Tag Archives: matador

Perfume Genius – Live in Singapore


Look out, look out, for the man who came in with little fanfare and left just as unassumingly not too long after. For that brief hour or less, Mike Hadreas – performing as Perfume Genius – was laid bare for all, his music an intimate, knotted struggle. As in their recorded versions in his debut album Learning, the songs all sounded too short and ended too abruptly, drawing out each time an awkward pause before the applause. But Hadreas knows awkwardness well enough to let those moments linger, keeping the tension going with an audience probably more nervious than he.

As the opener, “Perry” was an apt introduction to the tormented world of Perfume Genius, of memories haunted and still raw. Captivatingly, Hadreas worked hard in each of the subsequent songs to present the dark as beautiful, with the deeply personal “Learning” and “Mr. Peterson” garnering the most unanimous response from a 100-strong crowd that was mostly appreciative but at times dumbstruck. For me, it was the brittle cry and grippingly bare piano of “Look Out, Look Out” that struck hardest, that unsettled wariness remaining even as the bar started to clear and the evening to close. - Dan.


mp3: Perfume Genius – Look Out, Look Out

The Perfume Genius gig at Blujaz was made possible by 4imaginaryboys. Learning is out now on Matador Records.

#348 Thurston Moore – In Silver Rain with a Paper Key


Sea Change was the album that sounded least like Beck, but ironically remains the most gorgeous work he’s ever produced. Now as producer, he seems to have convinced Thurston Moore to attempt his own sea change. Titled Demolished Thoughts, Moore’s new album finally embraces the aesthetic of beauty that he’s spent an entire career subverting through strains of dissonance and alternate tunings, while effortlessly managing to sound every bit like himself. “In Silver Rain with a Paper Key” is a perfect example of this, a song complete with instantly recognisable SY-esque lyrical imagery, set surprisingly to a sea of evocatively textured strings. - Dan.


mp3: Thurston Moore – In Silver Rain With A Paper Key

Demolished Thoughts is out now on Matador.

#280 the new pornographers – we end up together

there’s always a certain celebratory immediacy in the music of the new pornographers. in their latest album together, the songs keep rolling on untiringly, as they have in their previous efforts, from one melody, hook or chorus to the next. while supergroups like theirs are supposed to collapse under the weight of individual stars, carl newman, neko case and dan bejar have, like their songs, stuck together and remained unashamedly pop, album after album.

by the closing song of the together, it’s no surprise that we still find them dwelling on the themes of chance and serendipity. titled “we end up together”, the song wastes no time introducing its protagonist, “little brother” and his mid-life crisis of sorts. “when are you going to do some damage?“, newman asks, before ruefully contemplating this “damage, sweet damage” which ushers in the cello riff that drives the rest of the song in soundtracking little brother’s life. with its wry, poignant lyrics, the band has clearly chosen to end the album on a bittersweet note, but with its stubbornly uplifting strings, it emerges as one that’s equally triumphant against the odds. - dan.

mp3: the new pornographers – we end up together

together is out now on matador records. do also check out newman’s guest post in rolling stone for more on the inspiration behind this song.

#276 shearwater – meridian

for one trained in ornithology, jonathan meiburg’s choice of naming his band after a bird is hardly surprising. but settling on shearwater – a variety of seabirds – couldn’t be more apt, especially in the golden archipelago. like its namesake, the band delves into the album’s singular but expansive theme of island exploration from a bird’s eye view, unafraid to be guided by the winds, and content to stay as long as the magic of discovery remains. it’s a perspective that takes us “over the ocean/winging low” as narrated in album opener “meridian”, which unveils the new horizons by bringing us to that “first wave/and the flares that fall/like fireflies/on the islands“. utterly absorbing. - dan.

mp3: shearwater – meridian

the golden archipelago was released earlier this year on matador.

#220 times new viking – born again revisited

i woke up this morning with this incessant racket reverberating in my head. i just couldn’t pin it down, except for this dissonant, off-kilter alarm going back and forth, sometimes going a key up, sometimes just getting hazier and noisier than before. well i’m a little more awake now, and i’m pleased to say problem solved. it’s lovely how times new viking‘s “born again revisited”, the title track from their album released earlier this year, just found its way into my waking subconscious, its unabashedly lo-fi vocals hollering in my face, driven by that stubborn riff that stays so stubbornly out of orbit. good morning, noisy world. - dan.

mp3: times new viking – born again revisited

born again revisited is now out on matador records.

