NEW MUSIC: Beach House – Sparks


I was pretty disappointed with Bloom, the last Beach House album. Something didn’t click for me, it felt too dissipated and bloodless. The good news for anyone who may have felt the same is that the first track to appear from the new album finds them back to mining woozy, droning psychedelic qualities to excellent effect. They sound ethereal and off kilter like a ghostly and gauzy MBV afterthought.

The new album Depression Cherry is out 28th August via Sub Pop.

ALBUM REVIEW: Beach House | Bloom

by Chris Familton

Definitions of the word bloom include ‘the time or period of greatest beauty or artistry’ and the flowering of a plant. Both feel appropriate in terms of the title of the new album from Baltimore’s Beach House with the songs roaming through themes of living in the moment, self determination and the fleeting temporality of beauty. On Bloom, Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally’s compositions often have more precise and detailed arrangements than on previous releases but without sacrificing any of that dreamy drift that personifies their sound.

Beach House aren’t about to reinvent themselves, such is the unique sound they’ve developed over their last few albums, yet give Bloom time and it reveals some subtle additions to the duo’s repertoire. The hazy patina that they apply to most of their music through Legrand’s keyboards is still in effect but used more sparingly than in the past. By allowing more space into their songs they have enabled the focus to shift to other instruments, particularly the drums. While the opening track Myth is built on Scally’s hypnotic guitar motif it is the quirky drum pattern that gives the song its character and insistency. On Wild the primitive drum machine adds quirkiness bringing levity to the song’s melancholic swirl.

Legrand is still using allusion in her lyrics, hinting at the grander themes that lay behind the words on the page. She often addresses her songs to an unseen person or people, asking questions, praising or taking pity on them. On Other People she sings “Other people want to keep in touch, something happens and its not enough, never thought that it would mean so much, other people want to keep in touch”. She could be referencing post-relationship communications or the effects of distance on friendships as the result of being in a touring band. Knowing that much of the album was written on the road suggests the latter though the ambiguity of Legrand’s lyrics encourages the listener to decipher them laterally rather than literally.

Beach House’s x-factor is still without a doubt the dreamy, heady drone that makes up the DNA of their sound. Even when they pare things back on songs like the lightly skipping On the Sea they still manage to capture that feel, primarily through Legrand’s vocal style that sticks firmly to the game plan. Her swoon and mantra-like use of melody serves the same purpose as the billowing effect laden guitars and swirling keyboard sounds. It is what Beach House do and do so well.

There is of course the conundrum that if you don’t fully subscribe to their sound you may lose patience or lack a connection to the music across all ten songs. Fortunately Bloom works well both at the macro level – as a background to daily life – and for those who want to immerse themselves in the detail and the gentle reveal of textures and sounds. Pick the right moment and Bloom will feel like a transportive journey and you can’t ask for much than that from music.

this review was first published on FasterLouder

Listen to Bloom via Rdio

DOWNLOAD: The new single Myth from Beach House

Great news this week that Beach House have a new album on the way and even better that they have decided to share the first single with everyone. Myth follows the blissed out, hazy dream pop template that the band has developed across three full length albums.

The new album Bloom, will be available in Australia through Inertia on May 11 on CD, double-LP, and digital formats. Internationally the album will be released by Sup Pop (USA), Bella Union (UK/Europe) and Arts and Crafts (Mexico).

ds…twenty five – our favourite releases of 2010

That’s it then, 2010 done and dusted and although it wasn’t the best year ever for new music there were some damn fine records released. This year we’re seeing an even more eclectic mix of flavours coming through from witch house, minimal electronica, americana, experimental and the all encompassing indie tag. Have a look at what we loved through the year, click on the covers for linked reviews and please leave comments and let us know your faves…

2010 has also been another stellar year for reissues, remasters and deluxe versions and honourable mentions must go to:

  • David Bowie | Station To Station
  • The Rolling Stones | Exile On Main Street
  • Iggy Pop & James Williamson | KIll City
  • Dexys Midnight Runners | Searching For The Lost Soul Rebels
  • Frankie Goes To Hollywood | Welcome To The Pleasuredome
  • The Cure | Disintegration

25. Spoon | Transference

24. Liars | Sisterworld

23. Wavves | KIng Of The Beach

22. Surf City | Kudos

21. Simon Carter | The Black Book Of The Universe

20. Mount Kimbie | Crooks & Lovers

19. James Blake | Klavierwerke EP

18. Forest Swords | Dagger Paths EP

17. Jeremy Jay | Splash

16. Mark Moldre | The Waiting Room

15. Damien Jurado | Saint Bartlett

14. Deerhunter | Halcyon Digest

13. Gayngs | Relayted

12. Zola Jesus | Stridulum II

11. Wooden Shjips | Vol. 2

10. CocoRosie | Grey Oceans

9. Yeasayer | Odd Blood

8. The Black Keys | Brother

7. Tame Impala | Innerspeaker

6. Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti | Before Today

5. Best Coast | Crazy For You

4. Beach House | Teen Dream

3. Die! Die! Die! | Form

2. The Soft Pack | The Soft Pack

1. Arcade Fire | The Suburbs

NEWS: Laneway Festival 2011 line-up revealed…

Les Savy Fav

In our books Laneway is always the most interesting and anticipated Austalia/New Zealand festival of the year and 2011 looks as great as ever with today’s announcement…

