Album Reviews, Headlines

Review: Lights & Motion – Save Your Heart

art_550In the modern realm of post-rock complexities, there are artists whose art and music has undertaken a certain breadth to it. But as you step back and listen to it as a whole, you often realize it is more burden than anything else. A lot of it is very weighty and careens into self-indulgent territory. Explosions In The Sky can write music that is breathtaking, but sometimes their songs are too long, Godspeed You! Black Emperor is similar, where experimental becomes the focal point instead of the beauty, and Mogwai and Tortoise unfortunately, are just far too dreary and mathematical.

A few years ago, Jade Tree Records released music from Statistics, the musical moniker of Nebraska mainstay Denver Dalley. His brand of post-rock combined elements from Midwestern emo’s lineage, and escaped into the ethers of pop and the more aurally pleasing. His songs however, often felt unfinished.

So there must be middle ground somewhere, and Swedish multi-instrumentalist Christoffer Franzen may just be it. Under the name Lights & Motion, Franzen has been making beautifully soaring, instrumental post-rock akin to Statistics (and to some extent, Angels & Airwaves and 30 Seconds to Mars without the inflated rockstar ego), but with a little more grace, a finished veneer, and a stratosphere’s distance in emotional resonance.

There is beauty in music and then there is Save Your Heart, a record so glistening with the sounds of perfect soundtracks the world over that it should really be the sound of every successful spacewalk, moon landing, and the perfect dawn. We’ve thrown the word “epic” around on numerous occasions, but it is by far the one word that is most suitable for Save Your Heart as Franzen has crafted songs that shine with the vision of a brightly burning star. Songs like “Sparks” and “Ultraviolet” are a mixture of pretty guitars, midtempo percussions, and soaring instrumental harmonies, all wrapped in a welcoming glow.

“Snow” is the album’s longest excursion at 6.40 (a pop punk second compared to an Explosions song), and with its percussion-toned opening and graceful ascension, it is the album’s finest moment. Keyboard sprinkles and Franzen’s ability to craft music that is both reflective and optimistic is exemplified to near perfection.

The album is succinct, and spends less time in tangents than most other post-rock artists which is a refreshing change for the genre. “We Are Ghosts” erupts in a euphoric blaze of electronica-laced keys after painting a certain musical serenity, while “Atlas” brings home the beautiful melancholic grace Save Your Heart is so good at doing.  The album closes out with the title track, like an effective closing credits scroll, it is harmony in the end and a fitting bow to a memorable performance.

Few albums will come this close in capturing the imagination of hope and promise in musical form. Save Your Heart’s beauty and grace is one to savor.

[rating=5]

 

Lights & Motion’s Save Your Heart is out now on Deep Elm. Listen to a few songs below:

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Album Reviews, Headlines

Review: Mansions On The Moon – Full Moon EP

fullmoonLos Angeles music collective Mansions On The Moon may not be household names yet, but their Full Moon EP is as good of an introduction as any. Combining elements of electronica, dance, pop and indie, this 5-song EP melds on a mostly consistent basis.

Opening with the disco-toned “Full Moon”, the EP immediately evokes the imagery and sounds of Nicolas Winding Refn’s 2011 film Drive. It’s a song soaked in neon lights and pulp cinema aesthetic, opening up the band’s sound in beautiful fashion. “It’s Not Too Late” is similar in style, figuring into the electro/indie palette bands like Cut Copy and Midnight Juggernauts crafted before them.

It is however, with the song “More Than Nothing (ft. Codi)” that the band really shine. With its female vocals providing a nice ethereal touch, the song brings to life sounds and images Canadian band Stars are known for, and is the EP’s apex. It’s an electronic lullaby that’s both sophisticated and subtle.

The EP hits a rocky patch with “Heart of the Moment” unfortunately, where campy disco gets an 80s hairspray makeover and bears down on the ultra cheesy. It’s a distraction of sorts from the previous three songs, but like with anything, teething issues are nothing new. And while the song certainly is jarring, it is at least a sign that the band can still improve. Thankfully, the EP closes out on a stronger note with “Radio”.

