12 July 2011

The Japanese Popstars: “Controlling Your Allegiance”

Electronica is one of those genres that you either like or don’t; my own relationship with it has developed over the last few years from passive listener to ecstatic fan. Having released their sophomore album, “Controlling Your Allegiance” (9 March 2011 in the UK, 21 June 2011 in the USA), The Japanese Popstars are serving up house oriented electronic music that is accessible enough for anyone to have an introduction to the genre, yet substantial for those of us who are really into electronica. Hailing from Northern Ireland, The Japanese Popstars are the trio of Gary Curran, Gareth Donoghue, and Decky Hedrock, and what they have produced is so addictive that even my parents are dancing to it, and they’re old!

The lead single, “Destroy” (featuring Jon Spencer) is a song that I was on the fence with when I first heard it. The combination of Jon Spencer’s monotone voice, the aggressive electronic bass, and the syncopated beat was a bit abrasive, but somehow, it works. There was nothing to overpower the parts of where Spencer was singing, just these little “dink dink dink” sounds that came after three seconds of his last word. You see, it was not the harsh combination that makes the song, but little details like these sounds. They took the time to make sure that the music was enjoyable, while allowing the lyrics still stood out from everything else.

I don’t know how much simpler a song can be than “Let’s Go” (featuring Green Velvet). A constant drumbeat, that one can easily follow using their two pointer fingers pretending that they are drumsticks, a two-chord progression from the guitar and simple enough lyrics make for a song that is easy to get into. Is it any wonder that this was the second single?

And if any DJ is reading this, “Songs for Lisa” (featuring Lisa Hannigan) is a song you should consider incorporating into your set. With Hannigan's beautiful voice behind the microphone, this song will definitely be hypnotic to the masses on the dance floor. Multilayered, constantly playing with the different volumes within the different arrangements, this track will take people dancing on the floor or mucking about in a lounge into new euphoria.

In honor of BBC’s Top Gear … Some say that he cuts his hair and wears no make-up when not on tour, and some say that the reason why he wears black almost all the time is because it is the closest thing he will wear to tie dye, all we know…He’s Robert Smith. Smith makes an appearance on the album. He has done quite a few appearances in the recent past (I know, a specific blogger keeps making me listen to it all!). But this collaboration is a treat! This Robert Smith is out of his element … completely! Even though the guitar playing boasts Smith's traditional pop sensibility, this is the closest you get to The Cure sound from the King of Mope. Singing to this electronic dance song takes Smith in a different, new (vibrant, dare I say) vocal style. And though you expected him to collaborate with the likes of Crystal Castles (fellow Fiction label band), 65daysofstatic (who toured with The Cure extensively), and even with legendary DJs Blank and Jones, to hear Smith work along side this pretty much nascent band is quite amazing.

Accessible, danceable, and Robert Smith – what other reason do you need to check out The Japanese Popstars’ “Controlling You Allegience”? Just in case this isn’t enough, Tom Smith of Editors closes out the album! Now you have to listen.

Track Listing:
1. Let Go, featuring Green Velvet
2. Catapult
3. Songs For Lisa, featuring Lisa Hannigan
4. Tomorrow Man
5. Take Forever, featuring Robert Smith
6. Fight the Night, featuring Morgan Kibby
7. Our Building Block
8. Destroy, featuring Jon Spencer
9. Shells of Sliver, featuring James Vincent McMorrow
10. Without Sounds, featuring Dot JR
11. Falcon Punch
12. Joshua, featuring Tom Smith

Keep up with The Japanese Popstars at their homepage, MySpace, Facebook, and Twitter.

Here are the four videos. The first is “Destroy” from the emimusic YouTube Channel. Then “Let Go,” “Song for Lisa,” and “Joshua” from TheJapanesePopstVEVO YouTube Channel.

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She Wants Revenge: "Valleyheart"

So I took a trip out to Reading, Pennsylvania, and garnered the attention of a few people as I pulled up to park my car while blasting music. A conversation ensued with a small group (mainly in their early twenties) that revolved around music (they even gave me a list of bands I “had” to check out). Now these were music lovers, who were really informed about what they were talking about and took the time read reviews and commentaries. Throughout our conversation there was one recurring motif; every time a band they did not like came up, the accusation was, “Yeah, well they are derivative of such-and-such from the past.” And I realized two things on the spot, which I told them and pointed out in detail. First, whenever a critic does not like a band the easiest thing to do is call it “rehash” (I am guilty of this!). Second, whenever a critic does like a band, they do everything they can to prevent people from knowing that it is revivalist. The reality is that all “modern” music depends on what has come before it, and there are only so many combinations of notes, chords, and rhythm patterns in existence. But when you are not familiar with the bulk of the work of artists like Vincent Clarke (La Roux), Madonna (Lady Gaga), or Queen (Muse), it becomes very difficult to see how derivate newer artists are. So the question should never be was the band influenced by the past, even if it is to the point where they wear their influences on your sleeve? Instead the question should be, “Do they have something new to add?” That is where She Wants Revenge’s third album, “Valleyheart” (24 May 2011), comes in.

