Filed under: album, mp3, review | Tags: 2009, au revoir simone, hugh armitage, music
Au Revoir Simone
Still Night, Still Light •••½
Our Secret Record Company
Having made a name for themselves with two albums filled with hazy sunshine indie-pop and last year’s fanbase-widening remix project Reverse Migration, Au Revoir Simone’s third album Still Night, Still Light arrives with a weight of expectation not really seen with their previous releases. The internet is buzzing with random facts about the band, such as they were named after a line from ‘Pee Wee Herman’s Big Adventure’, that they are favourites of master of the bizarre David Lynch, and that they once appeared in an article in Vice magazine headed “I wanna bone Au Revoir Simone”. That’s just lovely, but the real appeal of the Brooklyn trio – who could pass for sisters with their matching pale skin and long dark hair – lies in the unusual multilayered electronic music they make with their bank of keyboards, and the contrast between that complex, artificial sound and their much simpler, natural voices.
Filed under: album, EP, mp3, review | Tags: 2009, alan pedder, andy wasley, anja mccloskey, hilda gudnadottir, hugh armitage, kria brekkan, lissy trullie, madeline adams, music, raina rose, storsveit nix noltes, vienna teng
The second batch of March mini-reviews: five more…
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White Flag ••••
Folky songstress Madeline Adams has collected multifarious comparisons to other musicians online, and even after the shortest of listens it isn’t hard to see why. There seems to be some Regina in there, a bit of Joanna, and definitely more than a touch of Joni. There’s even a hint of ’90s country pop on the titular ‘White Flag’. Fortunately, Madeline’s own personality isn’t lost beneath the tumult.
Filed under: album, mp3, review, video | Tags: 2009, hugh armitage, merrill garbus, music, tUnE-yArDs
BiRd-BrAiNs [reissue] ••••
Merrill Garbus is a criminal genius. In tUnE-yArDs, she has created the most frustrating band name to type in the history of the universe, a theme that is carried on into the title of her debut album, BiRd-BrAiNs. Luckily, Garbus is here to show us that even the most sadistic of minds can make the loveliest music.
Upon my first listen I had reason to pause. Her voice is low and husky enough to make me wonder, just for a moment, whether I was listening to an album not fit for Wears The Trousers’ purposes. But fear not! Garbus is confirmed all woman, and a rather talented woman she is too. Initially self-released in 2008 and now reissued on vinyl, BiRd-BrAiNs is an album of wonderful variety – morose and cheerful, classical and bizarre, harsh and gentle. Reportedly captured entirely on a handheld digital voice recorder, the album has a fuzzy, warm and intimate feeling that is so pleasing it might cause you to wonder if all those huge studios full of fancy recording equipment are really necessary when good music can be made this simply.
Filed under: free music friday, mp3, review, video | Tags: 2009, hugh armitage, meg baird, music, sharon van etten
Sharon Van Etten
Brooklyn-based singer-songwriter Sharon Van Etten spent this Valentine’s Day at home with her cats and some wine, presumably playing beautiful, heart-wrenching ballads to them in between her classic French films. Her own description of her music as “sad prairie folk music” is right on the money – her sound is as sad, acousticy and lovely as anyone could wish. There’s definitely a more than a hint of Meg Baird (whom Sharon supported on her 2008 UK tour) about her, but Sharon’s voice is less fey and, if possible, even more tragic.
‘For You’ is a perfect sad prairie showpiece taken from Sharon’s forthcoming debut album Because I Was In Love, released through Language Of Stone in May. It’s a exquisitely basic song – a simple, repeated riff, a familiar tale of love, longing and heartbreak, and not an awful lot else. Take heed: if you are exposed for this for too long a period you may find yourself bursting into tears spontaneously at the most inappropriate times. But it’s probably worth it. MP3 after the jump.
Filed under: free music friday, mp3, review | Tags: 2009, hugh armitage, music, nancy
The mysterious five-piece indie outfit Nancy hail from Brazil, with a little help from Uruguay and our very own Camden Town. They claim the sitcom ‘Arrested Development’ as a source of inspiration, but thankfully that hasn’t resulted in songs consisting of humorous but deadpan monologues. The band have cobbled their music together through “exchanged e-mails, late night AIM action, swapping GarageBand vocals, guitar parts, and a couple of transatlantic flights.” The result is their debut EP Keep Cooler, from which you can claim today’s free song, ‘Inbox Drama’.
Starting off a bit dirty and morose, the track bursts into a sweet, upbeat ditty before closing on a quiet and melancholy note, ‘Inbox Drama’ is quite the three-minute rollercoaster. A bit like a cross between Portishead, Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Radiohead, with a Latin twist. MP3 after the jump.
Filed under: feature, single of the week, video, words in edgeways | Tags: 2009, alan pedder, hugh armitage, interview, kianna alarid, music, tilly and the wall
interrupting yr broadcast: tilly & the wall
Having made their name as cartoonish urban-bohemian pranksters with a strong line in feelgood stompy pop, Nebraskan big-hearts Tilly & The Wall got a few people’s tutus in a twist last year; first with the single ‘Beat Control’ that traded in their twee card for a neon disco edge, and then with their third album O, which took their riotous pop, enrolled it in assertiveness training classes and taught it naughty words. “What a ho, what a bitch, what a slut,” the Tilly girls pout on new single ‘Pot Kettle Black’ (out this week), a modern would-be garage-rock (via a school gym) anthem that delights in its own playground silliness. It’s still good two-dimensional fun, as if straight out of the Natalie Dee college of creative cussing, but also has a slightly menacing side. Employing a 10-person stomp group injects the song with a contagious strop that has us chanting along in the office like born-again cheerleaders. Someone had to pay for this outbreak so we collared Tilly singer Kianna Alarid to account for her part in this mischief. Sort of. Behold, the queen of the exclamation mark.
Filed under: feature, words in edgeways | Tags: hugh armitage, interview, meg baird, music
words in edgeways with meg baird
It’s immediately clear upon meeting Meg Baird that she lacks a musician’s typically inflated ego. Her rider was clear enough evidence of this – bread, houmous, donuts and bottled water. There was no expensive alcohol or rare sweets – the usual diva-like demands – to be seen.
A folk singer from Philadelphia, where she grew up and lives to this day, Meg is as mild and well-mannered as any journo could desire. Evidently nervous, in soft tones she expresses concerns that she might be too quiet. “I’m not so good at interviews,” she says, her laughter containing an uncomfortable edge. She is wrong on this point. She might find interviews uncomfortable, but she puts a lot of effort into them. She is open and engaged. Every question is given due thought, even the ones she finds difficult to answer. Her earnestness is apparent in every reply.