Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Bear In Heaven - Beast Rest Forth Mouth

Bear In Heaven started their musical release career in 2003 with their debut offering, an EP entitled Tunes Next Door To Songs. Four years passed before they released their debut full length album Red Bloom of the Boom and in these four years, they changed steadily from a six piece band, to a five piece and then finally to a four piece. Beast Rest Forth Mouth, their latest, sees Bear In Heaven as a cohesive unit, touching on many genres but never alienating both their old fans and new ones to come.

From the moment ‘Beast In Peace’ touches your ears, it is easy to figure out where Bear In Heaven are going. Heavily inspired by an older style of music, their roots happily placed in both the seventies and the eighties, every song is driven with frantic but drawn in drumming that keeps your foot tapping long after the drum rolls have ceased. Tracks like ‘Wholehearted Mess’ and ‘You Do You’ are well rooted in an electronic psychedelic area with racing samples at the forefront of the track, not in a modern day pop way but more in an eighties sense, where everything has a dark undertone and sounds utterly honest. Also impressive is Jon Philpots use of vocals, in ‘Beast In Peace’ he is more than happy to haunt the listener with drawn out melodies while in ‘Dust Cloud’, the vocals bounce along much in time and melody with the quirky bass line, a very different approach for a modern day band. Ultimately, the best part of Beast Rest Forth Mouth is that you have no idea where it is going to venture next, Bear In Heaven have obviously settled on a sound but it is so structurally and aesthetically interesting that each song offers its own different take on an approach to music.

When I started writing this review, I wasn’t entirely sure as to whether I actually like Bear In Heaven and in all honesty, I am still not a hundred percent sure. What I am sure of however, is that in a sea of shit, over-rated and uninteresting bands, here are a collection of musicians prepared to take risks and do something different and for that alone, I find this release endearing.

Bear In Heaven Myspace Page

4 / 5
Lali Puna - Our Inventions

Lali Puna, a band formed in 1998 have, despite me never even hearing of them, helped map out the musical landscape for experimentally minded pop music, or that is what the press release will happily have you believe. Our Inventions is their fourth long player release, a long time in coming, like most bands these days, a massive six years after their third album, Faking The Books.

Our Inventions starts off with ‘Rest Your Head’, a soothing synth lullaby that dwindles along at a slower pace than the rest of the album, luring you into a false sense of security with the slumbering and beautiful vocals of Valerie Trebeljahr forcing you into a deep sleep, not in a bored way but in a contented way. It isn’t the most amazing song that you will hear but it is perhaps the best on this record, although a strange choice for an album starter in regards the pacing. ‘Remember’ is perhaps what I would deem to be a mainstream single, interesting sample work and computerized drumming, pinned together by a tight and driving bassline and finished off with a sing-a-long chorus that every pop band would be proud to have penned. ‘Everything Is Always’ is also a bit of a pop monster, touching upon the sound that make groups like Goldfrapp so listenable and successful when they broke into the mainstream.

My problem with Lali Puna isn’t that they are a terrible band or that Our Inventions is a terrible album because it isn’t, it is neither great, nor is it terrible, it affects me in literally no way at all and that is its biggest downfall in the end, it just doesn’t make an impression as you are listening to it, never mind a lasting one.

Lali Puna Myspace Page

2.5 / 5

Monday, 15 March 2010

Tall Ships

Oh look, what is that over on the horizon, another Big Scary Monsters artist ready to take on the world? Well, yes it is. Tall Ships, comprising of three members hail from Brighton but have been spending the most time in their new town of Falmouth, Cornwall, which is some twenty minutes drive from where I live.

This limited edition, four song EP starts of very nicely with ‘Books’ very much like an indie anthem with the organ opening the song only to be taken away by dancey synths. Floating somewhere between an Oxford youthmovies sound, with both folk and post rock sensibilities, ‘Books’ is versatile showcasing both a frantic and melodic side to the band. ‘Words Are Pegs Upon Which We Hang Ideas’ is a jangling nod to Ghosts & Vodka, bright cheery guitar tones over lapping beautiful while the drums keep the track steady with some brilliant hi-hat work. The best inclusion here though, is the trumpet mid way through and also the varying levels of spoken word vocals contained on the track. This is a bright, anthemic and danceable slab of nu-indie. ‘Vessels’, possibly the stand out track here, takes lessons from bands like Explosions In The Sky and Sigur Ros and uses them to create a beautiful song, with haunting group vocals the forefront as guitars amble on beautifully behind until the song veers off the track with a memorable distorted guitar riff and tribal drumming, worthy of being shown in adverts.

Tall Ships are a strange one, the end of 'Vessels' to me is a terrible way of ending a perfect sounding song with its sea shanty organ sound and at times, the songs can be too jangly, painfully indie. That said, this is Tall Ships first release on a label and if they improve upon this, there is no reason why they can’t achieve NME domination.

Tall Ships Myspace

3 / 5

Saturday, 6 March 2010

Seabear - We Built A Fire

Seabear, a folk band from Iceland(although content with singing in English unlike many of their contemporaries) started as a lo-fi solo project by multi-instrumentalist Sindri Már Sigfússon and evolved into a full septet, with this, their second album 'We Built A Fire' being considered Seabear's first real collective album, with all members of the band allowed an equal input into the writing process in comparison to previous work.

Having not heard their previous work, I perhaps cannot judge how having all members of the band writing has changed their style of music, but I will more than happily say whether it is worth your time.

Opening track 'Lion Face Boy' is abit of a strange one it must be said, painfully folk, it sits somewhere next to Nick Drake, with-held for the whole song, happy to meander and even when the drums kick in, it hardly jumps up a gear. This works well for the Seabear though, vocally, the low tones of Sigfússon's voice compliment the beautiful and obviously Icelandic violin, piano and god knows what else is being played feel of the music that we have perhaps heard in other bands like Sigur Rós and Múm before. What is stranger than the opening track choice, is that the following tracks sit in the same sort of boundaries. In the press release, it is happily quoted that Seabear are an experimental folk band but we don't really get to see this side to them until track seven onwards. 'Softship' which happens to be track seven, is perhaps the most upbeat of the album, although, my opinion could be blurred due to the fact that it is the first one to up the ante after the slow pace of the first six tracks. With an upbeat but rigid drum beat working behind a brighter guitar sound, Seabear find themselves in indie territory with 'Softship' perhaps something that I could describe as a more intricate version of The Thrills. 'Warm Blood', a standout track from the album, starts with a beautiful piano melody before a quiet guitar comes into the fold with the vocals taking the forefront. What makes this song different to the rest is the chorus section, in which seething feedback cuts its way into the track, to allow swift drum rolls and blues guitar lines to momentarily wow you before everything cuts back to the near silence of the verse once more. It is ideas such as this, that make Seabear worth listening to and set them slightly aside from the more obvious folk pack. 'In Winters Eyes' , the most intriguing listen on the record, really sticks out like a sore thumb. It is still very much folk, but it has a very different feel to it very much moving into Conor Oberst territory of late, abit folk with country tinges but more intelligent with song structures and tempo changes.

'We Built A Fire' perhaps isn't the most original of records, I could list a whole bunch of bands that parts of their music sounds like; Seawolf, Conor Oberst, M Ward, Bowerbirds, Arcade Fire, Nick Drake amongst others but they have mixed these sounds with perhaps a now unoriginal Iceland sound that we have been subjected to by the likes of Sigur Rós. It isn't outstanding but it isn't terrible either and if you are abit of a fan of folk, then I can't imagine you coming away too disappointed having heard Seabear.

Seabear Myspace

3 / 5