Friday, 30 October 2009

reviews: young republic, asobi seksu, the gothenburg address

here are some more reviews recently added to

The Young Republic - Balletesque (***)

After a sticky spell during which two members jumped ship on the eve of recording, second album Balletesque sees The Young Republic re-emerge to experiment with a number of style changes, with varied results. The title track is the spit of Frank Black’s days with the Catholics, from Julian Saporiti’s strained pitch to its boisterous country canter, while The Wolf eases off for a more pedestrian strain of grizzled blues. Though it feels counter-intuitive to criticise innovation, the instrumental embellishments in Sam Clemens prove less successful, its wavering fiddle bursts, brass pomp and other flittering orchestrations are routine rather than revealing. Bows in Your Arms plays more effectively to their strengths, chucking together feedback squeals and a sleazy Cabaret swing to great effect, while rousing finale Tough Year (Hard Waltz) defines its approach in the parenthesis – a winning fusion of Spiritualized-style romanticism and Two Gallants-esque Americana. A patchy pleasure.

out now

Asobi Seksu - Acoustic at Olympic Studios (***)

Acoustic reworkings aren't often worth the effort, either too similar to their original incarnations to warrant the additional labour or misguided and ill-fitting (oi Bon Jovi – This Left Feels Wrong…). With Acoustic At Olympic Studios, Asobi Seksu’s nucleus – singer/keyboardist Yuki Chikudate and guitarist James Hanna – easily avoid the first pitfall and go some way to sidestepping the second. Replacing their trademark blissful distortion with whistle-clean instrumentation alters the atmosphere considerably, stripping away swirling layers to reveal a sugar-sweet core. But it’s not too drastic a change, Yuki’s distinctive pitch provides the most obvious link (songs like Thursday could be sung a cappella and still enthral). Regardless, Acoustic… remains destined for fringe appeal, even amongst avid fans, for the simple reason that at no stage do they improve upon their own work, and the residual urge to re-visit their three proper albums instead is tough to shake.

out Nov 16th

The Gothenburg Address - The Gothenburg Address (****)

The Gothenburg Address have two on guitars, one on bass, one on drums and zero on vocals; looks like it’s time to dig out the Post-Rock Thesaurus. So, are they glacial, turbulent, fervent or shimmering? Yes, frequently in quick succession. Are their crescendos tear-inducing, awe-inspiring, goosebump-raising or just plain old ‘soaring’? That’s too subjective to declare definitively - like most instrumental post-rock (particularly that which comes with non sequitur track titles like Senior in the Stripper’s Light) their ebbs and swells are something of a Rorschach test for the listener to gauge their emotions by. They might mine the same bruised vein as a dozen others (Mogwai the most obvious national example), but frequent changes in speed - in addition to the genre’s more expected variations in volume - distinguish them from the field’s more pedestrian exponents. The Gothenburg Address are a storm on a mountain and a cliff-top in the rain and they’re bloody excellent.

out Dec 7th

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