Monday, 28 October 2013

New Music Monday #75

Everything's Coming Up Roses
by Dear Plastic (out now)

I got a delightful parcel in the mail yesterday. It was a little package from a songstress called Scarlette Baccini - lead singer of Dear Plastic. What immediately stood out about this package was the beautiful handwriting on the front. Inside was a beautiful note (on paper with flowers embedded into it no less) also in the same hand, written by Scarlette Baccini (saying her name again - so you will remember it!) At the first chance (today) I have sat down, reread over the letter and listened to 'Everything's Coming Up Roses'.

Before I get to the music can I just say: I love a good CD sleeve. Particularly if lyrics are included like they are here. 'Everything's Coming Up Roses' features a gorgeous illustration on the front of a little girl examining rocks under a twisted old tree trunk devoid of leaves. The theme follows through to the inside of the sleeve with the little girl held safely in the arms of an adult. The back of the CD features two frames with the little girl in profile in one and a heart in the other. As an illustrator myself, I am always delighted to see lovely art accompanying music. The artwork here it turns out is done by none other than the multi talented Scarlette herself. Top points for skill and creativity already. Upon looking at this CD sleeve for the first time, note still in hand, I had the thought “How could I NOT love this?”. This was before I heard the music. Had I set myself up for disappointment? Let’s see....


The name of the song immediately had me thinking of old musicals. There is an old 50s musical called “Gypsy” which features a song of the same title. It’s been covered by all the great musical theatre belters over the ages. So I had to put Angela Lansbury, Ethel Merman and Bette Midler OUT of my head before pressing play. I advise you do the same (if you are a bit of a dork like me and have the same association).

'Everything's Coming Up Roses' starts with a skipping synth sound that immediately jolts the ear. Perhaps like an electronic alert: “The song is about to start!” It definitely caught my attention. It's a bold way to begin, but I encourage experimental starts. Because, well, why not.

I love the strong piano chords that follow directly after the intro and the opening lyrics “I’ve been a drifter on an empty sea”. These story-book-like lyrics along with the warm and well rounded voice of Scarlette Baccini (accompanied by the sustained piano) has a touch of the Bacharach’s (this is definitely a good thing!) Baccini’s voice has a similar quality to Karen Carpenter (who if you are a fan of golden oldies sung a few Bacharach numbers). Baccini has a beautiful way of rounding off each word with a delicate vibrato as well as a raw and earthy belt - that would probably suit just as well on a cabaret stage as it does on the original music scene.

After the initial verse we are then brought back to a more darker and somber electronic space for the second verse before we hit the sunshine behind the clouds with the chorus. The lyrics are aptly suited to the sound here: “And now... everything’s coming up roses”. Dear Plastic do the moody thing well here with their mix up of squelchy synth and traditional instruments.

A steady drum then adds into the mix with a tasty Boom baboom Boom baboom Boom baboom Boom baboom (yes, I love writing drums sounds into words). It’s a heart beat to bring us through to the next chorus. Simple but effective. The next chorus features overlapping of vocals and more synth sounds (the latter more of an effect and soundscape than a melody). There is a definite feel here of Bjork and perhaps her Vespertine album as the track progresses into a more experimental platform. The song finishes on this overlapping element mixing up melody, sound effects and beats. Quite trippy indeed.


I really like this second track. It opens with rock heavy drums that have an industrial vibe to it. It’s got a dark edge to it which contrasts well with Baccini’s breathy vocals. Although there is a sultriness here, the song upon deeper inspection holds more than just sass. There is an element that reminded me of Radiohead lyrically: “Hey did you know that everyone that has ever existed is completely disposable”. As with Radiohead lyrics this is presented as confronting and a little bleak but perhaps a reminder and little window into the human condition in our fast paced, throw away society and the fate we all face. This is definitely a track to listen to again to mull over the themes and lyrics.


