Monday, 18 November 2013

New Music Monday #78

On For You EP
by Michelle Xen (out now)

“In the distance, see the light glow, on for, on for, on for you!” Like a shining beacon of light in Brisbane’s ocean of indie rock/pop, Michelle Xen is a new entity carving a path through the waters greatly lacking in similar species of electronica.

On For You is the new EP project from Michelle Xen, featuring 5 singles and 5 accompanying videos (one officially released thus far) that will be released in the near future and features a cover of the popular Kendrick Lamar song, ‘Swimming Pools (Drank)’. If you like your electro adventures fierce and sexy, brimming in dark energy, pulsing with light and bass heavy beats that make you move like a marionette puppet controlled by an evil dance master, then this EP will serve as the first dose to trigger a desperate Xen addiction.

'Lose My Cool', is the first of the 5 singles which was released a couple of weeks ago and showcases Michelle Xen’s animalistic side which seemingly does NOT like roses at all. It sounds something like a jilted lover making heavy breathing, pleading phone calls in order to rationalize her irrationality, over an ominous bass punching backing track that lends well to the maniacal theme in the song.

Xen’s vocals are both soft and soaring, and confident throughout the 5 tracks. The standouts on the EP are the title track 'On For You', 'My Cells' and 'Electric Comb'. All the tracks are individually strong and the surprise of the 5 is ‘Swimming Pools’, a song I hadn’t heard of until MKS did a version of it earlier in the year and when I heard Kendrick’s original I wasn’t impressed, however Michelle Xen not only gives it her own treatments but impressively makes it a track I not only gladly listen to but dare I say, REALLY enjoy.

Since I first discovered the gorgeous soundscapes of Michelle Xen in a live show early this year I willingly fell in her trance-inducing web. Now that I’m getting the chance to hear those tunes again, my addiction only grows, especially seeing as I’m able to dissolve myself into her visual worlds. I’ve been waiting for this kind of entertainer to emerge from Brisbane’s talented pool of musical artists and Michelle Xen’s On For You EP promises to stand out as something quite special.

Nayt Housman gives the On For You EP four and a half Roisin Murphy heads out of five...

Astrid and The Asteroids EP
by Astrid and The Asteroids (out now)

"Because I'm so unique and so are all my friends." 

Well, that's certainly true of Astrid and The Asteroids. With their new self-titled EP, AATA return with an even tighter sound and show off a range that spans the galaxy. I don't just mean the powerful range of Astrid Jorgensen's vocals either. Brisbane's best emerging band go on a genre hopping journey on the Astrid and The Asteroids EP that will leave you swooning in your seats, dancing around like you're in a Beyonce video and stopping to take a moment to truly appreciate how talented this band is. You'll likely do all of those things on opening track 'West End'... especially the Beyonce dancing. 

Who knew that a song taking a playful dig at Brisbane's hippest suburb could be so much fun? There's not a lot of genuinely 'fun' music out there at the moment. It can be a little drab and all too serious out there in the big bad music world right now, but 'West End' sets the fun meter to 11 and shoots itself off in a rocket that takes you along for the ride. An energetic opening like this is hard to ignore and there's a lot to love. I'm talking rock and roll trumpet, singing ironically with really breathy tones and hipster sledging lyrical goodness. 

An exciting opening number leads into the second single, 'Autopsy'. I once read that Tina Fey is the thinking man's sex symbol, which is just crazy because she should just be Tina Fey, sex symbol to all. There's a point in here somewhere and it comes back to me looking at 'Autopsy' as intelligent pop music. It's very 'smart' with fascinating lyrics that tell the story of a Texan clock tower shooter, Charles Whitman. You want to know more and more about the dark and sad story that Astrid is telling you right from the very beginning. "Five knocks on the doctor's door, don't know what I am asking for, but I feel fine." 'Autopsy' might be smart, but those required 'pop magic' sensibilities aren't sacrificed in the name of good storytelling. There's a gripping hook that will work its way into your brain, thrilling build-ups to the chorus and a whole heap of lines to singalong with.

'Old Friend' is a sweet R&B detour that definitely brings that swoon factor we were discussing earlier. A chilled out number with beautiful harmonies that teeters on the edges of slow-jam glory and funk-infused balladry. This current vibe is carried through to 'Love Right' and you will love this, alright. Yes, that is a statement, not a question. Is it getting a little steamy in here, or is it just this sleek and oh so sexy tune? "Think fast and move slow, 'cause I know that we're doing love right, doing love right." Yes. Yes you are. 

Saving the most suitably 'epic' number for last, 'House of Cards' is one of those brilliant slow-burners that gradually pulls you further and further into the band's world. This expertly layered final number starts with a simple piano arrangement and Astrid's lines, "all the walls are closing in, all the walls so paper thin," before adding in more and more. Expect beating drums, dramatic guitar lines and a stunning conclusion that will have you racing to hit repeat. I've been hitting repeat for what feels like weeks now and I don't see myself tiring of that anytime soon. 

