I am glad I am getting around to doing this post – I have been listening to so many great albums the last few months it would be a crime not to share them with you. 2008 has been a fantastic year for the artist album and there has rarely been a week that where I am not enjoying something new.
Bloc Party – Intimacy
Everyone was extremely surprised when Bloc Party suddenly announced that they would release their new album for download. Almost instantly everybody had the opportunity to hear their third official full length album. I counted down the hours until the download became available while waiting impatiently knowing that Bloc Party was about to deliver something special for me as they always seem to do.
There are many people out there who enjoyed Bloc Party at a certain time of their career mainly being the mainstream success of ‘Silent Alarm’ and have since then been unable to appreciate the direction they have gone. ‘A Weekend in the City’ was my number 1 album last year and the B Side compilation ‘Another Weekend in the City’ was not far behind. The emotion which Kele brought to ‘A Weeekend in the City’ easily matched the energy which was ‘Silent Alarm’.
‘Intimacy’ has seen Bloc Party take another step in a different direction and at the same time keeping not only the energy from ‘Silent Alarm’ but also the Emotion from ‘A Weekend in the City’. The electronic elements of ‘Intimacy’ make the album new and exciting whilst at the same time taking nothing away from this indie rock band. The first single Mercury hinted that Bloc Party was not afraid to let people pre perceive the album going a particular electronic direction. The trademark guitar licks seen throughout Halo would soon prove that this album would be taking the listener in every direction.
The defining song for me has been Biko - what I believe to be the less obvious story of a loved one with a drug addiction – however the more obvious cancer could prove correct. Regardless of the correct theme it is song of depression and despair felt for a loved one as you see them slipping away. The only two obvious instruments for the first two minutes of the song are the guitar running over the notes of the chord progression and the most amazing of all instruments – Kele’s voice oozing despair lighting the song with darkness. The limited offbeat bass then comes in and is soon joined with electronic synthesised drum pads brining unpredictability as the lyrics build into each touching chorus.
Trojan Horse proves that Bloc Party can still pick up all their original instruments and when the massive electronic guitar comes whaling into a solo at 2:20, images of a surely unbeatable live mosh pit will rush through your veins. The bells on signs will give you a glorious ride as the beautiful sounds surround your head covered in those earphones.
I predict One Month Off as being their next single as to me it sounds the friendliest with some ‘Silent Alarm’ pop chorus techniques. I am sure that there are still many of you who could not listen to this album more then once but I highly recommend you give it a few more goes.
Van She – V
It is great to see Van She finally release their debut album. They spent most of last year building their reputation through a range of extremely successful remixes. This strategy planted their name on the lips of the international scene in anticipation for this very symbolic album. I am sure many Van She Tech fans will probably have a lot of trouble getting through this whole album as their search for big distorted bass falls well short. Van She are a very trendy band and they have reflected this in their smooth synth driven 80’s guitar rock. Van She is another Modular prodigy which continues to drive this thriving electro indie scene on this large island down at the bottom of the earth. I thought I would put up their album version of Kelly as it adds greatness to a great hit. It Could Be The Same is a jumpy pop electronic number which utilises the bass and drums proving the tightness of the band.
Friendly Fires – Friendly Fires
I have posted about Friendly Fires before however at the time they had only released a couple of EP’s and I was long awaiting their new album. Well it has arrived and definitely has not disappointed. This three piece is really cool and I think the girls especially will love their brand of electro indie pop. As you can hear from the infectious track Paris these guys are all about making you feel good through their music and lyrics. On Board is another fine example of how easy the band is to listen to – I just don’t see how you could not like this sort of music?
Shameboy – Heartcore
Well there is a story behind this next group Shameboy from Belgium. On my recent trip to the country these guys were doing a live set (similar setup to chemical brothers) at Rock Werchter before their local pals Soulwax. As Soulwax was the reason I had come to the festival in the first place, I needed to get up the front of this 30,000 (a rough guess) people tent and that involved being right up in it for Shameboy’s set. I had a bunch of 17 year old Belgium kids telling me I was in for a treat as this unknown (to this little Aussie) Shameboy was about to blow me away. I told them “Whatever, I am just here for Soulwax” – One of the little kids then tried to bet me 100 euro that I would like them (clearly money he probably did not have). The confidence shown by this kid in his music immediately brought excitement in me for their set.
What happened next was quite amazing – True pounding progressive electro music started belting through the speakers and the crowd rushed forward putting me in a suprising but not so difficult situation – Get amongst it or lose the front row for Soulwax? The atmosphere was incredible as I started to get overtaken by a bunch of local kids high on nothing but an extremely early taste for some fantastic dance music.
To cut a long story short this live performance went off and I never expected a couple of dudes I had never heard of to produce such energy into their local crowd – it was a pleasure to be apart of it. So this post is an ode to that time in my life – Thank you Belgium once again for some amazing electro. And for any of you kids who have got into this shit through a lot of the indie stuff, this is a reminder to you what Electro really is.
Late Of The Pier – Fantasy Black Channel
Well they say that all good things come in three’s and Erol has proven that in the year of 2008 with the production of three brilliant ground breaking albums all of which have now featured on this blog. Erol Alkan is treated like an absolute god in the scene and is respected by everyone including those who he would look up to. But to plebs like me his ability to not only know what sounds good but also make it sound so good is just over exciting. He is the only DJ who I really want to see, so I continue to hope that he will make his first trip out to Australia sometime in the near future. Anyway this post was meant to be about Late Of The Pier but Erol is just too cool!
