Goodbye, Labrador – A Thousand Times Before

If you are looking for a stirring and heated soundtrack for your summer days than A Thousand Times Before from Goodbye, Labrador is easily one of the best candidates. The six track EP is a stunning voice for hazy days and heated emotions with its dreamy and infectious immersive sounds the perfect backdrop to emotive and passionate endeavours.

     Goodbye, Labrador formed in 2008 and finds its members based in Barcelona, Brooklyn, and Prague. 2010 saw their self titled debut EP pull in enthused attention as the members came together for shows in Portugal supporting Ölga and its recording. Now the quartet of Martin Pípal (guitar, vocals), Phil Gold (guitar, percussion, vocals), Gonçalo Hipolito Martins (bass, vocals), and J. M. Silverman (drums, percussion), return with their second release through Dead Fisherman Records to once more place their masterful touch upon the senses. As with their first EP the band upon A Thousand Times Before create dream state borne sounds steeped in eighties post punk invention and nineties art rock imagination. Recorded with Eduardo Ricciardi at Golden Pony Studio in Lisbon, the release is a delicious palette of melodic imagination and emotional caresses brought with stirring energies and sleepy calm.

     Goodbye, Labrador open up the EP with the golden toned Intrepid. The first notable thing is the striking bass sounds of Martins and their captivating presence as they explore and expand the shadowed corners of the light bursting from each and every song. Alongside the beguiling guitar play they create a balance which steers the majestic flow of the songs deeper and with stronger contagion aided by the wonderful duality of the vocal attack. The male and females voices sweep the lyrics through the ear on whispers and rays of warmth for the fullest pleasure and it is hard to think of another band recently able to find the consistent heights in this vocal craft as Goodbye, Labrador do. As mentioned the band find influences in the heights of the eighties and as the EP plays the likes of House Of Love and Felt easily slip in to view as comparisons.

Sirens takes over next and easily emerges as the best song on the release. It immediately lures full attention as the bass paves the way with its heart exciting tones whilst the song is soon lighting up the atmosphere with imagination and spiralling melodic enterprise. There is a great discordant feel to the track too especially through the explosive guitar manipulations and energy which reminds again of Felt but also others like The Passage and Birdland with its rawer surface. With a fiery climax to crumble before, the song is simply outstanding and alone ensures the band is one to always keep an eager eye on.

The likes of Falling Away and Embrace The Stranger continue the growing affection inside with their well crafted sounds and shapes. The first of the pair is an easy to consume continuation with dwells on the plateau built from the starter whilst the second with a slight Pixies air to its bewitching presence ventures into further cascades of sonic beauty and incendiary discord lined aural explosions. All of this drama and stirring wonder comes within that dreamy magnetism, the expertise of the band to merge both so fluidly and contagiously deeply impressive.

The excellent Silence Of Me and the emotive Memoir complete the line-up of excellence just as enjoyably as what came before. As the former of the two weaves its startling melodic prowess one realises the band is finding the levels of melodic infection in their emotive hooks as those which made the likes of Echo & The Bunnymen and Wah! so essential.

If there is one slight criticism for the release it is the similarity across the surface of songs which makes it easy without retaining an element of focus to find the songs merging. Of course given firmer attention the songs without fail unveil a wealth of diversity and invention which is undeniable. A Thousand Times Before is a gem of a release which makes one hope Goodbye, Labrador get together often and bring much more of their outstanding creativity and sounds to our ears.

RingMaster 05/08/2012

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Dogtanion – Japan

Eclectic and unpredictable, Japan the debut album from Dogtanion is a release which permanently intrigues and even with a landscape which is an undulating makes for one striking and ultimately enjoyable journey. It is a release which teases and plays with emotions and sensibilities whilst giving a mischievous glint to its air throughout. It is sharp and at times wicked especially lyrically but has a constant grace and mesmerism to leave one more than satisfied across its relatively brief presence.

     Dogtanion is the musical alter-ego of Matthew de Kersaint Giraudeau, a London-based musician and film-maker. Following up the well received single Islam; the album builds upon that first introduction with a gentle stroll full of irresistible twists and feisty asides to offer the unexpected and well crafted invention. A vibrant merge of electronica, acoustic and folk with essences of garage and lo-fi minimalism, the album keeps one captivated from start to finish. Arguably the first half of the album does leave the latter part in the shade somewhat but you can be quite sure it will be the reverse for just as many people and it is doubtful there will be any unable to find plenty of rewards in the release as a whole.

The album opens with Beast And The Boots a song which squeezes and slides along the imagination as firmly and skilfully as the artist manipulates his guitar, each note speaking passion with their sound and squealing caresses. The vocals are just as emotive as the music and all combined makes for a pleasing low key beginning to the release. By its end the piece has the ear and thoughts open for what is to come with brewing anticipation and eagerness.

The aforementioned single Islam comes next and immediately shows why it was so well received upon its release. Wonderfully acerbic in word and full of tantalising sounds and ideas within the warmth of sound, the song is a real treat. Imagine Arctic Monkeys writing words for a musical fusion of Seth Lakeman, Conformist and RKC and you get an idea of its charm and many aspects. Along with the following Fringepot the songs ignite the atmosphere with little blisters of musical light brought with mini intensive bursts of energy. The latter of the two is a meatier feast for the ear but both leave one with an immense smile inside and out for their unique and infectious hearts.

Best song on the album comes in the heated summer of Heavy Talk. A calypso lit fiesta of summer warmth and light headed enterprise the song is sheer excellence which refuses to let the ear and senses take a breath until its departure. Go back in time and think of something like Tom Hark from The Piranhas and you get a real flavour of not only the sound of the song but its energy and contagiousness. It is the biggest highlight of Japan and another fine example of the diversity within its shining walls.

It is from this point the album takes a turn and explores the melodic and impassioned beauty within the songwriting and shimmering sounds of Dogtanion. Bastard Song has a frame of boisterous beats to stir the ambience of the sounds and lyrical breath of the song to make a seamless switch from the upbeat first part of the album into the following heartfelt elegance. Songs like Never Change and Something Beautiful lay down their emotions in a haze of lush acoustic charm and whispered energies to great effect. Seemingly similar in intent the tracks carry their own individual presences to keep things new and though as mentioned for us the album does not retain the impossible to resist carriage from its earlier place in the ear it is never less than compulsive listening.

     Japan is an album with two faces, an A and B side which are distinctly different but obvious companions. It makes for an album from Dogtanion which works in different places for each individual and to varying success but it does work and all should find plenty to smile with inside its striking creativity.

RingMaster 05/08/2012

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