With everything that is happening right now in the Western world, we could all do with a time out. So, if you need a breather, we have some wonderful artists for you to tune out the world to for a short time. Client Liaison have a wonderful 80’s throwback, Shirley Collins proves age is nothing, Pixie Geldoff brings the sensual, Lambchop get experimental before Hope Sandoval remind of us as to why we love shoegaze.
Artist: Client Liaison
Album Title: Diplomatic Immunity
Label: Dot Dash/Remote Control
Genre: Alternative dance / synthpop
Moments Of: Tears For Fears,
Stand Out: Canberra Won’t Be Calling Tonight / Rufus, Prince
Diplomatic Immunity is more than a just a feel-good dance album. The production is big and tasteful, the songs are both deeply patriotic and hilariously tongue in cheek and all in all this debut offering from Client Liaison is a stride towards smarter pop music.
Client Liaison slid onto the scene a couple of years ago with their self-titled EP. Decked out in painfully 80’s attire, the Melbourne band has a penchant for dazzling, old school dance tunes. Their debut album Diplomatic Immunity is steeped in nostalgia and carried by intense synths, with a salient theme of Australiana to top it all off. The record begins with the taunting cries of kookaburras amid an eclectic soundscape welcoming the album into existence. Before long, ‘Canberra Won’t be Calling Tonight’ takes off with dark, thumping piano to become a highlight from the get go.
The album weaves tight grooves with didgeridoo, samples of sessions from parliament house, guest vocals from Tina Arena, and even a blistering sax solo in ‘World of Our Love’. The cinematic beats on ‘Hotel Stay’ are worthy of the Hot Rod soundtrack, while the lush textures on ‘The Bravest Begginings’ lean towards Tears For Fears. ‘Where Do We Belong’ is an instant winner, with a truly delicious bass line underpinning more serious themes of Australian identity. Thrillingly, Diplomatic Immunity surpassed my expectations.
I actually find myself writing this review of a great new Australian album on the eve of Donald Trump’s election as the next President of the United States. While the rest of the world seems pretty nightmarish right now, Client Liaison has reminded me that it’s pretty bloody great to be Australian. ‘Diplomatic Immunity’ will make you cut shapes on the d-floor, just try not to get emotional as front man Monte Morgan sings over euphoric sythpop: “We’re living in a new frontier, together we can make this right”.
Artist Shirley Collins
Album Title Lodestar
Label Domino Recording
Moments Of King Creosote / Martin Carthy / Anne Briggs
Stand Out Death and the Lady / The Banks of Green Willow
Shirley Collins has been making music since the 50’s, keeping traditional English folk music alive just as it was passed down to her from her grandmother and her aunt. Lodestar is her first album in over 35 years, and it represents a timeless revival of hauntingly familiar folk songs.
Collins, of working-class Sussex, is now in her 80’s and one can only image the storms of life she must have weathered. Lodestar in fact emerges as Collins’ first record since she was forced to retire from singing due to losing her voice. The sense of resilience and unwavering devotion to making a somewhat extraordinary genre of music underpins the album and results in breath-taking serenity. Beginning with a rambling, eleven minute medley of folk favourites, Lodestar exists in a realm far away from the hustle and bustle of modern life.
The production is sparse and gentle, with relaxed tempos and Collins’ natural accent somehow sad and comforting all at once. Birds chirp throughout ‘Cruel Lincoln’, while a melancholy slide guitar introduces ‘Death and the Lady’.
But Collins faces most of the intricate melodies of the songs she was raised on with just vocals and gently plucked guitar. Collins’ raw, wise voice lends poignancy to tales of harsher times and heartbreak that thread through the collection of traditional songs on Lodestar. With its bittersweet love songs and portraits of kings, sailors and ladies, Lodestar is the actualisation of simpler times.
Artist: Pixie Geldoff
Album Title: I’m Yours
Label: Stranger Records
Genre: Chill- Pop
Moments Of: Lana Del Ray / Daughter
Stand Out: I’m Yours / Twin Thing
Pixie Geldof, the third daughter of Bob Geldof and Paula Yates, tries out the family business with debut album I’m Yours. The tabloid regular and occasional model enlists renowned producer David Campbell (Beck, Michael Jackson) to create an array of melancholic tales about love and loss.
