xscape4

The Definitive track-by-track guide to Michael Jackson’s Xscape

Kermit Cintron vs Walter Mathysse

We seem to have an obsession with reviving stars from the dead. 2Pac appeared as a hologram at Coachella, 12 posthumous Jimi Hendrix albums have been released and a Drake-lead Aaliyah album is rumoured to be in the works. There’s been a lot of talk around whether Jackson’s second studio album since 2009 will tarnish his reputation. After one listen, it’s unlikely. Does anybody remember Michael from 2010? You’ve all probably tried to erase it from the memory, mostly because it featured Akon.

Thankfully this one isn’t half as much of a rush job as Michael. Xscape sounds polished and true to Jackson’s style. Executive producer of the record, Jimmy Iovine said that the intention was to make it sound like a record Jackson would’ve made – and it does. The only problem is whether or not that’s a style people want to hear in 2014.

With that considered, let’s take a journey and escape to Xscape.

Love Never Felt So Good

Dim the lights, pour the champagne and start spinning the circular bed. This one is classic MJ, harking further back to his Jackson 5 days than any other era. It’s a disco-flavoured affair, with a guest spot from Justin Timberlake but it still feels so old fashioned. Everyone’s aware that funk is back thanks to Pharrell but this feels dusty. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still pulling out the daggy Mum moves and loving every second.

Chicago

Opened by deep synths, we’re immediately out of disco-Jackson and into 2000s-Jackson. Apparently this one was originally recorded for his 2001 album, Invincible, and it shows. Timbaland has waved his magic over it and it’s moderately successful. If anything, it’s good to hear that classic MJ grunt again as he sings “Lie to you, Lie to me”.

Loving You

Lets jump backwards again, because now we’re firmly in the motown era. Timbaland and J-Rocc have brought this track into 2014 but I can’t help but wonder whether it would’ve been better left untouched. Or am I just thinking about the whole Jackson legacy in general? Either way, this one’s about as memorable as the last season of the Biggest Loser.

Edit: I’ve just listened to the original version and my earlier thoughts have been confirmed. It would’ve been better left alone.

A Place with No Name

Rihanna’s producers, Stargate fiddled with this one and it’s probably the most successful so far. It maintains a funky baseline but peppers it will a deep pulsating beat. Jackson’s vocals on this are so on point, it’s hard not to enjoy this track. His licks, runs and grunts are all there in abundance and he feels more present than 2Pac’s Coachella hologram. Unlike the previous song, the original version doesn’t hold a candle to the 2014 update.

Slave to the Rhythm

Timbaland’s back on this one and you can tell. It sounds similar to Timberlake’s 20/20 Experience with a shuffling beat and futuristic synths. This is apparently about a house-wife who’s caught in a mundane life but would rather be dancing. Pretty emotional stuff. The track doesn’t really pull through until the euphoric fourth quarter when Timbaland pairs it all back in favor of a glistening synth.

Do You Know Where Your Children Are

This one’s a difficult listen given Jackson’s history with alleged sexual abuse. The industrial percussion and ‘80s synths are there in glorious abundance but it’s hard to just focus on that and not give all your attention to lyrics like “She wrote that she is tired of stepdaddy using her”.

Blue Gangsta

The opening verse of this is Timbaland’s finest moment on the album. The brooding start makes me imagine Jackson emerging onto stage in a smoke machine-induced haze and it’s all sorts of magic. He’s then joined by a brass-heavy beat and everything goes awry. The original of this is so uncomplicated but Timbaland seems to have added and added to it until it’s almost unbearable to listen to. I’m a huge fan of anything brass-related but apparently you can have too much of a good thing.

Xscape

Nothing says contemporary like a misspelt title track. It’s so will.i.am, so Gen-Y, so 2014. Unfortunately that’s where the contemporary aspect of this track ends. Like a large portion of this album, they’ve tried to keep it true to Jackson’s style and still bring it in to 2014. In the end it sounds confused and irrelevant.

 Xscape is out in Australia on 13 May.

bigscary2

Big Scary on the Aussie invasion overseas, hip-hop and the perils of road trippin’

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 It may seem hard to picture in Australia but the Australian invasion in America right now is fiercer than ever. This month already, Iggy Azalea has entered the top 10 on the US charts, Courtney Barnett has played Jimmy Fallon and boy band Five Seconds of Summer have stormed the charts with their debut single. In addition to that, Elizabeth Rose, Flume, Jagwar Ma, The Preatures and Anna Lunoe have been touring the country, impressing widespread crowds.

Big Scary are currently touring the country with Indie-Electronic artist Say Hi, contributing to the mass attention directed at musicians downunder. The Melbourne pair consisting of Tom and Joe have moved from LA to New York where they played two shows.

They’re signed to Barsuk records which is the home of artists like Death Cab For Cutie and Phantogram and have just released their sophomore album Not Art in America.
Tom spoke to us from a van touring from New York to Philadelphia. Despite being plagued by terrible weather and a minor car accident, he managed to chat us through the overseas tour, hip-hop and re-designing the live shows with a smaller band.

the(in)terns: How did the show go in New York?

Tom: It was awesome actually, really good. It’s just a really cool venue with a lot of vibe and we felt really relaxed.

How have the shows been going in the US overall?

Generally really good. I think we’re a bit surprised at how well we’ve been doing but more in our own capacity as performers. I thought I would’ve got sick and lost my voice but I’m still hanging in there. I think we’re happy about that and we definitely haven’t had any train wreck shows. Some have been better than others, but it’s been really good so far.

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Is it odd going through the whole album release again overseas?

It kind of is. It’s not odd it’s more, we know the songs so well. So it’s different like that. When we were touring with them back home in Australia they were kind of fresh and new to us so there was a nervousness about playing them along with the excitement of doing something new. Now, we have performed them plenty but we also don’t have that nervousness like “am I going to remember what to play in this part” or “what happens here or there”. It’s more relaxing and we can concentrate on the performance on the night which has been really cool.

Is this your first time touring in the US?

