Monday, 25 November 2013

New Music Monday #79

Slow Motion Music
by Oliver Tank (out now)

It's funny how some musicians just fly under your radar sometimes. Only a month or so ago I was lucky enough to see Oliver Tank play as support for Lorde and before that night I'll admit I had no idea who he was. Before the gig I didn't even know if Oliver Tank was a person or a band. He's a guy, just so you know. A really talented guy and also a kind of cute guy, just so you know. But I digress.

What I found out after that gig is that Oliver has been hanging around and producing some quite impressive music for some time now. As well as releasing his first EP Dreams in 2011, he visited all sorts of interesting places, got some impressive JJJ recognition and has played with likes of Megan Washington, Julia Stone and Lana Del Rey. This is kind of impressive but they're not neccassarily artists I love, so I guess that's how he slipped underneath my 'awesome' radar, but when I saw him with Lorde I knew I'd been missing out on some special talent. That was confirmed when I had the chance to press play on his second EP, Slow Motion Music, released late last week.

Don't let the title fool you, while it describes Oliver's music in a physical way, it doesn't describe how awesomely effective slow motion music can be. Collaborating with numerous people, including Fawn Myers and Hayden Calnin, Oliver Tank has made an EP that is truly mesmerising, a little seven track journey of chilled yet refreshing sounds. Opening with 'Stay', you know where you're heading from the very first notes, into Oliver's delightful world, where everything else disappears and the only important things are the sounds. Fawn Meyers' vocal is stunning and the strings that accompany are captivating. The second track, another collaboration with Hayden Calnin is just as dreamy, although I'm left wondering if some kind of doomsday is on the way, it's fabulously depressing, which is one of my not so secret loves. I can't even tell what the lyrics were to tell whether it is actually a depressing song, but either way, it's deep, resonating sounds are incredibly addictive.

'Time Slows Down When You Walk Into The Room' is another highlight, this is one I was lucky to see live at that Lorde gig and it's one I specifically remember wanting to know the name of that night. Starting so simply, this is the one that stopped me that night and stopped me when I heard it midway through Slow Motion Music, it gave me that feeling I love when I hear new music, that feeling of knowing this is one that's going to stick with me long after the EP is over.

The other collaborations; both 'Different Speed' with Ta-Ku and 'Her' with Stumbleine are stunning, just divine pieces of chilled music, this is the type of music that washes all around you, it encompasses your whole self with every listen and it's such a pleasure to listen to. The fifth track 'Home' uses the sound of strings again, but this time in conjunction with some haunting vocals, the spooky feel is unlike the rest of the EP and that's a fabulous change of pace right when it's needed, enough to keep you listening, to wonder what he could possibly come up with next.

The final track, 'Blessing In Disguise' closes the EP perfectly, a short and sweet track that leaves me wanting more, which is exactly how an EP should leave you feeling. Even though I might be a little late, I'm so glad I finally found Oliver Tank and all his talent now. If you made my mistake and haven't heard any of his work, you should probably find his EP now, before everyone else sees him on his national tour early next year and jumps on the Oliver Tank bandwagon before you. Just saying. If I haven't convinced you enough, beside all his talent, he's kind of cute too. Just saying.

Jo Michelmore gives 'Slow Motion Music' three and a half The xx heads out of five...


Let's just make it clear from the start. I think I love MTNS. I saw them play with Avaberee and Iluka earlier this year and although I missed their first song, their music dragged me from the door of the venue right to the front of the stage, there is a magnetic something about the sounds this band creates that I can't get enough of. Seems a few other people have started thinking the same thing too, with a lot of internet and blog interest in this little trio from Brisbane. How awesome, because they clearly have a lot of talent and deserve all the success I'm hoping they achieve in 2014. 

Beside all of that music industry/blog/career chatter though, this is where the magic of music comes into play. That night, when I almost ran from the back of the Black Bear Lodge to the stage to see who was making those magical sounds, they played a song that struck a chord with me, a song I only remembered one line from, but it's a line that means the world; "so put your feet back on the ground and just start walking...". It's a mantra I'm trying to live with at the moment, as my personal 2013 seems to end in a way I never expected, it's a line I keep telling myself and MTNS are a band that have created a song for me to live by, a song that will define a fabulous year of music for me. 

This is the beauty of music, you never know where the songs that mean the most are going to come from; sometimes they're from hugely successful bands that have millions of fans around the world and sometimes they're from bands whose members probably shop at the same supermarkets as you. I hope MTNS manage to make it into the former category, but either way is ok, because it's not so much about the fame and the accolades, it's about the songs that just gets you through the day and through the moments as I put my feet back on the ground as just keep walking into 2014...

