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FLI_KLAXONS

Friday Lock-in: Klaxons- Love Frequency

FLI_KLAXONSFriday night lock-in is all about the record. We lock ourselves away with no phones and no way to escape (apart from fire exits of course. OH&S). It’s a way to dissect a new album in a roundtable format as well as completely disregard other’s ideas and talk loudly as you assert your own opinion.

The first LP we are taking on is the Klaxons’ new one, Love Frequency. Love Frequency is the third album from the British band. It sees them take a more electronic-route with production touches from people like LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy and Gorgon City. We’ve got our dancing shoes poised ready to take to Love Frequency.

New Reality

Hannah: It feels like the song your high school band would cover at your graduation ceremony or something. Like at a high school talent show.

Sam: I liked it. I thought it was nice and really overtly melodic.

Lizzie: It reminded me of what I used to like and that was all wrong. His voice is screechy.

Sam: Screechy?

Lizzie: Yeah it’s just kind of like, whiny. It was just a little bit off.

Bianca: Purposely off. But I think it was a good intro to the album.

Sam: I agree. Good intro. With a nice little twinkly synth bit.

There Is No Other Time

Hannah: Chromeo, Chromeo, Chromeo

Bianca: This is the first song I heard from the album and it made me really excited for it. I think it’s classic Klaxons with a twist.

Sam: I don’t think it’s classic Klaxons at all.

Bianca: I know it’s a new style but it is still THEM.

Sam: I think the only thing left is the voice. It’s like what is the rest of the band doing? But it’s a classic. I feel like a Klaxons fan would wait for that in a set.

Bianca: I goes intro, verse, chorus, verse etc. Very textbook but it’s really good. My favourite part was when the breakdown and the final chorus combined. It builds in a really nice way. But the thud really grates my ears. It’s just a constant big thud that runs though the chorus and the verses.

Hannah: I dunno. I quite like it.

Bianca: Maybe it’s just my shit speakers.

[soundcloud]https://soundcloud.com/klaxons/there-is-no-other-time[/soundcloud]

Show me a Miracle

Bianca: I like it. It’s really catchy. My favourite bits are the chorus and the breakdown.

Sam: The vocal samples are cool.

Lizzie: It sounds like Fragma’s “Toca’s miracle,” so every time he started singing I couldn’t concentrate on it because I had another dance song in my head (classic Lizzie).

Sam: I think his voice is familiar. It’s comforting. But at the same time it sounds like Yeasayer four years ago. Which is weird because they’re trying to be so new.

Bianca: Yeah I’m feeling a bit of nostalgia.

Hannah: To say they consider this album their debut album, they’re not heading in any new direction or breaking any ground.

Bianca: Maybe they’re even moving backwards?

Sam: They’ve struggled since their first album.

Bianca: Their first album was much less predictable

Lizzie: There are some cool things happening here, but like you said, there’s a familiarity…which isn’t a Klaxons familiarity, it’s from other established artists.

Hannah: It’s a bit of a teaser song. It hints at some really great moments but never fully goes there.

Sam: But at the same time… I kind of feel like… Indie Pop Rock is kind of… dead

Girls: OOOOOHHHHHHHH, big declaration!

Sam: It’s not around in the same way it would have been if Friendly Fires came back when they released that 8 minute song two months ago. I just don’t feel like there’s a place for it anymore.

Hannah: I think we’re just a little Klaxoned out.

Out of the Dark

Lizzie: Favourite song of the album.

Bianca: I think someone really needs to give him a light to go home to his wife Keira.

Hannah: Go home and stay home.

Sam: I find the lyrics, “If you believe in love, I believe in you,” inexcusable.

Lizzie: … Bit vomit worthy.

Hannah: …Offensive.

Sam: Unnecessary.

Sam: You know what? I prefer that Kylie Minogue song “ IIIIII believe…” to this.

Lizzie: I think this song made sense. You know, there was rhythm, the voice was ok…. everything was ok, it wasn’t great.

Bianca: I think there were some nice little moments. The bridge in particular.

Hannah: Definitely the most… cohesive of all the songs on the album. It’s very catchy, it doesn’t overpower you. People will like it and will listen to it again.

Sam: I think they’re gone in with the attitude ‘Ps get degrees’ and if that’s the case then… you’ve got an album.

Children of the Sun

Bianca: Hate it. He’s so purposely off tune it’s offensive. I find with all of their songs, I’m able to sing along to after the first verse and I’m not sure if it’s a good thing…it’s the same formula over and over again.

Hannah: Yeah, really, really, predictable with their song formula and they really, really like to recycle the song title throughout the song.

Sam: I don’t think this song even deserves us talking about it. It just sounds like an awful cover of Kasabian.

Hannah: Can we just skip it?

Lizzie: Yep. No time for it.

Invisible Forces

Hannah: So far on this album the Klaxons have proved they’re really good at a first impression, that first four bars, and then it just goes into their predictable formula and you tire of it quickly.

Sam: It’s like they have all these little notes saying, “Yeah we’re going to do that,” and then they just bulldoze over it with what they’ve already done.

Lizzie: They give you so much potential, plateau and then bring it back at the end.

Hannah: Yeah, great intros, a bit of a break down and some serious crap in between.

Sam: I feel like it’s when you come back from a long exchange and you have all these ideas that you’re going to be changed. Be nice to your mum, be nice to your friends, when really you’re just the same person you were with little intermittent changes.

Hannah: Yeah, maybe you vacuum a little more now?

Bianca: Hey! I drink cider now!

Lizzie: I just can’t get over the corniness of their lyrics.