#206 sonic youth – thunderclap for bobby pyn

sonic youth

bobby pyn was the earlier name of darby crash, who fronted the germs in the late 70s. the punk band disbanded in 1980 when darby overdosed on heroin as part of a suicide pact, days after performing his last gig with the band during which he delivered his farewell to the sold-out crowd: “we did this show so you new people could see what it was like when we were around. you’re not going to see it again”. explosive but shortlived, the legacy of the germs is resuscitated ironically by one of the longest lasting post-punk bands living today – sonic youth with their inevitably titled 16th studio album the eternal. “thunderclap for bobby pyn” is a tribute to this memorably fleeting moment in noise meditation, delivered curiously late but with all the urgency typical of SY’s more punkish fare. teenagers they no longer are, but kim, thurston, lee and steve show they still have what it takes to start a riot, even if they’re riding on the shoulders of past revolutions. - dan.

mp3: sonic youth – thunderclap for bobby pyn

the eternal is now out on matador. get it!

#203 girls – hellhole ratrace

girls

sometimes things are best said plain, without the ambiguities of metaphor or the constraining structures of poetry, without even the obligation to be subtle about things or to understate how we really feel. so let me try and say things as plain as i can: i really do like this song. i like how the words say everything. i like its pace, which puts me at ease. i feel it understands me quite well. i think it knows and cares how i feel.

mp3: girls – hellhole ratrace

album by girls is out today on matador and true panther. get it!

#195 yo la tengo – sugarcube

yo la tengo

there are things that words cannot express: the frantic urgency of the opening salvo, the comforting consistency of the sheet of drone that washes through most of the song, the surprising early but beautifully timed solo, and what must be sound at the end of your heart beating as one. these devices, however, work tirelessly to keep the words afloat, words that weigh so heavily in promising so much with little else but an earnest effort to please: try to be more assured/ try to be more right there/ try to be less uptight/ try to be more aware. on their own, these resolutions sound hopelessly futile; you could always try, i guess. but swallowed as a whole, it sounds just about right, sweetened but still retaining its original flavor, and always worth a shot.

mp3: yo la tengo – sugarcube

#179 god help the girl – come monday night

god help the girl

the period after belle & sebastian‘s lukewarm release of fold your hands child at the turn of the century was perhaps the most crucial of the band’s career. at that point, many had felt the glaswegians had probably run out of ideas and trapped themselves within a tweefolk sound that was beginning to wear thin. the next proper album in 2003, dear catastrophe waitress, provided just the change they needed, boasting a polished gleam without loosing any of its understated charm, a direction pushed to even greater perfection in 2006′s the life pursuit.

that turning point, however, cannot be viewed apart from the other possibilities that the band could have taken. according to stuart murdoch, it was during the dear catastrophe waitress tour that he began to envision something different, songs with strings and female vocals that didn’t fall under the institution that had become belle & sebastian. in the course of the subsequent five years, this has grown into the project now known as god help the girl, revolving around murdoch’s musical narrative supported by the uplifting vocals of catherine ireton, celia garcia and alex klobouk, with mick cooke’s expansive orchestral arrangements.

“come monday night” is the first single to be released, and offers that exact glimpse into what else belle & sebastian could have become at that turning point. the lush but clearly defined strings are a natural progression from the simple arrangements found in their earlier albums, but with a certain buoyancy distinctive of the band’s later efforts. what we get then is an alternate view into the belle & sebastian universe without having to depart too far from its current solid form which you’d be wicked not to care about.

mp3: god help the girl – come monday night

“come monday night” will be out come this monday on rough trade, who together with matador will release the album on 22 june.

#78 brightblack morning light – oppressions each

in brightblack morning light‘s “oppressions each”, every sigh is heard as the song waltzes in its own time, drenched in reverb as if played in an empty hall where even the dust on the wall trembles along. it’s a soulful, spiritualized piece that mourns and aches with an air of heaviness that weighs down on even the lightest shoulders. production wise, the sound is musky and archaic, but in its content, the message is universal. i haven’t heard the rest of the motion to rejoin album that “oppressions each” is taken from, but judging from this delicately treated dr john-inspired track, the haunting music of rachael hughes and nathan shineywater will continue to seep through the cracks and overflow the consciousnesses of lands beyond their own.

mp3: brightblack morning light – oppressions each