ALBUM REVIEW: NICHOLAS JAAR – SIRENS
It’s been a colourful journey following New York-based, electronic pioneer Nicolas Jaar through his musical career. First there was 2011’s Space Is Only Noise, then came 2015’s Nymphs, then, a heavier side to Jarr’s vast experimental spectrum – Pomegranates – Jaar’s re-soundtracking to 1969 avant-garde film, The Colour of Pomegranates, was released later in 2015 and this week, we excitedly anticipate the artist’s latest release, Sirens.
The Chilean’s artistic tendencies may have something to do with his politically pointed father, Alfredo Jaar, who pours his life into photography and conceptual art and is the mastermind behind the Sirens album artwork.
The album is currently being streamed on one of Jaar’s most in-depth and exciting projects to date, using an online radio network based on his record label, Other People. While scouring through different channels, expect to find sounds of rainforest rustlings or readings from old films, until reaching channel 333, where Sirens is streamed. Magical, eh?
With no clear start or end to each track, this whole album takes minature snippets from different genres, which are then twisted and moulded into something completley new. The start of this album, ‘Killing Time‘, draws us in with an array of everyday and unusual sounds, like crashes of glass being mixed with the beauty of hair-raising piano harmonies. Further into this map of Jaar’s mind, more electronic bass sounds are introduced, hip-hop inspired rhythms are joined with his angelic vocals, and altogether, it makes something quite unforgettable.
Each track is textured and layered with intense thought, murmurs of Jaar’s vocals blend in and out – sometimes calm, sometimes with a faint intensity. Jaar explained in a recent interview with Rolling Stone about his intentions before this production: ”I set out to not talk about myself for the first time. It usually comes from a very personal place and ends up further removed. Here I tried to go further out and at some point just ended up deeper in, talking about things that are more ingrained in me than anything I’ve done in the past.”
Lyrically, the album explores a more unique way to express emotions through words. ‘History Lesson‘ is written in chapters, while ‘Three Sides Of Nazareth‘ explores different languages as well as being written as a transcript.
Sirens is a musical journal with accidental insights into Jaar’s life. It’s a beautifully crafted map of his mind – surf through the different channels and experience this journey for yourself.
1. Killing Time
2. The Governor
5. Three Sides of Nazareth
6. History Lessons
Peace – Happy People
It seems as though the four piece indie band, who have beaten the likes of Swim Deep, Fat White Family and Circa Waves in the race to the top of the alternative charts predicted England’s sunny weather and mastered the album of the summer before anyone else.
Peace’s choice of name for their newest album is a little weak on the creative front, especially as it contradicts many of lead singer Harrison Koisser’s lyrics, where lyrically, this song isn’t the strongest, it portrays tinges of lack of confidence, predominately in his song ‘Perfect Skin’ with the chorus “I wish I had perfect skin, I wish I was tall and thin”.
The band seem to refer to a number of issues circulating the media, including the uproar of feminism and the male stereotype, Koisser questions his manliness and sings “If we’re living in a man’s world, I’m a girl, I’m a girl, I’m a girl”.
Peace have left their grunge tone behind for their last album ‘In Love’ and have moved on to a more Stone Roses/Primal Scream sound, noticed mostly in ‘Gen Strange’. They have cleverly ordered each song in a way which we wouldn’t realise that really, most of the introductions to each song sound extremely similar, along with the lack of Koisser’s vocal variety.
‘Imaginary’ is your classic repetitive pop song, with its verse “you make me feel like, you make me feel like, you make me feel imaginary” several times, it’s hard to not find yourself skipping to a different song.
Peace have managed to stay in the media’s eye since their first album, the extent of their fan base was shown predominantly on Record Store Day 2015 when thousands of super fans queued up for hours to get their hands on Peace’s 12” Happy People LP.
The drumbeats and guitar riffs from both Boyce and Castle act as a slight distraction from the not-developed-enough lyrics, the album offers much more pop than the last unique/grunge album. ‘Someday’ has a Pop-Punk depression feel to it, something maybe that ought to have been left in 2008.
‘Fur’ shows Peace’s most Britpop influences, with a Gallagher-like whiny voice by Harrison, along with the tedious lyrics: “nothing matters when you’re wearing fur, I can’t keep myself from her”, as controversial as it may be, could this just be One Direction disguised as fur-wearing hipster lads with nose rings?
The whole album seems misleading, bouncy, upbeat and merry instrumentals are joined with lyrics of a deeper meaning. With an impressive eighteen songs on the deluxe album, the Koisser brothers along with Douglas Castle and Dominic Boyce have produced an emotional rollercoaster in cd form. Something other bands with a similar fan base and sense of style can’t quite seem to get the grip of.
The album has its ups and downs, relating to issues and more personal lyrics that wont take much learning from their fan base to sing along to when playing live, however the poorly thought out lyrics take away any hope of a modern version of The Cure. Peace seem to have done it right with the first album, building up their followers and releasing RSD goodies as a sort of bribe to not notice the rushed album.
Maybe next time Peace.
Noel Gallaghers Highflying Birds – Chasing Yesterday
There’s not been a day since Oasis split up when a reunion hasn’t been mentioned. Noel Gallaghers new album, along with his ever growing success seems to be a massive ‘fuck you’ to these rumours. As the saying goes, why would Noel need any more fame or money by reuniting the 90’s band?
Following from his first solo album, his musical capability seems to be ever growing. ‘If I Had a Gun’ was one of 2011 most popular alternative songs, Gallagher seems to have used the same technique with Chasing Yesterday to create the hype, by releasing his undoubtedly most popular song ‘In the Heat Of The Moment’.
The First Song of the Album ‘Riverman’ has tinges of Pink Floyd Riffs, leading on a more heavy rock sound In ‘The Mexican’. Primal Scream psych riffs make an appearance In ‘The Right Stuff’ whilst legendary guitarist Johnny Marr joins Gallagher in the last song of the album ‘Ballad Of The Mighty I’.
Gallagher seems to know his audience well, cooking up an album featuring all genres of alternative music. Yet again, he has stepped up his game and released what could be the album of the year.