Video(s): Jagwar Ma + Client Liaison + Sable

Some audio-visual delights for a Friday arvo.

Jagwar Ma-Uncertainty

Jagwar Ma are pretty fucking huge right now. I mean, they were wayyyy bigger off the back of their debut album ‘Howlin’, but the music industry is a fickle she-wench, and Jagwar Ma have dropped from the collective conscience a bit. However, they should be right back there with the new video for their track ‘Uncertainty’.

Most people remember the band for their Madchester-like tracks, but ‘Uncertainty’ is way more alike to the indie-dance floor staples of the present. Think Oscar Key Sung fronting The Chemical Brothers recent stuff. ‘Uncertainty’ has a mind-melting chorus that’s like Black Moth Super Rainbow minus the reverb-drench, and the general vibe is a seductive, sex-fuelled journey on a synth spaceship.

As for the video, well it’s deplorably awesome. Blue horizons jettisoning overhead as the boys do their thing on a bunch of instruments from the future, and spiders crawling over to cop a geez at whatever those awesome sounds are.

Client Liaison-Free of Fear

Recently, there’s been a whole bunch of indie-electronic acts that are re-inventing the sounds of the past for ultimate payoff. Think World’s End Press, Architecture in Helsinki and the aforementioned Jagwar Ma. But Client Liaison rise above them all, because not only do they adopt the sounds of late, but they adopt the stylistic roles and attitudes of the era as well.

Watching the video for Client Liaison’s brand new video is like being transported to some alternative version of Mad Max. There’s still the desert, lack of cars and mullets, but then there’s also the dashings of Miami Vice drug dealer in there. Neon suits, vast displays of lush power, Frida Kahlo x Cleopatra dancers… It’s basically living out the ultimate 80’s dream. If the characters of Wall Street were really eccentric, they’d probably have made this video.

Sable-Feels So Good

Speaking of retro, check out the fucking mad video for Sable’s single ‘Looks So Good’. Except instead of bad suits and mid afternoon beverages, it’s a transportation into any arcade video game of the mid 80’s. Imagine if you could be transported into Space Invaders, Tron-style, and check out the inner-workings of the alien spacecraft, and their exact schedulings of dropping in uninvited on Planet Earth.

Meanwhile, the music whirs on in the background, accompanying the flurrying images with as much bright colour as those piercing synth chords can. Basically, what you’re looking at is a super-awesome-happy-fun-times experiment, funded by SABLE Corp.

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Hand Games Mixtape #17: BEST OF 2013 (free download)

Oh shit, another best of 2013 thing from this pile of excrement. You see, you’re wrong there, because this is a best of 2013 thing from Hand Games, a service that actually knows how shit went down on 2013, and has a bit more of a broader reach than, say, Soundly Sounds.

There is not a single track on the best of mix that shouldn’t be there. From the internationally conquering Jagwar Ma, Courtney Barnett and Fascinator, to local heros like You Beauty and The Preatures. There’s a strong contingent of electronic wonder courtesy of D.D Dumbo, Oisima, Oscar Key Sung and Major Napier, whilst the tribal element is taken care of through Willow Beats and Savoir.

On the wild and loose front, there’s The Growl, Bad//Dreems and Peter Bibby, all bands with that desert spirit running through their veins. But for number 1, in agreement with this own shitty writer’s opinion, TV Colours gets the spot for best song of the year through the monstrous tune of ‘Beverly’.

Man, what a fucking great list right? Pity you can’t download all of that…oh wait, you can, holy shit, send me a link. ^….it’s up the top there, thank me later.

Album Review: Jagwar Ma-Howlin

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If, through some random deliberation, you believe you’ve never heard of Jagwar Ma before, you are wrong. It doesn’t matter if all you listen to is Kerser or Beethoven, you’ve definitely heard the band through some format or other. The only possible way Jagwar Ma could escape your radar is if you literally live under a rock. Jagwar Ma have been one of the most hyped acts of 2013. Their name has permeated almost every music publication available to the public from Rolling Stone, to the deplorable NME. They even got the tip of the hat from Noel Gallagher from Oasis, because apparently he’s still relevant. For a band of relatively few musical releases, everything they have released (which, before the album, accumulated to a couple of singles) was universally praised, and Jagwar Ma moved up one more spot on the hype ladder, somewhere between Frank Ocean, Snakadaktal and Palma Violets.

