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Quickspins + Retroview

by The Concordian April 3, 2012
Quickspins + Retroview

Little Chords – Afterlife (Lefse Records; 2012)

When B.C.-based singer-songwriter Jamison is not producing records under his other monikers, Teen Daze and Two Bicycles, he is churning out music as Little Chords, an ‘80s drum-based, lo-fi, indie pop project from Vancouver. His new record Afterlife was released for download on March 20 on Bandcamp.
Chiming guitars, bathed in reverb and delay effects, synths, drum machines and quiet, almost haunting vocals lead the listener through the journey of the record.
It’s a welcome excursion, as some of the songs, such as “Firsts,” seem as if they could come right off the soundtrack of an eighties flick—think The Karate Kid (no, not the one with Jaden Smith). Others, such as “Afterlife,” are quieter introspectives, giving the album balance and contrast.
The record runs just over 36 minutes long and treats listeners to a scenic, pop-psych drive. While it won’t bring back glam rock bands on cassettes, inline skates or Atari games, it will surprise listeners looking for a little something nostalgic.

Trial track: “Afterlife”

Rating: 8.5/10

– A.J. Cordeiro

Mark Stewart – The Politics of Envy (Future Noise Music; 2012)

Mark Stewart has burst back on the scene after a four-year break, with his raw and dangerously sexy album The Politics of Envy. I have a feeling Stewart would spit in my face if he knew what I’m about to say, but here it goes: This album is like TV on the Radio and Nine Inch Nails bonding at a dubstep-fuelled afterparty. Trust me, it’s a good thing. Stewart keeps alive the experimental, industrial, hip-hop sound that he’s been celebrated for since his first band, The Pop Group, split in the early ‘80s. The tunes are moody and rife with anti-“corporate cocksucker” messages and the album features a handful of punk’s and post-punk’s most respected pioneers such as Keith Levene of early Clash fame, Slits bassist Tessa Pollitt and The Raincoats’ Gina Birch. Birch’s deep, robotic voice makes “Stereotype” one of the most haunting pop songs I’ve heard this year.

Trial track: “Want”

Rating: 9.0/10

– Lindsay Briscoe

Tanlines – Mixed Emotions (True Panther Sounds; 2012)

What’s a better way to end the academic year than with something as overtly non-academic as Tanlines?
After years of teasing with endless singles and EPs, Brooklyn duo Jesse Cohen and Eric Emm have finally released their full-length debut album Mixed Emotions. Best described as electro-pop with a tropical flavour, this album is like a piña colada in a test tube: fun and refreshing, but completely synthetic.
At times influenced by Paul Simon’s Graceland, the production has a strong emphasis on dance floor beats and catchy pop melodies, with a heavy reliance on synthesizers and an afropop veneer. Emm’s muffled baritone vocals both accentuate and compliment the artificiality of the soundscape constructed entirely of relentlessly upbeat rhythms and repetitive drum patterns.
Like a coconut-wielding caricature imprisoned in a souvenir shop snowglobe, Mixed Emotions may ultimately be the desperate plea of a man trapped in a kitschy tropical dystopia.

Trial track: “Real Life”

Rating: 7.0/10

– Paul Traunero

The Jimi Hendrix Experience – Axis: Bold As Love (Track Records; 1967)

Late legendary musician Jimi Hendrix has never failed to impress with any of his releases. Following the success of his debut album Are You Experienced?, Hendrix was keen on expanding his musical horizons. Axis: Bold as Love, recorded in 1967, combines elements of rock, blues, psychedelic and jazz, creating a beautiful hodgepodge of sound.
Out of the three albums Hendrix recorded, Axis is often the most underrated, largely due to the fact that it was released in between his two most commercially successful albums. With Axis, the late rock ‘n’ roll icon displayed remarkable growth as a tunesmith, asserting his position as a multifaceted and highly-skilled musician.
The album features one of Hendrix’s finest performances on the guitar, as well as his most emotional. “Little Wing,” a two-minute odyssey through sound, showcases his versatility and superior songwriting skills, forging a sound that no other artist could replicate.
All of Hendrix’s albums are definite must-haves for any music enthusiast, but Axis stands out as his most experimental and original record.

Trial track: “Little Wing”

– Gabriel Fernandez

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