Monday, 15 July 2013

New Music Monday #60

by The Trouble With Templeton (August 2, 2013)


A little over a year and a half ago Thomas Calder, under the moniker The Trouble With Templeton, released his debut album Bleeders which quickly gained recognition, being played on Triple J and community radio nationally throughout 2012. Now locked and loaded as a full five-piece band, The Trouble With Templeton have their sights set on success with the new album Rookie, due in stores August 2nd.

Rookie sees The Trouble With Templeton take on a more experimental feel; blending elements of pop, folk and progressive rock with an overall more atmospheric approach, giving the album a sound that at times feels reminiscent of Radiohead, Pink Floyd and even Jeff Buckley, though Calder’s emotional vocal, infectious pop hooks and youthful, quirky sense of humor are so distinct that you are pulled right back into the stories of TTWT. Sung with the ease, range and passion of Bjork, the soft, dreaminess of Jose Gonzalez and the haunting emotion of Thom Yorke, Calder’s voice is natural and uninhibited. In quieter moments Calder’s impressive vocal quality trembles delicately like a spider’s web, then soars with intensity and desperation like the spider approaching the moth; trapped, flapping, awaiting it’s demise with the instrumentation of the album either matching or complimenting and lifting Calder’s voice every step of the way.

Everything about Rookie feels natural and uninhibited, fluid from beginning to end, each song feels like it can stand successfully on it’s own without making the album feel disjointed and momentum is only broken to deliberately introduce unhinged moments of well-crafted delirium. Although Rookie does genre hop, no single song sounds like an after thought, rather each is a fully realized functioning element in one ecosystem. Like night to day; summer to autumn, winter to spring, Rookie is vast and different from start to finish. 

The opener, an epic Radiohead-esque sounding ‘Whimpering Child’ really sets the atmosphere for the highs and lows of the album as it progresses. As a medley of sorts it flows in three distinct parts, each with its own rewards, leading into the current single ‘You Are New’. The band moves on with some ‘Heavy Lifting’ and by the middle of the album have made it through their first three singles, initially leaving me wonder if they’ve peaked too early but with the momentum of a charging bull, ‘Climate’ hits hard and fast then smoothly transitions to the brooding ‘I Recorded You’. The final half of the album is as bulging as the first half with the stunning ‘Flowers In bloom’, ‘Soldiers’, and the pop-tastic ‘Glue’ barely preparing listeners for the final heartbreakingly beautiful ‘Lint’.

Lyrically, as on Bleeders, Thomas Calder wields his words like a surgeon. Often earnest, sometimes quirky and always from the heart, this is where Calder’s ability to craft a story emotionally lures his listener into his world; “the operation went well, and I believe in you, but I still can’t, tell which part they removed”. Thomas' innate ability to use his vocal tone and delivery in order to convey the raw emotional content of his music is impressive, Rookie is about embodying different characters/personas in order to tell a collection of stories from various perspectives and scenarios.

If someone were able to go into my brain and make music to suit me personally then it’s going to come out sounding very much like Rookie. Something I have discovered about The Trouble With Templeton is that they have some kind of voodoo magical hold over me. I don’t know why exactly, but lyrically and musically Thomas Calder has the ability to reach inside my heart and flick a switch that puts the whole world on hold while I either ugly-sob uncontrollably into my palms or happy sob while dancing as if I’m naked in a sunny field with no one around for hundreds of kilometres.

A good album will leave me feeling satisfied at the end, a great album will make me press the repeat button but if an album is amazing, it doesn’t leave my play list for an entire week and I ache when I’m not listening to it. I was addicted to Bleeders, now I’m a slave to Rookie

Nayt Housman gives 'Rookie' five Thom Yorke heads out of five...

by Ngaiire (out now)

Almost a decade has passed since Australia was first introduced to the voice of Ngaiire Joseph. She demanded our attention with her vocal power and soulful performances on Australian Idol, toured with Blue King Brown and collaborated with Paul Mac. Finally, she put the focus back on herself and  the process of creating what has become her debut album, Lamentations begun. What must feel to her like an album that has been a lifetime in the making is now out there in the world and even though Ngaiire has been on the music radar since 2004, Lamentations marks the true beginning of what is going to be an exciting journey for her and for us.

