Thursday, June 9, 2011

Explosions in the Sky – Take care, take care, take care – A+

Explosions in the Sky don’t make music, they make soundtracks to life and in their latest installment, there’s a sense of peace which is at times uplifting. Although often inclined to create epic compositions heavily flavored with melancholy, this is the most hopeful album they’ve ever created. Rest assured, if you’ve liked previous outings from Explosions, Take Care, Take Care, Take Care does not disappoint and further puts them at the forefront of post rock. Starting off with Last Known Surroundings, the song is an introduction to the album and that’s something you’ll have to maintain VERY present throughout. Although the tracks on this album can be enjoyed individually, they really do merit a full listen through since this album was made to be listened in one sitting. Tracks mesh into one another and the transition from the first track to Human Qualities is quietly beautiful. This track treads through more familiar Explosions territory, but it’s a wonderful setup to one of the definite highlight tracks on the album, Trembling Hands. Stylistically, this is a definite departure even going so far as to include looped vocals on the track. The echo drenched guitars continue but the pace of the song is the closest they’ve come to being frantic and at 3:31, I’m pretty sure it’s the shorts if not one of the shortest songs by Explosions in the Sky. The tone is at one of its definite highest on this track and it has to be a great song to hear live and territory I hope they explore further since it’s quite an interesting thing to see how much music they can cram into four minutes or less. Then you transition to the gentle Be Comfortable Creature. Another revisit to some familiar ground with some very present new colors in their palette. The synth breathing that enters around the 1:45 mark is beautiful and definitely carries across the title of the song. In this song especially you get a sense that Explosions in the Sky have definitely learned how to let a song grow at its own pace. They might be playing it, but they don’t own it by any means and the songs feel quite organic in that sense. Afterwards comes Postcard from 1952 another great song that shows glimpses of past compositions and stylistic trademarks while creating something entirely new before melting into the highlight of the album. In the background you can hear something that seems like a horn section, which is really the background guitar drumming out notes that could very much work in an orchestral setting before picking up the crunch, and taking you for a ride that grows and grows as has been their nature as a band for some time now. Which is all fantastic, but it’s only a setup for pretty much one of their best songs, the closing Let me Back in. The song begins with more synth whispers and some piano in the mix and it just grows, and grows and grows into forever. Truly, it’s a beautiful song and a definite high point in their catalogue since like other songs, it truly takes its time to develop and the end result is magnificent. Take Care, Take Care, Take Care offers the most new dynamics to the Explosions sound and few bands can even fathom to connect the way these guys do.

Highlight Tracks: Last Known SurroundingsTrembling HandsBe Comfortable CreatureLet me back in

Fleet Foxes – Helplessness Blues - A

Fleet Foxes is a band ripped from some sunny hideaway circa 1963. That’s what they sound like but impressively, this band is from Seattle. Trust me, just seeing my record collection you can see I have NOTHING against Seattle and truly am a grunge child. It’s just my way of giving a tip of the hat to a band that has gone their way regardless of what’s expected from said territory. Whereas 90’s bands sounded like they came from the proverbial grey existence that is Seattle at times, you can’t help but feel as if you’re skipping through a sunny field when you listen to a Foxes album. That much is clearly apparent on each of the twelve tracks offered this time around. Montezuma opens with a sunrise track evoking echo laden dollops of hope only to be followed by a more Nick Drake meets America number in Bedouin Dress. Throughout the musicianship is excellent and it’s another album that gets you smiling. I can’t help but feel as if this album sounds like something I would have found hidden in one of my parent’s music collections from their teens. It’s music to inspire and feel hopeful to, which is ironic given the title of the album. The retro folk grandness continues with Sim Sala Bim and it doesn’t let up. Like their debut and First EP Sun Giant, the band doesn’t let up and the quality of the music holds strong throughout. Great band, great album, great listen.

Highlight Tracks: Montezuma - Bedouin Dress - Sim Sala Bim – Grown Ocean – Lorelei The Plains /Bitter Dancer – Someone you’d admire