Recommended Listening: July 2010
- Published: 11 July 2010
- Hits: 2249
Enjoy this month's collection of eclectic sounds.
Drawn From Bees
Fear Not The Footsteps Of The Departed
Drawn From Bees released four EPs before deciding to take the plunge and release a debut full-length album.
The Brisbane band in Australia formed in April 2008 as a reincarnation of prog rock band, Glasshouse.
‘Fear Not The Footsteps Of The Departed’ doesn’t play out like you’d expect. It lacks rawness; there is no sense of nervous excitement echoing through it or uncertainty of sound.
Instead, it delivers a complex and beautiful mix of well thought out songs.
‘The East Wood Fox’ is just breathtaking. The arrangement of vocals, instruments, so steady and serene, allows the track to glide effortlessly. The vocals are a little reminiscent of a softer yet vocally superior Jens Lekman.
‘Awful Mess’ shows the diversity of the band’s sound. The heavy drums penetrate the track splitting the vocals and frustrated guitar chords with polite determination.
‘Lights On’ is a bit of a creeper. With its low tempo and etherealness, the track does well to flaunt the band’s art rock label.
‘Caves’ is where things start to stumble. There is something about this track that doesn’t gel with the remainder of the album. It’s clumsy and in parts out of step, creating an obvious grind in the album’s brilliance.
‘All The World’s A Stage’ is also a little shaky, with the vocal strength of the earlier part of the album fading ever so slightly.
‘Why Bother’ is a beautiful finish, with its upward stepping vocal harmonies and tip toeing keyboard, drum and guitar accompaniment subtle and sweet.
Drawn From Bees’ debut release is an impressive effort.
For an independent release – the album has been released on one of the band member’s own labels – the presence and structure of the album is close to flawless.
Despite a few hiccups in latter tracks, Fear Not the Footsteps of the Departed, is quite simply enchanting.
Grum is perhaps better known for his remixes than his own work.
The British artist born Graeme Shepherd has mixed a gambit of alternative and mainstream artists from Goldrapp (Rocket); Lady Gaga (Bad Romance); Passion Pit (To Kingdom Come) and Friendly Fires (Skeleton Boy), to name but a few.
It wasn’t until this year that Grum released ‘Heartbeats’ - a camp affair of ’80s inspired electronica.
‘Through The Night’ is a sleepy opener, with twinkling strikes of the keyboard working up to a more dance friendly middle and end.
‘Can’t Shake This Feeling’ throws us in the thick of Grum’s style with its crisp division between electronica and vocals set to become a clear feature for this release.
‘Runaway’ has smatterings of what sounds like the chorus of Bronski Beat’s Small-Town Boy ‘run away, turn away’. It is one of the album’s more high-energy tracks with lashings of complex and multi-layered samples.
‘Fashion’ is an ambitions track that delivers with a cleverness to remain true to Bowie and not allow it to be bogged down in too much polish.
‘Heartbeats’ pushes Grum in yet another direction with the track’s chorus made up of multi layers of the same vocal. I’m not sure this track is completely resolved as it is more mechanical rather than technically precise.
‘The Really Long One’ really says it all. At over five minutes, this track employs good patterns of progression. While it is a little unnecessary in my book, its pace and samples keep you interested longer than you’d think.
Heartbeats is a solid debut from the UK producer.
The Sirens of Venice
Speak and Spell
Craig Jackson has stepped out from behind Aussie band, Gersey, to deliver a new album.
Not quite a solo project, the singer, Jackson, has teamed with his wife and fellow artist Camilla to release an album under the name, The Sirens of Venice.
The 10 track release is quite haunting, with attention to detail an obvious priority for the pair.
‘Come Back To Me’ initially leaves you hanging, until sharp piano keys break the silence. Craig’s vocals are tender amid a whimsical soundscape. The softer, simple piano part provides a wonderful moment of suspense.
‘Somewhere Under The Sea’ is somewhat a little macabre. Even after a few attempts I found it almost impossible to move past its comparison to a funeral match, though perhaps that’s what the Jacksons were hoping for.
‘You & Me’ has a delightful opening with parred back guitar and cymbal work. Camilla’s soft backing vocals compliment the track’s string element with ghost like beauty.
‘Love Lights Bloom, I’m A Fool’ seems to struggle a little, with Craig’s vocals in part not entirely matching the delicate setting or accurately capturing the emotion of the band’s expressive lyrics.
‘Now I Feel The Weight’ has a lovely brightness to it through the band’s use to drum beats and simple pianos notes. There is a great deal of patience brought to the track, each progression is perfectly timed, each note perfectly weighted.
‘Unrequited Dream #53 (This City’s On Fire)’ continues where ‘Now I Feel The Weight’ left off. The unmistakable gem about this track is the tapping of piano keys and its overall lightness. Craig seems more relaxed on this track, his voice more flexible in its ranges, adding good amounts of contrast.
The Sirens of Venice is a dark and at times convoluted album. It asks a lot from the listener, yet it offers enough rewards to warrant a thorough hearing.
When Operator Please released their debut single ‘Get What You Want’ in 2007, the Aussie band seemed to have the world, and salivating marketers, at their feet.
After Virgin airlines picked up the track for their Aussie ad campaign, the Queensland band was quickly slapped with ‘the next big thing’ tag sending chart topping hits and Aria awards in their direction.
At the time, the band looked set to have had a dream run. Though as the threat of overexposure loomed and potential ‘please explain’ moments faced them when a former member posed nude for a magazine, cracks were starting to appear.
Lengthy international tours took the band out of the local limelight, giving them and their fan base enough distance to breath, experiment and grow up.
Fast-forward three years and Operator Please has released their second album, Gloves.
The first thing that stands out about this album is the lack of deliberate bubble gum pop and cheap one-liner lyrics.
Interestingly, Gloves has a substance to it that doesn’t squeal of selling out for the dollars.
‘Logic’ was an obvious choice as the return single for the band. It has just enough bubble gum residue to lull back their faithful, and pitch the band as a more polished, serious act.
‘Just Kiss’ smacks you in the face with an unexpected fanfare of electrified violin and drums. Together they perfectly set the scene of the band’s version of up-tempo indie-pop mayhem.
‘Back and Forth’ is a cheeky track that has a Tegan and Sara feel about it, with slightly high-pitched vocals and sweet swinging melodies.
‘Jealous’ meshes together soft strokes of electronica and their traditional choices of drums, and keyboard.
Overall, Gloves is quite the surprise. Operator Please has not only made their return with a solid second effort, they have evolved in their sound and managed to break free of their saccharine sweetness.
Music reviews by Kate Kachor at Eleven Magazine