I have started getting involved with writing reviews for a local street press magazine so I thought I might as well get a 2 4 1 deal and post them up here anyway to save me writing about albums twice – See below for Cazals and Ambidexter reviews for Time Off Magazine.
Cazals – What Of Our Future
UK act Cazals are part of the uber-hip French Kitsuné label, responsible for the likes of electro superstars Digitalism and the trendsetting Kitsune Maison compilation. Before the release of What Of Our Future, Cazals’ popularity was fuelled by a number of high quality electro remixes drawn from their early singles, feeding the scene a false perception that this band was part of it.
So you’d be forgiven for thinking that this debut long-player from the group would be teeming with electronic riffs and dominated by the kick drum. But first single ‘To Cut A Long Story Short’ cuts any electronic perception short, with the opening screaming distorted guitar riff bearing closer resemblance to Bloc Party’s ‘Helicopter.’
Second single ‘Life Is Boring’ has all the ingredients of an alternative hit – the verse is tightly gripped by the rhythm section, leaving the guitar with little room to interrupt as the vocals bounce off every kick with the angst of interpersonal conflicts saturating the lyrics. Each track on the album has an all-important pop element, highlighted by the chord-driven choruses of tracks like ‘Poor Innocent Boys’ and ‘We’re Just The Same’. The ironic silence at the top and tail of ‘Comfortable Silence’ sets the scene for Cazals’ token slow melodic track featuring vocoder as back up.
Cazals might have taken their first step with the guidance of the electro scene, but this debut shows they seem destined to leave their print in the mosh pit of the indie crowd. What Of Our Future is an album which oozes modern day indie rock via driving guitars and pop melodies which in time will soften even the hardest of electro heads.
Ambidexter – Ambidexter
Perth 4 piece Ambidexter has stayed true to their name by asserting cross-dominance over a range of musical genres with equal skill. From electro-rock-soft-pop to breakbeat-industrial- hip hop, Ambidexter has mastered the art of fusing a vast range of genres into one. The four piece outfit from one of the most isolated metropolitan areas on earth have landed with an incredible debut album set to pleasure any one that is lucky enough to get in the way.
The opening track ‘Night Life’ shows that Ambidexter are more then just a band with beats. The synthasised bass and funky guitar help drive the soothing lyrics towards a search for an infinite night. The night however does continue with the second track ‘After Show’ and the story of slow cumulative confidence building to the sound of force fed drinks, percussion and an Aussie accent.
The album slows right down as the third and most friendly track ‘Paranoid Behaviour Control’ is dubbed on intro and then joined by female vocals leading an indie chorus. The feel of the track however changes for the third time in less then a minute and a half when the whole thing breaks down with electronic hip hop and building sound scapes which step back up to the chorus. The album continues to deliver this commercial feel on the next track ‘Silicon Systems’ as it brings the album to an early climax with the fusion of rock, hip hop and broken down electronics.
The remaining six tracks help deliver a ground breaking debut album for this newly formed foursome. ‘Closer’ will give breaks fans a taste of their favourite beat while the bass riff on ‘Forever And A Day’ will bring those disco balls closer to your sensors. The production throughout the whole album is of a very high standard and the time an effort put into the outcome is evident. All that is needed now is a touring live show which can recreate the diversity of the album live. If that can happen then there is something very different to look forward to this summer.
Hot Little Hands – Dynamite In Black & White
Hot Little Hands are a Hot Little Band from Melbourne who I was lucky enough to stumble across because of my slight obsession with Plug In City. I really have a lot of respect for the type of music which Plug In City make and I thought I would check out who they recommend in their friends list on their myspace. Not long after I clicked on the link for Hot Little Hands I was on iTunes downloading their album. It was on a trip to Sydney where I started to play this album a few times and I don’t know if it was perfect plane music or just the fact that it is pretty perfect music but I instantly fell in love with these guys. I have now joined their mailing list and will be keeping an eye out for any Brisbane shows as I think they are mainly just playing in Melbourne at this stage of their careers.
Hot Little Hands myspace
The Black Ghosts – The Black Ghosts
I have been following the Black Ghosts for quite some time now and was pleased to hear they finally released their debut album. I have struggled to get fully into this one with my favourite tracks still being the ones I heard a long time ago. I feel as if they have tried to be a little too poppy on their newer ones so I will post a couple of my old favourites instead.
Black Affair – Pleasure Pressure Point
You may have noticed I posted a Black Affair track in my last Derogatory Playlist. These guys are a really original sounding group, with deep techy electro grooves and melodic vocals. This is definitely dark club music and would sound great loud.
CSS – Donkey
I think it was in a Mixmag issue where I read a horrible review on CSS’ new album Donkey. This put me off getting it for a couple of months until I thought it did deserve a go as it was only one dude’s opinion. Well I soon learnt my lesson not to listen to reviews as Donkey is a fantastic album. I honestly did not really get into their last album except ‘Lets Make Love’ just because it was such a big song in the scene at the time. Donkey is heaps more clean, indie and catchy as fuck. The only dude in the band does all the production and you can hear his talent on the remixes released under CSS – he has managed to conduct this band of girls very well and from their live performance I caught this year they can reproduce it. The album is pretty corny in parts but still very cool as you can forgive stupid lyrics when it is in a Brazilian accent.
Buy the tracks from Itunes
Thanks for reading/looking