Now this is music #110: NONONO, Kirsten Ludwig, Alison Wonderland, Robyn, Miss Eaves + RIP Aretha Franklin

 

We all love music that lifts up, lightens the soul, stirs up the joyous and the good, stills the anxious and the bad.

That kind of music is all the better when it’s accompanied by lyrics that speak to the human condition in authentic, accessible, profoundly touching ways.

Too good to be true?

Hush your mouth doubters for these five artists all know their way around seriously catchy music but just as importantly how to infuse their works of danceable art with perspectives on life, love and the travails of the human condition, getting you thinking as you dance.

It’s beautiful, it’s meaningful and its yours – have a listen.

 

“Ego” by NONONO

 

NONONO (image courtesy official NONONO Facebook page)

 

With a debut single titled “Pumpin Blood” (2013), there’s a fair bet that Swedish dance band NONONO (Stina Wäppling, Tobias “Astma” Jimson and Michel “Rocwell” Flygare) are committed to their musical ethos.

So it is with “Ego”, a song that percolates with a consistently-mesmerising beat, Wäppling’s resonant vocals that glide through and over the electropop sensibilities with elan and an easy danceability that will have you up on your feet in no time.

This is not ferocious electropop; rather there’s a breezy warmth and welcome to songs like “Ego” and previous hit “Friends” balanced, as is much of Scandinavian music, with an eye on the darker realities of being human.

This balance is what makes this music so real and immediate – yes it’s instantly appealing and almost joyous and yet lurking beneath is a cautionary tale, an admission that life may not be quite as bright as the music and that gifts the songs of NONONO with as much substance as they have sparkle.

 

 

“There You Are” by Kirsten Ludwig

 

Kirsten Ludwig (image courtesy official Kirsten Ludwig Facebook page)

 

Time to think, to really dig into the marrow of our lives, is a rare commodity these days but Canadian Kirsten Ludwig (she hails from Calgary, Alberta) found it and used it to somewhat cathartic effect as she mused on a lost relationship.

Her wandering thoughts gave birth to “There You Are”, a song which carries a great deal of personal importance for her:

“It felt like every time I got in the car to make the trek to the next show, that person was there, again, with me and I couldn’t seem to get away. In a sense, this is the ‘I’m sorry’ song on the record—detailing my shortcomings as well as theirs. I somehow found the strength to admit that there are two sides to everything after all.” (Paste Magazine)

There’s a hushed beauty and sense of regret to the country-tinged, guitar-rich track which carries Ludwig’s hauntingly emotionally-evocative vocals aloft on a sea of honest recollection which is as good for the soul as it is for the ears.

 

 

“Heavy, California” by Jungle

 

Jungle (image courtesy official Jungle Facebook page)

 

Winningly-described by Australian public radio music station Triple J as “a disco ball of falsetto lines and uptempo house-filtered energy”, “Heavy, California” is a all modern soul, easy-loping melodies that suggest the broad reaches of the song’s geographical namesake rather than London where the band, founded by childhood friends Tom McFarland and Josh Lloyd-Watson, hails from.

Pulsing with an energy that never lets up throughout the song, “Heavy, California” is one of those tracks that gives just about every situation in which it’s played a richness and sense of chilled renewal that can’t help but buoy the soul.

 

 

“Missing U” by Robyn

 

Robyn (image courtesy official Robyn Facebook page)

 

It may hard to believe but one of the most innovative pop artists ever, and yes, I do mean ever, Sweden’s Robyn has hadn’t a single all her own for eight long years.

Sure she’s collaborated with heaps of other artists – Neneh Cherry, the late Christian Falk, Todd Rundgren and Röyksopp – but a song that’s just hers? You have to go back to 2010’s AMAZING Body Talk LP.

Happily, her new single, “Missing U” returns Robyn to her cring in the disco roots as Variety happily notes:

“Before ‘Crying in the Club’ was the title of a Camila Cabello song, it was Robyn’s entire ethos, if not registered trademark. In the eight years since the Swede released a proper solo album, no one has quite recaptured the combination of b.p.m. and pathos she perfected in the run-up to the turn of the last decade. Now she’s back with ‘Missing U’, the abbreviated title of which suggests the university-level course in loss and regret it delivers.”

Does it deliver? Oh how it delivers as Variety once again beautifully explains:

“[The song is] basically the sound of a bass drum being struck steadily for pretty much the entire 4 minutes and 51 seconds. But there’s not a lot of skimping in the rest of the production, which cycles through bittersweetly grandiose synth loops to meet Robyn at the depths and heights of her despair. It’s the partial handiwork of longtime collaborator Klas Ahlund, who worked on both her self-titled masterpiece ‘Robyn’ (2005) and the EP-combining patchwork ‘Body Talk’ (2010), along with Joseph Mount of the electronic music group Metronomy. And it’s a welcome return to somewhat traditional pop form after her mid-decade collaborative efforts took her in more experimental directions.”

Now all we have to do is wait for the eighth album to appear which hopefully won’t be eight years hence because Robyn’s music is, for all its pathos, a highlight of anyone’s day.

