Emilie Nicolas returns with new single Sky

When I first discovered Emilie Nicolas, I was blown away. That was almost three years ago now, and I can’t believe where the time has gone. The good news is she’s back with a new single, Sky, and it’s every bit as wonderful as her previous work.

Nicolas has one of those ethereal Norwegian voices that I just can’t live without. The work she put in on her debut album, Like I’m A Warrior, was superb. I was only able to get hold of it through a friend in Oslo, who sent me the CD. I just wish her managers would expose her to a wider audience, because she’s got such a wonderful talent, it deserves to be heard far and wide. Very little is available to listen to in Australia, which sucks big time for those without contacts in Norway.

However, 2016 sounds like it was a rough one for the young songstress. After the success of that debut album, driven in part by her brilliant cover of Pstereo, she was forced to go into hiding somewhat and cancel a bunch of shows because of illness.

According to her Facebook page, she’s slowly getting better and can’t wait to get back into the swing of things in 2017. We wish her a speedy recovery and look forward to seeing her back on stage fitter and stronger and with new material to obsess over.


Starting 2017 with a bang

Hello again! Yes, it’s been a while, and we’ve got a lot to catch up on. I’ve been a bit busy with work, establishing myself as a freelancer, and it’s all been going well. But not, with the year turned over, I’m ready to get back into posting my musical discoveries here, so I hope you’ll stay for the ride, and apologies to those of you that do follow me for being so quiet these past few months.

So I thought I’d start with a bang — a big one — and share this show by British post-rock outfit Maybeshewill.

Those of you that have been here before will know I’ve got a bit of an obsession with post-rock, and these guys have been at the forefront of that for about a decade. Sadly 2016 was the band’s last after it announced it would disband in 2015. I’m particularly gutted about this as I never managed to see the boys live, but this last show — played at London’s terrific Koko venue — is as good a substitute as I’ll get. It’s brilliant, and be sure to play it loud.

If you’d like to download it and watch it over and over again — and there is no maybe about whether or not I will do so — you can grab it from this link.

I’ll be back with more soon, and will commit to post at least once a week. Don’t forget to follow the Light + Shade Facebook page here, as all our posts go there, along with a few other random things.

Happy New Year!

OK Go sets the video clip bar even higher

OK Go is an American band arguably known more for its music videos than its music, and the group’s latest effort on the video clip front will do nothing to change that.

The single Upside Down And Inside Out inspired the guys to physically act out the tune’s title by taking parabolic flights to produce weightlessness. Visually, it’s pretty amazing. Watch it here.

There are times when the band members don’t look entirely comfortable, but that’s understandable when you realise what’s involved in parabolic flight — essentially climbing steeply before diving towards the earth at breakneck speeds. When astronauts trained in this way, they nicknamed  the plane the Vomit Comet.

OK Go has been spending the past week on YouTube teasing the clip, but chose to debut it in full on Facebook, for whatever reasons. With a little more than 1 million views per hour roughly since it was posted (10.2 million at time of writing), that seems to have been a sound decision.

But the question remains: is OK Go a music band, or is it a music-video band? It doesn’t really matter, and it’s become a huge success by, in my view, being the latter. But why have no other artists followed its example?

Maybe it’s because they want people to remember them for their music, and not their videos.

Back in the 1980s and 1990s, the music video was the chief way artists sold their songs. Michael Jackson’s clip for Thriller was a watershed moment, and that spawned a plethora of other elaborately choreographed clips from his own siblings, and Paula Abdul made her career by conceptualising most of them. Peter Gabriel’s video for Sledgehammer was similarly critically acclaimed, but more recently, such creativity in the music video space is harder to find.

Beyonce’s latest Formation clip has been equally praised and criticised for its political rhetoric,  but as a complex piece of visual art, it hardly compares to what OK Go has been capable of over the years. And she’s of course not the first to bring politics into her videos.

The question any band creating a video clip has to ask itself, you’d have to assume, is what am I making this for? Is it to sell the record, or is it to rack up views and rake in advertising revenue? Is it to promote my band so people come and see us play live? Or, is it just for fun?

