December Audio Roundup: EL VY, Beach Slang + More

Posted December 17, 2015 in Music Reviews


Return To The Moon


Anyone familiar with Matt Berninger’s work with The National, and Brent Knopf’s with Menomena, won’t find any shocking twists from their collaboration as EL VY. Knopf’s sharp, sometimes angular instrumentation is draped with Berninger’s laid-back, almost lounge-room vocals – an incongruous, but potentially enlightening mix. But what should be a nice Green & Black’s salted chocolate ends up feeling a bit like someone just tipped a sachet of salt into a bag of Buttons. Tasty in its own way, but… Well, why? – Leo Devlin



Beach Slang

The Things We Do To Find People Who Feel Like Us

[Big Scary Monsters]

Beach Slang burst open their debut album with all the raucous energy you’d expect of a new punk band trying to make their mark. But beneath the loud proclamations and practised blistering of guitars, they occasionally do something surprising: wallow. The notably understated Too Late to Die Young shows that they’re willing to live in the past as well as the present. It serves their otherwise exuberant sound well – life matters more when you’re building it on something. – Leo Devlin


Mark McGuire

Beyond Belief

[Dead Oceans]

Some might dismiss this collection as Sky Digital menu music for chin-strokers, but that misses the point. The sheen that permeates this record calls to mind the piped-in soundtrack for a lift slowly descending toward some unknown horror. This knowing subversion allows the more explicitly abrasive elements – police sirens, rumbling synth and skittering snares – to take on an almost comforting quality alongside the intentionally distancing slickness of the work. What we’re left with is a fascinatingly alien relaxation aid for those with a penchant for sonic self-flagellation. – Danny Wilson



Midnight Snack


Previously having showcased his own brand of lethargic, woozy guitar pop, Pete Sagar’s sound has evolved into one of the more satisfying examples of the currently en vogue fascination with the tropes of noughties R’n’B. Midnight Snack exudes a pockmarked, sunken-chested approximation of sex appeal, while the strength of the tunes themselves ensure the project never veers too close to becoming purely an exercise in dorking around. Sweet, salty and sticky, Midnight Snack is an after hours delight that leaves you wanting more. – Danny Wilson



Oneohtrix Point Never

Garden of Delete



Hieronymous Bosch’s nightmare triptych Garden of Earthly Delights was born out of tumult. Painted in a time when feudalism was breaking off into early capitalism, this painting captures the birth scream of an epoch of greater abstraction and alienation.

Garden of Delete may or may not be a pun on Bosch’s painting, but it makes for a useful association. Oneohtrix (Daniel Lopatin) explains that his album is about puberty, a time when childhood idealism (sculpted by media and advertising) rubs up against the reality of the true chaos of the world, the friction of which creates upheaval of tectonic proportions. In the third panel of Earthly Delights, Bosch conjures up hell in a fashion that is still intuitive to us. Described through body dysmorphia, skewed sexuality and warps in perspective, we have experienced this version of hell already; it is the self-same puberty experience which OPN sets out capture on this album.

Much is made of Lopatin’s shapeshifting nature as an artist. From the yuppie pastiche of his Games side-project to the plastic tactility of previous album R Plus Seven, there has always been a sense of archness to his work. GoD eschews the ironic detachment for a more empathetic, open work – whether this is good or bad is entirely dependent on your disposition. Regardless, Lopatin’s mastery of atmospherics, whether in the hypnagogic, futurist or angsty, remains steadfast. GoD‘s brew of screwed samples, black noise and lilting arpeggios blends together into an intoxicating sludge. – Dan Gray


Like this? Try these:

Tim Hecker – Ravedeath 1972

The Body – I Shall Die Here

Holly Herndon – Platform


Velvet Underground

The Complete Matrix Tapes


The second VU box-set in as many months confirms that rock’n’roll was perfected as an artform in November 1969 in a small club called the Matrix in downtown San Francisco. Wonderfully, the club had a four-track recording set-up in-house meaning that these moments of rollicking abandon, perhaps best personified in an orgasmic nine-minute rendition of What Goes On, were recorded for posterity and now available to be feasted upon by us mere mortals. Blast this into space to let aliens know our real greatest achievements. – Ian Lamont



Jeffrey Lewis & Lost Bolts


[Rough Trade]

The mournful, loping lilt of the fabulously titled opener Scowling Crackhead Ian that opens Manhattan is essential Jeffrey Lewis, placing both hilarity and a dark, nostalgic sadness in the ever-present setting of the titular borough. Surprisingly, Lewis doubles down on the sense of discomfort and doubt on much of the record, with Back to Manhattan slowly teasing out a defeated break-up over eight minutes. Lewis’ idiosyncratic lyrical wit is a sharp as ever if sourer than before on this excellent New York album. – Ian Lamont



Brad Mehldau

10 Years Solo Live


When Brad Mehldau first performed here at Trinity College back in the mid ’90s, he was a relative unknown but Dublin jazz lovers took him to their heart and now he regularly comes back to perform. He never gives a bad performance and this four disc boxset is perfect evidence of that fact. He is a master and it is a real treat to hear him live. You should run to buy tickets for his December gig! A personal favourite here is his rendition of the Beatles’ Blackbird.  – Thomas Cahill


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