Tag: matt doria

CD Review: Tiny Little Houses – Misericorde

PHOTO CREDIT: ANETA URBONAITE

Band: Tiny Little Houses
Album: Misericorde
Label: Ivy League
Release: November 19th, 2021

Rating: 9/10


The tagline for Misericorde boasts that it chronicles Caleb Karvountzis’ “search for salvation through suffering”. That’s enough to lure in any emo worth their eyeliner, but what’ll keep them buckled in are the gristly, jacked‑up pop guitars, brute-force beats and razor-sharp honesty. 

Three years removed from Tiny Little Houses’ debut (2018’s Idiot Proverbs), Karvountzis has levelled up from a tinnie‑slamming sad-boy to a cosmopolitan family man. Thus – and yes, we acknowledge how cliché this is to say – it’s a notably matured album. Such is tangible in the gravity of Karvountzis’ songwriting, but even moreso in the band en bloc’s musicality: the riffs are bold, crunchy and calamitous but never grating or obnoxious, and the hooks, while buoyant and catchy, wield a striking emotional weight.

Please note: this review is also printed in #145 of Australian Guitar Magazine, syndicated here because AG’s album reviews are no longer published online.

Misericorde is set for release on November 19th, 2021 via Ivy League. Click here to pre-order.

CD Review: Courtney Barnett – Things Take Time, Take Time

PHOTO CREDIT: MIA MALA MCDONALD

Artist: Courtney Barnett
Album: Things Take Time, Take Time
Label: Milk! / Remote Control
Release: November 12th, 2021

Rating: 8.5/10


CB’s 2015 debut was brisk, bright and lively, like a summer’s day at the beach. Its follow-up was sharp, ripping and acerbic, like the storm that night. So, naturally, LP3 feels like the morning after: foggy and humid, debris from the wind scattered over the lawn. It’s clear Barnett is much more comfortable in her storytelling these days – the songs are reflective, inspired, and distinctly human.

Production is loose and experimental; percussive clicks and pops meld with raw, cerebral fretwork. The soundscape is overall very sparse and relaxed, letting tracks like the drowsy, pseudo-celestial “Here’s The Thing” and the groovy, buoyant and punchy (if far too short) “Take It Day By Day” really shine.

Though certainly not as immediate or memorable as Barnett’s earlier work, Things Take Time is beautiful and brilliant in many ways. 

Please note: this review is also printed in #144 of Australian Guitar Magazine, syndicated here because AG’s album reviews are no longer published online.

Things Take Time, Take Time is set for release on November 12th, 2021 via Milk! / Remote Control. Click here to pre-order.

CD Review: Snail Mail – Valentine

PHOTO CREDIT: TINA TYRELL

Band: Snail Mail
Album: Valentine
Label: Matador / Remote Control
Release: November 5th, 2021

Rating: 9/10


Equally as glittery as it was melancholic, Lush – the aptly titled debut from Maryland indie stalwart Snail Mail (aka Lindsey Jordan) – had a notable ‘lightning in a bottle’-esque quality. It wowed with meticulous production and conscientious songwriting, but it also shone for its blithesome looseness and brazen confidence, Jordan committing herself wholly both as a classically trained musician with an ear for technicality and a dorky queer teen living in the peak of meme culture.

Three years on, Jordan doesn’t try to recreate that magic. It would seem she isn’t so keen, either, to reinvent herself – she knows she has a niche, and she’s happy to lean into it – but there’s a clear determination to evolve and experiment. Where warm, fuzzed-out Jaguar chords laid the groundwork on Lush, they’re just one small chunk of a much broader, more vibrantly vegetated soundscape on Valentine. We open with the title track, filmy and ethereal synths flooding the mix as Jordan’s cool, honeyed rasp dances over them – until about a minute in, when she and her band erupt into a bold and emphatic chorus. 

