Monday, 31 December 2012

My Favourite Albums of 2012 - Part 3

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The Fog Is Rising by Joy Wants Eternity


The Fog Is Rising by Joy Wants Eternity
Released May 22, 2012
Genre Post-Rock
Length 36:46
Label Self Released
Rating
?????

Postrockstar Review by IamHop | July 20, 2012
Representing my home town of Seattle, Joy Wants Eternity have been around nearly 10 years. “The Fog is Rising” is their follow-up to “You Who Pretend to Sleep,” an absolutely mind bending album released back in 2007. A lot tends to happen in a five-year span and the post-rock scene has evolved quite a bit since then so let’s get into the review and see if this album is worth the wait.
The album begins with no frills as “Our Backs into the Wind” starts heavy from the opening second with systematic drumming and climatic cymbal crashes before settling down in a flurry of ambient beauty. Despite the heavy opening the finish is quite the polar opposite as a beautiful piano segment plays us out. The title track follows and is a beauty of a track that has it all. Deep ambiance and well textured crescendo guitar work their way in and out of the mix combing to create bliss for the ears.
The sound stage is too far small and compact meaning certain instruments tend to disappear as tracks become too dense. The album as a whole has a much darker tone to it production wise. While beautiful, I can’t help but feel that the equalization process in the mastering could have been better. For example in the first half of “Dark Heart of the King” the spiraling crescendo guitar hides behind the predominant drumming. That’s not a knock against the band per say, I suppose that it’s just uncommon to see a more ambient release with technical qualities better suited for a heavier release.
Technical mumbo jumbo aside, there is something to be said about the work of a band who has been around the scene for a while. The synergy  both between the instruments themselves and the album tracks is incredible. The album is extremely refined and the band never tries to do too much  with their build ups or break downs, a common mistake found amongst younger post-rock bands. The album wraps up with “In Camera,” a sentimental keyboard track that provides a perfect ending to one of the more mellow post-rock releases of the year. It’s great to see a band put as much emphasis into their keys as they do with their guitars. “The Fog is Rising” is as solid as it is beautiful and it is well worth your time to check it out.

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Battle Born by The Killers


Battle Born by The Killers
Released September 17, 2012
Genre Alt-Rock
Length 65:17
Label Island Records
Rating
?????