If you like your music extremely sensual and emotive, then this is the album for you. With each track, Pixie conveys a sense of eerie inspiration mixed with Lana Del Ray sounding vocals and instrumentation. Album opener ‘Sweet Thing’ is probably the most upbeat track on the album with its combination of country sounding guitars and string-laden symphonic’s. The deeply atmospheric ‘I’m Yours’ sees Geldoff excel with her breathy vocals as she hypnotically conveys that “Loving you is easy, its leaving that’s hard.”
As if to wake you from your slumber, the storming ‘Rain Comes Down’ sees an impressive combination of classic 90’s rock with anthemic choruses summed up with that dark emotion that underpins the whole album. The hauntingly deep ‘Twin Thing’ addresses the tragic loss of her younger sister Peaches. The track is emotional as it is cathartic. The husky and imbued vocals show more world-weary wisdom than any 26-year-old should possess. The constant reference to the human condition is a strong testament to the song writing skill that’s on display here and we’re eagerly looking forward to more.
Album Title: Flotus
Genre: Folktronica / Alternative Country
Moments Of: Bon Iver
Stand Out: In Care of 8675309
With a career spanning almost three decades and twelve full-length albums, Lambchop gives us their most experimental release yet. The masterful array of ambient, folk – electronic ballads delivers a smooth gateway into the band’s new sound.
Flotus is a patient record. The slow but luscious grooves on album opener ‘In Care 8675309’ create an eleven-minute epic filled with subdued guitar rhythms and heavily effected vocals. The track comes together effortlessly and is harmoniously hypnotic. The journey is probably the longest introductory odyssey you will ever hear.
The album soon unfolds into a slow synthetic tone. The soothing, ‘Directions to the Can’ although engaging, lacks coherent song writing with its disjointed instrumentation and rambling lyrics. The soothing ‘Howe’ floats along confidently with its ambient and lush tone complimented by a groovy bass line that adds much-needed colour to the mix.
The luxurious chill of hotel lobby music albeit with a classic Lambchop edge can be heard in ‘NIV.’ The building instrumentation complimented by the muffling speaker sound reach one of the only mini-crescendos on the record. The album ends with ‘The Hustle’, an 18-minute, dreamy, mostly instrumental electronic track that is punctured by Kurt Wagner’s untreated vocals that convey both a breath of fresh air and vulnerability.
Artist Hope Sandoval & The Warm Inventions
Album Title: Until The Hunter
Label: Tendril Tales
Genre: Indie Blues
Moments Of: Mazzy Star / Bert Jansch / The Jesus And Mary Chain
Stand Out: Isn’t It True
Two of the most respected shoegaze bands of the 90’s, Mazzy Star and My Bloody Valentine, continue to tinker and tease their committed fans with the odd live performance and re-release. Hope Sandoval & The Warm Inventions are made up of Hope (lead singer of Mazzy Star) and Colm O’Ciosoig (drummer with My Bloody Valentine), together collaborating to produce 2 albums, their first release some 14 years ago.
Until The Hunter is the duos 3rd, and most “complete” album, offering a selection of beautifully textured songs sewn together by the unmistakable dusty and soothing voice of Sandoval.
Both artists are far from rushed to produce albums, it took eight years after their debut Bavarian Fruit Bread to deliver their second offering Through the Devil Softly, an album that was dark and complex in its production, compared to a very stripped back and raw debut. Until The Hunter was recorded in a Martello Tower (small defensive forts that were built across the British Empire during the 19th century), the result can be heard in its production, a certain depth to the sound and a distant echo that offered a reverb in the final cut.
The haunting 9-minute opener ‘Into The Trees’ sets a disorientating tone for this full album that clocks in at an hour, ‘The Peasant’, ‘Treasure’ and ‘Salt of the Sea’ evidently Mazzy Star in sound and sombreness, whereas ‘Let Me Get There’, a duet with Kurt Vile, shows perfection in two meandering singers who interweave the laziest duet of the decade. It oozes cool and soothing sense of soul.
Hope Sandoval story-tells her way through ‘A Wonderful Seed’, with a busker like quality, sharing a woman’s tale, a dreaminess of medieval times with a simple strumming guitar and the eery harmonies washing in the distance.
‘Isn’t It True’ and ‘I Took A Sip’ provide the rhythmic back-bone to the album with shuffling drums, loosely strummed guitars and the unmistakable shake of tambourine that Sandoval likes to offer in much of her Mazzy Star creations. Placed back to back at the end of the album, cleverly re-invigorates the listener, before diving into the bluesy rock-out of ‘Liquid Lady’, sounding dusty, soulful and dark, a perfect way to end an album that is well-worth the 7 odd years