New Borns 2016, here we are and oh so bitter sweet it is to start the year. Yes, of course we speak of David Bowie’s passing, however we are not here to mourn but to celebrate the life and, for this post, the album BlackStar, left as gift from the man who change the way the world experienced music and performance. Jerome, our writer from Reunion Island (although recently moved to Melbourne) experiences the album for review and also asked that we post some words that he wrote about his admiration for his idol. These words are written at the end of this post. Hinds, the rambunctiously infectious girl team from Madrid deliver their debut and we had Shauna and Jarryd both review it. We also rewind a little to New Zealand’s Nadia Reid who released her debut end of last year, we did a quick recap as it is such a worthwhile listen. Lets not forget GUM, the debut from Tame Impala’s Jay Watson and his side project GUM, an album for Impala fans and the like.
Album Title Blackstar
Genre Rock, Avante-Garde, Jazz, Electro
Moments Of David Bowie (he is one of the kind)
Stand Out Blackstar, Lazarus
The beginning of the year commenced with the awesome musical surprise of the return of David Bowie, then quickly led on the sad, ever so sad news that followed moments later. Three years on from his last masterpiece on date (the next day in 2013) , David Bowie gracefully celebrated his 69th birthday and offered us his new and now sadly his ultimate album Blackstar
What can I say about this last album of Bowie? Innovative Musically (once again), very Bowie-like, as if for the last trip into the mind of the compelling and outstanding artist, he has perfectly given his all on this masterful outing. We can honestly only applause the work that has been done on this record and the more it is listened too, the more is uncovered. Perhaps much darker than his previous albums, Blackstar is sweating the footprint and the musical ambition of his maker. We find here everything you might expect and love from him, all the madness of his thoughts, psychedelic brass riffs, texts of a monster scope, alternative rock melodies, a large Bowieian mess of magical proportions that we can only but love.
The album magically opens with Blackstar (which initially was meant to last more than 11 minutes, shortened a little less than 10), a rock opera which only he has the secret understanding too, fitted out with shocking rocked changing melodies, totally crazy brass riffs and lyrics that now take a completely different meaning.
The second single, Lazarus, is also one of the pearls of this album, which is listed as a last goodbye to all his fans a little bit like Queen had done with The show must go on.
It is true that after the announcement of his death, the all album take on another dimension. It instantly had me thinking that this the lyrics and message within this wonderful song was totally premeditated, planned and thought by the artist? I’ve listened to it before and I must say that ,having listened the album again after his death , I think it must be so. His producers also confirmed this soon after his death. With every chord and progression it is as if Bowie has used his accomplished instrumentation ability and talent one last time to say all he had to say through his music writing. He pulled out of the guts this latest record as if in a last gasp, he give everything he had to give, proving once again he is actually one of the best musical genius of the last decade.
It is difficult to write the review since I selected it before his death but since this sad event it has really taken us into his mind, his nightmares, his feelings in his fears, a last master stroke, a final joke, a last word of the complete artist. If you like Bowie since the beginning of his career, one can not just adore this album like I have. David thank you again for this final journey and may you rest in peace.
scroll down read Jerome’s farewell to David Bowie.
Album Title Glamorous Damage
Label Spinning Top Records
Genre Psych-pop, Nu-disco
Moments Of (New) Tame Impala, Daft Punk
Stand Out Glamorous Damage, Science Fiction
Glamorous Damage heralds the second full length release from GUM, side project for Tame Impala’s Jay Watson, which follows in quick succession from 2014’s Delorean Highway. It’s obviously pretty hard to stand above and be acknowledged as an solo artist when the world knows you as a member of the juggernaut that is Tame Impala. Despite this, Glamorous Damage earns it right to be considered as a solid release – however it does fall a little too close to home. Tame Impala fans read on, and everyone else, just go and listen to Currents and you’ll get the idea.
Within Glamorous Damage, you’ll find plenty of disco tinged bangers, fuzz floating rhythms, phaser stretched warblings and reverb saturation to make anyone even conscious of Tame Impala’s current (ha, current, geddit?) body of work find something of interest within this album. Lead single Anesthetized Lesson is probably the heaviest offering from the album in terms of the nu-disco wave, complete with funky synth bass lines, falsetto vocals and wood block percussion. This does set the benchmark for the majority of tracks on the album, with the exception of the tempo decelerating with each track towards the end of the album. In comparison to Delorean Highway, the evolution in sound mimics what we’ve heard with Tame Impala – more synths, less guitars, more disco, more commercially viable.
