Saturday, 20 September 2014

Sportsmen "Zelda"

While it seems to be all about the electronic producers in 2014, we still get a little nostalgic about the classic three-piece rock band. Melbourne’s Sportsmen have been around since the start of last year and have captured that indie sound that we love and remember from cosy local gigs.

That being said, their debut track Zelda is not quite a sing-a-long. The lyrics are a little hard to hear as they meld into the twangy electric guitar and energetic drumming. If you’re into other Australian bands like Millons or Velociraptor, then chances are that you’ll dig this sound.

Zelda is likeable and light-hearted, and it will be interesting to see if Sportsmen come out with some slower ballads. It finishes with an old-school build-up at the end which hints at a great live show to come.

Published on AdamNOTEve.

Yelle "Complètement Fou"

Yelle have already familiarised their listeners with the weird, wild and comical. And now they have taken their characteristic je ne sais quoi to the next level with a track that is outright carefree.

The title translates to “completely crazy” and the lyrics celebrate their wild energy. Yelle are known for producing upbeat tracks with a solid underbeat – and when we don’t pay attention to the lyrics it seems fun, but their songs stands out in a fairly conservative French pop scene.

In a yeezy sort of way they sing, “Go away if you want, those who like me follow me,” but without the aggression. This track just makes you want to dance. And how can you deny alluring French female vocals over said dance track.

Published on AdamNOTEve

Album Review - "Strangers" by RAC

Producer André Allen Anjos aka RAC is mainly known for his remixes but after over three years work comes Strangers, an album of electronic pop and experimental creations. RAC has gone back to its roots as Remix Artists Collective and Anjos has recruited an impressive collection of collaborators, which gives the album disparate sounds, almost like a mixtape. Fans of Hot Chip, Last Dinosaurs or even the Raveonettes will appreciate the high-energy music, combination of electronic and instrumental production and sing-a-long pop choruses – but Strangers isn’t limited in its sound.

It kicks off with cheerful single Let It Go, a joint creation with Bloc Party’s Kele which sets up the cheeky, youthful mood of the album.  Other big names include Tegan & Sara, Tokyo Police Club and Yacht. Alex Elbert of Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros even lends his unique vocals to Tear You Down, an 80sish anthem with plenty of synth and Springsteen-style lyrics of reckless youth on the run. It’s not quite a universal listen but rather a string of tracks that stand on their own.

But it’s not all popping bubblegum – Strangers expresses its namesake and also delves into darker themes and lonelier tunes. A standout is We Belong with Kate Herzig – her fragile voice lends to looped vocals and echoes, and emotional strings. Tourist is all about isolation and Repeating Motion explores growing pains.  Anjos also shows off his production skills in Cells, a purely instrumental track with experimental spacey sounds and a breathing space in the album.

It is dance-friendly and calm, cheerful and pensive, and all at once memorable.

 Published on AdamNOTEve.

Album Review - "Built On Glass" by Chet Faker

It’s a challenge to review an artist who openly shuns music critique. Chet Faker has often commented that music is a personal experience and while it’s worthwhile to compare opinions, it remains supremely subjective. Built on Glass is a work of complexity in itself and you can tell from the first listen that he’s invested much of himself in it (two years in the making, missed deadlines and scrapped tracks.) We make all the fun of Drake for letting out his sensitive side but Chet really masters the storytelling role.

It’s safe to say that Chet Faker captured our tender side with “I’m Into You.” A few years down the track, his next album follows with a slightly bitterer take on love. Instead of innocent questions [“Is that your hand resting on my knee?”] Built On Glass explores deeper thoughts [““How does one remove the thoughts that dig a deeper hole?”] The great thing is that while I’m sure his life experiences influenced the spirit of the album, most of us can admit to having these kinds of meditations.

Previously released singles “Talk is Cheap” and “Melt” stand their own ground, showcase Chet’s careful attention to detail and inherent groove that makes his music so attractive. But then they also slot in well with the other songs on the album, which meld into each other and complement the rich soul sound.