Bianca: They’ve always had corny lyrics.

Sam: I don’t mind the corny lyrics.

Bianca: Agreed. I’m more of a tune gal than a lyric gal.

Rhythm of Life

Bianca: Soooo they need a lesson in minimalism.

Lizzie: Yeah, it’s just noise. So much noise. There’s no clarity.

Sam: Someone just needs to come in and slash away the shit.

Lizzie: And get some rhythm.

Hannah: They have a lot of potentially good ideas…and then they just don’t know how to cull.

Sam: I feel like, where is James Murphy from LCD Soundsystem in all of this? They’re the kings of just keeping it really simple and letting it build.

Lizzie: I don’t like muffled guitar. It’s not sexy. There’s nothing sexy about this, I feel like British guitar solos can be so much sexier than this cloudy bullshit they’re giving us.

Sam: Yeah, like Arctic Monkeys for example.

Lizzie: Yeah. Clean and clear.

Hannah: Sometimes it’s really good to be smacked in the face by a song… but with these ones it’s just… not.

Bianca: Yeah! Their old album used to smack you in your face but in a good way!

Hannah: Yeah! This isn’t a loving smack.

Sam: That’s because their old album was really driven by those drums, whereas they’ve replaced the drums in this one with a beat and then gone “wer, wer, wer,” with a guitar. Can we have sound FX in the article?

*All break into sound FX*

Liquid Light

Bianca: It was nice.

Sam: It was pleasant.

Lizzie: I liked…. that he wasn’t singing.

Bianca: C’mon, you said you like his voice.

Lizzie: Yeah… but in this circumstance I like that is wasn’t there?

Hannah: I like it… in its absence. It perhaps went on a verse too long?

Bianca: It probably would have served well as an interlude rather than a stand-alone song. I would have liked them to take on more of this sound in their other songs. Change it up a bit.

All together: Yeaahhhhh.

Hannah: I like it. We like it

The Dreamers

Hannah: I think this is the most inoffensive song, and it’s also the most forgettable song we’ve heard so far.

Sam: I think it’s more subtle than the rest and I like that. I think the melodic harmonies are more subtle and that’s really nice.

Bianca: I wouldn’t listen to this song on its own, but it’s a nice addition to the album

Sam: See, I would listen to it on its own and I think it’d like it even more. Here it’s after 8 songs and I’m a bit over this song now.

Lizzie: It’s like a relief.

Bianca: It gives me a chance to mop up the blood from my ears from the first series of ear-fucks.

Sam: It is necessary though.

Bianca: Chance to gather our thoughts.

Hannah: Yeah, it allows time for reflection… I just feel like you didn’t need to sing “La, la, la, la, la…” to give people this reflection.

Sam: True. But then I feel like it wouldn’t sound right on the album if they weren’t singing “ la, la, la, la…”

Hannah: You mean if they didn’t have lame lyrics?

Atom to Atom

Hannah: Well, that’s a surprise.

Sam:…I don’t know, I just don’t know….

Hannah: I’m exhausted by this album.

Sam: That drop was absolutely ridiculous. I feel like someone was speeding around me on a motorbike and hitting a tin can.

Lizzie: No words for this album.

Hannah: It’s like a woodpecker pecking the side of your head

[soundcloud]https://soundcloud.com/klaxons/atom-to-atom[/soundcloud]

Love Frequency

Bianca: I waited THAT WHOLE TIME, and it was so close but it never climaxed.

Lizzie: Left. Hanging.

Hannah: It was never great to begin with.

Sam: Really?

Bianca: I had really high expectations for that.

Sam: I liked it and I actually liked that it didn’t drop. None of the music I listen to have a drop, so I don’t know why I got so excited for one but I’m actually feeling quite anxious and panty.

Bianca: Well, all the other songs follow the same method.. this one is kind of a little different in a good way.

LIzzie: True. That was my favourite, weirdly. I don’t know why. I hated it but I loved it.

Sam: That’s because there was a chance of a drop and you were like, “Oh Fuck yeah!”

Hannah: It’s just like when you first start having sex… It’s not all that great it begin with, it’s a little all over the place and then there’s promise of something great at the end… that just never really happens either.

Sam: Wait. That was only when you first started having sex?

*Laughter*

SAFIA3

SAFIA want to be brought back from the dead as a hologram & other things I learnt from our interview

SAFIA3

Halfway through their first ever National headline tour, SAFIA have taken Australia by storm. Continuing their success from their 2013 Groovin’ the Moo competition win, the Canberra trio, consisting of Ben Woolner, Michael Bell and Harry Sayers, have nearly sold out all their shows. With only two released songs to their name, Listen to Soul, Listen to Blues and Paranoia, Ghosts and other Sounds the result is a pretty mean feat. An achievement not lost on lead singer, Ben. I had a chat with him about their recent success.

“It’s nuts. I don’t get it. We’ve only put out two songs and people are paying for an hour of music that they essentially don’t know.”

Growing up and attending school together, Ben, Michael and Harry went through “a bunch of bands and phases.” Ben came from a rock background and then the trio formed a “pop punk band and then got influenced by the Australian prog scene with Cog and The Butterfly Effect kinda stuff.” They then moved onto heavier sounds, followed by a more indie route a la Kings of Leon. Ben states that once he “tried everything in the band scene”, he found it was good but became “limiting.” It was then that he explored electronic music which “had no limitations.”

“Even back when Skrillex first put out that song Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites and it was so foreign. And then from there, because (that song) was so in your face, I started going into underground electronic stuff and started really liking it.”

