THE Audictive Bunch

the latest album reviews

REAL ESTATE : atlas : Domino (28.02.2014)

Seven: For some New Jersey’s Real Estate are our generations Dire Straits (not necessarily a compliment in case you’ve wondered), others are celebrating the band as one of the best guitar-focused groups in todays indie circuit. I tend to the latter, since their effortless melodies have often culminated into subtle hits that delivered just the right soundtrack for an expanded day-dream session while cruising to the beach. On “Atlas“ though, their breezing sounds finally start to slightly lose their magic touch. Still a solid 7/10

Dars: Keep your shirt on. Easy and fluffy it goes, as expected. Optimism burbles beneath a mosaic of genres and technical prowess, while neither particularly sunny nor melancholic. After being half through the album, I personally very much long for a lightning strike or something like a wakeup call, but these guys won't get worked up anyway. So eventually, for the true follower of  New Jersey outfit Real Estate, this follow-up to their 2011 album “Days“ is surely more of a nice supplement rather than a rum start, even though these guys perfectly know how to transform their miniaturist melodies in a grandly epic direction.  6.9/10




COLO : ur : Ki-Records (10.03.2014)

Seven: Last years single “Holidays“ was a prime example of analog and deep slo-mo sexiness, yet London-based DJ/producer duo Colo aren’t interested at all to vary or simply recap that formula over the length of an album. Instead they’re surprising us with bass-informed but organic - and in some places even overall delicate - vocal-heavy songs that will most likely cause Mr. Blake to have some sleepless nights. 8.75/10

Dars: Dunno, I’m swayin' here a bit. Crafted without samples or shortcuts, all the elements were recorded live, leaving the blemishes in to give the project a rougher feel. And it pretty much works! Smith's vocals however, which are often improvised, featured heavily across the ten tracks, which makes it hard for me to stay on the ball really. The whole definitely has its moments though. 4.7/10




DANTON EEPROM : if looks could kill : Infiné (03.02.2014)

Dars: Someone definitely knows his craft here, but the outcome feels alien and nauseating to me. Seven?

Seven: Three years ago Monsieur Eeprom delivered a fulminant genre-bender with “Yes Is More“, and while he continues his visionary path with “If Looks Could Kill“ - for which he combines dark electronic music with pop, clubland and indie excursions once again - he isn’t throwing out sparks big time on his sophomore album. Or maybe we’re just used to it by now, that this guy is pretty much a musical genius. 7/10 




CEO : wonderland : Modular (03.02.2014)

Seven: Eric Berglund’s one-man-show CEO’s second album accelerates where its debut was running a bit out of steam: elaborate, pulsing and pretty much over the top state of the art pop with enough melodic clarity - and emotional honesty - to demand an attention span that reaches beyond simply skipping through the album on your iPhone. 7/10 

Dars: Airy synths, soaring harmonies and a dash of pounding rhythms to be found here, all soothing and fun. 'Wonderland' effortlessly captures your attention and maintains it due to the hypnotic arrangements by Swedish producer Erik Berglund aka CEO. It's this combination of intoxicating, ambient production and off the wall nuances, which ensure that there is nary a dull moment to be found within its 34 minute runtime. Losing oneself in this aural rabbit hole is easy, and anyone familiar with previous CEO effort “White Magic“ will already know the drill. This sound is quite unlike anything out there, so don’t hesitate and just jump in! 8.3/10




WILD BEASTS : present tense : Domino (21.02.2014)

Dars: This band's fourth full-length is the sound of a band still pushing themselves forward, still determined not to settle on something but to keep trying new ideas and looking for new inspiration. It’s voluptuous, edgy and beautifully enticing: driving yet off-kilter and lush without ever losing its cool. It's a record that, even more than its predecessor “Smother“, rewards careful listening, with every spin bringing out fresh new elements in the mix. Impressive! 8.4/10

Seven: I totally admire their course to basically reinvent themselves with every new album, the exceptional vocals, the flamboyant song structures, their self-conception of not fitting into any scene, really... still they’re not speaking to me. 4/10


WARPAINT : s/t : Rough Trade (out now)

Seven: Wow, even though their debut album was a rather brash (yet coherent) affair without any kind of obvious hit potential, and even though it took them three years to come up with a follow-up, the Warpaint ladies have eventually arrived in the global musical consciousness (and feuilleton). And rightly so, as their new one might be just a little bit too polished and designed in places but never forgets to add just the right amount of sensuality and mystery to their mix of ESG post-punk, hazy indie antics and gentle psych-pop. 9/10

