Saturday, February 27, 2010
Up until now, Hot Chip were more of a singles band than anything else. If it's impossible to not have at least a couple of songs in their past catalogue which you absolutely adored - Boy From School, Playboy, Ready For The Floor... -, it's also true that their full-length albums were loaded with fillers, which made them a bit disappointing as a whole. But that was up until now: with their 4th record, they seem to finally have achieved something that seems complete and makes sense hearing from start to end.
Everything in One Life Stand sounds bigger, while their broad of influences has expanded and the palette of sounds used is much wider. Overwhelming with ideas that translate into an impossible amount of tricks and hooks, they have detailed their sound more than ever, building each and every song into a rich and complex moment that communicates at least a dozen emotions, whether they are built around funky electro rhythms, Daft-Punk-inspired synthlines or ballads that seem to have been born inside a space shift. And then we have what was their best asset in the past, this time multiplied by 100 and splashed in literally everywhere: their ability to attract opposite poles, inserting insanely catchy melodies and choruses in songs that, beneath all the glitter, have a mellow and more nostalgic feeling that should warm even the coldest heart.
More like a soundtrack for travelling the stars than anything else, this is a record where dichotomies like experimentalism vs. accessible pop music stopped making sense a long time ago. Basically their most ambitious album and, hands down, also their best. (7,5/10)
Hot Chip - One Life Stand (video)
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
"We come from a place where we count the days until nothing / We're running down the streets in our underwear"
It may seem a bit lazy to mention their origins - Reykjavík in Iceland - when describing the sound of FM Belfast, but with lyrics like the one you can read above, it's more than tempting to do just that. And there are more reasons for this: the fact is that How To Make Friends is the sort of take into electro-indie-pop that only a bunch of people looking at a particular scene from far away could be able to achieve.
That feeling of distance, more than anything else, can be seen in their very-flexible approach towards electro-pop standards, like someone that doesn't really care at all about them. This is something which translates, for example, in a sense of humor that sometimes touches the absurd, while other times just wants to be silly and unpretentious. And at the same time, there's also a very disaffected attitude towards pretty much anything, which allows them to make a synth-loaded cover of Killing In The Name or a slow version of Technotronic's Pump Up The Jam, just because it sounds like a fun idea.
So FM Belfast won't change anyone's lives or anything with this album, and frankly they don't really seem much interested in that. But as far as tales of alienation can go, this is one with a fresh attitude. (7/10)
FM Belfast - Underwear (video)
Monday, February 22, 2010
Clearly, there's no such thing as two similar Late Of The Pier songs, and this feature gets even more unbelievable if you thing that they are all pretty much amazing. Best In The Class comes as another twist, with vintage synths commanding an electro affair that turns into a heavy guitar mayhem 30 seconds before the song abruptly ends. And to hear it accompanied by those stunning shots of a group of girls having a choreographic-fun moment is somewhat close to my idea of absolute brilliance.
Sunday, February 21, 2010
"Now that we are twenty-three / Days tethered to the running track / Evenings chained to the dishrack"
This was bound to happen: Hold On Now, Youngster... was the soundtrack of life peak (call it adolescence), all high-speed and full energy, while in follow-up EP We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed, it seemed like the end was near and they were turning up the volume even more, as to enjoy the last moments of a party about to close down. So, Romance is Boring had to be a new start and that's really what it is: in order words, here's the grown-up version of Los Campesinos!.
Harder, more serious, with a gloomy atmosphere felt from time to time, it's true that the once-in-a-lifetime-experience that was felt in their songs is lost, something which can come as a disappointment. On the other hand, we always knew that, above all, they were huge music lovers, and this new album is the one that best mirrors it, showing more thought and detail than ever before.
So their unique sense of vital urgency may be gone, but the pleasure of hearing new material from Los Campesinos! is still a fact, even if not in a more immediate way as before. Because extremely well crafted indie pop can never be a bad thing, especially when coming from these guys. (7/10)
Los Campesinos! - Romance Is Boring (video)
Saturday, February 20, 2010
Vampire Weekend play a bit more with their image of posh kids and release a new video based on a tennis competition. These guys always had a peculiar sense of humour, and if you watch closely in here, you'll see how they are making fun of pretty much everything. And while the song is one of their best ever (big compliment!), right now it's all about the list of guest appearances: RZA, Jake Gyllenhaal, Lil Jon, Joe Jonas of The Jonas Brothers...
