Thursday, April 30, 2015

Dick Diver : Melbourne, Florida

Inspired by disorientated travellers and trivia ‘Melbourne, Florida’ (Chapter Music) experiments with and enhances Dick Diver’s shimmering pop skills.  The band treads new turf by feeling out instinctively where to take these 12 new songs, searching for a more curious and enigmatic state in their music.  To create that atmosphere Dick Diver recorded this album in a large shed at Apollo Bay, Australia with Mikey Young – setting the scene to achieve a more far reaching sound than they’ve ever done before.  ‘Melbourne, Florida’ incorporates horns, synth, piano and pedal steel alongside the band’s core line up of; two guitarists (Rupert Edwards and Alistair McKay), a drummer (Steph Hughes) and bassist (Al Montfort).  

Since forming in 2008 Dick Diver have released ‘New Start Again’ and ‘Calendar Days’ earning them high praise from various worthy sources, so it’s no surprise to see the buzz around their third record for Chapter Music (Australia)/Trouble In Mind (US).  Literature also seems to be a draw for themes in Dick Diver’s songs, just look at how the band name is lifted from a Fitzgerald character in Tender Is The Night – this carries over fittingly to the first track on ‘Melbourne, Florida’ called ‘Waste The Alphabet’ which McKay wrote with poet Michael Farrell.  A heady pop track touched by bracing melodies you might associate with 90s era indie-rock, songsmith-ery doesn’t get more uplifting than this.  Flipping over ‘Competition’ cuts through with its cyclical synths and pastel-ed vocals, a highlight simply for how mesmerizing it is.  ‘Tearing The Posters Down’ is another banger, “Reading all in upper case / reading all the warning labels / and vaguely hoping they’ll be true / empty house / I can be true – tearing the posters down / from the walls” doubled vocals muse, as the song pushes on and goes up a gear it lets loose, it makes you want to let loose.  It could be the intoxicating harmonies or the repetition of “Tear the posters down” but it musters this reckless, carefree force in the song that makes it jump out on every listen of the album.   

‘Melbourne, Florida’ yields a naturalness and feistiness that makes it a lot of fun – maybe it’s in the way it’s made, it certainly feels like an album written by friends hanging out, not taking things too seriously, questioning everything along the way and in that informal approach created something really accomplished.  Dick Diver have followed their guts making this record and in doing so have harnessed their own distinct interpretation of pop music.  It’s this approach that makes Dick Diver an exciting band to watch out for – this is your alternative to today’s alternative music.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Ed Schrader's Music Beat : Emperor's New Chair

The always incredible Ed Schrader's Music Beat has just released a video for 'Emperor's New Chair', taken from their second album 'Party Jail' (Upset The Rhythm).  If you're in the states don't miss this Baltimore minimal punk duo when they play a town near you soon!

Friday, April 10, 2015

Ryley Walker : Primrose Green

The striking thing about Ryley Walker’s new album is how close it comes to capturing his live performance, this isn’t simply committing songs to record; ‘Primrose Green’ depicts him.  Ryley Walker routes songs through the triumphs of traditional folk music whilst bringing his own kind of wildness to the table, giving way to something that stands out in finger-picking guitar today and stands with other present greats like Daniel Bachman and Cian Nugent.   Since the age of 21 Walker has been recording material after some hard grafting on his Guild D-35, he's put out records on Plustapes, Tompkins Square and Agenda.  Dead Oceans got behind ‘Primrose Hill’ and as charming as the title sounds it obscures a dark pull within these 10 new songs.  Recorded at Minbal Studios where Walker is based, Chicago, it is hard not to sense real penchant for pastoral sounds and a sense of breaking free from that too.  The album preceding ‘Primrose Hill’ called  ‘All Kinds of You’, stayed true to rustic folk and while this new LP leads neatly on from there it departs mainly with some Jazz elements brought to the fore by some musicians invited to perform;  Fred Lonberg-Holm (Cello), Frank Rosaly (Drums), Jason Adasiewicz (Vibraphone) and Anton Hatwich (Double Bass).   

Opener ‘Primrose Hill’ fittingly introduces his rambling approach and sharpened artist vision.  ‘On The Banks Of The Old Kishwaukee’ carries the familiarity of an age old ditty in how succinctly sage it is.  “On the banks of the Old Kishwaukee, I saw you there getting, getting baptized by your Daddy when all the love was there, have you heard the way they love you, have you heard their song, have you heard the way they hold you, when you’re right you’re wrong,” Walker delivers in his distinct vocal address.  It’s pretty clear Walker’s lyrics are sparked from personal experience, in this case seeing people being baptized in Rock River, Northern Illinois where he grew up.  Throughout ‘Primrose Hill’ one can’t help but feel Walker has this reckless itch to scratch and he gets there on my favourite song ‘Sweet Satisfaction’.  Changing things up Walker plays an electric guitar and it just gnaws its way through the softer sounds from acoustic instruments.  The freely roving tones chewing through the track add something exhilarating to the album especially as the song builds to its charged climax.  ‘Primrose Hill’ explores beauty and desperation driven by surviving in districts of American detritus, I said at the start this album captures Ryley Walker as he his – he’s clearly studied folk guitar exhaustively and after accomplishing playing it, seems like he wants to wrestle with it too.  Folk is what speaks to Walker but there’s an unrest, something unsettled and more savage at play and this is why he is an interesting figure, and this is why I can’t wait for you to hear ‘Primrose Hill’.