By Mary Chang
on Tuesday, 24th November 2015 at 6:00 pm
Lorely Rodriguez, better known under her stage name Empress Of, released her debut album ‘Me’ in September on XL Recordings / Terrible Records. Two months ago, she was showing off some incredible physical skills in the video for ‘Standard’ (watch the video in this previous Video of the Moment feature). This time around, for ‘Icon’, she splits her time between the forest and the city for a much less physically demanding promo, albeit with plenty of swagger (check out those finger snaps). Watch it below.
Empress Of’s debut LP ‘Me’ is available now on XL Recordings / Terrible Records. Want to find out more about Rodriguez on TGTF? Right this way.
By Mary Chang
on Tuesday, 24th November 2015 at 12:00 pm
Words by Rebecca Clayton
‘Making Time’ is Jamie Woon’s second album and comes over 4 years after his debut ‘Mirrorwriting’, which was released back in 2011 to mixed reviews. So far just one single has been released from the new album, the catchy ‘Sharpness’ (Mary’s previous In the Post feature on the song here), which embodies the less is more spirit that echoes throughout the rest of the album. The singer/songwriter from London has managed to produce something difficult to place: one minute were hearing the scratchy drawl of Willy Mason on a brass-accented acoustic track, the next you’re bopping along to some smooth soul vibes and echoes of old-school r&b.
It’s mellower than his previous stuff: you won’t hear much of the electronica influence that is present on earlier songs ‘Night Air’, ‘Lady Luck’, or ‘Shoulda’. Perhaps some fans will find this disappointing, but this still feels like a step forwards: holding on to the trip hop/soul infusion of previous stuff but bringing something different and fresh to the table. That’s why this album has the air of evolution about it, drawing on much of what was great about Woon’s earlier work but smoothing out the edges a little bit. There are certain adjectives that you can’t help but use when describing the album: soulful, smooth, mellow, chilled. It’s easy listening.
But, that’s not to be confused with unexciting or dull. The opening track ‘Message’, for example, is stirring, the gentle build of the song’s opening with Woon’s vocals effortlessly fusing into the song alongside the minimalistic piano notes. ‘Skin’ also has a mesmerising opening to the track. The use of autotune brings a surprising depth to the song, paired well with the soulful oohs that reverberate throughout, like a lullaby.
Woon’s strong yet sultry vocals are predominate and hold centre stage throughout the album, complemented by the soulful undertones. The instruments are controlled and often times subtle, used to complement Woon’s voice rather than mask it. The lyrics really are quite lovely. From the opening lines of ‘Skin’ (“skin with its open agenda / rise to the top for some air”) to “light into darkness / cut on the sharpness of you” on ‘Sharpness’ (Woon’s most played song on Spotify), the lyrics have a physical feel to them, evoking nature and human connection.
It’s easy to hear echoes of Frank Ocean throughout Jamie Woon’s album, in particular the opening track ‘Message’, with Woon’s smooth voice lapping alongside the soulful music like murmuring waves. The whole album, at various times, is wonderfully reminiscent of ’90s r&b, I’m particularly thinking of R Kelly’s warbling vocals and the stripped back use of instruments in much of his music. Woon’s vocal ability lends well to the tracks. Some songs, such as ‘Celebration’ and ‘Sharpness’, are standouts. ‘Celebration’ is distinctly different to the rest of the album: it was a nice surprise to hear Willy Mason’s gravely tones on this track, paired with the bursts of brass, the jangly acoustic notes and the soft tempo of the drums marching along. On the previously mentioned ‘Sharpness’, at times throughout the song it’s easy to hear Daft Punk, Frank Ocean and Jamiroquai, and perhaps that’s why I like it so much. It sounds so familiar, while still being different, and won me round straight away.
Admittedly, a couple of songs, like ‘Lament’ and ‘Forgiven’ are pleasant enough to hear, but don’t really leave a distinct impression. But, as an overall collection, it really does work. It’s well crafted. This is an archetypal chill-out album, great for a lazy afternoon at home or to be left purring away in the background at work. The lyrics are beautiful, the melodies soulful and classic. On a couple of the tracks there’s a little something left to be desired, but, having said that, I love it, and have been playing my favourite songs non-stop. If it didn’t get me there on the first listen, but it really did on the second.
Jamie Woon’s ‘Making Time’ is out now on PMR Records; Woon will be on tour in the UK in March 2016. For all past coverage on Jamie Woon on TGTF, head here.
By Mary Chang
on Monday, 23rd November 2015 at 6:00 pm
For those of you who didn’t know, Wolf Alice started out as an acoustic duo, naming themselves after a short story retelling of Little Red Riding Hood by the late English novelist Angela Carter. So it’s not too far of a stretch of the imagination that their new video for ‘Freazy’ has a fantasy theme, the promo beginning with the band playing in what looks like a overly Technicolor alpine forest. The video morphs – literally – the visuals oozing across your screen like a bad trip. I mean, come on. Giant blocks of cheese AND giant mushrooms?
‘Freazy’ appears on Wolf Alice’s debut album on Dirty Hit Records, which was released in the summer. Watch the video below. Past coverage of Wolf Alice on TGTF is this way.
By Mary Chang
on Saturday, 21st November 2015 at 4:00 pm
CHVRCHES released their second album ‘Every Open Eye’ back in September on Virgin EMI / Goodbye Records; you can read Carrie’s review of the LP here. Unlike the video for ‘Leave a Trace’ that focuses on Mayberry getting, err, wet, the new promo for ‘Empty Threat’ doesn’t the feature the band at all. Perhaps the alternate title of this video should be ‘Suburban Goth Kids in a Sunny Land Wanna Have Fun Too’. Watch the new video below. All past coverage of CHVRCHES on TGTF can be found through this link.
By Mary Chang
on Friday, 20th November 2015 at 4:00 pm
Currently buzzed about Dublin punks Girl Band should need no introduction. But just in case you’ve been living in a convent / under a rock / in a cave / take your pick, you should know that their debut album ‘Holding Hands With Jamie’, released at the end of September on Rough Trade Records, has continued to stoke the fires of hype that has surrounded the band since they appeared in Austin for SXSW 2015.
If you have so far been not lucky enough to catch them live or perhaps you are just curious what all the fuss is about, they have released this video from a recent Rough Trade session, a performance of ‘Baloo’ from their debut LP. Capturing the band’s anarchic style and featuring lead singer Dara Kiely’s hopelessly rough all over vocals, this is definitely for the lot of you who call yourselves punk fans. Watch the eye-opening performance film below.
Hungry for more on Girl Band? You can catch our entire archive so far on the Irish group here.
By Mary Chang
on Thursday, 19th November 2015 at 6:00 pm
Canadian rockers Metric have a new video out for their song ‘The Governess’, which appears on their newest album ‘Pagans in Vegas’, which was released in September. The promo follows frontwoman Emily Haines wearing a large, wide-brimmed hat (channelling Pharrell or Stevie Nicks, perhaps?) as an cowgirl-like itinerant, espousing her thoughts on the never wavering desire for youth and the looking back on days gone by fondly.
It can’t be a mistake that her travels take her to Las Vegas, the city of sin, a place where as many dreams are made as are dashed. Despite the hardness and impersonal nature of the locales visited, Haines’ vocals and the country, twangy instrumentation are suitably yearning and lovely. Watch the video below.
All past coverage of Metric on TGTF is this way.