Audiophile : Akwitz

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‘New Music Tuesdays’ – 30 Seconds To Mars, The National and Daft Punk, Oh My! Edition

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Musicheads,

Although the title to this post it isn’t particularly catchy (and doesn’t even flow well off the tongue, mind you), this week had some very heavy hitters releasing new music.

First up, we’ve got Jared Leto and his crew in 30 Seconds To Mars releasing their fourth studio album Love Lust Faith + Dreams:

The album has had a lot of self promotion from the band on social media and twitter especially.  For the first single off the album, Up In The Air, the band actually launched it into space and had it played in the International Space Station.  The band also created a star-studded and visually stunning concept video for the song as well:

This album, is yet another strong showing from an already talented group of musicians who also have a top-notch live performance.  The album is truly a worldly one; drawing influences from numerous countries and cultures.  From tracks such as Conquistador and City Of Angels to Northern Lights and Depuis Le Début, the band pulls from their exposure to write music inspired from their intercontinental travels.  My early favorite on the album, and must-hear is Pyres Of Varanasi.  This epic track features heavy keyboard and large booming drums, and the intermingling of Indian chant singing.  This track is then followed by a deeply uplifting track in Bright Lights which repeats over and over “Time to live, time to love”.  Love Lust Faith + Dreams follows in This Is War‘s footsteps and offers a successful follow-up album.  Bravo Jared Leto & Co.!

Next is perennial indie rockers The National releasing their first album since 2010’s successful and critically acclaimed High Violet with Trouble Will Find Me:

Unfortunately, where High Violet shinedTrouble Will Find Me fails.  High Violet often offered brighter musical arrangements in tracks such as England and Bloodbuzz Ohio, which played as perfect counterpoint to lead singer Matt Berninger’s dark, melancholy and often morose vocal performance.  This cannot be said for Trouble Will Find Me, which tends to remain melancholy (and resultingly, monotone) throughout.  The track that has received airplay as the first single is ‘Don’t Swallow the Cap’ which fits in with this melancholy.  It isn’t all bad though.  There are a few tracks to highlight on this album which aspire to escape the gravity of Beninger’s vocals.    One such track is ‘Humiliation’, where the band worked with Annie Clark of St. Vincent to get a somewhat quirky and ethereal sound on the track.  Another track worth giving a listen to is ‘Sea Of Love’, which also has a music video shown below:

And last, but especially not least is the latest from the robots of Daft Punk with the highly anticipated new release Random Access Memories:

Since hosting the stream on the Audiophile’s Facebook page and on here, I have listened to the live stream of the album significantly over the last week.  Although the album itself is primarily a departure from the previous albums ‘sound’ that the duo created, it is not a poorly constructed, nor poorly executed album.  Although slightly unoriginal in sound, this album delves deep into the memory banks of Dance, Electronic and even Disco of years past with both collaborations from yesteryear and musical progressions.  With lead single Get Lucky having blown up over the airwaves over the past few weeks hitting the number one spot in countries all over the world with it’s Disco sound and Pharrell Williams’ enticing vocals.  My personal favorites on the album are Touch [feat. Paul Williams], Contact, and Giorgio By Moroder, each track with its very own style and different sound.  Touch is far and away the best track of the album, with so much going on over the course of the 8:19 song, while also developing and changing over multiple progressions, yet all the while, feeling intensely intimate throughout.  On the other hand, Giorgio By Moroder goes a different route, beginning with a monologue by Giorgio Moroder before going into a true early 80’s electro-styled track (anyone else hear the Tron influence?).  Contact utilizes true drums behind the repetitive, yet building synth riff to blast off into the atmosphere and create the ever-growing motion of the song which turns, in its final 30 seconds, into feedback and chaos; capping off the end of the album.  If you were expecting a duplicate of Discovery, you are due to be disappointed, but there are glimpses of the older Daft Punk  sound in a few tracks on the album.  The most obvious example of this is in the collaboration with Panda Bear on Doin’ it Right.  Don’t be fooled by the departure from the sounds of previous albums.  The French duo are spearheading what ought to be the next direction in dance movement in the not-so-distant future.

To truly capture all the details of this album that Daft Punk has created, you need to listen to this album with some quality headphones on in order to really hear the little intricacies they added into each track which really gives it a fuller, richer sound and added pop.  This isn’t just a dance album.  Apart from turntables, synthesizer and the numerous featured vocal talents, the acute ear can hear real drums (and not a drum machine), electric bass, horns, and even multiple stringed instruments including violin and viola on multiple tracks.  Daft Punk didn’t take five years to work on this album to present to the world a shoddy conglomeration of musical arrangements, they focused on every minutiae of detail and sound.   Unfortunately, I believe many of this will be lost on the casual listener, and only an avid audiophile or music nut will realize the true depth into which Daft Punk  have delved into.

Apart from that, here is the complete list of additions to my music collection today:

and don’t forget to follow on Facebook and on Twitter @akwitz & @AudiofileAkwitz at to get even more music updates that don’t make my posts.

-Akwitz

Now Playing: Fever Ray – Triangle Walks (Rex The Dog Remix)

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