Albums of 2014 #21 - EMA - The Future's Void

EMA
The Future's Void
City Slang. Released April 4th.

I can still remember the initial wow factor when I first came across Erika M Andersen's EMA at the start of 2011 through her outstanding single "The Grey Ship", her debut full-length (ignoring her earlier project Gowns) Past Life Martyred Saints followed suit and similarly impressed featuring at number four in my albums of the same year. A raw, brittle beauty that laid absolutely everything on the line, the result was as powerful an experience as music can render.

Now EMA returns with The Future's Void, her second album released via City Slang, a more experimental and intense record with a particularly bleak look into a (our?) dystopic world. "Satellites" sums it up, dense and seething with Erika's guitar laid to one side and instead industrial beats dominate amongst throbbing bass and a squealing radio-static fuzz, "Satellites" is the perfect title too, a track that sounds like it could literally signal the end of the world. 

"So Blonde" sees Erika reclaim her guitar with typical gender-bending style, here slacker riffs and heavy drums beats provide the scuzzed out melody for Erika to hit out at sexism and objectification, "3Jane" is a softer ballad about the increased virtualisation of the world that sounds beautiful even around lyrics such as "feel like i blew my soul out... it left a hole so big inside of me"

I think my favourite track could be the monstrous "Cthulu" (probably the highlight of EMA's set at The Garage earlier this year), an anxiety fuelled outpouring of emotion with ferocious guitar riffs and ominous noise. "When She Comes" is another highlight, one of the albums warmer, more straight forward moments with simple nonchalant jangle guitar riffs, it's probably the closest moment to EMA of Past Life.... 

The Future's Void might sound like it was released in the 90's with criticisms of celebrity and technology yet it remains relevant today and whilst I can't see me disconnecting with the modern world just as EMA asks us to do so, I'm certainly willing to agree that it's not good to be watched in almost everything we do, even in the confines of your own home. 

EMA #8 - So Blonde

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The second taster to the new EMA album The Future's Void is perhaps even better than the first, "So Blonde" sees Erika reclaim her guitar with typical gender-bending style after the stark industrial squeal of "Satellites". Here slacker riffs and heavy drums beats provide the melody for Erika to hit out at sexism and objectification coupled with a video that reinforces the point with blonde cartoon characters on Venice Beach.

EMA has also announced her UK return with a date at London's Garage on June 3rd (amongst others). The Future's Void is released April 7th via City Slang.


EMA #7 - Satellites

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I can still remember the initial wow factor when I first came across Erika M Andersen's EMA at the start of 2011 through her outstanding single "The Grey Ship", her debut full-length (ignoring her earlier project Gowns) Past Life Martyred Saints followed suit and similarly impressed featuring at number four in my albums of the same year. A raw, brittle beauty that laid absolutely everything on the line, the result was as powerful an experience as music can render.

Now EMA return with "Satellites", the first track taken from her new album The Future's Void (due Spring 2014). As experimental and intense a moment as she's produced, Erika's guitar seemingly laid to one side and in its stead the track is dominated by industrial beats, throbbing bass and a squealing radio-static fuzz, Satellites is the perfect title too, a track that sounds like it could literally signal the end of the world. Curiosity and excitement levels for album two raise.

The Great Escape 2012 - Preview (Part Three) Saturday

So here we are at the third and final part of my preview of The Great Escape 2012, you can find Thursday's preview here and likewise Friday's here, no need to beat around the bush with introductions to a third part, straight on with Saturday's bands to see (in my opinion). Again I've limited it to seven acts, to give both time to enjoy Brighton and for me to write this. I've also decided to leave out the three bands I picked as tips for the Camden Crawl to avoid too much duplication with those posts (sorry Stealing Sheep, Novella and Echo Lake, I'll still try and see you!).

The Hydrant, Saturday 12th May 13.00 (Alt Escape)

Like Spinning would be worth half the entrance fee to The Great Escape alone but this as this show is an alternative escape, you don't even need a festival wristband to come, an incredible line-up at The Hydrant on Saturday starts with Redwood red who I'm also hoping to catch before Like Spinning take to the stage.

Like Spinning are now in the higher echelons of my favourite acts, for proof why watch the video below of Kari performing an absolutely sublime new track called "The Hours", it was even better than this at The Old Queen's Head gig a few weeks back. I can't wait to see Like Spinning again and have those goosebumps return.




The Hydrant, Saturday 12th May 15.15 (Alt-Escape)

Emily and the Woods also earns my highest possible recommendation (and also played so exquisitely a few weeks back at The Old Queen's Head), Emily not only possesses the most beautifully natural voice that instantly eases your burden and writes flawless melodies with reflective, introspective lyrics but also has the most enchanting and humorous stage presence, that has an audience in the palm of her hand, my advice is simple, come and be one of those disciples.



Emily & The Woods - More Like Me from vProject on Vimeo.

The Hydrant, Saturday 12th May 16.00 (Alt-Escape)
St Mary's Church, Saturday 12th May 19.45

Staying in the same venue (I told you the line-up was good), Karima Francis is up next, a completely different voice to Emily before but one that is equally beguiling. Soulful, rich and impassioned, Karima's auto-biographical lyrics are heart-felt delivery is the perfect compliment for her show stopping voice.

