indie

Musician Profile; Vanessa Caspersz

Vanessa Caspersz is an up and coming Australian act out of Katoomba, who has been dropping awesome beats for the past six or so years. She doesn’t show any sign of stopping soon. This twenty-old year old performer is a one woman whirlwind covering genres from folk and jazz to hip hop. “I have grown as a musician from all the various projects I’ve been involved in, which opens me to all the different ways of creating music and connecting communities,” says Caspersz.

The journey began at age fifteen when Caspersz was a part of the Marchy Archers band, a band so driven by a passion for music that within a couple of weeks of its formation, they competed at Battle of the Bands. With the Marchy Archers, “I felt really comfortable on stage, [because] I was alongside my best mates. I guess that’s why I don’t find the stage daunting!” Her stage presence certainly shines through every gig and since the Marchy Archers, Caspersz has performed all over Sydney both in a duo with Gaia Scarf, as well as performing as a solo act.

She’s a multi-threat singer songwriter with a lot of talents up her sleeve. Her vocals are sweet, dreamy and ethereal, which lies in stark contrast to her beatboxing which she can seamlessly layer through. She can also play the ukulele, guitar, piano and glockenspiel. When not performing, Caspersz still immerses in the music scene presenting shows on 2DayFM and FBi. There, she gives listeners the opportunity to hear music arranged in a way they’re not used to, possibly with a touch of folk or jazz. What’s more, being on the pulse allows her to keep current and be inspired by local and international acts that come through the radio stations.

With career highlights such as competing in the UK Beatbox Championships in 2012 and placing as a quarter finalist, Caspersz is to be congratulated. In 2013, she made the top 8 in the Australian Beatbox Championships and was the only female. When she’s not beatboxing at 505 or working the airwaves at FBi and 2DayFM, she studies Speech Pathology and Music at university and looks forward to working with Tuka from the Thundamentals for his upcoming ‘Listen Close’ tour.

Image credit:https://www.facebook.com/vanessacaspersz/photos_stream

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Metric at the Enmore

Words by Regi Su

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I’m not going to pretend to be an unbiased reviewer for this one, because Metric has been on my playlist for a number of years now. I love the band. What I will try and do, however, is explain the different experience of seeing them live.

Metric is a Canadian band with all the components of success- killer drums, sick guitar, sweet bass and an eclectic female lead vocalist (who can take guitar, synth, tambourines or piano). They’ve been around for 10 years of so, but the band is still fresh. In fact, lead singer Emily explained to the crowd how Metric wrote a particular song (“Police and the Private”) in the Bush Era and how now, she still finds it relevant, finds new meanings and the content remains contemporary. I must say, the “Police and the Private” was my favourite tune from their Live It Out  album, but hearing it live, hearing it acoustic and hearing the tempo slowed right down, with a bit of expression from Emily, I was totally blown away. In essence, I was listening to the song for the first time.

Metric managed to do this with a number of songs, when they performed live. They closed their set with “Gimme Sympathy” and lead guirtarist James Shaw whipped out an acoustic guitar, the first and only time he used it all night. The audience lapped it up, in fact, Emily stopped using the microphone and the band stopped playing their instruments. The audience singing in unison was enough to drive the final song on the final show of their Australian tour.

Speaking of the audience, I was truly horrified with the auditorium. There weren’t nearly as many people as I thought there would be, making the Enmore seem a more little half empty, than half full. On the other hand, however, this helped make Metric the most personal concert I have ever been to. They had none of this hoity-toity rock-band business. Yes, they’ve been in the industry for a decade, but they treated this audience like royalty. With the microphone all night, Emily told us (relatively short) stories between every couple of songs, told us what she was singing, bade us sing with her.

Genre-wise, they’re an indie-rock band, but they do blur between alternative and techno at times; only enough to give each particular song a little bit of dynamicism. A good example of this is the song Metric opened with- “Nothing But Time”. The beauty of seeing it live is the electric atmosphere, the sparks in the crowd and the building up of tension as we play putty in the hands of the band. “Nothing But Time” is a tune with a release that was just incredibly phenomenal when live. This band has such range, just on their latest album Synthetica– there’s generic pop-rock with “Speed The Collapse”, alternative electronic in “The Void”, then calmer, slow tunes like “Clone”. They pandered to the audience and everyone, from grandmas to tweens had a great time.

Having a song feature in the film Scott Pilgrim vs The World definitely aided their fame. If you’re new to the band and you like rock, catch the “Black Sheep”, for entrée.

