There is an oft-repeated adage that smiling uses less muscles than frowning and therefore we should spend our lives smiling. While this is not a fact and has no scientific basis, there is perhaps a more measurable comparison in music. Does the plethora of 'happy' music reflect that it is easier and that is why more people do it? How much harder then is it for a group to create music that isn't happy and indeed to make it appealing enough that people want to listen to it?
In the title of the lead single from Foster The People’s sophomore album, ‘Coming of Age’, the group have defined this point of their career sublimely. The group’s debut album was blown into the stratosphere by the poppy perfection that was ‘Pumped Up Kicks’. On closer inspection, 'Torches' was certainly filled with catchy upbeat pop-rock tracks but lacked depth and variety. 'Supermodel', as with most second albums, comes with a weight of expectation, not the least of which is that the group will have come of age somewhat and that their sound will change grown.
At what point did Neil Finn become our Paul McCartney? He had some initial success with Split Enz and then hit the dizzying critical and commercial heights of Crowded House with their exceptional catalogue. But then it all started to go a bit wrong…
For their second album, Sydney’s The Jezabels have created an album of pop-rock that builds upon the strong foundation their debut album ‘Prisoner’ laid. The production is realms ahead and the group have clearly grown as songwriters.
With ‘Hiding In The Light’, Kimono Kult have released an EP that is so left of centre that it matches the ‘extremist’ views of your traditionally spelt ‘cults’. The newly-formed group sees impossibly prolific artists John Frusciante (Red Hot Chili Peppers) and Omar Rodriguez Lopez (At The Drive In, The Mars Volta) team up again to push musical boundaries.
On their debut album, English group Temples tap into the same psychedelic vein that Tame Impala explored so well on their first record. Ethereal and dreamy yet driven by a healthy dose of guitars and persistent percussion, this is a record that is at times easy to zone out to and at others jarringly demanding of your attention.
The John Butler Trio’s sixth studio album comes sixteen years after their debut release and five years after original drummer and Butler’s brother-in-law Nicky Bomba returned to the group (having joined in time to record their last record ‘April Uprising’). This would prove to be Bomba’s last opportunity to contribute on record with JBT as he left the group prior to the album’s completion. Track 10 then becomes the first time we hear new drummer, Grant Gerathy as a member of the group.
Annie Clark’s self titled album, St Vincent, her fourth solo studio record, follows two impressive chart performances: 2011's candid Strange Mercy, and 2012's collaboration with David Byrne, Love This Giant, one of our favourite albums of 2012.
Melissa Etheridge once said “Once I overcame breast cancer, I wasn’t afraid of anything anymore”. It is very tempting to look at ‘Give The People What They Want’ as singer Sharon Jones’ response to overcoming the pancreatic cancer she was diagnosed with in mid-2013.
The title track of Springsteen’s new album High Hopes kicks off with an energy reminiscent of 2012’s Wrecking Ball. Unfortunately the energy of this cover (originally released on 1995’s ‘Blood Brothers’ EP) is lacking from much of the rest of the disc.