Thursday, 16 June 2011

Ladies Day

All eyes on Royal Ascot this afternoon as the great and good of the fairer sex get the opportunity to flaunt their fashion sense. It’s an occasion that many navigate effortlessly, gliding across the grass looking demure and chic. There are others however who prefer to glue a pretzel to the top of a sombrero and surround it with the contents of Ainsley Harriott’s fruit bowl, before getting stuck in to the champagne and heckling Willie Carson – This is what happens if you invite the northerners!

In honour of this annual stepping out parade The Sound Of Confusion is bringing you our very own Ladies day! Us men have taken a bit of a kicking in the charts in recent years as Boots, Florence, Ellie, Marina and the one with the funny hair whose mum was in The Bill, have swept all before them with their Electro-pop.

As the female domination looks set to continue here is our pick of who could be next up.


First in line we have Sarah Mcintosh aka The Good Natured. We've been banging on about Sarah for the best part of 2 years now, but things look like they might be about to take off for the London songstress. Having at last signed a deal with Parlaphone, she releases the 'Skeleton EP' at the start of July and it's already garnered enough attention to suggest her star is in the ascendancy

Next up is Oh Land who released her second album (her first in the UK) just a few short weeks ago. The Dane has appeared on a string of America's top chat shows and is supporting Katy Perry later in the year, so it's safe to say if you've missed her thus far that probably wont be the case for much longer.

Also from Scandinavia but maintaining a lower profile is the excellent Nottee. The former Lo-Fi-Fink bass player decided to go solo and has spent her time building up a collection of funky house tunes. Earlier this year she released a single 'Don't Waste Your Light On Me'  and has promised more new tracks for later in 2011. In the past she's been featued by Kitsune Maison and also had the glamorous distinction of getting number one in my songs of 2010 list - they'll be no stopping her after that!

Staying in Sweden let's have a look at Niki and The Dove. Kev played her 'Mother Protect' track on his radio show back in November and since then she's been on the end of a lot of positive press (all Kev's doing!). Another single 'The Fox' came out on Sub Pop last month and a debut album is already recorded which is likely to be preceded by an EP later this year.

Got time for one more? Good, here's Keep Shelly In Athens. They're a duo who have been working together for just a year and have already been compared favourably to St Etienne. Last November they put out the 'In Love With Dusk EP' and then followed it up a couple of months later with a further pair of tracks, 'Hauntin' Me' and 'Song To Cheer You Up'. They're currently in the process of playing their first ever live shows so catch them at a town near you!


There you go, that's 5 to keep an eye on when you're scanning the charts over the next 12 months- and to think we've not even mentioned Alex Winston or Hannah Yadi (see 'Let's Get Ready To Rumble' post) nor Anna Calvi or Dimbleby And Capper - These ladies are everywhere!

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Friday, 10 June 2011

Wonder Bear - Avalanche

Bear's necessity is the mother of invention!

'I am ready for something a little strange - I'm just not the same'

Now that kids is how to encapsulate your music with one simple flow of the pen! The line in question comes from 'Reverend', the second track on the debut album from Wonder Bear, and it's the ideal summation of a record whose creativity will baffle and bemuse some as much as it will compel and charm others.

Over the course of 8 tracks spanning a mere 25 minutes, the New Yorkers have crafted a record that displays a great level of imagination and ingenuity; something that’s all the more impressive given that the two primary contributors are still only 17 years old.

This inventiveness means that classification of ‘Avalanche’ isn’t an easy task. Broadly speaking it’s a lo-fi electronic record, with elements of trip-hop and dub integrated, but those limited labels do it a disservice because where the record really excels is in its ambience and imagery.

The title track is a prime example. Vocalist Daisy Korpics sings softly to herself amidst a collection of rainforest noises and flowing rivers (think a more sedate take on The Stone Roses, 'Breaking into Heaven’ intro) before at the end the water gushes to the fore, creating the impression of pulling the singer under. Kachina Peak is just as evocative; it opens with children’s squeals accompanied by a series of mournful piano notes, before the main body of the track kicks in, underpinned by what seems to be the sound of a burning wooden structure –  its somehow manages to be both eerie and yet harmonious.

In fact that contradiction is prevalent throughout the album. Often Korpics appears lost in her own world, singing serenely, oblivious to the threatening soundscapes Ben Klein is creating all around her. This is certainly the case on the albums penultimate track, and stand out moment, ‘VO79’ on which Korpics sings virtually A cappella, accompanied only by the echo of her own vocal and a dark rumble in the background; Its menacing beauty is the perfect mood setter for closing track ‘Hunsiker’s Bowl’, which frankly is downright creepy; A half wound, children's music box stutters through ‘Over The Rainbow’ against a back drop of a whistling wind and a variety of haunting noises – chilling does do not it justice.

