Monday, 30 September 2013

New Music Monday #71

Pure Heroine
by Lorde (out now)

Is there any artist creating more buzz right now than Lorde? The Love Club EP has been lighting up charts throughout the year off the strength of 'Royals', the debut single that's currently sitting at #3 on the US Billboard Hot 100. The astronomical rise to prominence from sixteen year old New Zealander, Ella Yelich O'Connor has been beyond impressive and her debut LP, Pure Heroine, sets Lorde up nicely as the voice of her generation, as well as giving older listeners a nice reminder of what it was like living, breathing and thinking like a teenager. There's hopes and dreams for the future... love, hate and everything relationships hold in between. Some moments are like a conversation with your younger self, explaining the transition from innocence to seeing the world for what it really is. The most surprising thing about Pure Heroine though, given the mildly apathetic nature and sparse atmosphere of 'Royals', is how much heart the album has.

The album is caught between two worlds; young Ella, the teenager and Lorde, the singer on the verge of an international breakthrough. Ella hangs out with her friends, not doing a whole lot of anything like on '400 Lux' - "got a lot to not do, lemme kill it with you." Lorde isn't one to celebrate opulence and promises to not let her burgeoning celebrity status change her like on 'Still Sane' - "still like hotels and my new found fame, hey, promise I can stay good." Obviously both are one and the same young woman, but you can tell which "persona" is delivering swag lines about chasing paper and taking the crown (with the type of cred that Miley would kill for) and which one is content to hang out with their best friend, watching the world go by. Both are just as exciting to listen to.

There's no doubt that 'Royals' is the money single on Pure Heroine, but the album is far from a one-track wonder (Making Mirrors, anyone?). 'Tennis Court' and 'Team' have already impacted charts to the wonder of many. They don't sound like your typical chart smashes, which makes it all the more refreshing to hear them getting play on radio as well as online acclaim. Perhaps it's the attitude that Lorde pours into her vocal delivery. "I'm kind of over getting told to throw my hands up in the air" - yeah, suck it Flo Rida. Or maybe it's the lyrics that create vivid imagery and leave you wondering how nobody had thought to use them before. "Baby, be the class clown, I'll be the beauty queen in tears, it's a new art form, showing people how little we care (yeah)." Eeee. Sorry, that's just the high pitched squeal I make when I'm getting my swoon on.

One can only hope to soon hear the radiant 'Ribs' over the airwaves soon. Listening to it felt like a light was switched on in that part of the brain where my memories are stored, but I can't seem to get to them anymore. "You're the only friend I need, sharing beds like little kids, and laughing 'til our ribs get tough, but that will never be enough." Trust me, you'll feel like your a teenager again, back when you had no idea what the future would bring and you were simultaneously excited and scared about what could possibly come next. Every track on Pure Heroine has moments that will have you coming back for another listen. And another. Each has little words of wisdom provided by someone wise beyond her young years. 'White Teeth Teens' has a confessional twist that will put a smile on your face.

Arguably the finest moment on Pure Heroine is saved by Lorde for last; 'A World Alone.' A reflection on a generation raised by the internet and a revelation that nothing's forever. "I know we're not everlasting, we're a train wreck waiting to happen, one day the blood won't flow so gladly, one day we'll all get still." You could even call those lines a critical look at the expectations of a pop star today, particularly a female one. But that's just looking into things way too much. Pure Heroine truly is one of the finest albums of the year, marking the arrival of the most exciting alternative act in a very long time. The best thing is, Lorde's career is only just getting started. If this is how good she is now, what are we going to get when she's lived those amazing and awful and amazing transition years into proper adulthood? Will fame change young Ella Yelich O'Connor? Hers is an exciting future and if we get more music like this, I think we'll all be insanely happy.

"I'm little but I'm coming for the crown, I'm little but I'm coming for you." - 'Still Sane'

Matt Bond gives Pure Heroine four and a half Kimbra heads out of five...

The Bones Of What You Believe
by Chvrches (out now)

You know that excitement that you sometimes get when you get your hands on a brand new album you've been waiting forever to hear? You know that feeling of wanting to hear every song all at once? You know that weird thing you do where you hit play and then keep skipping through the tracks because you want to know them all immediately? You know how awesome it is once you've listened to the whole album you can't wait to hit play again at the end?

It was the absolute desperation created in the sounds of Iain Cook and Martin Doherty and the calmly frantic voice of Lauren Mayberry in the single 'Recover' that grabbed my attention earlier this year, so much so that I had the Recover EP on repeat in my car for weeks on end, every drive another Chvrches experience, soaking it all in with the windows up whenever I had to be anywhere. Those five tracks (including the remix of 'Recover' by one of our faves from last year - that fabulous little UK duo Curxes!) had me at the very first notes, so it was with much excitement I pressed the 'buy' button on my laptop screen last week as soon as I could get my ears wrapped around the debut album from Chvrches, The Bones Of What You Believe.

You know those little tingly goosebumps you get when you hear something that you know instinctively you're going to love? I already knew how much I adored the single 'The Mother We Share', with it's huge chorus and catchy synths, but I didn't know how incredible it would be as the opener to an album, setting up a mood from the first notes. The second track 'We Sink'  is a perfect indication of where this album is heading, Lauren's sickly sweet vocal perfectly contradictory to the dark lyrics she sings; "I'll be a thorn in your side until you die" which is a recurring theme throughout.