RJ Mitte stars in emotional Nothing But Thieves clip

It’s a tear-jerking song, and now Nothing But Thieves had added an equally emotional clip to accompany If I Get High, starring Breaking Bad’s RJ Mitte.

Watch it here.

Mitte’s part in the clip is not dissimilar to that of the one he played in Breaking Bad as Walter Jr, opposite the magnificent Bryan Cranston as his father, Walter White. It’s a father/son fracture piece, but it should be noted the father in the Nothing But Thieves clip seems a lot less loving than Mr White, even if he isn’t dealing meth.

If I Get High is the latest single of Nothing But Thieves’ self-titled debut album. If you haven’t bought it yet, go fetch your wallet. It’s one of the best records you’ll ever own.

Formidable new tune carries an important message

A lot of new music is starting to pop up from some artists I love. Some of it I’m excited about, some of it not so much, but some of it is making me wet my pants and smile more broadly thank I thought possible.

When an email from The Joy Formidable dropped in my inbox this week declaring the band had uploaded a new track, I clicked without hesitation. This is where I ended up.

Just for an extra kick, check out the version posted on SoundCloud, because it has slightly bigger balls.

There have been some great rock bands to come out of Wales in the past — Stereophonics always got a good run on my sound system, and of course there is Feeder, Manic Street Preachers, Super Furry Animals and many other — but I always feel The Joy Formidable is a little underrated among not only Welsh bands, but British bands.

I guess it’s a relatively new group in terms of a band’s lifespan, but this this trio is already responsible for one of my favourite alt-rock songs of all time — the magnificent Whirring. If you haven’t heard it, please seek it out. You won’t regret it.

The Last Thing On My Mind, the first taste of The Joy Formidable’s new album Hitch, is a real bopper, and I’m sure you noticed the video is slightly saucy. Well, that’s all part of the message it carries — an important message in the context of the society we currently live in.

Lead singer Ritzy Bryan explains.

The Last Thing on My Mind was written and recorded in the summer of 2014 at our North Walian studio the Red Brick, just outside of Mold in Clwyd. It has the feel and sentiment of a lot of the tracks from our new album, it talks about feeling alive, being free and this track in particular touches upon sexual liberation; specifically about a woman’s carnal imagination.”

She continues, and this is where it gets good.

“We’re big on making our own music videos, so last month we started collecting footage and finishing the treatment to this song. The video follows a voyeuristic heterosexual female gaze (like my own) watching men in all forms, free, relaxed, sexy and objectified . It’s beautiful, provocative, occasionally pervy , sometimes just admiring the prowess of Hendrix and his guitar or Iggy’s gorgeous lack of inhibitions.

“The intent behind this video was formed as a group, with both my male band members. I think that’s important to mention because what fuelled this treatment was something that we’d all been feeling; that there just isn’t enough diversity in music videos when it comes to sexual representation.

“The male gaze is well represented, we see plenty of female nudity, statistically more than men, we see men in positions of power with scantily clad women, and we see female protagonists mirroring that power dynamic with overt sexual aggression.

“This obsession with who is sexually in control is negative for both sexes. The implication that all men are aggressive and that women need to compete in the same way isn’t the road to equality.
In music videos what we don’t see very often is men and women equal in their nudity and sensual without a power struggle.”

I couldn’t agree more. I’ve been reading a lot about equality in all sorts of fields recently, and Ritzy and the gang have nailed the issue with it here.

She also reveals that finding footage of males in such objectified situations wasn’t easy. Funny that. All the men are too busy objectifying women to have time to be objectified themselves.

“The point here is, when the media representation is imbalanced,if we’re mostly seeing women sexualised or objectified, from a male perspective or otherwise, it’s limited, it’s damaging and frankly; it’s boring too,” she adds

“I’d like to see even more diversity please, in music videos and the way that sex is represented in general. Censorship is changing with the Internet and the way that music videos are reaching people, we’re socially becoming more accustomed to explicit material. If that’s what society has decided let’s see more bulges, more condoms, labia, different body types, pubic hair, even the long vilified erection is fine by me , everything presented equally with less taboo so that diversity is accepted.”