Astrid and The Asteroids have unleashed another intergalactic knockout with their self-titled sophomore EP. Don't just take my word for it... go forth to infinity and beyond or something and give it a listen yourself (last space-ish reference, I promise). Astrid and The Asteroids won't leave you disappointed.

Matt Bond gives the Astrid and The Asteroids EP five Amanda Palmer heads out of five...


by Little May
EP: TBA (???, 2014)

Little May knocks another one out of the park with Sean Dooley’s stunning video for the bewitching ‘Hide’. There’s hocus and pocus, with the build to a raging bonfire in the forest at night which suitably matches the dramatic tone of the track. Despite my camp language, the clip doesn’t suffer from any such nonsense. It calls to mind the heretical dance from The Crucible more than wacky Samantha Stephens’ hijinks on Bewitched and I think we can all agree this is a good thing. Dooley’s shots grab your attention from the opening lonely walk home, the view from the driver’s seat on the open road, the mysterious flashes of our leading ladies from Little May and, of course, the final dance that’s equal parts cool, mysterious and beautiful. You should already be loving them now, but if you didn’t have Little May on your list of acts to watch in 2014, ‘Hide’ will make you change your ways. I can’t wait to hear and see what comes next from this powerful trio. 

Matt Bond gives the video for 'Hide' four PJ Harvey heads out of five...       

by Avec Sans (out now)

Let me tell you about all the times I've listened to Avec Sans 'Shiver' since I spoke about it last week. I've listened in my car, I've listened on my walk to work, I listened on the street during my lunch break while I watched the world rush by, I listened on my walk home from work, I listened while I cleaned my house on the weekend, I listened while I baked some cupcakes, I listened on headphones in the corner of my lounge while my housemate watched TV at the other end of the room, in fact, this is one of those songs that has become part of my daily existence at the moment, I've listened to it so many times. So, imagine my excitement, when, not long after I reviewed it last week, the clip was released.

It's simple and it's adorable and, like the song itself, it's not what I expected from this fabulous duo, so therefore, it's somehow even more lovable. Alice Fox is fabulously fantastic, her 80s inspired makeup perfectly matching the beats and dancing around with all sorts of 80s looking graphics popping around her make it hard to keep your eyes from the screen. I'm no musician, but Jack St James certainly looks like he knows what he's doing amongst all the effects and it's kind of funny how this clip was made by the same person, Sing J Lee, who made the CHVRCHES clip I spoke of last week. What a small world it is. Or maybe not.

Either way, this is a super cute clip I adore and the best part is that now as I bounce around manically as I listen to Avec Sans on the street, in my car and in my house, I have an excuse. I'm just re-enacting the clip, don't you know?

Jo Michelmore gives the video for Shiver four Shirley Manson heads out of five...

Hard Out Here
by Lily Allen
Album: TBA (???, 2014)

So Lily Allen makes a pretty solid statement about the objectification of women in music, especially African American women, and ends up in the news for being racist and anti-feminist. What? What world is this? ‘Hard Out Here’ and the accompanying video takes a satirical dig at your Britneys (you’d better work/it’s hard out here for a… etc.), your Robin Thicke’s (Robin Thicke has a big…/Lily Allen has a baggy…), your Miley and Rihannas (twerk, twerk, twerk) and those that are actually responsible for encouraging misogyny in the music industry.  But Lily Allen is an anti-feminist, racist British mother who came from a privileged background and is part of the problem and part of the corporate machine blah, blah, blah. Allen’s response to the “controversial” clip came via her Twitter account:

"1. If anyone thinks for a second that I requested specific ethnicities for the video, they're wrong.
2. If anyone thinks that after asking the girls to audition, I was going to send any of them away because of the colour of their skin, they're wrong.
3. The message is clear. Whilst I don’t want to offend anyone. I do strive to provoke thought and conversation. The video is meant to be a lighthearted satirical video that deals with objectification of women within modern pop culture. It has nothing to do with race, at all.
4. If I could dance like the ladies can, it would have been my arse on your screens; I actually rehearsed for two weeks trying to perfect my twerk, but failed miserably. If I was a little braver, I would have been wearing a bikini too, but I do not and I have chronic cellulite, which nobody wants to see. What I’m trying to say is that me being covered up has nothing to do with me wanting to disassociate myself from the girls, it has more to do with my own insecurities and I just wanted to feel as comfortable as possible on the shoot day.
5. I'm not going to apologise because I think that would imply that I’m guilty of something, but I promise you this, in no way do I feel superior to anyone, except paedophiles, rapists murderers etc., and I would not only be surprised but deeply saddened if I thought anyone came away from that video feeling taken advantage of,or compromised in any way."

If you’re not adverse to a bit of intelligent, thought provoking fun and don't happen to be completely insane, hate women or participate in race-bating, you should get a good kick out of this video. It was good enough for Adele, Ellie Goulding, P!nk, Laura Mvula and Lena Dunham. Welcome back, Lily Allen. You've been missed.

Matt Bond gives the video for 'Hard Out Here' three and a half Ellie Goulding heads out of five... 

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