Monday, 24 June 2013

New Music Monday #57

by Kanye West


Ah Kanye, what a funny little fellow you are. I've defended you, I've danced to you, I've laughed with you (ok, sometimes at you) and I've even declared myself a fan. Yep, it's true. I saw you at Splendour In The Grass a couple of years ago and applauded your performance, it was entertaining, there was no denying that. Now you present the world with your sixth album 'Yeezus' and you've got the mainstream music media in a frenzy. Some love it, some hate it and almost everyone's got something to say about your lyrics. I'm just a little blogger in Australia, but I guess I'm the one who'll be heading over to the itunes to press 'purchase' so maybe my opinion should count the most.

My opinion? I'm not going to deny it, I kind of love it. Kanye West is not a philospher, he's not a genius, he's not even a good singer. A Kanye West album is the album you put on to get ready to go out on a Saturday night, it's the album you listen to in the car to stop yourself from thinking about the traffic, it's the album you dance badly to in your kitchen. This album allows you to do all of those things, or whatever else it is you might like to do with Kanye's sweet, sweet vocals in the background. 


'Yeezus' is aggresive from the very beginning and that's part of what makes it magic, the opener 'On Sight' has an industrial feel, 'I Am A God' is Kanye at his arrogant best. No wait, maybe his arrogant best is his audacity to rap over the legendary Nina Simone in 'Blood On The Leaves' or his arrogant best could even be the lyrics everyone seems to have centred on in 'New Slaves' (if you haven't heard them, don't worry, you will sometime soon, I can't even be bothered repeating them) but ultimately, this is the same guy that controversially told us "she ain't nothing but a gold digger, she ain't messin' with no broke niggas" eight years ago, so I don't really understand the focus on those particular lyrics on that track.

I know I'm biased, but if Kanye can be arrogant, I can be biased (I'm a Daft Punk fan so I'm just going to say it) the best part of this album is the fact that Daft Punk have been involved; 'Send It Up' being a standout, the restrained siren sound mesmerising and reggae style ending were totally unexpected. It's the final track 'Bound 2' that I loved the most of all though, this is the track that will make it to my all time Kanye playlist, where he reminds us of where he's been and why he is the musician he is today. Unexpected samples, such 'romantic' lyrics, the soul sound that he does best is a fabulous way to end an album that some are going to love and some are going to hate. Either way, there's no denying Kanye West is an artist defining a time of music that can sometimes be a little bland, and if there's one thing Kanye isn't, it's bland.

I've said it before, he's not the world's best rapper, he's not the world's best singer, he's no genius, he might like to be, but he's no philosopher, in fact, a lot of times he's just kind of annoying, but there's one thing Kanye does really well and that is exposure, publicity and fame. 'Yeezus' isn't going to change the world, but it's going to make getting ready to go out on Saturday night that little bit more fun for a while.

Jo Michelmore gives Yeezus five Jay-Z heads out of five...

by The Love Junkies

2013 has been quite the year for Australian acts making a statement with their debut album. We've heard debuts that celebrate a creative new generation of fearless artists that are pushing boundaries, exploring genres most Aussie talent would shy away from and drawing the eyes of the world down under. The Love Junkies are no strangers to attention from international music media, with NME listing the Perth locals in a list of five Australian bands to watch in 2013. One listen of their debut album, Maybelene and you'll understand why. You'll even understand why I'd consider it one of the best debut albums of the year. Maybe even the best. Sometimes you don't have to push boundaries or explore new genres. Sometimes three friends can come together, polish up some insanely catchy rock tunes and let us join in on the fun. The real statement bands like The Love Junkies make is that they're not interested in making a statement at all... they're interested in making enjoyable music. 

Mitch McDonald, Robbie Rumble and Lewis Walsh have clear influences that come out in their music and instead of shying away from those influences they embrace them. It worked for the best Australian bands like Silverchair and Powderfinger and it works for The Love Junkies too. The rampant sense of urgency that album opener 'Heads Down' commences with explodes into blazing guitars, banging drums and unconstrained howls. From here on in, the energy hardly lets up as you're taking on one hell of a thirty-eight minute ride you won't want to stop. 'Oxymoron' has a hook Damon Albarn would be proud of that will have you jumping in the air, banging that head around like its 1997 all over again. McDonald appears more than confident in his vocal abilities. Bouncing between an alluring confidence and a bitter snarl on the standout track 'Baby Come Home' seems all too easy for him. While a lot of love and attention will be given to the title track, I find the painite of Maybelene to be 'Black Sheep Blues.' The sound certainly lives up to that title and this is heavy blues that keeps me coming back again and again. Forget The Black Keys... The Love Junkies have got you covered. 


Maybelene is the rock album I feel like I've been waiting a long time to hear. It's an explosive declaration of who The Love Junkies are and what they are is kick ass rock and rollers that make music you'll want to hear over and over again. NME got it right when they said to keep our eyes on these lads. I feel like we're going to be keeping our eyes on them for a long time to come.

