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Denver Harbor – Scenic

The appeal in Denver Harbor’s music is more universal; the songs are fun enough for old Fenix TX fans, melodic enough for pop fans, and hard enough for picky rock fans.

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After a terrible break up, musicians usually try to distance themselves from their old band by creating something completely unexpected with their next project. Not so with Will Salazar, who seems to believe in sticking to what he does best: poppy, punky rock. Denver Harbor is not at all a departure from Salazar’s last band, as any song off of Scenic would not seem out of place on one of Fenix TX’s albums. Unfortunately for Denver Harbor, it is no longer 1999; this album seems out of place in today’s rock scene dominated by moody epics, the brilliantly unexpected, and a punk rock opera. However, this album is an enjoyable throwback to the simple days when punchy and catchy songs were more important than heartfelt emotions and haircuts.

While nearly all of the tracks here will cling to your head like musical Saran Wrap, “Picture Perfect Wannabe” in particular is a mercilessly catchy highlight. It’s fitting that it’s followed by “Outta My Head,” in which the chorus repeats “…I can’t seem to get you outta my head / I’m never gonna get you outta my head.” It would become irritating if it weren’t for the heavy, crunchy guitars, Ilan Rubin’s amazing beyond his 15 years drumming, and Salazar’s voice, which manages to be soothing and powerful, mellow and menacingly loud. “The Ride” and “Twenty Seven” also stand out as great, unpredictable songs, mixing it up with different influences and structures. 

Denver Harbor are talented musicians with the rare ability to make memorable and intriguing yet simple rock songs. The music comes off as breezy and effortless, but a closer listen reveals real musicianship. While the lyrics lack the extreme emotion and poetic qualities that listeners are used to right now, it’s very easy to forget when you’re singing along. The appeal in Denver Harbor’s music is more universal; the songs are fun enough for old Fenix TX fans, melodic enough for pop fans, and hard enough for picky rock fans. There’s nothing new here, but sometimes taking the scenic route isn’t such a bad idea.

(Universal Music)

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Hatchie – Keepsake

Keepsake, the debut album by Brisbane dream pop artist Hatchie is musical luminescence that can only be described as music written for the stars

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Hatchie Keepsake

Brisbane indie-pop artist Hatchie (known to her friends and family as Harriette Pilbeam) is in the envious position of being a pop artist unspoiled by the many trappings of what it is to be a modern pop artist. Unlike some of her contemporaries who craft music by committee or with Sheeran-like self-importance, Hatchie is as of now, unsullied by the pressures of the cookie-cutter pop machine. Hatchie’s debut full length is a showcase for a talent who is supremely confident and composed in her abilities, and Keepsake is musical luminescence that can only be described as music written for the stars. The album is also a wonderful throwback to pop’s dreamy 60s influences that shuffle in and out of this delirium while working alongside distinctly more current musical touches.

There is the lush dream pop sounds of “Without a Blush”, taking cues from the best of what Stars and Goldfrapp conjure but heaping a tonne of Pilbeam’s charisma on it. Like her vocals, “Without a Blush” has this elegance that has the ability to elevate songs from being beautiful to grand. It is the kind of vocal elegance that really shines through on songs like the skittering, beat-driven “Obsessed” and the alternative, guitar-fuelled (yay!) “When I Get Out”. Indie/electronic closer “Keep” is a wonderful end to proceedings.

However, the great strength of Keepsake is not just its composure in how all the songs have been put together. It is also this genuine, natural-sounding quality that permeates the album- nothing overly written, overly produced or put together by research groups or music analysts. It just sounds like talent. We can argue that much of pop music is constructed to appease the moment- designed to grab as much attention as possible in an A.D.D. world. And sure, that can be said about almost any kind of music, but the resulting aural tone of Keepsake is anything but transient or transparent.

The best way to combat tepid chart-topping music is to write better pop songs. Songs like “Her Own Heart” and the disco-toned “Stay” are examples of pop music that come across as timeless. We are moved by the songs found on Keepsake when we listen to them today. And I suspect that in 10 years time, or in 20, we will most likely feel the same. It is rare to find the sort of ageless beauty you find on Keepsake.

(Heavenly Recordings)

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