There’s nothing remarkable about this track; It’s not by a young and upcoming band, It’s not a new track and it’s not even their best. But for some reason that hook won’t leave me alone, whenever i’ve a spare moment of headspace ‘I’m exhausted by romance / I was lost in the languages' drifts into my consciousness and pulls me out of whatever I was doing.
Sometimes it’s astounding what a band can do with so little. Though saying that… the ill-advised organ solo does make my toes curl in pain.
This seems a lot more like a statement she needed to make than as a real intent at a return to music, and whilst she may be rather heavy handed in the execution, chucking out any notion of subtlety whatsoever, it’s because whilst this may be a message we all understand and get behind. Nobody has really voiced it have they.
Sure there’s been songs about strong independent women and lines in tracks that allude to the same type of idea, but it’s scary that it’s not until the end of 2013 that we actually have a track by a serious female artist that tackles the issue.
Oh and it’s as catchy as the common cold, but in a good way… going to get some weird looks this week for singing that hook out loud around town.
Every now and then you come across a track that has you reaching for your GOOD pair of headphones, meticulously picking the perfect volume so that every element of the song get’s it’s own space and leaves you blissfully dumbstruck. I could listen to those first 20 seconds endlessly… and then it gets better.
This is the track that’s made we want to write about music again.
What’s in a name? A rose by any other name would smell so sweet… yadda yadda. It’s often overlooked just how much impact a name can have on who listens to your music. If you’re following the musical trend (of 2011-12) of a fashionable vowel dropping, all capitols, and radio hating, then you may find yourself flat on your arse before you’ve even taken the first steps. But maybe I’m just fickle like that, because unfortunately it does seem that you can judge the book by it’s proverbial cover, or name, in music these days (just take a wander around bandcamp if you don’t believe me).
Thankfully, most of the time you spend with STRFKR’s latest album ‘Miracle Mile’ will help you realise that this isn’t always the case. The guys have updated their sound for 2013 with some tight production, sugar-sweet songwriting and mellow high synth symphonies, which deliver on aural pleasure, but not so much on depth and excitement.
Whilst this is an album of iridescent indie-pop to keep yourself jolly on the morning commute to work, there’s a lack of depth that leaves you wanting a bit more from each track. It feels like they were written to be played in the background for a new hot hatchback advert and as such, serve as a perfectly adequate distraction to another activity. There are few moments where the music reaches out grabs you by your scruffy shirt and shakes you awake to get your attention.
‘Malmo’ comes close with a funky ol’ fashioned disco bass groove that grows into the makings of something Daft Punk would be proud to pen, but quickly loses all momentum and dissipates into a vacuum that sucks the groove out of you before quickly trying to reclaim it’s past glories. That’s not to say it isn’t a good track, it is, but it stops itself from being a great track.
There are moments, like on the Kurt Vile-ish ‘Fortune’s Fool’, that make you want to take long walks on a sunny Autumn day whilst listening to this album. But whilst the idea may seem beautiful, half way through you may find that it’s a rather vapid beauty that at times veers on to a path of self-caricature that MGMT and Empire Of The Sun found themselves victims of.
All in all, the album certainly has it’s highlights and I’d recommend most would give it a listen, but don’t be surprised if you don’t find yourself coming back to it very often. Unless you’ve set yourself up in the right context to hear it (i.e- a summer’s day on your way to meet your friends) you’re probably not going to notice you’re actually listening to it.
From its oddball trip-hop opening and trip inducing album artwork, Cloud Control’s second album could catch you a little off guard. There are indeed elements of the summer of 69 and the experimentation of mind and music that goes with it, but this is a maturation of the band’s sound.
‘Dojo Rising’ is the first example of this refined Cloud Control, though the opening 25 seconds may sound like more of the same from the Australian psychedelic pop rockers, it’s a far more understated affair that slowly marches in to the real soul of this record. When the chorus comes around it’s a slow and powerful surge that with the minimum effort will send you bowling over, catching you squarely on the jaw with its cutting yet catchy hook.
The whole album is interlaced with these flash-in-the-pan hooks that will sear themselves into your brain, leaving their brand to flare up in your memory for months to come.
Unfortunately there are two tracks that don’t quite live up the hype, so I’ll get them out of the way relatively early. ‘Promises’, does bring back some of their oddball melodies and twirling vocal harmonies, but it’s encased within a song that wouldn’t sound out of place being sang by Donny Osmond. It ends up using the line ‘I’m just a mirror for your love’ as an insubstantial crutch. ‘Island Living’ is the only other weak point that sits rather at odds with the rest of the album - like a shiny new skyscraper sitting on a beautiful coastline. It’s not bad per se, but it attracts the odd disapproving comment in its context.
But back to the good stuff. The band’s influences and peers have left their impression all over this album, making it a culmination of CC’s musical tastes and experiences - a postcard of their lives. After ‘Moonrabbit’’s sun-drenched opening notes fall away, the band’s love for vocal harmonisation comes back into play and there’s no denying the influence that the Beach Boys have exacted on this record. If you can make it through this song without smiling then maybe you should check your pulse.
