Wednesday, 30 April 2014

10 and 1 - Up In The Gym Just Working On My Fitness

by Matt Bond

I'm not a huge fan of going to the gym. What am I a huge fan of? Eating cakes and pies. And since I eat A LOT of cakes and pies, I have to go to the gym. Now, entering a small room full of people with amazing bodies that can lift seventeen times more than I can, seemingly without breaking a sweat, doesn't exactly do wonders for my social anxiety. Especially when I'm already developing a sweaty brow just from walking up the stairs for a cardio warm-up (aka walking on the treadmill for five minutes). Really though, the main reason I go to the gym is to listen to music uninterrupted for an hour or so. 

But it can't just be any old thing that you listen to when working out. If it's not fast paced and upbeat (or angry metal), you run the risk of giving into that temptation to throw those dumbbells down and drive on over to McDonald's and order a large quarter pounder meal, ten nuggets and a McFlurry. Listening to the right kind of music means you can at least finish your work out before going to Maccas. Yes, I know... I'm bad and I should feel bad. But I don't. Back to the music... you need to sweat it up to the right kind of music! 

You may be a big fan of the same five songs that get played at your local YMCA and that's great. But after listening to a dance remix of Taylor Swift's 'I Knew You Were Trouble' for the five thousandth time, you might want to try something else. Tonight, I'll be sharing ten tracks that will give you a belief in your strength, stamina and overall gym prowess that's disproportionate to your actual abilities. As is the case with the '10 and 1', I'll be leaving you with one song you might want to keep out of the work out playlists. If I can save you from the stares of jocks and babes that I've endured in the past for certain music choices, I'll consider that a community service. Enjoy! 


by M.I.A

by The Presets

Music that will make you dance. Music that isn't by David Guetta and does not feature Akon. Music that isn't by LMFAO. 

Not Afraid
by Eminem

The more Eminem, the better. 

by Deftones

by Slipknot

Let the anger build up inside with something a little heavier. Rage. Rage, rage, rage! On another note, Rage Against The Machine are also highly appropriate. 

UFO (Van She Tech Remix)
by Sneaky Sound System

by Lady Gaga

All those pop songs you diss while trying to be cool to your friends will definitely come in handy. The first time I really listened to 'Wrecking Ball' was at the gym. And I did come in like a wrecking ball. Or something. 

Come With Me
by Puff Daddy ft. Jimmy Page

by Kanye West

Rap. Rap all the way. A bit of Puffy-Diddy-Daddy whatever and a whole lot of Kanye. These are people with huge egos. Let them inception some of their ego into your mind.

I Don't Think Now Is The Best Time
by Hans Zimmer

Music from the movies. Yes. Go for battle scenes and pretend your part of the action and you'll run faster with this weird look on your face like your fighting off pirates. I'm not joking, this works. Each track goes for like ten minutes too. So your workout is that much closer to being over!


Beauty and The Beast
by Stevie Nicks

Now, I make no apologies for having this, um, lesser known (these days?) track from Stevie Nicks on my iPod. But you do not want a track like this blaring from your headphones as you vacantly stare into the distance. Someone is going to walk past and hear it. Someone is going to look at you weird. And the more you listen to Stevie's voice, the less you'll want to work out. You'll just want to go listen to more Stevie Nicks. Stevie Nicks is awesome. Actually, screw this... put more Stevie Nicks on your iPod! What were we talking about? The gym? Who needs the gym? 


Album Review - The Road That Led Me To Fall

The Road That Led Me To Fall
by Ma Petite (out now)

I recently got my hands on a copy of Ma Petite’s first solo album, The Road That Led Me To Fall. Ma Petite is the solo project of Indiana Avent. Avent has performed as a violinist for many years with some big names including Bon Iver, Amanda Palmer, Gotye and Soko (just to name a few). This album is a collection of her own songs and chronicles her adventure into the world as a solo artist. She is helped along immensely by a band of talented musicians on this album who bring all kinds of instruments including cello, trumpet, flugelhorn, double bass and banjo. The album was recorded after Ma Petite moved to Canada a few years ago. So inspired was she by this move that there is even a dedication to the country itself in the CD notes (and in addition, some stunning landscape photography on the sleeve).

The Road That Led Me To Fall opens with some soft guitar before Ma Petite brings in her oh-so-gentle vocals in an almost candid friend to friend way. I suspected I was in for a very cute and gentle album simply by the tone of Ma Petite’s voice in this first track. I have always enjoyed simple vocals with acoustic instruments as much as I enjoy a big voice and layers of instrumentation. Ma Petite sings proudly here with a distinct Australian accent similar to the likes of Missy Higgins, Clare Bowditch and Angie Hart. After a little research I discovered that in fact Ma Petite has played violin for Missy Higgins, and it’s clear to see the similarities in music and vocal style. Her vocal tone is soft and breathy with an innocence delivered with clarity and heart. The sentiment of the first song 'Ticket to the Other Side' seems to set the pace for this whimsical album. The themes of letting go and journeying into the unknown are reflected lyrically in this first track (and are hinted at throughout the entire record). I have a inkling that these themes were brought about by the change of geography and the adventure of moving over the seas to pursue a dream. Gotta hand it to the artists who give it all for their art.

The second track along, 'Morning' follows a sweet and bubbly path as Ma Petite layers vocals with soaring little harmonies. There are some gentle builds in this song that sit pleasantly in the field of folk. I enjoyed the horn in this piece that heralded the joy felt in an almost picture book style morning. 'Lonesome' follows suit with a romantic longing underlined in the lyrical themes. I really liked this song for its simple keys and guitar arrangement and the angelic “ahhhhh” in the chorus.

