Posted by: coatessr | 11 January, 2013

Oh, we do so Enjoy a Good Comeback. ALEK FIN’s Wolf.

Well hello there! Been a while. A year was it? Must be. Ah how the days pass…
We at PushNewMusic have always thought tardiness the most devilishly seductive vice. Each turn of the calendar without contact breeds more anticipation, more longing, more desire. There’s a lot to be said for apathy. But this music atrophy has built up too much, and so we return like Lazarus bursting out of blogosphere silence.

To mark this resurrection we bring you ALEK FIN, in all his haunting glory.

It’s not every day that we come across a song so inviting, so engrossing, that we can fall head over heels over head down a rabbit hole of colour and sound. ALEK FIN’s ‘Waiting Like a Wolf’ is one sizeable warren. Its texture is more enticing than a velvet dressing gown, rippling across the  body, raising those prickling hairs on one’s nape. Mr FIN’s warm voice treads  bassy tones across a building wall of sound that wouldn’t be out of place on Kid A. The track rises and falls, peaks and dips in the most delicious way, drawing the ears into its hypnotic rhythm. You can feel yourself falling into a level of audio-consciousness markedly different from the norm. While it is the artificiality of the programmed beats and synthesised ethereal notes that blend with FIN’s true vocals, it is the guitar which really percolates through the undulations and ties the track together.

This is the one track that sticks with us from the newly released Mull EP, yet we hope there is more where this cultured creation came  from. There’s no doubt about it, ALEK FIN has created a higher plane of addictive, self-effacing  sound .


ALEK FIN – Waiting for the Wolf

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There’s something lovingly British about Bombay Bicycle Club (somewhat ironically…). This is in part down to Steadman’s breathy lilt, in part the bright indie melodies of the late noughties, and in part the feeling of crushing crisp, curling autumn leaves underfoot that BBC‘s sound evokes. It’s a special sound. And after two distinguished albums clawing at the foot of the mainstream bed, a promising third looms.

They did the angsty, guitar-driven debut indie album on I Had the Blues, But I Shook them  Loose, they did the entirely acoustic-folk follow up with Flaws, so it’s the natural folk-rock progression to the clean, comfortable and refined A Different Kind of Fix. Due for release late August, the lone taste of 2011 BBC is the internet released ‘Shuffle’.

At first glance this song is good, and with every subsequent play it builds astonishingly to place itself next to the ‘What If‘ and ‘Swansea‘ of yesteryear. With the repetitive chatchiness that was perhaps lacking on Flaws, ‘Shuffle’ lures the ears with a chirpy keyboard intro and bobbing rhythm and bass section. And the released video echoes this beautifully. Using clips from various Bavarian Bierstube and Serbian streets, the band seem determined to show their light-hearted side (another element lacking in Flaws). Weaving vocal scat subtly around Steadman’s woozy proclamation:- ‘say you need me/sing it up/say you wanna try/say you haven’t had enough/say you wanna… ‘.

If the album is anything like as babbling and buoyant as the first single it will be a great addition to this year’s growing list of great LPs.

 

Bombay Bicycle ClubShuffle

Posted by: coatessr | 18 July, 2011

Genre Complementation. Chillwave’s Trinity.


A genre can be misleading. The tag attributed to the early ’40s recordings by jazz-infused African Americans evolved to encompass the very British (and very white) Rolling Stones, before settling in the comfortable zone of electronic beats and autotuned-catchiness of modern R&B. So where new genres begin to peak their young heads, there becomes a need to define the sound.

Today’s topic :- Chillwave. A sound that is epitomised in the style of photography that has exploded from the depths of the darkest rooms.

Today’s test subjects :- Keep Shelly in Athens, Active Child & Hard Mix.

Between these three artists that seem to be gathering speed with a ferocious tailwind we find similar components – that patent thick, low synth reverberating around a heavy drumbeat; the eerie vocals bouncing around the sound field; the undulating degree of decibel. Yet each track is starkly different from it’s neighbour.

Keep Shelly in Athens’ ‘Running Out of You’ is a slow burn, it ebbs and flows gently in its minimalism. The vocals grasp the frontal lobe and tugs at it tenderly before kicking back with a beat that wouldn’t be out of place in a ’90s house track. Its charm is in its change of tone; from sensual movement to forceful thrust.