Understandably, because of it's experimental nature, this record will not find favour with everyone. For some the tempo will be too slow, others will find the vibe too oppressive or spaced-out. There are no conventional songs here or an obvious pattern or structure. It is however a progressive album and one that deserves praise not only for what it offers presently, but also what it promises for the future. To come up with something challenging at such a young age is a real achievement and one that Wonder Bear can be proud of.

Given their low profile this is a record that is unlikely to receive widespread acclaim, but one day in the future Klein and Korpics may be able to look back on this as the snowflake that set their avalanche in motion.

Download 'Avalanche' for free from the Absent Fever Label bandcamp page here

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Monday, 6 June 2011

Gold-Bears - Are You Falling In Love?

Did somebody slip some anabolic steroids into Gold-Bears rider? The Atlanta quartet have raced out of the starting blocks quicker than Ben Johnson piggy backing on Roadrunner - meep meep! All you lazy bands take note, having only formed last year they’ve already offered up a 4 track EP; a further 3 track single AND been cocky enough to air an additional song as part of the ‘Wish I’d Had A Scrapbook’ compilation. Now low and behold they’ve only turned up with 9 brand new tracks which form the backbone of their debut album ‘Are You Falling In Love?’ - that’s what you call a work ethic.

It's not just their career trajectory that this breakneck approach is applicable too, at just over 33 minutes '....falling in love' is a full throttle adrenaline surge, audio ADHD if you like. On occasion though haste can be the perfect foil for masking a multitude of sins, so beyond the giddy, whirlwind exterior is there any substance?

Well that probably depends on what you're looking for from a new release. Breathtaking production? forget it! Precision playing? Move along, nothing to see here. Genre busting musical creativity? Nope. What it does have though is a real feel good factor, a wide eyed sunshine spirit and a batch of short, sharp songs that sound better and better with every listen.

Being signed to Slumberland Records, and now opening for them on tour, comparisons with The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart are inevitable (especially as 'Besides You' has pick pocketed it's chorus from 'The Tenure Itch' ). In common with the Brooklyn group, Gold-Bears appear to be heavily influenced by the jangle guitar pop of Paisley Underground scene bands like The Three O'Clock and The Dream Syndicate, a style which they have married with a raw, live, garage rock production ethos. In the songwriting stakes you'd have to give the nod to 'The Pains...', but for those that were disenchanted with the new fuller and glossier sound of 'Belong' this could be the LP that you're looking for to fill the void.

Opener 'Record Store' lays down a marker with it's chiming guitar work and punk rock aggression (think REM sharing a lock up with The Descendents) and that vitality spills over into the subsequent songs. 'So Natural' and the title track are awash with distortion, while 'Tally' and stand out number 'Totally Called it' are jam packed with melody. Album closer 'Yeah, Tonight' is the longest track on the record, and perhaps it's most ambitious, starting off at a gentle, reflective pace before beckoning in the base and drums to steer the LP to a swirling conclusion.

It's been a year well spent for Gold-Bears and it begs the question what will they achieve with time ahead of them? It could be a fun journey finding out, but at the pace they're going you better get your running shoes on if you want to come along!

So to answer their question - are you falling in love? Yep, with this record, I think I just might be.


You can fall in love with it too by streaming the album here
and then you can buy it here

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Friday, 3 June 2011

Arctic Monkeys - Suck It And See

T'Artics release their fourth album on Monday, 'Suck It And See' - which is exactly what you'll have to do as both Kev and I got bored of them after their 2nd record and neither of us can be bothered reviewing this one. Alex Turner's hair is better than before so the album probably is too. Enjoy!

Actually that's maybe not sufficient to merit a post is it, so, for the sake of continuity in format, here is a video of an arctic roll.

note: other brands are available....I think.

We'll try and find you a link to download a real life monkey (though you may have to settle for an Orangutan) but while we search for that you can keep occupied by streaming 'Suck It And See' here

 Buy it here


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Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Found Of Confusion # 5

Against all the odds and perceived wisdom the ‘Found of Confusion’ limps gamely on to its fifth instalment, a musical meander through what was the month of May. I’ll pin my colours to the mast and admit that this is without question my favourite month of the twelve, mainly because year on year it seems to be the one that makes a concerted effort to give us a stab at what I believe is mythically known as ‘summer’. Sadly it’s followed by grumpy, moody June, but that’s for another day (or 30) so for now let’s don our flip flops, apply the factor 15 and kick back to some kissed tunes on the oceanfront’s around the globe...


