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REVIEW: St. Jerome’s Laneway Festival, Melbourne

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For a festival that started with the humblest of beginnings, in a Melbourne laneway, it’s somewhat startling to see the event sold-out at $160. For the purpose of comparison, when Big Day Out raised its ticket prices to over $150 in 2012, the event failed to sell-out and forced organisers to offer two for one tickets in Sydney. So why does it work for Laneway? Probably because punters can see the heart that goes into the festival. Each year the lineup makes total sense, the venues are carefully picked and the experience is paramount. This year was arguably the festival’s greatest lineup, justifying every dollar of that $160.

If we’re going to chatter on a little more about the excellent lineup, might we add that at 3pm the Footscray venue was almost packed, a testament to both the festival and Aussie artist Andy Bull who pulled an excitable crowd. Despite the blaring sunlight, Bull captivated with his collection of melodically on-point tunes. Baby I Am Nobody Now proved early on his heighty vocal-chops while a cover of Everybody Wants To Rule The World kicked the crowd into full-gear. He may have been one of the more no-frills performers of the day, but with his keyboard at his side, he delivered perky renditions of Talk Too Much and Keep On Running.

A performer who captured the energy of Laneway perfectly was Chicago’s Vic Mensa who hyped the crowd into an absolute frenzy. Almost ignoring the blazing heat, Mensa’s DJ hyped the crowd up so much that by the time the rapper entered the stage they were bouncing off each other to every shuddering beat. Without an album to his name, Mensa easily entertained full the whole set traversing both traditional hip-hop and electronic styles. It takes an impressive rapper to effortlessly open a set with Wimmie Nah and finish it with Down On My Luck despite their obvious stylistic differences. Mensa was an absolute warrior on stage thrashing around the microphone stand, launching into the crowd and climbing on stage scaffolding. Never was there a dull moment, event when he took some time to showcase his vocals on slow-tempo numbers. The response to Drive Me Crazy which is all of a week old proved just how dedicated the crowd was.

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Sneakers were aplenty this year, both as a fashion statement and a measure of practicality. The Footscray site is beautiful but spread out and making it to the main stage directly after an act proved to be a workout. It’s why we only caught the end of the charismatic Mac Demarco, floundering about on the main stage. Thankfully, we were given a little more time to return to see his Mum, Annie Demarco, introduce British band Jungle like a pro. Jungle were last here for Splendour In the Grass but their on stage entourage was noticeably bigger this time around. The leading duo were dressed in a baseball outfit and an ARMY uniform, ready to bring the funk.

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And bring the funk, they did. With the extra band mates they were able to deliver a far more instrumentals-dense set, that added just that little bit more gusto to their performance. It’s nice to see a band that’s been touring for so long still show signs of joy and as such it was heartwarming to see Tom and Josh look to each other and smile when they realised just how far back the crowd stretched. Busy Earnin’ was the highlight of a brilliant set, largely thanks to a guest appearance by Vic Mensa who prolonged the song’s end and made us realise that we’d be happy for him to add a verse to every song today.

From one Brit to another, the crowd waded towards the main stage for FKA twigs. There had been murmurings for the Laneway’s previous that twigs was the one to see and it seemed those Chinese whispers had spread as a massive crowd turned out. As three (!!!) drummers took to the stage it was pretty clear that this one was going to be a rib cage shaker and it turned out to be exactly that. Twigs is probably the only solo performer who could’ve weathered the shuddering beats and somehow come out as the centre of attention. Her ethereal, slight vocals pierced above all else as she stalked around the stage like a beast searching its prey. The way she moves to the, mostly irregular, beats is utterly mesmerising. She understands fluidity in a way no other does. She hits accents with hearty force and in between moves like a gust of wind over water, extending limbs beyond the impossible. All of this comes together most evidently on Pendulum where she acts as if the drum stick is within her body, beating her around the stage. As she ends on Two Weeks, it all comes together. The voice sounds crystalline, the instrumental is full-bodied and she dances like a pop star who actually understands the artistic power of movement. Quite frankly it’s hard to remember a performer like twigs. She’s not weird, her friendly encounters with the crowd prove that, but she’s got a sharply artistic mind which she conceives with perfection.

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When the sun goes down at Laneway there’s always a strong sense that shit’s about to get real. And when you’re standing front-row at Caribou where the entire band is illuminated and the bass is shuddering through every inch of your body, nothing could be more true. Dan Snaith aka. Caribou was one of the older members of the lineup, but he’s as relevant as ever. His set melded together warm melodies with hard-hitting bass and forceful synths making his performance one of the more profound of the day. Set opener Our Love kicked the dance-vibes into gear while a mid set drop of Odessa raised thousands of arms in the air. He focused more on his most recent record Our Love more than anything else but nobody cared. The record is a knock-out and nothing proved it more than when he added an extra chorus to Can’t Do Without You and knocked the crowd-over with a rush of the most textured yet abrasive synths you’ve every heard.

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Caribou was always going to be hard to beat but if anybody was going to do it it’s Annie Clarke, better known as St. Vincent. A little like twigs, Clarke is otherworldly. As she enters the stage all her movements are clean yet a little alien. She shuffles about the stage as if she’s on a conveyer belt on Mars and also moves her arms about in a robotic yet beautiful motion. Essentially her songs operate in the realms of pop but live she brings a real rock grunt to them. She absolutely shreds on the guitar and despite her crisp look, she gets down and gets to work. It’s never more evident than on Birth In Reverse where she marries pop synths with a growling guitar, fusing for a massive chorus. Her voice is also crystalline for the entirety of the performance making quieter numbers like Cheerleader captivating. She deserved every bit of the Grammy she won today even if she herself couldn’t give a toss.

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Running down the hill to catch the final moments of American BANKS, we were immediately hit by a flurry of smoke and lights in which she waded around in her dark gown. There were rumours that she only wanted photographers to take photos of her left side and as such photographers were blocked from shooting from a certain side of the stage. She’s definitely got the songs, as brilliant closer Beggin’ For Thread proved, but the whole thing felt a little measured. That’s why it was so good to hear her let loose and say “Melbourne, this has been one of the best fucking shows of my life”.

On that point, BANKS’ sentiment was one that many of the acts echoed. Many were overwhelmed by not only the size of the crowd but the palpable energy which occupied every space of the festival. There was barely any rogue behaviour, rather just 12,000 plus who appreciated good music and showed their appreciation respectfully. Every year Laneway reminds us why festivals aren’t dead. They just need to be treated and attended with love.

GALLERY: St. Jerome’s Laneway Festival Melbourne

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10 Songs You Need To Hear This Week: Featuring Shlohmo, JOY., Courtney Barnett + More

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It’s finally Friday and you’ve managed to survive another week at work. Hurrah! Here’s a little present to celebrate: ten songs, all wrapped up in one neat little post.

Sam Gellaitry- Temple

Sam Gellaitry is an 18 year old producer from Scotland who is hearing up to release his debut EP, Short Stories, on LA label Soulection in Fberuary. Despite the fact that his Dad apparently makes bagpipes, Gellaitry’s music sounds nothing like his homeland. It’s a combustion of hip-hop and nu-disco sounds which constantly chops and changes. It’s exactly what you’d expect from a you producer who reps for a generation to which patience doesn’t exist. Myself included.
[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/soulection/sam-gellaitry-temple-short-stories-out-february-17th/[/soundcloud]

Lapalux- Closure (Feat. Szjerdene)

Lapalux’s Guuurl was one of our favourite releases of 2013 so we’re pretty happy to here he’s prepping for the release of a new album called Lustmore. The producer has dropped the closing track of the album suitably titled Closure and it features the dulcet tones of Szjerdene. It’s definitely one of his most accessible tracks yet, with a heavy RnB influence present. It’s more than enough to make us very excited for the LP.
[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/lapalux/closure-ft-szjerdene[/soundcloud]

Shlohmo- Buried

2015 s already shaping up to be one hell of a yer for music. One of the reasons for that statement is that Shlohmo is planning to release his new album Dark Red on 7th April but until then he’s teasing us with Buried. Buried is a characteristically dark, brooding tune that heaves with heavy synths and mournful beats. One minute it commands complete and utter stillness and the next it demands you thrash your head about. There are some serious rock influences here which is awesome to hear. Something aesthetically on point for the artist and yet also boundary-pushing. Catch Shlohmo this May at Berlin Festival.

