Koi No Yokan | Reprise
4.5 / 5
DEFTONES ARE ONE lucky band. They managed to escape the late ‘90s nu-metal movement unscathed, as demonstrated by their continuing commercial and critical success. That success could be due in part to the group’s willingness to incorporate a myriad of unusual influences into their sound, ranging from ‘80s new-wave to ‘90s post-hardcore.
The group’s previous release, 2010’s Diamond Eyes, saw the Californian alt-metal band playing a heavy, straightforward sound that was more akin to their first two albums. This was a nice throwback to their formative years, but was also disappointing, as 2006’s criminally underappreciated Saturday Night Wrist had finally embraced the dreamy, shoegazey sound that Deftones had been building up to for years.
It’s because of all this that the band’s newest effort Koi No Yokan really pleased me; it retains the heaviness and production style of Diamond Eyes while incorporating the synth-filled soundscapes of Saturday Night Wrist. Tracks like the programmed-drum-laden “Entombed” and the epic “Rosemary” showcase Deftones at their most atmospheric, while songs like “Leathers” and “Poltergeist” reveal that they will always have a penchant for taking the intensity up a notch.
Overall, Koi No Yokan is an excellent step in the right direction, and it is truly rare to see a band peaking this late in its career.
Continental Drag | Saved By Vinyl
1 / 5
KLARKA WEINWURM WAS a name that I had never heard before in my life, and surely many Canadians will remain oblivious to her existence, despite her two-week tour in support of Continental Drag that took her from Nova Scotia to Ontario.
A fixture of the East Coast music scene, Klarka Weinwurm has collaborated with artists such as Jon McKiel and Shotgun Jimmie. Weinwurm previously released some promising EPs, but Continental Drag is her first full-length release. Guitar, violin, deep bass, and husky vocals meld with wandering and simplistic lyrics for this 11-track folk-pop album.
Weinwurm, who has crossed the country several times and seems to be deeply connected to Canada’s natural side, began a recording career in Toronto before moving to Nova Scotia in search of new inspiration. It seems as though she should either return to her roots or fine-tune her new sound for the future, because this recent endeavour was a real drag (pun intended). At times it was boring, at other times strange. On several occasions during the album were small flickers of hope, where part of a song would start to take a more catchy direction, but shortly afterward that spark of excitement would die and I would go back to wondering what exactly it was that I had gotten myself into.
(III) | Fiction
3.5 / 5
TORONTO’S CRYSTAL CASTLES always stood out among their modern electronic contemporaries thanks to the duo’s dark atmosphere and frontwoman Alice Glass’s often screamed vocals. However, their abrasiveness was infused with a melodic side, resulting in numerous tracks that could make a dance floor go wild. Their darker side began to manifest more on their 2010 self-titled album, and on (III) it has arrived in full force.
(III) may be difficult to swallow for some, as there’s hardly anything here that could be described as danceable. The group eschews their former 8-bit “Nintendo-core” sound in favour of eerie synths perpetrated through dense, lo-fi production value. It’s nowhere near as immediately gratifying as their previous work, particularly due to band member Ethan Kath’s production. He does create a dark atmosphere, but many tracks feature so much reverb that it’s distracting and buries Glass’s vocals throughout the album. The band does continue their tradition of producing excellent closing tracks; “Child I Will Hurt You” is one of the few songs where the production is effective.
Overall, (III) is still a solid slab of dark electronica; just don’t be surprised if everybody gets bummed out when you throw it on at a party.
2 / 5
THE 2012 REMAKE of 1984’s Red Dawn follows a bunch of teenagers equipped with military equipment on a mission to save their small American town from an invading North Korean army. Honestly, the premise is super cool (and I don’t use that descriptor lightly). I like to believe we all have these what-if fantasies in our heads sometimes, like, “What would I do if a bunch of soldiers just ran into my house?” Red Dawn plays along with this fantasy nicely but grows too dependent upon it, which only leads to the entire film becoming more unrealistic with every passing minute.
The storyline is supported by a single opening montage explaining that North Korea is hell-bent on eliminating the United States. Other than that, there is no explanation for any plot points. The character development is weak and stereotypical, kept interesting only by the fame of Josh Hutcherson (The Hunger Games) and Chris Hemsworth (Thor), and they are subpar at best. I‘m amazed that the producers cast Josh Peck (from the kids’ TV show Drake & Josh) as the lead. He looks high as a kite during the entire film, and acts like it too.
Expect a lot of explosions and gunfights, but without blood or gore, due to the film’s PG-13 rating. There were two highlights: 1) the ending scene, which was shot pretty decently; and 2) when Isabel Lucas’s sixteen-year-old character fires a rocket-propelled grenade with ease and grace. But all in all, Red Dawn proves that sometimes a fantasy should remain a fantasy.