AbsolutePunk Review by Craig Manning | September 18, 2012
Brandon Flowers is a machine. Since The Killers’ debut LP Hot Fuss exploded back in 2004, he’s released a new album every two years like clockwork, always in the fall, and always preceded by an anthemic lead-off single. It’s worked well: the first two are modern classics, Hot Fuss a pristine example of what radio-rock should sound like and Sam’s Town a stunning work of Springsteen-esque heartland rock and towering hubris. Things got a little more confusing on album number three, 2008’s Day & Age, which tried to blend the Vegas-centered new wave of Fuss with the arena-sweep of its follow-up, to mixed results. Looking back, Day & Age was nowhere near the disaster that many listeners made it out to be, but it was unquestionably the weakest album Flowers and company had put out. Even worse, its scatterbrained musical styling and bizarre left-turns suggested that either the band was getting restless with their image, exhausted from the nonstop, marathon schedule they had been operating on since they stumbled upon fame, or just running out of ideas. Most of them needed a break, but Flowers kept on trucking: he made a masterful solo album called Flamingo in 2010, a record that went back to the Vegas roots of the first album and maintained the epic scope of Sam’s Town, but drenched them both in Americana textures.
For those of us who wondered what Flamingo would have sounded like with the full force of The Killers behind it, the question is ostensibly answered with Battle Born. Largely, the songs here have the same wandering, soul-searching tendencies that developed on Flowers’ last two albums, but the style is refined. Take the meandering “Heart of a Girl,” which channels The Velvet Underground with a bass-heavy opening, ringing keys at the break, and Flowers’ best Lou Reed impression. “A Matter of Time” kicks off as a retread of Flamingo’s “Jilted Lovers and Broken Hearts” before exploding into a cinematic rocker that could easily have been on Sam’s Town. “When we first met, headstrong and filled with doubt/Made just enough hustling tables that summer to take you out/I was fallin’ back on forever when you told me about your heart/You laid it on the line,” Flowers belts out halfway through. It’s a song rife with the euphoria of first love, but it’s also a shape-shifter, and as the tension builds throughout, we feel the relationship evaporate before our eyes. By the time Flowers reaches the “wreckage of broken dreams and burned out halos” waiting for him in the final lines, everything has changed.
Thematic connections begin to form between the songs on Battle Born as one delves further into them. The rousing “Miss Atomic Bomb” reflects on the naivety of the characters in “A Matter of Time” (“You were standing with your girlfriends in the street/Fallin’ back on forever, I wonder what you came to be,” Flowers sings at the outset), but also plays as a sequel (or rather, prequel) of sorts to “Mr. Brightside.” “I was new in town, the boy with the eager eyes,” he states in the first verse, calling back to the hit that made him a rock star. We already know that the girl in the story ends up cheating, but “Miss Atomic Bomb” examines the narrative on a more personal and nostalgic level. The song builds to a multi-tracked vocal climax, Flowers baring his soul in a maze of anguish accentuated perfectly by the song’s tumultuous and bombastic musical structure. It’s the closest the band has come to the sound and feel of Hot Fuss in years, and for many, that will be the biggest selling point of Battle Born. The same can be said for the synthy 80s pop of “Deadlines and Commitments,” a dark spiral of song which serves as the perfect bridge between the album’s two thematic pillars, or “The Rising Tide,” which gives Dave Keuning a roaring and disorienting solo: this is the band people fell in love with eight years ago.
But while musical and thematic elements from both Hot Fuss and Flamingo are revisited here, Bruce Springsteen is clearly still Flowers’ go-to musical influence. He’s all over these songs, whether we’re talking about the two aforementioned narratives of young love or the skyscraping lead single “Runaways.” Perhaps it’s not so surprising for a band that has made their name on larger-than-life chart toppers, but “Runaways” is arguably the best song you will hear on the radio airwaves this year. This is the “When We Were Young,” the “Read My Mind”; in Boss terms, the lyricism falls someone between “Born to Run” (“Let’s take a chance baby we can’t lose”) and “The River” (“There's a picture of us on our wedding day/I recognize the girl but I can't settle in these walls”), but the ultimate impact is universal either way. Once the explosive third verse crackles through the speakers, all influences and preconceptions are rendered moot by the overwhelming power of the Herculean arrangement; a lot of bands attempt the arena-sized anthem, but almost nobody does them better than this.
Speaking of arena-filling choruses, album-highlight “Here With Me” has a mammoth one. It’s a shameless 80s-style power ballad, more reminiscent of Journey or Foreigner than Springsteen or U2, but Flowers pulls it off. Piano chords and reverb-drenched vocals serve as the commencement, a fitting kick-off for a tune that builds into a modern-day cigarette lighter love song. “I don’t want your picture on my cell phone/I want you here with me,” Flowers proclaims on the chorus, wearing the potentially hokey line proudly and somehow transforming it into a transcendent battle cry. That’s the thing about Flowers: for all of his egotistical remarks and conflict-inciting interactions with other bands, you never doubt his conviction. He has the voice, the charisma, and the searing emotional audacity to give an epic classic rock record (which is essentially what Battle Born builds into) its gravitational pull, and while the contributions from his band are very obviously instrumental here, it’s his heart-and-soul dedication to these songs that ultimately makes them work.
It’s fitting that Battle Born closes with its title track. From the resounding guitar hits (culled directly from The Who's “Baba O'Riley”) to the “Bohemian Rhapsody”-flavored back-up vocals, all the way to a verse that apes Woodie Guthrie’s “The Land is Your Land,” “Battle Born” is one hell of a climax. When the song finally shatters into a gospel-flavored coda, a minute and a half from its conclusion, it’s hard for me not to think of Battle Born as the greatest record these guys have ever made. Its certainly the most cohesive – an album about the euphoric innocence and the crushing heartbreak of young love, an album about the inequities of the American dream, but also one that, like Springsteen’s best, finds hope within the darkness in the end. Battle Born is the kind of rock ‘n’ roll record that almost nobody makes anymore: it’s bombastic and excessive and oversized, but it’s also a grand and universal statement, a master class of album structure and sequencing, and a culmination of everything Brandon Flowers and The Killers have done up to this point. There will always be detractors, but to me, The Killers are the best band in the mainstream right now, and this record deserves to be celebrated. Just make sure you play it loud.

