Thursday, 28 April 2011

He Ain't Heavy: Natural Shocks for H-T-A

It's been far too long, as occasionally happens around these parts, but here's the post to shock H-T-A back into life. 

A natural one.  

The Natural Shocks

Hailing from Toronto, this trio delivers a song far less abrasive that its title suggests - although clearly it's well named in terms of this blog - with a breezy, bright melody and a good time vibe. 

MP3: The Natural Shocks -  Heavier Than Heavy
Taken from the forthcoming album, 'Complete With Comfortable Lightning - out June 9th 

Somewhere in the mix there's the more accessible edge of The Thermals - never a bad thing - with a distinct pop sheen applied to the indie rock core that propels the song. It's one of those short nuggets that could easily slot into any number of summer mixes and add to the occasion. 

With "punk", "breakneck speed", and "themes of death" all mentioned in the About section of their website, a deeper interest lies for me in where these influences will pop up on the band's forthcoming debut album. In a little over a month, we'll all be able to find out. For the moment, this healthy slice of guitar sunshine will keep toes tapping. 

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

TuneTuesday: ANR - Big Problem

Miami's ANR have a new album out called Stay Kids, which is worthy of far more praise than this little featurette would allow. Suffice it to say, the spins are in double figures after downloading on just Sunday, so the review may well be fast tracked like an pretty young female intern in Silvio Berlusconi's 'personal office' (read: harem).

What I can do, however, is bridge the gap with one of said album's choice cuts, alongside a rather creepy video to accompany it.

Choosing to adopt the slasher film stylee - fitting, given Scream's umpteeth return to our movie screens this summer - the song takes on a creepier tone than it has when one experiences it audio only. That said, the twists and turns of pace, added to the quieter passages containing high pitch, nervous keys, do indeed match the horror element when everything is pieced together. 

Taken on the strength of tune alone, Big Problem has not even the smallest of issues to corroborate its name. Urgent and punchy, it veers with chaotic confidence through a maze of effects, ghostly vocals, and a haze of stormy guitars raging beneath. 
It pulled me in almost immediately; a great credit, given the quality of the rest of the album it calls home. 

More on that soon, of course. For now, enjoy this beauty and catch the duo on tour if your town is on their schedule (below).

ANR Tour Spring / Summer 2011

04/16 – Chicago, IL @ The Empty Bottle
04/18 – Chapel Hill, NC @ Nightlight
04/19 – Jacksonville, FL @ Jack Rabbits
04/20 – Tampa, FL @ Fly Bar
04/21 - Orlando, FL @ Backbooth
05/14 – Brighton, UK @ Great Escape Festival
05/19 – Nottingham, UK @ Rescue Rooms w/ Brother
05/23 – London, UK @ Heaven w/ Brother
05/27 – London, UK @ XFM Xposure Night


Monday, 11 April 2011

REVIEW: Cut Copy - Zonoscope

Australian chaps Cut Copy have never cloaked their influences too greatly, steeped heavily as they are in a mixture of lush '80's synths and the driving beats of '90's Euro dance. So it comes as little surprise that the sparkling New Order-isms are all present and correct on new effort Zonoscope.

More often than not I'm frustrated when bands fail to push the envelope with their sound. Unless you're Motorhead or Ozzy, why stand completely still and risk stagnation? Something about the way Cut Copy tread unapologetically similar paths, though, makes them the odd exception that proves the rule. At least, in my twisted mind it does.

Opening duo Need You Now and Take Me Over couldn't be more familiar if they turned up every Christmas to give you a crap jumper and eat all your turkey. The glorious drama of the former sets the atmosphere neatly for the light-hearted bounce of the latter, forming a contrasting though complimentary start to the album. 


Where I'm Going features a more loping but no less driven beat, mixing the style without sacrificing any of the gathering pace. It also reflects the band's ability to phase into different sounds while retaining that core, accessible electronica that has brought them this far.

MP3: Cut Copy - Where I'm Going (via Insound)
Taken from the new album Zonoscope, out now

 Buy it at Insound!

Pyramids & Pharoahs skitters back into more influences dragged from the darkened corners of some murky club in 80's Manchester, all synth-echo vocals and high end keys combining to complete an accomplished, if not addictive track. The supremely titled Blink & You'll Miss a Revolution, unerringly prophetic given recent upheavels around the world, lives up to the promise, delivering tropical warmth and ice-cold vocals within seconds of one another. Where it's forerunner failed to push the memory button, this tune lingers from the first spin, standing as a diverse highlight of the release.

Much of what works so beautifully with Cut Copy albums is summed up in this early run of tracks. Between the winding, carefully crafted electronica and the pulsing upbeat numbers, the frequent reminders of the band's underlying influences are buried as a concern, leaving only an eclectic but coherent collection of quickly memorable songs. 

The latter parts of the album are pleasing enough yet lack some of the hold established early on, that is until the glorious twisting close out of Sun God, which clocks in at impressive 15 minutes plus. Impressive, because as it ends you're still enjoying its presence.

All in all, this is the most complete Cut Copy album to date, mixing in every element of their derivative yet wholly engaging sound. It's addictive, catchy, and easily pales any minor gripes about certain influences into the ether. When the tunes are this sexy, who really cares from whom they've appropriated their look?

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

MPthree: Music Processed (in) 3 - Dirty Gold

This Mpthree series will attempt to constrain my ramblings by offering up just three words, in three categories, to describe the music presented. For more info on this oddity, read back here.

All the way south, perhaps south west - well past Austin - to San Diego we go tonight, to turn our ears towards new Aqua Drunkard approvals Dirty Gold.

MP3: Dirty Gold - California Sunrise
Taken from the debut EP 'Roar', out next week - BUY

Bio: San Diego / AquaDrunkard / Yoof

Sound: Sunbaked / 60's / Drowsy

Emotion: Untroubled / Innocent / Optimistic

Learn more on the official site.