Singer and songwriter Alex Di Leo was one of the artists to make an appearance at the Florida Music Festival in Orlando this weekend. He played the Church Street stage on Saturday, and put on a lively show that got the audience moving. Starting out the show with his most popular hit, “So We Go”, Alex’s performance was an energetic blend of alternative and pop that captivated fans.
I jumped into this review without knowing what to expect. I didn’t know anything about Royal Canoe except a little excerpt that came with the emailed list of albums to review. I never heard of them and didn’t even know what kind of music it was going to be let alone if I would dig them or not.
I’ve got a whole slew of intriguing new rock in my InBox, and figured I needed to start sharing some of this ear candy with all of you. For our first taste, let’s go back to the well with another talented young Australian band, Babaganouj, and check out their new single, appropriately and let us know if you think it’s appropriately titled – “Hit Song.”
It’s been nearly six years since Mark Redding, vocalist and primary song writer for The Shackeltons first learned of his mother’s terminal cancer diagnosis and took a hiatus from music. Fans have been patiently waiting and are finally about to get what they have longed for, a new Shackeltons album. Those fans will be more than pleased with the new album, Records.
Six years seems too long a time to go without releasing any music but Records seems to boast six years’ worth of experience. Fans from years back will hear a metamorphosis in the new album. Redding experienced a lot in his six-year sabbatical and it really shows. Often it takes something tragic happening for something beautiful to be born. All the songs on Records are a testament to this but no song better exemplifies what I mean than the fourth song on the album, “Mum.”
The beauty and the shame in the new album is that many of the songs delve into emotions that the average listener may be able to sympathize with but not necessarily empathize. From the lyrics to the instrumentals, every song on the album is packed full of raw emotion. Many of those listeners who cannot empathize with the songs can almost take on the emotions behind the songs through Redding’s honesty in each and every offering. However, it’s no secret that The Shackeltons are somewhat experimental and their new album is no exception. That being said, there will be listeners who simply don’t take the time to understand Records for the beauty that it truly is, but who wants listeners like that anyway?
With the progression of the band comes even more experimental sounds. There’s plenty of dissonance on Records and the beautiful production quality sounds artfully dirty. The shallow listener who didn’t “get” The Shackeltons last album, will “get” this album even less. The fact is that great music has never been understood by everyone; and music understood by everyone has never been great. I would compare the sound on Records to a melting pot of sounds from Iggy Pop to Brand New’s Daisy album. Similar to The Shackeltons, not everyone understood Iggy Pop nor Brand New but perhaps that’s why they’re still getting mentioned today on rock blogs.
Similar to Brand New’s Daisy album, Records gets better and better every time you listen to it. You will hear or appreciate something new about it every time you give it a listen. It’s infinite like a piece of abstract art, you could take it in a thousand times and get something new out of it every time. A record with replay value is worth ten times more than a record good for a few spins and Records is proof of that.
The Shackeltons newest album isn’t for everyone but it’s for everyone else. By that I mean that the Katy Perry and Maroon Five fans of the world might not appreciate Records but hardcore indie rock fans will recognize the album for the rare gem it truly is. The bottom line is if you are a previous fan of The Shackeltons, you will be thrilled and if you’re a new listener looking for a deep record to sink your ears into, look no farther than Records.
“I hate worrying about the future cause all my current problems are based around the past” is the first line off Modern Baseball’s sophomore full length release; which makes perfect sense, as every song off You’re Gonna Miss it All is a first person rant towards some past tense lover.
Front man Brendan Lukens sings with a distinctive voice, one you could pick out in a crowded basement. Nasally and rushed, the lyrics come across as inner thoughts put to music, not always fitting into each measure. But that doesn’t mean that they are not well versed, they are sincere, coming from a real place of remorse.
Most of the songs follow a similar construction, starting with a melodic verse, then erupting into a pop punk break that leads into a catchy chorus, before finally settling into a calm sectioned outro that leaves you feeling as if you have arrived somewhere.