I guess as a proper tour, yeah. We’ve come over and done CMJ and South by Southwest before and a few little showcase shows and so we’ve been to New York and LA but this time we’ve just driven from West coast to East coast then down South before we head back West. It’s a completely different thing really.

Have the songs developed in the live arena since the release of Not Art?

Absolutely. I think more out of necessity. Back home we had two other band members to help us out with new songs but over here we couldn’t afford to bring them over. We were thinking we would do it over here as a two piece but just by chance it worked out that Say Hi was available and his album release cycle was going to line up. The tour together was looking good and along with that he was willing to learn a few songs and play along during our set. We’ve had to strip the songs back a bit and kind of re-interpret them in different parts. Back in Australia we had the other guys doing quite technical things with more instruments involved but with Eric we only had a few days where he had to learn everything and we didn’t want him doing too much. We didn’t want him playing three different keyboards so we re-interpreted just for him to play on a bass guitar. I think we’ve been quite successful though.

Is it exciting to come overseas and see rooms fill up on the other side of the world?

Yeah absolutely. Two years ago we played the Mercury Lounge and it was pretty empty, but last night we had a full room. Having been there before, it struck us as something pretty cool. We’ve played a string of shows rights through the country. Some shows have been bigger than others but every show there’s been at least a fan or a couple of fans just there to see us. It’s cool that we can make music in Melbourne, Australia and someone overseas has heard us and loves the music enough to want to pay money again just to see us.

Are you finding you’re encountering lots of Australians over in the US?

Yeah. I guess it’s like even when you’re travelling you tend to bump into Australians wherever you go. It was nice to bump into Courtney [Barnett] and her guys. We toured together back home and so that’s how that friendship started. She’s doing so well over here so it was cool to see them and give them a hug before they headed off to the UK.

[Tom interrupts the interview]

Sorry, this weather is insane. It’s seems to be getting worse and worse. Jo just got out of the van because this guy just pulled up and slammed his door into the van.

Is everything okay?

Yeah, Jo is inspecting the damage. Sorry to interrupt.

How did it all come together with Barsuk records?

It’s something that initially started from connections we built from our early trips in 2012. We made a really good connection with a music lawyer based just outside of New York and once we got him on board he started working on getting us out there and doing his thing amongst the labels out of our sights. It was handled by a manager and we were back home. And then we got an email through that Barsuk had heard the album and loved it and were keen to do something with it.

Are you writing and recording over here?

We had every intention to. Jo and I had a writing session a few weeks ago and we had a bunch of cool ideas so I bought my iPad over and put GarageBand on it. But time just seems to be swallowed up on the road.

Are you finding it’s harder to break the US than it was in Australia?

It’s hard to tell. Nothing ever really happens as suddenly as it appears on the outside. It might seem from someone watching us on the outside that this has happened quickly but it’s never really the case. Jo and I have been playing together for seven or eight years so even in Australia we’re still an up and coming band even though we’ve been playing together for that long. Over here it’s kinda the same. It’s a slow but steady thing for us. Things are definitely moving in the right direction and slowly which I think is a healthy thing. The Barsuk guys are in tune with that. They want to do things organically and do things when the time is right. It’s a long term thing and it has to be for it to work.

I wanted to know if you actually think Hip-Hop sucked in 2013, as alluded to on Not Art?

That tracks actually a reference to another similarly named track. It’s a nod of the hat to an artist who influenced our sound on the Not Art record. It’s not a reprint action of our feelings towards hip-hop. Hip-hop production was a really big influence on the sound of the album and how we approached recording and arranging. It’s definitely not how we feel. Hip-hop has been a new discovery for me personally and I think it’s the most exciting genre in terms of production.

I thought the drum loop on Luck Now was reminiscent of that sentiment. Were you trialling new production techniques on the record?

Yeah absolutely. Production is something I’ve been getting into and we were keen to try new things. When the album was being made we had a whole lot less time together to play because of other commitments. And so it had to be made in a different way than the first record. We didn’t have the same time to write and then go into a studio. We did it on the fly.

Gig information can be found through their website

pharrell@

Why you need to be friends with Pharrell

Kermit Cintron vs Walter Mathysse

Turning 41 just last week, Pharrell Williams is a multi-Grammy award-winning, Oscar-nominated, TIME’s most influential people, chart topping superstar producer, singer and songwriter and the most popular guy in school music. Showing no signs of slowing down, this mega-producer is hot property and if it is not already hideously obvious, here a few reasons why we all need to get chummy with Pharrell.

He has seen Daft Punk without their helmets.

Actually, let us rephrase that. He has seen Daft Punk, period. Which is more than most of us will be able to say in our lifetime. Plus he has bragging rights to some of the French duo’s best new hits, “Lose Yourself to Dance” and that relatively minor sensation, ‘Get Lucky’.

Kermit Cintron vs Walter Mathysse

His fashion sense is out of this world.

With his own signature Vivienne Westwood hat, Pharrell’s style evolution has been fearless and effortlessly trendsetting (and adorably goofy) over the years. He is also the co-founder of two clothing brands, and has his own Louis Vuitton jewellery line.

You can’t say the guy hasn’t got game, wearing this to the Oscars.

Picture 2 - Pharrell

He is 41 years old, and we are totally cool with that.

This Benjamin Button of the music world truly gets better with age. No really, this guy is immortal. He doesn’t look a day past 25.

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If he had a party, everyone would come.

Pharrell has worked with literally everyone in the industry, whether it is singing for Daft Punk or Robin Thicke, or producing for Shakira, Jennifer Lopez, Beyoncé, Kelis, Britney, Lupe Fiasco, Justin Timberlake, Usher or Frank Ocean.

Coachella 2014 saw Pharrell bring the largest posse on stage, both weekends. Gwen Stefani, Nelly, Snoop Dogg, Diplo, Tyler the Creator, Usher, Busta Rhymes, Rapper T.I, Pusher T and Jay-Z! Heck, even Lorde and Haim were up there dancing at one point with Beyoncé cheering fiercely on the sidelines.

As it seems his peers, just like his fans, genuinely admire and adore him.

He probably owned most of your high school iTunes library.

