Hear This Song Today: Young Folks covered by Wolf Saga ft. Lemon Cover

No doubt you’re familiar with the original Young Folks by Peter, Bjorn and John. Racking up 40 million views on Youtube and widespread reception, it’s been enough years since its release to justify a cover that doesn’t strain itself too much in attempting to create something different enough to be necessary.

Wolf Saga and Lemon Cover add some synths and do away with the whistling here, and, like the original, is thoroughly enjoyable.

If you don’t think this write-up is long enough, then please accept this little song as a sincere apology.

EDIT: Here’s a Soundcloud link, which includes a little button titled ‘Download.’ Yeah, legally.

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First Listen: Cavalier by James Vincent McMorrow

A few years back James Vincent McMorrow released an album that received a fair bit of justified love. It was quite unabashedly a folk album, recorded in a few months of solitude  in a cabin in Ireland. Yes, I know that in this post-Bon Iver epoch, such narratives are now sneered at, but he seems like an earnest guy. One thing that just about anyone could say of McMorrow is that his voice is sublime. Another things is that his surname sounds like a McDonalds campaign suggesting you should make dinner plans a day early: ‘have a day off, have a McMorrow.’

I didn’t actually buy his first album, but a mate claimed the songs weren’t great. I have listened to it though, and it seemed like something I’d be very interested in listening to somewhat regularly for a short-to-moderate period of time. But forget the old album, Twitter ensures we have to live in the moment! And at the moment, let’s think about his new song, Cavalier! I’m getting more Hayden Calnin vibes than anything traditionally considered to be ‘folk.’ Although maybe sparse vocals with really subtle electronic instrumentation is the direction of folk music. The Starry Field used it to fantastic effect in the song The Fisherman on his album from earlier this year. Here’s Cavalier:

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It made me want to listen again to Ben Howard’s song Depth Over Distance. You may know him, but you may not know the song, which rips on anything else he’s ever done.

EDIT: I love the bridge here. It’s unexpected, slightly chaotic, and reminds me of the later stages of Lonely by The Middle East, which is only a good thing.

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First Listen: New Arcade Fire tracks

Things have been infrequent here because I popped over to England for a few months, and am only just settled with blankets and sheets and everything, because you can’t write words without blankets and sheets and everything. But at least I didn’t wait three years, right? Three years is how long it’s been since Arcade Fire gave us The Suburbs, a magnificent exploration of childhood and suburbia, and now they’re back with something else.

By now you’ve probably heard Reflektor, the first track released from their upcoming album of the same name, which comes out on October 29.

Incidentally, when you start searching ‘Reflektor’ on Youtube, the first suggestion is ‘Reflection Mulan.’ Not a bad song, but really? It’s been fifteen years, and you’re still in love with that film?

But back to Arcade Fire. Reflektor (the album) promises to pick up where Neon Bible left us and examine the whole idea of the afterlife, as well as how that shapes daily life. I guess it’s becoming pretty clear that Win Butler is pretty preoccupied by the whole idea of religion, given that Neon Bible looked at that in some detail that seemed fairly personal at times. It’ll be interesting to see how enjoyable the album is, given that most people I’ve spoken to don’t quite enjoy Neon Bible in the way they enjoy Funeral and The Suburbs. I appreciate the album, but it just isn’t quite as relatable as the other two. Whether that’s because I’m listening to it as a Christian, I don’t know, but hopefully with Reflektor, Butler & Co. manage to create both something accessible and something that you want to be able to access. Here’s a few tracks from Reflektor (the album) performed in a weird quasi-film context. It’s worth watching if you either love or hate or are indifferent to Michael Cera.

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Review: Dream Cave by Cloud Control

Cloud Control’s 2010 debut, Bliss Release, had the perfect mix of simple ingredients for sunny days, with its euphonious vocal layering, buoyant percussion, and jolting basslines all contributing to a trajectory that always looked likely to transcend Australian borders. Somewhere along the line, the band (quite rightly) decided the rest of the world needed to hear their craft, packed up, and relocated to England, supported by the substantial cash that comes with winning the Australian Music Prize.