There’s a fierce, St. Vincent-channelling swagger on “Ben Franklin”, and a dip down into the doughier, more pensive indie flair of Jordan’s early work on “Headlock”. In succession, these three tracks paint an orphic and arresting picture of the album as a whole: rich, soul-baring songwriting twined around poignant and pictorial – and above all, interesting – melodies.

But as the album continues to unwind, so too does it continue to surprise – whether it be via the folky acoustic fingerstyle and warm violin on ‘Light Blue’, heady tinges of blustery ‘90s pop on ‘Forever (Sailing)’, or subtle, smoky prongs of bass guitar on ‘Madonna’, tastefully accented by eerie stringwork and a warbling synth. Even the most zealous fans are bound to blindsided by something unpredictable – yet entirely welcomed – as not a second of Valentine feels like it was penned without the utmost care and consideration.

Jordan’s use of space is especially admirable. A track can have two guitars, a kinetic beat, strings and synths in abundance and her own dryly sung, kaleidoscopic quips, yet never feel cluttered. In fact, the record often sounds distinctly lowkey, Jordan maintaining a prudent tact throughout despite such a dense array of colours and tones at her disposal. 

This, too, is reflected boldly in her lyricisms – sharp and stormy, but delivered in such a way that makes Jordan come off as down-to-earth and reticent. She never teeters on vaudeville, but the dramatisation of her inner turmoil is always gripping and grandiose. She drums up a wealth of emotion, potent and impassioned, and makes it all look effortless in the process.

So, on Valentine, Jordan doesn’t look to recreate the magic she made with Lush; instead, she makes a whole new kind of magic – one that is endlessly more… Uh… Magical.

Please note: this review is also printed in #145 of Australian Guitar Magazine, syndicated here because AG’s album reviews are no longer published online.

Valentine is set for release on November 5th, 2021 via Matador / Remote Control. Click here to pre-order.

CD Review: Mastodon – Hushed And Grim

PHOTO CREDIT: PATRICK MCBRIDE

Band: Mastodon
Album: Hushed And Grim
Label: Reprise / Warner
Release: October 29th, 2021

Rating: 8.5/10


Whether it really makes the most of its 86-minute runtime is debatable, but immediately clear is that with Hushed And Grim, Mastodon have thrown all caution to the wind – it’s epic both in size and statue, stacked to the brim with fretwork as striking as it is sophisticated. In the six-minute “Sickle And Peace” alone, the band employ mind-boggling technicality, walloping shreddery and a truly empyrean solo.

Throughout the record at large, they expertly balance the prodigious might of their narrative prowess with the ashy bleakness of their sludge metal roots – there are stoutly cerebral moments that call for deep, contemplative reflection, but just as many moments that beckon an instinctive whipping up of the horns and thrashing of the head. It’s not a “heavy” record, per se, but it is positively intense.

Please note: this review is also printed in #145 of Australian Guitar Magazine, syndicated here because AG’s album reviews are no longer published online.

Hushed And Grim is set for release on October 29th, 2021 via Reprise / Warner. Click here to pre-order.

CD Review: Every Time I Die – Radical

PHOTO CREDIT: MICHAEL WATSON

Band: Every Time I Die
Album: Radical
Label: Epitaph
Release: October 22nd, 2021

Rating: 8/10


In the five years since Every Time I Die dropped Low Teens, shit has, to say the very least, hit the fan. Radical concentrates those five years of social disarray and capitalistic chaos into the Buffalo group’s most vicious and evocative album yet, laden with brutally intense riffage and visceral, incendiary rage.

It’s the more artful and considered moments that stand out, though: the swampy, pared-back plucks on “Thing With Feathers” and the soaring melodies on “Post-Boredom”, for example, or the white-hot angst of closer “We Go Together”. These tracks make some of the more straightforward hardcore stompers (“Hostile Architecture”, “Distress Rehearsal”) fall a bit flat – there’s certainly some mud amongst the opals here – but to say Radical ever overstays its welcome would be patently false. 

Please note: this review is also printed in #145 of Australian Guitar Magazine, syndicated here because AG’s album reviews are no longer published online.