This track initally has a lighter feel to it. The lyrics are again worth questioning. I got a sense of a heart that fears hurt from witnessing damage previously done to others. By this third track in, a definite signature style is obvious with Dear Plastic. Moments of sweetness with a piano sound shift to moments of heaviness with the hyper reality of synth, beats and keys. And we go back and forth in this kaleidoscope of sound. I kept imagining an electronic beach of sorts with little waves of synth rolling in with their juicy rolls.


The last track is an acoustic version of the title. I always love to hear how a song sounds stripped back. I also like listening out for subtle changes. This version is just piano and vocals. The piano here is a real old upright piano (I know this as it says so in the sleeve). You can even hear the feet on the pedals towards the end. I love this. I’m a sucker for this simple arrangement of vocals and piano. And this is done extremely well. In fact, I think I enjoyed this version even more than the studio track. It gives Baccini a chance to let loose the emotion with absolutely no where to hide. And nor should she hide. Vocally she comes out shining like a rough diamond. Gutsy, bold, raw and very powerful.

The sound of Dear Plastic is definitely genre specific. Electro trip hop fans in particular will love this. It's mind bending at times but definitely grounded by the voice of Baccini. There is a new feel to the music with it's 90s electronic throw back and overall moodiness. I really enjoyed 'Everything's Coming Up Roses' and look forward to hearing more from Dear Plastic soon. I would love to see this band live (but as the fates have it, I am already booked that night - 24 October @ The Grace Darling!).

Lou Endicott gives 'Everything's Coming Up Roses' four Kylie heads out of five...

I Don't Need A Man
by Don and The Mobsters

There's something exciting about brand new music and there's something especially awesome when that new music is nothing at all what you expect. When I heard the name Don And The Mobsters, I was intrigued, how many mobsters are there and who is Don anyway? Why does Don have mobsters? What really is a mobster anyway, when one thinks about it? Well, let me just say this; when I pressed play on 'I Don't Need A Man', Don was obviously not the large Italian man I had pictured in my head, but this Don was possibly just as alarming. Bluesy, rootsy, a band that mean business, like a good blues band should do, the mobsters manage to go from soft and gentle, easing the listener into a sense of relaxation into full on intimidation, Don screaming some words that I wouldn't have expected Don to scream, but you know what? Let's just say don't mess with Don. Or probably Don's mobsters actually. This is just the beginning of Brisbane based Don And The Mobsters, so I look forward to hearing much more of this interesting little band. 

Jo Michelmore gives 'I Don't Need A Man' three Supremes heads out of five...

If Living The Good Life Is Easy (Why Is This So Hard?)
by Ben Wright Smith
 Album: TBA (???, 2014)

Ben Wright Smith is a singer/songwriter from Melbourne, whose initials make up the letters BWS. Where I live in the world, there is a shop called BWS, which sells, among other things; beer, wine and spirits, so it would only be natural that after my recent weekend activities, I have a healthy respect and appreciation for all of those things, so I would naturally have a healthy respect and appreciation of Ben Wright Smith, right? Right. Other than his initials, there's a whole list of things I like; his latest single 'If Living The Good Life Is Easy (Why Is This So Hard?)' has one of the longest song titles of the year and is taken from his sophomore album due for release in 2014. It's utter perfection with just the right combination of guitar, drums, harmonica and Ben's cute raspy vocal and was produced with Oscar Dawson (one half of one of my fave bands of 2013, Holy Holy). The clip involves beautiful underwater shots of scary zombie type mermaids, so of course I'm finding it difficult not to love everything about this track. This is a song I can hear myself listening to all through the upcoming summer, there’s something fun and hopeful and incredibly catchy about it and there’s something that makes me want to listen to it, while sitting in the shade with a beverage in hand on a hot spring afternoon. Perhaps I’ll visit a BWS this weekend and do just that.  