  • Deerhunter
  • Yeasayer
  • Les Savy Fav
  • Beach House
  • Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti
  • Blonde Redhead
  • Holy Fuck
  • !! (Chk Chk Chk)
  • The Antlers
  • Bear In Heaven
  • Cloud Control
  • Cut Copy
  • Violent Soho
  • Foals
  • Gotye
  • The Holidays
  • Jenny & Johnny
  • Warpaint
  • Local Natives
  • Menomena
  • Pvt
  • Rat Vs Possum (Excluding Perth)
  • Stornoway
  • Two Door Cinema Club
  • World’s End Press

Tour Dates

Monday 31st January 2011 – Aotea Square, Auckland
Friday 4th February 2011 – Alexandria St off St Paul’s Terrace, Brisbane
Saturday 5th February 2011 – Footscray Community Arts Centre, Melbourne
Sunday 6th February 2011 – Sydney College of the Arts, Sydney
Friday 11th February 2011 – Fowler’s Live, North Terrace, Adelaide
Saturday 12th February 2011 – Cultural Centre, Northbridge, Perth

Tickets for the 2011 St Jerome’s Laneway Festival go on sale Wednesday 20th October at 9am.

Mid Year Best Of…

Yep, we’re halfway through 2010 already, crazy huh? For the first few months it seemed like there weren’t many big records coming out that were instantly going to make the end of year best of list but all of a sudden our list in progress started filling up. Here then is a list of 13 releases, in no particular order, that have caught our attention and perhaps deserve yours. Over the next few weeks we’ll post some of the best tracks from these albums.

Drop a comment, we’d love to hear what you’ve been slipping back on the turntable or hitting repeat on the ipod…

Beach House | Teen Dream… A record that carries on from the swoon and sway that the band captured on their previous release Devotion. This just unveils itself more and more with each listen, wallowing in its subtlety and dreaminess.

Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti | Before Today… A killer album that totally lives up to the blogosphere hype. There are lo-fi elements at work that don’t descend into amateur songwriting. The tunes are complex, the melodies catchy as hell and there is enough chaos and eccentricity to make hypnagogic pop sound compelling rather than a novelty genre.

Liars | Sisterworld… The new album sees the band straightening their sound and investing it with the best elements of their songwriting – tribal drumming, chanted vocals, industrial rhythms, hypnotic bass and no wave guitar. Their best album to date… Read full review

Zola Jesus | Stridulum EP… Appearing like a ghostly Siouxsie she has a haunting, gothic voice that conjures up dark romance and  nice mix of electronics and guitars. Post goth perhaps? Best EP of the year so far…

Tame Impala | Innerspeaker… These young gents from West Australia have far exceeded the promise of their early singles and live shows by releasing a fully formed and sonically adventurous psych rock album. It is packed full of hazy vocals, magical guitar playing and real ‘album’ experience. Tame Impala have taken from the past, updated and reinterpreted it for modern ears. Read full review

Yeasayer | Odd Blood… Pop music in 2010 has become bastardised by hip hop artists mutating dance music to its lowest common denominator or youngsters desperately rehashing power ballads or the worst of the 80s. Yeasayer have taken the sound and scope of 80s pop and in a sense paid tribute to it with complete conviction and infectious results. You won’t find anything as catchy as this in 2010.

Jeremy Jay | Splash… A 26 minute album that stole our ears and burrowed into our hearts . Full of forlorn indie pop songs with hook after hook. If he had got it slightly different it would have been laughable but Jay surfs an effortless wave between Television, Interpol, Pavement and Modest Mouse. Detached cool never sounded so good. Read full review

The Soft Pack | self titled… This was one of the earliest releases in ’10 that hooked us. San Diego lads relocate to LA, take the vacant spot left by The Strokes and get back to basics with garage rock strained through The Cure, The Saints and Spoon. It has all been done before but their simplicity and timeless sound is spot on. Read full review Read interview

The Black Keys | Brothers… Prior to hearing this I was never really a particular fan of their bluesy rock n roll. Brothers changes all that with a change in direction that leaves a deep and soulful imprint on the sound and mood of the album. They invest in some heavy groove workouts throughout that suggest a foray into psychedelic rhythm and blues. Read full review

Forest Swords | Dagger Paths… Another entrant in the hauntology/hypnagogic realm and this is one of the best. Englishman Matthew Barnes combines dub, drone, psych and krautrock into one murky mix that taps into your imagination and your feet equally. It is like the heaviest stoned out wander through your brain… in a good way.

Mark Moldre | The Waiting Room… Equal parts, Wilco, Eels, Sparklehorse and the gentler side of Tom Waits – there are sepia-tinged universal themes at work in The Waiting Room that conjure up feelings of nostalgia, loss, love and optimism and Moldre has captured the mood of the human soul with great artistic clarity. Read full review

CocoRosie | Grey Oceans… Impossible to describe these two sisters but they incorporate opera, hip hop, nursery rhyme, minimalism and folk into possibly the most original and hypnotic music you will hear this year. Obtuse yet captivating and accessible.

Deepchord Presents Echospace | Liumin… There has been much electronic music that has excited me this year, much of it on the dubstep and dub techno tip. DPE mixz field recordings with smeared and stretched electronica like some doom dream that you can’t escape. They are working in the same area as Burial yet they still carve out their own dread laden synth niche.