This week we have Kllo’s dance inducing beats with their sharp, clever and catchy tunes. Gap Dreams divisive synth/grage pop amalgamation, Alex Lahey’s sassy and savvy low fi pop along with the bitter sweet first and last album, Viola Beach by Viola Beach. We hope you all find something here that rings true to you.
Album Title Well Worn EP
Label Ghostly International
Genre Indie Electronic/Alt-Dance
Moments Of Jamie xx / Little Dragons
Stand Out Bolide
If it weren’t beyond the realm of physical possibility, the famous Melbourne winter sky would part revealing the latest release from emerging Melbourne duo Kllo. Their Well Worn EP marries excellent production with an inspired approach to musicality and groove. To be quite frank, this release showcases some of the strongest young talent we’ve ever had the pleasure of experiencing.
Kllo may well be one of the most exciting artists on Ghostly’s current rotation, which is absurd given that this rotation currently includes Com Truise and Matt Dear. Chloe Kaul and Simon Lam are cousins, and it was the insistence on their parents behalf that drew them into making music together as Kllo. Lam has been active in several notable projects across Melbourne’s electronic scene including Nearly Oratorio and I’lls and his savvy production meets Kaul’s heavy soul inspired aesthetic to create lush electronic goodness.
‘Walls To Build’ sets the scene immediately. It’s confident, clever and catchy. The follow up ‘Bolide’ doesn’t give you time to rest before pulling you straight into another club-oriented wonderland. While both of these tracks are absolute killers, they’re deceptively simple in their arrangement. Minimal lines clutter the sound, two vocal lines, no more than two synth lines and a beat. From such a minimal arrangement you get an amazingly powerful sound and each line has its own defined space in that sound which gives the music a clarity and presence to rival even long established artists.
The second half of the EP lets up a little on the pace allowing Kaul’s vocals to absolutely shine. Drawing heavily on artists like Amy Winehouse, Etta James, and Aretha Franklin, her vocals dominate the remainder of the release. The R&B stylings of ‘Sense’ wouldn’t sound out of place on early James Blake cuts with it’s perfectly behind the beat rhythms and ‘On My Name’ carries undercurrents of Blake’s post-dubstep movement, and more broadly of UK garage, with it’s subtle use of sampling on top of warm wobbling bass lines. ‘Don’t Be The One’ closes up the album with a regained momentum and bookends the release beautifully leaving no loose ends.
This truly is one of the strongest releases we’ve seen from an Australian artist in a while. We don’t seek to devalue or detract away from the great work being done by musicians across the country, we seek only to stress just how solid and exciting a release we have with this EP. This has all the hallmarks of something exceptional in the making, and with an LP on the horizon we can only look forward to what Kllo have to bring us in the future. If it’s anything like what we’ve come to expect from Well Worn it will surely become essential listening the world over.
Album Title: Vulnicura Live
Label: One Little Indian
Moments Of: Radiohead
Stand Out: Lionsong / Mouth Mantra / Undo
Vulnicura Live is a hand-picked selections of songs from the Vulnicura tour, the live outing of the eighth studio album from eclectic and all-round eccentric Icelandic signer Björk. A personal hero of mine since I screeched along to my cassette of ‘Oh, So Quiet’ in 1995 at the tender age of 8. This latest offering is what you would expect from someone who continually pushes at the boundaries of musical genres, live experiences and vocal abilities.
With a music career spanning three decades, she has weaved through a wide range of influences and genres from pop to dance, to classical and avant-garde. This latest release appears to be the culmination of the Vulnicura series, following the original album release in 2015 and a follow up remake that featured only strings and her voice. Vulnicura Live is made up of 14 tracks that have been selected by Björk, with her favourite tour performances of the Vulnicura tracks, plus some additional treats from other previous works. You stream the album for free, but if you really want the full experience, you can pick up a “luxury box” special edition which includes both the CD and vinyl, as well as six live photos and (of course) a moth paper mask.
Joining Björk on stage for this tour was co-producers Arca and The Haxan Cloak, plus a 15-person orchestra which provided a cinematic backdrop for the powerful performances that tug on the anguish and darkness that defined the Vulincura record. Some tracks on the album, ‘Black Lake’ and ’Stonemilker’, don’t sound wildly different from the studio versions, the live orchestral sound is something to behold.
