Aug 17 2014

Weekend Videos: The Flight – The Idol And The Idle


The musical partnership between Joe Henson and Alexis Smith aka The Flight have produced something impressive dating back to their coming together in 2005. Since then, their creative production hub in East London has worked with some of the biggest names in music such as Lana Del Rey, Bjork and Elbow.

Their latest EP ‘The Sinner Inside‘ sees talented American singer/songwriter Alana Stewart, an artist we have been following for some time, taking on vocal duties may just be their most wondrous and exciting project to date.

The Idol and the Idle‘, the 2nd track from the EP is everything British music should be proud of. Understated is a word that is thrown around in this post-XX time, but moody, patient production cooks at the bottom of a pot of brooding vocal sass and beautiful analogue synths. The fact that the song is immediately so iconic without an obvious chorus only strengthens their case.

The lyric “God gets muddy in the glass” is the stuff of Twain, and conjures up a revelation of a world stuck between false promises, filling our voids with frivolous and carnal passions. This is combined with a stark and gritty video accompaniment that asks whether it is better to drink, dance and lay my way into middle age, or to actually think outside the box. Or look up from the box. Or remove my face from someone’s box. Either way I couldn’t have enjoyed it more.

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Post by T.R. Wicks

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TRACKS:

doublecougar Weekend Videos: The Flight   The Idol And The Idle


Jan 10 2014

Cougar Microbes Albums of 2013: Haim – ‘Days Are Gone’

 Cougar Microbes Albums of 2013: Haim   Days Are Gone

It’s hard to say that Haim came out of nowhere considering they had already been heavily namedropped as one of the artists to watch for 2013. The good news is once the girls dropped their debut  it showed that much of the hype was justified. With a phenomenal live show in their arsenal, worth losing friendships over, long live these sisters.

The feeling I get when I hear an album’s concept executed flawlessly is a smile that starts in my belly, and slowly works its way to my mouth. That’s the only way to explain the warmth that the retro-lusting artistry of ‘Days Are Gone‘ gives me. Ariel Reichstag really killed in 2013 helming two of the year’s best albums (this one and Vampire Weekend’s), and you can really hear his touch combined with the HAIM sisters years of dedication to songwriting. In the time since loving this album’s near-perfection, I’ve come across a few bands that you’d have to describe as simply “Post-HAIM”, making me hopeful that we are moving into an era of 1000 Stevie Nicks’s. I could go for that” – Daniel Benny

Days Are Gone‘ visited the garage sale of 80’s mainstream and turned it into something cool and fresh again. Haim have fashioned a fantastic debut filled with the hooks and irresistible, guilty-pleasure synths, and the overall result is sleek, sexy and tight”. – T.R. Wicks

Skinny Jewish girls who truly know how to rock – a rare breed indeed. Charming vocal harmonies, lyrics with life advice you wish you’d heard sooner, and the lead sister shreds on guitar” – Jabes

20140107 034257 Cougar Microbes Albums of 2013: Haim   Days Are Gone

TRACKS:

doublecougar Cougar Microbes Albums of 2013: Haim   Days Are Gone


Jan 9 2014

Cougar Microbes Top Albums of 2013: Kavinsky – ‘Outrun’

kavinsky outrun albums of 2013 Cougar Microbes Top Albums of 2013: Kavinsky   Outrun

Just like the image on the cover of Kavinsky‘s ‘Outrun‘ the music it contains is completely over the top. The French house maestro offers a high octane mix of retro sounds and sinister atmospherics that remains enjoyable even after repeat plays.  The kind of music that makes you want to rent (or buy) an 80′s Ferrari and drive at night with your shades on.

