Monday, 13 May 2013

New Music Monday #52

Extended Play EP
by Fleetwood Mac (out now)

When a band of Fleetwood Mac's caliber releases new music there's cause to celebrate. Stevie Nicks, Lindsey Buckingham, John McVie and Mick Fleetwood; these guys and gal are living legends that, along with former vocalist/keys player Christine McVie in the Mac's greatest incarnation gave us some of the best albums of the 70s and 80s. So, ten years since their last full-length album, Say You Will, Fleetwood Mac are back on the road and testing the 'ole recording waters on the unimaginatively named Extended Play EP. Comprised of four tracks, it's a quick listen that shows that the band still has gas in the tank and Buckingham and Nicks show us why they are two of the greatest songwriters in music's history. 

It's not all as amazing as you'd think I'm setting it up to be though. 'Sad Angel' and 'Miss Fantasy', Buckingham's opening and closing tracks are nice enough Fleetwood Mac listens, but could pass off as tracks that never made it onto past albums and weren't good enough to even be considered B-side material. Tracks two and three though, Stevie Nicks' 'Without You' and the Buckingham penned 'It Takes Time' are incredible. "In my life, there's been a few things worth singing," opens 'Without You' and finds Nicks in a happy place, taking a glance back. Lindsey Buckingham leads the piano ballad 'It Takes Time' and much like the previous song, he's in a retrospective mood. "And maybe I've wasted all this precious time, and trying to prove what is and isn't mine, wondering to myself if you knew, it was all for you."

By all accounts, Fleetwood Mac are in a pretty good place. There's none of the drama that made Rumours such a fascinating piece of work, no drugs... probably no booze. Just a handful of easy-listening rock and roll tunes that hold a sound of decades gone by, performed by four of music's greatest living musicians. While not their best work, it's definitely cause to celebrate. Extended Play is hopefully the start of something bigger. A new LP perhaps? If so, a more balanced blend of Nicks and Buckingham tunes would make for a great listen. Throw in Christine McVie too. She's gone her own way for far too long. 

Matt Bond gives Extended Play three Supreme heads out of five... 

Stay Awake
by Connor B. Fitz (June, 2013)

Before last week, I must admit I knew nothing about Australian singer-songwriter, Connor B. Fitz. Having now listened to his soon to be released second studio album, Stay Awake, I can comfortably say that's my loss. Every aspect of the recording process comes down to Fitz himself; he wrote all the songs, played all the instruments on the album... he even mixed it himself. The final product is an incredibly impressive collection of indie rock songs. You actually don't want to put a label like 'indie rock' on Stay Awake. Its sound lies somewhere in-between indie and modern Australian rock and roll, with the relaxed vibes of surf rock keeping things pretty chilled.

Stay Awake finds its greatest strengths to be Fitz's songwriting and vocal delivery. Having spent time finding inspiration while traveling Europe and a lifetime before that as a session musician, Fitz has a lot of interesting things to say through his music. Every song tells a story you can immerse yourself in and find relatable on some level. As far as the voice, Fitz has a calming delivery. However, he picks his moments wisely to show that it also packs a punch. 'Landslide,' one of the albums highlights is one of the tracks where Fitz lets go and howls out the lines "holding my eyes to the sun, saving their lives by a landslide." You've also got to give the man a ton of credit for his talents as a multi-instrumentalist. Keep in mind as the beautiful piano melody plays on 'In Your Stride' and you tap your feet along to the drums on 'Red Seas' that it's Fitz doing it all.

'Seventh Sense,' all hand-clapping, horn blaring goodness is the first track and a stellar introduction to Fitz's sound for the unfamiliar. The opening, attention-grabbing lyric, "you might move too fast, but you won't get far," leads into a bluesy guitar line that, well, rocks. 'Hit The Mark' feels like an insight into Fitz's decision to go from session artist to a more prominent role. "How do you hit the mark, how do you win the war, why does it start again, just like a hundred times before." Connor B Fitz certainly hits the mark with Stay Awake. To anyone that hears it, this is likely to go down as one of the best Australian releases of the year. I'd like to think that Fitz's hard work will ensure that the right people will hear it and introduce his music to a huge audience because it deserves to be heard. All I can say to you is, give Stay Awake a go. You won't regret it. 

Matt Bond gives Stay Awake four Michael Hutchence heads out of five...