I grew up on a steady (over)dose of post-punk, not to mention dark wave – and what She Wants Revenge has really done with their latest album, “Valleyheart,” is bring these traditions of music to a new generation of listeners by putting a nice spin into their music. Something they have not forgotten about post-punk is that it brought in the “dreaded” disco to counterbalance the harshness of punk, and they remember that dark wave (and it’s French counterpart cold wave) incorporated the pop sensibility of new wave. What She Wants Revenge has to offer is essentially pop music that is both infectious and disarming. Hook after hook, rift after rift, you are drawn into the band, while you realize at the same time that this is not your run-of-the-mill song, especially when you hear, “You say, 'It’s not so easy.' She says, 'It’s not too bad.' You give a little love and it comes back like the best you’ve had. She whispers, 'Are you lonely, 'cause I’m lonely too.' But I know you’ll never be right for me, I know you’ll never be right for me, still wanna kiss you.” (“Kiss Me”) Poppy feel good music matched with darker introspection than one might expect.

What are missing are the dated electro-sounds and the stereotypical “tinny” guitar sounds. Embracing a contemporary feel and sound, She Wants Revenge keeps true to the heart (the ideology) of the genres they love, while producing music that is unarguablely not 80s, but, well, 10s. Take “Little Stars,” which has all the underpinnings of classic 80s new wave pop (the very slow build that goes from minimalist to full fledge soundscape in one second when the beat drops), despite the use of ambient keys, She Wants Revenge did not create an oppressive undertow that traditional post-punk bands would have done. Instead, musically, it has much of the same effect as late 80s, early 90s industrial – sort of that mysterious feel you want to dance to. At the same time, the lyrics, again, leave you a lot to ponder: “But kicking is hard when you need a fix, and then you’ll try and replace me. Dress him up and you can lay pretend, ‘cause it will point out the things you really miss.”

The big kicker is “Not Just a Girl.” A grandiose pop song, with big keys, has all the makings of a love song you think will have you “alone above a ranging sea that stole the only girl I loved” (“Just Like Heaven” by The Cure). Instead, the song, for all its grandiose dreariness, sung à la David Bowie, is one of unfettered hope, odd in this genre of music: “You’re not just a girl, you’re more like the air and sea. I want you so desperately and nothing’s gonna keep us apart.” The lead single, “Must Be the One,” sees She Wants Revenge doing something a bit different: a more straightforward, less ambient track. This is the kind of bare-bones song that could easily fall apart as “filler” on any album; instead here it just adds a new dimension to the band’s musical portfolio.

Usually, when listening to anything that approaches revival, I want to run back and listen to the original. This was not the case with She Wants Revenge’s “Valleyheart.” And as I listened to it again yesterday, I thought about my conversation out in Reading. Is She Wants Revenge derivative of the past? No more than any other band. Does the band have something new to add to the mix? Absolutely. I can accept someone saying that they do not like post-punk or dark wave (though I may look at them funny), but I cannot accept anyone dismissing any band because they have chosen to pay homage to the past, because all bands do. But as I stated, this is more than just homage, this is adding something new, something distinct, to a large canon of music. If you are a fan of post-punk and/or dark wave, or slightly curious, check this band out.

Track Listing:
1. Take The World
2. Kiss Me
3. Up In Flames
4. Must Be The One
5. Not Just A Girl
6. Reasons
7. Little Stars
8. Suck It Up
9. Holiday Song
10. Maybe She’s Right

Keep up with She Wants Revenge at their homepage, MySpace, Facebook, and Twitter.

Here is their video for “Must Be The One” from the SheWantsRevengeVEVO YouTube Channel.

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09 July 2011


Enjoy the videos!

Robyn’s “Call Your Girlfriend” from the RobynVEVO YouTube Channel.

Anna Calvi’s “Desire” from the DominoRecords YouTube Channel.

Ronika’s “Forget Yourself” from the ronikamusic YouTube Channel.

