Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Cub Sport at Brighton Up Bar

Photo: Antigone Anagnostellis

Cub Sport's music has been described as 'infectiously happy with summer pop vibes'. Their live show does just the same, carrying off a smooth-sailing performance that is surprisingly low-key. Not as in low energy (each band member pays ferocious attention to their instruments) but the night took a friendly register, only encouraged by the cosy venue - Brighton Up Bar in Sydney.

Tim Nelson, lead and songwriter of the band, explained each song with a mysterious anecdote: "This one’s about a girl who wrote off my car"/"This song’s about when my friends and I broke into a pool", but judging by the level of premature audience reactions, most were already fans familiar with the back stories.

As part of their Paradise EP launch, Cub Sport mainly focused on their new tunes but we also heard some old favourites. "Scream" quietened the crowd with the beautiful boy-girl harmonies (Nelson singing with bassist Zoe Davis) and bittersweet words of lost love and then suddenly the mood flipped and they plunged into their indie pop single "Pool", then people started dancing.

But no track was without someone singing along, including one of their earlier Unearthed tracks "Told You So" and the signature Cub Sport Destiny’s Child/Beyonce medley – just as effective in a small room as at a festival. It was a fairly quick set, with no gaps in between songs. Then after closing with "Evie" ("This one’s about my dog"), Nelson extended the Brisbane cheeriness with an open invitation to hang out at the bar after the show.

Published on theAUreview

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

World's End Press + Movement at GoodGod Small Club

Electronic music isn’t what it used to be – where there once were clear lines between house, dance and rock, Australian music has openly taken on all technology so that there is a fusion of the best parts of each genre. Melbourne’s World’s End Press and Sydney trio Movement take on big sound for a live setup and no, they’re not just standing in front of a laptop.

Movement had the support slot; they don’t chat much but keep to a very slick, continuous set. As the World’s End Press frontman John Parkinson said, singer Lewis Wade is very humble about his vocal talents, which are very real in a live context. Even looking at his facial expressions, the approach is soulful and honest. Besides the memorable vocals, Movement have solid production work, especially apparent with some of their deeper house beats and serious stage presence. But then when the group played "Illusions", Lewis broke the intensity, 'I like people to dance to this one'. The group finished with their latest single "Us" - an R&B-infused groove which was very well received by the very smoky, very hot room 'full of sexy people'.

As soon as World’s End Press took to the stage, everyone watching was up and dancing to the instrumental jam that they kicked off their set with. Having seen W.E.P. before, it tends to be the case that they joyfully surprise the crowd with an upbeat set of retro 80s feel (synth pads) combined with live rock instruments. I heard people in the crowd commenting: 'full of soul' and 'great original music'. Unfortunately, part of their equipment broke down (after a really strong performance of "To Send Our Love" – their most recognised single) and keyboardist Rhys had to compromise on some of his live part. Nevertheless, the band was really good about it, keeping us updated and apologising while there were a few false starts. 'We’re going to kept his good vibe going!’ Parkinson said, before kick starting back into their danceable set.

Despite the technical issues, it was a great night to showcase the original, creative Australian talent we’ve been exposed to this year and especially from two groups who don’t compromise on the live show. 

Published on theAUreview. 

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Hudson Mohawke releases "HudMo 100"

Having now hit the big 100,000 (likes on Facebook), Hudson Mohawke has put up an edit of some of his most popular tracks as a quick “thank you” to his fans.

‘HudMo 100′ is a slight step back in time to the R&B/pop classics we heard on repeat a few years ago – includingChris Brown and Ciara – but with calm mood among the complexity. You might liken it to sporadic releases and re-works from Australia’s Ta-ku, and this collection flows real well.

Hudson Mohawke is already good at the big-room beats. But this release features his intricate reworking with fractured synths and spaced out sounds in the back lifting the originals away from their rooted hip-hop grounding.

In ‘Kiss Kiss’, the tempo drops and Hudson adds in his own backstory with melodic swirling synths and rolling snare.  Then it’s upbeat and expressive for ‘Midas Girl’, with slick underlying percussion almost pushing vocals from the fore of the jivey original.

Best part is, it’s up for FREE DOWNLOAD.

1. ‘Who Run It’ (Hudson Mohawke Edit) – Three Six Mafia x Tycho
2. ‘Kiss Kiss’ (Hudson Mohawke Edit) – Mammal x Chris Brown
3. ‘Midas Girl’ (Hudson Mohawke Edit) – Hell Interface x Usher x Midnight Star
4. ‘Go Longer’ (Hudson Mohawke Edit) – RJD2 x Ciara

Published on Purple Sneakers.

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Album review - "Matangi" by M.I.A.

It’s kind of been the thing lately for female artists to take on an I Am Sasha Fierce attitude towards their work. Lorde is outspoken, Miley rouses media outrage, Iggy Azalea swears like there’s no tomorrow and fellow rapper Azaelia Banks…well we can’t say that she hasn’t enjoyed getting her diva on.

