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Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – Push the Sky Away album review

Opening with a hollow, shimmering echo of rhythm, closely followed by that epic, signature voice of Nick Cave, The Bad Seeds’ newest release, “Push the Sky Away” immediately grips new listeners and reassures long-time fans of the group’s persevering talent. “We No Who U R” is the aforementioned opener, and open it does. The deep, crooning vocal supremacy reminiscent of Leonard Cohen overlays a rhythmic back ground that is unquestionably repetitive, but equally unarguably compelling.

However, the track seems to be a mere attention grabber, a filler of sorts, as it slides into a far more grasping song, “Wide Lovely Eyes” that seemingly defines the album in its entirety. If one was to listen to a single song from “Push the Sky Away” to caress a sense of the record’s vibe, it would be highly suggested to choose “Wide Lovely Eyes”. The eerily overlaid moan that accents so ominously the radical lyricism nearly distracts from the poetry that is this track. Seemingly a letter to a girl with the respective physical attributes of the title, the song paints an elegant portrait of release and exploration, tossing the listener into a tale of two lovers stricken by the world, but bound by the overwhelming universal pull of one another. Though, despite this- or, perhaps because of this- the narrator continues into what appears to be a goodbye with no resentment or despair, as if he cares for her escape alone, and not his own. It is truly haunting in its tragic romanticism.

As the previous track fades out, “Water’s Edge” rips in with an impressive and intriguing bass intro followed by Cave’s riveting vocalism, once more, but more aggressive now, with a sense of desperate animosity looming. The tale delves into a lustful lament for youth and aesthetic beauty. With the line “You grow old, you grow cold” repeated several times throughout the song, the thesis becomes quickly evident. This is not a track that can be summarized by any amount of words, however, with the rage and hostility pouring from every corner of the driving refrain. Soaked in desolation and despair, “Water’s Edge” leaves a chill as it slides down the ear into the spine, surfing the pieces of your mind that have been so desperately hidden for so long.

It should be stated that the album is the first record in the history of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds to lack instrumentalist and founding member Mick Harvey, who left the band in early 2009. However, it is also the first record since the group’s 1986 release “Your Funeral…My Trial” to feature Barry Anderson. The trade off appears to be an even one, as “Push the Sky Away” is soaked in the effervescent magic attributed to The Bad Seeds. The album can be found on Amazon and iTunes today.

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Run with the Kittens – Letters From Camp album review

Radiating with raw power and surfing through the air on a sound wave surging from distorted, rhythmic, tantalizing reverberations, Run With The Kittens destroys the onslaught of easily processed modern pop with new release “Letters From Camp”. As soon as “Weight of the World”, the album’s opening track, begins, the listener is shot into a separate dimension of invigorating sound, ripping through everything you’ve heard from this year’s artists.

“Life Inside a Chocolate House” begins next with a stereo-type muted intro that quickly evolves into a jungle of raging guitar riffs. With angrily shouted- or moaned, rather- vocals rising above the chaos of the stimulating electric instrumentals, Run With The Kittens portrays a down-tuned take on a world of desolate masochism.

Dig the frightening switch to alternate realities with “How Hardcore is Your Manticore?”, as the morphed voice of Nate Milk rumbles over a bizarre collaboration of downward spiraling synthesized melody taking one to the basement of the Toronto-based band’s sound.

With songs that turn from ecstasy-inducing to terrifying beyond belief in a matter of moments, Run With The Kittens have created a masterpiece of destructive, rockabilly sound with “Letters From Camp”. The album can be bought on iTunes or the band’s website www.runwiththekittens.ca

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Clinic – Free Reign album review

Clinic’s newest release “Free Reign” demonstrates a noticeable progression in the veteran college-rock band’s format. With the opening song, “Misty”, it becomes obvious that the group has evolved into something completely different- which fans have come to expect from Clinic, as they seem to change their dynamic with each and every album released over their fifteen year career.