 

 

“Kiss Kiss I’m Fabulous” by Miss Eaves

 

Miss Eaves (image courtesy official Miss Eaves Facebook page)

 

As performing names go, it’s hard to beat the delightfully quirky inspiration for Miss Eaves (aka Shanthony Exum), a Brooklyn resident by way of North Carolina who took her music moniker from her favourite font Mrs Eaves.

It’s exactly what you’d expect from an artist whom Bust Magazine has justly cited as a multi-talented feminist rapper” whose dedicated to “combating ‘the negative body image issues that arise from the media’s narrow portrayal of beauty.'”

As you’d expect from someone of Miss Eaves socially-aware calibre, her music is similarly captivatingly catchy and substantial all at once, a beguilingly infectious mix that delights with its electro pop-rap and knowing understanding of the way the world is lamentably often better at pushing down with destructive force than lifting up with positivity and empowement.

Miss Eaves aims to combat that one infectiously-listenable song after another, with the video for the song featuring people around New York dancing in their own inimitable style, haters begone!

 

 


NOW THIS IS MUSIC EXTRA EXTRA!

 

There’s more to many songs than meets the eye. Take “Message in a Bottle” by The Police which “doodling music theorist and musician” 12tone has explored in depth, focusing on how its “use of quintal harmonies, power chords and the wandering passage the music takes before it find the root (E Major) [evokes a] sense of melodic meandering emphasizes the very feeling of being lost at sea.”(Laughing Squid)

 

 

Sadly overnight the world lost one of its great musical talents – the incomparable Aretha Franklin. A phenomenon who changed soul and blues with her brilliantly-distinctive style, and known for showstopping songs such as “Respect” and “(You Make Me Feel Like a) Natural Woman”, she will be greatly missed. RIP

 

 

 

OOOO

Now this is music #109: Beach House, SOPHIE, Loomings, Pizzagirl, Animal Feelings

 

The scene: 2 or 3 a.m. or the languid period between, when life has slowed down, the thoughts of young men and women (and some of the more nocturnal oldies who’ve had nanna naps) turn to dreamy thoughts of life, the universe and everything.

Obviously at this time of the day, or more accurately night, you want music that won’t disturb the meditative mood too much but will still make you feel alive and engaged (but not too much) which is why these five immensely-talented, and in one case, collaborator, are so perfectly suited to the task.

They manage to give us music that is laidback but also thoughtful, songs that soothe with their softness but stir the mind with their insights.

Sounds kinda wonderful right? And so it is …


“Dark Spring” by Beach House

 

Beach House (image courtesy official Beach House Facebook page)

 

Beach House, comprised of Baltimorians singer/ keyboardist Victoria Legrand and guitarist/keyboardist/backup singer Alex Scally, has been gifting up with their dream take on pop since 2004.

With their seventh album in the offing, aptly called 7, we’ve been treated to lead single “Dark Springs” which comes armed with the band’s trademark earthy ethereal vocals and stripped-back wafty synth and guitar-enriched melodies, not to mention a sense of engaging mystery and haunting beauty.

It’s laidback music sure but not unnoticeable, possessed of a rich muscularity lyrically and musically that makes this anything but easily-ignored background music.

In fact, Beach House’s music is intensely chilled, and yes that is a thing, that takes you in, doesn’t let go and make you glad you came along for the unhurried though intensely luxuriant ride.

 

 

“Faceshopping” by SOPHIE

 

SOPHIE (image courtesy official SOPHIE Facebook page)

 

Described by We Are: The Guard as a “binary-smashing badass”, which is quite possibly one of the best 21st century accolades to be given to anyone lately, SOPHIE (all capitals and nothing but the capitals, thank you) is a Scottish singer/songwriter/producer/DJ who understandably doesn’t want the usual lazy norms to define her.

It’s part of a very welcome modern trend for people to define themselves and not let a smallminded majority do it for them, an unshackling of identity that finds impressive musical and visual expression in “Faceshopping”.

The video show the talented artist, who started off in a band called Motherland, having her face manipulated and played with as a way of demonstrating that making assumptions about who anyone really is a fraught exercise, since we all change in some way from moment to moment.

The song is playfully discordant and sing-songy, the clip immensely creative and brilliantly left-field, and SOPHIE is exactly the kind of artists we need in an age when the forces of freedom, which she champions, and authoritarianism seem to be locked in mortal combat.

 

 

“Love Will Tear Us Apart” by Loom:ngs

 

Loom:ngs (image courtesy official Loom:ngs Facebook page)

 

Possessed of a creative band name that pays no heed to expected spellings – trust me Google has no idea what to do with them which frankly I kind of like since I like the search engine behemoth being bested – Loom:ngs are comprised of Zola Johnson and Daniel Loumpouridis who hail from “somewhere between Chicago and San Francisco” according to We Are: The Guard.

Kicking off with quirkily light beats that percolate with joyously merry insistence, and the soft breathy vocals of Zola before Daniel breaks in with lead vocal duties, “Make This More” is the duo’s debut slice of perfect pop.

It’s beautifully chilled, a fitting way to make the world sit and pay attention which they will most certainly do with a little The Postal Service vibe creeping dreamily into a song that sounds slight but winningly so.

It’s the perfect 2 a.m. soundtrack, that time when you’ve grown a little tired but still want some life and vivacity to your quieter early morning musical musings.