[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/shlohmo/buried[/soundcloud] 

How To Dress Well and TALA- The One

In 24 hours I have overcome a hangover, a brain-freeze and immense ramen noodle cravings and while this sounds impressive, in 24 hours Tom Krell and TALA have come up with The One. The One is a result of the Yours Truly series which sees two artists create a song together in just a day. This is one of the best tracks the come from the series yet with the pair crafting a throwback RnB tune that compares to something like My Boo by Usher and Alicia Keys with a. Little more drama. There are two version of the song, one by each artist, with How To Dress Well’s bringing the soul and TALA’s delivering a denser production. Both are spot on.

[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/howtodresswell/the-one[/soundcloud]

 

Kaytranada- Drives Me Crazy (Feat. Vic Mensa)

This is pretty much exactly what music in 2015 sounds like with Canadian producer Kaytranada enlisting Vic Mensa showing what results when two of music’s biggest hopes come together. Drive Me Crazy sees Kaytranada stick to a woozy hip-hop aesthetic with more accentuated beats that his last track, Leave Me Alone. Both tracks will feature on his debut album which is set to be dropped via XL Records. Drive Me Crazy is definitely the stronger of the two, with Mensa adding an undeniable personality to the producer’s after-dark soundscape.

[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/kaytranada/drive-me-crazy-featuring-vic-mensa[/soundcloud]

 

Mikal Cronin- Made My Mind Up

Mikal Cronin is a man who destiny confuse things. His forthcoming third album, announced this week, will be titled MCIII and follows his sophomore album, MCII. Catch the pattern? While not boring, his songwriting is just as straightforward as demonstrated by his fuzzed-out new track, Made My Mind Up. The track has a little more grunt to it than anything off his last album with howling guitars joined by confident, bashful vocals. As per usual, his biggest strength is his melodic, delectable guitar licks that just sooth the soul.

[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/mergerecords/mikal-cronin-made-my-mind-up/[/soundcloud]

 

JOY.- Weather

Have you heard enough of us banging on about Brisbane wonder-kid JOY.? We’re going to keep doing it for one more moment if that’s ok because she’s got this new track called Weather and, go dammit, it’s great again. It’s a down-tepo, melancholic track which sees JOY. trill like an angel over thick synths and clapping beats. Her Stone EP is set to be a stunner and if not then we’ll be done talking about her. Somehow we doubt that will happen.

[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/joy-aus/weather[/soundcloud]

 

Marina and the Diamonds- I’m A Ruin

There’s nothing quite like a Marina and the Diamonds melody. When she rolls out a corker it’s like nothing else, as we experienced on the hook of the title track of her forthcoming album Froot. She may have gotten a little introspective with the last two tracks Happy and Immaculate but on I’m A Ruin her pop muscles are being flexed once again. It’s a mid-tempo number with none of the glitz and groove of Froot but it’s no less satisfying. The hook on the chorus is like honey on the tongue with Marina’s vocals reaching for the stratosphere and sliding through runs like it’s nobodies business. Let’s have this album now, please. Our bodies are ready.

 

Courtney Barnett- Pedestrian At Best

It feels like Melbourne singer/songwriter Courtney Barnett has already reached iconic Australian status but in reality, she’s only just gearing up to release her debut album, Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit. The first single from said album is Pedestrian At Best which sees Barnett at her thrashing, droning best. She’s brilliant, sarcastic, beautifully off-kilter and probably at her most aggressive yet. She is to Australian accents what Alex Turner was to British accents.

 

Late Nights (Feat. Father & Abra)- Hiko Momoji

A sleepover of the saucy kind, Late Nights features Father and Abra exchanging cute, at times cheeky, banter, enveloped in Hiko Momoji’s cushy production. Conceptualising the warm comfort that only a body of the opposite sex (or same sex, if you’re that way inclined) may induce, it’s a cuddly, conversational number that’s poles apart from Momoji’s first, instrument-only, release, Mirage Island. 
[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/hikomomoji/late-nights-feat-father-abra/[/soundcloud]

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The Falls Festival, Byron Bay | Day Two

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Day Two (or three if you count New Years, but we’re only counting days we can remember), brought with it some more steamy lineup and a whole bunch of great acts on the Forest Stage. That meant permeating heat, sweat and plenty of smoke.

Glass Animals took to the heat like seasoned pros, showing why they’d chosen tropical designs for their album and stage designs. The new band has found more favour here in Australia than anywhere GlassAnimalselse, and they were clearly taken aback by the adoration that they received from the Byron crowd that was spilling out of the tent. For a band with only one album they managed a set jam-packed full of gems. Gooey was an obvious crowd pleaser but it was the more upbeat closer, Pools, that impressed the most. Australian audiences love tropical percussion at the best of times and Glass Animals brought that aplenty. A cover of Kanye West’s Love Lockdown saw lead-singer Dave Bayley, balancing on the rails, surrounding himself with the audience. The band looks as if they’re straight from a Topshop commercial but they put on a lively show which is hard to criticize.

Scott Hansen aka. Tycho was next up, with much of the crowd leaving for Milky Chance. Milky Chance will no doubt be fleeting and it’s likely that should the two acts visit again in 12 months, Tycho will be the far more popular choice. His 2014 record, Awake, was a brilliant combustion of ambient and post-rock genres and in the live arena it expanded. His soundscapes were rich and kept the crowd mesmerised throughout a near perfect set. It’s probably music best enjoyed in a dimly-lit environment but he adapted it well to daylight.

Somebody who probably also would’ve benefitted from a night time slot was German DJ, Tensnake. He released his debut album, Glow, last year, boasting collaborations with the likes of Nile Rodgers and MNEK. His set at Falls fell oddly in between a live set, with occasional vocals from Fiora, and a DJ set. With his closing track, See Right Through, going off we couldn’t help but think he’d be better off doing the whole record live. As a DJ set it felt a little lazy, as if we were at Marco Polo at The Ivy.sbtrkt

Maybe Tensnake should take a few cues from SBTRKT, who arrived on the Valley Stage with a stage-full of instruments. His set up is phenomenal and he really does a lot to prove to doubters that electronica is more than just somebody standing behind decks. Opening with Hold On from his debut record, the British producer performed a short set with only a smattering of songs from his second record, Wonder Where We Land. New Dorp, New York off that album, sounded brilliant with Ezra Koenig’s vocals creating space in an otherwise packed amphitheatre. The visuals behind him were also stunning. Unfortunately the set was somewhat ruined by a number of punters who obviously thought they were on the lineup. Shirtless guys stood on shoulders, chanting over much of what was happening on stage (my goodness, we sound old. No?). They quietened up for the brilliant, Wildfire, but became more and more restless each time SBTRKT crafted an extended outro. As much as SBTRKT is a mastermind, a wide-eyed festival crowd is perhaps not his best audience.

We’re going to contradict ourselves once more and say that electronica is something that can be executed brilliantly behind decks. Case in point:
jamiexx2Jamie xx. The brains behind the xx, creates an after-dark, strobing atmosphere like no other, taking you on an emotional journey with his DJ set. He moves from introverted club music to hands-in-the-air, gospel flavoured music, making sure that he earned every last drip of sweat that dropped from the punters. Short samples of Feel Better and the xx’s VCR, stirred excitement but at the end of the day it didn’t really matter if you knew what they hell he was playing. He was the master of puppets and was commanding the crowd to do whatever he wanted them
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As the end of Falls drew near, the sadness was setting in. Once again, the festival was brilliantly organised and for the most part drew a crowd that was passionate and friendly amongst strangers. As many of them ascended up that hill once more for Alt-J, there was really only one man capable of curing that end of Falls depression – Todd Terje. The Norwegian producer drew a small but happy crowd as worked away on his keyboard. Terje’s It’s Album Time! istoddterje without a doubt one of the best albums of the year and worked into an hour-plus set, it sounded even better. He started with a moody, brooding selection, bookmarked by Delorean Dynamite, before moving into his more light-hearted tunes. At one point during Oh Joy, the crowd, waiting for a drop, crouched down on the ground, however, after two minutes, it became apparent that Guetta-style drop wasn’t going to come. Terje seemed to appreciate the sentiment anyway. Two fools also stormed the stage trying to take some of his attention but Terje gracefully switched off the music and ushered them to the side. That act garnered a huge cheer, with the excitement continuing into Inspector Norse. A remix of Whitney Houston’s I Wanna Dance WIth Somebody made it easy to squeeze out those final dance moves from a weary body. Well done, Mr. Terje. We’re now considering replacing 12am on our watch with album time, in your honour.