If you hope to bring the spirit of California to the beaches of Bournemouth, Blackpool, Bridlington and (in my case) Belhaven this summer then you could do a lot worse than let Oregon Bike Trails commandeer your campfire CD player. When The Drums invited everyone to go surfing back in 2009, they kick started a new appreciation for the lighter side of 60’s American culture and we’ve been awash with ‘surf pop’ releases ever since. Riding the crest of this wave better than most is Santa Monica’s Zach Yudin who’s been prolific in the early part of this year. On Deep Sea Diver’, A Summer Thing’ and ‘High School Lover he positions himself firmly in The Beach Boys domain, all be it in a more lo-fi fashion, but as fun as that is of even more interest is his latest effort ‘Come On, Come On’ which, while cut from the same cloth as the preceding tracks, has a little hint of The Go! Team about it. If he continues to explore that avenue and diversify he could be the one left gliding to the shore when the musical tide turns.

The get up and go of the west coast of America isn’t everyone’s idea of fun, so if you prefer to stage your fantasy in more tropical and idyllic surroundings  Wishing Wars may be able to help you on your way. His - it is purely a one man project - Swim EP has been pigeonholed as ‘Chillwave’ (the most meaningless genre name ever) and ‘Sandlegaze’ (which is actually pretty good and I’m jealous I didn’t think of it!), but as I’m feeling left out I’m going to ignore both of those and invent my own pointless niche – Coastbliss!

The laid back productions on show are the perfect soundtrack for a happy beach-ball, wiling away its days in a carefree fashion, bobbing across the sands, only picking up pace occasionally to knock over a child’s ice cream or film a Bounty advert. If you need a more lucid clue as to the musical direction look no further than William Orbit’s ‘Pure Shores’ collaboration with All Saints, or the playful serenity of Air France. Two new tracks, Far Away and Dive In, have been previewed via the Wishing Wars Facebook page (along with improved versions of a couple of the Swim EP tracks) and they’re probably his best work yet which all augurs well for future material.....and the Coastbliss reputation!

Now I can really empathise with our next band Calm As The Colour, where they call home is a stone’s throw from me in the grand geographical scheme, and as such I think I know what the summer experience encompasses for them. The sun beams in through the window with its ‘come play with me’ eyes, luring you out into it’s warm embrace, only to be cancelled out the minute you step outside by a biting sea wind and a swarm of midges feasting on parts of the body you didn’t even know existed! This annual farce doesn’t seem to have deterred these Fife lads though who have put together a bunch of tracks that share more in spirit with Sydney than St Andrews, Brisbane than Burntisland and Perth than...err Perth. ‘Rain Must Fall and Good Morning Lassitude’ are pure goodtime 60 influenced guitar pop in the vein of The Hollies and The Lovin’ Spoonful while Ticket to Liberty’ is The La’s knocking out a cover of ‘Elephant Stone’ one afternoon down the park. The biggest stumbling block these ‘founders’ face?...the sun sticking around long enough for them to write a full album, it might be time to relocate boys!

The Rain Must Fall by Foundofconfusion

So we’ve catered for the active, the chilled and the dreamers, but there’s a sizable chunk of the population who prefer a bit more bounce to their beach break and they find it by taking to the European circuit for parties on the peninsula. Someone has to supply an anthem that can snapshot their summer and with Russ Chimes still applying the finishing touches to his EP and Alex Metric’s tag team with Ian Brown proving sadly underwhelming, club land could be in need of a rescue mission – so step out of the shadows Daniel J Santillan. Los Angeles based Santillan (or DJ $ex as he goes by on MySpace) normally passes his time as one third of Knight Stalker, but in his spare moments he’s shown that, despite some vocal limitations, he can turn his hand to moulding some neat chunks of electro house. 3 tracks surfaced last year - Do You, Regina and Facade - and whether or not anymore will follow is anyone’s guess (a low key web presence suggests he plays his cards close to his chest) but given what he’s produced so far it would be a shame if there’s no more studio time in the offing. Come on Daniel, Ibiza depends on you.



So that’s May, June, July and August catered for, see you again in September – it’s dead easy this Found Of Confusion lark! ......err apparently I have to come back next month.....ah..... better get to it then!

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