Album Review: The Vaccines – English Graffiti

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Post punk/pop band The Vaccines third full length album is filled with anger, sensuality, and self-realization, all portrayed through trashing and buzzing instrumentals and vocals. This transformation from their heavier tracks to a more matured persona feels honest and straightforward, and English Graffiti may be their best record yet because of this musical epiphany.

Despite The Vaccines’ overall mainstream appeal brought upon from their first two albums as well as their EP, English Graffiti is more matured and outspoken, and almost seems delightfully out of character as a result. Heavy opener “Handsome” radiates on buzzing guitars and a tumultuous vocal that sounds like a million words a minute, while their single “Dream Lover” is smooth and sensual at the start and then explodes at the chorus. The garage rock sound is suffocating throughout the first half of the album, and ultimately fails during tracks like “20/20” and “Radio Bikini”, but is slightly more palatable and more skillfully used in tracks like “Minimal Affection” and “Denial.” The 80’s electronic beat in these tracks as well as their skill with the use of synth are great, and they are definitely the best tracks from the album because of it. The bouncing pizzicato of guitars in “Want You So Bad” mixed with the crooning vocals of frontman Justin Young is addictive, albeit frighteningly comparable to fellow British indie band Arctic Monkeys. Even though the album thrashes and rages for the majority of the time, there are still slower songs, like the title track as well as the sunkissed ballad “(All Afternoon) In Love.” Overall, the album does have the feeling of being disconnected and disjointed at times, and while these multiple personalities sometime add to the sense of new inspiration, they often times end up making the listener feel confused in the sense of their context. The tracks that ultimately save the album are the ones steeped in emotion and passion, and these definitely prove that The Vaccines can still feel something powerful.

The band has said that they wanted to create an album that sounds great right now, but won’t necessarily stand up to the test of time. It’s an interesting idea, and should be taken into consideration while listening. While it’s not the most cohesive album, it’s still unusually unique and definitely authentic, and in the end, that’s what makes people want to keep listening.

6.5/10

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photo courtesy of npr

Flume – “Some Minds” (feat. Andrew Wyatt)

Flume, also known as twenty-three year old electronic wunderkind Harley Edward Streten, has released a song in collaboration with Andrew Wyatt of fellow electronic band Miike Snow. “Some Minds” is the perfect mashup of both of these artists’ aesthetics, and as a result, the track is wonderfully textured, slightly eerie, and absolutely mesmerizing. Flume and Miike Snow are two of my absolute favorite musicians, and this track only proves their potential in making a massive comeback in 2015.

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photo by Lisa Frieling

Panama – “Jungle”

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Australian electronic band Panama have released the single “Jungle,” their newest since the release of their sophomore EP Always. This track has more of their synth and low-fi sound they’ve perfected over the years, and it’s definitely a stunner due to the passionate vocals as well as its overall warm vibe.

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photo courtesy of artist

Yukon Blonde – “Como”

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Yukon Blonde is set to release On Blonde, their third full length album and the follow up to 2012’s Tiger Talk, on June 16th. The synth-pop band specializes in upbeat, simple indie pop but with a peppy, unique flair. In their single “Como,” different sounds and influences are mixed together, giving the track a fast paced, almost unapologetic tone. The best part is towards the end where it all breaks down, because it is there you can hear that slight psychedelic influence the new album is bound to include.

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photo courtesy of artist

Tanlines – “Slipping Away”

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Electronic music duo Tanlines released their sophomore album Highlights last week. The hazy, breezy eighties influence that’s heard throughout is infectious, especially in their single “Slipping Away.” Synth is expertly placed in between bouts of pulsating guitars while an upbeat vocal track takes center stage, making it a perfect addition to your summer playlist.

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photo by Ben Rayner

Barbarossa – “Imager”

995457_509173312494821_2006196097_nJames Mathé, also known as Barbarossa, is a London based musician specializing in melancholic tracks with eclectic, mesmerizing beats. “Imager,” the title track to his newly released album, is a heavily textured masterpiece, with bouncing synth beats and a beautifully delicate vocal track. It puts you on edge at first, then brilliantly relaxes to reveal a lush, breathtaking chorus that morphs and changes as the track plays on.

