ALBUM REVIEW: Great Good Fine OK – 2M2H (2015 EP)

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Great Good Fine OK continue to prove over and over again that they are the most badass, smooth stylers in the world of dance and indie-pop. Following the release of their debut EP Body Diamond last year, I made a point to mention that there’s little room for mistakes in an EP like there is in full length albums, and they smashed it out of the park with a pretty-much-perfect collection showcasing a natural ear for catchy song-writing. In 2015, they’re up to their old tricks as they return with a killer new EP entitled 2M2H (an abbreviation of the title track “Too Much To Handle”), set to come out in Australia on March 16th.

Opening it up with the title track “Too Much To Handle” they lead with a massive middle finger to anyone who doubted they could put together another release as strong as the last. Creeping in with static club-thump style synth and those brilliant dreamlike vocals fluttering around the verses, it leads into the build up to a chorus that spews perfection. This one is a dance track with some proper indie creds. It’s like…if David Guetta was suddenly actually really good.

One tune on this EP that struck me particularly, was the funk infused “Without You”. We continue with the trademark whispering vocals of frontman Jon Sandler which sprint around the backing with the type of precision that leaves you unable to keep still. It’s a very unique vocal tone and one that will be a major factor on whether or not you like this band. But it’s like eating snails. A lot of people are turned off at the thought, but if you like them, you fucking crave them. Creeping guitar parts and deep, probing synth provide a thick backing for what is an epic dance track; one that manages to still portray a heartfelt story of disappointment in failed love while keeping you bouncing around the room with happiness. Particularly around the 3:30 minute mark where it hits the outro, the boys round it off with funky guitar parts like the seasoned professionals that they appear to be.

“Carried Away” is proper old school funk. Taking listeners back to the 70’s with clanging disco style guitars and mixed again with the vocals, it almost resembles a bit of a Bee Gee’s type vibe. Obviously it’s not completely old school, again the electronics dominate throughout, slowing the speed down a little and the output it so sure of itself, and it should be. It’s definitely a sweet “strutting” song, and if you think that’s a terrible way to describe anything, listen and tell me I’m wrong.

If you thought you were impressed with 2M2H so far, wait until you hear that tropical popsters St Lucia are involved. That’s right, they’re a featured artist on the final track “Something To Believe In”, and man this partnership works out. The ethereal, out-in-space synth of Great Good Fine OK when meshed with the tropical-pop stylings of their featured artist just feels right. The deeper vocals of St Lucia frontman Jean-Philip Grobler are a welcome addition. A seductive saxophone solo permeates the outdo of this track , sliding around the slick arrangement like a dodgy carnival game, leaving you sufficiently entertained but wanting more.

Great Good Fine OK’s took all the stuff that impressed us in the first release and went double or nothing, and it certainly worked out. 2M2H is a crazy good EP. Start to finish, it’s filled with happy dance vibes, heartfelt and honestly delivered lyrics and high level, naturally sexy songwriting. With not a single second on the record wasted, they spit hooks all over the place in an effort that will make them your new favourite band. A lot of the time when someone asks you what bands you’re listening to at the moment, it’s real fucking hard to come up with something solid because it’s always changing. But if anyone asks me for the rest of the year, I can solidly say; I’m listening to Great Good Fine OK.

*****

9.2 / 10

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Great Good Fine OK – Without You

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Great Good Fine OK continue to prove over and over again that they are the most badass, smooth stylers in the world of dance and indie-pop. Following the release of their debut EP Body Diamond last year, I made a point to mention that there’s little room for mistakes in such a short release (as opposed to an LP), and they smashed it out of the park with a natural ear for catchy song-writing. They’ve continued with that trend since then with the release of some really fricken amazing tracks in the lead up to a new EP release entitled “Too Much To Handle”, set to come out in Australia tomorrow.

One that struck me particularly, was the funk infused “Without You”, continuing with the trademark whisper-like vocals of frontman Jon Sandler which sprint around the backing with the type of precision that leaves you unable to keep still. Creeping guitar parts and deep, probing synth provide a thick backing for what is a killer dance track; one that manages to still portray a heartfelt story of disappointment in failed love while keeping you bouncing around the room with happiness. Particularly around the 3:30 minute mark where it hits the outro, the boys round it off with funky guitar parts like the seasoned professionals that they appear to be.