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Snakadaktal- “Sleep Underwater”

I was on the train.  I was staring glassy-eyed out over the blur of green that is the leafy North Shore.

That’s when I first heard Snakadaktal on Triple J.

The song was “Fall Underneath”- a catchy synth-pop delirium that made me sit up in my seat and really listen.

After that, I tracked down the band on Triple J Unearthed which led me to their older stuff, like “Air”and “Chimera”. I was hooked, so I bought their latest album- Sleep Underwater.

Snakadaktal has an extraordinary talent for manipulating tone or mood through tempo. This is really obvious in “Chimera” for example. It’s hypnotic and I love it. Their synthetic soundscape is lethargic and the female lead, Phoebe Cockburn’s voice is melodious, like a lullabye.

Their guitar-work is not exhaustive or overstrained but underlying and crucial. There’s enough to show talent and supplement the tune. The beat can shift from dance-pop in “Feel The Ocean Hold Me Under” to a slow, eerie nostalgia in “The Sun II”. Right after that, a tune like “Ghost” emerges with a simple supporting tone and a female voice hauntingly rhythmic and high. “Ghost” can only be described as the colour metallic navy blue, I don’t know how else to explain it. Wikipedia categorises their genre as indie-pop/dream pop and I’d have to agree with the latter.

“Fall Underneath” remains a song with the Snakadaktal signature, with electro-pop sounds that are experimental, but I promise they work. They bring up the beat and get the whole upper torso bopping along. Not something for a dance rave, rather, this tune is a mood-lifter, something I’d listen to turned up loud as I walked through the early sunlit streets of somewhere like The Rocks; empty, fresh and I with a spring in my step.

A mood-lifter, that’s what you really want in an opening to an album. After the first track, the up-beat groove remains in songs like “Isolate”, then after that, their tunes become more stereophonic, a sort of haunting beauty that reminds one of a darkened coastline- the muddy grey of the ocean on an overcast day. It echoes, it’s authentic and it’s so well-polished, showing a clear development from the band’s debut songs on their Triple J Unearthed profile.

From Melbourne in Victoria, I’m glad we’ve for a new Australian act and I hope they see some bright stage lights in the near future.Image

Image source: http://www.getshotmagazine.com/2013/11/16/snakadaktal-sleep-underwater/

Foals at The Enmore

Foals at The Enmore

Foals, supported by Alpine, performed at The Enmore over the weekend on 28th-29th of October. I’ve been an enthusiastic fan of Foals since some of their earlier albums, like “Antidotes”, so to see them live was totally incredible. Not only that, but Alpine is such a great Melbourne band who have risen to great heights with their unique synth-pop. I’m a huge fan of theirs too and on stage they were so much better that I had ever expected.

Alpine, the support, is a totally unique band. Their sound is electric, alternative and synthetic, but so very alluring. For those new to the band, I’d suggest ‘Seeing Red’ or ‘Gasoline’ for starters. When you listen to their music through headphones or a sound system, you hear all the elements of the song create a holistic, polished piece, were the sound is like a jigsaw puzzle and each part of the band forms the whole sound. Live in concert, however, with the usual concert antics like unbalanced levels and maybe a bass that’s too loud, maybe the vocals are drowned a bit, I must say, Alpine’s energy and enthusiasm totally surpassed any level problem. They were so fantastic on stage. As cliché as this sounds, they performed like no-one was watching and the leading ladies were like wind-up dolls, just going nuts to their own beat. Even though the sound-recordings have perfect synthesis, this band is like a live cracker in concert. Their songs aren’t heavy with lyrics, but they are lyrically heavy. That’s when you get lyrics, however, because the majority of their songs are alternative and experimental without sounds, voices and harmonies. It’s this vocal emporium that creates their ethereal ambience, especially when the lighting has bathed the stage and audience in a deep purple. Their balanced songs build to a climax and peak with rocking guitar and a solid drum beat. Alpine live is where it’s at.

The opening of the Foals set began with electro synth sounds and strobe lights that went for just long enough for me to wonder if I was in a spaceship or something. It’s a wonder there wasn’t an epilepsy warning on the concert ticket. The difference between a studio recording and a live concert is beyond comparison. The final, professional product on the album doesn’t factor in atmosphere and the band’s creative process. Live however, the opening, which was ‘Prelude’ from “Holy Fires” had each member, each instrument of the band come out separately, playing their part and it was from this and thereafter, that I noticed the careful layering of each song. Dynamically, all of their songs run to the same formula, they layer two types of guitar and bass with vocals, over a solid drum beat. These layers remain separate until they regroup in the chorus, then raise the energy levels and intensify the layers until they build to a climax, then they explode everywhere, like mentos and coke. For the layering, try Triple J hit ‘My Number’ and to feel the dynamic peak try ‘Milk and Black Spiders’- both tunes off their most recent album “Holy Fire”.

