LIST: Top Songs of 2012

2012 TOP SONGS

These are the songs that didn’t just drift by in the chaos and digital clutter. They caught my ear, took up residence in my brain and refused to let go without stirring some form of emotional response – physical or emotional. Which songs in 2012 made you stop and think to yourself ‘damn that is a good song’?

In no particular order:


















NEWS: The line-up for Meredith Music Festival 2012

The first list of acts performing at this year’s Meredith Music Festival in Victoria has been announced and as usual it looks to be a great mix of electronic, psychedelia, rock and hip hop. Check out our Rdio playlist featuring bands appearing at the event that takes place from December 7-9th.

There is a ballot happening so if you want to increase your chance of being allocated a ticket you need to head to www.mmf.com.au before 10pm Tuesday 21 August. Round One has been drawn and results hit inboxes Wednesday 15 August. Round Two results out Thursday 23 August.

 

ALBUM REVIEW: Spiritualized | Sweet Heart, Sweet Light

by C. Familton

Jason Pierce certainly has a strong vision for his music, whether it be the electric psych drones of Spaceman 3 or the more baroque, narcotic sprawl of Spiritualized. He has a template and he adheres to it with such devotion that every release is always an ‘album experience’ with a sonic flow and thematic cohesion. His latest, Sweet Heart, Sweet Light follows the same working habits and finds him trading in the same sounds and style but this time with a touch more optimism pulsing through its eleven tracks.

Hey Jane, the first single from the album is evident of Pierce’s love for The Velvet Underground in its title and the reference to ‘‘Sweet Jane’ on the radio’ in the lyrics. He imbues the song with a wicked rhythmic chug while telling the tale of a lost love spiraling out of control in a presumed drug haze. The key moment during its nine minutes is the mid track pause before a krautrock groove eases the song back into the frame and carries it to its conclusion. Pierce’s masterstroke is that he is still using his trademark repetition but splits it into two chapters making it even more epic.

The story of Jane is reprised in two other songs, Mary and Little Girl; different people but all with the same tragic femme fatale characteristics and Pierce laying down his sermon to try and save their souls. The theme of redemption and resurrection is a strong one across the album, especially in the context of saving yourself from your own sins. Pierce, as always, heavily populates his lyrics with references to Jesus, God, the ‘light’, shooting up and finding and losing love. Most of the time it works as he marries the grand lyrical gestures with swelling strings, ponderous drums and some wonderful piano playing.

When the album threatens to become all a bit morose Pierce gives us the musically tempestuous Headin’ For The Top Now with its restless, spiteful guitar lashing out with static and distortion. The master of the slow build, Pierce works it over seven minutes before a female voice twists nursery rhymes into yet more tales of wayward street girls Sadie and Mary. The song’s dissonance injects some much needed chaos into the album and acts as an effective palate cleanser for the slow country gospel swing of Freedom.

While Spiritualized match some of their greatest peaks on this album they also throw a few disappointments into the mix. Mary feels like a song that hasn’t found its feet, half-formed and riding on the coat tails of Pierce’s reputation. Life Is A Problem also feels like a retread with its conversation with Jesus. We’ve been here so many times before that it sounds overly familiar and as a result lacks any depth or emotional gravitas. Some balance is found in the closing So Long You Pretty Thing with Romeo Stodart’s (The Magic Numbers) banjo and an optimistic chorus that could have come from Oasis. It leaves the album on an uplifting high, highlighting the notions of faith, hope and determination.

Sweet Heart, Sweet Light is another self fulfilling musical cliche from Pierce but for the most part he adds enough character and depth to the songs to make it feel like another impressive statement. If he had been more ruthless in editing the album it would sit amongst his best but as it stands it is still a strong addition to the Pierce’s grand musical vision.

this review was first published on FasterLouder

LISTEN: to Hey Jane from Spiritualized [NEW]


J Spaceman drops the first track from the new album Sweet Heart Sweet Light that is due out on April 17th. Hey Jane is a sprawling, urgent dispatch of Velvet chug and mantra delivery complete with chaotic mid-song collapse and sunrise re-birth that sounds like prime Spiritualized but with a renewed sense of energy post Jason’s medical issues in recent years. And yep that is apparently the album art above (??).

LIVE REVIEW: Spiritualized @ Sydney Opera House (28/05/11)

written by Chris Familton

If ever a band is going to successfully transition from playing clubs and theatres to the iconic surrounds of the Sydney Opera House, Spiritualized would be high on the list. The music of Jason Pierce (J. Spaceman) is perfectly suited for a a seated audience who can sit back and soak up the epic wash and dark psych bruises that populate his songs. Though Spiritualized is head music it is also physical in the way it works its way under your skin through repetition and drone and has you swaying and nodding in sonic agreement.

Spiritualized were playing their iconic 1997 album Ladies And Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space in full. Though full album concerts are commonplace these days, this particular record is ripe for live performance with its theme of a shattered relationship and the emotional turbulence of its aftermath. The overarching mood is one of someone struggling to come to terms with what has happened and live that perception was enhanced even more vividly.

With an impressive live setup that included close to 30 players we were treated to a gospel choir, horn and string sections and of course Spiritualized the band. The members looked rather low key, emotionally neutral and workmanlike in appearance but they were all well schooled in the music and their playing was well balanced between studious precision and free jazz wanderings.

Pierce presented as a thin, lanky figure dressed in white with sunglasses protecting himself from the lights and perhaps any direct contact with the audience. Seated side of stage he came across as part author, part conductor and both incidental and integral player. There was no communication with the audience save for a cursory thank you and returned applause at the conclusion of the show but it mattered little as the personal connection came via the songs and the exceptional playing and the venue’s quality of sound.

Ladies And Gentleman… consists of two types of songs; the slow and mournful pleading moments like Stay With Me, All Of My Thoughts and Broken Heart where it felt like the spotlight was more on Pierce and his aching paeans to lost love. Broken Heart in particular was dramatic with its swelling strings and laid bare lyrics like “I’m crying all the time” and “I’m wasted all the time, I’ve gotta drink you off my mind”. The near perfect sound mix in the theatre allowed for Pierce’s lyrics and voice to ring clear and loud while every other instrument (apart from the bass on a few occasions) sat in just the right place in the mix.

The flipside to the slow meandering songs was the rush and controlled chaos of songs like Electricity (the one song that felt a bit flat and without the oomph and crackle it needed), the deconstructive skronk of The Individual and the spy thriller drama via post rock clatter of No God, Only Religion. The peak of the show inevitably came with the album closer Cop Shoot Cop in all its epic glory. Its verses were like some late night Doors jam with bent notes and voodoo shadows. When the band hit their pedals for the amphetamine rush of the heavy passages it felt like the air in the room compressed, like a sugar rush at high altitude and it felt like it could have (and should have) kept going forever.

With a standing ovation Pierce and band left momentarily before returning with their one encore song – a wonderfully edgy take on Out Of Sight from Let It Come Down. The gospel choir was used to full effect, as were the horns and all the other instruments. Musically it felt like a perfect and uplifting footnote to a performance that exceeded expectations and delivered both sonically and emotionally at an iconic venue. You can’t ask for much more than that.

this review first appeared on FasterLouder