Now, in most cases, hype’s a killer. It’ll chew you up, spit you out and no one will remember your name, or the fairly mediocre album you left behind (cough, Lana Del Ray, cough). However, for Jagwar Ma, a Sydney duo that blend infectious Madchester sounds with modern pop sensibilities, their sound is one of unbeatable pragmatism. Indulging in a soundscape from obvious caretakers like The Happy Mondays, New Order, and The Stone Roses, to the rave subculture of The Crystal Method and Junkie XL, to subtler shades of  Primal Scream and Stereolab in their experimental-pop days. Jagwar Ma present the world with their best foot forward, with ‘Howlin’, an album that shifts in deliberate, cohesive patterns that ca only draw the listener in more and more.

The opening three tracks to the album paint a verbose, shady atmosphere for the album. The double dose of ‘What Love’ and ‘Uncertainty’ are heroin induced tracks that prepare the listener for the ecstasy riddled bona-fide fuck-you-up cascade of ‘The Throw’. And throw it does (sorry, that was too obvious), all around the room, a slow-burning tribal wave that starts out gingerly and then blasts you with gooey, green muck a la Nickelodeon Kids Choice Awards. You were expecting it anyway, but its still a fucking delight when it comes anyway. The album version of ‘The Throw’ is way better than the edited single we got a couple months back, simply for the fact that it has that extra couple of minutes to buck and weave and cement itself in a soundtrack of Trainspotting, should it ever get re-made (fingers crossed, knock on wood). Those disconcerting jungle chants around 3 minutes in would be perfect for the scene in which Rent Boy overdoses on heroin and gets carried around on the carpet.

So after a near 7 minute medley of ugly truth, what do Jagwar Ma logically follow up with? ‘That Loneliness’, a delicately balanced ode to romance, complete with counter-tenor chorus, subtle, jiggly worms of uninvited electronica, and more than a passing resemblance for the next track, and one of the first songs Jagwar Ma ever released to the public. I am of course talking about the feel good hit, ‘Come Save Me’. Swaying and fully immersed, it’s addictive simplicity is what many feel is Jagwar Ma’s unique and identifying quality.

Chanty, sing-song lyrics that draw the listener with a siren-like quality, latched together with dripping synths and multiple musical influences that all clash in beautiful harmony seem to be all in a days work. You can see it clearly in ‘The Throw’, ‘Man I Need’ (which happens to have one of the best music videos of the year), ‘Four’, and ‘Exercise’. Everything a sophisticated listener could want in an album is heartily available on Jagwar Ma’s debut. The palette is astounding, and the sonic shifts are all logical, and better yet, sound as cohesive as the move from a sip of Dom Perignon Champagne to a small dip of caviar. Regardless of the fact that I have no idea what the fuck I’m talking about, and just looked up ‘shit rich people eat and drink’ on Google, it sounds pretty fucking good doesn’t it? Well, Jagwar Ma deliver all the goods and more, without any of the bullshit. I doubt they’ll be fading off into the NME Graveyard any time soon.

FREE COMPILATION OF AMAZING AUSTRALIAN MUSIC

http://iohyou.com/coming-up-not-down-vol-ii/

If you read the title, well that’s more or less everything I have to say about this. Melbourne label I OH YOU, home to Snakadaktal, City Calm Down, DZ Deathrays, Bleeding Knees Club and Violent Soho have just put out a compilation of the best up and coming Australian artists. You can find  tunes from Sydney garage bistro-bros Straight Arrows, and the equally exclusive Palms, as well as some soothers by Ta-ku (feat. Chet Faker) and Worlds End Press. Also, just so everyone knows shit’s serious, the comp. includes soon-to-be-world-dominators POND. So yeah, it’s free. Why aren’t you downloading it?

The Difference Between Indie & Interesting-An Essay

There is a facet of music that has annoyed me, and countless bands, for as long as popular music has existed: being pigeonholed. There is nothing worse than slaving over a piece of music, crafting a melody or a rhythm, re-imagining a sample, toiling on lyrics until you wake up in a pile of your own vomit from how amazing your poetry is (not speaking from personal experience), and proudly releasing your gift of musical beauty into the world…only to have it thrown back in your face as a categorised, labelled misconstruction, to be tossed up on a shelf with a bunch of bands that everyone will associate you with from now until when the Titans inevitably rule the Earth. Take the case of The Preset’s ‘My People’, a dance thumper about, I shit you not, boat people. However the political nature of the song was misinterpreted as a party anthem, and was shat out in all the clubs across the country. Or The Clash’s ‘Rock the Casbah’, a highly satirical song that viciously tore into the government, that has been reduced to being the song your parents awkwardly shuffle to in the living room. No, pigeonholing sucks balls. I’ll admit, that occasionally in reviews, I take a creative license and compare a band to something that might not spring to everyone’s mind when they here the song, such as when I recently compared X-Ray Charles to Beat Happening and The Modern Lovers. However, this is my website and my opinion….soooo, yeah fuck you  if you take personal offence to my comparisons between bands that I find have musical similarities for broader identification.

