Jagwar Ma – Every Now and Then Review 


With 2013’s Howlin, the Sydney based duo of Jono Ma and Gabriel Winterfield proved themselves to be talented producers and forgers of differing sounds. Since then, Australian music has been increasing in both critical and popular stature so it seems only apt that they have been supporting Tame Impala on their tour prior to the release of their second album Every Now and Then. They’ve enlisted the help of producer James Ford and fellow Aussie Stella Mozgawa of Warpaint. They have opted for a more clean cut sound this time around, but have kept their philosophy of genre fusing, so with that behind them, they should have steered clear of the cliche of the difficult second album.

‘Give Me A Reason’ is a track maintains the tripping rhythms of a Stone Roses track, but is much more fluid with free, meandering synth chords and resonant beats. These signal a dance rhythm and echoed Pop vocals. It is a track that seems to initially lack direction, but goes on to grow and flourish with each seamless shift. ‘Slipping’ opens with hazy electronica and a resonant base sound from which the vocals gently rise. Clarity in these parts of the song grows as the song gradually comes to fruition, with electronic percussion adding a sense of pace to the hazy and unhinged sounds. It becomes pretty standard work from the duo, but it demonstrates a marked improvement in arrangement to match their flair behind their production flair. ‘OB1’ has strong echoes of Howlin with quick moving, yet understated beats that merge with the rising electronic elements merging into them as the song goes on. They also blend in vocal samples as a backing track instrument. It certainly cements their talent from 2013, but nothing more than that. 

‘Ordinary’ opens with groove laden riffs and simple rock formats that turn to hazy dance sweeps with Gabriel Winterfield’s vocals soaring far above them. A solid if underwhelming track that doesn’t realise it’s full potential. ‘Colours of Paradise’ is track that introduces itself with flashing synths and rotating samples below them. These sounds shift in and out of focus on top of Gabriel’s echoed vocals before a heavier, distorted dance beat establishes itself as the tracks end. In a way it is reflective of the whole album; full of good ideas and flashes of talent, but not collated in a powerful or evocative way. The rest of the album features half baked tracks that are without direction or purpose. That is what they need to find as you feel a game changing album is in them once they work out what they wish to achieve. Despite an undoubtedly solid effort, between the French country house recording sessions and the second album syndrome, it is all a bit of a cliche after all. 

Jagwar Ma – Every Now and Then = 7/10 

Owen Riddle

Single Review – Jagwar Ma – Slipping 


The Sydney recording duo of producer Jono Ma and vocalist Gabriel Winterfield that make up Jagwar Ma will return with their second studio album Every Now & Then on October 14th and as we already know, their 2013 debut Howlin was a brilliant and bold debut. They have since looked set to enhance the psychedelic and dance they plied on their debut with the singles they’ve released so far this year. Now ‘Slipping’ takes over that lead. It opens with hazy electronica and a resonant base sound from which the vocals gently rise. Clarity in these parts of the song grows as the song gradually comes to fruition, with electronic percussion adding a sense of pace to the hazy and unhinged sounds. It becomes pretty standard work from the duo, but it demonstrates a marked improvement in arrangement to match their flair behind their production flair. 

Owen Riddle

Single Review – Jagwar Ma – Give Me A Reason

With 2013’s Howlin, the Sydney based duo of Jono Ma and Gabriel Winterfield proved themselves to be talented producers and forgers of differing sounds. Since then, Australian music has been increasing in both critical and popular stature so it seems only apt that as they support Tame Impala on their tour, they release details of their second album Every Now and Then. They’ve already unveiled the sharp synth acid house style of ‘OB1’ and now they’ve released ‘Give Me A Reason’. This track maintains the tripping rhythms of a Stone Roses track, but is much more fluid with free, meandering synth chords and resonant beats. These single a dance rhythm and echoed Pop vocals. It is a track that seems to initially lack direction, but goes on to grow and flourish as each shift is seamless. A promising album is in the offing.

Owen Riddle

Sunday Suggestion – Jagwar Ma – Man I Need

Jono Ma and Gabriel Winterfield make up Syndey’s Jagwar Ma and with their excellent debut album Howlin became the first album of the year for Musicandotherthingz. Not only was it an eclectic clash of genres within tracks but also across the album, it was also one of the most efficiently produced albums we’ve ever set our ears on and cemented our new fixation on Down Under as the place of dynamic and innovative music. ‘Man I Need’ is one of the standout tracks from Howlin which instantly sets the tone with the psychedelic whirring along with the wide scope and relaxed urgency of the percussion which is pretty typical of a psychedelic style. The slight echo on the drums allow it to fill a lot of space on the song and it acts as the primary element. Guitars enter in a subtle way in the chorus to gradually construct a wall of sound with some little synth flicks in between. Winterfield’s vocals in their tuneful yet shouty style work especially well in the chorus to punch through the subtleness of the instrumentals. The song has been methodically considered and carefully puzzled over as all the elements of the song feature at the exact amounts at which they are needed and despite being all a little soft and subtle, they combine and work with each other to create the big wall of sound. Such attentiveness to detail and to get the exacting amounts of each element spot on is a very skilful thing to do; even more so when Jono Ma has chose these knowing they would combine effectively on the chorus. I recommend you all give this song and the album a listen…. now!

