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.

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

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.

 

M83 is back with something disposable

M83 — aka Anthony Gonzalez — is finally back with some new music. Do It, Try It is the first taste of a new album, Junk, to be released on 8 April. Listen to it here.

It’s a quirky little number, featuring most of the M83 hallmarks — heavy synth pads, bulging beats and soaring vocals. The outro is heading into Porter Robinson / Madeon / early Daft Punk territory, but there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

“Anything we create today is going to end up being space junk at one point anyway, and I find it really fascinating and scary at the same time – beautiful too in a way,” Gonzalez said via  a media release.

That goes someway to explaining the slightly bizarre artwork that accompanies both the single and the album.

M83, Junk artwork.

M83’s Junk artwork.

“I have this image of pieces of humanity floating in space, lost forever,” Gonzalez elaborates. “It also means that nowadays everything goes so fast and everybody is kind of throwing away art in a certain manner. People will listen to an album for instance and just pick a track they like to put on a playlist. They’re not going to take the time to listen to an album anymore because they have to jump on the next thing.”

Here’s the full track-listing for Junk, which we’re pretty excited about hearing. It includes a few collaborations. Those featuring Susanne Sundfør and Beck are particularly mouth-watering.

Do It, Try It
Go! [ft. Mai Lan]
Walkway Blues [ft. Jordan Lawlor]
Bibi the Dog [ft. Mai Lan]
Moon Crystal
For the Kids [ft. Susanne Sundfør]
Solitude
The Wizard
Laser Gun [ft. Mai Lan]
Road Blaster
Tension
Atlantique Sud [ft. Mai Lan]
Time Wind [ft. Beck]
Ludivine
Sunday Night 1987

Freddie Mercury’s isolated vocals are mind-blowing

We all know the late Freddie Mercury was an exceptional singer. He made Queen one of the most incredible bands to ever record music in any era. But you realise just how amazing his talent was when you hear his vocals isolated with no music around them. Here’s an example of that from We Are The Champions, which Queen recored in 1977, and also released in October of the same year.

How much do we miss Freddie? Enormously.

Adele sits up and says Hello with her most breathtaking vocals yet

Adele - Hello

Adele – Hello

Every now and then, I get a pang of jealousy for those lucky enough to have been inside the studio when certain songs were recorded. Sometimes it’s a guitar part, or a drum part like the one Neil Peart nailed in The Spirit Of Radio all those years ago.

More often than not, though, it’s a voice, a vocal take I would have absolutely given any or all of my limbs to hear when it was put to tape — or a digital file these days.

I’ve had two pangs this past month. The first came from Australia’s own Sia in her latest song, Alive, which I waxed slightly lyrically over here. But this past week, Britain’s own power-packed singer Adele absolutely nailed it. Her new track Hello honestly made me sit up and say “hello” as a result of her effort on the song.

I recommend not watching the video on YouTube, because it’s annoying, features underlying audio from the storyline, and some slightly off lip-synching. Instead, listen to it here (assuming you’ve got Spotify), and just close your eyes and marvel at this voice.

If you pay special attention to the way Adele sings — it’s kind of impossible not to — you’ll hear what an exceptional voice this girl has. We kind of all knew that, of course, but she’s gone up a notch with this track, I reckon. There is so much in there; emotion deluxe, insane power through the choruses, gentle story-telling in the verses. But there are a couple of standout points that just covered me in goosebumps, over and over again.

The first is her variation in the chorus around the 2:38 mark. The second time around — at 3:03 — her steadiness on the word “outside” as she pitch switches is utterly extraordinary.  There is another demonstration of her brilliance in the same section of the final chorus around the 4:18 mark, where she drops in some wicked trills that defy belief. If you understand what it takes to actually do that in tune, you’ll know what I’m on about.

Adele has plenty of subtlety too. She is perhaps one of the best singers I’ve heard in recent years, and she’s certainly proved that with this track. It’s astonishing to think that had it not been for a friend posting her demo on MySpace about a decade ago — yes, I said MySpace — and XL Recordings picking it up and signing her, we might never have been treated to this.