Recognise any of these babies? Pharrell produced, wrote, co-wrote or featured in all of them.… and they were fricken’ awesome.

I’m a slave 4 U (Britney Spears), Rockstar (N.E.R.D), Work it out (Beyoncé), Senorita (Justin Timberlake), Hot in Herre (Nelly), Milkshake (Kelis), Hollaback Girl (Gwen Stefani), Drop it like it’s hot (Snoop Dog)…..the list goes on.

His second solo album, ‘Girl’ was released this year. His first in eight years!

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“Women are a phenomenal force in my life and in my career” and “the cornerstone of existence”,  Pharrell spoke in media conference earlier this year. He went on to envisage a future world in which “75% of it is run by women … and I want to be on the right side of it.”

So the general consensus is that Pharrell has a perfectly healthy, un-creepy appreciation for girls.

Whether it’s the charming jungle beat of ‘Lost Queen’, the cheeky disco groove of ‘Hunter’ or the punchy opener ‘Marilyn Monroe’, this album definitely offers up a little somethin’ somethin’ for everyone. He has even enlisted friends (more friends!!), Miley Cyrus, Kelly Osbourne, Hollywood’s hottest composer Hans Zimmer, Justin Timberlake, Timberland and vocals from Daft Punk to lend a hand, just because he can – marking an exciting step forward for the producer in 2014.

And I dare you not to dance to this.

Then there’s this…

Oprah. Pharrell crying. It’s all too much.

What a guy.

 Oh, and this…

Picture 5 - Pharrell.jpg

sideshows2

The best of the Splendour in the Grass sideshows

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Making the trek to Splendour in the Grass is not often feasible for everyone- taking a sickie around that time is never easy to pull off and a cool $500 doesn’t always fall in front of you. Luckily there’s the sideshows. Those gigs in the comfort of a roofed venue with shorter bar queues, less gumboots and no sudden dust storms.

You could easily spend as much as a Splendour ticket on the sideshows so we’ve put together a few sideshows that are unmissable. While a few of the big acts, namely Outkast, are only playing their festival set in Byron, there’s a plethora of acts to wash away those Splendour blues.

London Grammar

The British trio was last in the country for Falls Festival where they impressed with their brooding, melancholic sound. Since then, they have stormed the charts with their single, Strong, and as a result will play some huge shows when they’re here in July. The first thing that will capture your attention is front woman Hannah Reid’s mammoth voice, then you’ll be drawn in by the humble, starry night feeling of the live show.

“A completely assured and quite remarkable vocal. It is as unusual as it is impressive, and warm lower registers are married with piercing high notes with maturity beyond young years.” – The Line of Best Fit

Tuesday, 22 July – Festival Hall, Melbourne

Thursday, 24 July – Horden Pavilion, Sydney

Kelis

Kelis is the chameleon of music. Her latest album, Food, is a huge departure from the dance sound of her previous album, Flesh Tones. It’s brassy, soulful and most of all full of Kelis’ big, raspy voice. It’s unlikely you’ll hear anything about Milkshakes but there will be Jerk Ribs and Fried Chicken aplenty. She’s been driving around the US serving signature dishes from a food truck in support of her new album so let’s hope we get the same service here in Aus.

“She is unafraid to let the cracks show in her signature husk, conveying a calming intimacy on Floyd and an awe-inspiring grandeur on the mariachi-tinged Change.” – The Guardian

Tuesday, 22 July – Prince Bandroom, Melbourne

Wednesday, 23 July – HIFI, Sydney

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Future Islands

Baltimore band, Future Islands, have been floating around for a while but they have only made headlines recently with their new album Singles and by becoming David Letterman’s favourite new band. Lead-singer Samuel T. Herring is the focal point. He sings like Morrisey and dances somewhere in between Peter Garrett and Paul Simon and is unlikely to leave you without a strong opinion on the aesthetic of the show.

The verdict:

“The band’s new album Singles turns its synth-rock throb into something stickier and friendlier than it’s been on previous records, and on the evidence of last night, those songs sound amazing live.” – Stereogum

Sunday, 27 July – OAF, Sydney

Monday, 28 July – Corner Hotel, Melbourne

Sky Ferreira

Ferreira made a quick trip to Australia in March for a small, sell-out show in Sydney. The calls for a return were made loud and clear following that show and she’s delivered. Expect euphoric pop, delivered in a gothic, grungy and industrial guise. Based off recent reviews, she’s delivering one of the best live shows around at the moment and may well take the crown of Sheezus (aka. Lily Allen) as queen of Splendour in the Grass 2014.

“On stage, she’s personable, committed and raw, and while her songs carry just the right amount of sugary melody to appease those with a penchant for pop, the grinding guitars and rollicking drums suggest that, in Ferreira’s world at least, pop is a dirty word.” – Music Feeds

Wednesday, 23 July – Prince Bandroom, Melbourne

Friday, 25 July – Metro Theatre, Sydney

Jungle

You won’t see many photos of Jungle hanging around the internet. They’re as enigmatic as they come but the mysterious British duo is making some serious waves with their funk-induced sound. Jungle have mostly performed under a thick smoke-machine induced smog, but apparently most people are so busy grooving that there is barely time to notice. This may be one of the only times to see them live in a small venue before shit gets real (ie. the word spreads).

“All their soul and swagger translated to the live setting, particularly thanks to a sumptuous drum sound and some gospel-like backing vocals.” – Line of Best Fit

Tuesday, 29 July – The Corner, Melbourne

Wednesday, 30 July – Oxford Arts Factory, Sydney

Tune-Yards

With just three albums under her belt it’s difficult to call Merrill Garbus a veteran of her trade but such is her competence. Her live-shows are known for being experimental, built on live-vocal layering and drum-heavy sounds and are bound to be one of the most interesting sideshows. Her new album Nikki Nack features a few RnB flavours alongside her usual chanting-soul, so a few grinds may be in order if that’s your kind of thing.

“It’s weird music, for sure. But it’s also one of the best live shows out there.” – CMJ

Thursday, 24 July – Howler, Melbourne

Monday, 28 July 2014 – OAF, Sydney

 

Tickets go on sale Friday, May 9 at 9am.