Matthew Bond gives Maybelene four Kurt Cobain heads out of five... 

by Lou Doillon
Album: Places (out now)

Who is Lou Doillon? You don’t need to know who her mother and father are or who she is when not being a musician. All you need to know is her deep, warm, smoky voice (think a mixture of Roisin Murphy, Joan Wasser and Jenny Wilson) and folk rock sensibilities combined with her candid story telling style make her one of the most intriguing new artists to come out of France.

Already Doillon has received critical acclaim in Europe and is now spreading her wings to take up some musical real estate abroad with her debut album Places. Leading the adventure comes the single I.C.U. reflectively sung about love lost and unattainable. Though not treading any new musical ground I.C.U. is an acoustic, mid tempo confessional, made buoyant and heady by Doillon’s smoky, longing vocals.

Already being compared to the likes of Joni Mitchell and Cat Power, Doillon will also appeal to fans of musicians such as Martha Wainwright, Joan As Policewoman, Fiona Apple and even the more up-tempo likes of Jenny Wilson. Definitely worth a listen.

Nayt Housman gives 'ICU' three and a half Fiona Apple heads out of five...

by Our Man In Berlin


Oh see, now music doesn't always do this, but when it does, that's when I remember just how much it means to me. Such a beautiful, soft opening and the deliciously gentle voice of Hayden Mansell is how I was introduced to 'Temaze' and now we've met I don't ever want to lose contact. This song won't grab you by the back of the neck and force you to listen but it will slip its beautiful sounds around your shoulders, hold on gently and warm your heart. Knowing the art of less is more is a talent that takes some musicians a lifetime to master, but clearly Our Man In Berlin have already figured out that sometimes space says more than a synth, a beat or a guitar can ever manage. Temaze is actually a brand of sleeping tablet and the lyrics "now don't you stay awake" are so tender it's almost hard to stop yourself from closing your eyes and losing yourself in the moment, but if this is the kind of music this six piece from Perth keep creating, then I don't want to sleep in case I miss whatever kind of amazing they come up with next. 

Jo Michelmore gives 'Temaze' five Bjork heads out of five...

Hands (Snakes and Ladders)
by The Raffaellas

Melbourne four-piece, The Raffaellas return with 'Hands' and once again they've got another slice of indie rock goodness to serve up. Much like their last 2013 track, 'Words', we've got a track here that will leave you wanting to hear more and more from The Raffaellas. Again, like 'Words', 'Hands' is engaging from the second we hear Pat Santamaria's smooth voice and builds and builds right up until the end with a repeated "don't ask me, I can't see what's in front of my hands" segment that leads into a fantastic instrumental outro. While I thought 'Words' was good, 'Hands' is on another level. Join in the fun; sing along, dance around... you can't stop it from working its way into your head so don't even bother trying. Embrace it. 'Hands' could be a real sleeper hit this year and hopefully finds the support on radio it so richly deserves. Now, somebody tell The Raffaellas to get a move on with releasing their next EP. I'd like to hear a whole lot more and I'd like to hear it now. They're setting the bar pretty high with a track like 'Hand', but I imagine they'll smash all expectations when next we hear something new. 

Matt Bond gives 'Hands' four Beatles heads out of five...

Midnight Run 
by Grizzly Jim Lawrie


I'm going to put aside my fascination/love of drummers who sing, drumers who step out from behind the drumkit and show us their other talents, drummers who have fabulous arms from all that drumming...I digress. I'm going to put aside those loves for the moment and if you haven't already met, let me introduce you to Grizzly Jim Lawrie, the latest project from Melbourne ex-drummer Jim Lawrie who has stepped out from behind the kit he's previously been found sitting behind. Releasing his debut LP 'Paying My Debts From The Grave' last year, Grizzly Jim has returned with his latest track 'Midnight Run' which is an awesome and simple piece of indie pop-rock perfection. Building slowly, layer upon layer of sound, it's a full and rich song that get's stuck; I'm currently on my third press of the play button and no doubt there will be more. Beside all of this great, can someone look at the guy please? The beard, the glasses the unassuming pose, you're totally not single are you Jim? The cuteness is unbearable..and you drum? Ahem, yes, sorry, love this track. 

Jo Michelmore gives 'Midnight Run' four Michael Hutchence heads out of five...


We Can't Stop
by Miley Cyrus

Miley Cyrus... the gift that just keeps on giving. She's following a career trajectory we've seen before. Young, southern cutie pie wins the hearts of teen fans around the world with sugary pop tunes, hits a 'not a girl, not yet a woman' stage where she must ponder how to transition into a more adult sound, causes a stir by entering the 'sex, drugs and rock n' roll' phase. Give her a couple of months and she'll be making out with Madonna (while Ke$ha does the same thing and no one cares) before marrying a backup dancer, popping out some little bubs and unleashing cray-cray Miley on the world. Beware bald pop stars brandishing umbrellas. Finally, Billy Ray will place his daughter under a conservatorship in which time she'll reemerge, like a phoenix from the flames, and win back the fans with pop anthems and a glassy, soulless look in her eyes. The Britney method has worked before. Let's see how it pans out for Miley Cyrus. If the video for 'We Can't Stop' (and the awful, awful, awful track itself) tells us anything, it's that she's not off to the best start. She might have to enter the meltdown stage earlier than expected. 

Matt Bond gives the video for 'We Can't Stop' one Germaine Greer head out of five...


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