The Bilinda Butchers – ‘Heaven’

the bilinda butchers - heaven

The Bilinda Butchers give us their debut album ‘Heaven’ this week via Orchid Tapes (Vinyl)  / Fastcut Records (CD) and digital is right here! The San Francisco-based trio (Michal Palmer, Adam Honingford and Ryan Wansley) reached for the lofty goal of creating a concept record based around a fictional love story set in 19th century Japan. ‘Heaven’ being the soundtrack. As predicted, the album doesn’t fit neatly into any genre. There’s ambient (‘Ume’),  rock (‘Less Than’), synth pop (‘Golden House’), spoken word plus lots of experimentation. They haven’t pigeon holed themselves and it’s a credit to their creativity.

‘Heaven’ features several guest artists that add depth to the record, starting off with vocalist Juri Nakashima. The Japanese flavour is the first taste you get on ‘Ume’, a song of devotion to kick off the tragic tale. It’s done in grandiose  style, this song is a stunner. It’s followed by the catchy ‘Less Than’ which dispels any hope of predicting what the next song might sound like. ‘Old Style Anami’ pairs ambient synths with spoken word. The trio have mentioned previously how video games have influenced them, in these moments it’s most noticeable.

Sarah Psalti (former singer of Keep Shelly In Anthens) contributes to the second single ‘Golden House’. It’s an 80s styled synth popper that marks a turning point in the album’s theme, things are about to get dark! The rain of ‘New Style Askashi’ leads into the 2013 single ‘The Lover’s Suicide’, another one of ‘Heaven’s highlights. But for me, ‘Tanka’ and ‘Edo Method’ are the strongest songs on the record. Both play with pitch bending synths against breakbeats with fantastic vocal melodies.

The latter half of the album focuses on the concept of heaven and the afterlife. ‘Heaven Holds A Place’ is ironically happy, almost comical. I’m guessing that’s what they were going for, there’s soulful falsetto vocals and a chorus of ‘Oooh’s after all! Presumably this is the moment when our remaining lover looks forward to reuniting after death, but I could be wrong. Needless to say, ‘Heaven’ is a unique record, it’s rare to get this wrapped up in an album. It’s a conversation starter that’s likely to drag you back for repeated listens. I can only speculate how many fans will fall in love with it, destined to be high on ‘best of’s lists for 2014.
 
The Bilinda Butchers – ‘Heaven’ (Stream)

Visit The Bilinda Butchers @ Orchid Tapes @ Bandcamp @ Facebook.

The Bilinda Butchers - 'Heaven'
Songwriting
Sound & Production
Reverb Rating
PRO'S
  • Diverse and genre defying
  • Great pop moments
  • Ambitious concept
CON'S
  • There can always be more reverb!
4.0Overall Score
Reader Rating: (11 Votes)

Lowtide – ‘Lowtide’

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Lowtide‘s self-titled debut album is out this Friday (July 18) thanks to Lost And Lonesome! The Melbourne-based foursome are streaming the record at The Music ahead of its release. It’s been four years since their debut EP ‘You Are My Good Light‘ and a long wait for fans since ‘Underneath Tonight/Memory No. 7‘. Lowtide opted to refine the songs for this album over several years at Soundpark Studios with producer Gareth Parton. The lead singles ‘Blue Movie‘ and ‘Held‘ whet our appetite and now we can dig into the nine track release.

 

Album opener ‘Whale’ is a fantastic starter, it’s a little taste of everything that’s loveable about this band. The vocal interplay between dual bassists/singers Lucy Buckeridge and Giles Simon is Lowtide’s biggest weapon. Combine that with inventive compositions and the immersive work of guitarist Gabriel Lewis and you’ve got a recipe for a very good dream pop album! While the singles were strong, I really didn’t feel the full impact until I heard the album as whole. Then its claws stick in.

‘Wedding Ring’ has a sunny melody and pretty vocal harmonies contrasted by droning guitars. It’s the most poppy Lowtide get, along with the single ‘Held’. The album isn’t a downer but don’t expect an upbeat record. ‘Yesterday’ reaches to the depths, a beautiful song with a bassline fit for The Cure. ‘Maxillæ Leaving, Seaward’ is another stand-out, a cinematic slow burner of post rock proportions! It’s also one of the band’s favourites, which Giles mentions in our soon to be published interview. Closer ‘Still Time’ wraps up an amazing record. ‘Lowtide’ is an ambitious album and it sounds flawless, if you’re a lover of dream pop then this is a must listen. Melbourne impresses again!

Visit Lowtide @ Bandcamp @ Lost And Lonesome @ Soundcloud @ Facebook.

