Youth Lagoon – The Knower | Track Review

youth lagoonAmid all of the stunts artists are pulling to promote their music in 2015, the man behind Youth Lagoon, Trevor Powers, pulled a real stand-out a couple of weeks ago. A stack of 7-inch copies of his new single, ‘The Knower’, were hidden in records stores on glimmering golden wax to be collected by devoted fans. For free. Sadly none of these records made it to the Southern Hemisphere, but the track was dropped online a few days later.

It opens with no surprises; the gentle tines of a Rhodes and a drum machine ticking under Powers’ androgynous falsetto as he eerily deconstructs misconceptions of the human condition. Classic Youth Lagoon, really, but things quickly take a turn and ‘The Knower’ erupts into a bright, horn-driven jam and grows to an explosive climax. It’s almost danceable.

It’s like Jungle in the midst of an existential crisis. It’s like The Antlers candyflipping. It’s the boldest we’ve ever seen Youth Lagoon, and it’s glorious. Continue reading

Copywrite – A Heart Of Glass

Do you remember when you were a teenager? (I’m aware that some people who are reading this might not be a teenager yet, but bear with me). You felt you could do anything, that the sky was the limit. You had ideas, dreams, wishes. New thoughts and sounds would rush through your mind. The sad reality though is that a lot of people never know how to channel these attitudes into reality. Practically everyone is guilty of it, hell even I am! However, whatever dreams and thoughts Australian band Copywrite had during their teens, they not only realised them, they turned them into living, breathing, ferocious articles of music and released it as an album called A Heart Of Glass. Continue reading

Eves The Behavior – Eves The Behavior E.P.

Lorde has a lot to answer for. Actually, let me rephrase that: because of Lorde, it has become too easy for the internet and the music industry at large to throw labels upon young female songstresses, preferably of an indie-electronica leaning. Could it be that greedy music publishers are desperate to get their hooks into anyone who could repeat the runaway success of Royals? Could it be that Lorde as already inspired a legion of performers in her wake? Or could it be that people are just lazy, and not willing to accept a new individual talent without comparing it to something else? It’s probably a bit of all three. Either way, I bring this up so it can be the first thing you leave at the day when discussing twenty-year-old Hannah Karydas, or, Eves The Behavior; who may be from a similar genre of music and may be of the same gender as Lorde, but that should not overshadow such a brilliant new talent. Continue reading

Track Reviews | Lowtide – Julia/Spring

Native to Melbourne, Australia, the band Lowtide found themselves in the possession of a surprisingly solid debut album in 2014. Sure, it was straight shoegazing stuff that we’ve already seen before, but it did have a naive and youthful charm about it that was to be commended. This new single from finds Lowtide pursuing a continuation of their primary objectives, whilst also taking some time to acknowledge roots and history.

The A-side to this single is Julia, which is actually a cover of a little-known song by the French 1980s band Asylum Party. The original is a forceful and icy slab of New Order-esque post-punk that is worth checking out. Lowtide’s version is also pretty good. The song matches their style appropriately and they give it respectable re-imagining with cathartic slices of endlessly falling sheet metal guitars and bittersweet boy/girl vocal harmonies. It is interesting to see such an obscure song be chosen to cover, and if anything, its choice adds a strange sense of validity and authority to Lowtide. The B-side that is Spring meanwhile is an original composition that is very sweet on the ears with its shimmering sonic palette. While it is undeniably pretty, it does seem a tad juvenile considering that this 4 and a half minute song only has a repeated, one line lyric (“One of these days is not like the other”).

So on the whole, no real huge change. Lowtide is playing it safe on this single, and right now, they really don’t have any reason not to be. Just same lovely guitar tracks to drift away to. Enjoy.

Yanni Markovina

http://lowtidemelbourne.bandcamp.com/album/julia-spring-7

Wilco – Star Wars

Maybe it started with Beyoncé’s late 2013 self-titled record, or maybe it was with the revolutionary ‘pay what you want’ outrage of Radiohead’s In Rainbows, either way, surprise release albums have been a very real thing for the last few years. It seems to signify a metaphorical middle finger and “Fuck You!” to the music industry, that also serves to create online hysteria. However, during the last couple of years, the idea of a surprise release has lost some of its surprise. Familiarity I guess. However, when a brand new Wilco album called Star Wars arrived completely out of the blue one day on Wilco’s website as a free download, I think it can be fair to say that socks were blown off all over the world. This is not just because Wilco would easily be one the most consistently terrific bands of the last 20 years, and any new material from them is reason to get excited, but because they have been always very open and direct about release dates. So, on a purely physical level, there is already a notion that Star Wars does not want to be considered comfortable ‘Comfortable’, along with ‘dad-rock’ being the main cries of naysayers of recent Wilco albums (they were probably right about Wilco (The Album) though). Rightfully so on a musical level, Star Wars is anything but comfortable. In fact, it is quite hard to make sense of this album! Continue reading

