Young Rebel Set – Crocodile (4/5)
Ever wondered what it would sound like if lad-rock met folk? Probably not, but small-time five piece Young Rebel Set are determined to show you. Building on the sound they forged on their first release ‘Curse Our Love’, ‘Crocodile’ offers more crashing drums, light acoustic moments and epic sing-along choruses.
They open with ‘Yesca & The Fear’, addressing doubts about relations with Yesca, aided by a driving beat and emphasised guitar. Though the verses can drag, huge sounding choruses win you over.
This theme of acoustic verse and mammoth chorus recurs throughout. It’s perfected on the heartfelt ‘Show Your Feathers & Run’, where a discreet style reminiscent of Stadium Arcadium builds to choruses worthy of Mr Gallagher himself. However, on tracks like ‘Another Time Another Place’ and ‘Lash Of The Whip’, distorted guitars and constant bitterness can become quite dull.
The real gold lies in their softer tracks, some of which could put Guy Garvey to shame. This first emerges on the beautiful ‘Tuned Transmission’; an eclectic blend of chirpy finger-picked acoustic and melancholic melody. Chipchase’s warm cries of “Josephine!” on ‘Girl from 51’ are undeniably warming. ‘Unforgiven’ highlights their folk element like no other, while sounding initially akin to Dylan, becomes evocative of ‘Mrs Robinson’ by the end. While a few tracks seem like a generic ball of distorted angst, ‘Crocodile’ is largely heartfelt and enjoyable, right through to the soft and endearing ‘One Law’. Whether you prefer peace or pace, YRS are definitely worth your while.
Oneohtrix Point Never – R Plus Seven (5/5)
The music of Daniel Lopatin’s Oneohtrix Point Never alias is “head” music. It is performed in churches to audiences sitting down. So the versatility of R Plus Seven may be the most impressive thing about it. The album features both decidedly danceable tracks like “Zebra”, perhaps the catchiest thing to have been released under the Oneohtrix Point Never moniker (as evidence, Four Tet recently saw fit to play it during his rinse.fm takeover), as well as tracks further along the ambient spectrum such as the stunningly beautiful “Still Life”.
The complexities of Lopatin’s compositions are simply astounding; they have been meticulously arranged and demonstrate the use of random experimentation. Each individual sound contains an almost tangible quality that is not only beautiful to listen to, but provides depth rarely found within a genre that is primarily reserved for the clubbing underworld.
The experimental nature of Lopatin can be seen through his use of classical archaic sounds that provide a twist to conventional electronic music. The prevalence of organs, bells and ethereal vocals (which are in some way reminiscent of Gregorian chant) creates a fierce dichotomy that makes his music difficult to solidly classify but incredibly enjoyable to listen.
Lopatin’s music highlights the direction and progression of electronic music with an array of sounds that sometimes struggle to exist within the same space. Both organised and chaotic, it seems as though the album is fighting for its own identity, however, by offering something so vibrant and distinctive, it may just be the album of the year.
The Airborne Toxic Event – Such Hot Blood (2/5)
In 2008, The Airborne Toxic Event emerged with a likeable debut album of driving, Interpol-indebted indie rock songs, which saw them win over fans in the UK as well as their native USA. Five years later, TATE are still at it, and sadly, have churned out a product that is as much of a chore to listen as it was to make, no doubt.
Such Hot Blood clocks in at just under 42 minutes, but feels much longer. After just three tracks, it’s easy to see what the issue is – ‘The Secret’ and ‘What’s In a Name’, which are actually two of the album’s strongest songs, both build and climax in all the right places, but are instantly forgettable, leaving only the trace of a mild earache. Meanwhile, lead single ‘Timeless’ plods along excruciatingly, further sending the album into identity crisis.
Songs that are apparently about hard times and the wide-eyed desperation of young love should never be so laborious to listen to, and the results are so cliché that I am forced to question the authenticity of their stories.
The second half of the record features a bit of an exploration into the band’s bluegrass influences, and the outcomes are reasonably palatable. Tracks such as ‘Bride and Groom’ desperately attempt to support the album with a stripped-back arrangement and lilting brass, but fails to bring it back into sync.
If returning fans and eager newcomers to TATE are hoping for something that stretches beyond the definition of ‘bearable’, I would advise a haste retreat to the confines of their original work.