Vasudeva has a tasty Take Away

I’ve been looking around for some fresh post-rock instrumental music for a while now, but I keep going back to my old favourites. That was until today when I stumbled across a great little Facebook group that helps to point us all in the right direction.

Barely two scrolls into my new favourite page, I came across an absolute gem from Vasudeva, a New Jersey band that this year released new album with an opening song, Take Away, that absolutely blew my mind.

There is so much to love about this tune. It’s cheery opening, bouncy demeanour, and absolutely epic middle section, essentially half the song and featuring some grotesquely fabulous drumming.  And then there’s the charming little audio sample at the very end, which I won’t spoil for you. Just take a listen.

What’s great about Vasudeva — and I don’t know if this has always been the case because I’ve only just got to know them — is the brightness in their music. Post-rock is an emotional experience, and while it’s often triumphant and swells your heart to bursting, it can also take on a very sombre feel at times. This, though, is different. It’s got a definite air of positivity about it, and if you could headbang in your yoga class, this would be the perfect soundtrack.

I’m off to get stuck into the rest of this album, and I reckon you should too. It’s called No Clearance.

Nothing compares to Nikka Costa

If you thought Sinead O’Connor’s cover of Prince’s Nothing Compares 2 U was the best, think again. Nikka Costa — the ridiculously sexy, soulful and talented American singer — has just put out her version, and it’s pretty spectacular.

You can listen to it on your choice of digital service here. For my fellow Spotifyers, you can listen right here:

The single release is the prelude to the 44-year-old’s new album, which has been recorded with nothing more than a rhythm section, a string quartet and a few backing singers. If this track is anything to go by, the rest of the album will be an outstanding experience.

Upon announcing the project — a partnership with Pledge Music — Nikka said: “I’m switching gears a bit for a new album and am really excited to be recording with a rhythm section and a string quartet. I have some songs I’ve always wanted to record with this line-up and make into a very special album featuring this music I love.”

The album won’t be all covers, though. There will also be “some standards, some unexpected covers and some of my own new material, written especially for this project”.

“I’m so excited,” Nikka said. We are, too.

And get this: she recorded the whole thing in ONE DAY!!

There are many goose-bump moments on this first release. No doubt we’ll look like freshly plucked chickens upon hearing the rest of it.

Digging Dagny is becoming a thing at last

Dagny | Richard Saker | The Guardian

Dagny out shopping in London | Richard Saker / The Guardian

I’ve been following Dagny’s fledgling career for a little more than year now, and I’m so thrilled she’s finally getting some solid recognition in her native Norway as we settle into a new year.

 

Last year saw the release of a debut EP, Ultrviolet, which featured five absolutely cracking pop tunes, each with their own aesthetic but perfectly poised as a collection. It appears, though, we’re lucky to hear them at all, given she almost gave up her music dream the previous year.

Thankfully her parents — both musicians, which isn’t unusual in her hometown of Trømso — talked her into persevering, and now here we are in 2017 with many musical columnists and bloggers listing Dagny their “ones to watch” lists.

The song many of you may have heard is Backbeat, which essentially gave her a boost after Zane Lowe premiered it on Beats 1 — Apple Music’s radio station — before it had even been mastered. From there it was soon in demand, and racking up the plays on Spotify. It’s closing in on 25 million plays at the time of writing, and sounds pretty magnificent in this live discvr session for Vevo.

In a sense, this is a pop tune from the old school, devoid of overly produced synthetic elements and comprised of real instruments played by real musicians and produced faithfully. But the EP does contain more traditional pop tunes, Too Young the most obvious of these with a pulsing chorus that hints at early Katy Perry in parts, only 10 million times better. Even beneath the heavy synth pads, though, there remains those subtle guitar parts and bombastic rhythms that truly characterise Dagny’s sound, and paint a classy indie varnish on her already sparkling songs.

As a drummer, I’m obsessed with some of the parts on the EP, not least the track Fool’s Gold, my personal favourite. Here’s a live cut of it from NRK’s P3 Gull music show, featuring a nice little cameo from Kristian Kristensen — BØRNS does the recorded version — and drummer Harry Mead doing the business on the skins.

Man, I wish we had shows like this in Australia, but I digress.

Dagny has been through a lot for her young years. She’ll turn 27 this year, but has already had to deal with her older brother being diagnosed with cancer when he was 15 and she was just nine. It’s tough life experiences like this that are often the inspiration for many of the best artists, and I hope Dagny is on her way to being one.