Similarly, M.I.A. is back to confront the haters on Matangi. When she raps, “systems shouldn’t operate by sticking me in a cage” she really means it – having created an expressive album with so many references that is difficult to describe.

The album opens with one big Om, before plunging straight into heavy bass, profiling the spirit of the album: Matangi as the Hindu goddess of speech, music, knowledge and the arts.

Maya’s voice becomes a rhythmic instrument where she almost whispers on “Karmageddon” and then later chops up her own vocals on tracks such as “Bring the Noize.”

The album picks up new influences, with trap elements on second track “Matangi” and Major Lazer-style dancehall beats on “Double Bubble Trouble.” Matangi also interweaves distorted sitar and animal roars into R&B song craft and reggae percussion.

All of which means that M.I.A. pull diverse references from the past two years: “Eat, pray, love/ Spend time in the Ashram / or I’ll drone you /Kony 2012.” Ultimately, Matangi is not only futuristic in its sound but also in her signature messenger-style lyricism.

And just when you think it’s deepening into the calm and spiritual, M.I.A. breaks down the sound again bhangra-style (Punjab Indian).

There are two tracks where she collaborated with The Weeknd – “Exodus” and “Sexodus” – which are less frenetic tracks but with Kanye-style introspection: “My blood type is no negative/But I’m too positive that I’m too deep.”

“YALA” is one of my favourites off the album (you only live always), as a response to YOLO – loud and full of attitude. But “Bad Girls” is still the strongest song off the album as the middle-finger anthem following her 2012 halftime stunt.

Published on adamNOTeve.

Monday, 4 November 2013

Album review - "Make Light" by DEJA

And now for something completely different. From the depths of a self-made studio in Melbourne, DEJA put a dark twist on electronica. At least some of their tracks belong in a dirty Berlin nightclub.

Their debut EP Make Light is ironically made for the night. Think intense layering, alluring vocals and orchestral dimensions, all of which don’t make for background listening.

If you’re into Australian eclectics like Willow Beats or Empire of The Sun, and the Scandinavian sounds of The Knife and Rokysopp, then you will dig this one.

The duo has even given themselves some hard-hitting monikers to match: “haxx” (Jack Arentz) and “Rromarin” (Claire Rayner).

Make Light opens with bird noises, dark synth and glitchy sounds on prelude ‘Enter.’ As something listeners of the last century would have envisaged when they heard the year “2013.”

Suddenly, the chaos becomes calm and distils into a steady dance track for ‘Still Falling.’

The beat picks up again for ‘The Outside’ and we’re veering towards Britney Spears around Toxic time (obviously there’s a difference with progressive electro but they share strong structure). Never mind those husky vocals (brought to you by Rromarin) – this sounds like something off The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo soundtrack.

‘Luststruck’ is the most powerful track on the album, harnessing the extremes and developing into something quite complex.

I would say it’s one of those albums that you have to listen to as a whole but the singles work just as well on their own.

Published on AdamNOTEve.

Basecamp 'Emmanuel’ (Hayden James Remix)

Hayden James has delivered a crisp rendition of Basecamp track ‘Emmanuel’ with a good dose of synth and intricate percussion.

Basecamp is three producers from Nashville (Aaron Miller, Aaron C. Harmon and Jordan Reyes). Miller takes on the vocal duties and they form the core of the original – super soulful reminding me of James Blake, or even Lewis of Sydney’s Movement.

Hayden James partially distorts the vocals but does not lose their lush quality. The remix also livens up the original, picking up the pace halfway through. Despite the chilled mood, if you listen closely there’s actually a lot going on.

For the sake of even more name dropping, fans of Banks and Jai Paul will appreciate the melancholy tinge and heavy bass undertones. And be sure to listen to it in its entirety right up to that fade filtering out at the end.

Published on Purple Sneakers.

AlunaGeorge ‘Best Be Believing’ (Ta-Ku Remix)

Possibly two of the most hyped electronic artists of 2013, the sounds of AlunaGeorge and producer Ta-ku meet in this remix and it’s not quite what we expected. This is one of Ta-ku’s sharper tracks and would go down well live, now that he’s sped up the original and added in tricky percussion.

Ta-ku is the master of careful restructuring – here, the lyrics are out and in come choppy hip-hop beats. Sound effects are sprinkled throughout and the track surges into a frenetic jumping chorus. Aluna’s unique vocals, which we have grown to love, become a part of the instrumentals. While there is a lot happening around them, Ta-ku has firm control over the changing dynamics.

Often times the word “remix” doesn’t do justice to such tracks, as there is a lot of work added in. Best to play this one through quality listening equipment.

Ta-ku’s remix of ‘Best Be Believing’ is part of the official AlunaGeorge remix package out November 4th.

Published on Purple Sneakers.