Album Review: Title Fight – Hyperview

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Pennsylvania punk rockers Title Fight have always had a reputation for taking punk music seriously, meaning that each track they have released was anything but simple. It was aggressive and tenacious, with a lead foot on the gas pedal. However, in their upcoming album Hyperview, things get remarkably slower and more fantastical, with a small emphasis on the attributes of water and the feelings of being submerged. The punk components are still there, although not quite as potent, allowing a wider range of listeners to become enchanted with the band, something that I am glad to say turned me over to their music. Opener “Murder Your Memory” lets you know right off the bat that this hushed, muted overtone takes over quite a bit of the time, allowing for that change to seep through. “Your Pain Is Mine Now” explores that hazy, almost dream pop style more with the brief entrance of grooves and waves, also showcasing more of lead singer Jamie Rhoden and his gorgeously haunting voice. The best part of that track is when the electronic synth kicks in around the end, and the supersonic nature of it moves in and out, almost giving off the feelings of being submerged over and over again. However, there is the more upbeat, classic punk style rock in this album as well, although, again, in a more palatable way. The raw, unhinged track “Hypernight” and especially the absolute stunner “Rose of Sharon” evoke the same energy Title Fight understood in their past two albums, and the pure acidity and metallic tasting instrumentals are what makes them powerful. “Dizzy” and “Liar’s Love” are filled with sunshine, so much so in fact that I can’t help comparing them to tracks by Wild Nothing, another artist that is fantastically skilled at creating these hazy, gauzy, and magical sounds. And of course, the heaviest, most complex track is stunner “Rose of Sharon,” which does a remarkable task of bringing together the feelings of hard and soft, which creates a tension almost beautifully unrecognizable. Hyperview does a fantastic job of balancing out their aggressive, punk-inspired tracks from their softer, more delicate ones, and it’s what makes this album remarkable. In fact, the absolute best track of the album is “Chlorine”, the one that takes the fervid, clashing instrumentals of Title Fight’s own guidebook and intertwines it with these absolutely gorgeous vocals that seem to be the driving force. It glimmers and shimmers, despite its ongoing battle with guitars that drone on and drums that seem to ignite with every pound. It’s an absolute masterpiece, and stands apart from the rest of the album for sure.

Title Fight did hint at change for their third album, and that change is more than apparent. It shows an evolution and a maturation of character and taste, and sometimes it’s this risk that propels a band even further. I can see why some might give this album a low scoring because it’s not the same as they once liked it to be, and that’s highly understandable. However, as a new fan of the band and someone who has listened to their last two albums briefly, I feel that this change was just a way to explore newer interests. Don’t be alarmed though. Title Fight is still a punk band, albeit one that isn’t afraid to dive headfirst into unknown waters.

Hyperview will be released on February 3rd.

9.2/10

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Toro Y Moi – “Empty Nesters”

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Toro Y Moi (aka Chaz Bundick) has announced that his new album since Anything In Return (and I suppose, technically his album as Les Sins that was released this past year) will be released on April 7th, and has released his single “Empty Nesters” as a little teaser. It’s quite different than his past endeavors, and is somewhat missing the nostalgic, hazy dream pop that enveloped listeners before. However, the implementation of jazz, funk, and retro groove that makes up this latest track is enticing as well, and even more so with the sunshine soaked guitar riffs and psychedelic synth. This only proves Bundick to be a contender with the capacity to continuously evolve his aesthetic, and therefore maintain his hard working reputation.

Circa Waves – “Fossils”

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The latest track from British indie rock band Circa Waves sounds a whole lot like it was meant to be released during the summer months, due to it’s energetic nature and warm, colorful vocals and instrumentals. The energy is good, however, and it fills some of the void that the winter left behind. I’m not quite ready to think about the carefree, lush moments that summer will bring, seeing as though I love the cold and the feeling of sweaters, but when it does finally roll around, this track will be on the corresponding playlist.