Owen Riddle @oriddleo1995

Tracks of 2013 – Top 10

It is now time to wrap up the year of music 2013 has given us and what better way to start than with my top 10 tracks of the year. Out of the top 10 there have been tracks that have struck me for their imagination, innovation, risk-taking, melodic mastery and so on. They come from worldwide heavyweights to the more obscure crafters of music and they’ve all been picked from those I have looked at, so please don’t despair if there are any missing artists as they might just have passed me by this year.

10. Paul McCartney – Appreciate

 

Yes. He is 71. Yes. It is from his album New. No. It isn’t what you are thinking. If you look upon McCartney’s 2013 album; full of nostalgic forays into the past decades of his career, then you’ll see that the man of innovation and risk taking is still there. Appreciate is a hidden gem within the New album. It’s neo-psychedlica curled around a hip hop beat and it has more freshness about it than many of the young artists releasing music this year. That is either a sign of McCartney’s prowess or a sign of the lack of it amongst the new musicians of today. http://youtu.be/3Aq-iiDXo7I

9. Gaz Coombes – Buffalo

Despite plying his Britpop trade around 20 years ago, Gaz is probably making the most profound and elaborate music of his career. Buffalo is to be a single off his upcoming album which is he is currently working on. If this track is anything to go by then he looks set to expand upon the firm foundations of his debut album from 2012. A dramatic and atmospheric glow as the song progresses through it’s stages of varied tone. http://youtu.be/xi8AH-peorY

8. Arctic Monkeys – Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?

They perhaps needed to do something bold and different after many saw their fourth album as their comparative worst effort. What I like about this track is that it’s not obviously crammed with reverbing guitars or with Alex Turner rapidly delivering his vocal around it. There’s no hint of desert rock here either. It’s driven by a different source which gives the song an indelible groove while giving it bags of space for a more developed and tuneful vocal from Alex. Perfect example of less being more in terms of production. http://youtu.be/2spbZbOPu_w

7. Daft Punk featuring Julian Casablancas – Instant Crush

This one of the best tracks off Random Access Memories and it best combines the 70’s and 80’s influences with the typical Daft Punk sound and style. Throw in Julian Casalancas and you have one of the most tuneful and melodic tracks they’ve ever produced. You’re left vulnerable to the plucked, churning of the rhythm much like Andy Summers of The Police produced with Every Breath You Take in 1983. The vocoded vocal is poised in perfect balance to the synths and you can still detect the character of Julian’s voice beneath it. A fantastic piece of electro pop and a change of direction that worked for Daft Punk. http://youtu.be/a5uQMwRMHcs

6. Bombay Bicycle Club – Carry Me

Bombay Bicycle Club

A great progression of their music was suggested with Carry Me. Retaining the elements that make them successful is key and they did that. But the re-evaluation was not only needed but works to great results. A mix of subtlety and sheer boldness. All the fine raw elements clashing with the bold industrial sounds while still forging a great spacious and floating harmony and atmosphere. The result of a complex song being instantly accessible through recording skill. http://youtu.be/OZCfqhRgJ0Q

5. Savages – Husbands

Dark, angry , gritty and everything else. This song features the deep rooted bass line which remains about the only constant throughout. Above it is the grinding and screeching guitars with the clashing percussion. Smashing through it are the snarling and bold vocals that evoke a real raw and emotive feel that is shoved right up into your face http://youtu.be/rmJ_mcvRQsI

4. TOY – Endlessly

TOY followed their debut with a solid second effort in Join The Dots. It gave them a chance to refine and let their sound grow with Endlessly being the prime example of that. That theme of organised chaos holds true again here, yet it is directed into a more distinguished melody which makes it all the more enjoyable. Wonderfully spaced out and atmospheric despite the various elements in action. http://youtu.be/o1Yre4Gmb-E

3. Jagwar Ma – Man I Need

Man I Need’ is one of the standout tracks from Howlin which instantly sets the tone with the psychedelic whirring along with the wide scope and relaxed urgency of the percussion which is pretty typical of a psychedelic style. The rhythm makes an indelible groove, the percussion plies at it too. Also a magnificent clash of influences to create something new. A standout track from a standout album. http://youtu.be/K8KCPw9kYpo

2. The Knife – Full of Fire

This brother and sister duo from Sweden took the traditional notions of song structure, style and context and shredded them into a million pieces. They didn’t just progress their sound to the next level, but to the next light-year. It’s deep, dark and gritty. The industrial grinding of the lower pitched synths and set against the flashing synths sounds above them. The vocals combine with the instrumentals in such a eerie and unfamiliar way that it is at times a wonderfully terrifying experience. The fact it is a ten minute affair only enhances it as you lay on edge at each development of sound. It is almost too advanced to contemplate for some. But at least we now have a possible avenue for musical progression instead of recycling the last 50 years to no end. http://youtu.be/DoH6k6eIUS4

