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I’m a bit jealous of Canary – I wish I had written their album cos it’s going to be huge!

Amy reviews Canary’s debut album Dear Universe

Canary album cover
Artist: Canary (Melbourne)
Dear Universe (Debut)
November 2011
My Rating: 5/5

I love accidentally discovering new bands that straight away blow your mind and find a place in your heart. Canary is that band….and one band that I’d love to support and see do really well. They are incredibly unique, and write the kind of music that makes you excited, but also a little jealous…jealous that you didn’t write it, cos you know it’s going to be freakin’ huge!

Canary hail from Melbourne and bring together an unorthodox bunch of musicians who draw on a colourful spectrum of musical influences. Canary’s music is rich, imaginative and unabashedly emotive. Vibrant trumpet lines, dexterous beat-boxing, lyrical bass riffs, brash guitars and poetic lyrics provide us with a palette of sounds and styles that will blow your mind.

The musical mastery in this album is something you might expect from a band that’s been together for years and released numerous albums. But…this is their first….an amazing and extraordinary feat. Their music is crafted with the thoughtfulness, precision and skill akin to the way a highly trained and experienced painter might piece together a colorful masterpiece, labouring over every brushstroke until it reaches perfection.

Canary spent the good part of 2010 recording at various spare rooms across Melbourne and Geelong, and a barn in Nagambie. Mixed by talented bassist and sound engineer Isaac Barter, the album has a rich sound, with many tracks featuring lush string arrangements and vocal harmonies, and incorporating many “left-of-centre” instruments, and synths.

Dear Universe brings together competing themes of self-denial and self-affirmation with each track displaying its own personality. An extremely self-aware and inventive album, the result being a collection of diverse songs that speak to every emotion you have…and listening to this album makes you feel a bit smug for having discovered them first!

You can listen to their entire album on their website.

Written by Amy Bastow for the Kiss My Arts show on Joy 94.9, with reference to information in the official Canary band bio. All views mine. 2012.

Yann Tiersen is a musical architect in his latest album “Skyline”

Skyline album cover
Artist: Yann Tiersen
Album: Skyline
Released: 6th of August 2012 (Australia)
Label: Mute UK IndieMy Rating: 4.5/5

Yann Tiersen has a unique ability to create music, sounds and timbres that are constantly evolving, changing and growing with every new album that he creates. It’s as though the instruments he writes for are a part of him…breathing with him and manifesting themselves at just the right moments in his music. These sounds are alive, and in his latest album Skyline, create a masterpiece of exquisite colour and personality.

Tiersen may be most well-known to the masses for his sound of piano, violin and accordian (famously used in the film Amelie), but in his latest album, Skyline, these instruments take a break, with a focus now back on guitars, vintage synths and experimental timbres. Let’s live in an enormous world of sound we can use randomly, with no rules at all. Let’s play with sound, forget all knowledge and instrumental skills, and just use instinct – the same way punk did says Tiersen. As a teenager he was influenced by the post-punk culture of bands like The Stooges and Joy Division and at age 13, after years of classical training, broke his violin into pieces, bought a guitar and formed a rock band.

The opening track of Skyline, Another Shore, begins with child-like bells, playfully tinkering underneath an acoustic guitar, before a wall of noise rises from the looping musical cogs and washes our ears with pleasure. The looping structure continues to develop, with layers upon layers forming a snowball of musical texture. About half way through the piece, this texture is dramatically cut and a bass clarinet emerges, wandering around the lower registers for a moment, before an explosion of sound launches us into the remainder of the song.

You may find yourself becoming hypnotised by the continuously developing layers in his music, which seem to be a structural and developmental focus throughout the album. Little musical fragments unobtrusively begin quietly looping in their own organic time…then throughout the duration of a piece, start to take on different forms, changing shapes and intertwining together so intricately. The little animation by Ivan Rusev to the track Monuments reinforces this notion of layering sounds. The animation slowly rises upwards, guiding us to look into the different windows on different levels of a building. Although there are different scenes in each of the windows as we rise upwards through the layers, they are all somehow connected. Essentially, Tiersen creates a musical tower by stratifying individual sounds. Perhaps this attention to looping layers refers back to the early days when Tiersen would pour over records looking for appropriate loops to use in his music?

