New Music Tuesday: Atoms for Peace • Kavinsky • Johnny Marr • Gold Fields • Autre Ne Veut


Every Tuesday, we focus on new music releases by naming our top tracks, album highlights, lowlights and important takeaways for select albums.

Atoms for PeaceAMOK

4-BamsTop Tracks:
“Judge, Jury and Executioner”
“Reverse Running”

Album Highlights: Yep, this is a good one, but let’s be honest, did anyone expect anything less than great from Thom Yorke and his All-Star cast? From the first few notes, you get a general picture of how the next 40 minutes are going to sound, only it grows and expands more and more as the tracks develop. It’s been evident that Yorke has become fond of progressive electronic music, as demonstrated on King of Limbs, and on AMOK, he utilizes the knowledge that he has gained from acts such as Flying Lotus, Pearson Sound and Four Tet, to name a few. Yorke, Flea, Nigel Godrich, Joey Waronker and Mauro Refosco sublimely build tracks from a simple point, then expand and grow them from there to rapturous peaks of rhythm and synth coupled with Yorke’s unmistakable vocals. Waronker and Refosco elevate drumming and rhythm to high plateaus, blending the line between man and machine.

Album Lowlight: Fans who are keen for Yorke to return to early era Radiohead guitar anthems will have to keep on waiting. While this album can be viewed as really just the sequel to Eraser, it solidifies the personnel who were wrangled once Thom wanted to bring it on tour originally in 2010; basically, there are no surprises. Would be kind of cool to hear Flea use his thumb, too.

Takeaway: Simply put, this is another string in the masterful tapestry that Yorke has woven for over two decades. The complexity of the rhythms, while still being palpable overall to the masses, is refreshing while leaving room for more depth to be explored on the stage. To know that more people will open up to the possibilities that electronic music production can bring is also a comforting notion. The evolution of sound from Eraser to Limbs and now AMOK comes in perfect step, and one can only wonder what Thom Yorke has up his sleeve next.

~Kevin Quandt


2.5-BamsTop Tracks:

Album Highlights: While Outrun marks Kavinsky’s first full-length album, it contains a couple hits that make the record seem familiar. While Kavinsky has put out three EPs already, “Testarossa Autodrive” was heard on loop in Grand Theft Auto IV. And most people know Kavinsky, or Vincent Belorgey, as the creator of the most memorable part of the Drive soundtrack with “Nightcall.” The first half of Outrun highlights new material, and “ProtoVision” jumps out as the best “new” track on the record. It instantly grabs you, to the point where you feel like you’ve heard it on the Drive soundtrack or in Grand Theft Auto…

Tracks like “Suburbia,” which features Havoc on the mic, and to a lessor extent “First Blood” with Tyson, hint at where Kavinsky is likely heading in his career; Kavinsky should be making tailor-made beats for Emcees. “Suburbia” makes the vocal-less tracks feel a bit empty by comparison.

Album Lowlight: The biggest drawback with Kavinsky is that his tracks are built on the concept of hooky repetition, to the point that you’ve heard all there is to hear within a minute to ninety seconds. “Deadcruiser” and “Grand Canyon” are a couple yawners that repeat to Nowheresville.

Takeaway: Kavinsky’s mellowed, crunchy house beats are similar to the repetitive sounds Justice has made famous by mixing a modulated back-beat with synthetic overlays. Justice is popular because of where they take songs, and how the beats evolve. The french duo play with expectations, while Kavinsky seems pretty content with two tempos, fast and slow.

That’s how Outrun feels at least. It contains a handful of entertaining dance jams, most of which have been heard before. The listenable shelf-life for a Kavinsky music session isn’t long due to repetition that never dares to go anywhere or evolve.

