The world of commercial music attaches itself to female artists who often make us question what the fuss about and makes us question, of course we mention no names, but sure you know who we speak of. It is the talent and uniqueness of true female artists like Roisin Murphy, who are the ones that really matter. It baffles many of us why such artists do not get the global exposure that they so deserve. I guess the silver lining for us, is that we get to make them our own, relate too and keep them as our little secret. We can say the same for the ever so talented Torres, who delivers an intriguing album that had our writer Jerome hoping big things for the young artist. London outfit Django Django refuse to give into the usual commercial pressurs of a second album and deliver an intricate, unique and interesting pop album. Finally, Nico spent the week listening to Hiatus Kaiyote an album riddled with Future Jazz and what is labelled as Neo-Soul, this is truly original and commading music.
Title Hairless Toys
Label Play It Again Sam
Moments Of Moloko
Stand Out Gone Fishing, House of Glass
Ah Roisin Murphy. For anyone who is vaguely familiar with Moloko’s seminal hit ‘Bring It Back’ there is very distinct form that plays out within the confines of Murphy’s latest tablature neatly entitled ‘Heirless Toys’ … a frentic, neo disco assemblage replete with lights and synchronized dancing. This week I had a squizz at the goods … and some mighty fine goods if I do say so myself.
I loves me some disco. I think I have my mother to blame for this hindrance because long before she was exposing me to the very music synonymous with bouffant haired melodrama that played out in incessantly down at the local disco tech, I felt them grooves deep down in my blood. For if it were not for Cheryl Lynn and the falsetto Brothers Gibb, where in the world would I be? Admittedly it did crash and burn with people holding mass bonfires in the name of freedom at the dawn of the eighties but I hold no grudges where this genre is concerned. It was a whimsical, linen suit loving time that people quite often try to forget but I think there is a pronounced place in musical culture for disco that sneaks into its subconscious and pops up at times in the most unexpected places.
So yes, Roison Murphy. I liked this album, its definitely what I would refer to usually as ‘fringe’ as in, it nestles comfortable on the outskirts of the genre, even at times resembling something of an Atari soundtrack in certain intonations but surprisingly, I wasn’t totally hating. It was brash in some moments, there are synths that are jarring in the most bizarre places but it also evoked a quirky sense of nostalgia that really captured my attention. All the tropes are there but in a fairly displaced and at times unsavory fashion. Is it bad? No, I don’t think so. But ultimately, these are dance floor bangers that adhere to a certain kind of formula in the end, and they do so in a manner that is pleasing and for the most part, distinctly New York Ball Room (Enter ‘Gone Fishing’) but, I really enjoyed the nuanced nods to the era, that were kind of mashed up against moments of more garish overtures.
There are also the notably present sexual overtones that flurry on occasion and at other times are more sedate. It is quite deliberately darker in moments but I think the juxtaposition against that upbeat disco tempo is a savory concoction that works incredibly well. On the whole? A solid album that earns its place rightfully so in your extensive collection, irrespective of your tastes. Thoughtful, frenetic and pure, unbridled disco tech gooey goodness.
Album Title Sprinter
Label Partisan Records
Genre Pop, Rock, Grunge
Moments Of PJ harvey
Stand Out Strange Hellos , A Proper Polish Welcome, The Harshest Light
Have you ever heard songs (or an album in this case) that you hear that surprise so much on the very first listen that you wonder how you ever lived without? Well, for me this was my first case this month with Torres. Two years after the critical success of her first album (Torres in 2013), that she recorded when she was still a student, Mackenzie Scott, a young singer, musician and songwritter native of Nashville, releases new follow up Sprinter, under the label Partisan Records.
Immersed and collaborated with the producer Rob Ellis (Whom we owe several PJ Harvey’s albums (of which we feel a lot of his footprint and inspiration here) and Adrian Utley, Portishead guitarist, Torres offers a very personnal second album, which refers to her and her life, mixing sensitivity and rhythm so perfectly together.
And what a nice surprise! From my first listen, I instantly fall under the charm of that voice, this atmosphere created by Mackenzie Scott, who manages, through 9 pieces of fine songstry taking inbe pop, grunge and real emotional that for me is completely catchy and memorable.
All songs are written and composed by Torres, who is as good to put words on melodies that she is to find catchy compositions to go along with her stories. A young and talented artist (she is barely 24 years old) who writes songs and plays guitar with a surprising maturity and gusto.
She has an exhilarating yet contradicting voice, both sweet and harrowing, simple and complicated, inspired and innovative, just as the majority of the songs that make the album.
Scott delivers a different register of rock throughout this personal album but never loses sight of her emotion and energy. From the “pop grunge” songs , which can no longer being cleared from my seduced mind, such as Strange Hellos that opens the album in a masterly way with its saturationed riff base, to more intimate songs, such as the accoustic The Exchange, a simple and soft guitar- voice song of almost 8 minutes, which itself closes the album. The Harshest Light (who, i think, definitely worth listening) remains, among the albums most full of richness, one of the song that, in my opinion, showcases Scott’s musical skill, risk-take and genuine success.
For me this is one of the best discoveries of the year, to whom I have not found any flaws and the result is an album that easily slides up into my top 25 of the most listened songs on my iTunes.
An artist who really has only just begun but who, I think (and hope), has not finished being talked about. Seriously, this is an impossible album not to love!!
