ALBUM OF THE WEEK: “Girlk” by Papperbok

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On their debut album “Girlk” Papperbok deliver us 33 minutes of the best psych pop music of 2016 and in the process announce their arrival as a real contender to take down the whole Tame Impala empire. Ever since the mid-2000’s Brisbane has been promising to produce a pop band capable of taking over the world and since about 2010 we’ve watched them all fade away, break up or attempt to pathetically move onto the next trend. I’m confident in saying that finally Brisbane has the band capable and it is Papperbok and on their debut album “Girlk” they don’t waste anytime proving why they will ascend to become the new pop music elite. 

 

What makes “Girlk” such a special experience is the way it is sequenced. For every pop hook there is a moody interlude swaying in and out allowing the album to move along like one big track. As isolated tracks, each song is brilliant but for the ultimate listening experience you need to sit and listen to the record front to back. The production is perfect and despite the extreme layering present on each track there is still a lot of dynamics allowing each track the space to breathe and grow without a total saturation of the frequencies. All of the players on this album are masters of their craft and know the perfect time to be silent but also attack. This makes the proggier moments more interesting and the pop songs a more direct punch. It’s nice to hear a band lean on their influences but not get too nostalgic about it. You can certainly hear that Papperbok are disciples of The Flaming Lips, Blur, Radiohead, The Beatles and Pink Floyd (and Tame Impala I’m willing to bet as well) but they don’t steal or replicate, they re-invent these established dynamics to help create their own unique sonic dialogue.

The real star of this album however is Annabelle Bingley whose vocals create such a spooky yet beautiful atmosphere. It doesn’t matter whether she is on lead vocals or providing backing vocals, she is a truly creative force and provides fresh, interesting and dynamic melodic passages that lift these songs to some out of this world places. Her voice is pure escapism and carries with it equal amounts of beauty, despair, angst, heartache, humour and celebration. Any dull rock n roll or pop song cliché displayed by the band is instantly washed away the moment her voice elegantly arrives on any of the tracks. 

 That is not to say that this album is cliched, far from it. In context of the modern music landscape it is a true treasure to behold. As a movement of music “Girlk” is a sublime treat of psych pop goodness that is in debt to all of the great British mood bands of the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s and 90’s and although the band has opted for a concept record it’s hard for me not to dig deep into these lyrics and see them as metaphors for the authors own personal pain. Using a bit of fiction to help amplify the deep sigh of modern living works well for Papperbok and it allows for the emotion of each song to be more direct and in the process opening up your own imagination. It’s all very cinematic and as one piece of music it moves like “The Final Cut” era Pink Floyd only with more shoegaze aesthetics and post-rock drama which helps to edge it to sounding like a lost timeless classic. 

 This album may have taken Papperbok a number of years to record and release but I’m confident it won’t take long for the band to receive extreme critical acclaim for the end result. I’m confident in saying that “Girlk” is a definite contender for our end of year top eleven list and I look forward to seeing the rest of the world fall in love with the brilliant, intense and smart song writing skills that Papperbok have shown on this record. 

 An outstanding debut album that is total fucking godhead

 By: Dan Newton

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ALBUM OF THE WEEK: “Full Closure and No Details” by Gabriella Cohen

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The debut album from Gabriella Cohen is called “Full Closure and No Details” and it is a fantastic journey of avant-garde framed pop music full of poetic lyrics and intense emotional stories dripping in heartache and the overall sting of being disconnected from the modern whir of circa 2016 culture. White Middle Class Male Cockheads will say such bullshitery as “She is an old soul” and all sorts of other dick stained opinions but the truth is Cohen makes music for the true aliens and she is not interested in the past or the present, she is all about the moment which will always mean she is 100 per cent authentic and an artist in the truest sense of the word.

 

 

Most humans will only focus on the instant and familiar aesthetics that jump out at them when they hear Cohen sigh and ache throughout this album but if you dig deeper you hear that she is someone who is more in debt to radical artists like Bertolt Brecht, Marcel Duchamp, Hugo Ball, John Cage, Merce Cunningham, Laurie Anderson, Salvador Dali, Allen Ginsburg, William S. Burroughs, Jack Kerouac and of course the Poetry and Novels era of Leonard Cohen. These revolutionaries provide the heart and soul for what makes Gabriella’s music so special and this is why it avoids the cliches and instead favours pure emotional expression.

This is art for arts sake with all the dust and damage turned up to high in order for Cohen’s imaginary world to explode out of the headphones and to stain the listeners psyche birthing an extreme stimulation of the senses. It almost makes you numb with satisfaction after repeated listens giving your heart and soul some spiritual oxygen to help you suffer through this life with a bit more comfort. It helps remind you that sometimes being the alien is the easiest path to divinity.

Cohen’s music is designed for those of us who swallow the cliche’s and shit out quiet revolutions whilst the white male elite attempt to harvest our gold but never truly understand what true heartache and alienation feels like. Each song in the track-list is the sound of modern anti-music / anti-art designed to destroy the world that continues to make false idols out of white middle class privileged males. I can’t stand to see an album this forward thinking destroyed and buried under the kind of regime that supports that kind of big budget mediocrity.

