Monday, 5 August 2013

New Music Monday #63

Sleep In The Water
by Snakadaktal (out now)

Ever since being won over by what should be a real yeahbutwhat chorus - "tell me you're there, tell me you'll dare, to be here for... dance bear" - I've been waiting for the debut album from Melbourne five-piece, Snakadaktal. The big day finally came last Friday with the release of Sleep In The Water and what we've got here my friends is a compelling and complex assortment of ambient dream pop tracks that are designed to sweep you up in the world of Snakadaktal. Picture yourself sitting on the beach as the sun sets, the waves gently rolling in with the tide and the water brushes against your toes. You're alone, but content with taking in the scenery around you. There's no place in the world you'd rather be. "Well I don't know if there's treasures in the ocean, or if death will whisk me far away, I like to think that we live in a kind of motion, where our hands and feet are here to stay." This chorus, sung so serenely by Phoebe Cockburn on 'Fall Underneath' perfectly frames Sleep In The Water. It's immensely deep, beautiful and dangerous all at once. Just like the ocean. 

'Hung On Tight' is memories flooding back; Sean Heathcliff taking the vocal lead to recall the women he has clung to throughout his life. Both the music and words rush through a reflective journey that holds a story as skeptical as it is hopeful. By the time the synth heavy 'Deep' is over, night has fallen and you find yourself drifting into sleep to the sounds of the ocean. "While seas divide us, we drink to the depths, the dive is silent, and the moon is red." 'Isolate' isn't as cut off from the world as the title might suggest. This is another moment of quiet reflection, but there's a certain warmth created by Cockburn and Heathcliff's voices both coming together and then circling each other that suggest a light is at the end of the tunnel that our narrators are traveling through. In direct opposition to this is the following 'Ghost' that truly captures a feeling of isolation in the black of night. Cockburn turns in a perfectly haunting performance as the thoughts running rampant through her mind keep her trapped in the past, oblivious to the here and now. You could favourably compare this to many songs in the xx's repertoire, sans the almost uncomfortable tension. While the xx keep you at arms length and a mere observer to proceedings (which is still incredible), Snakadaktal manage to find a way to draw you right in to experience the journey with them. 

A warm breeze picks up with 'Feel The Ocean Hold Me Under'. You dig your feet into the sand and wait for dawn to break and a new day to begin, full of possibilities and adventure. "Stay, the night prepares to disappear, we hold our lungs, through twisted tongues." 'Too Soon' is that early morning swim as the sun slowly begins to emerge. All the memories and regrets that swept over you the night before fade away, relegated to a corner of your mind that won't keep them away forever, but for now there's just you, the water... an old flame. Or a new one. 'The Sun' is a suite of sorts, broken into three parts. Part I is a step into an uncertain future that could be the first steps of a journey you'll cherish for the rest of your life. That journey means sacrifice, happiness, heartache, love. That journey is Part II, the standout moment of Sleep In The Water. Everything comes together like magic; Heathcliff's steady and sure delivery, Joseph Clough's huggable guitar work and Barna Nemeth on drums driving the sound to a transcendent level. Part III is the end of another day. It's acceptance of who and what makes you happy and brings Sleep In The Water to a most satisfying conclusion. 

Snakadaktal have created an album so rich with atmosphere, you almost feel exhausted after listening to it. Like a night spent reflecting on the beach as you gaze into the water, that leads into a perfect day in the sun that you never want to end... that's Sleep In The Water. Who could have envisaged that we'd go from dreaming of dance bears to listening to an album that's even more brazenly imaginative than that? Get this album and dream of the ocean and all the possibilities the future might bring. You won't regret it.

Matt Bond gives Sleep In The Water five Nick Cave heads out of five...   

Paradise EP
by Cub Scouts (out now)

Winter is quickly coming to an end and in a stroke of perfect timing, Cub Scouts are here to get you ready for sunnier times ahead with the Paradise EP. Our defending EP of the Year (Told You So - 2012) champions put themselves firmly in the 2013 race with this infectious and bright collection of indie-pop gold that will have you anxiously anticipating those long drives along the coast and those perfectly lazy days in and out of the pool with your friends. Maybe with a mojito or pina colada. Whatever you're drinking, it needs to have one of those fun booze umbrellas and a novelty straw in it.

I suppose nothing sums up that 'fun in the sun' theme more than the calypso-tacular singalong romp that is 'Pool'. Released as the first single from the EP and scoring play on triple J and beyond, 'Pool' goes a long way in demonstrating Tim Nelson's ability to craft a winning hook that will work its way into your brain for a long, long time. Zoe Davis joins Nelson in a silky smooth sing off on the track, easily putting them up against San Cisco for best Aussie boy/girl (man/woman, male/female... choose your own adventure) combo right now. Current single, 'Paradise', will literally make you want to pack a bag and get out of whatever cold hell you currently find yourself in. Cub Scouts show they've grown A LOT in a short time on this track. There's no faulting the band, with the music providing the perfect foil for Nelson's lyrics, urging you to look a little deeper. Sadness in the sun and all that. 

