Sia has had my attention since Breathe Me, even before Six Feet Under used it for its incredible and emotionally loaded finale scene. My love for her stunning songwriting and gorgeous vocals continued with songs like Electric Bird and Don’t Bring Me Down and I’m In Here. Oh, and Titanium was pretty terrific, too.
The thing I’ve always been drawn to with Sia has been the musical range, as well as vocal range, that she possesses. She has spot on pop sensibilities, but she has knows how to throw an heartbreaking punch that leaves you reeling.
This album definitely delivers that punch along with the pop.
My first listen favorite is Eye of the Needle, without a doubt. There is that lilting, haunting, unforgettable nature to the song that Breathe Me possessed, and there is also a current pop-sound to it that is reminiscent of Rihanna’s Stay and Sia’s hit Titanium. Sia’s vocal range is let loose here and it brings prickles to my skin while I listen, especially when her voice starts to almost crack with emotion towards the build at the end of the song.
Cellophane is incredible, too. It comes across as pointed and confessional as early Fiona Apple. Musically there is that soaring Florence Welch feel, but it goes even darker, and more broken open. Fire Meets Gasoline is more of a song about desire and desperation, than love, though it could be mistaken (and it would be a mistake) as a love song. There is a Pink meets Pat Benatar feel here, if you can imagine the pair up. Big Girls Cry and Straight for the Knife are powerful tracks, too, the former a candidate to the 2nd single following Chandelier.
This album is the best of her strengths, dynamic, raw, vulnerable, catchy, and beautiful. Even at first listen you feel the pain just below the pop-pulse surface, it sneaks in like a candy-flavored poison, and soon enough you feel the sting, and though you know it hurts to do so, you keep eating, or in this case, listening.
Dreamy indie pop infused with 60’s Laurel Canyon sensibilities, Season Sun is another album to add to my favorite Summer albums of 2014.
Gulp is a quartet put together by Super Furry Animals founder Guto Pryce and his wife Lindsey Leven. The band started originally as a home recording project featuring Pryce on bass and synths, and Leven on vocals backed by a drum machine donated by her yoga instructor. With the addition of guitarist Gid Goundrey and drummer Gwion Llewelyn, Gulp took shape and became first a touring band, and now a recording one, as well.
The opening track, Game Love, reminds me at first of Air, especially during their Moon Safari and The Virgin Suicides Soundtrack days. The synth takes on a Doors-organ sound, flowing into something very Southern California psychedelic that I just adore.
Let’s Grow is my first listen favorite. The synth/organ here is glorious, as is the lilting, Summery sound of Leven’s voice and the Beach Boys meets The Ocean Blue “should be played loudly by the ocean” feel.
Another initial favorite, Clean and Serene, reminds me of music I listened to a lot while road tripping between Los Angeles and San Francisco, in the mid-90’s. My partner in “on the road” crime, and I, used to make mix tapes to play in the car, and this song, as well as Vast Space, reminds me so much of the style and sound of our mix choices back then.
I am finding myself obsessed with this album – truly.
Another Summer stunner of an album that is very indie pop meets 60’s folk/psychedelia, this time from Bay Area born and bred duo, Skygreen Leopards. Glenn Donaldson, co-founder of experimental folk label Jewelled Antler, and Donovan Quinn have graduated from outdoor and reel-to-reel recording to something a bit more “professional” without using their homegrown, organic feel.
My first listen favorite is a tie, with the jangly, indie-folk Wwii Style which is a throwback to albums of my Mother’s I used to listen to as a child, and the track following, Is It Love, Love, Love? that reminds me of Robyn Hitchcock and Beat Happening.
The album itself feels like San Francisco does to me. Its hard to explain, but even if I didn’t know that the duo was from there I’d be able to feel it in the songs. It makes me miss the city.
No videos available – you can listen to the album here at Spotify
After sixteen years of silence, 90’s band Braid has some new music to offer in the album, No Coast. The energy here is as if they never took a break at all, or maybe it is because of the long hibernation. This album has some of the same enthusiasm and straight-forward emotion that their 1998 album, Frame and Canvas, possessed.
My initial favorite is the title song, No Coast. It is catchy and ripe and ready for singing-a-long to. It reminds me some of Sunny Day Real Estate and Saves The Day in its sound and sensibility. This is the one for the playlists and mix CD’s everyone, and should be played loudly.
Damages! is pretty fantastic, too, and well deserving of the exclamation point at the song title’s end. The “shout outs” within the song make me feel like I’m back in the mid-to-late 90’s and I find myself wanting to throw on one of my best baby doll dresses and spin around and around and around.
Turn this album on, turn it up, and teeter somewhere between your 90’s recollections and your now, and enjoy.
Loaded and ready for a prime time television drama soundtrack, Before the Waves almost demands visuals to accompany the music the album provides. After the first three tracks played I realized that this was an album better listened to while driving, with the world rushing by (especially with the glimmer and glow of the city lights) as the “visual” piece to the Magic Man’s album. I gave it a go in the morning sun, and will give it another spin after the sun goes down over Los Angeles.
The album relies heavily on synthesizers, much like offerings by M83, Pacific Air and alt-J. At times it veers too much on the side of over-production for my taste, but it may just need a few plays for me to get past the production and be able to dive into the songs themselves.
My first listen favorite is Paris, which seems to be their choice for first single released. It has a great hook that is hard to not start to sing-a-long to at about the halfway mark, even if I don’t know all the words quite yet. Honey is quite striking, as well. It reminds me a little of 80’s OMD. I enjoy the slightly stripped down sound to this track, allowing me to take in the vocals and lyrics. It is a beautiful song.
The album on the whole may need to be relegated to driving only. Or, it could be a grower, only time will tell.