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Band Spotlight: Interview with Lou From Alpine

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When Alpine released their first album, A is for Alpine in 2012, they really burst onto the music scene in a flash of bright, shimmering pop. Now that they’ve come back with their second album, Yuck, vocalist Lou reveals that their performance and writing style has evolved over the years, bringing a new approach creatively to the same older themes that they loved exploring, like figuring life out. I got to chat with Lou about the new album and the band’s adventures touring in America, and it seems like this album is just as fun as the first…


E: Describe your new album in five words.

L: RnB, Yuck, Assured, Heartache, Courage.

E: What were the best ideas that came out of brainstorming for Yuck

L: We finished touring end of 2013, and then we had a three month break where we went back into the studio. We knew exactly what was going on in each other’s lives, so a lot of the time in terms of what was inspiring lyrically, it was about being in your late 20s, in comparison to A is for Alpine, when we were in our early 20s. There was always kind of hope that when you get older, all these awkward feelings just kind of figure themselves out.

We noticed that from being about 27 years old, it’s sort of accepting that life is always hard and unexpected, but looking at it in a funny way. And that’s why we called the album Yuck because it’s kind of this ratty, just “Yuck!”, but it’s also kind of amazing because the more you face these challenges in life, the more you figure out about yourself, which is a really beautiful thing. I like to think of this album as a stage of our lives which is like Alpine in the truer sense.

E: What do you think you and Phoebe’s greatest strength as a team of vocalists is?

L: In terms of the writing of our vocals, I guess it’s funny – when we first started I had a very different style of singing, and now sometimes when we listen back to tracks, we can’t even tell who’s singing what! And because we’ve been together for so long, performing and always warming up, you start to create a unison sound. We’re very inspired by Kate Bush – she uses her vocal range in really different ways, and we try to push different sounds.

E: Do you prefer touring or writing?

L: They’re both so different – writing, it’s such a different part of your brain. It’s like you’re writing journal entries and trying to create a piece of artwork, and then when you’re touring it’s like bootcamp, you’re travelling around, you’re never at home, it’s quite exposing when you’re performing, and sometimes there are days where you might want to go to a friend’s party but you’re feeling really sad, and you’re like “I might just stay at home”. You can hibernate. But sometimes when you’re doing a show you feel like that but you have to do a show.

Emotionally, it’s way more challenging, but then the writing process is more therapeutic. The touring is still fun! But it’s such a different part – very yin and yang.

E: What’s your number one ‘yuck’ moment of all time?

L: I was having a long distance relationship with someone – and my reaction to anyone being in a long distance relationship was ‘yuck’, but then I ended up being in one! That was kind of unexpected. Just trying to make a long distance relationship work, and then when it ended, that was the yuckest experience. But obviously it was also the most beautiful because it was the first time I really ever felt in love.


Yuck is out now, and Alpine are touring all over Australia (including Splendour in the Grass)! They’ve got a super fun sound, so be sure to check them out.

By Erin Rooney

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Gig Review: RY X + Little May

Heading down the dimly lit stairs of the Oxford Art Factory on Tuesday night, I had no idea at all what to expect from the night ahead. The crowd consisted of a mixture of Sydney’s finest hipsters and music gurus and the atmosphere was calm, collected and slightly electric.

RY X (Ry Cumming), the man I had come to see, is an Australian musician who left the country over ten years ago to pursue his artistic dreams, never looking back and until now never coming back. Since leaving Australia he has based himself between LA and Berlin, growing his music and gaining influence from these incredible artistic hubs.

The night began with support act Little May showing off their incredible vocal, instrumental and lyrical abilities, every song captured my attention and kept the audience enticed. The harmonising of the vocalists was a sure highlight, and of course who doesn’t love a bit of girl power.

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As the curtains closed to prepare for the main act, the room begin to fill up and the smell of incense took over, creating a chilled out atmosphere. As RY X has only properly released four tracks, there was really no certainty as to what sort of show he would put on, but as soon as the curtains opened, with the haunting display of candles and incredible back lighting, I knew I was in for a treat.