Jo Michelmore gives 'Salvage' five Karen O heads out of five...

by LIPS.

There have been so many covers of Kavinsky's 'Nightcall', but New Zealand's LIPS. just might have the best right here. London Grammar's is certainly beautiful, but LIPS. bring a vibrant, upbeat energy to their interpretation that will have your toes tapping along in no time at all. LIPS. is fronted by Stephanie Brown (a cool name if you're a comic nerd, which I am not) who's been calling Brooklyn home for quite some time and there's more than enough NYC 80s electro charm on 'Nightcall' to warrant a ton of repeats. I've been saying this a lot lately (and it is the end of the year so leave me alone), but LIPS is another act that's shooting straight to the top of my artists to watch in 2014 list. Brown is like some awesome Chvrches/La Roux hybrid. What's not to love? With a new EP, Ghosts and Demons, set for release, we won't have long to wait to hear more from this exciting emerging act.

Matt Bond gives 'Nightcall' three and a half Ellie Goulding heads out of five...

Wake Up 
by Foxsmith (out 23 December, 2013)

That bassline! It takes about five seconds for Foxsmith to put a smile on your face with 'Wake Up', the first offering of what I hope is a million plus one (to the power of infinity times two) more tracks from this Brisbane four-piece. Brisbane is home to a huge collection of revival acts with a twist and the ladies of Foxsmith are a fine addition to this assembly, sitting alongside bands like Go Violets, Jeremy Neale and Major Leagues. There's so much to love about 'Wake Up'. Those circling keys that seem just a little too magical for their own good. The smooth and slightly restrained vocals that can best be described as cooler than cool. Those rumbling drums towards the end of the track. There's also a million plus one (to the power of infinity times two) other things to love about 'Wake Up', but you should just go listen to it a million plus one (etc.) times to find them out for yourself. Foxsmith are another act I can't wait to hear more from in 2014.

Matt Bond gives 'Wake Up' four Ellie Goulding heads out of five...

No One Cry
A Musical Collaboration
by Joe Puccio, Fabiola Sanchez and Ken Negrete

Fabiola Sanchez has a uniquely beautiful voice. It's calming, serene and sweet, more than enough to put your mind at ease and it's very likely you'll lose yourself in it, particularly on 'No One Cry'. The track was written by Joe Puccio and produced by Sanchez's frequent collaborator, Ken Negrete (the two have worked together on the sci-fi concept outfit, IconsOfAndria and Familiar Trees). Puccio's lyrics are pretty bleak, which you should probably expect on a track that's labelled a 'Country Pop Dream Doom' song by its vocalist. It's like a dystopian novel, something by Cormac McCarthy... Blood Meridian perhaps? An ode to the mid-west in a post-apocalyptic world. "When the fire burning in your bed has woke you from a dream, or the desert sun releases you from horrors yet unseen, since I failed to take your life away, I'll fail you not again... it's time to die, no one will cry." Sanchez's dreamy vocal is seemingly in opposition to the grim lyrics, but it just makes it more interesting... it's a truly fascinating listen. Here's hoping Puccio, Sanchez and Negrete are planning to work together more in the future. Let's just hope it's not a post-apocalyptic future.
Matt Bond gives 'No One Cry' three and a half Bjork heads out of five...

Heresy Baby 
by Paul Conrad

"Am I asking too much, or do I need some extra patience." Paul Conrad's not an artist I've been familiar with before hearing 'Heresy Baby', but seriously, the haunting quality of his voice is going to be bringing me back for a lot more. 'Heresy Baby' simmers with a touch of dramatic tension throughout the lyrically rich verses before boiling over in time for an explosive and catchy chorus. I love the lines, "you're a heresy baby, follow me, follow me." It's a simple, snappy lyric that's just stuck in my head now. There's a real cinematic quality to the arrangement of the music that will make you want to fist pump, particularly in the build from the final chorus to the stunning conclusion. If you're a fan of Hans Zimmer's score for Inception, you might even notice some stark similarities to the film's motif, presented in the track 'Time'.

Shut up, movie scores are the bomb. And so is 'Heresy Baby' and it sounds like Paul Conrad is too. As we look ahead to 2014, Conrad looks to be one artist to keep your eyes on.

Matt Bond gives 'Heresy Baby' three and a half Jack White heads out of five...

by Hamish Anderson

From the moment this track started I knew I would like it. The gentle soft strumming of acoustic guitar expertly played with sensitivity by Melbourne singer songwriter Hamish Anderson makes for a sweet and heart felt ballad introduction.