They appeased the crowd by performing some of their signature songs from all their CDs, setting the mood with “Total Life Forever” and “Blue Blood”. By “Spanish Sahara” (one of their more sombre songs which I highly recommend by the way,) the audience, bathed in blue lighting, was totally at the mercy of Foals and their command of the stage. In crazy upbeat tunes like “Inhaler” and “Providence”, the uninhibited mosh pit felt no need to restrain themselves. I sat up in the balcony, acknowledging that this was as close as I was going to get with the band, until the last song, “Two Steps Twice”, where lead Yannis Philippakis snuck off the stage, up the stairs, around the balcony and leapt off into the mosh… that was totally unexpected!

Foals performed one of the best live shows I have ever seen and that’s not just because of their unruly antics. Their set list was definitive, but they changed up the timing and tempo in their vocals, they pandered to the audience with their between-song guitar-drum collaboration and with great production techniques, lighting and all, the audience became part of a collective transcendental moment. Both Alpine and Foals are fantastic bands, but live, they lift the roof.

The Paper Kites at the Metro

THE PAPER KITES

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Last night, The Metro hosted the Paper Kites on their national tour States. I am a die-hard Paper Kites fan, that I’ll admit. However, this concert was more than I expected. The Metro hosted an absolutely sold-out crowd and it’s no wonder the small indie-folk band has risen from small roots to the breezy heights of international stardom. After this national tour, the Paper Kites then go overseas to support City and Colour and afterwards, they’ll embark on their own headline tour in North America and Canada.

The first support of the night was Robbie Miller. I hadn’t heard of Robbie before the concert and was I impressed! This talent from Brisbane has seen him win the National Indigenous Music Awards through Triple J and it’s no surprise. At times, his music is perfect background music, something to soothe the palate, something calm the crowd. At other times, his guitar and vocals demand attention with powerful whispers and careful control. His music is heartfelt and his acoustic guitar is so smooth, have a listen to “Sunday”. His vocals are deep and effortless and he is a stunning solo act.

The second support, Georgia Fair, was a treat. To have such a successful Australian act supporting a national tour, will only boost their fame. The duo work perfectly in harmony, perfectly in unison. They played their beloved “Picture Frames” to please the crowd, then played a number of new tracks from their upcoming album Trapped Flame to be released in October, 2013. At times, these tunes had a twang of country, but this was no matter. Extremely versatile in genre and instrument, they showed that acoustic guitar and smooth harmonies sound great with either electric guitar or even clarinet. Their sound reminds me of a wooden house on a hill, with its ups and downs, its gusty winds and its summer zephyrs. They can be raw and gritty, full of earth and full of mirth, but they can also be mellow in their sweet ballads.

States is the first full-length album from the Paper Kites, following EPs Woodland and Young North. There is a natural progression in their sound. An earlier release from 2011- “Featherstone”, stands as a testament to the timeless nature of this band. I played a few of their tunes to my dad who sat up and said; “The lead guy has a voice like the Bee Gees, but they’re a bit like a cross-between the Kingston Trio and Seals and Croft. The Paper Kites have the perfect balance in instruments; banjo, lap steel, harmonica, keyboard, guitar and percussion. Their earlier tunes were mellow and like liquid amber. For new listeners, I highly recommend “Bloom” and “Sink In”, for feel good breezy melodies and heart-warming lyrics. In fact, when they played “Bloom” at the concert, the crowd went bezerk and Sam, the lead vocal, had to stop the song on account of his inability to hear his own band for the starting cue. He followed with; “you can all sing along though, we’d love that.” We loved it more. They’re beautiful.

Their studio mixes show all the components of their band and sound, but their live performance is unbeatable. With the lighting of blue hues and the light banter, their atmosphere can borderline rave-party, then flip 180 to be ethereal and transport the listener to a meadow of long golden grass.

The Paper Kites opened with “Maker of My Time” and played a number of new tunes from their States album. In my opinion, their sound has developed and matured, like a good wine. I feel they rely less on their harmonies and husky woodland vibe. Their earlier songs are perfect, but comfortable and safe. However, their new album shows a depth of sound which can only come from experimentation- they’ve tested the boundaries of their abilities. Vocals are the same, instruments are the same, but there’s something different and that’s possibly the explosion of percussion and beat upheld by the bass. It’s difficult to explain. I implore you to compare earlier songs like “Halcyon” and “Willow Tree March” with “Young” and “St Clarity”. Regardless, this band deserves its success.

