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My, how time flies… Can you believe that 2015 is almost half complete? To mark the occasion, I thought I’d use a couple of ‘Sputnik Discusses’ blogs to reflect on some of the releases that have graced our ears over the past six months. But instead of immediately jumping into a ‘Best Of’ discussion, I thought it would be interesting to share with your SputnikMusic brethren some of your more exclusive finds of 2015. Personally, I find it kind of exciting when I come across musicians who don’t have an artist page on this website. And the last thing you want to do when you come across such musicians is keep them to yoursef. Write a review here and let the world know. Or if you can’t be stuffed writing 700 or so words, then this is where this very discussion comes in handy… Typing the artist and album title below will do just fine.

To throw out some examples, I’m going to list three 2015 releases which, prior to yours truly rating them, had all of one solitary rating between them (Damn you Thuckabe, you ruined it). Now, unsurprisingly (because [a] it’s me, and [b] they’re overlooked), there are some poppier leanings here… But I think you’ll find enough genre variety enclosed within to satisfy your needs.

First up is one Nathan Feuerstein, who goes by the moniker of NF. This 24 year old may remind you of someone… He is a…

With June shaping up as an excellent month for new album releases, I’m in between jotting together a few potential reviews at the moment. As these albums require more detailed listening and examination for the sake of an informative dissection, I’m often lacking the time to hear many other 2015 releases at the same time. What I often do in this case is stockpile a handful of EPs, for the obvious reasons that they take less time to listen to. By pure coincidence, I came across 3 consecutive EPs last week that were all acoustic based. For the record, I enjoyed all three, which were recorded by Pvris, Brigades and State Champs.

I recall looking at the track-listing for the State Champs EP (titled ‘The Acoustic Things’) and being disappointed that only one of my highlights from their album ‘The Finer Things’ was included. Yet, upon listening to the 7 included tracks, I found that the tune ‘Simple Existence’ stood out. I wondered why I had not included that as an LP highlight, so I went back and listened to the electric version. The answer was simple? The acoustic version was better!

Without harping on the pop-punk goes acoustic factor, it reminded me of a couple of years back when I was listening to the discography of (arguably middling) Massachusetts quintet A Loss For Words. Sure, they have a knack for a catchy hook, but so does 90% of pop-punk bands. The…

It’s been a while since a Davey-moderated ‘Sputnik Discusses’ went interactive and took a look at the best album art of all time, but fear not; I’m still sitting in a dark room somewhere thinking up discussion topics. Filling the breach for one of my missing weeks was our very own Lord of Brostep, Sir. Will Robinson, with his blog concerning life in college and a lot of cursing. I kid, I kid. Thanks to Will for stepping in, and if you are yet to read his thought-provoking discussion on hip-hop lyrics, I urge you to do so by clicking here

Today’s topic is a genuinely tough one for me to write about. I mean, I’m never wrong… So how the hell can I personally convey any situation where I was incorrect on anything? I guess that if I had reached school-age yet, I would have been wrong on Buster Douglas knocking out Mike Tyson, but even the statute of limitations would have forgiven me for that one by now. Plus, this is a music website.

I guess the closest time that such a music-related phenomena occurred was back in the mid-2000s when I heard Toronto punk rockers Billy Talent for the first time. Call me narrow-minded, but I just felt that it would be near impossible to overcome such negative first impressions of a band. Owning a voice that will be despised much more than it is liked, it’s an…

Fear not; ‘Sputnik Discusses’ has not been retired just yet. This blog’s absence over the past fortnight was simply due to the most deadliest of all diseases: the dreaded man-flu. Let me tell you folks: It got me good and proper this time around. You know that a music lover is sick when they’re just lying there for days on end doing nothing at all, yet can’t muster the energy to throw on an album or ten as background music. The dreaded lurgy isn’t completely gone either, so I had to think of a way to turn my lack of writing – and thinking – energy into a positive. What I’ve decided to do is write on a topic that I have no real strong feelings on, thus leaving the majority of the discussion up to you! It’s therefore fitting that the topic at hand actually came from one of you… So much thanks to elcrawfodor for the suggestion.

More than that however, ‘Sputnik Discusses’ is going even more interactive than it already is. It’s simply not enough that you get to write what you want in the comments section. In this discussion’s case, some of your responses will actually make the blog itself, since I will update it (most likely on a daily basis) as the discussion heightens.

