Weekend Wind Down
What a difference a warm day makes in Canberra. I emerged yesterday to find people walking all over Canberra, happily chirping away to each other as they waited outside for their coffee (usually in winter waiting outside means angry faces). People are undeterred by the explosive fire that happened on Friday in the industrialised suburb Mitchell, and they’re relaxed. And just quickly on the subject of fires, there have been a lot in Canberra lately! Another recent fire incident was when the part of the beautiful New Acton precinct burnt down (pictured above). Weird…
Sadly I’m a bit sick with a cold. I’m writing this at 6:30 on a Sunday morning and I’m not sure how I feel about that. Not good? I guess it’s better to be sick when the weather is warm. It’s a bit weird though. I managed to avoid major illness through most of winter, now that we’re crawling out of it my body is succumbing.
But through the seasons and through sickness and health, there is music. And man has there been some great stuff lately! Chad Valley has been quietly making a name for himself. Jay Z and Kanye West showed that their work together isn’t just pure exploitation (though I’m sure there’s a bit of that going on) but that they can produce solid stuff. Florence + the Machine is leaking music like she needs a new washer. Bjork has re-emerged with an interactive iPad app which I hear is a lot of fun…
I have loved Otis Redding for a long time, like many folk. A Change is Gonna Come is a beautiful “we’ll have our rights one day” song which illustrates a piece of history but which manages to also rise above its own time as a constant reminder that with blacks, gays and women there is still a way to go with equal rights and fair treatment.
And Jay Z and Kanye West sampled Try a Little Tenderness in their bass-bouncing sausage fest single Otis, released ahead of Watch the Throne. And it works well!
I think I just wanted to blog about Sia because even though she’s not doing much in the grand scheme of 2011 I just wanted to point out how far she’s come. Earlier this year We Are Born made it into Triple J’s Top 100 Australian Albums of All Time (albeit not as high up the list as she should have been and perhaps because she may be viewed as an international artist, rather than Australian).
And of course just generally across the world she’s got a name for herself. But it was probably Colour the Small One which yielded some attention in the first place. While We Are Born shows that Sia knows how to make you dance, with Colour the Small One her music is quite sad and affecting.
Bjork is releasing some pretty good new music but it doesn’t quiet strike me the way some of her older music does. I’m waiting till I can get my head around the whole album. I’m sure, as with much of her work, it will all make a bit more sense in the context of an album.
I love this old collaboration she did with Kelis for the single Oceania. Can they collaborate again please? They’re an awesome combination!
I saw the video for this song on Rage the other night while I was avoiding bed (this cold and my pillow make bad bed fellows). And this cool song came on with some Charleston dancing. It’s nice and simple and doesn’t try too hard. Exploring other Slow Club songs I realised either this is a great one-off or they’re heading in the right direction with their music and only just starting to sound really good.
This song released via Kitsune is pretty great! I’d love to hear more from The Touch. There’s a Depeche Mode feel to it and though there’s a constant beat there’s no repetition. Which is maybe why Chad Valley chose to remix it. He threads a beautiful piano line through the whole song, making it more emotional and less soundscapey. And it’s rewarding to hear because, like with many of his remixes, he doesn’t assume that people just want some heavy-handed beat drowning out the unique elements of the song.
Chad Valley is no one-trick pony. Firstly though, those who don’t have Active Child’s album You Are All I See, go get it. With harps and a very unique voice, the style of music feels like it would be best heard while looking out over the Manhattan skyline at night.
Valley takes the new single and reworks it with piano while allowing the song to pause and build. The original has a constant beat which ties it into the album well. But as a single, Valley’s version actually betters the original. Notice the difference between the original bridge and the Valley remix version of the bridge. It’s really beautiful!
Sampha to SBTRKT is what Frank Ocean is to Jay Z and Kanye West: Beautiful singers who show so much potential on their contemporaries’ albums that it’s seriously worth checking out their own material.
Of course Frank Ocean is getting his deserved attention, and the album Dream Killa is wonderful. But Sampha, and perhaps this is because he doesn’t have much in the way of an album yet, hasn’t received his acclaim yet.
So have a listen to his own material and acclaim him already!