Favourite Songs of 2011

So many people are starting to base their listening on songs these days, such is the reduction in attention spans, the proliferation of YouTube browsing and the ease of compiling ones own playlists featuring the best stuff you want to hear. Separate to my Top 50 LPs of 2011 I’ve also put together a list of songs that caught my ears and became hard to shake. There were of course dozens of others that could be included here but this is a lucky dip of sorts into some of my favourite tunes of 2011 that might lead you further into the artist’s work if you havent checked them out yet…

In no particular order as they are all great…

Dick Diver – On The Bank

Those Darlins – Screw Get Loose

J. Mascis – Not Enough

Total Control – One More Tonight

Light Asylum – Dark Allies

The Strokes – Under Cover of Darkness

Iron & Wine – Tree By a River

Timber Timbre – Bad Ritual

Little Dragon – Ritual Union

Wilco – I Might

Two Tears – Eat People

The Pains of Being Pure At Heart – Belong

Iowa – Complete Control

The Laurels – Black Cathedral

The Adults – Nothing To Lose

Austra – Lose It

Atlas Sound – Te Amo

Twerps – Dreamin

Royal Headache – Really In Love

Melodie Nelson – Waiting

Black Lips – Spidey’s Curse

Crystal Stilts – Shake The Shackles

Jamie XX – Far Nearer

The Felice Brothers – Ponzi

The Paper Scissors – Lung Sum

Robag Wruhme – Thora Vukk

Wavves – I Wanna Meet Dave Grohl

Wild Flag – Romance

Leader Cheetah – Crawling Up A Landslide

LIVE REVIEW: The Paper Scissors/Pluto Jonze/Guerre @ OAF 17/06/11

The Paper Scissors | photo by Chris Familton

written by Chris Familton

Guerre set the scene for night that was high on artful ventures into electronica, pop and indie music. His approach consisted of electronic samples and backing tracks and some astounding vocals all woven together with a healthy dose of reverb and delay. Guerre didn’t seem phased by a sparse early crowd, instead he seemed to be reveling in the performance. He patiently layered stately R&B vocals with a loop pedal – building a ghostly wall of choral harmonies that sound like they were soundtracking a 22nd Century nightclub in space. Truly impressive stuff.

Pluto Jonze took the standard set by Guerre and added a wonderful pop sheen to songs that were for the most part upbeat and full of energy. Jonze even tackled a cover of Sting’s Fields of Gold, beyond all expectations transforming it into a tumbling rush of percussion and melody. He has a voice made for catchy hooks and showed his range from the slowburn electro sounds of single Meet You Under Neon to more frenetic pop sounds.

The Paper Scissors have been hard at work fine-tuning their new album In Loving Memory and Friday signaled its official launch. The attention to detail has resulted in an album brimming with edgy rhythms, pop melodies aplenty and in singer Jai Pyne a unique voice that gives the band it’s individual sound. It was great to see bands paying attention to the visual aesthetic of their live shows with Pluto Jonze syncing video across old TV sets and The Paper Scissors displaying three giant orbs comprised of coloured balloons. The new album naturally made up the bulk of their set and hearing it live it was the drumming of Ivan Lisyak that impressed most. He was the busiest of the trio adding jerky, intricate hi-hat twitches one moment and then launching into rapid-fire fills and drum patterns the next. It enhanced the songs’ dimensionality and impact to great effect. The album opener Disco Connect set the mood as a set opener, the single Lung Sum sounded as gloriously anthemic as it does on radio, Soft Pig was both grandiose and detailed while Over There was as good as anything Phoenix have done in a similar vein. The new album should take The Paper Scissors to another level, especially with its songs sounding this good live.

this review was first published in The Drum Media (Sydney)

  • Read the REVIEW of The Paper Scissors’ In Loving Memory.
  • Check out more PHOTOS from the gig.

ALBUM REVIEW: The Paper Scissors | In Loving Memory

written by Chris Familton

Fans of Sydney’s The Paper Scissors have had to endure a four year wait for their second album to see the light of day. Thankfully their patience has been rewarded with a highly accomplished and wide ranging collection of songs that embrace both artful leanings and instantly gratifying pop music.

In Loving Memory finds the band expanding their sound with electronic dabblings scattered across many of the album tracks. These range from the dark drones and pulse on Dozens to the anthemic synth stabs in the latter part of Over There. That song in particular sees them giving themselves totally to their pop muse with an intro straight from the book of Phoenix and some ravishing electro fueled disco rhythms. It somehow works wonderfully well in the overall context of the record, stretching their range yet never alienating it from the other songs.