As Ry emerged onto the stage, looking like a beautifully mismatched scarecrow, the music slowly began and his raw yet powerful voice took over. With the slow beats of the drum thumping across the room, the music really did take control in a rather mesmerising manner. Throughout the show he spoke about the artistic approach he takes with his music and the importance of allowing for simple sounds to grow and create magnificent works, and the importance of this truly came across in his performance. In addition to this, his obvious pleasure at being back in Australia was evident, with him saying “thank you for coming” at every opportunity, only making the crowd love him more. Highlights came from his performances of ‘Berlin’ and ‘Shortline’ with their calming qualities and emotive abilities.

Although RY X has already left Australian turf, and who knows when he will be back, his musical presence is most definitely growing in the industry and he truly is one to keep an eye on over the next few years.

Check out his track ‘Berlin’ to get a taste:

By Sophie Henry

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Album Review: Nose Dive by Saskwatch

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Artist: Saskwatch
Album: Nose Dive
Hometown: Melbourne, Victoria
Genre: Indie Pop

One listen to Saskwatch‘s new record Nose Dive will have you caught between boppin’ like no one’s watching, air guitaring, and swaying in soft appreciation, all in the space of eleven strong tracks. 

With such an abundance of electronica on the Australian music scene at the moment, it sure is a relief to be reminded that there are still people out there who play real, physical musical instruments. And there are nine of them in Saskwatch!

Balancing the sound of such a large band can be dangerous, but Saskwatch seem to manage it effortlessly in this album. You could almost believe they were a four or five-piece in “Give Me A Reason”, but then the horn section makes an appearance, in all its glory.

“You Don’t Have To Wait” introduces just how silky-smooth the soul vocal stylings of Nkechi Anele can get – something that remains prevalent throughout the rest of the album. (As a quick side track, if you want your ears to go to soul heaven, check out this sweet duet of Chet Faker & Nkechi here).

The catchiest track on the album would probably have to be “Born To Break Your Heart”, but “Hands” comes in at a close second. Then your heart is in for a softer, sweeter treat with “Now That We’re Alone” having the final word.

 

Saskwatch’s only downfall in Nose Dive is sometimes seeming repetitive with their sound; even while their style varies from song to song, tracks can be hard to distinguish between, favouring similar chord changes. But this considered, each song has its own hidden treasures.

Catch Saskwatch as another wonderful addition to the Splendour In The Grass line up and be sure to listen up to their tunes first so you can belt along! Nose Dive is out now.

By Erin Rooney

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Album Review: Built on Glass by Chet Faker

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Artist: Chet Faker
Album: Built On Glass
Hometown: Melbourne, Victoria
Genre: Electronic

After Chet Faker‘s stunning EP Thinking In Textures of 2012, his highly anticipated debut album Built On Glass has already generated substantial hype and praise following its official release last Friday.

Maybe it’s all in his stage name (after legendary trumpeter and vocalist Chet Baker), but I for one can’t get past the fact that Chet Faker (aka Nicholas James Murphy) seems to modernize a vaguely jazz influence with his electronic sounds. Just one listen to that ambient keyboard line in “Release Your Problems” and I’m instantly transported to a smokey, underground New York jazz club. It strikes me further to hear that incredible wailing sax in Talk Is Cheap, reminding me of Vancouver group Destroyer’s track “Kaputt” from 2011.

“Melt” is quite simply perfection. It’s one of the tracks on Built on Glass that reveals the intense amount of effort that Chet Faker has put into the album, with a stellar vocal cameo from Kilo Kish – a voice that has managed to match Murphy’s own unique timbre.

By the end of the album, we are reminded that Chet Faker is primarily an electronic artist, albeit a unique one at that. 1998” exhibits a memorable beat and perfect spacing when needed.

This record is one that grows on you. Upon first listening I must admit that my initial reaction was disappointment. Particularly from the second half of the album, I was a bit taken aback by the almost annoyingly repetitive loops and experimental nature of tracks such as “Lesson In Patience”. However after several more listens, I can see more clearly now how each track fits into the release – Chet Faker really has created a work of art and an important contribution to the electronic music genre. Be sure to give it the time it deserves to appreciate it in full.

And if you haven’t seen the video for “Talk is Cheap” yet, it’s about time you had a gander. Dark, but oddly mesmerizing:


You can catch Chet Faker’s glorious beard (and music of course) at Splendour In The Grass later this year (full lineup to be announced in late April), and grab a copy of his album now on iTunes, Spotify or in store.

By Erin Rooney