Music of 2014, part two

10th August 2014 – 3.51 pm

I thought I got a good start to my music reviews for the year. Maybe I did, but I've definitely slacked off since, only now managing to push out my second round of reviews. Some good, some average. I've already got more to come, so I'd best press on.

I think Interrupt is Bleeding Rainbow's introduction to UK shores, but I rarely do research on bands to find out this kind of information. The NME review is positive and sounds like the kind of music I'd like, which is good enough for me. First impressions that this is good indie rock are replaced on further and closer listens, upgraded to being excellent indie rock. The two vocalists, male and female, have distinct tonal qualities that help shape the songs differently, adding another dimension to the structure of the album. The drumming is heavier than normal, adding urgency to the thrumming, distorted guitars, and giving each track its own character whilst maintaining an overall coherence. Interrupt is a fine album that will be enjoyed for a long time.

A threatened Tube strike made me not want to risk being stranded in London just to see The Family Rain on spec, but it didn't stop me picking up their album. I'm glad I did, and kinda disappointed that I didn't get to see them live, particularly as the strike was called off at the last minute. Under the Volcano is packed from start-to-finish with catchy guitar-based pop songs. The vocals are strong and have a great tone to them, the drumming is varied and interesting, and the melodies all bounce along brilliantly. This is an excellent debut that is going to get plenty of play. I know I'd have loved to see them live.

I saw Cheatahs support Metz last year, and although I was more impressed by The Wytches (sorry, Cheatahs) I am still tempted enough to pick up their debut album. It's great! Being sandwiched between The Wytches and Metz probably wouldn't do many bands any favours, but even suggesting that is to damn Cheatahs with faint praise when they deserve much more. Psycho-rock guitars and shoegaze vocals are combined to maximum effect, and woven with melodic interludes in to varied and creative songs. Cheatahs sound like the very best of the early 90s shoegazing scene updated to have a contemporary feel, making this a gorgeous album that is already becoming a favourite of mine for the year.

Mole City starts out well, with a catchy song over some fuzzy guitar and chirpy vocals, giving me a positive feeling about the rest of the album. Quasi take a bit of a turn by third track, though, to a broader stylistic feel, and another turn after a couple more tracks to be somewhat quirky. A patchy experience is only to be expected from an album twenty-four tracks long, I suppose. Although there is plenty to like, some songs feel weak or against the general flow of the album to make Mole City an inconsistent experience. Sometimes less is more, and releasing a couple of EPs alongside a shorter LP may have been a better idea.

I don't know what's happened to The Men. They used to be loud, unpredictable, exciting. Although they calmed down a little and found more of a musical side to their punk roots in recent albums, there was always a roughness detectable in their songs, a rebellious spirit that gave them an edge. Maybe they were just getting it all out of their system, ready for their first mainstream-produced album, Tomorrow's Hits. Now their songs just sound like more of the same, almost like outtakes and b-sides from their previous album. Although a couple of songs sound good, there's a disappointing blandness to most of the album. Even when horns are blaring away excitedly, it only creates an impression of passion over what feels very hollow. Tomorrow's Hits is a flat experience.

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