Thursday, 30 June 2011


Today, a blast from the past. Well a few years ago anyway. Glastonbury stuff coming soon.

Kissy Sell Out's remix of the Does It Offend You, Yeah? classic 'We Are Rockstars' brings his strange electro style out into the cold light of day and is arguably the best example of his productions. At around the 3:00 mark the near-nauseating fuzzy slide whistle synth rocks back and forth with a uniqueness that is ironically common for Kissy Sell Out.

The heftily distorted sounds throughout are also very typical of the popular electro sound of 2008, which is when I first heard this song anyway; it's a perfect example of the progression of electro music, showcasing a virtuosity in both technique and substance with more solo additions than original samples, which are used incredibly sparsely. No doubt if this were to be done this evening or last week or something, it'd be a dubstep remix complete with an overdose of wobble. It's just nice to look back and take in a gulp of fresh music that still sounds like it's breaking boundaries even now.

• Here's a YouTube playlist for Kissy Sell Out if you care for more fuzzy electro from the eccentric DJ.
• And/or check out his Myspace

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Saturday, 25 June 2011


Playing at 10pm today, Caribou (aka Manitoba, aka Daniel Victor Snaith) will be setting the mood for the night ahead with his electronic indie dance sounds. Leaving his native London, Ontario (Canada) for another London (UK) for university and then staying put, his music combines the energy and raw sound of a live band complete with guitars and percussion, with moody electronic sounds. I like Caribou, but without having explored his discography I only know a few songs - the below, 'Odessa', is my favourite thus far, and you probably would've heard it before.

The funky bassline eschews the usual cheeriness found in funk for a much bigger, darker, emptier sound, and is the backbone of the entire song, providing a powerful foundation for the soft vocals that are cut with a start stop high-pitched noise throughout. A really great song, and something that's going to sound great as night has just set in at the Park Stage, where it's just too easy to lose yourself.

Listen to more Caribou on Myspace and check the official site.

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Friday, 24 June 2011


The superchilled stylings of Tropics are gracing the Pussy Parlure at Glastonbury today at just after midday. Within its decadent 1920s interior, the Pussy Parlure has been a feature at Britain's biggest festival now for about 5 years, and is famed for hosting acts that are definitely far left of mainstream: perfect stomping ground for Tropics.

Chris Ward is the brains behind Tropics. Just 22, he takes influences from pretty much every type of music to create ultra ambient tracks that just melt your brain and slide down from the skies to settle on your brain like liquid sunshine. Mixing 70's funk drums with ghostly vocals and smooth, watery synth, this new track 'Mouves' (out 18th July) is a perfect example of the vibe that drives Tropics to create such beautiful music. Enjoy.

It sounds a like some parts of Fourtet, and is just as good. I'll be trying to see this today. If the sun's out, it'll be the supreme soundtrack to the festival.

Check Tropics on SoundCloud for more, including 25 minute mixes that have almost put me in a trance as I write this.

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Sunday, 19 June 2011


I think perhaps my favourite witch house artist, Ritualz (†‡†), is playing live tomorrow (Monday 20th June) at the CAMP Basement, London. I have a ticket already, but I am feeling so ill today that I might not be able to make it tomorrow, which would suck big time. I would miss the first time he's playing in London and that would be a shame. There are still tickets available, so if you'd like to go and see this amazing artist alongside Design A Wave, The Church Of Synth, Story Of Isaac (DJ) and BITE DJ, get on it. If you need an idea of what this fantastically unique gangster-cum-conjurer might be like live, here he is playing his song 'Ghetto Ass Witch' live in Bucharest on 9th June:

I'm sure the colour effects were added post-production, but despite that, it fits the song perfectly. This is the kind of thing you'd be anticipating if you fancied going along tomorrow. As you can hear, Ritualz creates music that is kind of like trance put in a blender, heavily reliant on fat kick drum and sharp claps to make up the beat. Generally, the music is hypnotic in all its distorted synth glory, rent with twisted rave horns and high pitch, screaming synth rocketing up and down - as best demonstrated by the widely-loved song below, 'Goth Bb'.

The lo-fi, brutally intense beat makes this song, whilst ear-splitting synths battle above it, dive-bombing your brain every now and again. There's a distinctly videogame soundtrack vibe around this, mixed of course with the dark, shadowy overtones to create something utterly unique, and borderline anthemic. Listen:

What do you think? Just a lot of noise, or something closer to genius?

Don't forget: CAMP Basement, London - tomorrow, 20th June.
He doesn't use Myspace anymore.
He does use SoundCloud.
And he is on Twitter.

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Saturday, 18 June 2011


First of all, Chris Brown can't hold a candle to OFWGKTA so whatever shit they're apparently talking, for me, is meaningless. It's banter. Chris Brown is just an absolute nutter for beating up Rhianna, and along come Odd Future with their weirdness, controversiality, religious symbology, and naturally they are met with suspicion. Chris Brown on the other hand is populist shit, utter tripe, so equal parts naturally a lot of people are going to agree with him and be utterly unable to even begin to comprehend the actually quite simple fact of the uniqueness of Odd Future.

