Half Moon Run gears up on lead single

Half Moon Run

“Full Circle”

Tipped to be the “next big thing”, Canada’s Half Moon Run are quickly gaining traction with the release of “Full Circle”, their lead single from their upcoming debut, due out in March 2013.

Slightly reminiscent of Band Of Horses, “Full Circle” floats quick harmonies over a delicious, liquidy guitar. Dynamic and hook laden, it’s easy listening but never dumbed down, so consider that “next big thing” status nearly set in stone.

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Alicia Keys jumps into the flame

 

Alicia Keys

“Girl On Fire (Inferno Version)” ft. Nicki Minaj
Alicia Keys knows how to do soulful, and she riffs self empowerment like no other woman in pop music. The title track from her just released fifth record, “Girl On Fire” has been released in three different versions, and the inferno version features an unusually subdued Nicki Minaj doing her best Marilyn Monroe.

Keys doesn’t open up her lungs and belt like she is want to do, but the huge drums and piano, coupled with Nicki Minaj’s spitting words, more than make up for the lack of it.

 

Lisa Mitchell stretches out on second record

Lisa Mitchell

Bless This Mess

(Warner)

Lisa Mitchell’s sophomore album was never going to be an easy one to make. Her debut, 2009’s Wonder, defied all expectations, and turned the Australian Idol contestant into a certified indie darling, nabbing the No. 7 position for “Coin Laundry” in the Triple J Hottest 100 and more impressively, taking home the Australian Music Prize.

The formula which made Wonder so successful was simple: sunny, blissed out pop tunes that were easy on the ears but intelligent enough to keep you listening. Bless This Mess takes a different road, with Mitchell stretching her musical muscles and stripping back the quirkiness.

The openers, “Providence” and “So Much To Say”, rely heavily on the piano with strange orchestral flourishes and vocal chants emerging at odd times. The strength lies in Mitchell’s songwriting, with enough minor falls and major lifts and pop hooks to hit the spot. Things get a little messy on “The Story of the Raven and the Mushroom Man”, where Mitchell tries a little bit of everything and winds up sounding trite. Likewise the sitar raga of “The Present” aims for George Harrison but gets Rebecca Black instead. The sunny bubbles are still here though with the single “Spiritus” racing along with calypso drums and threatening to explode with cheerfulness.

Slower tracks such as “The Land Beyond the Front Door” are throwbacks to Wonder days, with Mitchell’s fragile voice wafted over a simple backing. It rubs up against the title track, a huge power ballad threaded with earworm hooks that’s bound to become a festival staple.

“Diamond In the Rough” and “I Know You’re Somewhere” are beautiful gems that come at the end of the record, with Mitchell’s vocals gentle against a piano and guitar. The raga returns with an 8 minute dub outro which fares a lot better than her previous attempt.

With so many ideas mashed together in a single record, Bless This Mess comes off a bit untidy, the result of Mitchell doing too much with too little time. There are enough glimpses of Mitchell’s formidable talent though, to make this a solid record and a steady platform for the future.

Key Tunes: “I Know You’re Somewhere”, “Bless This Mess”, “Spiritus”

Indie dream pop from Gypsy & The Cat

Gypsy & The Cat

“Only In December”

The Late Blue

Melbourne duo Gypsy & The Cat have made a pretty good name for themselves releasing easy to digest dream pop, and on second record, The Late Blue, they stretch themselves into deep indie daydreams.

The opening track fromthe record, “Only In December” is a colourful jumble of low thumbed bass, jangly guitars and clicky percussion, all hosed down with heavy reverb. Slightly reminiscent of MGMT, it goes down a treat.

UNKLE messes with LDR

Lana Del Rey

“Ride (UNKLE Remix)”

UNKLE, James Lavelle’s trip hop project, have taken a electro sword to LDR’s recent single, “Ride”.

Retaining the lazy vocals of the original, UNKLE musses it up with a lively pulse and some seriously skittered beats. The delayed timing raises some good goosebumps, and turns the Rick Rubin produced ballad into a crazily good tune.

Rihanna’s shiny shiny new single

Rihanna, “Diamonds”

Unapologetic

The lead single from her just released seventh record, “Diamonds”, is a curiously demure and restrained song from the Barbadian artist.

The track, which was written by four people (including Australian artist, Sia), doesn’t aim for the dance floor like Rihanna’s previous hits, instead opting for a slower, fuller feeling. The synths are sugary, the harmonies slick, but it lacks the crucial punch and winds up a little dull.

MMJ’s Jim James sets out on his lonesome

Jim James, “Know Til Now”

Regions of Light and Sound and God

Ahead of the release of his first solo record, My Morning Jacket’s front man Jim James has let loose a stunning new single.

MMJ fans may despair, for James has left behind the slashing guitars and big choruses and aims for something a little left of field: sulty, psychedelic R&B that drifts amid synth drones and falling harmonies.