Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Music Review: Kate Miller-Heidke - Nightfall

Following up from her hugely successful album Curiouser, Kate Miller-Heidke has released Nightflight. Her most personal album yet, filled with haunting harmonies, luscious musical hooks and enrapturing melodies.

Miller-Heidke has often been known for catchy and quirky tunes that are a little off beat but always with a powerful message. This remains unchanged yet the songs feel different and more personal with the overall album feeling a lot darker than anything we have heard from her before.

Kicking off the album is Ride This Feeling. The tune is catchy and piano driven as we have all come to know Miller-Heidke for. The lyrics are quirky and one needs to realise that she is actually describing a dream that she's had and it's enjoying the feelings inside the dream. The song is actually happy and uplifting with glorious vocal work.

Following on from the happiness is the darkest song on the album. Sarah is the story of a life event that occured for Miller-Heidke. Setting the scene at Livid festival in 1997 and the disappearance of her friend from beside her. The music is dark and terrifying when you listen to the story behind the song. The vocals and harmonisation that Miller-Heidke presents are stunningly beautiful. Sarah has to be one of the most beautifully poignant songs that Miller-Heidke has ever released.

The title track Nightflight is a return to the piano ladden track that Miller-Heidke is known for. The tale of an overnight flight and the trials that go along with it. The song is another testament to the beauty of Miller-Heidke's voice and her ability as a singer/songwriter. She truly is an amazingly talented woman. Anyone who says otherwise is lying.

Fans of Miller-Heidke will know The Tiger Will Eat the Child from her side project Fatty Gets a Stylist. Unlike the previous version, this is more acoustic and shows a tenderness which was previously hidden with the electronic measures on Fatty Gets a Stylist.

Let Me Fade is a powerful mix of isolationism, self-loating and desolation. The song has the whole feeling of someone with their hand in the air stating that they aren't waving but are drowning. The instruments are subdued and held in the background while the hushed voice of Miller-Heidke carries itself and a power behind it highlighting the enormous vocal control that Miller-Heidke possesses.

The first single to be lifted from the album is the wonderfully quirky track I'll Change Your Mind which carries it's own dark story. The music is a shadow of the pop standards that used to feature on previous releases. However when Miller-Heidke tells the story of a girl who stalks her ex-boyfriend determined to change his mind and get him to fall in love with her again, the song's story becomes darker.

Returning to the hauntingly, dark feel of the album is Humiliation. The music is more electronic than anything else on the album. The instruments are planned and played perfectly to make a gloriously moody track which carries the oppressive feeling of being humiliated and the sensation that goes along for the ride. The vocal production is emotive and will get in under your skin and reverberate within your soul.

Beautiful Darling is a break from the rest of the album in that it is a much happier inclusion. The sharing of hope, loves and dreams between lovers. The uplifting voice. The music that has a spring in it's step. It's a track that lives a happy smile on your face. The giddy heights that lightens the heart after hearing so much pain in all the previous tracks.

Finishing the album is Fire and Iron. The light and airy feel to Miller-Heidke's voice is like a slightly faded memory that still holds all the beauty and emotive power but the picture is a little distorted. The song sounds light and airy until halfway when the lyrics grow darker and the story appears. At the start, the song sounds positive and uplifting - a tale of falling in love. The heartbreak of the song comes when it describes the car accident which claims the girl's life. She watches and waits for the boy to let her go. The song does leave you with a sad smile as she realises that he's moved on when she sees him with his children.

The album is full of darkness with brief and brilliant flashes of light. Many will find the album too dark while others will embrace the beauty. The album is largely experimental for Miller-Heidke and it pays off. The album showcases her talent as a lyricist and story teller. The music is all perfectly polished. The vocal delivery flawless. The album crawls and hooks in under your skin and sits within the soul drawing out emotional memories and surrendering to the beauty of the music. Nightflight is one of the most powerful albums to be released so far this year.

Nightflight is out now through Sony Music.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Music Review: Serge Devant - Rewind

Following up the triumphant success of his 2009 debut Wanderer is Serge Devant with his electric sophomore album, Rewind. Filled with aural delight, the album is set to please trance lovers globally.

With such a high standard set by the release of his debut album, there was held breath as play was pressed for the first time. It was released as the first notes of Dice featuring the vocal beauty of Hadley first filtered through the speakers. The song is a mix of lush laid back beats with club sensibilities. It's a delight to the ear and excitement for the dance shoes.

3 AM Eternal is a track of musical delight. It has the anthemic makings of a Paul Van Dyk track with the driving beats of a Tiësto classic. To compare Devant to the godfather's of trance may not be easy to stomach for some. After playing the album through, however, it is easy to see where the suggestion stems from.

