Music

Music

August 27 2009

San Francisco duo Girls are masters of simplicity. From their love of stripped back and fuzzed-out garage rock tunes to their deliberately direct album title (it’s literally just called Album) Girls keep everything simple and immediate, and it really works for them.

On Album, the duo of Chris Owens and Chet White traverse through a set of sun drenched San Fran tales, from top-down roadtrips, to hazy trip-outs and wistful bust ups. While that might come off as a bit scattered, Album never feels ill-considered, and really Girls are just in a rush to move onto their next creative spark, never fussing over their production credentials or instrumentation.

As it stands, Album is pretty much perfectly of the moment. Whether you’re in the Southern Hemisphere and starting to head into the warmer months or you’re in Northern Hemisphere and are already feeling nostalgic for the fading summer moments, this is for you. – Dave Ruby Howe
 

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Music

July 24 2009

Hot on the heels (or rather casually surfing behind) the success of psychedelic pop acts like MGMT, Animal Collective and long dormant sample-masters The Avalanches comes this new wave of blissed out artists with an affection for skewed pop-music and windswept psychdelica. Already the victim of a host of silly genre names – including no-fi, dreamwave and the piss-taking chillgaze – the emergence of this scene has been dominated by the likes of Washed Out, Emil & Friends and unquestionably, mystery-clad US duo Neon Indian.
 
The brainchild of former Ghosthustler and current VEGA mainman Alan Palomo, Neon Indian have already kicked up whirlwind of hype in their relatively short career and it’s easy to see why. With their debut LP, the appropriately named Psychic Chasms, Neon Indian successfully build this sprawling, psychedelic landscape of misshapen samples and bottomed-out synthesizers that feels like the perfect mixtape for a spontaneous cross-country roadtrip, twisting and turning through desert roads and star-clad night skies.
 
Whatever we’re calling this genre it is all sorts of fantastic. – Dave Ruby Howe

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Music

July 10 2009

There’s something uniquely Danish about Fagget Fairys; an aggressive modernity stirred to a potent beat that marks the duo (that’s MC Ena and DJ Sensimilla) as being distinctly of the Jutland, a place where political, social and artistic progressivism is the norm rather than the exception.

It’s in Feed the Horse that the duo has produced a dexterous debut album. Built on Sensimilla’s filthy, sweat-smeared bass lines, Fagget Fairys’ brand of ghetto-funk churns, pumps, wrestles and writhes. Feed the Horse is almost salacious in its intent, and you can’t help but listen without feeling either bizarrely elated or subtly violated, or perhaps just both.

“I think the album worked out in a really good way,” explains Ena in her signature elastic style, her mind occasionally tripping over her tongue in a torrent of engaging verbosity.  “Everything happened at the right time, because we had our EP out last year with two tracks on it that became very popular on the music blogs, so we already had a good basis on which we could then produce. When we did the album, we did it half in New York and half in Copenhagen, so we were working in these lots of two weeks at a time, where we would go into the studio and not come out for two weeks basically.”
 
Perhaps the biggest coup with Feed the Horse was the recruitment of Grammy award-winning Danish producer, Rasmus Bille Bähncke. Sensimilla has plenty of experience shaking clubs across Denmark, but working with Bähncke was a whole new experience entirely.

“He’s a really, really amazing guy and I think it was a bit like love at first sight for all of us,” Sensimilla explains. “You have the perfect match personally and you have the perfect match professionally and I think he was our perfect match in a professional sense. He has a good ear for what’s catchy in the pop genre and I have a really good ear for the underground thing, so the combination on the album is really interesting I think.”

Fagget Fairys may be destroying sound systems worldwide, but they’re simply the sharpened spearhead of what’s turning out to be a gang busting groundswell in Danish popular music.

“There are so many really interesting sounds coming out of Denmark,” says Sensimilla.  “I think it’s being recognised in a few places in the world that we have some strong names now and that’s really exciting!” Exciting doesn’t even begin to describe the surge in great Danish music that Fagget Fairys are leading, with a bustling and dynamic community of artists in the pack, the scene is on the verge of a musical triumph of truly epic proportions. – Matt Shea

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Music

July 9 2009

Speaking to Elly Jackson, the flame-haired singer and focal point of UK duo La Roux, on the eve of her ascent into the realms of pop-stardom - that being the pinnacle reaches of the pop charts - is interesting in that it's an incredible achievement for an electro duo, who regardless of their enormous potential don't fit the mold of conventional chart-darlings, and also because Jackson doesn't see herself popstar yet.

"Yeah, it's very weird in a way. I never expected us to do well on the pop charts like we have done, but yeah, it's nice anyway," Elly says, referring to La Roux's two most recent singles, In For The Kill and Bulletproof, hitting number 2 and 1 on the UK pop charts. "When In For The Kill first entered the charts we were chuffed about it, but then it started to climb and it reached number 2, so we were sharing space with genuine pop stars," she explains from the back of La Roux's tour van. "I was just happy because it meant that people were listening to our music. That's the important thing."

But despite the double-act's runaway success La Roux aren't a flash in the pan, as Elly states emphatically. "A lot of people think that we've just kind of appeared over night, but that's not the case at all. We've been doing this for years. It took a couple of years of recording and writing together to find out what we liked and what we didn't like, and then last year we started taking that around to labels and people who wanted to work with. It's been a long time coming for us, so if people think we've just sprung up out of nowhere, they're wrong."

As Elly suggests, the La Roux project has been developing and gestating for a number of years before taking off. The singer explains that the years leading up to their self titled album were spent "struggling" with songs. "It started out very different to what you hear now. We were doing things in an organic kind of way. It wasn't strictly folk music, but there were a lot of acoustic instruments involved. I grew up listening to a lot of folk music so I guess that was a big influence at the time," she says fankly. "But our songs weren't working. It was difficult for us. Like, the songs were good, but there was just something that wasn't 100% right. So we took a break from things for a little while and I started listening to a lot of electronic music, a lot of synthpop and stuff. Ben ([Langmaid], the other side of La Roux) and I got together again and decided to try things out with some electronic sounds, and it just clicked. The songs finally made sense.”

La Roux by La Roux is out now. Hit the band’s website for a free download pack. - Dave Ruby Howe
 

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Music

June 21 2009

I hate the term ‘comeback’.” That’s Casey Spooner, one half of Fischerspooner, the iconic electro duo who’ve just released their third album (Entertainment) after a four-year gap in recording. “It’s not a comeback because we didn’t actually leave,” implores Casey. He’s right too. Fischerspooner haven’t been hiding after their last album, Odyssey, failed to ignite in the same way that electroclash touchstone #1 did, they’ve just been busy working on other facets of the Fischerspooner universe. “Releasing albums isn’t all we do, we’re performance artists so we could be working on stage shows, theatre pieces, ballets or installations.”
 
Yet for a duo that can work (successfully) in so many different creative arenas, there is something appealing about the musical side of Fischerspooner that lured Casey and creative partner Warren Fischer back for Entertainment. “I often wonder why we do it,” Casey remarks with a pause for contemplation. “This job can be terrible. I haven’t had a day off since the beginning of the year,” he moans. “But I think, in the end, Fischerspooner as a musical entity offers us a chance to incorporate a lot of different elements and open things up for collaborations. For us, it’s never just an album. There’s a stage show we’ve got to think about and with that comes choreography, costuming, design as well as art and image direction. We’re always thinking of new stuff to do and who we can do it with to make it work right.”
 
Whatever they’ve done in the last four years has worked, as Entertainment shows off a charismatic and invigorated Fischerspooner. One minute they’re swanning through some pulsating electro (The Best Revenge), the next it’s brooding dance music for androids (Money Can’t Dance) or fractured and futuristic pop (the stunning Danse en France). Entertainment is an album filled with unbridled imagination, but more importantly it’s an album that sees the realisation of all these ideas. “We worked really hard on this record, and we’re proud of it,” Casey says grinning. “I guess I don’t mind too much if people see it as a comeback. It just means that we’ve been through it all. First we were loved by everyone, then hated and now people are excited to hear from us again. I quite like that feeling.”
 
