Review by: Wade Panizzoli
Music keeps on changing but our love for it is timeless. With the abundant access, we have to music that is released in one year, it’s hard to listen to it all. Let’s take a look at some of the albums you may have missed.
The House – Porches
Released: January 18, 2018
I was out of town when a friend asked me if I wanted to go to the (Sandy) Alex G show at the Majestic Café with Porches opening the show. He went solo and highly recommended me checking them out. I’ve always been hesitant to listen to other people’s musical recommendations because I have so much to listen to. I’d often make excuses like, “I will” and “I’ll get to it soon.” Two years later and I’m foolishly realizing that people were being honest.
- Leave the House – I love albums that open with a weird statement or sound. “Let it have me” or “Let it happen” is said by musician Alex G. to open this record. The bass line that is played by the synthesizer is extremely catchy. I’m excited to hear the rest of the record already.
- Find Me – Another first catchy hook to define the track: “I think that I’ll stay inside.” It makes it seem like something has already happened and Aaron Maine, the singer/songwriter, is responding to that statement. Horns that sound like cars honking is very addicting as “just watch me go” is sung over them. The vocals are very atmospheric that somehow compliment this bouncy track.
- Understanding – a one-minute auto-tuned interlude.
- Now the Water – I would love to know the chord progression to this song. It’s only the beginning and I’m hooked. Thus far into the album, the main use of percussion has been a drum machine. I usually prefer the physical drum set, but the machine is adapting to me. The keys to this track are downright magical. This has the potential to be my favorite song to the record and it’s only the first song in. An abrupt industrial outro caught me off guard.
- Country – A mellow song following a few upbeat tracks. I don’t think this record is supposed to have a theme, but the songs so far have a lot to mention with water.
- By My Side – I am definitely a rock n’ roll kind of guy, but the R & B vibe on this track can convert a guy for sure. The melody of this song is a hook and makes you feel things you didn’t know you could feel.
- Akeren – This is the electronic music I can enjoy. Female vocals are featured over the synthesizing riff.
- Anymore – A whole track featuring auto-tuning. I usually associate auto-tuning with pop music, but the rhythm and key are more complex to follow to be considered a pop song. I don’t believe I’ve heard any guitar on this record so far unless the synthesizer is played through a guitar like Tame Impala’s Kevin Parker.
- Wobble – I think I just predicted the future because this song opens with a two-note string sounding riff. The feel of the record has mellowed out and has become very chill.
- Goodbye – The synthesizer picks up the pace just a tad. You can tell Maine is singing from his head to produce these high notes.
- Swimmer – Another water reference. “It lets me escape.” Perhaps Maine is trying to hide or run away from someone or something, piggy-backing from Find Me’s “I think that I’ll stay inside.”
- W Longing – This track includes all the feelings and emotions featured on this record so far. Atmospheric, settle, and energetic all at the same time. Maine sings “goodnight” as there is a faded outro with a sax solo. It appears to be the end of the record but there are still two more tracks.
- Ono – I really like the chorus-y sounding guitar riff to open this track. A simple 4 count bass drum kick gets this track going. Out of all the tracks, I think I enjoy the auto-tuning in this one the most.
- Anything U Want – This closing track only features vocals and a keyboard. Although I think W Longing would have been the better fit for the closer, this one fits just as well. This ambient closer makes the listener want more, perhaps starting the record back up into those upbeat songs.
I missed Porches in 2016, but I’m not sure I can miss them this time when they play El Club on February 20. Since Porches will be touring on “The House,” a lot of these tracks will be performed, and I would love to hear “Leave the House,” “Find Me,” “Now the Water” and “Country.” I believe this record can expand the tastes of strict music listeners. If rock n’ roll listeners are looking to get into more indie-rock/pop music, this is a good start. If pop music listeners are looking to listen to more underground artists and aware of the scene, this is a good start for them as well. It’s only early months of the year, and I believe this will make it on the album of the year lists of 2018.
The Acrobat- Death of Lovers
Released: November 25, 2017
Death of Lovers is the side project of shoegaze/alt. rock band, Nothing. This side project could often be thought to be the same band as Nothing, as Death of Lovers features every member of the band besides Brandon Setta. This is the first LP from the group, as the band has only offered an EP in 2014 since formation. I have listened to this album once before, and it didn’t click with me for whatever reason. I am eager for the second listen through.
- Orphans of the Smog – the opening track and a recommended song by the band and label themselves. This track reminds me of DIIV and their alternative rock licks. A catchy intro track that will hopefully bring similar themes to the record.
- Here Lies – a very electronic and 80s opening riff. Only about a minute into the track and the bass follows suit to the electronic and 80s feel. Many synthesizers and robot-like noises are distributed throughout the track.
- Ursula in B Major – I’m unsure of who Ursula is, but I’m almost certain this song is played in B Major like the title hints. The first second into the track and it immediately makes you think U2 is the one playing this song. For a repetitive drum-beat played by the drum machine, it is extremely catchy. This was another recommended track and I can understand why.
