Wednesday, March 10, 2010
SUPER POST: Ellie Goulding album review, Echo & The Bunnymen live, and win prizes from Record Makers!
Unless you've been in a coma, or are Osama Bin Laden's cavemate, you've probably heard of Ellie Goulding. She's been hailed as the most important musical artist (especially female) since The Beatles and is the future of everything and you should buy her album so you support the future of everything... right?
Well... hype is an AWFUL AWFUL thing... it's such a bad thing in fact that it put Miss Goulding in the hospital last year when she was opening for Florence & The Machine and had a wicked panic attack! And I think it's unfair to pin all the hopes and dreams of electro-pop-dance-futurism on one person all across the board... for example it's one thing for me to say "FRANKMUSIK IS THE GREATEST THING EVER IN THE HISTORY OF EVER" and it's another for every paper, blog, podcast etc to say the same. It makes the artists insane, and it kills credibility (unless you're like Lady Gaga or something and transcend all boundaries), and it creates expectations SO HIGH that they can't be meet...
So how is her album "Lights", the recently released debut from electro-pop's most talked about person since La Roux, when all the hype dust clears?
It's pretty damn good. I'd love to say I thought it was a 10/10 but I feel like maybe there was a "too many cooks spoil the broth" thing going on here with "Lights"... not like Ellie's primary collaborator, the brilliant Starsmith, doesn't know what he's doing... but I sometimes feel like maybe the label said "it's great but I think we need a little more of this" or something because some of the spark that came across in her demos and original versions of these songs is missing (something that often seems to be the byproduct of label tampering).
The album starts off with "Guns and Horses" which has transformed into a more dancefloor ready song compared to it's original version (provided by John Fortis' production). It's much more urgent and I think that's a great addition to the song. Not as hot about the "I'd do it all for you"s at the end of the song but... perhaps that because I'm used to a very different version of this song. "Guns and Horses" does however set a nice thematic tone for the album ("when I'm standing here in the dark I see your face in every star") when paired with "Starry Eyed".
I don't need to tell you anything about "Starry Eyed". It's a brilliant single (produced by Jonny Lattimer). The first time I saw the video I was breathless. My sister cried and couldn't explain why. The song is really that good... and it's this type of perfection that feeds that damn hype monster... but that doesn't take away from it's unbroken heart vulnerability/enthusiasm that makes the track nothing short of precious.
We move on to "This Love (Will Be Your Downfall)" which could easily be a single (but more likely a b-side remix bonanza for the dance kids) it's so catchy. It's lyrics have the quality of a song by The Smiths... in that they're not too upbeat but the song sounds (mostly) like rays of sunshine. This is her genius (again something that is highlighted by Monsieur Starsmith).
"Under The Sheets" is like super sick. The lyrics are really vivid and the production it's subtle without being too slick. I got my 7" copy in the mail the other day and was elated. If you don't know this song I'd be surprised so I don't have a lot to say about it.
Ok, now here is one of the songs that got a substantial overhaul, "The Writer". The last one was completely acoustic guitar, I think, so this version feel very different. This truly has "single" written all over it. It's nothing short of cinematic and I think that actually fits well... it's hard to listen to this version and not see some major love affair of a video, or some climatic problem where a couple gets separated (see see Jacob at the end 'Eclipse' lol)...
"Every Time You Go" is inventive and fun and thankfully doesn't sound like a single... because when an album is nothing but singles you don't ever feel connected to it because it feels far too universal (in my humble opinion). The lyrics on this one keep going with the 'star motif' and are some of the most tear worthy lyrics on the album. I give this one a big thumbs up.
Ok, now here's the tricky one. "Wish I Stayed" is produced by ISoA friend Frankmusik and I'm a tad confused why the album version of this song is so so so different from the original. I like the dubby vocal, the almost Chemical Brother sized beats, and I appreciate Vince's desire to constantly evolve (and change the songs he works on)... so I'm going to guess he just wasn't satisfied going with the version he and Ellie put together quite some time ago? But I still prefer the original to this (however the more I listen to it the more progressive and interesting it sounds). Going back and listening to the original it feels like it's dwarfed by these new changes... but the vocal stuttering, the backwards section after "freefall", the audible background vocals, and the bouncy synth groove of the chorus were what endeared this song to me. BUT the version I'm speaking out would be REALLY out of place on this album soooooooo... ultimately I'd give this one a high grade but would recommend for you the listener to hear the original, and for Vince to do a remix version for an upcoming single. That would be amazing. Ohhhhhh or re-record it as a duet... yeah do that lol :) Here's the album version, and then a download of the original...
Ellie Goulding - "Wished I Stayed (produced by Frankmusik)"
"Your Biggest Mistake" is audibly produced by someone other than Starsmith. It's a good tune but the previous one was so huge that this song was one I had to listen to on it's own and not in the context of the album. It sounds very radio ready? And while very catchy it just doesn't have the impact of some of the other songs for me.
"I'll Hold My Breath" has Ellie and Starsmith back together and you can tell that they are both at their best together. This song isn't all fireworks like their other collaborations on the album but is a brilliant 2nd to last song. It keeps with the 'star motif' again and just sounds right... it just sounds right. There is no other way to explain it.
