Monday, 6 May 2013

New Music Monday #51




Music from Baz Luhrmann's Film The Great Gatsby
by Various Artists (out now)





In the lead up to the release of The Great Gatsby, the hype for the film's soundtrack has come to match that of the movie itself. Overseen by Jay-Z and Baz Luhrmann and starring a who's who of the hottest acts in rap, hip-hop, indie and rock, it's no surprise that some were already seeing the potential for it to be the greatest motion picture soundtrack of, well, ever. The time has finally come, Music from Baz Luhrmann's Film The Great Gatsby is available for public consumption and at the very least, this definitely is the finest sounding soundtrack we've heard since the turn of the millennium (suck it, O Brother, Where Art Thou?). 


Jay-Z throws in distorted audio lines from The Great Gatsby against choppy beats, a children's choir and one of the most serviceable flows he's delivered since Watch the Throne. Z's lyrical swag easily matches Gatsby's ambition, seen in the opening immortal line, "it's got to keep going up." Mrs. Carter herself teams up with Andre 3000 on a cover of Amy Winehouse's 'Back to Black.' Opinions have been divided and I find that while it (obviously) holds no candle to La Winehouse's original, there's been enough work to create a unique take on it that you'll find enough to enjoy. It does have Beyonce going for it and by that I mean the track is admirably performed while lacking any notion of real emotion. will.i.am's contribution... pass. Next up, another Black Eyed Pea takes centre stage. Fergie stars alongside Q-Tip and GoonRock on 'A Little Party Never Killed Nobody (All We Got),' a track so obviously destined for dance floor greatness slash annoyance. Variations on 'It Don't Mean A Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing)' mark a welcome return for Fergie-Ferg. 


At this point we reach something of a turning point as Lana Del Rey's 'Young and Beautiful' suitably raises the emotional stakes. Everything about this song screams Daisy Buchanan and Del Rey easily slides into the role of our female lead. You want to call it epic, but when you see Florence + The Machine is next on the bill you tend to keep a dramatic word like that up your sleeve. Unsurprisingly, Florence Welch makes best use of the source material with her 'green light' motif throughout her contribution, 'Over the Love.' Reaching for new vocal heights, Florence lets the drama slowly build and falter before the truly epic closing sequence brings the track to an end. Following the dramatic one-two punch of 'Young and Beautful' and 'Over the Love,' the addition of Coco O's 'Where the Wind Blows' is a light, breezy breather. She just wants to have a good time apparently. None of this 'what the future holds' drama that preceded it. 


Emeli Sande continues to prove she can do no wrong. Against all odds she powers through a funky, old-time jazz rendition of 'Crazy In Love.' It's probably the Bryan Ferry factor working in her favour. In no way is it a standout number, but it's slightly better than the album's first cover track. Emotional turning point pt. 2 is lead by what will likely be the album's sleeper hit, 'Together.' The xx have a knack for housing restrained desperation in the voices of Romy Madley Croft and Oliver Sim and with the most delicious cinematic string ensemble providing back up to Jamie Smith's minimalist electronic composition you've got one of the most intense tracks you'll hear all year. Gotye is sure to earn further international acclaim for his pre-'Somebody That I Used To Know' masterpiece 'Hearts A Mess.' Jack White offers up a masterclass in the art of embodying rock and or roll on his cover of U2's 'Love Is Blindness.' 





Living up to its 'something for everybody' promise, electo trio Nero and the haunting 'Into The Past' are sure to please even non-dubstep fans. There's a lot more to this than your Skrillexes and... that's all I really know about the genre actually. Sia Furler brings us home on 'Kill and Run.' Depending on its placement in the film, should it actually be in it, this could be a track that propels Sia to the next level. She's never sounded better than in the final choruses of 'Kill and Run.' Music from Baz Luhrmann's The Great Gatsby is sure to sell like hot cakes upon release and at the end of the day, it deserves to. Jay-Z has assembled a crack team of incredible songwriters and performers for what we may call the greatest album of the year come awards time. Even the stain of will.i.am's bland nature isn't enough to knock points off. The songs perfectly compliment moments fans of the book know are coming, the highs and especially the lows. As far as soundtracks go, you'll be hard pressed to find a better one these days. Go get this album.




