Monday, 29 July 2013

New Music Monday #62

Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros
by Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros (July 29, 2013)


Just over a year has passed since Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros released Here and this week sees them back in our lives with their self-titled third effort. Many of the songs are bittersweet, with Alex Ebert reminding us throughout that life kinda sucks. You'd likely know that going in when you see a track called 'Life Is Hard', but this is Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros we're talking about so you should also know this isn't going to be a depressing collection of songs that wallow in misery. 'Life Is Hard' begs you to celebrate that title. Jade Castrinos sweetly sings, "celebrate it in the sun, promenade it with everyone, elevate it in a song, and I'll be there to play it," before Ebert runs down a list of all the decent and crappy things life will throw at us that go a long way in showing that we've really lived. "It's getting lost and getting found, to growing up and getting round, it's feeling silence, feeling sound, it's feeling lonely, feeling full, it's feeling oh so beautiful." 

The music seems lost in time, but that's a huge part of the band's appeal. As is their ability to storm through genres from minute to minute, bringing in jazzier elements with piano and horns on 'Let's Get High' before embracing a more psychedelic nature on the following 'Two'. 'They Were Wrong' comes across like a Johnny Cash number reinvented to sit comfortably alongside today's indie-folk anthems. Eberts impressively deepens his vocal line for a performance that will stop you in your tracks. Jade takes lead on 'Remember To Remember' and delivers an equally showstopping performance. It's always nice to see her spend some time in the spotlight and while it's not going to make you jump around screaming, "Alabama, Arkansas, I do love my ma and pa," you'll appreciate the mellower side of Ms Castrinos too. 

You don't have to look hard to find Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros' finest moments. They come right at the beginning and right at the end with the tracks 'Better Days' and 'This Life'. Both drive home the album's overarching narrative to near crushing effect. "Too dumb to say goodbye, that's some cliche shit, make me wanna cry, just know that every time I look in your eye, I see better, I see better, better days." You'll go from the 'life sucks, but it gets better' idea in 'Better Days' to the final message of 'This Life', where our narrator goes from pretending death is his friend to finding something and someone worth living for (accompanied by light gospel touches of course) and find yourself smiling. You probably didn't even realise you were doing it. And then you'll find yourself back at the start on the search for better days with Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros. 

Matt Bond gives Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros four Beatles heads out of five...

Hearts Like Ours
by The Naked and Famous
Album: In Rolling Waves (September 16, 2013)

"Orders in to risen lines, we're alone but side by side." One line from Alisa Xayalith alongside some embraceable synth-tastic beats is all it takes to fall head over heels for The Naked and Famous all over again. Following up the smashing debut Passive Me, Aggressive You wasn't going to be easy for these Kiwi wunderkinds, but if 'Hearts Like Ours' is an indication of what to expect from their follow up, In Rolling Ways, you can rest assured they're going to deliver in a big way. If the song makes me hope for anything, it's that The Naked and Famous end up on the bill for some of our upcoming spring/summer music festivals. 'Hearts Like Ours' makes me want to be outside in the sunshine, dancing around stupidly while attempting to embrace what remains of my youth as best as I can. Which kind of feels like the theme of the song as well. It's adventurous, but somewhat mindful of the time slipping away. One of those 'live for the moment' songs. It's brilliant. 

Matt Bond gives 'Hearts Like Ours' four Michael Hutchence heads out of five...


Given The Chance
by The Kite String Tangle (out now)

I don’t want to focus too much on who The Kite String Tangle is, because if this is the type of song that you’re going to hear from him, then you’re going to be able to fill the rest in yourself, very soon. You only need to know that TKST is a project of Pigeon’s Danny Harley and if this song is anything to judge by, this guy’s talent is mind blowing. 

I’m having difficulty even describing this song, because I’ve fallen completely in love with it, to the point that words don’t make much sense to me when trying to describe it. It’s electronic with feeling, it’s samples with meaning, it’s light with substance and it’s incredibly addictive. The sounds are that of a cold rainy winter day and a bright sunny Sunday afternoon all at once, it’s cliché but  something you need to listen to yourself. I don’t always love this kind of electronic/indie/pop, but this is just something else. I can see this song being one of my favourites for the year and I’m not saying that because I write for a music blog. I’m saying that because I love it. 

Jo Michelmore gives 'Given The Chance' five Bjork heads out of five...

