This Lost Shark is moving slowly today… winter sun, lapping between my shoulder blades and the gentlest of breezes prickling my neck. Sunday’s don’t come much better, and today’s soundtrack comes courtesy of two fine Australian bands and one from the windy city of Chicago. Lose your self in these sounds… let your day find its own pace.
E-Song – Nikko
Brisbane band, Nikko have just released their much anticipated debut, The Warm Side. It is a brooding, densely crafted song cycle that seeps further into your consciousness with each listen. The band swings moodily across the nine songs, creating sonic peaks and troughs for singer/guitarist Ryan Potter to climb in and out of with his sparse lyricism. The Warm Side is a mature, intelligent debut, one that combines tension and tenderness, and leaves you with a feeling of discovery. While E-Song is not from the debut, I couldn’t resist posting this collaboration – Killing Time – with filmmaker Oliver Lofgren.
II – Fabulous Diamonds
Reverberated percussion, dubby-synths, isolated vocals, ghostly saxophone, this is the sonic terrain inhabited by Melbourne duo, Fabulous Diamonds. Their recent release II, is nothing short of hypnotic, blending extended, repetitive jams with shorter, surreal pop songs. This clip captures Fabulous Diamonds onstage creating a mesmerising soundscape that takes the boundary of pop music and unrelentingly stretches it.
Red Ants – Sonoi
Hailing from Chicago, sonoi are another band that are challenging the pop stereotype, with their warmly composed instrumentals, ambient collages and off-kilter rock. Red Ants opens their debut album and is one of the tracks that comes close to combining all of their styles. It is dreamlike in its construction, the melodic guitar line, floating keys and pulsing drum rhythms providing the perfect bed for Adam Busch’s heady vocals. Other highlights on the album are the perfectly crafted angular rock of Sherry Fall and the ambitious and album changing Anchor Tattoo.
There has been some talk lately about getting people to post the songs/albums that they listen to while writing, so I thought I would lead off by posting five of my current favourite artists and links to some of the sounds that are currently helping me put pen to paper. Hopefully this inspires a few others to make a similar post (or leave a comment with links to your fave writing music) so that we can all broaden our musical palette and get a sense of the music that makes our writing tick.
Balmorhea – All is Wild, All is Silent
Balmorhea’s third album is a swirling masterpiece. The musical landscape these Texan’s create slowly draws you in and then let’s the fireworks ignite. And importantly there is enough silence to let the words come freely. Here’s links to two songs from the album – Remembrance and Settler (a great live version)
Tortoise – Beacons of Ancestorship
Tortoise’s latest blends scrappy rock, cool jazz and fuzzed out synth-pop… sometimes all in the one track. They are band that never let you get too comfortable… each change in dynamic making your blood surge and hopefully the words along with it. Check out Prepare Your Coffin and album opener High Class Slim Came Floatin’ In.
Because of Ghosts – This Culture of Background Noise
Recorded at the legendary Hotel2Tango in Montreal, the Melbourne 3-piece have taken their spidery melodies and scratchy percussion to new heights. While their crescendos may make your limbs buckle (in the best kind of way), the journey to the top and down again is studded with beauty. Just watch the clips for “…in 2050 when we know we’ll all be dead anyway” and Dreaming is Essential.
Explosions in the Sky – The Earth Is Not A Cold Dead Place
I saw this band a while ago and they made my ears melt. Their blistering guitar attack and percussive drive is both melodic and angular. This album has been on regular rotation in my house since its release in 2003 and it has lost none of its shine. Get a taste here: First Breath After Coma and The Only Moment We Were Alone (live… where they are at their absolute peak!)
Godspeed You! Black Emperor – Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven
For me, the band that started it all… I discovered Lift Your Skinny Fists through a review in The Big Issue and it changed the way I listen to music. Their sprawling instrumentals blend rock, chamber music, samples and field recordings to create some of the most cinematic music of our times. My writing would not be the same without them. So to finish, here’s Antennas to Heaven pt 1 and Antennas to Heaven pt 2