I was reminded of one of my all time favourite artists, the late Nick Drake and his song writing that edged you in to the music waters heart first. Anderson’s voice has a similar quality to Drakes in its soft, mellow yet delightfully somewhat raw tone. Like Drake, Anderson manages to capture you in a way that you know you will be coming back to listen again and again. And when the song is over, you are left wanting more.

This is just beautiful music. Complex finger picking, gorgeous lyrics and a hint of organ to bring the warmth and depth out of the song structure – my ears were taken back down memory lane to moments in my life where the heart was at it’s rawest. It’s the kind of song I could imagine listening to to revel in a heartbreak and pour salt into the wound of a broken dream. But salt is a healing rock. And so is this song.

I love the lyrics “Is young love really meant to make me feel this old?” This is a coming of age song. For this writer the breaking of my heart the first time truly set my soul off onto a journey of self discovery and exploration. Hamish Anderson is about the same age as I was when I first felt the pain that loving brings. “I lost my innocence when I looked into your eyes. I lost all my faith when our words turned to lies”. Indeed.

Sigh. Just perfect.

For such a relatively young artist, Anderson has begun working with some amazing names in the industry (such as Jeff Buckley’s drummer Matt Johnson and the engineer behind Birds of Tokyo and Silverchair – to name just a few). It’s easy to see why people would want to jump on board with this artist.

I would love to see "Winter" played live and to see what other gems come from the heart and imagination of Hamish Anderson.

Lou Endicott gives 'Winter' five Nick Cave heads out of five...

by Foreign/National

From new indie Melbourne outfit Foreign/National comes this dreamy little track 'Paris'. It’s a summery mix of light organ sounds, mellow jazzy guitar, light drums, bouncy bass and soft whimsical vocals. The vocals in this track reminded me a bit of Alt-J in tone and delivery: it sits in the soft side of lead male singers that have me imagining sitting in the sun on a warm day, laying on a deck chair, sipping a cold one, doing a spot of cloud watching and listening to dreamy sounds.

I have to say that being a lover of words I wish that the band had included lyrics with this track. Lyrically speaking I was unsure of where this song was going. I would not like to try and translate just from listening. The vocals have a laid back and enjoyable lounge feel but are a little undecipherable at times. And I’m not a fan of the misquote! This did not mean I did not enjoy the 'Paris'. It just meant that I had to listen more to this track for it’s sound as opposed to it’s themes and story.

There is an element of something retro going on in this song. It has a little touch of psychedelia to it. Perhaps the dreaminess reminded me of the 60s trippy little track 'Itchycoo Park' by Small Faces in it’s vocals and underlying organ. I really enjoyed the little drum rolls and the tightness of sound and groove that Foreign/National create in this song. The stripped back section also adds another nice layer to this sound. I am always a fan of a bouncy bass mixed with light keys and it’s done nicely here. Perhaps there is a little influence here from French band Air (who are my favourite lounge band).

I will pop 'Paris' onto a playlist for a blue sky summer day.

Lou Endicott gives 'Paris' three and a half Michael Hutchence heads out of five...


Bound 2
by Kanye West
Album: Yeezus (out now)

In the interests of full disclosure it’s important that you know I am not the biggest fan of Kanye West. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that I think he’s a talentless, arrogant, wanker. I’ve started to notice lately, however, just how much positive press he’s been getting. Granted, some of that is him singing his own praises. But some media outlets appear hell bent on labelling him as a new aged wonder boy. Me? I don’t get it. I’ve never liked his music, fashion or women. And the fact that he’s a jerk only adds a cherry on my pile of dislike for him.

Many years ago a work colleague introduced me to the saying “open heart, open mind”. Over time it’s evolved into my own personal mantra, and sometimes I like to remind myself of it when I’m being stubborn and judgemental. Enter Kanye West. Yes, that’s right. I recognised that it was time to test my thinking about Kanye. Is he really that bad? Even if he is King Jerk of the Universe, is his music really that bad?

As the film clip for Kanye’s new single ‘Bound 2’ began, I started to think that I’d got it all wrong. The song opens with beautiful keys, with a stunning backdrop of snow-capped mountains and rolling clouds. But then horses start running through the ocean, and I feel the laughter building in my belly. “Open heart, open mind” I chant out loud, in an effort to centre myself. It isn’t long before ole Kanye appears, atop a motorbike, with a hole in his shirt. Seriously dude, all that money and so called fashion sense and you’re wearing clothes with holes in them? Or is this holey look because of his God complex? The laughter starts building in my belly again.