 

 

“Seabirds” by Pizzagirl

 

Pizzagirl (image courtesy official Pizzagirl Facebook page)

 

The only drawback, and frankly there are worse things that can happen to you, to the name shown by so-called Liverpudlian bedroom artist” Peter Zer Girl aka Liam Brown, is that I have been craving some piping-hot pizza at a time at work when my plain old lunch has just made its presence rather blandly felt.

That aside, he’s a promising new talent with an oddball engaging sense of humour that pours into his trippily fun song “Seabirds”, which The Line of Best Fit describes as a “concoction of blending the past with his penchant for more modern and unusual influences make for a sound that doesn’t take itself too seriously and is, in every essence, just really good fun.”

Fun it is indeed but also ’80s-laced musically rich that jauntily takes you on a vintage synth trip into a gloriously lovely place you’ll happily inhabit for the duration … and for a long time after.

As bios go, by the way, Pizzagirl has it down pat, having a ball telling us where’s come from and where he’s going. I have a feeling his career will be worth sticking around for …

“Originating from The Womb™, Liam Brown also known to his classmates and limited fans as Pizzagirl, started crafting music and bustin’ out the fattest beats as early as two weeks old. Since then he has flew through childhood and cruised through the teens with expert grace and style and continues to churn the creamiest rhythms in his bedroom beat factory “The Beatzzeria”. The story continues right to the present day as he flops into adulthood with the hope of being the best beat crafter he can, what awaits for ur boy Pizzagirl? Stick around to find out!”

 

 

“Millions” by Animal Feelings (feat. Mammals)

 

Animal Feelings feat. Mammals (image via YouTube)

 

A transpacific creation by way of Australian artist Mammals, described on radio station triple j’s Unearthed site as “the indie/electronica/folk project masterminded by Australian singer/producer/multi-instrumentalist Guy Brown”, and New York City producer Animal Feelings (Oli Chang), “Millions” is a gorgeous piece of luminously dialed-down pop that We Are: The Guard winningly describe thus:

“Much like ‘Depths’ before it, ‘Millions’ is a warm embrace of electronic pop vibes, with Mammals’ vocals lapping against Animal Feelings’ cascading synth arpeggios like sparkling ocean waves.”

The song “Depths” is in fact the first collaboration between the two talented artists with Mammals calling on Animal Feelings for hos producing nous, with “Millions”, all sinewy, liquid loveliness and exquisite brittle beauty, anchored by breathlessly evocative vocals, the second outing although with Animal Feelings enlisting Mammals to help out on his track.

Honestly, given how perfectly they go together, you can only hope these two amazing musicians will create some more beautiful music together.

 

 

NOW THIS IS MUSIC EXTRA EXTRA!

 

“Uptown Funk” was a MAJOR zeitgeist-defining hit for Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars back in the heady days of 2014 and now it lives again via this viral performance of the enormously-catchy song by the Norfolk, Virginia police department, part of Lip Sync Challenge set for them by The Corinth, Texas police department. (Mashable)

 

Eurovision 2018 songs as the soundtrack to animated films? Yes please, and thank you!

(image courtesy Eurovision.tv)

 

Netta Barzali was a gloriously animated winner of Eurovision this year, bring spark, fun and quirky vivacity to a contest already rich in all three.

So it makes perfect sense that YouTube user, known simply as reviewer, would marry up the songs from this year’s crop of artists with clips from all kinds of animated films such as Toy Story, Tom & Jerry, Tangles, Frozen, Hercules and lots more. (The full list is available below each video on YouTube.)

It’s clever, cute and each clip matches the spirit of its respective song to a tee.

Honestly this is such a perfect match for Eurovision that it should become an official part of the contest.

After all, what with lighting shows, flamboyant vocals, pyrotechnics and stage props. you don’t get more animated than the biggest and best music contest on the planet.

 

 

Now this is music #108 – Sofi Tukker, Mr Kitty, Max Styler & Twerl, Bishop Briggs, Anna Lunoe

 

There’s something innately compelling about people with a strong sense of self.

I’m not talking about arrogant souls who think they’re god’s gift to the universe, but rather people who are comfortable in themselves and at ease with expressing it.

The five duos and artists in this post’s selection are most certainly in the latter camp, fearlessly and with great beauty and honesty, and yes danceability too at times, talking about the world as they see it.

There is a universality to their songs, as there is for all good music, and don’t be surprised if you feel a little more sure about yourself after listening to them.

 

“Baby I’m a Queen” by Sofi Tukker

 

Sofi Tukker (image courtesy official Sofi Tukker Facebook page)

 

Sophie Hawley-Weld and Tucker Halpern, the New York-based members of musical duo Sofi Tukker (no prizes for guessing the derivation of the band’s name!) have got gloriously-imaginative attitude to burn.

Everything from the bristlingly exuberant chutzpah of their songs to their vibrantly colourful, fun-filled videos radiate the kind of strong sense of artistic self that makes certain artists utterly unmissable.

How strong their identity is immediately obvious in the danceably-upbeat in “Baby, I’m a Queen” which Hawley-Weld describes this way:

“It’s sending a message that I’m ready to say, ‘I’m not being belittled by default in relationships.’ It’s embracing the crazy, chaotic nature of ourselves and emotions, which is really important right now.” (Variety)

The song is in-your-face fast-moving synth-dance heaven and the clip – well, if you’ve ever wondered what it would look like if a beauty pageant ended in a full-on paint fight, you now have your answer.