 

lizzierose

Elizabeth Rose on New York, Lady Gaga comparisons and the new album

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At just 22, Australia’s own Elizabeth Rose is as audacious as they come. Making her headline debut in New York, she took to the stage at the Mercury Lounge, just down the road to the iconic Katz’s Deli. Unlike the mammoth pastrami sandwiches Katz’s is so famous for, Rose is a petite performer. Petite, however, is no description of her show.

Playing in front of a small but highly receptive crowd, Rose was a valiant performer. Working her way through songs from the EP, she had the crowd dancing in seconds. At just 2 EPs, it’s a testament to the young artist that she was able to hold the attention of a crowd largely unbeknownst to her music.

The triple hit of Sensibility, her cover of Rhythm of the Night and The Good Life, proved the strength of her back catalogue. The best part about watching her is it looks like she knows it too. She often moves away from her keyboard to face the crowd front-on and throws some dance moves Solange would be proud of.

While her stage demeanour is confident, off-stage Elizabeth Rose presents a different side. She’s softly-spoken and polite yet talks knowledgeably about modern RnB and the sound she’s channelling.

the interns sat down with Rose in a dodgy Mexican cafe in the Lower East Side just before her New York headline to chat Lady Gaga comparisons, YouTube comments and the impending album.

I saw that you were working with Sinden and TokiMonsta. How did those sessions go?

Elizabeth Rose: Yeah they went well. That was in LA last week. The session with TokiMonsta was really good. I met up with her last time. She recently did a remix for me for my single Sensibility. The session with Sinden went well as well. It’s still very early stages.

Is the album starting to take shape?

Yeah. I’ve written about 3/5 of it. I know what sound I want.

Are you finding its a different process from writing the two EPs?

Yeah definitely. It’s a lot more rushed, doing it all while the EPs still doing well. This time around I’m focussing on getting melody and chord progression down rather than worrying too much about details of production. It’s kind of helping- we get through the demos quicker. It’s hard because I usually do the instrumentation first- I do the whole song and then I do the bass-line and then I come back and write the melody and lyrics. But it’s been really refreshing to do it the other way.

Have you found after the good life did so well that you were surprised and thought, oh wow, now I have to get back to work?

Yeah it was really surprising. I was really shocked at how well received The Good Life was. Mostly from Triple J. They really supported it. It’s been great. Since that single everything’s just been gradually building.

How did you find the Australian tour last month?

Yeah the tour was really good. It sold out in Melbourne, Adelaide and Sydney. I’ve never done that before so it’s really exciting. Now it’s this next phase where I think “ok I’ve gotta buckle down and put some hard work in for this album”.

Did you enjoy the response to your cover of Rhythm of the Night?

It was really cool. I was worried because so many people say the nastiest things on YouTube. If they don’t like it they’ll rip it apart. But yeah most of it has been positive. The only negative comment was that I need to get more sun.

Do you read most of those comments?

Yeah. I’m sensitive. But someone wrote as a reply to that person, “it’s called a studio tan you arsehole” [laughs]

How was the show in LA?

Yeah it was good. We had a few technical problems but the crowd was into it. People were calling out for me to play Sensibility which was really cool. I thought no one would know that song at the show but it was a really good turn-out. I’m looking forward to tonight [in New York].

Seeing you’re now in a huge music hub, What’s your classic New York song?

I’d say something by Frank Sinatra.

What sort of expectation do you have when you play a show overseas?

I think when I’m overseas that nobody will turn up. It’s starting all over again, you feel like you’re all the way back at the bottom but it’s good to be surprised.

Did it seem like the road of starting out in Australia to selling-out venues was slow or quick?

Yeah it was slow. Slow and gradual. I’m happy that it took time thought because a lot has happened over the last few years- experiencing playing a festival for the first time, releasing an EP for the first time. It felt like the right pace for me. I feel quite comfortable with the way everything’s panned out. If it was happening too quickly i think I’d be quite anxious about it.

How did recording and writing change between the two EPs?

It changed quite drastically. I was in a totally different headspace for my first EP. It wasn’t really me having a solid concept it was more “here’s a bunch of songs I wrote, I wanna release something, let’s do this”. That one sounds a lot different to the second one because I didn’t really put much thought into it. With the second EP, I had a sound and a concept for it, so it felt like this one had a stronger feel to it. But also my writing has developed as well. Constantly writing has really strengthened that muscle. I’ve found the sound that I like now.

What about the live shows, do you enjoy having more material to play with?

Yeah, I love playing gigs now. I’m going to try and start playing some new new stuff soon so I’m really excited about that. Hopefully when I get back maybe I’ll play some shows with new songs, maybe if I get them ready in time. It’s really exciting to play new stuff and go “what do you think of this?”

Is there anything that’s influenced the direction you’ve gone in with your new material?

Nothing really new. It’s a progression on from the EP where I’ve taken on a bit more RnB. I always am inspired by the music I’ve grown up to like Brandy and Missy Elliot and all those really cool RnB artists. That’s always going to stay with me. Recently, I’ve been listening to some more experimental electronic music, some minimal techno.

I’ve noticed FKA twigs as well. Are you trying to find your own niche inside the RnB genre?

Yeah. I’m not consciously striving for it. I don’t really try and write anything, it’s just what I would like to listen to. I don’t have a sound in mind that I want to make it sound like. It’s just if it sounds good to me in the studio, I’ll go with.

Have you had any songs that you love in the studio and then listen to it with a collection of others and think it doesn’t fit?

Yeah that happened recently with a demo I wrote. It kind of has more of that ’90s pop feel with melody. It reminds me of that song by Olive. I was like, “shit, I’ve written something that doesn’t fit”.

How was your last trip to America?

It was good. I played six shows. It was a bit rushed and hit n miss every show. The venues were just like one fold-back speaker. But I got good feedback from it. I did a club show at the end which was great. I feel like I fit a club scene rather than a live band venue. This time around it’s going to be different. That time was really to get the word out about my music and this time I have the single out and plenty of remixes have been done which helps spread the word.