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In A Million Years by Last Dinosaurs


In A Million Years by Last Dinosaurs
Released March 2, 2012
Genre Indie Pop
Length 42:52
Label Dew Process
Rating
?????

The [AU] Review by Andrew Wade | , 2012
Applause has to be given to Brisbane indie-pop outfit Last Dinosaurs right off the bat for one reason: it took a long time for their debut LP, In A Million Years, to land on the AU desks.
There’s quite a few indie bands out there that will jump from formation to an EP to a full blown album in less than six months somehow, and then disappear in a blink of a hipsters’ faux-Ray-Ban framed eye. That’s not to say that Last Dinosaurs haven’t been busy; with a myriad of support slots, festival appearances and solo shows about town, they’ve proven time and time again that they have the skill and will to hang around; it’s taken them five years to get to this point. And honestly, with the release of In A Million Years, I’ll wager that they’re going to be important figures in the Australian music scene in years to come.
‘Zoom’ kicks off the album with an incredibly infectious and slick riff. It’s the major single that’s been hanging around for a while now; if you haven’t seen the mind-bending video, check it out:
‘Zoom’ is quite literally an earworm of a song; it’s a finely tuned piece of guitar pop bliss. ‘I Can’t Help’ continues in a similar vein, bringing with it bits and pieces of the ‘Zoom’ riff that create a nice continuity between songs.
‘Sunday Night’ really showcases the experiences that Last Dinosaurs have picked up on their travels, with a little bit of Lost Valentino’s leaking into it (likely from LV member Jono Ma producing their previous EP, Back From The Dead), while ‘Time & Place’ pushes a vibe not unlike early tracks from The Drums; disco beats, catchy riffs, and lyrics that tell a tale of lost love at odds to the music.
‘Andy’ embodies a cross between The Smiths and The Strokes; singer Sean Caskey showcases a voice that has the melancholy of Julian Casablancas without any of the ego, but a versatility of which Thomas Mars (of fellow power-pop outfit Phoenix) could be jealous. ‘Satellite’ is a nice, dreamy, synth laden interlude before ‘Weekend’ brings the guitars back in, melding the two into a neat package.
‘I Can’t Decide’ shows a heavier side to the band (something that we’ll be hearing more of, if the promises made to the crowd at the recent Foster The People concert are to be believed), while ‘Used To Be Mine’ takes a diversion into chillwave-like territory, with spacey guitars and reverb-drenched vocals. As a writer I really don’t think I can find anything new to say about ‘Honolulu’ that hasn’t already been put out there: it’s the anthem for many summers gone by. ‘Repair’ underscores the entire album, with a demonstration of the range the band are capable of. Starting off as a slow burner, the tempo gains momentum as the guitars are introduced, climaxing then fading out with a soft piano tune.
The whole album skirts neatly along a divide between indie pop and new wave, and while there’s influence from an entire range of genres, Last Dinosaurs never seem to want to commit to either genre. Instead, Last Dinosaurs seem to be making a habit of mixing and matching different styles. And what’s more is that they’re incredibly great at it.
Wielding this sort of musical prowess when the eldest member of the band is 22 (the youngest being barely 18) is something that simply is not expected. The album is a surprisingly mature and cohesive collection of songs. With incredibly slick production and the catchiest songs you’ll hear this side of 2000, In A Million Years is a strong contender for the best Australian album of the past twenty years.