West End
by Astrid and The Asteroids

This right here. This song, 'West End.' This will make your day. You don't even need to be from the greatest city in the world (Brisbane, duh) to appreciate this amazingly catchy, sing to the high heavens verbal smack down against trendy hipsters taking over what once really was the most "alternative" part of town. I'm hoping their next track is called Paddington. Now there's a wank-fest on the weekend. In this 'Thrift Shop' day and age, it's nice to see someone taking hipsters to task. Most of them were emo a couple of years ago, right? Song. Astrid and The Asteroids. Focus. 'West End.' The video is straight-up fantastic and hilarious; keep your eyes on the constantly changing instruments the band are playing. Astrid Jorgensen's voice remains as powerful as ever and her "I'm singing with a really breathy tone" segment is one of those amazing laugh out loud moments that will earn the band a whole bunch of new fans. They deserve them. Brisbane's best kept secret aren't going to be a secret for long. 'West End' needs to be picked up nationally, internationally and beyond. Because beyond is kind of a 'space' reference and I need to include at least one when talking about Astrid and The Asteroids. 

Matt Bond gives 'West End' five Nick Cave heads out of five... 


Young and Beautiful
by Lana Del Rey
Album: Music From Baz Lurhmann's Film The Great Gatsby (out now) 

While there's nothing life changing to be found in LDR's video for the gorgeous Gatsby track, 'Young and Beautiful,' there's certainly more than enough to enjoy. From the opening house of mirrors-esque shots to an unexpected beautiful smile and moody, dramatic shots of the orchestra, you'll see why Sophie Muller has built a career in building imagery that will stay with you for a long time. Switch your filters to hipster and enjoy the cinematic ride. 

Matt Bond gives the Young and Beautiful video three Britney heads out of five...  


a Promised Miracles mixtape
download linkage

So you have an understanding that Australia is home to a wealth of incredible acts just waiting to be discovered, but you have no idea where to look for them. Promised Miracles have got you covered. Basements is their first mixtape to grace our ears and features eight tracks from emerging Melbourne acts. Indie and folk fans can discover Sleepy Dreamers and their heartwarming song 'Winter Make Way.' Sleepy Dreamers are definitely an act to keep an eye on and you can't help but feel big things are coming their way. Lurch and Chief are one rock band with a pretty sexy sounding vocal duo in Lily Hall and Hayden Somerville. Has triple J picked up their song 'On Your Own' yet? They'd be stupid not too. If you like your rock a little heavier, Damn Terran have got you covered. 'Rebels' is all blazing guitars and beating drums and it's awesome. Ali Edmonds has all the talent needed to be a future Aussie rock icon. Each month Promised Miracles will turn their attention to a different genre of Australian music on a new mixtape. This is going to be your new favourite way to meet brilliant up and coming Aussie artists. It's already become mine, I must have listened to the mixtape a bajillion times in the last week. Enjoy!


Secondhand Rapture
by MS MR (out 14 May, 2013)

For fans of New York's MS MR, their debut album Secondhand Rapture will be everything you dreamed it would be... and probably a whole lot more too. We've already heard the jaw-dropping goodness of 'Hurricane,' 'Bones' and 'Fantasy' and now we find ourselves smacked in the face with a whole album of future classics. 'Head Is Not My Home' and 'Think of You' are like diamonds in a sea of gold, but nothing can top the dramatic 'Bones.' If you haven't found yourself a fan of MS MR after hearing their previous material, Secondhand Rapture isn't likely to change your mind. But seriously, how could you not love this?

Matt Bond gives Secondhand Rapture four Shirley Manson heads out of five...

by Little Boots (out now)

Victoria Hesketh aka Little Boots wears her influences on her sleeve with the second LP, Nocturnes. For the most part, that's a good thing. This is more Kylie than Gaga's reinvention of Madonna and it's damn fine electronic pop. For some bizarre reason, Boots has found herself lost in the shuffle. When you listen to a brilliant pop gem like 'Motorway' or 'Broken Record' it's hard to understand why. She takes more risks that the average pop star and presents a darker side to this 'waiting in the wings' disco trend. Nocturnes is nothing groundbreaking, but it's an entertaining listen. There's still wonderful pop music out there. You've just got to look a little harder for it. 

Matt Bond gives Nocturnes four Lady Gaga heads out of five... 

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