'Man about Moon' is led in by gentle guitar picking before picking up the tempo and intensity with horns and drums. This was one of my favourite tracks of the album. There is a cute ukulele section towards the end that works beautifully in tandem with the horn. Next along, 'Fall' is a slightly more sombre song with its dreamy and melancholic chords brought to life with a haunting vocal choir arrangement. I love the theatrics of this song and the fact that there are no lyrics as such – just ethereal sounds. This song is the shortest on the album but provideds a lovely interlude midway through.

I think due to the sweet yet slightly sad undertone of 'Lone Sailor' (the next song along) I had imaginings of a newspaper boat floating on a paper sea in a children’s puppet show. Perhaps it’s the sweetness and softness that had me thinking of children’s puppet shows. Or perhaps it is the whispering like quality of Ma Petite’s voice that had me thinking of children and their love of fantastical story telling. Either way, this song has a child like nature in its delivery with whimsy and innocence. The violin is the thread that glues this piece together – as it wails up and down much like the ocean itself.

The theme of the ocean is followed through in the ballad 'Waterlogged'. The sea is left behind with the next track 'Make like a Bird'. Again, I was struck by the childlike nature that Ma Petite seems to embody in her voice and her lyrics. I could imagine that this song would be nice to play to children. “I wish I could grow me some wings, I’d make like a bird, fly across the seas…” Lots of longing with gentle imagery makes this a nice quiet time song.

Ma Petite really shows her penchant for observational story telling and everyday lyrical phrasing in the next song, 'I Like That You Like Books' which chronicles the affection a newly appointed barista feels for a customer who likes books. This was probably the first time I have heard the word “douche” used in a song. Somehow Ma Petite makes it cute and sweet.

'Two Big Thick Duffle Coats' is the second last song on the album. The uke matches Ma Petite’s voice as the song chugs along with an energetic upbeat tempo. This was another favourite of the album for me as the harmonies blend well together with the gentle rise of the tune. And I loved the horn solo again – it might be a flugelhorn or a tuba. I’m not sure exactly, but I enjoyed it immensely. The last song, 'Words to Keep' starts with the lyrics, “Goodbye sweetheart, it’s time to part” – a perfect choice for the end of this lovely little album. This last song is a simple and sweet lullaby-like ditty.

Ma Petite may not be everyone’s cup of tea. But if you like your music introspective, gentle and sweet and delivered with soft and intimate vocal heart, then you may just fall in love with The Road That Led Me To Fall.

Lou Endicott gives The Road That Led Me To Fall three and a half Hutchence heads out of five...

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

The Medicine Cabinet #16

by Nayt Housman

Music is my medicine. Is it yours? I ask the public six golden questions to find out if and how they use music to feed the soul.

'Elliot' by Nayt Housman

Here in the Medicine Cabinet Clinic we invite anyone and everyone for a probing and to share their ills and pills when it comes to musical relief. Tonight I nabbed young 17yo Elliot, who when not strumming on his guitar is out doing a spot of photography which fills the position of being his life passion. Let’s see who fills his heart with music shall we? Yes, we shall.

Thinking of music as medicine:

Who are at least three musicians or groups flick your switch and turn up the volume?

Elliot: Okay! Parkway Drive, The Amity Affliction, Northlane.

Why are they the pills that cure your ills?

Elliot: I guess because I play a lot of guitar, and I like to play the stuff I listen to which is fast and loud and sometimes technical. I also like doing covers.

What kind of high do they give you?

Elliot: Hmmmmm…

Good question! I don't know if I'd call it a high. I guess I would say, they bring me up from however I am at that time. If I feel shit, then I feel less shit. If I'm feeling awesome, I feel more awesome. Cha feel?

So they're basically a mood improver? Maybe an like an upper?

Elliot: An upper indeedy.

When do you find yourself craving musical relief?

Elliot: I listen to music mostly on the train or driving, but I'm practically always listening.

Where does music take you?

Elliot: Usually a really good place of solitude, where I can immerse myself in the lyrics, beat, etc.

So it's all about the internal places it takes you?

Elliot: I guess it's a good time for thinking, or not; sometimes just a good place to be brain dead.

How do you share your music love?

Elliot: I don't know a whole lot of people who share my particular taste in music, so I mostly keep it to myself. But it's fun to pick up the guitar and play for people every now and again.


Elliot is the kind of guy who likes to just live day by day and see what gets thrown at him. I tell you what, if Elliot’s ears can handle this kind of hardcore on a regular basis then hot dang I’m sure he can handle ANY ding dang diddly old thing. Props to you boy, you got some ears of steel!

It’s perhaps not surprising that like for myself and many millions of us human beings out there, Elliot finds his escape in music. It’s that momentary disconnect from the surroundings and happenings going on directly in front of us. Like, “Oops I almost got hit by a car!” No problem, music had my back. Or, “Oh crap I just severed a toe!” No biggie, I’ve got music to distract me until the ambulance arrives “Oooh Pethidine!” Sometimes that escape can effectively emphasize our emotions and other times it can provide the numbing agent for everything we want to drown out.

I shall dub this “The Analgesic Effect”. Did you know around 50% of the human population experience chills when listening to their favourite music and this reaction signals the release of dopamine in to the part of your brain that is activated by addiction, motivation and reward? It’s true! This is why music has such a powerful effect on so many of us and it doesn’t matter what type of music it is. What ever it is that floats your boat gives the same reaction no matter who you are. That’s probably why when I go without listening to music for any extended period of time I start feeling so agitated.

Doctor Nayt’s prescription this week is only for you music junkies. You know who you are. Don’t bother trying to cure this addiction; I encourage you to develop it further. So wherever you are at any time of the day, I want you to find a way to include music in that moment. If you’re commuting to work, put on the radio, put in your earphones and allow yourself to disappear. While you’re at work, if the radio isn’t already playing, put on your iPod in the office, hum a tune. While you’re out with friends, make them see a band with you, share an earphone and escape together. Let that dopamine flood your striatum, allow your eyes to roll back in your head and let the addiction take control. 