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Untogether by Letting Up Despite Great Faults


Untogether by Letting Up Despite Great Faults
Released October 9, 2012
Genre Indie Pop
Length 34:19
Label Self Release
Rating
?????

MVRemix Review by Melissa Mendoza
If you like Postal Service, Ringo Deathstarr, and The Depreciation Guild, you’ll love Letting Up Despite Great Faults. I am familiar with Letting Up, but back when they were still pretty underground. Times have changed and this band has amped up their popularity.
They’re previous albums weren’t as “electronic” as their new album, Untogether, but it definitely fits with today’s theme of musical influences and tastes. Letting Up is not a band for hardcore, or punk rockers, despite having basic rock song structures and influences. If you’re looking for guitar shredding and drum pounding, this is not your band.
Letting Up has a very soft sound to them and their electronic influences play a major part in their overall sound. Classic of electronic music is the long drag of the synth keyboard. There is extensive vamping and subtle vocal harmony, which almost sounds muted or backgrounded to the instruments. However, this works in their favor because their instruments and vocals are almost in perfect harmony.
Their generic lyrics are seen throughout most of their songs, but Bulletproof Girl, Numbered Days and Postcard show much of what I mean in terms of lyrics, muted vocals and vamping, and high electronic influences. In contrast to songs like, On Your Mark, Vision, Take My Jacket, Pauline, and Scratch, which have more of a rock influence than an electronic one.
Most of their songs have a good “pick-me-up” feel to them, which makes them an everyday band to listen to. Their songs have a good balance between electronic and rock and rarely does one overpower the other. I personally feel that they have a good sound and they will continue to grow in popularity in the genre.

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Bless This Mess by Lisa Mitchell


Bless This Mess by Lisa Mitchell
Released October 12, 2012
Genre Indie Pop
Length 53:42
Label Warner Music Australia
Rating
?????

The Brag Review by Natalie Amat | October 22, 2012
It’s been a few years between drinks for pop-folk favourite Lisa Mitchell, but in taking time to put it together, her second album Bless This Mess is a more confident and stylistically diverse collection than her previous releases. The production of Dann Hume (one third of Evermore) allows each song its own character – from eclectic gypsy tale to mournful ballad or catchy pop ditty – with a consistency and voice that holds the record together.
Opener ‘Providence’ features swelling instrumentation with echoes of Arcade Fire, which descends into the chanting style of Karen O’s Where The Wild Things Are soundtrack. The songs show Lisa more confident in her instrumentation: gospel-style piano and warm brass are new elements of her sound, and the songs are better-off for them. “Still filling my space, still finding my place,” she sings on ‘So Much To Say’, and you begin to get an idea of what that place will be. Her voice is stronger for the most part, too, retaining its fragility only in moments that require more intimacy.
First single ‘Spiritus’ is a slice of joyous, sunny pop and the title track is also a standout, with Lisa going electric in a departure from the acoustic sound of her 2009 debut album Wonder. ‘The Present’, which features vocals from Clare Bowditch and Georgia Fair’s Jordan Wilson, sounds like it’s straight off the Magical Mystery Tour, but acoustic folk-driven songs still abound, like ‘The Land Beyond The Front Door’, another highlight.
Filled with piano and lush, warm strings, Bless This Mess is dappled with variety and depth. This is Lisa growing up, and the songs are richer for it.

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Floors by The Little Hands of Asphalt


Floors by The Little Hands of Asphalt
Released February 24, 2012
Genre Indie Folk
Length 42:21
Label Spoon Train Audio
Rating
?????

