Friday, 28 January 2011

More Lykke...official video for 'I Follow Rivers'.

I'm looking forward to Wounded Rhymes and it's not long now...yay. The video for 'Get Some', the first single released from the album, didn't really impress me much although the track was great.  In contrast, the 'I Follow Rivers' production is simply lovely in a bleak way.  All shot on a beautifully snowy beach in Gotland, Sweden, the perfect landscape for this predatory track.

Starring the 'dark side' Lykke, draped in black, running in snow in high heels and then bare foot (crazy girl), it takes on the look of her hunting down her 'Byronic hero'.  The looks of Swedish/Lebanese actor Fares Fares (crazy name) put me in mind of the classic Gothic love interest of Jane's Rochester; dark, unconventionally handsome with a fatal flaw; just me? Probably as usual...

Fares is prey for Lykke in this melodrama, the lucky chap...directed by Tarik Saleh, it is a reminder of Andrei Tarkovsky's "The Sacrifice", shot in the same mysterious landscape...jumpy jump here for my 'Get Some' review and more jumps for the original 'I Follow Rivers' update if you missed it... and you like jumping of course.

So lots of loveloveloves for this...and of course, this is dedicated to my lovely friend Jessica, the real Gotlandgirl x

The album is out February 28th...woop woop!

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Austra, Creep and some Witchery Dubskip...

If other people can make up labels, so can I? Well too late ‘Witchery Dubskip’ could be the new sound of 2011.  And so introducing Austra... with 'Beat And The Pulse'.

Witch House’ on the other hand, as an electronic sub genre really is a minefield; you have to sift through the growly, fascistic imagery of some  EBM and inverted symbols that mostly give me a ‘Slimelight’ hangover.

But to clarify ‘vaguely’, Witch House is? Well I’m sure some will lash out with their winkle pickers over a ‘pure’ definition; to me its gothic synth led dance music with an occasional dubsteppy surprise. Mostly led by melancholic female vocals, hence the ‘witch’ bit (even though contrary to popular belief, ‘witch’ is not a gendered term and some of it doesn’t even sound like House).

And then, in the big old label muddle, you find the likes of Creep, whose track ‘Days’ featuring Romy XX was one of my favourites of 2010.  Happily now, with the new discovery of Austra, it all becomes quite lovely eyeliner doom pop. I don’t want to taint them with the same spiky brush that makes ugly noise… so enjoy this slice of ‘Witchery Dubskip’; sub genre ‘sounds good to me’.

Austra are making waves early on, already featured in ‘The Buzz’ in NME and that same day, they made it to an XFM playlist, not exactly drive time and I think it was after midnight but they are definitely ones to keep a watchful nocturnal eye out for.

What they sound like so far is very good, very Depeche Mode inspired gloomy electro, mixed up with some of The Cure and Cocteau Twins angst. The main vocalist, Katie Stelmanis, is a classically trained Toronto based musician, proving again that Canada can churn out some edgy electronica, along with the other darlings like Crystal Castles and quirky ‘Diamond Rings’.

Austra, however, are a little more relaxed, down tempo but with big, big vocals…have a listen to ' Beat and the Pulse’, it really does ‘pulsate’ through you, I just lovelovelove it.  Matched with such a classic uber goth static for the video and with a touch of ‘Behind the Wheel’ in the instrumentals, it is really good for your ears basically. 


It’s great to hear some female musicians doing this sound with their own empowering stamp rather than girlies merely covering a Mode song. Actually the boys are guilty of this too, no more wannabe Gahan’s needed here, especially with the exciting news of a new Mode remix album coming out this year.

For more gorgeousness from Austra, check out ‘Young and Gay’, with a teeny hint of ‘Leave in Silence’ this time around and 'Energy', to me it has a big dose of Siouxsie and the Banshees …a bit of electronic jiggery pokery is just what we all need sometimes…enjoy! 

'Beat and The Pulse' is being released by Domino February 21st in the UK and with an album to follow later in the year.

And now for more Creep, yes I've already raved about them over on Electronically Yours and on here a while back for its fabulousness; people are jumping on this track to make remixes and they are really doing the single here's more featuring the down tempo gorgeousness of Romy Madley Croft remixed by Soul Clap and oh so slowed down but still tinkly synth lovely.

Lauren Dillard and Lauren Flax are the current forerunners in Witch House...pah 'Witchery Dubskip' I say...

And to end on perhaps the funniest video ever, I think I was still laughing in my sleep at this...bonkersly brilliant and how much do I want to join that dance troop? To clarify the relevance to this post, this is singer Katie Stelmanis from Austra in a previous solo incarnation with her debut single bewitchingly video pimped by  Jesi The Elder Dancers...pure comedy genius...cackle cackle...

Friday, 21 January 2011

An unearthly place for 2011...the return of Polly Harvey, Kate Bush, Bjork, Being Human and add some Balearic disco just to calm our over excitement...

Well it is looking much more exciting this week after the lull of the festive season; Kate Bush is apparently releasing new material, woop woop, let's hope not because she's been naughty with a credit card and is feeling desperate though. Joking aside, this news comes with the return of Being Human ( more cheers) when Ivan so lovingly mentioned her in series two,  jump here for that magical moment ...I had tears in my eyes of course!

And then there's rumours of a return from Bjork who is allegedly half way through recording an album...eeeeeek, things couldn't get better until, deep breaths, the completely lovely Polly makes a come back with another jaunty, unpredictable yet brilliant album, 'Let England Shake' ...exciting times!

Before going into the single release 'Words that Maketh Murder', I have to just mention her appearance on Andrew Marr's show, YES, my most favourite political correspondent (there is no end to my weird favourite people), however when it comes to talking about music, oh my goodness, I wanted to smother him with a pillow to put him out of his misery, the most awkward interview I've seen in ages, made sweeter by Polly's lovely west country lilt...jump jumpy here for it!

And now listen to her latest offering and check out the very cute 'oh bugger, hang on' at the beginning of it, she's so uncool, she's super cool! 7 inch Vinyl with Exclusive B-Side available from the 7th February and New Album out 14th ' Let England Shake'.


PJ Harvey - The Words That Maketh Murder
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 It has very stressy vocals, guitar riffs and talks of  'taking her problem to the United Nations'...but she just does pull it off without the pomp and ceremony of a protest song, yet still makes you think, which is what I lovelovelove about her.

Of course she rejects the political singer label but it does all stink of a bit of an opinion; 'soldiers falling like lumps of meat', 'seen and done things I want to forget'.  In my bid to bring Kate Bush back in, let's just think of 'Army Dreamers' and remember us ladies really do make the most sense!

And now for something completely different... it's late and we all need to relax!

A little trickle of downbeat disco from Athens, this electro duo is crafting a blissed out sound, not dissimilar to Portishead of chilled times gone by. 

Hauntingly laidback vocals and hypnotic beats, Keep Shelly are far from a dance floor filler, more a couch filler watching the sunrise after a long night out...and perfectly so.

The beatitude of 'Running Out of You' is only broken by a slightly bonkers synth bleep noise towards the end, very reminiscent of Air's 'Kelly Watch The Stars'. If I'm honest though, it feels a bit out of place and much like an alarm clock in an otherwise mellow track. It is cushioned full of soothing vocals though with instrumentals to euphorically let your hair down to.

'In Love With Dusk' released just back in November as part of Forest Family Records, is a 6 track EP with ''Running Out of You' leading it. It sets the eerily mellow pace packaged in twilighty Balearic disco gorgeousness. Float away with 'Cremona Memories' for more eclectic electro calm from these newbies; in blustery January, it will give you that warm sunset glow everyone is starting to crave.

The mysterious duo are making electronic music that satisfies the chill in us all, whether that be the comedown after a club, the dinner party or the gentle wake up on a Sunday morning lie in; all a bit lovely really.

As Guardian writer Paul Lester describes them brilliantly;

...think Portishead if they were forced at gunpoint to write the theme tune to a documentary about acid house.'

And in my mind;

' ...think Massive Attack at a pretentious post-grad party when everyone's out grown grunge and just wants to relax without resorting to Snow Patrol...super cool basically.'

The upcoming debut 7 inch single 'Hauntin Me' with B side 'Song to Cheer You Up' is more of the same and with a similar beep mania strangeness in the last part...maybe this quirk will be a grower with them though.

It's being released by Transparent on the 21st February so pre-order now...unless of course the dreamy pop knocks you out so much, your fingers can barely tap tap as you float away in a little blissed out bubble.

Tracklist for 'In Love With Dusk'

1 Running Out of You
2 Fokionos Negir Street
3 Cremona Memories
4 Rainy Night
5 Don't Be Afraid
6 In Love With Dusk

Friday, 7 January 2011

Room by Emma Donoghue

This is the seventh novel by Emma Donoghue and the first time I’ve come across her. Having finished it this week, I find it hard to believe another novel could really live up to it this year. So early on in 2011, I am impressed, moved and cried a bit at the end which as I’ve said before, that says something.

