DIIV – ‘Is The Is Are’

diiv-is-the-is-are

Captured Tracks delivered ‘Is The Is Are’ this week, the long-awaited second album by DIIV. So far the press has praised the record, but there’s also plenty of fans calling it “samey” and “bland” on Reddit. It was always going to be tough following up their amazing debut ‘Oshin’, so you best just decide for yourself! ‘Is The Is Are’ covers more ground but loses some subtlety and invention in the process. Nevertheless, it’s recommended listening.

 
DIIV – ‘Is The Is Are’ (Selected Cuts)

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DIIV – ‘Mire (Grant’s Song)’

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DIIV have just wrapped up their South American tour (ahead of their Australian tour in February) and marked the occasion with the first public broadcast of ‘Mire (Grant’s Song)’ via Mexico’s Ibero 90.9 FM. It’s the third song we’ve heard from their forthcoming double album ‘Is The Is Are’ (out February 5 via Captured Tracks). The Brooklyn quartet are likely to peak expectations with this song because it subverts their jangly heritage and hits at a harder, heavier future. One that Zachary Cole Smith says defines the 17-track album. Personally, I think it’s the strongest of the three songs so far. Here’s a snippet of what DIIV had to say about it.

As posted on Diivnyc, “…hopefully by now you’ve heard Roi’s song (“Bent”), and now here is Grant’s song (“Mire”). first off, this song was one I really felt connected with the crowds on this past South American tour, in a real, visceral way. but also this is a song which i feel like should help put a lot of what we take from the album and put online before its release in context. it’s so easy to put ‘pop single’ out there, because that’s I guess what people want to hear? and this isn’t really a ‘single’ or anything like that, but i really feel like this song will help make the album make more sense, partially bc it makes more plain the darkness and heaviness that defines a bulk of the album, whether its musical, lyrical, or in some less tangible way relating to events or moments in my life around the album’s genesis. because i guess it kind of hurts me to read over and over reviews of our songs where everything is called ‘reverby, beachy, summery, happy, etc’, where the listener/reviewer can barely listen past our specific sonic palette and hear the actual SONG that is making use of that palette… in short, i feel like this song represents a really important aspect of this album, and to only represent the ‘pop single’ side of it wouldn’t be fair to the album itself.”

DIIV – ‘Mire (Grant’s Song)’

Visit DIIV @ Captured Tracks @ Facebook.

 

Medicine – ‘Home Everywhere’

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Medicine have returned with their latest LP ‘Home Everywhere’ and once again upturn our preconceptions! The off-the-wall song writing goes out of its way to avoid any conventional structure or formula, with unpredictable melodies to suck you in. It’s hard to follow on first listen but this is not background music, ‘Home Everywhere’ demands an active listener!

The experimental rock vets blend classic psych rock with dubby noise and off kilter rhythms. It’s a fresh sound that tips it’s hat to the past but still sounds ahead of its time, an impressive effort considering ‘To The Happy Few’ only landed last year. The album is strung together with solid vocal performances, much of the melodies have a 60s pop feel, backed by trippy harmonies to fill out the mix.

There’s so many ideas packed into each song, you’re bound to latch onto something different each spin. It’s like listening to a regular album, an album in reverse and an album played at half speed, all at once. This will be too ambitious for some, where do you draw the line between unique and quirky? The latter half of the record has less twists and tangents, it settles into a welcome groove on ‘It’s All About You’.

After more than twenty years making music, Medicine are still taking risks and indulging in creative twists that make ‘Home Everywhere’ a fearless record. It’s bold and full of character but at times there’s just too much going on. The shoegaze and noise rock label doesn’t apply to this album at all, Medicine have developed their own niche. I’m not sure what substances were used to get there but I want in. Available now via Captured Tracks.

Visit Medicine @ Captured Tracks @ Facebook.