- The Lowly People – It’s weird to imagine Kyle Kimball not playing drums on all these tracks. I believe this song represents the first three songs together as a whole. A nice middle song for the record.
- Perfect History – More U2 vibes and felt, and some of the Cure vibes are introduced. This is most notable in the beginning of the song, where the echoes of the alternative-mute-strumming pattern on the guitar are heard. I enjoy the melody in this track a lot.
- Quai d’Orsay – This track immediately makes you feel like you’re in a western movie, specifically riding a horse during sundown. Quai d’Orsay is a street in Paris, near the bay. I remember seeing pictures and videos of Nothing on tour in France, so Domenic Palermo and the rest of the band must have had a personal and memorable experience that lead to the inspiration for this song. The acoustic guitar was refreshing to hear on this diverse record.
- Divine Song – A strong bassline and loud drums open this song. The synth is very settled in this song, winding the tone of this record down. A triumphant feeling is felt in this song, like when you’ve been trying to conquer something for so long has finally been done. An extended drum beat concludes this track. This is the darkest song on the record by far.
- The Acrobat – The final song on this record also happens to be the first single the band released for the record. “Saving the best for last” is what Death of Lovers decided to do with this record. The Acrobat catches all the sounds in this record to perfectly describe it. I don’t believe that any part of this song isn’t a hook. Death of Lovers want to leave the listener with the sounds that describe the band and that’s what they did with the Acrobat.
If you are to assume that these two bands are of the same sound: don’t. The Acrobat is such a different record than Nothing’s recent LP, Tired of Tomorrow, and it’s a relief. Not that Tired of Tomorrow was bad by any means, but it was pleasant to see the members express different influences that they have. Being a fan of Nothing and the group’s songwriting abilities, I’m not sure why this record didn’t click with me the first time through. Death of Lovers and Nothing are two completely different sounding bands at the cost of having three-quarters of the lineup in the side project and it worked. We probably won’t hear more from Death of Lovers for quite a few years as Nothing is finishing up their third LP and will then start the touring cycle. Hopefully, we won’t be waiting as long for new Death of Lovers as we have been waiting for Chino Moreno’s Palms.
Somewhere – Reduction Plan
Released: June 23, 2017
Dreamy, ambient, haunting, and dreary are just a few words to describe Reduction Plan’s third LP, “Somewhere.” This dark shoegaze / dream-pop duo hails from Connecticut, but for whatever reason, I thought they were a local group. This album is filled with themes of utter darkness and will leave the listener in a state of isolation. It would not be wise to give this record a listen if you are alone or having a late-night drive in a rural area as the record will start to torment you. Here are my thoughts when drowning myself in “Somewhere.”
- Without an End – Using prior knowledge to confirm that this band uses a drum machine. I’m not used to listening to bands with drum machines, so this will be a different experience. A very dominant and loud track to open the record with.
- In the Night – eerie sounds are used to open the track making it seem like you’re lost in the woods in a horror film. This song produces haunting melodies and guitar effects that perfectly replicate the image of the song title.
- Dreams in Blue – The chorus effect gives this track a happier feel in a minor key. Still setting the tone for a darker record, this song relieves the initial weight felt on the shoulder.
- Julia – The opening guitar riff is tormenting on this track going back to the vibes of In the Night. This song could be the baby of Cloakroom’s melodies and Logan of Greet Death’s (formerly known as Pines) mumble-style vocals. An unexpected guitar solo fits this dark track.
- (somewhere) – a quick, settle, and ambient interlude to ensure the listener is totally lost in the atmosphere of this record.
- Autumn – This track is almost an ode to Slowdive. It’s almost like I can picture them singing them this song when they played at the Majestic Theater back in November of 2017.
- On Your Own – The feel of the record has changed on this track. It’s like you’re at that point of conquering the struggle or challenge that you once faced, and it’s all over with now. More so winning the battle: everyone is wounded and going home at this point in the record.
- Untitled 2 – The title of this track is even more relatable to how it sounds opposed to In the Night. It feels like I’m in the sunk zone of Jordan Peele’s Get Out when I listen to this track. The lengthy 7 minutes and 15 seconds impacts the feeling of loneliness and inability even more.
- (calm) – the feedback that opens this track makes it feel like the listener is lost in a wasteland. A little guitar improv comes into the track to give the listener the feeling of something still being there. The heart is still beating.
- Restless – I enjoy the presence of only the guitar and vocals in this closing track, just the way Greet Death did so with their record “Dixieland.”
Only a few songs into the record and it sounds like Reduction Plan can be Slowdive’s evil twin of a band. This record feels like you’re in another dimension for the 42 minutes that it’s played in. The tracks the stood out to me were “In the Night,” “Autumn,” and “Untitled 2.” This is Reduction Plan’s third LP and the first LP I listened to from the group. I will definitely be looking forward to checking out past and future material from this band.
Wade Panizzoli is a WXOU music contributor.