QQ2_copy

The reception to SAFIA has been huge considering only two songs have been released, and it seems like their fans are gagging for more. “It’s crazy. It’s good. It feels like we’ve got a lot more we can do with releases. We can keep it going for a while even before an album.”

So is there an album in the works? It seems as if the boys are holding off for now, instead piling up songs “in hope of an album” and building their “profile to the stage where (they) can make a really, really good first album” without the danger of the tracks getting lost if they were to be released in an EP.

What can those people lucky enough to snag tickets to the sold-out shows expect to see?

“I think we pride ourself on having a really dynamic live show that goes up and down and has quiet moments mixed with really big, over the top moments. It kinda just goes everywhere. We try and go for the more theatrical, band show.”

QQ1 copy

With only two songs currently known to the public, the majority of the shows will consist of new material. So how is the new material being received?

“Really good. A lot of the new stuff we’ve been playing for a while in sets and there is a lot of songs we know generally get received well by the crowd because of the general beats. A lot of the unreleased stuff is a tad more dancey than the two songs that are out. Instantly you can move to them and you don’t need to know the lyrics straight away.”

And can the crowd expect to hear any covers?

“We play one cover which we are hoping to release soon on live and then we do our remix of Tear it Down by The Ashton Shuffle.”

[soundcloud]https://soundcloud.com/safia-music/the-aston-shuffle-tear-it-1[/soundcloud]

 

“We also cover Cavalier by James Vincent McMorrow.”

I enlighten Ben about my attendance to James Vincent’s concert in the Sydney Opera House during Vivid, to which he seemed to admit he was quite ready to drop everything and head to that instead.

“Ah so jealous! We were playing a show. I was like, ‘let’s cancel this and go to James Vincent!’ We do that song with our skin on it. I can’t wait to put it out because it gets super well-received at our live shows. He does go super high and we do it in the original key so I’ve gotta get up there as well.”

So can Ben hit dat falsetto James Vincent is so famous for?

“I can. I can. But I’ve gotta watch it with the partying. If I party too hard the night before it gets a bit grainier.”

I express that it’s really cool to see other artists doing covers of each other, giving the example of James Vincent McMorrow covering Higher Love and then SAFIA in turn covering James.

“It’s artist-inception. It’s a song within a song within a song.”

QQ4

It’s been half a year since I saw SAFIA for the first time at the Electronic Music Conference Spotlight show. Things have changed a bit since then. For one, according to Ben, it’s noticeable in the live shows that they’ve been ‘spending a lot of time writing’ as opposed to their early material which mainly consisted of ‘half-finished demos’ with ad-libbed vocals.

“Now, most of the songs are fully written. They’ve got specific parts and vocal backing tracks. It’s a lot more polished. Instead of playing from song-to-song, it’s now kind of like a show.”

During their March/April tour with Elizabeth Rose, SAFIA were given the news that they would be supporting Lorde on her April/May Australian tour.With only three weeks to prepare, Ben states that they were pressed for time to ‘get it all ready quick’.

“We were like, ‘ah, God!’ and rushing to organise our live set to get it perfect. You can’t get away with bad setup like you can in a small club.”

It was then that Lorde had to postpone the shows to July instead due to illness. Although it was a “disappointment when she postponed”, which Ben adds is completely understandable “because it gets exhausting doing all the touring”, SAFIA were then able to have a “month off to write.”

“It has been a blessing in disguise. We have a solid set that we are happy with now.”

Praise the Lorde.

QQ_Hologram

The boys have come so far since being chosen as the Triple J Unearthed band for Canberra last year. In their short rise to prominency they’ve picked up a few tips.

“Just keep working super hard and writing. Write and continue to build the craft and don’t put all your money on one song. It’s a long process. We’ve still got a long way to go. It’s not an overnight thing. I remember Harley (Flume)’s first demo was sent into FBi in 2008 or something. So, get as much help as you can.”

Ben states that one thing that helped them in the beginning was to have someone to manage them and give them a “perspective of what to release.”

“You can make the music but then a lot of musicians don’t know the next steps. It’s not as simple as just putting it online. Sometimes it is, if it’s an amazing tune but there’s a lot that goes into that. Doing your research and asking around, asking bands in your hometown. We’re more than happy to answer people on Facebook. It’s a big long process to get a song released and on radio.”

QQ5 copy

It seems that with there being more SAFIA demand than supply, there isn’t a shortage of remixes floating around to fill the gaps between releases. Ben seems to be quite impartial to a favourite.

“They’re all good in their own way. We select all our remixes because we’re independent so we organise with our management ourself what we want the package to be.The one I still love is the Indian Summer one of ‘Listen To Soul’. It’s a cool take on it.”

[soundcloud]https://soundcloud.com/safia-music/listen-to-soul-listen-to-1[/soundcloud]

“There’s also a Leaderboy one which is a cool down-tempo, techno thing.”

[soundcloud]https://soundcloud.com/safia-music/listen-to-soul-listen-to[/soundcloud]

“I think one of the coolest ones was before we’d even organised a package for ‘Listen To Soul’ and this guy had sent through to our inbox like a bootleg. To see people sending bootlegs of our song was crazy. Now he’s supporting us. So from just sending it to us, saying ‘check out my bootleg’, it’s gone from there. He’s absolutely killing it on all the shows.”

Yet another way to break into the industry.

“It’s so easy to get in contact with anyone. Just ask around.”