The new EP arrives here in Australia tomorrow, so check it out on iTunes and Spotify ASAP.

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ALBUM REVIEW: Karl Kling – Self-titled (2015 LP)

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This article first appeared on The AU Review.

If you’ve listened to Synth-pop artist Karl Kling here in Australia, like me, it’s most likely as that featured player from the RAC album Strangers. You would be forgiven for that one. Karl is not big by any means, not yet. But as usual, that’s what makes his self-titled debut album so exciting. It was released earlier this month and going off the kind of influences he’s been hanging around, I couldn’t wait to wrap my ears around it.

The intro track “Figurehead” is a slow dance of space-like synth pop. One that builds and builds but never seems to reach the top. Not that it’s bad. It just has the promise of an anthem but instead glides along in a monotone and safe fashion. “I Will Wait” is where it picks up with impressive originality. It just stinks of RAC and that’s an unreal compliment for any musician. It was the first single he released from the album and it’s a humble, fun and slithery number that slinks along with confidence. All the while digi-pop hooks will keep your finger firmly set on that repeat button.

The second single to be released, “Careful” is a happy turn from the cold tones of the first few tracks. It still has a sadness about it but bops along with aggressive enthusiasm nevertheless. It’s a welcome turn into the dancier style of electro I hoped from this album. It’s followed by “All I Want More Than Anything”, a track that could have been straight from the early nineties. A golden tune that’s easily one of the more catchier on the album. Karl Kling finds the sort of Motion City Soundtrack pop vibe in his synth solos and vocal melodies that will put a smile on your face for days.

“The Struggle” is a nice multi-layered and moody track that plugs along pretty casually and seems performed in a real natural style. You could imagine this as a bedroom recording project, with Karl Kling casually strumming along as he contemplates the narrative in the song. It’s here that you kind of realise how authentic this album is. It’s a guy giving his all, from top to bottom. The song “When I See You Again” has this weird garage rock sound to it that is immediately noticeable following the other tracks on the album. It’s a tonne faster than the others and feels liberating from a listeners perspective. Bold and speedy.

“Job Well Done” is a cracking tune. It’s very eighties with talkative verses and group vocals backing him up and choruses with a crap-load of effect pulsing their way to some decent vocal hooks. The outro track “Life On The Run” is another great, memorable track that places its footsteps in the wake of bands like Stepdad and Architecture In Helsinki who have been putting together really fun electronic music for years now.

In the end, Karl Kling bursts out of the shadows of being a featuring artist (in my eyes) and into his very own spot on the path to synth-pop royalty. His unique style of moodier, new season electronic music is a welcome change from the party hard vibe I’ve been getting used to from a lot of artists. Although I found some of the tracks dragged on towards the end, there are some solid tunes streaked throughout the album and it’s well worth a spot in your next backyard party playlist.

 

*****

7.1 / 10

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Girl Friend – Monte Carlo

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Man, it has been a VERY long time since I’ve heard a dance track this fucking seductive. I’m talking like full-on song abuse. Hitting the repeat button, over and over. The single by Girl Friend, entitled “Monte Carlo”, came out almost a solid month ago, and sadly I’m only just getting around to posting about it now. But don’t worry, it’s not a flash in the pan type of thing, so no matter how late you find it you’ll still be listening forever.

The track is literally about dancing, love and travel, so really there’s no bunch of themes that could be more enticing. It’s fast paced with a kind of skip-hop beat that you might hear with Two Door Cinema Club, although they certainly have their own tweaks going on. The tone of the vocals really hits a sweet spot for me. Nothing too amazing by professionally trained standards, but the kind of voice that just really sounds sweet, with smooth sliding tones all up in there. The chorus will hook you within the first split second.

Going off Facebook, these guys are quite small. But with a hugely original and just plain awesome sound, they’re sure to hit big things very soon.

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Golden Coast – Futurist

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I’ve previously pegged them as something liken to Foster The People, with stunning singles like “Dream And An MPC” and “Break My Fall”, but this is LA based Golden Coast showing off a different side of them.