Have you found that international blogs have helped you overseas?

Definitely. I can’t believe this little trail that you leave. The internet is weird.

Do you like releasing a song and seeing how it’s received and where it’s taken?

Yeah. The TokiMonsta remix of Sensibility actually helped a lot. It’s created a lot of hype.

[soundcloud]https://soundcloud.com/elizabethrose/sensibility-tokimonsta-remix[/soundcloud]

Do you ever read a review of somebody writing about your music that says it sounds like something that you disagree with?

Everybody compares everything to anything these days. Like Spotify says listen to this, if you like that. I’ve read things in the past where Lady Gaga was mentioned and I was like “I don’t think so, you were at the wrong show”.

Are you writing with any Australian producers for the album?

I’d like to and I have a lot of people I can think of but nothing’s locked down yet.

Do you have a release date in mind?

I don’t know yet. I’d say sometime next year.

Do you have any writing sessions set for London?

Yeah. I’m trying to get in contact with Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs.

What’s the thought process behind choosing to go overseas?

I don’t feel like this year would be appropriate to move overseas but I’ve already started to think about next year. You can only do so much in Australia. After coming back from America last year, to see how big the market is and how many radio stations there are, it’s just so much bigger. I’m sure in Europe I’ll find that too. You’ve got to go where the music is buzzing, you can’t stay at home when there’s stuff happening overseas. I want to be there to be in it. Collaborations are so much easier overseas.

 

After America, Elizabeth Rose heads to Canada and then onwards to Europe. For all the details, click here. 

5fashioncollabs2

Top 5 Music & Fashion Collabs

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Fashion and music often collide, sometimes with great success, sometimes with well, none at all. Cue, Tiesto and Guess’ collaboration. With the news Solange Knowles is following in Zoe Kravitz’s footsteps as the covergirl for ASOS’s June magazine, we decided to have a look at our top five music X fashion collaborations that leave the rest for fashion dead. Yes, Kanye and his t-shirt made the cut. Yes, we’re not sure how to feel about that either.

 

Amy Winehouse X Fred Perry

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The late soul songstress released a total of four collections with iconic Brit-boy label Fred Perry that featured argyle sweaters, short-shorts and polo tops inspired by the singers personal style. Notably, the fourth and final collection was released mere months after the singers passing with all profits being donated to the Amy Winehouse Foundation, a charity for at-risk youth.

 

Rihanna X River Island

Give me a piece o’dat Ri Ri! Not only did Rihanna’s 3 season strong (Spring, Autumn, Winter 2013) collaboration with the British fashion house mean fans had direct access to the starlet’s flamboyant style, it also demonstrated to the family-run business that expansion into Australasia and the US is definitely on the cards. Good news all round, right? The collections included over-sized everythings alongside barely-there nothings in a range of floral, tartan, metallic and camouflage prints. Check out her winter collection if you’re in the market for a ball gown or two.

 

A.P.C X Kanye West

Proving to the fashion industry that he has more to give than that one very white very t-shirt-like t-shirt, Kanye West announced his second collaboration with French brand A.P.C at their capsule collection party in January this year. Featuring military inspired trench coats, American denim-on-denim and a casual blanket or two, West’s latest designs will be available in september this year. Hooray for blanket fashions!

 

PUMA x Solange Disc Collection

My desire to be Solange has just sky-rocketed to new heights. Recently named as Puma’s Creative Consultant, her first undertaking was the “Girls of Blaze” project that saw three New York Designers reinterpret the brand’s iconic Disc System, a tightening system that did away with traditional shoelaces in the 1990s in favour of a rotating dial, via the vibrant street life of Brazil.

 

Adidas X Pharell

Look this is neither here nor there, and we don’t really know what to expect from the collaboration other than it will be gooooood. And probably feature an oversized hat or two.

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Couples that need to tour together

Beyonce and Jay Z have announced their On The Run tour which will see the two travel the US together for the first time since they got together and became the tour de force of the music industry. Crazy and Drunk in love, the self-proclaimed Bonnie and Clyde ‘03 will likely deliver shows that make everybody feel that their current and future relationships are not worthwhile.

Following a well-trodden path laid out by Sonny and Cher and Ike and Tina Turner, Mr and Mrs. Carter are not the first couple to tour together and won’t be the last. We’ve compiled a list of a few couples we believe would make just as worthy tour buddies- for better or worse.

Barack and Michelle Obama

Kermit Cintron vs Walter Mathysse

Who better to rival the first couple of music than the President and the First Lady of the USA. While the pair are not specifically known for their music, each of them have proven ability. Barack infamously sang Let’s Stay Together before his 2012 re-election while Michelle is an avid dancer. Alongside Beyonce, she’s shaken her booty around the country with her Move Your Body fitness campaign and would be the perfect candidate to accompany Mr. President’s soulful crooning. With Barack’s final term in office coming to an end, they will need something else to do. George Bush turned to painting, the Obama’s can turn to Arena RnB.

Kanye West and Kim Kardashian

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Kimye on tour = dollar signs. West is a formidable, stadium rapper and Kim is, well, anything but. In 2011, she released a heavily auto-tuned debut called Jam but nothing has followed since. It’s time she re-lit that flare for music on stage with Yeezus. There would be a live rendition of Bound 2 while she would have to dance alongside Kanye rapping “My trophy on that Bound bike, I gave you only pipe / If people don’t hate then it won’t be right” in I Won. It would be awkward, arrogant and feature plenty of booty. Get me my Gold Meet ‘n’ Greet ticket now.

Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban

Kermit Cintron vs Walter Mathysse

If we can’t get a live duet of Something Stupid between Nicole and Robbie Williams then this will have to do. Nicole’s performance in Moulin Rouge had her belting from Parisian rooftops while Keith’s polite country tang caters for the daggy Mum in everybody. We imagine the Urban Nicole tour being produced by Baz Luhrmann and landing somewhere between a country hoedown and Bewitched. If it didn’t end with an encore including Islands in the Stream, then everyone would be handed refunds.

EDIT: Our prayers were answered. Amazing.

