Camera Obscura — My Maudlin Career.
I adore this, definitely my album of the summer. Lazy, summer-fused indie pop with a female vocalist, the songs are golden brown and induce images of laying half-asleep in the grass with heart-shaped sunglasses. This is the band’s fourth album and, as usual, betters the standards they’ve previously set. With a hint of irony — of course, the album was rated 8.3 on Pitchfork — Tracyanne Campbell sings, “This maudlin career has come to an end/ I don’t want to be sad again.” But the entire album showcases what Camera Obscura do best — the maudlin and nostalgic songs that inspire a strange feeling of melancholy. Compared perhaps too often to Belle & Sebastian, the similarities are there without a doubt, but in my opinion Camera Obscura do it better. This is one not to be missed.
Japandroids — Post-Nothing (Promo).
The quality is obviously sub-par, but this can be easily overlooked due to the fact this album is only a promo. That said, this builds an incredible level of anticipation to hear what the Japandroids will come up with for their official debut. The album opens with The Boys Are In Town, catchy and rough. The unpolished feel to all the tracks, instead of detracting from the music, simply adds a raw and honest energy to the tracks. The music takes the listener up and down on a rollercoaster, the melodies at first sounding entirely random but in fact acting as a common thread to pull the songs together. It’s exactly the kind of music that stays on repeat; dizzy and disorientating, with a catchy rush after each track. A+ for effort.
Sunn O))) — Monoliths and Dimensions.
While technically, this is a great album, nothing about drone or black metal is appealing. Two of the album’s four tracks are over sixteen minutes long, and the ‘drone’ genre is aptly named. While Sunn O))) are doing well for the genre, and are perhaps one of the best bands to come out of it, it’s like making the comparison to a Disney star; while they may be the best to come out of the Disney machine, it’s still not a notable achievement. The majority of the album sounds like nothing more than a single note being played repeatedly on a guitar, while the worst of it sounds like feedback from a slightly broken amp. This is definitely an album to avoid.
Cymbals Eat Guitars — Why There Are Mountains.
While Why There Are Mountains has moments of sheer genius; melodies rising above the lyrics, unexpected crashes and soars, sadly this isn’t enough. Described as the ‘indie road trip album’, this does sum it up, though not exactly in a good way. The album may be boring in a CD player or on an iPod, but would provide the perfect soundtrack to a road trip, acting as background music with friends and coming second to the landscape outside the window. The repetitive crescendos sound overly theatrical, and the band are simply trying to pack too many ideas into their music, leading parts to sound messy and like the band need a definitive idea of what they are trying to achieve. However, for a young band, and considering this is a self-released debut, it’s a strong effort and leaves the listener, while not overly impressed, anticipatory for what Cymbals Eat Guitars pull out of their hats next.
David Cook — S/T.
Yes, that’s right, the 2008 American Idol winner. I know, American Idol is nothing more than a glorified karaoke contest, and a fast-track to insta-fame. Believe me, I felt the same way. Fame — or, at least, success — should be earned. It should come from years of touring in a shitty van, playing to no one but a few friends and family, et cetera. But David Cook has done all that. He already has one album out pre-Idol that was self-released. He’s done the touring thing, done the working hard thing, and American Idol was his one last hurrah. Of course, this in no way justifies my guilty enjoyment of this album. But it’s so ironic that the man who fell so neatly into Idol’s ‘rockstar’ stereotype was entirely the type of man who, before, would have railed against the Idol-machine with the rest of us. And the album is catchy; Come Back To Me, for example, is upbeat and so fun that listeners will be humming it under their breaths all day. While the lyrics are, mostly, the cliched love songs that enspan most generic rock albums, there are a few gems. Permanent is one of them, a heart-wrenching lament to the singer’s (now deceased) brother, who suffered from brain cancer. And who can’t love Bar Ba Sol, a song unshamedly using words like ‘fugue’?