Vocally she’s certainly got something unique. She speaks in somewhat crackled, husky tones, and that comes through in her singing, but she holds exceptional clarity in the higher registers, and finds some seriously catchy melodies to carry her often melancholic storylines.

With flawless Norwegian good looks to boot, you could call Dagny the perfect package. It remains to be seen if the often narrow-minded talent spotters outside Norway realise it and give her the big break she truly deserves.

Goldfrapp’s return couldn’t be Anymore welcome

It’s been close to four years since we heard anything new from Goldfrapp, but they’re back in 2017 with a hot new single, Anymore, and plans to release their first new album since 2013.

That album’s name is Silver Eye, and if you’re keen as a bean to get your hands on it, you can pre-order it via this link. If Anymore is anything to go by, it’ll be equally as awesome as all previous six albums the duo has released. As the new song repeats in its catchy chorus, “I can’t wait anymore”.

About a month ago, Alison Goldfrapp and Will Gregory, who make up the duo, posted a pic to a new Instagram account with nothing more than the hashtag #goldfrapp7, alluding to the seventh album, which has since been confirmed. It was thought that pic was a reference to the album artwork, given it followed six previous posts featuring the artwork of their previous six albums.

#goldfrapp7

A post shared by Goldfrapp (@goldfrappmusic) on

There had been rumours the new record might be more organic than the electronically-laden sounds of previous records, based on comments made by Goldfrapp a while back, and also because of what had been produced for the band’s 2013 album Tales Of Us, which is heavy on strings and acoustic guitars. Having said that, so to was the 2000 debut album Felt Machine, but with more trip-hop tendencies that were so de rigueur of the time.

But Anymore appears to put that theory well and truly to bed. While it’s not as rich and heavy on synths as the likes of Ooh La La or Strict Machine, it is a bouncy little electro number that evokes memories of Train from the 2003 album Black Cherry. It’s got a catchy chorus, Goldfrapp’s signature breathy vocals, and the hypnotic beats that are so characteristic of the London pair’s biggest hits.

Expect to hear this one a lot in the coming months as the countdown to the album release ticks down. The first live airing of these new tunes — the album listing is beliw — will be at the end of March when Goldfrapp plays a pre-release show at the London Roundhouse. If you’re lucky enough to be there, it should be a pretty fun night.

Silver Eye Track List

Anymore
Systemagic
Tigerman
Become The One
Faux Suede Drifter
Zodiac Black
Beast That Never Was
Everything Is Never Enough
Moon in Your Mouth
Ocean

Rooting for London Grammar

Time flies when you’re listening to music. Three and a half years ago now, we posted a short piece about an obscure little band emerging out of the UK called London Grammar. Back then we were blown away by the vocals of Hannah Reid, and in the years since, that reaction has only strengthened.

Then along comes the end of 2016, beginning of 2017, and this young lady melts our brains again with a performance so intense and beautiful, there are no words to describe it. Just listen to this live version of the band’s newest track, Rooting For You, and try not to get goosebumps — or even weep a little.

The studio version of this track doesn’t feature to vocal solo you see in this clip, which dilutes its effect somewhat. Nevertheless, it’s encouraging to know the band has lost none of its creativity in the years since releasing its last recordings in 2013.

Hands up if you’re looking forward to more of this!! We certainly are.

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!

Get high with Highasakite’s Golden Ticket

Norwegian indie band Highasakite are getting set to release their new album, Camp Echo, which is due out on 20 May. This weekend, they played a track from it, Golden Ticket, live for the first time on local chat show Lindmo.

It’s a slight departure musically from what we’ve been used to from these guys, with some pretty heavy and poppy synths in the chorus. But the subject matter is, as ever, a little melancholy.

Expect to hear a few more snippets from the new record over the next fortnight before its release. It should be a belter.

Biffy Clyro explodes back to life

It’s been a while since we’ve heard from Scottish rockers Biffy Clyro, but thankfully, they’re back with a bang.

The raucous trio hit the BBC studios in Maida Vale, London, to play some of the new material from their upcoming seventh album, Ellipsis — set for release on 8 July — as well as a few old favourites. Here’s a taste of one of those tracks, Wolves.

I’ve seen The Biff a few times, and can confirm that they are one of the best live rocks acts going around. The power and energy they generate on stage is remarkable, and all sorts of fun. It looks like the new album won’t disappoint in terms of keeping that tradition alive.

To sample the rest of the set from Maida Vale, one YouTuber has kindly uploaded it here:

Enjoy!!

Foo Fighters post response to break-up rumours

And it’s pretty funny!! Watch it here. Even producer Butch Vig has got involved!