One of the most exciting collaborations on the album is You & Me with Rachel Starr. Club goers around the world will rejoice at another stellar track from both Devant and Starr. The track is reminisce of Then There Was You by Starr and Addicted by Devant. The track is an instant classic and challenges the listener not to list it as an instant favourite.

On Your Own is an instantly likable track. The vocals are well played along with the music. The only downside is that it stops. Suddenly. The track sounds like it should have some extra play time but it doesn't and there's about 10 seconds of silence at the end of the track. Had it played out, it would have led nicely into True Faith. This is the ultimate song of the album. The song is everything that has been missing from music lately. The smooth vocals and catchy beat. Breath taking.

Appearing for the second time on the album is Hadley with the track Ghost. It's a catchy song and, as always, flawless delivery on the part of this stunning songstress. Listen to the song, immerse yourself in the sound and let the audio wash over your senses. The sensory delight is unparalleled.

The last four tracks are what we have been waiting for. The final tracks of the album that are purely instrumental. Their driving beats, the bounce and rythm that is everything that that a good dance producer should look for. The tracks, while easily to tell the difference between each track, what is indistinguishable is the fantastic way that they play to the ear. The energy of each song is excited and rivetting. This is what trance should be. This is what music should be. This is what anthems are made of.

Serge Devant was always going to triumph with his return, there was never any doubt. Whether he would meet the previous standard or exceed it was the question. Devant has set an all new standard even for himself. Rewind is a dance music masterpiece. For anyone who has a love of electronica, this album should be listened to at the very least.

Rewind is out now through Ultra Records

Friday, February 24, 2012

Book Review: Diane Adams - Broken Light (Book One 'Beyond the Night' Series)

Returning to the writing scene with another stunning addition, is prolific adult fiction writer, Diane Adams. From her start with her 'The Making of a Man' series, Adams has gone from strength to strength and dabbled in different genres. The one thing that stands true is her ability to write emotive pieces and characters which are easy to relate to and feel for.

This time, Adams has gone with a supernatural theme. With the story feeling quite similar to the WB show Supernatural, Adams has captured a mood of loss and yearning for something more perfectly. The research and hunt of supernatural villains is well crafted and watching the relationship between the characters grow and come to fruition is delectable.

The story starts with the heartbreak of watching our main protagonist, Jace Bennett, going through the heartbreak of losing his one reamining family members, Wade, to the supernatural. The lose is instantly emotive and you're challenged not to feel tears tickling the corners of your eyes.

The story progresses and we soon meet Jace's romantic interest, Elias. Jace is confronted with handling feelings that he had long suppressed and desires long ignored. The revelation and consequences of these emotions leads to a breathtaking journey which any gay or bisexual man will instantly align with. Adams has captured the confusion and inner turmoil beautifully.

It wouldn't be a Diane Adams story without man on man sex. The lead up is seductive and the peak is breath taking. The emotional and physical connection between our two main leads culminates into a vibrant display that as pleasurable to the eye as it is to the two characters.

Ever the storyteller, Adams doesn't have a straight forward story. There are a couple of twists. Some predictable. Others, well, not so much. The story line is entrancing and enriched with Adams descriptive and narrative writing style.

For someone who is looking for a mystery, romance and smut story all in one... here it is. Adams is a breathtaking writer and has given this story her all. The end result? Spectacular!

Broken Light is out now through Silver Publishing

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Music Review: Evanescence - Evanescence

It's been five years since we were last graced by the stunning voice of Amy Lee. Now Evanescence, who were touted as 2003's new Linkin Park, are back with their brand new self-titled album and proving that they are no one-hit wonders. The album has everything of their standard trademark complete with ethereal vocals, moody lyrics, wailing guitars and pounding drums.

From the blasting opening track and lead single What You Want, it's quite clear that you are going to have any amazing journey ahead. It's also evidence that Lee has lost nothing of her song writing ability. The song is catchy and instantly memorable. The piano almost sounds of place as the song goes on but is also strangely fitting.

Following is Made of Stone which is heavier rock and a darker version of Evanescence than we have previously known. The guitar scratching in the background and vicious lyrics are showing that this is a new and more adult version of the band. The song shows such growth that it is nothing short of amazing.

The Change and My Heart is Broken set a new standard for all other similar bands to live up to. The key to loving these tracks is remembering what endeared the band to you to start off with. It's a return to their The Fallen days and it's not experimental. It's Evanescence at their rocking best. It's the melody. It's the sheer stunning quality of Lee's voice. It's the music. It's the best way to describe these two tracks.

Skipping forwards a few tracks and you find Lost In Paradise. Here we have a much subdued track. Yes, they did a ballad. This is what the original version of My Immortal should have been. It plays along quietly, a true ballad and then at the right time, the band comes in with guitars wailing. It may sound like a bit of disaster in written word form but when you actually hear the song, it is amazing and perfect.

