The flamboyant electro-pop duo Luke Steele and Nick Littlemore aka Empire Of The Sun, return with another set of compositions that are sure to excite the musical appetite of audiences from the synth-pop genre. Released on the 14th of June, the album Ice On The Dune certainly offers a lot of flavour to satiate one’s tuneful palate.
Whether it’s grooving on the dance floor or perhaps laying back in the living room enjoying a nice glass of red sauvignon, this album is sure to tickle all audiophiles to a stimulating state. It would not be a surprise if this album wins another ARIA, Following their first album, ‘Walking on A Dream’ in 2009.
The build-up introduction sets up on a subtle note, as it progresses to a crescendo, leaving listeners booming on the high with ‘DNA’. All throughout the album the formula for mashing up great music has been established. Each tune is a quality creation made for the listeners’ fancies.
The title-track ‘Ice on the Dune’ is chillingly upbeat. It is flawlessly synthesised, with vintage guitar licks, shoulder-shrugging loops and snappy bass accompaniment. A much more cultured taste that with experience, the Empire of the Sun showcases how each and every song was well crafted, as you listen to their new material.
This album was made in collaboration with an ensemble of distinct influences, including various musicians and studio producers from Sydney to L.A and New York. The ambiances that resonate from this riveting new record are indeed colourful. But of course, the identity of Empire of the Sun is well within the essence of each song.
After listening to this record, I was absolutely amazed, to the point where the neighbours complained to how loud I was pumping up the music, specifically the song ‘Celebrate’, at eleven o’clock at night. The melodies, the rhythm, the harmonies; were not only pleasing but also reached the depths of your core that ripples exhilaration. As I skimmed through the song list, it made me want to jump around… then I listened to them all for several times, and I did.
For more information on Empire Of The Sun visit their:
It could be easy to write this band off as another Black Keys rip off, but that sort of ignorance will make you miss the beauty of this record. Yes, it has plenty of swampy bluegrass riffs we’ve all come to love from The Black Keys, but the execution of these songs will leave them lingering in your mind. On their third album, The Blackwater Fever have crafted tracks that requires you to listen to them over again and with each listen, you will pick up something different. Intentional or not, its a great tool that great songwriters have.
The two piece from Brisbane have really welded in various styles into their dark blues filled rock. There’s LO-fi garage mixed in with a bit of Nick Cave broodiness, some rock n’ stomp from old White Stripes and plenty of Deep South, whiskey vibes. ’Won’t Cry Over You’ is a stand out track that rattles the speakers, as does the album’s opener ‘When The Night Comes’. These tracks are then contrasted with the more brooding tracking such as ‘Over Broken Bones’ and ‘End Of Time’.
Listening to this record and the instrumentation used makes you wonder how a two piece can pull this off live with the use of guitar and organ to create the harmonies and drums and bass to lay the platform for the tracks. Then add Shane Hicks vocals, that has a blues trademark minimalism on top of that. The Depths is a solid record and I think the songs will translate even better live.
Hand Made is the ultimate gift for your mate who’s the chilled type. The newly released LP is produced, mixed and arranged by Melbourne-based producer ISHU. It’s also his second release. Its intricate and deep bass lines and electronic beats is enough to get you hooked. Definitely a bag of mixed goodies showcasing chopped sample based melodies and synth infused rhythms. The album features contributions from Mighty Joe (USA) and very familiar names such as Mantra, Jeswon (of Thundamentals), One Sixth, Candice Monique and Omar Musa.
The first track off the album is an instrumental track called ‘El Gato’ – Spanish for “cat”. It seems almost coincidental that it actually sounds as if a black stray cat is wandering through the streets and side alleys at night. Quite eery. But dope. Could definitely see it being used as a backing track to some sort of animation clip alongside the third track ‘Say Goodnight’.
We already know that ISHU produces his own music – but he also shows off his smooth singing vocals to the chorus from his first single off the album, ‘Way To Go’. It also comes with a nice hop hop beat and features smooth lyrical flows from the Mighty Joe (USA).
ISHU brings us with a sophisticated intro to the track ‘Right Or Wrong’ with the Spanish style mandolins. The track features the sweet soulful vocals of Candice Monique. I definitely felt a sense of nostalgia, as it reminded me of the time I saw her perform for the first and last time at the Oz Soul Collective launch earlier last year at Tone, Sydney (unfortunately it has closed down now). She was amazing. So it was great to hear her sing again on this album. Before that I’ve only ever seen her name on a poster on a Melbourne Street reading ‘Candice Monique and The Optics’ a couple of years ago.