Taco is another from OF (Odd Future) - he's in the picture at the top of this post. Worship the devil? Really? How is it that someone so clearly ignorant and touchy gets the most famous? Well, I have a theory. I think it's because he gives a fuck. In fact, I think it's because he gives too much of a fuck. So he builds his image, makes some bad music, beats up a superstar (see? he's touchy), and lives his millionaire lifstyle. Odd Future couldn't be more opposite. They don't give a fuck. They couldn't give less of a fuck. They do what they do because out of sheer fun. Chris Brown does it for money, no doubt about it.

And here's Taco defending himself again after Chris Brown cries, throws his toys out the pram and starts threatening to deck to nearest female performer, and tweets. He meets this stupidness with a quite valid point. Kanye, Jay-Z, Rick Ross, Nicki Minaj - all featured in 'Monster', which I wrote about, which itself is very dark, touching on murder, zombies, cannibalism. And these artists are all very well known; why would they put their reputations on the line if they thought the song and video would be taken the wrong way? It's quite possible that these guys also don't give that much of a fuck. Maybe not. Who knows.

Odd Future are doing what they want to do; they do a lot for shock value, but hey, it obviously works. If you can get your creativity out there to the masses with a thousand upside down ††††s, a 666, and some cockroach eating, nosebleeding, snakes-in-coffin videos, then good for you. It's clever more than anything else. What people are mistaking as Satanism, is probably more atheism, and who cares.

But check out this amazing Chris Brown song omg it's so good. See the women at the start he's frolicking with? Those are the good times, before he starts getting paranoid and aggressive... but what a tune though. You'll probably have to watch it on YouTube though, cause it's Vevo and all. I wouldn't even bother. What a waste of time. Sorry.

Chris Brown deserves it. Here is some more informed news of what is now being called a feud between Odd Future and Chris Brown.

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This is Tyler, The Creator's video for song 'Yonkers'. It encapsulated the dark, extreme style of OFWGKTA (Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All - or just Odd Future): the 60-strong hip-hop collective headed by Tyler himself. This song serves as a vent for frustrations, allowing the young rapper/producer to drop in some pretty out-there lyrics. My personal favourites being the opening line - "I'm a fuckin walking paradox, no I'm not, threesomes with a fuckin triceratops" - and something later on: "Stab bruno mars in his goddamn esophagus and won’t stop until the cops come in," delivered with as much rage and venom as it should be.

The beat is mean, nasty, relentless, suiting the content perfectly, accompanied by a long, heavy bass that, with its stop and start style, utilises the empty spaces as much as it does its own beefy sub sound. Synth comes in over the top like a soundtrack from a horror film, having a very uncanny fizzing sound to it. All of these elements, combined with the distinctive hardline rap spat out, or vomited, by Tyler - and even the freaky creepy video - create a wonderful hark back to horrorcore - a genre of hip-hop that (according to Wikipedia) "focuses primarily around horror-influenced topics that can include demons, self-harm, cannibalism, suicide, murder, and Satanism. The lyrics are often inspired by horror movies over moody, hardcore beats." So there.

However, Tyler has stated that he hates "when journalists tell us how we remind them of a younger version of some random-ass rap group from the ’90s that I’ve never heard of." They're just doing their own thing, and the comparison seems irrelevant - if he's never heard of them, then he can't be influenced by them, so what's the point of mentioning it?


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Thursday, 16 June 2011


In association with Kia, Adult Swim are releasing a cool single every week for 10 weeks straight - for streaming online as well as free download. The Adult Swim 2011 Singles Program looks like it's shaping up to be a fantastic showcase of some great new talent in music - something that I am always very happy about, and something that Yes No Music is priding itself on. So without further ado, here is last week's single, 'Too Much MIDI (Please Forgive Me)' by Ford & Lopatin.

The track is joyful electro house, pulsing with a firm 4/4 beat and dirty, scratchy bass sound. Saturated, hollow synths populate the track throughout, all stop-start and chopped up - very Justice; there's a clear rock influence here - especially shown by a crazy guitar solo towards the end of the song. The vocals come in meekly and chilled, contrasting the fuzz of the rest of the song. It's a perfect way to start the Singles Program, and a perfect song for this time of year, with an overall sunny, upbeat feel that would go perfectly with a warm summers day. Think sunglasses, picnics, and impromptu barbecue-piss-ups.

This single comes from new album Channel Pressure, released June 7th (Software Records), after a name change in February of this year from Games to this more descriptive moniker - named after the duo themselves: Joel Ford (of the group Tigercity) and Daniel Lopatin (who also records more experimental stuff under Oneohtrix Point Never). Releasing their first recordings in 2010, Ford & Lopatin have continued to create music heavy on analogue synthesisers, midi sequencers, and drum machines, resulting in a loveable electro house sound with more than a dash of experimentation added in.

Check their SoundCloud, and Myspace (which is just earlier, Games-era tracks).

This week's single is 'Gone Again' by Best Coast - something that I actually covered last week.

Top photo by David Black
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This truly is the future of music - not only in sound, but in the way it is released to the world. Announcing a new single uploaded as a track on SoundCloud via your own blog, and then spreading this via Twitter; it's the future, and it's amazing really.

