Friday, May 28, 2010

Tame Impala

Tame Impala

There’s this white fuzz at the opening of the first track It Is Not Meant To Be that acts as a gentle teaser—the least refined moment on the album. They’re laughing on us with that, tempting us into an onslaught they will not bring. It’s a few seconds of disparity in a seamlessly sculpted work from possibly Australia’s hottest prospect right now.
Tame Impala seem to have skirted the teeth cutting period and jumped straight to the top of the pile. Their psych grooves feel impossible for their years, their songs are ready and their jams are oh so impressive. Bastards! I’d love to hang shit on this release so much it hurts. I want to hate them, I do. But alas, their debut Innerspeaker is a little ripper and I’m sure they know it.
From the restraint of the opener, listeners will realise this is a step away from their live freak outs. Some of the songs, Solitude is Bliss and the Cream-esque Desire Be Desire Go, will set alarms off in your mind—you know you know them but they’re strangely different, subdued, refrained. As a counter to the grip of their performances this record is bordering on Sunday afternoon couch time.
Instrumental beast Jeremy’s Storm is a steam train—all grinding bass and clashing cymbals, it’s a storm—but it’s so pared back in the production it’s as gentle as a guineapig. Subsequent listens reveal the intricacies and idiosyncrasies of main-man Kevin Parker, the stuff that suffers from the wash of guitar on stage. Further listening offers up new candidates for album favourites. The psychotropic Expectation comes close, but then you’re distracted by the classic lick of Runway, Houses, City, Clouds. It’s impossible to choose.
The pop sentiment these dudes are emanating scares me a little. The album amplifies the question of whether this will be a slow transition into the realm of popular music a la Silverchair? Heaven knows they’ve got the talent to take this wherever they’d like it to go. I just hope they find appeal enough in the Psychedelic realm to push on a little further, at least for one more.

Mojo Juju et al

Mojo Juju and the Snake Oil Merchants
Sellin’ You Salvation

Hoodoo Emporium/MGM

This is a beautiful package. From Joe Vegas’ gorgeous artwork and digipak casing, to the ink selection and cracking cabaret country blues punk stylings, this album pretty much has it all. From the throaty openings of Catch Afire—‘I spent my last upon a tumbler of whiskey/A gin martini for a girl named Misty/She danced the cooch while I was smokin’ the hooch/And the devil stole my soul upon the moment she kissed me’—Mojo Juju’s voice steers a swingin ship through shaky waters. Her vocals boom, they tease, they chastise, but ultimately seduce the listener into a world of carnival misfits, ghosts and demons—all washed down with a bolt of whiskey and cheap cigars.
It’s the darkness and light that floats this boat so surely. As in their live act, the album fluctuates in tempo and mood dramatically from number to number—it’s unpredictable, it’s perilous. At any given moment, though bearings may seem clear, you can be thrown off on tangents that become no more predictable on repeated listening. These days it’s difficult enough to lure the listener in for a few songs or a side, this is and all or nothing deal—it must be consumed as a whole, it’s a journey and a very pleasurable one at that.
The creepy, contorted God and the Devil opens up the second side mischievously and leads nicely into the rollicker This Is My Home. Dance With You has to be the sexiest number on the record with pared back piano and Juju’s gravy rich vocals. A bit of banjo and horn blues with Sacred Heart of Mary caps off a great listen with refrain. At ten songs, you could feel a little short changed. The quality of this recording speaks for itself, however, and there is no doubt you’ll get value from spinning this one over many years to come.