Category Archives: Album Reviews

Odonis Odonis – No Pop

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Yes, we brought up Daleks and Nine Inch Nails in our review of their last album, but there’s still no better way to describe the oppressive sonic framework that Odonis Odonis are currently operating within.

We’ll call this one the Dalek house party. Lyrical content is kept to a minimum—it’s meant to be felt as much as heard (your speakers will rattle and hum). It’s the kind of dance music Trent Reznor would be making today if he was still edgy and had a soft spot for Mr. Oizo. It’s reminiscent, as well, of certain portions of Primal Scream’s XTRMNTR.

No Pop is sure to frighten small children and the elderly. The doom is palpable. Check out “Nasty Boy” below.

-Scott Bryson

 

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The Pains of Being Pure at Heart – The Echo of Pleasure

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The appeal of The Pains of Being Pure at Heart’s latest record—and of much of their last one too—is that every one of its songs sounds like the last song on an album: all the guitars, all the strings, all the keys, all the emotions, all thrown together in a looping, blissful climax.

How they can go all-in like that for nine songs straight (especially live) without exhausting themselves or listeners is anybody’s guess, but the appeal is tangible: it’s hard not to like these songs because they all appear so imbued with sentiment.

The only negative: the sometimes saccharine, always emotive vocals and lyrics may be a turnoff for those not used to them. Check out one of the disc’s less sugary tunes below.

-Scott Bryson

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Waxahatchee – Out in the Storm

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The more we listen to this Waxahatchee—don’t ask us to pronounce that—album, the more we’re convinced it’s a reincarnation of the record we were hinting at when we posted that “Silver” video last week.

Out in the Storm is more lyrically sophisticated than that seminal debut by The Weekend, but the sentiment is comparable; this is the stuff of all good pop albums—failed relationships, insecurity, and in the end, renewal—and it’s far more world-weary than bedroom-bound.

Katie Crutchfield has surrendered a turbulent ride to us—one that trades blazing, cathartic blows (see “Silver”) with hindsight-wise parries (check out “Recite Remorse” below).

-Scott Bryson

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Daniel Romano – Modern Pressure

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We’d normally advise someone who just put out their seventh album in seven years to slow down and give us time to digest their output, but we’re addicted now, and the craving for more is persistent. Daniel Romano is the nicotine of Canadian pop music.

Topping If I’ve Only One Time Askin’ (or insert your Romano favourite) wasn’t going to be an easy task; it’s hard to say if he’s done it here, because they’re two very different albums. It’s a tie, at least.

Modern Pressure is alive with urgency. It’s the sound of an artist approaching each song as if it might be the last one he ever makes. It’s epic, but never over the top. A flair for the dramatic meets down-to-earth sentiment—John Cale crossed with CCR.

Check out “When I Learned Your Name,” below.

-Scott Bryson

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Del Bel – III

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Is that a… rap interlude in the middle of track one? (Check it out, below).

This guest appearance by Clairmont The Second is a stark declaration that Del Bel are expanding their horizons, and it’s not the only novelty we see here.

You could label a lot of III’s material trip-hop, in the vein of Tricky or the Supreme Beings of Leisure, but that root expands into jazzier territory as the album progresses, and this is considerably more complex and of-this-decade than either of those acts. Complexity comes naturally when your band has 11 members.

Lively tempo and programmed beats notwithstanding, III is as dingy a collection as we’re used to receiving from Del Bel. Lisa Conway’s parting words sum up the mood well: “Maybe there’ll be a brightness after all this dark.”

-Scott Bryson

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2016 Albums of the Year: Car Seat Headrest – Teens of Denial

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The Telescope presents: the top albums of 2016. We gathered best-of lists from staff and contributors, crunched some numbers and came up with a list of records that unanimously wowed us this year.

Welcome to the new era of music: a band self-releases eight albums, signs to a label, puts together a greatest-hits record and obtains overnight success. This is the story behind Will Toledo and the project he named after the place where he came up with his songs.

Car Seat Headrest wasted little time moving on from that best-of, Teens of Style. Seven months later, we had Teens of Denial, a critically-acclaimed follow-up that captures a youthful and all-too-familiar time of experimentation and discovery. And like all great albums that succeed in this, it did so without time stamping, focusing on the confusion and confidence and leaving specifics out of the equation.

Teens of Denial talks to the listener like every teenager who thinks they finally figured it all out. The tone helps you rewind to those naïve days, knowing now that it’s a beginning rather than an end. Toledo’s slacker vocals leave plenty of room to attach to the feelings he’s trying to capture, too. This album has a way of sounding like the sequel to your favorite album from your mid-teens.

The video for “Vincent” takes us back to that chapter in our youth where that guy is cutting too loose and ends up wrecking himself and the night for most of the folks involved. Two open chords played through a basic distortion: the uncomplicated arrangement really helps the song hit its mark. It’s tunes like this that make this record so easy to listen to over and over again.

-johnnysomebody

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2016 Albums of the Year: Twin Peaks – Down In Heaven

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The Telescope presents: the top albums of 2016. We gathered best-of lists from staff and contributors, crunched some numbers and came up with a list of records that unanimously wowed us this year.

Down In Heaven’s opener, “Walk To The One You Love,” boasts such an obvious melodic nod to “Bang A Gong (Get It On)” that you may not believe what you’re hearing. You get the sense pretty quickly, on this one, that Twin Peaks have no interest in limitations—“a band that doesn’t know how to play it safe,” says their bio.

There’s plenty more T. Rex lingering in this album. And the Stones. Maybe some Kurt Vile. Twin Peaks took the last 40 years of rock ’n’ roll, threw it in a sack, shook it and pulled out 13 singular vibes to use as jumping-off points. They employ at least three lead singers on top of it—this is peak eclecticism.

They’re caught up in the same pitfalls that four decades of rock has failed to resolve, as well: longing; self-pity; failed relationships. “Life seems to be all confusion and woe,” they’ve decided, but they pull off a cheery disposition in the face of that conclusion. Down In Heaven is a celebration of despair, in the style of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club’s Howl or any Deadly Snakes record; check out “Butterfly,” up above.

-Scott Bryson

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