I've been a fan of Pictureplane for a long time. For ages I rinsed the tracks available on his Myspace - it was like nothing I had ever heard before, and this new one from the man himself Travis Egedy (for that is his real name, plus from Denver) is no exception to that utterly unique, ethereal, future-projected sound. His recordings are marked by fuzzy dance melodies, beautiful lo-fi vocals, tinged with brutally addictive beats swimming in static.

'Post Physical' is a joy to listen to. Maintaining his style with a characteristic, sustained super-distorted synth to provide some bass, the song drops into a typically high-energy beat with irregular kick (like up-tempo dubstep) and a hefty whip of snare. Glittering, bitcrushed melodies on overdrive blast back and forth as the vocal track, as always, remains slightly hidden with dollops of reverb and overdrive, as Travis sings: "We are all post physical." His esotericism is charmingly vague; I'm sure you'll find yourself falling in love with this sound after just one listen.

This is one of his most infectious songs yet, and one that perhaps is leaning towards being much more popular, or more widely palatable, than its forerunners. It comes as a follow-up to 'Real Is a Feeling', another song chucked out into the wilderness in the run-up to a new album Thee Physical (due 19th July).

Speaking of post-physical, it's a totally new way to go about getting music released and talked about. No physical CDs to send out, just post-physical, enough-for-everyone streams via SoundCloud. He announced this on his blog, PLAIN PICTURES, as follows:
on this day . june 15th 2011.

there is a full moon lunar eclipse occurring as i write these words. our world is under a great transformation physically, mentally, psychically and spiritually.
what better time for my new single "POST PHYSICAL"
debuting raw style on my soundcloud.

the song is off of my new record, THEE PHYSICAL.

listen with open ears and an open body.

He's out there, that's for sure, but it's nice to feel so connected to an artist these days. An entry on a blog would never be so open if it were any other musician, perhaps - and the instamatic nature of picking up the single, tweeting it, writing a blogpost around it, or sharing it via any other network, all add up to create the sheer pleasure of being a music fan today.

Check his SoundCloud, Myspace, and follow him on Twitter for news straight from the horse's mouth.

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Wednesday, 15 June 2011


Yeah, that's right, Moscow Youth Cult. They're an electro duo from Leicester, who play something a cross between Joy Division and a lo-fi Simian Mobile Disco. Their live shows are augmented by a magic, cathode ray tube TV which projects grainy B-movie footage onto a screen behind them as they rock your world, pushing sliders and turning knobs; an interesting quirk. They will be playing live at The Lock Tavern tomorrow night, Thursday 16th June (they're on at 10pm, I'm told), and it's free - so do pop along if you're in the area.

Their EP, Hive Mind, has been released for free download (see below) and it's most definitely worth a listen. 'Girls of Boredom' is a perfect single, combining a hard and fast drum track with a dark, engulfing bass synth for a backing with attitude; add to this cutesy chip-tune and distorted, catchy vocals and you have yourself a song that's 2 parts in-your-face, 1 part pop. There's a similar feel to 'Sakura Sakura', though the strange J-pop style is completely different in execution here. Beginning with a cut up mess of distorted, compressed synth that wouldn't sound out of place on a Justice song, the song quickly moves into a fast paced world of synth distortion and chip-tune again, with female vocal samples - Japanese, of course.

Moscow Youth Cult - Hive Glow EP by Moscow Youth Cult

The last song, 'La Casa (MYC Mia MYC Tua)', features a floating bass that seems to croak with the heavy distortion placed upon it, sounding a little witch house to begin with, gradually turning into an odd, modulating house track. This wordless song is a great example of the talented production that goes into these songs.

If you liked that, you can actually get the whole of their Hive Mind EP sent to you for download. Find this below (although you can download from the above SoundCloud player too). It's a pretty wonderful way to get new music - and an EP, unless it's from a very well known band, should be free (I think) as it's kind of just a taster. Like free samples on a Sainsbury's deli counter.

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This is the recent video released for Kanye West's 'Monster', taken from his My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy album. In true Kanye style, this freaky video has met with a lot of controversy due to the amount of dead models everywhere (Kate Moss is in the video, not dead), zombies eating people, a lot of blood and gore - here's something from the Daily Mail: "With foul language and graphic scenes it is too offensive to post on this websitee [sic]."

It's not too offensive for this websitee though. Here you go.

This song also features a lot of people. Rick Ross, Jay-Z, Bon Iver, and the wonderfully MPD-affected Nicki Minaj. Best lines in the song for sheer absurdity and extremism come from Kanye himself - "Have you ever had sex with a pharaoohh uhh? Put the pussy in a sarcophagus, now she claiming that I bruised her oesophagus" - and Nicki's first line for her part: "Ok, first things first I eat your brains, then I'ma start rockin gold teeth and fangs." Ok, Nicki...

The originality here may be questionable for some, but for me, it's a great way for each of these stars to write some seriously dark, over the top lyrics. It's fun for everyone.

(via Stereogum)

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Tuesday, 14 June 2011


Hip-hop for a Tuesday night. Listened to it on the train. I'd never heard of MellowHype before Pictureplane tweeted about - and I'm glad he did. This is a little alternative hip-hop duo, made up of Hodgy Beats and Left Brain, both members OFWGKTA - the hip-hop/rap collective headed by Tyler, The Creator.