However, this is not simply about subtext or great bands past their heyday; this is about the highly negative effects of pigeonholing, namely throwing in bands of actual worth with the dreaded pseudonym of indie, or hipster depending on your cultural geography. It’s a brand that has a certain sting to it, one that recalls pasty kids in buttoned up floral shirts and way too tight pants, spouting how they ‘knew about this band before anyone else’, typing a post-romantic dramedy novella on a Macbook pro in a delicatessen on Broadway whilst sipping a flat-white cappuccino. Click here to visually comprehend if Lucifer was more of a douchebag. Although, for me personally, that doesn’t look like an astoundingly fun person, and they come off as rather cynical and two-dimensional, these indie scum do exist. They are the ones who scan Pitchfuck daily for bands they can worship before actually hearing anything, who single handedly keep Pabst Blue Ribbon in vogue, and made ridiculous clothing ‘cool’ (who the fuck likes fedoras?). But by far, their worst crime is the diluting of the indie genre.

Now before I continue, I would like to point out two things. Firstly, the inspiration for this essay was ‘How Did Indie Get So Safe’ on Fasterlouder by Edward Sharp-Paul; it’s a great, short essay (shorter than this one anyway) and it’s better than the majority of things you’ll read, besides Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Secondly, I’m about to insult a whole heap of indie bands that I find personally shitty. I understand that music is subjective, and this is not an argument about your personal music tastes. However, if you are one that enjoys the superfluously repulsive sounds of Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, Two Door Cinema Club, or Last Dinosaurs, I suggest you stop reading. Or not, you might find your new favourite band amongst those I find incestuous. Isn’t critiquing wonderful?

Anyway, there is a major problem with Indie music: it is too broad and too bland. When someone screams ‘OMG THIS BAND IS SAH INDIE’, it’s hard to know what they actually mean. Are they talking about Animal Collective, with their rich, multi-textured palettes of soundscapes, or the statistically terrible The Apples in Stereo? Did they mean Midnight Juggernauts’ pandering new album or Fugazi’s furious 1988 debut EP? It’s hard to know anymore. Then, there are so many sub-categories and niches, all with the title of indie slammed onto the front like an awkward boner sticking out of an 8th Grader’s pants: indie-rock, indie-pop, indie-electronica, indie-punk, indie-folk,indie-hip hop, indie-chill, indie-kill, indie-shank, indie-wank…the list goes on, and only about half of those are made up. Personally, you can chuck Phoenix, Passion Pit and Peter, Bjorn and John anywhere you want in there, it won’t change the fact that they’re shit. Most of these bands, despite declaring themselves indie, pander to a mainstream demographic. They play the dress up game and Domino Record Contract card, but the statistics speak for themselves. Vampire Weekend debuted their third album at no. 1 on the US Billboard Charts. Mumford and Sons won The Grammy for Album of the Year for ‘Babel’. Boy & Bear picked up 5 ARIA awards for their debut album, and will probably destroy the charts again this year, when they release their second album. Please, please do not misinterpret this as me saying that because these artists are ‘mainstream’ that they are shit. I’m merely pointing out that they have incredibly derivative music that in no way challenges the listener like independent music should. 