Rihanna and Drake

Kermit Cintron vs Walter Mathysse

We haven’t read Perez Hilton of late but last we heard these two were dating. Rihanna has already toured with Chris Brown so a joint tour would be the best way to consummate their new found love. They’ve already featured alongside each other on Take Care and What’s My Name, so a joint set list wouldn’t be a stretch. Rihanna could stand next to Drake during his set and hand him tissues as he wallows in self-pity about how he started from the bottom AKA. Degrassi.

Calvin Harris and Rita Ora

Kermit Cintron vs Walter Mathysse

This is very scarily a possibility. The dance king and pop princess worked together on Rita’s latest single, I Will Never Let You Down, which would probably be the name of the tour, just to reassure people that they’re committed. Harris would pump out pulsating beats while Rita would try her best to sing Rihanna’s part in We Found Love before realising that she’s still a good girl, caught in the awkward phase before the good girl goes bad. #badgalriri

Matt Bellamy and Kate Hudson

Kermit Cintron vs Walter Mathysse

Muse frontman, Bellamy, is no stranger to Arena rock. Kate however, although used to the bright lights, is a less than competent musician. That’s exactly why this has to happen. She last tried her hand at singing in the film, How To Lose A Guy in 10 Days, proving that she’d be perfect for screeching the guitar riff of Knights of Cydonia or humming the piano line of Starlight. Given Muse’s self-indulgent Coachella performance, her version of You’re So Vein would be a perfect addition to the set.

Chad Kroeger and Avril Lavigne

Kermit Cintron vs Walter Mathysse

If this prediction comes true, then the(in)terns were the first to break the news of an impending apocalypse. Imagine Chad Kroeger’s concrete laden vocals alongside Avril’s bratty chanting and then imagine the two of them serenading each other at a piano to a lounge version of Sk8er Boi. It would be the worst thing to happen to audiences since Ke$ha toured with Pitbull, made even worse by the fact that there would be possible canoodling.

 

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Stream new albums from Lily Allen, Lykke Li and Tune-Yards

Kermit Cintron vs Walter Mathysse

There was a time when avid fans of an artist would wait outside a record store on the release day to be the first to listen. Well now thanks to the internet, everybody wants everything free, apart from when they don’t know they want it and it falls on their lap (#Beyonce). To cater for Generation Now, albums are streamed to stop people downloading illegally, or on the downside, convince people the album is good enough to download illegally. Today, the album streams for some of the most anticipated artists have dropped and we’ve presented them below for your disposal.

Lily Allen- Sheezus

So far the songs released off Sheezus have taught us it’s hard out here for a bitch, that we all get periods and that it’s far more peaceful in an air balloon than on earth. With that in mind, Sheezus will naturally be a pretty educational listen. It’s her first album since her short-lived retirement and venture into vintage clothing and is full of Lily’s trademark quick wit and smut. It seems like all we’ve spoke about in the past week is Ms. Allen and we’re sure to be talking about it a whole lot more following a quick listen to Sheezus.

Listen on iTunes radio.

Read our lessons learnt from Sheezus here.

Lykke Li- I Never Learn

Poor Lykke Li is a bit down in the ditches. Previous to the creation of the album Li said, “I’ve immersed myself in trying to figure out what actually is going on inside of me when the lights go out and the music stops”. What has emerged from that soul searching is a collection of nine ballads featuring a seemingly troubled Lykke Li. It’s not guaranteed to be an easy listen but given Li’s track record it’s not likely to disappoint.

Listen on NPR.

Tune-Yards- Nikki Nack

Merrill Garbus is pushing the boundaries on her third albums. Her first two albums, Bird-Brains and whokill were critical darlings but it looks as if Nikki Nack will push her forth to a wider audience. Speaking of the album, Garbus told Fact that she had to “push myself in new directions and trust that my audience would come with me. And that was a terrifying leap.” That has been seen so far on the colourful Water Fountain and the RnB flavoured, Wait For A Minute. If you’re feeling a little down after listening to Lykke Li, pop on this one for a colour explosion of loops, experimental instruments and playful melodies.

Listen on NPR.

Read our review of Wait For A Minute in Musical Speed Dating here.

Movement- Movement EP

If you’re strapped for time, listen to this shortie from Aussie boys, Movement. The trio is signed to Modular (Cut Copy, The Presets, Tame Impala) and have been a real hot topic overseas of late. Their song, Us, was labelled best new music by Pitchfork as was their latest, Like Lust. If you’re looking for some steamy, after dark music there isn’t a better place to look than right here.

Listen on Soundcloud.

Read our review of EP track Ivory here.

Kermit Cintron vs Walter Mathysse

Top 10 Disses in Pop Music

Kermit Cintron vs Walter Mathysse

The art of the diss song is one that was mastered by hip-hop decades ago. Biggie vs. Tupac, Kanye vs. 50 Cent and more recently Azealia Banks vs. everything and the kitchen sink. It seems, however, pop music is beginning to develop some sting to its candy-laden melodies.

Last week, Lily Allen released the title track from her forthcoming album, Sheezus. In it, she name-drops Beyonce, Lorde, Lady Gaga, Rihanna and Katy Perry before proclaiming “give me the crown bitch, I wanna be Sheezus”. Lily’s no stranger to controversy but taking on Queen B is something very few have survived unscathed.

In celebration of pop’s left turn into darkness, we’ve compiled the 10 best disses in pop music. We were tempted to include Taylor Swift’s entire back catalogue but we got far too confused by her tangled web of celebrity boyfriends.

Taylor Swift- We Are Never Getting Back Together

“And you would hide away and find your peace of mind

With some indie record that’s much cooler than mine”

A record cooler than Taytay’s? Impossible. The Queen of over-sharing took a hit at former boyfriend Jake Gyllenhaal on her 2012 record, Red. The chanting chorus will be forever lodged in his head along with her growing string of other celeb lovers who never took her records as a precautionary warning to not enter into the relationship.

John Mayer- Paper Doll

“You’re like twenty-two girls in one

And none of them know what they’re runnin’ from

Was it just too far to fall?