 I Do
by This Sanctuary
Album: Keep Talking, Please (October, 2013)

I'd never heard of Sydney pop punk outfit This Sanctuary before listening to 'I Do', the lead single for their upcoming second LP Keep Talking, Please. This is a shame, because their sound is world class. Like, competitive on an international platform good. Renee Sieff's sweet voice and lyrics lure you in before the band (Ben Tan, Neil Burmester, Sammy Sudhakar and Brendan Tan) launches in, their heaviness contrasting perfectly with Sieff's amped up performance. 'I Do' is catchy as anything earning radio play right now and it's more than deserving of the same attention. Unlike many other Australian 'pop punk' bands, This Sanctuary get the 'pop' aspect of the genre; there's a hook, a memorable melody and more than enough lines to sing along to. Give it a couple of listens and see for yourself. You'll be singing, "from the sunrise, till the sun goes down at night," before you know it. These guys and gal are a real point of difference on today's Australian music scene. I'm looking forward to hearing more from them. 

Matt Bond gives 'I Do' four Kylie Minogue heads out of five...

Hot Knife
by Fiona Apple
Album: The Idler Wheel... (out now)


Let me start by firstly saying that I’m a HUGE Fiona Apple fan but I promise I won’t be completely and utterly biased (though I’m definitely leaning).

Hot Knife sees Fiona experimenting with a decidedly more simplistic “backyard” approach to music in the form of rounds (like when singing “row row row your boat” and with a few people and each person starts at a different time). Sung with her sister Amber (better known as cabaret performer Maude Maggart) this is perhaps Fiona at her most uninhibited and joyous.

A few clicks of the metronome and low rumbling drums introduce Fiona chanting, “If I’m butter, if I’m butter, if I’m butter then he’s a hot knife, he makes my heart a cinemascope screen showing a dancing bird of paradise” gradually layering repeating phrases with others until the song climaxes to a point where she exclaims “HE EXCITES ME! Must be like the genesis of rhythm, I GET FIESTY! Whenever I’m with him”. Hot Knife is a pure expression of joy, excitement and all other tingly feelings of lust and love we tend to experience.

Lyrically Hot Knife is far removed from other Fiona works, where songs from her previous albums are often brooding, morose and laden with angst of love lost, or love failing and self-loathing, Hot Knife is poetically quirky and unapologetic.

This is one song that stands out from the album and usually the first I think of, probably because the repetition and strange descriptive lyrics make it ridiculously catchy and resonate with my own quirky nature.

Nayt Housman gives 'Hot Knife' four Kurt Cobain heads out of five...


Impossible Like You
by Holy Holy

You know what I love? I love it when I love a song to the point of getting immediately happy when I hear the first chords ringing through my headphones on the street or through my laptop at home. Every time I’ve heard the first chords of Holy Holy’s single I’ve stopped for a second and thought “damn I love that song” so when I heard the first chords as I watched the new clip for ‘Impossible Like You’ I couldn’t help but think “please be great, please let me love this clip” and I wasn’t disappointed. 

A perfect, beautiful accompaniment to a perfect, beautiful song; the images are simple but exact, a little mysterious but strikingly mesmerising. I know I’m a sucker for the abandoned building concept, but it’s the perfect setting for a song that deserves space. The blue hues that match the mood of the lyric are interrupted by such an unpretentious shot of the band members standing solo and bathed in red light at the exact moment the song demands it. This the type of clip that is often overlooked for its unassuming ways, but it’s exactly the clip that this song needed; it’s striking without being overstated and it only made me love this song a little bit more, which I thought was almost impossible.

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

Hot Knife
by Fiona Apple
Album: The Idler Wheel... (out now)


Let me start by saying I am NOT a Fiona Apple fan so I’ll attempt at not being completely utterly biased, but I’m not promising anything.

‘Hot Knife’, while not following a traditional Fiona Apple sound, is typically Fiona Apple. Self-absorbed, self-centred, un-original but not formulaic and layer upon layer of forced emotions, all the while being a little tiring. 

Having said this, the song itself is complex, which requires one of two things – a clip that is so bewildering, intricate and multi-faceted one can’t help but watch or a clip that is one shot, probably black and white – so simple that all a viewer can do is concentrate on the words, the vocals and the sounds Fiona Apple has created. Instead, what we have is a clip that is frustrating, one that possibly had a focused direction in someone’s mind at some stage, but got lost in the production. The feeling of forced emotions is only accentuated by the fact the Ms Apple doesn’t look at the camera once during the entire clip, which is strange considering the majority of the clip is headshots. While I just want to see some emotion, I’m distracted by the annoying cutting in and out of faces in a split screen, all of them looking everywhere but the camera, all of them unconvincing in their delivery. It’s unsatisfying and it’s aggravating, like I find most of Fiona Apple’s work. 

I don’t want to dislike this clip, because I’m trying really hard to find something about Fiona Apple to like, but yet again I’m disappointed by something forced and half-hearted being sold as important, which seems to be what Fiona Apple has made a career of. 

Jo Michelmore gives 'Hot Knife' one Germaine Greer out of five...

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