"Welcome, come sit down, can I order you a drink or would you rather just sit there and watch me think." A greeting, an exchange of pleasantries, a challenge. You've barely managed to breathe in and out before finding yourself hooked on 'Uranus'. Nodding of the head and tapping of the toes commences as you soak up Ngaiire's vocal line, dripping with the right kind of attitude and infused with soul. Your head nodding stops along with the beats as our chanteuse advises that when her head starts a nodding in feigned interest, she's likely to have tuned out of the conversation. Ngaiire is in complete control of proceedings right from the start... and don't you forget it. Current single, 'Around' is stark in comparison to what just came before it, a brilliant move that allows for no distraction from the the story and performance. Is love a constant sacrifice, a fight, a war? You want to believe that the one you love would fight for you, but you never really know, even if you think you do. Ngaiire's songwriting is inquisitive, but the questions she's asking are different from the norm and thus hit harder. Think 'Love Is A Battlefield', stripped of the cheese and with the thematic potential realised. 

One listen of 'Count To Ten' and you'll feel like you've just accompanied Ngaiire on the most heartbreaking walk of shame ever. A simple piano melody is laid down beside disjointed electronic beats as Ngairre's world appears to fall apart. It's captivating. So is 'ABCD'. There's this wonderful juxtaposition of an angelic voice against crushing, dark lyrics that you can completely lose yourself in. "We only die once not twice, so call off the fire brigade, douse me in kerosene, turn away the rescue ships, anchor me from my hips." The battle presented is of an internal variety. Despite the desire to seemingly give in, the narrator would never let the outside world know. "And never will you see this in my stride." 'Rabbit Hole' is essential listening for fans of Erykah Badu's neo-soul. Ngaiire takes pieces of so many different genres and styles to create something that sounds both familiar and new. 'Dirty Hercules' was our first taste of Lamentations and was the perfect choice for debut single. The track, featuring Nai Palm, is undeniably sexy. However, there's a sense of integrity that you'll find lacking in most songs that would generally be allocated a 'sexy' tag. Easily one of the best songs of 2013. 

Elana Stone and Brian Campeau of The Rescue Ships join Ngaiire for the album's final track, 'Ordinary.' While light electronic touches do come into play, 'Ordinary' is the most stripped back number on Lamentations. Three insanely talented vocalists, a piano and a song with lyrics that hold a finality as imminent as the album's own end. "I no longer want to hold your hand, makes me see a future I don't have, rather feel like you aren't even there, so I can feel like somehow this is ordinary." I've said it before and I'll say it again, the best albums end on a showstopping piano ballad. Lamentations can now be used as evidence in support of this hypothesis.

An album a lifetime in the making, Lamentations is an enviable debut. Ngaiire's talents are all laid out to bare; the voice, the songwriting and an ambition and creativity that deserves to be celebrated. This is an album so good I know that I'll still be listening to it in five, ten, twenty years time and hopefully there will be a whole bunch of other Ngaiire albums to go with it. This is the true beginning for Ngaiire. Make sure you join her for an unforgettable journey.   

Matt Bond gives Lamentations five Bjork heads out of five...

Greyjoy EP
by Greyjoy (out now) 

Perth music makers, Karlin Courtney and Matt Crockett go by the name of Greyjoy, which will automatically make you think of poor Theon on Game of Thrones. Unlike Theon, these guys aren't wankers and instead of seizing Winterfell to impress their insane father, they busy themselves creating dreamy synth-pop music in the vein of other Aussie heroes, Gypsy and The Cat. Their debut, self-titled EP is out now and it's a light, breezy listen that will earn them a whole lot of love. 'Strangers' circles around you, all cool and calming with floating vocals you'll fall deeply for. 'Idle Thoughts' is the type of song you know will find an audience on triple J and it's more than deserving of it. The track is almost magical with lines like, "you could dance on a silver screen," alongside descending electronic notes. 

