Listened Carly Rae Jepsen: Dedicated from Pitchfork

On her fourth album, the Canadian pop star is doing what she does best, calibrating lovesick or lovelorn synthpop that’s neither too hot nor too cold—and sometimes, regrettably, only lukewarm.

There is no faulting the slickness associated with this album, but there is just something missing. I think Anne Gaca captures this best in describing the album as ‘chill disco’. It feels like it lacks the depth of sound that was present on E.MO.TION.

Place between Robyn and Taylor Swift.

Listened The National: I Am Easy to Find from Pitchfork

With a cast of female vocalists guiding and redirecting the songs, the National’s eighth album is their largest, longest, and most daring.

I Am Easy to Find is both an album and a film. Where Sleep Well Beast flagged something of a change through their collaboration with Mouse on Mars, the addition of different voices in this album allows the music to explore different characters. different roles within the music. One of the hardest things I found was that I went into the album expecting something. I remember having a similar experience with Radiohead when they released Kid A/Amnesiac. This album started offereing more once I stopped trying to hear what was not there. Mike Mills, Matt Berninger Aaron Dessner also provided a track-by-track reflection of the album.
Watched Dumbo (2019) – IMDb from IMDb

Directed by Tim Burton. With Colin Farrell, Michael Keaton, Danny DeVito, Eva Green. A young elephant, whose oversized ears enable him to fly, helps save a struggling circus, but when the circus plans a new venture, Dumbo and his friends discover dark secrets beneath its shiny veneer.

Took the kids to see Dumbo at Sunshine. It does a good job balancing time and space to tell the story, while being faithful to the original.

I was intrigued about Tim Burton tackling a Disney classic. In hindsight, he was exactly the right person to capture the carnival atmosphere. Also, I really like Arcade Fire’s rendition of Baby Mine:

https://youtu.be/qpYOstfcQBs

Liked Duck Duck Goose (2018) (IMDb)

Directed by Christopher Jenkins. With Jim Gaffigan, Zendaya, Lance Lim, Greg Proops. A bachelor goose must form a bond with two lost ducklings as they journey south.

Each weekend, Sunshine has a kids flick for $5. This weekend it was Duck Duck Goose. I watched the trailer and thought it looked fine. However, there was a surprise, a cat that was a cross between Gmork from Neverending Story and Golem from The Lord of the Rings. Maybe it captured the split nature of cats, but there were moments when it took things to the limit. I would be fascinating in a reworking of the trailer as a horror film, because it was more than a comedy.
Listened DARREN MIDDLETON: THE ‘TIDES’ INTERVIEW from australianmusician.com.au

For Tides, Middleton teamed up with with Davey Lane (You Am I) as co-production buddy and brought in Steve Schram to mix. The album also includes some quality Australian performers such as Vika and Linda Bull and Kelly Lane on backing vocals, with Graeme Pogson (The Bamboos), Luke Hodgson (Meg Mac), Xani Kolac and Louis Macklin (JET) handling the rhythm of the album.

I remember Darren Middleton taking the vocals for a Powderfinger gig after Bernard Fanning lost his voice. It is interesting to see him take this a step further and find his own identity away from Powderfinger. Ironically, with so many guests it almost comes across like a super group.


Place in-between Josh Pyke and Bob Evans

Listened ‘NO ONE DEFEATS US’ THE ALBUM IS OUT NOW – DREAMS from DREAMS

The long awaited collaboration between two iconic Australian artists Daniel Johns (aka Dr Dreams) and Luke Steele (akaMiracle) has arrived.

No One Defeats Us is hard to place. I have spent a week listening to it and am drawn in, but lost for words to explain it. In part by the expectations of past outputs, with both having made their names in rock bands. Part dance, part electronica, part pop, it is an album that references the past, but still feels centred now. Whereas Johns’ last album Talk was consistent throughout, that has gone with this album. Where both are similar is the effort to (re)make identity.