*Note! I do not endorse any kind of addictive behaviour stimulated by any means other than music*

Monday, 28 April 2014

Song Review - Tyson

by Remi
Album: Raw X Infinity (6 June, 2014)

I'm not going to lie. Combining 'Australian' with either 'hip hop' or 'rap' has generally been enough to make me feel a little... unsettled. You've been a big fan for the past ten years? Good for you. Different strokes for different folks and all that jazz. I've only started to change my tune over the past year or so with the emergence of a new wave of local hip hop stars in the making. I'm talking about Canberra's Citizen Kay, Sydney's Chance Waters, Adelaide's Tkay Maidza and, of course, Melbourne's Remi Kolawole. There's finally a real feeling that Australia is home to some heavyweight hip hop acts that can compete on the world stage. Nothing is more evident of this than Remi's banging new track 'Tyson' which previews the upcoming album, Raw X Infinity

With all the swagger and bravado of the titular 'Baddest Man on the Planet', Remi makes four minutes fly by with grand proclamations and comparisons to Iron Mike. Circa 88 to be precise. The lyrics are delivered with a confidence that will place you firmly in Kolawole's corner. You'll be thinking Kanye, not 360 and is there actually anyone alive that would say that's a bad thing? The landscape has never looked better for fans of 'Aussie Hip Hop' and Remi Kolawole is getting in early and staking a claim for the crown. If the rest of Raw X Infinity can keep the momentum of 'Tyson' flowing, we might as well just hand over some blinged up headgear now. For what is a crown, but a headgear with some bling on it? Ok, I'll stop now.

Matt Bond gives 'Tyson' four Missy Elliott heads out of five...

Sunday, 27 April 2014

Top 25 - 27 April, 2014

Robyn and Royksopp!

1. Our Man In Berlin - Flight

2. Howling Bells - Slowburn (NEW)

3. Lana Del Rey - West Coast

4. Ingrid Michaelson ft. A Great Big World - Over You

5. Torres - New Skin (NEW)

6. I Know Leopard - Daisy Eyes

7. Lester The Fierce - January

8. Hudson and Troop - Frameless

9. Royksopp and Robyn - Do It Again (NEW)

10. Courtney Barnett - Anonymous Club (NEW)

11. Ayla - Wish I Was

12. Holly Who - Get A Little More

13. Lily Allen - Sheezus (NEW)

14. The Cathars - Delusion's Daze

15. Dear Plastic - Buck Up and Pay the Reaper

16. Little Dragon - Let Go (NEW)

17. Cash + David - Pulse (NEW)

18. Caitlin Park - Lemonade

19. tUne-YaRds - Water Fountain

20. Elliphant - Revolusion (NEW)

21. Hercules and Love Affair ft. John Grant - I Try To Talk To You (NEW)

22. Ma Petite - Lonesome

23. Kelis - Rumble

24. Pepa Knight - Rahh!

25. Wolf Alice - Storms

Saturday, 26 April 2014

It's My Kind Of Interview - Lester The Fierce

Melbourne songstress Lester the Fierce (AKA Anita Lester) has recently released 'January' as the second single off her self titled EP. I was fortunate enough to see Lester the Fierce perform back in January here in Melbourne for the launch of the record. The show was an absolute knock out and really showcased the incredible talent and performance power that Anita Lester creates with her band.

The new single 'January' features a deliciously psychedelic film clip that emulates the world of a kaleidoscope as Anita’s face swirls in and out of the frame. It’s also worth checking out the video of Melbourne’s iconic Tram Sessions that features a live acoustic rendition played to Melbourne commuters. For the discerning music lover in this clip, Anita sits next to Melbourne’s electro pop darling, Scarlette Baccini from Dear Plastic (whom I’m also a huge fan of). Scarlette and a small chorus of others join in the song with beautiful harmonies “la da da da da la da da da da la dahhhhh….”

Today I am lucky enough to ask Lester the Fierce some questions first hand.

Interview by Lou Endicott

Thank you first off for taking time to answer some questions. And congratulations on your stellar EP!

Lester The Fierce: Thanks guys, loving your support.

Your new single 'January' is a poetically driven slow rock ballad with gorgeous imagery and heartfelt lyrics. Can you tell us a little bit about the creation of this beautiful song? What inspired this song to come into being? Where were you when you wrote it?

LTF: The song is the oldest on the EP. It originally was written as a little sonic poem intended for a duo. I wrote it about a one night love affair- it was a beautiful night shadowed by the dirtiness of the circumstance. I think loveless love is one of the hardest things a young privileged person will most probably experience.

I put it on the EP because I feel it shows a different side of the kind of music I write. I feel torn about it actually, because it’s not an obvious ‘single’, but maybe that’s not always the point!

I love the kaleidoscope clip that accompanies 'January'. How did this idea come about? Was it filmed mostly in a studio or on location? I imagine that it would have been a lot of fun to film! Can you share a little about the atmosphere that is created on a Lester The Fierce film clip set?

LTF: That clip had many twists and turns (get it?). It was originally meant to be a Sofia Coppola-esque picture that directly reflects the song. Super still and simple…it didn’t end up being shot in the way I had imagined and the stillness was lost. I then animated it into that kaleidoscope and used the footage we shot in the original edit (so there is a story underneath!). I like how the skin morphs and becomes kind of vulgar.

As a huge music lover (and a YouTube addict) I really enjoy watching the stripped back acoustic clips that are The Tram Sessions. How did this clip come about? What was the reaction from the lucky commuters on the tram after the song? Do you have a favourite tram session that you like watching?

