Can someone grow internally and reach epic heights without making much noise? Can an artist write a truly incredible record yet languish in near obscurity? If a tree falls in…
In some remote part of this known universe, Idlewild wrote what may be the most compelling record in recent years. While their post punk beginnings were humble from a grand musical stand, their passion and intelligent song writing has grown immensely since they first formed. Dogged by comparisons to UK giants Radiohead, Idlewild have proved that all that flair and big exposure means nothing if your product, the very essence they, the mainstream media try to make money from, isn’t of high quality. And in grand tradition, The Remote Part opens with the stadium sized, sweeping track “You Held the World in Your Arms”. It creates an outburst of fleeting emotions, captured in the track’s big orchestral feel – swooping vocals, strings and indelible guitar work. It is followed by a personal favorite in “A Modern Way of Letting Go”, packed with crunchy, up tempo hooks and melodies, it’s reminiscent of fast moving power pop/punk laced with an acerbic rock tongue. Their single, “American English” may somewhat satisfy those who compare Idlewild with Radiohead. It’s catchy guitar riff and beautifully cave like sound resonates perfectly in one’s ear.
What compliments the audio flawlessly is the lyrical poetry that accompanies these fine compositions. Like poetry, it often paints images in your head while you digest the songs and fly away into musical nirvana. The accessibility of this record is striking; while it may not be the most pioneering – sauntering through musical boundaries in an attempt to revolutionize an entire front – it does convey a message of certain serenity within the listener; taking away the burden of critical pressure and turning it into a journey sweeping across landscapes.
Not only strong in power pop riffs and punk loudness, Idlewild manage to serenade the soul with acoustic driven songs and indie rock flavors – perhaps akin to Brit pop/rock seen in the likes of Coldplay. It leaves a puzzled expression on a listener, to try and understand why people have yet to pick up on Idlewild. Perhaps they are just one of those artists, whose beautifully powerful and enchanting music is reserved for the slightly more sophisticated individual. But upon continued listening, The Remote Part is music for everyone – capable, loud, soft, driving, soothing and incredibly exquisite, built on a foundation of personal and musical growth.
(Parlophone / EMI)
The Ritualists – Painted People
The Ritualists play some determined, strong-willed music
After listening to Painted People by The Ritualists, I was very surprised to learn that this is their debut album. This band shows a maturity in their music that I would not expect from a first album and provides inspirational sounding tracks with ‘reach for the stars’ type of guitar riffs. I hear a modern version of U2 in The Ritualists, along with an influence of Radiohead. Their songs are full, wholehearted post-punk hooks with a lead singer that has a sizeable range.
“Rattles” opens the album, and it’s the type of song that shows their audience that they are here to stay. It has a great build-up of excitement and intensity. The band explains that this song is “A combination of dark, deep-pocketed verses juxtaposed with big, flashy choruses is a key element to tracks”.
“Ice Flower” and “Worthiest One” welcomes an electronic wave to the album and showcases just how impressive lead singer Christian Dryden’s range is. His ability to hit those high notes with such conviction puts my falsetto abilities to shame. “Worthiest One” brings this sort of nostalgic feeling- it’s a rock ballad with a floaty guitar riff.
“She’s The Sun” is a great follow-on from “Worthiest One” as it transfers the mood upwards and directs the music into more of a hypnotic vision, which conveys “the band’s inner Sixties Love Child”. “I’m With The Painted People” has a really relatable background to the song. Dryden felt a larger than life inspiration from people like David Bowie and Simon Le Bon, these artists felt like soulmates, which can be lonely at times. It wasn’t until he ventured out into the clubs of the lower east side of New York which helped him feel comfortable to express his creative vision freely. The song is all about finding like-minded people.
There are hooks galore and catchy choruses in pretty much every song. “With this record, I’ve specifically tried to be anthemic,” admits Dryden. “I’ve always loved going to shows, where immediately after the performance, and even on the ensuing days after, you just can’t help but remember and sing the songs you’ve just heard. It’s almost like a higher form of communication.” The Ritualists play some determined, strong-willed music and Painted People shows hints of variations with different genres explored throughout. They sound motivated and in return have produced motivating music for their listeners.
The Decline – Flash Gordon Ramsay Street
What The Decline get absolutely spot-on is their clinical, unrelenting brand of skate punk
It’s possible that since punk broke through to the mainstream in the mid to late ’90s, listeners outside of Australia think Frenzal Rhomb are the only band to have come from the lucky country. It’s true that during the rise of that Epitaph and Fat Wreck sound, Frenzal Rhomb became the namesake of the genre from Australia. However, Australian punks know that their history stretches long before the release of Survival of the Fattest. From the legendary sounds of The Saints to the rock n’ roll infused punk of Radio Birdman, Australia’s punk rock history is not only rich but very much precedes the genre’s mainstream explosion.
Frenzal Rhomb were another chapter in punk down under and for many, they opened a lot of doors. If not at the very least, proved that there were fertile grounds for new bands to emerge across the vast land. Western Australia’s The Decline formed in 2005 and quickly showed their talent for writing up-tempo melodicore that shred as much as it soared. From their 2010 debut, I’m Not Gonna Lie To You, it was clear that the band were equal parts snotty, urgent, funny, and melodic. Like the Frenzal Rhomb formula, they’ve got all of it in spades with a mean streak of Australianness that is both endearing and extremely relatable. Their latest album is no different.
From the title alone you can tell you’re in for a shedload of fun, and while it’s easy to think that Flash Gordon Ramsay Street is just goofy humor, it’s actually got a lot of pointed commentary too. From the animal-supportin’, veggie-lovin’, attack on meatlovers and meatheads (“Brovine”), to the real-estate market questioning “Smashed Avo”, there’s plenty of current talking points that The Decline run through. Sure, you also get vegan buffalo wing recipes (surprisingly, not the song titled “Bullet With Buffalo Wings”) and a love for The Legend of Zelda, but who says you can’t sing about Marxist theories while talking about your love for Nintendo?
What The Decline get absolutely spot-on is their clinical, unrelenting brand of skate punk; taking plenty of cues from the best of the NOFX / No Fun At All up-tempo, hardcore-derived brand of punk. The hooks on Flash Gordon Ramsey Street are as infectious as horny teens on spring break, highlighted by the endless harmonies on songs like the terrific “It Was Always You” and the call and response male-female vocal attack of “Verge Collection”. Brevity is also key, as the majority of the songs here never overstay their welcome with the longest clocking in at just 3:15 (the wistful closing of “Josh”).
Flash Gordon Ramsey Street is concise, to-the-point, and a furious medley of skate punk urgency that is relevant to young adult life as punks in Australia. Great production values to boot mean you can’t go wrong here.