Tag Archives: Brooklyn

Fickle Friends – Could Be Wrong

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This article first appeared on The Daily Listening.

The UK has always delivered the best of indie in my humble opinion. In the nineties and early naughties it was certainly true. In recent years, I feel like Brooklyn and LA have borrowed the bulk of the load. Before it gets too out of hand, Bristol’s Fickle Friends are on the case, with golden numbers flying out left, right and centre. Their latest single “Could Be Wrong” was released roughly a month ago and is still taking a little bit of time to get noticed around the world, but it definitely deserves a hefty tip of the cap.

This one is a properly good, synth-pop vessel; the sort of which I haven’t heard in a while. It feels like a cross between LA acts DWNTWN and Golden Coast. It combines the beautiful ghost-like vocals of front woman Natassja Shiner with some straight up sunshine synth-pop, bringing together a brilliantly balanced single that should give them a leg-up to bring their live show to all corners of the earth. Writing this from Australia, I certainly hope it does at least…after listening to “Could Be Wrong” on repeat all day I’ll be sorely disappointed if I don’t get to see at least one gig of theirs…fingers crossed.

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Great Good Fine OK – Without You

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Great Good Fine OK continue to prove over and over again that they are the most badass, smooth stylers in the world of dance and indie-pop. Following the release of their debut EP Body Diamond last year, I made a point to mention that there’s little room for mistakes in such a short release (as opposed to an LP), and they smashed it out of the park with a natural ear for catchy song-writing. They’ve continued with that trend since then with the release of some really fricken amazing tracks in the lead up to a new EP release entitled “Too Much To Handle”, set to come out in Australia tomorrow.

One that struck me particularly, was the funk infused “Without You”, continuing with the trademark whisper-like vocals of frontman Jon Sandler which sprint around the backing with the type of precision that leaves you unable to keep still. Creeping guitar parts and deep, probing synth provide a thick backing for what is a killer dance track; one that manages to still portray a heartfelt story of disappointment in failed love while keeping you bouncing around the room with happiness. Particularly around the 3:30 minute mark where it hits the outro, the boys round it off with funky guitar parts like the seasoned professionals that they appear to be.

The new EP arrives here in Australia tomorrow, so check it out on iTunes and Spotify ASAP.

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Passion Pit – Lifted Up (1985)

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When I first got into Passion Pit I was working as a cleaner at a ski resort in Canada. I listened to “Little Secrets” and “To Kingdom Come” from their debut album Manners while vacuuming hallways for wealthy Calgarians, I snowboarded day in and day out in the most unbelievable part of the world while “Sleepyhead” blasted through my helmet headphones. When their follow up Gossamer came out I was just about to finish University, I jammed out to “Carried Away” while nutting out those last few paragraphs of my last few assignments at 4AM. My life changed completely every time one of their albums came out, whether it was because of the album or not, Passion Pit is a band that I’ll always remember, and this song takes me back.

Their brand spanking new track, “Lifted Up (1985)” is getting back to their roots. It’s a beautiful, uplifting tune that sparks curiosity and happiness while still holding an obvious serious message within the depths of the lyrics. The vocals are more defined, more appropriate and all-round just spot on. It just seriously gets me excited. Passion Pit are back in a way that transports me back to those pow-days, carving tracks through unique landscapes and completely switching off from real life. If I can leave this post with one thought, it’s that when their new album comes out, you need it in your life.

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Penguin Prison – Never Gets Old

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Penguin Prison is back with another piece of pop gold in the lead up to his next album due out later this year with the track “Never Gets Old”. We’re all very excited for it. The man has obviously been getting a lot of inspiration from RAC (or the other way around, we’re not sure), and he’s putting that to good use.

The song is a pretty standard formulaic one, with the vocals not trying too hard and a verse, chorus, rinse, repeat sort of vibe. But Penguin Prison knows how to do this with style and maybe it’s true. Maybe it will never get old. I guess we’ll have to wait for announcement for dates on the album. In the meantime, check out the new track below.

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Passerby, Overseas Life and Folking Around: Talking With Luluc

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This article first appeared on The AU Review.