I'm repeating myself I know, but I promise you, come to Hydrant for on Saturday afternoon and you won't be leaving in any hurry (especially when Stealing Sheep are playing too, the reasons they aren't featuring in this preview is mentioned above but they were the best I've ever seen them at Hoxton Bar & Kitchen last week and are highly recommended).



The Louche - Facebook
Pav Tav (Upstairs), Saturday 12th May 20.30

After I finally leave The Hydrant I'm looking forward to catching Manchester four piece The Louche, their luscious shoegaze soundscapes, drenched in sumptous fizz, downbeat beats and delicious girl-group vocals are exactly the sort of think to kick start a Saturday night of music and is exactly the sort of music I love. Quite why they've not featured here before this paragraph is quite beyond me. One to be continued...



Haim - Facebook
Psychosocial Basement, Friday 11th May 21.45
Audio, Saturday 12th May 20.45

America's answer to The Staves is probably a harsh introduction to Haim, but it's about what all I muster up on this Saturday morning (sorry) - and one that besides their family ties and long flowing hair is one that's not too accurate.. There's an undoubted TLC vibe to the Haim sisters too, their voices are strong and raw, their harmonies undoubtedly hit harder than those of the Staves and their guitars hark more the 70's rock then folk, with booming percussion "Better Off" packs one hell of punch. If NME pick up on Haim, they're going to be huge. Perhaps Haim will be one of the acts who provide an 'I was there' moment like Warpaint's show of a few years back.



We Are Scientists - Facebook
Coalition, Saturday 12th May 22.00

After all most three days of running around Brighton checking out as much new music as I can possibly manage I am extremely excited about the prospect of seeing We Are Scientists again, I last saw them playing at Camden Barfly before the release of their last album, there might be an ounce of truth to talk that they've not matched their debut (although I love 'Brain Thrust Mastery' too) but give me the chance to be spilling beer jumping up and down and singing every word of (the perfectly titled) "The Great Escape", "Nobody Move, Nobody Get Hurt" and "After Hours" towards the end of my Saturday night and there is only one answer. Viva 2005.




EMA - Facebook
Pavilion Theatre, Saturday 12th May 23.45

EMA was one of the acts of The Great Escape 2011, her gig on the Saturday night at Jam was easily one of the best of the weekend (probably second to Josh T Pearson's) and although the venue here is probably five times as large I'm looking forward to a feeling of déjà vu as I come towards the end of 2012's festival. I'm sure countless others are thinking the same.

Twenty Five of the Best Songs of 2011 - Part Two

12. Zola Jesus - Vessel
Posted 29th June: "Vessel" is a stunning return for Nika Roza Danilova, harsh metallic beats and Nika's colossal voice create an immediate, menacing atmosphere that's dramatic and chilly."


11. Dum Dum Girls - Coming Down
Posted 20th July: "Coming Down" is a real heart on sleeve lament. Dee Dee's smoky vocals recall more Hope Sandoval than the lo-fi fuzzed-out Shangri-La's of the debut. Languid, echoey guitars shimmer with emotion and longing, complementing the woozy and wistful lyrics perfectly, everything about this track is mellow, luscious, amazing. For those late night, alcohol soaked melancholic moments. Undeniably vulnerable and beautiful, if the album hits me like this track then it's going to be something special."


10. Echo Lake - Sunday Evening
Posted 3rd January and June 15th: "...Their sound highlighted perfectly on the shimmering beauty that is "Sunday Evening", with its hypnotising intensity, chiming guitars and foot-stomping progressive beat..."


9. Daughter - Love
Posted 10th November: "Elena's voice remains pure and beautiful throughout, it's probably one of the most emotionally affecting, gorgeous voices I've heard recently, listening to the opening verse of the heartbreaking "Love" with its wounded, confessional lyrics is a provides a genuine goosebumps moment. If you aren't amongst those 6000 followers perhaps now is the time to stand up and pay attention, I'm sure dozens of A&R guys already have."

8. The Great Wilderness - Dark Horse
Posted 22nd September: "Their most recent (and best) release is the spellbinding "Dark Horse", a sprawling nine minute epic, seamlessly flowing from luscious, dreamy melodies, shimmering guitar rhythms sewn together by vocalist Paola's haunting voice to a shattering cataclysm of pummelling drums and frenetic guitar riffs played with such searing intensity you'll be left gob smacked, then you'll want to press repeat, again and again."


7. The Joy Formidable - Spectrum
Posted 6th February: "Their sound is individual and unique, but recognisable and accessible. Whilst managing to simultaneously sound like and unlike every guitar band you ever heard, The Joy Formidable are a truly astonishing and daunting prospect but fortunately they are blessed with enough style and charisma to create the perfect package".

6. Braids - Lemonade
Posted 6th January: "Lemonade" is the stand-out, a seven minute masterpiece which pushes the boundaries of mainstream psych-pop, swirling, tropical soundscapes and bubbling ambient electronics give the perfect platform for Raphaelle's delicately soft vocals (which hide somewhat of a dirty mouth)."