You can tell a lot of thought has been put into crafting each track and 'Idle Thoughts' stands out on the EP as their best piece of work, followed closely by 'Distance.' The latter track frames Courtney and Crockett as talented storytellers, painting a vivid image with brilliant lyrics. "Gather all your dreams it's time to let go," the song begins, taking you on an unforgettable ride. 'Emerald' comes across like a lullaby, sending you on your way as the EP ends. It's more likely you'll find yourself back at the start so you can get the Greyjoy experience all over again. The Greyjoy EP is definitely one for the dreamers. Greyjoy remain somewhat of a mystery right now (even the music holds an aura of mystery), but we can expect to find out a lot more about this duo very soon. I've got a feeling they have a very bright future ahead. 

Matt Bond gives the Greyjoy EP three Karen O heads out of five... 

Good Problems
by Clairy Browne and The Bangin' Rackettes

Damn I love music. I love that feeling, that weird thing that happens when you hear a song that works for you. I love the movements of your neck, your shoulders, your hips; the uncontraollable tapping that happens when the beat starts and I love that urge to know all of the lyrics so you can sing along sooner rather than later. Ever since I first heard Clairy Browne and The Bangin Rackettes a couple of years ago, they seem to remind me of my love of music again and again, with 'Good Problems', one song from their latest double A side release, being no exception. It takes all the best elements of sixties soul and proves that a good song is a good song, a catchy sound is a catchy sound, regardless of time. With a  call and response vocal suggestive of the queens of soul; The Supremes, this is a song that starts suddenly, builds to an awesome layered giant wall of sound and ends leaving you wanting more and more and more...and a little more.

Jo Michelmore gives 'Good Problems' four Beatles heads out of five...

Walk of Shame
by Clairy Browne and The Bangin' Rackettes

'Walk Of Shame' is part two of Clairy Browne and The Bangin Rackettes AA side release and it's a beautiful contrast of sound, this one sitting quietly but superbly next to 'Good Problems'. It tells a familiar story we've all lived (haven't we?) of the morning; "sweet walk of shame, I tiptoed from your door, not before I picked my clothes from the floor". Clairy Browne's sweet voice tells a story you want to hear more of, with the smooth vocals of The Bangin Rackettes building with each verse. The understated sax of regular Darcy McNulty and trombone and trumpet of special guests Adrian Perger and James Macaulay help the smooth sound develop into a sweet jazzy number that sneaks up on you and surprises you with it's uncomplicated, simple style. The only thing I wonder is how much of a walk of shame would Clairy Browne actually do? I can't imagine someone that sounds this fabulous would be anything less than impressive regardless of how tipsy she was from the night before.

Jo Michelmore gives 'Walk Of Shame' three Supremes heads out of five...

Mind Your Manners
by Pearl Jam
  Album: Lightning Bolt (October 14, 2013)

Grunge's most enduring band have unleashed 'Mind Your Manners', the lead single for Pearl Jam's tenth studio album, Lightning Bolt. Pearl Jam fans are already waxing nostalgic over the less than three minutes pop-punk track, comparing it to a wide range of songs from their catalogue - especially 'Spin The Black Circle.' You can understand why that particular song is mentioned the most; both tracks are non-stop assaults that make you want to jump around and pretty much go mental, but 'Mind Your Manners' stands on its own as another excellent addition to Pearl Jam's collection of music. One can never be too sure with Eddie Vedder's lyrics, but it sounds like he's taking a good look at the world and asking how can you be expected to believe in a God or be part of religion when the world is as messed up as it is. A story like this plays to his songwriting strengths as it builds to the closing segment - "Go to heaven, that's right, how do you like it, living in hell." Be good, be polite and go to heaven? It all seems too easy, no? Stone Gossard and Mike McCready kill it with their guitar work and it looks like they're game to lay down some heavier work for Lightning Bolt. There will of course be a large number of people exclaiming, "Pearl Jam are really back, man!" Just tell them that Pearl Jam never left... and then call them a douche face with the face of a douche. Pearl Jam fans are going to love 'Mind Your Manners'. It might even bring in a few new fans too. 

Matt Bond gives 'Mind Your Manners' four Kurt Cobain heads out of five...


by The Stiffys 

Cocks and liquor. It was obvious I was going to love this song. I was prepared for the novelty factor that a band called The Stiffys with a song called 'Champagne' would offer, but I was pleasantly surprised by the talents of Jason and Adam. And I don't just mean their drinking talents. Or penis talents.

