Jimmy LaValle aka The Album Leaf makes some of the most relaxing electronic music I’ve ever heard. Based in San Diego, California, LaValle has been making music as The Album Leaf for 10+ years.
Lately things have been quiet since 2010’s A Chorus of Storytellers LP was released. The album wasn’t one of my favourites but LaValle has a large catalogue to choose from and there is tranquility to found in just about all of his work.
We Need Help was taken from The Enchanted Hill EP. Compared with his other work, this tempo is relatively upbeat while the keys and give an atmospheric nature to the track.
Bobby Womack feat. Lana Del Rey- Dayglo Reflection
YesterdayBobby Womack released the third leak, Dayglo Reflection, from his upcoming album.
Produced by Damon Albarn (of the Gorillaz) and Richard Russell, this jazzy duet features the ever divisive Lana Del Rey and it is the third track to surface from The Bravest Man In The Universe, Bobby’s first album in the last 18 years.
It’s a bold collaboration between musical camps but it features a classy and likable arrangement that comes complete with touches of orchestration.
Listen to this song before you go to bed tonight and you will have an amazing sleep.
The guitar chords reminds me of The Shins’ track Things to Come while the hushed vocals are evocative of the timeless music of Nick Drake and Iron & Wine. The Belgian group have only been performing as the Isbells since 2009 but they have alread recorded two albums together. This song is from Stoalin’ which came out in March this year.
I think the group have improved their songwriting since the last release and I’m really looking forwards to giving the album a proper listen soon.
Mellow piano and guitar instrumentation and some fat hip hop beats as well. Just to even things off, Neat Beats (aka Alvin Fenner) also includes vocal samples from NASA(?) and an old learn-to-speak-French recording .
Honestly, this song just blows me away. The music is so fluid despite so many contrastive elements. Graffitti on a Tuesday Night further proves my point that quality sampling is underrated in modern music.
Check out more Neat Beats on his Bandcamp. I definitely recommend listening to the album in full for a more cohesive sound. I’d also recommend listening to Australian duo Fishing if you are a fan of experimental sample based music.
The Most Serene Republic are definitely in a class of their own. Their unique, highly experimental approach to music is evident in every song.
Stay Ups would be one of my favourite tracks from the Canadian band. It starts gently and builds to a pretty epic crescendo. In particular, Emma Ditchbum’s vocals accompany the piano so beautifully. I was sad to find out (a few years late) that she no longer plays in The Most Serene Republic. What a bummer!
I’d recommend fans of this to check out the group’s second album Population which is full of fun, chilled, experimental indie rock.
Set Sail are a band based out of Sydney who have an irrepressible upbeat sound to their music. The trio are known for their city busking shows and their combination of violin, guitar/uke and makeshift percussion at such performances. Set Sail are on the verge of releasing their debut mini-album on June 15th and have just premiered the lead single Charleston today. I had a quick chat with Josiah from the group.
Q1: I understand you’ve been busy gallivanting around Europe. What have you been doing over there?.
Josiah: Hey! We got back from Europe and the US last September actually, we had a mad time over there travelling around filming guerilla shows. Played in an old spy base, under the Eiffel Tower, on a plane, heaps of places. Super budget trip (we ate rice for a solid month haha) but great fun.
Q2: You are working on your debut album. Tell us a little about it.
Josiah: It ended up just being a mini-album, it’s got a much more developed and less radio-pop sound than the last one. We wanted to explore some more classic sounds and arrangements for some of the songs, definitely has some Beach Boys influences on some of the songs. The process has been hectic, we started demoing last December and have been working solid since then, we’re very excited to finally be releasing it!
Q3: Do you have any favourite songs on the new record?
Josiah: I quite like ‘Kids’
Q4: I’ve seen videos of you playing on the streets in Melbourne and Sydney and there seems like there’s a lot of positive energy at your shows. Do you prefer playing in venues or outdoors to unsuspecting crowds?