The Little Hands of Asphalt is the solo side project of Sjur Lyseid of the Norwegian band Monzano. Check out their label's website and it has this to say:
“Independently minded, sensitive boys doling out anthems of introspection to thousands of kids raising their fists as they stare at their navels” is frontman Sjur Lyseid’s own description of LHoA. Following up 2009's critic favourite “Leap Years”, The Little Hands of Asphalt released their sophomore album “Floors” in February 2012 to great critical acclaim.
However, if you wanted to read any of that "critical acclaim" for yourself, good luck finding it. Seriously, just try Googling them and see how much info you can find!

But fortunately, in this day and age, we don't need a review to be able to determine if an album is good or not (it is, by the way), so have a listen below and enjoy!

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Lonesome Dreams by Lord Huron


Lonesome Dreams by Lord Huron
Released October 9, 2012
Genre Indie Folk
Length 45:01
Label Iamsound
Rating
?????

FILTER Magazine Review by Loren Auda Poin | October 9, 2012
A plethora of slow-expanding gongs, brash cymbal shimmers and other such dramatic drippings depend like sheeny webs from the sharp and assured songwriting on Lord Huron’s Lonesome Dreams; singer-songwriter Ben Schneider has obviously been at this quite a while, building musical muscle and polishing his sound with gusto. Some of these gauzy, reverb-tastic liltings you’ve heard first from bands like My Morning Jacket and Fleet Foxes, but on certain songs, most notably the title track and “The Man Who Lives Forever,” Schneider enters a less-referential arena and carves out more compelling territory. His voice slides like a shadow, and the shift in tone shocks; a modern pop song supplants the weathered daguerreotype vibe, pushed along by the nearly unreal lushness the band revels in. Impeccably crafted, Lonesome Dreams sets out into the sun, toward shores far and away.

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Given To The Wild by The Maccabees


Given To The Wild by The Maccabees
Released January 9, 2012
Genre Indie Rock
Length 52:50
Label Fiction
Rating
?????

AbsolutePunk Review by Kyle Huntington | January 13, 2012
Two years since the overlooked yet inviting Wall Of Arms, The Maccabees return with their third LP and it’s one that is set to propel them to new heights in every conceivable way. The group has made no secret about the fact that this is the first time they have felt as if they are their own band with their own true sound, putting every ounce of drive and effort into this album and taking their time whilst doing so. Patience is a virtue and needless to say we are rewarded for playing the waiting game with them. Given To The Wild is an undeniably evocative and infectious album ready to steal you away from your current favourite record.
The word “mature” is thrown around all too flippantly when describing what seems to be any sophomore or junior effort from an artist, regardless of whether or not much growth and expansion has actually occurred. Fortunately, there couldn’t be a more applicable term where this album is concerned as it can be applied to the clearly expansive sound landscapes, the fact that the band ended up tackling the majority of the production or the lyrical themes themselves. The topics of family, adulthood, nostalgia and “the circle of life” occupy every track here with lyrics such as “One thing’s for sure we're all getting older/so we take a lover waiting in the corner/before you know it, pushing up the daisies” (“Pelican”) it’s safe to say that The Maccabees previous two album feel like Given To The Wild’s baby brothers.
Given to the wild.
Given to the wilder ways,
While the ways of a child,
Are whiled away.

The two minute intro of “Given To The Wild” sets the tone perfectly, a drone draws you in whilst Orlando Weeks’ falsetto vocals sweep over the top. The most notable thing about this introduction is how much it summarises the proceeding 12 tracks, not only is this not what you expect from The Maccabees but this is meticulously structured, detailed and drawn out whilst always remaining captivating. Leading seamlessly into the gentle roll of “Child” it becomes increasingly evident how much attention to every tiny sound and layer went into the process of making these songs, especially when it takes a turn three quarters of the way through by stepping up the pace several gears in terms of noise and effects. “Feel To Follow” is the band’s next single and it’s obvious to see why, the swing beat of Sam Doyle’s drums are the only accompaniment to Weeks’ tense vocals before invigorating keys shed light on everything and the song swells into a climax of huge proportions. “Ayla” is the track which we should be “thankful” for as it was the first song to be demoed and consequently set the benchmark and tone for the album. Arpeggiated pianos, some of the heaviest guitar sounds on the record and a hypnotising vocal showcase the group’s progression in their song writing and production skills before everything is abruptly halted to make way for the slower paced and dream-like “Glimmer”.