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
"They call him Hermit the Frog / He's looking for a dog / Did you find a bitch in me?"
She may not be a consensual artist, what with all the wacky lyrics, vocal mannerisms and a general tendency to overload our senses with everything on her hand, but boy, weren't we all in need of someone like her. Like a breeze of fresh air to blow away all possible monotony around, she's a complete artist, an extravagant and fearless persona, but also with a subtle dose of melancholy from time to time, because in the end we're all just human and she's one of us.
Difficult to categorize, she will probably appeal as much to the hip-conscious teen as to the middle-aged music lover, while being compared to such disparate artists as Regina Spektor, Kate Nash, Tori Amos, Siouxsie Sioux or even being branded as "Kate Bush on acid". But with such a genuine and ferocious delivery of so many raw emotions, all condensed in what is, ultimately, an extremely intelligent pop album, there's no question that she does stand in a place of her own.
And finally, there's the aforementioned lyrics, with high chances that you'll probably either love or hate, or maybe even both at the same time, but which ultimately just show how brave and unique she is - with the line "I want to be cuckoo" standing already as an absolute classic.
Hearing fireworks in your head and feeling completely overwhelmed by them? Chances are you've just entered Marina's peculiar universe. "Oh my god you look just like Shakira / Oh no it's Catherine Zeta / Actually my name's Marina". (8,5/10)
Marina & The Diamonds - I Am Not A Robot (video)
Monday, February 15, 2010
Came across this while getting ready to go out and party (Carnival!) and it just couldn't fit any better my current mood. First music video from Yes Giantess, everyone! For an infectious electro-pop song produced by Starsmith! And it features some dudes masked as evil robots! It's an epic sci-fi romp! Inspired by Fritz Lang's Metropolis! And it even has crazy dance choreography! And basically, it's wicked fun and completely amazing in that cute indie-budget kind of way!
Finally! 4 years after Boylife, a synth-pop record still to marvel to (and, incidentally, one of my top 20 albums of the 2000's), these two Swedes a.k.a. Lo-Fi-Fnk release new material, with a song that apparently comes from their soon-to-be-released second album. And Marchin' In, with a riff that seems to be taken directly from Skin's theme song, is an amazing mouth-watering piece of music, to say the least, updating their trademark sound with a more chillin' and sunny approach. Or, as they put it, "some people call it laid back". The kind of stuff good dreams are more of, really.
Sunday, February 14, 2010
The third album by Owen Pallett is also the first one displaying his real name instead of the Final Fantasy pseudonym, and even if that change was due to legal circumstances, it's also tempting to see it as a sign that this would be his most personal work yet. And considering its apparent bigger ambition, I guess we can confirm that theory, as it becomes obvious that Owen has probably given more of himself in here than ever before. With an amusing concept behind, Heartland describes the relationship between Lewis, "an ultra-violent young farmer" that lives in an imaginary land called "Spectrum", and Owen, the creator of that world. Musically, this record is a sublimation of what happened in He Poos Clouds, using the same ingredients but this time with a more immediate impact. Managing to build a new world somewhere between pop, contemporary orchestral music and electronics, everything is put together with an intricate production that includes gorgeous arrangements, over-the-top strings, subtle electronic appointments and enchanting melodies. Basically, Heartland serves as a huge dive into Owen's world, a special place that is extremely overwhelming. And in there, we can be taken aback by the extravagant and the flamboyant, as well as the more intimate. (8/10)
Owen Pallett - Lewis Takes Off His Shirt (mp3 via herohill.com)
Saturday, February 13, 2010
"I'd rather stick to my ethanol"
His debut album out last year may have not been so successful as it should, even if the reviews were mostly very positive, but no one said that this was a fair world we live in, eh? Even so, Dark Young Hearts confirmed that there is some really special talent in Ben Garrett, and this can once again be seen in his newest video. Filmed as a look behind the door into his world, it features a collage of different frYars' images, with a subtle and twisted sense of humour, adding up even some more meaning into this already very poignant (and quite brilliant) ballad.
Sunday, February 07, 2010
Great news! Dan Black has just released his first mixtape called Weird Science and it's pretty awesome. Dan is a pro at mixing different songs to create unique musical moments and he is spot on with this one. All songs are winners, and I'm sure you'll like his rendition of Into The Groove (mixed with Britney's Gimme More). Download the mixtape via danblacksound.com.