Jo Michelmore gives 'If Living The Good Life Is Easy' four Dave Grohl heads out of five...


by Lady Gaga
Album: Artpop (out November 8, 2013)


Matt Bond gives 'Venus' two Ke$ha heads out of five...

by Lady Gaga
Album: Artpop (out November 8, 2013)

Yes. A million times yes. Even with that ridiculous 'stache. German fans are also the cutest, yeah? Look at those girls in the front row. Now, Lady Gaga. The woman is undeniably talented. Get her in front of a piano, remove any and all distractions and she's the best in the world. Excellent vocals, great storytelling... 'Gypsy' is her best offering from Artpop thus far, unlike 'Venus' which sits alongside 'Aura' as the... not... best... offering. When Gaga's focus is on the pop and the art is pushed to the side, she kills it. More of this please. 

Matt Bond gives 'Gypsy' four Lady Gaga heads out of five... 


by Panama
EP: Always (out now)

Isn't it funny how sometimes music clips are purely just a selling tool for a song, visions of often nothing important and certainly not mind altering in any way but then there are clips that are so addictive you can't help but watch numerous times over, you can't help but picture when you hear the song and they somehow make you love a song even more than you ever did when you heard only sound? The first time I heard 'Always' by Sydney based Panama, I liked it, sure, in fact, I'll admit, I really liked it. Sweet keyboards, layered vocals and a beat I couldn't help but tap to, it was quite good actually, but it wasn’t until I saw the clip for this dreamy indie song that I truly fell in love. While the song itself is light and bright, it's the underlying sounds of keys that are the true killer and they're obviously the sounds Panama (and the fabulous German creatives from A Nice Idea Every Day) drew from to create the dark and moody clip for 'Always'. The story follows on from a previous video for 'It's Not Over'; shots of cute children running through a seemingly abandoned house, playing with objects of another time combined with the creepy forest shots make for a clip that has me questioning all the lyrics and sounds and had me pressing play a couple of times to watch the beautiful four minutes a few times over. While I'm still aware that the music clip is a tool for selling songs, what I love is that selling doesn't always have to be for the lowest common denominator, sometimes selling can be creative and meaningful too and Panama have managed to create something dark and creepy and essentially stunning to sell their song of the same nature. I love it. 

Jo Michelmore gives the video for 'Always' five Nick Cave heads out of five...

by Little Mix
Album: Salute (out November 11, 2013)

So, you know that thing about music clips being purely a tool for selling music and how some people do it really well (please see above clip by Panama), well here's the other end of the music video spectrum. I can't even work out which one of the four girls they're trying to push as the star, because they're all as bland as each other, really. This is like every other average pop clip you've ever seen and you won't remember it five minutes after it's done. Just like the song itself. There's fun pop music, there's fun clips, then there's just dull and if that's what the marketing team were trying to achieve then congratulations to them, they've achieved that one perfectly. Boooooring.

Jo Michelmore gives the video for 'Move' one Germaine Greer head out of five...

Feet In The Sand
by Rose Wintergreen
EP: Chasing Shadows (TBA)

When Matt sent me the clip to this song and asked me to watch and see if I wanted to write something about it, I thought sure, it sounds lovely, it looks lovely, I'll write about that. How funny that I've sat at my laptop for twenty minutes or so trying desperately to figure out what to say, because sometimes it's really hard to know what words to use about such a delightful three and a half minutes. Such a simple concept, Rose lying in the sand, but what beautiful imagery, the pretty keyboards perfectly matching the images created in the sand and the obviously graceful Rose being buried and re-emerging from the sand at exactly the right time make it a clip that deserves to be watched from very beginning to end, a couple of times over. The song, shortlisted for the Vanda and Young Songwriting Competition earlier this year, is so breathtaking and chilled, like the clip itself, it’s a pleasure to be stuck for words to describe clips like these. That just means I get to watch it again and again until I come up with something to say and I’m not going to complain about having to watch this lovely clip over and over again. In fact, even now after I’ve written all this, I might go and press play again, just because I can.      

Jo Michelmore gives the video for 'Feet In The Sand' three Gotye heads out of five...

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