The Critics: d33j; of Montreal; Panda Bear; The Pierces; Fleet Foxes

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Tide Songs

d33j

4/5



Having only been released a few weeks ago, d33j’s newly finished Tide Songs is easily one of the best EP’s released recently, which, considering it is his first official release, is quite an accomplishment. Discovered by many across the blogosphere d33j has been widely praised and it is clear to see why.

Working with the likes of Shlohmo and Melonious Drunk as part of an L.A. based collective Wedidit, d33j’s sound mixes psychedelic, reverberating beats, with distant, soft vocal samples to produce really distinctive music.

Although each of d33j’s tracks have a kind of easy, nostalgic quality to them, ‘Reever’s Edge’ is the clear favourite with its jolty synths. However, the uplifting ‘Park (tape version)’ is very close behind and ‘Drowning Pool’ with its lo-fi beat style, not too far off that.

Tide Songs is a rare selection of luscious music that is really hard not to enjoy, especially when it can be downloaded completely free from Bandcamp at: www.d33j.bandcamp.com

Tom Curry and Rosie Jones

thecontrollersphere

of Montreal

2/5



thecontrollersphere is of Montreal’s newest EP and it is made up of what Kevin Barnes, the lead singer and key songwriter, has admitted are basically the leftover scraps from the sessions of their previous album False Priest. The problem is that, unfortunately, you can tell.

The EP is full of disparate songs that become an odd amalgamation of some quite messed up stuff. The headliner ‘Black Lion Massacre’ could be called a highlight, if you were into the depraved and aggressive. Overcharged with heavy distortion producing a harsh background for an odd robot voice that sings “people killed their pets”,  this is not cheery stuff. Yet, this is followed by some eccentric songs such as ‘Holiday Call’, an eight minute eastern imaginarium filled with faux Arabian strings creating quite an alien sound. This catches the attention, but perhaps that is just because it is more in tune with their previous work.

Overall this isn’t one for the light hearted, but put a brave face on and you may begin to enjoy this psychedelic offering.

Rosalie Lindqvist Jones

Tomboy

Panda Bear

4/5



After a four-year wait Noah Lennox returns with his third Panda Bear album Tomboy. Its sharper, more textured pieces are a departure from the hazy choirs of Person Pitch – a radio-friendly reminder of the Beach Boys’ psychedelic end. ‘Last Night at the Jetty’ and ‘Slow Motion’ showcase Lennox’s angelic harmonies layered with thudding beats, and produce the trademark disorienting impression of spiralling or walking in circles. In ‘Scheherazade’, Lennox’s undistorted bare voice almost trails behind, then wonders into dissonance while a single piano chord plays in the background, and once again fades into silence. ‘Friendship Bracelet’ wavers between these two extremes, swaying back and forth, bringing to mind what could be a drunken party on rough seas.

In some respects, Tomboy is closer to Lennox’s work as part of Animal Collective. His sound on this album however seems to be more meditative and approachable, turning to more defined rhythms providing his instrumental drone with a more acquired purpose.

Martha McCarey

You’ll Be Mine

The Pierces

3/5



Straight out of the grass fields of Alabama, sister-duo The Pierces have recently released their new EP, You’ll Be Mine, a psychedelic blend of hippy pop with a hint of Fleetwood Mac. Their first track, ‘You’ll Be Mine’, is undoubtedly the best. Catchy, smooth and melodic, their dulcet, Siren-like tones will send you drifting off into a calm hypnosis.

With a true summer festival sound, this record makes you want to skip barefoot through sunlit forests and spin around in the dappled light with flowers in your hair. For those of you who know your Genesis from your Jethro Tull, ‘You’ll Be Mine’ is reminiscent of Pentangle’s silky harmonies but without the choirgirl vocal acrobatics. And who knew that the simplicity of the lyrics “one, two, three, yeah, one, two, three”, could prove so catchy?

Meanwhile, the second and third tracks on the EP are much harsher, more akin to The Pierces’ earlier soft rock singles. Tales of love lost, broken hearts and possessive infatuations are the main lyrical themes. It seems these girls are much more suited to the ever popular indie-folk scene than rock-pop; they’ve moved far beyond the immature, crass lyrics of Secret and Boring to a new dreamy, fairytale landscape of spinning wheels and crystal balls.

Whilst it may appeal to festival-types with long flowing hair and a penchant for indie girl groups, the music connoisseurs among you will probably fail to see the originality of The Pierces’ 70s spiritual rock-pop attempt.

Nina Zietman


Helplessness Blues

Fleet Foxes

4/5



Given the self-assured, atmospheric, and unified quality to the Fleet Foxesʼ full-length debut, it would be natural to expect the band to maintain its strong aesthetic in Helplessness Blues. However, comparing the cover art it is immediately apparent that this is not the case. Gone is the single image of pastoral village landscape, replaced with a multi-layered illustration branching out with half-sketched images. Just as this collage of disparate ideas is united by skillful artistry, so too do the Fleet Foxes manage new influences, experimental instrumentation and song structures, without abandoning organic songs that resonate as if recorded on an Appalachian mountain peak.

Robin Pecknold stated that he wanted to make something “less poppy,” and ‘The Shrine/An Argument’, a sprawling song consisting of several disparate sections and culminating in cacophonous horns, is perhaps the clearest testament of his desire. Yet, despite this foray into dissonance, the group continues to show its talent for pleasing vocal arrangements, as seen in the a cappella breakdowns in ‘Bedouin Dress’, and also for layered instrumentation, spotlighted on ‘The Cascades’. The most memorable songs on the album, the waltzing ‘Lorelai’ and deceptively lighthearted ‘Battery Kinzie’, have a sprightly energy that propels the album. Though Fleet Foxes use familiar sonic elements, their lyrical range has expanded to include philosophical questioning and deeper introspection, moving out from the realm of rustic fantasy into the personal and realistic. This album will similarly captivate fans of the bandʼs former releases, but itʼs clear that they have left the minutely rendered world that produced fantastical songs like ‘White Winter Hymnal’.

Elizabeth Kendrick and Maayan Adar

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