‘Smokin Barrels’ comes with a catchy hook that features Jeswon of Thundamentals. Dig the beat work too. ‘Your Chamber’ features Mantra, an eloquent artist who has the capacity to tell us story well through his narrative-style rap on this track. It’s pretty deep storytelling, however he definitely does grab ones attention. ‘Eyes On You’ is definitely a favourite as I enjoy the lead up to the song with the soulful rhythm and vocals by Gary Dryza (the man himself, ISHU) and backing vocals by Melbourne soul and hip hop artist Syrene Favero also known as SYRENEYISCREAMY. I’m definitely familiar with Syrene’s work with runforyourlife and also the Oz Soul Collective. She’s got a powerful and amazing voice, however, it was nice to see that she was harmonizing subtly in the background to add to the main vocals. Beautiful combination of the two.
‘Maybe This Time’ has a more digitalised electro-soul feel to it and is well suited as 1/6 features on this track. I think the best thing about this album that each track is unique and one can’t simply pigeon hole this album into categories. It’s got hip hop, soul, electro, neo-soul, latin influences.
The final track ‘Ends With A Beginning’ has a nice balance of heavy bass line and the poetic and soothing narration by Omar Musa. I could listen to his poems all day. He keeps it simple and engaging leaving one to envision his insightful statement through poetry.
Check out what the fuss is about and get your copy of Hand Made via iTunes
ISHU is currently working on an east coast tour expecting to launch in 2013. So keep your eyes peeled for more details!
For more information on ISHU and his music visit http://ishumusic.bandcamp.com/
It’s a nice enough idea really. A few of the more respectable bands from the Australian psych scene having a bit of fun with some ol’ garagey tunes from back in the day. In Nuggets: Antipodean Interpolations of the First Psychedelic Era, the bands have been assigned different tracks from original Nuggets’ compilations to do versions of. There are representatives from most parts of the industry here; JJJ-bait bands like Eagle And the Worm, and King Gizzard, alongside smaller (but by no means lesser) names ranging from radio-friendly pop to fuzzed out freakbeat noise. It’s a nice sign that this whole project is neither a huge commercial spin, nor an elitist underground wank-off. And for the most part, the compilation delivers.
Some bands are better at capturing the spirit than the sound of 60’s garage (King Gizzard) while some nail both (Bloods, who have an absolute blast). A few bands just play the song through and hope that something amazing will happen (not mentioning any names, Laurels), but by far the most effective tracks and the ones that make the album worthwhile are the ones where the bands literally ‘revive’ old songs with a unique aesthetic vision. Gooch Palms’ Just Like Romeo and Juliet and Pond’s leavesy version of ‘Hey Joe’ are certainly worth a mention, while Pearls’ version of ‘Dirty Water’ is an absolute gem and a memorable track in its own right.
If, for a moment you stop viewing it as a bit of harmless fun, it might become apparent than the compilation is a pretty poorly thought out idea. There isn’t a whole lot to be gained from 60’s revivalist bands (The Frowning Clouds, The Living Eyes, etc.) doing covers of the exact material that their own music seeks to mimic. Especially when their songwriting is already more refined than the (let’s face it) awkward and idiosyncratic music of the ‘first psychedelic era’.
There’s also something slightly ridiculous about guys like Velociraptor and Tiny Migrants putting on such heavy American accents in their ‘Antipodean Interpolations’. It doesn’t quite defeat the purpose of the whole exercise, but it sounds pretty silly to my ears.
Nonetheless, I think the stronger tracks may have won me over. This compilation may have been pretty easy to screw up, but it pulls through thanks to a few displays of true musicality, too bad about those more half arsed tracks though.
Rating: 3/5 stars
Melbourne based Money for Rope’s self titled debut album is an awesome collaborative effort, a mash of thick bass lines and funky guitar licks that lay the perfect foundation for a voice that instantly distinguishes this band from other up and comers in the Australian rock scene.
The albums opening track, ‘Common Man’ does exactly what a good opener should, epitomizing Money for Rope’s unique sound and providing the sort of intoxicating energy that commences frothing at the mouth. Complete with a grimy little guitar solo, Common Man showcases the bands talents and kicks the whole album straight into fifth gear.
Second track ‘Been in the Wars’ is a really no frills type of track, no mind blowing solos and no amazing drum patterns but it’s still a song that stuck with me when I first played this album through. It’s a perfect example of what you can create when you do the simple things well and have a singer with the gritty flamboyance of lead singer Jewel Mckenzie to ram home the vocals.
While there are a number of quality plays on this album the real talking point is the sombre shakeup provided mid album by ‘Misery Lane’. This track abandons the happy go lucky vibe replacing it instead with a bleak tone that’s both emotionally provocative and confronting. This song sucks you in, taps you of your happiness then spits you back out with a completely altered mindset and if it wasn’t for the fast paced ‘Ten Times’ following, you could head into the back leg of this album with a completely different grasp of the LP.
Overall, I thought this album was a great listen and Money for Rope’s sound is the sort that is sure to resonate within the Australian rock music scene. Their debut LP proves they’ve got the goods, the like that could make waves commercially. But on a personal note, I hope these guys keep it real and keep pumping out juicy-raw tracks like the nine on their first album.
To find out more about the band and their debut LP, visit their Facebook page below
Sydney based rock band Cascade have recently released their EP, Anfractuosity. Selling points of the album include great clean vocals that slow down the pace of songs and encourage depth and emotion, which is quite effective when applied to fast-paced guitar melodies. A very decent EP, though for close listeners that like to enjoy whole albums, the vocals can become somewhat tedious. The drums are mostly rhythm based, and leave a lot to the imagination. To enhance the metal theme of the album, the drums and lead guitar need to have a better sense of intricacy in key areas including bar transitions and bridge/outros.
The repetitive nature of verse melodies can cause disorientation in the song for a listener. Anfractuosity leaves a lot to the imagination musically; there are few licks or intricate melodic progressions outside restrictive traditional song structures – this lack of innovation has created an all-too-predictable album.
The EP’s a linear structure shows off the band’s ability to execute their songs, making the most of a great, clean, high sound quality, though there is still a lot of available potential, and I feel that Cascade as a whole needs to incorporate a larger range of effects and techniques, aside from standard reverb and distortion techniques on guitar. This kind of progression will not take away from the overall image of the band, though it will add musical integrity and help to create more interesting melodic sequences and therefore develop the band, freeing them from the constraints of ‘standard metal’ – it would allow them to escape being played only when audiences are seeking a specific genre; and move them up to the “I feel like listening to some Cascade” status.
It is obvious that Cascade has played it safe in writing this album, and with regards to this I feel that they haven’t showcased their true potential in this EP. Nevertheless, I feel that this album is definitely worth listening to; it is easy to listen to for almost anyone. The songs are relatable, though more accessibility is available through the development of more lyrical significance – as it is; the lyrics are very superficial.
My favourite tracks from Anfractuosity (in order of preference) are ‘Epitaph of Yesterday’, ‘Have You Scene?’, and ‘Heptagon’. I feel that ‘Circles’ and ‘Have You Scene?’ will be crowd favourites, due to their catchy chorus’ and safe, but effective structure. Listening to this album I sensed elements of bands like Karnivool, Metallica, Coheed & Cambria and Trivium. Cascade has the potential to make a serious name for themselves, and I really hope they make use of this potential with future productions.
Check out the band, and find out about their upcoming shows on their website www.cascadeband.net.
Melbourne MC Seth Sentry’s debut album is a fresh, innovative twist to the Aussie Hip-hop genre, from the first bar of the first track. The album is packed with energy and inspiration, produced with a mix of new-age beats and old school drum backing and scratching. ‘Campfire’ is a captivating opening track, which honestly blew my mind – I had no expectation of such impressive musical and lyrical ability from the first track of the album.
Seth Sentry has seemingly easily reinvented the wheel, while still slipping into the Aussie hip-hop genre. I have no doubt that this album will appeal to current fans of the Melbourne, Sydney and East-Coast hip-hop scenes, and additionally I feel that the album bears a great sense of accessibility to outside audiences. The progressive and momentous mood of the album reinforces the Aussie Battler typical ideology of Aussie hip-hop. This, coupled with the Australiana-esque instrumental backing from songs like ‘Ink Blot Test’ helps to produce a truly great record, which is patriotic without being tacky; like one of those “Aussie Rock” Father’s Day CDs you’d buy from Supercheap Auto.
In a scene of upcoming and rapidly succeeding Australian Hip-Hop artists including but hardly limited to Illy, Skryptcha, and One Sixth, this album is likely to shoot Seth Sentry to the same level – An impressively executed debut album which gives listeners a great insight into the MC’s personal perceptions, and his life philosophies. I really enjoyed listening to this album, great work.