Taking the 80’s revival to it’s reverberating limit, Kavinksy thumps and echoes along like an x-rated Miami Vice soundtrack, in a night of bright lights and fast sex. Drive’s main theme of ‘Nightcall’ couldn’t have imagined a better setting for this sassy gloss. Inch perfect production and ever surprising us at each turn, ‘Outrun‘ jumps between nostalgia and the present with effortless precision” – T.R. Wicks

20140107 034257 Cougar Microbes Top Albums of 2013: Kavinsky   Outrun

TRACKS:

doublecougar Cougar Microbes Top Albums of 2013: Kavinsky   Outrun


Jan 9 2014

Cougar Microbes Top Albums of 2013: Kanye West – ‘Yeezus’

Kanye West Yeezus albums of 2013 Cougar Microbes Top Albums of 2013: Kanye West   Yeezus

Love him or hate him Kanye West succeeded in simultaneously being the most talked about and the most outspoken artist in 2013. While many of us were eager for a follow up to 2010′s brilliant ‘My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy no one fully expected the barrage that is ‘Yeezus‘.

We’ve waxed lyrical about it and we’ve compared his record to other Kardashian romancer Lamar Odom but here is why the Cougar team loved it.

If there was a land where an artist’s talent was to equal his/her ego, Kanye West would most certainly be the King. The self ­proclaimed ‘creative genius’ once again tops my list of best albums of the year, and with the humbly named ‘Yeezus‘ proves that you can copulate with a Kardashian and name your child as a direction yet still remain on top. Yeezus‘ is completely different from his previous work, and from anything that had previously been done, yes I mean by ANYONE. It perfectly represents him though:  angry on ‘New Slaves‘ and ‘Black Skinhead’.  Extravagant, pioneering, grandiloquent on ‘ I am a God‘, and yes, even funny. This album also proves that he can mix genres like no other, but also bring people together like no other merging electronic music, hip hop, rock, jazz and punk gathering genius from all around the world including the best of the french electronic scene (Daft Punk, Brodinski, Gesaffelstein), Brit DJ/producer Hudson Mohawke and his collaborative project TNGHT, and contributions from indie darling Justin Vernon and R&B hard hitters like Uncle Charlie Wilson and Frank Ocean” – Olivia

“‘Yeezus‘ mighty “On Sight” kicks off the album with the angry Kanye beats we knew he was about to lash out at us at any moment. About a minute in everything comes to a halt with an angelic sample of Holy Name of Mary Choral Family singing “Oh, he gives us what we need. It may not be what we want.” Perfectly summing up Kanye‘s understanding of why he believes he was put on this earth, and that he truly considers himself to be a God of music.

An album of mostly heavy synth beats ‘Yeezus‘ holds true to Kanye‘s unique craft. The best display on the album, “Blood on the Leaves” opens with the haunting Nina Simone sample, piquing curiosity only to guide you right back into Yeezy‘s dark underworld. The bottom line: Kanye refuses to let anyone see him as anything other than brilliantly out of his mind“. – Jabes

This dark album was sometimes a challenge, but I mean that as a compliment. It’s gritty production and forceful performances really take you into the head of one of music’s most creative souls. “Black Skinhead” was ferocious but at the same time intriguing. The great use of vocal samples and futuristic synthesizers compliment the danceable yet artistic pieces of rage in this modern masterpiece“. – T.R. Wicks

“Its hard to classify ‘Yeezus‘ as just an album. It is much more than that. Starting with the SNL performances, to the cryptic guerrilla marketing, then the album, then the aftermath… In the previous month, Kanye released the video for “Bound 2” which rapidly went viral in combination with the James Franco/Seth Rogen spoof*. Kanye also went on a morning radio rampage claiming to be the ” No. 1 most impactful artist of our generation” and “Shakespeare in the flesh.” Unfortunately, I think he may be correct. The album lives up to the hype. Its dark. It’s creative. It’s heavy. It’s sexy.

* I have a theory that the spoof was Kanye organized/commissioned. The exact frame-by-frame tribute came out too quickly and was too good. This also wouldn’t be out of Kanye character” - Robin Petering

20140107 034257 Cougar Microbes Top Albums of 2013: Kanye West   Yeezus

TRACKS:

 

doublecougar Cougar Microbes Top Albums of 2013: Kanye West   Yeezus


Dec 28 2013

“Spaces” by Nils Frahm reviewed

nils frahm spaces Spaces by Nils Frahm reviewed

Music is about music. Not about life and love.

