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Omar Rodriguez-Lopez – Telesterion album review

When I think of Omar Rodriguez-Lopez, the first word that comes to mind is workmanlike; at the tender age of 35, the multi-instrumentalist Puerto Rico native has over forty albums under his belt. While many of us have become acquainted with him as the driving force behind At The Drive-In and Mars Volta, few have found the time to peruse his exhaustive solo catalogue. (25 releases and counting) Well, here’s a chance to streamline such efforts: Rodriguez-Lopez has just released a quadruple-LP ‘best of’ entitled Telesterion.

Clocking in at over two hours, Telesterion is only as conventional as it’s author’s career. Being said, it’s as practical as Rodriguez-Lopez is going to get for the curious listener. It’s also an authentic take on this talented individual’s body of work: eclectic, dizzying and often face-melting guitar licks garnish a harshly psychedelic post-hardcore set, made more habitable by the occasional vocal guest-spot. As any fan would tell you, Rodriguez-Lopez’ sound is chaotic, colourful and unapologetic; a proudly acquired taste for many.

For those of you who aren’t familiar enough with his talents to know what to expect, this album is a worthwhile listen; rather than having to sift through a dozen albums, you’ll have the opportunity to sample this unconventional layman’s best works (Victimas Del Cielo comes to mind) in a thoughtfully designed compilation. Oh, and if you’ve a weakness for decadent guitar freak-outs, just buy this album now.

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Love Inks – ESP album review

A simple guitar, a bass and an old drum-kit lend a hand to Sherry Leblanc’s devastatingly pretty melodies on ESP, Love Inks’ first full-length release. The result? A shining collection of minimalist dream-pop numbers, recalling the sounds of Fleetwood Mac, Beach House and the XX all at once.

Lending credence to the notion that ”less is more”, ESP (emotional simple pop) was recorded onto an eight-track reel-to-reel at front-woman Leblanc’s home, using the most rudimentary of set-ups. Granted, one listen makes clear that ESP is a delicate, carefully produced work.

Love Inks compartmentalizes and balances sonic elements with purity in mind, and the fat-trimming exercise pays off; this record is tastefully lean – it runs just under 30 minutes in length – and beautifully honest.

LeBlanc’s dripping-with-reverb vocals are the perfect compliment to Love Inks’ musical landscape, never more so than on heart-tingling standouts ‘Too Wild’ and ‘Down And Out’. Though ESP is by no means perfect – the David Essex cover ”Rock On’ was a little much – it aptly demonstrates how taking a simple approach and sticking to it can yield solid results.

After hearing the single ‘Blackeye’ a few months ago, I had high hopes for Love Inks. It’s delightful to hear a collection of music that lives up to those expectations.

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I’m From Barcelona – Forever Today album review

Hailing from the country that brought us Abba, The Cardigans and Eagle-Eye Cherry, I’m From Barcelona is undoubtedly Sweden’s biggest band of all time. I am, of course, only referring to this pop ensemble’s exhaustive roster, which consists of no less than twenty-nine members. A mere pop-gimmick? Not so fast. I’m From Barcelona makes the best of it’s abundant membership, infusing orchestral and sing-along qualities to their otherwise familiar brand of indie, resulting in a contagious, euphoric, longing-for-the-playground sound that effortlessly wins the hearts of many listeners (while sending others running for the hills). Indeed, if we’ve learned anything from this band since their 2005 full-length debut Let Me Introduce My Friends, it’s that folks either really like them or really can’t stand them.

If you didn’t care for I’m From Barcelona’s previous two efforts, probably no use acquainting yourself with their April release Forever Today. Being said, this LP does not disappoint on it’s own terms, churning out a diverse bunch of upbeat, jolly-matic jingles at a smart pace. What’s more, Forever Today is the band’s grooviest effort yet, as ”Skipping a Beat” and first single ”Get in Line” capably demonstrate. Lead singer and songwriter Emanuel Lundgren deserves some credit too, for trying to create a more melodically nuanced album this time around; numbers like ”Game Is On” and ”Forever Today” indicate Lundgren is well aware of euphoria’s finiteness.

Ultimately, Forever Today is a worthy release if you’re looking for that breezy summer feel, far from the daily grind. I also view it as  I’m From Barcelona’s most complete effort yet. Taken for what it is, this album is bound to provide even the most cynical listeners with at least some enjoyment. OK, maybe that’s going a little far.