Thursday, 12 November 2009

Collapse Under The Empire - Find A Place To Be Safe

Collapse Under The Empire are a band that came across my attention awhile back when they wanted to release their music for free via my web-label. Combining the beauty of bands like Explosions In The Sky and Sigur Ros with electronic moments, I knew that they were a band that would eventually go on to create something unstoppable in the post-rock circles but I never quite expected to have a lovely packaged album come through my door looking quite as beautiful as the art for 'Find A Place To Be Safe' does.

Like most post-rock artists, the trick to enjoying Collapse Under The Empires album is setting aside the length of the CD, sitting in a darkened room and listening through the best headphones you have available. It is also very much like you'd expect, there isn't a hint of anyone showboating, the notes played are played to improve the song, not to show the listener how amazing the musician is and this style suits any post-rock band alike down to a tea. Unlike alot of their fellow contemporaries though, this band don't let the lack of vocalist get the better of them. At times with other artists you can find yourself looking at the track length and wondering where the song is going and almost wishing the time away. Collapse Under The Empire may have a sense for writing beautiful songs like the best of them but at the same time, they offer enough twists and turns for 'Find A Place To Be Safe' to be inspiring, at least for the first ten or so listens.

Sadly, I can't see this album being anything but ignored, which is a huge shame because it is worthy of anyones attention and in my opinion, if a song or two made it onto an advert, I am sure that people would accept Collapse Under The Empire much like people accepted Sigur Ros. So, this album is one for your genre fan, if you love all post-rock, I really don't think you can go wrong with this album. If you are a nan who enjoys listening to Frank Sinatra then I don't think you should buy this album. If you feel like being open minded, I recommend this, if you buy it and don't like it at all, even I would happily refund you.

4 / 5
Creed - Full Circle

Creed, a band that sold an estimated 35 million records worldwide and a band that I loved as a teenager are back eight years after the release of their last album 'Weathered' with their suitably titled new album 'Full Circle', out via Virgin Records on November 2nd.

Is it just me that thinks that the reunion in general seems a tad strange for Creed? Not only did it seemingly come from thin air but the animosity between Scott Stapp and his former bands seemed at such a negative height at one point, that it looked they would never ever speak favourably together again, let alone allow themselves to create music in a room together. Also, between Alter Bridge and Stapps solo music, you could argue that there wasn't a large amount of time for anything Creed orientated either, especially for the members of Alter Bridge who seemed to go from strength to strength gaining more fans and superlatives with each release.

So are Creed really needed in todays music world, would fans rather look back than hear new material, are they past it? All these questions arise as you slip 'Full Circle' into the CD drive and listen as it flicks into life.

Firstly, this is probably the heaviest that Creed have been. You can hear it on the opening track 'Overcome', 'Bread Of Shame' and also on the riff heavy 'Fear'. On the other side of things, it is also full of heartfelt sentiments of relationships gone wrong, mostly through 'Away In Silence' while 'Ran' shows the predictable single writing side of them. The problem is, that we've generally heard this all before, a predictable quiet loud verse chorus dynamic followed by a guitar friendly bridge, there is obvious talent within Creed, Tremonti is an amazing guitarist, while the bassist and drummer drive the song as the southern styling of Stapps vocals give Creed their most originality. 'Human Clay' spawned 'With Arms Wide Open' and 'Weathered' had the memorable 'My Sacrifice', there aren't many moments on 'Full Circle' that I can imagine a fan listening back to eight years after and still knowing the lyrics. Even new single 'Overcome' falls flat when compared to previous material, which is often the price exceptionally successful bands pay when they release new work.

Ultimately, 'Full Circle' is an album that didn't really need to be recorded, it just proves that Creed haven't really been able to move on from the sound that made them popular and with eight years between this album and the last, there should be something really amazing to show for it. That aside, if you love all things Creed and your music taste hasn't developed in eight years, then you'll like this but at the same time, you'd probably find something more fulfilling from Alter Bridge or an older Creed record.

