Brooklyn’s orchestral pop outfit have lifted themselves out of the torpor and melancholy that dominated their last record, losing none of their sophisticated attitude to melody and harmony in the process. Almost arranged for hurdy-gurdy, piano, rhodes organ and harpsichord dominate the song, skipping through a series of bright changes layered with singer Christopher Bear’s rich, plaintive voice as the constant. The lyrics revolve around fidelity, promises, and relationships. It’s pop enough to be accessible, but rich, detailed and personal enough to be honest music. Sweet and satisfying.
THE DELTA SPIRIT
This band sounds like Wilco with more youthful swagger, sex and restlessness. Stuttering into being on the back of a clanging piano and rim shot groove, it just keeps on keeping on. You can’t get more 60’s soul and RnB than this; this San Diego band own Americana here, instantly lifting your mood, getting you on the road in the direction of something new with real swing and soul. The rhythm section grooves so hard, the vocals are grizzled and real, and you can’t help but dance. There’s not much more to say; this rules.
Out The Airlock
2 1/2 STARS
A spare country song from the Something For Kate frontman, with lyrics revolving around hardship, a sense of displacement and potential disaster over a simple acoustic/electric guitar combination, a little delay and reverb, and a mournful vocal. It’s got a tone and a melodic logic of its own and, though it works, but it’s somehow not quite enough. It would be a wonderful quiet moment on an album, but doesn’t move beyond its disconnected images of a relationship in peril, and a simple melody. There isn’t quite enough to sink your teeth into.
3 1/2 STARS
This is pretty; a combination of woozy psyche rock, wonderfully warm lo-fi 60’s production, and the kind of exotic compositional aesthetic you remember from The Stranglers’ ‘Golden Brown’. It sounds classic, but the writing is slightly less sophisticated than the playing and production, so you aren’t totally grabbed by the tune itself. Still, the vocalist has a great, sinewy voice, which matches the ropey, psychedelic guitar sounds, always on the verge of bending out of shape or totally distorting. It’s got its own private vibe, and it draws you in.
ART VS. SCIENCE
You could say this Sydney dance outfit are hijacking current hip dance references (Justice and Daft Punk) to build a platform for their success, or you could just enjoy one of the most exciting, least self-conscious dance outfits in the country. To criticize this band for cribbing sounds, build-up and breakdown techniques from their heroes would be to ignore how successfully they do it – their take on Daft Punk sounds joyous and effortless. Witness the stomping drum break at 3min 25sec, how they make complex arrangements blaze with real energy, and their thick, aggressive approach makes me want to punch the air almost constantly. This is glorious party music, perfect for right now.
This alt-country/rock song from young Sydney songwriter Gideon Bensen suggests fluency and style that sits at the edge of the dance-influenced indie rock doing the rounds. It’s grittier, sharper and more classic rock in a Velvet Underground kind of way, and Gideon himself brings a strong sense of character his vocal performance. The emphasis on sloppy over pristine gives everything vibe, but it obscures the performances. It’s still a little referential, and the melody is underdone, but you can tell he cares and can write, and as such, this is a promising debut.