The opening line of Memoryhouse’s first single, “The Kids Were Wrong,” from their first full-length album, “Go to sleep / nothing’s changing,” is a ballsy lie. Composer Evan Abeele and vocalist Denise Nouvion have made massive strides from their hazy reverberated swells to much more vibrant acoustic endeavours. Nouvion’s voice is front and centre, confronting listeners like that of a lead singer rather than from behind the ambient gauze of The Years (2011). Music moving and shimmering like never before, the pair show that they are more than just another chillwave experiment. A confessed fan of composer Max Richter (who released his debut solo album Memoryhouse in 2002), Abeele brings the same haunted sounds of Richter’s nouveau classical. Lonely strings prowl the first song “Little Expressionless Animals” and most songs carry a sense of longing. The album isn’t perfect, yet it shows a maturity and mastery that can only mean better things from the band.
Trial track: “Little Expressionless Animals”
– Patrick Case
Start teasing that mullet and slip into those skin-tight neon jeans, because the ‘80s are back—at least according to Fanfarlo.
This London-based folk-pop collective initially made their mark on the indie scene with their 2009 debut Reservoir. In a desperate attempt to distance themselves from becoming an Arcade Fire-esque copycat band, they have traded in their scruff for some new wave ‘80s glamour.
In no way do I condone such an overt gimmicky effort. Cashing in on the “retro” appeal of the 1980s is just tacky. Although, I will admit that Fanfarlo has managed to borrow from the past whilst remaining rooted in modernity with lush string sections, the inclusion of brass and a pocketful of irony that would make Urban Outfitters proud. This is a band that seems to be struggling with making sense of the modern world.
Trial track: “Shiny Things”
– Paul Traunero
Back with their eighth studio album, Pennsylvania’s Anti-Flag presents The General Strike, their second release on SideOneDummy Records.
The LP was recorded by the band at their home studio in Pittsburgh. Angry about United States bailouts and corporate injustice, and providing musical accompaniment to movements like Occupy Wall Street, the band produces some of their most hardcore and pissed off music to date.
At just 27 minutes and 16 seconds long, the album is short, but the record is sure to please punk-rock and anti-establishment fans alike. Its verses are well-written with catchy, infectious guitar riffs, convincing more conservative listeners to sing along. “Get up! Your voices are needed!” screams one of the vocalists. “This ain’t a fad / this ain’t a fashion / This is the world wide anthem,” declares another lyric.
Set for release on March 20, the album will provide an ample soundtrack to striking Concordia students.
Trial track: “The Neoliberal Anthem”
– Andre-Joseph Cordeiro
Emerging from Sydney, Australia’s rock scene, The Church first recorded a four-track demo, catching the attention of producer Chris Gilbey, who had cut his teeth with AC/DC a decade earlier. As part of his project to resurrect the Australian branch of record label Parlophone, Gilbey signed the band and co-produced Of Skins and Heart as an EMI/Parlophone release in 1981. Even though the album was not as commercially successful as later releases, it became the band’s most mainstream work, predicting the jangly, psychedelic rock of the mid- to late 1980s. The album itself is sonically diverse with post-punk, new wave and alternative rock inspirations. Opener “For a Moment We’re Strangers” is a dance rock gem, while “The Unguarded Moment” features soft/loud dynamics overlaid with singer Steve Kilbey’s coolly detached vocals. An unpretentious pop-rock album reminiscent of The Smiths and The Stone Roses, it paved the way for the later success of catchy alternative rock.
Trial track: “The Unguarded Moment”
– Cora Ballou