Monthly Archives: June 2014

Fruit

I don’t remember what song it was that grabbed my attention, but I certainly remember the name of the band, The Asteroids Galaxy Tour, grabbing my attention on its own. They were another last.fm discovery, and a spectacular one at that. They’ve only released two albums so far, but each one has a sound that just makes me lose my mind. It’s fantastic summer music. It knows how to be loud and big but not noisy in an unorganized way. It’s all very well-orchestrated, while teetering on the edge of losing control.

Fruit was their first album, and the first one I bought as well. The opening track, “Lady Jesus,” has this swagger to it that just sweeps you up and makes you want to rock your body. It’s not a loud track, like I described, BUT it still has that big, about-to-bubble-over sound to it. I really like it as an opening track. I also just really like the idea of a Lady Jesus.

Moving ahead to “Push the Envelope”…Here’s where things REALLY get loud. Singer Mette Lindberg knows how to wail and takes it to the extreme by the end of this track. She’s got a voice like a beast – It’s just wild.

“The Golden Age” is probably one of my favorite tracks out of both albums. It makes me think of LA summers – and not just because it’s about Hollywood. They played it a lot at Dodger Stadium last year, appropriately enough. It’s got a very retro sound to it too. The music video is also fun and weird, though it reminds me more of the 90’s than of the Golden Age of Hollywood. But it makes sense for their sound and style.

“Around the Bend” makes for a pretty good dance track. I can see this one playing at a summer backyard party. I feel myself bouncing along to it every time I listen to it. It’s got more of that swagger to it. It’s very jazzy.

“Hero” reminds me of a heat wave. It’s got this lazy, languishing sound to it. You know how the air above an asphalt road looks wavy on a really hot day? It’s like that. But aurally. Mette Lindberg’s voice matches it perfectly. She actually sounds kind of tired, but not in a bad way, just in a way that suits the song.

“Attack of the Ghost Riders” is the almost-closing track (I think I have a deluxe version though – the Wikipedia page lists “Bad Fever” as the final track and “Inner City Blues” as a bonus track, while this track is technically followed by a live version of “Lady Jesus”) and it’s weirdly wild and wildy weird. There’s this fantastic Tarzan-like high-pitched wailing going on in the background while Lindberg robotically repeats “Attack of the ghost riders.” It’s actually a little creepy.

Overall, you know who they remind me of? Smash Mouth. I think if you have nostalgia for Smash Mouth, but want something more current, you’d enjoy The Asteroids Galaxy Tour. And if you like Fruit, then you’ll definitely like their follow-up album Out of Frequency. If Fruit is a 10, then Out of Frequency kicks it up to 11. But I’ll save that one for another day.

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Black Cherry

I found out recently that Goldfrapp will not be coming to the United States to tour for their most recent album Tales of UsThis was pretty devastating news for me. I might have had a chance to see them when they came to the US for the Head First World Tour back in 2010, but I either hadn’t gotten back into Goldfrapp at that time, or I wasn’t crazy about Head First (I think it was the latter). Anyway, in a fit of sadness, I listened to Goldfrapp pretty much nonstop in the following days.

I’m holding my breath for the day that Goldfrapp returns to the US (and LA). At least I got to see the recorded-live concert at a local theater. Until I get to see them live-live, I’ll keep returning to their albums. The one I’d like to return to this time is Black Cherry, their second studio album. Send the kids out of the room for this one, ’cause this album is all about sex. Let’s just go ahead and say this post (especially the videos) will be NSFW.

“Crystalline Green” is really the best song to start with. It starts very mellow but thumping, slowly gets bigger and grander till it’s just Allison making music with her voice, sounding like an angel, till finally there’s a release and the song winds down and fades out, making you feel warm and euphoric at the end of it all.

Which makes the grating, electroclashy “Train” feel like a delightful electric shock. It wakes you up in the right way. And it’s a song about LA, though not a very positive one. I still like that it captures the sleezy, nighttime face of the city though. I’m not going to say they’re wrong about any of it. The music video feels more Vegas than LA to me though. Still, I get what she’s saying about being disgusted by the wealthy lifestyle most people associate with the city while still being drawn into it.

“Black Cherry” isn’t my favorite track, but it still gets my attention for being about something very personal to Allison which she apparently doesn’t like to talk about. It’s slow and pining and a little bit sad. I don’t think it’s too hard to guess at the meaning, but the shroud surrounding the specific details make it alluring enough.

“Tiptoe” brings back the electroclash. The slight distortion over Allison’s vocals make it interesting to listen to. It works really, really well with the song. Even when the distortion lifts and we get to hear her hit the higher notes with clarity, it all meshes wonderfully with the electronic buzzing and lilting strings.

The name of the track “Deep Honey” sounds like a really good innuendo. The song is just as sultry as its name, especially with Allison’s near-indistinguishable whispers at the end, but truthfully it’s another sad and dreary (in a good way) track. It’s very much…languishing. It still manages to be sexy somehow.

