Tag Archives: RAC

ALBUM REVIEW: Say Lou Lou – Lucid Dreaming (2015)

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This article first appeared on The AU Review.

Everybody knows I have a thing for Scandinavian indie. Swedish indie exports are at an all-time high at the moment and leading the assault are quality acts like electro-pop duo Say Lou Lou. Despitespending well over 90% of their time in Stockholm, it’s also interesting to note that twin sisters Miranda and Elektra Kibley-Janssen are one-half Aussie. It’s only minimal I know, but in their latest effort Lucid Dreaming, there’s something inherently ‘Triple-J-esque’ about it all and on first listen I’d be proud as all hell to claim even 1% of it as Australian made.

Kicking off the ordeal at a mountainous high is the single “Everything We Touch”. Released late last year in early anticipation of Lucid Dreaming, the track is complete with deep, brooding verses that build up tastefully into a chorus that’s hard to deny. It’s a powerful song that shows a rock-solid belief in their abilities, leading with the words “everything we touch turns to gold”, and pushing that notion well into the final seconds of the track. Often an album is summed up in it’s first couple of songs. If you tend to fade by track two or three you can say goodbye to my interest, I’ll buy the single. Luckily for Say Lou Lou, I bought into that confidence in the first track because song two, “Glitter” isn’t much to write home about.

You’ll be happy to give this album more than one try, because as soon as “Games For Girls” kicks in you realise the previous track is an anomaly and the rest is hard to put down. This single hit some waves among the blogs of the world because of it’s noticeable difference from the rest of the Say Lou Lou collection. It’s a look into the potential these guys have for dance hits, carrying a steadier, upbeat tempo that could be evident in something like an RAC or Miami Horror remix. “Beloved” treads along the same path as a lot of the other tracks on this album, but it’s a cracker of a song. It’s an uplifting electronic ballad that hits a beautiful peak as it reaches each chorus with heartbreak personified through melancholic vocals.

“Wilder Than The Wind” has something hugely nineties about it. Like a whispered, indie take on Mariah Carey or something like that. Maybe not exactly, I wasn’t too in tune back in those days, but you get the drift. The beat drags a bit in the verses, so much that it can sometimes feel like the rest of the elements should be playing catch up. It’s one of those rainy day songs that might only feel right for a listen if the mood fits.

Their most recent single, “Nothing But A Heartbeat” is where this album truly takes a swing in a whirlwind of pop brilliance. An epic, breezy tune that is dark, but oddly affirming. I guess you could say that for a lot of the singles on this album. Others that came previously on the album like “Angels (Above Me)”, or “Julian” have a similar vibe. Dual vocals permeate these tracks, bouncing between catchy falsetto and solid stand-your-ground type melodies. Like an impressive con, Say Lou Lou play their audience throughout Lucid Dreaming with a sneaky seductive underlying, while being well aware of the fierce confidence they bring in all of their lyrics and melodies.

The album bows out on “Skylights”, one of the more straight forward arrangements on the release. It’s a nice, easy way to go out, laced with enjoyable vocal melodies that chug through at the forefront of a slow-tempo beat and locomotive like synth. It has that outro feel that most tracks do when they’re placed lucky last on an album, and is simply put the logical way to finish this album.

Lucid Dreaming is an appropriate name for this effort by Say Lou Lou. Like a dream, the album is an up-and-down experience. Some of it is powerfully vivid and the other feels half-awake. It’s largely sequential and hazy, streaked with some impressive vocal work ranging from deep and finite to masterfully thin. Where the album shines brightest is when bordering on mainstream pop. The singles like “Nothing But A Heartbeat”, “Games For Girls” and “Everything We Touch” are stellar highlights that will stick in your head, whereas the rest get pigeon-holed in the realm of emotionally meaningful, but not memorable. Overall, it’s a quality album that deserves at least a week or two straight of repeat playing.

*****

7.8 out of 10

Lucid Dreaming is out now in Australia via iTunes and for stream on Spotify.

