Sunday, 17 August 2014

Röyksopp & Robyn get eerie on their 'Monument' music video

Following the releases of "Do It Again" and "Sayit", Röyksopp & Robyn have released a third single taken from their collaborative EP Do It Again (a review can be found here). The single in question is the incredible opening track "Monument", and a music video was shot as well. Directed by previous Robyn collaborator Max Vitali, the nearly seven-minute clip is a futuristic, surreal visual adaptation of the gloominess of the song, seamlessly matching its stylistic minimalism. It features the trio lying on a glowing white platform with two dancers performing an eerie routine, floating in space and finally being overshadowed by a giant upside-down pyramid. Rather than narrating a story, the music video seeks to convey an emotion and, in my opinion, does it quite stunningly. Check it out below:

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

New music videos from Katy Perry, Lana Del Rey

More has happened in the world of music videos.

First of all, here's the new clip for Katy Perry's latest single "This Is How We Do", taken from her fairly good pop record Prism. I'm still unimpressed by her choice for the next single (come on, why not give "International Smile" a chance? It's one of the best songs on the album!) but the music video is a very typical Katy Perry video. It's fun, with heaps of completely unrelated stuff - whatever is the connection between ping pong or basket ball players, watermelon fans, animated desserts and the retro aesthetics of the clip is completely beyond me. But maybe it's indeed 'just' a Katy Perry pop video and should be taken as such, so instead of troubling our heads about any deeper meanings, let's just enjoy the everything-but-the-kitchen-sink clip, rich with colours, De Stijl references, twerking ice cream cones and even a Mariah Carey impersonator.

Then there's also, of course, the ever so dramatic Lana Del Rey and the music video for her new single "Ultraviolence". The grainy clip looks as if it was filmed with an old iPhone and is like the audiovisual equivalent of an Instagram filter but I suppose that's intentional. There's lots of close-ups of her infamous lips - sometimes wrapping around her lover's fingers, sometimes a piece of a tangerine - while she wanders around in a garden, wearing a wedding dress. Well, you'd expect much more from her, but then again it's very Lana-esque anyway. Although to that extent that she's starting to resemble a parody of herself. But maybe that's just me.

Two new Madonna demos have leaked

Well, new as in 'previously unreleased'. As a matter of fact, the demos date back all the way to Madonna's Erotica sessions in the early '90s so nope, they've got nothing to do with her forthcoming, currently untitled 13th studio album. But now that I've got your attention, why won't you check them out? Sometimes outtakes are outtakes for a reason - the first one, "You Are The One", is a bit of a throwaway - but "Shame" is actually a pretty good tune that would've made a proper Madonna classic, had it been released. (Die-hard fans of her Madgesty may recognise the song titles from "the Rain tapes", a collection of demos from the Erotica era.)

Friday, 1 August 2014

Review: 'Pig Safari' by CC33

I mostly do music blogging just for my own amusement, as there's not that many actual perks to it. Unlike those who blog about food or fashion or whatever, you don't really get that much material profit out of it - you have to be pretty well-known in order to receive exclusive invitations or free concert tickets or stuff like that. However, every once in a while I do get e-mails with free music downloads etc. in them, and some months ago I even got my first promo CD in the mail so that's always pretty nice. The CD in question was called Pig Safari by the Finnish electro-rock outfit CC33.

You might recognise the band as it has been featured on my blog before, first in the Song of the Week section, then in my blog post about Finnish indie music. Generally, as you might've noticed by now, i don't tend to write about Finnish music that often (despite being a Finn myself) but there's always the occasional exceptions to that rule that are just too interesting to ignore. The Jyväskylä-based group CC33 is one of those.

Thursday, 31 July 2014

Dragonette are (kind of) back with a new song!

The Canadian pop outfit Dragonette are some of the best electropop musicians out there, and now they've got a new single coming out! Releasing new music for the first time since their cover of Neutral Milk Hotel's "In The Aeroplane Over The Sea" last January, the trio have collaborated with Dutch DJ Mike Mago on a brand new house track called "Outlines". The song is already available on Soundcloud and YouTube, and it's properly out on August 15.

Ever since Disclosure broke through internationally (their AlunaGeorge collaboration "White Noise" was ranked the 2nd best song of 2013 on Popheaval's 'Best Of' list), you could really start hearing the influence of their deep house vibes in other music as well. "Outlines" has some elements of that same music style, while Basement Jaxx's recent(ish) single "Unicorn" felt equally Disclosure-inspired. Not that it'd be a bad thing at all. So, one does wonder: is the UK garage/deep house sound making its way to the mainstream consciousness again?