 

 

“The Glass Inside Your Skull” by Mr. Kitty

 

Mr. Kitty (image courtesy official Mr. Kitty Facebook page)

 

Forrest LeMaire, based in Austin, Texas, and known to fans as Mr. Kitty, is a man who knows his way around propulsive melodies that pick you up, hold you tight and push you forward with the kind of giddy, all-encompassing momentum that you don’t ever want to push back on.

I mean, why would you? The punchy-synth (which he describes rather creatively as “self destructive synth pop”) and Mr Kitty’s hauntingly removed vocals which still harbour a sizable amount of emotional resonance – it’s both hard, cold electronica and warmly accessible all at once – make “The Glass Inside Your Skill” one of those epically euphoric track with carries both blissfulness and profound substance.

It’s like everything you’ve heard before, say a few decades back in the ’80s, and yet nothing like it with We Are: The Guard, coming up with a description of the man and his music that’s almost as unique as the artist himself:

“Mr. Kitty’s positivity pop goth is so throwback, it’s futurist. With chiptune trance melding with casio-tone riffs that feel so of the past that they’re more or less timeless. Like someone threw these songs up into space thirty years ago and a couple aliens named Mister and Kitty got ahold of them and transformed them into what we’re listening to today. Look at that mustache! You’re telling me that’s human?”

 

 

“Wasted Time” by Max Styler and TWERL

 

Max Styler and TWERL (image via YouTube)

 

Who doesn’t love a good holiday?

Getting one on the other hand isn’t always possible which is why tracks like “Wasted Time” from 20-year-old Californian electronic music producer Max Styler and Perth-based TWERL (Jayden Healey) with spine-tinglingly ethereal vocals by New Yorker EVAN GIAA is such a gift.

The song is laid back and epic all at once, possessing what Vents Magazine calls “creeping, cinematic buildup” which then “blooms with reverberating basslines and warbling synths, all complemented by EVAN GIIA‘s glimmering vocal performance.”

It’s a mightily impressive performance which lulls you into a gentle reverie but never really lets you rest, percolating with a compulsive dynamism that is startling arresting from start to finish.

 

 

“White Flag” by Bishop Briggs

 

Bishop Briggs (image courtesy official Bishop Briggs Facebook page)

 

You could forgive Sarah Grace McLaughlin aka Bishop Briggs for having a confused sense of self.

After all the UK-born, US-resident musician and singer/songwriter was born to Scottish parents, lived with her family in Tokyo and Hong Kong growing up before pulling up stakes and heading to Lalaland to find her artistic good fortune.

Find it she has with songs like “White Flag” making it clear that this is one artist with a well-defined of who she is and what she wants to say with her music.

Possessed of an epically anthemic melody and spirit, “White Flag” is a song that encapsulates every last drop, melodically and lyrically, of refusing to go silently in that good night with the artist having this to say about this fiery, empowering slice of power pop:

“White Flag is about pushing till there is sweat stinging your eyes, blood under your nails, and never giving up, no matter what the circumstances are.” (Indie Obsessive)

 

 

 

“Blaze of Glory” by Anna Lunoe

 

Anna Lunoe (image courtesy official Anna Lunoe Facebook page)

 

Anna Lunoe is a busy, multi-talented singer/songwriter/DJ/producer who now calls Los Angeles home.

The first woman to mix for Ministery of Sound Australia, Lunoe has made quite a splash at music festivals like Coachella and Lollapalooza, a run that’s likely to continue with catchy songs like “Blaze of Glory”.

Infectiously beat-driven with a hook as big as the Nullarbor powering it, the song is one of those loping pieces of electronic pop that takes you along on a chillingly jaunty (yep, the two concepts can coexist in the one song) that demands repeated listens.

There’s an attractive confidence and brio to it, that’s given even more chutzpah by Lunoe’s pitch-perfect playful vocals.

 

 

NOW THIS IS MUSIC EXTRA EXTRA!

 

ABBA news! We have ABBA news! Well, not the revelatory kind but Björn and Benny chatting about the group’s two new songs, the upcoming ABBAtars hologram tour, and a third song?! Did someone say a third new song?!

 

 

Carpool Karaoke is a lot of fun – we get some singing, James Corden chatting amiably with his musical guest, and in this case, impromptu ice hockey.

 

Now this is music francaise: Cléa Vincent, Fishbach, Juliette Armanet, Burning Peacocks, Charlotte Gainsbourg #BastilleDay

 

Happy French National Day everyone!

Known more commonly in English-speaking countries as Bastille Day, it is a celebration that has long had a form place in my heart.

A student of French for the entire six years of high school, weekday occurrences of Bastille Day were spent watching French films, eating croissants (bought at a Provençal patisserie in nearby Lismore, NSW where we had to order in French or go hungry) and of course, listening to some catchy French pop.

I still listen to as much of France’s wholly-unique music output as I can and these five artists are right up there with my favourites, five gifted musicians who know their way around a captivating melody, gorgeously insightful lyrics and a spirit of experimentation that adds a gloriously-wonderful quirky element to music that is very much of the heart and mind.