 

 

Alanna and Alicia’s “Twinlines”

Alanna and Alicia’s album; “Twinlines”

 

The release of Twinlines in March earlier this year, is a part of the ever-growing career of the band Alanna and Alicia. Since their debut album in 2006, the original singer-songwriters have attended countless folk and jazz festivals and their songwriting has received considerable recognition, winning awards at several national festivals. Twinlines is no exception and stands testament to their professionalism and creative flair as a unit. When I listened to their album in play-order, I was in fact amazed by their versatility and breadth of talent. While the opening song, “Sister Blister” is a light, whimsical, comedic piece, the songs that follow are smooth jazz, a professional smooth jazz. The album really sounds like a mix of what they know they are great at and, what they find fun and amusing; one is because they can, the other is because they want to. I have no issue with this, both approaches illuminate with passion and exude talent- it’s evident that the ladies really love what they do.

Their third album, Twinlines, features twelve original songs which showcase their incredible versatility across genres. In my opinion, their voices are strong, sultry and smooth, just as a jazz voice should be and, the fact that they are identical twins with identical voices, helps create some of the most subtle harmonies, with brilliance like liquid gold. In this particular element, they have voices that sound a bit like Zooey Deschanel and Grace Knight. When singing folk-jazz, like “The Waltz of the Last Lover” and “Fly Like a Bird”, their voices become nothing but silken smoothness, feathery whispers, then waves of loud laughter, in a sing-song fashion. I prefer these essential jazz-blues songs, rather than some of their other original tunes like “Sister Blister” and “Double Trouble”. Songs like these are riddled with humour in a comedy-cabaret setting and they really highlight the twins’ personalities. They have a very great skill in being able to articulate and tell a story through their lyrics, and the sound of the band is wonderfully complimentary to their voices. I love the purity of their voices and I think that the tunes where they simply sing with perhaps, one accompaniment, are the songs which are able to create feeling, to generate a connection with their audience. Just as their voices can be deep and jazz-like, so too can their connection to the audience be deep. They have such wonderful stand-alone voices.

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Source: http://thethornburytheatre.com/event/alanna-alicia-album-launch-w-pugsley-buzzard-carolina-cordeiro-leni-philippe-janon/

Every Kingdom- album by Ben Howard

Ben Howard’s album Every Kingdom

 

Feel good, easy listening, head bopping, smiley music. This album showers no sparkles, rides no unicorns nor slides down any rainbows. However, this album is homey, gritty and makes me feel special. I’m probably the target audience- young, emotional and above all, aspirational. This album speaks to my inner core and not just through the beautiful lyrics. Howard’s voice is subtle, understated, gentle and so smooth. I have heard countless renditions of his tunes-banjo covers, YouTUbe amateurs, acoustic tempo swings and yet, this album will remain the original and the best.

While there’s some great stuff out there, Howard’s orchestral arrangements do well to capture the mood and atmosphere. Online, I found an acoustic version (performed by Howard himself) of “Only Love” and as wonderful as it was, it didn’t capture the same power and glory of the album version does with a full sound scape to support it. “Keep Your Head Up” is smiley and danceable and I really appreciate his ability to bend ambience and mood through an up-beat tempo. It’s like running along a sparkling beach, with the salt spray kissing your cheeks, red kite in hand. In comparison, “Black Flies” is stunning, slow and like sitting in a wooden jetty over a misty lake, it’s cool, slow, and the dark, deep waters lap up to your toes. These two songs, “Keep Your Head Up” and “Black Flies” are the two I would most certainly recommend to new folk to listen to. The latter is used quite a lot as the backing score to nostalgic and emotional fan-videos on YouTube because the tune just slows everything down so perfectly. Hiw acoustic guitar, slow drum beat and so whisper is so calming, calming, calming. I think in his subtlety and restraint, this song is majestic and I think his hole album is stunning. He’s a British singer-songwriter who is also a keen surfer and his music is clearly influenced by the laid back summer vibe that is endless ocean blues and warm goldens. Songs like “Old Pine” show great control and talent in songwriting and composing as well as vocals. This calmness ebbs and flows through this breezy acoustic album. Perfect soundtrack to an afternoon in a hammock.

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source: http://www.newmusicmonkey.com/?p=7513