Three Album Reviews — Twin River, Axis: Sova, Evans The Death

Twin River, Should The Light Go Out

twin34Thrilled by subtle contrasts? Twin River is filled with a delightful series of them.

Listen to their glistening and dynamic power pop sound on “Get Gone” a track backed by urgent, punk influences on “Anything Goes” (the only track with vocals by Andrew Bishop). From the opening song, “Bend To Break” it is quite evident that Twin River has a treasure chest filled with finely crafted alt-rock songwriting gems. The ten-minutes on “Golden Man” are the album’s, churning, spectral star, radiating a diffuse, shoe-gazing charm reminiscent of a myriad of predecessors and contemporaries. I hear a little of the Cure in its dreaminess. I hear some of Molly Rankin’s (of Toronto’s Alvvays) composed and softly drowned out croon in Courtney Ewan Bromley only here it lays out over more severe guitar rock like “Word To The Wise”.

The Vancouver, British Columbia band has crafted a striking record in Should The Light Go Out (their second album since 2012’s Rough Gold) but to praise this as a neophyte effort is somewhat missing something critical. The five players in Twin River are comprised of members of other bands like White Ash Falls, Dada Plan and Pleasure Cruise. These folks have been around, honing their chops, and on this collection of songs, it definitely shows.

Maybe my two cents aren’t enough on Twin River. If not, check out their Bandcamp site.

Axis: Sova, Early Surf

homepage_large.436f251eLaying out a laundry list of arcane influences can take the starch out of any clear-eyed review of an album but one trip through Axis:Sova’s album Early Surf makes me constantly look back over my shoulder at the best records in my rack.

There are nine tracks of heavy jamming (for light heads, as their site quips) low fidelity rock that will travel your addled imagination back to Velvet Underground, White Light/White Heat era when it seemed like no one gave a damn if the radio would pick up a song. Axis:Sova doesn’t really give a damn either. Their tracks “Afflicted Truth” and “Fractal Ancestry” could very well be culled from B-Sides and forgotten jams from that classic album. The guitar lines on “Dictator Of A Flower” are impossibly raw that they sound like delightful amateur noodling.

The band’s production is a hot mess from beginning to end with really stony guitars, a pulsing drum machine that at times sounds like it was picked up off a toy tape recorder and vocals that are so lost in the mix, they’re tempting nonsense, a la Murmur when REM didn’t seem sure that Michael Stipe could carry a tune (he couldn’t). What passes for coherence is the title track, which ends the album, a progressive, churning 70’s rock homage that rises and fades out to nil.

Axis:Sova has been putting out music for a little while and I’m determined to check it all out. Turns out, Early Surf is one of those records that probably won’t get much attention in the press, on what passes for radio or on the street. Any oversight of this record is a real shame because it is an absolute must have for fans of early indie and garage rock.

Need to read more about Axis:Sova? Check out their site for a whole bucket full of information.

Evans The Death, Expect Delays

slr212-med-608x608There are dual tones of frailty and menace all over Evans The Death second album, Expect Delays. The opening track, “Intrinsic Gray” is at once brash and lyrically confessional, backed with heavy guitars, a contrasting thread that holds the whole record together.

The London based band brings a striking variety of elements to Expect Delays from shoegaze (“Terrified”) to fronting an ethereal chanteuse vocal styling from singer Katherine Whitaker (“Just 60,000 More Days Til I Die”) to a healthy dose of 80’s jangle pop as displayed on the title track and “Clean Up” a rock hard gem of a power pop song that sticks with you far after the ringing goes out of your ears.

Evans The Death (named for a Dylan Thomas poem) is richest when their sound is allowed to dabble in fuzz fed punk rock, reminding me a great deal in many places of Silver Springs, Maryland’s Black Tambourine (perhaps that association is also attribute to their being on Slumberland Records) a criminally under appreciated, girl fronted group from the early 90’s. Nothing holds together for long Expect Delays, serene moments burst into bits, chaos forms, straightens out into twee sincerity and then reforms again as something new. An early dark horse candidate for 2015’s top-20 list.

I may be a pretty smart cat, but I don’t know everything. Evans The Death has a Bandcamp page, don’t you know that?

Of course, you can read what I think about a lot of other bands here, at the Well-Lighted Etcetera music pages.