LTF: It’s something I love doing. I love playing acoustically. It feels like coming home. Having said that, it also feels like being naked. Things like Tram Sessions and Balcony TV are privileges for up and comers. I feel very lucky to be included.

I don’t generally fall down the rabbit hole that is YouTube, but I have some favourites.

I think the Paul Kelly tram session is beautiful just for the joy of it all.
I really like the Matt Corby Balcony TV of Brother- I just love good voices…even if the songs aren’t always my favourite.

Having said that, I also love the not so special live captures.

Your music features beautiful soaring vocals that are equally at home in softer, intimate phrases as they are in big soaring belts. When did you first start to sing? Was it something you learnt or something always inherent? Was there a moment when you decided that this is what you wanted to do professionally?

LTF: I’ve always dabbled with singing, but didn’t really find my voice until I was about 18. I sang Gloomy Sunday by Billie Holliday for a final school recital thing and realised there was a difference between singing and SINGING. It’s a scary thing finding a big voice. It was definitely a massive hurdle for me. I didn’t even know how to belt until I recorded HOWL. I had a particularly hard experience during the recording of the EP and the fear of sound seemed insignificant in comparison.

You seem to cross a lot of genres with ease in your music. There are always unexpected and delightful moments in each song that I hang for for each time. Do you approach song writing the same for all of your songs or is each song a different process? How do you go about deciding which songs to release as singles and in what order?

LTF: To be honest, this EP was a little bit of an experiment. It’s the first time I’ve played with a band and worked with so many people. Some of it was constructive, a lot was confusing, but the sounds we made were special. I hear the confusion in the music but I also hear the threads.

The songs were a mixture of new and slightly less new. I had to put my album on hold, so only one of the songs from the album was used on the EP.

We approached this project as the introduction to LTF. Different sides and once we have planted the seeds we go from there.

I’m really looking forward to the next single.

Your sound is quite a versatile one – spanning from heroic rock n roll to softer introspective work and everything in between. What did you grow up listening to? Who were your musical heroes? And who are your musical muses now?

LTF: I loved Stevie Nicks, Kate Bush, Jeff Buckley, Joni Mitchell and Melanie. I never really listened to people and thought ‘I want to sing like you’, but I probably have subconsciously adapted those styles.

Now, I’m not so sure. I look for different things such as style and writing. I’m such a Lana Del Rey fan…or at least a fan of her image makers. I think they have done extraordinary things with her sound and branding.

I’ll never stop loving Thom Yorke, Nick Cave, Blues singers from the first half of the century. Good voices…really good voices get me off.

I am a huge fan of your EP and your previous single 'Howl'. Can you share a little about the process of recording this EP? Did the elements come together quite quickly or was it a long going process?

LTF: Thank you. It was an extremely quick process. I wrote 'Howl' the night before we had our first day in the studio. I had a huge amount of pressure on myself to get this done so to move on.
Almost all musicians I know and talk to are ready to move on before beginning.

The band you have assembled around truly make all your songs gel in a dynamic way. Having seen you live recently it was obvious that the ingredients of sound you all bring to the table result in some beautiful music alchemy. How did you find your band mates?

LTF: They are all beautiful friends who I met through my producer. The sad truth is though, that they are session musicians. Being a solo act is hard, because you generally can’t have a solid band until a certain level has been reached.

I can’t wait until I get there!

I think you’re right though, the lineup I’ve used for the last six months is particularly special…it’ll be sad when I need to move on!


Favourite post gig ritual:
LTF: Silence

Last song you listened to:
LTF: Jack Ladder - Giving Up The Giving Up.

An Australian musician you wish had more exposure:
LTF: Funnily enough, Jack Ladder and Georgia Fair. They have been categorised in a strange place in the industry, but are seriously fucking great.

Best place to song write:
LTF: Bedroom/ anywhere solitary.

Best dance music:
LTF: Love a bit of 80’s groove, Talking Heads, disco… Also, anything with a rock groove.

Music to soothe a broken heart:
LTF: All of the music.

Thank you so much for your time! Looking forward to seeing you play live again soon. x

LTF: Thanks x

A massive thanks again to Lester The Fierce for stopping by for a chat. To keep up to date with all things Lester The Fierce, head on over to her Facebook page! 

Thursday, 24 April 2014

A to Z - B is for Britney

It's completely up to you which part of the B you'd prefer to be

The A to Z of Pop
by Jo Michelmore

So after A comes B. You get how this A to Z thing is going to work now, right? I'll even let you guess what comes next week. You clever clogs. There's a hint. Until then, here we are, the second instalment of the A to Z of Pop. Welcome to B.

When one is faced with the concept of the letter B and pop music, there's a lot of options, but one stood out clearly in my mind from the very first thought. I could have thought Backstreet Boys, which is quite impressive as a double B, but while the Backstreet Boys have spent their time whining about their little broken hearts, my favourite B pop star has spent her career singing about playing games with boys hearts.

'Oops I Did It Again'? Yes, she did. Shut up Backstreet.

I could have gone back to the 90s and gone for another double B in Bobby Brown, but really, who was he without Whitney, who will no doubt appear later in the alphabet (H or W, your guess is as good as mine) and all he's ever done is made a non-existent career out of landing himself in jail, making a general nuisance of himself and thinking he had something special for the ladies. My favourite B pop star on the other hand has spent her time putting people like ol' Bobby in his place.

Bobby Brown, you sir are a 'Womanizer', and not an attractive one at that.

I could have gone for the obvious one, the one I'm sure many would say I should have named this B after, but I have a good reason not to. I'm not going to deny the pop talent of Beyonce, but there's one thing that my favourite B pop star has over her and it's quite simple really.

Britney? She may have made her fair share of mistakes, but she didn't marry Jay-Z. Britney wins. 

