Timber Timbre – Creep On Creepin’ On
(Arts & Crafts; 2011)
Listeners beware: as the title suggests, Creep On Creepin’ On really does creep on creepin’ on from beginning to end. Taylor Kirk’s vocals on opening track “Bad Ritual” sound disturbingly similar to those of Hexxus from FernGully: The Last Rainforest, and in fact, they remain eerily hypnotic throughout the duration of the record. While earlier release Timber Timbre was described by Eye Weekly as being “the spookiest disc of the year,” Kirk has definitely succeeded in upping the spookiness factor with his latest project. There are obvious sound differences between this record and the last, mainly due to superior mastering techniques and the permanent addition of fellow multi-instrumentalists Mika Posen and Simon Trottier. The latter influence has resulted in an album that is much more instrumental. In “Woman,” Kirk’s haunting, distant vocals give way to unnerving intermissions filled with wailing violins and crashing organs, while “Obelisk” is a lyric-less nightmare filled with inescapable screeching electric guitars and oppressive violin.
Trial Track: “Bad Ritual”
9.0/10 – Katelyn Spidle
James Blake – James Blake
(ATLAS / A&M; 2011)
To say that James Blake’s eponymous album is dubstep is to miss the point of this British musician’s first foray into non-EP terrain. In fact, Blake has already been hailed as a pioneer of the post-dubstep subgenre. This is something new, but not demanding of the listener. This is not a dubstep album so much as a minimalist experiment by someone who draws from that realm occasionally, owing more to trip-hop and blue-eyed soul than to the South East London electronic scene. As an album, this collection of 11 tracks is definitely hit-or-miss; songs like “The Wilhelm Scream” and the Feist cover “Limit To Your Love” are beautiful and aching, while songs like “Unluck” and “I Mind” tend to either get too caught up in experimentation or slouch along to the same line, making them trials to get through. Overall, this is a respectable effort with beautiful, languished vocals mixing with sparse piano and electronically altered voices fading into ambient, pensive soundscapes. A decent album to turn up when you want to wind down.
Trial Track: “Limit To Your Love”
6.5/10 – Andrew Guilbert
Alcoholic Faith Mission -Â And The Running With Insanity EP
(Paper Garden Records; 2011)
Copenhagen’s prolific Alcoholic Faith Mission released its third and most renowned album, Let This Be the Last Night We Care, in 2010. With the imminent release of And the Running With Insanity EP, AFM prove that they can keep fans interested with five upbeat and soothing tracks. The soft acoustic guitars and pleasant vocals make for an irresistible indie-pop album. With clever songwriting and and happy melodies, some songs are reminiscent of Paul Simon and Tycoon. The first track, named for the album title, flaunts the band’s use of soft guitar riffs, whichÂ are heard throughout the duration of the album. “When They Bleed” has a down-tempo sound and melancholic vocals. The final song, “Dancing Fools,” is driven by classic piano and electric guitar riffs.
Trial Track: “Running with Insanity”
8.0/10 – Matthew Sousa
Jethro Tull – Aqualung
As a band, Jethro Tull has always been somewhat of an enigma for music critics. Are they blues? Progressive? Rock? Folk? Though labeling them is somewhat difficult, their best work â€”Â at least in terms of commercial success â€” is indisputably their fourth release, Aqualung.
Songs like “Locomotive Breath,” “My God” and the title track were not only staples of the band’s live shows but are on regular rotation on every classic rock station that’s worth its salt. What makes this a stunning album, however, is not the hits â€” rather, it is the work as a whole. Songs like “Hymn 43” and “Wind Up” provide both a strong guitar riff and a tongue-in-cheek meditation on religious hypocrisy, a true novelty when the album came out. The shorter gems like “Slipstream” and “Cheap Day Return,” which are peppered between the longer tracks, provide not only pleasant segues, but a cohesion that many of today’s iTunes-friendly albums certainly lack. In short, Aqualung is a well-rounded, well-conceived and well-played album, and it deserves the longevity it has enjoyed through the years.
Trial Track: “Locomotive Breath”
– Andrew Gulbert