Radical is set for release on October 22nd, 2021 via Epitaph. Click here to pre-order.

CD Review: Thrice – Horizons / East

PHOTO CREDIT: MATT VOGEL

Band: Thrice
Album: Horizons / East
Label: Epitaph
Release: September 17th, 2021

Rating: 8/10


A sinuous odyssey through all the lustrous highs and pummelling lows of Dustin Kensrue’s psyche, there’s a gauzy, intoxicating cloudiness that lurks around every corner on Horizons / East. It ebbs and flows between a meditative calm and a baleful storminess, twining glimmers of thrashy and visceral punk-rock with the glittery, pastoral flavours of shoegaze and prog.

The rusty, shred-centric steeze of early cuts like “Scavengers” and “Summer Set Fire To The Rain” pave way for the record’s lighter and more silvery back-end to bloom; riding on the back of the blood-rushing highs of “The Dreamer”, “Robot Soft Exorcism” feels therapeutic – the calm after the storm, if you will, with a soaring and cinematic crescendo that makes the silky, dreamlike lulls of “Dandelion Wire” and “Unitive / East” all the more impactful.

Please note: this review is also printed in #145 of Australian Guitar Magazine, syndicated here because AG’s album reviews are no longer published online.

Horizons / East is out now via Epitaph. Click here to get around it.

CD Review: The Buoys – Unsolicited Advice For Your DIY Disaster

PHOTO CREDIT: MAYA LUANA

Band: The Buoys
Album: Unsolicited Advice For Your DIY Disaster
Label: Spunk
Release: October 13th, 2021

Rating: 8/10


Lacquering their youthful, sunkissed power-pop jams with lyrical barbs that shoot straight for the heart, The Buoys’ sophomore EP would feel just as much at home roaring from the PAs at next year’s Splendour In The Grass as it would through a pair of AirPods during a casual quarter-life crisis.

Zoe Catterall and Hilary Geddes’ yin-and-yang fretwork sears with a frisky, jangly grunt, contrasted wonderfully by Courtney Cunningham’s rounded and propulsive basslines. Teeming with energy even at their lowest point, the band often veer scarily close to the edge of overkill – you know what they say: if you ain’t redlining, you ain’t headlining – but they always know just when to reel it back in. Case in point: the dizzying bends and bubbly hook on slow-burner “Lie To Me”. 

Please note: this review is also printed in #145 of Australian Guitar Magazine, syndicated here because AG’s album reviews are no longer published online.

Unsolicited Advice For Your DIY Disaster is out now via Spunk. Click here to get around it.

CD Review: Sam Teskey – Cycles

PHOTO CREDIT: KRISTIAN LAEMMLE-RUFF

Band: Sam Teskey
Album: Cycles
Label: Ivy League
Release: October 8th, 2021

Rating: 6.5/10


On his long-awaited solo debut, Sam Teskey eschews the blues in favour of hazy, fuzz-laden psychedelica. Albeit rather derivative – Teskey mines the ‘60s like a proud fanboy, but adds little of his own flair to the fray – the talent employed on Cycles is undeniable; from the Hendrixian swagger of “If The Dove Is Sold” to the Dylanesque twangs of “Til The River Takes Us Home”, or the Floydian fizz of “Let The Sun Bring The Light” and “Then Love Returns”, Teskey nails every strum, pluck and solo like the seasoned virtuoso he is. 

We could’ve done without the plodding intros and outros (which occupy over a quarter of the album’s real estate), but they’re not entirely egregious. All in all, Cycles makes for a decent Sunday evening apéritif. Serve chilled, preferably at dusk. 

Please note: this review is also printed in #145 of Australian Guitar Magazine, syndicated here because AG’s album reviews are no longer published online.

Cycles is out now via Ivy League. Click here to get around it.

