Album Review: PNAU vs Elton John: Good Morning to the Night

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Where to even begin?

It all begins with PNAU, an Australian electropop band that first gained attention in 2007 with their self titled album PNAU. The track, which spawned a few catchy singles ( Wild Strawberries, Baby and With You Forever) caught the attention of one Sir Elton John. Elton John signed the group and quickly took them under his wing, offering the group his musical knowledge and bubble baths.

PNAU got a bit sidetracked in the late 00’s, as side project Empire of the Sun exploded onto the internet and made Nick Littlemore and Luke Steele stars for a brief moment in time.

With EOTS on hiatus, PNAU went back to the recording studio, probably did a ton of drugs and decided to reimagine Elton John’s records. The result is Good Morning to the Night, a mad scientist of an album that turns parts of Elton John’s 1970-1976 discography into a cohesive summer album that is perfect for backyard patio parties.

The album is only eight tracks long but features a host of an ideas. The title track incorporates eight Elton John tracks and transforms it into a rocking dance floor anthem and is definitely one of the highlights of this summer. The next track Sad is equally good, incorporating horns and other elements from five EJ tracks to turn it into once of those chilled but not too chilled tracks you want to play at sunset. The rest of the album twist and dives into the discography (most people say it was Elton John’s best work), each track sounding slightly different but all be it consistent with the PNAU’s dance party in the desert type of sound. Basically, it’s a great summer album and one worthy of your time.

Check it out.

Album Review: Krief – Hundred Thousand Pieces

Posted on by lauren in Albums, Everything | Leave a comment

The Dears have always been an operatic band. You can picture their songs at integral moments in cinema, or when picturing the soundtrack to your life, which according to Krief is a deliberate process (he has previously worked scoring films). Patrick Krief’s full length solo album is no different. It pulls on the heartstrings like no other; it swallows you whole as you get lost in the beauty and heartache he emotes so perfectly. There are moments where it feels like the guitar solos are singing the song, “gently weeping” as the Beatles so eloquently put it.

Every song on this album has what I can only describe as a large, theatrical sombre sound to it. The guitar packs as much emotional punch as the lyrics, as if it were a limb, an extension, like a musical instrument should be to a true musician. With lyrics like “when you left me broke and alone, here I am, lost in Japan”, it has the sadness of wandering through one of the largest cities, surrounded by people yet still feeling completely isolated and alone.

Krief stated in the bio on his website that during the writing of this album, “I was in the darkest place I had ever been in” and that he had to cease recording for several months. Citing the fear of growing older, and making a living out of a career where you are almost guaranteed to make little money (especially with technology and downloading today), it’s relatable on the easiest of levels. Most of us fear growing old, most of us fear being alone and we’d be lying if we said we didn’t think about finances and career choices at least once a day. So kick back, pick up Hundred Thousand Pieces and create your own Cameron Crowe film soundtrack to your life.

Album Review: Amanda Mair – Self Titled [2012, Labrador]

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So remember the Lilith Fair? A monumental, epic, crunchy-granola, feel-good testament to all that is feminine? Good news if you do remember: You have great taste in female artists. Good news if you don’t remember: Amanda Mair can provide a cheat-sheet to all the Lilith Fair awesomeness you have been deprived of.

Amanda Mair, first of all, is a baby (aka born 1994 – don’t think about it – it’ll only hurt your soul). The Swedish singer has a beautiful, clear, natural voice that neither grates nor wears on listeners. I could literally listen to her all day. More good news: her debut, self-titled album will be available June 5, 2012.

Most of her music on the album is laid-back – easy listening but distinctive enough not to become boring. There are some poppy undertones (try “Doubt”) – as well as some richer (almost soulful?) sounds on tracks like “Sense.” My personal favorite is “Skinnarviksberget” which makes me think of every prince-and-princess-falling-in-love moment from all our favorite Disney movie classics.

So: Feminists, Scandinavian-philes, Disney-lovers, children of the 90s, unite (if you don’t fall into one of those categories, you need to seriously reassess your interests)! Spread the word of Amanda Mair. She’s definitely worth a listen.

Album Review: Rufus Wainwright – Out of the Game [Decca/Polydor, 2012]

Posted on by Celeste in Albums | Leave a comment

Singers with distinctive voices: Bob Dylan, Colin Meloy, Aretha Franklin, John McCrea – Rufus Wainwright. In my mind, it’s true of Wainwright more than any other artist, that I could recognize his voice anytime, anywhere. I’ve tried, many times, to pinpoint exactly the adjective to describe Wainwright’s voice. Nasal? No. Plaintive? Not exactly. Sweet? Doesn’t quite get at the depth of it. The closest I can come is to say that Rufus Wainwright has a voice that produces ‘sweetly tortured music that makes your soul ache.’

Which is why I thought it was funny that Wainwright’s new Mark Ronson produced album “Out of the Game” was being hailed as a dance-pop record. It seemed incongruous. Having listened to it now though, I see it. Although most dance-pop albums don’t contain the lyrics “choking on my bitter tears/my bitter tears” this is dance-pop in the style of Rufus Wainwright. In other words, Rufus Wainwright doesn’t change for dance-pop, dance-pop changes for Rufus Wainwright. While the distinctive voice and the sweet melancholy remain in true Wainwright form, the backdrop for this work consists of upbeat drums, powerful bass and peppy horns as opposed to the minimalist keyboard or the slow orchestral march of his previous albums.

‘Jericho’, the second song on the album and probably my favorite, has Wainwright showing off his exquisite vocal range, reminiscing about a doomed past relationship, made majestic by the horn and string movement backing him. In between is the choral and trumpet heavy “Welcome to the Ball”, the poppy keyboard infused “Bitter Tears”, and the synth-driven “Song of You”, each a strong point in the album and each recounting its own masterfully woven saga (as with all of
Wainwright’s tracks). The album ends with the epic, seven minute long “Candles.” With any other artist I would say that closing your album with two minutes of bagpipes is self indulgent, but for Wainwright it works.

I don’t know that listening to this album would have me out of my chair and dancing, but I do know that by the end of it I have a silly smile on my face and, contradictory as it may be, the same sense of satisfaction that comes from finishing a good book, albeit a somber one. All in all not a bad state of being.