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CAZZETTE

By on Feb 2, 2013 in Reviews | 0 comments

The music video for Beam Me Up begins with fake documentary commentary saying “Nobody knew where they came from, they just appeared”. It’s an apt metaphor for the meteoric rise of Seb Furrer and Alex Björklund, the Swedish electronic dance music duo who form CAZZETTE. Beam Me Up has shot up Billboard’s Dance Mix chart at number 7 and rising in the past few weeks, making CAZZETTE one of the hottest new acts of 2012 in this genre. They’ve dubbed their take on EDM as ‘dub house’, a combination of dubstep and house so infectious that it makes me want to spontaneously break into dance. What’s unique about CAZZETTE’s career is that unlike other bands who are running scared of music streaming services, they decided to make their début by releasing their first album Eject (in three parts) exclusively on Spotify. Part of the charm is that they created an app within Spotify to replicate the visual interface of playing a mixtape. Creating a curated experience through specialised apps is something other artists have also tried – Def Jam and David Guetta in particular come to mind – but CAZZETTE’s take on what an ‘album release’ should be in a world of streaming music is refreshing precisely because it is a ‘natively digital’ experience. They borrow a lot of heritage from other contemporary EDM artists: they were signed on by the same company who manage Avicii and released an official remix track for Swedish House Mafia. Other borrowed touches are more subtle, such as the duo wearing ‘cassette head’ masks during live shows much like deadmau5 wears a mouse mask. While I found the tracks on their Eject Pt II – Weapon, Endorphine, and I Surrender – to be underwhelming for their sameness to current EDM fare, the first part of their album release with tracks such as Beam Me Up, Run For Cover, and The Rat are all a delectable fusion of genres that has rightfully won them a nomination in this year’s Swedish Grammy Awards. Eject Pt III picks up the slack with its eminently danceable tracks such as Renegade and a bonus track titled Blood Theme – which I loved for its pop-culture reference, as it’s a remix of Daniel Licht’s theme for the American TV show Dexter. Overall, CAZZETTE has become one of my favourite contemporary artists in the genre for their ‘brand’ image and innovative...

SEASFIRE ‘We Will Wake EP’ / The Plastics Revolution

By on Jan 2, 2013 in Reviews | 0 comments

Bristol-based band SEASFIRE first made a splash early last year with their track Falling. They are back, this time with an EP release titled We Will Wake. The eponymous track We Will Wake has a quality that is at once eerily disturbing and soothing. Much of that quality is replicated across other tracks in the EP – Human Sacrifice and Undone in particular stood out for me – which all conjure the imagery of a fever dream. The band has said it’s not rushing to produce an album any time soon, which is good because they produced this tightly-focussed EP instead. Rating: 3.5 / 5 *** The first I heard of Mexico City-based band The Plastics Revolution was when they released their music video for single Invasión last year in December – which they claimed was the “first music video ever to be shot entirely using Instagram”. Well, not quite. This becomes apparent when you watch the music video, as in one scene the shots are underwater. Turns out it was shot on a DSLR as a series of 1905 still shots, imported onto an iPhone, edited using Instagram and then finally stitched together into a video. I don’t buy the claim that this is the first ever music video to be formed from Instagram shots. This is a technique that has been used by at least three other artists that I know: Father Tiger’s Shell, Ellie Goulding’s Anything Could Happen, and (most prominently) The Vaccines’ Wetsuit. Each of these were produced by stitching together thousands of fan-contributed Instagram shots. It’s a trick that’s a win-win for everyone but one that’s sure to get dated once the novelty factor wears off: fans get a fuzzy warm feeling to get a shot at having their pictures incorporated into the work of an artist they like; video directors get to cheaply produce a music video that at first look is visually different from other music videos; and artists gain additional press buzz for attempting “something through social media”. What works nicely for The Plastics Revolution music video though it was designed with the development process in mind. I expected the music video to be gimmicky…but it does actually look visually stunning. Using still photographs gives it the quality of a stop-motion animation film, with the characters in it appearing to move around jerkily like clay dolls. This ties in well the ‘story’ of the music video too as its about a guy dream about his lover, which complements the cutesy tones of the track. Sadly, the rest of their album – titled King Bono vs Los Flight Simulators – is nothing to write home...