So what is the topic of discussion at hand? Well, as the title suggests; It concerns album art. Even back in my purchasing…

Fear not everybody, your second favorite weekly blog (Dev does run a mean ‘New Releases’ post, after all) has returned following a week’s rest over Easter. In its place was the staff’s quarterly mixtape (brilliantly compiled by Jom), which can still be listened to in all of its glory by clicking here.

Today, I thought I would chat about something that is very dear to my heart: Guilty pleasures. In all honesty, I dislike the term… Mainly because no-one should really feel guilty for liking any kind of music. If you like it, you like it… And it should be as simple as that. But, of course, life doesn’t usually work out that way, and there’s always someone just around the corner laughing at you for listening to a certain song, before they abruptly snap that “Your taste in music sux”. Sometimes, this so-called fact comes as a shocking revelation, but most of the time we are actually in on the joke and are listening to something purely because we enjoy it.

Over the past couple of weeks, I posted twenty videos from the Soundwave festival which I attended last month. While I probably wouldn’t say that they were the best act I saw, the one which gave me the most enjoyment may well have been Papa Roach. Now I know that some of their releases are just plain crap (see my two star review of their sixth LP ‘Metamorphosis’), but…

Last week, I posted videos of the first batch of 10 bands from Day-1 of Australia’s SoundWave Festival . This week, it’s time for the Day-2 contingent, with more rock, punk and metal acts to satisfy your urge for all things heavy and live. For various reasons, I could not attend both days of the festival, and it was this Day-2 group that best satisfied me personally. Of course, posting all of the bands that I saw would probably cause a riot at Sputnik, so hopefully the diverse range of bands seen below is a fair enough compromise.

As per usual, a disclaimer must first be aired for legal purposes: SputnikMusic shall take no responsibility for any motion sickness caused by unsteady hand-held cameras used in the making of the following videos. The same goes for deafness caused by varying volume levels, seizures caused by blinking lights, and blindness caused by the brightness of security vests.

And just in case you were thinking that the line-up for Day-2 looks a little thin, then please take into account that the following list of videos excludes the likes of The Smashing Pumpkins, Fucked Up, Millencolin, Mayhem, Of Mice & Men, The Wonder Years, Godsmack, Tonight Alive, and farewell performances from Conditions & The Swellers just to name another 10 who played on this particular day. In fact, the order of what you are about to view, roughly coincides with each band’s actual set time.…

Before I begin today’s column, a huge thanks to everyone who took part in last week’s discussion concerning “favourite lyrics”. It was by far the most popular ‘Sputnik Discusses’ thus far and I’m certain that many readers found it as enlightening as I did. Also, an apology if this particular column comes off a little half-hearted in comparison. In between reading all of those fantastic lyrics, writing 4 reviews and putting together a literal smorgasbord of live videos from Australia’s recent Soundwave Festival, it’s fair to state that my spare time has been scarce of late. Oh well, let’s see how it goes, shall we?

As per my usual orderly want to link my blogs, I’d like to point your attention towards last weekend’s Soundwave Festival post, which included ten live videos from Day-1 of the annual Australian event (My Day-2 wrap will be posted by this weekend). Just attending the festival got me to thinking: If given the choice of only one, would I prefer to get my dose of live music by way of (a) festivals or (b) headline gigs (with one or two support acts)? In all honesty, my decision on this has wavered from year to year… And there are more factors that go into the choice than one might initially think.

Now, a musical purist might feel that there is no competition in this debate. Surely it’s all about the music and a band’s “true”…

All the way back in 2011, I posted a blog titled ‘Maiden, Slash, Slayer & QOTSA Soundwavin’ Around Oz’ that included amateur video of five acts that toured around Australia with the rock, punk and metal festival that is Soundwave. Since then, I have decided to only post lists detailing my experiences at the annual extravaganza, but all that’s about to change in a big way. With 2015’s event being held over two separate days, I thought that this would be a good opportunity to return to the blog and allow all of you to see some live footage of a diverse range of bands. And since I personally saw 10 bands on the day that I attended, then you also get to see 10 bands… TWICE OVER! This week will include the first batch of ten from Day-1 and next week I’ll be back with 10 more from Day-2. How’s that for value!?

