Single Review – Mac Demarco – Chamber of Reflection

This is Mac Demarco. A Canadian singer songwriter who is a best a complex character. But that is the appeal of wonder of the guy and it is this off beat nature that he applies to his performances, music and promotion. A recent ode to this was the release of the video to his single ‘Chamber of Relfection’ from his third studio album ‘Salad Days’. His second under the guise of Mac Demarco. Of the track he spoke of the freemasonry references and how it likened to being in his studio and spending his days in there, saying “It was actually therapeutic. I feel a little enlightened, a little less heavy.” In the video, the track has been set to a speed two times slower than the speed it was recorded. Played at normal speed, the track is rich and undulating synth soaking. Drenched in hovering organ sounds, a low lying bass line and distorted percussion from which the main synth melodies slide off with their warping and whirling rustic nature. It’s a track cut from the same mould of Connan Mockasin’s most recent work, but one that is delivered so well and with such individuality that it works. The rich, soaking feel of the track is only double in the slow speed version too. Both work and both fit in to the mind-set of Mac Demarco.

 

It’s a cover up! Connan Mockasin/Anna Calvi & David Byrne – I’m The Man, That Will Find You

Last Year Connan Mockasin released the brilliantly enigmatic Caramel from which ‘I’m The Man, That Will Find You’ was one of the lead singles. It has a relaxed 70′s groove through distorted psychedelic shades. The vocals are presented in a similar style and it has fluid progression of a groove filled track but the space and washed out effect of a psychedelic track. A great fusion of the late 60′s and early 70′s. It’s a very surreal track while also sounding quite familiar at the same time and he’s maintained that level of peculiar yet easy quality his music has and so much so, it was almost a creepy and unsettling track in part.

 

This Week Anna Calvi and David Byrne released their cover of the track from their Strange Weather EP and Calvi makes it her own with ease and that is despite the innate peculiarity and individualistic nature of the track. She enforces her fluid and smooth baritone vocal upon the tracks lyrics to open up a more raw intimacy than Mockasin’s uneasy closeness. This vocal is occasionally backed up by Byrne’s to just add to the smooth and in depth take of the track. She wrestles her guitar’s riff upon the track too as they ring out and bounce around the song’s space. A very worthy version of the original which not only respects the song’s intentions, but focuses upon them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Top 10 Albums of 2013

Now that I have listed my top ten tracks and now that it is 2014, I’ve decided to roll off my top ten albums from last year. Again, if your favourite artists art present they either didn’t make the cut or weren’t reviewed by me last year; for this is a list compiled from albums that have appeared on the blog in 2013. However, the listing is this time based on the rating I gave each album and not on my current opinion. Anyway…

 

10. Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires of the City

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The band had certainly tried a few different methods with the pitch shifting which was also used on the drums and the guitar was recorded straight onto the recording programme while various different recording techniques were used to ‘soften’ the album and make it listenable. They have certainly done that and while being very careful with the production. It also has a slight edge to it as well and therefore results in their best album yet. They have grown older and their music has grown with it to create a very unique at times and mature sound.

 

9. Manic Street Preachers – Rewind The Film

Rewind The Film is not too generic and its by no means so experimental and conceptualized that it isn’t relatable or translatable. The lyrics are and music share equal footing and in general it just shows that the Manics are still capable of being truly creative. probably their most complete album since Everything Must Go and This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours in terms of the lyrical challenges posed and the moods and emotions created via their light and airy production.

 

8. Factory Floor – Factory Floor

It’s not too far away from what The Knife did earlier on in 2013, but perhaps it has a more subtle edge to it. For now, it’s main strengths will be it’s ability to fill dance floors as well as sound dark, scathing and haunting. All in all it’s a great effort and was probably worth the long wait we had to endure for a full studio album.

 

7. Daft Punk – Random Access Memories

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Even though tracks like ‘Get Lucky’ have been played to death in 2013; it’s a proper song in how it’s been crafted by musicians, written by musicians, produced by musicians and played by musicians and talented ones at that, with bags of experience. The fact this sort of music is topping the charts whether it’s your thing or not should be celebrated. Thomas Bangalter pointed towards the likes of Rumours by Fleetwood Mac, Dark Side Of The Moon by Pink Floyd and Sgt Pepper from The Beatles as “the ones that take you on a journey for miles and miles.” They all served as some of the several models for creating an album that provides that journey which they have managed to achieve in the sense that you can become engrossed and lost within it. Perhaps it is their best work in how they are more have proved successful with this different approach.

 

6. The Knife – Shaking The Habitual

All in all this album is just beyond me. Even if you don’t quite get some of the songs at first you should listen again and try to deconstruct the wall of different and varying sounds. Some of which fill the song but others leave the songs with lots of space to generate a real atmosphere while at times terrifying me. With this they have challenged the norm’s of modern music to the points where a lot of people won’t appreciate it because they don’t understand it. I think had I reviewed this a month ago, then it would have a much higher rating.

 

5. Connan Mockasin – Caramel

 Though the sound and tone of Caramel isn’t moved and shifted around so much; it would be wrong for that to happen as it would break down the larger flow and feel of the album. It is nearly impossible and it almost feels wrong to plant a mark on it. A surreal and coolly insane and outrageous event from someone being himself, taking risks and being bold.

 

4. Arctic Monkeys – AM

AM falls down on very few occasions and when it does, it’s only to re-envisage some great Desert Rock, Swooning Ballads etc. The rest of it has been new takes on worn out sounds, showing that you can be innovative in what you don’t bring to a song and with at times fluctuating styles within songs. Josh Homme’s presence has for once not been an overbearing one but something that has furthered their vision and aim. It showed everyone what still can be done with guitar music in 2013. I know it can be easy, but don’t let all the crazed fangirls and boys put you off it because it’s an album that maintains a very high standard throughout. I perhaps think that there are some better albums with a lower ranking in this list, but nevertheless it deserves it’s place in the top ten.