 Living up to the publisher’s claim that it cannot be compared to another novel, including any comparisons drawn with this still quite young writer’s previous efforts, which of course I will be checking out, is outstanding.

This book, ‘inspired’ isn’t the right word, ‘came about’ after the Irish born writer,  now living in Canada, read about the case of  Josef Fritzl in Austria ;

the man who imprisoned his daughter for twenty four years in an underground dungeon where he repeatedly raped her...and left her and the many babies she gave birth to in extreme neglect. 

This book differs though in that the captor is not a family member and although it is darkly disturbing, Ma and Jack’s ‘Room’ has running water and light,  if Ma, at a mere 26, behaves herself that is.

What is so startlingly clever about this book is that the story is told mainly through the eyes of  a five year old, Jack, innocently and believably full of love for ‘Room’ demonstrated by the way he talks of  ‘Bed’, ‘Sink’, ‘Skylight’ as if they are old and trusted friends. A child that only knows reality as 11ft by 11ft and ‘Outside’ is make believe he sees on the small television ‘Old Nick’ the captor allows. I defy any parent to not ‘ache’ at this boy’s existence.

 Every now and then there is a glimmer of kindness when he allows them one treat on a Sunday and brings Jack a birthday present; however, this kindness is dispelled as Jack, while locked in a tiny wardrobe by his mother to protect him, counts the creaks of ‘Bed’ as his Ma unbeknown to him is raped, after 9pm each evening. There are days when Ma is 'gone', she is paralysed by depression and unable to move from the bed, the small boy just sits and waits for his mum to come back and continue the games.

It is darkly voyeuristic in places and not always comfortable reading but says so much about the human condition. Jack brings ‘Ma’ still only really stuck at 19, the age she was snatched,  back to life in her incarceration; keeping breath in her body is  the boy she spends every second ‘protecting’ by putting him into bed in 'Wardrobe', nurturing, teaching, singing to, telling stories and playing. Once a day, they climb as close to ‘Skylight’ as possible to scream loudly. Her violent incarceration is what Jack comes from, yet the mothering instinct to protect prevails in her.

The turning point for them is Jack’s fifth birthday where he becomes ‘Mr Five, the Superhero' and so begins the novel. The little boy craves to be four again and begs for ' waiting until he’s six’ but resigns himself  'scavely’ ( they sweetly make up new words as a bond through language)  to do what he has to do. His mother sounds harshly pragmatic but desperate as she tells him the story of ‘them’ and ‘Room’ and their only hope of escape. This is the part I found hard to read as she wrapped him tightly in the’Rug’. Jack plays dead  as he apologises in his tiny head for being scared and letting ‘wee’ out.

With no more spoilers, this book is an important comment on childhood, perceived ideas of child development, survivalist instinct, parenting and attachment, motherhood and what is ‘normality’. This novel is in most part an ‘Ode’ to motherhood and parenting and the fiercely protective need in love, which only when very basic herd needs are taken, can we truly recognise and see clearly.

This bond is symbolised partly by his Ma’s breasts, she feeds him on demand while imprisoned, she feels the judgement of the police officer when she nurses him on their release ( as if nursing a five year old is the most shocking part to her story!)  and gradually the ‘some’ as Jack calls it, is taken from him as he kisses the walls and roof of ‘Room’ goodbye.

We all have to step outside of our ‘womb’ whatever that is to us and this novel shows the strength of the mother in the most testing of conditions and is demonstrated again by the mother of ‘Ma’ being the connection to her and  Jack’s healing.  She slowly learns to understand the bond between her daughter and her grandson, something which the father can't do as he flinches at the sight of the boy; Jack to him is just a reminder of the violence his daughter was put through.

Towards the end of the novel, Ma says;

I read a book at college that said everyone should have a room of their own’

Jack at five years old questions this and after everything they’ve been through in 'Room', and his desire to be linked to his mother at all times, eventually replies with ‘cool’...a defining moment in their development.

This is a novel that cleverly uses language to portray the horror of this story gently through the eyes of a child and it certainly makes you look at things very differently by the end. A good read if uncomfortable at times, to merely call it a tale of kidnap does it an injustice. This review may feel like it has spoilers, but trust me, you will still be surprised.