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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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The Very Best Of 2014

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It’s almost the last day of the working year at my day to day; and as you can imagine, as things wind down, cranking out some decent tunes in the office becomes a big part of the vibe leading up to Christmas. Looking through the 2014 playlists, it’s very clear that this year has been one of the best years in a long while for music, in particular Australian music. We’ve had some sure-to-be historic debuts, some impressive first time interstate players, and the expectations put on many emerging artists for their scheduled releases this year shattered with an unprecedented amount of consistently high quality records.

Now, this is down to pure personal taste, and if you would also like to input, you can either email suggestions next year or start up your own blog. But I’d like to take a silent minute to just respect the year that’s been, and deliberate on the very best of the year that was 2014.

Acoustic Cover of the Year: Bad Suns (Calif.) – Cardiac Arrest

Among the slew of emerging artists this year, Bad Suns stood out for their unreal ability to craft a pure pop song with all that raw rock vibe imbued inside of it. Cardiac Arrest was perhaps the best example of this, the single off their debut Language & Perspective, because of the sinister lead guitar hooks and impressively spot-on vocals. That was made entirely clear when they played it acoustic, knocking it out of the park vocally, while the band plays nice and tight.

Live Show of the Year: The Griswolds @ The Metro, October

Sydney was treated to some sweet as live acts passing through this year. Among the slew was St. Lucia, CHVRCHES, Kishi Bashi, Circa Waves, Bombay Bicycle Club and a huge amount of increasingly noteworthy locals. But by far the most incredibly performance was when Sydney natives The Griswolds returned home from their huge touring schedule in the US in October for one of the best live performances I’ve seen yet. Their latest single If You Wanna Stay absolutely brought the house down.

Emerging Artist of the Year: Coach Bombay (Melb.)

When I say “emerging” artist, you might not think Melbourne’s Coach Bombay fits the profile. They’ve been around for quite a while. But it’s surprising to note that this year in September was the first time they ever played live outside of the state of Victoria. We interviewed the man and reviewed his Sydney performance at the time and you wouldn’t believe they only started touring as a live act in the last year or so. They were so tight, so huge, dancey but humble. His unique brand of happy times electro-pop deserves a tip of the cap and we hope to see them doing big things in 2015.

Australian Artists of the Year: Northeast Party House (Melb.)

2014 was a really awesome year for a lot of Australian bands. I’ve followed Northeast Party House closely for over two years now and anticipated their debut Any Given Weekend for a long time. Well this year it was released in line with a stretch of hectic tours up the east coast of Australia. The album and their shows were true to the consistently and beautifully shambolic nature of the boys themselves, solidifying their spot in my party playlists for years to come.

International Artist of the Year: Ghost Beach (New York)

Ghost Beach have been busy little Brooklynites this year, with the launch of their record label “Crazy Heart Records” and the debut release from their signing PROM. Alongside this, they used billboard space in Times Square to open a discussion on music privacy. In between all this, they released in Australia their kick ass album BLONDE complete with some of the most original songwriting I’ve heard in a long time together with killer iconic vocals. Ghost Beach were easily the band that made the most profound impact of 2014 to anyone that was into them.

EP of the Year: Great Good Fine OK (New York) – Body Diamond

Great Good Fine OK got their break through the blog-o-sphere with one of our favourites, “The Wild Honey Pie”, who further pushed them in 2014. The release of further singles after last years You’re The One For Me, got me ridiculously excited for the EP, and they delivered with epics like By My Side and Not Coming Home. In an EP there is little room for mistakes, and this one was as flawless as they come.

Single of the Year: Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. (Detroit) – Run

I’ll be honest, I didn’t take quite as much notice of this song when I first heard it, and although I deeply regret it at least I came around and that’s the main thing. Joke was on me, because Run is a stellar single, released in January of this year from the 2013 album The Speed Of Things, it involves a very unique style of songwriting and Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. in the best form they can be. When their mellow, wacky lyrics join hands with their strangely elusive yet fun electro-pop style, amazing things happen.