Anyway, in case you're interested, there's also a lyric video for the song (since they're clearly a 'thing' these days). Here you go:

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

New music videos from Basement Jaxx, Lily Allen, Katy Perry

Twerking might've exploded in the mainstream in the aftermath of Miley Cyrus and Robin Thicke's questionable 2013 VMA performance, but Basement Jaxx have been playing with the phenomenon for some time already - the duo's 2009 album Scars even featured a song titled "Twerk". Not that it'd make twerking any less cringeworthy, though. Anyhow, this bootylicious dance style now makes an appearance in the new music video for their latest single "Never Say Never", taken from their forthcoming LP Junto. The tongue-in-cheek clip features the "Twerk-bot", a high-tech robot designed to save the humanity by inspiring mankind to dance again. Or something along those lines. It's got everything you need: wi-fi, bluetooth, USB connection for charging your devices etc. It's compatible with iTunes and even comes with self-lubricating buttocks that are machine-washable and perfectly suitable for... wait a minute.

Then there's Lily Allen who has a new single on the way from her new album Sheezus, and this time it's "As Long As I Got You". A music video was uploaded on YouTube a couple of days ago, and it's essentially a tribute to the Glastonbury Festival, where she performed this year for the first time in five years. It incorporates bits and pieces from the festival, such as Allen dancing and singing to the song backstage and clips of her Glasto performance. It's quite fun and summery and all but also feels more like a festival trailer than a proper music video.

Also, is it just me or is she going through singles like there's no tomorrow? After "Hard Out Here", "Air Balloon", "Our Time", and "URL Badman", this is already the fifth Sheezus single. (In addition, the title track "Sheezus" was also treated with a promotional video, though it wasn't released as a single.) Hell, it's less than a month since the previous one! Yet, with the exception of the past controversy around "Hard Out Here", none have succeeded in making a major impact, with the latest two even failing to enter the top 40 on her home turf. Lily Allen's comeback hasn't really gone that smoothly, now has it.

Meanwhile, Katy Perry's apparently about to release a new single as well. And the song in question is...

*drum roll*

"This Is How We Do". Well damn. Perry's latest album Prism was a pretty good pop album (I gave it a four out of five) and it features a bunch of tracks that'd make great singles. She seems to have confirmed that "Legendary Lovers" would be released as one, while "International Smile" would make a most infectious uptempo summer hit. And still, she chose "This Is How We Do" that sounds like a Kesha throwaway and is certainly not the best the album has to offer. Sometimes I do question decisions that musicians make. On the other hand, "Dark Horse" - another Prism tune I couldn't stand - turned out to become a surprisingly massive hit so maybe she knows better... Nevertheless, here's the lyric video for the song:

Monday, 21 July 2014

Here's the powerful music video for Röyksopp & Robyn's 'Do It Again'

Röyksopp & Robyn's bittersweet party anthem "Do It Again", taken from their new EP of the same name (here's a review!), now has a music video to it. Rather than serving as a literal visual interpretation of the song lyrics, the intense clip embraces the chaos and destruction of the more metaphoric sense of the lyrical content. Said Robyn: "This is a song that needs visuals to balance the hysteria, the manic energy". And boy, do they deliver. There's no straightforward explanation regarding the narrative, but it seems to deal with a range of gloomy themes such as desperation, violence, and loss. Not necessarily quite what you'd anticipate from the music video of the most dance floor friendly number of their latest record but that's Röyksopp & Robyn for ya - expect the unexpected. Check out the amazing, if a bit depressing video below:

(And for a live performance of "Do It Again" and another of their newer songs, "Monument", head over here!)

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Last four Siouxsie and the Banshees reissues coming September 15

Four years ago, Siouxsie and the Banshees' label Universal pulled the plug on the band's album reissue campaign midway, meaning that their last four albums were left without remastered editions. Their previous albums from 1978's The Scream to 1986's Tinderbox were all treated with reissues, with the former even getting a deluxe 2CD release with a bunch of demos and live versions. Said Severin:
“Universal have decided not to release any more single disc remasters. As the final four albums don’t have enough extras to warrant the double disc ‘deluxe’ treatment, they have halted our programme four albums short. They have given us the opportunity to license the last four (Peepshow, Glass, Super, Rapture) to another label. We are looking into this.” (source)
Since then, however, things have changed. First there was the reissue of the group's debut single "Hong Kong Garden" earlier this year, and Severin wrote that it wouldn't be a one-off thing, revealing that "Once we start — we will be putting things out on a regular basis. Universal have a 3 year plan proposed". Someone over at Universal must've really taken a liking to the band! Proceeding with the remaster campaign must also be easier now that the feud between Siouxsie and Severin is finally over, as well:

Then, five days ago, Severin teased the fans with a game of hangman over at the band's Facebook fan group:

After the fans succeeded in guessing the correct letters, the mysterious sentence turned out to spell "FINAL/FOUR/DUE/FIFTEENTH/SEPTEMBER". In other words, the Banshees' last remaining albums Through The Looking Glass (1987), Peepshow (1988), Superstition (1991), and The Rapture (1995) will finally get their reissues in no more two months! Brilliant news!

There's been no news regarding the extras yet, though Severin did confirm on Facebook that all the reissues will have additional material. As the Banshees rarely made demos in advance, it's unlikely that there will be any entirely unreleased songs in the mix, save for Through The Looking Glass: considering it's an album consisting entirely of cover versions, there might be some unreleased covers that never saw the light of day. But we'll see. Their 1987 stand-alone single "Song from the Edge of the World" has become quite the rarity because it was never released in a digital format in its original version - it was omitted from their 1992 singles collection Twice Upon A Time, included on another compilation album only in a remixed version, and resurfaced on the remastered Tinderbox in an unreleased version that featured guitars by John Valentine Carruthers rather than Jon Klein, who played on the single release of the song - so it might also make an appearance among the extras.

The band has often made it very clear they have a strong aversion to remixes so none are to be expected as extras. I'd predict most of the extra material to be live performances - especially with Superstition, their 1991 KROQ Acoustic Christmas performance would be a highly appreciated gem, should it exist as a professional recording. Out of the 11-song setlist, two tracks have actually been released already: "Swimming Horses" and a cover of "All Tomorrow's Parties" by The Velvet Underground both appeared as B-sides to the band's 1994 single "O Baby". The Rapture might feature initial versions of the album tracks that predate John Cale's involvement in the production work. A live concert from the Peepshow tour has already appeared on the band's "At The BBC" box set, so I have no clue of possible extras there.

Well, two months (and five days) to go! Meanwhile, why don't you check out my reviews of the four albums in question while you're waiting?

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Playlist: Gloomy Sunday

Exactly one week ago, a major change occurred in my life: I left Denmark and moved back to Finland where I'm originally from, which marked an end of an era for me. Needless to say, the last weeks were filled with endless goodbyes and farewells, which is always kind of emotionally draining. There's so much I already miss, so many places, so many people. Changes in life are inevitable: every hello is a beginning of a goodbye. Still, that doesn't mean that it's all over - the things you miss are still there, and it's the end only if you let it be so. I for one won't. 

But that doesn't remove the longing, of course. And considering music is a most remarkable form of therapy, what better way to cope with these feelings than a suitable playlist? Therefore, let us wallow in our sadness for a bit with a 20-track playlist titled 'Gloomy Sunday', consisting of some of my favourite melancholic songs. It's got everything from older classics such as Joni Mitchell and Lou Reed to more modern crooners like Amy Winehouse and Lana Del Rey. It's got blues rock and indie pop. It's got wistfulness and sorrow, but also a glimpse of hope so don't despair. So, if your Sunday (or any other weekday, come to that) is gloomy, look no further - this is a playlist for you!

Watch Röyksopp & Robyn's performances on Jimmy Kimmel Live

Röyksopp & Robyn have been touring Europe and the States with a series of gigs to promote their collaborative 'mini-album' Do It Again (for a review, head over here), and one of their appearances was on Jimmy Kimmel Live. Two live recordings from that show have since made their way to Youtube; these songs include the title track "Do It Again" and the fantastic opening number "Monument". Check out the performances below - mullets, platform shoes and Scandinavian synths galore!

While the high-energetic dance anthem "Do It Again" gets the crowd going (obviously), the same can't be said about "Monument", which is a shame as in my opinion, it's the best track from the EP (along with "Do It Again"). The eight-minute rendition of the ethereal synthpop number just doesn't seem to translate  well live. Well, I guess that's the case with most atmospheric compositions - they're not even meant to get the people jumping up and down in a state of uncontrollable euphoria. Still, it's a captivating clip so you should definitely watch it. Also, take a look at how ruthlessly the mic stand has its fifteen minutes of fame stolen by an overenthusiastic roadie at 3:06. Poor little thing.