Album Reviews (catch up edition) – Broken Bells, Belle & Sebastian, Gayngs, Diamond Rings, The War On Drugs

Broken Bells (Self titled)

Most uninspired album art of the year?

Broken Bells is pretty much old news. Don’t know why I haven’t reviewed/listened to them yet. In case you’re not in the know they are a duo comprised of the The Shins’ John Mercer and Danger Mouse. On paper, very exciting. In reality, kind of boring. While the album is never bad, it just kind of sounds like a shinier, drummier, less poetic and less interesting version of the Shins. Very little I could really sink my teeth into on this one. “October” is a pretty solid jam, although it does kind of feel like it could be the intro song for some new WB rich-tween drama. “The High Roads” also has some nice ‘Shinsish’ vocal moments. In general, an enjoyable but very forgettable listening experience.

October

The High Road

Broken Bells: 2.5 out of 5

Relayted by Gayngs

Gayngs is a super group that apparently really loves y’s. Formed by producer Ryan Olson, members of Bon Iver, Megafaun, Solid Gold, and rappers like Dessa, it’s easily the most eclectic musical endeavor this year. “Faded High” is really the only song anyone should get high to for the next couple (blog) years. It’s relaxing, almost mystical and chill as shit. “Faded High” and “Gaudy Side of Town” are probably the only songs on the album where you really hear all the moving parts, yet they somehow don’t seem busy. They just work. Wish the I could say the same about the rest of the album. Sometimes in songs like “Spanish Platinum” it fringes on being smooth jazz and other times on songs like “False Bottom” it just sounds kind of like poorly thought out noise. More ‘horrible trip’ than ‘chill wave’. Relayted is a pretty scattered compilation that rarely reached its potential.

The Gaudy Side of Town

http://stereogum.com/335111/gayngs-faded-high-stereogum-premiere/mp3s Faded High

Relayted: 2 out of 5

Future Weather by The War on Drugs

Basically an updated take on a “Fleetwood Mac(y)” sound (Phuc Quach). “Comin Through” is one of the best ‘driving songs’ of the year. It’s the type of jam that makes whatever your doing seem mysterious and purposeful. “Baby Missiles” is another cool one that has a sort of Arcade Fire “Antichrist Television Blues” type feel to it, in the sense that it sounds like the vocals are starting to ramble out of control as the song goes on. It’s just a fuzzier lower-fi version. The song “Brothers” on the other hand has more than a little bit of a Dylanesque “Like a Rolling Stone” sound. It’s a cool take on that genre. Future Weather is a good listen. “The War on Drugs” is a great band name.

Comin through

Future Weather: 3.5 out of 5

Belle & Sebastian Write About Love

I don’t think that Belle & Sebastian has ever made a bad album. ‘Write About Love’ is no exception. It’s not the most exciting record that I have ever heard but that is probably just because there is never any worry that Belle & Sebastian won’t deliver 15 or so pleasant indie pop/folk numbers. Murdoch’s voice is inexplicably comforting to me. Feels like the type of voice that would go well with a cup of tea and a good book, if I drank tea or read. Norah Jones’ cameo on “Little Lou, Ugly Jack, Prophet John” is surprisingly perfect and obvious. I might want this song sung for me every night before bed. “Write About Love” could be an easy one to overlook, but you’d be missing out if you don’t really give it a thorough listen.

The Ghost of Rockschool

I Want the World to Stop

Write About Love: 3.5 out of 5

Special Affections by Diamond Rings

“Special Affections” is an uncharacteristically warm and inviting take on ‘synthy’ music. Most synth centric albums are either dancey but void of substance, or sterile feeling ‘chill wave’ stuff. Diamond Rings actually attempts to create quaint soulful pop tunes. Sometimes he completely nails it. “All Yr Songs” was released last year on a 7″ and was one of my top songs of 09. It’s just as sweet and quirky a love song as it was then.

I’ve been bad

and mean to

you, but you right my wrongs.

I do try.

You know I

Love to sing all your songs.

 

It’s simple and genuine lyricyism like this that makes this album work. I’m not sure Diamond Rings has mastered it yet but “Special Affections” is a really intriguing and promising work, in my opinion. Wierdest moment on the album is that in moments of John O’s singing on the first half of “Give it up” he sounds shockingly similar to Matt Berringer of the National.  Maybe the National should release a synth pop album?

All Yr Songs

Special Affections: 3.5 out of 5

 

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2 Comments

Filed under Music, review

2 responses to “Album Reviews (catch up edition) – Broken Bells, Belle & Sebastian, Gayngs, Diamond Rings, The War On Drugs

  1. Megan

    I felt the same way about Broken Bells. They are what I listen to when I feel like listening to the Shins but don’t really feel like singing along.

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