CD Review: Turnstile – Glow On

PHOTO CREDIT: JIMMY FONTAINE

Band: Turnstile
Album: Glow On
Label: Roadrunner / Warner
Release: August 27th, 2021

Rating: 10/10


Virtually anyone could whip themselves up a decent burrito, but it takes a true master of the culinary arts to make a great burrito. It’s not just about all those ingredients snuggled up under a soft tortilla, but their quality, their source, how they’re seasoned and prepared; the intermingling of textures and collision of flavours. When treated with the right care and cogitation, a concept so simple can become something so life-affirmingly beautiful.

In this analogy, the burrito is hardcore punk, and our culinary maestro is Baltimore outfit Turnstile. The band have always tackled their slate of scream ’n’ shred with an outsider’s perspective, spicing up their palate with summery grooves and kinetic percussion. But on LP3, it’s like they’ve finally cracked the code to making an infallibly calamitous, uncompromisingly headstrong hardcore album sound genuinely otherworldly.

Glow On is cinematic, riveting and rhapsodic; the sheer depth and dynamism of its musicality cannot be understated, nor Turnstile’s passion in sculpting it. It’s a notably short record at 35 minutes, but they really make every second count. “Endless”, for example, clocks in a few seconds off two minutes long, yet it takes it the listener on a full-fat adventure through a sonic forest of shimmery bass, effects-soaked vocals and tearing guitar juts.

Even ornamental quips like the empyrean synth intro on “Mystery” and the regal grand piano lick on “Fly Again” have their place, adding contextual basis to tracks like the silky, groove-oriented “Underwater Boi” and the hazy, stoner-friendly “Alien Love Call”. Then because the funky, Prince-esque energy at play on the former let us know as much could be expected, the equally biting and breezy “New Heart Design” feels homely and natural, no matter how odd its composition may sound in description (it is at once raw, gritty and eruptive, romantic, groovy, sparse and fantastical).

For the more traditional hardcore fans that just wanna cut sick to some gloriously gory riffs and wall-rattling fills, don’t worry – Turnstile still have you covered. Sharp and snarling cuts like “Holiday” and “Humanoid / Shake It Up” dot the record’s top-end, while the back-to-back belters “Wild Wrld” and “Dance-Off” inject its second half with a blast of mosh-tailored intensity.

Again, Turnstile have always been innovators. They’re one of the most interesting bands on the circuit – not even just in hardcore – but Glow On makes their previous efforts look embarrassing in comparison. This is the kind of record that makes us feel justified in spending $500 on a pair of headphones; a true masterclass in the art of heavy music. Come 2030, we’ll be looking back on it as the record that sparked a whole new wave of rebellious genre-bending.

Please note: this review is also printed in #144 of Australian Guitar Magazine, syndicated here because AG’s album reviews are no longer published online.

Glow On is set for release on August 27th, 2021 via Roadrunner / Warner. Click here to pre-order.

CD Review: The Bronx – Bronx VI

PHOTO CREDIT: MIKE MILLER

Band: The Bronx
Album: Bronx VI
Label: Cooking Vinyl
Release: August 27th, 2021

Rating: 7.5/10


Perfectly suited for a particularly erratic time, Bronx VI is heavy, hard-hitting and headstrong. It’s a step backwards in the band’s sonic evolution – Bronx V stood out for its tasteful shift into a more summery, groove-inflected Britrock flavour, whereas Bronx VI is mostly cut-and-dried, no-frills punk – but that’s not to say it isn’t a wondrously well-crafted record.

It’s a rabid and unrelenting love letter to fans of the first three Bronx LPs; the riffs are venomous, the chugs walloping and the solos soaring, and the screams lacquered over them are enthralling and impassioned. Best is how it crystallises all the meteoric might and inimitable fury of the band’s live show – especially so via the breakneck‑paced intensity of “Breaking News” and the frenetic, fist-pumping grunt of “Curb Feelers”. 

Please note: this review is also printed in #144 of Australian Guitar Magazine, syndicated here because AG’s album reviews are no longer published online.

Bronx VI is set for release on August 27th, 2021 via Cooking Vinyl. Click here to pre-order.