To say 2014 was a massive year for Aussie folk act Luluc would be an incredible understatement. Alongside the release of their critically acclaimed album Passerby, they’ve been touring incessantly, playing alongside with some pretty big names and were named by the Wall Street Journal as one of the Top 15 albums of 2014. With an East Coast support of First Aid Kit coming up as well as a support slot alongside Sarah Blasko at the Melbourne Zoo Twilight Series next week on February 6th, Luluc took a moment out of their busy schedule touring the UK with J Mascis to answer some of our questions.

Congratulations on all the accolades over the new year for Passerby! Wall Street Journal, of all publications, you must have been pretty stoked with that?

Thanks. And sure, it is lovely to receive accolades for your work. But it’s really an added bonus and not what drives the work. You do of course hope people will get to hear your records, so that kind of exposure is very helpful.

The album was released halfway through last year, what have you been up to since it launched?

It’s been a busy time. And somewhat upside down in that we really began touring and doing radio etc after ‘Passerby’ was released, having being bit delayed in our travel plans. But once we got back to the US in July last year we started off doing Tiny Desk at NPR, and live session at KEXP, and then began some serious touring late September with J Mascis around the US. I’m a huge fan of his records, so it was a great first tour to do around the US and now the UK. 

2014 was certainly a big year for you guys. What was your favourite moment of the year?

Hmm, never good at faves, too many! One thing that happened a bit on the J Masics tour was seeing people in the audience singing along to our songs, in places like Denver, Colorado – that was pretty wild. The idea that our music and records had reached people there. Pretty lovely. 

And you’ve relocated to Brooklyn. How do you think the scene there has affected Luluc as an act?

There’s an openness or freedom that comes from being away from home. And to be in amongst a city like New York – such a big, brazen and brilliant collection of people and ideas. It really allows a lot of creative liberation. Very important for artistic work and it’s always changing so it’s a big well to draw from.   

Folk as a genre has absolutely rocketed in the last few years, it must be an exciting time to be releasing music with such widespread love coming in from all angles. What are your thoughts on its rise to popularity?

 Not sure I have any, don’t really follow the mainstream. I’ve always enjoyed great songwriters and ‘folk’ music.

That said, Luluc definitely isn’t a ‘heard-it-before’ type act, what do you think sets you apart from other up and coming folk acts?

 Again not really for me to say. I don’t feel confined or defined by the folk genre. Really our intention artistically is to make our own records, of course inspired by all manner of music and by many other things, books, films etc. But how you put it all together, your own unique take, is what makes any work interesting. To me anyway, that’s always the work that stands out.

Songs like the title track “Passenger” and “Small Window” have been described as ‘fragile’ and ‘deeply emotional’. It’s a rare talent, but what do you think you put into your writing that allows the listeners to actually “feel” a Luluc song?

 Well, I guess I work with my ideas and songs until I feel they are complete. So that my emotions, frustrations, inspirations etc have all been explored in the song, to the point where they don’t burden the work. They are the kind of songs I enjoy, where the writer allows you your own space with the song, whether it’s a personal narrative or a character’s perspective.      

And you’re currently touring the UK with J Mascis, that kicked off last night – how has the response been?

It’s been so great touring with J. And this is our first tour around the UK as I mentioned. The crowds here have been fantastic, very appreciative audiences. Looking forward to coming back and doing our own tour.  

Australia-wise, you have the Sarah Blasko show coming up for The Melbourne Zoo Twilight Series on February 6th followed by a short East Coast stint with First Aid Kit, you have to be excited about coming home with those guys by your side?

Sure, they should be great shows. Looking forward to some more summer too. 

You know when you go overseas, everyone has that one obscure thing they miss about home (vegemite, Tim Tam’s, a certain coffee shop). What is it for you?

Chai. It’s not really a thing in many other cities like it is in Melbourne. It’s usually pretty awful. Think we might need to tour in India. 

Luluc will be playing the Melbourne Zoo Twilight Series with Sarah Blasko next Friday, February 6th. You can book your tickets here.

Passerby is available to purchase now on iTunes.

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ALBUM REVIEW: Bear Hands – Distraction

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This article first appeared on The AU Review.