Better known as simply Odd Future (or if you want it all, Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All), this group of talented young producers, rappers, and singers (numbering over 60, according to Tyler) is characterised by a love of making music. Generally populated by dark lyrics - as emphasised by Tyler, The Creator's 'Bastard' if I was going to recommend one - these young guys may be going over the top for the sake of it, but if the name of the collective is anything to go by, they have a 'fuck you' attitude. In the nicest possible way.

Here's a song from MellowHype called 'CopKiller' - it features another Odd Future rapper, 17-year-old Earl Sweatshirt (real name Thebe Kgositstile) who is currently being held back in his music career by his mother. No joke. Have a listen. The bass is unreal, supporting the unusual start stop flanging synth, and overall sounding like not much rap that's floating around at the moment. Earl's 'fuck you' (or 'fuck school'?) attitude is heard in his section, starting around two thirds of the way through; lines like "Now I'm transitioning from class clown to cash cow" give you an idea of that mindset.

CopKiller (feat. Earl Sweatshirt) - MellowHype

The image above left is is taken from the video for CopKiller. Is it really that wrong to discover things through Twitter? Eugh. Anyway.

Here are two other songs to top it all off. One commentator on the YT page put it so well that I won't even bother trying to top it.

That's basically it. And that's exactly what you get below. '65' is so chilled, a complete lean back number. The beats, courtesy of Left Brain, are nothing short of sheer genius. It's sounds like this that redeem hip-hop, and put it securely back in its place as one of the most creative genres out there at the moment, allowing for influences from everywhere, and allowing - perhaps even moreso - a perfect outlet for venting any frustrations with words. But yes, "listen to this, and then 64 in order."

And here is the fantastically visceral '64', filled with spooky saw wave synth sounds, vicious vocals, and some mean beats. There's anger and intelligence, but at the same time there's the same feeling of tongue-in-cheek in this as there is in grime - it's finally all coming together.

Only released online (uploaded to YT basically) on Sunday, 12th June, this is pushing over 200k views already - but that's superficial.

The video itself is a bit odd, and this added with the nature of the video, the nature of the sounds, and of the dark lyrics, add up to almost encompass a small part of the spirit of witch house. Witch-hop? Is that allowed? Listen for yourself.

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Monday, 13 June 2011


What a song. This has been my favourite song of the last two weeks. Nothing but pure electro goodness in here, coupled with an amazing voice and lyrics to boot, this is a joy to listen to every time I put it on. If you haven't already heard it, with the last post I did regarding this song, and even a review of their album, please do hear it now. There's a great deal of energy and warmth in this song, something that isn't at once infectious, but I found that the more I listened, the more I loved. It's a perfect song for the coming months, too - it would match a balmy summer evening so well. Just the right balance of dance and chill.

I can't believe I hadn't heard of When Saints Go Machine before, but now here they are. I feel much better for knowing who they are now. I look forward to their imminent, widespread fame.

Here's the kaleidoscopic video for 'Church And Law' again:

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These guys are experimental math rock band scscs from Japan. As much as these are good at what they do, with their precise and quirky melodies, it would be interesting to hear a better quality, more polished recording than those found on their Myspace. Though filled with humble charm, their intricate sound I think may sound better with more attention paid to production.

I don't know much about them, so production aside, I love their sound. Funk math? I don't know what to call it, but from the tight drumming to the twanging start-stop guitars, it's unique stuff, more of which could be hiding out there somewhere, or waiting in the future. They might not be well-known, but they are certainly worth a look. Trawl the web to find out more about them.

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Sunday, 12 June 2011


I like Rainbow Arabia. Their remix featured on Health's Disco2 of 'Before Tigers' is an interesting one - not my favourite, but it spurred me on to have a look at Rainbow Arabia themselves. And I was happy with what I found.

They seem to be a source of contention, as you can see from these comments on YouTube - are they liked? Unliked? Seems pretty mixed to me. The sheer mix of comments is pretty fitting too; they're a mixed up duo with a mixed up sound. They're actually a married couple from Los Angeles, Danny and Tiffany Preston. I got the impression they were from Lebanon, because of a story about the inspiration behind the music, told by Danny - "It wasn’t until we ordered an Arabic Casio from a Lebanese website that Rainbow Arabia was formed."

So you see why I thought that. It's also because their sound is so un-LA, un-USA, and so much more world, ethnic, tribal. They sound a bit like MIA, though like MIA blended up with a more lo-fi, experimental sound. They're certainly brave in how they make their music, pioneering weird sounds in microtonal synths, Eastern beats, and conjuring soundscapes that transport you from wherever you are to somewhere mad, somewhere that might not even exist. The video below for 'OMAR K' is bizarre.

Starting with tribal drums that carry on throughout, a spooky, ska-like, melody bounces around over the top as Tiffany's echoing voice calls you up to dance like a Dervish, or more likely just move like crazy. The video, in which Tiffany and a little girl with a tomahawk transform into bloodthirsty monsters with beards and fangs, suits the song totally. This is Rainbow Arabia's sound; carefree, brash, and full of energy. The next song, 'Without You' - taken from Boys and Diamonds (released March 1st, 2011) shows off a more new-wave influence.