The interplay between the synth, strings and Björk’s voice – which is present throughout the record – is laid out in all it’s glory in ‘Lionsong’. Diving up and down scales before tapering into harmonic strings that lead out the track into applause. ‘Family’ is by far the most experimental track on the album, with Björk’s voice jarring against the discordant strings before being reunited by the synth towards the end.
Of the few tracks that sneak in from previous records, Vespertine’s ’Undo’ and Volta’s ‘I See Who You Are’ stand out most, whilst Debut’s ‘Come to Me’ contrasts against the angst of the Vulnicura tracks. However despite breathing some lyrical lightness into the set, ‘Come to Me’ is given a darker makeover than the original version, with heavy sliding strings and pounding drums.
Both ‘Quicksand’ and Biophilia’s ’Mutual Core’ up the tempo towards the end of the record, with a electronic beats that jar with the strings. Whilst it’s easy to imagine this working well live, it doesn’t quite match up on this recorded version. However the final track, ‘Mouth Mantra’ culminates in a cacophony of noise which Björk’s voice layered and multiplied as it takes a journey over the strings before plunging into deep electronic beats.
This album makes serves to make you insanely jealous of anyone who got to witness the Vulnicura tour, but if you turn up the volume, close your eyes and pop on your moth mask, you might just be able to imagine you’re there.
Artist: Viola Beach
Album Title: Viola Beach
Genre: Indie Rock
Moments Of: The Kooks / Two-Door Cinema Club
Stand Outs: Go Outside / Drunk
Listening to Viola Beach’s self-titled debut album is bittersweet. Their tender, energetic sound is encapsulated in this album, bustling with the turbulence of young adulthood. These playful riffs and crunchy lyrics come together to create an undoubtedly upbeat and exciting album. For a band with so much potential it is tragic that this will also be Violet Beach’s last release.
In February 2016 the four members of Viola Beach, Kris Leonard (vocals and guitar), Tomas Lowe (bass), Rive Reeves (guitar) and Jack Dakin (drums), and their manager Craig Tarry were tragically killed in a car crash whilst on tour in Södertälje, Sweden.
The loss of the young band sent ripples through the music community. At Glastonbury 2016, Chris Martin of Coldplay spoke to the crowd about the tragedy of the young, talented musicians deaths. Coldplay went on to perform Viola Beach’s single ‘Boys That Sing’ in honour of the band and to project their “Alternate Future’” in which the band themselves could have headlined Glastonbury.
In Martin’s speech at Glastonbury he stated that Viola Beach “Reminded us of us”. Coldplay twenty years ago were little more than an up and coming band themselves. That is what is magical about Viola Beach. Their sound holds so much potential. The raw sound and lo-fi vocals give the whole album a unique and intimate feel. The way Leonard’s voice rasps gives the sound a tender, personal edge. The band had only recently been signed to their label, Communion; this can be felt in the musical pureness of the songs. Unadulterated by the mass mediated music industry you instantly absorb the rich energy and passion these guys had for their music.
‘Boys that Sing’ is a joyous take on the fickleness of young love. This playful, simple track sounds like an early song from The Kooks and harks back to mid 2000s British indie rock. It is light hearted and fun. One of the highlights on the album is ‘Go Outside’ The guitar riffs hint at musical talent amongst the band members, something that no doubt would have developed had they had the chance to workshop and mature with their sound.
Viola Beach’s album has become a sonic time capsule. It has created an intimate connection with endless youth by freeze framing their unadulterated sound. In doing so it creates a moment of pause for all of us to slow down, reflect and soak up the energy of our own youth.
Artist: Gap Dream
Album Title: This Is a Gap Dream
Label: Burger Records
Genre: Post Punk
Moments Of: Sonic Youth, Talking Heads, Black Keys,
Stand Out: Greater find / Rock and Roll / Judy Let me Roam
The one man band that is Gabe Fulvimar A.K.A Gap Dream return for his third album This is a Gap dream. Beginning as a bedroom project in Cleveland Ohio. Fulvimar’s, Gap Dream has the lush, dreamy, reverb-soaked psychedelic haze of a mellow Sonic Youth or an early Talking Heads record.
