Tag Archives: Mazes

The Best Releases of the Year – Chuck’s Best Nuggetts for 2014!

Chuck’s 2014 with hindsight.
It has indeed been a fantastic year for Indie music and for my ears, a re-appreciation of (via a re-evaluation of) the Aussie Indie / Alternative / Experimental scene. It was also the year of the EP in many ways as some stunning talent was unleashed via the shorter format release.

I love a band that can grasp the immediacy of a short release or series of, the opportunity to give rise to experimentation from their regular sound, or just the refusal to release a full length album peppered with filler tracks.

The Aussie Indie waters can in no way be described as stagnant. The creative pools are running deep and strong in the land down under. The year kicked off with a confident salvo from two bands who, if they continue on their current trajectory, will become elders of their respective genres, The Jezabels with their sophomore outing The Brink and then Courtney Barnett threw her gauntlet in with The Double Ep; A Sea Of Split Peas.

Then in May, Caitlin Park’s second The Sleeper hit our ears and that was that. The template was cast for future releases in 2014. Thankfully Aussie Indies took up the challenge, as artist after artist came out with stunning gems from all facets of the wonderful side of music.

For my ears, it was the self-titled debut from Velociraptor that kept finding its way back into the CD player this year. Great hooks, superb use of vocals and an impressive utilization of a large collective of talent into a cohesive Indie rocker! Overall, just a fun album to listen to wearing all its reference points proudly as badges in a parade.

Black Cab’s attempt at reinterpreting the dopers dream Olympics into an Electronic missive is impressive and a great example of the Aussie Freak flag flying high. there are some stunning tracks on this album which took several years (and studios. and producers) to put together. Well worth the effort though, this one is the release they have threatened us with since they coalesced as Black Cab.

velociraptor_velociraptor_0814

 

Releases of note – Australian 2014

1 – Velociraptor – Velociraptor
2 – Black Cab – Games Of The 21st Olympiad
3 – Courtney Barnett – The Double Ep; A Sea Of Split Peas
4 – AFXJIM – Distant
5 – Caitlin Park – The sleeper
6 – Mosman Alder – Humdrum Star
7 – The Jezabels – The Brink
8 – Orphans Orphans – What’s A Boy S’possed To Do? (EP)
9 – Little May – Little May (EP)
10 – Howling Bells – Heartstrings
Peter Black – The Paintings On Your Wall Say Gambler! Gambler!
Dan Sultan – Blackbird
Fox & Fowl – Fox & Fowl (EP)
Ben Frost – Venter
Bluejuice – Retrospectable
Kingswood – Microscopic Wars
The Bombay Royale – The Island Of Dr Electrico
The Preatures – Planet Blue Eyes
The Occupants – Hindsight (EP)
King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard – I’m In Your Mind Fuzz
Lunatics On Pogosticks – Slug Cat & Snail Dog (EP)
Axe Girl – Axe Girl
Jimmy & The Mirrors – Where’s Ben? (EP)
The Grates – Dream Team
The Ruminaters – I Hate The Ruminaters
Saskwatch – Nose Dive
Releases of note 2014 – The Rest Of The World

 

The highlight of international releases this year was Brill Bruisers from Canadian super Indies, The New Pornographers. Finally, after 15 years their 6th outing coalesced the collective genius of the band to produce their finest outing. Their ascent has been similar to a celestial alignment. We knew it was coming we just had to wait for the planets to line up. (Fellow Canadians Alvvays also released a wonderful debut in July as well). The year began with brilliant albums by the Dum Dum Girls, Ásgeir and Highasakite and the brilliant tap was left running as bands such as Death Vessel, Esben & the Witch, Band of Skulls & Wye Oak released career peaking albums.

Brill_Bruisers_Cover

My favourite international weirdo release was the surprisingly brilliant A New Nature by Esben & the Witch. Aptly titled as it turns out, Esben have stirred a cauldron of equal parts eye of Post Rock, leg of Electronica, heart of Dark Folk Vocals and sprigs of Rock, Drone and Punk-Noise to produce a shimmering new beast. A New Nature indeed.

 

1 – The New Pornographers – Brill Bruisers 
2 – Mazes – Wooden Aquarium  
3 – Esben & The Witch – A New Nature  
4 – Highasakite – Silent Treatment 
5 – Dum Dum Girls – Too True
6 – Band Of Skulls – Himalayan
7 – Mogwai – Rave Tapes
8 – Death Vessel – Island Intervals
9 – Ásgeir – In The Silence
10 – Plaid – Reachy Prints
We Were Promised Jetpacks – Unravelling
Alvvays – Alvvays
Tycho – Awake
Eno & Hyde – Someday World
The Twilight Sad – Nobody Wants to Be Here and Nobody Wants to Leave
Ty Segall – Manipulator
Merchandise – After the End
St. Vincent – St. Vincent
Shearwater – Missing Islands
Jungle – Jungle
Tijuana Panthers – Wayne’s Interest
Childhood – Lacuna
Penguin Café – The Red Book
Marconi Union – Weightless
Thumpers – Galore
Hauschka – Abandoned City
Wye Oak – shriek
Ariel Pink – Pom Pom

 

Low points of 2014

 

Another year has passed and still no 4th album by one Joanna Newsom! It will now be five years since we were blessed with Have One On Me, and honestly, it’s just too much. C’mon Joanna, release a new album. Seriously.

That more and more Country artists are trying to latch onto the brand of Americana to try and give themselves a raised level of credibility amongst listeners.

That frelling Pharrell Williams song. – Which brings me to a belated thankyou to Weird Al Yankovitch for Tacky. Thankyou Al, Thankyou.

Review – Mazes – Wooden Aquarium

Artist: Mazes
Album: Wooden Aquarium
Label: Fatcat / The Planet Company
Date:   October 3 2014
Rating: 79/100

mazes wooden aquarium

This is my first foray into the world of British band Mazes, but judging by what I’ve heard online, they have matured brilliantly on their third outing.

For whatever reason, the band found themselves in New York, recording with Parquet Courts producer, Jonathan Schenke. It was winter, they had some of their gear stolen on day one, they had to dig through snow to get to the studio and it was all done in two weeks.

You wouldn’t know it. What they have produced is shiny, snarly psychedelic pop of a high calibre. Guitarist Jack Cooper, drummer Neil Robinson and bassist Conan Roberts do well in a studio environment, creating an album that wears its Krautrock & Psychedelic influences like great big smiley face badges while delivering Indie rock and fuzz straight to your face.

There’s a sense of relentlessness’ about this one, like the trip’s running out, or maybe hasn’t kicked in yet. Either way, tracks like openers Astigmatism & Salford and later in the album, The Letters Between U & V (album stand out track for my money) and Mineral Springs give you the feeling this is a band that is hound like in hunting down the sounds they want, then onto the next scent. They don’t linger.

They still manage time to throw in some Britpop era bliss via Stamford hill and an uncanny channelling of Egyptians era Robyn Hitchcock on Vapour Trails and while they let their wig out most on RIPP, tracks like Explode Into Colours and The Third Ridge still have enough residue to pique the interest of Leary’s ghost.

Overall I found this album hard to take out of the CD drawer, the best slice of psychedelic pie I’ve had this year. My biggest gripe with the album, we didn’t get a big enough slice. Let’s face it, at 32 minutes, it’s a bloody fast high.