Tag Archives: 4AD

CD Review: Atlas Sound – “Parallax” [2011]

Label: 4AD

1. “The Shakes”- A
2. “Amplifiers” – A
3. “Te Amo” – A 
4. “Parallax” – A
5. “Modern Aquatic Nights” – A
6. “Mona Lisa” – A++
7. “Praying Man” – A
8. “Doldrums” –A
9. “Angel Is Broken” – A+
10. “Terra Incognita” –
11. “Flagstaff” – A-
12. “Lightworks” – A++

Comments: Bradford Cox shall go down in the musical history books as not only a top shelf musician, but as a trusted source of inspiration, musically and not. When I listen to Bradford (as Atlas Sound, as Deerhunter, as Ghetto Cross), I often can’t quite get a grip on what he is conveying, but I know it’s surely meaningful to him. His music creates distinct settings that bring back childhood memories and perhaps other fictitious and dream-like settings. This is particularly true for Parallax, which to date might by the man’s most grandiose work. There’s simplicity in the guise of complexity. Wait, well let me explain. Every song is layered with instrumentation that you might not realize upon first or twentieth listen. This isn’t too important. What’s important is that Parallax is affectionate. It’s not as heavy or ambient as some of Bradford’s earlier work. It’s right there in the middle. The tracks that really stand out to me on Parallax slant towards heavy. These are some of the finest songs that I’ve heard in the past couple of years. “Walkabout” from Logos was my favorite song of 2009. Naturally, I’m interested in finding an Atlas Sound successor to that sort of brilliance. I’ve found multiple successors on Parallax. The first is “Mona Lisa,” which was previously recorded as part of the Bedroom Databank. The version on this record features Andrew Vanwyngarden of MGMT (piano/vocals). There’s such a cozy vibe to this song. Perfect for autumn. A glass of bourbon and walk through Boston Common/Central Park/equivalent to your area. Next is “Angel Is Broken,” which sounds a bit like The Best of Bradford, if there was such a thing. I am particularly fond of the transitions from the verses to the chorus, the “aahhhh-ahhhhh” and the line “you’ll be a lot like…me!” The final song that I’m going to discuss is the final song. This is “Nightworks”. I love the clangy guitar and the Left-Right percussion. The harmonica. The bass line. The build-up to the finale. The song is way affirming and exudes positiveness. “Everywhere I look there is a light and it will guide the way.” The other nine songs that I’ve neglected to mention each have outstanding attributes and will surely have you coming back for more. I’ve listened to this album several times in the past two days and I’m sure I’ll keep going at a similar pace. Parallax will be remembered as one of the most engaging albums of this year, decade, and whatever else.

Grade: A (95)

CD Review: Halcyon Digest [2010]

Band: Deerhunter
Release: 9/2010
Label: 4AD

1. “Earthquake” – B-
2. “Don’t Cry” – A
3. “Revival” – A
4. “Sailing” – A
5. “Memory Boy” – A_
6. “Desire Lines” – A
7. “Basement Scene” – A-
8. “Helicopter” – A-
9. “Fountain Stairs” – A-
10. “Coronado” – A
11. “He Would Have Laughed” – A+

Comments: Deerhunter is another one of those bands whose releases I greatly anticipate. Last year’s EP Rainwater Cassette Exchange tickled my fancy, as I gave it about as high of a grade as anything else I heard. I anticipated that I’d be doing the same with this LP. Not the case. There are some cuts that seem like leftovers from Rainwater: the jungle-jangle “Revival,” coincidentally the best song on here, the upbeat saxophone-included ditty “Coronado,”and “Don’t Cry,” an engaging encounter with a youngster who’s in a difficult situation similar to the one that Bradford was in at the same age. Though, more likely, it might just be adult Bradford talking to child Bradford. Next topic: atmospheric songs. These are quintessential to Deerhunter’s discography and probably always will be. Atmosphere + singing is a little bit better than plain old instrumental, but I’m a proponent in the belief that a band can do without these. The folk-tinged “Memory Boy” delves into some thought provoking issues. “Is there anyone who wants to see the sun go down, down, down, down, down, down, down?!” “Desire Lines” has Lockett Pundt and crew taking a stab via vocals, dominant bass lines, arpeggios, and consistent drum beats at the sound of ’90s alternative. “Basement Scene” is reminiscent of ’50s and ’60s Buddy Holly/girl group material with, of course, a decent amount of psychedelia thrown in the stew. “Helicopter” is refreshing and, for lack of a better word, chill. The Jay Reatard dedicated “He Would Have Left” is a similarly chill exposition that holds up well over its near 8 minute length. In conclusion, this record deserves a spot among Deerhunter’s best. It might not contain several game-changing songs that Microcastle or Rainwater possessed, but it does come close.

Grade: A- (92)