'Sherbert' shimmies along with all the gusto of a party cruise in the Caribbean that's coming to an end. You've had a great time, but you're also very much aware the good times are coming to an end. This leads nicely into 'Shuffle', which offers up a necessary down moment. There's more to Cub Scouts than the boppy, upbeat numbers and 'Shuffle' proves it. A line like, "I only have what I have when you're with me" is enough to stop you in your tracks and embrace everything the band has to offer here. Following 'Shuffle' with 'Pool' to put a smile back on your face was an appreciated move though.   

'Write You A Letter' is a punch in the gut to close out Paradise. A completely unexpected, yet more than welcome piano ballad that nicely grounds the EP in reality. It's still dreamy, but in a less synthesized way. There's no better way to end an EP and I look forward to hearing 'Write You A Letter' on The Vampire Diaries. Shut up, dear reader. Paradise is another memorable stop along the way that builds the excitement to Cub Scouts' eventual debut album. It's sunny and bright, but when you scratch the surface there's many layers to explore and be moved by. Give it a try and find your own paradise with Cub Scouts. 

Matt Bond gives the Paradise EP four Lady Gaga heads out of five... 

Hold Your Hand
by Nicolette Forte (out now)

It was our very own Lou Endicott who first introduced me to the fabulous sounds of Nicolette Forte via the facebooks and I'm so very glad she did. A sweet little track written ten years ago when Nicolette was only sixteen; it's a beautiful little tale that has a meaning of many layers, but ultimately it's a story of love and courage and they are themes that resonate with people of every age, background and gender. A simple track of catchy guitar and beats, it really allows the incredible voice of Nicolette to shine. While she clearly had a heart beyond her age at sixteen to write such a track, she also has a voice beyond her years; there's a soulful something she manages to convey that is comfortably confident and addictive. This is a feel good song that I know I'll be singing days and days after now and hopefully I'll be hearing more and more from Nicolette Forte and friends years and years from now. 

Jo Michelmore gives 'Hold Your Hand' four Lady Gaga heads out of five...

Best Song Ever
by One Direction
Album: If you're a fan, you've already written the album name and release date 1000 times in your diary...

I'm not going to spend too much time hating on a boy band that clearly isn't designed to cater to my music tastes. Not that I wouldn't like to, I'm just genuinely fearful of cyber attacks from the twisted and deluded tween fans that live and breathe (and kill?) for these five boys. After quickly losing interest in 1D's new song (more on the poorly named title later), I spent some time doing the worst thing you can ever do... reading YouTube comments. From what I can understand, girls really hate other girls, unless they are united in their shared hatred for Miley Cyrus, Taylor Swift or Selena Gomez. All girls. Oh, and everyone hates Justin Bieber. Here are some of my favourite comments... 

* OMGG beliebers stay off the directioners stuff!!!! we stay off ur bieber stuff!!!!
* I've watching this like 15 times ever since it came out lolil
* Wost Song Ever (written by a dude called Jeff The Killer)
* Stop wasting your time putting up hating comments, because at the end of the day they get things that would could never get. And have the fame and success that you will never achieve. And your stupid comment doesn't do shit. Sorry, just putting the true out there. I'm not sorry. 

And you know what. That young girl shouldn't be sorry for speaking the true! Now, is it gross that they've called this song 'Best Song Ever'? Yes. Are they claiming that this is, in fact, the best song ever? No. They just danced to it or something. There is no doubt in anyone's mind (over the age of 15) that would accept this to be the best song ever. I think it sucks and it sucks hard. But that doesn't mean everyone has to think that and if some psychotic teen keyboard warrior truly believes in her deranged mind that this is her favourite song, she is entitled to that. As long as she doesn't try to suggest that One Direction can dance. Because they do the same moves in each clip. Is it the best song ever? Hardly, but don't try to stop the young music fans of today from loving it. Because they will hunt you down, find you and kill you. 

Matt Bond gives 'Best Song Ever' one Dannii Minogue head out of five...

Shaker Aamer
by PJ Harvey 

While I definitely have my own opinions about things that go on in the world, this is a music blog, so I don't want to weigh you down with any political agenda, I just believe in a simple little thing called fair treatment for all. However, with PJ Harvey's latest soundcloud release, it's a little hard not to mention a situation worthy of news.

