Breton – Jostle/Foam

A conjoining of the twisting synths led sound of maverick electro manipulators Shy Child, with a stammering and a touch worried, post-mod vocal stance adopted by the likes of The Rakes, ‘Jostle’. Breton boldly chooses to kick off with a calypso-esque intro’. It matches the range and mystery of the Thievery Corporation, before the song settles into a mid-tempo groove for a bit. Then vocalist, Roman Rappak uses his versatile vocal range, to steer the track towards a heavier, almost post-rock direction. This is when the electro tinkering gets more and more robust, making for a moody and uncompromising ending.

‘Foam’, bears out the more down-tempo tendencies and, the distorted vocal leanings of this South London quintet. Twining beats help this ambient skirting effort find a meditative drive. It’s a welcome distraction, especially after the 80s gazing, electro-pop vocals suffer from the cheap chewing gum effect and lose flavour after about ninety seconds. This AA sided release is a plausible advert for the range, groove inducing ability and rhythm building on display in Breton’s debut album, ‘Other People’s Problems’.

The Audition – Chapter 11 EP

Socially bolshie, Chicagoan rock builds around a mildly irritating choral hook and a cyclical guitar grind, ‘Who Do You Think You Are’. Danny Stevens’ vocals possess just enough anguish and belief to pull off a simple, retro rock tugging sort of a track. Despite being four albums in this rugged six track EP represents this quintet’s debut as independent, self-releasing artists. ‘You Make Me Sick’, sticks to the formula of repeating the chorus and, doesn’t really change tack me from the previous offering.

That said, some eerie nourish ambience and the rugged bass-lines of founder member Joe Lussa, gives ‘Evil’, a different slant. It allows

for the vocals of Stevens to take on a soulful ache, before regaining a rock edge for the provocative chorus. More mood-switching and reflection kicks in, as the number builds, allowing the Whitesnake spirited rocking out to have more impact. It represents a switch to a more reflective power ballad direction, ‘Back And Forth’. Neatly paving the way for the jangling guitar led and bristling bass featured, ‘You Gotta Believe’ that features Stevens’ most polished and soulfully demonstrative vocal performance.

There are flashes of variety on display, as The Audition begins to tread the perilous track of independence, in order to make a go of self-releasing their material. They need a little more than this, especially as they never really built up too firm a fan base in their Victory Records days.

Swans – The Seer

screen shot 2012 07 30 at 12.18.29 pm 150x150 Swans   The SeerJust one month ago I was mentioning here that the double album has become antiquated and now here we are again. Another double album.  Only this one’s a lot better.

As opposed to the last, The Seer really earns its double album status. This one’s a behemoth. It clocks in at two hours and truly feels like one piece of work.

The opening track Lunacy has the uniqueness and build of what could work as an intro track, but also the depth and sustainability that makes it a completely fleshed out song. And the album covers plenty of ground.  There’s a much bigger dynamic than was shown on My Father Will Guide Me up a Rope to the Sky between the more classic Swans epic loud noisy tracks and the more Angels of Light sounding quieter tracks.

The album as a whole really moves up and down a lot. The song placement is brilliant. The early tracks seem to all build to the half hour title track which segues into some more ambient (although sometimes still very loud) songs that lead to the album’s juggernaut if a closer The Apostate.

A few of the songs on this album were released on the live We Rose From Your Bed With the Sun on Our Head earlier this year, which I didn’t get a chance to formally review, but is totally amazing. Anyway the studio versions are pretty similar to the live presentations. The live versions can be a little louder, but the studio versions are a little more nuanced with more instrumentation.

Overall this is the best piece of music as long-form art that I’ve heard in a long time and possibly the best studio double album to come out since CD technology was introduced.

Baroness – Yellow & Green

PromoImage 150x150 Baroness   Yellow & Green

Although a double album format is somewhat antiquated, the impetus behind splitting up Yellow & Green is artistic. Both albums clock in at 75 minutes which could fit on one disc, so there is a feeling of two complete albums.

Just as there was a big musical leap between their EPs and Red Album, this is very different from Blue Record. Whereas I feel their first two albums play much much better in their entirety, the new material structurally has a lot more of a pop format and can stand on their own a lot better.

It’s definitely not as heavy as previous albums. It’s a little surprising in how much mellower it gets at points, but makes sense in the natural progression of the band’s catalog. Each release has been less heavy than the previous.

I’m pretty mixed on it overall. I’d say that I probably find I enjoy more of it than not, and a lot more has grown on me over the past month. I really like quite a few of the songs and find some of it to be the band’s strongest work.

However, a lot of the songs are lyrically-centered. I know most people are really into that, but in my old age, I generally don’t care what singers have to say. Not that the lyrics are bad, but I’m more concerned with music.But the music is good, and there is some really cool guitar work. Sonically, there’s a lot of unique tonal stuff going on that makes even the more basic songs pretty interesting.

Yellow & Green will be released via Relapse Records on July 17th.