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The Falls Festival, Byron Bay | Day One

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After a huge New Years Eve ushered in by Alison Wonderland, the Falls Festival Byron Bay crowd looked surprisingly bright eyed and bushy tailed as they tackled the sun. Storms were forecasted for majority of the festival but it seemed they were nowhere to be seen today as Cold War Kids took to the stage in the heat of the day.dudeonshoulders

The Californian band who’ve just released their fifth album Hold My Home, recruited a loyal crowd, many of them hoisted up on shoulders. The band sprinkled tracks from the new album all the way through their set but it was the older ones that drew the biggest reaction. As lead singer, Nathan Willett, took to the piano at the end of the set it was clear we were about to be treated to Hospital Beds. It was a stirring finish to a strong set. While the quality of the bands studio albums may have dropped over the years, there is no doubt that they still know how to command a crowd.

jagwarma2Jagwar Ma took to the stage next admitting that they had, had no sleep the night before. Despite that they seemed to be loving the energy of the crowd, with their weariness quickly dissipating. A pulsating beat ricocheted around the natural amphitheatre as the band laid on top a woozy concoction of reverb-soaked vocals and dizzying guitars. Their set was built with tracks from their 2013 debut Howlin’, which, if anything, had got better with age. Come Save Me, benefited from the sunny atmosphere and instrumental track, Four, made it impossible to stay away from the mosh. Let’s hope next time we’re watching Jagwar Ma, they have a new album under their belt.

Speaking of bands that need a new album out, The Temper Trap took to the natural amphitheatre next armed with a few new tracks from an album that is due out this year. The two new tracks that they played stuck with a Coldplay-esque, arena-rock aesthetic with oohs and aahs that immediately resonated with the crowd. It helped that the tracks were surrounded either-side by favourites like Love Lost and Fader. Even Trembling Hands from their lesser-received second album found favour, with an amphitheatre-wide singalong. Of course, Sweet Disposition was the main event and, maybe it was just nostalgia, but it was stirring event after all these years.

It seemed nostalgia was the theme of the day with The Presets following Temper Trap. The duo who peaked with their second album, Apocalypto, still drew a huge crowd and delivered a hearty-set of thumping electronica. The darkness definitely worked in the bands favour with the whole set sounding like an underworld disco, particularly with the strangely creepy, Ghosts. My People is always a spectacle but some of their newer tracks gave it a run for its money with Youth In Trouble going harder than any other song.RTJ

A quick dash from The Presets, over the hill, found us in the sweltering arms of Run The Jewels. The duo of Killer Mike and El-P took to the stage promising, “…we will burn this mother f#*ker to the ground!” And that is exactly what they did. The energy in the Forest Tent was palpable with sweat dripping from the brow of every punter. Run The Jewels gave no time for rest as they churned out heavy-hitter after heavy-hitter. Blockbuster Night P.2 was an incredible sight to see as was 36″ Chain. At one point it seemed like everybody in the tent was creating the Run The Jewels logo with their hands. As “run them jewels fast, run them, run them, run them jeweles fast” swirled around our heads, it was pretty clear that it’s going to be near impossible to beat Run The Jewels this year. The duos chemistry, probably created by an unlikely friendship, is unbelievable.

Switching the dial just a notch, punter hiked back over the hill and into the tropical world of La Roux. La Roux’s second album, Trouble In Paradise, was criminally ignored and this seemed like her chance to prove to the crowd just how good it really is. La Roux’s live show is a well thought-out, perfectly manicured set that never strays from its ’70s-rooted, tropical style. It took barely moments from the crowd to start bopping along to newbies like Kiss And Tell aLarouxnd Sexotheque. The latter had people singing along by the second chorus. Highlights from her second album kept the crowd hanging on and despite one punter throwing a shoe on the stage and some others chanting, Bulletproof, out of turn, it seemed she’d charmed with her smokey British accent and sleek moves. La Roux thanked those who bought her second album before she launched into Bulletproof, giving the largest singalong of the festival to date. It was goosebump-inducing to look back on the massive crowd, all with hands-in-the-air. Let’s hope people go home and give La Roux another listen.

From the underrated to the overrated, Empire of The Sun took to the stage to finish the night. They were the replacements for Robyn and Royksopp, and while they definitely brought the beats and the energy, the whole thing was quite a trip. It felt as if we’d stumbled into an Eastern European nightclub and were gyrated by giant luminescent sword-fish. Props where props are due, We Are The People still dazzles with its euphoric chorus and Standing On The Shore is as hearty as it ever was. Empire of the Suns helmsman, Luke Steele, is clearly a creative mastermind but sometimes less is more- both audibly and visually.

With Jamie xx, SBTRKT, Todd Terje and more in our sights for day 2, bed was beckoning.

 

 

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Atlas Bound on Aussie Electronica, Dreams for Overseas & Winning Big with Bose

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It’s been a huge year for Sydney boys, Atlas Bound. Their first track, Lock, uploaded six months ago, has now had more than 350,000 plays on Soundcloud with their subsequent tracks, Soul and Talk garnering over 100,000.

21 year-old’s Will Taylor and Adrian Kalcic have had immense success in the last six months, simply from the comfort of their Northern beaches homes. Their biggest break came in November when they won the Bose Creative Development Grant, scoring a $20,000 cheque for their musical development. They beat 10 other finalists from around Australia for the grant which puts them in good stead for 2015.

We spoke to Will and Adrian about what they’re planning to use the money for, their polar-opposite music tastes and the state of Australian electronic music right now.

Have you always been making music?

Adrian: I used to be a club DJ back in the day. I actually went over to Bali and played a gig with Flume and Porter Robinson, which was sweet. I also used to DJ at Ivy heaps.

W: Adrian showed me a photo of when he was in Bali and there were all these posters up on signposts. And it had his face next to Flume’s and Porter Robinson’s.

Haha! Headlining!

A: There was like a security guard at my door and I was like, “dude, you don’t need to be here.”

How did you guys meet? Have you been friends for a while?

A: Yeah, we went to school together. In year 11 and 12 I was at a different school and we hadn’t seen each other for 5 years or something. Then we were out in Manly and I asked him what he was doing and all of a sudden we started jamming and that was six months ago.

[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”250″]https://soundcloud.com/atlas-bound/talk-atlas-bound[/soundcloud]

Was that it? Just six months ago?

A: It’s crazy. I guess it’s come so quickly.

Yeah, that’s how it happens these days. You only need like one or two good songs out there and then suddenly people start picking it up.

W: I can’t believe how far we’ve come. The first song we released, we were just sitting there, the day after and we were like, “what’s going on?” Our Soundcloud views were going up by about 10K a day.

How did that happen? Did you just drop it on Soundcloud?

A: Yeah, so we popped it on Soundcloud and then a label called Cosmonostro based in Lille, France, picked it up and were like, “we want to release it”. So we were like, “yeah, sure”. And that turned out quite well.

So you’re appealing to all the French listeners?

A: Yeah, apparently they like to listen to music that they can’t understand the lyrics to.That’s really what he said!

That’s a crazy story. And then you won the Bose competition?

A: Yeah it’s incredible. I don’t even know how that happened. I saw the Bose competition somewhere and I ended up hashtagging our song with ‘#listenforyourself’ and then a month or so later, it got tweeted on Twitter that we were in the top 10. And we were like, “this is crazy!” They sent us headphones and it was the best. It was the first sign of something earnt from making music. We were stoked. And then we ended up winning the $20,000. We couldn’t believe it.

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That’s a great pay cheque for a day! How are you guys going to spend it?

W: Well, it’s funny because we were asked for a budget. So we sat down and tried to think of it. As people our age and our level of the music industry, how do you even spend that?

A: Also, because the opportunities are arising every week, you don’t really know. You can make a plan. We want to put the majority of the money behind PR and advertising, just growing us, but each couple of weeks there’s a new opportunity arising. Like, maybe we could release it on a certain label, things like that. It’s just that, being this size, it’s hard to predict where it’s going to go in the next year. Roughly, we want to put it behind press and try to build as much awareness around us as much as possible.

W: It’s all boring business stuff where we want to spend it, though. I wish I could give you some amazing answer, like a one-way trip to LA or something!

So what’s next for you guys?

A: We’ve got a song coming out through a US label called Next Wave. It’s a fairly new label but the guy who owns it has been doing press for quite some time. He’s done it for bigger labels and is trying to branch off.

W: He’s a nice guy. A legend. He’s like, “please let me release this song”. He’s so passionate about the song. So that’s who we want to give it to; people who are passionate about our music.

Is that really weird for you guys? Just being in Curl Curl, being able to put a song online and then suddenly it spreads?

W: Yeah. The other day, we supported Tora at Newtown. It was really cool, it was one of the bigger crowds that we’ve played to. Just a room full of people just chilling and drinking with a few rogue dancers out the front. God knows how they found a way to dance to our music, but they did. I introduced a song and I heard one of them saying, “this is my favourite one of theirs!” and I was like, “What?” These are people that I don’t know and they’re like, “this is my favourite”.

