The Presets are gearing up for the release of their third studio album Pacifica – their first since 2008′s phenomenally huge Apocalypso – with the release of a new single entitled “Ghosts.” So far we’ve had two very different slices of electronic music from the Sydney duo. The first track, the bonkers “Youth In Trouble”, is a hyperactive 1990′s rave-up that wouldn’t sound out of place amongst a playlist of Underworld’s greatest hits or Rollo & Sister Bliss remixes. It’s been a long time since dance music on a Global Scale has been executed as well “Youth In Trouble.” If you’ve yet to hear the track be patient, the production makes you work hard for your climactic rewards but once you’re there you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about.
From the massive, stadium-ready rave-build-up’s to the complete acid house production throwdown, this six and a half minute club romper is exactly the kind of rave I want to hear in 2012 and is exactly the kind of rave radio had no idea it would be forced to once again slot into their watered-down commercial radio formats. “Youth In Trouble” peaks (ho ho!) and reaches ultimate-rave climax in its final 90 seconds and has left me panting for more since its arrival in June. The anticipation has just gotten itself thicker, too.
The stark in contrast “Ghosts” is the complete opposite of a rave-up and sees Julian’s vocals teeter into Chris Martin territory - not a bad thing, particularly when you take into effect how solid Martin’s vocals actually sound backdropped against sledge-hammering basslines. But with “Ghosts” the band have really stepped out of the soundscapes they’re familiar with, providing a mid-tempo gallop complete with tinges of Blackbox and the KLF. This may not be the radio-ready anthem the commercial FM networks were hoping for from the boys but there’s definitely a lot more commercially viable about “Ghosts” than there is in “Youth In Trouble.”
PACIFICA is released through Modular Records on September the 7th, 2012.
#29. FAUX PAS – LOSTWORKS
One of the best kept secrets of the year is the genius that is Melbourne’s Tim Shiel, AKA Faux Pas, and this compilation of unreleased material and b-sides. Lostworks serves as a companion piece to Shiel’s very good 2010 release Noiseworks (which you can buy, along with his other stuff – and I highly reccomend that you do – on iTunes) but brilliantly plays out like a well-crafted and thought out album all in its own right. In fact, I prefer Lostworks to Noiseworks – both are actually very excellent but incredibly different to one another and the mood running through Lostworks has a real undeniable magic about it.
This album is like an electonica fans wet dream; there’s a totally nuts/amazing bleepy French House moment on the monstrous “I Will Follow” that teeters into Vitalic territory without turning into Techno. Really progressive and incredibly driving – these are the general musical themes within the darker tones of Lostworks. “Maximums” plays as an epic 8-minute mid-tempo dance track that harmonises excellently with exquisite classical piano keys and a thumping bassline. There’s a particular beat drop at the 2″40′ mark that just kills me every time – incredible stuff and full of so much emotion. Oh, and of course the genius slight hint of a saxophone does indeed help proceedings reach even greater heights. The slight guitar strums and power running through the gorgeous “Renfield’s Dream” is one of the most incredible songs to listen to when hungover, but not as incredible as it is driving through the night after a hot Summer’s day. Lostworks serves. it. up. from start to end, and this particular track serves up an even more exciting twist in its final two minutes.
It’s the stunning album opener, a chilled disco-bassline enveloped by angelic edges by the name of “Organon” that reigns supreme as one of two moments on Lostworks that are the records finest of hours. A deep, very progressive-house styled journey into a musical wilderness – it’s that type of electronic/dance music that really takes you on a massive journey as you travel along with it. The second is the mental “Skwlver Line”, which starts out a little like Band Aid’s “Do They Know It’s Christmas” before ripping you a complete new arsehole and taking things to Paul Kalkbrenner heights. One of the most exciting songs I’ve heard from an Australian act this year.
Lostworks is great in that it’s not threatingly banging-a-dance-album that you can’t listen to when you’re just relaxing at home, but it’s also great because it is still incredibly danceable as well. Almost every moment on this 10-track gem is booty-shakeable to. So much so that it’s one of the few albums I’ve shared around heavily with friends that really appreciate electronic music, because as far as I’m concerned this is one of the most accomplished and thrilling dance albums this country has produced in years and people who like that need to be aware. What makes this so definitively special to all other dance records this year is that it’s dancey but has it’s feet very firmly planted within organic instruments, musical notes and melodies. A truly special moment in Australian Music that will go by unnoticed by so many, and that, my friends, is one of the biggest injustices of them all.
Amazingly you can download Faux Pas’ LOSTWORKS COMPLETELY LEGALLY AND FOR FREE (!!!) from his website. So now you have absolutely no excuse.
#30. CUT COPY – ZONOSCOPE
2011 saw Cut Copy deliver a mixed year of successes and disappointments. On the plus side earlier this year they put on what was probably their greatest live performance for their Melbourne album tour date, whereas on the Negative, for example, the video clip for one of the most majestic songs in their back catalogue, the stunning “Need You Now”, came complete with a sporting Mise-en-scène that remains the most embarrassing Australian Pop Music Video to date.