Profitez de l’écoute!

 

“Château Perdu” by Cléa Vincent

 

Cléa Vincent (photo : Mathieu Genon / look : Harris Wilson via official Cléa Vincent Facebook page)

 

Parisian Cléa Vincent is a talented singer/songwriter, and member of music project Garçons alongside Carmen Maria Vega and Zaza Fournier, who has one foot in the past and one in the present.

It may sound awkward, but creatively it’s a brilliant combination with the evocative recalling of what French music site Les Inrockuptibles calls “French chanson and new-wave 90’s” sitting winningly alongside a chilled, rhythmic electro-pop.

“Château Perdu”, which dropped back in 2014 as part of her second album Retiens mon désir (Remember My Desire) which followed her first two EPs Non mais Oui 1/2 and Non mais Oui 2/2 (No but yes Vol.1 and vol.2), reflects her penchant for minimalist reflective pop, her love of artists like Michel Berger, Thelonious Monk and Carole Berger, and what she refers in her Facebook bio as a “disconcerting honesty”.

It’s an appealing mix that evokes a lustrous past, and confirms not only her firm place in current French music but a career that is likely to be long and melodically fruitful.

 

 

“Béton mouillé” by Fishbach

 

Fishbach (image via official Fishbach Facebook page)

 

Signed to Parisian independent record label Entreprise, Fishbach, known to her proud parents as Flora Fischbach, combines pop, rock and what is known in France as “variety” music.

The cumulative effect of that genre synergising are bewitchingly haunting songs such as the goosebump-inducing auditory mysticism of “Béton mouillé” which recalls traits that Gigwise notes have come to be associated with the artist – “Evanescent, lunar, sensual but also remarkably dark and theatrical”.

It is the kind of richly atmospheric music that you can disappear into, feeling like you’re an extra in some darkly epic tale of love, loss and places new and old.

Her shows have also made quite the impression according to Gigwise, and frankly if you’re having this kind of effect on people, you are definitely doing something right.

“French journalists have a lot to say about her hypnotic shows, and they are definitely worth the trip. ‘The bottle doesn’t matter, as long as you reach drunkenness’, once said Alfred de Musset. Well, that’s probably true, but Fishbach has a hell of a bottle to get you intoxicated.”

 

 

“L’Amour en Solitaire” by Juliette Armanet

 

Juliette Armanet (image via official Juliette Armanet Facebook page)

 

Moving from handing in copy to writing songs, ex-journalist and pianist Juliette Armanet has an obvious gift for drawing evocative emotion from lushly simple but undeniably listenable songs such as “L’Amour en Solitaire”.

The naturally piano-driven song is a laidback, sparingly melodic song that rides on the crest of a devastatingly beautiful melody and the artist’s gloriously-luminous voice that has been likened to that English actress and singer, Jane Birkin.

The overall sound could be described as sparse but it’s intoxicatingly lovely and more robust and noticeable than you might first think; this is music borne of life’s experiences and given charmingly raw expression.

Whatever you gain from her music, it’s undeniable that it’s the kind of music you can happily drift on into, your heart as massaged and happy as your ears.

 

 

“Tears of Lava” by Burning Peacocks

 

Burning Peacocks (image via official Burning Peacocks Facebook page)

 

Winners of my award for the best duo name I’ve heard in some time, even if the RSPCA may disagree, Burning Peacocks, around since 2011, is made up of singer/actress Alma Jodorowsky (Blue is the Warmest Colour) and David Baudart.

The name it turns out, has a derivation as fascinating as the band itself, according to Jodorowsky who was interviewed by Vice back in 2014:

“Burning Peacocks was the first name of My Bloody Valentine, a band that came back a lot when we were talking about our influences… It was like a tribute to them. We also liked the mysticism and the grace of this animal.”

Name aside, and yes I am in love with it, the music more than lives up to its promise with “Tears of Lava” possessing an inviting breathy languor that is mesmerising and seductive in equal measure.

It’s exquisitely dreamy pop that will lull you into the most wonderful of places, a languid journey to the sort of destinations our pell-mell society often forgets to visit.

 

 

“Sylvia Says” by Charlotte Gainsbourg

 

Charlotte Gainsbourg (image via official Charlotte Gainsbourg Facebook page)

 

I have been utterly and completely captivated by the winsomely attractive music of Charlotte Gainsbourg, daughter of creative luminaries Jane Birkin and French singer and songwriter Serge Gainsbourg, since I first heard her song “5:55” in 2006.

Creating music that tends to dwell in the quietly stripped-back part of our lives – her first album came out when she was 15, recorded, naturally enough, with her father – her newest music such as the hypnotically-rich “Sylvia Says” continues her ability to meld weight emotional insight with almost fey but beguiling melodies.

Sung with what Pitchfork calls “hushed urgency”, in and of itself an evocative phrase worthy of repeat, “Sylvia Says” reflects the darkness and grief of the album, Rest, from which it is drawn:

“[The song is] a perplexingly funky but delightful homage to [Sylvia Plath’s poem] “Mad Girl’s Love Song”, builds a Revolution-worthy bass groove into Sylvia Plath’s lovesick verse from 1953.”

