Mike Schiller: A shining example of synthpop in 2017, “The Punishment of Luxury” is an impossibly cynical song in a glittery, fluorescent shell. Reminiscent not only of OMD’s ‘80s output but also of classic Information Society and New Order, the latest track from Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark is a straightforward indictment of consumer culture and those who would champion it. Also, you can dance to it. It is expertly produced and performed, showcasing a band finding yet another peak in a long career full of them. [9/10]
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Birmingham, Alabama native Louis Schefano has had quite an interesting career thus far. After playing drums for Remy Zero, he joined two other bands—Little Red Rocket and Verbena—before issuing his debut solo album, 1999’s The Art of Navigation, under the pseudonym of Regia. In-between then and now, he’s kept busy here and there (including live performances with Bright Eyes, the Ladybug Transistor, Maria Taylor, and Sarah McLaughlin), with the most substantial release being his first LP under his name, Opposite Side of the World, this past February. Unsurprisingly, it further established him as a very promising and skilled solo artist, and if his newest single, “Wish Something Would Happen”, is any indicator, its follow-up EP, Wish, will do the same.
I’ve been down with Kim Gray ever since I saw him perform with Skinny Kids at the 2014 Music Waste Festival, and it’s been inspiring to observe his growth as an artist ever since. Gray first branched out under his own name with the Backseat Bingo EP in 2015, then ramped it up with the Malcolm Biddle-produced full-length Perfume in 2016. As ever, Compulsion takes his tasty brand of lo-fi psych-pop to another level.
Mike Schiller: This is a fine way to continue on with the ridiculous success of James Arthur’s own “Say You Won’t Let Go”, though it’s not nearly as catchy as that massive pop hit. The “Stripped Version” linked here is most certainly the preferred way to listen to the song, concentrating on Arthur’s appealing voice rather than Rudimental’s beats and synth work—Arthur’s laid-back vocal style here is what drives the song from forgettable territory into “I wouldn’t turn it off if I heard it on the radio.” Simple, relaxed, and direct is a valid approach even if its results aren’t particularly memorable. [6/10]
Morgan Y. Evans: Iron & Wine writes songs for days and nights you’ll remember long after they have faded into the past. One of the foremost real lyricists left out there, Sam Beam is also able to match it with beautiful, warm and rustic music that doesn’t come off as disingenuous or overly self-important while still feeling personal. He creates such lively musical postcards that most people can find a way into his songs, even as Beam avoids making them run of the mill. “Call It Dreaming” shows Iron & Wine is still the go to band for honest sentiment. [8/10]
// Notes from the Road
"The Joshua Tree tour highlights U2's classic album with an epic and unforgettable new experience.READ the article