By Mary Chang on Tuesday, 1st March 2011 at 12:00 pm
The name Sparkadia may be familiar, but this line-up sure isn’t. Sparkadia before was an alt-pop four-piece from Australia that pulled up their roots and moved to London for fame and fortune. The band released ‘Postcards’, which charted in the top 25 albums chart in their home country in 2008. But Sparkadia today is one person, Alex Burnett, who has decided to soldier on solo in the pursuit of creating pop gems.
Ok, so I admit it: the name of the single, in all its two syllable, four character glory in its subject line, caught my eye. I know I’m very lucky to have a first name that has appeared in so many popular songs, but as a result, any new ones that come along must prove their worth. Enter the Alex Burnett-penned ‘Mary’. Whether intentional or not, there’s a American/Southern-style influence on the vocals, dripping with blue eyed soul. The song begins with sultry piano chords framing the almost desperate words from Burnett, “Mary / I don’t know what to do / Mary / ‘cos every time I look away from you / you’re all I see…” Let’s begin the analysis. Two words. He’s smitten.
Or is he? The song continues and it’s obvious there’s something deep, dark and sinister going on here, as anvils clank morosely in the background. He’s begging her to save him, to “be let go”, to be forgotten and taken out of her memory. He wishes the relationship he had with this Mary person was something that had a beginning and an end, presumably so both of them could have closure. In comfort. Whatever’s happened, it’s clear it was painful and is still paining this poor man. He’s pouring his heart out into this song.
The problem: it’s a bit overproduced, overorchestrated. It’s a bold attempt at the power ballad structure with female backing vocals and percussive elements to add drama like exclamation points. As a result, it’s got an old time, dusty feel, which is not necessarily a bad thing, it’s just not what’s on MTV these days. I foresee that it’s not going to be immediately popular with the kids, which means it probably won’t get a ton of radio airplay. Boo. ‘Mary’ has, however, appeared as a Q Track of the Day earlier this month, so with that I say to you: there is hope for popular music yet. Listen to the original and the dancified Royal Palms‘ remix of ‘Mary’ below – both are available as free downloads, how’s that for being forthcoming and thoughtful?
A limited edition 7″ version of ‘Mary’ was released on Valentine’s Day and is available now (however, note the label of limited edition and act quickly to avoid disappointment). It’s the first release of Gold Dust, by the people who put on the influential alternative pop night at London’s Hoxton Bar and Kitchen.
By Mary Chang on Tuesday, 1st March 2011 at 10:00 am
This is an excellent way to begin March. Kings Cliffe electronic outfit Fenech Soler is offering up a whole EP of the ‘white versions’ of ‘Stop and Stare’, ‘Demons’, ‘Battlefields’ and ‘Contender’. For free. Really, how can you lose?
Read our 10 for 2011 interview with Fenech-Soler frontman Ben Duffy here (the band placed #8 on our poll at the end of last year).
By Mary Chang on Tuesday, 1st March 2011 at 9:00 am
The lovely Alessi-Laurent Marke (better known by her stage name Alessi’s Ark) will be touring the UK in May. The tour follows right behind the release of Alessi’s new album, ‘Time Travel’, scheduled to drop on the 25th of April on Bella Union.
Wednesday 18th May 2011 – Oxford Jericho Tavern
Thursday 19th May 2011 – Cambridge Haymakers
Friday 20th May 2011 – Leeds Brudenell Social Club
Saturday 21st May 2011 – Liverpool Old Bombed Out Church (Liverpool Sound City gig)
Monday 23rd May 2011 – Glasgow Captain’s Rest
Tuesday 24th May 2011 – Birmingham Hare and Hounds
Thursday 26th May 2011 – London Bush Hall
Friday 27th May 2011 – Brighton Green Door Store
By Mary Chang on Monday, 28th February 2011 at 6:00 pm
Okay, I admit it. I laughed the first time I watched the video for Cut Copy‘s ‘Need Me Now’, taken from their latest album ‘Zonoscope’. Athletes milling about a band performing a song? What’s that about?
Then I thought about it in a different context: as ticket to the London Olympics next year go on sale in 2 weeks, maybe they want some advertising placement?
By CoCo Wong on Monday, 28th February 2011 at 12:00 pm
Electropop duo Hurts, who have just won the ‘Best New Band’ award from the NME Awards last week, are preparing to hit the charts with their upcoming single ‘Sunday’, released today. With a heavily-synthed intro, ‘Sunday’ is one of my favourite tracks from their debut album ‘Happiness’. I still remember clearly the first time I have ever heard of this song – a poorly recorded live version from one of the first gigs Hurts ever played. In less than a year’s time, the studio version was out. It is more energetic and very radio-friendly. My guess is that Radio1 is going to give ‘Sunday’ a fair amount of plays.
The lines ‘Maybe we’ll see that we were wrong, if ever we look back one day / until you come back where you belong / it’s just another lonely Sunday’ have me captivated. The emotions-filled lyrics from Hurts never cease to stir one’s feelings. Sometimes when I sit at home alone on a Sunday, I relate to this song a lot. The B-side of the 7” version is a remix by Seamus Haji; I’d call this remix ‘the more dancier Sunday’. There are bits in this remix which reminded me of Pet Shop Boys, the legendary electroduo that a lot have been comparing Hurts. The beats and the bass have gone from heavy to light and give the song a more laid back sound. Also included is another B-side ‘Live Like Horses’.
Another part of the ‘Sunday’ package, is the promo video using the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, but telling it in a modern way. ‘Don’t look back’ appears to be its main motto. In the myth, Orpheus (in the video, singer Theo Hutchcraft) was separated from Eurydice (the woman he’s holding in his arms in the video) by death. He was allowed to go to the underworld and rescue her with his music. But he had to promise not to look back until they have reached the upper world. Orpheus looked back and then he lost Eurydice forever. In the video, there’s even a sign telling the audience not to look back. It fits the song pretty well, as the song seems to be a regret of past actions or things done. All in all, a good bundle.
‘Sunday’, the new single from Hurts, is out today on Major Label / Sony.
By Mary Chang on Sunday, 27th February 2011 at 11:00 am
Here’s the brand new video for the Vaccines‘s ‘If You Wanna’. I held off liking this band as long as I could because all I could hear in them were the Ramones, but now…ok, I give, they’ve got some pretty catchy tunes. Why would you bother listening to ‘the return’ of the Strokes when you’ve got new music like this?