Music Reviews

Album Review: Panda Bear – Panda Bear Meets The Grim Reaper

Hi everyone! I’m Stuart, new to the Picklepants review team but hoping to be a regular contributor going into the future. Here’s a review of the latest Panda Bear album for you.

Panda Bear – Panda Bear Meets The Grim Reaper

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The latest solo album from Noah Lennox – AKA Panda Bear, one quarter of the Animal Collective – sounds something like a combination of his previous two efforts. There’s the same washed out, percussive psychedelia of 2011’s Tomboy, but filtered through the colourful folk deconstructions of 2007’s landmark Person Pitch. The result is a breezy, woozy grower of an album that, while not as immediately arresting as some of the AnCo discography, slowly threads it’s winding melodies and hooks around your ears, growing more essential with each listen.

Key to it all is Lennox’s vocals, which tie each track together with their reverb-soaked buoyancy, while at the same time remaining poignant and relatable through the simple, melancholy prettiness of Lennox’s lyrics, even when they aren’t wholly decipherable. Mid-album cut ‘Come To Your Senses’ is a perfect example of this, a track that wouldn’t have been particularly remarkable without Lennox’s simple, infectious refrain ‘Are you mad? Are you mad?’, which seems to be clawing itself out of the noisy, psychedelic swirl that surrounds it. The achingly beautiful ‘Tropic of Cancer’ is another highlight, full of lilting guitars blowing away in the tropical breeze of Lennox’s vocals, as he laments the sadness of partings and the struggles of fatherhood.

Not every song reaches these same heights, however – a couple of tracks, namely ‘Principe Real’ and ‘Acid Wash’ – are lost in the bulk of the album. And the handful of 30 second, glitchy instrumentals which bridge some of the songs, such as ‘Davy Jones Locker’, are largely a pointless annoyance. These aside, Panda Bear Meets the Grim Reaper is a wonderfully enigmatic record, and the strongest release from anything AnCo related since 2009’s Merriweather Post Pavillion.

8/10

‘Light Me Up’ album – a review

The_Pretty_Reckless_-_Light_Me_UpQuickpickle time!

Now, when I say ‘The Pretty Reckless’, I know most of you will automatically think of their hit song ‘Make Me Wanna Die’, which was released in May of 2010 and soared to the top of the charts. It was even used in the movie Kick-Ass, and the band were known far and wide thanks to this song. But, this isn’t the only great song to have come from this band, and I think people ought to know this. I actually stumbled across some of their other work by accident one night a few months ago, when I was perusing the internet and looking for some new music. A song popped up that I’d never heard, and recognising the band, I decided to give it a listen, and boy, am I glad that I did that! The song, which has the same name as the album, immediately got stuck in my head and I couldn’t stop listening to it. This then prompted me to listen to the rest of the album, which I devoured in one non-stop session of grungy guitar riffs and beautifully angsty lyrics.

Some of the songs are brilliant right off the bat – Just Tonight is particularly poignant, with a stunning instrumental performance by the band accompanying Taylor Momsen’s raw vocals. But there are some more toned-down songs which definitely should not be overlooked; ‘You’ is a personal favourite of mine, harnessing the loveliness of soothing acoustic guitar with Momsen’s gritty yet melodic voice.

Taylor Momsen, lead singer and rhythm guitarist

Taylor Momsen, lead singer and rhythm guitarist

The band itself also deserves some accolade – the instruments are all played and harnessed in such a fantastic way, so that each song has its own distinctive sound and feel to it. All in all, this album certainly needs more recognition than it has received over the years; it is a throwback to those angst-ridden teen years we all remember, and yet it still retains a feeling of relatability and credibility even now.

5/5 – A must-listen for anyone who wants something new to expand their musical horizons.

~Steph.

Carson – a review

a3353601358_2Here’s a little quickpickle for you guys this week – and it’s another delve into the world of music! So recently my sister got a job, and one of her colleagues told her about his band, Carson. Intrigued by his description, she and I looked them up a few nights ago, and it’s safe to say that we were more than a little impressed. An up-and-coming British band, Carson have just released their EP, titled ‘Take Your Time’, and it’s a cracker. Armed with killer hooks, riveting choruses, and melodic vocals paired with raw emotion, this mini-album is not to be overlooked. The songs individually are all brilliant, with lyrics that are beautifully written and catchy as heck – and with sound similar to the likes of You Me At Six and Young Guns, their pop-rock vibe is infectious and it is impossible not to headbang along to it once you’ve pressed Play.

The album begins with Memories – it is composed brilliantly in terms of the instruments being used, and while it is lyrically quite simple, it remains catchy and enjoyable. The next song, Stuck In My Ways, has a wonderful 90’s feel to it, with the mellow start building up to a chorus worth belting out, which will be resonating around in your brain for days to come. Song number three, What She Said, is a definite crowd-pleaser, with a thumping beat and the almost-growls of the vocals making it a stellar track. And, last but definitely not least, is Changes – a great album closer, with a slightly lighter feel compared to the other songs, but this certainly does not take away from its excellence.

Overall, this album is a joy to experience, with each song adding to the foundations of a great band in the making. I’m expecting to see these guys grace a big stage sometime very soon, and I really hope they eventually get the widespread recognition that they deserve.

5/5 – All in all, it is one of the best EPs I’ve heard in a very long time, and I highly recommend that you all search Carson on Facebook and download it [it’s free!].

~Steph.

Quickpickle: The Hunger Games score – a review

[Sorry for the lack of review last week – I’ve been ridiculously busy lately, but I managed to write up this short one amongst all the madness. Also, I’m uploading this week’s instalment a couple of days early because I’m out all day on Thursday and there’s no way I’d be able to upload it then, so here it is, in advance!]

So, when most people hear the words ‘The Hunger Games’, they think action-packed movies, star-crossed lovers, wars between the rich and the poor, etc. But what a lot of fans seem to neglect is the music that accompanies the movie versions of the popular dystopian teen novels. Composed by James Newton Howard, the scores that accompany all of the poignant scenes and moments are not to be ignored – with delicate interludes, rising swells, and heart-stopping crescendos, the soundtracks for both The Hunger Games and The Hunger Games: Catching Fire are both albums worthy of merit.

Something I’ve found is that these albums are fantastic no matter what mood the listener is in – if you’re feeling a little down, then the melancholic tones of Rue’s Farewell will really resonate within you, however, the gleeful melody of the Daffodil Waltz will perk you right up afterwards. And some of the tracks in particular [for example, Horn Of Plenty] are just plain beautiful – I dare you to listen to this song without getting chills all over.

Even if you aren’t a massive fan of classic composures or movie scores, I really recommend this selection of music; it’s perfect for having on in the background while you’re getting work done, or while relaxing in the bath, or just while you’re travelling in the car. I just think this is a stellar score for a movie, and the films would definitely lack that special spark if this collection of music was absent.

5/5 – Powerful, moving, and beautifully arranged.

~Steph.