Lady Gaga’s suicide note

Lady Gaga, “Princess Die”

TBD

Over a deep, mournful piano, Lady Gaga is resigned- ‘I wish that I could cope, but I took pills and left a note’.

Previewed at her Melbourne concert a few days ago, “Princess Die” is half elegy to the late royal and half twisted suicide note. The sparse piano underpins some wounding lyrics- ‘I’m hungry from an anorexic heart/ I’ve been trying to tell you how I feel’, whilst other lines cut very close to the bone- ‘With the paparazzi swarming around…So bob your head for another dead blonde’.

Cat Power’s rack and ruin

 

Cat Power, “Ruin”

Sun (September 2012)

Plaiting together a heavy piano riff, splutters of bluesy guitar and some punchy drums, Cat Power has created a nice pillowy backing for what is actually a brutal social commentary.

Having travelled the world in her time off, she now cracks the whip at the people at home, singing that they’re ‘Bitching, complaining when some people ain’t got shit to eat’, while the rest of us are just  ‘Sitting on a ruin’.

Passion Pit dance through the pain

 

Passion Pit, “I’ll Be Alright”

Gossamer, 2012

(Frenchkiss/ Columbia)

The second track released from their upcoming record, Gossamer, “I’ll Be Alright” is Passion Pit’s try at a breakup song.

It’s a happy mess of jumbled, stroke inducing beats- a viciously hyperactive and uplifting backing whilst singer Michael Angelakos asks ‘Can you remember ever having any fun?’.

Sentiment and style may not quite match, but there are enough sharp hooks lying underneath to catch you when you least expect it.

Stonefield- “Bad Reality”

Stonefield

Bad Reality

(Shock/WMA)

Laying on chewy riff after chewy riff amongst a roar of drums and bass, Stonefield’s second EP is like a sample of the best retro rock blended with some angry teenage sentiment and served as delicious 3 minute shots.

Take opener, “Bad Reality”, where hammond organs and guitars vie for dominance whilst Amy Findlay roars her way through the fray. It’s an drag race that threatens to swerve violently off the road just as the Hendrix tones are laid thickly on the guitar whilst sister Hannah takes it for a solo. Not letting up even slightly, second track “Move Out Of My Shadow” is threaded with rage, Amy singing ‘Stand in the way of me/ I’ll throw you to the ground’.

Whether it’s the drawling psychedelia of “Ruby Skies” or the saltiness of “Black Water Rising”, Stonefield seem to dance between mayhem and meticulousness. They may hop a little too close to their influences at times (Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath lay the foundations whilst Zappa and Hendrix build the castle), the raw blues power of Amy Findlay’s vocals pierce through just when everything seems as if it’s going to dissolve into a tribute concert.

It may only last 20 minutes, but you’ll emerge from it needing a cold shower.

Top Tracks: “Ruby Skies”, “Black Water Rising”, “Bad Reality”

Metric- “Synthetica”

Metric

Synthetica

(Metric Music International/ Mom+Pop)

I’m just as fucked up as they say’ Emily Haines croons over a low synth drone on “Artificial Nocturne”, the opener of Metric’s fifth record, Synthetica. It’s a moody and grim start to what becomes a deeply expansive album that sees the Canadian indie rockers overlapping thick synth hooks with crunchy guitars and angry lyrics of life crises.

Begun with a low drone before Haines’ vocals enter slathered in icy effects, the atmosphere is chilling until the drums enter at the two minute point. It builds to a clangy jam of guitars and sci fi harmonies, before everything melts away and the heavy stomp of “Youth Without Youth” punches through. It’s a relentless whiplash of guitar distortion and snare drums, with slices of keyboards riding over the top.

Whilst the new wave synths lend an air of drama, it’s when Metric pick up the guitars that things get real. Standout track Breathing Underwater is a festival firecracker, with a big, bruising chorus that sees Haines questioning ‘Is this my life? Am I breathing underwater?’.

Likewise on title track “Synthetica”, where they burn through power-chords whilst they explore clinging onto their humanness against the plasticity of the new century.

Big questions are addressed here; in “Dreams So Real”, Haines asks whether the belief in songs is over, before vowing ‘I’ll shut up and carry on/ A scream becomes a yawn’. It has its lighter moments as well- on “Lost Kitten”, she simply explains ‘I was looking for a hooker and I found you’.

Other tracks don’t fare so well towards the end of the album. The Lou Reed appearance turns “The Wanderlust” into a bizarre 80’s tune that doesn’t quite hit the mark. Closing number “Nothing But Time” regains a bit of stomping ground, and leaves us with the lyrics ‘I wanted to be part of something/ I got nothing but time/ So the future is mine’.

An earthy and thoroughly enjoyable record.

Top Tracks:

  1. Breathing Underwater
  2. Youth Without Youth
  3. Artificial Nocturne

Classic Album- “The Runaways (1976)”

The Runaways

“The Runaways”, 1976

(Mercury Records)

It was a pretty far out concept, a  band of teenage girls screaming about sex and drugs through raucous garage rock and punk numbers.

Guitarist Joan Jett and drummer Sandy West began jamming in late 1975 after colourful producer Kim Fowley introduced them. After recruiting lead guitarist Lita Ford and bassist Jackie Fox, they found lead singer Cherie Currie in a local club, the Sugar Shack.

By mid 1976 they were signed to Mercury Records and their debut record, The Runaways was released on June 1, to a pretty unprepared audience. The rampant sexuality and chaos that was unleashed blew apart a rock music industry that was, at the time, totally male dominated.

Opening single “Cherry Bomb” sees Cherie Currie unleashing her deep growl, urging girls to ‘get down ladies you’ve got nothing to lose!’ over blasts of distorted guitar and thundering drums. Turning to the men in the audience, Currie taunts ‘I’ll give you something to live for/ Have you and grab you until your sore!’.

Tracks like “You Drive Me Wild” and “Is it Day Or Night?” are angry poems of rebellion and sex, with Jett and Currie moaning over sharp splutters of Ford’s guitar work. Influences are spread all over, from the Lep Zeppelin core of drums and bass, the Suzi Quatro sentiment of Jett and Currie, to the Hendrix tones laid on Ford’s guitar on “Rock And Roll”.

Rage and lust are slathered on every song, and on tracks such as “Lovers” they find an explosive partnership, Currie drawling ‘make me scream/ What’s your name?‘. Currie’s vocals are rich and mature, never betraying her young age (she was 16 when the album was recorded). Her age also didn’t prevent her from becoming the sex symbol of the group.

Last track on the record, “Dead End Justice” explores this, ‘I’m sweet 16 and a rebel queen/ And I look really hot in my tight blue jeans’ Currie sings over a rumbling backing. Chorus lyrics are oddly prophetic: ‘Dead end kids in the danger zone/ All of you are drunk and stoned’.

It was the first time that young women got a note in edgeways in the brutal male world of rock, and The Runaways certainly made it count.

Angus Stone keeps drifting along

 

Angus Stone, “Broken Brights”

Broken Brights

(Desert Harvest Records)

Laying his sleepy voice over a softly padding acoustic guitar, Angus Stone is treading a path that he’s gone down many times before.

Set to release his debut album only a month after his sister released her second, Stone is again revelling in the milder aspects of life as he spins gentle pop hooks above a drifting, chilled backing.