Monthly Archives: January 2015

ALBUM REVIEW: Clockwise – Dancing World

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This article first appeared on The AU Review.

The latest EP from Australian-born, LA based artist Clockwise, Dancing World, is an unlikely arrangement. I say unlikely, because despite being labelled “Indie-Pop” on the ol’ Wikipages, if you listened to their collection here you would immediately peg the outfit as electro or synth-pop or another of those new-aged genres that continue to pop up in the wave of innovative, non-traditional acts that spout keys, synths and digital effects as the main feature in their musical arsenal. There’s a tinge of traditional indie or folk that shines through what is predominantly a dance record. It’s unique enough to earn it a tip of the cap, and a cheeky tag to keep tabs on as they continue to develop into a powerhouse act in years to come.

Strings permeate the introduction of this EP, in the form of the title track “Dancing World”, welcoming us to a five-track that is elegantly rough and streaked with attitude when combined in full. Vocals from the man behind the moniker, Andy Clockwise, spit with persuasiveness in between the staccato plucking of strings, samples of static guitar and wispy electronic samples, all contributing to make this a solid opener, setting the tone for the rest of the EP.

The deep, grumbling electronic bass lines in “Hopeless” take us into the urban soundscape of LA. As the moody vocal lines carry us through each verse, it contrasts wildly against the ethereal falsetto female vocals that break between the verses and choruses. It’s a tune spouting a theme of giving up with bravado. The type of messy, out-of-control stage before the clean slate, complete with beautiful falling chime synth chopping up the second verse. It was a good choice for the single on the EP, as it’s easily the most likeable and recognisable song on the EP. The outsider, “Murphy’s Law” begins with the best parts of indie. Carrying on with sounds that we may have originally heard from acts like Two Door Cinema Club if they collaborated with legends like Talking Heads. It’s a musical journey with a clear beginning, hardships and a solidifying end.

Every EP has to have the token softer song, although not always an acoustic ballad as such. Dancing World has two. “Steam Dreams” chugs along at a slow pace with emotive energy and those brilliant female vocals here to help again. It has a very old school feel that’s familiar and folk-like while shifting the format enough for the modern day music lover to take notice. We end on another slower track, a seven-minute doozy entitled “War Story Part One” (Part Two TBC). This concluding song builds on the whole electro-folk thing Clockwise have going on and absolutely nail it to the wall with their stamp firmly printed. If you stripped back the electronics it could’ve been a folk-epic back in the day, and it’s uncanny how much it kind of sounds like “You Are My Sunshine”.

Although I feel like the title “Dancing World” is a little misleading for an EP that is mostly crafty, delicious electronic folk tunes, some of it does have that head-bopping feel and I guess that’s what Clockwise has done with this effort. It’s a collection of positive, electronically tinged, folk / indie tunes that have an obvious feeling of a personal journey, or a personal state of mind. Whether you interpret it as your own or stick with the narrative, after finishing this EP beginning to end, you’ll have no troubles stepping into Andy Clockwise’s Dancing World.

*****

8.1 / 10

Dancing World is available now for purchase through iTunes or streaming with Spotify.

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Twin Shadow – Eclipse (Teaser)

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Today, Twin Shadow aka George Lewis Jr. revealed the cover art, track listing and teaser video to his forthcoming album ‘Eclipse’ which is now available for pre-order. When speaking about ECLIPSE Twin Shadow had a pretty standard Twin-Shadowy, neo-philosophical rant about it. Mr Lewis was quoted, saying:

“My whole world seemed to come apart during the recording and touring of my first two albums. It seemed to break off into two large chunks; one relating to self awareness and confidence and the other being a desire to seek out the best in people around me. They began to drift slowly away from each other. Balancing the two became an almost impossible task and I feared having to choose one or the other.

Before the start of the recording of ECLIPSE I felt these things pull even further away, and in thinking I had lost both, I felt a deep solitude. When I began recording in the Hollywood Forever Cemetery (where I built my studio), I forgot about these things and focused only on what was in front of me: practical things, mundane things, things that simply kept me busy and not bored.

