Filed under: album, mp3, review, video | Tags: 2009, daniel clatworthy, music, plastic ono band, yoko ono
Yoko Ono/Plastic Ono Band
Between My Head & The Sky •••••
There’s some loud banging going on; “It’s me / I’m alive.”
Delivered with the tiniest amount of glee fighting through, it with this statement that Yoko Ono brings her latest album, Between My Head & The Sky, to an effective close. Whether you’re 76 or 26, ‘I’m Alive’ is one of the most life-affirming recordings there is. And at twenty seconds long, it acts as succinct summary of the album as a whole. The principle message of the album seems to be, “Get out there in the world and exist. Relish it”. In the wrong hands – which would be the majority – such a campaign could sound preachy and saccharine. Thankfully, Ono is able to show fear as well as intense excitement; for example, in ‘Feel The Sand’, in which she lists the sensory pleasures gained from life, more spoken than sung, over gentle acoustic guitar and sparse, abstract strings. At times there is a sense of sadness that these things have to be mentioned at all.
Filed under: album, review, video | Tags: 2009, australia week, daniel clatworthy, kate miller-heidke, music
“I execute the Moonwalk like I stepped in shit.” It’s true: Kate Miller-Heidke can’t dance. She admits it through the medium of a rocky house-track, ‘Can’t Shake It’. Welcome to Curiouser.
Miller-Heidke has attracted a lot of attention in her home country, having been dubbed “one of the most intriguing Australian musicians,” and a lot of that intrigue comes from her backstory: a lauded young opera singer who turned her back on the theatre to focus on her own musical ambitions, it was from an independently recorded and distributed EP that she first gained notoriety. Word soon spread and Curiouser is her second album, following on from her breakthrough debut Little Eve.
Filed under: album, review | Tags: 2009, claire robinson, daniel clatworthy, dawn smithson, music, puffy amiyumi, shiina ringo
In part four: J-pop japes with Puffy (aka Puffy AmiYumi) and Shiina Ringo, plus the return of Dawn Smithson.
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Bring It! ••½
It’s party time with Puffy AmiYumi, the Japanese duo with their own ‘mania’ named after them. And just like an American teen movie, the soundtrack to a Puffymania party is firmly punk-rock-pop. There’s even an appearance from Avril Lavigne, who co-wrote both the opening track ‘I Don’t Wanna’ and teaser single ‘All Because Of You’ alongside Butch Walker. ‘I Don’t Wanna’ reaches out to image-conscious teenagers with lyrics like “I don’t wanna be anybody else but me! / Don’t wanna be perfect like you see in all the TV shows, magazines and the videos!”, though it’s possibly worth noting that both members of Puffy – Ami Onuki and Yumi Yoshimura – are now in their thirties. It’s a bit twee and a bit grim, but it sounds alright: guitars, drums and some woah-woah-ing. It’s one of many like it.
Filed under: album, review, video | Tags: 2009, daniel clatworthy, florence and the machine, florence welch, music
Florence + The Machine
Lungs. There’s certainly a set here. And attached to these lungs is one Florence Welch. Florence to the Machine’s changing cast, currently standing at a four-strong band, Welch is a London-born girl with a powerful bluesy-soul voice. Thankfully though, she neither sings about the minutiae of mundane relationships nor revels in being from the capital. Quite the opposite is true: there’s a large amount of fantasy and storytelling going on here.
While the first three releases from the album – dating all the way back to the musically raucous and lyrically provocative debut ‘Kiss With A Fist’ in June 2008 – certainly left their mark on the music press, none charted within the top 40. Nevertheless, owing in part to some her notorious live performances and a reputation for being ‘kooky’, Florence + The Machine have amassed a fair portion of this year’s generous hype-allowance: they were third in the BBC’s Sound Of 2009 poll (with Little Boots at #1 and La Roux at #5) and collected the Critics’ Choice Award at February’s Brit Awards. The stirring new single ‘Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up)’, whose chorus is as melodious and singable as it is haunting and epic, finally did the business for the band this weekend, landing just outside the top 10, and big things are expected of Lungs. Fortunately, the expectations set by ‘Rabbit Heart’ for drama and theatrics are more than met by the album.
Filed under: album, EP, review | Tags: 2009, abigail washburn, anja mccloskey, daniel clatworthy, electrelane, honey owens, music, ray rumours, ros murray, the shanghai restoration project, valet
Part IV – reviews of Ray Rumours, Valet and Abigail Washburn & The Shanghai Restoration Project.
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Le Pont Suspendu •••
Ray Rumours is essentially the solo project of Electrelane bassist Ros Murray, but she is often accompanied by Gill Partington and other friends sometimes join the singalong. Le Pont Suspendu may be a retelling of events and memories from the winter of 2007 and spring of 2008 but there’s not even a tiny whiff of self-indulgence about it. The themes are abstract, the music light and uplifting, and the album drifts along, not asking too much of its listeners. Even songs called ‘Snowman’ and ‘Winter Coat’ have the sun shining out of them.
Filed under: album, EP, review | Tags: 2009, daniel clatworthy, holly miranda, martyn clayton, music, noisettes, plastiscines, raissa, shingai shoniwa, the jealous girlfriends, the mummers
Part III – reviews of Holly Miranda, The Mummers, Noisettes and Plastiscines.
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Sleep On Fire EP •••
As a solo artist and as part of the Jealous Girlfriends, Holly Miranda certainly knows her way around the interior of a recording studio – so it is with full intent that Sleep On Fire, her debut solo effort, oozes home-recorded charm: the click of the off switch at the end of opener ‘Joints’ has been left in, while the start of ‘Singular Acceptaince’ seems to be the sound of a drum machine alone in a room. Miranda mostly keeps her voice low, sounding a bit fearful to raise it too much lest she wake the neighbours, and succeeds in creating a tense and fragile atmosphere that might at any moment crumble in on itself.
Filed under: album, review, video | Tags: 2009, daniel clatworthy, little boots, music, victoria hesketh
679 / Atlantic
This debut solo album from former Dead Disco frontwoman Victoria Hesketh has been a long time coming. From the excited mutterings over ‘Stuck On Repeat’ 18 months ago to topping the BBC Sound of 2009 poll and beyond, she has been all over the music press with relatively little new material provided to support the quickly amassing hype. With the eventual release of first ‘proper’ single ‘New In Town’ a couple of weeks ago, it seemed that interest in Little Boots may have waned somewhat as the song landed disappointingly outside of the top 10.