“I gotta be in the light.”

“Two Step Romance” by Paris Wells | Ideally I’d be posting this on a Thursday because of how close it is to a weekend. I was, supposedly, originally. But that reason’s flimsy. I’m listening again to this track again from Melbourne-based singer-songwriter Paris Wells and it feels more of a Thursday morning thing – not one for getting down to, but rather, one that hovers around as you head to work. I heard this one chilly morning last month (I banked this) as I walked to my office building – pinged the elevator, waited for one to open, unlocked the door. This track plays the drumroll to your day: something you can’t quite categorize easily, but something that does the job anyway. A drumroll to your day. Here you go. One day before the weekend. Well, that fits too, eh? [NB]

“기적처럼 다 지워지기를 바라죠.”

“April Story” by April | Yes, another K-pop song, but stick with me on this one. (Has anybody?) K-pop runs in seasons. Spring is for simple, almost folksy love songs. Summer loves to party, but it’s still warm, a bit more emphasis on soul. Autumn is where the big hitters come out, for some reason. Winter, finally, has this very pure, innocent sheen – and, somehow, tends to be very sad. In the first week of 2017 alone, we had Akdong Musician’s “Last Goodbye” (we reviewed this album last week) and Vromance’s “I’m Fine”, and then there’s April’s “April Story”. They’re a group I would not otherwise pay attention to, but I was still awake when they premiered this almost two weeks ago, and loved it at first listen. Bittersweet verging on pained, there definitely are shades of GFriend here: the powerful choreography, the sweeping arrangement, and, perhaps, the winter sky. Perhaps, because we don’t get winter here. I am wrong with these things, but this could do for April what “Rough” did to GFriend. Perhaps. [NB]

Review: Youth Is Only Ever Fun In Retrospect by Sundara Karma

Youth Is Only Ever Fun In Retrospect by Sundara KarmaA new year means more bands attempting to reclaim guitar-driven music for the masses. Well, it’s not really their stated intention, but for the good part of the past decade every buzzy band that releases a debut album carried all that expectation on their shoulders. This month it’s Sundara Karma, a British band whose name does not suggest some sort of Indian influence. Instead, it’s more of the same: indie anthems designed for arena sing-alongs, blending together and not being remarkable as a result. It’s a shame, because the first couple of tracks on Youth is Only Ever Fun In Retrospect are genuinely interesting: “A Young Understanding” and “Loveblood” have this energy that I haven’t heard from other new bands that have had the task of “waving the flag for rock and roll”. It reminded me of how I liked the Gaslight Anthem the first time, or, dare I say, a less cathartic Bruce Springsteen? And then the quality flags and the album is just like all the others. [NB]3/5

Review: Again & Against by MilesExperience

Again & Against by MilesExperienceI get this sense of cheekiness, a sense of mischievousness, while listening to Again & Against, the debut full-length from MilesExperience. In its best moments you hear a band relaxed, chilling, and just jamming, their music – jazz-powered rock with a theatrical backdrop and a strong urge to grind – flowing effortlessly. And yet it’s clear that this is their first major outing: I got the feeling of nerves, of wanting to get this right, and while the energy can be irresistible, sometimes it results in a feel that they’re trying too hard. For people bent on evoking an effortlessly sensual atmosphere, it can feel like an awkward first step. That said, the songs, individually, can be quite rousing: “Silakbo” and “Love Supreme” maintain the power they amassed as singles, while “Slow Drive” is an unexpectedly satisfying climax. If the band can channel all that nervous energy into making it sound less, well, nervous, they may be on to a winner. [NB]3/5

Review: Winter by Akdong Musician

Winter by Akdong MusicianJust months after the release of their mini-album Spring, Akdong Musician return with a full album that continues down the road they took, but with a few more surprises and a bittersweet tinge permeating all throughout. Perhaps it’s the idea of Winter being released in, well, the winter, and how, for the most part, K-pop shifts towards the melancholic and the innocent. That hasn’t stopped the Lee siblings from actually dipping their feet into jazz-flavored rock, with the terribly groovy “Chocolady” proving a strong anchor for the record. But Winter still shows a duo in transition. Sounds-wise there are the quirky tracks they played with in Spring, and there are the straightforward folk tracks from their debut. (Only this time, they’ve gotten the snowy treatment, as with single “Last Goodbye”, a potent stab in the heart.) It may feel a bit all over the place but you stick with it, with some happiness and a bit of apprehension. Lee Chanhyuk, the main songwriter of the two, is enlisting for mandatory military service after promotions for this record, and you can’t help but think the record is really him and sister Suhyun sorting things out before an upheaval (and a possible solo debut for her). [NB]4/5