Art vs. Science’s “Higher” from the ARTVSSCIENCE YouTube Channel.

White Lies’ “Holy Ghost” from the WhiteLiesVEVO YouTube Channel.

Young Knives’ “Human Again” from the YoungKnives YouTube Channel.

Fucked Up’s “Queen of Heart” from the matadorrecs YouTube Channel

Erland & The Carnival’s “Springtime” from the FullTimeHobbyRecords YouTube Channel.

Acid House Kings’ “Under Water” from the labradorrecords YouTube Channel.

SBTRKT’s “Wildfire” from the youngturksrecords YouTube Channel.

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Second: “Demasiado Soñadores”

Though Second has been blipping on the outskirts of my radar, it was not until a few weeks ago that this veteran band consumed my complete attention. I knew them as a Spanish band (from Murcia, España) that sung in English. However, by the time they recorded their third album, Spanish songs started to seep into their repertoire. Their fourth album and now their fifth, “Demasiado Soñadores” [“Too Many Dreamers” – all translations my own] (15 March 2011 as digital download in the USA, 5 April 2011 as a hard copy import), were recorded in Spanish (I cannot confirm if they will or will not produce new music in English in the future). With a vast number of musical references that span decades (David Bowie, Blur, The Cure, Joy Division, The Kinks, and (The London) Suede), Second is essentially a brilliant rock band that only happens to sing in Spanish. Devoid of any obvious influence from Spanish (or Latin) music on “Demasiado Soñadores,” what you get is a Spanish band that is as trendy, cutting edge, and relevant as any of their American or British brethren.

One of the things I love most about this album is the diversity in musical references. Unlike their American and British brethren, this is not a band content on reviving the 70s, 80s, or 90s. Instead they are able to swirl around all of their musical influences in and amongst themselves in each song. It may be odd to think that Britpop can meet post-punk, not to mention glamrock, but much like their Spanish singing contemporaries (Hello Seahorse! and TheMistake), their outside perspective of current musical trends is an advantage. Not being slumped in a “scene” allows them to write music in a specific style without giving into clichés or tropes that other bands have done to death.

The album opens with “N.A.D.A.” [“N.O.T.H.I.N.G.”] – a narrative of a seeing someone whom you have broken up with again after eleven months – bordering on synthrock, the song retains the sophisticated arrangements of Britpop while incorporating an electronic feel to it. Then the titular track “Demasiado Soñadores” chimes in with a very poppy post-punk meets disco revival feel, with some harsh criticisms: “Demasiado soñadores, persiguiendo perfecciones que aprendieron a moverse con estilo y con tacones. Demasiado soñadores, caminando por el borde, ya no cuenta lo de antes, solo importa lo que viene.” [“Too many dreamers, chasing perfection, that have learned to operate with style and in high heels. Too many dreamers, walking on the edge, no longer caring what came before, only what comes next.”] Immediately followed up by “Muérdeme” [“Bite Me” – in a literal sense, not the dismissive exclamation], which is a lot like the post-punk revival of The Killers or (mid-career) The Bravery.

The album is loaded with one gem after the other. I could easily give my two bits on each of these songs. From the anthemic “Mañana es Domingo” [“Tomorrow Is Sunday”] to the grandiose “En Pequeñas Cosas” [“In Small Things”], the band continuously generates music that is fresh and vibrant, but most importantly relevant to today’s musical trends. My favorite track on the album is “Autodestructivos” [“Self-Destructive”] – laced with a funky bass and one hook after the other, this song is the very definition of suave. “Siento comunicar que mañana ya no existe … Siento comunicar que no se compra que no se tiene. Ya ho hay sueños, ya no yah nada. Lentamente me convences, hagamos esta noche algo distinto, seremos autodestructivos” [“Sorry to say that tomorrow no longer exists … Sorry to say that you cannot buy what you lack. There are no more dreams, there is nothing. Slowly you convince me, let’s do something different tonight, let’s be self-destructive.”]

I think what makes the English-speaking work a bit different from others when it comes to music is the reluctance to entertain music in another language. The reality is that English sung music dominates the world's music scenes. So I am hoping that that will not be an obstacle in giving Second’s “Demasiado Soñadores” a much deserved chance. This album could easily end up as my personal favorite of the year ... solid craftsmanship, spot on production, infectious music, lyrically spanning tongue-in-cheek to bombast poetry, and just a great experience from beginning to end.

