ALBUM REVIEW: This Year – Ask

This Year

Ask 

The fact that this is an old school blues album recorded in the middle of the flower farm just makes it that much cooler, really. And it really is old school too – the ringing strums of electric guitar, the solid and curling vocals set above the popping bass – it’s all a bit early 70’s.

 

Written, recorded, mixed, mastered, produced – whatever else goes in there – by the band themselves, Ask is a surprisingly smooth release for being recorded in a shed. The songs are carefully constructed, rarely stepping a toe out of line, except for the occasional swerving guitar solos. This is in many ways an old record, but recorded with a new ear.  

 

Even more than that, there are some great tracks here: opener ‘Ask’ jumps out of the gate with a hopping drum line and a nice chorus hook. ‘What’s In A Name’ relies on a swaying backbeat and low, thrumming bass line to take things down a notch. “Eliza Jane” goes a bit California Americana, and ‘I’ll Be Back Someday’ has probably the sweetest opening lick of the album. There are only a couple of misses – ‘Angel’ doesn’t have the kick of the others, and ‘You’re On A Ride’ only really gets going at the solo.  

 

The lyrics, whilst pretty simplistic, do the job – and who really listens to a blues/rock album for the lyrics anyway? What really kicks about this is that it’s easy – it doesn’t demand much in the way of a cerebral workout to listen to it, and it shouldn’t. 

Probably more than anything, Ask, is just a great listen, brimming with musicianship and some thoroughly good sounds.  

 Rating: 7.0/10 

the big list: the best in music for 2013

End of year lists are pretty much…the best part of the year. So here’s our (heavily biased) idea of what happened in music in 2013: 

Album of the Year:

(the nominees…)

 – Haim : Days Are Gone

- Kanye West : Yeezus 

- Arctic Monkeys : AM

- Arcade Fire : Reflektor

- Disclosure : Settle

- Jagwar Ma : Howlin’

- Rudimental : Home

- Tegan And Sara : Heartthrob

- Laura Marling : Once I Was An Eagle

- James Blake : Overgrown 

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WINNER: Haim – Days Are Gone 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Record Of The Year:

(nominees…) 

- “Royals” – Lorde

- “Days Are Gone” – Haim

- “The Wire” – Haim

- “When A Fire Starts To Burn” – Disclosure

- “Latch” – Disclosure

- “Black Skinhead” – Kanye West

- “Blood On The Leaves” – Kanye West

- “Still Into You” – Paramore

- “DNA” – Empire Of The Sun

- “Master Hunter” – Laura Marling

- “Reflektor” – Arcade Fire

- “R U Mine” – Arctic Monkeys

- “I Knew You Were Trouble” – Taylor Swift

- “Q.U.E.E.N.” – Janelle Monae ft. Erykah Badu 

WINNER: Haim – “The Wire” 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1TffpkE2GU4

Gig of the Year:

- Tegan And Sara – Sydney Opera House

- Lorde – Splendour In The Grass

- Laura Marling – Splendour In The Grass

- Haim – Splendour In The Grass

- Alison Wonderland – Splendour In The Grass 

- Black Rebel Motorcycle Club – The HiFi 

- James Blake – Splendour In The Grass 

WINNER: Tegan And Sara

(Honourable mention to Alison Wonderland, for delivering the most badass/hectic DJ gig this year)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hEW-4YwBZHM

Best/ Weirdest/ Freaky Music Video of the Year: 

- “Bound 2″ – Kanye West

- “Wrecking Ball” – Miley Cyrus

….actually that just about covers it.

WINNER: Miley Cyrus…for making demolition work thoroughly traumatising. 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=My2FRPA3Gf8

Biggest Musical Fuck Ups of 2013

- The One Direction Movie

- Festivals Cancelling (that’s you Harvest…Homebake)

- Bottle throwing at gigs (it’s not cool, see Azealia Banks) 

WINNER: The One Direction Movie

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C0I9ikjQtuI

Biggest Musical WTF?? 

- Miley Cyrus

….there’s no need for any other nominees. 

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…yep. 

 

Breakthrough Artist

- Haim

- Lorde

- Jagwar Ma

- Vance Joy

WINNER: Lorde

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LFasFq4GJYM

Quote of the Year:

“Now is an important time not to Google myself.” – Miley Cyrus 

 

Let us know what you think (i.e. we want your outrage.) 