This is an album that needs to be experienced up loud on the stereo of your speeding car as you are escaping the city late at night when you are exhausted by the weight of existence. Music this powerful can only be consumed alone. Such consumption is sure to breed some unique fans for Cohen because she sings so confidently about the pain of disconnection and yearning. The swoon and shiver of the vocal arrangements all across this record is fucking hypnotising. I found myself delving deeper and deeper into those lyrics, trying to find some kind of meaning to Cohen’s mysterious wordplay. It’s hard to focus in on the words because her melodies and backing vocals are  beautifully constructed. The various vocal effects and arrangements help build a wall of protection around Cohen’s emotions making sure that as close as you try to get you will only merely glimpse the true meaning of what she is trying to communicate with her art. This is what makes the listening experience of this album so exciting, it keeps you on the edge and always eager to press play again after it is all over.

I don’t want to make this a political issue but fuck it, I’m going to – if the white corporate male music elite spent more time putting artists like Gabriella Cohen on the cover of their magazines instead of boring middle class white rock boy nostalgia fiends who offer nothing more to the creative landscape than “hell fuck yeah” then maybe just maybe we’d see peace restored to the galaxy. Unfortunately we don’t live in that world and corporate music magazines still fucking suck but that doesn’t really matter because Cohen is building her own secret history and is going to triumph and trail-blaze without the assistance of the fuckhead rock n roll boys club back slapping and dick massaging.

I don’t want to live in that world, you know the one, the one where we once again have to be subjected to a bunch of stoner fucking idiots playing guitars and riding skateboards – I want to live in a world were Gabriella Cohen has the spotlight because she is willing to go deep and dark in order to scatter some new dynamics onto the table. She lives deep in her imagination and her music is an invitation for us mere mortals to come in and indulge and escape and just for one moment realise that the best pop music is made by human beings who are weird aliens bent out of shape by the suffocating rules of societies and scenes.

Perhaps even Gabriella Cohen doesn’t even realise how vital she is but either way her new record is poised to be the launch pad for a career artist who is no doubt scheduling in more masterpieces for us to devour in the not too distant future.

Gabriella Cohen reminds me that girls invented punk rock and that Yoko Ono will always be my favourite Beatle – in the spirit of Patti Smith, Cohen is about to go beyond gender positioning her as one of the first real new millennial avant garde poets.

By: Dan Newton

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(photo by: danni ogilvie)

 

Useful Links:

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/gabriellacohenmusic/
Buy The Vinyl Here – https://dirtypowerstudios.squarespace.com/shop/

 

ALBUM OF THE WEEK (1st April 2014): “The Future’s Void” by EMA

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I’ve been waiting for the third album from EMA for quite a while now, ever since I had my life changed by her amazing second record “Past Life Martyred Saints” which was one of the first real classics of the new decade. Like her previous work, EMA’s new album “The Future’s Void” continues her commitment to avoid genre and to simply communicate a vast range of influences with her music. Depending on which glimpse of “The Future’s Void” you’ve heard first, it can be hard to describe exactly what kind of music EMA makes beyond labelling it some of the best pop music of the modern era.

Like so many forward thinking artists that came before her EMA demonstrates on “The Future’s Void” that she is poised to make her big leap onto the world stage. My first listen propelled me to picture a 2014 where EMA will dominate the world of pop music. The music of “The Future’s Void” is more focussed but still loose and flawed and it tangles itself in enough polish to shed its lo-fi dust but it never becomes a victim of the big pop sheen payoff. There is a synergy of emotion and humour sprinkled inside each song with enough nostalgia to satisfy those who thirst for the old via the new. It is this humour that makes these rather emotional songs so poignant and it is what sets EMA apart from her peers. Add to this EMA’s ability to go deep and parade an intensity that is equally as poetic as it is full of nonsense. The little reflective moments on both her own personal life and the world around her give an accurate snapshot of the complexities of living in the warmth of old world yearnings in the digital age.

I’m reluctant to steer you to a particular song because the journey of “The Future’s Void” lays within its diversity stylistically but the swoony pulse of “3Jane” is a fine example of when EMA does the melancholy singer / songwriter storyteller with a degree of modern fragility that it’s hard not to be sucked into the sway of it. You can then listen to a song like “So Blonde” and hear the humour and playfulness mixed with the serious and the sublime to paint a unique picture of what EMA communicates as an artist. The lazy lo-fi vocal strum of “So Blonde” has an almost rehearsed sleaze that plays into the stereotype of the subject matter and this is what makes this song such a middle finger to all that is glorified in the modern pop world whilst also embracing it.

I think EMA is fucking brilliant, she is pure class and has a million levels of talent and outshines everyone and everything happening at the moment. I’m confident that this will be a very important record for not only me but a lot of other people in 2014 and although I’m reluctant to let what I’ve felt was my own “best kept secret” out to the wider listening public, I’m also excited that EMA will finally start to get the praise she deserves.

The new album from EMA is called “The Future’s Void” and it is a truly flawless musical odyssey.

By: Dan Newton

Useful Links:

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/cameouttanowhere
Official Website – http://emathefuturesvoid.net/