Medicine - 'Home Everywhere'
SONGWRITING
SOUND & PRODUCTION
REVERB RATING
PRO'S
  • Ambitious songwriting & sounds
  • Inventive & genre defying
CON'S
  • Not as cohesive as 'To The Happy Few'
3.7Overall Score
Reader Rating: (6 Votes)

Medicine – ‘Turning’

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Veteran rockers Medicine will release their new album ‘Home Everywhere’ on October 28 through Captured Tracks. The San Fernando trio have posted the lead single ‘Turning’, an experimental psych pop piece. Following the release of Medicine’s reunion album ‘To The Happy Few’ last year, the group continued recording. The result is nine fresh tracks, part Brazilian-inspired noise pop and part experimental drones! Guitarist Brad Laner tells Exclaim! about the title track, an “11-and-a-half-minute, multi-part album-within-an-album which begins as a sprightly celebration of domestic bliss and ends with a comely invitation to leave the planet.”

 
Medicine – ‘Turning’

Visit Medicine @ Captured Tracks @ Facebook.

Craft Spells – ‘Nausea’

CRAFT SPELLS - 'NAUSEA'

Craft Spells new LP ‘Nausea’ has arrived amongst a busy week of new album releases (including newies by The Fresh & Onlys, Stagnant Pools, Vaniish and Towns). Lead single ‘Breaking The Angle Against The Tide‘ arrived in March and revealed the quartet’s progression since their 2011 debut ‘Idle Labor’. The Craft Spells sound has been fleshed out with added instruments. It’s a much more natural and “live” approach than their 2012 EP ‘Gallery’. The second single ‘Komorebi’ confirmed this with orchestral sounds, a twist on their jangle pop debut. But is it an improvement?

This is the first time the San Francisco-based band have recorded with a full line-up in a studio with a producer in tow. So there’s more polish, the production is a big step up, no question. ‘Nausea’ was conceived on piano by front man Justin Paul Vallesteros and there’s a lot of beautiful sounds on the record. Thankfully, there’s also a lot of reverb too! But sadly, the translation from the piano to the finished product lacks some lustre. There isn’t really enough songwriting weight or ideas to justify the elaborate production gloss. The simple melodies worked well enough on the lo-fi sounding ‘Idle Labor’, it matched the style of songwriting so why switch? As the saying goes “less is more”.

That said, there are some strong moments beyond the stand out singles. ‘Twirl’ is a fun twee pop tune that doesn’t take itself so seriously and ‘Laughing For My Life’ has some unpredictable twists. Overall, it’s worth the ride for existing fans but is unlikely to convince many new ones. ‘Nausea’ is available now via Captured Tracks.

Visit Craft Spells @ Captured Tracks @ Facebook.

Craft Spells - 'Nausea'
Songwriting
Sound & Production
Reverb Rating
PRO'S
  • Strong singles
  • Well crafted production
CON'S
  • Lacks songwriting depth
3.4Overall Score
Reader Rating: (6 Votes)

Craft Spells – ‘Komorebi’

CRAFT SPELLS - 'NAUSEA'

Craft Spells deliver their new single ‘Komorebi’ in the lead up to the forthcoming album ‘Nausea’ (out June 10 via Captured Tracks). The San Francisco-based jangle poppers have fleshed out their sound, adding a lush orchestral layer that sets them apart. If you missed the lead single ‘Breaking The Angle Against The Tide’, check it out here.

Craft Spells June Tour Dates…

6/13 – Brooklyn, NY – Captured Tracks Northside Showcase – Warsaw*
6/14 – Washington, DC – Rock & Roll Hotel**
6/15 – Baltimore, MD – Ottobar**
6/17 – Columbus, OH – Rumba Cafe
6/18 – Bloomington, IN – The Bishop
6/19 – Chicago, IL – Township
6/20 – Ferndale, MI – The Loving Touch***
6/21 – Toronto, ON – NXNE
6/21 – Montreal, QC – Il Motore
6/23 – Boston, MA – Brighton Music Hall

Craft Spells – ‘Komorebi’

Visit Craft Spells @ Captured Tracks @ Facebook.