If there’s one thing that Berlin based composer Nils Frahm knows, it’s music. Innovative, complex and quite brilliant, it seems with every new composition, he explores a new uncharted role of musical and emotional depth. The musician has explored many diverse territories, but his latest and tenth album, Spaces, is about exploring just that.

Unlike many of his previous outings that were made with home listening in mind, Frahm’s tenth album, ‘Spaces‘, was recorded live, over a series of 30 concerts. Often improvised, he wanted the audience to feel the energy of the that snapshot in time- That acoustic space.

Frahm‘s is a fearless artist, pouring soundscapes from his soul, mixing the classical with the electro, and everything about his execution seems effortless and primal. A huge palette of analogue and electronic instruments such as the Juno synthesiser, Fender Rhodes electric piano, tape delay and grand piano at his disposal, Frahm’s creative pursuit and indeniable talent is clear.

The pre-release from ‘Spaces‘, ‘Says‘ brings to mind the raw depth and minimalism of Arvo‘s ‘Spiegal Im Spiegal‘ or Einaudi‘s ‘Walk‘ mixed with the intricacies of the masters of early electro Kraftwerk and Moroder. I’m sure he had none of these artists or pre-concieved ideas in mind when writing and performing these otherworldly sympthanies, and I’d put money that there was nothing on his mind but the music.

The result is incredibly focused and at times extremely breathtaking.

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Post by TR Wicks

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TRACKS:

doublecougar Spaces by Nils Frahm reviewed


Dec 27 2013

Gabriel Rios – ‘This Marauder’s Midnight’

Coffee Gab Gabriel Rios   This Marauders Midnight

One song every month for a year. This is pledge from Belgium based artist Gabriel Rios for his latest album ‘This Marauder’s Midnight‘.

Ever the musical chameleon, Rios is now flanked by classically trained musicians Ruben (double bass, vocals) and Amber (Cello). The 12 songs, all very different from each other, share a hauntingly beautiful thread of space and controlled musicianship, coupled with Rios‘ poetic pros create a vulnerable yet dark fairytale-like world.

There’s a wonderful sense of musical union and playful creativity about this trio. Gabriel admitted to me backstage at Hasselt’s Cultuur Centrum that when he brought the sketches of the songs to Ruben and Amber for arrangement, if they didn’t work live, they were binned; an importance of honesty and focus rarely seen in popular music. There is an artistic boldness that really sets these musicians apart; A passion for the genuine and stark in songwriting and no compromise when it comes to artistic integrity.

Gab Thinkgs Gabriel Rios   This Marauders Midnight

Gold‘, the first song of twelve, has been received fantastically online and on radio, much to the surprise of the singer who, as an artist, looks beyond commercial appeal but is understandably excited when his songs are given recognition for the right reasons. On the radio, when the song sits between two ambient-dance-cookie-mould pop songs that have taken over much of Europe’s national and local radio lately, it stands out like a sculpture amongst mannequins, a hymn that’d been lost and now recovered.

As with the record being cut live, each of the twelve songs will have a live video accompanying it, songs such as ‘Madstone‘ and ‘Apprentice‘ have carried on the both visual and musical nakedness and minimalism of ‘Gold‘.

In a world where it is so easy to compromise artistically and to multi-track and layer the artificial, Gabriel Rios has created something rather special. The delicate melodies of a cello coupled with punchy and intelligent baselines are all that sits upon Rios‘ acoustic guitar. It’s the passion delivery of these elements that makes this trio so worth watching.

This Marauder’s Midnight‘ will be released Winter 2014, check out his site for the latest songs.

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Post by TR Wicks

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TRACKS:

doublecougar Gabriel Rios   This Marauders Midnight


Jun 29 2013

Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories reviewed

daft punk random access memories cover Daft Punks Random Access Memories reviewed
If anyone caught that BBC documentary on Nile Rodgers a month or so back that you’ll have an inkling to what his involvement to Daft Punk’s latest effort; ‘Random Access Memories‘ would entail.

