Text Chris Ujine Ong
Every month JUICE highlights some of the albums we’ve been listening to with a truncated impression of each one of them.
This month we look at a solid comeback by a utensil, a David Lynch reference of a band, modern retro girl group, royalty, someone we still know, a conceptual artist making pop music, random white dude, and something that’s not EDM (at least).
THEY WANT MY SOUL
Two decades, eight albums – it is some kind of triumph for Spoon to have never made a ‘bad’ album. Their latest is, once again, a solid effort. It is a comeback of sorts, the band having taken a four-year breather after annoyance and weariness set in after their last album. Boppy, balanced and ear-friendly, it’s one made for mainstream recognition, packaged with the winning ‘Do You’ and the title track.
LISTEN TO: ‘Do You’
IF YOU LIKE THIS YOU’LL DIG: Divine Fits
TALENT & TIME
The newest, brightest 20-year-old rockers from Chicago reemerge with a fuller LP, influenced by Beatles, Rolling Stones, Beach Boys… basically every big rock band since The Flintstones. But it’s no youthful joke, as the 16 tracks roll across quite a range, from the growling ‘Strawberry Smoothie’ to the watery, psychedelic tropicalia of ‘Ordinary People’. Talent and time is on their side.
LISTEN TO: ‘Strawberry Smoothie’
IF YOU LIKE THIS YOU’LL DIG: Old school big rock bands
RATING: 3 ½
POP ROCK DIVERSITY
Jangly rock mixed with retro girl group pop and shoegaze, rolled in a carpet of fuzz – this has always been the template of Sune Rose Wagner and Sharin Foo. They changed it up with more surf pop and loads of instrumentation, all awash in static still, of course. Welcome moves, especially on ‘Sisters’ where a singular harp of all things, precedes a wall of noise, and the industrial track, ‘Kill!’.
LISTEN TO: ‘Kill!’
IF YOU LIKE THIS YOU’LL DIG: Gliss
RATING: 3 ½
OUT OF THE BLACK
A nascent Queens of the Stone Age, Jack White, and Muse rolled into a Brighton duo, that’s who Ben Thatcher and Ben Kerr aka Royal Blood sound like. Ones to look out for (according to BBC’s Sound Of 2014 list), making a satisfying crunch musically with their blustering ‘Out Of The Black’ and ‘Figure It Out’, but a longer stew and more original meat’s needed.
LISTEN TO: ‘Figure It Out’
IF YOU LIKE THIS YOU’LL DIG: Drenge
THE GOLDEN ECHO
SOMEBODY WE STILL KNOW
Can’t blame Kimbra for being greedy; her ascent to the world stage via Gotye’s ‘Somebody That I Used To Know’ just meant learning more tricks to keep one’s feet treading the floorboards instead of meeting the bottom of the steps. Hence, the IMAX-ed pop music on her sophomore – stuff yerself on a glorious buffet of r’n’b, synth disco, and funk; ‘Goldmine’ and ‘’90s Music’ being two of the mains.
LISTEN TO: ‘Goldmine’
IF YOU LIKE THIS YOU’LL DIG: BROODS
The Himalayas, Hangzhou in China, her Internet website; Imogen Heap is everywhere at once, a techie adventurer connecting her music-making with her larger audience via her infamous Twitter dress and Mi. Mu gloves. Heap is a conceptual artist making pop music, even if the breath of ideas may either diffuse or enhance the listening experience.
LISTEN TO: ‘Telemiscommunications’
IF YOU LIKE THIS YOU’LL DIG: Frou Frou
RANDOM WHITE DUDE BE EVERYWHERE
Call it a twist in perspective, a mood change or age even, but we think Diplo’s missing the creative mark ’cos he’s aiming squarely for the commercial masses, dangerously dipping his music into trap. The basslines still stomp and wobble, the synths sting, and the beats, strafing body bombs, all wired to be weapons of mass distraction for mega-raves. Still jumpin’, but not quite as high nor far.
LISTEN TO: ‘Biggie Bounce’
IF YOU LIKE THIS YOU’LL DIG: Dillon Francis
RATING: 2 ½
NOT EDM, AT LEAST
Not sure if it’s a good thing, but Porter Robinson’s debut sounds like Owl City trying to make widescreen synth music for festival tents, or Zedd slowing down to breathe with ambient music. Either way, at least this one-time Skrillex protégé is not making brostep. File him alongside Passion Pit and M83, but a bit more down the line.
LISTEN TO: ‘Lionhearted’
IF YOU LIKE THIS YOU’LL DIG: EDM dude trying to make good music