Saturday, June 7, 2014

Glass Animals Rather Tame

Glass Animals - Zaba
-out June 10
3 / 5
Contributed by Bera Dunau (@BeraDunau)

ZABA, the debut album from alternative rock band Glass Animals, is a relentlessly smooth piece of work. Indeed, it is the perfect accompaniment for a peaceful a.m. drive on a deserted freeway, where the only company can be found in the streetlights passing overhead. Unfortunately, this very smoothness is also the album’s greatest weakness, as it is so consistent in tone that the tracks have a tendency to blur together. This makes it a bit of a one-note effort, although the one thing that ZABA does, it does well. Glass Animals’ sound is focused squarely on the atmospheric. You won’t find much in the way of solo highlights here, but you will find a group of musicians working together to make a luscious soundscape.

The best way to describe ZABA would be that it is heavily produced, highly polished, lounge music, with a particular faithfulness to putting the listener into a mellow groove. So, should you pick it up? Well, it honestly depends on whether you feel like taking that long, midnight drive or not.

We will freely admit that Glass Animals’ music is not our normal cup of tea. That said, ZABA is a pleasurable album that we think pairs well with an evening of solitude and contemplation. However, it’s not something we would put on for its own sake, as the atmospheric nature of the album lends itself more to be a right mood/right time kind of album. And while we enjoyed the mellow groove of “Flip” and tropical boisterousness of “Pools,” the arrangements and the tone throughout the album were so consistent that the lack of variety became noticeable.

Variety and range is not a necessary element of a good album, but it is a component of a great one. ZABA is not great album, but if you enjoy mellow, atmospheric music, with a smooth arrangement, pick it up. Otherwise, don’t feel bad about leaving it as a road not traveled.

Start that midnight drive on Soundcloud.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Syd Arthur at the Brighton Music Hall

Stand 'em up, knock it down. Canterbury's sweetest groove since the Tales. (L to R: Raven Bush, Liam Magill, Fred Rother, Joel Magill. Copyright Andy Cotterill)

Brighton Music Hall, Brighton, MA. Sat. 6-7-14, 8pm. $12 adv. 18 and over with ID. This fierce foursome of Brits come to nigh-Boston this weekend. Why must we let you know this? Because they take half their name from a Kinks album, and if you don't know our position on the Kinks, then you must be new to the blog. Point for them. They've also got a new psychedelic album out with all kinds of time signatures that just flow so smooth (and this may be new to y'all, but we appreciate making the tough sound easy). Yes, they're just opening for Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger (whom we know nothing about), so hopefully that'll mean they'll hit up the merch table and maybe sign stuff for y'all.

And about us? We don't know. Miserable injury may keep us from showing up in anything other than spirit. But let us know what you think about them live, because we'd love to know!

Me'shell NdegeOcello's Comet a Miss

Meshell N'Degeocello - Comet, Come to Me
-out now
2.5 / 5

There are a few things that give away to us how to score an album on this blog. Number one is ultimately compulsion - do we have to play an album again and again? Typhoon's White Lighter suffered from this (and still does). Memory is the next thing, that is, do we keep playing the music in our head again and again (like Delta Spirit's I Think I Found It)? And thirdly, if we're familiar with the artist, where does it rate in their discography? To start from reverse, Me'shell NdegeOcello's latest studio album, Comet, Come to Me is not the strongest album in the Berlin-born's musical lineup. It lacks the acerbic passion and outrage of her earlier works (crystallized, in our opinion, in 1996's Peace Beyond Passion), it lacks the pure innocence and beauty of "Two Lonely Hearts (On the Subway)", it has us digging up her other albums because Comet, unfortunately, does not crash and thunder with the blood of her other incredible albums.

The strongest track here must be "Conviction," a tip-back-in-the-chair, funk-drenched, head-nodding groove to a destructive relationship. It's confident and even a bit hip-swaying, but for all its quality, we can't help but think we've had Ms. Johnson's songs course through us so much more furiously, more passionately than this. Many of the other songs feel lax, a bit too comfortable (listen to "Folie a Duex"), which, given her twenty-plus years of exceptional output, we can sympathize with. But when you're given a track like "Continuous Performance," a dragged out concept that works better on paper, then you long for those days of funky bassline attacking homophobia, religion, society in general. We hate to ask, but what should we leave with after "American Rhapsody"?

The one thing that Comet has brought us is an appreciation for Me'shell NdegeOcello's previous albums. But beyond that, Comet comes as a miss; take a pass.

Hit up Soundcloud for her sounds.