The song, 'Shaker Aamer' was written and recorded in support of one of PJ's fellow British citizens, who is currently imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay and has been since 2002, without trial or charge. I'm going to be honest and say, I don't really know how writing a song about Shaker's situation can literally help him, but I do know that as an Australian, I didn't know his personal situation until I heard this song and I guess that's the thing, isn't it? Awareness is important, because if the people of a country know of an injustice, then governments are more likely moved to act on that injustice. In performing  song about it, PJ may well have helped to kick start some kind of political talks to have Mr Aamer returned to the UK to be with his loved ones and regardless of anyone's political stance, that's all that any of us really want for ourselves, so why not him?

Beside all of that, it's really, really nice to hear PJ's incredible voice on a new track. I'll never tire of listening to her singing about well, anything, really.

Jo Michelmore gives 'Shaker Aamer' four Shirley Manson heads out of five...


On The Take 
by Motel Model
Grab a free download on bandcamp

Motel Model are a three piece outfit from Philadelphia (Josh Ben - vocals) and Michigan (Jackson McCauley - drums, Will Schutt - Guitar). They have been playing together since 2009 and lucky for us 2013 marks the release of their debut EP. Earlier this year Motel Model opened for Ben Folds in Michigan. A sign of good things to come from this emerging act.

The first licks of 'On the Take' hook you in with that kind of sunny brightness that has a promise of outdoor gigs and lush green fields on a summery day (with a mandatory cold beverage in hand of course!), quite appealing to this Melbourne gal in the dead of a wet winter...

This song is catchy to say the least. The tight rhythm and driving feeling of the guitar mixed with the kooky but oh-so-delightful sound of a whistle during the chorus is one I want to hear again and again. Ok, I admit it, I’ve listened to it on repeat for the last half hour or so as I've been cooking dinner. It’s that feeling I get of hearing the energy of a group and imagining that these guys live would provide an awesome vibe and get the crowd up and moving. Before the last chorus we are treated to a delicious big build with drums and guitar and percussive break that screams "Move your feet damnit!!". Then Josh Ben’s soaring vocals bring us back into the song with the story of a relationship (or a would-be relationship) that’s really hit the fit and shan. A timeless tale told with light and a touch of humour and great musicality.

I love the lyrics: “I’ll be jumping in the mud outside, you’ll be judging like you do”. As a self confessed bohemian and lover of the simple childlike things in life, these lyrics hold great appeal. This song definitely celebrates youthfulness and the unashamedness of holding true to oneself before handing the reigns of your heart over to anyone else.

The video clip for this track has also recently hit Youtube. And if you love reading lyrics and decoding what songwriters are singing about, you’ll appreciate that the lyrics on screen are pretty much the clip - that and several pairs of dancing Chuck Taylor shoes. Perhaps a little simplified. But the music and lyrics speak for itself: this music rocks.

Until Motel Model tour Australia, it’s just me in the kitchen, making a mess cooking as my cat watches me with that baffled expression as I jump about singing along to this infectious track.

Lou Endicott gives 'On The Take' four Beatles heads out of five...


The Sun Is Gonna Shine
by The Carnival Brothers
(single out now)

Here's a great new video coming all the way from a country well known for its beautiful sunshine... Ireland. 'The Sun Is Gonna Shine' features Ger Eaton (of Les Marionettes) rocking some fierce and fashionable face hair as the front for The Carnival Brothers. This new project creates a timeless indie-folk sound on 'The Sun Is Gonna Shine' and the video has everything required to make you smile. There's a man with a well groomed beard dancing, there's burlesque dancers, there's sneaky jazz hands and there's a forest party with lit-up bunting. Oh and the fashionably bearded frontman busts out a harmonica! 'The Sun Is Gonna Shine' is as much an auditory joy as it is a visual one and these Carnival Brothers are a band I hope to hear (and see) much more of very, very soon. 

Matt Bond gives the video for 'The Sun Is Gonna Shine' four Beatles heads out of five...

by Birdy
Album: Fire Within (September, 2013)

The time is now for a good old fashioned vintage forest party and Birdy has her own soiree in the video for 'Wings'. Moving away from the covers and busting out her own originals looks set to be a treat for us music fans if 'Wings' is anything to go by. Engaging and powerful are words that come to mind when reflecting on this borderline anthemic number. The video is like a British theatre troupe coming together for a big bonfire party after a summer of performing to people that don't care for their weirdness. A bit of hipster nonsense here, some polo playing there. I imagine this is what privileged hipster kids do for fun in the UK holidays. And I am of course jealous. Birdy plays many roles; girl sleeping, girl pretending to have fun, girl dramatically walking, girl looking intensely into fire, girl sitting alone looking sad and singing. She looks amazing in her pretty red dress/casual shoes and, again, I am clearly just jealous. I haven't spent anywhere near as much time as I'd like staring intently into fires or walking dramatically through low-lit cellars this year. Yes, my time spent sitting alone looking sad and singing has been met. You can't take that away from me! A nice video for a nice song, but 'nice' is the strongest praise I can offer.

Matt Bond gives the video for 'Wings' three Britney heads out of five...

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