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On the 27th August I experienced first hand the marvel and enigma that is Annie Clark a.k.a St. Vincent. One of the most spectacular events that you could experience in combining her truly innovative and ground breaking music with striking theatrics, effects and coolly executed dramatics. These were evident from the off as the synth bounces of ‘Rattlesnake’ hit the applause as St. Vincent strolled on to carry out a series of poses and stances before a urgent and crisp delivery of the track before moving on to ‘Digital Witnesses’ with all it’s live intricacies and detail of each strike of her guitar and slick presentation that is occasionally intercepted by Wiry and metallic guitar solos, which are delivered with ease. She went on to engage the audience by guessing the nickname for the people of “Newcastle slash Gateshead” was “Peaches” and that their favourite word was “osteology” which we might use in reference to “sex, food and music” and with the audience sort of nervously hanging on every word; she went on to make the subtle point that we’re all the same as we all hope. Words as simple as anything but made more potent and thought provoking like St. Vincent does with her music. Classic tracks like ‘Cruel’ and ‘Marrow’ were delivered with the biggest and boldest transitions between the song’s subdued distance and towards the heavily distorted, yet direct riffs as she shuffled her feet in a manic fashion in unison with the strobe lights to make it seem she was almost hovering. All of this while she was still wresting with her guitar at the same time. A sight to behold.
She went on to talk about accidently stealing from Tesco or Sainsbury’s and setting fire to a neighbourhood with a magnifying glass with a real sinister yet comic tinge, before concluding “Shit man, that’s life”. Her marvellous song range swept through ‘Laughing with a Mouth of Blood’, ‘Surgeon’ and ‘Actor Out Of Work’ before delivering ‘Cheerleader’ with a huge kick and a punch as the track pounds it’s way towards the chorus as she smoothly slipped into the mysterious and almost tragic nostalgia of ‘Prince Johnny’, which she delivered from atop her podium, standing bold and high above the stage and audience. Of course this ended with her haunting slither down her podium, encased with flashing lights and wailing synths. This uneasy and temporary inertia was soon broken by the synchronised moves of Clark and the rest of her band to the warped distortion of ‘Birth In Reverse’ and ‘Regret’. The latter extended the pause to about ten seconds and it was nearly a lifetime (or it felt as such) before she broke her freeze and continued with the song’s conclusion. ‘Huey Newton’ was still able to stand out amongst an entire set list of quite simply huge tracks. The meandering first half of the track was obliterated by the grinding, distorted drive of the second half, that featured quaking guitars that completely rattled you in the most thrilling way imaginable. Time to catch your breath is fleeting as the rapid tinged insanity of ‘Bring Me Your Loves’ fired and shot it’s way at your senses. As if in a wonderful paradox or perfect manipulation, the show or event was concluded by the lone St. Vincent playing out ‘Strange Mercy’ on her podium. Then with a bow she was off. That was it. It felt a little too fast as it would when you become completely immersed in something. Immersed in music for the first time without the comfort of my headphones or speakers in my room, but with the natural sounds enveloping me. No artist I have seen has ever done that and I think it’s the ultimate compliment to St. Vincent I can give. I was sat down throughout, but you had to be. It craved your undivided attention as she had given her undivided effort and imagination to it. It may sounded so boringly cliché but it had a profound effect on me. I’m still having flashbacks…
The Drums return with a second single from their upcoming third album Encyclopaedia (Out September 24th) with ‘I Can’t Pretend’. It’s a pretty sizable shift from the manic and unrelenting ‘Magic Mountain’ with a much more relaxed and steady beat with a swooning and distant ballad that features wistful and sentimental vocals, “cute” lyrics and feathery synth intervals and motions. The low lying bass line gently rumbles below it to give the foundation for the high swoons and nostalgic wistfulness. The distorted guitar track acts the twitchy hook to add to the feelings the song is already purposefully conveying. It’s a track that’s simple, but effective. A soft nudge as opposed to the smack of ‘Magic Mountain’ and a sign of a varied and dynamic third album.