While still showcasing those some vibes we came to love with their debut tunes, they’ve added a bit of a reggae vibe and slowed things down, forming a pretty wicked fourth release. I’m really hoping this eventuates into an album in 2015, rather than a lame EP release with exactly the tracks they’ve already released on it, a trend that seemed to be rife in 2013, and continued in 2014. The latest effort, “Futurist” is indie-pop at its finest. Sexy hooks permeate the chorus merged with back-up vocals and tribal dance drums, resulting in a tune that is ripe in time for the American summer coming up soon.

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Conics – Burning Up

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Sydney’s Conics have long been on my radar. Since I caught them supporting Gold Fields back in 2012 they have been producing some amazing singles and snippets, to mixed success for a band at their stage. The single “This Moment” was a brilliant electro-pop tune that actually ripped through my playlist for at least a solid year. The latest effort “Burning Up” is a fantastic, catchy track, even if it does leave me thinking it potentially could have been done better by a Cut Copy or a Van She. 

Don’t let that statement scare you off though. “Burning Up” is on point. It uses repetition in exactly the right places, leaving room for a cheeky chant if you’ve decided you’re that into it. It’s sly poppy enough to feature a few hooks here and there, and chorus fires with the confidence and musicianship you hear in some of the biggest electro-pop icons. They will surely be out with some more new material this year so head over to their Facebook page and keep a look out.

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Matt Woods – Impression

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This minimalist piece with RnB stylings by solo artist Matt Woods is unreal. Hailing from London this guy takes after all the Triple-J-esque acts that scored so well on the Hottest 100 this year (re Chet Faker).  Interesting fact about Matty boy, he’s a former choirboy, who admits he enjoyed the commitment and has taken a lot of learnings from his classically trained days.

The track “Impression” is a shallow, heartbreaking arrangement delivered to perfection in this humble recording. It’s a much needed break from many of the up-tempo tracks to be released by some of my favourites artists this year, and composed in a way that could have you thinking he’s been around for years. All in all, the catalogue from this fresh artist is well seasoned and enjoyable.

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Death Cab For Cutie – No Room In Frame

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Just over a decade after the release of their critically acclaimed album TransatlanticismDeath Cab For Cutie are set to release their latest effort entitled Kintsugi and one of the lead singles “No Room In Frame” takes me back. In what is perhaps the closest track to anything from that 2003 album, the band show maturity, the same hot talent they’ve always had and a fierce understanding of pop hooks and the genre.

The wispy tones and down-tempo beat keep the focus on the lyrics, building it up for a chunky chorus that is best listened to in the dark. There’s a sly tinge of Jimmy Eat World in there too, perhaps in the bridge it’s most evident. Nevertheless, it’s the most classic soundtrack-to-my-teens track I’ve heard in just about a decade and you should all check it out.

Kintsugi is set to be released smack bang on the end of the month, March 31st. “No Room In Frame” is available now on iTunes and Spotify.

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Satellite Stories – Vagabonds

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Everyone’s favourite Finnish band, Satellite Stories have been hitting the airwaves with a few newbies of late in an exciting start to 2015. I’ll admit, there’s not a lot of Finnish acts that are that well known outside of their country, at least in Australia. But don’t let that take anything away from the incredible set that these guys have put together so far.

Their 2013 debut Pine Trails was an absolute masterpiece. Tracks like “Season of B-Sides” and “Campfire” as well as “Lights Go Low” were eerily similar to powerhouse indie band Two Door Cinema Club, proving their heritage wasn’t anything of a gimmick on this side of the world. Their latest off the new album of the same name, “Vagabonds”, is filled with pulsating guitar, rise and fall synth and beautiful sounding falsetto, fleeting through the track with confidence, while keeping the cold soundscapes we’ve come to adore from acts out of Scandinavia.

The album “Vagabonds” is out now via iTunes and for stream on Spotify.

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Kate Boy – Higher

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Kate Boy launched at a pretty sweet time for female indie artists. CHVRCHES had risen to fame, others like HAIM, Say Lou Lou and Chloe Howl has started to peak the interest of the bigger labels. But Kate Boy approached it with a thunderous, aggressive style of music that struck a unique chord on the indie blog-o-sphere.

This year she’s released a short EP with the lead single “Higher” beaming with anthemic bravado. Her classic deep female vocal style shines against thumping underground drums and bass and gliding synth. It’s a kind of new wave 80’s style and a great single right out the gate. Maybe after the success of all the aforementioned acts, this one might be the release to break out for this absolutely unreal Scandinavian act. I certainly hope so.

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