SAFIA – “Paranoia, Ghosts & Other Sounds” Tour 2014
SAT 24/05 – Transit Bar – Canberra, ACT
FRI 30/05 – The Beach Hotel – Byron Bay, NSW
SAT 31/05 – Alhambra Lounge, Brisbane, QLD
THU 05/06 – DK Pool Club @ CSU – Bathurst, NSW
FRI 06/06 – Shebeen – Melbourne, VIC 
SAT 14/06 – Spectrum – Sydney, NSW SOLD OUT 
SUN 15/06 – RAD – Wollongong, NSW SOLD OUT 
FRI 20/06 – Mojo’s Bar – Fremantle, WA SOLD OUT 
SAT 21/06 – Pirie & Co Social Club – Adelaide, SA: Tickets
SAT 28/06 – River Sessions – Mackay, QLD: Tickets

LANA_AGAINST

Against Lana Del Rey

LANA_AGAINST

Lana Del Rey is one of the most divisive figures in pop music. As she approaches the release of her second album, Ultraviolence, two of our writers took sides. One in defence of Lana and the other against. Yesterday, Sam wrote in defence of the singer. Today, Hannah writes in opposition to Lana Del Rey. Let the battles begin. 

Let’s just start by saying I am someone never short of an opinion. Founded or otherwise, once I’ve settled on said opinion, I dig my heels firm into the ground on which I stand and should you have a hope in hell of changing said opinion, come armed with a hefty entourage of big ol’ beefy men to drag me kicking and screaming from my stake on a patch of self assured, unnecessarily opinionated turf.

This is relevant only because sometime during 2011 I decided to hate Lana Del Rey. Or Lizzie Grant. Or Elizabeth Grant. Or whatever name she was choosing to use at that stage of her career.

Now, in anticipation of her second major-label album release, Ultraviolence, with google producing more than 98,900,000 search results in less than 0.25 seconds for those three little big-money-making words, Lana Del Rey, I thought it best to revisit exactly what it is about the boofy-hair-come-boofy-lipped beauty I just can’t bring myself to endure. You know, for rebuttal’s sake.

While a fair amount of hate is attributable to the fact that Born To Die alone has sold more than the combined efforts of Queen B’s last two studio albums, it goes deeper. Sorry Beyonce.

Reading Ms Del Rey’s interview with The Fader last week, it’s impossible to ignore the first mention of any of her creative potential is not, as you would expect, regarding her languid vocals or her new, rock-focused direction but rather her synonymous video clips. “Lana Del Rey’s filmography is a master class on how to build an icon,” while said by Duncan Cooperin‘s reference to the “shaky clip of a teary 2013 performance, shot on a phone by a fan in Dublin,” it does seem to echo a similar sentiment of Del Rey’s own: “My songs are cinematic so they seem to reference a glamorous era or fetishize certain lifestyles.” And one again found in Nitsuh Abebe’s article for Pitchfork that notes rather despairingly, “In a sense, these great videos are oddly terrible at their job: Instead of selling you the music and showing you how it can feel, they actually hint at what the music lacks, the places it could go but has chosen not to.”

Del Rey’s music, image, videos, life, are so tightly tangled in one aesthetic, that there is simply no room to allow the viewer (should be/ would be listener) any truly unique or personal experience when engaging with her works. I’m hesitant to merely say “songs” because an overarching criticism is that just as Abebe suggests, her music is almost incomplete without an accompanying video clip. And, with her video clips more often than not forming literal representations of her already didactic lyrics, neither of them are anything without the sticky glue of Del Rey’s public persona. As it goes, Lana is as Lana does. Which is great if, as an artist, all you are interested in is carving out a niche for yourself, but when that niche becomes so tightly defined and imbued with cultural references of a bygone era, for the audience, it’s almost like falling down a very un-fun rabbit hole in which Del Rey’s nostalgia-by-design becomes “a fantasy world that makes you long for reality.”

The thing about Del Rey is that, yes, while her music is undeniably evocative, it is only evocative in a singular dimension that “relies on clichés (“God you’re so handsome/ Take me to the Hamptons”) rather than specific evocations.” It is such an exacting formula for nostalgia that should you deviate or be unwilling to travel down the same sepia-toned pathway, filled with the icons of way-back-when Americana, her music loses a decent amount of poignancy. While I acknowledge songs like Video Games, use this nostalgia to comment on 21st century livin’, if I can’t share the memory, I can’t learn from it. In this way her impeccably constructed image, coupled with her impeccably construct sound are, well… incredibly disengaging.

On that note, the constructed nature of Lana Del Rey’s career, that often attracts criticism for lack of authenticity and calls for the real Lana to please stand up, are surprisingly not a part of this argument. “Fake it ’til you make it,” has been a catch cry for masses of young, off-broadway hopefuls for generations now. Identity is fluid. It charges full steam ahead towards destination unknown, rarely touching the same stone twice, even for the most obdurate of personalities, of which Del Rey is not. To criticise the Del Rey today for not being the Lizzie Grant of the noughties, is no different from criticising the Miley Cyrus of today for not being the Hannah Montana of Disney fame. As a young woman on the cusp of adulthood, change is inevitable. Hell, even as an old woman on the cusp of menopause, change is inevitable. Change is ALWAYS inevitable. Were Lana Del Rey to do what Jon Caramanica suggests and wash that paint off her face and try again in a few years, she would be absolutely no better off, hounded by the exact same accusations of inauthenticity and falsehood.