Matt Bond gives Music from Baz Luhrmann's The Great Gatbsy five Nick Cave heads out of five...




Volume 3
by She and Him (out now)





Three years have passed since the release of She and Him's Volume 2 and much has happened in that time. Hipster nonsense has taken complete control as the dominant trend in fashion, indie music and social media. Skinny chinos to the left, stupid floral bow-ties to the right, here I am... stuck in the middle with She and Him. M. Ward and Zooey Deschanel's dreamy retro sound predates the hipster revolution (maybe it was even the start of it), so there's no better time than the present for She and Him to gain many a new fan with the release of Volume 3


We launch straight into 'I've Got Your Number, Son' and you already know you're in for a treat. Beach Boy inspired oohs and aahs and a promise from Deschanel to shine her light on you. M. Ward's wonderful work has that incredibly joyous California surf-rock sound which is completely juxtaposed by the tinges of sadness in Deschanel's lyrics. As far as opening numbers go, this one is a winner. You'd be forgiven for thinking 'Never Wanted Your Love' is actually a 60s pop gem, all melodramatic words and sweeping string arrangements. Ward shines alongside his counterpart on the duet 'Baby,' a bluesier love song that shows how far both vocalists have come over the years. It's a shame Ward's voice only shows up sporadically as the sound of him and Deschanel together is perfection. 


'Somebody Sweet To Talk To' is a true highlight, capturing the spirit of the 60s girl group. "I want you, I don't want to forget, if you go I'll surely get distracted." Oh. So. Dreamy. Following right after is the more country-acoustic 'Something's Haunting You.' It's a relatively quiet moment compared to many of the preceding tracks, but Deschanel's questioning of "what's a girl to do?" is fairly remarkable. 'Together' doesn't quite know what it wants to be when it grows up. Is it funk, pop, soul... some hybrid funk-pop-soul romp? A brief stumble, but nothing to impact on your listening pleasure. Speaking of listening pleasure, how about that cover of 'Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me'? Hearing She and Him's take on it pretty much made my day. "Dry your eyes Sunday girl." Making our way to 'Sunday Girl,' and it's all 'Pretty in Pink' like rockin' heartache. There's even the piano ballad 'London' about how bad the weather sucks in the UK. That's not actually what it's about, but... actually that's exactly what it's about. Maybe you'll hear something else. 





Volume 3 is one of those gorgeous retro-revival albums only a special handful of artists are able to pull off today. Hipster friends should love it (if they're capable of such a thing, you can never be sure if they hold true emotions), established She and Him fans will certainly love it and I think those completely unfamiliar with the sounds of Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward will be unable to resist the old-time charm that runs rampant throughout this album. Unsure? Find that cover of 'Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me' and go from there. You'll be a She and Him fan before you know it. 




Matt Bond gives Volume 3 four Beatle heads out of five... 




Human Spring
by Buchanan (May 10, 2013)




Is Buchanan Australia's best kept pop secret? If Josh Simons and his team are, they surely won't be for long if the debut LP Human Spring is anything to go by. One of those rare albums you feel like anyone and everyone can get behind, Human Spring bands together a polished collection of catchy tunes. Anthemic and rousing singalongs pleasingly dominate proceedings, but there's nice placement of a grungier number in 'Temptation' and the pleading desire to "start afresh" on the reflective 'Sit It Out.' 


Human Spring opens and closes on two fantastic songs, 'Act Natural' and 'An All Clear?' The former is immediately engaging; a nice string arrangement leads into what I'd call the 'feel good song of the year.' I know that kind of sounds lame, but the song isn't. There's a likeable sense of romance in lines like, "when you find that there's so much left to do, we used to conquer now babe it's just me and you" and the track builds and builds to a satisfying conclusion. You'll want to immediately hear it again, but come back to it later and enjoy 'Par Avion.' 'An All Clear' vaults from good to great as soon as the "don't know where I've gone" chorus kicks in. 