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Active Child’s ‘Playing House’ is not a slow burn. The voice of Pat Grossi (cultivated through years of classical choir practice) warbles against the vocals of Berlin-counterpart How to Dress Well – a match made in chill heaven – while a steady synthetic drone marshals the track beautifully. While it may not have the same grace of ‘Running Out of You’, the song more than makes up for it in playability – it is an ear-filling delight.

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The third and final artist in this chillwave seminar is Hard Mix, deemed to be destined for a following similar to that of blog-favourite Toro y Moi. The South-Carolina born Noah Smith mixes real life experience with fuzzing sounds in his ‘Memories’. Utilising samples of a cappella Four Tops and an amalgamation of clips from his own adolescent home videos, Smith seems to be on the edge of the genre, almost tiptoeing into a thick beat-ridden Shoegaze. Yet while these three tracks flower from different stems, their roots are firmly set in the growing sound of chillwave.

Posted by: coatessr | 12 July, 2011

No Fucking Around. Sufjan Stevens’ I Want To Be Well.

PushNewMusic has been pretty vacant lately due to various other obligations and for that we apologise unreservedly – unfortunately it seems that there is more than music. But while we may have skimped on our reviews, we have certainly not been apathetic to the new music that has been surging in and out of ears with wanton abandon.

The new classics are forming themselves nicely this year (Washed Out, Anna Calvi, BRAIDS…) but it is Michigan-favourite and cult-followed Sufjan StevensThe Age of Adz which is currently filling the fuzzy warm spot in PNM’s music gland. Known for his 48-albums-short ‘Fifty States Project’ and a collection of tracks that hold value in depth, breadth and honesty in multi-instrumental home-production, Stevens is a big name in the obscure world of experimental indie. The October release of his newest album was met with joy and rejection by critics and fans alike. But holding to the time honoured tradition of orchestral overtures that Stevens has built his career upon, Age of Adz (if nothing else) is certainly a grower.

It’s unquestionable ‘single track’ is the bubbling, shifting mêlée of sensual provocation ‘I Want To Be Well’. Beginning akin to a vintage Illinois song – the usual fluttering flautist mixing with spiralling backing vocals – Stevens turns to a scrambled electronic drum beat to add vigour to lyrics of isolation and immolation. The pinnacle of which is proudly pronounced in the disturbing couplet ”I’ll find sleep, I’ll find peace /Or in death you’ll sleep with me’.

But while the first half may be somewhat downbeat, the evolving sound rumbles towards the heart of the track in its later stages. Bursting into a crescendo of clashing vocals – the repeated ‘I want to be well’ obscured by the monogamous promise ‘I’m not fucking around’ – and soaring decibels of percussion, the entire ensemble swirls in an almost balletic manner. It is in the breakdown that Sufjan Stevens finds his niche as a genuine cross-genre joy and this is no less true in ‘I Want To Be Well’.

While it flings itself headlong into a sway of guitar distortion and echoing synthesiser – collapsing the built up dénouement in on itself – this is a song of complete structure, of cohesive lyrics, and of considerable elegance. An elegance matched only by its sizeable magnetic pull towards the repeat button.

Sufjan Stevens – I Want To Be Well

There’s little new to say of James Blake. The London-based dubstep producer-turned soul singer has cultivated a mass audience through an unorthodox blend of richly textured vocals over thudding keyboard (the epitome being the cover of Feist’sLimit To Your Love‘ and a live performance of Joni Mitchell’sA Case Of You‘). So much has been made of this young talent that we at PushNewMusic will avoid spouting opulent adoration and stick to the sound.

Despite a number of delicately formed tracks on the début album James Blake, it is the relatively unknown B-Side ‘What Was It You Said About Luck’ which truly embodies Blake’s originality. Warm, layered vocals, echoing synthesisers and a calm piano marshalling the direction of the song offers a passionate tranquillity within such a beautiful two and half minutes.

If neo-soul is the genre that will stick to Blake, there will many more great songs to come.

James Blake – What Was It You Said About Luck

Posted by: coatessr | 16 May, 2011

Lackadaisical Lake-swimming. Bon Iver’s Calgary.