It might all be seen as too introspectively bleak, but Gainsbourg makes it come alive, rather ironically given its origin, marrying the deeply philosophical lyrics with a lightly-jaunty beat and skippingly-light melody that contrasts the light and dark of life beautifully.

 

Now this is music #107: 8 Graves, NoMBe, LIONE, Cōfresi, DNMO

 

I love artists who push the musical envelope, who dare to very much do their own thing but who also retain an ability to tap into the kind of humanity that makes the best pop songs so damn relatable.

These five artists have all those qualities in spades, delivering up songs that are rich with evocatively-intriguing melodies, seductive vocals and a thoughtfulness that comes from understanding, and even better, articulating, what it means to be alive.

They may not solve the world’s problems, and lord knows there are a lot of them, but they will make you feel better about being on planet earth, and glad you get to share with music this interesting, thought-provoking and tantalisingly good.

 

“Smile” by 8 Graves

 

8 Graves (image courtesy official 8 Graves Facebook page)

 

Describing themselves as a “future grunge duo”, NYC-based 8 Graves (Brent Carpentier and Nick Goncalves) are grimly realistic about the state of the world.

No candy floss-bedecked castles in the sky for them; they know that life is made of highs and lows, and rather more the latter than the former.

And yet for all their acceptance of the realistically bleak order of things, songs like “Smile”, the music of which mirrors its lyrical moods to a tee, still offer up hope that life has promise:

“The most interesting part of it, though, is that no matter how dark and defeated a lot of ‘Smile’ is, it still details one of my strongest moments. That moment in which I decided to fight, to stay alive, and to give myself one last chance at trying to find my place in the world.” (Brent courtesy Earmilk)

 

 


“Drama” (feat. Big Data) by NoMBe

 

NoMBe (photo by Jack McKain / courtesy NoMBe Facebook page)

 

Noah McBeth aka NoMBe, a German singer/songwriter/composer now happily-domiciled in Los Angeles, is a man with an infectiously catchy sense of rhythm.

His electro soul song “Drama” is a headily-chilled piece of music that comes complete, so notes Earmilk, a sultry summer vibe full of “funky guitar plucks, a soaring electronic production and hypnotic vocals.”

They go on to say:

“NoMBe really delivers a smooth electro-soul track here. He did a really fantastic job with keeping the transitions between chorus and the bridge by bringing it down low, not being afraid to utilize a quick little break of complete silence before hitting you gently with a really funky guitar lick that kicks off the chorus. Towards the outro, we also hear the keyboardist open up and hit a little synth solo.”

It’s a laid back song that’s suffused with a chilled vibe that draws you along in that gloriously lost-in-the-moment that all good pieces of music do, an escape from the pell-mell freneticism of life that reminds you there’s more to life than racing along mindlessly to the next appointment.

 

 

“Glimmer” by LIONE

 

LIONE (image courtesy official LIONE Facebook page)

 

There is a joyous vibrancy to “Glimmer” by LA-based LIONE which infuses a giddy, happy humanity and warmth into a startlingly-captivating piece of electronic music.

I’m a big fan of the genre but it can often sound a little emotionally-distant and cold; musically clever no doubt but lacking in that connectivity that all good pop needs to really make an impact.

But as Earmilk notes there’s a lot going on that takes LIONE’s sublimely-beautiful track that one important step beyond the usual:

“Listeners [are introduced] to a bright, colorful melody that carries the progression forward to the verse where the honest lyrics establish an emotion that is simultaneously beautiful and relatable. As the lavish vocals flow through the chorus, LIONE presents a sonically-picturesque, synth-pop driven melody.”

This is joy distilled into a brilliantly-catchy song that doesn’t just tickle the ears but gives the heart a real working out too, which is surely the point of all truly good music.

 

 

“Coldheart” by Cōfresi

 

Cōfresi (image courtesy Cōfresi Facebook page)

 

Hailing from the glorious city of Chicago, home to arty skyscrapers and deep-dish pizza fabulousness, Cōfresi is a bass producer/drummer has produced one of the most hauntingly immersive tracks I’ve heard in a many a long same-same music day.

Sporting hushed, deliciosuly-distorted vocals and a trippy, jaunty melody that percolates in and out with staccato lightness and brevity, “Coldheart” (feat. Marcus Atom) is an exquisitely-beautiful, synth-drenched piece of music that is rightly described by Earmilk as a “a truly evocative, all-encompassing sensory experience.”

It’s one of those songs that is ethereal and accessible all at once, a thing of arresting loveliness that is suffused with all the emotional resonance in the world.

If you like your songs edgy and otherworldly and yet able to tap into the very reaches of your heart, the “Coldheart is your new musical soundtrack.

 

 

“Do It Better (Sub Urban and Ayelle)” by DNMO

 

DNMO (image courtesy official DNMO Facebook page)

 

DNMO, who hails from Cornwall, UK, is a musical prodigy; or really, these days, par for the course.

At just 16-years-old, young Aiden Morgan is releasing some impressively sophisticated music such as “Do It Better” that has pleasingly in-your-face fuzzy melody, removed but accessibly-warm vocals and a trippy unwillingness to be just anotehr pop song.