A: I was in the car the other day and FBI started playing our music and it was so sick. Having that support.

When you guys started, did you think it could be a long term thing? Or was it just for fun?

W: I dunno, we were dreaming.

A: And now it’s happening.

W: Yeah. I guess, since school, it’s always been a priority for me

A: I’ve always DJd. I’ve never really made music. I backpacked last year for eight months through Europe and I was like, what the hell am I going to do next year? I don’t really enjoy uni that much, I need something to do. So when I got back home I started learning how to use Ableton and now I make music.

Did you know Ableton, Will?

W: No I still don’t know Ableton. Since school, I’ve been doing music in all different ways and in different bands.

A: He’s got a more musically trained background

I think you need both sides, though.

W: Yeah, definitely. I guess what I wasn’t good at, Adrian was good at and vice versa. We just clicked. Especially with us both being in all these musical projects, we found a bond. Once you click with someone, you’ve just got to stick with that.

A: How long did it take us to write Soul?

W: Like 10 minutes?

A: Some tracks just come along really quickly.

And then others you just have to work at?

A: Yeah, and the ones you have to work at, you know aren’t going to be that good. For us, at least.

W: Lock, literally came about the moment we plugged everything in and played together at the same time. Obviously the track developed as time went on but, yeah, it’s crazy.

[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”250″]https://soundcloud.com/cosmonostro/atlas-bound-lock[/soundcloud]

So what do each of you play and who sings?

A: I can’t play an instrument. I can only play our songs on the piano, which is weird. Will can play a range of stuff.

W: Yeah, I just like to play around and figure out new stuff. I can’t play anything really well.

A: That’s bull! You know how to play piano and guitar.

W: Yeah, but like there’s people on Triple J Unearthed etcetera that have studied music at the conservatorium for four years to play classical piano. We’re nowhere near like that.

A: I think that’s why we can write stuff so quickly. We don’t look at things too technically, we just like to get the idea out.

Do you guys have similar music tastes?

A: No!

Not at all?

A: Well, we both like our chilled music. I guess that’s why we work well together. But I listen to people like Cosmo’s Midnight, Wave Racer, that sort of stuff. As well as people like James Vincent McMorrow, more chilled out music.

W: Chilled out is probably the only common denominator. My iPod’s like Nat King Cole, Etta James…

A: Old stuff..

W: …Al Green.

A: We like to incorporate that stuff as well.

W: Yeah, because our philosophy is, what you hear now has already been done so you’ve gotta try and do something different. And I think electronic soul, or ‘soultronica’ as it was put once, I think that’s what we’re aiming for. Safe to say we have very different iPods, though. When we get in the car it’s always like, “okay, whose turn?”

ATLASBOUND3

What do you study at uni?

W: Vet science.

A: I study commerce.

Very different.

A: Yes, very different to music.

W: I think it’s like a plan B.

It’s a cool time to be making electronic music in Australia.

A: Definitely in Australia, You can put something out and if it’s half decent, and if you’re from Australia, people from overseas easily recognise it. They’re like, “oh yeah, another person from Australia making good music”. I do find that maybe overseas is a bit more open or appreciative to our music than Australia itself. Which is sort of weird because I thought Australia would be more supportive, trying to get up-and-coming acts out. I guess they are, in a sense, but you look overseas and Aussie acts have so much more pull and influence than they do at home. And it’s not until an act is big overseas that they’re big over here.

We were in New York early in the year and we looked to see who was on and it was like Courtney Barnett, Elizabeth Rose, Big Scary, Broods…and they have all received such a good rap over there. In particular Courtney Barnett, who can play a big festival over here and she doesn’t pull a huge crowd.

A: Yeah, I mean, the dream for us next year is to head over to America and maybe set up base and build up from there. If we can get a good team behind us, that would be the dream.

It’s interesting looking into what’s going on with Australian musicians going overseas. It’s always been that you start in Australia, build your fan base and then you’ll try your luck overseas later. Like Powderfinger, Silverchair, and all those classic Aussie rock bands back in the day. Now it seems like you’ve got to go overseas to spark the success, and then you come back and everyone’s like, “oh my God, you’re huge!”

W: Yeah, now it happens the other way around.

A: Yeah like, “they’re Aussies! They’re ours!”

[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”250″]https://soundcloud.com/atlas-bound/soul-master-1[/soundcloud]

It’s very interesting to watch acts like Iggy Azalea and Sia winning at the ARIA Awards and then Australia taking all these accolades for their success.

W: 100% agree.

A: Yeah, it’s funny. After Lock came out, we sort of got that view already. Maybe more electronic acts, more Sydney-sounding music, trends a bit better here in Australia. But the more chilled out stuff, I find it doesn’t really kick off as well as overseas.

W: We can see where all the plays on Soundcloud come from and it’s all America.

A: America and Europe. And then Australia.

W: Australia is nearly at the bottom of the list.

A: But you’ve got to remember that LA itself has a bigger population than Australia. If you’re bigger in California, you’re bigger than you are in Australia.

Yeah, it’s kind of happening now where you can go overseas and build your career there and still be considered Australian.

W: Yeah, completely. Although I’m not trying to rip into Australia too much!

I suppose the flip-side of that is Flume who killed it here and then went overseas and killed it as well.

W: But that’s more fun too. We’d love to go overseas and move away from uni.

Top30Songs

the interns’ Top 30 Songs of 2014

Top30Songs

The year’s top tracks according to us and why we think they topped the class in 2014.

[one_half]30Nicki4[/one_half]
[one_half_last]If 2014 was all about the bum, then this is its theme song. At first listen, this song was a joke to many. A cheap rip-off of Sir Mix A Lot‘s Baby Got Back, the track seemed nothing more than a publicity stint, to spruik Nicki Minaj’s third album following a lacklustre first single, Pills N Potions. However, Minaj worked it and the song eventually ate up radio and TV. And for good reason. Minaj is utterly fierce throughout the whole track, also commanding when she performed it live. No other artist today could’ve pulled off this track and got it onto radio. Find me one other track on radio this year that sounds like Anaconda.[/one_half_last]

[one_half]29Shamir[/one_half]

[one_half_last]In the Summer of 2012, an up and coming rapper named Azealia Banks dropped a track called 212 and made her way to the top of every ‘cool list’. Las Vegas artist, Shamir, doesn’t have that same brattiness to him but what he lacks in ferocity he makes up for in sass. On The Regular is cool. It’s incredibly cool. It sits somewhere between singing and rap with words that flow out of him unconsciously. It’s an anthem that introduces him as an outsider without any cliche ‘take me as I am’ notions. This is Shamir on the regular, just so you know.[/one_half_last]

[one_half]28banks[/one_half]
[one_half_last]Take the BANKS album as an entire dosage and you’ll be thrown into a world of hefty darkness. Take it in little bites and it’s some of the sweetest pop made all year. Beggin’ For Thread is the highlight- a track dropped right before the album was released and one that is the centrepiece of the record. It combines all BANKS’ strengths into four minutes. From the RnB tinges, to the dark brooding voice to power-backed bridges. The final minute is a climatic showcase of melodic perfection- finally giving the song itself some thread.[/one_half_last]

[one_half]27elliphant[/one_half]
[one_half_last]Girls won 2014, let’s be honest. FKA Twigs schooled everyone, Nicki Minaj, Ariana Grande and Jessie J came together for a world-dominating anthem and even Pharrell tipped his large hat to GIRLS. The coolest girl-power anthem of the year came courtesy of two tipsy Scandinavians. One More is a warm, after-dark track about clutching at that one person to stay and enjoy the little moments of the early morning. Elliphant and make a heart-warming pair both in the song and the video. They cavort the streets, peeing in gutters and working their light-up slides, but at all times seeming totally enamoured by their friendship. The final moment where the girls yell the chorus back at each other is one of the best pop moments of the year.[/one_half_last]

[one_half]26Tkay[/one_half]
[one_half_last]Tkay Maidza is something new for Australia. We have hip-hop, yes, but it’s always been shut-off from any international influence. It probably wasn’t the hip-hop influence that ensured Tkay sounded ready for the world stage in 2014, it was her willingness to experiment with Australian electronica. Australian electronica has been competing on the world stage for the better part of a year now and Maidza capitalised on that. Switch Lanes produced by Paces is the type of song that Angel Haze or Azealia Banks would kill for.[/one_half_last]