For a little paper doll”

Warning: Never date a musician who’s as prone to whinging as yourself. Mayer shot back at Swift after their break-up in this polite, alt-country track. It could well be the most beige diss song in pop’s short history of dissing, but it’s a brave move nonetheless. A move that will most likely end in an entire record written about Mayer by the country bumpkin who dabbles in dub-step.

Justin Bieber- All Bad

“Ooh, you know females

And how they like to run their mouths”

Receiving a Bieber diss is very similar to having a dachshund nibbling at your heels: annoying but largely ineffective. The Biebs nibbled at former girlfriend, (or present, now? Someone hand me an NW) Selena Gomez, following their well-publicised break-up and his descent into DUIs and Usher-dissing. Despite this, he’s not all bad.

Mariah Carey- Obsessed

“Finally found a girl that you couldn’t impress

Last man on the earth still couldn’t get this

You’re delusional, you’re delusional”

Mariah was all like, why you so obsessed with me to Eminem in 2009 following a long-feud over whether or not they dated. Mariah goes for it on Obsessed, accusing him of narcotics use (shock) before calling herself ‘the real MC’. Em responded in the same year on The Warning rapping “Shut the f-ck up before I put up all the phone calls you made to my house when you were “Wild N’ Out”. Wisely, Mariah then denied the song was ever about him.

Gwen Stefani- Hollaback Girl

“So Im ready to attack, gonna lead the pack

Gonna get a touchdown, gonna take you out

Thats right, put your pom-poms down, getting everybody fired up”

How could a song with so much time dedicated to bananas be a diss? Previous to Hollaback Girl, Courtney Love said in an interview “I’m not interested in being Gwen Stefani. She’s the cheerleader, and I’m out in the smoker shed.” Gwen responded with a number one single, surely making her the winner of this feud. I’m also willing to bet that Love has been caught spelling BANANAS at one point.

Foo Fighters- I’ll Stick Around

“I had no hand

in your ever desperate plan

it returns and when it lands

words are due”

Courtney Love and Dave Grohl made up this year, in the name in Nirvana, but it has been a very rocky path since the death of Love’s former partner, Kurt Cobain for the pair. Being the gentleman that he is, Grohl doesn’t explicitly call out Love, instead he subtly labels her a controlling bitch- not in those words, exactly.

Chris Brown- Deuces

“You ain’t nothin but a vulture

Always hopin for the worst

Waiting for me to fuck up”

Writing a diss song about a woman you’ve physically abused is never a good idea, but such is the nature of Brown. When Rihanna broke-up with the singer following the incident on the eve of the 2009 Grammy’s, Brown wrote this colourful diss. Last year, he retracted his opinions singing on a guest spot in Tyga’s Fuck For The Road, “I know I make mistakes, I know I f–ked up, but my heart beats for you, baby.” I guess all is forgiven then.

Justin Timberlake- Cry Me A River

“You should’ve picked honesty

Then you may not have blown it”

JT and his pop queen, Britney Spears, seemed like the perfect couple in matching double denim but it seemed it was not to be. Following the split, Timberlake fired out this perfectly constructed RnB moment that just about defines the turn of the millennium, while Britney turned to Kevin Federline. While Cry Me A River was a stroke of genius, Britney coined the phrase ‘it’s Britney bitch’. I’d call it a tie.

Frankee- F U R B

“You questioned did I care

Maybe I would have if you woulda gone down there

Now it’s over

But I do admit i’m glad I didn’t catch your crabs”

Remember Eamon? If not, it’s likely you’ll remember this fiery retort to his 2004 single, Fuck It (I Don’t Want You Back). Frankee claimed that Eamon and her were in a relationship when the song was released, giving reason for her diss. However, as it turns out Frankee had never dated Eamon, not that either of them cared. Frankee earned herself a number one single in Australia and the UK while Eamon was unfazed as he said he stood to earn thousands of dollars worth of royalties from the song. Respectable #popmusic.

Lana Del Rey- So Legit

“Stefani, you suck, I know you’re selling twenty million.

Wish they could have seen you when we booed you off in Williamsburg.”

Meow. It turns out the sultry Video Games singer has a bitchy side. This diss wasn’t even meant to surface, though. It’s a leaked track, meaning that Del Rey likes to strike at her opponents behind their back. It’s likely that her Twitter account would have gone into meltdown following the leak given the sheer force of Lady Gaga’s Little Monsters. So much Summertime Sadness 🙁

 

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Musical Speed Dating 25 April

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Another week, another bunch of unsolicited attacks on unsuspecting musicians in the form of the Musical Speed Date. The selection this week is a hot and sweaty mix of RnB, electronica and rock spiced up with some hands-in-the-air 80’s nostalgia. Sit back and we’ll take you on a cosmic journey through the week’s best (and worst)- just remember to scroll.

Jamie xx- Girl

Sam: The vocal sample is super nice but I feel like the rest just plods along unambitiously…until the end when the drums kick in. I like that. A lot. 3.5

Bianca: More like Jamie XXX. Dayuuumm Girl, that was smooth. 4

Lizzie: Bit too slow for me. The start grabs you but then I feel it slipped away very quickly. Vocals are echoey and cool but not his best. 3

Hannah: The walking bass runs through this track at that perfect, effortlessly cool tempo. It’s a deeper, darker, offering from the DJ and in many ways more concise, dare I say even more predictable than what we’re used to receiving from him.  With its big brass samples and tongue-in-cheek play with soulful blues rhythms it has me even more excited to hear what’s in store from his forthcoming release. 4   HANNAH’S PICK

Movement- Ivory

Sam: Movement are just the most exciting thing in Australia right now. Not only is the voice unbelievable, but the music is also dark, creeping and alluring. When the piano kicks in and the vocals take it up a notch, I get a little bit clammy. And then that guitar. Someone get me water. 4.5   SAM’S PICK

Bianca: Haunting and breathy vocals transport me to the dark, tattooed alleys of NYC. In a good, non-rapey kind of way. The guitar riff is an interesting touch to the finale. 4  BIANCA’S PICK

Lizzie: Great pace in this song. Simple, beautiful voice, and love the rocky guitar solo! 4.5   LIZZIE’s PICK