It would be nearly impossible to have avoided hearing the disco stylings of ‘Get Lucky‘. It will probably go down as the summer track of 2013. And rightly so. Pharrell Williams has been a busy boy performing vocal duties and seemingly in the same week fondling around with nude ladies on ‘Blurred Lines‘ by Robin Thicke (Another impossible track to have both avoided and not been enticed by.)

Random Access Memories was slightly slated at first for not delivering the same blend of anthemic dance of previous albums. Apart from the fact that that’s a big bunch of bullshit, the point that’s been missed is the idea of the album as a whole. Even though ‘Get Lucky‘ should be viewed as an anthem in it’s own right, when listened to as a whole body of work, RAM segues beautifully between 70′s and 80′s dance, the experimental and the avant-garde.

A track such as ‘Giorgio By Moroder‘ has been labelled a track that ‘shouldn’t work‘. It features a monologue by Giorgio Moroder on his beginnings as a musician and philosophies on songwriting. This is all to a fantastically creative use of synthesizers and modern beats. Of course it works. Especially when backed up by Moroder’s point on how there is not a definitive way of writing a song.

Lose Yourself To Dance‘, once again featuring Pharrell is an instant classic whilst ‘Doing It Right’ is measured and cool. Perhaps the best example and perfect introduction to this classic is it’s opening track ‘Give Life Back To Music‘ enveloping everything that’s great about Daft Punk, and perhaps as a title serves as the point for such a shift in dynamic.

Trust me, ‘Random Access Memories‘ is a killer.

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Post by TR Wicks

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TRACKS:

badge itunes lrg Daft Punks Random Access Memories revieweddoublecougar Daft Punks Random Access Memories reviewed


Feb 25 2013

The XX live at the 02 Academy, Brixton

the xx live The XX live at the 02 Academy, Brixton

Brixton Academy has always been my favourite London venue. It has held the biggest names in pop and rock since the 1960′s and a place that isnt corporately cloned by another venue for the satisfaction of it’s clientelle. It’s unique and is a place unchanged since it’s hayday; a place where new talents can leave their mark in history, a place where you can still crouch down amd light a joint and you can still get a pint of luke-warm piss lobbed at your back at any moment. You wouldn’t have it any other way I’m sure.

The xx haven’t stopped since their 2009 stunning debut with it’s minimalist and soulful pop songs. Their confidence has grown, as have the bands onstage chemistry. Romy Madley-Croft and Oliver Sim‘s vocal duelling is simply breathtaking and their voices have blossomed.

Coexist“, The xx‘s excellent follow up album has trimmed the fat and produced even more soulful numbers and morphed the indie pop songs into beautiful and unique dance numbers whilst transforming the debut albums tracks into this new aesthetic live. Songs such as “Crystalized” and “Shelter” are given new leaces of life by livening up with loud bits with Jamie XX‘s samples and extremely creative drum sounds, whilst the aforementioned Madley-Croft and Sim deliver more tender moments have been stripped down to just a joint vocal and a guitar.

the xx live 2 The XX live at the 02 Academy, Brixton

The band’s opener for the night, “Angels” comes across euphorically poignant and sits as a nice platform for tracks like “Reunion“, “Missing” and “Swept Away” to become the thumping live anthems they were destined to be.

The two most special moments for myself were the awe inspiring transitions of “Fiction“, with it’s irresistable guitar line backed my Jamie XX‘s inspired pips and twinkles, along with the fantastic ‘Infinity’ which swells and boils into the biggest moment of the set with duelling  vocals howling over each other to a reverberated morse-code of emotion (along with that awesome snare sound that sounds like a shopping trolley crashing into another shopping trolley.

The diversity of the audience for the night shows how special The xx are and they deserve to go down in history as one of those terrific live acts and I hope this show was one of those events.

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Post by TR Wicks

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TRACKS:

badge itunes lrg The XX live at the 02 Academy, Brixton

doublecougar The XX live at the 02 Academy, Brixton