My favourite track is “Blush,” a track at just under five minutes, but one that feels like an eight-minute masterpiece. The music seems to move by itself and its an understated piece of work – even just adding hand clicks at the end of a track means that the song doesn’t have to end abruptly as an ipod skip. He even adds in short interlude tracks (including one track named “/”) to even out the mood, somewhere between heartbreak and freedom.

Among the tricky rhythms and hypnotic layering which blend in so smoothly, are dark lyrics: “peace can be evasive”. As the album progresses it seems to grow wiser but then again it’s also just a great listen for the music itself. Built on Glass draws attention to Chet’s vocals, which range from the low, low spoken voice almost whispering in your ear (“Melt”) to his raw, raspy cooing (“To Me.”) And when you add in the oozing saxophone and lush backing vocals, you suddenly get the urge to hug the person closest to you.

And if Built on Glass doesn’t blow you away – fair enough. A new album is a different experience for everyone. But as corny as it sounds, there’s something exciting about listening to new music which pushes boundaries and gets expressive. In his last track, ‘Dead Body’ Chet sings, “nobody grows for free” – and if you’re going to take anything away from this album, it’s that message.

Published on AdamNOTEve.

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Album Review - "Mu" by Mu

"Mu" - Mu

Mu manage to create a better articulated version of the kind of thoughts which pass through your head while cloud-watching. Or even lying in bed at night mulling things over. Reading their EP description, “our adventures in the tragedies of youth,” It’s hard not to cringe and imagine a whining collection of songs on heartbreak and self-esteem. However, Mu are something quite different altogether.

This is their self-titled debut EP, as a little-known duo out of Vancouver, Canada and while their music is categorised as electro pop, it is also unpredictable and experimental. Mu combine minimal melodies with Indian percussion, chimes and electronic work and then put the spotlight on their free-flowing vocal harmonies.

It does remain to be an exploration of the struggles of youth: “I want to live my past like this won’t go too fast by.” Although it feels more like you’re in the middle of a good time and you don’t want it to end, rather than weighing us down in sombre music.

For some of the EP it is almost spoken word, with poetic lyrics rolling into each other. But then it expands into their lovely vocal interludes. There is a combination of clever lyrics “I can be as dark as the back of the moon” with a subtle sensitivity that makes each track stick in your mind. 

Published on AdamNOTEve. 

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Rat & Co 'Vocal Insanity'

When live and electronic sensibility collide, a magical sound can emerge. ‘Vocal Insanity’, while giving off the impression of a crazed tense track, actually refers to something quite serene and enchanting.

We’ve been following Rat & Co for a while now and while it did start out as a one-man bedroom producer project (Joshua Delaney), it has now expanded into a full four-piece band.

‘Vocal Insanity’ starts off quiet and eerie, with distorted vocals from Delaney and spacey synths. Then syncopated percussion comes in among the moody sounds. It offers a timelessness not unlike a Four Tet or Boards of Canada track.

Rat & Co keep it downtempo throughout and with very sparse lyrics, so that the whole thing evolves into a trance – especially with that vocal loop on top of jangling percussion and a thick electronic section. They do also offer time to breathe, with a break of a simple guitar melody, before it is then added to the ever-growing layers.

While the track is not anchored in clear lyrics or structure, it is no background listening music. And it will be interesting to see how the track translates into a life show.

‘Vocal Insanity’ is the first track off Rat & Co‘s upcoming second album Binary, due for release in May. Their album launch will be at the Shebeen Ballroom in Melbourne on April 10.

Published on Purple Sneakers

Friday, 28 March 2014

Album review - "Supermodel" by Foster The People


(2012)               1/2

To be honest, I did judge a book by its cover when it came to listening to Foster the People’s sophomore album. While I loved their catchy hooks and sing-a-long creations in Torches, what led me to pay particular attention to this release was the psychedelic touch on the album art, injected with colour, and the hint of something more to come in the music.

