Recommended Listening: October 2010
- Published: 09 October 2010
- Hits: 5356
Enjoy this month's collection of eclectic sounds.
A full length studio release from Bag Raiders was always on the cards, it was just a matter of timing.
The Sydney electronic duo of Chris Stracey and Jack Glass released their debut self-titled record on 1 October.
However, unlike regular debutants, Stracey and Glass nerves would surely not have been that much of consideration as the pair has been on the dance scene for many years.
Since 2007, the duo has released an EP a year with Fun Punch (2007), Turbo Love (2008) and Big Fun (2009).
While the releases have been stellar in their own right, the band are perhaps better known (until now of course) on Australia’s DJ circuit for remixing the likes of Cut Copy, Galvatrons, Lost Valentinos, Muscles, K.I.M, Midnight Juggernauts, and Sneaky Sound System.
With a lull in album releases from the golden boys of Aussie electro The Presets, Midnight Juggernauts, Cut Copy, and Art vs Science, Bag Raiders’ release has been perfectly timed.
‘Bag Raiders’ is a heady mix of electro pop anthems, smooth electronica and darker instrumental mishmash.
‘Castles In The Air’ starts off with an infectious beat that balloons into a wall of electronic sound. The purely instrumental track takes you through many peaks and troughs.
‘Sunlight’ is brilliant. It’s fun, energetic and is sure to be a major summer anthem. While some of the lyrics are a little hit and miss ‘when I see your face/ it’s like sunlight dripping’, the song as a whole is superb.
The duo released ‘Shoot Stars’ as a stand alone single late last year. It peaked at number 62 on the ARIA Charts and made number 43 on the ARIA 2009 end of year top 50 Australian artist singles.
‘So Demanding’ will no doubt be another crowd pleaser with its beats and melody. The track harks back to 80s pop, with smooth beats and ‘oooh-baby-you-know-you-like-that’ attitude.
‘Gone Away’ has a touch of the Presets about it with the timing and depth of the vocals sounding a little Julian Hamilton-ish. There is the inclusion of a female vocal on this track, something that is scares on the record. It works well.
‘Prelude’ kicks off with beautiful piano work. It’s simple yet just so gentle. It has a great lullying power, you drift along with the notes, happily drifting along with the percussion and melody. It begs us to rest a little before taking in the second half of this release.
‘Not Over’ has an uptick in tempo. It’s a little buiser that previous tracks. It’s also a little more mainstream than others, with, dare I say it, cheesy hooks.
‘Golden Wings’ is all goodness. The cinematic keyboard intro is fantastic.
Bag Raiders have impressed on debut. Yet again, stellar work.
Five years ago, Jose Gonzalez stepped away from his band Junip to go solo.
The decision paid off for the Swedish singer who has forged a career as a one-man band.
Possibly still best known for his covers of The Knife’s ‘Heartbeats’ and Massive Attack’s ‘Teardrops’, Gonzalez has released seven EPs and two studio albums.
Gonzalez has also toured extensively, however the singer has been relatively quiet since the release of his second album, 2007’s ‘In Our Nature’.
Earlier this year, mumurs filtered across online forums that Gonzalez might unite with his former Junip band mates.
Gonzealez formed Junip in the late 1990s will Elias Araya (drums) and Tobias Winterkorn (organ, moog).
The band released the ‘Black Refuge’ EP in 2006, however they have never recorded a full studio album.
In April this year, Gonzalez confirmed Junip had reformed and a studio album was in the works.
‘In Every Direction’ is the album’s lead off track. It is a gravelly sounding track with droning guitars, sprays of electronic reverb (possibly from the moog) and a steady backbeat.
‘Always’ is more chilled, with Gonzalez’s vocals controlling its the pace and direction.
‘Rope & Summit’ was released earlier this year as part of the band’s first EP in three years. It is very polished and may have even been a single Gonzalez had planned to release on his next solo album. It has all the hallmarks of a Gonzalez track – soft vocals with steady beat and dreamy harmony.
The pace is picked up a little on ‘Howl’. Gonzalez’s vocals are still central to the track, though greater use of percussion can be heard. Strategically placed tapping, rolling drumbeats and almost whispering vocals offers a gentle change.
‘Sweet & Bitter’ is a little darker than any of the other tracks with the inclusion of heavier guitar strums and the moog and organ. The guitar work on this track is the highlight, with the deeper contrast working well with Gonzalez’s slightly pitchy vocals.
‘Off Point’ continues the heavier guitar strumming with the addition of quick drumming. The single is by no means heading into a rock field, though it would be the quickest and heavier handed tracks on the album.
It may have taken Junip five years to get there, though their debut album is worth the wait.
Tumbling into the Dawn
Five years ago Lior Attar dipped into his own pocket to fund the release of his debut record, Autumn Flow.
The album bore such tracks as ‘This Old Love’ and ‘Daniel’. It was such a success for the Melbourne based singer that even today it is one of the most successful independent releases in Australia’s history.
Autumn Flow not only afforded the Israeli born Attar, who simply goes by the stage name ‘Lior’, critical acclaim a bag full of ARIA awards and the chance to release a follow up in ‘Corner of an Endless Road’, it pushed the singer into the festival, national and international touring spotlight.
Lior released ‘Corner of an Endless Road’ in February 2008. He again released the album independently. It debuted just shy of the top spot on the Australian ARIA charts, peaking at number two.
In between international tours, performances at the Edinburgh Festival and a spot with the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, Lior began work on new album, Tumbling into the Dawn.