[one_half]25Popcaan[/one_half]
[one_half_last]Jamaican dancehall artist, Popcaan’s debut album Where We Come From is one of the most consistent records of the year. On that album is this gem, Number One Freak– a song so goddam rhythmic it could have even those with steel hips wiggling. Everyone knows love found on the dancefloor (or in a hopeless place) is the strongest love of all and Popcaan capitalises on that. “Some girls say she bad but me know shes badder”, he sings, creating a sweltering atmosphere that breathes heat (body heat, that is).[/one_half_last]

[one_half]24CHVRCHES[/one_half]
[one_half_last]CHVRCHES may not have had an album this year but it didn’t stop them from releasing a handful of excellent songs. This one’s from the rework of the Drive soundtrack. And while the concept may be slightly confusing, this song makes it all worthwhile. CHVRCHES adopt that dimly-lit, luminescent feel that Drive conveys and add a sweetness to it. Lauren Mayberry singing “never let you get away”, is one of the more heartwarming things we’ve heard all year. Particularly from someone who was last year singing, “I’ll be a gun, and it’s you I’ll come for”.[/one_half_last]

[one_half]23Perfume[/one_half]
[one_half_last]Perfume Genius has always been a profound songwriter but until this year he hadn’t really ventured far afield, instrumentally. Grid throbs with a relentless synth, turning like an industrial fan. It gives Mike Hadreas’ voice a bolstered power when he sings something like “this is it”. The kids voices that come in then start to play with your find as if you are being surrounded by chanting children yourself. It’s a dizzying listen but an amazing one, if you consider he achieves this feeling in under three minutes.[/one_half_last]

[one_half]22azealia[/one_half]
[one_half_last]An Azealia Banks comeback in 2014 seemed very unlikely. For an artist who’s been a storm for most of her career, she’d gone awfully quiet for a while with barely a feud in sight. It seems it was the calm before the storm. In the second half of 2014, she delivered, Chasing Time– a track supposedly written to prove to her previous label Universal that she could write a hit. And what a hit it is. Chasing Time sees Banks both sing and rap over a schizophrenic beat that pops and bubbles. The song would be nothing without its richly melodic chorus which combines a Prodigy-esque strength with late ‘90s RnB.[/one_half_last]

[one_half]21Kimbra[/one_half]
[one_half_last]Kimbra has always been an interesting character but after seeing her live for the first time in 2012, it was immediately apparent that her debut Vows was merely scraping the surface of what she could do. It seems, in 2014, she realised her true potential and embraced her creative oddities. To say ‘90s Music was a shock, is an understatement. An artist like Kimbra could have easily ventured into the realms of adult contemporary but instead she delivered this chopped-up, candy-cane flavoured, beautiful mess with a chorus that soared into the stratosphere. It’s nostalgic while also being futuristic aka. a pop music triumph. [/one_half_last]

20-1


 

[one_half]20George[/one_half]
[one_half_last]Future Classic have had a big year with the success of Chet Faker but they had one little secret locked away. One that will probably eclipse the success of any artist on the Future Classic label yet. That secret was Australian songstress, George Maple, who’s spent the better part of her career carving away in London. They unleashed Maple with little fanfare, rather letting the strength of Talk Talk talk for itself. And that it did. The song has so far amassed over 2 million listens on Soundcloud and brought a sophistication to Australian pop music that we haven’t seen for a long time, if ever. Talk Talk is a romantic, hushed song with a tempo that just allows it to creep under your skin.[/one_half_last]

[one_half]19Dragon[/one_half]
[one_half_last]There’s something horribly disappointing about Paris. It’s perhaps one of the most romanticised cities in the world and yet under the surface it’s a cesspool of pretentiousness, crime and grime. The Paris that Little Dragon sing about is not a city of love, it’s one of heartache. Someone’s left Yukimi Nagano in Paris and she’s alone. The song’s warm synths and hopping beat may be deceiving but the sadness in Nagano’s paper thin voice says it all. There’s a craft in writing a sad song without being melodramatic and it’s one Little Dragon have mastered expertly. [/one_half_last]

[one_half]18SOPHIE[/one_half]
[one_half_last]There’s something wonderful obvious about this whole PC Music sound. Since its inception last year, the genre has been endlessly compared to sugar. From bubblegum synths to popping rocks percussion, even QT has taken on the metaphor producing her own energy drink. SOPHIE was just as obvious in dropping a song titled Lemonade, which sounds appropriately like a sugary, carbonated glass of lemonade. It borrows elements of hip-hop and short bursts of ‘90s rave for just under two minutes of euphoria. Such is the high of sugar. It picks you up quickly and then dumps you in a quivering heap but in the end it’s all worth it.[/one_half_last]

[one_half]17Theophilus[/one_half]
[one_half_last]There’s a certain feeling about walking into a club in New York. Whether you know it or not, you adopt a strut, subconsciously aware of everybody in the club eyeing you off. As a native New Yorker, Theophilus London captures that feeling perfectly on Tribe. It’s gone that clean, New York beat that paces along with an unmatched swagger. He’s scouting the room, picking up every situation around him while also acutely aware of his own appearance. He raps a line like “Girl in the blue dress look like a winner/Caught my eye in the back of the mirror” and then hops on the MDMA for a night that rushes with drug-fused love that will fade in the morning.[/one_half_last]

[one_half]16StVincent[/one_half]
[one_half_last]Annie Clarke aka. St. Vincent wanted to make a party record that people could dance to at a funeral. We’re not so sure if people would be happy to dance to a track at funeral with as many social anxieties as Digital Witness but it’s an apt description of the world we live in. Maybe the heart of that comment is that she wanted people to dance to less than ideal circumstances in some sort of hopeless despair. Digital Witness is about people’s reliance on technology and their lessening interest with the outside, yet it’s backed by joyous brass that could have you easily misreading the anxious lyrics. It’s the juxtaposition between the subject and the instrumental that makes Digital Witness such an odd triumph. [/one_half_last]

[one_half]15VicMensa[/one_half]
[one_half_last]“Fuck that get down” is probably our mantra for 2014. Down On My Luck depicts that point in the night when you’ve got a little bit too drunk, lost your friends and are wandering the club in a hazy mess. Lucky there’s that split second where you spot a few strangers in the same situation as you and suddenly lose all inhibition. You’re not yourself, you’ve forgotten everything that happened that day but you’re content for that moment. That’s Vic Mensa’s Down On My Luck and the fact that we can see that situation so vividly is a testament to Mensa’s craft. Rap met dance and they married happily ever after in 2014. [/one_half_last]

[one_half]14FKATwigs[/one_half]
[one_half_last]Video Girl is the most autobiographical track on FKA Twigs’ brilliant debut record, LP1. Twigs started her career as a dancer for pop acts like Jessie J– a world that could not be further than the one she is circulating in right now. Video Girl is about her denying that she was in those videos, most likely because she saw herself as something very different to what she was acting as in those videos. Video Girl is the most straightforward track we’ve heard from Twigs melodically, but it’s the honesty that makes it as profound as it is. “Nineteen, too keen”, she opens the track with. Now she’s 26 and proud to say she is the girl from the video. Her own videos. And damn good videos at that.[/one_half_last]

[one_half]13JAMIEXX[/one_half]
[one_half_last]Clubbing in the UK, particularly in its underground, has always had an industrial feel to it. It feels cold, yet communal, with the knowledge that everyone is there for the same reason. Jamie xx captures that feeling perfectly on All Under One Roof Raving. The steel drums and vocal samples capture that industrial, rebellious feel while the title alone is enough to make you feel nostalgic. Dance music has always been a movement, driven by what’s happening around it in society. All Under One Roof Raving sounds like a manifesto, with voices shouting “we don’t need anybody, we’re independent”. [/one_half_last]

[one_half]12SBTRKT
[/one_half]
[one_half_last]SBTRKT was in the position to make a clubbing anthem like Jamie xx but instead he turned his sights to the cosmopolitan side of New York. Propelled by the beautiful and astute observations of Vampire Weekend’s Modern Vampires of the City, Ezra Koenig has become somewhat of a voice for the city and on New Dorp, New York he leads perfectly. SBTRKT’s first single, Temporary View, off Wonder Where We Land, had us worried he was following the exact same formula as his debut, but New Dorp, New York squashed those fears. It’s weird. You’re never sure what corner it’s going to turn around. At times, it jingles with an industrial grittiness and at other times it’s polished and clean. Just like New York, I suppose.[/one_half_last]

