Whereas last week’s DotW began on a meditation of the current trends circling the musical world, this week we deal with a band which evokes the ambience of times long past whilst still being very much a reflection of certain contemporary sounds.
BLONDS are the combined forces of Cari Rae and Jordy Asher who utilise their own romance as a mine for exploring dark themes of love and longing through the novel combining of a whole cavalcade of sounds from the past and present. Grabbing from such wide-spread genres as Motown, psychedelia , 50’s Rock ‘n’ Roll and blues the duo have generated a collection of tracks that is difficult to temporally pin down. Lana Del Ray could (read: should) learn a lesson or two on how to do nostalgia from BLONDS, as the end result of this combining of a centuries worth of guitar pop and rock is a glimmering, macabre success.
Debut album ‘The Bad Ones’ contrastingly has both tunes that feel right at home, with lead single ‘Time’ sitting easily within the current frame of indie-pop, and at the other end of the spectrum songs like ‘Mr. E’ which feels as if taken directly from a 60’s Bond movie in both title and sound. ‘Magic’ has the almost cutesy male and female back and forth you hear every day on the radio courtesy of bands such as San Cisco whilst ‘Run’ wouldn’t be out-of-place in a black and white noir. A lot of the tunes are in fact very cinematic with some seductive and at times melodramatic vocals reminiscent of a silver-screen vixen from a Billy Wilder film.
This triumphant melding of old and new is at the core of what is a fairly dark -themed album but the sometimes sombre subject matter such as in ‘Falling’ (“fear is a crippling thing/stop the sirens waltzing/wave goodbye to the dark ocean floor”) is well balanced with twangy guitar and electronic sounds which often elevate it into a dream pop vibe evocative of Beach House.
Whereas Ms. Ray ends up sounding like a drawling imitation of a vintage cliché, BLONDS flourish in utilising Americana pop of yore, marrying it with the new and creating a totally unique sound which is at once both captivating and transitory.
The brown, decaying grass crunches under her feet as she comes to a stop and surveys her surroundings. The once verdant countryside, impregnated with fruit-heavy vines and the gentle sound of the cattle from the neighbouring valley are nought but faint memories as her eyes take in the utterly desolate, despoiled land reaching to the horizon. Her mind briefly lingers on the burnt-out husk of a city that lay just beyond the hills and all the extinct cities beyond that one, but she pushes it from her thoughts. The past cannot be changed.
Crouching momentarily she feels the weight of her harrowing situation. Alone. Perhaps utterly and completely alone. The last member of the human race. As it always does the thought sends an icy chill through her heart. Tensing rigidly, she bursts forwards and begins to run.
Running was all she had left from her old life. She was in control of the moment when she was running, her body moving as it was prompted, crossing space, making a path of her own choosing. The decrepit farm blurs as she kicks into high gear, sprinting for her life, her future, her self.
After minutes she stops and hunching forward gulps in air, her heart racing. Yes, she was still alive. Good.
Suddenly the hairs on the back of neck prickle and she senses something in front of her. Abruptly standing up she takes in the figure that has materialised. A women stands casually about a metre away. Dressed in a white tracksuit and with brown shoulder-length hair, the indigenous woman stares at her, studying her. Slowly a smile breaches her face and is momentarily joined by the girls own beaming grin.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do, Sarah” says Cathy Freeman
Visual Aid: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oBIItwPfl60
(Ha look at me with my ‘of the Week’ title there, cute. If I actually come through with a write-up of a newly found band every week I’ll be so surprised with my diligence I’ll poop myself)
It’s interesting that at a given period of time in the realm of music, certain countries seem to produce artists all killing it in one specific genre. Think of Canada and it’s current trend of distorted, electronic sounds courtesy of Grimes and Purity Ring or France’s endless stream of dance-pop producers and DJ’s currently triumphed by Yuksek.
The UK’s sound export seems to be slightly more difficult to pin down with it at times alternating between the indie jams highlighted by Two Door Cinema Club and Foals and the (faux) folk of Mumford and Sons and to a degree Laura Marling. One mainstay in the music springing from the ‘Isles of Wonder’ however is the strong-female-led anthemic pop where Florence and Marina are king (queen).
It’s this latter category that new-comer Louise Rose Allen, a 21-year old Londoner who releases music under the moniker ‘Foxes’ would be initially bundled into, but her unique voice and sound indicate a slightly different approach to what some would say is a bloated genre.
Hovering somewhere under the all out belting of Florence and above the often cutesy styling of Ellie Goulding, Foxes voice is completely at home on top of the more electronic-inspired sounds such as found in single ‘White Coats’. Sure the slow build and aural, echoey backing vocals aren’t anything new but the heavier presence of drums, synth and refusing to push the chorus into ‘epic’ realms by burying it under theatrical production and overt belting separates Foxes from other bellowy female voiced pop.
This is Foxes, not Foxes and the Diamond Machine.
With only an EP out last month Foxes is still finding her feet but if she continues to stay on her current path utilising electronic percussion and heavier synths whilst not bursting vocal chords she may very well breathe some much-needed new life into a usually predictable genre.