Track Reviews | Lou Parker – INTRO//CYBERNETICS

“Cybernetics”, according to the pair of disembodied voices that usher in this track, most probably transmitted from some forgotten 1950s radio broadcast, is defined as the notion that “Image Is All!”, and that everyone has a self image, and one that can be changed. The kind of tone that this sets up is an abstract if not intriguing one, which in a sense perfectly fits the mood of Australian electronic producer Lou Parker’s debut release, INTRO//CYBERNETICS.

Electronica is a difficult genre to pull off memorably. Part of this has to do with the very ethereal and contemplative nature of the genre itself, which rewards patient and attentive listening. As well as this, the sheer volume of electronic music with a desire to be moody and pensive that has been made within the past five years means that it is even easier for the music to all combine together…most usually into one of those “BEST EVER ELECTRONICA SONGS OMG!!!” YouTube compilation videos that have a three-hour running time. And while it wouldn’t necessarily be wrong to state that INTRO//CYBERNETICS is a relatively generic track in regards to electronica, it is also prudent to mention that there is enough polish, enough maturity, and enough conceptualism within the song to prove that it should not so easily be dismissed.

Within the “INTRO” section of this seven minute song, one hears the sound of sharp footsteps on a cold wooden floor, which resurface as memorable percussive accentuations as the track unfolds. Details like this make the song worth one’s time, and convey a subtle intelligence. As more and more sonic layers are added, such as distant piano twinkles and a spectral vocal sample, a smooth tapestry is developed, which only offsets the song’s undercurrent of isolation. With its detached tone, INTRO//CYBERNATICS is unapologetic in that it does not strive to appeal to everyone and every setting. Like its title implies, this is a cold, desolate song of subtle aggression, muted by the weight of sterile electronica.

On first inspection, INTRO//CYBERNAETICS proves to be worthy background music for a troubled disposition, or a very strange and very chill night-time party. After repeated listens however, one can definitely appreciate the simplistic intricacy of the song’s instrumental composition. Aligning itself snugly within the genre of subdued electro and deep house, INTRO//CYBERNETICS is a gracious introduction into the musical vision of Lou Parker, that can only get more intriguing from here on out.

Yanni Markovina

yannimarkovina@hotmail.com

 

Track Reviews | Sammi – The Game

“You always made me feel so small” trembled Sammi on last year’s Small. Backed by subtle acoustic guitar and delicate strings, this was the sound delicate frailty, albeit youthful frailty. Jumpcut to a year later, and now on the sultry single The Game, Sammi, now performing under her full name Sammi Constantine, seductively twists the line “We keep playing this game” over a pulsing electropoptronica beat that isn’t afraid of attempting to compete with those employed by the millionaire pop stars. The subject matter of what Sammi Constantine is singing about has not shifted greatly since last year’s Small, both Small and The Game are tales of questioning and confusion over the matters of the heart. But the difference between the two is far beyond a simple genre switch.

In case it couldn’t be told already, The Game is a strident step into maturity. From the childlike moniker of ‘Sammi’ to the proud reclamation of her own name, to the bold stare she holds on the single cover to The Game as opposed to the fracturing face presented on the cover of the Small EP, one can tell that Sammi Constantine wants her intentions to be known and respected. The song itself is a gem too, featuring rich production and a beat that begs to blasted at festival crowds.

All in all, The Game is a testament to how to make a smooth transition into musical maturity. Don’t sacrifice what is closest to you, just find a new way of expressing it. Oh, and making it enjoyable to listen to is a happy bonus.

http://bit.ly/26sDbqX   –  Free Download of Sammi Constantine’s “The Game”

Yanni Markovina

yannimarkovina@hotmail.com

Track Reviews | Radiohead – Burn The Witch

Leave it to Radiohead to completely and utterly confuse everybody. If you have been following the recent events of all things concerning the band, it started on April 30th when a bunch of mysterious flyers were leaked online. “Sing the song of sixpence that goes Burn The Witch” the flyers read, with the ominous tagline, “We know where you live”. Then, a couple of days later, Radiohead destroyed their entire online presence: Their Facebook page, their website, their twitter…all of it was completely blank. This sent the internet into fervour. What will happen next! Well, two short videos featuring childlike puppets, one of a tweeting bird, the other of a woman tied to a tree and surrounded by masked men with swords showed up. More confusion. And within hours of those videos, seeming to finally give in to the amounting pressure held by fans the world over, the band relented and released a full video to this brand new song. Burn The Witch.