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Song Review - West Coast

West Coast
by Lana Del Rey
Album: Ultraviolence (TBA, 2014)

You might think that Lana Del Rey has released a new single about your fave budget bubbly in a bottle, West Coast Cooler but you'd be wrong. Well not totally. There is mention of a saying on the west coast where drinking equals playing and I imagine the only drink available in Perth is West Coast Cooler... Wait! I've just been informed I'm referring to the wrong west coast. Eh!

So Lana is one of those musicians with love or hate sensibilities that I've never seemed to join the party on. I don't hate her, in fact I enjoy some of her previous tunes but then I don't love her because some of her other tunes really irritate me so I'm happy to stay here on the fence mostly. When the buzz of her new single hit I was doing something I thought to be more interesting at the time but then a friend said, "Like dude you totes have to get into this tune like it's so good that I just can't. I can't even!" (that's how Lana fans talk duh) so I like totes gave it a listen and you know what? I LIKE IT!

The first couple of seconds in immediately made me think of that awful Paris Hilton song that I thought I'd forgotten with it's loosely reminiscent reggae vibe however it quickly transitions into something, dare I say sexy. Something sexy like a version of Chris Isaak's 'Wicked Games'. It even shares a similar video shot beautifully in B&W, it's the usual convincingly romantic *cough* affair of two frisky young pups frolicking on a beach; Del Rey and the "too beautiful to be bad, blonde locked, leather jacket clad, too rough to be good" kind of guy looking longingly and writhing coyly around each other. I'm not clocking it as an appropriation of 'Wicked Games', more of the way Shania Twain reworked the clip of Robert Palmers 'Simply Irresistible', though maybe less deliberate.

'West Coast' is actually a rather soft and beautifully dark story of youthful desire in a world where status and possession means as much as the emotion and when approached from a neutral ground her poetry, though simple, can appreciated. Del Rey in this 90s surf rock inspired number vocally transitions along with the undulating tempo, from a silver screen starlet-esque voiced goddess to that languid, breathy damsel in distress character she plays so well, but apparently 'West Coast' has been polarising even amongst die hard fans. I'm not the the most ardent fan to ask why but it seems at least for me this song that feels like an early 90s throwback draws me in and almost (not quite all there) makes me feel part of her world. Maybe that's why I've never dived into Lana's pool because she's never quite sold me anything convincing as her music can sometimes seem contrived. However even though some of my comments may feel a little critical I actually really like 'West Coast'. If previous haters can put away their prejudices against Lana they'll find a tantalisingly simple broken love song. If previous fans finding themselves polarised can take their minds out of the neon-retro landscapes of Del Rey's previous affairs they will find a bittersweet film-noir tinged journey through youthful love/loss transitions.

Nayt Housman gives 'West Coast' four PJ Harvey heads out of five...

Monday, 21 April 2014

Song Review - Slowburn

by Howling Bells
Album: Heartstrings (June 2, 2014)

Yeah but no but yeah but no but... shut up. Shut up right now. How do the Howling Bells have a new song out and I have not heard it, nor have I had any of y'all point this out to me? Seriously?! This is a fail of epic proportions. Do you know what's not a fail in any way, shape or form? THE NEW SONG FROM THE HOWLING BELLS!!! That's what. It's been far too long since we've heard from Juanita Stein, brother Joel and Glen Moule. Joining those original three this time around is new bass player Gary Daines who is taking over for Brendan Picchio. Anywho, yeah, the last time we heard from these indie rockers was back in 2011 when they released their severely underrated third album, The Loudest Engine. It would seem they haven't lost a step during their little hiatus if 'Slowburn' is anything to go by. 

"Keep dreaming, keep dreaming, you say something's gonna happen, gonna happen someday, you know it's a slow burning fire." Juanita Stein remains the perfect front for a rock outfit; dark, mysterious and oh-so sexy. The words are delivered in such an effortlessly cool way that you find yourself swayed far too easily by her charms. Like, you would do anything for her to look in your direction and give you the time of day. Anything. What? Sorry, Juanita Stein has this crazy hold over me. Don't act like you don't know what I'm talking about. Joel's lead guitar work ups that cool factor, while Moule's drums keep everything together and on track, as they always do. For his part, the lone non-Australian in the band, Daines, comfortably slides into the line-up. If you hadn't told me that he'd replaced Picchio, I'd be none the wiser. 

An unexpected treat for a Monday night (for those not in the loop like me!) and what a treat! The Howling Bells are back with a new album on the way. Managing to make doom and gloom rock sound like the most fun you've ever had isn't easy, but these guys always manage to pull it off. I know I can't wait to hear more. What about you? 

Matt Bond gives 'Slowburn' five Nick Cave heads out of five...

Sunday, 20 April 2014

EP Review - Eleanor Dunlop

Eleanor Dunlop EP
by Eleanor Dunlop (out now)

I recently found this lovely EP in my letterbox (one of the perks of writing for IMKOS is the occasional CD snail mail!). I was immediately taken by the beautiful illustrative cover. For those not in the know, illustration is kind of my “thing” and when combined with good music it delights me to no end to pour over the little details. The cover features two inked horse heads divided by a water coloured leaf and a lot of water colour splotches. Eleanor Dunlop's name is scrawled over the top in a heavy, black, hand written ink - tying it all together very nicely indeed. The theming follows onto the back. As far as design goes, the cover is very on trend, very beautiful and oh so whimsical.

I first heard Eleanor Dunlop's single 'Disguise' on Triple J late last year while driving in my car. I was taken by the sound of Eleanor’s smooth voice and the major/minor turn-arounds on the piano. Later, after trawling through YouTube to find this song I noticed that there were more than a few references to 60s Bond soundtracks in the comments under the clip. It was understandable why. Although somewhat sombre in mood, there was something excitingly dangerous and sophisticated about this track – and perhaps about the musical persona of Eleanor herself. So I was happy to have a copy of the full EP to hear how this song fit into the journey of the recording – as well as to hear what else Dunlop has on offer.