I feel that No One Defeats Us is one of those albums that has something for everyone, but can be a challenge in its entirety.


Place between Twin Shadow and The Presets

Listened Album Review: Troye Sivan Oozes a Breathy Charm Across the Dreamy and Sexy Bloom from Consequence of Sound

Bloom is a fun record, dreamy and vulnerable and urgently horny. Sivan has a fresh perspective, and his force of personality enlivens tracks that otherwise might sound conventional. His best songs perform a kind of magic, with sentiments that feel universal to all of us and as personal as a fingerprint.

Listened EMMA LOUISE announces new album ‘LILAC EVERYTHING’; A project by EMMA LOUISE + shares dramatic first cut ‘WISH YOU WELL’ – from Amnplify

The idea came to pass during the final moments of recording, when Emma asked Jesso Jnr to dramatically pitch all of her vocals down. With over 100 million streams to her name, two acclaimed ARIA Top 20 album releases, and a monster-hit in ‘Jungle’ (which also soundtracks Yves Saint Laurent’s ‘Black Opium’ perfume ads), it was an unusual, not to mention brave choice. Yet the freedom Emma felt was immediate.

Lilac Everything is a captivating album. The decision of Emma Louise to definitively augment her voice makes for an intriguing listening experience. Where some maybe critical of the artificial nature of pitch correction, the use in this circumstance is still novel and raises the question of identity and belonging. There is something uncanny about listening to a female artist taking on a male voice.

Emma Louise talks more about her ‘Joseph‘ persona and the use of the Little Alterboy plugin in an interview with Bruce Headlam. This includes some performances with and without the vocal alteration.

I would place this album between Father John Misty and Jeff Buckley.

Listened Episode 136: Jon Hopkins from Song Exploder

Jon Hopkins is an electronic music producer whose been nominated twice for the UK’s Mercury Prize. Along with his frequent collaborator, Brian Eno, he co-produced Coldplay‘s Grammy-award winning album, Viva la Vida. In May 2018, Jon Hopkins released his fifth album, Singularity. It was named Best New Music by Pitchfork. In this episode, Jon Hopkins takes apart the song “Luminous Beings,” which was inspired in part by the meditative and therapeutic effects of psilocybin, the psychedelic compound found in magic mushrooms. Jon talks about his own experience with drug, and how it shaped this song. He also details the less magical moments where he hated the music was he making, and had to destroy it as part of the creative process.

Listened Guy Pearce – The Nomad from guypearce.net

‘The Nomad’ was an very personal and raw experience for me. It came as a result of my marriage ending in January of 2015. After going on the road to tour ‘Broken Bones’ in February I then started work on new material. As much as it delves into the melancholy at times it does allow for that beautiful ‘silver lining’ that keeps us going in life. It was such a joy to collaborate with my old pal Joe Henry at ‘United Recording’ in LA. What an amazing and historic studio, and working with the musicians Joe invited in was a truly inspiring and uplifting process.

Each Friday I scroll through the new releases fo something to listen to. I saw The Nomad and cringed. There is something about an actor who decides to turn their hand to music – Russell Crowe! After not finding much else I came back to Guy Pearce.

I was pleasantly surprised. It is a hard album to place. With bursts of jazz then moments of Leonard Cohen reincarnate, it is intense without being dramatic. Definitely an album to sink into.

Listened Cook Cut Damage Destroy by Prop from undercovermusic.com.au

Cook Cut Damage Destroy

Over a year in the making, this album is more than just a collection of remixes… it’s a diverse, yet cohesive collection of collaborative electronica. The album features the fusion of Prop’s marimba and vibraphone section with cut up electronica and dubbed out glitchy rhythms, experimental looping and for the first time in prop’s life… vocals.

I loved Prop’s album and was always fascinated how of Julian Hamilton and Kim Moyes transitioned from the blended soundscapes to the pumping tunes that they write as The Presets. This compilation provides some insight. It is made up of a series of remixes from artists all over the world, including the Presets.