Track Listing:
1. N.A.D.A. [N.O.T.H.I.N.G.]
2, Demasiado Soñadores [Too Many Dreamers]
3. Muérdeme [Bite Me]
4. Mañana es Domingo [Tomorrow Is Sunday]
5. Aquella Fotografia [That Photograph]
6. Autodestructivos [Self-Destructive]
7. Psicopatico [Psychopath]
8. En Pequeñas Cosas [In Small Things]
9. De Buenos Aires [From Buenos Aries]
10. Prototipo [Prototype]
11. Tu Alrededor [You Around]

Keep up with Second at their homepage, MySpace, Facebook, and Twitter.

Here are the videos for “N.A.D.A.” and “Muérdeme” from the SECONDMUSIC YouTube Channel.

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"The Homecoming" (Microfilm Remix)

My thanks to Microfilm for keeping SDM Blog in the loop.

Posted below is a remix of Sarah Nixey’s upcoming single, “The Homecoming” (18 July 2011), by Microfilm. Microfilm’s remix to the song takes this acoustic number into the world of deep house, and of course they were more than happy than to share this track with us.

“The Homecoming” (Microfilm Remix) from their Soundcloud page: microfilmmusic.

The Homecoming (Microfilm remix) by Microfilm

Keep up with Microfilm at their homepage, Facebook, and Twitter. Check out their Bandcamp page where you preview and purchase their music.

Keep up with Sarah Nixey at her homepage, MySpace, and Facebook. Go to iTunes (American link) to preview her latest album, “Brave Tin Soliders” (9 May 2011), and purchase.
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07 July 2011

Kevin Pearce: "Pocket Handkerchief Lane"

My many thanks to Kevin Pearce for keeping SDM Blog in the loop.

A few months back, I reviewed Skywatchers’ “The Skywatchers Handbook” (link), and among many things that really got me about the album were Kevin Pearce’s chops as a vocalist. Does he sing with passion and conviction? Check. Is he emotive while singing? Check. Does his voice have a distinctive quality to it? Check. At the end of it all, those are the three things that make a great vocalist. The problem with vocalists that can check these three categories is composing music that complements and draws out all of the smaller, finite qualities of their singing. That is what makes “Pocket Handkerchief Lane” an amazing album. Being released later this autumn, Pearce’s debut solo album combines subtlety with sophistication, poetry with melody, strong vocals with savvy musical arrangements, and current indie hooks with English folk. Furthermore, when you cite Mogwai and Talk Talk as influences, you get my attention immediately.

“Pocket Handkerchief Lane” is one of those albums that is hard to write about simply because I do not want to stop listening to it; track to track, the album flows with unbridled ease, with the delicateness of lullabies while being loaded with visceral power. From the opening, “Get By,” when Pearce sings, “and I realize I have grown,” you immediately understand that what follows is contemplated lyrics and emotive music. This could not be more true about “Burning Summer Sun,” my favorite track of the album … my favorite track of the year so far. The arrangements are very simple, the lyrics universal (“And I don’t want to be alone”). This song will hit chords in anyone who has ever felt lonely. However, there is never a pleading for someone else, to get rid of the loneliness; rather, there is just a conscious admission of that loneliness, a somewhat subdued, reluctant acceptance.

The big surprise on the album is the near electropop “Vultures.” Sensual and mysterious, Pearce’s vocals do not skip a beat when sung over sheer electronic arrangements. Singing over electronic music is most definitely harder than “standard” instruments, because the entire warmth of the song is going to depend solely on the vocals. “Vultures” is just that – warm; Pearce is able to bring the same emotiveness to this track as all the other on the album. Giving into complete indie guitar pop, “Don’t Fall Down” hooks you immediately with some interesting acoustic strumming, what makes the song really distinct from its indie brethren is that it is one of those rare indie guitar pop songs that is not prepackaged, feigned anxiety. Ingeniously, Pearce is able to strut his pop sensibility while remaining contemplative and lyrically sincere.

I may be the first to be saying this: place Kevin Pearce’s “Pocket Handkerchief Lane” on your radar, as its release is still some time off. In a world where music (more and more) is becoming prepackaged, scene-based releases, it is always refreshing to see an independent artist able to produce music with substance and sincerity.

Track Listing:
1. Get By
2. Older Times
3. Don’t Fall Down
4. Turn Me to Ice
5. Waste
6. Take Us to the Waterfall
7. Burning Summer Sun
8. Don’t Tell My Heart
9. Vultures
10. Seeds of Summer Fruits
11. Last Blow Out

Keep up with Kevin Pearce at his MySpace and Facebook.