And then of course there’s Zonoscope, an album that started the year off in champion style but has, tellingly, aged in places over the last 10 months. “Need You Now” remains their most beautiful and precious song but the memory of that video clip does knock points off its brilliance. Stuff like Dandy Warhols ode “Where I’m Going” and bizarrely bonkers “Blink & You’ll Miss A Revolution” (which channels Cydni Lauper’s “Goonies” through its melody) both play as proper highlights along with “Need You Now,” but it’s the true staying power of monumental album closer (clocking in at just over 15 minutes) “Sun God”, the rip-snortingly good “Corner Of The Sky” and the effortless “Pharaohs & Pyramids” that keep this record within The Top 30 of the year. Each of these tracks are three of the greatest in the bands career and will live on as Cutters Classics in the years to come.
Totally boring filler “Take Me Over’ – which should never have even been a single – wastes a bit of time getting over and done with, much as the should-be-great-but-is-kinda-naff “Hanging Onto Every Heartbeat”, which is musically on point but loses itself vocally when the chorus chimes in. Interestingly though, Heartbeat is the only song on Zonoscope that could be mistaken for something lifted off the bands first.
Whilst Zonoscope may have seemed to be as good as 2008′s “In Ghost Colours” when it was initially released in February, as the months have rolled by the strength of the bands first two records have proven to be sharper and more cohesive than Zonoscope. That’s not to say it isn’t a great album, but the problem here is that Zonoscope often suffers from a few too many ideas being thrown into the one.
#31. ZOË BADWI – ZOË
Australia’s Zoë Badwi may be a young, fresh face on the charts but truth be told Badwi is nothing short of a local music veteran, having bum-danced her way through “I’m So Excited” with her then pop group Sirens and hilarious Big Brother contestant Sara-Marie. But aside from her stint with Sirens, Badwi also played a prominent role within ABC TV’s hit show from 1997, RAW FM, which was – coincidentally – a television show loosely based on former Melbourne radio aspirant Hitz FM – a station I’m sure you’ve all heard me talking about numerous times. Badwi has worked her arse off over the years within projects that are centralised around Australia’s Music Scene and the arrival of her debut Zoë is a keen testament to not only how determined she is to make an impact, but also how talented she really is.
There are already five singles lifted off Zoë, with the most successful being the hugely euphoric “Freefalin’” but it’s album highlight and criminally overlooked “Accidents Happen” that should have been a blow-up hit across the country and delivered Badwi the continued success that she and this album deserve. Badwi is in her finest of elements though when she’s dancing to the sound of heartbreak; forward-thinking pop like “Reckless” and “Until You’re Over Me” seem like amazing moments that could be wasted as being merely album tracks – the latter serving as one of the years absolute best songs. The best thing about this debut is that you’d expect it to be a primarily dance-heavy record, but Zoë’s sharp ear for pop melodies and experimentation deliver an exciting blend of dance-pop and even small glimmers of shoegaze-rock; particularly when it comes to the epic “One Step Behind”, a pinnacle in Badwi’s already incredible career. Beautiful ballad “Believe You” takes Badwi off the floor and into more vulnerable territory and the results are breathtaking. But it really is the attention to detail on the dance tracks across this record that really make it special. Even the Sunday-service-style pianos across the bonkers “In The Moment” demonstrate Badwi’s obvious appreciation and respect for dance music – there are hooks and melodies on this album some of the worlds biggest female pop stars would kill to have on their records.
For a debut release, this is a deliciously surprising disc that doesn’t hold back and sets the stage for an incredibly promising and exciting future for one of this countries finest pop stars.
You may recall last year when I tallied up my end of year lists that I’d become particularly partial to a Rogue Traders track by the name of “America.” It was to be featured on their unreleased fourth album “Night Of The Living Drums”, which was an on-point introduction to the vocal stylings of the divine Ms. Mindi Jackson, however it hadn’t seen the light of day beyond five-track promos that briefly circulated last year. To this day “America” remains one of my most played tracks in iTunes and – up until today – has been virtually unheard by the masses.
Well now you can listen to it… at least a 2 minute teaser for it any way.
I wonder why this has finally been made available?
I wonder why this is only a teaser?
Any way, for those of you who need a refresher as to what this incredible Rogue Traders LP would have sounded like, here’s an album teaser…
SNEAKY SOUND SYSTEM
“From Here To Anywhere”
Saviours of Australian Pop and music’s greatest duo since The Pet Shop Boys, our very own answer to Xenomania and therefor Girls Aloud, Sneaky Sound System have returned with one of my most anticipated releases of the year. “From Here To Anywhere” picks up exactly where their flawless sophomore album “2″ (read my original review – which I still stand by 100% - here) left off; Sneaky still have one foot firmly planted in the past whilst keeping their other three feet directed straight toward the future. That exciting blend of 1980′s synths and 2000′s approach to electronica is back in full swing for Anywhere, and much like their previous effort, it too is nothing short of being breathlessly amazing.