The only thing really setting this apart from his more famous bands’ work is Jay’s vocals – which provide slightly less intrigue than Kevin Parker’s nasally, Lennon-esc style. You could imagine it in place of Jay’s on any of these tracks and for it to easily slide on to Currents without much consideration. This demonstrates that the pair must have a lot in common musically, given that Parker pretty much writes and records a large majority of their catalogue himself. I imagine that fans of Tame Impala would be wanting something easily approachable when shifting to Jay’s work, but really there’s only so much phaser pedal that the world can tolerate. Which raises the point about side projects – is it worth sounding alike your existing band to please existing fans? Will you gain critical acclaim for such a move, or is it worth taking the plunge to just indulge in all of your weird and wonderful musical ideas that would have never have fit with the band? Would you ever possibly gain as many fans as your band, and it that even the point of making a solo album? All ideas to consider when artists venture into uncharted territory. In the case of GUM, the reality is that the territory is just a little too familiar.
Album Title Leave Me Alone
Label Inertia Records
Genre Lo-Fi, Garage Pop, Slacker Rock
Moments Of Velvet Underground (Jarryd) Mac Demarco, The Raincoats (Shauna)
Stand Out The Garden (Jarryd) Chili Town, Castigadas En El Granero (Shauna)
We had writers Shauna and Jarryd, listen to Hinds, each gave their own view
When it comes to modern international rock, Spain isn’t often on our radars. Due to an almost non-existent Indie scene over the past few decades it’s not exactly surprising. However, the garage band renascence that has slowly been taking shape over the past decade, thankfully, is starting to change that. Predicted among countless music media types to be the next big thing in 2016, Madrid’s Hinds have just released their debut LP entitled Leave Me Alone – and the accolades are flowing in. After last years EP The Best of Hinds So Far and extensive world touring, the album demonstrates what they do best, making for a breezy, lo-fi good time without trying to complicate things. Because playing in a band and making an album should be fun, right?!
After a minor setback of a name change early last year, Hinds (previously Deers) have been otherwise been on a steady upwards trajectory. Having been the first Spanish band to play Glastonbury (in June 2015), they have been making waves with their sweet, guitar lead unpolished pop tunes all over the world, not just in Europe.
Singles Chili Town and Castigadas En El Granero serve as excellent starting points for the uninitiated. With both these songs having been re-recorded for the LP, (both songs also appear on the EP) each show Hinds as a very crafty group of ladies capable of putting together a bouncy, fun sing-along that would undoubtedly go off at their live shows. With dual, classic and simple (but never compromising) guitar lines, smooth bass lines an rollicking drums that meld with an intensity that would put smile on any face. Guitarists Carlotta and Ana also provide the smooth, breathy and cruise-y vocals that feature on each track, while Amber (drums) and Ade (bass) keep it all slick and groovy with their tight rhythm section.
The lyrics slide easily along with the feel of the tunes, focusing on how relationships piss you off, frustrate you and the “fucked up mess” they can put you in (And I Will Send Your Flowers Back). With this, there are more laid back, quieter moments on the album, including the swelling, sweeping instrumental Solar Gap and the acoustic lead I’ll Be Your Man which make up a cohesive album dotted with these gems.
Leave Me Alone is a no-brainer. There is no reason to call this a perfectionists’ pop album, because that’s not what Hinds are aiming for. Sure, the guitars can sometimes be slightly out of tune and there is no super fancy production, but that’s what makes the album likeable, approachable and a hell of a lot of fun.
Formed originally as a due in 2011, Carlotta Cosials and Ana García Perrote received positive reviews from both the Guardian and NME with their previously released singles Castigadas En El Granero and San Diago (both featured again on this album). After legal issues with their previous name, Deers, they were forced to change and settled with Hinds (female deer). Soon taking on Ade Martin as a bassist and Amber Grimbergen on drums they’ve gone from strength to strength since.
Hinds is an album full of rambunctious, loud, facetious and childish cheek. Love is a central focus of their work but as the name hints, instead of sappy over the top declarations, there is a form of empowerment at its core. These artists call the shots, for better or worse, while trying to wrestle the indiscernible tangled mess of relationships, parties and getting on with the daily grind. ‘Chili Town’ is the perfect expression of this sentiment as Perrote told The Line of Best Fit; “This is our winning song. We wanted to feel powerful and strong for one time in the album. No more injured soldiers”.
Another example would be ‘I’ll Be Your Man’. A much needed reversal of gender roles in relationships. Finishing with a rather satisfying character arch in ‘Walking Home’. A positive perspective on the endless possibilities of romance that are realized throughout the album.
Hinds’ music is an eclectic blend of all your lo-fi stand outs of the past 60 years with a modern pop spin. Inspiration from the greats Velvet Underground, The Vaccines, The Pastels and The Zombies are all present within these 12 tracks of refreshing yet nostalgic tunes of pure garage rock band bliss. They’ll even admit to being pissed when they recorded Castigadas En El Granero so you know you’re onto a good thing here.