What I will call bullshit on is that we, well you, her adoring fans, are supposed to take some solace from the too-well rehearsed party line, ‘while you might not know who she is, have faith nonetheless, she doesn’t know either.’ Poor, poor, lost soul Lana. After all, as Del Rey so succinctly puts it, she’s just “fucking around.” Reinvention is vital to success in an era of minute-attention spans, but really, who’s buying the just “fucking around” attitude? That, my friends is bullshit. That a woman can double Beyonce’s record sales just by “fucking around” and we’re supposed to lap it up, is quite frankly an insult. Alter egos, multiple personalities, stage presences, genuine experimentation, a new pair of shoes, a new “do,” are all part of staying alive as the pop machine churns ever onwards, but have some integrity while you rip through your mothers dress-up draw. Change with intention. Change from the core. Change for personal growth. Change and damn well say you’re changing. As it is, Caramanica hits the nail on the head in his New York times article, “People don’t know what to do with this unformed thing they’ve been told they need to care about; crushing it is easy, almost humane.”

Sitting here with my Mum, giving her a brief education on just who the enigma Lana Del Rey might be; her response? “She should just chuck it in, do away with her failed rendition of 60s screen siren sexuality and be a nice girl.”

Here, here.

Read the companion piece to this: In Defence of Lana Del Rey.

LANA_FOR

In Defence of Lana Del Rey

LANA_FOR
Lana Del Rey is one of the most divisive figures in pop music. As she approaches the release of her second album, Ultraviolence, two of our writers took sides. One in defence of Lana and the other against. Today, Sam writes in defence of Lana Del Rey.

I’m usually the first to sigh at the mention of Lana Del Rey. As a personality, I found her hard to gravitate towards. Everything, from the way she speaks, to her unbearingly literal lyrics and her supposed falsities, grated on me and I found myself moving away from the singer I once applauded for the beautiful, Video Games.

It’s not until I read her brilliant feature with The Fader last week, that I started to consider Lana Del Rey again. And understand her.

The Fader quipped “With Lana Del Rey, everybody’s a critic, and any interpretation is possible,” which is the very reason we found ourselves writing a feature for and against Lana Del Rey.

She’s a hard personality to pin down, which I think is the root of all her criticisms. She’s had different monikers, dated record-label execs and has a presumably rich, entrepreneurial Dad. None of these things bode well for her as a flower-wearing indie-kid who’s now signed to a major record-label.

In 2012, when she began to creep up the pop charts with Video Games, people took great delight in revealing these things, thinking they’d caught her out. However, she’s been more than open about such things. The Fader interview proved that. She openly admits she had a seven year relationship with a record executive and has a song on her new album about it (Fucked My Way To The Top). In 2011 she even told Pitchfork, “People have offered me opportunities in exchange for sleeping with them. But it’s not 1952 anymore. Sleeping with the boss doesn’t get you anywhere at all these days.”

Everything Del Rey does seems to be taken as a PR stunt- the long videos, her hatred of Lady Gaga and her name-change. She’s an impossible personality to digest on the surface. She seems fake, an opinion I also held. But if you invest the time in reading her backstory, some of her visual and audible contributions over the past few years make sense.

Herein lies the issue of Lana Del Rey. She was a self-made indie artist who suspiciously signed with two major labels very soon after the release of Video Games. I can admit, that is suspicious, however, the only issue with it would be if Del Rey appeared to be the product of label manufacturing. After reading her interviews, watching her videos, and listening to her sometimes grating lyrics, I can’t see how anyone else is behind Lana other than Lana. As her friend Jamie King says, “The only person who created Lana Del Rey is her.”

She’s not the first artist to change her name and persona for a crack at the industry. Katy Perry was once known as Christian singer, Katy Hudson, yet she’s not accused of inauthenticity half as much as Del Rey is. Bowie, Lady Gaga and Madonna have all also adopted stage personas over their own. Perhaps it’s her ambition that creates criticism. In just over three years she’s released a controversial album, played Jackie Kennedy in a video with a black president and starred in a self-directed short film, Tropico. The latter was reviewed by Speedy Orbitz member Sadie Dupuis, who said “a footnote of a PR stunt from a singer whose cinema chops are as wispy as her faux-retirement.”

All this seems to be a product of Del Rey’s apparent unsurety with who she actually is. Even without mentioning Lizzy Grant, Lana has been a myriad of characters. But I’m not sure they’re really characters. It seems she’s actually lived the life of many of them. Despite the fact she grew up with an entrepreneurial Dad, Del Rey spent time in a New-Jersey trailer-park.

She revealed to Nylon Magazine she feels connected to the biker culture, ““It’s about living for the day, which was my mindset for a long time”, she said. This identity is explored in the video for Ride. And yet she was critiqued for portraying a “prostitute” in a “stupefying video”.

Lana’s not a feminist, she details in The Fader interview. Yet she remarks, ““My idea of a true feminist is a woman who feels free enough to do whatever she wants.” To me, that notion is portrayed eloquently in the Ride video.

Del Rey is an intriguing character because she’s so unsure herself of who she is. She tells Fader, “I’m trying to do what feels right. I tried a lot of different ways of life, you know, things I never really talk about, just because they are kind of different. I didn’t really have one fixed way that I could envision myself living.”

The most appealing trait I’ve noticed in Del Rey over the past few years is the impeccable grace she’s maintained during the storm of vicious criticism. After her Saturday Night Live appearance, Gawker called it the “worst outing in SNL history”. Two weeks later, she performed a stunning rendition of Video Games on David Letterman. As they say, don’t get angry, get even. This year she played Coachella with the LA Times calling it “a measure of redemption”.

Ultraviolence could’ve easily been an immaculately-produced pop record that panders to radio but instead she’s dropping one that willfully departs pop. It’s a gritty, rock-driven record with provocative titles that are bound to anger people that already find her unbearable (Money Power Glory, Fucked My Way To The Top). She’s either oblivious or she’s learnt to not give a shit. I’m going to side with the latter. After over five million sales of her debut album, she’s become unapologetic. And so she should be.