Come on, I’ll make it easy and I know,
Know it wouldn’t be forever.
Forever I’ve known, nothing stays forever.
Couldn’t you still try?


Instant stand-out “Forever I’ve Known” really transforms the landscape into a widescreen setting. Moody and spacious, the guitars almost squeal, imitating whale-song before what mimics the gentle sway of the sea ends up becoming a vicious and aggressive tidal wave, if not a tsunami, of sound. There are many examples of this truly vast sound throughout Given To The Wild, songs not only destined for mass sing-a-longs at festivals or future gigs but that also would fit in right at home in a stadium setting, particularly the likes of synth-driven and future single-material “Went Away” or the more experimental, processed beat-laden “Go” with its humongous gang vocal cry:

And they’ll call out with a name by, a name by which I’d never call you.
And we’ll grow out when it’s time,
And the skins we’ve known no longer fit us.


Another aspect that deserves noting is not only how every member is excelling with their instruments, in such a way that the two year gap since the last album has launched them into being amongst the most interesting musicians playing today but also how singer, Orlando Weeks’, vocals are at an all time level of greatness. Being able to execute the most passionate call to arms and contrast it with the most intricate croon or falsetto doesn’t go unnoticed and the most endearing part of it is how genuine every single word from his mouth sounds, there’s no facade. This has always been a big draw for the band, but now he’s truly perfected it from every angle. Whilst the record clocks in at almost an hour over 13 tracks, it could be argued that the length is an issue for the less patient/more casual music listener but the musicianship and flow of it all is such a draw that any issues with length should be forgotten as soon as the echoey guitars of epic closer “Grew Up At Midnight” chime out.
Given To The Wild is an album in the truest sense of the word. It’s an LP which consciously has a definitive beginning, middle, end and a flow designed to be taken in at once. It’s a full piece which is able to sound incredibly intimate and intricate at times whilst being as gigantic and loud as they have ever been at others. Balancing their most tender moments with their most diverse and devastating, The Maccabees have returned as a highly evolved beast more than ready to be released into the wild world.

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Forever I've Known (Album Version)

Forever I've Known (Album Version)


With Siinai: Heartbreaking Bravery by Moonface


With Siinai: Heartbreaking Bravery by Moonface
Released April 17, 2012
Genre category
Length 46:07
Label Jagjaguwar
Rating
?????