Here are the tracks “Don’t Fall Down” and “Vultures” from Kevin Pearce’s Soundcloud.

DONT FALL DOWN by kevinpearcemusic

VULTURES by kevinpearcemusic
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The New Division: "The Rookie"

This one has been long in coming … Playing with the name of two of their influences (Joy Division and New Order), The New Division, a Los Angeles quartet, released their debut EP earlier this year: “The Rookie” (11 January 2011 in the USA). Again, listening to this EP was the second time in recent months I was transported back to the late 80s, early 90s, when a slew of great bands were releasing debut EPs. With a name like “The Rookie,” a sort of novice, amateur-esque image may be conjured up, but these Angelenos are demonstrating some serious songwriting talent on their debut. While paying homage to the 80s (new wave, electropop, and post-punk), The New Division is not simply rehashing or stuck in the past, but treading in a new direction with it.

Though they play with Joy Division and New Order in the name of the band, their references in music are actually quite broader. Intentionally or not, they remind me of the 80s rooster of Mute Records (such as mid-80s Depeche Mode and Renegade Soundwave), a bit of the atmospherics of bands like Cocteau Twins, and even Germany’s Camouflage. For instance, just as Camouflage’s “The Great Commandment,” The New Division is able to conjure up a feeling of crypticness without sacrificing the electropop form or sound. Considering that electropop relies heavily on those “beeping” sounds, this is not an easy feat.

Kicking off with “Starfield,” this is the kind of new wave meets post-punk song best described as a sigh. Even though the bassline can be a bit aggressive, and the percussion a bit syncopated, the other arrangements keep a feel of tranquility throughout the song. Then there is “Devotion,” which gets darker and more ambient, giving into their post-punk references. The steady electo-bass line and ostinato drives the music like in early electro-industrial music. But out of the blue, “No Health” gets all poppy. Close to dance ready, this is not your run-of-the-mill cookie-cutter pop song; a bit darker, and much more unpredictable, there is something latin-esque about the arrangements. “Nocturnal” gets a bit rockier, into the territory of synthrock, while “Festival” keeps that sort of musical anxiety going, driven by its ostinato. What really gets under my skin (in a good way) about this track is how its basic underpinnings are very similar to (deep) house music. Ending with “Bucharest,” sonically this is the harshest beginning of any of the songs on the album, but this gives way when the beat drops to classically written electropop, with serious tinges of house music again. (And there is a hidden track that will leave you scratching your head considering what you had just been listening to!)

One listen to “The Rookie” and it becomes very obvious that The New Division has a lot to offer the electropop (and even the post-punk) world. I typically do not fawn over Los Angeles based bands, but if you are a fan of electronic music, manically in love with the 80s revival, or just simply curious for something new, this is definitely a band that you need to check out.

Track Listing:
1. Starfield
2. Devotion
3. No Health
4. Nocturnal
5. Festival
6. Bucharest

Keep up with The New Division at their homepage, MySpace, Facebook, and Twitter. Head over to their Bandcamp page where you can preview and download “The Rookie” EP.

Here is the track “Devotion” from their Bandcamp page.

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01 July 2011

Videos from the 90s

If given the choice between the 80s or the 90s, there is no thinking in that for me – give me the 80s. I will argue till the last breath that it was truly a decade of change, a decade that continues to influence people directly, and the one with the most diversity and (tacit) acceptance. But the 90s were not depleted of talent and incredible gems. So I collected a few of these to share with everyone.

But first I would like to say a few words on these bands and tracks.

Artists like Bjork, Blur, and Catherine Wheel are part of the soundtrack of my life, while with songs such as “Fade Into You,” “Laid,” and “Ready to Go” I have attached incredible memories to that keep me warm at night. For instance, I will never forget the night that DJ Chauncey and I saw the reunited Eurythmics perform “Seventeen Again” at Madison Square Garden. Or how the line “Hey dad, what do you think about your son now?” in Filter’s “Take a Picture” makes me think of my own deceased father. It leads me to think that quite often our favorite music has less to do with the talent of these bands or artists (though I think them all talented), than it does with the memories we ascribe to the songs.

I have one final thing to say … one word: Suede! (The London) Suede is just an amazing band. If there were only one band that you were going to investigate and learn more about on this list, I would say it should be Suede (I need to hide from all the Annie Lennox fans after stating that, but obviously I think that all of these bands merit being investigated). With the band reunited, there is hope that Brett Anderson will once again lead this band into a studio to record a long awaited (near ten years) album.