“Misty” begins eerily slow, edging along the lines of an early horror film’s anticipatory creepy intro, driving a slow trudge with no immediate build-up until the climactic, electronic ending. “Free Reign” then moves forward into a far more intense groove, a building drum beat opening the next track, “See Saw” and overlaying a vibe of finger-pointing anger with mesmerizing electronics ideal for dancing along to, or, at the very least, to tap your toe in time with. “See Saw” blends a chemical effervescence that radiates through the room, creating a balanced tone that is tantalizing, yet somehow aggravated. Clinic delves further into a synthesized space groove of odd, eclectic mixtures throughout “Free Reign”.

Demonstrating a knack for characterizing desolate and aggressive emotion with upbeat jam-rock, sliding angsty lyricism inside a cacophony of electric college-rock instrumentals. As shown in “Miss You”, Clinic wields an unmistakable talent for displaying depression and deprecation in a bubblegum pop, synthetic light that leaves the listener completely confused about the emotion that raptures throughout their body while listening- perfectly summing up the entire conflicting existentialism of youth in a single album.

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Cheval Sombre – Mad Love album review

Cheval Sombre’s newest album “Mad Love” begins with the burst of a synthetic organ through the speakers into a world of soft, delicate indie caresses. “Someplace Else” is at the top of the list, capturing the listener with a comforting melodic groove that surrounds one with a gentle rhythm ideal for a cold, dark evening of nostalgic dreams.

“Mad Love” combines a bizarre outer-space vibe with a reassuring acoustic center, pouring through ten heartfelt indie anthems that pull at one’s heartstrings, beckoning them into empathy for the narrator, dragging their hearts through the depths of his expressed emotion. With tracks such as “I Once Had a Sweetheart”, and “Walking in the Desert”, Sombre takes the audience through a displayed nostalgia over lost love and the desolation that abounds from it.

The album is one that seems to elongate time, dragging in a slow, funeral march through sadness and the feeling of a deprecated existence, emitting a mournful sound reminiscent of Leonard Cohen, without the raspy, gripping voice or depth of the lyricism. The new release stands as a monument to all that seems to engulf the music world as of late: slow, mournful acoustic melodies, obviously derivative of specific artists with little to no modification to the sound.

Those who enjoy the overwhelming repetitive, reprocessed productions of modern indie will undoubtedly enjoy “Mad Love”. With the indistinct vibrations emitted by the album, it would be difficult to like any of the replicas that are so easy to find in modern music without digging Sombre’s newest release.

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Elisapie – Travelling Love album review

Elisapie whispers through the verses of “It’s All Your Fault (Leonard”, an ode to Montreal’s Leonard Cohen, on her new release “Travelling Love.” The dynamic that stands as she slides easily between a soft whisper and melody’s moaned with a purr, long and drawn out, grips one into association with her during this song. The album, released in October, is Elisapie’s first English production- previous endeavors masqueraded in the beauty of the French language- and one that proves to hold a hint of magnificence.

The album begins with “The Beat”, slowly and mystically, yet drops with a sudden reverb into a catchy pop beat akin to so many mainstream singles, as Elisapie coos over the rhythm. It’s a tad monotonous, and I’d be embarrassed had anyone walked in to see me listening, but catchy nonetheless, undoubtedly sticking in one’s head for the remainder of the day after a single listen. The upbeat vibes are something to groove on, along with the inspirational- be them unavoidably derivative as they are- lyrics that accompany the studio beats.

The album continues in much the same way, catchy beats with a fast and upbeat rhythm, lacking depth and any sign of passion- a key factor in differentiating pop music with other forms of more expressive art. Elisapie will go far, there is no doubt, so long as she receives the publicity and radio play necessary for producing such a figure. In this form of synthesized, material music, all that is necessary are the hungry mouths with which to feed it.

The album can be found on Elisapie’s site or iTunes today.

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Indian Handcrafts – Civil Disobedience for Losers album review

Canadian grunge band Indian Handcrafts are comprised of Brandyn James Aikins- the drummer and contributing vocalist- and Daniel Brandon Allen- Handcraft’s guitarist and co-vocalist. With the biting power of early Mars Volta, the duo pummels through a variety of colorfully titled songs including “Centauri Teenage Riot” and “Worm in my Stomach”. Based in Southern Simcoe, Ontario, Indian Handcrafts broke out with an awe-inspiring surplus of charisma with “Civil Disobedience for Losers”.