1. Rose Elinor Dougall – Future Vanishes

I have to admit that I initially had this track placed further down the top ten. But only after I listened to all the tracks again did I realise that this song was still ingrained in my mind. It then hit me that this track actually fulfils all the criteria I asked for. It has melodies and hook at every turn, it has a magnificent atmospheric quality to it, imaginative in it’s forms and lyrics and innovative in terms of combining pop and electronic features to a psychedelic track. On top of all this is it’s beautiful contradiction of its self. It can send you into an atmospheric and psychedelic trip into the depths of your thoughts or can leave you at the mercy of it’s rhythm and deep rooted groove. It does everything you ask for. Why shouldn’t this track top my list? Is it because she doesn’t sell out arenas or headline Reading and Leeds, or grace the top of the charts? I don’t think so. That’s not what I’m about, but this song is. http://youtu.be/JUqVhh0kuNA

Jagwar Ma – Howlin Review

It’s became clear that in the 21st century it’s painfully difficult to create something new or fresh or to go against the norms of music that have been recycled since the the 60’s in it’s various yet fantastic forms (in some cases). To be innovative you have to challenge the principles of music itself like The Knife did earlier this year or you have take all these great movements and sometimes conflicting movements in music and weld them together while dragging it into the 21st century. Tame Impala did something a little like that last year with Lonerism and it’s happened again down under with Jagwar Ma. The debut album from producer Jono Ma with vocals from Gabriel Winterfield has even got the most ‘obscure’ music lovers talking, of course the hipsters have jumped on-board and it’s rumoured that a mutual love of the band may have got the Gallagher brothers on talking terms again with Noel claiming in NME that he’s too busy talking about Jagwar Ma to reform Oasis and that “The future of the galaxy depends on the Temples and Jagwar Ma records, If those two records are right, the imperial forces will be defeated.” Meanwhile some but not all of those at the Guardian proceed to only hand out five star ratings in their reviews if it’s complete and utter silence as they spend most of their time trying to compare credible artists to One Direction and Bieber and then going on to say that they are better musicians which is really ‘far out dude’ and really challenges music as a whole…. not. (Rant over). The first thing you may think of upon listening to Jagwar Ma is of the Madchester scene of everybody’s new favourite band The Stone Roses or Happy Mondays etc. However there is much more on offer here including 60’s psycedelica from Sgt Pepper to Pet Sounds, some electonica elements as well as some modern neo-psychedelica from Tame Impala. All in all the range of influences is a good one and boy do they utilise them.

‘Man I Need’ is one of the standout tracks from Howlin which instantly sets the tone with the psychedelic whirring along with the wide scope and relaxed urgency of the percussion which is pretty typical of a psychedelic style. The slight echo on the drums allow it to fill alot of space on the song and it acts as the primary element. Guitars enter in a subtle way in the chorus to gradually construct a wall of sound with some little synth flicks in between. Winterfields vocals in their tuneful yet shouty sytle work especially well in the chorus to punch through the subtleness of the instrumentals. The song has been very considered and methodically puzzled over as all the elements of the song feature at the exact amounts at which they are needed and despite being all a little soft aand subtle, they combine and work with each other to create the big wall of sound. Such attentivness to detail and to get the exacting amounts of each element spot on is a very skillful thing to do. Even more so when Jono Ma has chose these knowing they would combine effectively on the chorus. ‘The Throw’ contains much more space with a lot of echo of all elements this time. Winterfields vocal are the centrepiece here and are slightly echoed and drawn out themselves but blend in well with the almost industrial churning of the percussion and all electronic elements that are all complimented by an occassional guitar riff which trickle into a collective instrumental of all the elements which more floats along on it’s own echo to complete the tune.

‘What Love?’ may sound familar to anyone who plays FIFA 13. It’s a very synth driven song of which the song becomes a collage of different synth sounds with a very basic beat and the vocal is effectively a repeat of the same line but in this song the synth sounds even take preference over the vocals so this isn’t really an issue. Each synth element again is subtle and considered and the song has a very relaxed and steady feel about itself because of it. ‘Come Save Me’ is very rythmic and more pop-like in terms of the vocal style and lyrics. The instrumentals progress much like a sophisticated pop tune with even the drums changing to a more march like approach. The melody is great though and the bass is excellent in this song. The muted, bouncing synths of ‘Uncertainty’ become less muted and turn into more open ended sounds. The songs percussion at times makes it feel like some sort of late 90’s dance tune and the vocal harmonies complete the picture there. Other songs such as ‘Backwards Berlin’ softly lap back and forth with every synth key and acoustic contributions feature very minimalistic vocals that are deliberatly woven into the gentle sounding track and it pretty much shows the depth and scope Jagwar Ma. 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 and 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 too 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. Therefore it shows that Australia is fast becoming a hub for new idea’s and fresh approaches when it comes to music and several Australian and some New Zealand acts don’t get the attention they deserve because they aren’t from the U.K or the U.S which is massively frustrating but when albums as good as this are coming from down under, then they can’t be ignored forever and now this is starting to change.

Jagwar Ma – Howlin = 9.5/10

Images from artwednesday.com / prettymuchamazing.com