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.
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 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.
Starting off almost by chance as a one-man-project and rapidly growing thanks largely to internet buzz, Passion Pit have finally released their second full length. ‘Gossamer’ proves their ease in churning electro-pop gems such as the super “I’ll Be Alright“, “Take A Walk” and “Constant Conversation” said Mario.
Cougar‘s own Jazmin added that “it may have been a long wait between ‘Manners‘ and this second Passion Pit album, but it was most definitely worth being patient. ‘Gossamer‘ is undoubtedly one of the best albums to have come out of 2012, with brilliant singalongs like ‘Carried Away‘ and a perfect combination of electro pop. Any party that this album is playing, I’ll definitely be dancing“.
Cougar scribe Thom included them in his year run down saying “never dropping it’s optimism and fresh sounding production, ‘Beware and be Grateful‘ was a perfect summer album. Well co-ordinated instrumentation at it’s intelligent best“.
Our boy Thom included them in his year end list remarking that ‘Something‘ ”both echoed late eighties video game sounds with New York hip attitude. “Wrong Opinion“‘s meticulous sound production and “Sidewalk Safari“‘s schizophrenic arrangements mixed with haunting vocals are just two examples of Chairlift‘s effortlessly creative style”.
For over ten years, album after album, Hot Chip have been carving out their unmistakable niche sound. The London outfit seem comfortable in their own skin free from the pressure of having to conform to the latest trends, instead they have produced a synth filled master stroke that nods to their 80s influences without ever sounding contrived. In a world where electro-pop is possibly at it’s peak popularity wise ‘In Our Heads‘ sounds utterly relevant without chasing trends.
Nicole included it to his top 10 explaining that “Striking a balance between meticulous and unrestrained, slightly absurd, yet totally serious. These guys do it right. Often dance-able and unpredictable, you can get lost in these tracks, which makes for a good time”.
Thom added “the music that comes from those boys heads has possibly the widest ranging influences in modern music and to no greater effect than on ‘In Our Heads’. It’s energetic, incredibly emotional and great all round.”
While that album remains an absolute pleasure it did signal a slight detour from the sound we had associated with the Californian 3 piece right from their debut. WHY? have definitely not sacrificed their new found pop sensibilities yet ’Mumps, Etc‘ displays enough bite to be considered a kindred spirit to their 2008 breakout album ‘Alopecia‘.
Thom included them in his top-10 explaining “Sometimes words can carry a track on their own and Yoni Wolf‘s lyrics are the sociological poetry of every thoughtful and intelligent down and out. But this record obviously isn’t a poetry reading and WHY?‘s musicianship on ‘Mumps, Etc.‘ is still as exciting, genre-twisting and gritty as their diamond in the rough debut ‘Oaklandazulasylum‘ way back in 2003“.