Lowtide - 'Lowtide'
Songwriting
Sound & Production
Reverb Rating
PRO'S
  • Male/Female Vocals Are Fantastic
  • Cinematic & Atomspheric
3.9Overall Score
Reader Rating: (3 Votes)

Lightfoils – ‘Hierarchy’

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Lightfoils first full length ‘Hierarchy’ arrives this week via Saint Marie (vinyl / digital) and wow what an album! The Chicago-based five piece have taken the time to get it right (since the release of their 2012 debut EP). This is a much more expansive outfit, that was clear from the lead single ‘Diastolic‘.

‘Hierarchy’ shines the spotlight on Jane Zabeth’s vocals which cover a lot of melodic ground. It’s not a straight up shoegaze record but guitarists Neil and Zeeshan create the kind of textural backdrop you’d normally associate with the genre. It’s inventive work, especially on the stand outs ‘Addict’ and ‘Mock Sun’. Together they’ve crafted a mature album, intricate but not over polished. It sits somewhere in dream pop land and should appeal to indie pop/rock lovers in general.

‘Passage’ is a slow motion rocker with lovely warm reverb, the opening is a little reminiscent of The Smiths ‘How Soon Is Now’. It arrives at a point in the album where something different is needed and Lightfoils don’t drop the ball. ‘Track 7 (no title)’ opens with angelic sounds that blend into drone, a perfect interlude for the later half of the LP. ‘Alovetodestroy’ kicks the energy level right back up before rounding out with ‘Hideaway’ and ‘Track 10 (no title)’. It’s a great mix of energy levels and breaks for air, an album in the traditional sense. If you’re a fan of big swooning vocals and guitar haze then ‘Hierarchy’ is a no-brainer, one of the better dream pop/shoegaze records of the year so far.
 
Lightfoils – ‘Hierarchy’

Visit Lightfoils @ Saint Marie Records @ Bandcamp @ Soundcloud @ Facebook.

Lightfoils - 'Hierarchy'
Songwriting
Sound & Production
Reverb Rating
PRO'S
  • Diverse LP with wide appeal
  • Loads of melodic dream pop on offer!
3.9Overall Score
Reader Rating: (14 Votes)

Neiv – ‘Decades’ EP [Premiere]

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Ever heard a shoegaze song with a saxophone!? You’re about to! Take a listen to ‘Last Cry’ from Neiv‘s latest EP ‘Decades’ (an all analogue recording). It’s a dramatic, inventive, and at times surreal collection of dream pop and shoegaze that bends your expectations of the genre.

The songwriting rule book has gone out the window in favour of unpredictable compositions, usually found in prog or post rock. ‘Summer Daze’ is one example, it’s a slow burner that transitions from post punk into ambient and then explodes with a noisy crescendo. ‘Killed By A Unicorn’ (great title) is a creepy tune, it’s backed by a big synth that sounds like a swarm of bees. It has the same saturated effect but without the guitars.

Closing track ‘Sedaced’ (‘Decades’ backwards), is a reworking of the single ‘Decades’ but this time in reverse! A clever twist to end the EP, and with unnerving results (especially on the vocals). Due credit also goes to Neiv’s producer James Aparicio, known for his work with Mogwai and These New Puritans. The Swiss trio (Pj, Jennie and Bugy) have created a unique EP with depth, pick it up through Worn Pop Records from July 5 on digital and limited white vinyl!
 
Neiv – ‘Decades’ EP [Premiere]

Visit Neiv @ iTunes @ Worn Pop Records @ Tumblr @ Soundcloud @ Bandcamp @ Facebook.

Neiv - 'Decades' EP [Premiere]
Songwriting
Sound & Production
Reverb Rating
PRO'S
  • Genre defying
  • Inventive songwriting
3.8Overall Score
Reader Rating: (6 Votes)

Foxes In Fiction – ‘Shadow’s Song’

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Amazing new tune ‘Shadow’s Song’ from Foxes In Fiction, taken from the forthcoming EP ‘Ontario Gothic’ (out September 23 via Orchid Tapes). The seven track collection features guests including Rachel Levy, Caroline White, Sam Ray, Ansel Cohen, Beau Sorensen and Owen Pallett. Foxes In Fiction is the work of Canadian native Warren Hildebrand. ‘Ontario Gothic’ details Warren’s experiences following the passing of his younger brother. Bound to be a heavy record but on the strength of ‘Shadow’s Song’ it’s going to be a special one (pre-sale).

 
Foxes In Fiction – ‘Shadow’s Song’

Visit Foxes In Fiction @ Orchid Tapes @ Facebook.