Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Weekly Spin: 11/02


Valentines may be prepping the great big fondness for one another's love this week, but there's no imagination and critique lost towards this week's new releases with an open mind as much an open heart. Love, like, loathe, MRD is no victim to the atypical February 14th love-bug. So on a week more than likely painting itself red and fronted by a ploy of corporate meal deals, chocolates and custom-made cards to send to your one-and-only, the only admiration we share is for the music and for what is deserving of your investment. Love is in the air, and so too are this week's selected highlights:


The Men - Different Days / Another Night



After The Men released Pearly Gates at the start of the year, fans and critics alike finally had the answer they've been looking for. It wasn't the country / americana of The Men's previous album New Moon, it was garage rock, and proto-punk more assigned to The Stooges rather than CSN&Y. The Men have always been a post-punk band, with a little bit of psychadelia and experimental rock on the side. They have the freedom from long term record label Sacred Bones to pretty much do whatever they want - so they do what they want.
 

Different Days isn't pushing the rock boundaries like Pearly Gates, but it's sure bringing krautrock and punk back to the Brooklyn five piece. it's still acessible, and it's still good, though hardcore fans of The Men may want something a little more louder, and abrassive. They started out in punk, and reverted to a more melodic sound as albums progressed, but The Men's fifth studio album Tomorrow's Hits is shaping up for a punky, loud return to the blood, sweat, and tears of their vivid and exceptionally productive past. Note, this is The Men's fifth album in five years, a great turn over, and they have the quality to go with the quantity. But even with these two pre-release thunderous track, The Men stay grounded with Another Night. With brass instrumentation and a very clear vocal, The Men sound more like a happy Parquet Courts than an angry Iggy Pop. This is what we've come to expect from The Men, the unexpected. Tomorrow's Hits will no doubt be the focussed and complete album The Men have been searching for.
~Eddie Gibson

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Klaxons - There Is No Other Time



Given the length of time fans have usually waited to have some confirmation, let alone some material, on a new Klaxons record - last time it was three years, with the band having to scrap their original material after disgareement with their label over the sophomore's 'difference' in sound - these past couple years have passed rather more easily with the Nu-Rave (yes, that was actually the coined term at the time) outfit remaining hushed up and shut away putting pen to paper on album number three. Is it really a surprise that finally, in 2014 - four years after the sutartling Surfing The Void shook things up - fans the World over have been left wide-eyed by the even greater deviation from debut Myths of the Near Future's ecstatic electronica and indie intoxication.

It's with this that There Is No Other Time unveils itself as Klaxons' most challengingly pop-orientated piece to date; a streamlined cocktail of four-to-the-floor disco and adolescent band harmonies deadly on instruction, and from the looks of things, conflicting with the preset interest that got tongues waggling in the middle part of the previous decade. Gone are the amped-up guitar riffs and percussion, the blaring vocals of frontman Jamie Reynolds and even the colourful vibrancy of synthesizer extremes. In its place, what's left is a stripped-down impersonation of fully-clothed song-writing with more self-imposed dance poses and hand gestures than a 90's boyband snippet. There's no denying Reynolds' soothing alternative is an interesting tangent to go off on, but given the reputation Klaxons have is of the peak, this track by no means feels like it's championing their past heights. Here's hoping this is a sound strengthened by what's around it and not what's smack-bang in front of us.
~Jordan Helm

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I, A Man - In Time



Aussie's here, there, and everywhere have been releasing music to a western hemisphere / northern hemisphere audience far greater than their southern / eastern counterparts. It's an unexpected climb out of the shark ridden waters in to the thin o-zone layer with music, music, and music. They're constantly giving us new albums, and old traditions to go with it. Just last year saw Cut Copy and Jagwar Ma release similiar 90s-esque house albums. Confusing, given I, a Man's musical heritage seems placed in Brooklyn, New York rather than their native Melbourne.

Why Brooklyn? you ask. Well, I, a Man never sound like surfers or that they live in boiling heat for most of the year. In Time is very much a winter release, suprising given it's currently 31 degrees in Melbourne's reversed seasons. I, a Man sound like they're cold, shivering from a snowy Brooklyn in February - with dreary music and a dream pop feel that the venues of New York are used to feeling on a regular basis. It's warm though, like a camp fire in the woods late at night. I, a Man play soft, easy listening music for fans of an early Coldplay persuasion - with a debut album on the way, these Aussies are ones not to be missed.

~Eddie Gibson

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Meanwhile - Luvletta



I love a good guessing game, and it seems M3 based singer-songwriter Meanwhile does too. The alias to a name which hasn't been revealed may pop up in the coming months, or when he (she?) releases a debut album on none other than Fiction, a branch of Universal. This anonymous beat maker is on the same wave length as Elbow, Ian Brown, and Crystal Castles - yet nameless, with no apparent history. It still pleases me that wunderkinds can come out of the dark and release something of true innovity with no identification or fanfare whatsoever. That being said, we don't know the age, gender, or even background of Meanwhile - but we can asses the music either way.

Starting out with an electronic drum beat, Luvletta grows into a bass heavy dance track with 80s pop influences. It sounds like tUnE-yArDs, the project of New England experimantalist Merrill Garbus - but with a more conventional sound, making me think Meanwhile is a British TV on the Radio. Meanwhile has the potential to be a hype starlet for 2014. While all the kids are chilling out to Sam Smith, I'll be waiting for more material from this strange but wonderful 2014 debutant.

~Eddie Gibson

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Jamie Isaac - She Dried



Anyone who thinks crooning voices and heartfelt efforts are, and should be, limited to hushed electronics and minimal composites should look no further than nineteen-year-old Jamie Isaac's own leftfield turn from what was already a leftfield circle of song-writing towards a track, and an EP in Blue Break, far more delicate and revealing than experimental fascination could perhaps hope to asatain for itself.

In its chosen piano keys and precious containment of RnB-flavoured dubbed beats, She Dried - which could be a clever rhyme with 'she tried' - finds Isaac's tender mix of tone and expression - like Devonté Hynes' Blood Orange moniker - at times welcomed in, and in others woefully shooed away by the very track's deserted stretch of urban blues, gusty distortion and hand-picked percussive clicks - thus reimagining the very imaginable evening stretch home for an even more vibrant and realistic passage of heart and mind for any lone individual. Blue Break, Isaac's follow-up EP, is scheduled for release March 24th.
~Jordan Helm 

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St. Vincent - Prince Johnny



Listeners of St. Vincent can be forgiven for thinking Annie Clark was heading down a strangely electronic astheric path after hearing pre-release single Digital Witness in January. It sounded like a remix of a university art project and a Woody Allen Sleeper parody. But Clark has gotten to grips with her sound on this release called Prince Johnny. There's no confusion here, just straight up old St. Vincent with synths, raw percussion and electronics fading and emerging out of Clark's ABBA vocal.

Subtle guitars and an acting choir for back-up vocals set Prince Johnny apart from any of Clark's previous releases from her upcoming self-titled fourth album. It's the same kind of baroque pop listeners of St. Vincent will be used to by now, more akin to her work on Strange Mercy than anthing else. Don't forget, St. Vincent is no longer part of the 4AD clan. She's moved onwards and upwards (some would argue - including myself) to a major record label for her self-titled release, and they're set to milk her previous critical acclaim and expose it to a wider audience. That being said, Prince Johnny or even the pre-releae Digital Witness sound far less welcoming and acessible than Strange Mercy, or even Actor.
~Eddie Gibson

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STAR SPIN

Indiana - Solo Dancing






If it ever came to the point where artists relied on CV's, just like the rest of us job-occupants, to sell themselves, I imagine Nottingham-based Indiana will remain relatively safe on her merits, given her experience with live audiences include (among others) none other than Her Majesty herself. Answers on a postcard as to how royal presence would take to this particular musical dressage of female prowess (my money's on bored, just like she/one always appears to be) atop synthesized melodies, but Solo Dancing is without question Indiana's most enlightening, bold, yet cleverly engaging track of the handful of releases we've already come to recognize the singer-songwriter as shining in.

A fading-in of pulsating beats and drums are our welcome hand-shake/hook to which Indiana sits down (or perhaps stands up as the mood would allude to) and marks her claim to being one of 2014's must-watch talents in not just refusing to fall to overly-poetic lyrics - 'I go dancing by myself/I go dancing with no one else' - but ofering just the right amount of hypnotic mystery and soul to give her words and her sound's subterrean club flow that extra tinge of depth and ethereal mystery. And from out the inner-city clubs and sweeping synth layers this alludes to, Indiana's voice remains bare, honest, without pretention, and most importantly, with resounding longing to hear more. You too can go dancing with yourself - bedroom, club, wherever - when the single drops March 23rd.
~Jordan Helm

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