The Eleanor Dunlop EP opens with the track 'Waiting' which features a delicate piano intro before Dunlop’s voice captures the ear. I was immediately reminded of a mix of a lighter Fiona Apple and Megan Washington in the vocal tone. The sultry breathiness mixed with a smooth and towering strength is a difficult blend to accomplish for any vocalist. Dunlop does it seemingly effortlessly – and while hitting the right note on the keys with delicacy and feeling. 'Waiting' fills itself out with some driving drums and big bassey stride keys that up the emotional stakes and add a dynamic layer of texture before dipping back into the more simpler keys and voice. I love this play of drama Dunlop captures in this big emotive ballad. Much like 'Disguise' I began to sense that Dunlop’s song writing favours drawn out legato in her lyrical phrasing. This slower delivery of the story (besides making the lyrics easy to understand and ultimately to remember) makes for a beautiful emotive thread that sews the elements together beautifully.

The new single 'Rough Side of Town' is second on the EP. Percussive, moody piano opens this song before Dunlop entrances us again with her vocal warmth. “Maybe there is still time and maybe there is still time. Oh I don’t know I don’t know anymore…” The introspective mood started in the first track follow into this second song. The lyrical themes are simple yet effective: human relationships and the tension and unease that they can bring. “You kept on hanging around, showing me the rough side of town. I’ve said it once, I’ve said it twice, but not again.” There is again a lengthy delivery of the lyrics and repetition of the phrases which really underlines the emotion behind each line. This song feels tailored for anyone needing some reflective time to sit in their own heart and let the pain pass through.

Three haunting chords begin 'Standing Guard' - the third track of the EP. The themes of this song hint at the desperation to find the balance between two people while holding onto some sense of self. “I’m standing guard where there was nothing before; I beg you for this to be over now; once and for all; I know we can be alright now - And show them what we are both made of…” Dunlop has obviously delved deep into her heart's journal to bring forth the wounds of the human heart to be drenched in the healing waters of music. It was around this song that I realised I knew half a dozen or so people who might especially benefit from the bittersweet soothe that this EP has to offer. I’ve always maintained that to heal a heart's hurt, that the healing benefits with the pain first being brought to the surface and explored thoroughly. Dunlop here, is your tour guide.

I was happy to hear 'Disguise' as the fourth track on the EP and revisit its moody march again as part of this recording. It fits well as the fourth track along and indeed as a bead in this necklace of emotional and introspective musings.

The last song 'Always Be Here' features a more dreamy sound scape led by guitar as opposed to the keys. There is always something hopeful to me in the sound of a single note repeated on a guitar as the bass and vocals play around it. “If only I knew what I know now…. I wouldn’t screw it up I wouldn’t pack it in… I’d take reign of that big black horse… And let him know and let him know I’ll always be here…” Some beautiful imagery and perhaps a post note to the listener to seize what they have when they have it. Philosophical musings and interpretations aside, this was a lovely end to the EP – and had me hitting the replay button.

I really enjoyed the reflective journey that this EP provided. The elements are all here for the making of an amazing future as a solo artist for Eleanor Dunlop.

Lou Endicott gives the Eleanor Dunlop EP four Michael Hutchence heads out of five...

Top 25 - 20 April, 2014

Lana, Lester, Lykke...

1. Our Man In Berlin - Flight

2. I Know Leopard - Daisy Eyes

3. Ayla - Wish I Was

4. Lana Del Rey - West Coast (NEW)

5. Little Dragon - Paris

6. Holly Who - Get A Little More

7. Ingrid Michaelson ft. A Great Big World - Over You (NEW)

8. Hudson and Troop - Frameless (NEW)

9. Dear Plastic - Buck Up and Pay the Reaper

10. Lester The Fierce - January (NEW)

11. The Cathars - Delusion's Daze (NEW)

12. Caitlin Park - Lemonade (NEW)

13. Ingrid Michaelson - Afterlife

14. Kelis - Rumble

15. Pepa Knight - Rahh!

16. David Gray - Back In The World (NEW)

17. Wolf Alice - Storms (NEW)

18. The Antlers - Palace

19. Lykke Li - Gunshot (NEW)

20. First Aid Kit - My Silver Lining

21. Ma Petite - Lonesome (NEW)

22. tUnE-yArDs - Water Fountain

23. Sia - Chandelier

24. The Black Keys - Turn Blue (NEW)

25. Hopium - Cut

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Album Review - Lights Out

by Ingrid Michaelson (out now)

Returning with her sixth studio album, Ingrid Michaelson shows us on Lights Out exactly why she's regarded as one of the best singer-songwriters making music today. I'm going to throw this out early... after many a repeated listen, this is definitely Michaelson's most engaging, ambitious and best album yet. Special guest stars pop in and out and new genres are explored (without departing completely from what we know and love) on an album comprising fourteen individual pop gems. And you totally know you're going to hear half of them on your favourite TV show over the next year or two. As someone who watches a lot of TV (please don't tell anyone how I live), this makes me very happy.

Lights Out opens with the bright, folk-pop sounds of 'Home'. At this point of her career, Michaelson has mastered the grand build-up in her songs. 'Home' begins with a steady drum beat and acoustic guitars framing Ingrid's central vocal and choral lines. As the song progresses, light synth touches enter, the drum's prominence increases and those choral lines explode around Michaelson. This is a great way to kick things off, slowly drawing you in as the excitement builds. 'Girls Chase Boys' is that quirky/catchy number that acts like Ingrid Michaelson and her friend/occasional collaborator Sara Bareilles like to throw at you. You might start off with some initial reservations, but it's just too gosh darn... adorable... to hate. Urgh, I'm trying to avoid 'adorable' and 'cute'. But it is what it is. Our first collaboration on Lights Out sees Michaelson joined by her husband Greg Laswell on 'Wonderful Unknown.' The strength of this one is in the writing. For a song that's fundamentally a happy one about love, you'd be forgiven for mistaking it for something else given the sorta-kinda gloomy, down vibe it gives off. I sort of dropped in and out of this one, but the repeated line, "in the best way you'll be the death of me," would always capture my attention completely. 