[one_half]11Royksopp[/one_half]
[one_half_last]There’s something wrong with the human memory. A hangover is one of the most regretful momentary illnesses and yet as time passes, so too does the memory, as the human once again throws back drinks for that short burst of euphoria as the music pulsates. Röyksopp and Robyn made an anthem for those that remember the highs more than the lows. Do It Again is a track that strobes with power, thumping with earth-shattering bass and soaring with Robyn’s on-point vocal. Röyksopp and Robyn were the best pairing of 2014 and this song is an expected powerhouse.
[/one_half_last]

10-1

[one_half]10HowToDressWell[/one_half]
[one_half_last]The RnB resurgence was in full swing in 2014 and even though How To Dress Well channels a similar aesthetic on Repeat Pleasure, he’s distanced himself from that movement, rather classing himself more in the league of Sun Kil Moon or Arthur Russell. Repeat Pleasure does sound like RnB, there’s no denying that, but there’s more depth to it. There’s heart-wrenching guitar solos, gentles melodies that would sound at home in folk tracks and ambient synths that would find themselves at home in atmospheric electronica. It’s a melting pot of sounds and a track with a huge heart. [/one_half_last]

[one_half]9LaRoux[/one_half]
[one_half_last]There was not one person this year who didn’t ask for the name of this song when played in the vicinity of them. No matter what instrumental stylings she decides upon, La Roux knows how to craft a brilliant melody and the chorus of Sexotheque is her finest work to date. Laced with ‘70s nostalgia, Sexotheque is the perkiest track on Trouble In Paradise– one that uses repetition, the way it should be used, to work its way inside your head and never allow itself to be released. Yes, it drove many mad all year, but it alway did wonderful things on the dancefloor. It was La Roux’s unrealised chart hit. [/one_half_last]

[one_half]8BusyEarnin[/one_half]
[one_half_last]There was a lot of hype around Jungle even before their identity had been revealed. It’s because their sound was instantaneous. Those funky basslines get you straight away and the incessant funk attached to each of the tracks makes it almost impossible for even the most skeptical of critics to deny their appeal. Busy Earnin’ is, and will remain, their theme song. It’s a song that radiates swagger. The type that John Travolta had when he stormed the floor in Saturday Night Fever. It’s effortlessly cool with an undeniable presence, illuminated by brassy synths and heavily layered vocals.[/one_half_last]

[one_half]7JessieWare[/one_half]
[one_half_last]Jessie Ware pretty much only writes about love. In pop music, writing about love only seems to have two general modes: falling in love and falling out of love. Ware’s success comes in the way she hones into the specifics of a relationship, effortlessly marrying the lyrics with the vocal and instrumental. Tough Love is a fragile track. Ware is at the very edge of her vocal capabilities and the instrumental is almost wafer thin. So too is the subject matter. It’s that moment when you have to lay everything on the line and say how you feel aka. one of the most vulnerable moments in life. [/one_half_last]

[one_half]6ParaOne[/one_half]
[one_half_last]Club music at its heart should be all about elation. Nobody goes to the club to feel unhappy and while they may leave feeling that way, it’s never the intention. If a DJ knows his timing, You Too should come on at about 1am – it’s just before the drama begins, the drunks begin to heave on the sidewalk and the club begins to clear out. Those incessant keys and heighty vocal samples are euphoria-inducing while the instrumental ebbs and flows serve up a balanced mix of hands-in-the-air moments and straight-up groove time. The MC in the music video says it best when she says, “keep it foxy, keep it fresh”- that’s what clubbing in 2014 was all about, wasn’t it?[/one_half_last]

[one_half]5Caribou[/one_half]
[one_half_last]Caribou’s strength has always been warmth. Never one to be in your face, he chooses mellow synths over pounding percussion and only inserts his own vocal if absolutely necessary. Can’t Do Without You wasn’t immediate or instantly likeable. Like its own instrumental trajectory, it was one that grew on you. If you’re at the point where you like Can’t Do Without You more than you ever will, the lyric, “I can’t do without you” should make your heart skip and the final, climatic rush of synths should give you goosebumps. If not, keep listening and it will reveal itself to you. Can’t Do Without You is a masterclass in subtlety.
[/one_half_last]

[one_half]4Sia[/one_half]
[one_half_last]If you’re going to make the crossover from indie darling into pop superstar you better do it right. And that’s exactly what Sia did in 2014. She’d had plenty of practice writing for the likes of Beyonce and Rihanna but she was yet to step out by herself and prove her chops. Chandelier has all the makings of a big pop song. It has commands (“1,2,3 Drink!”), a big, powerful message (“I’m going to live like tomorrow doesn’t exist”) and a stratospheric chorus. Sia could have given the track away and it no doubt would have been a massive hit but no artist could have done that vocal run on “chandelier” like she does. This song is a pop monster. [/one_half_last]

[one_half]

 

3QT[/one_half]
[one_half_last]Last year, enigmatic British producer, SOPHIE, released Bipp– a song so incredibly full of sugar that it felt like a rush of blood to the head. It was a new kind of electronica. One that melded early ‘00s pop (cc: Annie) with ‘90s rave and our current internet age. It was Bipp that paved the way for Hey QT by PC Music creator, A.G. Cook and Sophie. Hey QT is even more saccharine than Bipp. It’s a giddy, loved-up track that sounds like it’s being sung by Siri. It’s surrounded by the story of an almost emotionless character who is endorsing the energy drink, QT. We’re still not sure what to make of the whole situation but we are sure that Hey QT is the best pop song of 2014 and perhaps one of the most innovative productions we’ve heard this year.[/one_half_last]

[one_half]

 

2FutureIslands
[/one_half]
[one_half_last]

Just one song can change an artist’s career and this year we saw it with Future Islands. This year, the band released their fourth album, Singles, and on it was the mighty, Seasons (Waiting On You). The song was good on first listen, there’s no doubt about that. It’s a synth-based rock track, with emotionally-fuelled verses and a chorus that soars, but it wasn’t until they performed on Letterman that its full potential was realised. Frontman, Samuel Herring gave the performance of his life on Letterman, thrashing his body about with a dance-style that found a perfect balance between odd and committed. Herring embodied all the feeling that Seasons (Waiting On You) has pent up inside it. The performance is the most iconic of this year and the song itself will remain a bookmark for music in 2014.
[/one_half_last]

[one_half]

 

1FKATwigs[/one_half]
[one_half_last]

FKA Twigs’ entire debut album, LP1 is all about fluidity. Probably due to her dancer background, each track on the album gently undulates with rushing synths and cascading beats like a body moving in the breeze. Two Weeks is the most powerful, sexually charged track on the album and the most daring song of 2014. Sex sells: it’s one of pop music’s greatest cash grabbers but here FKA Twigs presents it in a different way. Without an ounce of smut she delivers a line like “My thighs are apart for when you’re ready to breathe in” as she extends her limbs and focuses her eyes (in the video). The dimly-lit percussion, flickers behind the whole time like pent up sexual energy which is all eventually released on the final bridge. The earliest artistic creations depicted sex as a sacred, intimate act and on Two Weeks, Twigs does the same thing. She treats it with respect and delivers it with grace. There’s no other song this year that was as lyrically bold, as instrumentally innovative and as melodically profound as this song.

[/one_half_last]

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OutsideIn_Report2

OutsideIn Festival Report Card

OI_Set-Time_ReportCard

Now in its third year, Astral People’s OutsideIn Festival has quietly become one of Sydney’s best festivals. As curators of electronic music they don’t come much smarter than Astral People and as such OutsideIn always has a lineup that sparks plenty of interest.

2014 delivered another stellar lineup that brought together both international and local acts, young and old to celebrate electronica, RnB, hip-hop and everything in between. Its new venue of Manning House in Sydney Uni was a perfect spot for its compact crowd, providing two outdoor stages and the indoor mainstage.

Holding it on the same week as Stereosonic made for an interesting sight on the streets of Sydney as fluoro-clad shredders walked next to kimono-wearing, hipsters. Choosing OutsideIn was a great choice for the interns- not just because we didn’t have to back-up for #2days but because the Festival grinned with a pleasant, happy-go-lucky crowd and plenty of stellar music.

Our only complaint? Stocking Red Bull as the only mixer for Vodka. For non-beer drinkers, that equals a very unhappy heart by the end of the day. It also evokes nightmarish dreams of Schoolies at 4am in the morning when you’re trying to settle your heart down because of said Red Bull.

On a lighter note, as it was set in Sydney Uni, we thought we’d take the scholastic connection very literally and write a report card of who we caught at OutsideIn.