Gap Dream is an American psychedelic synth-pop band founded by Gabe Fulvimar in 2012 in Fullerton, California. As the band’s singer, songwriter and instrumentalist, Fulvimar is the only regular member of Gap Dream and solely responsible for its musical direction. Gap Dream’s sound owes its origins to Fulvimar’s love of 60’s psychedelic pop combined with his interest in vintage synthesizer sounds. Fulvimar’s love for all that is low budget 60’s synth pop can be heard in album opener ‘Greater Find’ a two and half minute cool instrumental, mixing soft drums and psychedelic guitar strumming that raises the excitement levels for what might unfold in the coming tracks. The equally spacey ‘Rock and Roll’ glides through its jittery and at times haunting synth part leaving Falvimar’s monotone voice to sing “It’s been a long time since I’ve lost control on the open road / It’s been a long time since I sold my soul for the devil’s gold.”
Fulvimar ditches the synths for album single ‘College Music’ replacing them with a somewhat bedroom laboratory sounding guitar riff mixed in with simplistic vocals reflecting boredom and restlessness with the machinery he relied so heavily on in his opening tracks. It’s hard to pinpoint what genre This Is a Gap Dream falls into as songs ‘Party Foul’ and ‘Golden Shoes’ swiftly move away from rudimentary synth pop and into one and half minute garage rock songs that are instrumentally hollow leaving you disjointed and uneasy with the flow of the album. Fulvimar combines his love of synths with fuzz in yet another instrumental ‘Judy Let Me Roam’ conjuring influences from early Black Keys with a slick guitar jam that is easily the most fun and accessible moment on the record.
At its best This Is A Gap Dream nails its 60’s synth artistry creating soundscapes that belong in a midnight drive along. At its worst, the lack of cohesiveness and scattered sound paint Fulvimar as someone yearning for inspiration and a more finely crafted aesthetic.
Artist: Alex Lahey
Album Title: B- Grade University
Genre: indie pop
Moments Of: Ali Barter / Adalita,/ Courtney Barnett
Stand Out: You Say You Don’t Like People Like Me
Alex Lahey’s B-Grade University, her first EP, provides a showcase of what’s to come, and we should all be excited. This positive sentiment has been echoed Worldwide. International music blog Pitchfork, awarded Lahey with the best new track in June. Lahey won Triple J Unearthed, providing her the opportunity to open to open for Splendour in the Grass. The accomplished musician previously studied jazz at university and has side projects including Melbourne funky sextet Animaux.
B- Grade University has more spirit than your standard indie-rock EP, she provides more rawness in both the instrumentation and lyrics. If the grungy riffs and punchy drum back beat doesn’t lure you, her relatable storytelling will. From tales describing unrequited love, to the right of passage that is dropping out of University. Lahey’s work is a must listen for all 20 something’s.
The opening track ‘Ivy League’, starts off the album with fierce drumming, which is then complimented by the addition of guitar heavier than what’s standard on most indie tracks. Lahey laments over needing shifts extra shifts at work and comes to the conclusion she’s finally joined the corporate rat race. The bridge then adds a change of texture, created by a heady fuzziness of guitar and loudening of the ever present drumbeat. She then jokes how she wishes to “be so damn employable“ like a “workplace dream boat”.
‘Let’s Go Out And Have Fun Tonight’, shows off Lahey’s sassy sensibility. With lyrics such as “Hey, remember that time, That we slept together? And we just slept, And your girlfriend dumped you anyway”. The listener’s ears are coping some fresh wit, a positive by-product of a female lead. The compulsive momentum of the drums and guitar makes the chorus very catchy. This is aided by her use of rhyming, making this one of the more ’poppier’ songs on the EP. Her humour is also evident in her video clip whereby she snacks on “geometric shapes” and pours milk and cereal into a bowl which catches fire, recreating a classic Simpson’s meme.
‘You Say You Don’t Like People Like Me’ has Lahey describing feelings of frustration and anguish in her lyrics, but this is juxtaposed by the upbeat tempo. The contrast makes the track a more interesting listen than a typical break up song. The peppy pace of the instrumentation is able to create a feeling of empowerment for the one whose heart is broken, which is something we don’t usually see. The track starts and ends with the same punchy guitar and drum phase, almost as to say the song, like the relationship was over as soon as it began.
Lahey’s monotonous suburban lyricism brings a relatabilty to her music. Some may say her music is a little mundane, but her tongue and cheek sense of humor paired with her substantial instrumentation makes for a solid first EP.