Before we begin, a disclaimer must first be aired for legal purposes: SputnikMusic shall take no responsibility for any motion sickness caused by unsteady hand-held cameras used in the making of the following videos. The same goes for deafness caused by varying volume levels, seizures caused by blinking lights, and blindness caused by the brightness of security vests.

And just in case you were thinking that the line-up for Day-1 looks a little thin, then please take into account that the following list of videos excludes the…

Many thanks to Kyle “Crysis” Ward for taking over the ‘Sputnik Discusses’ reins last week. The cheeky bugger made my discussions look like pure fluff in comparison, with his piece on the ‘Message Behind the Music’ eliciting responses that included references to Marx, Shakespeare, Jim Crow and the U.S. Supreme Court! If you have yet to read Kyle’s thought-provoking column, I urge you to do so by clicking here. Otherwise, since I am currently in the midst of a reviewing hot streak, here is more sugary DaveyBoy fluff to hold you over until the next guest columnist. And due to my orderly want to attempt to link each column, today’s ‘Sputnik Discusses’ exists so you can all share your favourite lyrics with us.

When it comes to taking in lyrics and rating their importance to my listening experience, I’m somewhere in-between those who completely ignore them and those who think they are the be-all and end-all. They’re more the cherry on top, rather than the ice-cream itself. Basically, with a few exceptions, top-notch lyrics can make a great song superb, while poor lyrics can make a great song only good. While the likes of The Smiths and The National are sure to pop up in discussion, I’m personally not one for sitting in the corner of my bedroom enjoying mopey lyrics. The closest I get to such despondency is that of the lazy, realist self-loathing kind, as NYC rockers Bayside sang so infectiously on…

Is there any musician out there that would have a better C.V. than little known singer-songwriter Sasha Siem? I doubt it. The British-Norwegian chanteuse has studied music and poetry at both England’s Cambridge University and America’s Harvard University. She has written and composed music for the London Symphony and Philharmonic orchestras, as well as various opera companies. This was all by her early 20s!

Of course, there was no chance that someone so prodigiously talented could stagnate for too long, so Siem recorded her debut EP ‘So Polite’ in 2013. Sensing she may have a career with this unique style of classical indie-pop, the now 30 year old has followed it up with her recently released debut LP ‘Most of the Boys’. Taking cues from a wide variety of sources, Siem reminds of Joanna Newsom, Fiona Apple, Bjork, Regina Spektor, PJ Harvey and Tori Amos. Yet she is undoubtedly her own artist.

Contrary to what one might expect from such a virtuoso, ‘Most of the Boys’ is far from the elongated recording that you might think it would be. With its total running time clocking in at under 32 minutes (only one track surpasses 3.15), its 11 tracks are bite size without too significantly sacrificing compositional integrity. There’s some satisfying diversity too… As can be seen by the following three videos: the quirky ‘So Polite’;

the more methodically paced ‘My Friend’;

and finally the little bit of everything that is ‘See Through’:

Not that I should be the all-judgmental on pseudonyms, but I’ve never quite understood why many a musician use a stage-name. Of course, there are a few exceptions, like the unpronounceable surname or the complete character change. Another reason could be to – for one reason or another – distance yourself from a famous parent. Now, I’m unsure that’s what has actually occurred with Elle King, but it wouldn’t surprise me. The now 26 year old was born Tanner Schneider. Her father? The great motivational speaker Rob:

Having split her time with some acting credits over the past decade or so, it now appears as if Elle King will tackle the music industry head on. In 2012, she released a 4 track EP (which included an interesting cover of Khia’s ‘My Neck, My Back’, as well as the banjo-driven ‘Good To Be a Man’). And just recently, she released her debut LP ‘Love Stuff’.

King’s voice will remind many of the late 2000’s soul-pop explosion out of the United Kingdom. Duffy, Joss Stone, Adele, Amy Winehouse and Paloma Faith all come to mind, so whether or not she is too late to the party will remain to be seen. Yet, there’s something a little more added, if only because she resides on the other side of the Atlantic. There’s a kind of blues or country vibe apparent, while also being rather poppy and accessible. Some or all of these influences can be heard on Love Stuff’s…

Today’s milestone 5th edition (who ever thought we’d make it this far) of ‘Sputnik Discusses’ features the first topic to come suggested by one of the discussors. You heard me correctly; every now and then, I’ll take a topic suggested by you and turn into a discussion column. And the man who is privileged enough to be the first to have such an honor bestowed upon him is Contributing Reviewer Arcade. His prize: If the column sucks, he gets to take all the blame. Thanks for the idea Arcade.

