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BANDWAGON SELECTS: RECENT RECORD REVIEWS EDITION #13


It's all about rock in this edition of RRR. We discuss Sigur Ros's new direction, the supergroup made in metal heaven Palms, the 90's sensibilities of Speedy Ortiz's debut and more. Chekkit!


Sigur Rós | Kveikur

Losing multi-instrumental member Kjartan Sveinsson seemed to have quite a drastic impact on the atypical ethereal sound of everyone’s favorite Icelandic band Sigur Ros. And honestly, people were getting weary of that same old sound - who honestly listened to Valtari last year? 

The latest release cuts straight to the chase, doing away with meandering soundscapes and delicate textures. The tracks are unmistakably punchier, more anxious - a vibrant and much-needed departure from their previous stylings. Kveikur is still very much a grandiose Sigur Ros record, albeit less patient and lacking the glacial tranquility we all got lost in on Takk... or Ágætis Byrjun. That’s not to say that Kveikur’s not good though, it counts as one of their best works to date. 

Standout tracks:
Brennistein, Ísjaki, Kveikur

Letlive. | The Blackest Beautiful 

This is not Fake History pt. II, nor is it a reprise. Instead, letlive.‘s follow-up to Fake History, titled The Blackest Beautiful, sees the Los Angeles-based quartet deviate a little into “poppier” territory. This isn’t a damning indictment of the record however, as the songs meander between boppy post-punk and the all-out aural assault fans were introduced to on FH

If you’re worried about whether the band manages to capture their infamously explosive live shows in the studio, then rest easy. Butler’s scathing critiques of religion, giant corporations and the American dream are jammed right into your face, as he somehow manages to utilize even more guttural screams. He continues to shine on the sung vocal parts, at times channeling the late Michael Jackson‘s vocal stylings. Listen closely, you’ll hear it.

Read Shaun Tan’s full review on Mind Equals Blown

Standout Tracks: 
Banshee, White America’s Beautiful Black Market, The Priest And Used Cars

Palms | Palms

Isis plus Deftones, it’s a supergroup match-up made in metal heaven (or hell? IDK). Naturally like any other respectable metal fan, I was saddened by the loss of post-metal legends Isis and the subsequent demise of Hydra Head Records, so the announcement of Deftones’ Chino Moreno collaborating with the Isis alumni was a VERY welcome shred of news. And why wouldn’t it be a perfect combination? Both bands already have/had a solid grasp on how to take the metal genre to the next step, amplifying elements of aggression, beauty and atmosphere without compromising the metal sound.

The result of this union is really a no brainer, Palms sound exactly like how Isis would sound with Chino Moreno on vocals. Call it ‘dream metal’ if you will, because there’s rarely a hard-hitting breakdown, a lack of harsh volatility you’d find in a Deftones or Isis record. At times, you can’t even see a coherent beginning, middle or end, but it really doesn’t matter. Palms is something you’d zone out to, with four of the best musicians in metal steering you into immense clouds of bliss and sedation.

Standout Tracks:
Future Warrior, Mission Sunset, Shortwave Radio

A Great Big Pile Of Leaves | You’re Always On My Mind 

The latest release by Brooklyn math-rockers AGBPOL mainly revolve around three things: fun with friends, good food and awesome music. It’s one of the best indie pop releases of the year already, crammed with jangly guitars, freewheeling riffs and borderline mathy melodies. 

Unlike the rebellious youth vibe normally found in Japandroids albums, You’re Always On My Mind feels like the after-party, like a mature recollection of what happened last night and shrugging the hangover off. It’s a downright summery album - the air of optimism and uncaring attitude combined with intricate musicianship make it a supremely delightful listen from start to finish.

Standout Tracks:
Flying Fish, Ambiversion, Pizzanomics

Speedy Ortiz | Major Arcana 

One thing’s for sure, Speedy Ortiz are really really cool. Their debut album Major Arcana is a love letter to the 1990‘s; just listen to the tangle of screeching guitars, crunchy riffs and fuzzed out textures. But they’re not just another Dinosaur Jr. or Pavement mimic, the Massachusetts outfit actually have a personality of their own. 

It’s a loud, gnarly indie rock sound that both waxes nostalgic but still keeping that 21st century fashionability - smart lyrics and modern polish. The songs explode and crash satisfyingly with as much distortion and noise as a 90s band can be, storming defiantly. The calculated chaos is endearing Speedy Ortiz made a very confident debut with Major Arcana.

Standout Tracks:
Tiger Tank, Fun, Plough


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