Open Ear Blog

New Music Reviews | January

Django Django — Marble Skies

Django Django return with their third full-length album, this time for the leftfield Ribbon Music label. It’s a concise and focused album that recalls their dynamic, genre-blurring debut LP and its handmade, cut-and-paste approach. Apparently parts of this record were made up of parts from 2012 jams, so it’s fair to say that this is literally a return to their top form. While Marble Skies features hazy Zombies-like summer pop, hypnoic Krautrock grooves, Jamaican dancehall influences and electro pop, lead single “Tic Tac Toe” nods to Django Django’s more rockabilly-inclined influences and you can listen to it here.

Starcrawler — Starcrawler

The most thrilling, most talked about LA band in a long time, Starcrawler’s debut is everything the hype said it would be. Sunset Strip sleaze, Cramps-esque sexuality and a New York Dolls approach to song structure is captured perfectly by Ryan Adams’ production resulting in a breath of fresh (or more likely, Marlboro-scented) air for raw DIY indie rock. The female-fronted future of ’70s Hollywood rock? The Rough Trade label think so, and the album is out now. Check out the video for I Love LA here.

Nils Frahm — All Melody

Having built an entirely new studio to facilitate the recording of this record, it’s probably best that we leave it to the Berlin-based classical/electronic composer to explain: “I wanted to hear beautiful drums, drums I’ve never seen or heard before, accompanied by human voices, girls, and boys. They would sing a song from this very world and it would sound like it was from a different space. I heard a synthesizer, which sounds like a harmonium playing the All Melody, melting together with a line of a harmonium sounding like a synthesizer. My pipe organ would turn into a drum machine, while my drum machine would sound like an orchestra of breathy flutes. I would turn my piano into my very voice, and any voice into a ringing string. The music I hear inside me will never end up on a record, as it seems I can only play it for myself.” Like every modern masterpiece, you can watch a trailer for it.

Porches — The House

From his beginnings as a DIY indie musician, just eight years have seen Aaron Maine’s Porches project develop into the lush, shining, minimal synth-pop brilliance that we find in The House. It’s cynical, romantic, immersive synthpop that - even despite its immediacy - you’ll still be listening to in years to come. It’s an accomplished record by an individual who never seemed to make anything other than exactly the music he wanted to. Check out the video for Find Me here.

Tune-Yards — I Can Feel You Creep Into My Private Life

The fourth Tune-Yards album bears more electronics and dance beats than its predecessors, but Merrill Garbus’ combination of sociopolitical savvy, outside-the-box creativity, and giddily infectious enthusiasm remains. While the R&B inflections and late-night club vibe of Heart Attack may represent something of a stylistic shift, the electronic beats of Private Life are sprinkled with the kind of world-music influences and playground-chant cadences that have been part of Tune-Yards’ tool kit for a while. And the minimalist, dub-like feel of the haunting Home comes off as organic as anything Garbus has done. Check out the video for Heart Attack here.

First Aid Kit — Ruins

“Well, a goodbye never seems finished,” sing Klara and Johanna Söderberg on Distant Star. Written in the shadow of Klara’s split from her fiancé, much of their fourth album examines the difficulty of moving on, delivering despair and confusion through breathtakingly pure harmonies. For all the lyrical reflection, there’s a keen sense of forward thinking within the music. Postcard and Distant Star may offer exquisitely classic Americana, but the duo also draw on dream pop (Fireworks) and rippling electronic (My Wild Sweet Love) before squeezing a brass band and rowdy, closing-time chorus into Hem of Her Dress. Listen to the title track here.

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