New York Times writer Jon Caramanica posted perhaps one of the most scathing reviews of Del Rey in 2012. He wrote, “Her cultural stamp has already been affixed, her biography written in concrete. The only real option is to wash off that face paint, muss up that hair and try again in a few years. There are so many more names out there for the choosing.”

His comments about the fleeting nature of her success seem devoid now given that she’s got a multi-million selling album, two platinum singles and over 100 million YouTube views. He did use a metaphor in that piece though, writing “one has to wear clothes for a long time before they fit well.” If that’s the case, Lana Del Rey has certainly grown into her assumed, fake persona. Everything we’ve heard off Ultraviolence so far sound bold and unphased by opinion.

Everybody’s become obsessed with authenticity like a soul-searching X Factor judge, when the industry always has and always will be about entertainment. And god damn, Del Rey is entertaining.

Love or or hate her she’s managed to penetrate the mainstream despite the barrage of criticism that suggested she’d never move past Video Games. She’s also done so without the help of David Guetta, Pharrell or Max Martin which is a feat many can’t claim.

Liz Phair said it best in her defence of Lana Del Rey when she wrote, “as a recording artist, I’ve been hated, I’ve been ridiculed, and conversely, hailed as the second coming. All that matters in the end is that I’ve been heard.”

Tomorrow Hannah will reply with a critique of Lana Del Rey. 

 

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Chet Faker – Talk is Cheap (Ta-ku Remix)

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New Zealand beatsmith Ta-Ku and Aussie crooner Chet Faker have both scaled the heights of the industry at around the same time. Ta-Ku has provided stellar remixes for artists like Flume, BANKS and Childish Gambino while Chet Faker has released a number one album, Built on Glass. It makes complete sense that they find themselves strewn together with Ta-Ku remixing Chet’s single Talk Is Cheap. Needless to say, it’s great.

[soundcloud]https://soundcloud.com/takugotbeats/chet-faker-talk-is-cheap-ta-ku-remix[/soundcloud]

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Bag Raiders – Nairobi

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It’s all tropical sounds and tribal drums in Bag Raiders’ first release in the follow-up to their 2010 self-titled album. Get ready to swing those hips and shake dat booty amongst a flurry of congas and marimbas in Nairobi.

Listen here.

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Throwaway Thursday

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We’ve closed down, the liquidators have been called in and we’ve been given ’til midnight before they burn the place down for insurance. It’s the last ever sale. Every song must go! Everything is free, this price is not to be repeated. So come on down to Throwaway Thursday with your empty pockets. Anna Lunoe, Thomston, Avec Sans – there’s something for everyone. Bring the kids, bring the semi-trailer and get in before everything goes!

Listen: HAERTS – Hemiplegia (Avec Sans Remix)

London duo Avec Sans have done it again; injecting their signature cheerful disco-pop and splashes of synths into HAERTS’ melancholic track ‘Hemiplegia’. They’ve extracted some of the rock, cut-and-pasted the vocals and thrown in glittery effects which all make for a sure dancefloor-starter. The track can be downloaded from their page, as well as the entire Avec Sans collection, for the small price of a Facebook like.

[soundcloud]https://soundcloud.com/avecsans/haerts-hemiplegia-avec-sans-remix#t=2:43[/soundcloud]

 

Click to access Avec Sans’ Facebook page 

Listen: Thomston – Salt

18-year-old Thomston featured on both our ‘5 Artists You Need To Hear Right Now‘ and ‘10 Songs You Need To Hear This Week’ so obviously we’re a bit obsessed. He had us in deep with ‘Anaesthetic’ and now he’s returned, bringing back his wise-beyond-its-years voice and grungy backing track, with ‘Salt’. This latest (free) offering was only uploaded 4 hours ago so best get to this one quick before everyone else.

[soundcloud]https://soundcloud.com/thomston/salt[/soundcloud]

Listen: Bombay Bicycle Club – Home By Now (Louis The Child Remix)

One of the more languid tracks from Bombay Bicycle Club’s album, So Long, See You Tomorrow, has been given a techy, Nintendo-inspired rework by Louis The Child. It makes for a fun listen which manages to take you away to a faraway, pixelated land of mushrooms and rainbow roads. Want all that fun but are console-free? Do the next best thing and download this number from Louis The Child’s Soundcloud.

[soundcloud]https://soundcloud.com/doandroidsdance/bombay-bicycle-club-home-by-now-louis-the-child-remix[/soundcloud]

Listen: Anna Lunoe- Bass Drum Dealer

Australia’s new dancefloor queen is tearing it up overseas. She dropped this one in her Coachella set in April and caught the attention of many including Skrillex. Skrill (is that what kids call him these days?) mixed and mastered this one. The result? “House-inspired jungle rhythms” that are completely free to download. That’s our girl.

[soundcloud]https://soundcloud.com/nesthq/anna-lunoe-bdd-nest031?in=nesthq/sets/anna-lunoe-bass-drum-dealer-nest031[/soundcloud]

Listen: Popcaan- Where We Come From

‘Where We Came From’ is the debut album from Jamaican reggae-man Popcaan. As expected, the album is one to get down and dirty to with plenty of dutty dancing to be had. As the soundcloud notes, musicologist Wayne Marshall says the album “gives voice, as the best reggae does, to the contradictions of life in a society rife with inequities and yet so rich.” So, if you’re lookin’ for a voice or even just a bit of a butt wriggle, press play.

