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Monthly Archives: July 2012

It’s funny how, for each of us, a song’s meaning can change so much over the course of time.  Looking back to 2007, I remember ’5 Years Time’ being a song that was gloriously happy, with incredibly sweet moments with whistling and ukeleles and lyrics like “I’m always pretty happy when I’m just kicking back with you”.

Perhaps as a reaction to that song alone, critics often accused Noah and the Whale‘s 2008 debut, ‘Peaceful, the World Lays Me Down’ of being overly twee and were thus surprised by the seemingly dark turn offered in the follow-ups of ‘The First Days of Spring’ and ‘Last Night On Earth’.  To me, however, with the exception of the chirpy singles, their debut seemed – lyrically, at least – a beautifully melancholy album about love and death (more obvious examples can be found in the titular track, “we consider the world, just for a moment, and it’s gone before we even know.  But I’ll follow it round, ’til peaceful, the world lays me down” and the final song, ‘Hold My Hand As I’m Lowered’, “oh, your cold hands are clutching at cloth; I leave nothing on Earth that won’t rot”).

Indeed, given that the band are named after Noah Baumbach’s wonderfully bleak ‘The Squid and the Whale’, the dark angle to their lyricism should perhaps not be a surprise.  As I say, their next two albums – notably their sophomore effort, ‘The First Days of Spring’, were much more obviously depressing, and the second one was as such because it was written post-break-up between lead singer Charlie Fink and folk starlet Laura Marling.

But today I listened to ’5 Years Time’, in the mood for a bright and cheerful summery tune and, retrospectively, it’s actually very depressing too.  “In five years time, I might not know you, in five years time, we might not speak, in five years time, we might not get along”.  In 2012, this is the five years time to that single’s 2007 and, well, we know the particular couple in the song aren’t still together and they’re not walking around zoos and all the rest of it (or, not together, at least).  It’s made me all surprisingly introspective about what might be happening in five years time, and listening to it again the charming sunshine melodies and delightful refrains and pretty bits of lyricism are making me a bit sad.

I guess the (tenuous) point of this longwinded essay is I think it’s fascinating how context can change the meaning of a song and how, at any given time, the same song can have about thousand different meanings to a thousand different listeners.

MP3: Noah and the Whale – ‘If I Die Tonight (Live on BBC 6Music)’

The rap and hip hop scene is not something that is necessarily associated with Ireland’s musical output, but eighteen year old Dubliner Rejjie Snow (previously known as Lecs Luther) has got some ridiculously good bars.  Delivered in a deliciously smooth voice, the lyrics are dark, knowing and often have more than a touch of mocking humour.  This is not the catchy hip hop of years past with choruses and heavily-produced musicality; this is direct, raw and sometimes rambling, with slick beats and a certain sense of amused gravitas.  It’s for these reasons he’s being dubbed as this side of the pond’s answer to Tyler but, while the similarities are there, it does him a massive injustice to write him off as a mere imitator; Rejjie Snow is very much worth paying attention to in his own right.

This year should see some releases and more collaborations like this [watch 'Meddling Loops' with Rejjie Snow, Crave and Jesse James].

Shuddering, swaying, carefree riffs complemented by affable vocals, Laurel Collective are making jerky guitar pop which with a sometimes-scuzzy edge.  It’s often charming music, full of lilting melodies, sugary sweet guitars and light-as-a-feather drums (songs like ‘Fax of Death’, below); on the other hand, some of their songs (such as ‘Heartbreak Underground’ [listen on their SoundCloud], titular track of their debut album) offer something a bit more jarring and dissonant, but certainly it’s always just as delightfully engrossing and interesting to listen to.

 

I recommend you check them out on their SoundCloud.  Buy Laurel Collective’s debut album here, and also get hold of a bunch of free downloads they have available here

How have I never listened to LA’s sublime Nite Jewel before?  Boasting some deliciously light and airy R&Besque pop, it’s at times jerky, bright and boisterous, at times smooth, languid and intense; but somehow, it’s always incredibly captivating listening with a nicely crepuscular feel.  Ramona Gonzalez has emotive, fluid vocals which drift serenely around the crisp, stuttering beats and gorgeously soaring, glittering (and, dare I say “funky”?) melodies .

Also, she did an absolutely stunning cover of Frank Ocean’s ‘Thinking About You’ with Nicholas Krgovich which you need to listen to:

Nite Jewel is currently on a European tour and I highly recommend you catch her while you can.  Such great music, I’m still feeling kind of blown away by it all.

Buy some of her merch here.

At some point last year, I happened to find myself watching a music programme called Topman CTRL on Channel 4 – I had never seen it before, nor have I seen it since, but I remember being particularly struck by this performance by Welsh group Colorama.  Looking it up immediately afterwards I was unable to find the performance online, and completely forgot about them – then, for reasons I don’t really know, I remembered the group a few days ago out of nowhere and found the performance in question.  Alongside their musical catalogue in general, it became apparent that Colorama are really something quite special.

Hailing from Cardiff, Colorama make delightfully woozy, psychedelic folk that seems to idly amble its way to your ears by way of pastoral harmonies and picturesque melodies.  These are beautiful, skilfully put together songs, which bring to mind strange but pretty images of almost-magical pagan forests with hazy hippie gatherings.  The vocals are rich and unwavering, and in the majority of their tracks singer Carwyn Ellis uses Welsh rather than English, adding to the overall intriguing sense of delicate complexity and dazzling mysticism.

Lovely in a surreal, dazed, summery kind of way.

You can listen to and buy their music on their BandCamp.  By the looks of things they have a new release coming soon.

Purveyors of strange, baroque electro with a wonderfully dark edge to it, the swirling music of Dublin and Wicklow’s Solar Bears  would sound just as fitting soundtracking epic retro fantasy movies as it would exuding from speakers in some dance tent at some festival in the middle of the moon-dappled woods.

Though often eerie and dissonant, there’s still something quite natural and organic about their warming electronic sound.  It’s lithe and dreamlike, and rich and lush without ever getting too heavy.  This is music to sway under the stars to.

They are so, so good.  From what I can ascertain, Solar Bears will be releasing some new music relatively soon, so definitely keep an eye out.

You can check out a mixtape they did for dailybeatz.com from here, and buy their 2010 debut album, ‘She Was Coloured In’ from here.

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