This brings me to my actual point, and I’m kind of sorry that it took so long to reach this statement. There are a fuckload of good bands out there that are getting thrown in with that indie tag. Just because a band is independent does not make them indie anymore. No, the cohesiveness of that identification got thrown out a long time ago, as soon as Interpol and The Strokes started getting popular. Both these bands are pretty good in their own way, however once they started and the indie ‘genre’ got picked up, about a million different bands started mimicking a sound and aesthetic similar to theirs that was in no way original, but was regardlessly hailed as being the next big thing. How many times can you open an NME or Rolling Stone and find them hailing ‘The Next Big Indie Thing’? Sure, it’s lovely for the band, but it has ruined all traction for the term indie. Initially, when the ‘indie scene’ popped up in America and Europe in the 1980’s, there was a certain amount of respect that came with the title. As Michael Azzerad’s biography of the 80’s indie scene, ‘Our Band Could Be Your Life’ describes, it was fucking hard to be indie. Bands like Black Flag and Dinosaur Jr. had to fight tooth and nail to get any exposure. Now, when the word indie pops up, all I can imagine is some Grizzly Bear sound-alike that will inspire absolutely no regard from anyone but the NME. Not that it matters too much to the band anyway, because they’re probably slathered in cocaine and bitches. Some bands, like San Cisco or Grouplove even come like pre-pacakged indie goods, ready made for the ‘indie addict’. However, it does matter to the independent bands that get slapped with the title of indie and hauled into a case of anonymity. There are now so many bands nowadays that consciously pander to the indie Triple J masses, that when a genuine band that comes around that happens to be independent and good, they are promptly blasted with ‘indie cred’, frothed over for approximately a week by hipsters, and then dropped by their ‘diehard new fans’ and left abandoned and disenchanted by their old ones.

There are a whole crop of new Australian acts that are legitimately interesting that I am fearful will get manhandled by indie-ness. Aussie Bands like Beaches, Dick Diver, Bleeding Knees Club, Royal Headache and Bored Nothing are all in close proximity to being swept in viva la indie, and promptly tossed into oblivion. Likewise, there’s international bands such as DIIV, Beach Fossils, King Tuff, and Savages who could suffer the same fate. For others, such as the cases of Flume, CHVRCHES, Tame Impala and Jagwar Ma, it’s probably too late, and it’ll only be a couple years before a ‘throwback’ reunion tour. This is fucked. Totally fucked. Firstly, because all of the bands mentioned above are bright young talents. It’s too early for them to go. It’s before their time. Secondly, these bands are not indie, and could be easily defined by other genres, if at all. Finally, it’s not fair to compare them to a band like Jinja Safari or Ball Park Music, each leaning strongly on obvious influences or mediocrity. The bands at the beginning of the paragraph are all highly interesting, highly capable acts worthy of a different attention that eschews Arcade Fire and Death Cab for Cutie Fans. Save your Augie March for when you’re bored on the bus. If you want something of captivating interest, check out Holy Balm, an electronica act that breaks all the rules of electronica. Or Ausmuteants, a band that could simply not give less of a shit. Or even Kirin J Callinan, the previous guitarist for Mercy Arms, Jack Ladder and Lost Animal, who recently tried to make a guy have a live seizure on stage at Sugar Mountain Festival earlier this year, all for the sake of art. These bands are all independent, Australian, and most importantly, interesting. They are not a bunch of acts to be randomly lumped in on an ‘indie playlist’ with the likes of Swim Deep or Father John Misty.

It’s 4 am on a Friday, and I don’t even really know what I’m saying anymore. Perhaps when I review and edit this tomorrow, it will make more sense. Perhaps it won’t. What I’m trying to say is this: I’m not going out of my way to insult the music taste of all the hipsters out there, I’m sure Snakadaktal’s debut album will be awesome. What I want to prove, like the Fasterlouder article, is that indie music has gotten quite safe and uninteresting, and I think that it has to do with the wide variety of ‘indie’ music, and the sea of music that most won’t bother to uncover. Indie isn’t indie anymore, that’s the problem. And if you try to make something not indie into indie, it will most probably get totally buried. Instead of hash tagging #indie to every band you hear on Triple J, perhaps take a listen first, and then figure out if they actually sound like The Postal Service and Modest Mouse, rather than just being new. And instead of buying the new Foster the People, spend your money on the new POND and King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard albums. It’ll pay off in the long run.

Video: Jagwar Ma-Man I Need

In a rare moment, I have found a clip that outweighs the track itself. Not that Jagwar Ma’s latest single is anything less than stellar. ‘Man I Need’ see’s them channelling a calmer, more romantic Hot Chip-fronted-by-James Murphy sound; jittery yet in total control the whole time, with wafting vocals over bleak tribal beats. However, the clip knocks everything to the wayside. After what must have taken a long time, we are presented with a trippy, vibrant and very stimulating animation. It’s actually one of the best clips I’ve seen all year, fun, exciting, and perfectly suited to it’s song.