August 28, 2009

Album Review - Bloc Party

BAND NAME: Bloc Party

LP TITLE: Intimacy Remixed

LABEL: Wichita Recordings


RATING: 7/10

Bloc Party – An English band credited with revolutionising the ‘alternative dance’ movement.

Intimacy – The Band’s opus album, critically acclaimed and a commercial success. 

Remix - A new or modified audio recording.

Add all three together, and you have one hell of a listening experience!

Bloc Party seem to be boldly devoted to the rather difficult endeavour of merging the guitar heavy sounds of modern post-punk and the futuristic sounds of the London rave scene. So, in that way, a remix album is quite surely the logical conclusion to the bands earlier flirtations with electronic music.

Some critics and purists will claim that this is a simply an attempt to reuse old material for commercial gain; however let it be known that the remixes found on this album are without exception of an extremely high calibre. From stripped-down edgy darkness, to pulsating bass lines, to almost euphoric triumph: It truly is an ideal melding of man and (drum) machine.

It’s the complete smooth and streamlined flow of the album, a rather subtle manoeuvring through a range of dance-based styles, which makes Intimacy Remixed a success. Like most critically acclaimed dance-based albums, the over-all whole is substantially better than the individual parts. For all its distortion, synth beats and drum-loops, the feeling that this is a Bloc Party album rarely dissipates, and the sense of utter dance-floor elation never stops growing.

August 1, 2009

Album Review - Discovery

BAND NAME: Discovery


LABEL: XL Recordings


RATING: 6/10

First of all, to set the record straight, Discovery is not a proper band. They are merely a musical collaboration of two very different artists; a duo that in most other cases would remain unsigned and unheard of. But, capitalising on the success of their previous bands, Rostam Batmanglij: keyboardist/producer for Vampire Weekend, and Wes Miles: Ra Ra Riot vocalist, have been able to generate hype, and spark the interest of many.

Discovery’s debut album, creatively entitled LP, is, well, frustrating to say the least. What makes it so frustrating is that Discovery sounds very good at times, but they also have moments of utter disaster. An aural roller coaster that soars up into musical greatness, but only for brief moments, before then hurtling back down into musical catastrophe. This makes for a rather schizophrenic listening experience.

When Discovery gets it right, their melodies gently caress the eardrums with tasteful and satisfying beats. But, more times than not, their tunes are greedy, belabored and contrived with everything exact and over-calculated. All is in its right place and if there is an experimental sound, it is too proportionally gaudy to justify anything more than a meagre lo-fi moniker. 

Cascades of synths clash with overpowering drum machines and whispered lyrics. Effected keyboards wane and warble over looped beats and a throbbing bass. Theirs is a neo-pop sound, with hints of R n’ B and electro. This eclectic mix of genres, and instruments creates an interesting, yet chaotic feel, with no clear method to their madness. With fake handclaps instead of snare drums and synthesizers replacing guitars, Discovery is definitely unique, though still undeniably kitschy.

If you’re looking for something profound, then you’re in the wrong place. Discovery aren’t to be taken seriously, and that precisely is what makes their music so enjoyable. They are not trying to make a statement, they don’t speak out against any politicians and they’re not being cynical or ironic. They are simply having fun with their music, and their utter joviality wears off on the listener.

Discovery brings a youthful nature, sensational charm, and a downright fun dynamic to an otherwise serious music scene: so for that they should be commended. Yes the drum-machines are little too loud, and the vocals are a little too quiet, but if the band had fun making it then that’s all that matters. Isn’t it?