All posts by Paul McBride

I am a writer and editor based in Brisbane, Australia.

Record review: Veronica Falls – Waiting for Something to Happen (2013 LP)

Veronica-Falls
Have you ever been a fan of one element of a band’s sound but been less fond of another? Say, loved the band, but were unable to stand another second of the ear-grippingly awful caterwauling coming from the dude at the front? Well that’s not quite the case with London quartet Veronica Falls’ second album, as it’s a group of songs stuffed with some of the most perfectly pieced-together jangle pop of recent months, but there’s something just a little too twee about singer Roxanne Clifford’s voice to prevent it being a deadset hit. The ‘twee’ label has followed the band around like a bad smell since their 2009 formation, and it’s probably unfair to pigeon hole them as solely that, as there’s so much more to be found under the pop-lite veneer of the tunes on Waiting For Something To Happen. The most impressive element is the guitar interplay between Clifford and James Hoare, recalling the sounds of Johnny Marr, The Feelies, or cult ’80s college rockers Pylon with energetic aplomb. Opener ‘Tell Me’ and single ‘Teenage’ are perfect examples of this – as the guitars, bass, and drums kick in you sense yourself being in the presence of top drawer pop, before the vocals enter the frame and urge fingers towards the “skip” button. However, what’s great about Veronica Falls is that they don’t seem to care about labels, genres, current trends, or any of that nonsense whatsoever, instead choosing to plough ahead with their catchy brand of simple, harmless pop. (Slumberland/Bella Union)

Record review: Foxygen – We Are The 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace and Magic (2013 LP)

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There’s an argument that psychedelic flower-power rock belongs in another age; an antiquated, bygone form of music that has no frame of reference in today’s dog-eat-dog world. It never totally went away of course, but it was pushed so far underground that it came close to pushing up daisies instead of wearing them in its hair, as the sixties died off and bled into the dark rock of the early seventies and anarchic punk stylings of the second half of the decade. So, given time to lick its wounds and pick itself up again, flower-power is back in fine form, refitted and retuned to cope with the rigours of the 21st century, and young New York group Foxygen are leading the revival. Despite the influences being glaringly obvious (The Beatles, The Byrds, Lou Reed, The Stones’ more upbeat moments) this ain’t no acid flashback folks – this is flower-power revamped for a new generation. Setting out their stall with a ridiculously lengthy and apt title, Foxygen duo Sam France and Jonathan Rado are clearly wired to another era, and sing with total conviction about missing their West Coast love on San Francisco, and being some kind of new-age troubadours on the title track. There isn’t a dud to be heard on this album of sixties vinyl distortion, catchy melodies, sunny harmonies, and perfectly fuzzy guitar; ‘No Destruction’ being probably the finest example of all the above. Based on this evidence, 2013 could well be the year of peace, love, and Foxygen. (Breakfast Horse)

Record review: Palma Violets – 180 (2013 LP)

Every so often a new group of young cool cats is heralded as the saviours of rock ‘n’ roll, and the mission to bring guitar music to the masses and reinstall indie rock back to its position at the top of the musical hierarchy is forced upon them by various magazines and blogs. London likely lads Palma Violets have been touted as the new Messiahs for the past few months, just like Rough Trade label mates The Libertines and The Strokes before them. Being particularly adept purveyors of the form, they will certainly add a lot to indie-rock music, rather than changing the whole scene altogether. Like The Libertines, they are a brilliant mix of ramshackle melodies, gutter heartbreak, and charming scrappiness, and the quartet back up their new-indie-kids-on-the-block style with plenty of song-writing substance. ‘Step Up For The Cool Cats’ is a good place to start checking them out; it brings together scratchy guitar lines, lo-fi organs, and a hint at aggression desperate to be unleashed. Elsewhere, ‘Tom the Drum’ channels the guitar work of Eddie Cochran and drumkits are given a relentless pounding, and ‘Chicken Dippers’ sounds like a junk food-addicted Julian Casablancas crooning on a spaghetti western track. Media hype has crippled and crushed many a young band before they had a chance to really get going, so it will be interesting to see how Palma Violets cope with the expectations placed upon them. (Rough Trade)