[soundcloud]https://soundcloud.com/mixpak/sets/popcaan-where-we-come-from[/soundcloud]

Watch: The Police vs. Grime Music

This documentary hosted by grime rapper JME, reflects on the cancellation of a grime event by police in London and more broadly investigates the relationship between London police and grime artists. It’s an interesting exploration of London’s form 696 which mandates that promoters and licensees submit a risk assessment form 14 days in advance of an event in London detailing the style of music and target audience. Many have labelled the Form ‘racist’ and ‘discriminatory’.

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10 Surprising Acting Cameos by Musicians

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Which famous DJ starred in their self-produced porn store sci-fi Christmas movie musical? Who was the English singer that flirted with Dr Karl on Neighbours? Read below for our top 10 surprising acting cameos by musicians.

Usher

Before he was proclaiming his confessions for the second time, Usher Raymond was the resident radio host / DJ in everyone’s favourite ‘90s makeover teen rom com, ‘She’s All That’.

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The next best thing to Rachael Leigh Cook taking off her glasses to reveal that “omg, the nerd is totally, like, pretty?” is watching Usher himself choreographing the school to dance to Fatboy Slim’s Rockafeller Skank.

“Split like the red sea!” 

Andre 3000

One half of OutKast, André Benjamin, had dabblings in acting preceding his portrayal of Jimi Hendrix in 2013 biopic ‘All is by my Side’. He’s featured in various movies and TV shows, including ‘The Families’, ‘The Shield’, ‘Revolver’, ‘Semi-Pro’, ‘Four Brothers’ and as the voice of Elwyn the crow in ‘Charlotte’s Web’.

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André as Elwyn (can not confirm if left or right crow).

His more notable role in his acting career was as Dabu in ‘Be Cool’. For an entire 40 seconds of André’s infectious laughter, see below.

Kanye West

Not even the self-proclaimed King of Everything could save Mike Myers’ box office flop, ‘The Love Guru’.

Who knew he loved hockey so much?

Michael Jackson

MJ made a brief appearance in ‘Men in Black II’, surprisingly not as an alien but instead as someone desperate for a position at the Men in Black Headquarters. I wonder if he’ll make a comeback hologram appearance in ‘Men in Black V’?

The highlight of this video is the fangirl’s written commentary.

Moby

It seems that Moby has a fondness for erotic-themed movies, starring in ‘Suck’, ‘Joes’ Apartment’ and as the character ‘Dildo Head’ in his self-produced porn store sci-fi Christmas movie musical, ‘Moby Presents: Alien Sex Party’. Surprisingly, the latter’s IMDb rating is a measly 4.2/10, with reports of Moby distancing himself from the production and even requesting to be edited out completely.

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I’m going to leave it up to you to figure out which one is ‘Dildo Head’.

Also worth a mention is ‘The Limo’ episode of How I Met Your Mother, where the gang mistake someone on the street to be Moby, pick him up in the Limo and head to his party. Upon ‘Moby’ ranting crazily and eventually threatening them with a gun, they realise he is in fact not Moby and hilarity ensues.

moby2 moby3J.P. Manoux as ‘Not Moby’.

Alicia Keys

Before she was setting the world on fire, Alicia Keys had acting cameos in ‘The Cosby Show’, ‘The Secret Life of Bees’, ‘Smokin’ Aces’ and as Scarlett Johansson’s sassy friend, Lynette, in ‘The Nanny Diaries’.

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Backstreet Boys

One of the best TV cameos to date is the Backstreet Boys starring as a boy band-come-furry mammals(?) in ‘Arthur’. The episode, ‘It’s only Rock n Roll’, focuses on the boys’ pending visit to Elwood City and Muffy’s major, totally-relatable crush on Nick Carter.

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Backstreet Boys did it wayyy before Chance the Rapper.

Full episode can be found here. Watch it. Your 12-year-old self with thank you for it.

Lily Allen

Starring as herself, and additionally flirting with Ramsay St resident ‘DILF’ Dr Karl, in ‘Neighbours’.  

King Avriel

Before she was a gender boundaries-pushing electro queen, 23-year-old King Avriel  starred alongside Football Head Arnold as Timberly in the childhood classic ‘Hey Arnold!’.

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The resemblance is uncanny.

Watch ‘Timberly Loves Arnold’ for a full 10 minute blast from the past 

Radiohead

Playing themselves in one of the most iconic South Park episodes of all time, ‘Scott Tenorman Must Die’, Radiohead scold Tenorman for being a ‘crybaby’ while he sobs into a bowl of chilli containing his parents’ innards. After Thom Yorke‘s dance moves in ‘Lotus Flower’, you could almost call him a triple threat.

Poor Kid A.  

Can you remember any great TV or movie cameos by a musician? Let me know below or feel free to tweet me: @bianca_interns 

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What the fuck is PC Music?

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Last week, we took on A G Cook’s latest track Beautiful in First Impressions. While Hannah compared it to Snozberries, Lizzie likened it to the Rugrats, noting that she wasn’t “sold on the whole Hello Kitty sound”. The cultural references were becoming a little overwhelming so I decided to pose myself the question, ‘What the F**K is PC Music?’

Nintendo. Dance Dance Revolution. Korea. Siri. These are all things that come to mind when you hear the music coming out of new label PC Music. Spend a moment with PC Music’s soundcloud and you’ll be both intrigued and disgraced. The music coming out of the label sounds completely inhuman but at the same time acutely reminiscent of a generation built on smartphones that talk, nostalgia and EDM.