Dars: A safe bet for the years first truly great album. This mix of  skeletal post-rock guitars, tight grooving rhythms and ethereal harmonies makes this Los Angeles quartet sounding better than ever. Sensual vocals intertwine with menacing lyrics, throbbing grooves swell alongside unsettling rhythms. Eerie atmospherics feel comforting at one moment yet gothic at another. The band’s sophomore self-titled album finds them working as a tightly focused unit, finding new ways of sharpening their performances and songwriting by moving outside their comfort zone and making their most impressive record yet for sure. 9.3/10




DAMIEN JURADO : brothers and sisters of the eternal son : Secretly Canadian (out now)

Dars: One has to agree with the Seattle-based singer-songwriter: “Brothers And Sisters Of The Eternal Son“, his 11th (!) album release, is like a whole different world - a bit of a magical album, almost virtuosic. Grand, drifting sounds, strumming guitars and Jurado’s ghostly voice rising from the background reflect on ideas of alienation, disappearance and the pursuit of self. Devotees of Mr. Jurado will undoubtedly enjoy the album; there hasn’t been a drastic change from his signature sound. At times it almost feels like you’re listening to freak folk, but Jurado always returns to his safe place eventually. Not bad at all. 6.5/10

Seven: The bleak and dark folk days of his early career are definitely gone for Damien Jurado. On his 11th album he’s going epic, all 70s psych and experimental and overall beautiful, like an advanced, spaced-out hippie opera that shows Jurado - well, not necessarily enlightened - but definitely highly inspired to touch new grounds. 8.75/10




V.A. : ten years of phonica records : Phonica (24.02.2014)

Seven: When one of the most leading, innovative and authentic labels/shops around is celebrating its 10th birthday, it’s rather obvious that expectations are high... but seriously, this compilation basically is as good as it gets, a fantastic mix of exclusive tracks and highlights from the past that’s too damn good to actually pick a favorite. almost 9/10

Dars: Split across three CDs, a triple LP pack and three 12" samplers, the Phonic record shop located in the heart of London’s Soho invited some of their favourite artists to produce a track for an eclectic yet cohesive compilation, which will hopefully go some way towards sonically unfolding the ‘Ten Years of Phonica’. Featuring I:Cube, Trevor Jackson, Raudive, Discodromo, Joe Claussell, John Morales, Henrik Schwarz, Massimiliano Pagliara, Iori remixed by Steve Moore, Juju & Jordash, Legowelt & In Flagranti and more. 7/10


DOG BITE : tranquilizers : Carpark (out now)

Seven: Dog Bite chief-honcho Phil Jones stated that the new record actually began as a soul record in its formation... but as a matter of fact not too many things give evidence to that origin on “Tranquilizers“. Instead it offers a thick and - compared to the debut - fairly complex excursion into the fine art of shoegazing that sooner or later will inevitably get to you like the titular substances. 7/10

Dars: “Tranquilizers“ is one of those albums that makes you want to re-assess an entire genre. Once arrived, you're steamrolled by smoky textures and lazily stretched vocals that blend seamlessly into one another, with lots of hazy synth work, sleepy dream-pop and a whole slew of surrealist sounds. While chill-wave was starting to feel as tired as its unenergetic label implies, Atlanta based project Dog Bite’s interpretation of its ambient, electronic aesthetics works brilliantly alongside the guitars and rhythms of 21st century psychedelic. 8.6/10




ACTRESS : ghettoville/hazyville : Ninja Tune (out now)

Dars: Darren J. Cunningham, who goes by the pseudonym Actress, is making a mysterious close to his acclaimed project. For the past six years, he’s fulfilled full-time commitment  in order to maximize the minimalist techno stuff he releases. The final call is titled “Ghettoville“, an appropriate banner for the hazy, dark techno this guy is releasing and an excellent addition to an outstanding body of work. His signature style of contrasting the emptiness of minimal with a repeating dancefloorish beat shines bright through the foggy tracks. Most of this stuff might be pretty undesirable for many listeners while they’re dreary, depressing and not the techno you might be looking for. It drones for 75 minutes of minimal repeating beats, but beautiful tracks like “Gaze“ may help with the transition. The entire trip doesn’t last forever, although it feels like it does. “Ghettoville“ is taking apart the techno heard in clubs, and creates a version heard in basements ten floors below the ground. 9.9/10