Girl Band are an all male noise quartet from Dublin and they are about to release their new single ‘De Bom Bom’ on September 1st with a cover Beat Happening’s ‘I Love You as it’s B-Side. The A-Side track is a raging and screeching piece of nihilistic punk rock with a light but aggressive beat, industrially grinding and churning guitars and a scratching bass line with vocal shouts and wails over the top of it. The continues throughout the song, only changing to step up the tempo and intensity of it all. You can only imagine what the hell happens at one of their live shoes or gigs but through the chaos, you do pick up their skill and partially covered features that go unsung, such as the neat distortion of the bass which could be their secret weapon if you like. Oh and they’re influenced by Daft Punk too….
The Knife have announced that they are to split at the end of their Shaking The Habitual tour that concludes in Reykjavik, Iceland on September 7th. Upon the news, they were hailed as one of the most influential acts of the millennium by The Guardian and even though you won’t be familiar with them; that evaluation could not be more true. Sweden’s Karin and Olof Dreijer were initially pushing the boundaries of electro-pop with their 2003 album Deep Cuts and their most popular single ‘Heartbeats’. With it, they were grasping the heavy distorted synth sound and trap drop like beats nearly a decade before they were in widespread use like they are now. Today we’ve even reached the point where McCartney is doing just that. Throughout the 21st century so far, they have continued to develop and push this sound on beyond it’s very advanced boundaries; encompassing the very best of the unknown and the future of music progression. The fact that today’s groups have only just cottoned on to what they were doing eleven, twelve years ago while they were taking their first steps is testament to their advanced ability. Most recently they have reached the heights of experimentation; to the point where a label or genre cannot be applied. Shaking The Habitual and it’s fear inducing, synth laden, cave dive was their sound of 2013, however, we will not see music of that tenacity and inventiveness until 2024 at the very earliest, such is their progressiveness. Their legacy is not what they’ve done but what other people do with what they’ve done. The legacy does not hark back to the past, but to the future. We just haven’t reached it yet. They shouldn’t be stood alongside The Beatles, Bowie, Sex Pistols and the like; they will take their place of the modest sort of innovators. The one’s that aren’t appreciated until long after they’ve gone. Like The Sonics, Silver Apples, John Foxx and Broadcast; their music will be uncovered like a archaeologist discovers and rare artefact.
Hopefully their separate projects will be just as advanced and as enthralling for god knows we can’t afford to lose some of the last great innovators of music we have left.
Coldplay – True Love
Haim feat. A$AP Ferg – My Song 5
The War On Drugs – Under The Pressure
M83 – Lower Your Eyelids To Die With The Sun
Melody’s Echo Chamber is the dream-pop and neo-psychedelic project of Melody Prochet of Paris. She released her debut self titled album back in 2012. The album featured Pablo Padovani of Moodoid on guitar and the familiar figure of Kevin Parker of Tame Impala behind the mixing desk as producer. These two figures were open minded and creatively inquisitive choices from Melody in combining the sprung and light cascading sound of Padovani’s guitar with Parker and his ability to create washed out waves of sound with acres of space and scope to grow and expand. This resulted in a delicate piece of psychedelia with the intricacy of Padovani’s riffs partnered with Melody’s higher pitched, yet calm whisper to guide the song slowly through the washes of lapping sound and space from Parker’s production. A song best encapsulating these concepts is ‘I Follow You’. It’s one of the more well known tracks off her debut and has the light hook and steady beat of the cascading riffs and simple snare beat. From this, the more distorted and drawn out guitars and synths allow the track to progress and fluctuate in different directions, but guided by the soft, reassuring vocal from Melody. A heavily distorted and grinding riff leads the song out while still interlocked with the song’s steady foundations. A method with produces a paradox of at times concentrating on the song’s light rhythm and whispered lyrics or just completely losing all thought in the expansive sounds it creates. A perfect track for those late summer nights.