Album reviews: Four Lions, Vampire Weekend, Paul Mac

Hard Days (Verse Chorus Verse)

3.5 stars

Straight outta Bendigo, just like the Talking Tram and Sun Loong the Chinese dragon, come rock band Four Lions.

Just as the country town is belatedly becoming an unexpected cultural hot spot thanks to its art gallery curation, it’s taken this fourth album to put the band into the spotlight.

Hard Days covers an impressive amount of musical terrain in just over 40 minutes.

Bendigo band Four Lions have released their fourth album. Pic: SuppliedSource:Supplied

Gone is the sound of a band who grew up listening to the first Oasis album — there’s the timeless melodies of Noel Gallagher with a bit of the swagger of Liam Gallagher and some familiar guitar refrains.

For balance The Saddest Place is the Australian version of Blur’s Parklife — (“Kev’s a brickie, chucks the occasional sickie”) that gets the suburban story told in two minutes, singalong chorus and all.

Stay taps into ’80s Paul Kelly with swirling Hammond organ, driving guitar and frontman Shann Lions’ inviting vocals.

Bent On Revenge heads down a darker path while still serving up a cracker chorus and sky-high vocal and guitar riffing.

Melancholy, country-tinged Wilco-esque melodic rock seems to be their sweet spot.

That’s where you’ll find Mr Bones located, with some pedal steel and violin along for the romantic ride.

Tragic Modern Love is another slow-burner, while My Own Lies even has a touch of the Cocteau Twins’ otherworldly guitar in the mix.

How Much (“we’re all broken, it’s how much”) is the kind of song radio used to play — hook after hook after hook.

The title track shoehorns in some plaintive duelling saxophones, while Living With a Stranger’s seven minutes morphs into a bluesy Stones groove — piano, trumpet, trombone and raw heartbreak./CAMERON ADAMS

Try this if you like: Wilco, Oasis, Bruce Springsteen

Four Lions tour dates: Palais Hepburn Daylesford May 17, Last Chance Rock`n’Roll Bar Melbourne May 23, Major Tom’s Kyneton May 25, Printers Room Ballarat May 30, Door Gallery Cafe Geelong May 31, The Vine Bendigo June 1, Taproom Castlemaine June 2.

Here Comes The Cowboy by Mac DeMarco. Pic: Supplied

Here Comes The Cowboy by Mac DeMarco. Pic: SuppliedSource:Supplied

Hard Days by Four Lions. Pic: Verse Chorus Verse

Hard Days by Four Lions. Pic: Verse Chorus VerseSource:Supplied


Here Comes the Cowboy (Caroline)

4 stars

The key to being cool is nottryingto be cool. Mac DeMarco makes “uncool” music ultra-hip by following his mellow muse and ending up somewhere between chilled Billy Joel and Steely Dan wearing a ten-gallon hat, chewing a straw of hay. He gives us 13 tracks of absolute quality: Choo Choo is tonnes of fun as he blows his stack coming ‘round the track and Finally Alone is his most gorgeous, loved-up falsetto cut since Still Together. You’ll warm to his cool. /MIKEY CAHILL

Try this if you like: Nick Drake, Supertramp

Musician Paul Mac has taken a different direction on his new album. Pic: Hollie Adams

Musician Paul Mac has taken a different direction on his new album. Pic: Hollie AdamsSource:News Corp Australia


Mesmerism (Here to Hell)

4 stars

Known for his work in euphoric house and rave, Sydney dance legend Paul Mac takes a trance detour on his fourth album. Unwinding years of pop hooks, guest vocalists and club mixes, the lengthy tracks roll out at their own damn pace — Seeking a Home In the Goldilocks Zone giving Orbital flashbacks — while Paul Keating’s 1992 Redfern Address (“We brought the diseases and the alcohol”) is set to music and sounds more powerful than ever. Single Cataplexy is an adult take on Mac’s trademark dance thrills./CA

Try this if you like: Brian Eno, Jon Hopkins

Designer (Sony)

4.5 stars

It wouldn’t surprise me if this Kiwi goth-folk iconoclast can swivel her head 360°. She’s so in the moment when she records/performs that Aldous can make a whole crowd do a silent scream. Harding’s smoothed some edges on her third album, working with John Parish, that’s not to say she’s lost any of her jagged undertones. Fixture Picture is a perfect reflection on rose-tinted memory and the subdued Zoo Eyes asks “What am I doing in Dubai at the prime of life?” Raw power, realised./ MC

Try this if you like: Luluc, Donovan, Dylan

Vampire Weekend‘s Father of the Bride. Pic: Sony

Vampire Weekend‘s Father of the Bride. Pic: SonySource:Supplied

Mac DeMarco on stage. Pic: Brian Ach/Getty Images

Mac DeMarco on stage. Pic: Brian Ach/Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images


For the Throne (Sony)
3.5 stars

Game Of Thrones is a pop culture phenom, with memes, conspiracy theories and now this mixtape — notably Ed Sheeran-free. The prize? The warrior-trap Power Is Power by SZA, The Weeknd and Travis Scott. Elsewhere are exclusives from soundtrack queen Ellie Goulding (the Billie Eilish-ish Hollow Crown), The National and ROSALIA. Muse’s Matt Bellamy leads Pray (High Valyrian) — dark orchestral pomp. Yet Beyonce proteges Chloe x Halle are most revelatory with their soulopera Wolf At Your Door./ CYCLONE WEHNER

Try this if you like: Watch the Throne

Bendigo‘s Four Lions were inspired by everyone from Oasis to Wilco. Pic: Verse Chorus Verse

Bendigo‘s Four Lions were inspired by everyone from Oasis to Wilco. Pic: Verse Chorus VerseSource:Supplied


Father of the Bride (Sony)

4 stars

Ezra Koenig is a kidder. Vampire Weekend opened their 2018 Lollapalooza set with A-Punk three times in a row, just to bait impatient fans. Respect.

He and his fellow Graceland acolytes in Vampire Weekend pumped out three records in five years, all diamonds, then let the VW idle for six years, now they’re gunning it again with an 18-track album (culled from 43) that will satisfy fans and grow their fanbase exponentially.

Hold You Now features Danielle Haim, a quaint country-meets-choir cut that harks back to Haim’s Shania Twain cover. It’s, um, solid.

Whatever they do has the ring of truth to it, a band of gold. Harmony Hall is Arcade Fire kicking it with Neil Young as TV On The Radio makes chai.

Koenig’s understanding of melodies and composition sets him apart from the pack.

He nails the Vampire Weekend brief of making music that’s “both silly and deep” on This Life, an amusing musing on how to age gracefully without becoming a Straighty 180; and How Long, a song built on finger-clicks, tasteful ’70s guitars, a West Coast hip-hop “doiiiing” sample (very Gin and Juice) and lyrics: “You broke my heart at midnight mass now I’m the ghost of Christmas past.”

It’s up with Oxford Comma and Run as their best work, set to make you shudder’n’shake.

Sunflower is the most fun you can have with your plants on, Married In a Gold Rush sees Danielle re-enter as a Sheryl Crow love interest. Fans feeling like their legs are getting DVT get to leap around the room to Sympathy, Koenig is having a blast as he recaptures the lairy ways of his early 20s.

Vampire Weekend may have lost a member and BFF Rostam Batmanglij (who produced their previous albums) but fear not, fervent fan, they’ve still got it./MC

Vampire Weekend’s Ezra Koenig promoting Father of the Bride. Pic: Sony

Vampire Weekend’s Ezra Koenig promoting Father of the Bride. Pic: SonySource:Supplied

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