Friday, July 29, 2011

Wrangling The Written

So, last night I started rounding up some ideas and nominations for the annual The Good, The Bad & The James Blunt awards. Jumping the gun a bit I know, but since we're pretty much at the year's half-way mark I thought there's no harm in gathering my impressions and thoughts now. Besides, there's been a bit of online journalism floating around about the albums that have defined the year thus far. One of which I can highly recommend is Pitchfork's Overlooked Records of 2011 article, mainly because some of their selections coincide with mine - namely saxophone virtuoso Colin Stetson, Snowman's posthumous Δbsence, and Wild Beasts' soothing Smother. Excellent records all.

Along with the GB&JB ruminations, I was doing my research for my usual End-of-Year best/worst album covers list and discovered this ramshackle, but thoroughly knowledgable blog called Coverzplace. Be prepared to waste a good half-hour browsing through the thematic selections. 
We're digressing pretty quickly though, there's more to this post that jut sharing my 'net browsing habits. No, you're here so I can brag and show off my music writing right? Anyway, playing a bit of egotisitical catch-up with some record reviews. This way when it does come round to the end-of-year stuff, I can feel like I've informed my lovely readership - that's you, feel the love - with what's really mattered musically this year. 

So what better way to do that than to chuck up some of my writings for Beat, in easily linkable format:
tUnE-yArDs - W H O K I L L

Tom Vek - Leisure Seizure

Memory Tapes - Player Piano
Yeo - Bag-O-Items

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Lift Off Luv

elbow – Splendour Sideshow  @ The Palace, 27th July. 
Is there a more charming rogue than elbow’s Guy Garvey working in the industry today? Many frontmen could learn a thing or two from his simple, genteel between-song banter. Arriving first on stage with dinner jacket, this scruffy impresario takes the time to regularly check in on the audience and is never more than a few words from a well-won chuckle. ‘Are you all free-thinking, cool motherfookers?’ he ponders aloud at one point, in his distinctively thick Manchunian accent.  It’s as if your uncle from aboard has come to visit, only instead of regaling you with tales and trinkets, it’s with heart-felt lyricism and life-affirming tunes.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Wrangling The Heard: July

Before we launch into the usual musical round-up, just wanted to flag that the excellent new Big Scary single - Mixtape - now has an official clip. Again teaming with animator Alice Dupre, who did the promo for Tuesday Is Rent Day; it's another little stunner of a video, featuring a stack of interconnected zoetropes. Have a guernsy:
Their epicly anticipated debut is due in October, and it can't come soon enough.

Kins - Dancing Back And Forth, Covered In Whipped Cream
I really can't stop listening to this record's spellbinding rhythms, credit where credit's due for Kins also, as they translate their stripped-back style of tension and release perfectly to the live setting. Firstly, they floored with their album launch at the Worker's Club (despite frontman Thomas Savage obviously beset by an awful flu), then again at their very last 'Goodbye, For Now' gig at The Order of Melbourne (last night in fact). Goodbye because they're heading off for the UK to follow their musical aspirations (which they discussed in length in this AMR interview). In their absence, we still have their mini-LP Dancing Back And Forth... and I highly recommend it. It's a near-perfectly formed 25 minute set that takes you on an audible journey from wiry pop (Mockasin's, Lake Troposphere), gentle haunting ('Til He Stirs, For This Modern Day) to murkier rhythmic workouts (Hume Bloom, the title track). Hopefully when they return, debut album in tow, it'll be to great success.
(more after the jump)

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Do you believe in Magic?

Spender Magic Man film clip launch @ The Grace Darling, July 7th
Mildlife opened the night, their sound centred around the classic Juno 60 synthesizer, complemented by a rhythm section of jutting bass and disco styled drumming. Some beat looping and sparse guitars made up the rest of the audio decor, the latter supplied by a gyrating lad in a pair of  impossibly tight jeans, who along with a projection of B-movie staple Barbarella formed the (lacking) visual element. Nevertheless they conjured up an entrancing groove of dance-rock, especially on Be More Pacific and their recently launched single Milk & Wool.

The audio-visual act that followed was Time Shield aka Faux Pas aka solo artist Tim Shiel (confused?) who can only best be described as a remix artist. Trippy cut-up visuals and obscure pop culture footage (Leonard Nimoy promoting Magnavox anyone?) played against a large screen as Shiel, set up in the audience, created a soundtrack of abstract chill-out beats and cut-up samples. Problem was, they didn’t supply tabs of acid at the door. More engaging was seeing him construct the soundtrack before your eyes, deftly manipulating the visuals (via an Xbox controller!) and sonics with a sequencer, a small midi keyboard, some live guitar and his laptop. At one point video-jamming Gilmore Girls into a breakdown of fragment Flying Lotus-isms, before revealing the sample as Carole King’s Where You Lead (I Will Follow), to call it a unique live experience was an understatement.

Before the headline act, there was one last treat, namely the debut clip from Spender and his triple j unearthed circulated cut, Magic Man. Despite the image of a man in a tux with a gothic looking, carnivalé mask on – the mood was distinctly playful. Taking a leisurely stroll through the woods before setting up a mini-projection screen that revealed a quirky dance-off; perfectly matching the pop vibe of the track, informed as it is by sixties references more than contemporary ones. With great melodies, distinctive vocals and a fun arrangement, it’s easy to like and not too much of a stretch to love.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

I Heard The News Today, Oh Boy

  • Firstly, to AMR favourite Kimbra. Vows is still slated for later this year (did I mention I'm excited for that one?), but in the meantime we have her contribution to Gotyé's forthcoming Making Mirrors album in the form of Somebody That I Used To Know. Due to some (let's admit it - inevitable) internet leaks, Gotyé posted the excellent video for the track on YouTube sometime this morning. The simmering, borderline-spiteful duet soundtracks a video featuring stop-motion bodypaint and the resulting effect is visually captivating as well as emotionally felt. Enough words, have a view:

There's also a full album preview of Making Mirrors kicking around too, and it's set for release August 19.