Winston's post yesterday has reminded me that I needed to post this Ladytron one I wrote up months ago, better late then never, hey? It's been three years now since Ladytron's last (and arguably their most definitive) release, Witching Hour. The foursome return with their new album Velocifero, which has taken just under a year to structure, produce and officially release. The group haven't expanded too much on their sound, still sticking with the echoing electronic-noir sound, but also having delved deeper and thrown in a few noticeable gimmicks here and there. It works off a treat; it leaves an impact with each synth angsty beat that comes with each track and leaves us just as curious for the next song to follow. The albums opening tracks Ghosts and I'm Not Scared both reek of single material, and could both do the same wonders as what 'Seventeen' did for the band back in their hey-day. Helen Marnie's vocals are eerie and ghastly but at the same time have this softness and rocky attitude within it. Helen provides that extra edge for the group and in the final outcome blends in the flow and stir of the album. Overall, the album wont stir already fans but will welcome new fans quite persuasively. Catch Ladytron as they head around the Australia in the next week, and also taking in Adelaide's Parklife Festival as co-headliners with Peaches.
The fact that I wasn't aware of Fluorescent until this morning is really a testament to the diversity and strength of the Australia music scene. Their style is somewhere between My Bloody Valentine and New Order. This is most obvious in their track Unfamiliar with begins with a primitive synthetic drum sequence which slowly begins to segue into a dense drowning wall of guitar. Really endearing stuff.
They have been on the scene for a few years and have played with Midnight Juggernauts, PNAU and Cut Copy. You can catch them on the 4th of October supporting Ladytron at their third and final Show in Melbourne at the Esplanade Hotel (I know I will be there).
There's just something about Pepi Ginsberg that has me infatuated. With every listen of this singer/song-writer's album, Red, I find myself only going back for another listen, and then another listen on top of that. The album was produced by Dr. Dog's Scott McMicken and with his expertise behind the desk he was able to expand Ginsberg's vintage feel and make it a compelling album. Her vocals are invigorating and layered with emotion that only further encapsulates whoever listens. Pepi's influences range from everywhere, most notably being that of Bob Dylan, but also the likes of Jolie Holland (perhaps a little more upbeat) and vocal influence (most notably through In My Bones) has got to be from Patti Smith. She creates the sort of music that's nostalgic, covered with this analog feel and would even fit nicely into the soundtrack for a Gondry film.
Whitley is one of those indescribable artists that only comes around very rarely. It's astonishing to believe how much he (Lawrence Greenwood) has achieved in such a short span, and at a young age (and it's even sweeter that his Victorian). His won fans world-wide, and sold out shows at just about every pub and venue to fit a decent sized crowd around Australia. It is with this that it is no surprise that Whitley he soon to pack up the bags and head off to America for a monthly stint with everybody's favorite pop-folk dream boy, Ben Kweller. Whitley plays one more show (and it's sold out, who would have thought?) before heading off but prior to this taking place I manage to grab some time and convince Whitley to compile a '5 Songs with' for everybody. Enjoy.
Arcade Fire Intervention I love the way that it lulls you into it's tune. Then there is this rise and a KEY CHANGE! I'd never go there. Key changes can sound so dubious, unless you're in a cool jazz lounge, and really jazz is not cool. So, the chances of good key changes are pretty minimal these days.
The National Fake Empire The timing, I'm not sure what it is, is cool. It's like the three into four vibe. It's been recorded by Peter Katis so well. The vocals are beautiful. The lyrics are nice too. I want to see a one man band perform it.
Rufus Wainwright The Art Teacher A great song of forbidden love and admiration. I feel like a schoolgirl when I listen to this song. A very manly, very straight schoolgirl.
Washington Lightwell She wrote this song about a homeless musician who lived in a lightwell in a house in Carlton. I don't think her album is out yet but from the tracks I've heard, it's going to be a cracker.
The Panics Get Us Home When I toured with these guys, I would hang out for this song every night. Great arrangements, great strings, awesome lyrics. They are so powerful when they play this live. Myles looks like he's going to snap his arms, he hits the drums so hard. Myles is also like a schoolgirl, he has very soft skin, like a princess.