I wonder if it can get any better. It’s hard to imagine it being any more spectacular than this.

By the way, I’ve dropped the video here if you want to put yourself through it. Around 85 million (and counting) other people have.

REVIEW: Nothing But Thieves finally let loose

Nothing But Thieves

Nothing But Thieves have a killer record on their hands.

After a week or two of teasing snippets from their debut album, Nothing But Thieves have finally released their debut self-titled long-player. I say ‘finally’ because it’s been absolutely ages in the making. With 16 tracks on its roster, that’s perhaps not a surprise.

It’s been almost a year and half since we first brought NBT to your attention through this blog, back when they had only a few tracks online, including the stunning Graveyard Whistling. Back then, in early July 2014, we were given some glimmer of hope that the first album would be out by the end of that year, not least after they signed with RCA that same year. But here we are, zooming towards the end of 2015, and it has only just been allowed to run free.

After such a long wait, hopes were high that this wouldn’t be a dud release. It seemed impossible given the tracks that have been spilled in the many months leading to this week. Graveyard Whistling aside, NBT put out a number of other tracks that feature on the record, including Itch, Trip Switch (which made the FIFA 16 soundtrack), Emergency, Wake Up Call, Ban All The Music, with Honey Whiskey and If I Get High most recently. Some time ago, they also put out a beautiful live acoustic version of the haunting Lover, Please Stay.

It was easy to think maybe we wouldn’t have much left to listen to, but with 16 tracks available, thankfully there is plenty of fresh tunes to get stuck into. Believe me when I say, also, that many of them are breathtakingly good.

NBT’s sound is largely built around the vocals of unassuming frontman Conor Mason. We compared him to Thom Yorke, Chet Faker, Erik Hassle, and Jeff Buckley previously. Those comparisons remain valid. His contribution to this record is extraordinary. The emotional output is off the charts. One can only imagine the toll it takes on him. I have visions of him collapsed in a corner of the studio after every take, a sweat-soaked heap of angst and trauma. If you’re familiar with Mason’s methods, you’ll know what I mean. This kid doesn’t just sing, he invests everything.

The other members of course play their part, too. The compositions are solid, varied, interesting and complex, while allowing you room to move and shake as you desire. There are hooks here and there, but the straight pop structure is not the method chosen by these guys. Having been selected to join Muse as an opening act on the road recently, that much is clear.

At times they’re freely blasting out rocking jams, Mason’s voice soaring like a jet fighter above it all. Moments later, you could be dropped into the most delicate lullaby. The overall effect is pretty special.

The standout tracks are numerous here. Other than those already mentioned, Tempt You (Evocatio) is perhaps among the very best. While lyrically, it’s perhaps slightly simplistic, musically it’s rich with beauty, building superbly from a soft soulful groove into a dynamic denouement. Brilliant stuff.

The opening track, Excuse Me , couldn’t have been better selected. It showcases everything this band is about and gets things off to a rollicking start.

Nothing But Thieves is available from all the usual digital outlets. I might get myself a vinyl copy of it, too, because it really is very, very good.

White Sea comes in with a cracking newbie

Never A Woman - White Sea

Never A Woman – White Sea

White Sea, the solo project of M83’s wonderful Morgan Kibby, has emerged from a short hiatus with a cracking new track, Never A Woman.

It’s part of a second album that will arrive sometime in 2016, more than a year since Kibby released her debut album, In Cold Blood. That record certainly held true to the vibe of Anthony Gonzalez and his epic electro-pop aesthetic, and this release makes it clear little has changed in terms of how Kibby wants to express herself.

She also put out another track from the forthcoming album a few weeks ago called Stay Young, Get Stoned — an order we can all happily follow.

Kibby’s voice will be familiar to any M83 fan, and delightful it is, too. The late rush of falsetto and killer harmonies that soar above the driving bassline and synth-laden groove of Never A Woman are right up there with up tempo classics like Teen Angst or Graveyard Girl. It’s absolutely impossible not to move some part of your anatomy as it spills from your speakers.

Go for a swim in this White Sea. Trust me — you’ll feel more refreshed and happy than if you don’t.