Single Review – Empire of the Sun – On Our Way Home

For me, the elaborate nature of Empire of the Sun has never translated in their music. The backstories, the costumes…always so much more fascinating than the product. The same can be said in new single On Our Way Home. It’s very comparable to much of their other material – ethereal vocals and floaty synths to a syncopated drum machine. It lapses into the same monotonous routine, with nothing as exciting as their next headdress to pick it up. The lyrics are annoyingly infectious, and the song itself is impressively accomplished, it’s just too boring.

Ellie Chivers

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

The Jezabels – Synthia Review

 

The increasingly established Alternative quartet The Jezabels from Sydney have returned with their third studio album Synthia and are looking to build on the solid momentum of their first album. The difficult second album was just that and came back to haunt them somewhat as being an underwhelming effort. The talent is there however and for the group Synthia is an opportunity for them to show just how much talent that is.

 

‘Come Alive’ is bold and dramatic in pitching heavy percussion and rough riffs against a sparse backdrop of echoes and spinning electronica. Hayley’s vocals gently lift the tension from the song which is ebbs and flows from chorus to verse with a greater intensity. The chorus blasts light through the track with light and airy synths and a more swooning vocal. This is cast off into an aggressive interlude of tumbling percussion and reverberating guitars. It is a track that demonstrates the atmospheric quality and power they contain. ‘Pleasure drive’ is a track that starts with an a negative resonant synth which exudes a disjointed rhythm. This is backed up with a rumbling riff and purposeful percussion. Hayley’s vocals follow the disjointed pattern of the earlier electronica. The track takes on a graceful progression to a peak hook and a more powerful vocal. Behind these are heavier riffs and percussion. This song is delivered beautifully and captures the essence of reaching a culmination of sound with ease.

 

Emerging from soft, nudging electronica is the opening track in ‘Stand and Deliver’. Mishaped and haunting spoken vocals sift through the ever bolder instrumentation that rotates and gathers pace alongside rising synths. The song falls away to a basic percussion part with the vocals taking the lead and pulling the song back to a greater height. Her vocals then offer up a Kate Bush- like kick and practically bellow out the vocals around the heavier sounds before seamlessly slipping back towards a calmer tone. Another reaffirming of the prowess of their delivery and production to back it up. ‘My Love Is My Disease’ offers a more theatrical and rapid track that demonstrate Hayley’s vocal ability. ‘Unnatural’ begins with a simple whirred synth and vocal combination. The song quickly reaches higher tones that subtly rise and fall by bringing in one key element to transport the song from one section to another. The cool vocals behind them aid this too. ‘If Ya Want Me’ highlights the echoed nature of the production and is powered by accelerating, washed out guitars and bouncing synths. The lyrical content of female empowerment and commentary add to the power and potency of the instrumentation. One critique is that the sounds aren’t as varied or as tangible which is the only critique of the production. For the most part the album is graceful, smooth and crafts a powerful atmospheric quality in almost every track. It is a definite improvement on their second album and shows that The Jezabels are indeed as talented as they hinted. Their strongest album to date and hopefully a sign of greater things to come from the Australian group.

 

The Jezabels – Synthia = 8/10

 

Owen Riddle @oriddleo1995

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

Ilias – All The Way Up Review

 

Ilias is a Algerian-Australian musician from Sydney and he has described his new studio album All The Way Up as  a “personal film soundtrack” and talks of the unique and eclectic sound of his album which he has been working on for up to ten months, along with a musical thread running through a varied collection of songs.
 
The album opens with soft acoustic lapping and rocking of ‘Someone Like You’. It’s made more expansive and spacious with the meandering feedback and soft edged lead guitar elements which echo out into the space created. A space made all the more fulfilling through his hushed and open vocals. ‘My Girl With Blue Eyes’ is more evocative of a jangling guitar, pop song with swooning lyrics delivered with a Neil Finn sort of quality that doesn’t make it cheesy or too sweet as the song’s quality is also accessible with it. ‘Fire Away’ has a completely alternative feel and dynamic to it with bold churning synth surges and rapid, offset percussion that calmly, yet with a hint of urgency; set the foundation for his wistful vocals which offer up a wonderful contradiction of sound. The chorus see’s the electronica clash and the pulsate and surge past each other. This then ushers in greater vocal echo and distortion to the point where you are immersed by the song as you become unsure whether you should be calm or uneasy about it. Such suspicions are answered with the shedding riff that tears down all before it at the song’s conclusion. A wonderful piece of recording and production.
 
‘Turn the clock back combine to the simple percussion of an early pop song with delicate melodies and simple lyrics which are strung together by the chiming, yet distorted synths and modulations. ‘Jet Glow’ is akin to Beck’s most recent work with the trembling, huge sounds from the guitars and the echoed whirrs and jolts that reverberate between your ears and almost take you off somewhere else. A simple, but wondrous instrumental track that leaves all of your senses heightened and on the edge of every dark melody and vibration. ‘Finding You’ has that simple ballad-like acoustic and percussion combination which is pushed and moved off it’s straight track progression by the Beatle-like shifts, scathes and track manipulations which are forced into the songs rhythm to reimagine and reconfigure an otherwise basic track. It is album that has that wonderfully distant and daydreaming tinge running through each track but at times it can be swooning comfortably or dropping you a cliff edge of heavy and quaking melody. An album with some of the best production I’ve hear all year, which enthuses and shakes the simple base structures of the tracks.
 