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photo courtesy of the artist

Introducing: The kidwithavinyl Instagram!

Hey everyone! I recently made an account on instagram under the name kidwithavinyl (link on about page and in the sidebar). If you want updates on upcoming reviews, songs, and bands to be posted on this blog (or if you just want a glimpse into my own collection of CDs and vinyl every so often), then feel free to follow! Thanks!

– Paria

Album Review: Unknown Mortal Orchestra – Multi-Love

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Unknown Mortal Orchestra’s attempts at capturing the complexities of human emotion have been a steady progression, and have been shown without fail in their self-titled debut as well as their sophomore album II. Now, on the band’s third studio album, observations on heartbreak have been meticulously disguised as upbeat joyous sound, all with frontman Ruben Nielson at the helm.

When listening to Multi-Love as a whole, its clear that each individual song was crafted with care, considering Nielson’s diy abilities when it comes to rebuilding synths by hand as well as his intense infatuation with retro instrumental equipment. Because of this, the songs have a loving, personal touch, which also has something to do with their overall context. Title track “Multi-Love” highlights the characteristics of a complex relationship, and as a result, the song sounds like it’s working through several different struggles at once. While it would have the tendency to be convoluted, it actually sounds refined, luxurious, and absolutely mesmerizing. The lyrics are unique and quirky, and evokes everything from rock-star lifestyles, references to norse mythology, and even Nielson’s love for a certain Japanese restaurant. Whether “Multi-Love” proves to be about a polyamorous relationship or not, it remains as the inspiration for one of the best songs of UMO’s career, and is an absolute treat for the ears and the mind alike. “Like Acid Rain” picks things up with an inspiring vocal track, while “Ur Life One Night” brings out more of the psychedelic funk that the album rides on. This proves to be the band’s own brand of sound, which is odd but refreshing at the same time. “Extreme Wealth and Casual Cruelty” is just that – an eerie romp in the existential hay, leaving behind thoughts of despair and desolation. “Stage or Screen” and “Necessary Evil” are perhaps the two best examples of the 70’s funk aesthetic, but they are also the most simple, evading all that it could have been. The latter is more complex and introspective of the two, with an addictive guitar funk beat that meshes remarkably well with Nielson’s wavering, giddy voice. Throughout the album, the emotions claw at the edges, all with the intent of packaging such a large amount of memories inside such a tightly bound package. Because of this, at times the music sounds the smallest bit restrained towards the end, which is a bit of a let down, considering their pure, unadulterated passion in expressing emotion.

With that being said, Multi-Love is still a free-flowing masterpiece, and the best song, along with the title track, has to be “Can’t Keep Checking My Phone,” where the frustrations with modern technology is put on display. The pulsating synth is what separates it from the rest, and the overall disco groove is a great representation for the album as a whole. Heartbreak is a valid excuse for such deep, complex intricacies, but what makes this album a winner is the way the band hides them underneath such addictive, optimistic sounds.

8.7/10

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photo by Dusdin Condren

Ducktails – “Headbanging in the Mirror”

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Ducktails, also known as Matt Mondanile from Real Estate, has announced the release of his fifth studio album – the anticipated follow-up to 2013’s The Flower Lane. “Headbanging in the Mirror” evokes the same sort of carefree vibe that Mondanile has cultivated in this solo project as well as his main band. The instrumentals have a gauzy, saccharine sweet sort of taste to them, and the vocals are as sunny and lovely as ever. It’s delicate and simple, but refreshing enough to keep you on your toes. This track will appear on Ducktails’ album St. Catherine, which will be released July 24th.

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photo by Rob Kulisek

 

Warm Soda – “I Wanna Go Fast”

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If you’ve been an avid reader of this blog, you’ll know I love anything and everything that has strong feelings or evocations of nostalgia, such as this new track from Austin garage-pop band Warm Soda. “I Wanna Go Fast,” the single from their upcoming album Symbolic Dream, contains these hazy, gauzy feelings, and it’s found in both the swaying vocals as well as the bright, peppy guitar riffs. It accurately represents the fleeting characteristics of adolescence as well as the desire to grow up without realizing its inevitable repercussions.

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photo courtesy of tell all your friends