Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Album review - Melodie Française

Melodie Française (2013)               1/2 

We may seem far from a world of heightened suffering and melodramatic love affairs but the Australian reworking of French classics on Melodie Française could be the perfect soundtrack to a wine-heavy dinner party. Francophiles will love it – there is more value upon recognising the originals – but the album speaks to any music lover.

Oh Mercy’s Alexander Gow and Gossling open the album – the two seem to have spearheaded the project together – with ‘La Minute de Silence’. Between Gow’s deep drawl and Gossling’s high harmony it works well and sets the romantic (yet heartbroken) mood for the rest of the soundtrack.

There is plenty of Françoise Hardy on there – from Kate Miller-Heidke’s sensitive fresh interpretation of melancholy ballad “Il n’y a pas d’amour heureux” to Jinja Safari’s more upbeat take of “Le Temps de L’Amour”.

While Miller-Heidke’s cover brings voice to the fore with overlay, Jinja Safari include tribal percussion and sitar for an oriental twist (as well as female vocalist from Sydney Okenyo with an impressive accent). As you can already tell - in true French style - “l’amour” is a grand theme.

Standout track is “Bonnie & Clyde”, brought to us by Deep Sea Arcade, which is a little more playful than other tracks on the album. Where there were Bardot’s wispy vocals, this cover has a surging chorus with a dark and slightly psychedelic twist. It has a great energy and it’s clear why it was chosen as the first single.

Still in high energy, Dappled Cities generate an echoey upbeat sound for “Sexy Boy”, The Jezabelsbuild a strong layered background to “Morgane de toi” and Husky explore dynamics in a smooth groove for “Le Berger”.

“Bang Bang”, covered by Lisa Mitchell, was an interesting choice for the album, especially as English-speaking audiences are mainly familiar with the vocals of Cher and Nancy Sinatra.

In total control, Thelma Plum covers (not an easy act to follow) “the sparrow” – Edith Piaf- in what has almost become an anthem “La Vie En Rose”. It is slightly slower than the original and the minimalist arrangement showcases Plum’s voice.

In some parts more than others, it seems as if everyone has taken to whispering the lyrics in an attempt to channel the seductive French singers. Nevertheless there’s a great variety of tunes which showcase the work and musical depth of young Australia musicians.

Published on theAUreview.

Monday, 26 August 2013

Interview with Tim Nelson of Cub Sport

Photo: itsmykindofscene
Editor's Note: The following interview took place last week, before Brisbane's Cub Scouts announced they were changing their name to Cub Sport in response to legal proceedings from Scouts Australia. It's a pity to see this happen - but like The Preatures, PVT and DZ Deathrays before them, a slight name change might actually be a strong omen for their future... in any case, read on to learn more about Paradise and everything else going on for the busy Brisbane band...


For most of us, impressing workmates means embellishing tales of the weekend. For Tim Nelson, it’s a simple matter of switching on the radio. "When I’m at work and I’m in a lab making retainers, I listen to triple j. I’ve been hearing “Paradise” come on lots so that’s exciting. It makes my day better."

Orthodontic work aside, Nelson has been writing songs since he was in high school. His Brisbane-based band Cub Scouts has recently attracted chart attention with their new EP “Paradise”. From buddying up with fellow acts at Splendour In The Grass last month and touring Europe before that, they have been keeping themselves busy.

Although it seems that he can’t please everyone. In a cab back from Splendour, when his friend mentioned his slot at the festival, the driver mistook him for another Australian act.
“When we got up to the house he asked if we could all get a photo together even though he had no idea who we were. He said, “My daughter might know who you are”. I was like “okay”. He seemed a bit disappointed that I was from Cub Scouts and not Flume.”

Funnily enough, the group have previously performed DJ sets. But now Nelson plans the tracklist and transitions which weren’t clear at the start. "In the first half of this year we got asked to do so many DJ sets. Until we were doing them none of us really knew what to do. I’ve kind of learnt now from doing and they’ve always been pretty terrible I think."

His forte still lies in song-writing and creating his own style of energetic indie pop. When it came to putting together their latest EP, some of the tracks came from earlier work. “It wasn’t like I wrote all of the songs around the same time. Some of them were written years ago and Paradise was the most recently written one.”

