Monday, 31 December 2012

My Favourite Albums of 2012 - Part 5

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Young & Old by Tennis


Young & Old by Tennis
Released February 13, 2012
Genre Indie Pop
Length 33:00
Label Fat Possum Records
Rating
?????

BBC Music Review by Mike Diver | February 2, 2012
2011’s debut set from Denver-based husband-and-wife duo Tennis, Cape Dory, was the sort of sweet but slight affair which delighted for its duration but quickly escaped the memory. This follow-up, recorded in Nashville with The Black Keys’ Patrick Carney, looks to take the step from home-recording project to band proper. And it’s largely successful in transplanting the pair’s fine ear for a melody onto rather meatier arrangements, pieces which flex with more pronounced muscles and leave slightly deeper impressions than their forerunners.
That’s not to say that Young and Old is going to send Tennis into the highest stratosphere of indie acclaim – while this is an improvement on its predecessor, the band’s MO remains much as it ever was, with originality at a premium and focus placed on charming the listener with songs that one can hum along to before a first play is through. Toe-tappers aplenty present themselves: the single Origins swells with Stax-like soul volume, over which vocalist Alaina Moore wonderfully stretches herself – think Carly Simon if the New Yorker’s best years came right after The Strokes’ breakthrough – and Petition possesses percussive clout that’s much in keeping with the work of Carney’s day job. Elsewhere, High Road’s a bright and breezy bopper every inch as sun-kissed as the escapist, ocean-going fare of Cape Dory, and both Take Me to Heaven and Traveling feature organ licks reminiscent of so much 60s soul. Indeed, Moore has described this album’s sound as "Stevie Nicks going through a Motown phase".
It’s no damning by faint praise to call Young and Old a nice, pretty long-player, as it’s just that. These 10 tracks aren’t going to start a revolution on any stereos, but they’re unlikely to be jettisoned anytime soon, either. Written in three months and recorded in three weeks, it’s a collection that feels fresh and clean, uncomplicated by over-thinking. It’s the sunny pop any listener caught in winter’s grip needs to have on their MP3 player: it’ll be over before you know it, and the songs might not stick, but at its close you’ll feel a whole lot warmer deep down.
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Beacon by Two Door Cinema Club


Beacon by Two Door Cinema Club
Released August 31, 2012
Genre Indie Pop
Length 39:38
Label Kitsuné
Rating
?????

Paste Magazine Review by Megan Farokhmanesh | September 4, 2012
Tourist History is a tough act to follow. Indie-rock trio Two Door Cinema Club’s 2010 debut had all the makings of a pop-perfect album; each song was a pleasant combination of clear, upbeat vocals and irresistible rhythms. Now the band is back with Beacon, and the album is anything but a sophomore slump.
Where Tourist History’s every song was overflowing with hyper energy, Beacon takes the time to slow down. Tracks like the opener, “New Year,” still sport the band’s cheery tone, but have a new element of sweetness. “If you think of me, I will think of you,” sings Alex Trimble shyly. On “Sun,” he is suddenly soft and uncertain. “Ocean blue, what have I done to you?” he begins, leading into the album’s slowest track. The tone of each song is often steady, but not always the same in its approach; Trimble isn’t afraid to play with his words. In “Wake Up,” he stretches his words until each syllable collapses into the next. Every breath feels confident and controlled.
Beacon gets back on its feet with its quicker tunes, found in the ever-charming “Someday” and the fast-tempoed “Sleep Alone.” “Someday” is a hard track to skip over. It’s repetitive in nature—almost to a fault—but its melody is intricate enough to keep your attention. “Sleep Alone” is another track that’s pushed along more by its instrumental sound than its vocals; Trimble’s voice is as appealing as ever, but it’s often bowled over by the background noise. When it does come through, “Sleep Alone”’s vocals feel like a snug fit for the song’s mood.
Beacon isn’t a step up from Tourist History, but rather a brother to it. The band returns with tunes that can operate as low-volume background noise or pumped-up danceable beats. There’s very little progression or change in their sound, but that doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing. Fans that loved Tourist History, prepare your mp3 player; this will be your favorite album. But if you haven’t already fallen for TDCC’s dance-ready, bright-voiced Irishmen, you won’t find love here.

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The Vaccines Come of Age by The Vaccines


The Vaccines Come of Age by The Vaccines
Released September 3, 2012
Genre Indie Rock
Length duration
Label Columbia
Rating
?????