Ah the power of twitter. It was within 160 characters that Justin Vernon managed to evoke an eruption of internet activity, of music madness and unadulterated delight.

We at PushNewMusic have been major supporters of the Wisconsin man who’s main project continues under the name Bon Iver, so the free download of ‘Calgary’ (the first full length available from the forthcoming album Bon Iver) whet our appetites almost insatiably.

Crafted with that same careful delicacy that For Emma, Forever Ago is known for, ‘Calgary’ is less a concrete change in direction than a slight curve away from their signature sound. The vocal production (one element of all Vernon’s work which is instantly recognisable) is at a pinnacle here, and the soothing mixture of guitar and woozy synthesiser cultivates a calming tranquilliser to the ears. Conjuring images of lakeside bathing with a loved one, the track oozes with confidence in style and lyricisim: the most potent of the latter epitomised in the lines ‘you pinned me with your black sphere eyes / you know that all the rope’s untied / I was only for to die beside’.

If this is the new Bon Iver sound, then the June 21st release date of Bon Iver will be anticipated with even more vigour than before.

Take, Talk, Treasure:

Bon Iver – Calgary

There’s a sort of guilty pleasure that surrounds Childish Gambino. His half rap, half sung delivery about lustless sex and ambiguous fame is genuine and openly raw, hiding nothing. There’s no hyperbole about becoming a billionaire, only severe realism. That might be due to his background as a comedy writer and actor in his own right, but whatever the reason Donald Glover’s music is a secret joy.

Having self-released a couple of LPs, like so many upcoming musicians at the moment, and thrown out a stream of internet songs at wild random, Childish Gambino has gained a cult following from indie hipsters to self-professed rappers. There’s a niche somewhere in between and Gambino has filled it comfortably.  On one of his most recent releases, ‘Break’, a refix of Kanye’s All of the Lights‘, Glover mixes questionable comedy about the taste of Japanese girls post-tsunami and down to earth realisation of semi-eminence (epitomised in the verse – ‘I kissed this girl I’d liked since I was just a sophomore / but I’m afraid to text her / what the fuck it take so long for?’)

Gambino’s hype may be down to this levelheaded lyrics and addictive hooks, but his music is still big. It has as much depth as any of his contemporaries, but with an added edge of humour. And that is perhaps why an obsession with sunshine pop and indie folk can mix nicely with some obscene bedroom-rap.

Childish Gambino – Break (AOTL REFIX)

I’ve been a big fan of Benjamin Francis Leftwich and his sound since the day a friend pointed me in his direction. It’s the kind of easy listening that you can lay and listen to over and over again. And yet the York-born Leftwich musters more in the way of depth than any of his contemporaries. Boasting a soft and warm voice that never struggles to hit notes, but rather flows out with ease, and a smooth finger-picking style much like Iron & Wine, the sound that the singer-songwriter creates is always positive (despite the occasional derisive lyric).

After the slow release of a single EP (which is outstanding) and the occasional cover (Arcade Fire’sRebellion‘ is a particularly favourite), Leftwich has finally created a fully formed LP in the shape of Last Smoke Before The Snowstorm. With a release date in the near future and a fan base counting the days, the internet release of ‘Box of Stones’ was a perfect teaser for our musical palates.

There’s nothing particularly difficult about the song. But that’s in no way a negative comment – on the contrary, it shows the sheer strength of Leftwich and his unnamed female complimentary voice and its symmetry to the music. Sounding like a tranquillised Loch Lomond, a twinkling guitar and whispering percussion quietly repeat a palliative backing for the prominence that the vocals, along with the occasional violin, offer. Repeating the phrase ‘I am young, and I am yours/ I am free, and I am flawed’, there is little guessing the inspiration behind the lyrics. The simple tale of a relationship rooted in some effective natural imagery culminates in an earthy sound which matches his EP A Million Miles Out tone to the note.

With so much British Indie Folk bustling at the mainstream seams I’m sure that this man will be at the forefront of some well-deserved fame.

Benjamin Francis Leftwich – Box of Stones.

Posted by: coatessr | 12 May, 2011

The Day of Three.