Without realizing it during this period, the things I lost hold of began to move towards each other again. Through this shift many things began to re-establish themselves; including loving relationships, a strength in the dynamic between my mother & I, as well as energetic states of mind and general excitement to play music. Things were aligned again without me trying to control them.”

He created a stupidly weird “teaser” for the album, but don’t count on this one to predict the album, it’s also sure to be stupidly awesome. It’s out on March 17th and will kick solid A. Pre-order ‘Eclipse’ here: http://smarturl.it/tseclipse

Eclipse:

01 Flatliners
02 When The Lights Turn Out
03 To The Top
04 Alone Feat. Lily Elise
05 Eclipse
06 Turn Me Up
07 I’m Ready
08 Old Love/New Love Feat. D’Angelo Lacy
09 Half Life
10 Watch Me Go
11 Locked & Loaded

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Dutch Uncles – Decided Knowledge

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“Decided Knowledge” is a warped but somehow catchy tune, released in the lead up of the album, “O, Shudder” which comes out on the 23rd of February this year – an exciting development in the catalogue of English indie band Dutch Uncles.

They made critics give a cheeky nod in the release of their 2013 effort “Out of Touch in the Wild”, which showed the band pulling together a fully enriched style of prog-rock-ish indie that not many had heard before. “Decided Knowledge” still has all that wonderful 80’s, all-over-the-place style, while stripping it back a little bit to let some of the pop elements shine. It’s an unreal step in my own humble opinion and definitely one to keep on tab during February.

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Wild Party – Life’s Too Short

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We posted about Wild Party a long time ago with their wonderful pop track “When I Get Older”, and although we’re a bit late to the punch on this one, you could forgive us as their debut album Phantom Pop is STILL not available in Australia! Or at least not to Spotify users (screw iTunes). So I had to get on the backfoot here and scope it all out on YouTube, and picked out “Life’s Too Short” as the star track from the CD.

It’s an old school indie-pop tune, a-tune with classic acts like Rooney. Ten years ago and Wild Party could have very well been playing on an episode of The OC! It’s pretty straight forward, but that’s where these guys hit it best. It’s a bit romantic, very melodic and the good news is they always seem to sound like they’re partying, true to their name.

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Satellite Stories – Heartbeat

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Those indie boys from Finland are back with another single in the beauty, “Heartbeat”. It’s a very Scandinavian sounding track, and I base that on absolutely nothing. Just something about these indie tracks I feel resonates. It’s the same thing I notice in bands like Urban Cone or The Royal Concept and that’s a pretty huge compliment standing next to those guys.

Satellite Stories should be releasing a new album at some point this year and it’s one to be excited about, if you can go from their awesome full length “Pine Trails” in 2013, which had sick beats like “Sirens”, “Campfire” and “Season of B-Sides” on it. “Heartbeat” is the follow up single to “The Trap” which was released at the end of last year and includes their same signature indie-pop style. This one is a little more anthemic though, and shoots through with beautiful soundscapes. I imagine this is what travelling through Scandinavia would sound like if it were a song.

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LIVE REVIEW: The 1975 & Circa Waves – Hordern Pavilion, Sydney (16.01.15)

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This article first appeared on The AU Review.

It had been a long time since I’d attended a show at the Hordern Pavilion, and I didn’t expect the big return to be for such an oddly mixed bill – by arena standards at least. A massive turnout at the Enmore in 2014, and one sold out show at the Hordern “forced” Manchester rockers The 1975 to extend the invitation to another Hordern-load of fans, with their friends Circa Waves tagging along for the ride.

So here I was, heading to watch two acts that were both experiencing a very rapid-fire rise to fame in the past year and were having to adapt quickly, crafting entertaining shows and touring incessantly while trying to continue the quality of songwriting for upcoming releases. The result, the sweatiest and most inspiring gig I’ve ever seen at the Hordern.

It would be appropriate to say that Circa Waves are all business. A series of short, sharp and frenzied tracks with streaks of likability set a framework to their set and they nailed it in a sinch. “Young Chasers” was the first out the gate and got the crowd warmed up, running riot from beginning to end. A sly spasm of British brilliance that paved the way for a raucous set. The last time I saw the Liverpool lads in Australia, it was the day after the 2014 Splendour in the Grass, playing to a humble crowd of loyal yet justifiably weary punters in Newtown, and the transition to an arena gig is a big step in Australian terms. There is none that could have translated better than Circa Waves brand of fast paced and dirty brit-pop.