The silhouette of a busty woman lying on top of the motorbike appears on the screen and I find myself thinking “hang on, that looks a bit like Kim Kardashian”. Yeah, it is. The song and film clip have gone to new lows. It’s about now that I realise my “open heart, open mind” ideal is dead. My heart and mind have closed – this song and film clip is shit. I had a feeling at twelve seconds into the song when I saw those horses, but at one minute eight seconds it becomes official.

The rest of the song and clip include monotone rapping, Kim’s face, clouds for days, a moment where Kanye attempts a Jamaican accent, and a really awkward scene on a motorbike where Kim and Kanye appear to be bumping uglies. If their first child is called North don’t be surprised if little baby Harley is welcomed to the world in nine months’ time.

Some other It’s My Kind of Scene contributors have described ‘Bound 2’ as follows: “I felt like I contracted some sort of STI from watching and listening to it” and “My friend showed me that clip for his new 'song' with one of the karfashionisin girls. Considering cleaning ears out with kerosene. And eyes too”.

To answer my earlier questions “Is he really that bad?” and “Even if he is King Jerk of the Universe, is his music really that bad?” - yes and yes. There is no sugar coating it people, this sucks.

Katie Langley gives 'Bound 2' no heads!

and on the other hand...

Bound 2
by Kanye West
Album: Yeezus (out now)

Ah Kanye, I how love thee, let me count the funny that I would automatically think of such a classic and well known poem (that's by Elizabeth Barrett Browning for those of you who like a little bit of the finer arts every now and then) when I first watched the new clip from Kanye West, for his second single from his critically acclaimed sixth studio album Yeezus. Well, he's certainly no classic poet and he's certainly not an amazing writer and anyone who has been lucky enough to see him play live knows he can't dance to save his life and singing is a little bit of an issue too, but there's one thing Kanye proves with the clip for 'Bound 2' and you know what that is? Kanye does whatever the f**k Kanye wants and like it or not, he doesn't give a f**k.

Yes, I'm a Kanye fan. A big Kanye fan. Yes, he's a misogynist, you only have to listen to a couple of minutes of any number of his songs to know that. Yes, he's a wanker, you only have to listen to a couple of minutes of any number of his songs to know that. Yes, he's arrogant, you only have to listen to a couple of minutes of any number of his songs to know that....see a pattern here? The thing is, no matter how many of these things are true, I still like him. Why? Because not all music is meant to change the world. Not all clips are meant to be arty, or perfect, or that good really, or are even meant to make you contemplate your place in the world, or make a difference. While some manage to do those things, some have one job and ultimately, that job is to sell a song.

I'm not going to deny how unimpressive this clip is. Katie said it all. Kim Kardashian doing what Kim Kardashian does best (insert deer in headlights look here) and Kanye does what Kanye does best (insert bad dancing and arrogance here). This clip is like almost every other rap clip I've ever watched, insert woman in very little clothing, insert rapper, bad editing, irrelevant imagery. It's just another crap rap clip. Why is this one any worse than any other? It's not, but the fact that Katie and I both have opinions about the clip means the clip is doing exactly what it was designed to do; get someone, anyone, talking about Kanye West, which means somewhere in the world someone is buying a Kanye song or album right now. Sometimes you watch a crap clip (this one obviously deliberatley bad) or an amazing clip and momentarily forget the music industry is a commercial business, which means it's especially interesting that this video clip was directed by a guy who has worked with (read: been paid by) a whole lot of artists that one wouldn't necessarily associate with Kanye West; artists like Bjork, David Bowie, Paul Weller, Elvis Costello, Gwen Stefani and Massive Attack. What a small and interesting place the music business/industry is!

Every now and then Kanye pushes some boundaries and makes a political statement or two and the rest of the time he's busy putting his foot in his mouth and offending someone. In this clip, he's done a bit of both. You only have to google 'Bound 2 Kanye' to see the reaction. There are those that think it's cheap and nasty, there are those that are offended by the blatant sexual images, there are those that just feel a little sick from it all (hello fellow It's My Kind Of Scene bloggers!) but here's the interesting thing; the political side of it? Well, with his super bad clip, Kanye has done something he does really well, he's made an object of women yet again and you know what that means? It's the Miley Cyrus syndrome all over again. It's awesome, because it means people are talking about women and the images of women the media and the music industry portrays, it means there's thoughts about how women are perceived and treated and whether those perceptions and reactions are positive or negative. As far as I'm concerned, any talk is better than none because it means there's more chance that those misogynists in every single industry and the world are being exposed for what they are and more and more people, both men and women, aren't accepting of their ways.

