Tag Archives: Tame Impala

Rocks In The Attic #837: Tame Impala – ‘The Slow Rush’ (2020)

RITA#837Support your local record store, they say. So you do. As much as you can. Until you see New Zealand’s biggest chain-store selling the new 2xLP reissue of James Brown’s Motherlode for just $20, and then all principles go out the window. Take my cash, corporate face of capitalism!

The next logical step is to go one further and purchase directly from the band. Either at the merch table at one of their gigs, or through Bandcamp or the band’s online store. The last time Tame Impala played in New Zealand, I bought a t-shirt from their merch stand. Brilliant. The band get all my money and there’s no middle man.

So, when pre-orders for Tame Impala’s fourth studio album, The Slow Rush, went on sale last year, I jumped at the chance. I could have bought it from my local independent on release day, but I thought that I would continue to support the band by buying from their online store. It was an exclusive colour variant too. Sweet.

RITA#837aValentines Day, the 14th of February 2020, rolls around and the album is released across the globe. In New Zealand, like any other countries, the independent record stores get a push from the band’s label (Universal) who set them up as Tame Impala pop-up stores, with exclusive colour variants of the record, band t-shirts, bags, stickers, etc. A brilliant move, from a band that continues to go from strength to strength.

Almost three weeks later, I receive my LP in the post. Three weeks! That’s a lifetime when you know other people are enjoying it, without going to the steps you did. Grrr. First-world problems and all that, but still… The other possibility is that my delivery was delayed by the postal bottleneck through China as a result of the Coronavirus outbreak. A possibility, yes, but the local record stores all got their stock in advance of release day.

There should be an element of loyalty to those who pre-order from the band’s website, to match the loyalty they’re showing to the band. But still, it’s Universal we’re talking about, who probably operate a hundred other ‘band’ stores, and so I might as well have bought it from my local chain-store in the end. Lesson learned.

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Will I let this affect my thoughts on the album? Possibly. I still rate the Manic Street Preachers’

Know Your Enemy album very poorly on the basis that the record label crammed 75 minutes of music onto just two sides of vinyl. This feels like a similar blunder on the behalf of Tame Impala’s record label. A fuck you to the fans.

On my long awaited first listen to The Slow Rush, Kevin Parker, the man who is Tame Impala in everything from writing, performing, producing and mixing, has continued down the same route as 2015’s Currents. The guitar-oriented sound from his first two albums now seem like a distant memory, and we’re now firmly in a world of drum beats, synths and pianos. If anything, this album sounds like a lot less thought has gone into it than his previous efforts.

Or maybe I’m just bitter.

Hit: Lost In Yesterday

Hidden Gem: Is It True

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Rocks In The Attic #468: Julian Lennon – ‘The Secret Value Of Daydreaming’ (1986)

RITA#468You have to admire John and Cyn’s boy. One of the most famous musical offsprings of all time, it can’t have been easy for him, regardless of how easily his surname would have opened doors. He must have had every move and every breath overanalysed and compared to his father for every second of his musical career.

This is his second album – a solid effort, despite everything he had going against him. Yes, he sounds like John – but nowhere as near as much as Tame Impala’s Kevin Parker. The scary thing though is how much he looks like John. Just take a look at that album cover – he’s 23 years old; about the same age as John in 1963. Essentially it’s John’s face with a mullet instead of a moptop.

A couple of years ago, there was a bit of buzz around a band being formed by the sons of the four respective Beatles. The press had a field day with the resulting pun-filled headlines; Here Come The Sons being the best of a very bad bunch. I’m so happy there was no truth to the rumours. Pop will truly have eaten itself that day.

Hit: Stick Around

Hidden Gem: Everyday

Rocks In The Attic #411: Tame Impala – ‘Currents’ (2015)

RITA#411I don’t often buy contemporary music, but when I do…

This is the third release from one-man-band Kevin Parker, a resident of Fremantle, Western Australia.  Parker seemingly listened to Tomorrow Never Knows by the Beatles on a loop throughout his childhood. Who can blame him? What else is there to do in Perth anyway? Chase flies? Work on your tan?

That isolation from the rest of Australia – and from the rest of the world – has seen other artists sprout out of Fremantle, namely Bon Scott from the mighty AC/DC. There’s even a statue of Scott erected in the harbour in Fremantle. I wonder if Parker has seen that statue since it was built in 2008. If he has, I wonder what he thought about it. Given the hipster mentality, I’m guessing he thinks it’s just about the worst thing that could potentially happen to somebody. If they proposed it, he might die from embarrassment, and then they’d definitely have to build one in his honour. How awful…

Tame Impala’s third marks a slight departure from the garage rock sound of Innerspeaker and Lonerism. There are noticeably more synths this time around, but essentially it retains that similar sound – rotating soundscapes, dreamy vocals and what feels like a never-ending toy box of musical instruments. The drums sound more programmed rather than played, and so it’s not a million miles away from where Daft Punk were moving to on the more chilled out moments of Random Access Memories. The Less I Know The Better sounds like it could have been on Ladyhawke’s debut album – and in fact a decent chunk of the album has that lovely, dreamy ‘80s pop thing going on, in the vein of Cliff Martinez’s score for Drive (2011).

