Thursday, September 7, 2017

DIIV - Oshin

The debut album from the band DIIV came out in 2012.  It's a kind of blend of shoegaze, The Cure and indie rock in general.  Everything is kind of indistinct, yet the album pulls you in, right from the instrumental opener (Druun).  Past Lives is the first song proper which continues in this vein, Zach Smith's vocals blending into the overall mix.  The liquid sounding guitars on here work really well across the album.  The appeal of the album is really odd, it challenges your set of values.  None of the admittedly fine songs are what you might call memorable, and they are all broadly similar.  Songs like Human, Air Conditioning and How Long Have You Known? all draw from the same palette.  Yet this collection of songs, though somewhat indescribable, is completely addictive.  And such shimmering guitars.

Wait is more keyboard dominated, while on the other hand Follow sounds like fast Slowdive.  Later, the title track is a bit more forceful and propulsive than the rest and Doused has a kind of frantic, post-punk pulse.  But really it's all about the sound here.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

The Amazing - Gentle Stream

The Amazing released their third album in 2011.  It's a highly melodic, proggy mess of a thing, full of well played instruments and soft vocals.  The title track feels a little like Led Zeppelin's softer moments mixed with Neil Young.  Flashlight follows, at once folkier with rolling acoustic guitars and woodwind.  The very soft-rock International Hair is naggingly catchy without being especially memorable.  The somewhat overblown six and a half minute Dogs attempts a rockier feel but doesn't quite pull it off.  The band sound better on closing track When The Colours Change, a relatively uncomplicated song, with female backing vocals and electric guitar fills rounding out the sound.  Some versions contain the 'bonus' track Ghosts, a simpler acoustic track that harks back to the Red House Painters.

It's kind of a glorious failure of an album, full of ambition and complicated songs.  They would refine this formula after this.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks - Mirror Traffic

Stephen Malkmus released his fourth album with the Jicks in 2011.  Produced by Beck, it's a fairly sprawling album encompassing 15 tracks of varying styles, opening with strummy pop song Tigers which is a fairly catchy tune bursting with ideas in two and a half minutes.  No One Is is more relaxed, featuring quiet guitar picking, occasional piano and brass.  It's one of the more enjoyable tracks here, with each instrument given room to breathe and occupy the space.

Those who miss Pavement are catered for here also with the trashy Senator, bashed guitars and dodgy lyrics ("what the senator wants is a blow job").  But mostly we get muso-Malkmus showing off his (considerable) talent on guitar on intricate, jammy songs like Brain Gallop, Spazz and the rocky Share The Red.  That's not to say they are without merit, the easy, melodic Asking Price and the pedal steel drenched Long Hard Book.  We also get poppier moments like the strummy Stick Figures In Love, the almost Ziggy-esque Tune Grief and the sixties-evoking Forever 28.  But at 15 tracks, admittedly for the most part, brief ones, there's a LOT to take in, making the album quite a dense listen.