First of all, Radiohead are among the only artists in the world who can ever incite this much mystery and intrigue in the music industry. So kudos to them. Secondly, does Burn The Witch justify a five year wait and this relentless parade of abstract teasers? Well let us see. The instrumentation is immediately this song’s most immediate feature. Definitely a step away from The King of Limbs and Thom Yorke’s electronic noodlings, Burn The Witch is more in step with the orchestral pop of Arcade Fire, with a relentless blast of pizzicato strings being the main driving force of the song. When the strings that stay in the shadows rear their heads and perform majestic legato swashes of sound however, is when the song becomes truly divine.  It is very easy to get mixed emotions from this song, as it leans in and out of being relatively charming to rather cataclysmic, especially at the song’s conclusion. We also now know what that flyer was on about. Those were chorus lyrics, and the lyrics in general, paint an unsettling picture, one of disruption, corruption, and societal paranoia, one where lines like “red crosses on wooden doors” and “cheer at the gallows” elicit highly unnerving emotions.

Ultimately, the song is rather eerie, not only because it sounds unlike much of Radiohead’s discography, but also due to the song’s faint menace that lies beneath a cracking smile, just waiting to lunge forward and wreck havoc. This is a lovely and unexpected step for Radiohead, and in my opinion, it is worth getting hyped about a studio album now that might be just laying around the corner, if this is the kind of music we have to look forward to.

Yanni Markovina

yannimarkovina@hotmail.com

Tom Stephens – Down To Rest

Sometimes,  the only way to tell a realistically depressing story and make it effective is to tell it with a smile…albeit a forced one. Australian songsmith Tom Stephens has already in his short career been the author of a number of fine and delicate songs, but Down To Rest stands out as a definite highlight and indeed a signal for a new direction in his sound. On his debut E.P., 2014’s Embers, Stephens showcased his lyrical skill with fine acoustic webs of gossamer. However, from last year’s What Lies in the Difference single and now Down To Rest, it is clear to see Stephens’ sound blooming in a way that can only be described as warm and genuine.

Down to Rest tells the story of a weathered marriage only maintained through the sense of duty that comes with building a family and keeping up appearances”. This description comes from Stephens himself, and from it, you could be forgiven for thinking that Down To Rest will be a rather maudlin affair. However, sonically, Down To Rest is a slice of intimately glowing vibe rock, with irresistibly tinkling piano fills, subdued but warm guitar fills, a comforting major key chord progression, luscious backing vocals, and Stephens’ own silky vocal twang.

The sunny disposition that the song offers is a tempting yet ultimately disheartening one, for if one concentrates hard enough on the lyrics and the man singing them, one will hear a saddening story of “tattered skin and sunken smiles,” and a chorus that works as a comforting mantra that is returned to in an attempt to find salvation. Ultimately, as Tom Stephens succeeds in making all this come across so effortlessly, the main message to take from Down To Rest is that it is a song for healing. Times are tough, you’re stuck in a rut, but there will always be someone who understands what you are going through, and be willing to offer you some comfort in a time of need.

Find Tom on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/tomstephensofficial/?fref=ts

Yanni Markovina

yannimarkovina@hotmail.com

Track Reviews | SheLoom – America On Fire

You want some Beatlesque pop/rock by a duo of pop geniuses, one from Canada and the other from Italy? Well SheLoom might just be who you need! Filippo Gaetani and Jordon Zadorozny (and Eric Matthews too) share a knowing appreciation and love for the kind of glistening, sparkling album rock you will most undoubtedly find within a Todd Rundgren, XTC or Al Stewart record from the 1970s. This appreciation showcases an unavoidable influence on SheLoom and their single America On Fire, with the shining acoustic guitars, breathy vocals, elegantly pounding pianos, and a wonderful melody, all of which combines to create a pretty strong testament to pop’s more grandiose past. America On Fire is a lovely first taste of SheLoom’s album The Baron Of The Fjord, which is, like America On Fire, a terrific slice of modernistic/retro progressive pop that is designed to go down like a treat. And it does.

The Baron Of The Fjord‘is available now on Bandcamp.

https://sheloom.bandcamp.com/releases

Yanni Markovina

yannimarkovina@hotmail.com

Track Reviews | Animalia – Paradise

Australian born, Ireland raised and Canada based songwriter Animalia signposts her upcoming album (dissonance) with the haunting piano dirge Paradise. Through tastefully echoing atmospherics Animalia sweetly coos an emotionally weighty tale, supposedly influenced by extensive gun violence. With a voice that can be likened to a more restrained Bjork, Animalia is arresting throughout the song, swerving between fragile during the unaccompanied piano intro, and forceful and stalwart in the grandly sweeping synth-wash outro. Running at just under 2:30 minutes, Paradise never gets a chance to overstay its welcome, and can easily be enjoyed on repeat listens, a tough pitch for a song as emotionally weighty and dark as Paradise, but it succeeds very nicely.

dissonance releases in April 2016 through Culvert Music

Yanni Markovina

yannimarkovina@hotmail.com

Track Reviews | Merival – Kicking You Out

Toronto singer/songwriter Merival showcases a lovingly fragile sound laced with a slight twist of bitter realisation on her singer Kicking You Out. Kicking You Out makes the most out of its musical indebtedness to Bright Eyes’ similar acoustic strum Lua, choosing to marry gorgeous melodic vocal lines in entrancing harmony, with a lyrical output that serves as a relative wishlist of grand wants…all which can and hopefully will be achieved after a certain lover is kicked out. It is polite and pretty, and assuredly worth it’s nice 3 minute running time.