Today is a good day. There’s nothing innately different from yesterday, nor, I’m sure, from tomorrow. It just has a good feel. So we at PNM thought we’d spread the May joy.

And what better way than to introduce the unknown, enjoy the famed, and examine the halfway-house?

The unknown is Joshua Price. Playing under the pseudonym SCRIBER, the singer-songwriter boasts less than 150 people on his facebook page and is yet to have a last.fm account (one sign of fame…) and still this unknown 20-something managed to pull a supporting role at James Vincent McMorrow’s Cardiff gig. Stepping onto the stage with an aura of anxiety and thanking everyone from his parents to the venue management, SCRIBER abolished any sense of fear with his slow-picked acoustic and his hauntingly monotonous voice. His stand-out song was without doubt ‘Holland House’, a tale of a bereft relationship and longing which is epitomised in the line ‘there’s a sea between us, and I can’t swim’. Its macabre tone may seem depressingly defeatist, yet manages to soothe the soul. Any essence of amateur  bedroom-recording is washed away in the single with a strong production and subtle string backing. Perhaps not to everyone’s taste, SCRIBER is worth definitely worth a listen.

SCRIBER – Holland House

Onto the Famed. As many are aware, Elbow’s fifth album Build a Rocket Boys! was released some time ago. Now with such a variety of music being released on a daily basis it is fair to say Elbow manage to pierce that perfect middle between mainstream and indie. Guitar rock may be a step too far, yet their single ‘Lippy Kids’ is steeped in calming goodness which soars to a choral pinnacle which echoes the album title. This is by no means a new-to-the-day record, but is a warming sound which is thoroughly enjoyable on a day like today!

Elbow –Lippy Kids

Finally the halfway-house. The Antlers are a name which will strike the indie world with memories of cancer-patients, hospital romance and violent depression. Their second LP Hospice was a triumph of emotion, varying from whispered longing to screaming petulance. Its release in 2009 led to a mass swell of positive reviews and album of the year lists, while it captured an audience on a par with Bon Iver’s similar explosion to fame the year before. Burst Apart, the difficult follow-up, was released just two days ago in the US and marks a distinct change in tone and instrumentation. With a more positive feel, the LP may be ‘nothing like their last album’ to the Antler purist, but an interesting change in direction to everyone else. While it holds a couple of strong tracks – ‘Parentheses‘ & ‘Putting the Dog to Sleep‘ in particular (the latter having a very similar feel to the Hospice sound) – our favourite is the almost instrumental ‘Hounds’ which is perfect sleep music, mixing frontman Silberman’s falsetto voice with a clear, repetitive guitar riff.

The Antlers – Hounds

Whichever hits your musical spot, this spectrum of musical fame hits ours.

Posted by: coatessr | 6 May, 2011

Information is Beautiful.

Bombarded with television adverts, stopped in the street by well-meaning campaigners, colonies of bands drumming for social justice …  We can barely turn a corner without being made guilty for the lives we lead in the UK.  So much so that it is easy to switch off. Head down, keep a steady pace, don’t make eye contact. We’ve all done it. But what are we turning away from? The campaigner that marauds the high streets of our cities is no more than a medium, a middleman. They are not the person to whom our guilt extends; that individual is thousands of miles away.

That is not to say that we as individuals do nothing, though. We may look to the ground on our way to Greggs, but the figures speak for themselves. The amount given to charities is truly astonishing – £7.1bn was given by individuals in the UK 2004 alone.  But what are we giving to?

For decades it has been Africa that been the centre of attention where charity is concerned. With the fear of HIV, a distinct lack of water and many governmental failings, the multiplicity of states that make up the continent have looked to the affluent countries and the rising power of the UN for aid. It is a cry for humanity from humanity.

In an online magazine we came across an article which attempted to reject the common-held assumption that Africa is ‘that massive landmass under Europe’ and establish the very magnitude of its size. ‘Rampant immappancy’ as it claims. It did so very insightfully with this image.

 (Kai Krause)

Relativity is a difficult concept to grab. The US is the most powerful state, Japan is the electronic centre of the world and India has the fastest growing economy…yet their size (and problems) are minute in comparison to Africa as a whole. In this case perhaps it is fair to say that size does matter.

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