Ilias – All The Way Up = 8.5/10

Single Review – RÜFÜS – Sundream

Australian dance group RÜFÜS are here to release the next single off their brilliant debut album Atlas which was released in the U.K at the end of April. That single is ‘Sundream’ which opens with expanded bursts of elasticated and undulating synths that remain as the percussion samples and extra elements come in to generate the soft rhythm. From this there is a large culmination from the synths that results in a rich atmospheric peak before slipping back into the verse. The opposite is done to the same effect with a stripped back and spaced out instrumental that’s brought back earth via the fast rising, undulating synths that gracefully soak the rest of the track with such a rich and bold sound. The vocals are at a much higher volume as oppose to the instrumentals, yet they fade and spread back into the track via the relaxed and simple tones of Tyrone Lindqvist. As a result the vocal is still the focal point, but one that adds to the music and blends into the instrumental to make the soaked in atmosphere even richer. There can be little to no negatives to be raised about the production for it is quite simply sublime. A brilliant piece of dance music out on September 8th on Columbia Records.

 

RÜFÜS – Atlas Review

RÜFÜS have kicked up quite a fuss in Australia when they released their debut album Atlas in their native Australia last August. The Sydney dance group consists of Jon George, Tyrone Lindqvist and James Hunt. They have achieved chart topping success down under with Atlas last year and naturally the aim is to transfer such success beyond Australia with the release of the album here in the U.K on April 28th. These days it is difficult to have music of a higher standard being successful in the charts at the same time which is always disappointing as the charts should be the driving factor of completion and innovation, so if RÜFÜS can achieve this then they deserve all the credit and appraisal they’ve been receiving.

Their single ‘Desert Night’ features the cool and steady bouncing dance beat as the bass foundation, while lighter and more shimmering synths cascade over it. The feathery and wistful vocals over the top of that are slightly drawn out to create a little bit of atmospheric quality which is also generated through the synths. The rise and fall of sounds from the more distant and considered to the more immediate and melodic enhance the feel of both. It is a song totally at ease with itself and is a simple yet effective piece of dance music which isn’t so isolating as most dance music ends up as. ‘Sundream’ opens with expanded bursts of elasticated and undulating synths that remain as the percussion samples and extra elements come in to generate the soft rhythm. From this there is a large culmination from the synths that results in a rich atmospheric peak before slipping back into the verse. The opposite is done to the same effect with a stripped back and spaced out instrumental that’s brought back earth via the fast rising, undulating synths that gracefully soak the rest of the track with such a rich and bold sound. The vocals are at a much higher volume as oppose to the instrumentals, yet they fade and spread back into the track via the relaxed and simple tones of Tyrone Lindqvist. As a result the vocal is still the focal point, but one that adds to the music and blends into the instrumental to make the soaked in atmosphere even richer. There can be little to no negatives to be raised about the production for it is quite simply sublime.

‘Tonight’ starts off with sharp electronic beats with a fluid and high pitched synth sound shooting above it. This track seems like quite a intimate and closed in track on the verses, especially with the easy listing vocals that are maintained theme throughout the album, but in the instrumental sections and the chorus, the samples and synths blast their way to freedom and ease into more expanded space and sound. The progression to get from the more enclosed and intimate sounds to the huge expanses of the soundscapes that follow is pretty damn impressive too. ‘Take Me’ begins with bouncing synths of various pitches and melodies that fade in to Tyrone’s echoed vocal. It reoccurs in such a minimal fashion, but one that maximises and fills the sound and space it has. The verses on the other hand feature and grinding and reverbing synth at a much lower tone. This just makes the verses seem even more brighter and bigger when they follow the darker and shadier verses. ‘Sarah’ is a smooth and fluctuating track with the dazed vocals the reverb and move around the space of the song to generate a distinct growth of sound, yet one that remains a little more darker and subdued as opposed to the bright, sun drenched feel of ‘Sundream’. ‘Unforgiven’ is a track that features the guest vocals of Jess Polard that act as a more wistful and lighter reflection and the more rooted vocal from Tyrone which is drawn out and expanded at a lower tone. As you’d expect the song is masterfully produced in terms of the huge rises and falls of the sound and the slick transitions from one section of the song to another. On top of this, the album as a whole is so expansive and growing that can be a record to become completely immersed in, yet one that has plenty of rhythm and bite to enjoy in a more immediate fashion. The soft edged and delicate vocals tie up the glistening and shimmering music for an album that should chip away at the stigma that heavily produced music and dance music can have of being monotonous, tuneless and unimaginative. This couldn’t be more untrue of Atlas. Who knows how well they’ll do in the charts, but they have an album of a very high standard.

RÜFÜS – Atlas = 8.5/10

File:RÜFÜS Atlas album cover.jpg

Images from http://en.wikipedia.org / www.umstrum.com

 

Single Review – RÜFÜS – Desert Night

RÜFÜS are kicking up quite a fuss in Australia at the moment. They are from Sydney and consist of Jon George, Tyrone Lindqvist and James Hunt. They have achieved chart topping success down under with their debut album Atlas last August and naturally the aim is to transfer such success across to other countries. With the Indie tinged Dance sound and style that they plug, then it is very possible. Their single ‘Desert Night’ features the cool and steady bouncing dance beat as the bass foundation while lighter and more shimmering synths cascade over it. The feathery and wistful vocals over the top of that are slightly drawn out to create a little bit of atmospheric quality which is also generated through the synths. The rise and fall of sounds from the more distant and considered to the more immediate and melodic enhance the feel of both. It is a song totally at ease with itself and is a simple yet effective piece of dance music which isn’t so isolating as most dance music. That is what makes it worth listening to.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=atRKZIKBm7A

Image from buro247.ru