Collarbones (A)

With their new album, Return, only released the day before OutsideIn, there were concerns that the boys may be unprepared for their debut. Those fears were quickly squashed, however. Collarbones are fast learners and they effortlessly melded the old with the new during their set. Marcus Whale is an unbelievably charismatic frontman and he thrashes his body around along with the pulsating beats of Travis Cook. Of the new album, Emoticon and Turning were clear standouts. The latter’s explosion into a bass-heavy, triumphant finish has to be one of the finest moments in Australian electronica this year. They may have begun early, but Collarbones took advantage of some mid-afternoon tipsiness.

Performance: Outstanding

Crowd Response: Good

Overall: Good

Brenmar (A+)

Chicago-born, New York-living producer Brenmar is a crowd-pleaser if ever we’ve seen one. Working with buzz label, Fools Gold, the producer churns out a set of high-BPM, bass-heavy tunes that oscillate between Jersey club, RnB and trap. As well as including his own original tunes he dropped a perfect cocktail of tracks at times drawing heavy on the nostalgia. His spin of Daniel Bedingfield’s Gotta Get Through This, deserves a special mention as the crowd went absolutely bonkers, as they did also for Nicki Minaj’s Anaconda. He gauged the crowd’s vibe immediately and followed it through the peaks and troughs.

Performance: Good

Crowd Response: Outstanding

Overall: Outstanding

Basenji (B)

Young Aussie producer, Basenji, is on many people’s hype list right now and for good reason. He’s has a pretty spectacular year, topping it off with his track Heirloom which has become a staple for any fan of Aussie electronica this year. His OutsideIn set also doubled as a birthday celebration for the producer and as such he was ready to get #turnt. Looking like he could’ve also taken to Rod Laver Arena for a hit of tennis, Basenji served up a refreshing, cohesive set of future-bass. It all culminated in Heirloom – a track that just drips with sunshine-induced beats and icy synths.

Performance: Good

Crowd Response: Satisfactory

Overall: Good

Giraffage (A-)

San-Francisco producer Giraffage was one of the main drawcards on the lineup and drew one of the biggest crowds of the day on the mainstage. His sound may be far more down-tempo than fellow Fools Gold signee, Brenmar, but it was no less effective. His own original material like Feels and Tell Me went down an absolute treat with skittering percussion and cloud-like synths. Things really kicked into gear when he dropped his remix of Janet Jackson’s Someone To Call My Lover which had an excitable crowd in ecstasy. There was only one thing that could top that and while we never would’ve expected it, his spin of Darude’s Sandstorm was the greatest moment of the day, if not our lives.

Performance: Good

Crowd Response: Good

Overall: Good

Pantha Du Prince (C+)

Introspective acts often don’t work in festival environments, particularly when the sun is still shining. There is no doubt that Pantha Du Prince is a marvel live but his OutsideIn set felt somewhat uncomfortable given the time of day and the mood of the crowd. Wearing a hood and covered in-part by smoke he gave off the same kind of mysterious vibe that his music complimented but it felt a little bizarre. With the amount of DJs at OutsideIn relying solely on their decks it was nice to see a producer with an interesting set-up but Pantha Du Prince is definitely an act to be enjoyed in the intimacy of a solo gig. He needs closed-in walls, a midnight set and a devoted audience. OutsideIn could deliver none of these.

Performance: Satisfactory

Crowd Response: Fair

Overall: Satisfactory

Cut/Copy DJs (A-)

Cut/Copy were the eleventh hour saviours of OutsideIn after Swedish producer HNNY pulled out. In hindsight it made a lot of sense that Cut/Copy should be on the bill, given that they’ve just released their Oceans Apart mixtape which celebrates Melbourne electronica. Their DJ set at OutsideIn saw frontman Dan Whitford take to the decks to showcase many of the artists featured on Oceans Apart. The set stayed at a steady, twilight-ready tempo for the most part, detouring at the end to bring it home strong. Whitford dropped SBTRKT’s New Dorp New York (a somewhat confusing choice in a set dedicated to Melbourne electronica) to an elated crowd and followed it up with the centrepiece of Oceans Apart, Brenda by Ara Koufax. It was a triumphant, hands-in-the-air moment, that made us pretty proud to be witnessing Aussie electronica right now, as we glanced around at hefty, joyful crowd.

Performance: Good

Crowd Response: Good

Overall: Good

Black Vanilla (A+)

Black Vanilla’s set was the second of the day for both Collarbones’ Marcus Whale and Guerre’s Guerre but there was no drop in energy from either. Black Vanilla have embraced this abrasive RnB/electronica crossover that requires full commitment and maximum crowd participation for it to work. Luckily for them, both those things were in order for their brilliant OutsideIn set. They layed down a set of new songs and songs from their Cloaks EP that would have made Kanye West proud. Cassius Selects beats are industrial, gritty and bass-heavy, with the crowd chests pummeled by the onslaught of music. Meanwhile Whale and Guerre stand out front working the crowd into a frenzy. The two of them go back and forth at each other with the same kind of energy as an act like The Prodigy. Whales’ final dance-break in a circle he’d created in the crowd was pretty breathtaking. As compact as the crowd may have been, Black Vanilla garnered the best response of the day.

Performance: Outstanding

Crowd Response: Outstanding

Overall: Outstanding

Check out our OutsideIn photo gallery below. 

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Kimbra at The Metro Theatre

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A few weeks ago Kimbra took to David Letterman to perform one of the most divisive tracks of the year, 90s Music. Obviously completely un-expecting of what he had just witnessed, Letterman and the audience were rendered speechless. The track seemed to take on a different life and that’s because Kimbra is an untamed beast when live.

The Kiwi singer took to the stage in Sydney with the same kind of reckless abandon that she’d brought to the Letterman stage. Dressed in an aluminium, Bjork-flavoured outfit with legs for days, she left everything she had on the stage. Beginning with the opener of the fantastic The Golden Echo, Teen Heat, she bolstered the chorus with denser instrumentation and wild, erratic dance moves.
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From there, she set about using every bit of energy in her petite body, covering every inch of the stage, sweat often dripping from her brow. 90s Music sounded like an opus of exploding sound. She brought the same vibe as a mosh-ready rock show only sweetening it with the epic chorus – a gushing, melodic stroke of genius.

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The whole of The Golden Echo, sounded like an album designed to be enjoyed in the live arena. All its oddities made sense when delivered by an equally eclectic Kimbra, who inhabited each song. Miracle was easily the most joyous moment of the night while Goldmine‘s crunching percussion pulsated on the chest.

Kimbra_FOMOHer development as an artist was obvious as she mixed old favourites in with the new. In fact Cameo Lover, once her golden moment, sounding limp in comparison to the new tunes. Settle Down, however, sounded as impressive as ever with Kimbra commanding the rhythm with her gently undulating hands.

As Kimbra farewell end with a beefed-up version of Come Into My Head, she left the stage, sweaty and surely exhausted. She clearly loves what she does and as such it’s impossible to watch on in disdain. In terms of vocals, body movement and charm, she left no corner unexplored.

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8 Alternative Album Titles for Taylor Swift’s ‘1989’

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Well, she’s done it. Our country queen has made the full transition to pop princess. We’ve had to sit through four album and copious amounts of banjos, but we’ve finally been delivered a dirty, melody-obsessed record of sweet, sugary pop.

As huge as the album will be, we feel there is one thing holding it back – its title. It’s destined to be the highest selling album of the year but to have an album of the year in 2014 titled 1989 is far too numeric and frankly a little confusing. T.Swizzle, leave those kind of details for your birth certificate and allow us to retitle your album.groundhog

1. Groundhog Day

Every great pop song has a fair dose of repetition, it’s what starts it spinning in your brain and keeps it firmly lodged in your memory but Tay Tay really takes it to a new level on 1989. She sings the word “woods” in Out Of The Woods 41 times which actually pales in comparison to Shake It Off in which she sings “shake” 79 times. “Are we out of the woods?” is an infuriatingly metaphorical question to ask someone repetitively also which makes us feel slightly sorry for Harry Styles or Ed Sheeran or Lorde or whoever it was she badgered.

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2. 25

Earlier this year it was announced that Adele’s third album would be called 25. Arguably, Swifty and Adele are the two highest-selling female artists on the planet. Adele’s 21 has sold 30 million copies while all of Tay’s past four albums have sold over five million copies. With Suzuki Swift turning 25 at the end of the year, it would have made perfect sense for her to cut Adele’s grass and name her album 25, before Adele could get her act together. That said, Adele probably could’ve just waited until she turned 26 if she was really set on the age thing.

Taylor_noitsbecky3. no its becky

The “hackers known as 4chan” uncovered that www.taylorswift.com was herself lurking on the mysterious, notoriously malicious, underground network under an anonymous moniker of jumbled numbers. This was further confirmed when T.S took to the streets with a shirt emblazoned with a prominent reference.jpg to a post in a /b/ thread that had her caught up in a horrible case of identity theft when she was falsely ‘suspected’ to be Becky, a girl who purportedly died from snorting an entire marijuana.

