Noise 101 – CD reviews for Nov. 15
Following Day and Age, and on the heels of Brandon Flower’s solo work Flamingo, comes Battle Born: an underwhelming album. It’s extremely derivative to say the least. All the songs seem to follow the same pattern of blandness. The focus is placed on a cloying, monotonous synthesizer that hums throughout, as well as technical and admittedly decent drums. The bass and guitar are underplayed and lacking. The songs imparts the tired theme of “trying to get by”, while they attempt to merge with the Killers’ sound. The whole thing reeks of a lack of effort on the band’s part. For an album about fighting through hard times, Battle Born is less aggressive than rush hour traffic in Calgary. It’s insane and ironic to realize that The Killers managed to do grittier work with Brandon Flower wearing eye-liner. If the band seems so intent on sticking to Vegas-inspired mediocrity, then maybe they should check in for a few nights at Sam’s Town and get their shit back together.
– Logan Pollon
White Girl Records
A glorious combination of opposites, July Talk’s self titled album debuts as a sound to be remembered. The most prevalent subject of July Talk is the back and forth vocals between the Peter Dreimanis and Leah Fay. It’s a common theme – the man’s voice is rough, Joe Cocker-ish, almost overly masculine while the girl’s is soft, innocent, high-pitched and predictably feminine. However, not every male female duo sound as appealing as Andrea Bocelli and Sarah Brightman, and as charming as Bing Crosby and Doris Day. The genius of the band is an odd, almost indescribable mix of styles, as the band attempts to not fit into any one genre. They touch on blues and classic rock, while maintaining a feel of modern indie and alternative rock. Even though no songs sound the same and the genres are often switched, there is a certain consistency that connects them. It seems like this wild combination of styles shouldn’t work, but it does; a hell of a lot better than most bands. The album has a very “back to basics” approach. There are no over-the-top guitar solos, crazy vocal runs or pretentious lyrics. It’s just a yin and yang of what music should sound like.
– Logan Pollon
Aidan Knight’s second album Small Reveal definitely sets the tone for indie folk music of today. The Victoria-based singer-songwriter has produced an album that should resonate for years to come. Knight– previously a solo artist – is backed by the Friendly Friends, including girlfriend/trumpet player Julia Wakal. The fuller band gives Small Reveal that extra something that helps push Knight from someone who will get played only get played on CBC Radio 3 to selling out shows nationwide.
The album features the familiar, intricate instrumental build-ups and Knight’s flawless voice and powerful lyrics. Yes, the majority of songs are slower but they have the most incredible instrumentation that is bound to give you goosebumps.
Knight is one of Canada’s better up-and-coming songwriters, and Small Reveal shows why. If you don’t want to take my word, just give his closing song “Margaret Downe” a quick listen. If that song doesn’t move you, I don’t know what will.
– Caitlin Clow