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.