The way Tiersen combines sounds together shows a master at work. Sometimes the sounds are beautiful, sometimes nostaglic, sometimes haunting and sometimes frightening, the latter being especially evident in the opening vocal screams of “Exit 25 Block 20”. But whatever he does, he does with 100% conviction. He has a story to tell and through the diversity of instrumental sound combinations, draws us into an incredible musical journey.

I’m particularly drawn to the track The Trial. The lyrics include the line someday my girl, in your mirror, darling, you will face the trial. I can’t help but think he might be referring to the ultimate trial, as in our mortality. The ‘siren’ sounds that finish the piece, to me, are also clear evidence of this. But after asking Tiersen about this piece in an interview with him on Kiss My Arts last week (Monday 2nd April 2012) surprisingly he said the piece was about…an ex-girlfriend! Well there you go!

He is often mistaken as a composer of soundtracks and although being most well-known for the music of the quirky little film Amelie, Tiersen’s real focus is on touring and studio albums (which sometimes, just happen to be suitable for film).  He himself says I’m not really a composer and I don’t really have a classical background. Although Tiersen doesn’t like to call himself a composer, he certainly treats all of the instrumental timbres in Skyline like a well-seasoned musical architect, with precision of design and confidence in execution. This album is a symphony of sounds. I give it 4.5 out of 5 kisses.

Written by Amy Bastow for the Kiss My Arts show on Joy 94.9. All views mine. Copyright 2012. 

Butterfly Boucher’s stunning new self-titled album “Butterfly Boucher”

Amy reviews Butterfly Boucher’s new self-titled album

Artist:Butterfly Boucher
Album: “Butterfly Boucher” (self-titled)
Release Date: 13 April, 2012

How often these days do you put an album on for the first time and instantly fall in love with every single track? I can honestly say that hasn’t happened to me for a really long time, but when Butterfly Boucher’s latest album hits our stores, our online download sites and our ears on Friday the 13th of April, you are in for a real treat! All ten tracks are a masterpiece of musical design, featuring exquisite instrumentation that will intrigue, excite and provide you with an album you will listen to and love for many years to come.

The classical composer in me melted around the two-minute mark in the track None The Wiser where a gothic pipe-organ, Baroque harpsichord and toccata-style solo stopped me in my tracks and gave me the “holy shit!” goosebumps.  The track The Weather is sassy and sexy, with just enough distorted guitar to give Butterfly a grungy edge in this track. The opening swirling organ of Not Fooling Around is exquisite and the rest of the track is full of twists and turns that will excite. The reflective Warning Bell is thoughtful and extremely beautiful, with it’s slightly jazzy guitar chords giving it a bluesy bite. The entire album really is exceptional, extremely clever and deliciously addictive.

This album is mature, hand-crafted, intimate, epic and thoughtful. If Butterfly lived in the 1840s, she’d be Beethoven. If she lived in the 1960s, she’d be John Lennon. I’m no fortune teller, but I tell you what, this girl has got something to say and if I had a million bucks, I’d bet it all on the fact that she’s the next musical genius of her generation. I think I’ve used just about every descriptive adjective I know in this review, but you know what…this album really speaks for itself. I give it 6 out of 5 kisses, if that’s possible. It’s my new favourite album and I guarantee you, it probably will be for a long while yet!

The title track 5678! has been out now since February and has already caused a stir. 5678! was declared iTunes Single Of The Week only a few weeks ago. Her quirky music video for this track (which I have posted to the Kiss My Arts Facebook Page for you all to check out) includes 20 seconds in the middle of the song where she says “So you think you can dance do you?” and swings her long lanky legs, twitches her shoulders up and down and struts across the screen showing off her not-so-amazing dance skills in the cutest possible way. I’m sure she really is a great dancer, deep down! She invites fans to the 20 seconds of pure dance challenge, asking us to upload our own 20 seconds of pure dance videos in response to hers. Many have already responded, including Butterfly’s long-tome friend and musical colleague, Missy Higgins who uploaded a video with dancing even more ridiculous than Butterfly’s. If you feel inspired, we’d love for you to take up the challenge too.

Get onto iTunes now and pre-order Butterfly Boucher’s new album, due to be released on April the 13th. It is an album I can’t recommend enough and can’t turn off. It’s on continuous repeat at my house! Thanks Butterfly. You’ve made my week!

Written by Amy Bastow for the Kiss My Arts Show on Joy 94.9 – All opinions are mine. Copyright 2012.

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