Sick is a return to the darker and heavier version of the band that we first found on the track Made of Stone. This song will rock you and you will love it. This is both lyrically and musically emotive. It's a highlight of the album with both the story it's telling and the performance. Listen to this track and tell me that you don't love it.

Returning to their original style are the tracks End of the Dream, Oceans and Never Go Back. It's like listening to their early work with a more mature song writer which is what was missing from The Open Door. They let go of the feeling that was there in their debut. Now, with their third album, they mastered how to mature and reach back to their roots. Don't be disillusioned into thinking that this is old work rehashed, it's not. This is something all new and no matter what gets written, nothing will prepare you for what you will hear.

Closing the album is Swimming Home which is an electronic, rock, ballad mix up. Nothing you have ever heard before will prepare you for the song. It's stunning. This is something that you've never experienced. Lose yourself in it's sheer beauty. The song is amazing. 

The album doesn't have a My Immortal or Call Me When You're Sober but it does have more than it's fair share of stand out tracks. This album may have taken five years to reach us but it's certainly been time well spent writing and perfecting the album. If you have only ever liked one of their songs in the past, this album will appeal to you. Even if you don't put the album on your 'To Buy' list, make sure as hell it's on your 'To Listen' list.

Evanescence is out now through EMI Music

Friday, October 7, 2011

Music Review: Gotye - Making Mirrors

One of the biggest names to be thrown around of late is Gotye. With the release of his sophomore album, Making Mirrors, he is gathering attention from around the globe. With this smooth harmonies and catching melodies, Gotye is being hyped around the world. This time, believe the hype.

From the opening of Making Mirrors, there are 12 tracks that you can't help but fall in love with. The beats, the drums, the harmonics, the riffs and that smooth vocal performance. This album is nothing short of astounding and will be played non-stop in an attempt to appease the ear.

By now everyone should be familiar with the single Somebody That I Used to Know which features the talents of Kimbra. The song is memorable and engrossing. Listening to it time after time and the song does not get tiring. Gotye has found the joys of highs and lows in his music and changing tone from soft to loud.

Following is Eyes Wide Open, which was the lead single on the album which was released October 2010. Since then it has been well received and even clocked in at number 25 on Triple J's Hottest 100. It's up-tempo and catchy riff that leaves will have even the most leaden of feet tapping in time.

Smoke and Mirrors is a strangely stunning mix of alternative rock and smokey blues. The chemistry of the track is no less appealing that any other track on the album. It's rich sound and smooth performance arrest the ear. It's preformed with such light and shade that it's listening pleasure at it's best.

When you first here I Feel Better, you are forgiven to think that you're listening to something that has appeared from somewhere between the 70's and 80's. The track sounds closer to something that you would expect to hear Cliff Richard sing back in his heyday. The brilliance of the track though, is that it still works and is just as captivating as the rest of the album. The catchy feel of the song. The up-tempo, foot tapping enticement that is so rich throughout the song.

The personal favourite track of the album, however, is State of the Art. The song feels seductive and layered with enticement that clings to the skin and will turn your head to pay attention to the track. The overuse of vocal exciter and digitization of Gotye's vocals breaks the sound the rest of the album goes through. Right up until the chorus when the the harmonics are just breath taking,. The jazzy and electronic feel of the track are an absolute fusion that is just amazing.

The closing track is Bronte which is far more subdued than the rest of the album though no less appealing. It's actually a welcome change and quite fitting way to end the album. It's delicate nature and almost dream like performance means that it is set aside and given extra notice that it otherwise may not have been. Let your breath be stolen... it's worth it.

The album has been given hype by people around the world. Guess what, it's deserved. The mixture of melody, harmonics and just out and out talent, means that this album is worth listening to. You do want to grab it with both hands and have a damn good listen. It's highly recommended for everyone and anyone to get their hands on this album and hear what all the noise is about.

Making Mirrors is out now through Universal Music

Monday, August 15, 2011

Music Review: tyDi - Shooting Stars

Music Review: tyDi - Shooting Stars

Who wants one of the hottest dance albums of the year? Well, here it is. One of the hottest DJ's in not only Australia but worldwide, is here with his second phenomenal album. 

Back in 2009, Brisbane boy tyDi released his stunning album Look Closer. It turned the Australian dance scene on it's ear and set a whole new level for aspiring DJ's and electronic music artists to live up to. Many have striven but none have achieved the same standard.

Now signed to the penultimate of dance music labels, tyDi has release his album Shooting Stars on the Armada label which is known for having some of the biggest and most amazing artists on their books.