Touching sounds, and lyrics tinged with the fear of being "so lonely", are contrasted against the tribal beats which typify Rainbow Arabia. From the video you can see how much the Prestons enjoy the music they make. And this is the key behind the songs they make.

Their passion creates a kind of transcendental sound; you can feel their energy and love of music in every single song. If you're a fan of MIA (the only coherent comparison I can make) I would very much recommend this lovely band to you. Well, at least I hope they have brightened up this grey Sunday evening.

Listen on SoundCloud or Myspace.

Or follow on Twitter...

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Best Coast, one of the more well-known lo-fi of today - quite an achievement given the huge surge in recent years of artists coming up with no end of surf-pop, garage-fuzz, or indie-lo-fi whateverness.

The vocal hooks of singer Bethany Cosentino - who writes pretty much all material, musically and lyrically, for the band - help Best Coast to soar above other bands with a similar sound. And this new song 'Gone Again' is no exception. Starting out with some wonderful 'oooo'ing that becomes a refrain for the song, music bursts in with a foot-tapping 2/4 rhythm and Cosentino's laid-back style of singing, touched with light distortion. Perfect for a rainy Sunday indoors. Just like today, in fact.

This video comes in a series of videos for Adult Swim to promote the Adult Swim Kia Singles Program - a free mp3 series. 10 Free tracks over 10 weeks. Really cool, with some really cool artists. So check back to know when Best Coast, and some others, are up and available for download.

Here's Best Coast's nice blog:
And their Myspace.

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Saturday, 11 June 2011


This is Emmy the Great's new album, Virtue. Debuting with First Love in 2009, Emmy the Great (real name Emma-Lee Moss), originally performing with Lightspeed Champion, becoming his vocalist for a brief period in 2007 alongside Florence Welch. She went on to perform as solo artists, and her indie folk roots haven't been forgotten. The nature of its creation is very interesting, and involves crowdsourcing for funds, Emma-Lee herself saying, "Instead of relying entirely on a label to make and tour our record, we can skip the middleman and go directly to you, the fans for support."

Last week I heard Emmy the Great's 'Iris'. It's a lovely track filled with some nice snare rolls, light guitar effects, driving the song into a state of pop ambience. It's quite kitsch music. And of course, there is Emma-Lee's voice. This, the first single from her second album, 'Virtue', gives a hint of her vocal and lyrical prowess.

Emma-Lee said it herself, if she hadn't been a musician, she would be "a writer of some sort, in different formats." And it certainly shows. 'Paper Forest (In The Afterglow Of Rapture)' is a song that really delves into her thoughts. The folky sound is taken over nearly completely by her words, especially the lyrical acrobatics in the bridge, which come flying out consistently, supported by big harmonies. The line, "It's like the way I have to write down almost everything I see" says a lot about her love of writing songs, and her passion in telling a story or evoking a feeling is rivalled only by the skill in which the executes that passion.

The elegy-lovesong of 'Exit Night / Juliet's Theme' offers that said skill and passion to your ears with two guitar chords, slow and seemingly lamenting a lost country of "telegrams and tailcoats and nobody to grieve it," going on to conjure some wonderful imagery by comparing tail lights of cars on a motorway as "the roses of an infinite bouquet" and paying tribute to "ghosts of railways and candleholders." The song eventually shifts into blissful piano, sneaking in references from Romeo and Juliet, and picks up energy in the midsection. The second part (Juliet's Theme) arpeggiates guitar chords in 6/8 time, becoming a quiet soundtrack to Juliet's feelings as interpreted by Moss.

Her insight is even more powerful in opener, and my favourite, 'Dinosaur Sex', prophetic with lines like "I think I see the future when I sleep" and pondering in the swaying reverb tower of a chorus: "And dinosaur sex led to nothing, then maybe we will lead to nothing." It's a really interesting, original way of questioning our futility, and works entirely without flaw. The same goes for the frustrated, botanic metaphor that is 'A Woman, A Woman, A Century Of Sleep', spine-chilling with its choral sections. Below is a live recording of this hypnotic song.

But musically, what is this album? For the most part it is an acoustic sound (especially 'Cassandra'), however it constantly strays into the anti-folk genre - which is essentially experimental folk; folk with added, unexpected sounds that you wouldn't expect to hear; the traditional and the untraditional. And indeed there are some interesting sounds on Virtue - the odd yawn sound in 'Creation' that comes in and out of audibility, the defiant, one-note bass synth that begins (and carries on throughout) 'Sylvia', the underlying dark synth in 'North', and the overall giant, overarching pendulous feeling that powers 'Dinosaur Sex'.

More unfolk comes with 'North' - a surprise track; an essentially country and western rhythm is ultimately built over with a beast of a saw wave, Emma-Lee's words undercut with an angry whisper - it's exactly what she sings about in 'Dinosaur Dex'; the old being paved with new. Similarly, I cannot relate whatsoever to final song, 'Trellick Tower' - save for the parts in this song which flip into a minor scale and build up to a brooding dark cloud if sound. Other than that, its religious imagery and piano-ballad style at times lack energy.