"Salt Skin" is the perfect album ender, and like watching a supernova or something. It's very experimental, shimmery perfect album closer. I recommend this to all the skeptics because this song touches on something that other albums in this sort of genre haven't.
Add all that together and I'd say it's somewhere between a 8.7/10 to a 9.5/10 lol. It just depends on how the tracks hit you and what you already know about Ellie. Hype aside it's a wonderful debut and is frankly MUCH better than some of her contemporaries who have had very successful careers.
It's often mentioned (in almost every review) that Goulding is a "folkie" dressed up in Frankmusik/Starsmith's poptronica production sheen... which is kind of true? But I'm not exactly sure what it has to do with anything unless staying that is some derisive term to imply she doesn't know which direction she really wants to go in. I think that to focus on that too much is to negate her talent as an artist and is an attempt to corral her into some genre specific cage (which is goofy because I'll bet right now that her next album will sound nothing like this one). Since it doesn't really show up on the album though I thought I'd post some of her more acoustically inclined work :)
"Not Following You"'s lyrics on this are bit like 10cc's "I'm Not In Love" which makes it coy and adorable...
Ellie Goulding - "Not Following You"
This one I listen to a LOT. "The End" stirs up a lot of memories and just sort of sounds like magic... even if the lyrics are a little sad in places...
Ellie Goulding - "The End (Demo)"
I'd post more from Ellie but I think I'd get my ass handed to me by the illusive Polydor. Someone involved in her career said I could probably get away with this remix as well so enjoy, because it's probably the last you'll get from her for a while! This one is for the dubstep heads out there... I also suggest seeking out the Jakwob remix of "Starry Eyed" if you can manage.
Ellie Goulding - "Under The Sheets (Pariah Remix)"
On to something TOTALLY different...
I would say that I've probably listened to "The Killing Moon" as many times as I've brushed my teeth in my life (which is a high number, thank you, not a low number lol) so I was very excited when my friend Zoe shared with me that Echo & The Bunnymen have recorded a NEW VERSION, along with a bunch of other live tracks, for Daytrotter. I was initally a little put off by the 128 kbps download, but there are options to buy, and the interface is really cool and worked smoothly with my Mac... so for all the skeptics, go ahead and register and check it out, it's free!
Ian McCulloch of Echo & The Bunnymen - "A Bunnyman In Rock Island"
Now, normally, you know I don't post things that aren't British... but frankly? I'm starting to see that this is going to be impossible. Why? Because frankly a lot of your favourite artists are on record labels that slap me with DMCA notifications for dumb shit like posting a WIDGET. So I'm willing to play ball with certain individuals/labels that are a step ahead of the average prerogative. So I guess let's intro the uber famous label Record Makers by saying Bobby Gillespie from Primal Scream is on Turzi's new record "B" which is awesome by the way!
Sebastian Tellier has been a pretty non-stop fixture in my car/iPod/phone recently (after wearing myself out on "Sexuality" when it first came out)... so I'm very relieved to see some new material here! The good people at Record Makers have a lot of cool stuff coming out starting with this...
And then there's all this! Have you ever played with the iDaft app? Because if you have then you know how baller this should be...
Launching twelve months of 10th anniversary celebrations in style, the Parisian label Record Makers are proud to announce the release of a free iPhone application along with a special digital compilation to commemorate a decade in existence.
The iPhone application was developed by Sam Vermette (iDaft) and conceived by French contemporary artists Mrzyk & Moriceau. The idea behind the application is to provide the user with a surrealistic visual game, an exquisite corpse in the vein of French surrealism. The introduction theme comes courtesy of label figurehead, Sébastien Tellier, with Mr. Oizo on hand to provide the noises for this eccentric game of mix and match. Unreal graphics appear on your screen, that you can send to your friends at the touch of a button.
Spectacular prizes are on offer to those who find the winning combinations and send in photographic proof to Record Makers HQ. The entire discography is up for grabs, whilst every entry will be entered into a prize draw to win a trip for two to Paris in October including a week’s stay at Hotel Amour and an invite to Record Makers’ anniversary celebrations on 10/10/10.*
- The first 100 to send in one combination will receive 2 CDs / vinyls from the Record Makers discography.
- The first 50 to send in two combinations will receive 10 CDs / vinyls from the Record Makers discography.
- The first 10 to send in three combinations will receive the entire Record Makers discography.
Players only permitted one entry.
You can find the app in the App Store on your iPhone!
Video Teaser - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IZ2DrsaBl6A
Head over to www.recordmakers.com for more info and a free download of the video to Sebastien Tellier's 'Look' by Mzyrk and Moriceau.
'Look' Teaser - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X8C33AXf9GY
Competition winners will be announced via twitter.com/recordmakers
Here's a video for the app:
Download the 10th anniversary compilation from iTunes here for super cheap and here at 10 really really interesting facts about the label that you probably want to know...
AND IF THAT WEREN'T ENOUGH... here's a the new Kavinsky called "Nightcall" (which you may have read above is produced by none other than Guy from Daft Punk) and "Pacific Coast Highway":
Nightcall by Kavinsky
Pacific Coast Highway by Kavinsky
WHOO! That was one hell of a post... I've got a bunch from Ninja Tune to post for you guys but it didn't seem like it would fit in this post. Plus I've got the line up for this years Movement and other little tidbits so PLEASE come back... and as usual you comments are always appreciated :) Be back soon!