In fact, Nelson worked that one out the night before the band had a recording session booked in Melbourne. “I wrote it while I was just driving in my car and I just did a voice memo of the melody and the lyrics and I kind of knew how I wanted everything else to sound. When I got home I played it on piano and just figured it out start to finish.”

All of which might stem from his musical background –playing piano since age 6 and singing from 14 [“I was still a boy soprano so that was interesting”].

When Nelson finished school, he searched for musicians to help him out with a live show and from then on it’s pretty much been a coherent group. “We started playing together just as “Tim Nelson” and when we actually recorded some good songs that we were proud of –or songs that were better than what we had been doing before - we decided to create Cub Scouts, so that’s how it all started.”

As a follow up to the EP we can soon look forward to a music video for opening single “Paradise”. Looking at their past work - expect it to be colourful, quirky and featuring all band members. This one is a collation of footage that the group took in Spain earlier this year as well as from the studio.

“I’m happy with how it’s come together, so hopefully people will like it.”

While Australian crowds jump up and down during their shows, overseas it was a different situation. “I think rather than people getting into it as much, I saw people watching and listening a bit more. But I think that was kind of cool that we could see people engaging with it without having heard it before.”

“We haven’t actually released anything in the UK so far. The vibe overall was pretty different but I guess our reasons for playing the shows over there were different from the reasons we play in Australia. But it was awesome.”

And although they appreciate their fans, Nelson says that the nickname “Babe Scouts” is taking it a bit too far. “Cubbies is what we call ourselves – in our group text threads it’s “hey cubbies”. “Babe Scouts” I still feel weird about. I would never go calling us “Babe Scouts” myself.”

Photo: OpenAirCinema

Following their overseas summer tour, Cub Scouts had an afternoon set on the first day of Splendour In The Grass. “I’ve been to a couple of Splendours and it’s just such a good festival. To play at it was just incredible. The backstage area was pretty amazing and we got to meet lots of cool people from bands that we love.” [Including James Blake]

What caught some people by surprise at the festival was their performance of a Destiny’s Child medley. Cub Scouts have been doing covers since their support of Ball Park music last year and have decided to keep them on the setlist.

“I think I just started playing it on piano and singing it as a joke but by the end of the tour we had “Jumpin’ Jumpin’” in our set. Then in our next tour we started turning it into a medley and then we’ve kept it going and it’s been growing and changing.”

And the medley is due to change again for their upcoming shows on the Jinja Safari tour. “I’ve really liked them and their music since they won the unearthed competition to play at Splendour and they were awesome at that. I’m excited for the tour.”

Nelson’s favourite releases at the moment are Big Scary’s Not Art and Snakadaktal’s Sleep In The Water. “I think they’re both incredibly beautiful albums and they’ve been cleverly put together and I can just listen to them over and over. They’re both great.”

Apart from that we can look forward to a song out later this year which Nelson co-wrote with Sydney hip-hop artist Chance Waters. “I think it’s sounding pretty cool. I’m excited for people to hear it.”

In the meantime, we can look out for more pet-related posts on their facebook page. “I can’t choose between cats and dogs. I’ve got one cat and three dogs. But I think I always meet cute cats and dogs everywhere that I go so I’m just lucky. I do love animals a lot so that’s probably why they dominate our social media.”

Published on theAUreview.

Saturday, 24 August 2013

Giraffage at Oxford Art Factory

Photo: Antigone Anagnostellis

Giraffage a.k.a. Charlie Yin took to the stage, still and unassuming, until he began playing and grooving along to his own music. He is no macbook act – working the board in real time and constructing his own soundscape.

Donned in black t-shirt and gold chain, he suggests an illusion of simplicity, while dipping into complex beats and hip-hop drops. At first the mood was relatively chill, with starry-eyed graphics and a crowd swaying along to his hypnotic eccentric music.

The real test is whether bedroom/laptop productions translate into a live setting. As it was a Saturday night, it seemed that Giraffage altered his set to suit the occasion. While he opened with his signature dreamy sound and musical quirks, it soon enveloped into a rich dance environment which had the whole room moving. Even Charlie was wiping his face with a towel in between sets.