The new single “Fossils” provided one of the more classic sounding brit-pop tracks, with hooks-a-plenty and a sort of bravado that really riled up the crowd. After that, the early stages of the night was theirs for the taking. Although most of the tracks had the same gritty stamp on it, they still managed to push through a unique set. “So Long” had crowd members turning around surprised and mouthing, “I know this song!” They then slowed things down with “Talking Out Loud” for a sweet change of pace, packed with emotion and some brilliant minor changes that built on their version of a rock ballad.

Circa Waves came in the same way they went out, honest and humble. Getting the job done with Triple J favourite “Stuck In My Teeth” and “Get Away”, giving us a quick snapshot of a band that should be on everybody’s watch list in 2015. The fans and newcomers fed off it. After all, there’s nothing better than supporting the underdog, and you’re hard stretched to find a more deserved act than this.

A crafty light show introduced the headlining band like a black and white photograph, with singer Matt Healey twirling up front and centre. The immediate impression was that the frontman has this hazy swagger about him that measures up to something like the pop version of Pete Doherty. With a slick bottle of vino in hand, The 1975 opened with “The City”, as the crowd went absolutely insane from the get go. Early on, sleeker urbanised tracks like “Milk” and “M.O.N.E.Y” extended the ethereal sounding playlist, bolstering their songwriting creds outside the list of predominantly straight-forward hits, proving to have musicianship that can’t be pegged.

“So Far It’s Alright” was the perfect pop tune, slow enough to keep a cheeky sway happening in the crowd, and catchy enough for even the security guards to pick up a few lyrics halfway through. My personal favourite, “Settle Down” held a bright spot amongst what was an almost flawless set at that point, with every song bouncing in a unique and catchy way. Older tracks like “Pressure” morphed seamlessly into the newer ones like “Heart Out”, keeping the pace and allowing the fair-weather fans to get intwined with their new favourite band.

Matt Healey played the polite host, taking care of the crowd and making sure everyone was hydrated and going well. It was a confusing fatherly visage, coming from a guy whose silhouette came paired with a bottle of wine at the beginning. Holding a ghostly veil over the arena, songs like “Me” showed real emotion, both in the song itself and the performance portrayed by the band. Moments like this provided true clarity to a bunch of guys that have earned their popularity through the closeness they felt with the music and the moments in their lives that influenced the songs. The “blood and sweat” that went into the making of The 1975, for lack of a better description.

“You” was the rock anthem of the night, bringing every hand in the arena to the sky to clap. Standing on top of the drum set, in the silhouette of the lights, the message was clear. Matt Healey is the next big rock-god. “Girls” hit a note with the crowd as they ripped the roof off the Hordern Pavilion at the mere strike of the first chord. This was where we said goodbye to the days of the mosh-pit and hello to the dance-pit as not a single body stood dormant, resembling more of a warehouse rave than an indie-rock gig. Although not much was to be said about the quality of the dancing (well, on my part at least), those sweaty bodies would not give up until the last “goodnight” was said, and to see that sort dedication towards any act is nothing short of inspiring.

The 1975 half-life was a new one for me, and even after they slinked off stage for the fake-goodnight the rest of us continued the dance party, high on the awesome they had left us with. By the time we noticed, they’re back on and kicking into some more tracks. The encore highlights involved their big hits, “Robbers”, “Chocolate” and finally, wrapping things up with “Sex”. These three together, while definitely being among the best tracks played on the night, again showed the diversity of their set hopping from emotive and heartfelt anthem, to bouncing pop tune to the rugged smash-it-out style rock that sealed a steaming close on the night and left us drenched from head to toe and fighting for the cold night air.