Kicking You Out appears on Merival’s debut EP Lovers, out the 29th of January 2016.

Yanni Markovina

yannimarkovina@hotmail.com

Track Reviews | Kanye West – Real Friends

Asides from a few select releases in the past 5 or 6 years, Kanye West seemed to have given up on the idea that of emotional rawness through fragility that found its way onto much of his first three albums, and practically constructed his 808s & Heartbreak. And while he has touched on the idea in recent years, it either comes off far too epic and grand (the brilliant Runaway) or too cheesy and manufactured (the ‘meh’ Only One). What made tracks like Family BusinessRoses, and Flashing Lights so effective and revolutionary was the faultless ability they had to dive into a personal life not usually seen in hip-hop folklore. It was this that was one of the main reasons Kanye West stood so far apart from the pack in the 2000s. And at long last, West seems to have found that emotional pinpoint that lies next to heartbreak and family drama with Real Friends, one of his best songs of the new decade.

Riding a beautifully soulful sample, submerged into a pool of sorrow, West raps with obvious sincerity about personal life in an almost-sequel to Welcome To Heartbreak and Family Business. However, while this time around, things are far less bitter, they are also much less positive, with West bemoaning what a life of success can do: Forgetting people’s birthdays, people blackmailing him, the constant stream of abuse for not releasing an album, it is enough to make you feel sorry for Kanye. That you eventually DO by the end of the song’s poignant outro, is the mark of a fascinating return to form.

“When was the last time I wasn’t in a hurry?” West raps. You know he means it. For all of the teasing and delays  in Kanye West’s 2015, 2016  looks to set things straight. We already have a release date for SWISH (confirmed on Twitter as February 11th), and if the calibre of tracks like Real Friends persists throughout the entire album (and not like the godawful diss-track misfire Facts), we should all be in for a treat.

Yanni Markovina

yannimarkovina@hotmail.com

Track Reviews | Kendrick Lamar – Untitled 2

2015 undoubtedly belonged to Kendrick Lamar, and so far into 2016, he shows no signs of letting go of relevancy. On paper, Untitled 2 does little to land in within the field of conventional hip/hop, let alone commercial rap. Multi-sectional song structure, no chorus, no hook, no bling talk, Untitled 2 proudly and gleefully eschews standard practices and dives head first into the gloriously funky and afro-centric stew that was crystallised so well on To Pimp A Butterfly. Performing the song on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, Lamar is in his moment, commanding audience attention with each line spitting from his lips. All this builds up to the one line Lamar wants you to retain: “You ain’t gotta tell me that I’m the one” – this is repeated with intensifying force and serves to remind everyone what we should already know: Kendrick Lamar is the one, but there are more important things we need to talk about, and more important things to do. Untitled 2 is just serves as further proof that Kendrick Lamar is one of the finest and most exceptional artists of our time. But hey, he already knows that he’s the one, remember?

Yanni Markovina

yannimarkovina@hotmail.com

Track Reviews – Plastic Dolls – V1BE

Do you know something that is surprisingly difficult to create? Feel-good, catchy, and ebullient hip hop. However, upcoming San Diego hip hop duo V1BE do just that on their second single Plastic Dolls, a follow-up to their first, Dream Out Loud, which sounded like a holy mash-up of Kanye, Grizzly Bear, and The Beach Boys. Plastic Dolls takes a more conventional route in regards to hip hop, but by no means does that detract from its brilliance.

There is so much to love about this track. The way the saxophone just glides along the undercurrent, the smooth-as-hell chorus line, the not-to-preachy subtext of shallow beauty and excess. Plastic Dolls is firmly placed in a proud tradition of good time hip hop, especially A Tribe Called Quest, but never seems like a simplistic style adoption. These guys exude the fun they’re having, which makes it all the more fresh. Also, props to one of the funniest lines you’ll come across this year; “We tried to dance to one more song/then the DJ said “Everybody say Ho!”/and everbody left ’cause his computer broke”.

For some quality hip hop to enjoy without a care in the world, look no further than V1BE and Plastic Dolls.

Album Two Brothers out 16th October

Yanni Markovina