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 Wednesday, 23rd February 2011 at 10:00 am
Dinosaur Jr. founder J Mascis will be releasing his first solo album, ‘Several Shades of Why’, in March. Ahead of that release, we are pleased to offer a free download of ‘Is It Done’, along with a funny video interview from Sub Pop about the new album. Partake of it all below.
By Mary Chang on Tuesday, 22nd February 2011 at 10:00 am
The Answering Machine just released their second album, ‘Lifeline’, yesterday on Heist or Hit. (You can read our review of ‘Lifeline’ here.) They remixed the song ‘Fragrant’ for their buddies Dutch Uncles, and we’re offering it up as a free download below. ‘Fragrant’ came out as a single last October (review here), with Dutch Uncles’s album ‘Cadenza’ slated for release in early May.
By Mary Chang on Monday, 21st February 2011 at 10:00 am
Detroit singer/songwriter Alex Winston came to our attention via her covers of tracks by artists as varied as Jack Penate (she’s tried her hand at ‘Pull My Heart Away’) and Mumford and Sons (go here for her rendition of ‘White Blank Page’ filmed for HeavyRoc). But perhaps you are more familiar with the American’s voice from the Hyundai adverts featuring her tune ‘Choice Notes’?
However you’ve come to know her, know this: she’s been tipped by many for what the Guardian calls her ‘Anglophile sensibility’. In the track ‘Locomotive’ that you can listen to and download below, she sounds like a more poppified version of Kate Bush. If she hasn’t covered ‘Running Up That Hill’ yet, I imagine it’s on her short list of future covers. Also included below is the Jaybird remix of ‘Locomotive’. Compare, contrast, comment and enjoy.
By Mary Chang on Wednesday, 16th February 2011 at 10:00 am
It’s been many moons since Peter Bjorn and John‘s fifth album, ‘Living Thing’. They’ll be releasing their sixth, ‘Gimme Some’, in March on StarTime International. But before that, they want to whet your appetite with this teaser track, ‘Breaker Breaker’. While PB&J are best known for their dance tunes (‘Young Folks’, ‘It Don’t Move Me’), this one shows them going to a more classic, rock ‘n’ roll direction. Love it? Hate it? Let us know in the comments.