Josiah: That’s a tough question, the vibe is so different between them. I’d have to say I love doing both, it’s mad fun hanging out at the street shows but the energy of the shows at places like Oxford Art Factory or the HiFi in Melbourne is pretty incredible as well.
Q5: What 5 artists have you been listening to lately?
Josiah: Grimes, Balam Acab, Django Django, Broken Social Scene & Calvin Harris
Thanks again to Set Sail for the interview and keep an eye out for upcoming shows and their mini-album Hey! which will be released June 15th in Australia.
Opus Orangeare an indie-surf-pop band based out of California. Fronted by music producer Paul Bessenbacher, the group make unmistakably catchy music that resonates with you after just a single listen. Their latest single is a contemporary rendition of Bill Withers' Ain’t No Sunshine that showcases Paul’s knack as a producer. The sustained keys and haunting backing vocals create a cloudy atmosphere while Joe Gil's smooth vocals sprawl the cool bluesy mood that is also present in the original. Paul had a chat to us about his musical projects and shed some light on Ain’t No Sunshine.
Q1. Could you explain how the band came to be called Opus Orange?
PB: Frederic Chopin's “fantasie impromptu”, Opus 66
Charles Mingus' “orange was the color of her dress”
Q2. Does living in California contribute to the beachy sound in much of your music or is it coincidence?
PB: Living in California must somehow contribute to the beachy sound, but yes, it is a coincidence. Since picking up a ukulele for backpacking in the woods (due to it’s light weight and small size), it became quickly apparent just how inherently “beachy” sounding it is, wherever it might be played (like at the top of mount whitney, miles away from any beach). Though the ukulele initially helped color the sonic palate for the early songs, its energy is still evident in its absence (like in Crystal Clear or That Is To Say).
Q3. Ain’t No Sunshine is a classic. Could you tell us about what it means to you?
PB: While we’re on the subject of California, it seems the sun is almost always shining here. This song captures the fact that it can still be clouded by someone’s absence. The lyrics help this resonate in their simplicity. when covering such a gem like Bill Withers’ classic, it’s essential to look at it from a different perspective than the original, while still giving it the reverence it deserves. Joe Gil's voice is a great fit for this song, and we wanted the track to let it shine through.
Q4.Any plans to release a full length LP in the future?
PB: While a full-length LP would be an incredibly fun project, we’ve been excited about producing music in smaller singles and EP’s. Often longer projects can get bogged down with overthought (not really a word, but it should be) and overproduction. So to always keep creating and pushing our sound while still releasing cohesive projects, we have found it creatively liberating to keep the projects smaller. Our next four song EP (currently being mixed) is completely tracked to 2-inch analog tape. It will hopefully be released within the next few months. Also with producing other artists, like Joe Gil, Emy Reynolds, and Eleni Mandell, it’s really great to have a sort of tunnel vision to make a single song the best that it can be with that particular artist. That being said, we definitely hope to someday have the time to do a full-legnth release.
Q5.Who are 5 artists you’re listening to at the moment?
PB:St. Vincent The Walkmen The Pixies Radiohead Richard Buckner
Thanks to Paul for the interview. You can listen to and buy music from Opus Orange via their Bandcamp website. Ain’t No Sunshine will be made available there in the very near future.
It has been a while since we’ve heard new music from Brooklyn avant-garde psychadelic rockers Yeasayer but they’ve released this new track and it’s everything you’d expect and more from the outfit.
Henrietta starts with synth sensibilities and a radio friendly melody. Things intensify around the 1:30 mark and the track breaks off in to a bit of an instrumental plateau. The vocals return at 2:30 as we hear the band lament, “oh Henrietta, we can live on forever.”
It’s both sinister and romantic and Yeasyer transform the mood with these lyrics driving the rest of the track. The darker second half of Henrietta is a far cry from the start of the song.
Yeasayer continue to push the conventions of song structure by preferring an experimental approach to their music rather than opting out for mainstream accessibility. This will not be everyone’s cup of tea but fans of the group will appreciate their innovative, creative and unique approach to songwriting.