While Supermodel doesn’t completely satisfy a psych rock dream, it is definitely a step away from their catchy indie pop of 2011. The album kicks off in full energy with anthemic group vocals and bustling percussion, which seems like the kind of energy which will translate well live.

While opener “Are You What You Want To Be” is an upbeat, lively tune, the following track “Ask Yourself” depends the mood slightly, with heavier and more personal subject material. Of course, Foster The People continue to combine the wordy lyrics with animated music. A sense of anxiety is embedded into atmospheric music but is still perceptible.

Overall, the album works better as separate tracks rather than a complete listen. The songs don’t flow completely into each other but perhaps that’s the way it’s meant to be, jolting the listener from a dark electronic-driven track (“A Beginner’s Guide To Destroying The Moon”) to a slower, almost acoustic meditation (“Goats on Trees”).

And if you listen closely there is bitterness underlying the melodies: “Bitten by an enemy that’s pretended to be my friend.” Other critics have commented on the less-than-subtle lyrics but there is a sense of fragility and openness to this album which makes it endearing. On the other hand, “Pseudologica Fantastica” leans toward a Tame Impala style instrumental section of guitar licks and heavy drumming, but not quite to that depth.

The strongest track remains to be single “Best Friend,” which is led by a strong bass line and the kind of hook that led people to FTP in the first place. This album sees a greater use of electronic effects than in their previous music but essentially they still create rock songs – sort of like a combination of free expression and pop structures that work for MGMT.

The influences of Mark Foster’s three-month escape to India and the Middle East (following the success of “Pumped Up Kicks”) influence the spirit of the album and he has even included weird and wonderful instruments such as the screaming buddha prayer machine.

While it does sound more grown up than their first record, it is not a sound altogether unrecognisable.Supermodel is a listenable album with nothing too obtrusive. It’s just a shame that it doesn’t end as strongly as it starts but there plenty of tracks in there that will become sing-a-long youth anthems in their own right.

Published on theAUreview

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Teebs ft. Jonti 'Holiday'

Although we’re on the tail end of summer, we’re always keen to hear breezy free-flowing tunes and ‘Holiday’ is a great way to mimic a midweek daydream. Californian producer Teebs has teamed up with Sydney’s Jonti for a track that is lush, warm and rhythmic.

It feels longer than four minutes (in a good way) and from a peaceful start the music opens up into an atmospheric loop. With bird noises, chanting and chimes it starts to feel like you’re lying on the depths of the rainforest floor.

But underlying the rainforest relaxation are some quiet, bitter lyrics, “I’m sorry I hurt you,” and between these two producers there is some sweet work on the vocal harmonies, with a sentimentality that reminds me of Jagwar Ma.

Published on Purple Sneakers

Jacques Greene 'No Excuse'

Jacques Greene is back on the radar with brand new original creations, which we’re really happy about having recently heard his remixes and caught him on live circuits. (For one, his set worked really well among the casual summer vibe of Field Day festival in Sydney.)

‘No Excuse’ starts off slow and then builds into something more complex, evolving into a sort of abstract soundtrack. His experimental production work, akin to fellow Canadians Kaytranada and Ryan Hemsworth, evolves with some slicker house synth work as well.

Greene sets up free-flowing vocals among swirling melodies, subtle chimes, then drops shattering percussion through the haze. He disrupts the smooth R&B production that we’re used to but the track still seems to have a meditative quality to it.

After a while we can’t decipher the vocals as they meld into the music. But then again it’s the kind of track which could continue indefinitely. And Jacques Greene doesn’t usually work in single-track mode so it will be interesting to see how he has put his EP together.

‘No Excuse’ will be a part of Jacques Greene’s first solo EP, Phantom Vibrate, due on April 28th via LuckyMe records.

Published on Purple Sneakers.

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Album review: Kitsuné New Faces

While we love supporting our local favourites, we also love to branch into unknown territory and hear something a little different. The new mixtape from French collective Kitsuné offers up a mixed platter of electronic, dreampop and soul music which makes for a great long, lazy listen.