Cashmere Cat’s ‘Mirror Maru’ EP / AWOLNATION’s ‘Megalithic Symphony’

By on Nov 13, 2012 in Reviews | 0 comments

Information on who the Norwegian-based artist Cashmere Cat is scant: some sources that he is 24-year-old Magnus August Høiberg, while others claim it’s a woman. Whoever s/he is, the one thing we know for sure is that both the artist name and release name for Cashmere Cat’s Mirror Maru EP were generated by some description of random name generator that spits out a random spaghetti of words. (Well, okay, we don’t know that for sure but it can’t be far from the truth). What I do know is that this four-track EP is a genre-defying mash of orchestral symphonies, warped foley sounds, slow jams, bass notes, and electronica that has been catching a lot of attention in the electronic dance music scene. Incredibly upbeat and refreshing because the sounds feel so new. *** I discovered American alternative-rock band AWOLNATION a year ago, around the time when its single Sail became a massive commercial hit across the Atlantic (even going platinum), especially – for some bizarre reason – among extreme sports fans. Blame it on the fact that they are signed on with indie label Red Bull Records, or perhaps, as Sail‘s lyrics go “blame it on my ADD”. Since then, their first album Megalithic Symphony has grown on me. To say that AWOLNATION’s is similar to the “new” Linkin Park would be a fair comparison, I think. (I realise that itself can be a very divisive statement to make as there’s a fair share of detractors to the direction Linkin Park has taken, but I happen to like them a LOT too.) The similarities are so close that Megalithic Symphony has non-music tracks Some Kind Of Creature and My Nightmare’s Dream that I found very much like The Radiance / Wisdom, Justice, And Love in Linkin Park’s A Thousand Suns album, apart from the alt-rock-with-nu-metal-esque vibe in general. The life-force of this band is lead singer Aaron Bruno, who weaves through many different alt/indie rock styles in Megalithic Symphony. His personality does overshadow the band as a whole; in fact, AWOLNATION gets its name from Bruno’s nickname ‘AWOL’. (He also tries to crowd-surf during every single live performance, according to what he said when I saw them live in London this year.) While some may call that approach incoherent, I quite like how varied this album is: from Soul Wars to People to Burn It Down to Jump On My Shoulders to All I Need, AWOLNATION will remind you of what many 90s alternative rock bands stood for. Rating: 10 /...

Two Door Cinema Club’s ‘Beacon’ album

By on Nov 12, 2012 in Reviews | 0 comments

Indie rock band Two Door Cinema Club are back this year with their latest album titled Beacon, which has been inching steadily towards the top of alternative/indie charts in many markets. It continues in the footsteps of their first album Tourist History; every single track in Tourist History was one with catchy lyrics that you can see yourself wanting to dance to, and even though Beacon is much in the same strain with electro-pop tunes it feels underwhelming. Nothing in this album – least of all the lead single Sleep Alone – quite matches up to the calibre of their previous hits such as Cigarettes In The Theatre, This Is The Life, or Undercover Martyn. It starts off well with Next Year but by the time Sleep Alone rolls around everything sounds decidedly meh. What does feel refreshing, because it sounds different from anything else in the album, is Sun, a much slower-paced track. Also worthy of a listen is The World Is Watching which features newcomer Valentina Pappalardo accompanying on the lyrics. Rating: 5 /...

MS MR’s ‘Candy Bar Creep Show’ / deadmau5’s ‘> album title goes here <'

By on Nov 2, 2012 in Reviews | 1 comment

Candy Bar Creep Show is a sweet little EP from New York-based duo Lizzy Plapinger (MS) and Max Hershenow (MR) with just the music that you need for the post-Halloween season. Lizzy’s vocals are crisp and the lyrics are catchy – and yet eerily spooky at the same time. Their style is largely reminiscent of Florence + The Machine. All the tracks are unique in their own right but Hurricane in particular was a breakout hit on my playlist. What caught my attention though is how MS MR went about promoting their EP release: they have a Tumblr at msmrmusic.tumblr.com through which they released all of their tracks online, along with additional artwork and photography, all of an outré nature. It’s this creepy candy coating that makes them stand out, making their online music blog as much a part of the performance as the songs themselves. Rating: 10 / 10 *** Mouse-headed Canadian DJ deadmau5 is back with his first original album in two years with the quirkly-titled > album title goes here <. deadmau5 can be somewhat of a polarising figure among music fans, who claim that most of his compositions tend to sound alike. Hold on to that judgement though until you hear this album which throws in a smorgasbord of styles! There’s The Veldt featuring vocals from Chris James with pop-like vocals; Professional Griefers featuring Gerard Way of My Chemical Romance with its emo-rock lyrics and punchy “typical-deadmau5” beats; Failbait, with a comparatively slower tempo, featuring hip-hop group Cypress Hill that is distinctly quite different from the rest of the tracks; and ending off with Telemiscommunications featuring the mellow vocals of Imogen Heap. Old-time fans won’t be disappointed either with tracks that stick to deadmau5’s electro/house roots, such as Superliminal, Fn Pig, and October (which reminded me of Bad Selection from his previous album 4×4). And because I am somewhat of a pop culture snob, I was delighted to recognise the homage paid to Steven Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind in the track Closer which opens with the same five-beep note sequences used in that film. Sure, deadmau5 caters to mainstream electronic dance music tastes, but > album title goes here < shows that even in a such a genre where it’s easy to grow tired of the same beats, it is possible to mix things up and make it more interesting with some effort. (Writing this review reminded me of an anecdote: quite a few of my friends don’t know that “deadmau5” is pronounced “dead mouse”. Note to self: find cooler friends.) Rating: 8 /...