The panelled visuals responded to his music, turning red at deep bass and featuring hand-drawn animation among the dynamic music. The audience were happy to hear original Giraffage tracks, including "Feels" and "Close 2 Me", among his remixes (90s club hit "Better Off Alone" was a surprise favourite) but when he dropped Flume’s ‘Slassherr’ remix towards the end of his set that really had the crowd going.

Oxford Art Factory was packed – no small feat, considering that this is the first time Giraffage has visited Australia, previously only having interacted with fans online. It just goes to show that giving away music for free isn’t a last resort in a changing industry but rather extending a hand to growing crowds, who inevitably end up following the tunes.

Published on theAUreview.

Monday, 12 August 2013

Wax Witches at the World Bar

Photo: Antigone Anagnostellis

Wax Witches is the solo project of Alex Wall, one half of garage poppers Bleeding Knees Club. It’s got a similar sound to BKC but with even grittier guitar work and bratty lyrics. Wax Witches has an online stream of weird and wacky mash-ups linked to pop culture and 90s high life but in the live context it’s pared down to the essentials.

Decked out in his clothing label 100 PERCENT ZERO and self-styled converse, Alex, and his friend standing in on drums, put on a short but energetic live set. On a Friday night the World Bar does usually transform from dance floor into live music venue, which means that the low stage puts the crowd right up near the act.

Shouting “one, two, three, four” to bring in each track it definitely had the vibe of a garage gig. While it wasn’t a sing-a-long affair, some songs had more response than others. “I Hate Matilda” with it’s punkish “nah nah nah’s” was a favourite alongside upbeat “Friend Zone”.

Alex didn’t turn down the reverb in between tracks, making it hard to catch what he was saying. Although after his first song: “You can dance and stuff if you want to,” people did take to bopping up and down. Sometimes, he just threw out abstract vocals in between songs in an alienish warped sound. When a girl shouted for his attention we heard “I love you too!”

The crowd was small and the space even smaller which made it all the more light-humoured and intimate. The show was high energy but not a standout event. You can tell he’s trying to hark back to old punk in style and attitude but at the moment it’s not winning over the masses (or at least those who aren’t familiar with his music). But then again, that’s probably not the point of Wax Witches.

Published on the AU review.

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

MGMT "Your Life Is A Lie"

It’s a far stretch from ‘Kids’ but MGMT are back with new material and it’s looking a lot more cynical. New single ‘Your Life Is A Lie’ sounds remarkably lo-fi but the video alongside it is full of energy, showing that indie psychedelia isn’t just a sleepy niche.

Director Tom Kuntz brings a colourful crowd of eccentric characters to the fore à la Wes Anderson (never mind those soft aesthetics and retro set). Kuntz has previously worked on videos with MGMT and The Avalanches, as well as directing the Old Spice ‘The Man Your Man Could Smell Like’ ad a few years back.

In this clip a wonderful cacophony graces the screen featuring Pinocchio nose, birthday cake, lizard, singing dolphin, hitting weasels and a cross-dresser with a dog on its lap. It’s a marriage of picture and sound that is unpredictable but with its own flow.

While the song isn’t pleasing to everyone (just scroll through some of the video comments), I don’t think MGMT have lost their happy-go-lucky vibe. They might have taken the phrase “more cowbell!” too literally but the song harks back to fuzzy music from The Zombies or Sonic Youth.

Published on adamNOTeve. 

DJ Snake remixes Major Lazer

If you know Major Lazer, you know that they are always keen for a remix. Last year ‘Get Free’ and ‘Original Don’ had their fair share of reworking from international producers – this time booty-shaking anthem ‘Bubble Butt’ is getting the chop and change treatment.

Dj Snake, hailing from the Paris underground, has had his hands on plenty of dance tracks over the Europe summer season. It feels like he’s everywhere at the moment.

The remix picks up tempo from the original with an almost instant trap break before Snake splits it up into choppy beats. It’s not as wonky as his own ‘Bird Machine’ but if you listen closely among the high synths he has added in some sound quirks.

Dj Snake has had his work released on Diplo’s Mad Decent record label – so we’re keeping it all in the family here.

The rapper vocals are brought to the fore but it is all about the heavy bass. In the spirit of French DJ style it is flashy but that’s what happens when you amp up the danceability of a twerk hit.

Published on Purple Sneakers.