus broadens the band’s sound, whilst remaining true to the sound that made their debut such a success. Often disorientating, always entertaining, Lonerism is a universal must listen.
Posted on 16 March 2012 by Bowlegs
Nothing to do with Sub Pop’s 90s signings of the same name, but a lot to do with present day Aussie psychedelicists Tame Impala, Perth quintet Pond possess an admirable work ethic. Beards, Wives, Denim is the band’s fourth album in five years, taped alongside recording and gigging stints with an abundance of other off-shoots, side-projects and collaborations (Allbrook/Avery, Bongtroopers and more) loosely aligned with their homeland’s Spinning Top label.
Despite many moments of frazzled psych fun, those earlier albums were shot through with a goofy humour that didn’t always translate successfully from Pond’s knockabout jamming. As its tongue in cheek title suggests, Pond haven’t suddenly gone straight faced on Beards, Wives, Denim, but, closing strum Moreno’s Blend aside, the jokiness is pretty much kept to the fragments of studio chatter between the tracks.
What Pond offer instead is a fantastically dense, acid fried rock album, that casually, convincingly displays the chops the restless musicians have honed taking their west coast sound around the world. It’s also unmistakably from the same headspace as Tame Impala’s Innerspeaker debut (which various Pond members played on and toured), with Impala leader Kevin Parker, himself an occasional Pond drummer, assisting on the album mix.
Across a dozen freaked tracks, guitars scythe across the stereo field through banks of retro fetishist pedals, drums are pounded with relentless focus and all manner of organs gloop and throb beneath. The pealing solar flares of When it Explodes are sky-splitting flashbacks to The Flaming Lips at their most LSD addled, while the keys on Allergies unlock further memories of the original pop grooviness of Traffic and Procul Harum.
Throughout, firecracker singer Nick Allbrook throws his voice through hoops of echo and halls of reverb, solemn as Lennon one minute, manic as Mark Arm the next. He ladles on heaps of his personality, and helps Pond to cement their own wired identity with this simultaneously lightweight and heavy release.
Posted on 11 January 2012 by Bowlegs
It’s funny to wonder what musicians think they will get out of the whole album-making thing. Money is usually wishful thinking; opportunities to see the world and amorous adventures, slightly less so. What then, does Grace Woodroofe ‘always want’? Well, for one thing, I’m sure she wants people to forget that she came to prominence at the tender age of 16, thanks to a tape of hers falling into the hands of fellow Australian Heath Ledger. Oh, and the sponsorship of Ben Harper, who produced this debut in LA. Further along in her career, it’s probable that her Australian heritage will cease to be the focus of attention, but hearing her for the first time, you immediately feel that quirk of evolution that lends uniqueness to Australian culture. It’s cultured, smooth and cosmopolitan, while simultaneously maintaining brusque, bluesy and rough edges.
The title song and Battles are all smoothed-over vocals laid on glassy chimes that approach, well, Philip Glass, really. Battles in particular is a deliciously dark domestic tale, telling of adventures “in the cash drawer” at a run-down restaurant. H. pulls the same schtick, verging on the woebegone and insipid melancholia of early Tom Waits, but lacking the verbals.
Tracks like Transformer are more engaging, where Woodroofe does a creditable Kim Deal impression among adorably fuzzed guitars. The follow-up should be interesting, if only because there is a slight lack of material, although the cover of Bowie’s Quicksand (whisper it) is the grown-up brother of the original version.
Posted on 16 November 2011 by Bowlegs
Australian duo Ryan Grieve and Leo Thomson came together to form Hole in the Sky Records. And, after releasing their own individual pieces and the debut EP from Tame Impala, they united – and Canyons were born.
Since then they’ve remixed !!! and Juan Maclean, released tracks on DFA Records and signed on the dotted line at Modular Records. With Keep Your Dreams we finally get their full statement of intent. These two make dance music that runs between psyched-out arrangements, house-beats, soulful-Dance and hypnotic vibes. Oh, and they are quite partial to a sax solo or two.