I'd like to introduce everyone to a group that will be the most talked about in 2009. They go by the name of Fan Death, and these past couple of weeks have been popping up on just about all of the well-known blogs around the world. There's always an artist that comes along out of nowhere and just creates this massive hype around them, and become one of the most talked about items (take MGMT for example). I'm getting some real Kate Bush cross Goblin vibes about this duo, which actually is really refreshing to hear. They do a nice little take on that weird sort of 80's pop, and just to further creep you out, include some eerily spooky vocals that are unbelievably deep and invigorating. There's not much music around to judge the group by, but from the looks of it Erol Alkan has snapped the duo up and is releasing a 7' inch through his label in the not to distant future.
Jeremy Jay's music is one of a story-telling nature, much in the same vein as Jonathan Richman's solo work. His songs are short and sweet and, as described by himself, "influenced by dreams and the more fantastic surrealist sensibility linked with the French New Wave". His intriguing to say the least, for there's obvious influences ranging from Buddy Holly, Richie Valens, to even the likes of Francois Hardy and David Bowie (Hunky Dory days) but this textural blend of slow dance ballads and over the top fuzzed-out guitar work is something worthy of an applause. Jeremy is backed by a three piece band containing none-other then the extraordinary Yasmine Smith (ex-Lost Kids), Ilya Malinsky (well known rock-critic) and Nick Pahl who all come from diverse backgrounds. A Place Where We Could Go is filled with teenage fantasies, childish lyrics, and moody pop. He is America's answer to Jens Lekman, and tracks such as 'Hold Me In Your Arms Tonight', 'The Living Dolls', and 'Oh, Bright Young Things' are perfect examples. This album is for the lonely, the together and everything in-between. It's a trip down nostalgic lane and an album of unprecedented instrumentation. Most definitely one to hold on to.
Mew is probably one of the most interesting bands I have come across, and to be honest if it weren't for Jacq (a previous Off The Record contributor, and a Mew fanatic) I might not have even come to know the band at all. Their a band focussed deeply in the music they create, and aren't happy unless it's 100% up to their standards. Their prog-rock at it's finest and most experimental with instrumentation that sends readers into a sense of loss. With all the love and worship for their music aside, it is with great pleasure I post one of my favorite '5 Songs with...'. Jonas Bjerre, lead singer of the band, was very kind enough to take some time out from the band's heavily induced studio recording time to talk a bit about what's happening at the moment in the Mew camp and of course, put together this 5 song playlist for everyone. There's not a lot more I can say, so without more writing space wasted, let's get on with it.
Scott Walker It's Raining Today I really admire him for taking what was essentially popular music to a much darker place. This song is a beautiful one in itself - but what really makes it interesting are the discordant strings in the right speaker (or is it the left one?). And of course, his voice is mesmerizing.
Stina Nordenstam Little Star This is a perfect pop song if pop music was actually allowed to be this perfect. Her voice is so haunting and unique and her lyrics conjure up nightmares and difficult situations. That whole album is tremendous. It's hard to pick just one song. Somehow the Scandinavian moody jazz tone in the production of this album works wonders. Any other artist and I probably would not like it. She also made albums with much wilder, more raw production, but this is my fave.
Pixies No.13 Baby Who can choose one Pixies song? It's impossible. What a band they were, their blend of incredible pop tunes mixed with that strange aggression and surreal, violent (and often funny) lyrics which all unite into what only they can do. I chose this track because there is a magic moment in which a Mexican-sounding fairly aggressive song about a girl with a tattooed tit suddenly and unexpectedly changes into a hauntingly beautiful and sad guitar theme, the kind you want to go on forever.
The Swirlies San Cristobal de las Casas They are one of our biggest influences. This rather progressive and noisy, yet strangely melodic song is one of the best tracks off their second album.
Could this video, collaboration, the idea in general be possibly the coolest thing to happen this year? I think so. When you think about it, Empire Of The Sun made up of Luke Steele (The Sleepy Jackson fame, and idol of mine) and Nick Littlemore (Pnau fame, well known Australian producer) is possible the best match-up. Just everything about it works, and with that all in mind, it makes their debut album 'Walking On A dream' such a huge anticipation. The video for the single of the same name has been floating around for a little while now, and there has not been one negative review yet. This is all positive, and what could make it sweeter? A totally awesome album artwork that's what (which can be found here). Enjoy, lather it up, don't feel guilty about loving this more then you should. I don't.