Hopefully you've already done yourself a favour and listened to the title track, 'Human Spring.' A sure thing for end of year lists already, 'Human Spring' is the right kind of auditory assault that just makes you want to go out and have fun. It's such a shame winter is coming because this song has 'summer anthem' written all over it. On the strength of this first album, big things are going to be coming Buchanan's way. I'd say make sure Human Spring doesn't become one of those absolute pop gems that finds itself lost in the shuffle, but really... there's no chance of that happening here. Australia's next big thing has arrived.




Matt Bond gives Human Spring four Michael Hutchence heads out of five...    




Kiss My Apocalypse
by Abbe May (May 10, 2013)





 
You're probably going to need either a cold shower or a cigarette after listening to Kiss My Apocalypse. Unashamedly sexy as opposed to in-yo-face skanky, Abbe May and her self-styled brand of doom pop will leave you a little breathless, a little disorientated, but more than a little satisfied. 'Tantric Romantic' establishes the concept the album runs with, the death of love. This isn't one of the cheesy K-pop love songs May references in her opening line, this is all about the sexy time. Performed in a robotic spoken-word manner, you won't find any true love around these parts. 


'Perth Girls' kicks all kinds of booty. A mirror image to the already released single 'Karmageddon,' (which appears in two tracks time) 'Perth Girls' is almost the last glimmer of light before May's vision of the end of the world is realised. Current single 'T.R.O.U.B.L.E' is the words 'something wicked this way comes' put into musical form. It's dangerous and alluring with the most striking electronic music to back it up. As Abbe takes a walk down sexual adventures memory lane, she offers the sage advice, "remember to lie to all of your other lovers." Someone's definitely going to find themselves in some trouble. With 'Perth Girls' still fresh in your mind, 'Karmageddon' drops May's vocal register and feels like the masculine reply to what came before it. This is sex and rock and roll and it's perfect. 


On the haunting 'Want Want Want' there's a feeling that something's missing; a feeling of loss. It's hard to argue with the doom pop label on a song like this one, but when you're listening to May's voice and the music backing it up, you wouldn't have it any other way. Did I mention this album's pretty damn sexy? One listen of Abbe May crooning her way through the title track, "kiss my apoca-lee-ee-ee-ypse" and you'll be right where she wants you. Kiss My Apocalypse is sure to charm the pants right off you. Listen for the ballsy, risk-taking music... listen for the words and the message... listen for one of Australia's finest vocalists... listen for the sex factor. Just don't be surprised if you end up in the shower afterwards, with or without a cigarette. 




Matt Bond gives Kiss My Apocalypse five Madonna heads out of five...


NEW MUSIC VIDEOS OF THE WEEK:
 

Q.U.E.E.N.
by Janelle Monae ft. Erykah Badu
Album: The Electric Lady (TBA, 2013)


 


As if I didn't already love this song enough, this is one of those rare-ish times when a clip makes me love the song even more and like the song, once I hit play once, I had to hit it again at the end just to be taken on the journey nmore. It seems silly to even talk about the striking monochramatic pallet, the awesome choreography, the beautiful mod girls and the incredibly stylish costuming (don't even get me started on those shoes, oh those fabulous shoes...) you just need to watch it. It's awesome. I can tell already while this is going to be one of my favourite songs of the year, this is going to be one of my favourite clips as well. 



Jo Michelmore gives the video for Q.U.E.E.N. five Jackson Five heads out of five...




Killer Lights
by Future Relative


 


One of the things I like about writing a blog is that sometimes you get to discover things that might not neccassarily have found you while you're getting ditracted by clips of monkeys, taxidermy and amusement parks on youtube. Today I was lucky enough to have found the new clip form Future Relative, a Brooklyn based electro outfit we featured late last year with their single 'Deep End'. This year, things are looking promising, with the release of their latest clip and single 'Killer Lights', the trio show us some diversity. A little more pop than their last track, the clip is perfectly simple and repetitive like the incredibly catchy song itself. Close up head shots mixed with images of the band playing and, of course, a bunch of lighting effects make it a clip worth watching and yeah, like Matt did, I'm going to say it too, this clip is a perfect indication that this is an act you're going to want to keep an eye on this year. Future Relative have proven again that (dare I say it?) they have a big future ahead of them! There, I made the pun, I couldn't resist. 



Jo Michelmore gives the video for Killer Lights four Shirley Manson heads out of five...

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