Despite its critical acclaim and generally favourable reception, Tame Impala’s debut album Innerspeaker left me with a sore sense of dissatisfaction; serving more as a measure of their potential than a genuinely brilliant album. It marked the bands shift in interest from groove and melody towards thick, textural guitars, delayed vocals, and big-budget studio production. The strong sense of songwriting exhibited in their preceding EP and single had been replaced with a flowery sonic landscape brimming with imaginative guitars and vocals – but there was something missing: it seemed some part of front-man Kevin Parker’s vision remained unrealised. Tracks like ‘Lucidity’ started with a bang and fizzled toward the end, ‘Solitude Is Bliss’ bland melody failed to engage even the most imaginative listener, and ‘Make Up Your Mind’ and ‘It’s Not Meant To Be’ showed promise of otherworldly arrangements without ever quite getting there.
Lonerism is also melodically weak, but a few years later, and with probably more money behind him than ever, Kev seems to finally have found his studio legs. Lonerism is every bit the sonic feast that was promised by Innerspeaker: Tame Impala have overcome their fear of synthesisers, which now materialize unexpectedly and carry the songs into other dimensions, allowing all sorts of sonic explorations to take place. Kevin’s new found recording philosophy has him pursuing a sound that he won’t necessarily be able to replicate live, involving sampled vocals and weird found sounds as well as the plethora of analogue synths that aren’t likely to make it on stage. The result is an organic and bright album with unexpected detours into hallucinogenic soundscapes that are an absolute pleasure for the earholes.
As well as being an aesthetically vibrant experience, Lonerism offers a few more cerebral quirks that ensure the album will be as fun to think about tomorrow as it was to listen to today. There’s a sense that Kevin is going a bit nuts from sitting alone in a room recording music, as well as a more subversive take on mixing and songwriting that hints at Kev’s disinterest in recording conventions. These running themes make the album a slightly more cohesive, neat little package than Tame Impala’s earlier offerings, and thus a more enjoyable listen.
All in all, I’d say Kevin’s nailed it – Lonerism probably won’t see the commercial success of Innerspeaker, but it is a big stepping stone for the band and will certainly win over those who weren’t too sure what all the Pitchfork-fueled hype was about.
If you had even heard of The Amity Affliction before now, you will like this album. This 10 track collection took the Australian band to #1 on ARIA sales chart, and for good reason. This track brings us more of The Amity Affliction’s finest work, this album ties in perfectly with High Hopes, Severed Ties and Youngbloods; an unmistakeable and incredible expression of the band.
I feel that Chasing Ghosts has seen the band progress toward a more hardcore sound, though this hasn’t left behind lighter fans, Ahren Stringer’s vocals are as prominent as ever in their music. If you’re a The Amity Affliction fan, you won’t need convincing to like this album. For those who haven’t discovered them yet, you’ll find this album one of the easiest to engage with; the achievement of a multifaceted bond of harmony and aggression will surprise you.
‘Chasing Ghosts’ is an seductive song which gives you the taste for the album, and makes you want more. That isn’t to say that the album is repetitious or all alike to the opening track, it’s like the first delicious entrée of a ten course meal. Each song and the album as a whole can definitely be compared to 5-star dining. ‘Life Underground’ and ‘Open Letter’ are addictive and personal, and far too easy to get stuck in your head.
Overall the album is a brilliant product of Australian musicians. It is cool and firm in nature, and easily a favourite. I can’t wait for the live show.
See www.theamityaffliction.net for tour dates and to buy tickets.
Brimming with fresh ideas, beats and “metronomic braille”, Melbourne rapper One Sixth’s debut album titled Electronic Mail is a recent product of Pang Productions. The album is a great recontextualisation of the rap genre, even from the first 30 seconds of the first track, it’s clear that Sixth is capturing the contemporary technological age we live in through his music. This record is far from a amateur EP – I definitely feel like I’ve been listening to a well-established rapper in his prime.
While the record maintains an effective, though possibly restrictive focus on the digital age, Sixth’s execution of his beliefs and his perspective is addictive. This tight lyrical scope has been well explored throughout the album, almost to it’s extent, though some tracks seem to use technical jargon out of context, for example ‘#http’. While it is an innovative idea to use as much as possible to make more complex rhymes, anyone with limited technical knowledge can see where terms are used for the sake of including them.
In saying that, I don’t believe that this will be deconstructive to the album. One Sixth’s execution of his lyrics is brilliant, and it’s backed with music that seems to incorporate all kinds of audio (from old school scratching to futuristic electro) yet still maintains a contemporary focus. This is a feat in itself, for any rapper let alone a debut artist.
This album represents an innovative and fresh outlook from the Melbourne rap scene, and I look forward to hearing more from One Sixth.