Album Title Choose Your Weapon
Label Flying Buddha, Sony Music
Genre Neo-Soul, Future Jazz
Moments Of Flying Lotus, Erykah Badu, Raiden X
Stand Ou: Shaolin Monk Motherfunk, Atari, The Lung
Future soul four-piece Hiatus Kaiyote have been a breath of fresh air in the Australian music scene. Making waves on local radio stations and overseas, this grammy-nominated outfit are currently In the midst of a USA tour. Their much anticipated second album shows a continuation of their silky smooth, sensually rhythmic style, with an increased compositional vocabulary. Fans will rejoice at this triumphant return, and first time listeners with a predilection for jazz-infused electronica beat making will be hooked.
Tension and calm are revealed to be two names for the same sensation in Choose Your Weapon. Beneath the mellow and melodious rhythm and blues crooning, a melange of mind-bending rhythms and forward-thinking explorations bubble below, and at times burst out in a glorious wave. In the three years since their debut LP, Hiatus Kaiyote have taken their strengths to new levels, stepping up their game to produce a masterwork.
Their modus operandi has long been clear: layering frontwoman Nai Palm’s alluring vocals on twisting harmonies, pulsing electronics and stuttering rhythms into an exhilarating adventure that both perplexes and pleases. The brief opener introduces a fixation with chiptunesque electronica and belies the out of the box approach to composition that leaves Choose Your Weapon outside of conventional descriptions of genre. Clocking in at sixty- nine minutes, most songs traverse a variety of ideas over five or six minutes. Eschewing typical song structures, through-composed tracks make this album unpredictable to the point of erratic, yet every song manages to elegantly link disparate parts together, time and time again.
Dripping with artistry, Choose Your Weapon is a sensual aural massage that never fails to grab attention. Even so, it doesn’t fall into a state of over-intellectualisation. Shaolin Monk Motherfunk intrigues with Asian-influenced instrumental solos and creamy, floaty feminine vocals whilst modulations and mixed-time signatures combine to pack a punch. Nascent low-art electronic soundtracks are referenced in Laputa and Atari, to great success mirroring Flying Lotus’ recent live performances. It’s chilled and exciting, amazingly pretty and listenable, especially given it relies upon their powerfully serene, hooky merits to sustain attention throughout.
With prowess for the artificial and loads of human groove, Hiatus Kaiyote appear to have no limits to what they can achieve. What else It may not be an album you listen to every day, but every time you start it you’ll won’t be turning it off until it’s done.
Artist_ Django Django
Label_ Because Music
Genre_ Indie Pop, Electro Pop, Art Pop
Moments Of_ Devo, Hot Chip, Everything Everything
Stand Out_ Giant, Reflections, First Light
London quartet Django Django have been a little quiet in the last few years. Their debut, self-titled LP saw them hit the ground running with huge single Default and extensive international touring, as well as the curation of a remix album. This month sees the release of album number two, Born Under Saturn. It is without doubt a Django Django album, with recognisable elements present, but this time with the added exploration of new turns. Nothing is done by halves – the depth and intricacy of these tracks lead us to believe that Born Under Saturn was definitely worth the wait.
Not ones to follow the mold of contemporary indie bands, Django Django have continued on Born Under Saturn to explore sounds of the unusual. Especially when hailing from London, where so many look-alike groups continue to release lukewarm material produced solely to generate cash from eager teenagers. The other side of the equation sees bands who still strive to produce quality and interesting music, but for people who also respect the album as a medium of artwork – an aspect that tends to be forgotten in the age of music media, marketing and sales figures.
As Django Django continue to stretch the boundaries of popular indie music, they have also put a lot of work in to hopefully combat the dreaded ‘second album syndrome’. Born Under Saturn has been released with a set of singles just as, if not stronger, than those from the debut. First Light, and Reflections in particular, may have thrown the fans a slight curveball with the distinct electronic inclinations. However, this is not completely unconscious – songs from the debut (such as Hail Bop and Waveforms) as well as an entire new version of the album remixed by a host of guests, showed a strong propensity towards vintage synths and mind bending electronica. As well as the more dance-floor worthy tracks, Django Django also take a nod towards mid tempo Brit Pop on Beginning to Fade, as well as a slightly 80’s feel on Pause Repeat. So there is not a lot of opportunity to lose attention on this album, with newer ideas blended with the unmistakable sounds that we know Django Django for.
In reality, it would just not be a Django Django song without the clear four-part harmonies that each of the band members play a part in. It is really one of their ‘things’ – if you ever have the opportunity to see them live, you’ll see that these vocal plays are maintained and shine through during their performance. This time around, Born Under Saturn sees them flowing though lyrical adventures, with a general theme of rebirth, renewal and the opportunity of a newer, fresher and bigger sounding album on the cards. Everything from bank heists, deals with the devil, writer’s block to people who “come alive at night” get a mention here. Lyrics flow with the feel of each song, ensuring you are hooked in for the ride.
With the knowledge that this is an album written, recorded and produced by a bunch of ex-art students, it slowly seems so fall into place. Things flow, meld and move together, push the limits, strive for the extraordinary and shun the average. Born Under Saturn has allowed them to take a step forward, with a bigger budget and new ideas. If you are looking for an accessible indie pop album, you won’t find it here. But what you might find instead might make you think differently, turn your head and encourage a diversity of thinking. In the end, isn’t that what art is all about?