Album of the Year: RAC (Portland) – Strangers

Anyone who reads this blog knows I froth over RAC. So it’s no surprise that his debut full length of originals brought me to my knees this year. Strangers was a collaboration with many of my favourite vocalists, Speak, Tokyo Police Club, Kele, St Lucia and Alex Ebert to name a few. But it was those I had never heard of that really broke the roof of this album. Tracks like Ello Ello (Ft. Body Language) and Cheap Sunglasses (Feat. Matthew Koma) made this an album that I will never forget, and will most likely still be pumping on some futuristic sound device 40 years from now.

Merry Christmas and look forward for more tunes in 2015!

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Karl Kling – I Will Wait

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The little known Karl Kling has made the first moves since his epic collaboration with producer / artist RAC earlier in the year on the track Repeating Motion. The first solo single to be released from the Portland based artist ahead of his debut full length is called I Will Wait and while it’s an impressive solo effort, I can’t help thinking back to his feature work and feeling like this track stinks of RAC. If that’s not a compliment, I don’t know what is!

It’s a fun, energetic and slithery number that slinks along with a lot of confidence. All the while digital pop hooks will keep your finger firmly set on that repeat button.

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Grizfolk – Hymnals (RAC Remix)

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Ahhh, yet again. RAC  has developed another gangbuster remix of stellar up-and-comers Grizfolk and their rock epic and opener on the EP, Hymnals. Both the original and the remix are cool little bastards.

Similar to the earlier single The Struggle, Grizfolk have this ability to drive with edgy rock vibes, beats and pumping electronics with this faint hint of folk throughout. RAC’s remix is just the most unbelievable track for a Friday, so crack a cold one, whack this on and get mental.

Grizfolk’s debut EP From The Spark was released on February of this year and is available for purchase on iTunes.

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RAC makes this look good

I know I’ll probably cop a lot of flack from this, but I really don’t like MS MR. Not sure why. I’ve given them a good try, I’ve seen them live, I just don’t get it. Even now as I’m writing this I thought to myself, wait, before you publicly announce it just go back and double check, give it one more try. I still stand firm by my decision.

That being said, there have been a few instances where I’ve really enjoyed listening to their songs, and they have only been when it’s not really them doing it. Before this, it’s only ever been the CHVRCHES remix of Hurricane and now we can safely add RAC’s remix of Think Of You to the approved list.

Everything he does, he turns to gold.

Sidenote: I’ve had a comment previously about the legitimacy of the YouTube video supplied with my posts. Just in case anyone has an issue, YES, I know the below isn’t directly affiliated with MS MR or RAC. NO, I don’t care. I’ve set my website up to give a Trojan Horse virus to anyone who comments in regards to this matter, making it so that no matter what website you visit, an animated Rick Moranis appears and eats all the words on the page (Do you think I’m that computer literate? Make the comment and find out).

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Stop What You’re Doing & Listen: RAC – Tourist (Ft. Toyko Police Club)

Alright, who’s fault is it? Certainly couldn’t be mine. How in the hell did RAC release their debut EP over two weeks ago and I haven’t heard about it until now! Containing unreleased tracks and featuring a whole lot of wicked guests, Don’t Talk To is a brilliant montage of funky simplicity.

It’s hard to believe that underneath all that pop brilliance, the music is actually quite simple. Not to say it’s not impressive. It is actually so intensely kind to your listening buds it’s almost like going to a musical day spa. Bloody life affirming. When you’re finished with Don’t Talk To, you’ll be shitting rainbows.

From the fresher tracks, I couldn’t contain my excitement when I noticed there was a guest appearance from Tokyo Police Club in there. Since Champion, I’ve been pining for something from those Canadian darlings…anything! Although Let Go Hollywood are as catchy as you could possibly get, Tourist is a highlight, plodding forward with hopeful bass and brilliantly despairing vocals from one of my favourite frontmen and lyricists from 2010/2011.

Head over to iTunes and grab the EP by following the link.

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