I can’t begin to tell you how much I love this sentiment. Almost as much as I love the new track.

Hitch, which is The Joy Formidable’s third album, is set for release on 26 March.

Nothing But Thieves release beautiful clip of Lover, Please Stay

This is stunning. You have been warned.

Nothing But Thieves has been one of my favourite bands for more than a year now, and I was shattered to hear their planned tour to Australia was cancelled this week as a result of the collapse of Soundwave Festival, of which they were to be a part. I had tickets to their sideshow, but no festival means no sideshows. Bummer.

They’ve stated they’ll try to get out here sometime later in 2016. I just hope their popularity hasn’t soared still further and they still book the small venue they were set to play at in Sydney — Oxford Arts Factory. Seeing them in such an intimate setting would be amazing, as this clip proves.

Embers floating up from the darkness

It’s been almost two years since we last heard from mysterious Manchester band Embers, which is a shame, because what it produced in id-2013 was pretty epic.

This week, the quartet released some new material out of nowhere, putting track The Bitten Tongue up on YouTube. Check it out here.

While earlier material had the sweeping wall of sound normally associated with Sigur Rós and other post-rock acts, The Bitten Tongue hints at a change in the band’s direction, and is more Placebo than the previous things we heard.

Word is a whole bunch of new stuff has been recorded, and we’re likely to hear more when 2016 rolls around, which is a much shorter wait that we had to endure before.

As a reminder, here’s a live clip of the band’s previous direction. We hope it’s not entirely removed from the newer material, because as you’ll see it’s very impressive.

Eagles Of Death Metal talk about Paris

Of all the accounts from the terror attacks in Paris on Friday 13 November 2015, one of the most intense is likely to be this — the first hand account of Eagles Of Death Metal frontman Jesse Hughes, whose band was playing at the Bataclan music hall on that fateful night.

“While Jesse and the band thankfully survived, some of the people closest to them did not. They include the band’s merchandise manager, Nick Alexander, as well as three colleagues from their record label, Thomas Ayad, Marie Mosser, and Manu Perez,” the interview synopsis reads.

Joshua Homme, while not part of the band’s live line-up, is also there to support his mate and offer his thoughts on the tragedy.

Of the more than 120 people killed that night in the French capital, 89 were slaughtered inside the club, all there simply to enjoy some great music with great people and friends.

There is no sense to the crime, no way of truly comprehending what happened. For Hughes, it will no doubt haunt him for the rest of his days. And this is a guys that’s already been through a hell of a lot in his 43 years of life.

We’ll be looking out for the full interview, and will update this post when it lands.

To all the victims and their loved ones, not just in Paris but the many other places in this world where terror has struck without mercy, we here at Light+Shade offer our heartfelt condolences and support.

Alanis Morissette updates Ironic for the new millennium

It’s been almost 20 years since Alanis Morissette released Ironic, and thanks to James Corden, she’s updated it for the next generation with some pretty funny lyrics that might appeal to new millenniums.

With lines like “It’s like swiping left on your future soulmate”, it hits all the right notes. I particularly liked “A no smoking sign, when you brought your vape”. One line that perhaps could do with a little more attention, though, was “It’s like 10,000 male late night hosts when all you want is just one woman, seriously”. She’s got a point there.

Corden, to his credit, is one of the better male late night hosts, has a habit of bringing the best out of his musical celebrities, as we saw with his fabulous Carpool Karaoke episode with Stevie Wonder. All credit to Alanis for playing along here, too. It’s always great to see well-grounded celebrities who are willing to have a laugh at themselves — “It’s singing Ironic but there are no ironies”, they warble in one section. It just makes you like them even more.

Speaking of Alanis, if you’re on Spotify and want to hear more about how Jagged Little Pill came to be — that’s the album Ironic was on, of course — there is a great edition of Spotify Landmark available that features her discussing the recording 20 years on with producer and co-writer Glen Ballard, who starts with the story of that song.