Tag Archives: Video

Japandroids ‘Near to the Wild Heart of Life’ / Cloud Nothing’s ‘Life Without Sound’ – Review

18 Feb

Japandroids and Cloud Nothing’s have always mined similar territory, so it’s somewhat fitting that they are releasing new albums on the same day. it’s also been interesting to witness their reception, and thus observe how far guitar music’s stock has fallen with the very sites that worshipped these bands only half a decade ago. That was capital R Rock music’s last gasp in some respects – at least as far as being a commercially viable and critically appreciated form of artistic expression. Now, unless you’re a heritage act or a new one with an overtly (and right on) political message, or some kind of subversive element, you are unlikely to be given the time of day by trend setters in 2017.

In this climate Japndroids and Cloud Nothing’s feel strangely like dinosaurs of a long past era – even though they are still in their mid to late 20s. Coverage of Rock music that is this unabashed, ambitious and enthusiastic is currently hard to find in mainstream publications. Many bands have ditched guitars allĀ together (I mean just LISTEN to the new Linkin Park single – it could legitimately be an XX song), and you probably wouldn’t blame Japandroids and Cloud Nothing’s if they did the same; but instead they double down on those traits that bought them acclaim in the first place, whilst artfully expanding their horizons. The results are a little mixed but generally positive, showing what can happen when you stick to your guns.

You couldn’t accuse either band of lacking a consistent aesthetic. Cloud Nothing’s last three albums have each featured greyscale photographs of vague, somewhat blurred, buildings with a whole lot of sky and empty space. Meanwhile, this is the fourth Japandroids album to feature a moody black and white portrait of the duo on the cover. Similarly, the music contained always has been, and continues to be, variations on a well established idea; in Cloud Nothing’s case spazzy pop-punk played with anger and unquestioned conviction, in Japandroids case, Springstein-esque escapist rock recorded on the cheap. They know what they like and they like what they know. ‘Life Without Sound’ and ‘Near to the Wild Heart of Life’ don’t change those formulas much. The hooks are thicker and left to simmer on a lower heat but they are unmistakeably the work of the same bands.

If there is a difference in how the two groups have progressed, it’s that Cloud Nothing’s have the technical ability and lyrical capacity to expand and polish their sound in interesting ways, where Japandroids don’t. It isn’t the duo’s fault – they’re ultimately a rock n roll powerhouse, and when they play to those strengths they are as good as they’ve ever been. Lead single ‘Near to the Wild Heart of Life’ is a tornado of a song that connects broad images of dreams, cold wars, condemnation and God over a furious beat and fuzzy guitar licks – and that’s only the first verse. At their best, there is nothing subtle or understated about this band. ‘No Known Drink or Drugs’ and ‘In A Body Like a Grave’ are equally frantic and hook heavy, ensuring the album begins and ends with its best songs. In between there are some more forgettable moments. ‘True Love and A Free Life of Free Will’ is as hard work as that ponderous title would suggest, while ‘Arc of Bar’ unsuccessfully adds electronic elements to a song that mixes unfortunate metaphors about ‘hustlers and whores’. ‘Midnight to Morning’ is a more interesting variation on theme, mainly thanks to its catchy chorus, with its stacked harmonies and inspirational message.

Cloud Nothing’s are also tuned in to good vibes and positivity. So much so that they’ve described this as their new age album. It certainly has a lot more happy energy than its predecessor, the snarling and cynical ‘Here and Nowhere Else’. The band still manage to temper that positivity with some truly dark moments; listen to that morbid piano that opens the album and instantly dials the clock back to ‘No Future/No Past’, the similarly ambitious opener of ‘Attack on Memory’. ‘I came up to the surface, released the air’ he exhales more clearly than we’ve heard before, his vocals pushed high in the mix. This is never going to be called first class poetry (the vaguely uplifting mantras that pepper the songs boarder on the indestructible and sometimes cliched) but it’s a nice about turn from the emo moodiness of ‘Here and Nowhere Else’.

Baldi retains his almost unparalleled ear for hooks. He stacks and builds melodies like he’s trying to constantly better his last one. If ‘Life Without Sound’ isn’t quite as hook intensive as usual then that’s only because nobody could keep up that frantic pace. Generally the songs here are slow burners that nudge their way into your memory over time. The sound is more polished and the mixing and arrangements incorporate interesting details that make songs like ‘Enter Entirely’ sound fuller than they might have a few years ago.

‘Life Without Sound’ often hints at being a classic indie rock album in the lineage of R.E.M, Pavement and Dinosaur Jr but it never QUITE convinces you that it belongs there. Perhaps it’s something to do with its slimline appearance (nine songs in just over half an hour) and the fact that it tails off after ‘Modern Act’ (the final two songs flirt with shoegaze effects that don’t elevate the songs past being – bluntly – boring). But that’s not to say Cloud Nothing’s will never reach those giddy heights. In fact, ‘Here and Nowhere Else’ is perhaps the finest balls out rock album of the past decade and if their reputation rested on that alone then their place in music history would be assured. ‘Life Without Sound’, like ‘Near to the Wild Heart of Life’, inches the band in to new territory whilst retaining all of what made them so likeable to begin with. That isn’t easy. Both these albums prove, if proof were needed, that there is a place for gutsy, intelligent rock music in 2017.

Japandroids ‘Near to the Wild Heart…’ 7/10

Cloud Nothing’s ‘Life Without Sound’ – 8/10

The Drums ‘Me and the Moon’

28 Oct

New video for The Drums next single ‘Me and the Moon’.

Surfer Blood ‘Floating Vibes’

8 Sep

If you haven’t already got Surfer Blood’s debut album ‘Astro Coast’ then get it now, it’s great! Their new single is called ‘Floating Vibes’ and the video is too cool for school

Best Coast ‘When I’m With You’

15 Apr

Best Coast have gone and made a video for ‘When I’m With You’ and it’s a pretty good video for an excellent song. Still no news on the album to reportĀ  sadly although it will be out later this year.

http://www.mtvu.com/video/?vid=501225

MGMT ‘FLASH DELIRIUM’

10 Mar

MGMT have released the first taster for their new album ‘Congratulations’, a song called ‘Flash Delirium’. The album is one of my most anticipated of the year and this song is as good as I hoped it would be. It’s a weird, mini epic that features mind bending lyrics and several different sections (my favourite part is the glam rock bit about 1/3rd of the way through). The song is a free download from MGMT’s website or you can hear it below.

More Drums!

6 Mar

I feel like I’m going on about The Drums a lot – I just really like this band, and ‘Best Friend’ is probably my favourite song of the year so far. The band have just released the music video for the song and luckily it’s also great. Below that is a performance the band did for Radio 1 proving they are just as good live as on record.