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Panda Bear – “Boys Latin”

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Those who are aware of Panda Bear’s music know that Noah Lennox likes to dabble in the mysterious and exotic. The gurgling, bubbling beats that produce his latest single “Boys Latin” from his recent album provide an eerie, unsettling, yet appropriate backdrop to Lennox’s repetitive, otherworldly, and bizarre vocals. It’s bizarre in the good way, of course, and it’s here we can see directly into a strange yet colorful world though those haphazard musical scales. The video plays with the contrast between feelings of safety and feelings of fear, and it’s beautifully animated, albeit a little terrifying. It’s an easy track to get lost in, and you might even catch yourself humming the melody to yourself after hearing it a few times.

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Album Review: Fear of Men – Loom

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From the name of the band to the smooth, mellow guitar sounds that seem to intertwine between listlessly sung words, it’s clear that Fear of Men deal mostly with the darker, lonelier side of the world, but with enough spark to be known exclusively as an alt-pop band. At first listen their debut album Loom may seem like a fantastical journey through ideas like nature and love and the severity of life, yet underneath it all, it’s apparent that these sweetly sung words are actually through clenched teeth. This actually plays out quite well for the band as a whole, giving them a rare grunge, yet transcendental effect that sounds both unsettling and gorgeous. Opener “Alta” holds true to the album’s title – it looms and stalks slowly, with Jessica Weiss’s vocals hovering, only to be swallowed up with the guitars that open track “Waterfall.” The lethargic vocals and the drone of synth and keys turn this into quite a dark track, even though the lyrics may say otherwise. “Green Sea” is a lovely ballad, and Weiss’s vocals are so crisp and smooth it’s as if you’re being plunged into those glossy green waters themselves. It’s a contender to “Descent” as the best track of the album, and serves as it’s cousin in a way. “Green Sea” is as whimsical as it gets with Fear of Men, while “Descent” explores the more dismal sides of that same emotion. It seems to relate more to the experience of leaving someone who is truly your other half for purely personal reasons. The Brighton band is skilled at taking these negative feelings and putting them up against instrumentals reminiscent of the Smiths and other bands like them. It’s melodic and lovely, but then make you think and take a closer listen (see “Tephra”). It’s here that over thinking is actually a good thing, something that shouldn’t really occur in music. “Luna” sounds strong and forceful, with a delicate edge that reminds me a little of Snakadaktal or even bits and pieces of New Order, Depeche Mode, and Erasure. It’s bizarre, I know, but there’s something about it and the band themselves that seem lost in time. The only complaints I would have for the album itself would be the tendency of the subject matter to repeat itself along with some of the instrumentals, and the parts that can be a bit dry, which I’m sure just comes with the frivolity and naivety of a debut album. It’s clear the band is still working on those feelings, and the attempt makes up for the lack in a way. “Inside” balances out the dainty instrumentals with heavier ones, and joins “Descent” in that idea. Closer “Atla,” ironically, serves as the mirror image of “Alta,” and ends the album on a slow, soft, albeit heavy tone.

Overall, Loom is well constructed, and the connection to water and nature is apparent and effective, leaving one to contemplate how those physical things relate to the more metaphysical, whether that be love or some other force entirely.

7.5/10

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Favela – “Gong”

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Leeds based producer and synth virtuoso Favela has been continuously one of my favorite musical discoveries of 2014, and the way he creates his fragile sounds are nothing short of magical. His new release “Gong” explores the use of whimsical harp plucks, subtle drums, and a vocal track that seems to grow both stronger and more delicate as the track plays on. Hopefully with an EP already completed, “Gong” may be the start of a full-length album from Favela, which I can already tell will be magnificent.

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Years & Years – “King”

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Electronic trio Years & Years are known for their upbeat, exotic sounding tracks, and their new single “King” is just another example of that idea. The drones that start out and propel the beat are somehow lethargic and bright, and it utilizes catchy, choral melodies. The most exquisite part of the song, however, is the passionate, almost heartbreaking performance from lead vocalist Olly Alexander. It’s this pure, raw energy that makes this track and ultimately this band so wonderful, and “King” is the perfect song to start out the year in new music.

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Caverns – “Ghosts”

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New York based band Caverns are relatively new in the indie/alternative music scene, and have recently released their track “Ghosts.” There are some really nice melodies and impressive work with synth, and the vocals are wonderful as well. The most interesting part of the song is where it crescendos into full-on hysteria for a minute or so before returning to a mellow sound reminiscent of Muse and the 1975.

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