When it comes to New York’s Bear Hands, a lot of what’s involved in their latest album Distraction is what I’d call, “beautifully flawed”. For starters, in the first half a decade of being a band, they managed to split up, fall out as a band and with their manager, get back together all over again and release a debut album. To date, they have been trucking along for almost a solid decade and have released two full lengths with label support (their latest included), their popularity growing at a reasonably steady rate everyday. It took them a long time to get to this point, and despite a short backlog on hand the boys from Bear Hands have made sure that on first listen of the new album, you’ll find quality truly does kick quantities ass.

Distraction kicks off in an ominous haze of faux woodwind glory and intriguing vocals in “Moments Of Silence”, making short work of expectations, blowing them to smithereens when the song hits a huge climax that is both seizure inducing and liberating. It’s a tune to match the sweetest of anthems. Tracks like “Giants” and “Impasse” are messy and melodic, sticking with the whole brilliantly erratic vibe of the album. At one point the lyrics emulate this as frontman Dylan Rau spits, “You changed from crazy to calm,” something that rings true of this entire showcase.

When it hits the single “Agora”, it becomes abundantly clear that what we’ve heard so far is no fluke. For years, house parties have been lacking. Defeated to listening to tracks about hitting the town and sinking shots in clubs. But for those of us who enjoy a good old case of tins and a few friends ’round the backyard, there’s finally have a party anthem for the home-bodies – and “Agora” is it. The hook is smooth, packed with attitude and catchy as all diggity, singing ”You like to hang out, but don’t leave the house [cause I can’t]”, almost like it’s a courageous feat to be chilling at home. And I can’t shake this feeling that there’s a drunken sing-a-long on the way…

All the fun aside, if Distraction were to go down in history as one of the greats, it would likely be because of two singular tracks, “Bone Digger” and “The Bug”. The former builds in a clever way, chugging along with solidarity and just enough swag to make you intrigued about what’s coming next. By the time the keys and second guitar arrive to fill the gaps your head will be bopping in full swing. While a lot of the collection takes a bit of time to hit it’s stride (totally worth it), “The Bug” gets straight to the point. There are parts in there that kind of feel a little retro, either in the way that it’s recorded or even just the vibe in general. It’s a killer track with static, well placed bass meshing with off-beat guitar lines that combine for a friggen bad ass tune.

Usually, if I used the words “beautifully flawed” to describe an album, nine times out of ten it would be taken as a negative. But with this review, when I locked in my ear-buds and hit play it became apparent real quick. “Flawed” definitely isn’t always a negative. In the case of Distraction, it’s the things that would feel like flaws in a pop song that bring it’s tracks to life in a way that not a lot of seasoned rock acts can. Maybe it’s the recording techniques, maybe it’s in the attitudes or the way the songs can feel a little obtuse at times. It’s classic, raw, untainted. At the same time it’s authentic, anthemic and catchy enough to warrant a cheeky linger on the repeat button. All I can say is if it takes another decade to see what else they have up their sleeve, I’ll be sorely disappointed.

*****

Score: 8.3 / 10

Distraction is available now. For more information on Bear Hands visit their official Facebook Page HERE

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Penguin Prison – Calling Out

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The funk-master general, Christopher Glovera.k.a Penguin Prison is back at it again with the killer new single Calling Out. The new track is perfection in 3 minutes 58, displaying rise-and-fall synth and static keys bouncing around Glover’s hot and heavy vocals, complete with deep sass and falsetto goodness all the way through.

He became pretty big in some circles with his debut self-titled album, before featuring on RAC’s debut album with the first single Hollywood, which is also arguably the best tune on the album Strangers, released earlier this year. Calling Out is an exciting development towards some new stuff that has been a long time coming. Welcome back, guy.

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PROM – Switch On

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The label child of Ghost Beach are back with another killer single ahead of their October 10 release; the debut EP Keeping Company. In the first couple of bars, the new single Switch On already exceeds the impressive nature of the first Flickers. This is a serious pop tune with legs for days.

The artist behind it, PROM are phenomenal up and comers that were hand plucked for the debut of Crazy Heart records, and this new track is a perfect example of why they were chosen.

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