Review Round-Up

30 Apr

Real Friends ‘Put Yourself Back Together’

The musical soundtrack to my early teenage years was the bratty pop-punk that was so popular in the early 00’s. It’s therefore quite fitting, for me at least, that many current bands writing about adolescent memories are pop punk groups. Real Friends have been sharing the road with the recently reviewed Modern Baseball, another exciting band of that genre. Where Modern Baseball blurred the line between pop-punk and other strains of emo and indie rock, Real Friends go all out Sum 41 on their mini-album ‘Put Yourself Back Together.’ Where Modern Baseball approached their hang ups and neuroses with wit, charm and humour, Real Friends tackle their issues head on, with a whole load of bitterness, resentment and self-pity. It makes this a difficult album to love, but one that is nonetheless very relatable. So maybe you’ve secretly wished that an ex would end up ‘old and all alone’, or considered faking your own death to see if that certain someone really cares, or driven around late at night listening to sad songs. If you have then you’re going to smile knowingly at ‘Old and All Alone’, ‘Late Nights In My Car’ and ‘Dead’ respectively. It’s fair to say that singer Dan Lambton doesn’t come across too well but perhaps that’s because we see a little too much of ourselves in him. And as he says, ‘Youre just like me, the only difference is I’m honest enough to scream my flaws in the lines of this song.’ He has a point.

6.5/10

Cloud Nothings ‘Here and Nowhere Else’

It’s a commonly observed fact that very few indie rock bands make indie rock albums these days. You have Arctic Monkeys, Haim and Vampire Weekend falling over themselves to show off their r&b/hip hop influences while Dirty Projectors, Animal Collective and their like are out there exploring all types of increasingly experimental electronic realms. It’s therefore refreshing to encounter a band like Cloud Nothings, who clearly feel no pressure to sound like anything more, or less, than a classic Indie Rock band. ‘Here and Nowhere Else’ attempts to say a lot of profound ‘indie rock’ things about life and loss but never really pulls it off – at least not in the way it would like. No, what’s successful about this album is not what it has to say but how great it sounds. The production is loud and frantic, the vocals are raw and brutal. The guitars thrash and the drums smash and crash. There are no tricks, very few over-dubs and for those indie rock purists out there, not a hint of r&b anywhere at all. The  central message of album closer, and the band’s best song to date ‘I’m Not Part of Me’ is ‘I’m learning how to be here and nowhere else.’ In other words they’ve decided to focus – this direct, compact and vital album bares witness to that fact.

8/10

Real Estate ‘Atlas’

If ‘Atlas’ had been released two decades ago it would have been just another indie-pop record in a crowded field. The most striking thing about this otherwise knowingly un-striking record, is just how alone it is in 2014. The pretty vocals that don’t quite hit beautiful, the mousey brown guitar licks, the slender basslines that show just a little flab, song lengths that stretch just a little too far – you don’t really hear music that strives to be this plain anymore. That’s not a put down – Real Estate remind you that there is still a place for nice but unshowy guitar pop.  They look to the past for all kinds of inspiration, whether it’s in the music of Yo Lan Tengo, Pavement and The Shins or the foggy memories of youth. This nostalgia doesn’t mean ‘Atlas’ is frozen in a state of perpetual longing though – what the band find interesting is how the past lingers about in, and effects, present day situations.

‘I cannot come back to this neighbourhood/without feeling my old age’ he reflects on ‘Past Lives’, the most bittersweet song on the album. The only real description of the neighborhood he is referring to is hardly specific – he mentions the yellow street lights, which unsurprisingly haven’t changed. No more details are given, which is perhaps deliberate; he could be referring to any stereotypical suburb in nowhereville. ‘Atlas’ is kind of in love with this normality and stability, two very uncool traits that ironicly make Real Estate stand out. ‘Atlas’ frets over distance between lovers (see the lovely ‘Talking Backwards’) and  change (‘Had to Hear’) – basically anything that is going to rock their world. It means ‘Atlas’ will never rock your world, but there is truth here, and a ultimatley optimistic message. ‘Don’t know where I want to be but I’m glad that you’re with me.’ Sometimes you don’t need to seek change when what you’re looking for has been there all along.

7.5/10

You’re just like me
The only difference is that I’m honest enough to scream my flaws
In the lines of this song
Read more at http://www.songlyrics.com/real-friends/dirty-water-lyrics/#vqvJZt8vJqzdBr6k.99
said I’m selfish, I’m a liar and I’m broken
Shit runs through my head every day that I would never tell anyone
You’re just like me
The only difference is that I’m honest enough to scream my flaws
In the lines of this song
Read more at http://www.songlyrics.com/real-friends/dirty-water-lyrics/#vqvJZt8vJqzdBr6k.99
said I’m selfish, I’m a liar and I’m broken
Shit runs through my head every day that I would never tell anyone
You’re just like me
The only difference is that I’m honest enough to scream my flaws
In the lines of this song
Read more at http://www.songlyrics.com/real-friends/dirty-water-lyrics/#vqvJZt8vJqzdBr6k.99
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