PC Music is run by London producer A G Cook who also releases music through the label. In an interview with Tank Magazine, Cook said, “The label’s called PC Music, which alludes to how the computer is a really crucial tool, not just for making electronic music but for making amateur music that is also potentially very slick”.

[soundcloud]https://soundcloud.com/pcmus/beautiful[/soundcloud]

It’s an apt way of describing it. Nowadays very little difference can be heard between bedroom and studio producers. The meteoric success of Flume from a very early point in his career is testament to this. The music coming out of PC Music is so slick, it’s being compared to candy in abundance. In a way, it’s bubblegum music. So smoothed out and computer-driven that it’s lost all imperfection. Where rock n’ roll was born on impurities, PC Music’s difference comes in its ability to sound criminally crisp.

Cook was born in 1990 and notes that he grew up using a computer at quite an advanced level. The music has both the clunkiness of Windows 98 and the effortless sheen of an Apple Mac.

A demonstration of modern technology, all the press shots for PC Music’s artists are just as devoid of humanity as the music. An artist like Hannah Diamond (below), for example, looks as if she has nothing behind the eyes. The picture’s personality is simply delivered through bright, childlike colours and its likeness to childhood cartoon characters.

Apart from creator A G Cook, one of the most notable artists on the label is the aforementioned Hannah Diamond. Her songs redefine the meaning of minimal. They’re like deconstructed Top 40 tracks that have been redone out of mockery. Her voice is like a slightly more natural Siri. In normal circumstances, these things would be criticisms. But they’re not. It seems Diamond sits so far to the left on the kitsch spectrum, that there’s a stroke of genius in how otherworldly it sounds.

Her track Attachment has her singing “Together, forever” like a children’s doll. Creepy, yes. Infectious, yes. There’s a deep sense of ‘90s nostalgia that makes it oddly irresistible. Top 40 Pop music is a guilty pleasure but it’s fairly simple to explain why. Attachment is also a guilty pleasure, however, it’s close to impossible to describe why. On Soundcloud one user comments, “Why do I like this” while another says “this is wackkkkk”. She’s also compared to “an illiterate preschooler”.

[soundcloud]https://soundcloud.com/pcmus/attachment[/soundcloud]

FACTmag described it best when they wrote she’s “like the girls at your school who practised Spice Girls dance routines in the playground and smoked fags on school trips, but while her brittle, Estuary tones make her sound like a Smash Hits star from the late ’90s, her songs couldn’t be more 21st century”.

A G Cook told Tank Magazine, “My work’s constant use of instantly gratifying elements such as kitsch imagery, catchy hooks, synthetic colours and fun sound effects feels inevitable, it’s almost a compulsion rather than a choice.” The idea of compulsion rather than choice is one that defines most of the labels sound. Much of the music sounds like it’s giving into seven deadly sins. It’s particularly a result of gluttony in the way that it over-indulges in pop’s melodic demons and lustful in the way that it centres mostly round the theme of 21st century love.

Consumerism is a notion that PC Music introduces a number of times. On Lipgloss Twins’ Wannabe, a computerised voice repeats “Topman, topshop”, “fake Prada, fake Louis, fake Zara” and then “I don’t wanna be a twin”. It’s the first time PC Music has eluded to a criticism of 21st Century culture. Cook said “Challenging something’s commercial nature is a commercial tactic in itself, and authenticity is a tricky currency that is often swayed by branding and advertising.”

[soundcloud]https://soundcloud.com/pcmus/wannabe[/soundcloud]

It’s entirely possible that the musicians on PC Music aren’t purposely critiquing our culture. There’s an enigmatic nature to the label that makes it easy to overanalyse without having a specific voice to speak for the music. In an industry where everyone’s trying to keep it ‘real’, it’s ironically refreshing to have a label embracing some of the critiques of this generation.

While I’ve tried to answer the question of ‘what is PC Music?’, I fear i’ve only further confused myself. Such is the intrigue of the label. The best way to discover it, is to listen to it. On first attempt, you’ll most likely hate but like a sugar-addiction it will grow on you. Before you know it, you’ll be asking “Please sir, can I have some more?”

[soundcloud]https://soundcloud.com/pcmus/sets/top-40[/soundcloud]

 

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Mapei follows-up ‘Don’t Wait’ with ‘Change’

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If you’ve ever been to Ikea, eaten meatballs or heard Robyn you’d be pretty up with the fact that everything Sweden produces touches to gold. The latest export from the country is Mapei who released one of last year’s best pop tracks, Don’t Wait. The track has gone onto feature Chance The Rapper and be remixed by Giraffage, Benny Blanco and Kingdom. Such was the breadth of its success. Now enter, Change, the latest single from her forthcoming album, Hey Hey. Pumped along by militant drums (a la Destiny’s Child, Lose My Breath) the song blossoms into a euphoric chorus. “Don’t you worry about a thing my sister, we’re all waiting for a change” she sings, clearly playing Michael Jackson in Heal The World. 

Hey Hey is due on 23 September.

kimbra-the-golden-echo

Kimbra previews ‘The Golden Echo’ with ‘Nobody But You’ and ‘Love in High Places’

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Following the experimental, ‘90s Music, Kimbra has released two more tracks off The Golden Echo, Love In High Places and Nobody But You. Both are sultry soul numbers that don’t have less of the oddities of ‘90s Music and more of the sound that we heard on Vows. Love in High Places has a distinct Dirty Projectors vibe to it while Nobody But You is throwback RnB, with Kimbra swimming fleetingly through her vocal range. We’ll get to hear The Golden Echo in the middle of August as was revealed in her Twitter Q&A.

Nobody But You:

Love In High Places:

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