This is not to say that this album is bad. There are moments of utter greatness, gleaming gems of the stuff both lyrically and melodically, that will stick with you - the highlights being dinosaur sex (a winner for me), paper forest, with obvious single iris being a solid third. These are tracks most different - in tempo, style, rhythm - to the rest of the material. If you're after a folk sound with a twist, combined with what isn't far short of lyrical genius sung beautifully, you'll be in for a treat with this album.

Virtue is released Monday 13th June.

In the meantime, check her Myspace and official site.

Want to know what the thoughts were behind each song? Well, here is an exclusive track by track guide from Emmy the Great, for The Guardian.

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Friday, 10 June 2011


This Bergen-based Norwegian band, presumably named after the Elvis Presley song of the same name, is a euphoric addition to the wonderful dreampop genre (though describing themselves as "Tropical Pop-Symphonies). Below is the wonderful video of the song, featuring two kids running around an empty (though wonderfully Scandinavian) house, playing and getting up to all sorts - perfectly fitting the sentimental energy rushing through every second of their eponymous track.

This is summer music, full of major scales, soft, heavily-reverbed singing, tropical listen-to-me melodies, and a nostalgic atmosphere that wraps your heart in its warmth. Full of the hope and expectations of being young, the music is quite frankly beautiful - it's folksy, surfy, and totally dreamy; think Animal Collective and you wouldn't be far off. Though, arguably more a 'collective' than their New York counterparts; there are 12 members in the band, headed up by founder, Matias Tellez.

Young Dreams are at the moment signed to the Norwegian electronica label, Tellé Records, and have released two EPs in 2011: Flight 376 and Dream alone, wake together. Both are beautiful.

You can read more about them on their Facebook page and listen to all of their songs on SoundCloud.

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Thursday, 9 June 2011


When Saints Go Machine is a new band for me, but they've been hiding their electro pop selves in Denmark since 2007. This album is their second, using German label !K7 to broaden their reach past Scandinavia.

Firstly, having listened to 'Church And Law' - the first single from Konkylie, released 6th June - about ten times more than I had done previously, and comparing it with the rest of the album as a whole, I can say that it's an absolute belter. The quaint introduction bursting into the bass hook that pulls you fantastically through the song, and the exceptional chorus - steeped with softness and warmth - add up to deliver an astounding number. The line "Hardened by church and law / The spell that binds us all", sung with a great deal of shivering passion, is something that resounds well after the song is finished. Yes, this is one to stick on repeat.

Just as I thought Konkylie was going to adhere to the same tempo of songs throughout, especially after the not-so-smooth 'The Same Scissors', the house beat of 'Jets' kicks in, with a tireless bass groove that drives it forward and provides much needed halfway-mark energy. Moving on then to the similarly paced 'Kelly', beginning a charm offensive with clunking xylophone synth and a wonderful opening line - "First time Kelly kissed a boy..." - its layered voices evoke a sunny almost tropical spirit, nostalgic as it is filled with happiness. The fade out at the end, and the vocal melody throughout, is very 80s pop, and this track exhumes its smiling body to dance with it at a colourful bar.

However, I'm unsure about some of the pseudo-strings and orchestral sounds that pop up here and there. This is most noticeable on the album's final two tracks; 'Who Made You Stand Still' (slightly spooky and out of place for the band, with parts that remind me of the soundtrack to The Machinist); and 'Add Ends'. However, we might excuse the latter, given its position as the final song, for trying to end on a classical chillout high descending into a hot night sound of chirping synths like insects and fragments of strings. Sadly not a strong song, fading away instead of burning out.

Despite that, it's a solid album overall. When Saints Go Machine's vocals have a distinctive tremolo-falsetto quality (and sounds more than a bit like Antony Hegarty), a definite highlight of their sound, and which arguably is at its best in 'Church And Law'. This instantly listenable feature saves the day in Enya-esque 'Add Ends', and displays a nice virtuosity in 'Parix' - a genre-bending song with ultra-trance synth and 80s marimba plinks combined with a firm, assertive, slow-motion dancehall beat. Konkylie's modern beats infiltrate a nostalgic spirit, producing an album that is half amazing, half not bad.

Saved by several strong songs, namely the first four ('Konkylie', 'Church And Law', 'Parix', 'Chesnuts') and my second favourite, 'Kelly', Konkylie is a decent second album that needs a few listens to get into. Not every song is great, but it's a smooth ride and a pretty, scenic journey that you'll be glad to have taken the time to have embarked on.

Listen to When Saints Go Machine on Myspace
...or on SoundCloud

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I've heard a few songs by Balam Acab before, like 'See Birds' for example, and I like what I've heard.

Cue, then, his (yes; it's a he, just one singular he, called Alec Koone) newest song 'Oh, Why', prepped for release on his upcoming debut with Tri Angle records, 'Wander / Wonder'. Artists like this are coming up out of the woodwork and cracks in the pavement, becoming the fix we all need for our craving for new, interesting, and good music.

BALAM ACAB - Oh, Why by TriAngleRecords

Starting with an unknown female vocal sample against a gentle marriage of rainstick static and what sounds like a harp, this is a supremely chilled track. Delayed synth bass and the typical slow drums of drag kick in around halfway through, in addition to a rolling high pitch synth over the top.