The track “Apartment” starts with a strummed guitar and calm drums. Then counting into a pop punk verse that’s all about a small get together of friends that comes off as painfully boring. It’s seeking interest in a girl, but not even trying. Its teenage, its youth. Walking home and thinking of what to say. And a line you can quote but not sure where it fits into the song.
“She was my trophy shelf of slip-ups, my untamed hormonal Loch Ness shit-show…for months on end.” One of those golden scribbles off the track “Notes” speaks volumes for the album. This was my favorite track for the reason it did not follow the structure many of the other songs did, and the self-loathing lyrics are at least well written.
The album is intriguing, but at times, it’s a bit juvenile. It repeats itself over and over; it’s witty, but lacking direction. The lyrics are high school poem-letters with golden lines scattered about. Such as “sharp as a tack but in the sense I’m not smart but a prick.” The parts are tight, no loose ends. But one can’t help but hear the same riffs multiplied.
Overall, I like Modern Baseball. About as much as I like, well, actual modern baseball. I will watch an inning or four but never the entire game, too much repetition. The album is filled with great lines that I truly loved. The best songs being “Rock Bottom,” “Notes,” “The Old Gospel Choir,” and “Timmy Bowers.” But I don’t believe this album was written for anyone but Brendan. It’s a bleeding heart, perhaps one that hasn’t felt true heartbreak, but it’s self-aware. “Wait a minute, I’ve been living more like a piece of shit without you.” It’s melodic, sincere and well constructed, in the sense of a suburban neighborhood that it seems to have been raised in.
At the end of this album I was tired of hearing about this girl, and the same story of how he wanted her back. How he needed her. It had turned from a universal feeling of loss and longing to the same sad, sappy love song you were sick of because it reminded you of someone. But not just that; after listening to the nasal voice almost whining for twelve songs he became almost as annoying to me as he must be to the girl the entire album is about.
For fans of Motion City Soundtrack and The Front Bottoms, and any high school kid who just got broken up with for the first time.
Don’t ask me how it happened, because I’m not sure. I downloaded this album and when I put it on my phone to listen to it, the tracks got loaded in reverse order. I didn’t notice until after about four days of listening to it. Well, guess what? I listened to it in correct order and it didn’t really matter.
My Rocks Are Dreams is a pretty damned good record throughout, with none of the tracks falling flat. Starting off with a simple, but effective piano intro on “We Do Not Belong”, it soon jumps full-steam into melodic pop goodness. Will Schwartz, of Imperial Teen fame, has crafted some of the best pop songs I’ve heard in a while. They are not sugary, but they will get stuck in your head for days. His lyrics are sincere, but never seem to approach melancholy. Sounding a bit like John Samson of The Weakerthans, his voice could possibly be abrasive to some, but sweet and melodic to others. It adds a unique element to the songs, and in all seriousness, I believe it’s one of the most defining characteristics of Psychic Friend. The drumming is flawless, and the arrangements usually include piano or synth, and guitar.
I like to imagine that Mr. Schwartz was writing songs with the hipster that wouldn’t leave his bar-stool in mind. “We Do Not Belong” would certainly be the one to make you forget about getting your brand new tennies scuffed on the dance floor, and if the original wasn’t enough, the remix by Gliss will surely make it impossible to sit still. Also included is a remix of “Once A Servant” by YACHT. It is unclear whether these remixes were commissioned, or offered to Schwartz for inclusion in the album, but they are welcome none-the-less. Side note: My brother saw YACHT open for the Postal Service in Las Vegas and said that they were more entertaining than the headliner.
If you’re unfamiliar with Imperial Teen, like I was before listening to Psychic Friend, then it seems to be common knowledge that Mr. Schwartz is gay. I wasn’t even going to mention it, but the information I read when receiving the music made a point of mentioning it. My point is that had I not been privy to that information, it probably would have never crossed my mind. The songs are sometimes about love, but love as a nameless, faceless template for you to insert yourself into.
The write-up also indicated that it would be an album full of super-catchy, fun pop songs, and those are the only four words that needed to be said to make my ears perk up. Indeed, My Rocks Are Dreams is a well crafted album, full to the brim with dance-ables, whether you are at a cool club or just want to slow-dance with the one you love in your living room, Psychic Friend has got you covered.