Bandwagon Selects: Recent Record Reviews #9

Our deepest apologies guys, we've been so busy over the past few weeks (festival season y'all) that we've kinda neglected our Recent Record Reviews! In the lull in between our busy days, our dedicated writer Daniel Peters compiled a list of reviews for the records that's been circulating in his playlist. Read on!

Foals | Holy Fire

Foals are back with a huge truck-load of funk. After the jaunty math-pop of Antidotes and the rich, atmospheric indie-rock of Total Life Forever, the UK group dial up a healthy dose of 'tropical funk' into their third effort, Holy Fire. Ultimately a culmination of the sound they've meticulously crafted over the years, Foals present a tighter, punchier sound that explode out of the speakers courtesy of legends Flood & Alan Moulder (The Smashing Pumpkins, Depeche Mode, My Bloody Valentine). 

While Total Life Forever was a pretty significant jump aurally from AntidotesHoly Fire feels like a step forward in a similar direction.They continue the mature, introspective songwriting that was the highlight of Total Life Forever but not forgetting to have fun with highly danceable grooves and sing-alongs. A standout is their first single 'Inhaler', which eschews most of their unique sound to bring out a darker, heavier edge that we've never seen from them. With such an ambitious effort like Holy Fire, expect these lads to headline arenas around the world - and maybe ours too.

Standout tracks: 
Inhaler, My Number, Providence

Iceage | You're Nothing

Danish noise-punk quartet Iceage return with a blistering set of tracks, after their debut New Brigade. This time, You’re Nothing shows the group upping their ante. The songs are tight and refined; the lyrics have greater bite and the vocals. Well, with frontman Johan voice mirroring dried-out lungs, they just sound really, really pissed. With the buzzsaw opening riff of first track "Ecstasy", you know these guys mean business. Alleged political agenda aside, the band packs a serious punch, combining the frenetic attitude of old-school punk with the contemplative, deeper levels found in post-punk. If that is enough to whet your appetite, get on it now.

Standout tracks:

Coalition, Burning Hand, In Haze

Obedient Wives Club | Murder Kill Baby EP

Named after the infamous Malaysian cult (tongue-in-cheek, of course), Obedient Wives Club have been making waves in our music scene ever since their self-titled EP dropped last year. Since then they've been making a name for themselves, playing gigs all over and garnering attention worldwide. Now they're keeping the engine going with a new EP: Murder Kill Baby.  

The EP displays a marked improvement in production and overall cohesiveness but the songwriting itself remains to be underwhelming, lacking the attitude that the band parades with their name and song titles. The five-piece creatively style themselves as 'Spectorgaze', clearly showing their affinity for the works of producer Phil Spector and his "Wall Of Sound" technique. It perfectly imitates the melancholic vibes of 60s girl-group pop but doesn't do much with it, aside from the reverb-drenched guitars. The only track that's worth special mention is 'Thousand Tears / Broken Heart', which sports quiet, emotional melodies that climax into a wave of soaring guitars. Overall, the music falls short and brings hardly anything new to the table, where the multitude of bands led by Dum Dum Girls and Cults dominate. Nevertheless, fans of their style will still find a lot to like in Murder Kill Baby.

Standout track:
Thousand Tears / Broken Heart

And So I Watch You From Afar | All Hail Bright Futures

All Hail And So I Watch You From Afar! Even after losing a founding member, they're still going strong. They've just gotten a lot brighter, as if the album title, All Hail Bright Futures, isn't enough indication. The band, who I consider as one of the best instrumental groups out there, decided to tone down on the metal guitars but add a lot of vibrant, colorful melodies into their math-rock equation that put them beside bands like Fang Island and Alt-J who expertly mix playfulness with technical prowess. 'Like a Mouse' is a blast to listen to - an explosive composition that runs under just three-minutes. The three-part suite 'The Stay Golden' and closer 'Young Brave Minds' conjures an epic, joyous vibe that belongs only to post-rock, but with ASIWYFA's bright shiny stamp all over it. They've not only crafted an album where you can sit down and appreciate the musicianship but one that can also make you jump around in a moshpit of hugs and hi-fives. It's only a matter of time before this insane quartet lands on our shores. For now, let's get this pit going. *hugs*

Standout tracks:
Like a Mouse, Ambulance, Young Brave Minds

Unknown Mortal Orchestra | II

Psychedelia is back; albeit without the dirty hippies (we love bathing in the 21st century) and sticking it to The Man, man. What returns is the love for far-out adventures, swirling guitars and acidic visuals (drugs are optional). A lot of bands have been reviving these past sounds to add their own distinct flavour in the mix; bands like Animal Collective, Tame Impala and most recently Foxygen have enjoyed critical and commercial success. 

Joining their ranks are the American-Kiwi trio Unknown Mortal Orchestra. After the first album gave them exposure worldwide (partly thanks to the opening track "Ffunny Ffrends"), they've got a lot to prove this time, and they have. Tracks like "Swim and Sleep (Like a Shark)" and "From the Sun" are enchanting little pop tunes while the seven-minute "Monki" is a hypnotic, blissful ride. Mixing psychedelic rock with vintage reverb-drenched pop with elements of lo-fi folk, 'II' delivers with woozy guitars along with strong pop, krautrock and even blues elements. Find a perfect sunny afternoon, get a good pair of headphones and delve into the Unknown.

Standout tracks:
Swim and Sleep (Like a Shark), From The Sun, Monki

Night Beds | Country Sleep

"The name is tongue in cheek, but a lot of the music was developed at night, from listening to, or writing in my bed." Winston Yellen explains the name of his project, Night Beds. Truly, the name befits the music; suited for those late nights doing nothing but laying down in bed in contemplation. Country Sleep - his major label debut - is chock full of introspective songs along with heart-achingly beautiful arrangements. Yellen’s fragile, delicate falsetto complements the ambient folksy instrumentation peppered with tinges of vintage Americana. Fans of other artists like Fleet Foxes, Jose Gonzalez and Iron & Wine will find this a delight.

Standout tracks:
Ramona, Even If We Try, 22

Grouper | The Man Who Died In His Boat

Grouper returns with The Man Who Died in His Boat after garnering much praise following her haunting dual-album Violet Replacement. Not much has been revealed about Liz Harris, the woman behind the project, and that bodes well with the mysterious nature of her music. Much can be said about her cryptic lyrics but upon first listen; it quickly becomes obvious that words are not the focus here. 

Drenched in a swirling orchestra of lo-fi sounds, she weaves a collection of songs that endlessly intrigue but may prove to detract or even unsettle some listeners due to the bleak nature of the material. Truly, some aspects of her music share quite a lot in common with some of the newer, more experimental side of metal releases. Fret not, Liz neither sports corpse paint nor executes blast beats but her spacious, desolate depiction of nature shows a love for it as much as fearful reverence, something that bands such as Wolves in the Throne Room or even Neurosis share. A meditative piece of work, The Man Who Died in His Boat will engage as much as it will intrigue. It's an album that will definitely not disappoint old fans and will gain new ones as well.

Standout Tracks:
6, Vital, Cloud In Places

Bandwagon's Stories