“Bruce Lee” is at the top of the track-list for this record, and instantly sets the tone for the oncoming string of demonically dark garage metal anthems. A kung-fu movie-styled gong vibrates to open the song, fading into a raging guitar riff that barrels into the room, accompanied, shortly after, by a drum beat that rises from simple and basic beat to a complex bombardment of rhythm reigning down from the skies.

The vocals are screamed in a sort of metal duet as Aikins and Allen drive through the mind with ferocious musical styling capable of ripping the serenity of a warm day from your body and instilling the blinding rage of a trained warrior in the heart of battle. The chord progression alone is enough to leave one with a sense of awe at the dramatic energy Indian Handcrafts is able to generate so early in their career, yet the band leaves more to be imagined as they finish the album with “Lion at the Door”, dropping the song at it’s climax and leaving the listener begging for more.

Indian Handcrafts is currently on tour with Red Fang and Black Tusk, the show times and dates as well as the album are all available at indianhandcrafts.net

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Aidan Knight – Small Release album review

Canadian experimental folk artist, Aidan Knight, and his quintet of the same name released their second full-length album October 23rd, Knight’s 26th birthday. The Victoria based ensemble’s release, “Small Reveal”, sheds light on a certain form of unique talent that is lost among many modern artists. “Small Release” takes the listener on a journey through a variety of lives and perspectives, from failed marriage ballads to the longing for love by a shy grocery store clerk. The depth of each story in the saga takes hold of the heart strings and grips one into a stupor of mind-engulfing fascination.

“Dream Team”, the opening and longest track on the album, begins slowly with an two-fingered string plucking and whispered lyricism as Knight sends such questions to the heavens as “was I swimming just to drown?” and “would you put it all at ease or make me feel uneasy?” The song takes a dramatic turn midway through and transforms from a downtrodden, mournful tune into an uplifting anthem filled with energy- as if you were running on the beach in complete darkness, and the sun began to rise suddenly. The drum beat incorporates snare without bass to end the song, dropping- without warning- into the brighter beginnings of the albums next track, “A Mirror”.

Throughout “Small Release” one soars through a world of unknown depths, delving into the lives of undiscovered souls. The most striking of which is detailed in “Margaret Downe”, the final track of the album- one that truly epitomizes the cliche of saving the best for last. It begins with the acoustic picking that seemingly marks the end of a wonderful trip. It is a ballad looking through the eyes of a man who falls in love with the title character, a woman who once “was a dentist, before she fell in love.” The line insinuates that the narrator did not know her at the time of her dentistry, as it later tells that they were wed. However, we soon discover that Margaret gave up her work when she ran away with a man from “across the canal.” When Downe is struck with a terminal illness and lies dying in her hospital bed, the narrator comes to visit- seemingly after years that passed with no interaction. Though the story-teller does not know what to say at first, he eventually takes hold of her hands and tells her he forgives her for “making other plans”. In the most poetically tragic manner, Downe drifts into an ever rising tide, and the album ends, leaving the listener with tears- whether literal or internal.

Aidan Knight’s “Small Release” is unquestionably a remarkable piece, and can be found for as little as $8 at aidanknight.com

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Ladyhawk – No Can Do album review

Veterans in the Canadian rock scene, Ladyhawk, released their third EP, “No Can Do” this month after a four-year hiatus. Ladyhawk continued with the distorted, grunge sound that has been associated with the band since their beginning in 2004, but modified the direction of the vocal tone. With a faster pace and more upbeat rhythm, “No Can Do” displays a seemingly new direction for Ladyhawk’s vibe. The band’s lead vocalist, Duffy Driediger, calls above the din of static electricity reverberating throughout the record in a high powered moan that ties a collective bow to top off the energy of “No Can Do”.