Spread over 18 luscious tracks is evidence why so many people have taken notice of this young musical mastermind. The moving music, the spectacular composition of lyrics and sound. From the opener Take A Chance to the uplifting Vanilla to the almost ambient Long Nights on Fast Planes. There is something to appease every electronica lover.

The album features some of the most known vocalists within the dance world. Gracing the track Greater Heights is Jennifer Rene who featured on the Armin Van Buuren track Fine Without You. Her is rich and full and lies over the top of the stunning and steady beats that pulse beautifully through any type of speaker.

Also appearing is Audrey Gallagher who every knows from epic track Big Sky where she appears with John O'Callaghan. The track World's Apart may not have the same anthem like qualities that Big Sky did but it is certainly captures the ear and demands attention. Even when the album plays as background music, Gallagher's ethereal voice starts to play out of the speakers and you will pay attention. The song is easily an eargasm just waiting to happen.

The sheer and simply beauty of World's Apart is so dynamically different to the following track Never Go Back featuring Brianna Holan that you will check to make sure that it is the same album. The steady, driving beats that ripple throughout the track are addictive. It's hard to look past this track as a favourite.

For those who don't know, tyDi studied at the prestigious Conservatorium of Music and has a classical background. On the closing track Ariana, you can understand why. It's an instrumental track that is unrivaled in it's beauty. The delicate piano, the gentle strings and the calm soaring percussions that glide throughout the song are stunning. There are no real words to describe the sheer rapture that can be found in listening to this track.

This album is sheer brilliance and proof positive of just how diversely talented an individual can be. From the arrangement and production, to the effort that would have been put into writing this album. 

Don't be fooled by the hype, this album is worth it. You don't just want this album, you need it. For want of a better description, this musical journey is nothing short of astounding and breath taking. This man has been touring the world, head lining music festivals and has played club after club and garnered the attention of dance lovers world wide. To understand why, listen to this album.

Shooting Stars is out now through Armada

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Music Review: Zoë Badwi - Zoë

Music Review: Zoë Badwi - Zoë

It's been two years in the making, but the unmistakable talent of Zoë Badwi is now recorded and ready for you to take home. This unmissable vocal powerhouse has released her first album and it's worth every cent.

From her first release back in 2009 with Release Me to 2011 with the release of Accidents Happen, Badwi has shown that Australian artists can produce absolutely amazing music. Her debut album, Zoë, is just that evidence.

The album starts thumping from the outset with the opening track Freefallin. It's a track that brings back memories of so many nights out. People moving on a dancefloor, gyrating to the beat as Badwi's voice soars to high notes that no human should be able to hit. It's certainly one of Badwi's best known tracks and a welcome inclusion to any clubbers library.

Following is the amazing track Until You're Over Me. It's got the thumping bass that we have come to know and love as part of Badwi's signature that combined with soaring vocals and slick production, leave no doubt that it is destined to join her other singles as a club staple.

For those who were wishing, praying and hoping for it's inclusion, yes, Release Me has been thrown in. The throbbing beat that we all fell in love with and threw our hands in the air to so many nights. It also plays nicely into Carry Me Home which, while still dance-like, has a much more demure approach. It's certainly a pleasant change of pace in comparison to the rest of the album.

Skipping forwards a few tracks is Reckless. The song it catchy and will get your foot tapping. It also sounds very similar musically to Wynter Gordon's smash hit Dirty Talk. The lyrics, however, prove that this is a Badwi production. 

The only other comparison on the album is One Step Behind which has a similar feel to Kylie's X album. This leaves Minogue dead in the water though. Badwi presents the song with enticing beats and seductive vocals that stimulate the ear and drag the listener's attention.

Badwi's other, lesser known, single from 2009 was In The Moment and has been included on the album. It's catchy and flashy. It's something else to behold and start dancing to. Slick production, steady beats and a healthy amount of bass mean that it's club ready and deserved more attention than it got.

Badwi does have a softer side. Included on the album is Believe You. The album's token ballad. It's a beautiful piano based track which matches Badwi's voice perfectly. For this one, stunning song, Badwi croons rather than belts out the tune. The performance has a raw and vulnerable quality to it that is endearing and heartfelt.

The album closer is The Other Side. Don't try and compare it to anything else that you know of Badwi. The minimalistic instruments at start gives way to the vocal dynamics that have, by now, come Badwi's trademark. She proves her vocal range is just out of this world with the high notes she hits. It's hard not to at least nod your head as the music ripples and entices the listener.

For a debut album Zoë Badwi couldn't have done any better. This is the strong type of album that is missing so often in today's music scene. While it sticks to primarily one genre, it excels and shows just how talented Badwi really is. This album is phenomenal and any lover of electronica will want this album.

Zoë is out 5th August 2011 through Neon Records

The latest single Carry Me Home:

And the club favourite, Freefallin: