Music

Music

July 10 2009

There’s something uniquely Danish about Fagget Fairys; an aggressive modernity stirred to a potent beat that marks the duo (that’s MC Ena and DJ Sensimilla) as being distinctly of the Jutland, a place where political, social and artistic progressivism is the norm rather than the exception.

It’s in Feed the Horse that the duo has produced a dexterous debut album. Built on Sensimilla’s filthy, sweat-smeared bass lines, Fagget Fairys’ brand of ghetto-funk churns, pumps, wrestles and writhes. Feed the Horse is almost salacious in its intent, and you can’t help but listen without feeling either bizarrely elated or subtly violated, or perhaps just both.

“I think the album worked out in a really good way,” explains Ena in her signature elastic style, her mind occasionally tripping over her tongue in a torrent of engaging verbosity.  “Everything happened at the right time, because we had our EP out last year with two tracks on it that became very popular on the music blogs, so we already had a good basis on which we could then produce. When we did the album, we did it half in New York and half in Copenhagen, so we were working in these lots of two weeks at a time, where we would go into the studio and not come out for two weeks basically.”
 
Perhaps the biggest coup with Feed the Horse was the recruitment of Grammy award-winning Danish producer, Rasmus Bille Bähncke. Sensimilla has plenty of experience shaking clubs across Denmark, but working with Bähncke was a whole new experience entirely.

“He’s a really, really amazing guy and I think it was a bit like love at first sight for all of us,” Sensimilla explains. “You have the perfect match personally and you have the perfect match professionally and I think he was our perfect match in a professional sense. He has a good ear for what’s catchy in the pop genre and I have a really good ear for the underground thing, so the combination on the album is really interesting I think.”

Fagget Fairys may be destroying sound systems worldwide, but they’re simply the sharpened spearhead of what’s turning out to be a gang busting groundswell in Danish popular music.

“There are so many really interesting sounds coming out of Denmark,” says Sensimilla.  “I think it’s being recognised in a few places in the world that we have some strong names now and that’s really exciting!” Exciting doesn’t even begin to describe the surge in great Danish music that Fagget Fairys are leading, with a bustling and dynamic community of artists in the pack, the scene is on the verge of a musical triumph of truly epic proportions. – Matt Shea
 

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Music

July 9 2009

Speaking to Elly Jackson, the flame-haired singer and focal point of UK duo La Roux, on the eve of her ascent into the realms of pop-stardom - that being the pinnacle reaches of the pop charts - is interesting in that it's an incredible achievement for an electro duo, who regardless of their enormous potential don't fit the mold of conventional chart-darlings, and also because Jackson doesn't see herself popstar yet.

"Yeah, it's very weird in a way. I never expected us to do well on the pop charts like we have done, but yeah, it's nice anyway," Elly says, referring to La Roux's two most recent singles, In For The Kill and Bulletproof, hitting number 2 and 1 on the UK pop charts. "When In For The Kill first entered the charts we were chuffed about it, but then it started to climb and it reached number 2, so we were sharing space with genuine pop stars," she explains from the back of La Roux's tour van. "I was just happy because it meant that people were listening to our music. That's the important thing."

But despite the double-act's runaway success La Roux aren't a flash in the pan, as Elly states emphatically. "A lot of people think that we've just kind of appeared over night, but that's not the case at all. We've been doing this for years. It took a couple of years of recording and writing together to find out what we liked and what we didn't like, and then last year we started taking that around to labels and people who wanted to work with. It's been a long time coming for us, so if people think we've just sprung up out of nowhere, they're wrong."

As Elly suggests, the La Roux project has been developing and gestating for a number of years before taking off. The singer explains that the years leading up to their self titled album were spent "struggling" with songs. "It started out very different to what you hear now. We were doing things in an organic kind of way. It wasn't strictly folk music, but there were a lot of acoustic instruments involved. I grew up listening to a lot of folk music so I guess that was a big influence at the time," she says fankly. "But our songs weren't working. It was difficult for us. Like, the songs were good, but there was just something that wasn't 100% right. So we took a break from things for a little while and I started listening to a lot of electronic music, a lot of synthpop and stuff. Ben ([Langmaid], the other side of La Roux) and I got together again and decided to try things out with some electronic sounds, and it just clicked. The songs finally made sense.”

La Roux by La Roux is out now. Hit the band’s website for a free download pack. - Dave Ruby Howe

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Music

June 21 2009

I hate the term ‘comeback’.” That’s Casey Spooner, one half of Fischerspooner, the iconic electro duo who’ve just released their third album (Entertainment) after a four-year gap in recording. “It’s not a comeback because we didn’t actually leave,” implores Casey. He’s right too. Fischerspooner haven’t been hiding after their last album, Odyssey, failed to ignite in the same way that electroclash touchstone #1 did, they’ve just been busy working on other facets of the Fischerspooner universe. “Releasing albums isn’t all we do, we’re performance artists so we could be working on stage shows, theatre pieces, ballets or installations.”
 
Yet for a duo that can work (successfully) in so many different creative arenas, there is something appealing about the musical side of Fischerspooner that lured Casey and creative partner Warren Fischer back for Entertainment. “I often wonder why we do it,” Casey remarks with a pause for contemplation. “This job can be terrible. I haven’t had a day off since the beginning of the year,” he moans. “But I think, in the end, Fischerspooner as a musical entity offers us a chance to incorporate a lot of different elements and open things up for collaborations. For us, it’s never just an album. There’s a stage show we’ve got to think about and with that comes choreography, costuming, design as well as art and image direction. We’re always thinking of new stuff to do and who we can do it with to make it work right.”
 
Whatever they’ve done in the last four years has worked, as Entertainment shows off a charismatic and invigorated Fischerspooner. One minute they’re swanning through some pulsating electro (The Best Revenge), the next it’s brooding dance music for androids (Money Can’t Dance) or fractured and futuristic pop (the stunning Danse en France). Entertainment is an album filled with unbridled imagination, but more importantly it’s an album that sees the realisation of all these ideas. “We worked really hard on this record, and we’re proud of it,” Casey says grinning. “I guess I don’t mind too much if people see it as a comeback. It just means that we’ve been through it all. First we were loved by everyone, then hated and now people are excited to hear from us again. I quite like that feeling.”
 
It’s good to have them back. – Dave Ruby Howe

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Music

May 7 2009



Death. Abuse. Illness. Heavy-handed subject matter that, in hands less-skilled than those of US indie outfit The Antlers, could have ended up sounding like a concept album scripted by the guy who writes the sad bits in Grey's Anatomy.

Sentimental, introspective indie music has produced some of the best and worst music of this decade and The Antlers - like forerunners Arcade Fire, whose aptly named Funeral also took in ruminations on death and isolation - manage to create an album in Hospice that pours out more like poetic diary entries than a ham-fisted attempt at a linear, tear-jerking narrative. Musically, The Antlers build on the tension between intimate and sprawling dynamics. Beginning with a textured drone that moves into the album's most openly vigil-inviting track, Kettering, The Antlers maintain an affinity with ambience and abstract noises that makes proceedings both more sinister and disorienting. The vocals are suitably thin and at their loudest there's still an underlying fragility to it all.

This could have easily resulted in a big mess, but it's in treading so close to that line and ultimately pulling it off that Hospice becomes that much more exciting and vital. - Matt Hickey

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Music

April 27 2009



Having already released their first single on iconic Parisian label Kitsune, German duo Hey Today! are gracing another prestigious boutique imprint, Bang Gang 12 Inches, as spearheaded by notorious Australian party-people the Bang Gang. The result of this hookup is Wonderman, a mutant disco mess of spine-shaking beats and glitched-out vocoder tweaks. From the skyscraper-sized drums to its wild and wide-eyed breakdown, Wonderman is super-powered music from two super-powered producers. And now that Justice have jumped the shark with that U2 remix, we could use some new heroes. - Dave Ruby Howe

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April 17 2009



Poney Poney's latest EP is a glorious melting pot of French cool. The Parisian band - who've been touted as the scruffy, rock-inclined younger brothers to Phoenix - have cooked up a jubilant and unmistakably French slice of power-pop with When Do You Wanna Stop Working?

Produced by electro-maestro and countrymen Para One, and out on one of France's finest labels, Institubes , the single hits all the sweet spots, from the driving beat to the squiggly, erratic guitars. And the solemn-soul remix from Rob (keyboardist for Phoenix's live show among other projects) is just the cherry on top. Or the chocolate on the éclair, if we're really trying. - Dave Ruby Howe
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April 9 2009


Like a less rhythmically-complex Yeasayer meets the electro-psychedlia of MGMT, Apes and Androids are the latest in a lineage of downtown New York bands striving to meld digital and analogue elements and are blurring the high/low art binary of studio experimentation with the dancefloor. Since adding synth lines and MPC beats to guitar compositions is no longer edgy enough in itself to sustain interest, Apes and Androids have moved to make songs with hypnotic structures and arrangement fluctuations to compensate. 

Although the two piece may seem like the obvious culmination of their fellow Brooklynites, they have managd to produce an album (Blood Moon) with a unique stamp on the genre that's as exciting to dance to and as it is to grab some headphones and curl up with. Exciting stuff that belies the modest conditions in which it was produced. - Matt Hickey
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Music

April 6 2009



It's only just hit April, but 2009 has already brought us a slew of big releases from heavy-hitters such as Animal Collective, Röyksopp and the Decemberists. But in our quest to be continually looking ahead for what's new and what's next, here's our forecast of acts who know will leave their mark on 2009.

BAG RAIDERS

Long seen as the secret weapon in the Australia vs. France electro-war, Sydney's party commanders, Bag Raiders, are hooked-up with the Bang Gang people and A-Trak and destined to shed the 'secret' part of that label this year. We promise.



EMIL & FRIENDS

While the hype swirling hoax that this was Emile Hirsch's musical side project drew initial listeners to New York's Emil & Friends, that audience has stayed for this mysterious band's addictive music.They mix MGMT's electro-fetish with the quirk of the Unicorns and the sample-heavy indie-folk of Animal Collective and Soft Tigers. So it's basically the best thing ever.



F
ENECH-SOLER

Although this three-piece are born and raised in the UK, they've absolutely nailed a French-Touch homage with their snappy indie-with-electronics style. And we're not the only ones who see big things ahead for Fenech-Soler, as Alan Braxe - the French disco icon -has picked up their next single for release on his boutique label, Vulture.



IRAN


Iran's
six-years-in-the-making Dissolver, is getting a load of hype because band member Kyp Malone's other group - TV On The Radio - has gotten kind of big in the interim. Fellow TVOTR member and super producer Dave Sitek lends his golden touch and turns Iran's lo-fi freakout rock into a polished indie-meets-classic rock record that would be just as comfortable blasting in a small club as in a stadium.



JONATHAN BOULET

It's crazy to think that Jonathan Boulet's rich, floating folk-pop melodies took form in the Australian troubadour's miniscule garage studio. But I suppose that is Boulet's gift, after all the twenty-year old can turn subtle, humble campfire tunes into soaring epics. Next he'll be doing straw into gold and water into wine.



LOST VALENTINOS

With Ewan Pearson helming their recent singles, Lost Valentinos have been serving up great combinations of angular guitars, dark synths and heavy beats, taking indie rock out for a night on the dancefloor. But it's Lost Valentinos' oppressive and sinister aesthetic and their experimental tendencies that make them shine this bright. Big things are sure to be found on their debut album, Cities Of Gold.



SHAZAM


With Macbooks and Korgs in their hands, bedroom producers are getting younger and better all the time. But the star at the top of the list is Shazam, a 19 year old disco savant out of Australia's West. His glittering party tunes are pool-side bound and deliriously cool, simply demanding you have some fun.



SNOB SCRILLA

After a fantastic debut EP in 2008 that featured some of the most exciting hip hop tracks of the year, Snob Scrilla is prepping the release of his Day One LP. Street single 'Houston' boasts the same shout-along, intense choruses and broad, bold production strokes that made the EP enthralling and can mean nothing but good things for the full-length.



THE ELEPHANTS

Denmark’s The Elephants sound like the long lost children of Brian Wilson, such is the sweet and sandy inspiration that flows through this quintet’s languid pop music. Currently wrapping their second album, you can expect to be head-over-heels by the time the northern Summer rolls around.



THE HUNDRED IN THE HANDS

With only one single under their belts (the instantaneous joy of Dressed In Dresden), Brooklyn duo The Hundred In The Hands could go anywhere from here. Who knows? Dressed In Dresden could be an enormous fluke and the pair could decide they only want to make reggae or black metal or a frightening hybrid of the two. But going on that single's love of Gang of Four guitar-slashes and driving, distorted bass lines we think they're a pretty safe bet.



THE SOUND OF ARROWS

Sweden's finest indie imprint, Labrador, uncovered pop-boffins, The Sound of Arrows last year. With two singles of skewed candy-coated indie-pop under their belts we're expecting things to get even better this year.



THE TEMPER TRAP

The Temper Trap make music that will break your heart and shake your soul. A steady momentum built on the Australians' shimmering single, Sweet Disposition is now gathering pace (including a spot in the Zooey Deschanel indie-bait movie 500 Hundred Days Of Summer) and getting set to explode with their guaranteed-classic debut.