For the older tenants in the crowd dancing like idiots, The 1975 were rejuvenating, life-affirming and refreshing. Like being 18 again. For those under drinking age, it was inspiring and tugged a million heartstrings. I loved this band on paper, but live it was a whole other world. They were Songkick’s “Hardest Working Band” of 2014 and it shows in the quality of the performance, the tightness of the musicianship and the familiarity and appeal of the set itself. No matter what your taste, The 1975 are the type of act that makes you look up dazed halfway through the set and think, “God…I should start a band.”

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Glowbug – False Metal (Ft. Josh Holland)

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Holy. Friggen. Hell. Why Daniel Anderson aka Glowbug keeps giving out his material for free I will never know. But there’s another album on the way, hitting the web on January 21st of this very year and early signs point to a masterpiece.

The king of reverb has given us a little taste in the new single “False Metal”, alongside his pal Josh Holland, who brings a more solid vocal line to the track, something seemingly needed due to Daniel Anderson’s hollow style of vocal arrangement made even thinner by his signature overuse of reverb. But honestly, where would this guy be without it. That’s what makes us love him!

It’s an electronic, slightly post-hardcore holy grail of a song. It screams (literally) hopelessness and liberation, all the feelings and angst of the emo movement imbued into a modern day electronica track that could appeal to really any old joe.

As I mentioned, the album “Headhunters” is out on the 21st of January and up for FREE Download on the Bandcamp site, but you can order a limited edition (300 copies) vinyl over there now through the link here: http://glowbug.bandcamp.com/

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Eves The Behavior – TV

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Now is definitely the time to strike for young solo female artists, with a slew of unreal tracks being released over the last year from some of the bigger names, and a crazy amount of underdogs like Kate Boy, Say Lou Lou and Chloe Howl to name a few. On Aussie soil it’s no different, as Brisbane native Eves The Behaviour has recently turned out a pretty sweet tune in her latest “TV”, bringing to life a beautifully dark and inherently Australian number that rivals the best of the global phenoms.

“TV” is a ‘deep bottle green’ according to Hannah Karydas’, the mysterious young lyricist and vocalist behind the Eves The Behavior moniker, who has quietly been crafting intriguingly disillusioned-pop since her independently released debut single “Zen” emerged on airwaves last year. The track was crafted with the help of New York born, Sydney based producer Eric J (Flight Facilities, Flume and Chet Faker).

Eves The Behavior’s “TV” will be available next Monday The 19th of January via iTunes and she’ll be playing at Laneway Festival 2015. The track below will unlock on Monday but for the meantime, check out her other stuff here.

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Smallpools – Karaoke

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Nothing cooler than a smooth tune about getting loose and crazy in claustrophobically built dark rooms with nothing but a basic mic and a plasma , singing at the top of your lungs to an oddly placed makeshift video of a guy looking sad on a train ride while the worst cover of Journey’s ‘Don’t Stop Believin’ bursts your eardrums. Yeah, I think we can all agree Karaoke is pretty sick.

Honestly though,  Smallpools have done some pretty catchy tunes in the last year, and in the lead up to their next album coming out in a few days, they released “Karaoke”, as the follow up single to “Killer Whales”, and it’s a perfect insight into what to expect out of these guys. A familiar verse and easy to digest chorus make this nothing but slick, likeable pop tunes for days.

It’s also the creepiest thing ever that the lady on the cover of the single looks eerily similar to my Mum. Like mannerisms, love of karaoke, everything.

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CYMBALS – Talk To Me

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Oh, hell yeah 2015. Ten days in and I thought you were holding out on me. Not too much exciting news yet. But today I discovered that those UK not-giving-a-fuckers CYMBALS released a two-track in December to finish out 2014. Singles like “The Natural World”, released in advance of their debut album “The Age Of Fracture” got me through a lot of boring nights doing University assignments. Basically, I owe my degree to them. Give me a call if you want a practically useless degree guys.

The highlight of the release is a little doozy called “Talk To Me” and it’s a special one, complete with high and mighty slick guitar licks and a staccato base. The frontman works well with his emotive tone, coming across hopeless and heartfelt, which ties in well with the feel of the track being that of the often tiring task of getting someone to open up in a relationship.

The other track on the “What Eternity” two-track, is called “Innocence”, and it’s also pretty friggen saweet.

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