 

3. Savages – Silence Yourself

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The musical discipline and obvious talent of all the members is clear to see and they don’t seem to have any hidden agenda or motivation either. They lay everything out in their music alone. Not even in their image. This for me is refreshing and they have left themselves with the difficult task of the second album. But that dreaded phase I doubt will effect them at all. They seem so cool and at ease with their music; behind the urgency and rapid nature of it all and Silence Yourself is the result. Just be sure to take in the depth and meaning of the album too, so don’t judge it on first impressions.

 

2. Pinknoizu – The Drop

All in all this album is highly varied and you should never get bored listening to it. That’s what makes a great album like Sgt Pepper for example. Not only that but the composition and production is also reflective of that variedness that exists across the album. A varied tone that is driven by the mutations and combinations of sounds the Danish group have been able to put together in order to forge new and interesting soundscapes. On top of that; it gets easily manipulated and heightened by the production and recording prowess the group attained. It’s a real treat.

 

1. Jagwar Ma – Howlin

They have justified all the fuss about them for sure to create a very ‘trippy’ album but an album that is almost perfect on a technical level. Jono Ma’s understanding and meticulous attention to detail on getting the right amount of each element in their songs is a great skill to have. The album does go beyond the combination of their past influences to create an album that sounds familiar yet also new and exciting. All this and it’s only their debut album of which many others have very safe and rather dull debuts with perhaps too much focus on the singles. This is not the case with Howlin. Beyond that they have the basic aspects of variation and at times rhythmic affairs intercepted by more sparse musical artistry.

 

 

Connan Mockasin – Caramel Review

This guy pulls off the unusual and weird in ways that would makes others look foolish. The psychedelic musician from Te Awanga in New Zealand has spent nearly three years working on the follow up to Forever Dolphin Love. By this stage of his career he’s clearly highly talented and experienced and it shows by the credit he gets and offers from those like Radiohead to  even Crowded House as people who want him at their shows. Admittedly its probably hard to get into his music without an open mind but you are rewarded greatly if you do. His second album appears to be filled with sugar coated pop outrageousness from the album cover and the title of Caramel. What this will be like when you consider his earlier work is hard to pin-point but it seems certain to be surreal and not showing even a hint of fitting to conformity. However, being bold doesn’t always mean you’ll have success.

I’m The Man, That Will Find You’  was the first release off Caramel. It has a relaxed 70′s groove through distorted psychedelic shades and tones. The vocals are presented in a similar style and it has fluid progression of a groove and soul filled track but with the space and washed out effect of a psychedelic track. A great fusion of the late 60′s and early 70′s. The combination of zoned out psychedelic and pure soul and classy pop references It’s a very surreal track while also sounding quite familiar at the same time and he’s maintained that level of peculiar yet easy quality and flow his music has. Its refined outrageousness and it actually works. ‘Do I Make You Feel Shy’ has a more readable and steady rhythm and a more deeper tone which is simply done with the lower tone of the vocals and a more prominent and drawn out bass line. He’s taking the soul and pop sounds and elements in the song and blending them together easily to allow for the guitars and percussion to simply spill off and flow away from the core foundation of the song. Slick and stylish.

‘Nothing Lasts Forever’ is even softer and even more fluid than the first two tracks with the divulging effects and synths sounds that makes it sound like an underwater abyss and the song laps back and forth before slowly fading away. It doesn’t get to a point yet it doesn’t need to. That’s too easy to do. The lengthy ‘Its Your Body’ is simply a track to simply get lost in and get confused over as you marvel at the sound and the slow song progressions. It is almost too far beyond me to describe it and surely it can’t be insulted in a credible way because of it. ‘I Wanna Roll With You’ has that indelible groove from the diluting bass line with the spiralling and rotating melodies of the guitars creating a different sort of hook to it. It doesn’t latch on to your head but it just feels like extension of your own feelings and emotions. Though the sound and tone of Caramel isn’t moved and shifted around so much; it would be wrong for that to happen a it would break down the larger flow and feel of the album. It is nearly impossible and it almost feels wrong to plant a mark on it. A surreal and coolly insane event from someone being himself, taking risks and being bold.

Connan Mockasin – Caramel = 9/10

Images from www.stageoftheart.net / www.troublezine.it 

Single Review – Connan Mockasin – I’m The Man, That Will Find You

Those of you who know this guy will know that he pulls off unusual and weird in ways that would makes others look foolish. If you don’t then he’s a psychedelic musician from Te Awanga in New Zealand. By this stage his is clearly highly talented and experienced and it shows by the credit he gets and offers from those like Radiohead to Crowded House as people who want him at their shows. Admittedly its probably hard to get into his music without an open mind but you are rewarded greatly if you do. ‘I’m The Man, That Will Find You’ is a release off his November 4th album Caramel and a follow up from Forever Dolphin Love. It has a relaxed 70’s groove through distorted psychedelic shades. The vocals are presented in a similar style and it has fluid progression of a groove filled track but the space and washed out effect of a psychedelic track. A great fusion of the late 60’s and early 70’s. It’s a very surreal track while also sounding quite familiar at the same time and he’s maintained that level of peculiar yet easy quality his music has.

https://soundcloud.com/connanmockasin/connan-mockasin-im-the-man

Image from http://www.theguardian.com/uk