As the Gothic shrieks commence the short opening track, Scream Rave, it’s apparent that the bright ebullience that shaped much of the first album might not be as present the second time around. While one might dub this newfound suitability for overcast days the ‘England Effect,’ a quick examination of the lyrics makes it apparent that frontman Alister Wright has grown up and discovered that fighting whatever’s in the water can be arduous, singing respectively in Scar andIsland Living that ‘It’s just so hard’ and ‘I’m tired of living.’ You almost want to buy him a gold canary just to brighten up his day.

But Dream Cave isn’t a total departure from the psychedelic pop sound of Bliss Release.Moonrabbit has an air of familiarity, imbued with a carefree nature while sounding like Donnie Darko discovering music to be a more productive outlet for his angst: ‘I’m not crazy… you’re the one that’s crazy.’ It is, alongside lead single Dojo Rising, the standout track on the album, perfectly capturing the ‘dark’ but ‘vivid hues’ mentioned by keyboardist Heidi Lenffer on The Smoke, The Feeling.

Lenffer takes the microphone on that mid-album track, working as a foil for Wright, whose voice, though much improved since the first album, occasionally still suggests his pipes were never destined for singing. He does try some new things though, channeling the ragged but passionate nonchalance of Edward Sharpe in the jaunty Promises, and doing his best Thom Yorke impression on Tombstone. But in the latter track, just like anyone who attempts to replicate the Lotus Flower dance, Wright doesn’t wholly succeed, and it’s not a unique occasion on Dream Cave.

In a recent show in Sydney, one of the band members mentioned that the new record had far more guitar solos than Bliss Release, but that this wasn’t due to any intentional resolution to include more Jimmy Page moments — it was just the way the songs turned out. It was a comment that spoke volumes about how the new album was composed — focusing on individual production rather than total direction — and it attests to how Dream Cave as a whole doesn’t quite hold together as well as Bliss Release did.

It’s easy to appreciate the doo-wop spirit of the title track; the raw, driving piano in Scar’s third verse; and the ironically rollicking flavour of Happy Birthday’s line ‘I hate my birthday, it’s true.’ But to listen to these contrasting ingredients in close succession gives the album a somewhat fragmented feel. There are some excellent tracks here, but they’re sandwiched between more awkward moments, like the verses of Ice Age Heatwave. This stark inconsistency may be the sign of a band venturing into new territory slightly prematurely, and one has to wonder if they were really ready for English weather.

*This review first appeared at http://literatico.com/ – Head there for a wide range of excellent things.

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First Listen: It Was My Season by Okkervil River

It’s the right time of year for some new Okkervil River, titled It Was My Season. If you’ve ever heard their past efforts like Black and Mermaid, then you’ll know that frontman Will Sheff can manipulate words like any of the current superheroes in every film these days seem to be able to manipulate the elements. He’s incessantly earnest, and this new track about young lovers is classic Sheff. But hey, if earnestness isn’t your thing then here’s a swell new mashup of Kanye and Tame Impala. Okkervil River’s new album, The Silver Gymnasium, is out September 3.

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First Listen: Byegone by Volcano Choir

It may not be Bon Iver, but it includes Justin Vernon using the half of his voice that doesn’t high-five angels all day long. Yes, this is Volcano Choir, the teaming of Vernon with a ‘post-rock’ band that isn’t Sigur Ros.

Seriously, whoever came up with this idea of adding ‘post’ before a word didn’t think too far ahead, now that some are saying we’re in the age of post-post-modernism. Just because we’re past it doesn’t mean we need to do this! We’ve stopped using Australia Post, but do we refer to email as post-Australia Post? I can just imagine you saying ‘hey that’s actually a good idea’ and having no other reaction at all especially not something like ‘I’m sick of this crap.’ But no, it’s not a good idea.

There are some weird lyrics in here. Something about ‘sexing all your parliaments” and what could be a reference to the enthusiastic-but-unimpressive Sydney busking band Set Sail. It’s still a great song though, and the album drops in early September.

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First Listen: Fossil Dreams by March of the Real Fly

Sydney popfolkpunk folks, March of the Real Fly, are back in town with a swell new video. The song is Fossil Dreams, from their most recent EP, available here. The video features some green grass, a green screen, and a green dress. I like to think of it as a pistachio: you open it, and there’s some great greenness going on, but it doesn’t last long, so you repeat the process. Also, if you’re interested, here and here are some other things the band members have been working on.

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