A brilliant interpolation of Ghost Town DJs “My Boo” highlights M-Phazes superb new mix for Kimbra’s new Warner Bros. single “90’s Music”. Listen. (KKS)
Female is an AU-based producer dabbling in the vibe-y pitch-shifted trend current in indie house. Here, Female takes on Cosmic Quest’s already very good “Water Winds” and applies that lush chilled sound to excellent effect.
Words and Photos by Russ Ramos
Not just another singer/songwriter/producer. From Los Angeles, Ms. Jillian Banks (better known to the industry as “Banks”) detaches herself from typical genre associations. Her sold out homecoming show at the iconic El Rey on Thursday night, May 29th, was something of a statement from this proclaimed “Goddess”. For an artist whose album hasn’t even been released yet, you already get the sense that this is the last time Banks will play a venue limited to 700 attendees. It’d be a safe bet that her next Los Angeles show would easily bring The Wiltern (1800 attendees) to capacity.
Prior to the show, I’d heard a bit of skepticism from people her previous performances. People saying things like, “She’s boring, she doesn’t move, she hides behind the mic”. After hearing all of that (whilst being a fan myself), I had to check her out. To my delight, they were as wrong as I’d hoped. Banks’ seductive moves, and exponential passion tore down away any doubt. The capacity filled venue sung along, track after track. It’s incredible evidence that Banks’ exotic music, her writing, and her voice are clearly a more engaging representation of the “singer-songwriter” genre. I saw more hands in the air then I did on iPhones. That, in Los Angeles, IS A BIG DEAL.
Banks is currently on a small US tour, and will also be touring Europe for the first half of the summer. Her debut album Goddess is expected to release September 9th, and we can only hope that she’ll grace us with another tour to promote the new album.
For Damon Albarn, making music has always been a behind the scenes venture. He has, despite his low profile, been very successful exploring his art in new and unique ways. Albarn started his musical career in 1988 while at Goldsmiths College in London, where he and some of his classmates formed a band they would eventually call Blur. After being signed to Food Records in 1990, the band became something of the British counterpoint to the grunge movement happening in the United States at that time. They achieved critical and commercial success in England before breaking up in 2003, then reunited again in 2008.
Of course, most Americans are familiar with Albarn through his other successful venture, Gorillaz, the cartoon alternative rock band he created in 2001. The band has sold tens of millions of albums worldwide, been named the Most Successful Virtual Band by the Guinness Book of World Records, won a Grammy, won two MTV VMA’s, and changed the perception of what popular music could be.
Now, Albarn is preparing to step out on his own with his first solo album Everyday Robots, which was released on April 25th. Although, you might not want to call it a solo record to him, as he told NME “I suppose you could call it a solo record, but I don’t like that word. It sounds very lonely – solo. I don’t really want to be solo in my life. But yeah, I’m making another record.” Keeping with that spirit of collaboration he enlisted the help of producer Richard Russell as well as singers Brian Eno and Natasha Khan, both of whom he recorded duets with for the album.
The resulting album is something of a dark day dream, recalling the hours spent in elementary school staring at rain hitting the window of your classroom. That’s not to say it’s exclusively melancholy in tone; “Mr Tembo” is a particularly uplifting track about baby elephant that Albarn met in a zoo in Tanzania. Along with Paul Simonon, he enlisted the help of a gospel choir from his hometown for the song, which was released as the fourth single from this album. Despite the brief uptick from “Mr Tembo,” Everyday Robots doesn’t shy away from heavy hitting tracks, like the autobiographical “You & Me” which references his past experiences with heroin use: “Tin foil and a lighter, the ship across, five days on, two days off.” He explained the reference to The Guardian, saying “I suppose it’s just me saying, ‘Let’s just get this out of the way. I took heroin for a while and I found it interesting and, yes, it was remarkably helpful in the creative process for a short time. I didn’t go down in the gutter, in fact I was incredibly disciplined about it. Blah blah blah. So what?'”
In an effort to promote his album, Albarn performed for at the SXSW Festival in Austin back in March, which was recorded as a part of DirecTV’s Guitar Center Sessions. Albarn’s hepisode will air on May 11th, and features an interview with Albarn about his experience making his first solo album. While there isn’t an official tour planned, Albarn plans to make a series of appearances at festivals in Europe, the US, and Japan during this summer.
Reviewed by Spencer Blohm
Damon Albarn (Facebook)
UK house producer Fort Romeau headlines a new mix for Jacques Greene’s upcoming remix set for his Phantom Vibrate EP release. The remix EP also features tracks from Yung Gud, Kit Grill and Area Forty One and is out tomorrow (May 30th) on Lucky Me.
Fort Romeau (Soundcloud)
Swedish band Movienite merge 90’s disto-rock with modern melodic & rhythm structures and do so well on new one “Yippie!” while not coming off hokey/nostalgic by maintaining the rudder of strong and focused pop writing. A++.
Amber Run’s Spark EP is a delicate discourse on thisNottingham bands’ aching pop and rock sensibilities. Having seemed to learned a few tricks from bands like Arcade Fire, Amber Run also manage to pull in a few edgy lyrics from the relevancy popular culture. The band tread ‘familiar’ sonic territory on lead track “Sparks”, while still managing an uplifting piece of emotive currency. The following track “Heaven” rides a more diversified groove with a heavy hand on the hi-hat. The mid-section “Chamber” is a lovely tune that rises above a dusty guitar arpeggio into a cacophony of synths.
Things seem to mellow out as the epic closer “Hide & Seek” takes hold for almost five minutes. It’s here that Amber Run seem to find a striking and authentic stride, particularly it’s the airy auto-tuned vocals that bloom as the instrumentation drops in and out. If their dream was to achieve a radio ready single, the boys are golden with “Sparks”, but it’s the artistic possibilities that bubble up later in the EP which are particularly noteworthy. There is something here… hinting that this five piece could become much more than another Britpop powerhouse singing falsetto “ooohs” over massive drums.
Spark was released on the 20th of April on RCA. Purchase here: smarturl.it/AR_Spark_iTunes Reviewed by Mike Olinger
Amber Run (Facebook)
Team Carousel return maybe their strongest track to date on the A+ synth pop of “New Friend”. “New Friend” is particularly strong in the exactness/wholeness of its construction; as seemingly no bit of rhythm track or vocal or keyboard flourish is out of place and each of the song’s constituent elements are perfectly harmonious in their synchronicity.
Brighton’s best Phoria do well to standout from the UK Alt-R&B trend/scene with a strong follow-up to one of the year’s best tracks “Emanate” on the soothing and spare “Undone”. X Novo will release next month “Display”, Phoria’s new EP from which “Undone” is sampled.
The great Innovative Leisure will be releasing next week Wayne Interest, the new LP from SoCal band Tijuana Panthers. Debuted on KCRW last week is “NOBO” a reverb-washed, drop-out sort of track that mixes well surf rock elements and classic R&B and is Wayne Interest’s current focus track.