AbsolutePunk Review by Kelly Doherty | September 4, 2012
It’s been a little over a year since The Vaccines burst into the musical consciousness with their debut album What Did You Expect From The Vaccines?, eleven tracks of sixties pop inflected indie rock delivered with posh accents and a confident swagger. After somehow managing to keep their heads above the cloud of hype and commercial success that they fell into the middle of, they have returned with another eleven tracks to tickle our catchiness taste buds, and provide us with another soundtrack to the summer. Despite their recent insistence otherwise to any music press that would listen, The Vaccines Come Of Age isn’t so much a drastic change in sound, but rather a refocus of influences. So, don’t worry if you’re a fan of three minute pop songs, they are certainly here in abundance. Come on, what did you expect from The Vaccines?
If you’ve never listened to The Vaccines before and your only knowledge of them comes from what the internet or the music press has put before you, try to forget everything you’ve heard. The Vaccines have been victims to quite a lot of unfair criticism none of which is directly related to their music. Whilst The Vaccines might not be trailblazers within their scene, they are certainly ahead of many of their peers, and having done the impossible of breaking away from the blogosphere and into the musical mainstream, they have managed to pen a handful of the catchiest indie tracks this year with their sophomore album, The Vaccines Come Of Age.
The album kicks off with single, “No Hope”. Justin Young’s trademark drawl, has a little more character in it, and has vastly improved from their debut. The track displays the band’s more punkish side, with a pogo-inspiring melody and simple but anthemic lyrics. It’s on tracks such as the opener that The Vaccines are at their best. Songs like "Teenage Icon" and "Aftershave Ocean" are filled with the ingredients that make The Vaccines the great band that they are. Spiky guitars, witty lyrics, and sugar sweet melodies are what The Vaccines do right. The album wears its influences on it’s sleeve, "I Always Knew" sounds like the sort of ballad that The Beatles would have written and ‘All In Vain’ is amazingly similar to cuts off Pet Sounds.
It’s when The Vaccines stray away from their main influences that they suffer. "Ghost Town" is slightly Cramps-esque and is by far the worst song from the release. Sounding almost like a novelty, the track contains some of their heaviest riffs, however the song holds no weight amongst the rest of the album.
Overall, The Vaccines have released a great album in the form of The Vaccines Come Of Age. Whilst it’s not going to change the world, it is certainly worthy of praise and any popularity that comes their way. So, if you want some catchy indie rock that will keep your attention, The Vaccines have certainly come of age.

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Hello Hum by Wintersleep


Hello Hum by Wintersleep
Released June 12, 2012
Genre Indie Rock
Length 45:30
Label Roll Call Records
Rating
?????

Sputnik Music Review by Justin Pelletier | June 18, 2012
Halifax, Nova Scotia’s Wintersleep have a knack for building on where they have been. Following the relatively significant commercial success of 2007’s "Welcome to the Night Sky", it was fairly apparent that they took the best efforts of that album and expanded on them, but "New Inheritors" (2010) was by no means an attempt at the recreation of their previous achievement. It might have cost them some publicity, but it is highly doubtful that it cost them any of their fanbase they have built over the last decade.
Enter "Hello Hum", Wintersleep’s fifth full-length album: an effort formed once again on strong points of their previous work, and filled with focus on musical timbres that had only minor influence in past compositions. The album title track commences the album like an introduction song, very experimentally. Wintersleep has been no stranger to building ambience in their sound, and "Hum" remains true to this. It is sure to catch some off-guard in the first couple minutes with its panning feedback-like synthesizers and sporadic percussive rhythms.
"In Came the Flood" seems to provide the real kickoff to "Hello Hum" with a flood of guitar hammer-ons in a mild coating of effects, and while the first three tracks have a nice flow to them, "Resuscitate" is where the album undoubtedly picks up. Seemingly complex keyboard leads melded with bizarrely fitting guitars (both rhythm and lead) and wonderfully catchy chorus vocals, provided not so much by the lyrics but the melodic contour itself. Listeners might find themselves whistling along and bobbing their head once the chorus pops.
The album seems to taper off a bit energy-wise with "Permanent Sigh" and "Saving Song", until "Unzipper" plays out, which packs the usual indie-rock punch that Wintersleep seem to include at least a couple of times in their albums, and from this point on, the album is consistently solid in quality. "Someone, Somewhere" brings a much lighter and radiant feel to it, comparable to a song by the Beach Boys or the more recent Miracle Fortress. "Smoke" and the interestingly named "Papa Time" finish the album on an acoustic high note. The finishing track also includes some sensational trumpet accents and a clap-along bridge section, leaving the listener feeling just as good as when they started the album.
There is namely one consistent shining point within "Hello Hum" worth mentioning, and that is the vocal performance of Tim D’eon. Not much has changed of his highly distinguishable voice, but now it seems to resonate and grip at frequent points, similar to what Thom Yorke’s voice is capable of on a Radiohead album. D’eon provides the foreground and the background in an ever-sincere and polished likeness throughout the 50-minute run, showing his best capabilities yet as a vocalist.
While Wintersleep might have been known to some as moody, haunting, and/or downright ominous, the evolution of their sound becomes very apparent in this album. Moments are seldom with the aforementioned emotional qualities, and the majority of the work plays out colourfully, albeit with the same originality the band is reputable for. It is a refreshing and engaging addition to the band’s strong discography, without the exception of it needing a few attentive listens to get the full effect. Those who are interested should do themselves that favour at least, if they had the patience to read through the album’s review.

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