Songs such as “Evil Eye” show Ladyhawk’s progression into melodic, yet still grunge-soaked anthems with the appealing innocent allure of a softer band coupled with the driving momentum the band is known for, creating an empowering mixture of sound with an overwhelming feel reminiscent of the mid-90’s.

Drummer Ryan Peters escalates the group’s sound to a climactic level with his distinctive sound, standing out among the slight breaks in the raw, driving power that pounds from Darcy Hancock and Sean Hawryluk- Ladyhawk’s leading guitarist and bassist respectively. With the raging velocity that pours from each song, Ladyhawk have shown themselves still capable of producing the high quality energy that enthralled fans since their early beginnings.

The Vancouver based band is undoubtedly displaying their capabilities to emit powerful music with an uplifting vibe, and are surely on the verge of creating a slew of oncoming albums that will steal the hearts of many.

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Ben Harper – By My Side (Retrospective) album review

Ben Harper released “By My Side”, a collection of his most popular acoustic ballads, October 16th. The album is something fans have excitedly awaited for years, and truly lives up to the expectations that surrounded its release. The album’s release accompanies Harper’s first ever strictly acoustic solo tour that began in late September.

Opening with “Forever”, a song unequivocally popular among longtime fans, the Claremont native gently sets the tone for the rest of the album with a soft caressing of the ear, undertones of a lightly strummed acoustic guitar accentuating a melodic croon characteristic of Harper’s balladry. The song outlines a yearning for an romantic relationship lasting with legitimacy, portraying life-long adoration in such a manner that will inspire even the most adamant opposers of commitment to long for an amorous romance.

Harper progresses through the compilation to provide a string of songs that slide elegantly through the air, cascading throughout the room in a manner that inspires exotic dreams of intrigue and passion, delving into the depths of human emotion- gripping the listener by the core and gently skating down their bones to create a sensation of intimacy that resonates strongly in each note.
“Diamonds on the Inside” stands strongly among the slow-paced theme of the album- perhaps symbolic in association with the ballad’s meaning- bursting from soft tones out of nowhere to blast into an anthem anyone ever smitten by a gem hidden under a slew of coal can associate with. Just as the melody emerges among the surrounding slow jams, “Diamonds” illustrates a girl lost in a world of darkness, shining as the sole candle through it all. The passion and intensity of the rhythmic chorus is repeated after each humbly portrayed verse, overlaying the magnitude of the understated lines with uplifting repetition of the song’s fulcrum.

“By My Side” echoes through a variety of themes, bringing Harper’s willing audience along on an exploration of depth via his marvelous songwriting surrounded by gentle melodies, forging a demonstration of the artist’s musical expertise. The album is one that long-time fans and new listeners alike will fall for, and can be found online at Harper’s website or in your local record shop today.

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Tall Ships – Everything Touching album review

Tall Ships, newcomers on the indie rock scene, have released their first full length album, “Everything Touching”. With instrumental power in such singles as “T=0”, the New England band has certainly generated an album distinguished enough to garnish respect from the majority of those familiar with the underground world of independent music.

Produced under the U.K. label Big Scary Monsters, “Everything Touching” rushes through an eleven song LP with a ferocity much akin to early Kings of Leon, though admittedly lacking any of the driving-soul. The lyricism is hidden behind a barrage of mind numbing guitars, rocketing from every angle, but once experienced, the poetry drives one into fields unexplored. Front man Ric Phethean drives the vocals home with a powerful thrust of melodic uprisings that burst into a sun-soaked sky with a resounding choir of emotion pouring in from above.

The album provides an undisputed versatility uncommon with a large portion of music, with the ability to provide phenomenally uplifting and invigorating anthems perfect for blasting during a morning run, as well as putting on while studying or reading to bring about a thematic background noise capable of keeping one on task without becoming a distraction.
Tall Ships crush through songs such as “Ode to Ancestors” and keep the listener begging for more. Unquestionably the instrumental low, providing an opportunity to display Phethean’s lyricism before delving into a toe-tapping beat that explodes into a barrage of mystifying sounds that prove to be an exhibition for the trio. Wonderful things are sure to come from Tall Ships, and “Everything Touching” is a harmonious testament to that.