Of course, I could also say that this is the third consecutive column to be inspired by Dave Grohl and ‘Sonic Highways’, since that series of documentaries was all about commemorating the sound and stories of eight U.S cities. While there was clearly some overlap between those cities, each one was sufficiently distinctive. It got me to thinking about my hometown of Melbourne – Australia. How do we stack up in terms of having a unique music scene? I mean, sure, we’re the sporting capital of the world and have perfect weather (just look at those blue skies below, doubters), but what is our musical heritage and how do we stand out from any other city musically?

Well, apart from the sport and the weather, the two words that would best describe Melbourne are “cosmopolitan” and “multicultural”. There’s a real culture here that fuels a diverse range of music. I haven’t got enough space to list the pub-rock…

Most videos and pictures that go viral usually generate nothing more than a shoulder shrug from yours truly. I mean, I really don’t give a flying fire truck what color that dress is. But, occasionally, something will catch my ear that I deem useful… A benefit to society, as such. When I see a video that actually improves two things, then it deserves the two million views it has received in just five days!

Old musical films bore the crap out of me. I think it stems from ‘Gigi’ beating out ‘Vertigo’ for an Oscar, but I digress. Even a Disney musical with some animation thrown in is as dull as ditchwater. Take, for example, that magical nanny ‘Mary Poppins’; with all of it’s “Jolly Holidaying” and “Chim Chim Cher-eeing”. The only thing good about that 50 year old movie is the infamous word that is “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious”. If only there were a cover version of that song…

Well, now there is… And it’s a death metal version! Thanks to the musical talents of Andy Rehfeldt and the vocal stylings of Sera Hatchett & Thomas Hinds, all of us can actually make it through a two minute scene from the movie without nodding off. And while she isn’t exactly Miss World, I’d probably prefer looking at Julie Andrews circa 1964 than some fat, bald & bearded death metal musician. Enjoy:

While ‘Sputnik Discusses’ was obviously created to fuel discussion amongst all registered members of the website, I think that I have under-stated its ability to provide – and spread – information between users. Last week’s ‘Anticipation in 2015’ column proved that, with many readers unaware that a particular artist was going to (possibly) be releasing an album this year, until informed of it during the discussion. I guess this opens up further possibilities for column topics; a theory that will hopefully be confirmed this week.

Plus, there is a link of sorts between the two column editions courtesy of Dave Grohl and his merry band of Foo Fighters.

As referenced last week, Grohl’s ‘Sonic Highways’ series of documentaries piqued my interest. While a few of the episode-closing tunes – and therefore the LP itself – may have disappointed to some extent, the documentaries themselves were interesting, if imperfect. Not much earlier last year, I was also entertained by two other documentary films on music; Grohl’s ‘Sound City’ and ‘Searching for Sugar Man’ concerning Sixto Rodriguez. In both cases, the topics weren’t ones that I would normally search out, yet the end-product was both fascinating and informative. I just had to ask myself the question as to why I had not taken the time to view more music documentaries.

While some documentaries may admittedly be nothing more than glorified concert footage and…

Following on from last week’s ‘Sputnik Discusses’ column, another of my most anticipated 2015 albums has seen two tracks released from it. Of course, I am talking about Massachusetts indie-pop outfit Passion Pit, who are gearing up for the release of their third LP ‘Kindred’ on April-21. First up comes the bouncy and energetic lead single ‘Lifted Up (1985)’, which also fills the role of album opener. As one can probably already deduce from its title, this tune is both enthusiastic and nostalgic, with an infectious earworm of a chorus where lead vocalist Michael Angelakos sings “1985 was a good year”.

Next to see the light of day is track 3 ‘Where the Sky Hangs’. Much more methodically-paced than ‘Lifted Up (1985)’, this song is still no less contagious. Whether through music or vocals, Angelakos simply has that gifted knack to make listeners move their body in some way, shape or form.

In truth, neither of these two tracks stray a great deal from the sound exhibited on Passion Pit’s two excellent LPs thus far; ‘Manners’ and ‘Gossamer’. But is that a good or bad thing? I guess that we will have to wait a couple of more months for ‘Kindred’ to be released to find out.

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