Different from Gotye’s Mixed Blood album or Jack Antonoff’s Terrible Thrills series which are more traditional covers, this album is something of a reimagining. Not only are the sounds different, but often the original structure is also thrown out. This is made because of the absence of any vocals guiding the original tracks.

I never knew it existed and am glad a stumbled upon it as I looked for tracks on Google Music.

Listened
It is interesting listening to artists who I grew I up with. They change, the world changes, music changes.

One thing is the same, Gary Lightbody’s voice. However, the sound has matured. There is real nuance with this album, with a mixture of acoustics and textured production.

I found that once I stopped comparing it with the past then it really started to grow on me.

Listened Little Man in my Head EP – Cheeky Chalk from cheekychalkmusic.com
I am fascinated by the influence of space. It can be considered as a non-actor, an influence without agency. I often stop and listen to buskers with my daughters when we go into the city. In this circumstance, what is the influence of the open street on the music being played? This is something David Byrne touches upon in his TEDTalk:

This weekend we happened to stumble upon a performance from Cheeky Chalk.

Cheeky Chalk are a two piece, with Mark Chapman on vocals and Mitch Hudson on guitar. Their sound is a cross between folk, reggae and rock. Their EP Little Man in my Head is a mixture of stripped back tunes and full band treatments. What stood out was the sameness to it all. Even with the variance in instrumentation, the songs seemed the same. A good ‘same’, but same none the less.

I was left wonder whether this ‘sameness’ was in fact a product of the space? Even when Chapman sings about lose it is still optimistic. In contrast, when I think of lose and breaking up, I think of The Cure’s “Apart”. This is a song whose lyrics and music drives a harrowing message. The thing is, maybe such messages don’t have a place on Bourke Street? The audience, the space, the dancing, the instruments.

It was ironic that when we stumbled upon the duo they were pumping out a cover of OutKast’s “Hey Yeah”, a song with all its subtle messages still always leaves you tapping your feet.

I would file Little Man in My Head somewhere between Jack Johnson and Pete Murray.

Listened Double Allergic – 1996 – Powderfinger from Powderfinger

Double Allergic was Powderfinger's second full-length album, released in 1996. It featured the singles Pick You Up, D.A.F. Living Type, & Take Me In.

I remember when I purchased Double Allergic. My step sister, who was visiting from Perth, was looking at purchasing a mobile phone (a rare commodity back then), so we went to JB Hi-Fi before seeing baz Luhrmann’s Romeo and Juliet at the cinemas. She looked at my oddly with no idea who the band was. It stands out now because of where they went after this album.

I remember seeing the band live during this period too. Daniel Pilkington and I went to Storey Hall for an underage concert. It was nearly cancelled as Bernard Fanning could barely sing due to a throat infection. This led to Darren Middleton taking the mic and singing quite a few of the songs.

The album was interesting as it had a mixture of genres. Although the pop-sensibilities were there in the singles, Pick You Up and DAF:

There was a real edge to some of the other tracks, like Boing Boing and Take Me In. I am not sure if this was a certain phase or something that Tim Whitten brought out in his production. Although there are times when the later work breaks out, it never seems to return to the same intensity of this early sound. Although the same could be said about many artists, including Radiohead.

I would file this album between Soundgarden’s Superunknown and Something For Kate’s Elsewhere for 8 Minutes.

Listened Architecture in Helsinki: Moment Bends from Pitchfork

Australian indie-pop band continues to move away from the precocious and cute toward a more streamlined, highly polished sound.

I think that Architecture in Helsinki are one of those bands divides people. Similar in a way to Sparkadia, people either gel to the sugary synth-pop or are put off. Personally, Moments Bend is one of those albums that feels like a bodily album, in that I often catch myself tapping away to the beat. I think it is interesting to consider the process for listening to mixes in the car to get a perspective:

Whenever they finished a mix of a song, they would pile into their producer Francois Tetaz‘s car and go on a late night drive down a stretch of a Melbourne freeway and listen to the freshly minted mix.

