Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Single Review: Cancel the Astronauts - Seven Vices

Edinburgh(ish) five piece indie popsters Cancel the Astronauts are back with a new single. Since they hold the dubious honour of having had me review all their releases to date, all two of them, I better keep up my perfect record and talk a bit about Seven Vices.

Seven Vices is a bright and breezy wee pop number. The intro is a wee bit Frightened Rabbit, before the pace picks up and some gorgeous harmonies kick in. The song does what Cancel the Astronauts often display a fine knack for, just when it seems like it is sailing along enjoyably, but inoffensively, you find that it has sneakily wormed into your brain, and you are still humming the hooks long after it finished. That seems like a bit of a backhanded compliment, but it isn't meant to be. I like it when a song digs its claws in like that, and it is exactly what I want from a pop song. Not everything has to be complicated or a challenge.

Something Approaching starts off with a lovely downbeat bit, just vocals and a sparse piano refrain, before picking up pace gradually. Sweet, charming, catchy and done in three in a half minutes, once again doing wonderfully on the hypothetical "what Jim wants from a pop song" checklist.

Rounding off the single is Playing Hard to Get - no word on whether this is related to the stalker theme of first release I Am the President of Your Fanclub or not - which doesn't break from the trend of the first two tracks, but since I enjoyed those that's just fine with me. Some surprisingly funky bass in there, along with another one of those stuck-in-my-head hooks, and an ending that feels a bit like a hidden track on an album. Splendid.

The single is probably the best I've heard Cancel the Astronauts on record. I'm clearly already a fan, and enjoyed the previous two EPs, but it all just sounds a little crisper and sharper here, which is rather pleasing. When I reviewed Funny For a Girl in June 2010 I said "hopefully we don't have another year for more new material", 14 and a bit months on I'll just keep my mouth shut this time eh?

Seven Vices is released on September 12th, pre-order it now from Bandcamp.
Cancel the Astronauts are off on a UK tour to launch the single. They play The Captain's Rest in Glasgow Friday (the 9th), with support from Over the Wall and Poor Things, tickets are available here, Troon Concert Hall on Saturday, then on Sunday, the 11th, they play in Edinburgh at The Electric Circus, with support from My Tiny Robots and The Bad Books. More dates follow, see their website for details.

Cancel the Astronauts: Website - Bandcamp - Facebook

Monday, 5 September 2011

Album Review: Comply or Die - Depths

We love a bit of noise here at Aye Tunes, so today we are taking the short hop across the Irish Sea for some. Comply or Die are a three piece hailing from Belfast, Depths is their second album, and I'm going to try and get through this without an obvious horse joke.

Depths kicks off with an all out assault in the form of Official Secrets. Loud, frantic and frenetic, it sets out the stall nicely for the rest of the album. The first few tracks on the album keep up the million miles a minute approach, ferocious riffs bludgeoning the ears and rushing the adrenaline, and that's just how I like it.

After the short sharp shock of the opening three songs comes the sprawling 11 minute long Vermin, which breaks away from the formula set down so far. More doom than thrash in pacing, Vermin uses every bit of its lengthy running time wisely, retaining the skull pounding riffs, but giving them more time to build and breathe. It takes a turn to the dark and sinister, before building up to an aggressive conclusion, and sounds excellent.

After that I'm Sick (of This) and Motives resume the frantic pace, with buzzsaw riffs, filthy bass and pounding drums back to the fore.Viscera rounds off this little trilogy with enough power to rattle teeth, and comes out as my favourite of the albums 6 shorter tracks.

Final track DMT follows the lead of Vermin, not least in run time, clocking in at an epic 12 minutes. At times it is almost dreamy, somewhat apt given the psychedelic it presumably takes its name from, then bursting into a wave of distortion followed by even more juddering riffs, DMT has more hooks than a cloakroom, and brings the album to a glorious close.

All in all Depths is a pretty mighty album. One that will leave you gasping for breath, ears ringing, and in my case grinning in approval. The short tracks that make up the bulk of the album provide good, loud, entertainment, while Vermin and DMT that show off the full range of Comply or Die and make me want to come back for more.

All hurdles cleared and across the finish line, and Depths comes out as a winner. I knew I couldn't resist a horse reference.

Depth is out now, available from Bandcamp, Amazon and iTunes.

Shanghaied by Comply Or Die

Comply or Die: Website - Facebook - Bandcamp