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’:
Who would have thought that Davey would be daft enough to give the reigns of his fledgling series of serious musical business to such a close-minded metalhead as myself? This is, after all, the 6th iteration of this column – a number that is damn good for us sometimes lethargic and apathetic staff members, but I’m here to show you that it’s not just Davey who has a desire to generate good discussion. Let’s not dwell on the who and the what, though, since before Davey changes his mind and decides that this guest appearance was a terrible idea indeed, I have a few opinionated…erm… opinions to share with you all. Actually, I’m more looking for your vehement disagreement or even a casual word or two about an over-arching topic that has come up many times around not only this site’s review threads, but also has permeated the world of popular music and underground scenes alike.
Lyrics are most certainly their own form of poetry, and like poetry the words contained in a song’s lyrics are simply the metaphorical tip of the iceberg in terms of what the artist is really trying to say. On occasion, things are right there for all to see, but more often than not the true meaning of a song can be buried beneath layers of metaphor. Could it be, then, that the meaning of a song and the attitudes that meaning projects onto the artist be that of a more… unsavory nature?…
Here’s a list of major new releases for the week of March 10th, 2015. Please feel free to request reviews for any of the following albums from staff or contributors.
Aero Flynn – Aero Flynn (Caroline)
ANAMAI – Sallows (Buzz Records)
Beans On Toast – The Grand Scheme Of Things (Xtra Mile Recordings)
Brodinski – Brava (Parlophone)
Cancer Bats – Searching For Zero (Metal Blade) Enslaved – In Times (Nuclear Blast)
Evans The Death – Expect Delays (Slumberland)
Harm’s Way – Rust (Deathwish Inc.)
Heems – Eat, Pray, Thug (Megaforce)
iVardensphere – Fable (Metropolis Records)
Lieutenant – If I Kill This Thing We’re All Going To Eat For A Week (Dine Alone)
Luke Bryan – Spring Break… Checkin’ Out (Universal Nashville)
Madonna – Rebel Heart (Interscope)
Marina & The Diamonds – Froot (New Elektra)
Matthew E. White – Fresh Blood (Domino Recording Company) Melechesh – Enki (Nuclear Blast)
No Spill Blood – Heavy Electricity (Sargent House)
The Rezillos – Zero (Metropolis Records)
Taylor Berrett – Great Falls (Warner Bros.)
Will Butler – Policy (Merge Records)
Young Guv – Ripe 4 Luv (Slumberland)
For reasons which I can’t fully wrap my head around, Porter Robinson’s debut full-length Worlds was incredibly well-received by a sizable portion of a few subsets of electronic music fans. Despite some admittedly lukewarm reviews among many well-established music coverage sites, the album hit it big with legions of fans, especially on the humongous media aggregator Reddit (at one point, moderators of /r/electronicmusic, the site’s largest electronic music community, ostensibly considered banning all posts about Robinson due to his omnipresence). Though I feel like I should feel a greater affinity with the man, given the shared surname between him and my pen name, I can’t say that I share these sentiments. “Fellow Feeling” serves as a good example as to why I feel this way. It’s a little bit all over the place, mildly annoying glitchy house breakdown coming in abruptly after an odd vocal sample and burgeoning string arrangement before cutting back out almost immediately at the behest of the string arrangement’s reappearance. The festival-euphoria bent which becomes slowly more apparent as the song blossoms feels off, somehow – I can’t put my finger on why, but the supposed explosion of a 4×4 kick in front of a main-stage instrumental arrangement doesn’t fully capitalize on the four-odd minutes of anticipation and buildup.
Given my apathy towards Worlds, then, it’s especially impressive that Frequent’s bootleg of the song is as phenomenal as it is. Despite the Boulder, CO-based producer’s relative novelty (based on what limited information is available online,…
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.
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…
Out of respect for him and his family’s privacy, I ask that you don’t try to delve into the cause or why it happened. This is a time for grieving, and a chance for us to remember the life of one of our community members. Pmmets07 was a genuinely nice guy with a stand-up personality, and even if you only interacted with him on a limited basis, that was plain to see. I don’t know what I could possibly say to do him justice, and given that I didn’t know him very well, I don’t think it would be appropriate to try. So what I’d like to do is start something of a memorial thread for pmmets07. Comment with your favorite memory, something you liked or admired about him, a song/album that reminds you of him, or just to send your best wishes.
Also, if you haven’t already, take a moment to show his profile some love.
Before we get started, a big round of applause to VheissuCrisis and StrangerofSorts, who have now earned the illustrious rank of Staff Reviewer. If receiving such a lofty title as that wasn’t enough, they now also earn unmitigated access to Sowing’s staff car wash service, as well as a signed copy of Babymetal’s last album.
Also a hearty (not big, but hearty nonetheless) round of applause to ComeToDaddy, ExplosiveOranges, JohnnyOnTheSpot and thelastsignal, who have all joined the contrib ranks. And to our returning contributor JamieTwort as well; greatness and one free ice cream await you all.
Here’s a list of major new releases for the week of February 24th, 2015. Please feel free to request reviews for any of the following albums from staff or contributors.