Tame Impala – Currents

The titles of Tame Impala’s previous two records, Innerspeaker and Lonerism explain a lot about Kevin Parker’s early musical intentions and psychology. Both being made-up words, they symbolise Parker’s manner of synthesising multiple instrumental sounds. As well as this, both titles refer in some way to a state of isolation and introversion, one that is further highlighted by previous song titles (Solitude Is Bliss, Why Won’t They Talk To Me?). With the monumental success that Parker has been subject to in the wake of Lonerism (including a couple of featured spots on the new Mark Ronson album), it is only appropriate that his third album be called Currents, as right now, it must seem like to Parker that he is caught up in movements that he cannot control, both musically and mentally. Understandably so, Currents is an album about change and transition, and it might just rank as Tame Impala’s finest work to date. Continue reading

Ninja Sex Party – Attitude City

Comedy music is very difficult to get right. Even more so than standard pop musicians, comedy musicians have to form a highly original and distinctive identity just in order to get noticed. As well as this, the music itself must be of a very high quality: just because the music will be laughed to, that does not excuse sloppy, laughable music. And last but not least, penning an entire album’s worth of lyrics intended to induce laughter is quite tricky, especially so when it is only too easy for jokes to get old quickly (particularly so in this post-modern society of ours). Despite this, “Danny Sexbang” (Danny Avidan) and “Ninja Brian” (Brian Wecht) of Ninja Sex Party have proved highly successful in their field, and their glitzy synthesis of utterly over-the-top vocals, booming synthesizers, and goofily intense lyrical excursions into the subject of sex, Continue reading

Carly Rae Jepsen – E•MO•TION – Album Review

Call Me Maybe stood for a lot in 2012. Within a year when the top songs on the charts were shockingly serious (Set Fire To The Rain), melodically obtuse (We Are Young), and spitefully bitter (Somebody That I Used To Know), Call Me Maybe was the sugary, bubblegum hit that terrifically stood out, and reminded people of teen innocence and wistful pleasures. Still, Call Me Maybe was (and remains to this day) divisive, as is the case for most earworm songs, and Carly Rae Jepsen’s album in which it was rush released on, Kiss, garnered similar opinion. Call Me Maybe? A fun, catchy one-hit wonder many became inclined to say. But Jepsen didn’t feel content with that. Continue reading

Track Reviews | Oh Geronimo – The Flood & Waves (The Flood Pt. 2)

Usually, when talking about tracks, I will tend to review only one at a time. However, for Oh Geronimo’s new single, it is best to discuss both A and B sides of the single. This is because together, The Flood and Waves (The Flood Pt. 2) perfectly exhibit one holistic musical concept.

It is impossible to talk about this set of songs without making light of its inspiration. This is because the song is so thematically linked to it inception and backstory, that it would foolish not to consider it. Basically, due to heavy rain and snowmelt in the Ontario winter-to-spring transition, singer Ciarán Downes had much of his basement flooded, and as a result, many sentimental items were destroyed by damp and mould. Taken quite tragically, and as a metaphor for the ephemeral nature of life, Oh Geronimo wrote The Flood and Waves (The Flood Pt. 2) based on the event.

Much of this backstory is explicitly told in The Flood (albeit in lyrical fashion), and it is told with plenty of heart. Downes reaches his epiphanic climax with the realisation that “I guess it takes disaster for me to see/everything I should and shouldn’t be”. Musically, The Flood can be likened to a modern, indie pop re-imagining of R.E.M. (with some cheeky banjo snuck in for good measure). It is simple yet effective, and while not absolutely arresting, the music serves to soundtrack the story well.

Now, while The Flood may be the charming retelling of the real life events that occurred, its B side Waves (The Flood Pt. 2) represents the spiritual and symbolic effect the event has had. At not even 3 minutes in length, Waves (The Flood Pt. 2) takes the listener on a gorgeous and thrilling journey with a chiming guitar figure that ushers in an atmosphere for falsetto vocals to soar and glide. All this culminates in a breakout guitar section that features superbly interlocking guitars, in a way which seems to realise an epic majesty.

While maybe not incredibly cutting edge, The Flood and Waves (The Flood Pt. 2) prove how effective songwriting can be when inextricably connected to a inspired concept. These two songs should be applauded for their differing musical and lyrical ways of translating an inspiration into song form, not to mention that they are both quite enjoyable.

Yanni Markovina

yannimarkovina@hotmail.com

The Wailin’ Smithers – The Wailin’ Smithers

You got past the name? You got the joke? Appreciated the pun? Good. Now let’s focus on the music…well, maybe we should go back to that band name again: The Wailin’ Smithers. An obvious play on the beloved Simpsons character Waylon Smithers. The name is actually a perfect fit for the Bloomington, Indiana four-piece, as it immediately calls to mind two key features of the band’s sound: a quirky, naive humour, and ’90s nostalgia. It’s a blend that almost go hand in hand, and one that is so prevalent amongst current bands that it almost loses its lustre. However, The Wailin’ Smithers do prove on their debut to be an act worthy of recognition. Continue reading