Infectious, unapologetic mayhem bleeds from these tracks. Tinny leads, distortion and multi-layered rhythms that are interwoven with genuinely enhancing key and tempo shifts. Accentuating bass lines and syncopated vocal harmonies are all on offer. Perhaps the only complaint to be made is a lack of diversity in their leading riffs but Hinds manage to ultimately hold their own. While the instruments may not be the pinnacle of craftsmanship, the tuning may be a little loose and the vocals a little out of key it’s the pure joy contained within this album that makes ‘Leave me Alone’ the embodiment of the garage band ethos.
Leave me alone is everything you want from a debut album. It’s imperfect, it’s fun and most of all it’s held together by the skin of their teeth with unadulterated glee. 2016 is off to a fantastic start.
Album Title Listen to Formation, Look For The Signs
Label Spunk/Melodic and Scissortail Records
Genre Singer/Songwriter, Indie, Folk
Moments Of Rhiannon Giddens, Beach House, Joni Mitchell
Stand Out Runway, Just To Feel Alive, Call The Days
Listen To Formation, Look For The Signs is the first full length album from this dreamy Stevie Nicks-esque melody queen, Nadia Reid, hopefully the first selection of songs in a long line of albums to come. Sit back, relax and drift off into your happy place, with this NZ “one to watch”.
Being an amateur on all things Nadia Reid, the first thing I did was check out everything online. After taking in a good look at her website and reading all of the prolifically positive comments, I dived head first into her album, Listen To Formation, Look For The Signs. And boy, those comments were right!
As a fan of indie/folk/whimsical music, I knew right away what this debut was going to sound like. You can hear the experience behind the lyrics, you can see her sitting on the floor, playing with chords, you can feel the acute emotion. Though she is young and new, she certainly isn’t naive or trying to prove herself.
The album opens with ‘Runway’, a perfect introduction to this wise-beyond-her-years singer/songwriter. The guitar sound and poetic lyrics put me in a daze, one that I don’t want to be awoken from. Not only does Reid beautifully sum up being young and unsure, she also confides deeply in you, something that is sorely missed from the industry these days.
Through the majority of the album, this majestic lady from across the ditch serenades us with tender tunes, there are number of upbeat tracks like Reaching Through which steps up her game, as well as Seasons Change which is a more radio-acceptable tune, something you could definitely hear on Triple J.
Just To Feel Alive is my favourite of the album, a little 60s and a lot sexy. Track Of The Time and Holy Low are the same gentle tracks that you would expect from this album, both wonderfully original yet also with strong influences that you can hear throughout. Yet as the songs go by, I realise that while it’s curious and quaint, something is missing. It could be the slight uncertainty in her voice (whether she’s just an acquired taste or just a little too relaxed) or that the songs fade too together all too well.
Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoy the loose California-style electric guitar in the background and the occasional background drumming. The lyrics and the simplicity of song composition, it really feels like this girl is going to have a glorious career in music. Nadia Reid is the friend you made while sitting in the park, a friend who tells you their deepest and darkest feelings, a friend who can’t wait to hear from again.
Some words about David Bowie, by Jerome (Reunion Island/Melbourne)
Managing to list Bowie’s career and masterpieces is impossible. Everyone has their song, everyone has theirs memory, everyone has their preference. We all have identified ourselves at least once with one of his characters and we all were transported into his world. Because Bowie marked us as much with his audacity and his musical talent as he did with his personality and his being, he will remain timeless and majestic.
Songs like Heroes, Space Odity, Life on mars, Blackstar (and many others) remains masterpieces, it has marked and built the history of rock n roll since its beginning . Because it impossible to imagine movies like Dune and Labyrinth without him in the lead role, he really was a complete and original artist. Because it has offered us all kind of cult and variable albums, from The man who sold the world to Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps), from The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars to Let’s Dance, all equally succesfull and surprising , David Bowie is one of those musical legends such as counted just too few .
He was the psychedelic folk singer,the Ziggy Stardust, the Aladdin Sane, the Jack Halloween and many others, it would have succeeded in passing through his message to the world, the message that being different is a good thing. Until his more recent moments he has been completely and genuinely David Bowie, this icon who made us one last gift, his final album Blackstar, another masterpiece to add in his way unbeatable discography. He will leave behind an indelible imprint forever on this musical planet. Sadly but equally celebratory, he joins the list of artists that we can now called legends and who will never really die.
I saw and heard a lot of the Bowie tributes over the last few days, all with their praises of truth, from Heroes to Starman, to the transcendent artist and the inspiration. Yes, Bowie was all of that at the same time and much more to so many of us.
I want to thank you David Bowie. You were there through my whole life, you were there in my cradle, you were there during my teenage years, you were there during the passage of my adulthood, and now, the world of rock and roll seems very empty without you in it .
Thanks for the joy and the sorrow, all the dreams and the nightmare, all the pain and the freedom, all the tears and the smiles you brought to me over the years. Jerome