'Warpath' brings to mind recent 'woman-scorned' tracks like Adele's 'Rumour Has It' with its percussive focus and smokey, undeniably sexy vocal performance. Michaelson throws in some heavy guitar work for good measure. She should play with them more in the future. 'Time Machine' and 'One Night Town' keep the upbeat energy flowing and both will get stuck in your heads. Damn catchy tunes, always getting stuck in my head. The latter sees Michaelson team with Mat Kearney, another key name in a group of artists I like to call the Grey's Anatomy posse (alongside Laswell and Bareilles)... for their tunes will always appear at key moments on a television show to reinforce the breaking of your heart that's about to happen. Thankfully Kearney and Michaelson have chosen to spare us this time around. Actually, it would have probably been even better if they went for something depressing. Yeah, that would have been sweet. Taking a change of direction, the pace is slowed down for the next two tracks, 'Open Hands' and 'Ready To Lose', both of which feature Trent Dabbs backing Michaelson up. Putting the two together was a solid move and I mean both Dabbs and Michaelson performing together and placing the tracks together on the album. 'Stick' bridges the gap between the quieter moments and the following, anthemic 'Afterlife'. 'Afterlife is the big sing along moment on the album and that song that makes you want to run out and start living your life and achieve your dreams and seize the moment and.... are you picking up what I'm putting down? Can I stop now? Choosing to put it right before the album's great, big slice of heartbreak was a good choice. 

Now, when I'm about to listen to a new album by an artist that I'm a big fan of, I find it pretty hard to not go into that first listen without wanting something. And no, I don't mean I go in just wanting it to be awesome and the best thing ever, I usually want something specific. In the case of Lights Out I wanted a good 'ole heartbreaker of a piano ballad, complete with a nice string arrangement and Michaelson's sweet vocal melodies. I don't ask for much, right? This inability to put aside selfish expectations for a new album almost always leads to disappointment. Not this time! 'Over You' teams Michaelson with the two dudes from A Great Big World, fresh off their slice of piano-led heartbreaker-age, 'Say Something'. This collaboration ticked all the boxes for a song I was wanting to hear, with the added bonus of being a duet. "Maybe if I tell myself enough, maybe if I do, I'll get over you." The melody in those chorus lines, combined with the simple, rolling piano is just something else. I'm pretty sure the fella from A Great Big World that just stands around doing nothing in 'Say Something' gets to contribute in 'Over You' too, so good for him. A Great Big World's voices (Ian Axel and Chad Vaccarino) circle around Michaelson's as the song heads to a suitably fitting finish. There's definitely single potential here.  

A sweet, final declaration of wanting to go where 'Everyone Is Gonna Love Me Now' sends us on our way and very likely straight back to the start of Lights Out. The final track matches the exciting slow build that was present in the first; beating drums, roaring chorus lines and some sweeping strings. It's awesome... Ingrid Michaelson is awesome. If you're a fan of your singer-songwriters, beautifully composed arrangements, strong storytelling and/or sexy librarian looking performers, you're going to be into Lights Out. And like I said, you might as well get into it now. You'll be loving one or more of the tracks on the TV before you know it. 

Matt Bond gives Lights Out four Shirley Manson heads out of five...   

Friday, 18 April 2014

Video Review - Frameless

by Hudson and Troop
EP: Daytrip Enquiries (out 2014, please?)

Well then, this was unexpected. Just innocently sitting in my house, cruising the internet on my ipad, clicking on this and that but not expecting much when what should appear in front of me but the image of a man in a blue monster suit and a name, Hudson and Troop. "This looks fun" I said to myself but what happened next took me totally and completely by surprise.

Essentially, it's a guy in a costume, playing the part of a monster, living any day in any monster's (read: anyones) dreary life. Is it a comedy? Is it a drama? I don't know. This shouldn't be so interesting, this shouldn't be sweet, this shouldn't be emotional but it's a testament to the talent of Oh Yeah Wow, the creators, for shooting such a tale in a such an unusual and beautiful way and it's a testament to the talent of Hudson and Troop for writing a song that speaks to all of us at some stage in our lives. The longing for companionship and the yearning for acceptance, we all face it and it seems some blue monsters do too. 

I'm not really sure how a big blue monster can be equally depressing and uplifting, and I'm not really sure how I became emotionally attached to a smoking, lost, somewhat violent, big eared creature; but it happened. Maybe it wasn't meant to be this serious, maybe it was meant to be a dark comedy and it probably says more about me than the performers and creators that I adore this so much, because maybe that little sense of needing acceptance is closer to the surface than I'm generally willing to admit. Either way, I'm in love with this clip and I'm in love with this song and I've got that little line stuck in my head, 'cause essentially, it's true: "Yeah this love it aches for more..."

Jo Michelmore gives Frameless four Gotye heads out of five... 

Thursday, 17 April 2014

A to Z - A Is For...Ady Gaga?

The Human Alphabet. In my opinion, one of the creepiest things on the internet.

The A to Z of Pop
by Jo Michelmore 

I've got two major loves in life. Music is one and words are the other. How good is it that I write words on a music blog then? I know, I'm pretty darn lucky, don't be jealous.