(PS - Republica is also officially reunited! And Eurythmics have a new site coming soon, is that a hint for the future?)

On that note, enjoy!

(The London) Suede’s “The Beautiful Ones” from the suedevideo YouTube Channel.

Catherine Wheel’s “Crank” from the CatherineWheelVEVO YouTube Channel.

Mazzy Star’s “Fade into You” from the MazzyStarVEVO YouTube Channel.

Blur’s “For Love” from the emimusic YouTube Channel.

Bjork’s “Hyperballad” from the bjorkdotcom YouTube Channel.

James’ “Laid” from the JamesVEVO YouTube Channel.

Duran Duran’s “Ordinary World” from the emimusic YouTube Channel.

Placebo’s “Pure Morning” from their MySpace video page.

Pure Morning

Placebo | Myspace Music Videos

Republica’s “Ready to Go” from the RepublicaVEVO YouTube Channel.

Eurythmics’ “Seventeen Again” from the EurythmicsVEVO YouTube Channel.

Filter’s “Take a Picture” from the OfficialFilterUTube Channel.

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Matthew Seares: "Methodism"

It is time for me (and my collaborators) to buckle down and really work on posting, and where better for us to start than with Matthew Searles’ “Methodism” (25 May 2011). Independent artist and lead singer of Kobayashi, “Methodism” is a solo release, which Searles boasts as “old-skool beat-led electronica.” With that phrase, I think most people would immediately start thinking new wave, osinatos, and “cheap” electronic beeps all over the place that we love to listen to … but if that is all that you want, you are going to be disappointed. I think the “old-skool” here has more to do with music written around rhythm (beats), as opposed to sound effects, and if the music happens to be electronic, it is just so incidentally. That is, though Searles is producing music that is electronic, his goal is not to produce a synthpop or electropop album, let alone something to rave along to, but rather he uses an electronic medium to pen and produce music that is not confined to genre, medium, or a scene. And if that is not enough to entice you to listen, he covers The Kink’s “Lola” – priceless!

So let’s start with “Lola,” the fourth track on the album. Okay, I agree the song has been covered to death – every bar with a cover band will play this one by the end of the night to a not so sober crowd. The thing about this song is that whenever covered, you never escape the original, artists never own this song. Andy Taylor [of Duran Duran fame] could not escape the haunting presence of the original, nor could The Raincoats, and I shook my head “no no no no” when Madness did it. Actually, the only cover of this song that I really ever got into was by Mollies Revenge, which gave it a nice lesbian twist. Why have covers failed? Most people just never understood the song. This was never meant to be a happy, let’s go party song; quite the opposite, it is supposed to be riddled with anxiety and confusion, and Matthew Searles captures that in his voice and music – excellent cover, and this really demonstrates that Searles is not just creating passively, but really thinking.

Over and over, Searles is able to capture mood with voice and music. The following track, “Bounce,” veers into a slightly darker territory; “Stayed up late just to write this song, and by the sixth glass in, well it all went wrong,” Searles sings to beautifully, anxiously layered arrangements. Musically, he captures a sort of ambivalent indifference, while vocally a matter of fact disregard. “31 Flavours,” starting with a bit of gossip from a girl (a motif throughout the song), the song has opening lyrics that are reminiscent of The Cure’s “Shake Dog Shake” (“Wake up in the dark, the after-taste of anger in the back of my mouth…”); Searles sings along to a classic hip-hop underpinning, “Woke up with blood in my mouth, the bitterness pushed the flavour out.” Hefty words to start a song with, but Searles follows through with stream of consciousness, lyrical bombast from beginning to end, while composing a playful song accented by a warm piano. My favorite track on the album, the penultimate, is “Little Steps.” A playful dark wave number, with a vocal style right out of industrial music, this dichotomy mirrors the duality of many of the lyrical passages, like, “I want to disappear; just a little bit” or even “You want to fight, too tired to stand.”

I know nothing about Matthew Searles other than what I can deduce from his music. For instance, one thing that becomes very obvious is that Searles is a music lover … a fan of music, who cannot simply confine himself to one set of musical references. “Methodism” is a plethora of styles and themes that seemingly get woven together through slight sonic motifs from one song to another. But as the collection of songs continues, each song slowly changes form, leaving you with something very distinct at the end from the beginning. It is a sonic journey that flows with ease. And, Searles, if you are reading, I have questions to ask!

Keep up with Matthew Searles at his hoomepage. Head over to his Bandcamp site where you can preview and download “Methodism.”

Here is an audio clip of “Little Steps” from his Bandcamp site.

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