The thundering bassline of album opener “Friends” is an immediate step in the right direction, brushing itself up against sexy guitar licks and sonically lending itself slightly to Roger Sanchez’s “Another Chance.” Within three seconds of the chorus dropping it’s easy to see there’s really no fucking around on From Here To Anywhere; Sneaky mean business, and the business of the day is perfect pop music. Big, big chorus with chunky upheaval-like production that rolls along effortlessly; It’s the Sneaky Way. The first two singles then follow, with current radio-topper “Big” being the best of the bunch. “We Love” – a deliciously clunky club track – seems like a wasted opportunity as the first single, sitting amongst nine other songs that are infinitely better than it. That’s not to say We Love isn’t a great song, but when there are so many other brilliantly put together songs on here it makes you wonder why it was chosen to kick off this new era when something as monumental as “Big” sat there, waiting its turn. “I Need You So” is the only other song on Anywhere that goes back to that ‘In The Club’ territory heard on “We Love,” except that I Need You So is the better of the two. If the guys really wanted a club-banger for the first single then this should have been the choice, at least from a commercial standpoint.
Glitter-bass rears its head for the stunning “Really Want To See You Again”, complete with lyrics that get it; “I was breakin’ outta rules for you… I don’t want to talk about you, but I really wanna see you again. I don’t want to think about you, but I really wanna see you again.” The best lyric? “Don’t get me wrong, only fools get me wrong, I’s a mess when I was with you.” Keep an ear out for the brilliant bridge/middle8 combo that absolutely slays.
Making small – but noteworthy – references to the influential Human League, particularly their classic “Don’t You Want Me Baby”, “Remember” is a highly dramatic production for a song that is one of the bands hardest, lyrically speaking. “Don’t tell me we were wrong from the start, don’t hide your heart away so it can’t get back to the sweetest part.” The heartbreak continues in songs like “I’m Not Leaving” (which is much like an updated offcut from Whitney Houston’s “I’m Your Baby Tonight” L.P. – never a bad thing at all,) which is the closest Anywhere gets to serving a ballad.
One of the best songs on Anywhere “The Colours”, is destined to be a single at some point. BIG synths with a mind-blowingly tight chorus, everything comes to an exciting climax just after the middle 8 and I am telling you, you will know when this is happening because your ears will asplode everywhere. However, the biggest interest should be strummed for the records most stunning moment (well, perhaps after “Big”), and – typically – it’s a track called “1984.” “Maybe we can televise at the Minsitry of Love?” Miss Connie coos before launching into the biggest and most commercially viable moment on all of Anywhere. It’s an obvious pop cultural reference to the book of the same name and the lyrics suggest this from the moment it begins. Everything from the way it abruptly opens, The Divine Miss Connie’s talky-bits, Angus’ brilliant production – without a doubt in their Top 5 songs of all time.
The record comes to a close – perfectly only 10 tracks long – with Balearic-banger “Lovetown”, taking bits and pieces from the Metronomy school of dance and combing it all together with cheeky lyrics that play like some kind of Caribbean disco dream.
The best thing about From Here To Anywhere is its ability to knock you in the face from the get-go with huge, euphoric build-up’s across all of the songs that lead to death-defying climaxes. It’s everything we loved about “2″ – and then some. Angus and Miss Connie have knocked this one so far out of the park it’s hard to imagine any Australian artist toppling them over the next 12 months. Whether this sells or not, Sneaky Sound System are, and always have been, at the very top of their game, and “From Here To Anywhere” is their second (of three) truly perfect and completely flawless long players. So many artists can’t even achieve that in 10 years – yet they’ve done it in 5.
The only way is up. Sneaky Sound System are here to save our lives with the highest quality pop this country has ever served.
FROM HERE TO ANYWHERE is released THIS FRIDAY October 7th in Australia, with a subsequent release worldwide from October 17.
“Big” is the new single from Sneaky Sound System and it is exactly that.
Following up from the first single “We Love” (which has a highly entertaining video), this is the second offering from their third long player “From Here To Anywhere”, which I am VERY excited about. Sneaky have signed on with Modular who as most of you will know is one of my absolute all-time favourite record labels, so naturally I was expecting Big things from the first single We Love. It’s definitely a good song but when you’re sitting on something this huge, as my friend Edward said to me on Facebook today, it’s hard to understand why “Big” wasn’t the first single. Because it is really something else.
It’s undeniable magic. That chorus may very well be their most sonic and wonderful creation so far, and that’s AMAZING news when you take into consideration the fact that they are bloody excellent at choruses and are pretty much Australia’s answer to Xenomania/Girls Aloud.
Miss Connie and Black Angus have a hit with this. Remember the first time you heard Rogue Traders’ “In Love Again” and you went “Oh my GOD, that is BEAUTIFUL”? This is Sneaky’s moment of that magnitude; this is a soaring, majestic pop song with enough thumping electronic hooves to go along with some of the bands best, most sincere lyrics.
Sneaky Sound System’s “BIG” is the second best song of 2011. And if the magic of their last album is anything to by then Lady Gaga will finally have some real competition for Album of the Year.