Since buying Currents, I’ve hardly had it off my turntable. Opening track Let It Happen is currently my favourite song of the moment – almost eight minutes of Kevin Parker giving the world an update on where his head is at the moment. Here’s to album number four.

Hit: Let It Happen

Hidden Gem: The Less I Know The Better

Rocks In The Attic #307: Lorde – ‘Pure Heroine’ (2013)

RITA#307Last Wednesday night I stood on Auckland’s waterfront and watched a homecoming gig by a 17-year old New Zealander who had just won two Grammys in Los Angeles a couple of days before. As far as expecting to see things like this happen again, I think seeing Halley’s Comet before we’re next due to would be more likely.

Without consciously meaning for it to be, Lorde’s Pure Heroine has been the soundtrack of my summer – just like Tame Impala’s Lonerism was the soundtrack of my winter last year. I’d like to think I’d rate her without all the hype, but then again I can’t imagine I would have heard any of her music without it.

I remember seeing the first photo of her – a publicity photo in The Listener sometime in late 2012 or early 2013. She was just a cute girl (steady…) with nice hair, sat next to a dog and a couple of words about her being someone to watch out for. But the press is always full of next big things – if you always listened to journalists about these things, you’d be constantly let down.

Then all of a sudden, Royals is #1 in the US charts for nine weeks, and then at the top of the UK charts. The scary thing though was the sheer amount of whacky covers of the song that popped up on YouTube; and then of course New Zealand’s tall poppy syndrome rears its ugly head and she starts to be shot down online and in the press. You’d think music critics (and musos in general) who usually champion New Zealand music would welcome her success, but no, they’re happier supporting the likes of Anika Moa and Dave Dobbyn. In New Zealand, it’s considered successful if you’re famous in New Zealand and New Zealand only.

On Wednesday night’s concert, she rolled out album-opener Tennis Court mid-set. It’s my favourite song on the album and every time I hear it, I always think the world’s got it wrong with Royals. Part of the success of that song must surely be the fact that it’s essentially a nursery rhyme – I mean, we can’t expect the American record-buying public to have sophisticated tastes, can we? Remember, this is the country that gave us Foreigner and Toto.

But for me, Tennis Court is where it’s at. In fact, I wouldn’t have bought the album had I not seen the awesome minimalist music video for that song. Royals may have alerted the world to Lorde, but Tennis Court shows that she can produce music that’s world-class. The rest of the album is pretty strong too. I wouldn’t say that Joel Little’s production sounds particularly cutting-edge; if anything, it sounds like early-2000s downbeat electronica out of the UK – think Zero 7; but the centrepiece is Lorde’s voice, and while she may not be as retro-sounding as Amy Winehouse, Duffy or Adele, there’s still something special about her.

One little thing I like about the production on the album is its cyclical beginning and end – with ‘Don’t you think that it’s boring how people talk’ the first line on the album, and ‘Let ‘em talk’ the final line. I love that sort of thing, very Roger Waters at the end of The Wall – ‘Isn’t this where we came in?’

I guess we now have to sit back and see what Ella Yelich-O’Connor does next. I do agree that she’s currently the antidote to the Miley Cyruses and Katy Perrys of the world, so hopefully she’ll continue down that path and avoid the pitfalls of glamour and celebrity.

Hit: Royals

Hidden Gem: A World Alone

Rocks In The Attic #269: Tame Impala – ‘Lonerism’ (2012)

RITA#269I heard Tame Impala’s Elephant earlier this year on a compilation CD given away free with a rock magazine. I liked it immediately – my song of the year, hands down. What a groove – like the Super Furry Animals doing a T. Rex cover of the Dr. Who theme, with John Lennon on vocals.

I bought the album that weekend (I can’t remember the last time I did that on the strength of hearing just one song) and it became an instant favourite on the turntable. In fact the album was the soundtrack of my trip down to Dunedin to see Aerosmith play in April. It’s funny how albums do that, especially new albums. I remember when I used to go on holiday with my parents – begrudgingly of course – in my early teens. I would buy a new album just before the holiday, and it would always weld itself into the fabric of my memories of the trip.

The rest of Lonerism isn’t as focused as Elephant. I’m not entirely sure what genre of music the whole album could be classified under; although the music press is keen on pigeon-holing them as a psychedelic rock band. I’m not so sure. It doesn’t sound a million miles away from the likes of Super Furry Animals, but it’s more laid-back than that. Kevin Parker, the man behind the music, has heard a Floyd album or two in his time, that’s for sure.

Hit: Elephant

Hidden Gem: Keep On Lying