The vocal sample is unassuming and throughout never overpowers the clear strength of the song, which is clearly its production and mastery. Balam Acab is a master of slow jams, slow hip-hop beats emulated with a finesse that far surpasses many typical 'crunk' beats swaggering about these days. To quote the Big Beat Manifesto (Peep Show): "Big beats are the best, get high all the time" - this song, with the intelligent drums and heavenly floating sound, encompasses both.

It's eerie, beautiful and so unobvious and modest that it demands your attention. I'm very much looking forward to the album.

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Wednesday, 8 June 2011


Cults is a new band who yesterday released their debut album - a joyous day for any band. The self-titled full-lengther has been on Lily Allen's Columbia Records imprint, In The Name Of. For both the label and the duo themselves, it seems like it's going to be a winner: it's current, clever, and very good.

This album slots in perfectly with the ultra-contemporary lo-fi, garage-band revival, fitting alongside artists like The Drums and Surfer Blood with ease. The album is characterised by perhaps a darker tone than both the above bands, and embraces a kind of sunny melancholy that seems to be trending heavily in many areas of music.

Songs like 'Go Outside' - the most well known from the album, as it was released over a year ago on a 3-song EP - embody the spirit that drives Cults; with a sample of Jim Jones' infamous Death Tape at the beginning, the haunting, heavily reverberated vocals are contrasted by a happy motown bassline (something heard also in 'Most Wanted') and glockenspiel fragility throughout.

The slowdance of the tragic 'You Know What I Mean' touches on the sentiment of living with despair - lyrics like "I try so hard to be happy" and "Please, please come and save me / tell me what's wrong with my brain cause I seem to have lost it" ring with sadness and frustration that's nearly impossible to not empathise with. This will ring true with many a disaffected youth, and is a song that once again relays the tragic hope, or hopeful tragedy, that looms over the sound of the album like an overcast day shot with spears of long afternoon sunlight.

From the bouncy good vibrations and ever-so-slightly gloomy indie rhythms of 'Abducted' to the 60s soul spirit (some of the vocal melodies, for example, remind me of those used by 60s-revivalists The Pipettes) summoned in 'I Never Saw The Point', Cults album is more varied and unique than perhaps it may first seem. I've said 'lo-fi', I've said 'garage-band', but this doesn't do it justice: it's clever, interesting stuff. Samples are abound in a lot of the 11 songs offered with the Jim Jones sample works its way into the middle of 'Bumper', too (it must be something to do with cults). It's a mix of old and new, melodic ambience and dissonant distortion, happy and sad, and it works like a charm.

And it's all topped by the end track: the lightly abrasive, wholly anthemic, end-of-night ballad that is 'Rave On' ends the album on an epic note. Introducing the song with a slow acoustic guitar, including frustrated guitar solos, thin distortion blankets the song as it rises up and assaults you beautifully. What an ending.

Overall this is a wonderful album. Everything about it is wonderful; the sweet, enchanting voice of Madeline Follin contrasted with the deeper nonchalance of Brian Oblivion; the throwback rhythms and stylings of the 60s combined with lo-fi modernism. It's a charming album of polarities brought together exquisitely for one whole sound that is certainly greater than the sum of its parts.

Cults on Twitter

Cults official site
Cults SoundCloud
Cults Myspace

Buy the album here

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This is TEARIST. Hailing from LA, they're in the same league as artists like HEALTH, Clipd Beaks, Pictureplane and Zola Jesus - some key players in the drag / noise / witch house (post-goth basically) resurgence that seems to be happening all around us; perhaps thanks to a dark and daring Lady Gaga leading the way, perhaps not.

Their dark, DIY sound throws back to early Joy Division, with William Stangeland Menchaca engineering weird and wonderful synth sounds whilst Yasmine Kittles sings fiercely half-yelling - a style utilised by Zola Jesus. You can also see from the video that her erratic, quirky nature of performing songs is reminiscent to that of Alice Glass of Crystal Castles; something that fits the sound of the music perfectly.

Their album 'Living: 2009-Present' was released mid-May this year received a mixed reception, thanks to the lo-fi quality of the recordings; the Los Angeles Times described them as "gothy electro-noise".

The video is TEARIST performing a song, 'Break Bone', live on radio (KXLU 88.9 FM Los Angeles) in July of last year.

TEARIST on Myspace
TEARIST on Bandcamp
TEARIST on Twitter

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Tuesday, 7 June 2011


The video below is the psychedelic, kaleidoscopic, lavalampish decoration accompanying the song 'Church and Law' by relatively new Danish electro-pop foursome, When Saints Go Machine. They haven't yet released anything outside of Scandinavia, but are now invading the rest of the world thanks to an October 2010 signing to reputably cool, independent German label, !K7. The single is out 13th June; their album 'Konkylie' came out yesterday (June 6th).

It's a lovely little slow dance hypnotising kind of electro; a more sparse, less tribal/ethnic/exotic-sounding Yeasayer. The vocals are kind of piercing, but I think it adds to the ethereal atmosphere of the song, without becoming irritating. Be prepared for an album review at some point this week.

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Monday, 6 June 2011


Battles' second album effort resounds with all the elements that made the first, 'Mirrored', so good. But it comes with a slightly different tone, one that seems less experimental in character and more structured in terms of classic songwriting.