This Melbourne two-piece had me hooked with the opening riff. And with the reference to champagne being like sexy lemonade I couldn't help but nod in agreement. It really is. Why haven't I realised this sooner?

I've found my new drinking song. It makes me want to windmill my hair whilst guzzling champagne from the bottle. I guess it had the desired effect.

Katie Langley gives 'Champagne' four Beatles heads out of five...

Impossible Like You
by Holy Holy

Before you listen, there are nine facts you need to know. Fact one: Holy Holy is a collaboration between Brisbane's awesome Timothy Carroll and Melbournian Oscar Dawson. Fact two: Timothy Carroll is a guy who has one of the most incredible live voices I've heard. If you haven't seen this guy sing, you haven't lived. Seriously. Amazing voice. Fact three: Oscar Dawson is a guy who has previously been a member of the Dukes Of Windsor, who I actually don't know that much about, but after hearing this, I need to know more. Fact four: They wrote and crafted an album together in Stockholm and Berlin and as I have an (unhealthy but lovely) obsession with the city of Berlin I'm probably going to be biased and love it. Fact five: Impossible Like You is their debut single. Fact six: It's a smooth layered song with lovely lyrics that tell a slightly different story of belief each time I hear it and a collection of instruments that gently encompass my entire self from beginning to end. Fact seven: I love it. Fact eight: I've listened to this more than five times in the last half hour and I need to hear more. Fact nine: So do you.

Jo Michelmore gives 'Impossible Like You' four Michael Hutchence heads out of five...


Rock Me Through The Night
by Esther Holt 
EP: Countless Verse (out now)

From the opening piano chords and banjo strums you know that this song by Melbourne’s own Esther Holt has a story worthy of a period piece video clip. There is a definite old western feel to this video which suits the sentiment of the lyrics and the journey of this ballad. The filmic appeal of this video mixed with the subtle vocal stylings of Holt is immediately engaging. Her voice is reminiscent of Sarah Blasko’s - but with a softer and lighter tone. This sweetness of voice creates a beautiful contrast to the dramatic guitar licks in between verses.

Soft and muted lighting teamed with long held stationary shots balances well against the ticking over of this moody lyrical folk tune. The percussive clapping section of the song (my favourite part - I bet you'll find it hard NOT to clap along) brings the threads of a story and the song coming together: a love left on hold. Should you hold on? Should you let go and mourn? And who is there to support these decisions? Oh! The questions love raises!! (author sits back with a bittersweet sigh and sips her wine).

As a lover of all things filmic and dramatic I appreciate a good story well played by supporting actors. Holt's wistful presence on screen holds the tension between her character (who is depicted like a widow) and a hard working emotionless small community (dressed in no nonsense dark clothing). The aloneness this character feels is palpable.

Will this song rock your world? Perhaps not. But like all good story songs it might just grasp your heart a little. Much like Nick Cave’s duet with PJ Harvey, 'Henry Lee' - it grows on you with each listen. When I hear the lyrics of this song, “Should I stay or should I go?” (yes, they’ll get stuck in your head) I definitely think yes! Yes, Ms Holt. You should stay - as long as you keep making what you make and sharing it with us hopeless romantics.

Lou Endicott gives the video for 'Rock Me Through The Night' four Hutchence heads out of five...

by Ellie Goulding
Album: Halcyon Days (August 26, 2013)

New music already, EG? Well, I'm always happy to hear more from this electro-Princess and 'Burn' is a boppy piece of dance pop that the kids will eat right up. The video creates that faux-hipster vibe with gorgeous cinematography and pretty young things wearing outfits delicately put together in attempt to portray an image of apathy. They're doing random fun things like breaking into some facility and stealing an old beat-up truck  because they're just living in the moment or something. I don't know. There's not actually a story here so I'm making up my own. Anyway, the hipsters have a party and put all these lights in the grass, which does lead to a memorable image of Goulding standing in the lit up field, and then everyone just sort of stares into the sky dramatically in some scenes (pretending to ponder all life's problems... hipster is just the new emo!) and the rave continues in other scenes. I don't get it. 

Matt Bond gives the video for 'Burn' two Ke$ha heads out of five...


No comments:

Post a Comment

Love it or hate it? Agree or disagree? Let me know what you think!