Speaking of sexy, next up it’s “Hairy Trees,” another track hinting at innuendo. It doesn’t take long to guess what she’s getting at when she croons “Touch my garden.” The whole song is a soft and dreamy sex fantasy. Nothing too wild (oh, but believe me, we’ll get to that later). More like gentle love-making in the countryside. It sounds like something a teenage girl would dream about, but only a fully grown woman could write.

“Twist” is where things start to get truly naughty. There’s no beating around the bush though: this song is about cunnilingus. (Oh ho ho! See what I did there?) Specifically, the song is about the sexual fantasy Allison had when she was younger, which involved a boy who ran the waltzer (aka the Tilt-A-Whirl) at a fairground. “Twist,” then, works as a double entendre. The video goes with the carnival ride theme, but in a very grown up way.

It’s a one-two punch of sex with “Strict Machine” up next. Allison has said that the song inspiration came from a news article she’d read about lab rats in a neuroscience experiment, in which scientists stimulated the rats’ brains so that they felt joy when following commands. So, appropriately, what follows is an S&M club-type track. I read about it being compared to Donna Summer’s “I Feel Love” and wow-wow-wow is that a great comparison! It’s got that same mesmerized, enamored, begging sound, especially in the chorus. The music video is absolutely hypnotic. It way it follows the sound and themes of the track is just brilliant.

“Forever” makes a great wind-down track. It’s a nice slow-burn after the previous two tracks. It’s a lot like “Black Cherry” but much less melancholy, even though it’s slow and soft too, almost sleepy, like you’re hearing it in a dream.

The closing track is “Slippage” (we get it!), a song which has no words, just more electronic noises and a lot of Allison moaning and groaning, sighing and screaming. It sounds very sexy when described like that, but it’s got a very dark sound. It’s like the type of song you’d hear at a seedy strip club at 3 in the morning. Which is still kind of sexy, in a way only Goldfrapp could manage.

Black Cherry isn’t my favorite Goldfrapp album, but it’s not my least favorite either. I think it was a great way to break the expectations set by their previous debut album, and it set the tone for their next one. And overall, let’s admit it, it’s a great sex album.

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Come on Up to the House

I’d like to thank Orange Is the New Black for introducing me to Tom Waits. Well, I mean, I knew he’d been around awhile. I knew his name. I knew he was something of a folk music legend. I knew he was known for his distinctive voice. I have a cover of one of his songs, performed by Cat Power. I’d just never really been formally introduced to his music.

Orange Is the New Black changed that for me. I’ve always felt that when a TV show of movie chooses a song that was not written for the production, the song they choose and the way it flows with the scene is crucial. It has to have to the right emotional impact. “Come on Up to the House” had that impact for me when it played (minor spoiler, but I dunno, I don’t really think so) when Piper is having a burger and a bottle of liquor on a bridge in the middle of the night. It was something about the down-but-not-out feeling of the song, along with Piper fulfilling her pure and simple wish for a burger and booze.

But even removing the song from the scene, it still fills me with this sense of hope. I just love the sound of Tom Waits’ growling howling voice with the bluesy piano, steady drumbeat, and the harmonica. It stirs up that wandering spirit in me.

It definitely feels like it was meant to be heard on a record player. Ever since buying Neko Case’s Middle Cyclone LP (which I wanted just to get it framed), I have this curiosity for hearing music on LP. I know next to nothing about records or the right terminology (are record and LP interchangeable?), but something about it just feels right for folk music. A record player may be in my future soon…

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Habits (Stay High)

So I finally got over being radio curmudgeon and I’ve actually been enjoying the radio a lot lately. It’s led to a lot of great musical discoveries, but I have yet to pursue them to the point of purchasing a new album.

The one I’ve been enjoying the most lately is “Habits (Stay High)” by Tove Lo, though it’s several months old. Plus I’ve only bought the single. I gave the rest of the Truth Serum EP a listen on the iTunes store, but I’m not too impressed. It’s mostly mediocre pop, as far as I can tell, though maybe I’ll give her another chance if she releases a full-length album. “Habits” has impressed me though. It’s got a lot of potential.

For some reason, the remix version of this song, “Stay High,” is more popular on iTunes. I can’t figure out why. The production on the original song is actually really good, and her voice is plaintive but not too heavy-handed (the remix turns it into a high-pitched Aqua-esque squeak).

I also really like the lyrics. They’re gritty and noir. “I eat my dinner in my bathtub/Then I go to sex clubs/Watching freaky people getting it on.” The way she describes the habits of her song’s namesake make them sound repulsive. (She later throws up in the bathtub she had her dinner in.) And yet she sounds so detached, until she reaches the chorus. That’s where the emotion really comes in and hits you.

As a random aside, I was pretty proud of the fact that I correctly guessed she was Swedish when I first saw her name. I don’t know why this pleases me.

So I’m looking forward to future work from Tove Lo. Though, as I said, I’m not impressed with the EP, the popularity of this single (and even the remix) could help shape her debut album. She’s apparently written songs for other artists, most notably Icona Pop, so she’s got the writing chops. She just needs a little help in the production department. I think, with all the right ingredients, she could put out a pretty good debut album.

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