2 / 5

Monday, 2 November 2009

Pascal Babare - Thunderclap Spring

Pascal Babare is an Australian solo artist who despite being only nineteen has somehow summoned enough time to learn his first instrument, the drums and then when bored with that, learnt more and then penned and self recorded a full length album, Thunderclap Spring that I am about to tell you about right now.

The fruits of Babare's labour is a lo-fi album that sits somewhere between pop, folk and shoe gaze music with no track venturing over the four minutes and the majority sitting in at the two minute mark. You won't find any singles here except perhaps "Ceremony", a beautifully understated Joy Division cover that sounds like it should be in a TV advert and could quite possibly be better than the original. You also won't find any pop song structures, Thunderclap Spring has its poppy moments but it is difficult to pick out obvious sing-along chorus' or a change of key for the bridge, Babare just doesn't work that way and it feels like it is all for the better. "Soft Focus" is one of Thunderclap Springs many standout tracks for me, a beautiful organ song, full with drum rolls and effect ridden vocals very much akin to the brilliant Hope Of The States. "Sweet Bee, Sweet Brother", one of a handful of vocal-less intermissions, slowly builds with distorted guitar and feedback, making you want the song to collapse in on itself until it fantastically draws itself back into what it beautifully started as, making the track a lesson to any post-rock band. "Lumberjacks Burn Green Wood" shows Babares versatility, built on a simple and dark guitar melody with Babares vocals sitting somewhere between Bright Eyes and Sparklehorse showcasing what can be done when things are simplified.

I really couldn't say enough great things about this record, its lo-fi recording makes it endearing, it may not have a distinct single but you will definitely fall in love with one track if not them all and in general Thunderclap Spring shows a great maturity that I haven't heard from a singer songwriter in a long time, if ever. If you do anything before 2009 is finished, it should be picking up this album, I guarantee you won't be disappointed.

4 / 5
Espers - III

Wichita Records are well known for signing popular underground bands, that well known in fact that they are perhaps becoming a cult label, with an expectancy following each new release on this label rising and rising until the hype in the indie scene is perhaps unbearable. Bands like Bright Eyes, Bloc Party and Yeah Yeah Yeahs amongst others can be found residing on their books along with the band i'm reviewing today, Philadelphia folk band Espers. III is Espers fourth album, following their last album II that garnered favourable reviews and is the first album to see them venture into officially being a five piece.

First things first, if you literally buy albums just because of the Wichita thing then beware, Espers aren't anything in the ilk of Bloc Party, with III perhaps venturing into the delicate folk stylings of Conor Obersts Bright Eyes work but add a twist which they call psychedelic folk and most of us media types will probably just slot into a nu-folk generalisation. Nothing about Espers will smack you in the face and say listen to me, there are no singles here, just slow burning songs that perhaps wouldn't go a-miss on the Kill Bill soundtrack. III starts off slowly, with "I Can't See Clear", an obvious folk song driven by Meg Bairds bog standardly obvious female vocals underpinned by a guitar melody that is completely begging to be let loose but never really gets the chance. In frank honesty, most of what follows is pretty much the same with the beautiful guitar melodies covering the same ground while the female vocals do their formulaic thing as the lead guitar begs to roar and make the songs actually go further than a place I like to call unmemorable street. There is talent within Espers though and that is showcased through stand out track "Colony", driven by tribal sounding drumming, hammer horror-esque violin melodies and haunting Porcupine Tree sounding vocals. "Colony" is a song that seems to go somewhere and actually make you listen, the only shame is, it is the only track on the album that I actually enjoyed listening to.

I am a folk fan, so it pains me when I listen to something that dresses itself up as something more exciting than it actually is. III is an unmemorable album that delves into the realms of what I'm calling a completely substandard version of The Coral, there are great moments but they are few and far between and this isn't a disc I can recommend anyone into buying.

1 / 5