WALE

As if releasing one of the most widely-spread, highly-acclaimed and generally entertaining mix tapes of last year wasn't enough, Wale has assembled a dream team of producers for his debut disc (see: Cool & Dre, Green Lantern, will.i.am, Dave Sitek). If the US MC maintains his ear for good beats and knack for great lyrical turns then the hype should translate into a very solid debut.



WILEY


London grime master, Wiley, cuts his skills to record like he has a belt of dynamite strapped about his torso. Having just unleashed the blazing aural onslaught that is See Clear Now, Wiley is now gearing up to global release of another hip-breaking long player, Race Against Time. By Matt Hickey, Matt Shea, Dave Ruby Howe and Oliver Queen




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Music

March 20 2009



The reports of the demise of Nick Zinner’s guitar have been greatly exaggerated. While the band’s new found admiration of Giorgio Moroder and the synths-and-sequencers party vibe of lead single Zero led many to think that the Yeah Yeah Yeahs had ditched their signature guitar-drenched sound, it’s not the case. Zinner still wields his guitar like a pro on It’s Blitz!, yet it’s used in such measured and considered strokes throughout the album, complementing the richer sense of space and detail than we’ve yet seen from the band. It’s a more artful, rather than arty, version of Yeah Yeah Yeahs.

That's not to say that the band still don't rock, because they really do like on the afore-mentioned single Zero, or Dull Life which gallops at full speed aboard Zinner’s tumbling riffs. But the NYC trio truly shine when they push themselves and their sound headlong into unexplored territories. Take the gorgeous Hysteric, with a skeletal synthesis of organic and programmed drumming, and sparingly used guitar atmospherics, it’s the band at their most tender, before they decide to throw everything at their disposal — horns, trumpets, whistles — into the song, only making it sound bigger and more poignant than before.

Such slow-burning tracks have quickly become the band’s strongest suit, and accordingly It’s Blitz! (a deceptive title it turns out) is dominated with layers of trembling synthesizers and Zinner’s rich guitar-mist. It's a fairly staggering leap from the bratty rush of Fever To Tell and the polished-rock-sheen of Show Your Bones, but the Yeah Yeah Yeahs sound so comfortable and assured of themselves while they jump from sound to sound that you shouldn't hesitate about jumping off with them. - By Dave Ruby Howe

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March 11 2009




Jack Brown is used to having labels stuck to his band. In twelve short months, White Lies — which Brown drums for — have been called many things, from the next big thing in indie rock, to slavish Joy Division impersonators and all ‘round miserable boys. And although White Lies can deal with the incessant hype-storm that’s been whipped up in the wake of their debut LP To Lose My Life, it’s those last two that Brown doesn’t care for. “That’s something which we’ve heard of a lot in the last year, that our music is so bleak we must be the most depressed people in Britain, but it couldn’t be further from the truth,” Brown says. “I know that we’ve got a sound which is quite darker than a lot of other bands going around right now, but that itself is a reflection of us as a band and as people. We’ve grown up and these songs represent that maturity,” Brown says of the band’s debut disc. “Listen to the title track of the album, it’s about being so in love with someone that you stay with them until the very end of your lives, I mean, how romantic is that? I feel like there’s so much color and energy to what we do, that to compare us to a band like Joy Division is just absurd, because that was a band concerned with making music that was as bleak as possible. That isn’t us.”

Those who’ve laid such claims against White Lies are seemingly missing the point of To Lose My Life. Yes, it’s a dark sound, and yes, it’s focused on narratives of lost love, betrayal, social and familial dysfunction, and of course death. But it’s really about passion. White Lies’ lyricist Charles Cave utilizes these emotive themes to compel both band and listener, and as a result, To Lose My Life is an equally exhilarating and ambitious record. It’s also one that makes the band befitting of the other label mentioned earlier, the one about being the next big thing in indie rock.

“When people say something like that about you, you’ve got to step back from it all, otherwise it’ll effect you,” Brown admits. “We never wanted to play any games with the band’s hype. We avoided it. We spent over two months rehearsing before we played any shows, we did extended studio sessions for the album and we never released any information about ourselves or our music online. And it worked for us,” he explains. “If the press had started saying those kind of things about us before we finished the album, we never would’ve got anything done. We’re terrible at actually finishing things. That’s why we’ve only got like two B-Sides. We’re rarely satisfied with everything we do and that would’ve made it so much worse.  Thankfully we weren’t under the immense pressure of the hype machine during recording. And when it finally caught up with us, our album was finished and ready to come out, so it didn’t get to our heads. We got really lucky,” he says before beaming widely. And so they should be. — Dave Ruby Howe

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