Emma Louise is a Brisbane songwriter who only released her debut EP last year. She is most known for her track Jungle which featured on the TV shows The Slap and Grey’s Anatomy. After collecting a host of awards, she is back with Boy.
The song begins with frosty keys, but things warm up quickly when Emma begins singing. If her voice had to be likened to a drink, it would have to be Baileys: it goes down smooth, warming you up and leaving a thick, rich aftertaste that lingers on long after listening.
As is customary for an emerging Australian artist, she is heading off to England to tour and promote her music to a wider fanbase in a much smaller proximity. Boy certifies Emma Louise's position as an artist with a bright future. Fans can anticipate, with relative certainty, an amazing debut album in the future.
Youth Lagoon is the pseudonym of 22 year old Trevor Powers (with a name like Trevor Powers, who needs a pseudonym?!) He is a bedroom musician based out of San Diego, California, who is equally as competent performing live as he is playing in his homemade studio.
This track was recorded live and is available for free download below. Ghost to Me is an introverted, contemplative song that shares a similarity with Porcelain Raft's A Dream I Had. Both songs have keys and a dreamy, enchanting sound to them. The subject matter in A Dream I Had is surreal and paints (as the name might have suggested) a dreamscape, whereas Ghost to Me deals with presence felt through absence.
Porcelain Raft and Youth Lagoon are worth checking out and both have made standout songs in their own right.
Before Erlend Oye and Glambek Bøe formed Kings of Convenience they were in a rock group with friends Anders Waage Nilsen & Øystein Gjærder Bruvik. The group were called Skog (which is Norwegian for ‘forest’). The group split up and Oye & Bøe reunited to form folk group Kings of Convenience, finding international success.
The two also have kept busy with side projects - Bøe has gone on to form The Whitest Boy Alive (releasing 2 popular albums) while Oye rejoined with Nilsen & Bruvik to form Kommode.
I’m guessing that not many fans of Kings of Convenience or The Whitest Boy Alive would have heard of Kommode as even I am unsure whether or not they have released a full length album, but their music is similar to the distinctive sounds of the Norwegians’ other projects.
As far as I can tell, the word kommode is German for chest of drawers. I could be wrong but if I’m wrong it’s only because the internet lied to me.
This track from 2008 has a steady beat and catchy guitar riffs. Clocking in at under 3 minutes, Houses For Birds wastes no time in getting down to business.
There is an odd sense of serenity I get when I listen to this frenetically paced drum & bass track.
Perhaps it is most evident when the breakbeat percussion switches pace, or when the ambient elements overtakes the frantic speed of the beats. Either way, this song from British DJ Squarepusher manages to wake me up at the same time it lulls me in to a state of relaxation.
This track was released in 1996 but Squarepusher is still around and making music. His back catalogue spans a range of different IDM styles and he is due to release his latest offering Ufabulum on May 15th.
RAC have been featuring on plenty of music blogs, notably for their remixes. To be honest this is the first track from them I’ve come across that hasn’t been a remix. They has recently signed a deal with Green Label Sound and released their first single for free.
Hollywood is an indie pop track with dance sensibilities. I know this track is not for everybody and to be honest I think it does start to become predictable by the second chorus, but at the same time, Hollywood will also appeal to a lot of people. Have a listen and make your mind up for yourself.
Today I’m going to feature an absolute classic song by one of the world’s greatest DJs, DJ Shadow. Midninght In a Perfect World sounds exactly as the title suggests. He released the first ever album that was entirely recorded using only samples from other songs. The 1996 LP Endtroducing frequents lists of the greatest albums of the 20th Century and with good reason. It is a sonic masterpiece that sounds vaugely familiar to first time listeners due to the vast range of samples used.
Rather than detailing his several accomplishments, I’m just going to allow you to be alone with your own thoughts as you listen to DJ Shadow's sampling, blending and production mastery.
