Haim, Melvins & Broken Social Scene Align In Albums Of The Week - July 7
Thu, 06 Jul 2017 16:49:52
It's a mixed bag of genres and themes in this week's album releases. Hot off the heels of the July 4th celebrations there's a sense of independence and self-determination in many of the releases.
North of the border Canadian collective Broken Social Scene return with their first album in what feels like forever. It's as big as brash and as forward facing as anything they've previously shared. The Haim sisters are back with a sophomore album and the promise that they have more to share, whilst Toro Y Moi adds a visual aspect to the dropping of his new album — a short film that views skies and urban landscapes from the windows of moving cars. Alternative rock is represented well by the ever-ambitious, never-conforming Melvins who drop a double-hitter of conventional tunes and a soundtrack to a film that's yet to be made. Meanwhile, Public Service Broadcasting return with an informative, emotive and at times truly spectacular collection that continues their thread of historically themed albums. It's great stuff.
So, without further ado, let's take a quick spin through the ARTISTdirect albums of the week….
Broken Social Scene — "Hug Of Thunder" — Arts & Crafts
There's a sense of the elemental in the title of Broken Social Scene's first album since 2010's Forgiveness Rock Record, and there's a sense of a natural wonder unfolding in front of us — a small miracle that brings the entire collective into the studio at a time when individual members, like Feist are also working their own solo releases. There's no lack of focus here, for all of the variants involved in assembly. Instead the pull of the entire group seems to be from the past and toward the 'now'. Themes of nature, and of impulse are explored with a renewed vigor and it feels like the band appreciate the natural wonder of their collaborative efforts as much as their long-lasting relationship with their fans. One of the most wished-for albums of the year delivers better than expected.
HAIM — "Something To Tell You" — Polydor Records
The sisters Haim return with a sophomore effort that builds on the reputation, hopes, and sense of optimism that they ignited with their debut album, Days Are Gone. There is no doubting the pop-rock trio's ability to put on stellar live shows and carry their fans with them, or win over new friends during festival sets — and the new album panders to that reputation. Charisma and a kind of joviality that the band shares on stage is a little lacking here, technical works in production do trip the album over as a whole, so the personable aspects that the band pour into songwriting are somehow distanced by process. However, if you're in the market for soft pop-rock and a sense of smiling as you snarl there's no better fun album than Haim's new collection.
Toro y Moi — "Boo Boo" — Carpark Records
With a short film that accompanies the latest issue, Toro y Moi display the sense of responsibility required to remain match-fit in the modern industry. Together the film and the album are a beguiling portrait of Toro Y Moi, and the space he currently occupies in the universe. Breezy, light and familiar, but with a unique and unforced style that provides enough hooks, and then challenges to accelerate the pulse and inject some vitality. Much of the film is shot from moving cars or involves urban landscapes, and it's a view that's reflected in the lyrical content. This is human scale geography, beats drive and concepts rarely look up from the first-person narrative. Stylistically retro-futuristic synths and drum machines are aspects of the modern sound that have been played out before, many times over, but Toro Y Moi handles things well and this album will do well at that point in the evening as the sun and the temperature dips and you're wondering what to do with your night.
Melvins — "A Walk With Love And Death" — Banquet Records
Speaking with ARTISTdirect recently, Melvins lead singer Buzz Osborne spoke on the making of the trio's latest album, and his ambition to continue cutting his own path. This unrelenting double album that adds soundtrack to more 'conventional' alternative rock release. Produced back in October of 2016, and representative of a band for whom evolution is everything. Osborne is right — there's nothing else like this noisey assault being issued this week, or this month. The sense of scale, purpose and drive distinguish the sheer will power and proportion of the band's continuing ambition — countless albums into their career. It's loud, it's sometimes lumbering, and it's jarring at times, and that's just how Osborne wants it. Adding volume to this thing can only please your neighbors.
Public Service Broadcasting — "Every Valley" — PIAS Recordings
Alternative rock outfit Public Service Broadcasting continue their modern-historically themed albums with a journey through the coal mining industry of Wales. What can be more rock 'n' roll than a creative exploration of pits, valleys and the Welsh working class? Well, this isn't conventional rock 'n' roll… and it's all the richer for it. Abstract passage and sound collages are given form with samples, driven beats and tempos that alternate to conjure space and moments of deep and genuine beauty. Perhaps the most uniquely inspired albums dropping this week is certainly one of the most compelling.
—The ARTISTdirect Staff