If Sasha Fierce was Beyonce’s alter-ego, then Becky is most certainly Tayluh’s. 1989 sees Mrs. Styles as a completely new girl. She’s embraced the world of pop and left behind any hint of country. On Red she was still flirting with the genre but now she’s completely committed and is reaping the rewards. Piste 5 is a ridiculously delectable hit, while I Wish You Would is an ‘80s-inspired marvel. All of it combines to deliver what will undoubtedly be the biggest pop album of the year.

Taylor_ANOTHERDIRECTION4. Another Direction

There’s plenty of songs about love on the album (roughly 10) but it actually feels like her least whiney album to date. She takes to a lovelorn song on 1989 just like Gwen Stefani once would’ve. On Shake It Off she moving straight on, right past the haters, even putting her feelings into a rap. On Style, she’s even speaking positively about love, aptly singing “we never go out of style”. It’s an odd quote given she goes through boys faster than a box of Kleenex but it’s nice to hear Selena Gomez’s friend happy. And just to think she once thought there was only one direction.

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5. Pink

Red had Alison angry, very angry. I Knew You Were Trouble was her most aggressive track together while We Are Never Getting Back Together had a wonderful air of Mean Girl-brattiness to it. It seems, however, on 1989 we’re greeted by an artist who’s exploring different shades. From the illuminated glossiness of Welcome To New York to the rebellious RnB stylings of Blank Space, 1989 is an uplifting album that makes us feel that there may just be the right boy out there who makes us feel special and worthwhile <3

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6. Days Are Gone

We never thought we would say this, but 1989 actually takes a lot of stylistic cues from HAIM’s Days Are Gone. While it’s not anywhere near as badass the Californian trio’s album, it’s pop, driven by a thumping drum-beat and peppered with delicious melodies. Out Of The Woods is the biggest testament to this. It has the same kind of pulsating energy as something like The Wire while Bad Blood has that same kind of drum-induced spite as My Song 5. I don’t think they’d notice if she stole their title.

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7. So Fresh Songs of 2014

Shake It Off, Out Of The Woods, Welcome To New York, Bad Blood, Style, Piste 5, I Wish You Would…let’s be honest she has like 33 #1 songs on this album and most of them are better than everything else that’s risen to the top this year.

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8. Me. I am Taylor (The Elusive Chanteuse)

Mariah Carey named her album this with the kind of cockiness that said “I’m still the queen”. Unfortunately she may have to give that crown over to Ms. Bleachers. There hasn’t been a female artist who’s ruled the charts for this long, probably since Mariah and she probably deserves it. With each album, she’s served up something different and 1989 truly feels like a great pop album. It’s all killer, no filler and has songs that our kids will dance to in the way we still go batshit for Whitney Houston’s, I Wanna Dance With Somebody. All props to Swizzle, she may be a meme machine but you have to put yourself out there to gain #haterz and she happily does that.

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Jessie Ware’s ‘Tough Love’ reviewed through chocolates

jessieware_coverJessie Ware

Forrest Gump once said, “life is like a box of chocolates”, and while there’s little sense in that, if you sit a while with the new Jessie Ware album you could actually begin to believe it. If her debut, Devotion, was Ware giving a 100% then the follow-up, Tough Love is her giving it 200%. Backed by the fine finesse of producers like BenZel, Dev Hynes and Julio Bashmore, we’re introduced to a far more courageous Ware. Vocally, she’s extending herself in ways we’ve never heard before giving us a more commercial but just a sophisticated sound. Like a good box of chocolates we’ve let Tough Love sit with us for a while now but we’re finally ready to delve in a little deeper.

Consider our review through chocolates a wedding present to Jessie Ware and her new husband.

coconutJessie Ware’s Devotion was so channelled onto one sound, perfected expertly, that she was always going to have to come back with something that shocked on first listen and Tough Love does just that Just like a coconut rough, Tough Love looks simple on first inspection, delve a little bit deeper, however, and it reveals itself to be amalgamation of both smooth and rough textures. The song is different type of love song. One where Ware is clearly in love, but at the same time giving a dose of tough love. She’s confident, in control and in a vocal range that we haven’t heard her explore before. BenZel’s production is also supreme – soft and fluid.

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This is probably the most commercially viable song on the album. Its verses are melodically delectable and straight-forward with a chorus that takes flight. At its heart, it’s a classic love song – one where she wants her boyfriend (now husband) all to herself, as sickly sweet as it may be. Just like eating a strawberry creme, before and after may not be perfect, but in that sweet, gooey moment, it feels like eternity is achievable. toastedalmondFor the most part of Tough Love, Ware is head over heels but some of her best moments are those where things aren’t so great. Cruel was produced by James Ford of Simian Mobile Disco, who’s managed to craft an icy yet seductive track that perfectly shows that moment where things are going very wrong. Love may look like a round ball of chocolate but bite a little harder and you’ll feel the crunch. Ware’s vocal on this is perfect. She sounds completely exhausted yet with a hint of anger.

honeyfudgeSay You Love Me was penned with Ed Sheeran but thanks to Ware, she’s managed to pull it back from being an over-the-top ballad, turning it into the heart-tugger of the album. Devotion was an impressive display of restraint, but here she goes for it vocally, giving more force than ever. There’s so many moments (i.e. the choir call and response) where Ware is completely glutenous, showing absolutely no restraint but it’s also great to see her completely let go. It’s gooey, soft and rich. What else could you want in a love song?

turkishOnce again here, she is pulling it back in, giving us that Aaliyah-esque vocal alongside a funky, minimal instrumental. We go through all the motions of love on Tough Love, but on Sweetest Song she brings the roses, falling head over heels. Just like a Turkish Delight, it may be a little too sweet for some, but those who enjoy a bit of sugar will fall in love with Ware’s sexy, dim-lit delivery.

chochilliMiguel has become the king of seductive RnB over the past year, so it makes sense that he turns up as a writer on Tough Love and what the pair of them crafted together is pretty spectacular. It seems to borrow its melodic flow from nursery rhymes in the verse, with the whole instrumental gently undulating for side-to-side. In terms of subject matter, Ware’s not really sure where she’s at here. It’s both hot and sweet, with sexiness being swapped back and forth with loved-up expressions. Her vocal has a particular bite to it in this one, particularly when she goes for those high notes.

dark choc mintDark chocolate is the classy mature chocolate. It’s the type you eat when you don’t want to eat too much and as such it has a certain sophistication to it. Want Your Feeling is the most sophisitcated track on the album with Ware and Dev Hynes creating this twilight number that twinkles. It’s a song of desperation but one that deals with the feeling in such a beautiful, sleek way. “Lights still shining in the room, you left me here” creates the most perfect imagery on the whole album. Meanwhile, Hynes’s touch of funky guitars and chirpy keys is just irresistible.

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It feels like Say You Love Me was pitched to be the heartbreaking ballad of the record but this one just takes it that little bit further. Ware’s voice still oozes like syrup but it’s a different type of smoothness. In the verses she sounds completely shattered before striking with an acidic, blasting chorus. Look, obviously we chose the orange slice because of the obvious reference to pieces but don’t let that get in the way of understanding that this is one of her most powerful tracks to date – a confident, heart-wrenching moment.
gooeyJessie Ware makes a lot of smart choices in terms of the producers she works with. One partnership that just works is the one between herself and Julio Bashmore. On Devotion, they crafted the slinky 110% and here they are back together for this effortlessly flowing number. Keep On Lying’s subject matter is one of masking emotion which is pretty devastating really, yet behind it is this oozing melody that plods with Ware weaving her vocals through one of the most instantly likeable tracks on the album.

champagnetruffleTough Love is not really the type of record you’d expect from a woman who was just about to get married, but that’s kind of the joy about it. It tracks the ups and downs of a relationship so pertinently, never exploring the beige emotions usually explored in love songs. However, on Champagne Kisses she finally gives us that big, euphoric love song. It’s girly, giddy and with that heighty chorus hitting you like too many bubblies on a balmy afternoon. She takes her voice to heights not heard since the opening title-track, giving us light at the end of the tunnel.

whiskeyOnce again, we have Ware in crazy, stupid love but exploring it in a much different way than the last track. It’s dim-lit, sophisticated and sensual with her notes elongated and the instrumental hovering like a frozen moment in time. It’s a perfectly gentle ending to the album that encapsulates everything we love about Ware. She’s subtle, classy and always 100% present.

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