Then comes the mystical fashionista of ‘The Smoke, The Feeling’ that manages to blend elements of every cool song to have come out over the last couple of years and play out as the pinnacle of beauty. It’s the musical equivalent of The Great British Bake Off’s Ruby Tandoh smiling at you for four and a half minutes.
‘Scar’ again is an amalgamation of sounds, so here’s some names I’m just going to throw at you that cropped up whilst I was listening to it. Surfer Blood, MGMT, Swim Deep and Jaws. If you like any songs by those guys, prepare for it all to be totally eclipsed by this track. This is a song that should, in just one chorus, encapsulate the youthful feeling of the first day of summer. ‘Happy Birthday’ again showcases the band’s new found knack for penning a powerful chorus line that’ll have you sitting there waiting and wishing for it to kick in sooner. But… all too soon it’s over and you’ve got to wait another 30 seconds or so for your next fix of that foot-wagging, head-bobbing goodness. Plus, I hate my birthdays too, well done Cloud Control for voicing the real issues of today.
The guys do manage to fit in a little bit of fan service in the form of ‘Iceage Heatwave’, but updated for feel of the new album. Those old familiar guitars and scaling bass lines are back, and bright organic melodies paired with poppy psychedelia, as if Tame Impala decided they’d like people to sing along to their music when they’re walking down the street, are out in abundance. A last hurrah maybe in the face of the looming ‘Tombstone’, a dark and sombre affair that takes the psychedelia sound in a very different direction to what fans of the band may expect. Less of the hazy summer days and more of an uncomfortable trip inside the mind of a city in it’s early hours. But they can’t end on that - it wouldn’t be fitting to leave you down and out.
Instead, the eponymous album closer sounds almost exactly how you’d imagine the end of this album should go. The Beach Boys playing the last song of the night, an emotional wreck of a slow jam that almost surprises you when it doesn’t result in everything around you fading to black as it closes. In a perfect world this would have been the last song on the final episode of Happy Days. As it is, it’s an impeccable end to the truly wondrous world of Cloud Control and the end of the visit in to their sublime collective mind.
Suuuure, it’s an acoustic guitar melody with some deep bass drums, you’ve heard this before right? Maybe a thousand times… But it sure as shit doesn’t get much better than this.
I’ve no idea (and no amount of Googling has helped) what the song behind this track is, but I do know it’s a gorgeous pairing, the real star of this partnership that Talrite obviously realised needed little additives.
Comes part of a ‘name your price’ bandcamp release by Talrite entitled Bckwards.
Where Django Django drew influence from North Africa and let it back up their indie sensibilities, the middle-eastern and African influences that make up Melt Yourself Down’s sound are interwoven through every fabric of their being and unleashed in a barrage of ferocious intensity.
There’s no chance to take stock of your surroundings, no gentle opener, before you’re thrown deep into the eclectic dimension of noise that Melt Yourself Down inhabit. From the very start you’ll be subjected to a kaleidoscopic aural hurricane of jazz funk punk from the boys on their self-titled album.
It’s when they’re at their most intense that the band at their best. When their breathless kinetic energy is in full flow there’s no stopping them and you can either get out their way or join in the party, I suggest the latter. Album opener ‘Fix Yourself’ is the first and greatest example of this, baptising you in a rain of fiery sax whilst drums thump away at your bones in an effort to shake them loose.
‘Release’ dials down the intensity but turns up the pace with a frenetic space age bop. And not unlike ‘Fix Yourself’, which conjures up images of a brass band playing an underground nightclub in tel-aviv whilst the walls shake, ‘tuna’ transports you to a Turkish market whilst ska-punk is blasted from the minarets of Istanbul.
The closest the band ever come to conventional single material comes courtesy of ‘We Are Enough’, albeit with sizeable jazz influences looming large over proceedings, but without transforming the song into any iteration of ska-punk. It’s a refreshing mix that highlights the band’s skill in songwriting and proves you don’t need to be smashing down walls to get people pumped up, you just need some well placed bongos and a sax or two.
And then moments later they prove that they can go completely traditional with ‘Kingdom Of Kush’, a spiralling and tumultuous frenzy that could easily pass for an Israeli folk song. That is, if it wasn’t for the band’s unique twist on the theme that morphs it more in to a sort of Israeli bop-punk that will have you happily choosing to have a Mauritian man screeching indecipherable lyrics over intertwining saxaphones into your ear.
Unfortunately ‘Free Walk’ and ‘Mouth To Mouth’ are rather forgettable, with the band deciding to mellow down the town just a little bit. And whilst the former is successful in it’s super smooth nature, these won’t be the tracks you remember this album for in the slightest. A theme that unfortunately is shared with album finale ‘Camel’.
So maybe this album doesn’t have the stamina to make it through to the end with the same ferocity that it first inspired, but it’s ability to magic you away on a psychadelic carpet ride across the middle east to west africa is an experience you’ll have a hard time trying to match.
From the funky bass lines of ‘Let Me Know’ to the free-form guitar solo woven throughout ‘to forget’ Behave. has captured what self-confessed trend setter would probably label under ‘post-chillwave’.
It’s the best kind of dance pop. The type with smoky, echoing, bedroom vocals and lyrics of lost loves and longing. All encased by some pretty suave guitar loops and plicky plucky summer night jam sounds.
The whole EP is a really great listen so grab it here.