The singer wrote and recorded the album in locations between Sydney, and Melbourne with longtime collaborator/producer Francois Tetaz.
‘Shadow Man’ starts out a little more rock and roll than expected. Then there is a cut. A pause, just a second, and the drums, the guitars are gone. Lior’s vocals break the silence. The beautiful timbre of his voice is unmistakable. The mix of the singer’s folk style with a rock ‘n roll feel works surprisingly well.
‘I thought I could sing on my own’ is again a shift for the singer, with a fun, bouncing tempo and melody. Lior brilliantly interweaves his talent as a songwriter and singer on this track. The inclusion of acapella ‘woohoos’ is playful without being tiresome.
‘If I lost your love’ is the first time on the album that we hear Lior accompanied by a stripped back acoustic guitar. The strength of the guitar’s sound and Lior in his vocal comfort zone is all encompassing. He makes it all sound so easy.
‘Driftwood’ is a slower track, offering the listener another chance to hear Lior at his best. Trickling guitar chords, string accompaniment offer the perfect base for the singer’s tale to dance along.
‘Tumbling into the dawn’ is an intreging single. It was written about an incident that happened when Lior was a kid growing up in Sydney.
The track centres around the story of someone who attempted suicide at The Gap in Sydney, yet survived because of strong winds that blew the person out to sea.
‘Chewing gum’ is a beautifully penned love song to a lost love. It’s heart felt and tender.
Tumbling into the dawn is an incredible third offering from Lior.
Ben Folds & Nick Hornby
Lonely Avenue came about one night over a dinner conversation between Ben Folds and Nick Hornby.
In an unlikely pairing, the American singer and British writer concocted the idea behind the album one evening last year.
The two friends began emailing each other ideas for the project, with Hornby sending Folds lyrics.
Folds took the lyrics and worked on forming the album with Paul Buckmaster (David Bowie, Elton John, Leonard Cohen).
The end result is an 11 track record, which Folds specifically made to be listened to on vinyl. It was even recorded on two-inch tape.
‘A Working Day’ is a humorous commentary on dealing with public criticism. After one listen of the mixture of Hornby’s wit and Folds delivering, excitement for what else is to come certainly started to bubble.
Who better than Folds to sing lyrics such as ‘I’m a genius really I’m excellent/ better than them I kick their asses/ all of them even that guy/who thinks he’s f*cken cool’.
While Folds is more singer than comedian, his brilliant comic timing shines.
Folds is again in full flight on ‘Picture Window’, with the piano intro just stunning. Buckmaster’s string arrangement offers the right amount of seriousness to the subject – a mother with a child in the hospital over New Years Eve – despite Hornby’s informal lyrics.
‘Levi Johnston’s Blues’ is a funny track about the former boyfriend of Bristol Palin, the daughter of US politician, Sarah Palin. With lyrics like: ‘So I say mother-in-law no/we aint getting married/they say soon you will boy/she just announced it/I get on my dirt bike and ride to my girls I’m gonna lay down the law/tell her what’s going on’, it’s worth a listen for the giggle.
‘Doc Pomus’ is a homage to American blues singer and songwriter of `50s and `60s pop hits. In fact, the album’s title ‘Lonely Avenue’ was a song written by Pomus and recorded by Ray Charles in 1956.
‘Your Dogs’ has a punk vibe… well as much a punk vibe as a song that relies heavily on piano notes.
Lonely Avenue is an exceptional collaboration between Folds and Hornby.
Hornby’s lyrics, like his novels, are humorous and nicely sentimental.
Folds does an incredible job of bringing life to words on a page without losing Hornby’s expressions.
Blue King Brown
Worldwize Part 1 North & South
Lion House Records
In 2006, a little known roots outfit out of Byron Bay caused an international stir with the music video for their debut single.
With $200 in their pocket and a day to shoot, Blue King Brown created their first music video for their single ‘Water’.
While the band would have no doubt hoped the single was a success, they were oblivious to the simmering international exposure the project was about to afford them.
The single hit the Australian market at high speed, quickly added on high rotation across local independent radio stations. The video experienced a similar grass fire spread, appearing across both indie and mainstream music shows in quick succession.
‘Water’ was considered a crowd hit. The single, a mix of blues and hip hop beats centring on a political message about white Australia’s treatment of black Australia and the Stolen Generation hit a chord with many.
It came at a time when young Australians were tiring of a Howard government, tiring of not having their voices heard. A new sense of social awareness was beginning to emerge.
Overseas, the single was also gaining much interest, though on a very different scale. Blue King Brown was being labelled racists with many flinging ant-white remarks at the band through Youtube and online forums. So ferocious were the comments that the band was forced to defend their work.
Four years on with an EP and full-length album under their belt and Blue King Brown are still gaining international attention. The band has built on the experience of their work, pushing ahead with their views as musical activists.
Their latest album ‘Worldwize Part 1 North & South’ is no exception.
The double album is an impressive feat from the band.
The North Side disk was mixed and engineered by James ‘Bonzai’ Caruso (Gwen Stefani, Nas, Damian Marley) and the SouthSide Dub disk mixed and engineered by Jamaican, Collin ‘Bulby’ York (Rihanna, Jimmy Cliff, Madonna, UB40).
It features collaborations with Sly & Robbie, Queen Ifrica, Elliott Martin and Jah Mason.
This album has to be listened to.
Music reviews by Kate Kachor at Eleven Magazine