"You lose your suburbs and my coastlines wanna meet ya"
One of the groups I really want to hear bring out a new album would have to be Throw Me The Statue.They are another band to emerge from Seattle’s amazing music scene.
Pistols has a programmed beat and the sparse guitar strumming creates a mellow backdrop before Scott Reitherman drops some melodic vocals and the song gets into swing.
Originally the band was a solo project of Reitherman - he made music on a mixtpae for a girlfriend. Eventually it grew when he began recruiting other musicians to record and perform when touring. The band is now signed to music label Secretly Canadian and I’m eagerly anticipating a new album to come soon. If you enjoy this, be sure to check out Waving At The Shore, also from the Creaturesque LP.
Here is a nice laidback tune you can throw on. It has a fast beat and bouncy bass with pop sensibilities. I’m hearing a lot of similarities to Foster The People and Opus Orange who are also based in California too. Maybe their location can explain the theme of the beach in the song as well?
The lyrics vary from jibberish to a love story with a craftily hidden f* bomb snuck in somewhere between. You may have already heard of the group from their single This Head I Hold which has been receiving some airplay recently. Listen, relax, enjoy and download!
Jane Tyrrell first gained public attention when she featured on The Herd's classic album The Sun Never Sets in 2004. After touring with the group, they invited her to join their collective. Now a prominent member, she also boasts one of the most distinctive voices in Australia at the moment. Expect to hear a lot more of her rich and soulful voice in the future as she is set to commence recording her debut solo album on independent label Elefant Traks.
Q1. You’re currently touring with The Herd. Do you have a most memorable or favourite performance that you have done with them?
Jane: Two favorites come to mind. The Cannot Buy My Soultribute concert to Indigenous Iconic songwriter, poet vocalist and musician Kev Carmody at the Sydney State Theatre with fellow artist’s Paul Kelly, Missy Higgins, The Drones, Clare Bowditch, Dan Sultan, Last Kinnection and Dan Kelly….and many more. And performing with and touring in support of Brother Ali's album Us throughout Germany.
. Q2. I understand you’re working on your debut solo album. What can listeners expect to hear when it’s complete?
Jane: I will commence writing my solo album in July of this year with a core team of two incredibly talented and well known musicians (I cannot divulge just yet) Im utterly overwhelmed, excited and humbled by their talent and contribution. I dont know what to expect I believe music has it’s own path (Im just an excitable vessel) I can say that it wont be a hip hop album. A bold hybrid I expect given the sum of all it’s parts.
. Q3. There seems to be a sense of family at Elefant Traks with the collaborative nature of the musical projects. Is this the case or am I just imagining it?
Jane: Absolutely correct, the unique clique you sense from the Elefant Traks family is very special indeed. It stems from a deep respect for each other as individuals and our talents. Its like a giant Rubik’s cube, we are all connected through our love for art and for each others plight, inevitably what ever way you shuffle the family a different collaboration is possible and not like anything prior.
Q4. Politics is inseparable from much of The Herd's music. Do you think this turns off some listeners and if so, does that matter to you?
Jane: Inevitably discussing any personal opinion be politics or simply an individual’s point of view through art is going to ruffle a few feathers. Imagine how bland life would be if we all agreed on everything. To me successful art is evocative art, art that evokes a feeling from the viewer or listener. I believe you can enjoy music on many levels whether you choose to examine the lyrical content of just enjoy the sonic landscape. We don’t make music to please a wide audience we make music because we are compelled to express ourselves in a passionate way. If we alienate a portion of the audience we are not bothered.
. Q5. Who are 5 artists you are listening to at the moment?
Jane: Im listening to a lot of Lykke Li (kind of obsessed), Santogold, Frank Ocean, Bill Callahan, Feist.
A big thank you to Jane for the interview. You can check out her Facebook page for updates and more info about tours, music and everything between. The featured track is a duet with Jane taken from Horrorshow's 2009 album Inside Story which is available for purchase through Elefant Traks.