This may be something to do with the departure of Tyondai Braxton: frontman, singer, guitarist and all-
round experimenter. Whether he was the driving force behind the insane rhythms and progressions of their first full-length album - characterised by my personal favourite from the album, 'Tonto' - is something up for debate; this change may have occurred without Braxton's amicable farewell.

But what is clear is that their instrumental jams are just as intense, interesting and listenable as ever. The aural pleasure you get from this band is something else, something like eating food you'd never think about making yourself: a medley of flavours and new tastes that shake up your insides - in a good way.

Saying that, the first single from the album, 'Ice Cream', is nothing like the rest of the album. Matias Aguayo provides vocals that could've been Braxton's next step with the band, but it falls short of being its star attraction. The sugary sounds and summery vibe whizz around without making a full impact. It's a glancing blow; if it's impact you want, you get it elsewhere with the girthy industrial madness of 'My Machines' (possibly due to Gary Numan's input), or the crazy cascading math sounds of the high-speed 'Wall Street'.

What you really notice with this album, generally, is its speed. Songs with an almost drum and bass tempo, like 'White Electric', 'Wall Street' and 'Rolls Bayce' - the last especially with its thundering sub bassline and ballsy beginning - stick out as being Battles as they were: machine gun drumming, distortion, and staccato, music-box noise. There's not a track I don't like on 'Gloss Drop', and I actually think my favourite, the opener 'Africastle', eases you into the new sans-Braxton Battles with beautiful sweeping chords that reverberate underneath pizzicato chatter, until choppy guitars bring you up to an explosive mathletic breakdown.

It's Battles as before, but with more freedom. And with that freedom they have chosen, for the most part (minus the slow hypnosis of 'Sundome', and the weird filler that is 'Toddler'), to play with the idea of being a more guitar-based band, the huge jam that is 'Futura' being crucial evidence of this. More traditional funk basslines have eschewed the more sporadic playing on their first album. The drums have been taken up a notch, as would naturally happen in a jam band, and some of the fills you will hear interlaced into the irregular math rock rhythms of this fantastic band are genius.

Released today, this album comes featuring other artists for vocals and more. It's an interesting way to go, and something that could form some amazing collaborations - 'Sweetie & Shag' with Kazu Makino (of Blonde Redhead) has that potential, dragging Battles halfway to the dancefloor, stopping short to rock out on the way.

'Gloss Drop' does not run as smooth as 'Mirrored', and seems to be taking the band down an avenue that is lined with similar treasures to that which took them through their debut - treasures which are slightly lacking their once-alien lustre.

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Thursday, 2 June 2011


Bloody Beach - interesting name. And if you're one for hidden meanings and etymologies, I'm guessing that my new band for today are probably named after a lovely sounding film of the same name, detailed to the left courtesy of Wikipedia. But there's nothing bloody about Bloody Beach, the band.

We are bloody beach. We play some kind of ethnic rock. - Bloody Beach

Describing themselves as 'Club / Dub / Punk' on their Myspace, they're four Norwegian guys, making interesting indie rock with a bit of an Eastern-sounding, foot-tapping twist. To date, they've only released one thing, which is 'Quembo Que?' with a high-energy, two-minute B-side, 'Gonzo Blues' (listen on SoundCloud). Whereas the latter is driven along like a galloping tie-dye horse with high-energy drums, punchy bass, scratchy sun-drenched guitars, and unpolished vocals floating with reverb, the star single 'Quembo Que?' is something a bit different.

Have a listen to (and a watch of) the video below to see what I mean.

How this only has 286 views (at the time of writing) on YouTube, I have no idea. It's a great song - a nice bit of the perhaps tired pseudogenre, indie dance. There's a different kind of sound going on this compared to 'Gonzo Blues', meaning that we can hope that their future offerings will be just as varied.

The surf-style guitars and tropical sound of 'Quembo Que?' ooze the urge for this song to played on a beach, on a really hot day, whilst drinking some kind of ethnic rock cocktail and dancing, of course. I really enjoy the positivity evoked by the sounds of this song, and others contemporary to it - something that I think, or hope, will be infiltrating the sound of many bands over this year.

And if you like this, you're in luck: they're touring the UK this month. Dates as follows:

June 7th (8:15pm) - The Buffalo Bar, Islington
June 7th (10:30pm) - "Mama on my mind night" at Heroes Bar in Camden
June 8th (21:30) - Dublin Castle, Camden
June 9th (21:30) - The Bull and Gate

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Wednesday, 1 June 2011


A short post.

This is the sound of Benji Boko.

Chilled, dynamic, and utterly fluid, the beats and melody of 'Where My Heart Is' unwind in your ear, eased along by the more-than-auxiliary voice of Maxi Jazz, frontman of Faithless. It's a perfect marriage of smooth and smooth; smooth beats, smooth words. It's inoffensive, not highly energetic, but certainly not boring either.

'Where My Heart Is' comes from Benji Boko's debut album Beats, Treats & All Things Unique, released 21st June, which can be preordered from Amazon.

I'll write more on Benji himself when I get more of a chance, but he's certainly an interesting chap. Live, he challenges himself to make live mixes in front of a hungry audience, calling these feats of improvised mastery 'Can I Mix It?'

Watch this space.

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