DOA (Delusions of Adequacy) Review by Bryan Sanchez | April 26, 2012
Although we live during a drastically different time for music to flourish, it should be duly noted that the best musicians continue to make music as a purely expressive extension of their art. Often, we forget that the best bands and artists are creating their craft and delivering it for all of us to enjoy; so naturally, as any good artists does, they delve into various ways to improve, various ways to grow, various ways to thrive. Spencer Krug doesn’t make music to fit into any kind of mold, he also doesn’t make music to simply crank out album after album, what Krug does is immerse himself into music and its spellbinding qualities.
With that said, it makes logical sense why With Siinai: Heartbreaking Bravery is yet another masterful take on music from one of the industry’s hardest-working musicians. During his brief and driven time making music under the Moonface moniker, Krug has steadily created albums that are all within different scopes of frame. With his opening EP Krug invented a classical piece that featured marimba, while enveloping arpeggios, dynamics and his magnificent voice into a twenty-minute piece of music. And on his second EP/LP he ventured into territory that featured organ, not vibraphone like he’d hoped. The latter was a divisive fit simply because people couldn’t get past Krug’s seemingly logical tale of spinning music stories. Each album before With Siinai: Heartbreaking Bravery was simply a new adventure to explore: when you’ve got the major chops Krug does, there is no other way to improve.
Now, on With Siinai: Heartbreaking Bravery, Krug enlists the help of Finnish band, Siinai, to flesh out his wickedly enlightening twitches and decorations into something absolutely stunning. Making an album of music seems to flowingly pour out of Krug like leaves sprouting every spring: it’s an automatic response. However, Krug tenders to his garden of sounds with varying shifts in color and mood. On “Headed for the Door” everything coalesces into a pounding escape of forceful music. Krug takes what Siinai can create – huge walls of sound, a burly foundation – and conquers them into a tour de force that recalls the powering soul of Dragonslayer. Even when things pick up pace, like on “I’m Not the Phoenix Yet,” Krug manipulates the sounds to calmly gel into and around the space of music he has to work with. A synth melody creeps in and out but mostly it’s the ominous drive of the music that makes for impressive highs; entirely exploring and realizing what a backing band can deliver, Krug is ridiculously in control.
The brooding opening of the title track is a just precursor to the album’s dark tones and it’s very much an open book in every possible sense. But whether it’s the sterling grip and feel of “Shitty City,” where Krug can showcase the influence Wolf Parade bandmate Dan Boeckner has enabled, or the grippingly strong, towering sounds of “Lay Your Cheek on Down,” With Siinai: Heartbreaking Bravery is a fully-incorporated album that truly rocks and rattles with sublime music. With his latest Moonface endeavor Krug opted to take hold of the shaking matter of rock music with an abyss of storytelling and in the end, it’s all downright astonishing.
Again, it shouldn’t be regarded so much as where ‘Moonface finally makes good music’ because everything before and after possesses Krug tendencies – masterful melodies, mesmerizing dynamics and more over, a rush of blood to the head with every new tone – With Siinai: Heartbreaking Bravery just happens to be his first, perhaps, official LP and yes, Siinai allow for all the magic to swirl into one HUGE startling success.

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Babel by Mumford & Sons


Babel by Mumford & Sons
Released September 21, 2012
Genre Folk-Rock
Length 63:37
Label Island
Rating
?????

Entertainment Weekly Review by Melissa Maerz | October 1, 2012
Millions watched Mumford & Sons join Bob Dylan at the 2011 Grammys to play ''Maggie's Farm,'' which is somewhat ironic. Wasn't that song supposed to be Dylan's screed against the folk scene? Now the Sons are leading a folk revival that includes the Lumineers, Milo Greene, and Of Monsters and Men — a whole new generation of bands who dress like There Will Be Blood extras and treat folk-rock with such devotion you'd think it was an old-time religion.
And for Marcus Mumford, maybe it is. His parents are leaders in the Vineyard Church, an evangelical movement that has its own record label and traces its musical history back to the Righteous Brothers. While that doesn't necessarily mean he's a practicing Christian, he's definitely interested in the saved-by-rock-&-roll stuff. On Babel, he wails about serving the Lord and saving his sins for the ark while his band harmonizes along with all the lift-ev'ry-voice fervor of a Pentecostal sermon. ''I leave no time/For a cynic's mind,'' he sings on the ballad ''Not With Haste.'' He isn't kidding.
If you don't own enough cable-knit sweaters to appreciate lyrics this earnest, the music may change your cynic's mind. Producer Markus Dravs (Arcade Fire) works hard to capture the feverish uplift of the Sons' live shows, giving each piano note and mandolin string the echoing-to-the-log-cabin-rafters treatment. And the band has mastered the emotional gut-punch of quiet/loud dynamics, exploding from low-murmured harmonies into full Appalachian freak-outs. All the while, Marcus howls about grace and love over a frenzy of strumming. The guy's clearly a true believer — even if he believes in nothing more than banjo solos.

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