So while Katie gives 'Bound 2' no heads, I'm going to swing the other way. This clip is terrible. Terribly awesome. Beside the reasons I've already stated, there's one thing I didn't mention. Wow, did I laugh the first time I saw this and there's no way I can't love something that made me laugh, out loud, lots. Because it's Kanye doing what Kanye does best and not denying the wanker he is, it's Kanye being the loser I love. More foot in mouth, more crap clips, more music that I love to dance to please Kanye! How hilarious. How fun. More more more!

Jo Michelmore gives 'Bound 2' four heads out of five...

by Sarah Blasko 
Album: I Awake (out now)

On an album full of gorgeous pop gems, 'Fool' stood out on I Awake as one of the most 'take your breath away because I just punched you in the guts' moments. Yes, those are moments. Sometimes. It was most excellent to see 'Fool' get the video treatment, especially in the capable hands of its very creative director, Wilk, who knows how to work a black and white video (see Blasko's previous video for 'All of Me' and Ella Hooper's 'Low High'). Ms Blasko always manages to pull off that effortlessly cool look, achieved here by wearing a simple white button-up. It sure ain't flashy, but she looks cooler than I ever will. The clip appears to be quite simple at the start too, focused on Blasko in a similar fashion to 'All of Me' (with more clothing), with a repeated flashing light illuminating proceedings. And then some interesting things start happening in Blasko's face region. The first couple of times it might not really register. You'll likely be convinced the light is playing a trick on your eyes, but rest assured, it's not. I don't have much of an explanation for the various distortions that play out across our leading lady's face, but it wouldn't be a classic Sarah Blasko clip without some quirks, right? Is it all just Sarah Blasko playing the fool? I can't say for sure, but it all makes for one intriguing music video.

Matt Bond gives the video for 'Fool' three Florence Welch heads out of five...

by We Are The Brave
EP: Noctua (out now)

It's not like I haven't seen a clip set in a strip club before, some of my favourite clips have been set in strip clubs and dodgier places. It's not like I didn't see the fight coming in this clip, there was just something brewing with all the shots of the guys watching the incredibly talented pole dancers do their thing on stage. What I didn't predict with this clip though was just how beautifully shot it is and therefore how addictive it is. Like when I first heard 'Sparrow' on Noctua and couldn't stop listening, I just couldn't stop watching this clip from Sydney based We Are The Brave, who manage to combine some fabulous 80s inspired sounds with delicious vocals and catchy tunes. This isn't the clip was expecting for this awesome little track, but I can't actually remember what i was expecting, because the images I now see are better than anything I could have imagined.

Jo Michelmore gives Sparrow three and a half Kylie heads out of five...

'Go With It' and 'Inner Place'
by Glassmaps

A member of one of my fave Aus bands has gone solo and by all counts so far, he’s creating a bunch of little baubles that have me all a fluster. Yes, Joel Stein is one of the members of the very attractive indie pop band Howling Bells and over the past year has been gradually uploading a few songs here ‘n’ there. For at least a handful of us these ditties are hitting the right chords and quite simply I want to share the love.

‘Go With It’ is the most recent video uploaded and is delivered as a lo-fi, trotting, acoustic strummer that for some reason makes me think of ‘The Little Engine That Could’ that I once performed in a primary school choir. No I’m not saying it’s daggy or juvenile, I’m saying it’s grounding and contemplative, with beautiful and challenging sentiments I can relate to, “Why does it always have to change?” It’s all those things minus the gut wrenching fear and feelings of passing out I had performing as a ten year old.

Acoustic simplicity and soft meandering melodies make Glassmaps feel like a modern incarnation of a band like America from the 70s. I want to lie down in a hammock under a tree and watch the clouds pass while I imagine making out with Joel in between burst of him serenading me and feeding me tropical fruits. Oh did I mention how handsome Joel is? So not only is he a great writer of folksy/bluesy acoustic pop, with a voice soft and sweet like marshmallow but he’s a treat on the eyes too. So what? I’m shallow at times okay.

Another beautiful morsel is shared on ‘Inner Place’ which takes me straight back to pre-Howling Bells days of Waikiki where Joel’s vocals had more of a featuring role in the band. Some might feel a Radiohead influence in the melodies that gently meander around the confessional lyrics that seem to lament past human interactions. The whole mood of the song is carried along the long mournful notes of the accompanying cello, that stir chills down my spine.

If you’re already familiar with either Howling Bells or Waikiki, I can pretty much promise you’ll have a whole lot of love for Glassmaps, likewise if you generally love good acoustic indy pop with hints of 70s folk and a penchant for romantic and sentimental/contemplative themes then I highly recommend you cash in a little spare time to have a listen to Glassmaps.

Nayt Housman gives both 'Go With It' and 'Inner Place' four and a half Thom Yorke heads out of five...

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