A synthesizer break-up song? I was similarly enraptured with a Korg Poly Six back in the early 1980s. Having bought it on the (dumb) assumption it would somehow deliver digital samples ("promises I knew you wouldn't keep"), it was an unrequited love. But time heals all wounds. From the critically acclaimed "USB" album, "Poly" is a love song, at least stylistically, to that keyboard, and many others like it. Full of the dense, noisy, square wave textures typical of early 1980s synth-pop, if you knew those years well, Little Bark's music is very much a lovingly constructed homage to that era. And it is very good. The NZ Herald called this album "a sprawling, assertive record", awarding an overall 4.5 stars out of 5. The album was produced by the multi-talented Stef Animal (of amazing shoegaze band The Golden Awesome). She has also delivered us a rich, many textured video for this single as well. Little Bark is Sophie Burbery, formerly of Wellington, now based in Auckland. You can buy the album at the link below. I have bought it. Go on! Immerse yourself in 1980s' electronic love!
Little Bark - Poly (Music Video)
Steriogram, NZ's most-likely-to band of the early-2000s has an interesting diaspora, with members going on to be hair product moguls, music managers (Lorde, Mt Eden, Thomston)...and I don't know what else (can someone tell me?). But Bradley Hanan Carter has kept resolutely at it, and has over the last few years, together with a few others, mainly Americans, put together a band that has provided us with an impressive body of work, the quality of which well surpasses what he was doing with Steriogram. The band, based in Los Angeles' Echo Park area, was originally known as NO, but ran into problems getting mixed up with a number of other bands called NO, as well as having the inevitable intellectual property and search-engine issues. So they have been called Black English for awhile now and are slowly building awareness of their own particularly brand of what some have called "post-hymnal anthematic" (see Issue blog link below). It could be compared to a Killers, The National blend. "Another Life" is a superb track that sounds like it should live on the radio, but it has actually taken some time for us to get this video...the original footage being shot in 2012. I hope it makes it on to the airwaves as it sounds like a hit. The video, directed by Zak Stoltz and produced by Stephen Buchanan, is of typical high quality. In fact, the band has put out some of my favourite videos, a selection of which are below. Black English are on their own Bedroom Empire label, distributed through Arts and Crafts Records. You can buy their album "NO", (previously known as "El Prado") at the link below. I own it, play it often, and love it.
Selection of favourite videos...
"Leave The Door Wide Open" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W09JxJSjoO8
"Whats Your Name?" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i28vjNt19NY
"Stay With Me" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mdUbp_YVmEE
Black English (formerly NO) | Another Life
Like silk curtains lightly brushing over oneself in a gentle breeze, this deliciously hypnotic single from Terrible Sons is beautiful even without the video it now comes with. But put Arthur Gay's (Candlelit Pictures) inspired visual metaphors and execution against such a special track, and it leaps off the interwebs. Terrible Sons is a husband and wife team, Matt Barus (prev Dukes) and Lauren Barus, seen previously on this blog in her solo guise as L.A.Mitchell. The production is spacious, balanced and the surge of the chorus with its strings comes with just enough size to loosen the dynamic from the circular drone that many folk tracks suffer from. Matt describes the single as a "me against the world song". The lyrics are haunting and thoughtful. The single was released May 15th as is available at the link below. A gem.
Buy on iTunes: http://apple.co/1AVoc6W
Terrible Sons - 'Neptune'
There was an article in UK newspaper The Times recently, a grudging acceptance of the hypothesis that hip-hop has been the most significant creative wave within the last fifty years of popular music. But what is hip-hop? I won't get into that, but it has grown to be as diverse as to allow us acts such as Third3ye - with their spiritual take on the genre which they call "Earth Raps". I am sure these guys would love to be a commercial success, but they are clearly not targeting that outcome over creating music that is an authentic representation of their politics, their spirituality and of course their creativity. And that it makes it even more ironic, that an act that delivers such a broad-based attack on current societal norms has such potential crossover popular appeal. Third3ye started with MC's Angelo King and MeloDownz, but has since grown to include DJTORU and producer Ben Jamin'. Although "Levitate" is interesting from a textural production perspective, it is not my favourite track off "On3ness", their 2014 album. However, as a song/video combination it is a high point. FishNClips have done a superb job on this video. Third3ye is one of my favourite hip-hop acts of the last few years. Have a listen to some of the song links below. I am especially fond of their collaborations with Edward Waaka (Edward is now on the Revolution label). There is a good live review/article on the band from blog "When Did You Fall In Love With Hip Hop" linked below as well. It captures the band well. I have bought everything the band has given us so far. Go, listen and love Third3ye's version of the hip hop revolution.
"Out of this World" http://third3ye.bandcamp.com/track/out-of-this-world
"Crystal Cloud" http://third3ye.bandcamp.com/track/crystal-cloud-prod-edward-waaka
On3ness album link: http://third3ye.bandcamp.com/album/on3ness
The Times (UK) article (subscription): http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/science/article4431552.ece
Third3ye - Levitate (Official Video)