The Audictive Bunch

Spring Break 2019 / Session A

BIG | BRAVE.  a gaze among them. Southern Lord (10.05.19)
Fran: There’s something very Sabbath about Big Brave’s new album, as the dark and heavy energy combined with powerful vocals and percussion in “Muted Shifting of Space“ or “Holding Pattern“, leave you with a tingling memory of the legendary metal band. Though it must be said that singer Robin Wattie, who has a very similar style to Chelsea Wolfe’s, doesn’t quite portray the metallic agony pervasive in Ozzy’s voice. Nonetheless, it is in the guitar that we see the biggest point of departure from the origins of heavy metal for Big Brave. Playing in a marriage between Tool and your favorite Drone project, Mathieu Bernard Ball seems much more concerned with providing a tonal aesthetic to the songs than simple riffs to bang your head to - as such, Big Brave benefits from a very modern sound that is hard to to pigeonhole. The way it looks to me, they have achieved the pinnacle of their powers under a fixed musical structure, and the sonic distortion of chaos that is “A Gaze Among Them“ is what they have to show for it. For now though, I would suggest venturing out deeper into improvisation and melodic jugglery so they can more fully assert their sound in the contemporary metal scene, because their originality at this point is undeniable. 7/10

WAND. laughing matter. Drag City (19.04.19)
Forty: LA’s heavily prolific psych-rock outfit Wand is back with their fifth album - is it their fifth? These guys released so many albums and EPs since 2014, it’s a bit hard to keep track, actually - and it presents them in an impressively evolving kind of mood. The majority of the album’s running time is filled with their very own interpretation of slightly experimental guitar pop, but obviously the quintet is leaving some space for distorted jams as well. 8.75/10

FOXYGEN. seeing other people. Jagjaguwar (26.04.19)
Fran: The more established of the pack, Foxygen appear somewhat lost in their new release “Seeing Other People“. Super chill at first, sentimental in the middle, and derivative at all times, the album is an eclectic mess with very few gems of originality sprinkled in now and then, pointing at a band struggling to find their next move. While previous releases were commendable exactly for their strong thematic coherence, “Seeing Other People“ fuses genres without concern for continuity. Perhaps they expected the narrative-laden lyrics to do the trick, but unfortunately, the styles they pursued in their melodies are a little all over the place. The high point of the album comes in the shape of the title track, with which the band transitions into the more sentimental part of the record, thematically inspired by heartbreak. This is where we get the more recognizable, and the more brilliant Foxygen. Their maturity at this point is easy to hear. They are better produced, more reasonable with their choices, but compared to their previous releases, somehow you feel they lost their rawness. Nothing exemplifies this better than “The Thing Is“, a complete Springsteen rip-off, the track leaves you wondering why they didn’t just cover “Glory Days“. This is certainly not the same Foxygen that would get featured in Joe Swanberg movies. They are evolving. And even though we cannot let them off the hook for this album, we should give them time to figure it out - their output up to this point has granted them this privilege. 3.5/10
Forty: C’mon Fran... Foxygen always were very eclectic and very choice - that was half the fun of it. A track like “Flag At Half-mast“ actually is reason enough for me to stay a fervent admirer of these guys. 7/10

FAT WHITE FAMILY. serfs up!. Domino Records (19.04.19)
Fran: Fat White Family have come up with the opposite chill of Foxygen. Their new album “Serfs Up!“ is anything but the surfing scene the name reminds us of. If you were expecting a California cool vibe, you are in the wrong place, and frankly, the cows on the cover should have already given it away. If there’s one thing summery about Fat White Family is their slightly twisted invocation of it. This is not the early doors, full of hope June record, but that mid-august humid, rain-drenched aesthetic signaling the end of good times. “Tastes Good With The Money“ is an exciting track that combines a memorable chorus with quite dystopian elements of spoken word reminiscent of Cohen.
FWF’s style is incredibly hard to pin down, and the humorous lyrics and theatrics certainly don’t help when encasing them in a genre either. But for now that seems okay. Let the British band continue to explore the alternative scene and weird dancefloors of this world in all its depth, and we will be the ones to benefit from their inventiveness, every step of the way. 8/10

CHRIS FORSYTH. all time present. No Quarter Records (12.04.19)
Fran: Chris Forsyth does not claim to have reinvented the wheel, but his new album, “All Time Present“, is the solid jolt of rock n’ roll to perfectly combat the bland (yet highly produced), sorry excuse for rock plastered all over our zeitgeist. There’s something to be applauded about his ease to navigate between hard hitting, riff infused boppers, and the more suave and melodic, often times voiceless, tunes - “Mystic Mountain“ will hit high peaks of rock, only to fall into the deep valleys of electric country in “The Man Who Knows Too Much“. His calculated melodies are the perfect launch point for the raw, modern sound he displays with his guitar playing, always on perfect display through every facet of the album.  Perhaps the most interesting part about it, is his decision to go full space rock in the second part of the record. As songs stretch into 9, 10, or even 20 minutes, Forsyth’s long melodic divagations, accentuated by bass-led signature lines, resonate over and over within a modern approach to progressive rock. By bravely exploring his voice in whichever direction it takes him, Chris Forsyth has all the tools to make himself a big commodity in the rock world, and “All Time Present“ proves it. 7.5/10

KELLY FINNIGAN. the tales people tell. Colemine Records (26.04.19)
Fran: What would Marvin Gaye sound like in a post Amy Winehouse world? Let Kelly Finnigan answer that for you. Songs like “I Don’t Wanna Wait“ or “I Called You Back Baby“, reminders of Gaye and James Brown respectively, are entertaining soul and funk tracks deeply entrenched in the legacy of the genres. Unfortunately, they don’t deliver much else besides momentary entertainment. The most vivacious of the tracks ironically is also the saddest. “Catch Me I’m Falling“ is infused with more tranquil melodies, which in their subtlety allow for Finnigan’s original sound to reverberate. At the end of the day, “The Tales People Tell“ is promising. Finnigan comes off as a great student of musical history, and in all fairness, reproducing sounds of the past as easily as he does isn’t easy. With very high production value, the soulful release “The Tales People Tell“, is a good time, not a long one. 4.5/10