This is music with creativity and edge, a deftly-executed merging of R&B and electronica which has become quite the trend of late.

As with any trend of course, there are the innovators and the followers and I think we can safely say that DNMO, who has worked with Swedish-Iranian vocalist Ayelle and former collaborator Sub Urban to bring this track to fruitition, has a lot of good things in store.

But don’t just take my word for it – here is the man himself waxing lyrical about this song and where it might lead:

“Made this track with my two good friends and incredible vocalists Sub Urban and Ayelle! This one has been a long time coming. I started it last summer, and it shaped up into something really special. This single is just a taste of what’s to come with my sound, and I’m so excited to continue this vision.” (Acid Stag)

 

 


NOW THIS IS MUSIC EXTRA EXTRA!

 

If you have ever wanted to write using the same style as your favourite iconic music artist, now you can reports Mashable Daily.

“Say goodbye to Helvetica, because now you can type in Kurt Cobain’s handwriting thanks to designers Nicolas Damiens and Julien Sens. The two designers have converted David Bowie‘s, John Lennon‘s, Kurt Cobain’s and Leonard Cohen‘s handwriting into free downloadable fonts.”

 

Now this is music Canadian/Canadienne: The Monowhales, Port Cities, Ralph, Charlotte Cardin, Virginia to Vegas #CanadaDay

 

I am fairly certain I was a Canadian in another life.

That, or there is a Canadian hiding somewhere deep inside of me that has gifted me with a love of salmon, friendliness, bonhomie, openness and maple syrup, and a whole host of other things that make visiting this wonderful country such an inordinate pleasure each and every time.

So given it is Canada Day, the country’s national celebration of all the things that make it such a delightfully unique for good (and Justin Trudeau sightings) in the world) I though it only fair that I celebrate its music, which like Canada itself is endlessly diverse, invigorating and refreshingly insightful.

Sit back with your favourite moose – or Wild Moose Canadian Whisky which might be less dangerous – and enjoy these five amazing artists who are add their own flavour to a country already rich in so many things.

Happy Canada Day everyone!

 

“Take it Back” by MONOWHALES

 

The Monowhales (image via official The Monowhales Facebook page)

 

Once known as Ginger Ale & the Monowhales, this Toronto-based “pop-infused indie rock quartet” creates memorable music that defies you to stay uninvolved and just listen.

Honestly that’s next to impossible with the band stating they’re “fuelled by a passionate desire to create a sound as unapologetic and powerful as the personalities within the band.”

That kickass, never-settle-for- mediocrity, or an inside song for that matter, attitude has resulted in songs like “Take it Back” which is all spitting warped energy, bouncy vocals, and a lusciously-attractive melody that percolates with a riotous sense of self.

It’s gloriously upbeat, frenetic and listenable, testament to a band committed to going for broke and happily taking us along with them.

 

 

“Astronaut” by Port Cities

 

Port Cities (image via official Port Cities Facebook page)

 

Tuckered out from all that energetic pursuit of life, truth and a catchy in -your face hook? Then say “hello” to the dulcet, reflective beauty of Port Cities, a three-piece from Halifax, Nova Scotia, composed of Dylan Guthro (vocals, guitar, programming), Breagh MacKinnon (vocals, keyboards) and Carleton Stone (vocals, guitar).

Each supremely talented in their own right and with successful solo careers under their belts, the three making immersively laidback music like the exquisitely lovely “Astronaut” which explores the way even the most beautiful of dreams or moments end up curiously faded and complicated.

It less direly melancholic and more reflective, filled with the kind of gentle philosophising that enters our minds and cascades ever so musingly out of our mouths at 3am when wine, and life, have worked their internal barrier-deconstructing magic.

Held aloft by the most nuanced and heartfelt of country-influenced guitar work and Breagh’s emotive vocals, “Astronaut” is a reminder that sometimes it’s good to sit back and think about life, no matter what comes forth, rather than just rushing about living eternally on the unexamined surface of existence.

 

 

“Cold to the Touch” by Ralph

 

Ralph (image courtesy official Ralph Facebook page)

 

Known to her no doubt doting parents as Raffaela Weyman, Ralph is from Toronto, one of Canada’s most fertile music scenes.

A trained vocalist whose voice is all kinds of warm emotion, her song “Cold to the Touch” is an ’80s-influnced slice of nice-and-easy laidback pop that gives a while perspective on romantic ships passing in the night:

“Her new song, ‘Cold to the Touch’, is about the emotions at play in ‘a casual fling’, but it’s such an A-grade banger it could be about anything. Sharp, jolting, chock full of slap bass – it’s a magnetic introduction to Weyman’s slick touch.” (DIY)

It’s winningly thoughtful, exploring how reality come crashing into expectations, leaving us to deal with the messiness that results; the thing that makes the song really standout from a lyrical perspective is the honesty she brings to proceedings, serving up pop that gets you grooving but also thinking at the same time and that’s never a bad thing.

 

 

“Main Girl” by Charlotte Cardin

 

Charlotte Cardin (image courtesy official Charlotte Cardin Facebook page)

 

Possessed of a voice that radiates passion and life lived, electric jazz pop singer Charlotte Cardin, who calls Montreal home, feels like she invests everything in her songs.