The Agonist – Eye Of Providence (Century Media) Ahamkara – The Embers Of The Stars (Nordvis) – Magnus Altkula
Aidan Baker – The Confessional Tapes (Pleasence Records)
The Airborne Toxic Event – Dope Machines (Epic)
Alcoa – Parlour Tricks (Caroline Records) Alien Ant Farm – Always & Forever (Executive Music) – Jom
All That Remains – The Order Of Things (Razor & Tie)
Big Sean – Dark Sky Paradise (Def Jam)
The Black Ryder – The Door Behind The Door (The Anti-Machine Machine)
Black Star Riders – The Killer Instinct (Nuclear Blast)
Dan Deacon – Gliss Riffer (Domino Recording Co.)
Drug Cabin – Yard Work (401K Music)
Dutch Uncles – O Shudder (Memphis Industries)
Emile Haynie – We Fall…
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.
While the first of the four new songs to be heard – ‘Dancing Like An Idiot’ – is nothing more than a decent B-Side that was rightfully kept off the album proper, it hasn’t wasted any time in drumming up some publicity for this under-rated band.
Coming complete with a lyric video (spelling mistake and all), lead vocalist Anthony Raneri lets loose on some of the young bands who proliferate the Warped Tour scene. “That’s where I get to see what the kids are doing”, Raneri tells Billboard. “At Bayside shows, I wouldn’t know what the trends are with young kids, same in my home life. Warped Tour is where you see all kinds of different people. These bands are just writing giant curses on t-shirts and selling it to a kid because they know the kid is stupid enough to buy it”, Raneri goes on to state. “You’re telling them it’s cool to buy a t-shirt to piss their parents off. There’s nothing cool about that… That’s mall rebellion… That’s not real rebellion. I grew up liking The Smiths & Nirvana… I fucking hated Guns N’ Roses. It was bullshit, misogynistic and fake rebellion – nothing is more corporate and commercialized’.
When I first heard Illinois, I found it to be bloated and annoyingly festive, even for my rich taste. I didn’t bother to follow up much after that, conceding that he was “talented, but not for me.” I did give a passing listen to The Age of Adz – mostly out of a desire to see what all the fuss was about – but then too, the man’s compositions felt insane and I just couldn’t relate to any of it. Perhaps I was simply lacking context. Or maybe I’ve just lost my mind over the years.
Either way, Sufjan gradually (even begrudgingly) became a mainstay within my musical collection.
It all started on a boring, hot summer afternoon in 2010. The air conditioner blasting on high, I sat in my bedroom idly staring out the window. I had just finished up school, and with no friends around me the world just felt colorless and I couldn’t shake this sensation that it was slipping away from me. I had Facebook chat open in the corner of my monitor, pathetically awaiting social interaction, but nobody obliged. Cooped up in my parents’ house, it seemed like I was squandering the best years of my life. So yeah, it was depressing times and all that shit. Anyway, I specifically recall b
Call me jaded… It might be because I’m getting older… Or maybe it’s just the way that the music industry is here in 2015… But I rarely anticipate an album release anymore! And no, it’s not just because the Arctic Monkeys began their brilliant debut LP by telling us that “anticipation has the habit to set you up for disappointment”. If anything, for yours truly, it may be to avoid the hype (both positive and negative) surrounding a particular album. In fact, the aforementioned Arctic Monkeys debut is the perfect example. I also recall going out of my way to ignore Lana Del Rey’s ‘Born To Die’ for 2 or 3 months for the exact same reason.
Prior to about 2010, such a thought wasn’t even a consideration. Like everyone, I have a group of favourite musicians and if they were scheduled to be releasing an LP that year, then I’d greatly anticipate it… No matter what the quality ended up being. As successors to classic albums, I couldn’t snap up Muse’s ‘Black Holes & Revelations’, Rise Against’s ‘Appeal to Reason’ and Anberlin’s ‘New Surrender’ quick enough. But now, I’ll listen to an album whenever I get a chance (pending Sputnik reviewing obligations). And then, last August, I saw a trailer for an album which reignited that anticipatory feeling. Sure, it may have had more to do with the supporting documentary… And yes, I’ve yet to actually hear the LP as it’s meant to be heard… But I…
Applications are still open for contrib and staff positions for those wishing to climb the proverbial Sputnik ranks. If you have a vested interest in writing about music, are a respectable and friendly member of the community, and have no idea what I mean when I say mezz crew, then head on over here to submit your applications.
Here’s a list of major new releases for the week of February 17th, 2015. Please feel free to request reviews for any of the following albums from staff or contributors.
36 Crazyfists – Time & Trauma (Spinefarm Records)
The Amazing – Picture You (PTKF)
Anthony Naples – Body Pill (Text Records) Black Rivers – Black Rivers (Ignition Records) – SowingSeason
Brothers Of The Sonic Cloth – Brothers Of The Sonic Cloth (Neurot Recordings)
Colin Hay – Next Year People (Compass Records)
Elle King – Love Stuff (RCA)
Estelle – True Romance (BMG Rights Management)
Ibeyi – Ibeyi (XL Records)
Imagine Dragons – Smoke + Mirrors (Interscope Records)
José González- Vestiges & Claws (Mute)
The Juliana Hatfield Three – Whatever, My Love (American Laundromat Records)
Kate Pierson – Guitars & Microphones (+180 Records)
Kodaline – Coming Up For Air (RCA Records)
Letts – Hold Fast (Vagrant Records)
Lyal Strickland – Balanced On Barbed Wire (Self released)
The Mavericks – Mono (Valory)
Mourn – Mourn (Captured Tracks)
Nedelle Torrisi – Advice From Paradise (Ethereal Sequence)
A Place To Bury Strangers –…