Album: Bad Dream Hotline
Label: Mercury Records
"Guitar music is on the way out." Every time someone dares to put those words in print, it seems guitars are about to make a grand return to the charts. Originally, those words are attributed to a man working at Decca in 1962, after being asked to consider signing a guitar band by the name of The Beatles. But over the years, it just keeps popping up. Guitars certainly were obsolete when synthesizers took over the world in the 70s, but then there suddenly were bands like R.E.M., U2 and the Smiths to prove them wrong. But no, we were assured guitars would die with the 80s, only to run headfirst into the 90s with Nirvana and Blur. The same trick repeated itself at the turn of the millennium, with guitars to be restored to their rightful place in music by bands like Franz Ferdinand and Arcade Fire.
It appears that now we've gone a full circle again, and it is time to yet again declare the demise of the guitar. Luckily, fresh blood, by the name of FOE, is waiting to prove the nay-sayers wrong. She is only 22, but she has some attitude, and some vaudeville/horror movie-inspired tracks to share with you. For a debut album, it's surprisingly coherent and appears to be thought out and created with a certain direction in mind. Nevertheless, it's not a one-trick pony, and manages to grab your attention after a few spins. And most importantly, it has some of those presumed-to-be dying guitars.
Artist: Jan Ken Po (Max Essa)
Album: Unlimited Man
Label: Nang Records
It is all about the bass in this one. Well, not all, there are some nice keys and drums thrown in there as well, but a lot of these songs do rely on the bass, and blimey, Max Essa really makes it work on this one. I just love songs that are smooth and roll along nicely, which you can do perfectly with a good bass. And I can tell you that there is no shortage of nicely rolling bass tracks on this album.
There is even some sort of bonus track (which doesn’t appear on my LP, which is a shame) that actually is a nice concluding paragraph to this album: it is packed with atmosphere (that Western-y feel helps), it rolls along superbly, and it has got that bass as the cornerstone. Essa, who has been on a roll the past few months, has delivered an album with its own sound, with a lot of nice details that pack it with some extra flavour, but especially he has delivered an album with smooth tunes that just keep on going long after the day is done.