Not because she creates loud, crazily intense songs; in fact, if anything, songs like “Main Girl” have a chilled if emotionally-substantial vibe that allows you to fall into her lyrical and musical embrace with a pleasing ease.

No, it’s because you get the distinct sense that she’s an artist who isn’t content to just make music for the sake of it; her songs come with real insight, thoughtfulness and a brutal, raw honesty that finds expression in her emotionally-resonant voice that is never less than fully involved in whatever she’s singing.

As she soulfully sings “High risk and no gain / And I’m a fool to love the pain”, you can help but get involved too, thinking about all the times your heart lead and left your head behind, only for it to catch-up and leave you sorting out the resulting mess.

 

 

“Lights Out” by Virginia to Vegas

 

Virginia to Vegas (Image courtesy Virginia to Vegas Facebook page)

 

American-born, Canadian-raised Toronto singer Virginia to Vegas – FYI his parents address his birthday cards to Derik Baker – has a beautiful way with melodies, vocals and every pop point in between.

Songs like “Lights Out”, which samples the 1984 Rockwell hit “Somebody’s Watching Me”,  have a soulful playfulness that bounces and saunters along, happily chatting about the fact that hooking up for the night is totally okay, the exchange between he and his partner full of electronic flourishes that move adroitly between Top 40 brio and a tropical beat that will have you up and dancing in no time flat.

It’s an exuberantly-relaxed song that resonates with possibility, pleasure and an unexpected emotional resonance that gives the song an attractive joie de vivre that belies its more transactional subject matter.

A beautiful song that benefits immensely from Baker’s delightfully light-and-airy vocals and a melody that rises and falls as needed, “Lights Out” is a cut above the usual pop fodder, a dance-pop gem that makes the nights an awfully lovely to be.

 

 

NOW THIS IS MUSIC CANADIAN/CANADIENNE EXTRA EXTRA!

 

It won’t surprise that I love a lot of Canadian artists but my three favourite artists are Sarah McLachlan, Chantal Kreviazuk and Jann Arden, all of whom brings a real uniqueness, thoughtfulness and passion to their music.

Here is my favourite song from each of these amazing artists …

 

 

 

It’s a Jurassic World … or is it?! A professor weighs on the accuracy of TV and movie dinosaurs

(image courtesy IMP Awards)

 

Like many other people, I have long held a fascination for dinosaurs of all shapes and stripes.

Doesn’t matter if its Stegosaurus or T-Rex, Velociraptor or a plesiosaur, dinosaurs captured my imagination very early on, and to my very adult joy, haven’t loosened their hold at all in the intervening years.

Having read so widely on them, well as much as a lay person can anyway, I can spot discrepancies between the latest research and what I see on screen in films such as the all-new Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom.

But I’m not an paleontologist, and so it’s fascinating to see an actual professor, a very chilled and none-too-precious one I should add, talk about, in Vulture’s new Expert Witness series, how accurately movies and TV shows have portrayed the now much-loved “terrible lizards”.

Among the revelations big and small, news that T-Rex were none too quick on their feet … bummer for Jurassic Park but great for us, you know, should we ever find ourselves 65 million years in the past …

 

Wanna bleed-o with Greedo? Check out this rhyming remix in honour of Han Solo

(impact via IMP Awards)

 

In honour of the release this week of Solo: A Star Wars Story, I present to you, with poetic cadence in hand and a knack for spotting a catchy beat from less than 12 parsecs away, this gloriously good remix from Eclectic Method.

Drawing from Star Wars films new and old, the Han Solo Gang is an absolute blast that any Wookie and human is bound to love and perhaps sing along too as well.

While it’s highly unlikely it’s going to be part of the movie’s soundtrack – a movie which, by the way, has seen more than its fair share of grief during production – it’s an inherently toe-tappable homage to everyone’s favourite bounty hunter.

C’mon! C’mon! You know you wanna dance …

(source: Laughing Squid)

 

Weekend pop art: What’s on the other side of famous album cover photos?

(image (c) Igor Lipchanskiy_

 

SNAPSHOT
“In between dismantling of an AK-47 assault rifle and training of the home bear, I like to listen to music and when I peer into the cover of the album I find a place for myself there. I have decided to make a small selection of interesting covers and show what might be off-screen if I were there.” (Laughing Squid)

Album covers are mystically-wonderful things.

Well they were to a boy growing up in the ’70s who loved the big expansive covers to the music I loved and who always loved the idea that there might be more lurking around the other side of the LP sleeve.

Turns out I wasn’t the only one wondering what lay beyond with Russian man Igor Lipchanskiy having a great deal of fun conjuring what might be hidden just over the LP cover.

The results are astoundingly good, proof that all that musing I did back in the day is shared by someone else, ‘lo all these many years later.

Now if he’d only see what lies beyond the album The Visitors

 

#KendrickLamar #Kendrick_Lamar #DAMN. #Avengers #InfinityWar #Infinity_War

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#MichaelJackson #Michael_Jackson #OffTheWall #Off_The_Wall

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#TheDoors #The_Doors #TheBestOfTheDoors #The_Best_Of_The_Doors

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#JohnLennon #John_Lennon #YokoOno #Yoko_Ono #DoubleFantasy #Double_Fantasy

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