The Kitsuné brand also expands into fashion and merchandise, so selectivity and good taste are among their principle desires. We know that they have already signed Two Door Cinema Club and Delphic and this mixtape showcases all sorts of creative production, from our fellow Aussies Snakadaktal to new material from talented UK musicians among others.

It kicks off with music from London psych band Animatter People, which meets somewhere between the musical universes of Tame Impala and Grizzly Bear, using real instruments among effects, and pushing boundaries with plenty of reverb and lush sound dynamics.

But then Luxury shakes it up with tricky rhythm and high-pitched synths. The album has an overall smoothness to it, with nothing too shaky or controversial, but Kitsuné does stand for the underdog (or fox – their signature logo) and so the artists who they pick are often quite experimental.

Take Hyetal Jam, with moody yet refined electronic music, or Kilo Kish, an American musician with her head well around modern hip-hop.

Among the synth emerge more soulful tunes. Solomon Grey (half-Australian, half-English duo) channel Bon Iver vibes with a combination of production and live instrumentals, sentimental crooning and echoed build-ups. London group Years & Years hark back to the original soul veterans but with a modern freshness and upbeat makeover, and I dig their vocals.

We’re quite familiar with Snakadaktal, and are fans of their slick production. Their addictive dream pop slots in nicely into the collection. And while their work sounds best played all together, one of their heavier tracks was chosen for this mix, which obviously impressed foreign ears.

And while we’re often receiving new tunes in bits and grabs, free downloads and online streams, it’s a nice treat to receive it all in a neat bundle of chewable size.

Published on AdamNOTEve.

Lancelot "Givin' It Up" ft. Antony & Cleopatra (Panda Remix)

It’s always a treat to wake up to something free – and this week we’re digging this new remix from UK producer Panda of Lancelot’s latest single.

While we’ve been keeping track of Lancelot for a while now, he’s been high on the radar recently with his reworks, new EP, and appearances over the summer. But now that he’s on the international stage, it’s time to share his skilful arrangements and disco vibes.

Panda takes off the deep edge and fleshes out the bassline, for a remix that is a little more carefree and smooth. After a drawn-out intro, he also plays around with the vocals as part of the rhythm. Then ‘Givin’ It Up’ evolves into a shimmery dance track, which lasts just a little longer than the original.

All of which means that it sounds something like the wake-up rendition: a morning jam to play while you’re setting off for the day. It’s certainly put me in a better mood.

The track is available now for free download and will be released later as part of a remix package of ‘Givin’ It Up’ from British record label Anjunadeep.

Published on Purple Sneakers

Friday, 3 January 2014

Field Day 2014

With a big night before in check, Field Day offered enough dance music to keep the celebrators happy while offering a few more chilled out options for those still recovering from New Year’s Eve. Its size, slightly smaller than a regular festival, meant that it was easier to get around and criss-cross genres throughout the day.

Flight Facilities embraced their wide knowledge of dance music and mixing skills for a 90s-themed DJ set (the decade chosen by popular vote online.) In matching tracksuits and aviation hats the duo bopped together along to forgotten classics both hip-hop and pop. While Field Day tends to celebrate the best of new Australian producers, there is also the opportunity to indulge and revel in nostalgia.

Meanwhile, Ta-ku was playing The Island stage and considering his prolific amount of releases, it was a rich set of familiar remixes, R&B vibes, new original jams and tricky beats. He kept to himself, not saying much during the set, but the visuals behind him spoke for the dynamics of his music.

Back on the main stage, Hermitude were on high energy- always an act to rally up the crowd, it’s no surprise that they are favourites on the Australian festival circuit. Among familiar tracks "The Villain" and "Speak of the Devil", the two played new jams, including of newly dubbed genre mariachi trap, and kept the crowd moving during improvised jams.