There are just so many highlights for me in this album and I've only got a small amount of words to describe them, so let me just pick my top five. 'By The Throat' is a charming little surprise about midway through, with all three members taking a turn at the vocals over atop an urgent beat, 'Science/Visions' has a slightly frenetic feel, it's a song that deserves darkness and a dance floor. The third track, 'Gun' is the most telling, it's scary in the most awesome way, the light 80s influenced pop synths evident through the whole album almost hiding the lyrics "who are you to tell me how to keep myself afloat?"; which is an almost perfect question from a band confident enough to record their debut album in their producer's house, away from the clutching hands of record companies and the excitable media and internet hoards. The closing track (not counting the four 'bonus' tracks) 'You Caught The Light' is almost hopeful, a beautiful, subdued track with a feel of reserved intensity, it's a perfect way to end an almost perfect debut album, but it's 'Tether' which truly grabbed my attention, made me stop and listen closely, the desperately simple beats combined with the maddening synths and Lauren's sweet vocal, "I feel incapable of seeing the end...", it's a standout track on a standout album, one that truly shows this trio's talent and a track I know I will love years from now.

You know sometime when you hear a song you know it's going to be included in your memories of a time, a year, a space you've existed in for a while? I heard those songs over and over again on this album and while they sing "all that's golden is never real" on 'By The Throat'; I don't really care, because this album is truly golden, a sparkling sense of hope in a genre that's already over-saturated and if this album isn't real than I'll just hang out here in a fantasy world for a while,  thanks. You know how the best music should let you do that? Well, Chvrches do and have created a beautiful oasis of escape in a beautiful debut album.

Jo Michelmore gives 'The Bones Of What You Believe' five Ellie Goulding heads out of five... 

All Day Venus 
by Adalita (out now)

"The best way forward, is to take the least offence, it'll ease the test, it'll ease the fact that no I can't win." Adalita Srsen pours her heart out on what is surely the finest Australian rock album in forever and a day, All Day Venus. It shows how far Adalita has come from the early days of Magic Dirt to become one of the most respected figures in Australian music, outclassing her contemporaries in all fields. To find someone to truly compare her sound to now the obvious answer is PJ Harvey, but All Day Venus is far from a carbon copy and more accurately places Adalita at the same level as Harvey - a brilliant solo rock artist.

The heavy, guitar-led 'Annihilate Baby' kicks off a series of expertly crafted tracks full of emotion and exposition. Srsen has always held her own as a storyteller, but on All Day Venus she's transcended to another level completely. 'He Wrote' vividly brings the end of a relationship to life to heartbreaking effect. "My lover he left a note for me, I left him one that I wrote by the sea, is it ink or blood, is it clear as mud, we'll be together til the end of the week." If Jane Austen was around today, I think Adalita would be her favourite rock star. The somewhat quiet moments like 'He Wrote' and the dreamy 'Rolled In Gold' are so good, but it's those howling guitars on 'Warm Like You' that you'll want to lose yourself in and the delicious solo on 'Too Far Gone' will have you screaming for more.

'Homesick' will have you falling in love with Oz rock all over again, from the opening cry to, "try a little tenderness, here in the wetland," and the Aussie twang that emerges in the vocal. Don't worry, it's not even a little bit bogan. Classy. It's all very classy. Adalita's worked wonders with All Day Venus. I'm still debating what's my favourite track. Each time I hear 'My Ego' I'm sure that's it, the one, but then I go back to 'Warm Like You' or 'He Wrote' or 'Blue Sky' and the internal debate begins again. I guess I'll just have to listen to it a couple more (hundred) times. What I can definitively say is that rock is well and truly alive in the words and music of Adalita. So let's all agree to stop with that outdated 'rock is dead' thing. Ok?

Matt Bond gives All Day Venus four Michael Hutchence heads out of five...

You Don't Get Me Twice
by Sleigh Bells
Album: Bitter Rivals (October 8, 2013)

Look, I'm probably a little bit over-excited about the upcoming release of Sleigh Bells third album, Bitter Rivals, but that's because it's only eight months since their last release. Eight months! Let me say it again, eight months! Do you have an understanding of how quick that is? If all of my favourite bands released albums this quickly I'm not sure I could have favourite bands, it would all become a mess of music and noise, which might not be a bad thing, but I digress. 'You Don't Get Me Twice' is the second song to be heard from the new album, and wow, like the first 'Bitter Rivals', what a song it is. Alexia Krauss and Derek Miller, they just get it, don't they? Light and dark, harsh shredding guitars and Alexis' delicious vocal, I can't help but love the lyric "it's a terrifying thing the American dream"; it's hard hitting and ends so abruptly, it's rock and solid and damn, I don't have to justify it, I just love it.

Jo Michelmore gives 'You Don't Get Me Twice'  four Dave Grohl heads out of five...


Straight Through The Sun
by Spiderbait

It's almost hard to believe it's been nine years since we heard from Spiderbait (soundtracks and game themes don't count, alright?) but they have returned just as Oz and just as rock as when they left us almost a decade ago and although there's a lot of music that has come and gone between now and then, when you're onto something, they say don't mess with it (or something like that) and Spiderbait have been smart and done just that - stuck with the sound they know. The clip for Straight Through The Sun is simple but effective. The obvious, a shot of the hot red sun is interspersed with black and white images of the three playing on a beach. Janet is her usual subdued self on bass, Damien Whitty as mean as ever with his guitar and Kram proves himself to still be one of the best rock drummers Australia has ever offered. Dare I suggest he could be the Dave Grohl of our country? I could say that but Dave Grohl is a bit of an honorary Australian at times, so I won't say it, I'll just suggest it. It's a solid clip for a solid song and a nice little welcome back for one of Australia's favourite rock bands. 

Jo Michemore gives 'Through The Sun' three Michael Hutchence heads out of five...

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