This wasn’t for self-congratulatory purposes, more as a way of making one final check.

“That thing when you’re traveling and listening to music, unless it makes you sort of reinterpret and re-imagine your surroundings, it’s not quite working,” frontman Cameron Bird explained to triple j in 2011.

For a different take on their music, they also demonstrate the ability to re-imagine things more acoustically:

I would file this album somewhere between Talking Heads and Hot Chips.

Listened Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life by The Wombats from thewombats.lnk.to
Although the catchy synth hooks may have gone, the infectious tunes still remain. Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life reminded me of early Blur, but maybe The Strokes is a better comparison.

Frontman Matthew Murphy told triple j Breakfast that his grand vision:

was to keep it organic and not use too many synths or whatever, like we had done on the last couple of albums… In terms of songwriting, I think it’s a bit of a bangin’ album to be honest.

In his review for NME, Thomas Smith suggests:

There’s nothing groundbreaking here, but little to be ashamed of either.

I think though that Mac McNaughton captures it best in The Music when wonders:

Was that it.

There are some albums that are instantly irresistible, then there are those that are unexpected, taking a bit more time to make sense of. This has been my experience with some of the latter Radiohead albums. Maybe Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life will be the same, but right now. It is not standing up against past albums.

Listened All Melody by Nils Frahm – Releases – Erased Tapes from Erased Tapes

For the past two years, Nils Frahm has been building a brand new studio in Berlin to make his 7th studio album titled All Melody, which will be released on January 26th, 2018 via Erased Tapes, before Nils embarks on his first world tour since 2015.

I can’t remember when I first came across Nils Frahm, it was probably during my dive into Minimalism – Glass, Nyman, Part – but might have been when I stumbled upon a reworking of the Presets track Promises. His latest album is different from the solo work that I had grown akin to. I think that Philip Sherburne In Pitchfork captures it best:

Across 12 songs and 74 minutes, All Melody functions as a single, cohesive piece of music, with recurring themes interwoven throughout. It’s easy to get lost in the album and then, hearing a familiar motif, come up short, as if turning a corner in a long hallway and wondering if you hadn’t passed the same spot just a moment ago. It’s a pleasantly disorienting sensation.

What stands out is the blend of acoustic and synthetic sounds. This in part reminds me of Nicolas Jaar.

In the Studio: Nils Frahm (BBC)

Bookmarked The Reputation Game by Ian Leslie (New Statesman)

Today, everyone’s second self is encoded in contrails of data: pictures, ratings, clicks, tweets, searches and purchases. Corporations and governments rake over this information and fix us in it: we are subjected to the scrutiny applied to celebrities but without the fame or the free stuff. In one possible future, everyone will be ranked like hotels on TripAdvisor. In one possible present, in fact: the Chinese government is implementing a scheme that will give each of its 1.4 billion citizens a score for trustworthiness, with the stated aim of building a culture of “sincerity”.

Ian Leslie looks into the question of reputation through the review of two books: Reputation: What It Is and Why It Matters by Gloria Origgi and The Reputation Game: The Art of Changing How People See You by David Waller and Rupert Younger. It is an interesting read, especially in light of everything about Harvey Weinstein and the media men list.
Listened Oz (Missy Higgins album) from en.wikipedia.org

Oz is the fourth studio album by Australian singer-songwriter Missy Higgins, and was released by Eleven on 19 September 2014. It is Higgins’ first cover album, which is accompanied by a book of the same name that collects a series of essays by Higgins; using each song title as a jumping off point. The album’s title refers to each of the artists covered being from Australia, as well as being a reference to the land of Oz as established in The Wizard of Oz.

Oz
I am always intrigued by cover versions. Missy Higgins’ album of covers is intriguing listening. She provides her own twist on a number of classic and contemporary Australian artists.