Singer Jai Pyne is still the deal breaker in The Paper Scissors. With a voice that sounds like a strangled larynx wrestling lyrics into submission he has a enthralling knack for getting inside the vocal melody and phrasing of the songs and making them an addictive listen. The album opener Disco Connect is a gentle introductory track that quickly gains its legs as Pyne lets rip on the line “shut down your machines, leave me the fuck alone”. On that note bassist Xavier Naughton and drummer Ivan Lisyak lock in a clipped, watertight groove signaling that this is going to be an album built on both precision and emotion.

Lisyak is the other major revelation on In Loving Memory. Always noted as a great drummer, here he runs the gamut from Mogwai post rock grandeur to the tumbling rapid fire percussive delivery on Soft Pig. His deft touch and ability to play both within and adjacent to the song lends comparison to Radiohead’s Phil Selway, albeit with a more muscular touch.

Lung Sum was the first single released from the album last year and it still stands as one of the indie  pop high points of 2010. With a chorus that takes out a mortgage in your brain it is the undeniable spine to the record but thankfully it doesn’t overshadow the album’s other important moments. Mechanism (Thick Mortar) surges along in an Arcade Fire manner, Turn It To Gold is a pen pal to Wild Beasts’s pop re-imaginations and On Your Hand, with its faux Queens of the Stone Age intro, possesses a killer bass line amid its jerky, shifting arrangement.

Lyrically the songs cover a whole range of topics seemingly pulled from life experiences, people and places. The strength in this subject matter is that it isn’t thematically tied to being say a relationship record or nostalgia trip. It is those things and more and that is what makes In Loving Memory an impressive tribute to emotions, thoughts and ideas delivered with both restraint and a feeling of freedom gained from creativity.

this review was first published on FasterLouder

  • Check out the PHOTOS of The Paper Scissors’ Sydney album launch show
  • Read the REVIEW of the show

REVIEW: AKRON/FAMILY @ Annandale, Sydney 12/12/09

Brisvegas’ Oh Ye Denver Birds joined Akron/Family for their tour and they were a suitable support choice with their low-key rambling and hypnotic sound. They have elements of Arcade Fire in their more uplifting moments alongside more folkier sounds of early Animal Collective and The Dodos.
It was the first time I had seen The Paper Scissors live and they are a curious proposition. They pick and mix the parts of their sound. One minute they playing angst-ridden indie and the next they are venturing into straighter funk territory. Its like a glorious mish mash of TV On The Radio, Spoon and Beck when he is in party mode. Jai Payne hoots and hollers in a distinctive strangled style that adds tension to the pop fueled songs.
Akron/Family lost a member a few years back but if anything that has crystalised their sound, pared it down to the essential mix of guitar, bass, drums and vocals. Sure they utilise a variety of additional instruments to add subtle flavours, but essentially it is the trio simply playing their songs that has the most impact.
A US flag with blown out stars provided the simple backdrop for Akron/Family’s music that was anything but simple. They rolled up the history of American music, mixed their colours and ran them through the washing machine. The colours ran and the different threads became tangled resulting in a psychedelic fusion of folk, blues, heavy jam rock and hippy ambience.
The simple the songs the better they translated. I know a big part of what they do is improvising and ‘taking the song on a journey’ but that journey often became boring and I ended up staring vacantly out the window of the car when the scenery all blurred into one endless landscape. When things gathered pace they were unstoppable, a juggernaut of heavy yet light drumming, pulsing and darting bass and some killer guitar playing from Seth Olinsky. He in particular seemed to be able to let go and ride the songs through his guitar with controlled and free playing.
When they dropped the power they lost none of the passion. In particular their harmonies were quite special, at one point silencing the saturday night drinkers. More of the mellow would have served them well but they probably felt the need to keep things moving.
Mid set they invited the members of Oh Ye Denver Birds onstage to add percussion to a wild rhythmic number that outstayed its welcome. You got the sense they were trying to bring the audience into their communal world but it was only partially successful. A couple of members of OYDB hung around for the following song and proved to be a distraction to what Akron/Family were trying to do. Enjoy the moment guys but don’t bleed it dry.
Akron/Family impressed with their musicianship and the diversity of their music. They had to work to get the crowd interacting with them yet they lost that connection when they indulged in their Grateful Dead boogie jams; as glorious as the peaks were. Some bands excel at harnessing the extremes of their sound, Akron/Family showed they have those skills but lacked restraint when it mattered the most. They would have been a much more enjoyable experience outdoors at Meredith but they still showed flashes of their ramshackle brilliance in the claustrophobic confines of The Annandale.