Which brings me to our newest feature here on It's My Kind Of Scene. The A to Z. We're gonna start the first round of alphabet-ing with a celebration of all things pop, 'cause whether you like to deny it or embrace it, everyone has a love of it and there's not enough pop around here. Maybe. Well, there's always room for more anyway.

So here it is. The A to Z of Pop. Welcome to A.

Ady Gaga, Aylor Swift and Aty Perry don't count. You get how this alphabet thing works, right? Right. We could start with A is for Abba, one of the biggest pop acts of their time (Eurovision entrant makes them quite large, in my humble Eurovision loving opinion, but that's a whole other story) but they're not my favourite from the land of Sweden, 'cause let's not deny it, there's someone better.

"I saw the sign and it opened up my eyes" vs "you can dance you can jive"? Ace Of Base wins, easily. What is the sign? Who is the sign? Not a bearded man in a one piece flared suit, Bjorn, that's for sure. Sorry Abba. Admittedly, "gimme gimme gimme a man after midnight" comes a close second, because really, who doesn't want that (rhetorical question, don't answer) but the 90s that oozes from Abba's fellow country musos is just that much cooler.

If we're going to talk pop in the 90s though, you can't look past some of the awful cringe worthy amazing r'n'b that happened in the early part of that decade. I love some of it, but thankfully I also found Nirvana. That's a different alphabet though. All 4 One, they were just like the poor mans Boyz II Men and that strange guy with the glasses? I could never figure him out. He's the creepy cousin at the family Christmas party who sits in the corner with gravy on his chin and a piece of corn in his teeth. And by the way All 4 One, swearing you'll be by my side like a shadow is uncomfortably close to stalking.

A is for All Saints. Now there's a 90s pop group who weren't so creepy. They were all so busy trying to be less London council estate and more ghetto-licious they didn't have time to be creepy. By the way, if you ever-ever attempt this song at karaoke, know that it never-ever ends.

So many A's around here, I could talk Adele or Alicia Keys or Avril Lavigne or Aviici or I could drift way back to the 80s and start talking everyone's fave English ginger, Rick Astley, but you know what I really wanna talk about? My favourite song of the entire 80s, which I have probably declared before and will do it again and was sung by a band whose name began with A.

A-ha, it's A-ha. See what I did there? Comic genius. Things you need to will now know: I have a friend who once had a slight obsession with lead singer Morten Harket. I get it, he's kinda 80s babe-ish. I just love him 'cause his name is Morten Harket. That's a pop star name, if I ever heard one. If I ever have a son I may call him that.

One more thing you need to know and you'll thank me for this one day in a trivia challenge. A-ha were Norwegian. Name me another Norwegian band that aren't some form of metal. Yeah, gotcha there. Norwegian! And so began my life long obsession with having to visit Norway someday. Well, A-ha and Haakon, Crown Prince of Norway, my favourite royal, who is known to love a music festival or two. What, is Norway just full of interesting attractive viking men? Must visit...

Album Review - Precurxor

by Curxes (out now)

I had some trouble deciding whether to write something about the latest release from Curxes. They are a duo I adore, their sometimes spooky, sometimes spine tingling, always fabulous sounds have been circling my space for a while now, always making me wish for more. With this in mind, how could I write something non-biased about them, something non-gushing about a band I hope have giant things to come and more recognition than they ever dreamt of? With this in mind, I came to the realisation that this is exactly why I should write about them, after all, a couple of years ago, trawling the internet listening to things, looking at things and doing what a lot of people would consider wasting time, I stumbled across their sounds which immediately resonated with me, via another music blog. I write on a music blog and why do I do that? To share my love of music with whoever happens to read, so if that means I get to introduce the sounds of Curxes to someone else the way they were introduced to me, I'm a happy blogger. Welcome to Precurxor.

Clever little things they are, releasing a (mini) album of previous material, a collection of songs from 2010 - 2011 and calling it Precurxor (get it? Pre-curxor? No? Oh dear. Nevermind.) This seven track album, was a great little surprise for me, being on the other side of the planet and really having only discussed their material post 2012. Not only is it as awesome as I find all of Curxes material, it's also an education into how musicians grow and develop with time. Something a lot of bands should be proud of and not hide in the depths of their deleted soundcloud and youtube acounts.

The seven songs are a good introduction to what Roberta Fidora and Macaulay Hopwood once called themselves;  "a decorative set of bones, channelling the ghosts of discothèques past", which was a perfect line for a band's bio, but also a really good description of what some of their material has actually sounded like. Not borrowing but paying tribute to sounds from the not so distant past in tracks like 'Jaws', 'The Consructor' and 'Once Upon A Time' give a real indication of how talented this duo are, they know their music history, they know what they like but have the ability to take their influences and make them their own; Macaulay's incredible skills on various instruments shining on 'Creatures' and Roberta's vocal a shining beacon of light over the darkness and doom on tracks like 'Lightness'.

Having said all of this, perhaps one of the most intriguing and interesting things about Precurxor and much of Curxes material is something that can often be overlooked in sounds like the 'blitz-pop' that they make. While we all get lost in the interesting collection of new beats and the slightly unusual assemblage of noise, the lyrics are fascinating, sometimes light, sometimes dark, often confusing and that's what makes them fantastic. 'Spires', the perfect example of hidden thoughts behind the voice; "sometimes, sometimes the brave are free and gloriously dead..." Roberta has such a compelling ability to carry the perplexing words and make them dance across the top of all they create and there is a selfish satisfaction in listening, knowing and enjoying it all. Sometimes that selfish satisfaction is exactly what music should be, for both the artist and the listener.

As a musician creates for their own sense of musical selfish satisfaction, in my own way I blog about it to share the same thing. Some days it's hard finding the right words to share and some days there are sounds like Curxes and those sounds make me a happy blogger. Welcome to Precurxor.

Jo Michelmore gives Precurxor four budgie heads out of five...