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.

Advertisements

BREAKING ARTIST: Owl Eyes

Owl-Eyes-Closure--360x356

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.

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.

ALBUM REVIEW: Half Moon Run- Dark Eyes

half-moon-run-dark-eyes-artwork-1400

Half Moon Run

Dark Eyes

What goes on up there in Canada?? For such a polite, chilly country they’ve managed to turn out some of the most prolific and successful artists of the last 50 years (Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, Leonard Cohen, Alanis Morisette, Tegan and Sara…), completely altering the musical landscape in a thoroughly unreserved and un-Canadian way.

From this great bed of influences, it’s not surprising that Canada still cultivates some of the most interesting music around. Emerging from Montreal with debut record Dark Eyes, indie rock outfit Half Moon Run have created one of the most impressive albums of recent years. In just under 40 minutes, the group have cut 11 tracks that balance skittered percussion with dreamy vocals, intricate guitar lines with bouncing keyboards, and three part harmonies that the Dixie Chicks would kill for.

It’s this profound ear for balance that gets the mind humming. Songs that manage to hold down atmospheric soundscapes with danceable grooves at their base work so well you wonder why nobody does this all the time. As a bewitching case in point, opener ‘Full Circle’ is a cold piece of folk – a thumping percussive beat with Devon Portielje slip sliding his way through the lyrics atop a crisp acoustic. On the jittery ‘Call Me In The Afternoon’, the harmonies touch down momentarily before leaping to the next line, spurred on by the clacking drum sticks.

They’re alright on the slower stuff as well. ‘Need It’ is perhaps the obligatory love song, but luckily the pillow soft harmonies will get you through. ‘Nerve’ may just be the standout, a twisting mid-tempo groove with a softly pawing hook. Sure, they may shamelessly channel Radiohead on cruisers ‘Drug You’ and ‘Give Up’, but it’s still viewed through their own prism. And it’s that distinct, complicated prism that make Dark Eyes such a sonically arresting record.

Rating: 9.0/10 

The Love Junkies thrash it out on single ‘Maybelene’

lovejunkies_photo

The Love Junkies

Maybelene

Built on a spine crunching bass line, new single from Perth thrashers The Love Junkies is a bruiser of epic proportions.

If you’re still able to resist, the throat tearing rasps from singer Mitch McDonald probably will get you in the end, but there’s a surprising amount of melody hidden within the chaos that keep you interested even when you’re ears are exploding.

ALBUM REVIEW: Sticky Fingers – “Caress Your Soul”

Sticky Fingers - Caress Your Soul Album Art

Sticky Fingers 

Caress Your Soul 

(MGM)

Some sounds are made for warm afternoons spent lying on grass, chewing on a stem of wheat, watching clouds roll across the big blue. Rage Against The Machine and Pendulum don’t fit this bill, but Sticky Fingers sure do.

Having firmly established themselves as one of the hardest-touring acts in the country, the question remained of whether the Sydney band could translate their brand of supple psyche reggae into studio magic.

With production overseen by Dann Hume (the go-to indie guy behind Lisa Mitchell, Alpine and Gossling), Caress Your Soul is a mellow fusion of lo-fi reggae jams with killer hooks hidden beneath its loping gait. The bouncing, interlocking rhythms supplied by the drums and bass skilfully avoid any downtempo quagmires that dub music often becomes ensnared in.

There are handy flashes of experimentation too – opener “How To Fly” stretches out some washy keyboard drones before the bass thumps in and everything is hosed down with reverb. “Freddy Crabs” goes one further with shimmering synths, looped vocals and a hefty psychedelic bent.

Most of the time though, Caress Your Soul deals in warm, languid reggae. Standout cut “Bootleg Rascal” sways heavily atop a thick bassline and delivers a sleek, liquidy guitar solo. The title track (which snagged number 61 in the Hottest 100), comes straight after and goes for the pop jugular, upping the beat and abandoning the laid back pulse for a frenzied jam. Likewise, “Clouds And Cream” seems ready made for the stoner dance floor. “Australia Street” and “These Girls” come off a little half-baked, lacking the vibrant array of colours of the surrounding tracks.

Light and dreamy but with considerable depth, Caress Your Soul reads like a Sunday afternoon – full of warmth and soul.

Caress Your Soul is out now.

Emma Louise covers “Tessellate”

Image

Emma Louise

Tessellate

(Like A Version Cover) 

Emma Louise knows moody. Choosing to cover the Alt-J creeper “Tessellate” for Triple J’s Like A Version, Louise takes the darkness and stretches it out, swathing the high floating harmonies and liquidy guitar lines with lashings of reverb.