Cayetana – Nervous Like Me Album Review
I’ve made no secret on this blog that all girl Philly trio Cayetana became one of my new favourite bands as soon as I heard their Demo back in January 2013, so it’s probably no surprise that their debut full length album has been highly anticipated round at mine. In the simplest terms, Cayetana write songs that make me feel glad to be alive and I’d love to be able to write a review that makes each of you reading this want to go out and pick up the record, but I fear I’m not eloquent enough for that – all I can hope to do is make you curious enough to at least take a listen as its shaping up to be one of my albums of the year.
The album’s opening tune is Serious Things Are Stupid, and it’s a strong track; a super catchy melody, sing along vocal lines and slightly scuzzy production make you want to turn it up loud. Even just from this opening tune it’s clear that the trio have grown as a band. Their sound has developed into something warmer and more textured than their early tunes, and this becomes even more obvious on the reworked tracks; Mountain Kids and South Philly, both originally featured on that demo, now sound quite different. On both these tracks the guitar and bass have a fuller, richer sound and the drums are crisp and punchy, but its not just the production; South Philly for instance has more assured vocal delivery and reworked, more complex bass lines pushed higher into the mix – both tunes sound fantastic here and realise the potential of those more minimal versions from the demo.
It’s great to hear that scuzzy punk feel hasn’t left them on tracks like Black Hills which has a nice layer of fuzz on the guitar and a danceable rock and roll rhythm and Animal which punches in all the right places. There is a slight change of tone for the sweet and poppy Dirty Laundry which is great to sing along with and has the juiciest bass line and Scott Get The Van, I’m Moving, combines their rougher edges with another perfect pop melody and spot on vocal delivery – it gets into your head and won’t leave, even when you sing it back at full volume.
This is that rare gem, a debut album from a band with masses of potential which delivers 11 great tracks and lets you hear their continuing development together as a unit; it leaves you both satisfied and excited for what they’ll do next.
Dikembe – Mediumship Album Review
Back at the beginning of 2013, I reviewed Gainesville four piece Dikembe’s last album, Broad Shoulders, for Roomthirteen.com; describing it as having “a rough around the edges feel (in a good way), giving the sound an exposed and vulnerable edge – all raw scuzzy guitars and the occasional blast of distortion, but this is all laid over with a sweetness from the great melodies and emotion-filled vocal delivery.” With the release of their latest album Mediumship the band has in some respects kept hold of their essence – solid and often memorable melody is still at the core of each track but their sound has also evolved.
Comparitively, this new album feels like the late night version of Dikembe – where Broad Shoulders felt youthful and had an angsty, scuzzy edge this record feels like it was written in twilight. An introspective mood has taken over; the vocals sound more considered, with a softer tone and the tracks have room to breathe, to grow, and feel expansive, more organic.
The album is just as engaging as their debut, they may have smoothed down those rough edges to some extent but they show they have plenty left in their arsenal, and in fact, this album is more of an instant winner. Meduimship focuses on the tunes rather than the angst and many of the tracks are instantly memorable thanks to their strong melodies; opener Even Bother, which builds to a glorious sing along melody, sticks with you long afterward and the excellent Donuts in a Six Speed mixes dynamics with a lovely dreamy open sound and strong vocal lines.
I think this is a stronger more focussed record than their debut; the expansive sound has leant the tracks an almost epic feel, but they are still very accessible thanks to that melodic core and the excellent vocals. A solid second full length release.
Little Big League/Ovlov Split 7″ Review
This is sweet 7″ collaboration from two great bands, both following up their debut 2013 full lengths. Little Big League have two tracks, the first, Year of the Sunhouse, really delivers on melody – Michelle Zauner’s distinctive vocals trip brightly over sweet guitars; it’s so Summery and catchy you’ll want to hit repeat over and over. Pure Bliss Choices is heavier on the guitars – slightly distorted riffs wail over the vocals (in a good way) – it’s just as catchy but with a moodier feel. Both tracks are worth picking up the record for.
Ovlov’s track The Great Crocodile is the longest on the 7″ and it showcases their 90s inspired indie sound brilliantly – fans of Pavement and Dinosaur Jr. should feel right at home. The tune combines dreamy out of step vocals with crunchy guitars and lots of fuzz. it opens with an extended instrumental section of hypnotic beats and guitars, creating a dark mood, before it breaks into J. Mascis-esque vocals and a janglier indie feel takes over. Later on, the track combines both sounds to create a dense but warm wash of noise, topped with cracking drums and an extended guitar solo to finish.
The 7″ is released through Tiny Engines on 15th July. Find it here.
Direct Effect – Sunburn Album Review
What we have here is a gloriously scuzzed out record with manic vocals and a solid hardcore punk sound, which is not too crushing, thanks to a noise rock edge. Direct Effect are compared, (on the press info), to Fucked Up and The Jesus Lizard, and you can hear why, but they also had me thinking of more recent examples like Iceage and oddly, Cloud Nothings in their more raucous moments – this actually might have more to do with the youthful punk attitude rather than the riffage though.
This is not a catchy, melody driven romp as such, but it does have some tuneful riffs, listen no further than the fantastic [ ] and album opener Permanent Vacation, which is a real foot stomper with a nicely nasty, crunchy guitar sound and a confident, slightly bratty vocal bark. The album as a whole tends towards meaty riffs and measured beats but at times it does pick up the pace and the guitars whine their feedback at you in a scuzzy way.
This isn’t the kind of record with hooks that stick with you, so individualy the tunes don’t leave you wanting more, however for sheer energy and riffage it had me dancing in my chair whilst writing the review and it’s the attitude and feel of the record that will make you come back for more. Not instant record of the year material, but a slow burner which you will rediscover many times. Released early March 2014 through Tiny Engines, listen and buy here.
I was pleased to read yesterday that Cayetana have a new 7″ single on the way, I loved their demo last year and went on about it quite a bit (apparently) so am really looking forward to some new material.
Hot Dad Calender, the new single, is being released by those lovely folks at Tiny Engines and is one of the tracks Cayetana played in a session for The Key a while back which is worth checking out – it’s a great track. No release date as yet but hopefully we won’t have to wait too long. A new album is being penciled in for a Summer 2014 release too, so as their upcoming tour with Waxahatchee doesn’t extend to the UK, we have a full length record to look forward to instead!