While Field Day favours electronic music, other acts such as Crystal Fighters and London Grammar slowed down the pace and offered a slower pace much-needed on January 1st. Crystal Fighters engaged the crowd, walking right to the edge of the stage, shaking around in gypsy clothes, fully immersed in their own playing (their topless bassist didn’t hesitate to show some tricks) and reached beyond the singles in their catalogues.

Similarly, London Grammar gathered an enthusiastic (loud) crowd but weren’t particularly chatty, keeping absorbed in the music which was slowed down and deliberated. Of course, Hannah Reid impressed with the intensity of her voice (even stronger than the record) and began the set with drawn out vocal throws.

The strongest set of the day (mainly in terms of audience interaction and presence) was from A$AP Rocky. The ASAP mob was out in full force, with most of the crowd singing along (and rapping) to each track from "Fuckin’ Problems" to "Goldie". He wasn’t solo on stage, with fellow rappers and musicians spread out in colour-coordinated black and white. After making sure an injured crowd member was escorted to safety (‘we need to clear the mosh out) he blast into "Wild For the Night" and hordes of people rushed on stage to dance and spray champagne into the crowd.

In between main stage sets, Alison Wonderland played short DJ sets. Although she repeated earlier mixes, the sets focused less on trap and more on sing-along or older hip-hop, which worked for a waiting crowd. Chet Faker maintained his casual persona for one of the last daylight sets. His vocals are stronger than ever, and with a strong set of tracks and collaborations now behind him, his live act is one of the standouts of the past year.

Away from the larger stages at the Left Field was a smaller pavilion dedicated to the best of young producers. Tucked away from the chaos under the shade of Domain trees, the fierce lighting stood out and solidified the space. UK-based Shadow Child brought rhythmic bass-driven music and Duskyfollowed with swishy dance floor creations. In a return to rap, Wiz Khalifa followed A$ap with a mix of energetic and slower R&B tracks. He performed a few of his collaborations solo, including "Remember You" (ft. The Weeknd) and "23" (ft. Miley Cyrus.) Then his youth anthem "Young, Wild & Free" exploded into a mass sing-a-long (“So what we get drunk…we don’t care who sees”) and Wiz even took it upon himself to preach the value of “God-created” weed in spoken word mid-song.

For those who preferred a smaller, more intimate dance floor, the Red Bull stage held continuous DJ sets. The 80s themed set onto another 90s theme showed that punters were there to celebrate both past and future.

A much-anticipated set was Solange Knowles. Despite constant comparisons to sister Beyoncé, she has gained an indie following all in her own. From the first track, Solange gave a passionate performance – speaking gently to the audience, swaying freely and covering a lot of stage space. With an almost floor-length weave replaced her signature Afro and decked in a long blue dress there was almost a holy feel to her performance. "Lovers in the Parking Lot" was very passionate and showcased her as a proper vocalist.

As a general rule, the artists slowed down tracks or focused on vocals rather than raving, except for Flux Pavilion. The English producer spoke fiercely to an ever-growing crowd (come on Sydney!) and despite a short technical issue interrupting his set, the crazy visuals and constantly changing dynamics of his set kept the energy high. Among original tracks, he played his remixes of Major Lazer’s "Jah No Partial" and T.E.E.D. "Without You."

Closing the night, Flume played a slightly tuned version of his Infinity Prism set. His quick rise to fame only highlighted by the fact that he opened the smallest stage at Field Day 2011. He played familiar songs off his debut album "Insane", "Sintra" and "Holdin’ On", at a slower pace and meshed with added rap verses (which worked, especially as most were familiar with his work.) He also played new collaborations "Touched" (a What So Not production) and "The Greatest View". He was energetic, dancing along to tracks and calling up applause.

As a secret encore, Flume called Chet Faker back on stage to play "Drop The Game" and further hadSkrillex (in Sydney for NYE festival Shore Thing) and Chris Emerson (of What So Not) on stage for an impromptu DJ set to finish off the night.

Published on theAUreview.