~Mike Frash

Johnny MarrThe Messenger

2.5-BamsTop Tracks:
“The Right Thing Right”
“Sun and Moon”
“New Town Velocity”

Album Highlights: The former Smiths guitarist and writer puts another notch in his musical belt with The Messenger, a pleasant piece of 21st century Brit-rock. Having left behind his backing band the Healers behind on this effort, it’s being called Marr’s solo debut. The guitar work is undeniably Marr, and beckons the brighter side of recent Brit-rock such as Doves. The pace of the album is pretty constant till you reach “Sun and Moon,” which makes way for some howling and harder strumming coupled with a faster beat and a more noticeable use of synths.

Album Lowlight: Though fans of Brit-rock may not find this album displeasing, listeners with a different knack for rock and roll may find it monotonous and stale. There is a lack of freshness in the tracks, proving that Marr may need a co-captain at all times, like Moz in the Smiths or Bernard Summer while in Electronic, in order to be the most effective.

Takeaway: Marr has been this kind of wondering minstrel of music since his departure from the Smiths in the late 80s, and on this album we see him sketch out an identity of what he is really all about. There are some elements which make this album a critical flop, but can be overlooked to define this release as the whole sound of a solo Johnny Marr. Overall, it’s a pleasant listen, but is going to leave most listeners not thrilled. I’m curious to what his next effort will be.

~Kevin Quandt

Gold FieldsBlack Sun

2-BamsTop Tracks:
“The Woods”
“Happy Boy”

Album Highlights: “The Woods,” the most energetic track on the album, breaks away from the standard structure and BPM backbone the band relies heavily upon throughout the majority of their full length. The samba inspired drumbeat hits hard from the jump-off and remains consistent, whilst interspersed between cryptic lyrics and Gold Fields’ attempt at wolf howls. A fun track, this will probably be a live show highlight and is the best representation of the type of EDM-influenced pop emerging from the Australian scene currently.

Album Lowlight: Had “Ice” been a minute less in length, it would have been the “takeaway” track of the album. It’s structure leads you to believe that there will be some type of worthwhile climax, but it falls short on delivering anything but breathy layered vocals and a change in frets. It’s a good effort, but ultimately just left me craving a piece of Dentine Ice: “nothing’s cooler than…”

Takeaway: “Happy Boy” is a stand out track for it’s diversion from the rest of the material on Gold Fields’ debut album. Although a bit monotonous lyrically and lacking in any type of groundbreaking musical innovations, the band achieves a classic groove through funk quint essentials. This track is a nice change of pace to their somewhat predictable material.

~Molly Kish

Autre Ne VeutAnxiety

4-BamsTop Tracks:
“Play by Play”
“Gonna Die”

Album Highlights: Arthur Ashin, or Autre Ne Veut, has crafted a modern R&B gem with his second LP Anxiety. The songwriting and super-sexy falsetto delivery of the lyrics wreak of authenticy, and Ashin’s Vocals shine brightly over a new wave-influenced production. Ashin’s use of repetition works, especially over the LP’s bookends “Play by Play” and “World War.” Both songs allow for repetitious crooning: “I just called you up to get that play by play” and “No way you’re gonna be my baby.” “Counting” is a hypnotic hit-in-waiting; it is reminiscent of some of the best parts of Yeasayer, How to Dress Well and Passion Pit, yet it’s fresh and addictive upon first listen.

Album Lowlight: “Ego Free Sex Free” would have been just fine without the Alvin and the Chipmunk vocal modulation. That track, placed next to “A Lie,” provides a brief lull.

Takeaway: Anxiety is a sexy record, and it successfully melds an indie-rock mentality, new wave tinged instrumentation and R&B vocals to break new ground. The lyrics and vocal delivery are full of heartache and passionate in-the-moment urgency, often in powerful climatic fashion. Hyper-synthesized background vocals are frequently used for emphasis and as a tool to build emotion at critical points, and the overproduction skillfully enhances the end product. Ashin provides ecstatic moments, one after the other, guided by syncopated electronic drum beats colliding with harmonious synth beds.

Autre Ne Veux could tour with How to Dress Well or Miguel, showing Ashin’s potential audience range going forward.

~Mike Frash


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  3. […] Atoms for Peace’s debut album AMOK is available now. Check out the Showbams review. […]

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