Also, how many blogs can say they have been mentioned on Gorilla Vs Bear? You can now add Off The Record to that least for it seems I got Chris pretty excited about the artwork as well. You can read that post here.
I remember two years back when listening to Tilly And The Wall was something so innocent and nostalgic. It's amazing what two years can do to a band, and their music, it's not so clean and fun now; this band is serious. With their third album (O), they have so much more attitude and angst it's really hard to believe your actually listening to them. There's still the sing-a-longs, the fun loving, and dance-crazed toe-taps but there's just so much more layers now. It's phenomenal to listen too. They've transformed their energy of declarative exuberance in another direction. I mean come on! There's saxophones now? And an actual drum-kit (only in a few songs)? And this whole Americana-Western feel? There's even swear words!? What's going on here? Okay, this really does need to be listened too to fully understand. Tilly And The Wall's hard working lifestyle has completely paid off for them, it's a given. I'm just gobsmacked at how much this group has changed. I need to sit down, this is too much.
Scary Mansion is a recent discover I made by accident. You know when your checking out music on Myspace (the cool and hip way) and you just find bands through bands that just extend into other bands? Well, that's how it happened. Don't ask me the direct path I took to find Leah Hayes solo project but it's turned out to be one of those small miracles. Hayes is also a novelist, so it's with any wonder why her music is so complex and each song told to such a great detail which makes her debut album, Every Joke Is Half The Truth, a new and in-focus listen. It's intriguing, it draws you in from the very beginning, and above all it's just flat out weird and gloomy. It's not depressing though, which just adds more confusement, but go with me on this. Hayes fits nicely into the anti-folk genre, that as of late seems to be making quite the comeback. If your a fan of Cat Power, or even My Brightest Diamond, and don't mind a bit of story-telling you really should go past this girl.
For those of you who are completely unaware of who Songs are, and what they are all about; firstly I say for shame and secondly I say it's never too late. With just an EP under their name, and split EP on the horizon with Love Of Diagrams, this Sydney four-piece are making waves and huge impressions. Their a band that knows what they are really doing and doing it incredibly well, and it shows so much in their recordings. 'Keeping It Clean' is the lead single off the self-titled EP (which was released through Pop Frenzy a few months back), and it is exactly that. It's nothing to bewildering but it has just as much of an effect as something out of this world. For some reason I'm getting vibes of mellow Sonic Youth and Go-Betweens. Each to their own I guess.
I don't think it's hard to figure out that Off The Record is in-fact named after the My Morning Jacket song of the same title, which featured on the group's stunning 2005 release Z. So in saying that we here all have a little soft-spot for the band, whether we be huge fans or not. Today marks some exciting news, as it's finally been announced (after being rumoured for so many months) that the boys will be heading down to Australia in January to take part in the Big Day Out Festival. With that though, comes even more exciting news that they will also be supporting Neil Young on his sideshows (who has just been announced to headline BDO as well). I couldn't be more happier with this. Both artists are such an obvious pairing, and with a new album, Evil Urges, under MMJ's belt that just throws you around with emotion teasers, flamboyant jams and a signature sound fans have come to love, there's no doubting MMJ are going to be some crowd favorites this coming Summer. Start counting down the days now, this is definitely going to be something special.
High Places come across as a fragile duo - very innocent looking - that have a low-key energy similar to His Name Is Alive and YACHT but consist of this experimentation within in their music that would make even David Londstreth (Dirty Projectors fame) extremely jealous. One of my favorite labels, Mistletone Records, has quickly snapped this band up and are just about to release an album of recordings done early this year entitled (plainly, but effectively) 03/07-09/07. This album shows High Places at their finest, and probably their most experimental. It couldn't be a better warm-up release for their debut album which will arrive hopefully in the coming months. It sounds like something Noah Lennox could conjure up if he had the helping hand of soothing female vocalist. Their's sing-a-longs, gadgets of all sorts and a musical tone to love. High Places could very be one of my discoveries of the year.
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