Lead single, My Rescue, is a high – pianos fall on big chords, the pumping rhythm is accentuated with some manic percussion, and the vocals wail affectively across the whole prosaic affair. Canyons seem to be falling through a series of times and places, throwing out 80s analogue amid mutated Soul genes (check See Blind Through), to the improv-breakout and post-rave comedown on the imaginative Blu Snakes. And don’t forget the half-spoken woozy, Belearic-pop within When I See You Again.
With new voices and instruments constantly being wound together, continuity is not on the agenda. And admittedly we struggled to not feel a little delusional after the hypnotherapy session that is album closer And We Dance.
That aside Canyons’ debut is an inventive scrapbook of dance music. They successfully bend the format into new shapes and sizes, their imagination seemingly the glue that holds it all together. Fall backwards into the Canyons and see where you land.
Posted on 07 February 2011 by Bowlegs
Think OMD, Heaven 17, or Split Enz and you’re getting close to the early 80s electro aims of Cut Copy on ‘Zonoscope’, their third album. It depends which side of the fence you come down on as to whether you’ll dig this, as you’ll be asking yourself are such bands simply smug, or do they provide real emotional punch and dewy-eyed fireworks? Much depends on the mood you’re in, but we conclude that Cut Copy’s ‘Zonoscope’ works best as a solitary listen despite their clubby sound. A kind of guilty pleasure.
The production is glossy. Details are picked out clearly, like walking through a well planned and brightly lit department store. While much of the substance of the album has a recycled quality, there is a lot of inventiveness in the song-writing, and they escape the strictures of both traditional song and club arrangements. It keeps us quiet for some time. The exception to the rule is album closer ‘Sun God’ which builds tension like Happy Mondays’ ‘Wrote For Luck’, exploding in an elastic, funky arpeggiating pulse to raise your fists to.
There is also an Antipodean thing going on here: you can hear that same 80s vocal tone that you heard in Split Enz. Heavy with ennui, there’s a strength of delivery that contrasts heavily with the recent washed-out US offerings. The clarity and power of them reveals the true nature of Cut Copy – that they are a pop band through and through, not in the displaced sense of Girls or Best Coast, but as true competitors in the Lady Gaga and JZ marketplace.
‘Need You Now’ provides a hysterical, theatrical, introduction to this slick album. The soft sheen of ‘Hanging On To Every Heartbeat’ recalls both 80s Yes and Fleetwood Mac. ‘Pharaohs and Pyramids’ recalls that strange crossing point between acid house and late 80s chart sounds The Beloved. Naff? It’s never clear cut, so we say put on your sharp suit and cut some angular shapes in your lounge with us. JT
Posted on 28 August 2010 by Bowlegs
Look up psychedelic in the dictionary and you will come up with terms such as altered state, distorted perception and hallucination, all seemingly suggesting a warped take on your surroundings; a certain disregard for parameters, which, of course, applies to the music genre as much as the state of mind (the two often hand in hand). Tame Impala, an Australian trio, clearly know their psychedelics (as in the bands), having drawn on the best from 60s San Francisco and the UK, filtering them through a relentless energy, and throwing together a series of spiralling sets. Production wise it is clean and light; flanging guitars and light fast beats work continuously, and we mean continuously. The light airy vocals and fuzzed up guitars push the melodies, floating in limbo between the past and the present. ‘It Is Not Meant To Be Me’ has a vocal that might be found in a Sergeant Pepper outtake; the open drum-kit and pushing voice is like a dream sequence with more colour. Yet there is more here than a modernised take on the hallucinogenic 60s. There are flashes of blues rock (‘Island Walking’ has a fast walking rhythm and singing electric lead) and 70s synth weirdness (hear the second half of ‘Runway, Houses, City, Clouds’). Most songs are built upon a clever, enveloping guitar riff – fast and steady, ‘Jeremy’s Storm’ gathers more and more momentum, building with distortion and some exceptional drumming. ‘Lucidity’ has a more straight-faced approach; you can hear echoes of The Who among the blown out guitars, yet the reverberating voices lift its feet from the ground. This can be a head spinning record; The Electric Prunes or Syd Barrett reflected in the band’s refusal to play the swooning melodies, yet using Cream-like riffs to add a rocking backbone. So far this is the psychedelic record of the year, and it might end up being a whole lot more.