Reviews: Reigning Sound, Alvvays, Avey Tare’s Slasher Flicks
Memphis, TN’s Reigning Sound signed with Merge Records back in 2012, and finally the result of the merger has come to fruition in the form of ‘Shattered’. Whether we’re talking about fans of the band’s previous work or newcomers, it should be the consensus that ‘Shattered’ is a slick monster of an album. Their sound is honed and their rock & roll chops are nice and sharp.
‘Shattered’ has a beautiful quintessential appeal that could satiate the novice and elitist snob alike. The musical range that is exhibited is, in itself, incredible. Their classic approach beautifully balances an exquisite blend of R&B, soul, and good old fashioned rock & roll. The culmination of a plethora of such strong stylistic influences has allowed Reigning Sound to create an album that is as romantic as it is real. Each composition has its own life and attitude. For this, and a host of other reasons, those people who simply have to put a label or categorization on their music will fortunately have a bit of a tough time doing so with this record.
Much of the music on ‘Shattered’ has a great early rock & roll feel to it. The songs have good energy and the overall vibe of the album’s music is jubilant and carefree. So many musical influences shine through in the songs. “My My” could easily be turned in by the Rolling Stones. James Brown’s howling screams would sound amazing on “Baby, its Too Late”. If you close your eyes and imagine Otis Redding singing on “I’m Trying (To Be The Man You Need),” it could completely work.
‘Shattered’ is an album that is excellently rounded in sound. The music has nostalgic spirit with contemporary execution and sound. It definitely has an old soul but is still a very modern album at the same time. Reigning Sound has an undeniable classic appeal with their music and their delivery. This is a great album to put on to pick up the mood on a gloomy day, letting it play through, again and again on repeat.
Alvvays-a five-piece Canadian outfit-apparently has its roots planted in the Canadian isles, and finds its heart in the big city. That makes sense after hearing this sweet slice of jangly shoegaze dream pop. There’s a feeling of distinct isolation amid the sophisticated melodies and arrangements that creates a beautiful duality and makes for an alluring collection of songs.
At its core, this self-titled debut is nothing if not romantic. The songs play like ribbons floating freely in a soft evening breeze, though they flow with a purpose. The instruments are an extremely effective marriage of the organic and the synthetically enhanced, they and construct melodies that could remind one of either a happily meaningful moment, or how that moment that once was can never be had again.
The vocals, at times, are so soft and sweet, but they are, at other times, so hollow and sad, though it all works in favor of the material and ultimately they play a huge part in shaping the albums entire contents. A sense of distance is perceived in the haunting, vaulted vibrations from the presence in the guitar sound. The blend of electronic sequencing and traditional instruments enhances the felicitous arias and adds to the dreamy, ethereal fundamentals of Alvvays’ sound. When nostalgia and reminiscence are conjured by the melodies, the feelings evoked can be polar opposites. Their [Alvvays] ability to constantly ride the line of dusk and dawn, warm and cold, joy and melancholy, is quite impressive for a group so fresh and young to have grasped so eloquently.
This self-titled debut release from Canada’s Alvvays is a true success in a variety of ways. While their sound is definite, they’ve left themselves much room to expound on. The catchy musical and vocal hooks in songs like, “Archie, Marry Me,” “Party Police,” “Next Of Kin,” to name a few, show promise of ability to achieve a kind of ‘pop’ appeal. Alvvays has set a pretty high bar for themselves with this debut. Time will definitely tell what all this young band can truly craft and deliver, but the future looks bright for these five young people.
Avey Tare’s Slasher Flicks –
Enter The Slasher House
This side project by Animal Collective’s Avey Tare is, indeed, quite the sonic adventure. Though comparisons to his prolific work with Animal Collective are likely, Enter The Slasher House is another beast entirely. Tare’s sonic imprints are crystal clear in the songs on this album, but the material has a much more accessible quality than a lot of Animal Collective’s music sometimes has. Avey Tare has taken his touch and expanded it outside of his more familiar realm.
Again, though similar, the musical attack is a bit more ‘orthodox’ and the structuring make for more scrutable songs, so the potential is there to register in a more palatable fashion for a larger, more general populous. Enter The Slasher House is full of lush musical layers and swirling soundscapes while allowing the sounds of the organic instruments shine through along with the modeled sounds culled from electronic sources. The arrangements have body and life. Verses and choruses are phrased with a capacity to linger in the mind. Great hooks that are as catchy as they are intelligent could carry many of the songs to a more ‘mainstream’ place, yet still ring nicely for established admirers of the more abstract compositions. For instance, tracks like “A Sender,” “Duplex Trip,” and “Little Fang” might easily allow Avey Tare’s Slasher Flicks some real crossover capability. Even further, much of the music on the album could easily go far with pop radio airplay.
Enter The Slasher House finds Avey Tare operating outside of his known parameters, expanding into a territory that appears to suit his musical style extremely well. Overall, the comprehensive delivery comes across in a very witting, prudent way that is pleasing to the aural senses. If one should go into this aural experience with preconceived notions there might be a surprise waiting. A fundamental reason artists take the path to something different and separate it from the bigger machine is to, well, do something different. Of course attributes bleed through, but ultimately Avey Tare has created a concept that has the strength to stand alone.