 

 

Splendour Psych Up: Laura Marling

Laura-Marling-Master-Hunter-608x608

 

Laura Marling

Master Hunter

 

Laura Marling’s last release (2011’s A Creature I Don’t Know) spun jazz arrangements with folk sensibilities and came up trumps, with Marling’s voice inching ever close to the untouchable Joni Mitchell.

New single “Master Hunter” is a slightly different beast, a low slung blues creeper that probably won’t sooth you as much as chill you to the bone. Joni Mitchell is not too far ahead.

 

Once I Was An Eagle is out now.

BREAKING ARTIST: Owl Eyes

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Owl Eyes

Closure

As lead single from her debut record, “Closure” does what it’s supposed to: deliver a scintillating hook amidst a tornado of laptop electronica.

Another Australian Idol alumna, Brooke Addamo has successfully sidestepped the world of bubblegum pop, choosing to blend glittering disco pop with heavy doses of indie. Luckily for her, it works.

Nightswim is out now.

New Single: Matt Corby – Resolution

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Matt Corby

Resolution

Matt Corby, of the wild wolf screams and paper-thin falsetto fame, is set to release his highly anticipated debut record later this year.

At first glance “Resolution” is classic Corby: hushed acoustic picking lying steady under Corby’s pillowy vocals. But it’s the addition of the clattering afro-drums and gospel claps that turn “Resolution” from a skeleton into a fully fleshed out being.

BREAKING BAND: Haim

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Haim

Falling

The leather wearing, guitar slinging, California slacker sisters Haim* may look like they’ve just broken out of St. Trinians, but at least they can craft one hell of a tune.

Courting a median age of 23, sisters Alana, Danielle and Este topped the BBC Sound of 2013 list – a huge indicator of impending world domination (Adele topped 2008’s list, for example.) Single “Falling” name checks everyone from Fleetwood Mac to Destiny’s Child, chopping up wistful harmonies over some heavy, scattered percussion. It’s a big single that may just be worth the hype.

haim

 

Haim will play Splendour In The Grass in July.

*Pronounced ‘Hime’ not ‘Haym’

 

ALBUM REVIEW: Abbe May – Kiss My Apocalypse

640x640-cAbbe May

Kiss My Apocalypse 

- (Independent/MGM) -

By the sound of her guitar slashing 2011 debut, Design Desire, Abbe May seemed ready to unleash 70’s rock/sex hell on the world. Influential blog Popmatters declared that she was “ready to destroy the rock world”, and she snatched up a nomination for the Australian Music Prize. She seemed ready to take up the mantle of modern rock heroine.

Which makes the screeching U-turn of her followup intriguing. Or perhaps not to her, at least: “I’m bored with standard rock”, May states in the press release, “I’m bored with the standard cool.” That probably explains why Kiss My Apocalypse eschews rock in favour of minimalist, pulsing R&B and laptop driven synth-pop.

Produced by May and Sam Ford, It’s an oddly incoherent collection – tracks are stitched together with quiet interludes that often only contain a throbbing drum machine (opener ‘Hurricane Heartbeat’), or screwed up vocal harmonies (the aptly named ‘Cyberpunk Choir’).

When the songs do take form, often they’re more like imprints than actual structures, ‘T.R.O.U.B.L.E’ exists on a pumped up vocal hum with some doomsday synths providing the backbone, and ‘Want Want Want’ doesn’t go much beyond the same formula.

May described her new style as ‘doom-pop’, and even beyond the world-is-ending song titles it’s a curious description. May revels in darkness and sensuality, the lyrics full of post-coital cigarettes and sexual imagery. Singing of betrayal and heartbreak, May definitely resembles the victor, and the songs burn with a distinct ‘screw you’ mentality.

The better cuts on the record play to this strength: single ‘Karmageddon’ is built on a hellish synth shudder and thick vocal lines, and the title track is a slow, sonic kick in the teeth to her foes.

As a slinking pop experiment, it excels, the songs belonging to the kind of late night meet ups that it so describes. As a contemporary pop release, it’s also interesting, owing as much to The xx as it does to Frank Ocean. Whether or not it’s the successful genre cross over that May desires may remain to be seen.

Rating: 6.5/10

Kiss My Apocalypse is in stores now.