Music

Music

October 18 2008

Much like designers, musicians are continually swinging through history, cherry-picking the best bits from long-forgotten eras and reinterpreting them with a modern slant. Recently, we’ve trudged through nostalgic New Order clones and the post-post-punk boom with bands like Interpol and Editors, but now it would seem that the much maligned genre of disco is coming back. So break out the bellbottoms because disco is about to be cool again.



FAN DEATH

Fan Death are the princesses of new-disco strut. Their stunning debut single, Veronica’s Veil, sounds like it was recorded in the early hours of the morning after the Canadian duo stumbled out of an all-nighter at Studio 54, their breath gone from dancing and their heads ablaze with dreams of disco stardom. From the ever-so-perfect string sweeps, the throbbing bassline, the shimmering production courtesy of Erol Alkan (Mystery Jets, Late Of The Pier), and the hollow-eyed vocal, it is truly thrilling stuff that manages to breathe life back into disco.



SISTERS OF TRANSISTORS

Not content with leading the genre’s renaissance, UK revivalists Sisters Of Transistors seem to have carved their sub-genre in the resurgence of disco, with what we’re calling mystery-disco. Not only does the group have a fondness for capes and shooting their videos in 3D, but there’s also a hint of unseen orchestration behind this twisted organ quartet. Pulling the strings is Graham Massey of 808 State fame, and the only person on this list who’s old enough to remember the heights of disco. Massey and the ‘Sisters create some brilliantly dark yet oddly danceable disco, with undeniable grooves working under the looping, hypnotic organ swirls. It’s mesmerizing and dramatic, and exactly what disco should be.



HEARTBREAK

Fan Death traverses a more traditional, platform-boots and mirror-balls era of disco, but UK-by-way-of-Argentina two-piece, Heartbreak, reaches back to somewhere between Giorgio Morodor’s arrival on the scene and the eventual death of disco when the synths-‘n-eyeliner crowd of the 1980s broke out. Heartbreak is more Human League and early Depeche Mode than Chic. They’re all about waves of bubbling keyboards and the bombastic production gloss of an ABC record. But beneath this there is a clear debt to disco, from their would-be Moroder arpeggio fetish, to the group’s penchant for Bee Gees-like falsettos. It’s scarily good music. — Dave Ruby Howe



Music

October 16 2008


The Death Set make music akin to being mauled by an enraged pitbull. It's a messy, violent and bloody mix of rabid gutter-dwelling punk and frenetic electronic noise that's consistently in your face. So when the Baltimore via Sydney group decided to link arms with infamous Australian party-starters the Bang Gang Deejays for a remix release on their self-established Bang Gang 12 Inches imprint, it was safe to assume that the final result of the hookup would be as twisted and terrific as the source material.

With an enviable selection of technically and stylistically diverse remixers on board, each artist’s revision on the vinyl-only collection somehow manages to remain faithful to the Death Set's vicious energy and style, so much so that the partnerships between band and remixer seem believable and ultimately natural. From the squeal and bounce party-funk of Bonde Do Role's take on Distressed, to the robo-disco of Treasure Fingers' mix, and the glitch and grind of the G.L.O.V.E.S. remix, each wildly different remix still screams Death Set. The whole package is an impressively warped look through the eyes of the Death Set and into their raucous sound-meets-wall/face-meets-bitumen world. - Dave Ruby Howe

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Music

October 13 2008



You kind of have to feel a little bit bad for Foals. When everyone else was out getting girls, each and every member of the band was most likely holed up indoors, listening to Gang Of Four's Entertainment! and doing their philosophy homework. Their tracks are such focused lessons in tight, mathematical indie rock that’s there’s no doubt in my mind that they perennially struck out with the ladies. But we mustn’t feel too bad for Foals, after all it lead them to harness all that angst, awkwardness and romantic dysfunction and stuff it inside the Antidotes LP, which is still dripping out tantalizing singles, the latest of which happens to be the standout Olympic Airways.

While the remixes from minimal royalty Supermayer and disco revivalist Ewan Pearson are a big draw, we can’t forget the original Olympic Airways which has got the same scrupulously constructed rattle and hum you'd expect from UK group, from the fret-choking guitar work to the nod-'n-jerk chorus. And that soaring build midway through is like a fringe-swinging cherry on top. It's the band doing what they do best with an air of total effortlessness. And it's not getting old anytime soon. - Dave Ruby Howe

Foals MySpace

Watch Olympic Airways directed by Dave Ma

Music

October 8 2008

It’s difficult to find a new world culture that's as musically rich as that of New Zealand. Picking up your brother’s guitar and starting a band with your best friend and his sister is a rite of passage for most Kiwis. The Cool Hunter finds three grown-up versions of these backyard operations who are now taking the music of New Zealand to all corners of the globe, and that's just scratching the surface.



Liam Finn is very much a product of his genealogy, but that only partly explains the appeal of his beguiling music. Finn plays through a memory of family holidays and kids toying in the backyard while his delicate arrangements cast you into a spell conducted only by your own reminiscences.



Equal parts fastidious and inspired, there is barely a hip-hop album coming out of New Zealand that doesn’t have P-Money's production and DJ nous behind it. The epitome of the quiet performer, P-Money keeps schtum and lets the stomp of his gleaming productions blow your headphones.



In a world plagued by the manic, Fat Freddys Drop stand back, holding up a ‘hi-tek soul’ elixir.  This is music to be shared by close friends over a quiet cookout that runs from the long breezy summer afternoon into a warm, star-lit evening. By Matt Shea


Music

August 25 2008


Empire of The Sun. Little is known - no bio, no press kits, no explanations. The vital components are Nick Littlemore (Pnau) and Luke Steele (Sleepy Jackson) and the music is a precise dovetail of the two. The silky strings, tight-strums and cheeky hi-hats give 'Walking On A Dream' a distinctly French-house flavour. In stark contrast, the accompanying clip in all its weird and colourful glory was shot entirely in Shanghai. In the words of the song, this is the sound of two men at the peak of their powers 'pushing up the hill, searching for the thrill of it'.

Download the Sam La More remix here - Nick Christie

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Music

July 31 2008




Alan McGee, the man who gave the world Oasis and The Libertines, has found the latest diamond in the rough. Scottish band Glasvegas are a four-piece that manages to combine all that was good from the Ronettes-era with all that is bad from modern-day Glasgow to brilliant effect.

Despite their obvious influences that range from Phil Spector to Elvis, what they come up with is so remarkably unique that they sound like The Jesus & Mary Chain getting drunk and having a go at covering the Grease soundtrack.

They draw you in with euphoric and unbreakable walls of sound but there is something so unmistakably bleak - something so unmistakably Scottish - about their sound that, in 2008, they manage to say a hell of a lot more about the state of things than sweaty, prepubescent boys with guitars ever could.

Lead singer James Allan has done for a thick Glasweigan accent what Alex Turner did for Sheffield and what Mike Skinner did for Mockney.  And singing along in cod-Glaswegian is all part of the Glasvegas experience, as it is live where they excel. - Rob Facey

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Music

July 21 2008



Joining together two modern musical madmen like Beck and Danger Mouse seems almost dangerous, like it could easily descend into a battle of two outrageous imaginations. Instead, ‘Modern Guilt’ comes off like a sonic peanut butter and jelly sandwich, where the different elements meld together so simply and naturally that it defies the incomprehensible bent of their partnership. Beck and his music have always belonged in the sixties and Danger Mouse’s captures this in a twisted dream state. You only need to taste 'Modern Guilt' once before you’re stuck in its kaleidoscopic rapture. - Matt Shea

Music

July 14 2008



Hercules And Love Affair, the musical odyssey of DJ Andy Butler and the likes of Antony Hegarty from Antony & The Johnsons, are the current stars of the dance scene.  Their sound is so sleek and shiny that it makes you want to don your rollerskates and glide right back to the 70s.

Only, this is disco for the modern era. More underground than the pointless retro homages that clog up club playlists every weekend, there is something irresistibly dark and alluring hidden between the synths, trumpets and smooth vocals.   Music critics are fawning over the album and the fashionistas are becoming wise to their ways too (Chanel used ‘You Belong’ in a Fall/Winter fashion show).

Tracks like ‘Blind’ and ‘Hercules Theme’ are so fresh they leave you aching to strut your stuff. Only in a really cool John Travolta disco way.

So, as Hercules And Love Affair finally starts to get the recognition it deserves, The Cool Hunter pays tribute to the label/production house DFA Records behind what could be the album of 2008 by looking back over their best musical creations.

The Rapture ‘House of Jealous Lovers’

Although it’s little more than Talking Heads fighting Television over a synthesizer, this soundtracked a million teenage parties and had drunken scenesters admiring New Yorkers who had a penchant for jerky riffs and cowbells, rather than skinny jeans and Converse.

LCD Soundsystem ‘Daft Punk Is Playing At My House’

James Murphy has a vocal style so unique it needs to be heard to be fully understood. Imagine a bear with a cold singing in the shower and you’re halfway there. Here, he simultaneously scares off the neighbours while inviting in for an impromptu rave.

The Juan Maclean ‘Happy House’

This dirty track is so sleazy it has ‘4am at some grotty indie disco, staring at some god awful concoction of a drink you’ve ordered and wondering whether that person with the angel wings and eyeliner is actually a man’ written all over it.

Hot Chip ‘Over and Over’

Not big but certainly clever, this is the sound of pre Nu Rave dance, when crisp yet clunky beats belonged to the streets rather than the High Street. By Rob Facey

Music

July 9 2008

Economics, technology, ice hockey, tennis, personal grooming: the Swedish list of triumphs is long and extensive. With the new breed of indie pop artists emerging from the kingdom, the rest of the world has yet something else to be jealous about. Here are three brilliant exemplars:



When Lykke Li sings her voice is so delicate, so ethereal that she sounds as though she’s transmitting from a submarine stranded on the seafloor.  What’s more, Li brilliantly plays to this amazing strength, matching it to productions so lean and carefully stripped back that they drive you straight to the heart of her bristling songcraft.

Lacrosse



West coast-flavoured guitars struck through with bittersweet lyrics and anchored by a skin tight rhythm section, with their debut ‘The New Year Will Be For You And Me’ this sextet have written the soundtrack to the relationship you’ve just ended and are taking a weeklong surf trip to forget.  Sweet, cathartic tunes to sooth your irascible soul.

El Perro Del Mar



Imagine that Burt Bacarach once shared a piano stool with Brian Wilson while Neil Young crooned a lyric about the trio’s favourite girl. The girl they were singing about was probably El Perro Del Mar’s Sarah Assbring. Assbring matches beautiful laments on busted love with music that squeezes every last drop of hurt from her stricken soul. Amazing stuff. By Matt Shea

Music

July 3 2008




Ah Presets, you haven't let us down. When a pre-release copy of The Presets new album 'Apocalypso' landed on the Coolhunter desk last week, it was with great anticipation that we gave it a first spin. And Bam! straight away, it hit us - that crispness of sound, Julian Hamilton's semi-comatose delivery and the wailing synths - it was indeed The Presets we have come to know and love. 'Apocalypso' is a more complete album than its predecessor 'Beams', the songs more fully formed and subtly layered.

With the pounding 'My People' a club staple for months now, the album's second single 'This Boy's In Love' has all the hallmarks of glittering synthpop classic with its rising verses and dream-like chorus backed by tear-drop piano keys.  Elsewhere, 'If I Know You' sails by on skittering hi-hats and while Hamilton croons atop pulsating bass. On the album closer 'Anywhere', The Presets get emotional as sparse four-to the floor drums and empty vocals get overtaken by bouncy synth stabs and a New Order-esque, lighters-in-the-air crescendo.

The new album 'Apocalypso' drops on April 12, followed by a world tour. It's going to be a monster year for The Presets. By Nick Christie.

www.myspace.com/thepresets
 

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