It’s good to have them back. – Dave Ruby Howe

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Music

May 20 2009




It's hard to imagine any band that's able to utilise the studio as effectively as Grizzly Bear. The Brooklyn-based quartet seamlessly weaves instruments into textures, rendering music that is almost irrelevant to discuss in traditional terms of rhythm and arrangement. But Grizzly Bear's art is not something to be thought about, it's something to be felt; it sweeps through you, feathering imagination and unlocking emotion. While this is prodigiously modern music, the cleverness of its coordination and restraint of delivery makes it seem of a porous and playful past, leaving the listener lying on a hardwood floor in the 60s, reading Kerouac and smoking Lucky Strikes. A spectacular triumph, Veckatimest is as absolutely enchanting as it is thoroughly impressive. - Matt Shea

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Music

May 7 2009



Death. Abuse. Illness. Heavy-handed subject matter that, in hands less-skilled than those of US indie outfit The Antlers, could have ended up sounding like a concept album scripted by the guy who writes the sad bits in Grey's Anatomy.

Sentimental, introspective indie music has produced some of the best and worst music of this decade and The Antlers - like forerunners Arcade Fire, whose aptly named Funeral also took in ruminations on death and isolation - manage to create an album in Hospice that pours out more like poetic diary entries than a ham-fisted attempt at a linear, tear-jerking narrative. Musically, The Antlers build on the tension between intimate and sprawling dynamics. Beginning with a textured drone that moves into the album's most openly vigil-inviting track, Kettering, The Antlers maintain an affinity with ambience and abstract noises that makes proceedings both more sinister and disorienting. The vocals are suitably thin and at their loudest there's still an underlying fragility to it all.

This could have easily resulted in a big mess, but it's in treading so close to that line and ultimately pulling it off that Hospice becomes that much more exciting and vital. - Matt Hickey

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Music

April 27 2009



Having already released their first single on iconic Parisian label Kitsune, German duo Hey Today! are gracing another prestigious boutique imprint, Bang Gang 12 Inches, as spearheaded by notorious Australian party-people the Bang Gang. The result of this hookup is Wonderman, a mutant disco mess of spine-shaking beats and glitched-out vocoder tweaks. From the skyscraper-sized drums to its wild and wide-eyed breakdown, Wonderman is super-powered music from two super-powered producers. And now that Justice have jumped the shark with that U2 remix, we could use some new heroes. - Dave Ruby Howe

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Music

April 17 2009



Poney Poney's latest EP is a glorious melting pot of French cool. The Parisian band - who've been touted as the scruffy, rock-inclined younger brothers to Phoenix - have cooked up a jubilant and unmistakably French slice of power-pop with When Do You Wanna Stop Working?

Produced by electro-maestro and countrymen Para One, and out on one of France's finest labels, Institubes , the single hits all the sweet spots, from the driving beat to the squiggly, erratic guitars. And the solemn-soul remix from Rob (keyboardist for Phoenix's live show among other projects) is just the cherry on top. Or the chocolate on the éclair, if we're really trying. - Dave Ruby Howe
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Music

April 9 2009


Like a less rhythmically-complex Yeasayer meets the electro-psychedlia of MGMT, Apes and Androids are the latest in a lineage of downtown New York bands striving to meld digital and analogue elements and are blurring the high/low art binary of studio experimentation with the dancefloor. Since adding synth lines and MPC beats to guitar compositions is no longer edgy enough in itself to sustain interest, Apes and Androids have moved to make songs with hypnotic structures and arrangement fluctuations to compensate. 

Although the two piece may seem like the obvious culmination of their fellow Brooklynites, they have managd to produce an album (Blood Moon) with a unique stamp on the genre that's as exciting to dance to and as it is to grab some headphones and curl up with. Exciting stuff that belies the modest conditions in which it was produced. - Matt Hickey
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