Mansions On The Moon still have some way to go but there is so much to like about the Full Moon EP. There’s depth, talent and a real know how for writing catchy and infectious electro dance pop. A real solid foundation.

[rating=3]

 

Listen to the Full Moon EP:

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Mansions On The Moon’s Full Moon EP is available now.

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Sight & Sound

The Temper Trap remix Brave Face tune

Melbourne’s pop rock giants The Temper Trap have given a leg up to one of the local boys as the group have remixed Brave Face’s track “Something Old Something New”.

The remix takes Brace Face’s classic 50s/60s pop and turns it upside into some downbeat electronica reminiscent of Massive Attack. How’s that for some sweet disposition?

You can read our review of Brave Face’s EP right here.

Have a listen to the Temper Trap remix:

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You can listen to the original version on Brave Face’s bandcamp.

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Live from someone’s living room, Melbourne band Sons et al have released this video featuring a live cut of their track “Misshaped Mouth”. The group, dubbed as “the laid back electronic grooves of Cut/Copy and combine them with the mesmerising rich vocals of The National”, recently released their first single “See Me Run”. Best of all? The band are offering it up for free right here.

Sons et al will be supporting a Kele (Bloc Party) DJ set this coming Friday the 13th at the Prince Bandroom.

 

Music, Sight & Sound

LISTEN: Jimmy Hawk’s Yana Homme

I’ve seen Melbourne singer/songwriter Jimmy Hawk on two occasions. The first, backed by an electric band The Endless Party, jamming through some fuzzed out stellar rock n roll. The second, a more subdued duo outing filled with experimental electronic soundscapes and guitar-strewn pop. His latest work falls somewhere between the two. “Yana Homme” is beautiful lo-fi folk and is a great example of Hawk’s musical dexterity and vast range.

Perfect for wisftul introspection and quiet afternoons, the new single is out now on his own First Love Records. Check out the single above and watch the music video below, which was created by comic book artist Ben Montero.

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Album Reviews, Music

Review: The Maine – Forever Halloween

Despite having the unfortunate pedigree of being part of the post Something Corporate trashcan of emo-soaked piano/pop punk bands that peddled their wares through the mid 00s, Arizona rockers The Maine may have what it takes to actually shake off this terrible stigma. Fearless Records, once a flagbearer of great punk rock, became the hotbed of All Time Low-type tween pop rock that included The Maine- and it was tough to get the stink off. Now four albums deep, The Maine have graduated much the same way Andrew McMahon did, and on Forever Halloween, they sound much more like a hybrid Augustana/Jack’s Mannequin than All Time Low contemporaries; more mature and seasoned.

From the opening salvo of “Take What You Can Carry”, it’s clear that The Maine are more interested in expanding their pop rock sound; layering their music with better crafted songwriting and a knack for being accessible without sounding sugary. In the rather beautiful sounding “White Walls”, the band have found the perfect blend of piano-strewn melodies and radio ready sentimentality. It is composure on songs like this, “Love and Drugs“, and “Blood Red” that cements the notion that the band is perfectly capable of writing adult contemporary with an edge, and perhaps are ready to take their music to the next level.

However, the melancholy tone of “These Four Words” and the song’s rather sparse aura are unfortunately ruined by its lyrical juvenilia (“I should really just go home and play with myself”). And innuendo or not, its jarring lyrical wordplay is really against the rather more mature feel of the rest of the album (and more specifically this otherwise decent song). It is missteps like this that have you wondering if maybe they haven’t quite let go of their beginnings just yet. There’s a lot of good on this album. It is easily their most composed and self-assured release to date, it’s just a few steps short from becoming what would cement them as serious contenders in the pop rock field. Close, but not quite yet, but heading in the right direction. (Rude Records)

 

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Pop rockers the Goo Goo Dolls have unveiled the video for the single “Rebel Beat“. The song is the first from their upcoming album Magnetic, now due in June after being postponed from the original April release date.

Not enough Goo on the radio these days.

 

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