Hannah: It’s 3am and the throbbing bass is the highway that stretches infinitely in front of you while the world around you changes, throwing up new towns and strange characters. The only speed bump is that god awful guitar solo, but other than that it’s smooth sailing to dawn. 3.5

[soundcloud]https://soundcloud.com/modularpeople/movement-ivory-2[/soundcloud]

Twin Shadow- To The Top

Sam: It’s so explicitly ‘80s that it falls into Simply Red territory and I’m not sure that’s a good thing. When he pulls it back a bit in the verses I follow, but the chorus is OTT. Add black cat, wind and a smoke machine for full effect. 3

Bianca: The chorus is too John Farnham on his fifth (and final) comeback tour. He’s the voice and I’m trying to understand it. 1.5

Lizzie: Errgggh. Not my style at all. Go back to the ‘90s Baywatch film set. 2

Hannah: This just in: Twin Shadow announces John Farnham collaboration. 2.5

[soundcloud]https://soundcloud.com/twin-shadow/to-the-top[/soundcloud]

TALA- Serbia

Sam: A tribal expedition through R&B, TÃLàpulls all the tricks on this one. The percussion hits hard, the vocal manipulation tugs at the ears and the brassy synths rattle the bones. It’s a melting pot of all the right sounds. 4

Bianca: The intro gets straight into it and sets the scene for good things to come. Energetic drums and poppy vocals ensure that dance, tribal and R&B lines are blurred harder than Robin Thicke. 4

Lizzie: I like the layering in this song – not too much to irritate the ears, just enough to keep you bopping. I like the male/female dynamic in the vocals, really works for this track. 4

Hannah: I don’t know what this is? Vaguely drum and bass, electronica, indie? I initially thought it was going in Lykke Li direction before it took what was the first of many turns and left me stumped again. Whatever it is, I like what TÃLÃ Is doing here. 3

[soundcloud]https://soundcloud.com/talaofficial/serbia[/soundcloud]

Chromeo- Ezra’s interlude

Sam: There’s a lot to be said for a simple piano and vocal line. Ezra’s falsetto is like honey and is complimented beautifully by Chromeo’s subtle guitar stabs. My only problem: I want more. It’s like buying anything under a king-sized Cadbury bar. You’re always gonna want the extra inch. 4

Bianca: From the get-go, Ezra’s voice melts in my ears. Chromeo adds a groovy touch to his chocolatey falsetto. Short & sweet. 4

Lizzie: A little too corny for me. Yeah, ok, his voice is sweet. Sickeningly sweet. 3

Hannah: Chromeo do Chromeo so well their obsession with the sweet sound of the ‘80s can be forgiven. Happy memories from Coachella may have me a little biased. 3

[soundcloud]https://soundcloud.com/chromeo/ezras-interlude[/soundcloud]

The Black Keys- Turn Blue

Sam: It’s nice and polite. My problem is the Black Keys are seemingly on the Kings of Leon path to rock n roll beige. RIP. 2

Bianca: Would probably press ‘next’ on iTunes Shuffle. 2

Lizzie: Not what I am used to from the Black Keys, but I am pleasantly surprised. This belongs in a smokey downtown Jazz club, but not something to go and rave about. 3.5

Hannah: Psychedelic surf rock. Been there done that. 2

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Fashion on the Field – Coachella Edition

Coachella is the festival of fame, fashion and fortune. However, many took the arid landscape as an excuse to temporarily hang up their yuppie status in order to express their inner freedoms and undying love for dear old Mother Earth. Not simply concerned with music (well that’s a lie), the(in)terns witnessed a plethora of questionable fashion choices over the three days, from Kimonos and Indian Head dresses to boot-scooting boots teamed with tropical bikinis. With little care for the accessory’s heritage, it seemed fashion was truly a cultural peace maker amongst musos this weekend.

Want to try out some desert-inspired fashion and bring out the #freespirit in you? Click the image below to download your very own Festival Paper Doll to cut and fold into your favourite fashion attire.

 

Fashion on the Field - Coachella Edition

Fashion on the Field – Coachella Edition

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Lily Allen – Sheezus

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Lily Allen has been running her mouth a lot lately about how her latest material is not up to scratch and that her record label has prevented her from releasing the real stuff. After the polite Air Balloon and the party-anthem Our Time, it was looking unlikely that Lily’s quick wit and spite was ever going to make a reappearance. Thankfully, the title track to her forthcoming album, Sheezus, dispels that fear. The song is littered with Allen gold, but we’ve fished for five of the best nugs.

“RiRi isn’t scared of Katy Perry’s roaring”

Lily’s astute observations of the celebrity world are insightful, but is anyone scared of Katy Perry’s roaring? Isn’t it more like a cat’s meow? Badgal RiRi once proclaimed that she was “yeah, yeah, yeah, so hard” so surely she’d be even geared up to take on Perry’s new beau Diplo.

“Lorde smells blood, yeah she’s about to slay you. Kid ain’t one to fuck with when she’s only on her debut”

Out of all the divas mentioned on Sheezus, it looks as if Lily wants to recruit Lorde as her 2IC. She’s obviously impressed by her post-goth look and badass teen vibe, but we’re not sure Lorde would be too keen to be associated with the ‘queen’ given her sentiments in a little ditty called Royals.

“Queen B’s gone back to the drawing Lorde”

Lol. She replaced board with Lorde. Great use of poetic license. But seriously, don’t mess with B. One minute, you’re sitting comfortably on the throne and the next Yonce drops a surprise the size of an atomic bomb.

“Give me the crown bitch, I wanna be Sheezus”

Kim Kardashian may have something to say about this but we think Mr and Mrs Yeezus would make a great couple. Both have skipped any sort of media training and run their mouths as much as, well, Jesus. The only problem is, Kanye has his sights set on being a God, while Lily wants to be a queen. Surely at 88 years of age, Queen Lizzy would be an easy one to knock from the throne.

“Periods, we all get periods. Every month, that’s what the theory is”

This is more than I could’ve ever learnt in sex ed. Thanks Lily. Got it.

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