5. I Break Horses - Hearts
Posted 10th May: "Hearts", for me at least, is the signature I Break Horses track, perhaps because it's what hooked me first, it's simply heavenly. Frozen beats sparkle while pulsating rhythms add a slightly sinister tone (my initial reaction was The Terminator theme) all softly woven amongst echoey drums and the hushed yet, ethereal coos of Maria Lindén. Her voice, as beautiful as it is, acts as another layer of the instrumentation where the lyrical content matters little."


4. Austra - The Beat and The Pulse
Posted 24th January: Austra are Domino's latest signing, the work of Katie Stelmanis whose debut release "Beat & The Pulse" is dominated by a powerful, pounding dance-floor filling dark electro beat"


3. Lanterns on The Lake - I Love You, Sleepyhead
Posted 29th November : "...windswept instrumentation sweeps and swoons while heartbroken melodies tug at your heart strings, the updated version of "I Love You, Sleepyhead" the perfection summation, genuinely gorgeous..."


2. EMA - California
Posted 1st April: "California" is beautifully stark, through grinding, droning walls of feedback, the opening line of "Fuck California, you made me boring" sums up Erika's defiance in one line and it's repeated refrain "I’m just 22 / I don’t mind dying" is almost triumphant."


1. Josh T. Pearson - Honeymoon's Great! Wish You Were Her
Posted 29th November : "The most stunning most though is on the devastating centrepiece "Honeymoon's Great! Wish You Were Her", the longest track in an album of lengthy numbers, at thirteen minutes it's raw, emotional and regretful "I’m in love with another woman, please don’t tell the wife / I cannot seem to stop it and it’s fuckin’ up my fucked up life" (in fact just read the whole lyrics here), a poetic lament to unrequited love and being stuck between two women. I'll repeat myself, an album of such heartbreaking fragility and beauty that I can't say any more than just listen to it."


My Favourite 25 Albums of 2011 - Part Five

Just Music That I Like’s Twenty Five Favourite Abums of 2011 aka The Best 25 Albums of the Year Part Five

Direct Links to Albums: 25 - 21 // 20 - 16 // 15 - 11 // 10 - 6 // 5 - 1

5. Austra - Feel It Break

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From my introduction to Austra, the dark, brooding beat driven "Beat and the Pulse" to the more pop-friendly hooks of the stylised "Lose It", 'Feel it Break' the brain child of Katie Stelmanis is majestic. First single "Beat & The Pulse" is certainly amongst the best tracks of the year, dominated by a dramatic, pulsating dance-floor energy that carries an undoubtedly sexy momentum throughout (thoughts of the Tasseomancy twins dancing in the live set don't help that!) it's probably the star of the show and it's no coincidence it was the first release from the record, it pulls you in like very few tracks I've heard this year.

Much of the album is much more shiny and light, than dark and Gothic, yes there are incredible empowered vocals which Katie's delivers pitch perfect and equally big, icy synths but 'Feel it Break' is full of potential pop hits too, rather than foreboding and menacing like an Esben and the Witch or Zola Jesus, Austra have made their enormous beats clean, polished and stylish, never more so than on "Lose it" and oblique sexual references on the glistening "The Future".

Other highlights are the enchanted melodies of "Spellwork", album opener "Darken Her Horse" which combines twinkling keys with an industrial rhythm and then "The Beast" which abandons the dance-oriented electronics in favour of a piano ballad which fully utilises Katie's powerful, operatically trained voice, the departure is starting and beautiful. In summation, it's an essential album.

Austra - Beat And The Pulse



4. EMA - Past Life Martyred Saints

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Simply put EMA's first solo record, the 90's influenced noise-grunge 'Past Life Martyred Saints' is a absolute knock-out. From the outset, the frankly insane one / two combination of "The Grey Ship" and "California" you know you are in for something special, raw and emotional throughout, Erika portrays a tough yet equally brittle persona through scuzzed-up guitars, intense vocal cries and compelling atmosphere, absolutely everything is laid on the line over the course of it's nine tracks...


The first half of the seven minute wonder "The Grey Ship" is like sailing in a melancholic and woozy ocean, tranquil and calm, but then it suddenly crashes into a thunderstorm with the introduction of a throbbing bass-line, washes of droning feedback, over-amped guitar, crazed violin and thumping drums. "California" is beautifully stark, through grinding, droning walls of feedback, the opening line of "Fuck California, you made me boring" sums up Erika's defiance in one line and it's repeated refrain "I’m just 22 / I don’t mind dying" is almost triumphant.

"Butterfly Knife" is an unrelenting four minutes of pure dissonance, sharp guitar shredding that is frenetic and fuzzed to fuck while the brash "Milkman" uses a deep industrial drum beat to head towards its noise harbouring conclusion.

Though it's Marked" that is probably my favourite track on the album, raw and bruised with its repetitive cries of "I wish that every time he touched me left a mark", Erika portraying a vulnerable, intimate side amongst the powerful, confident cries and dirty instrumentation. In a year of stunning debut records, EMA's is easily one of the best.

EMA: Marked



3. Lanterns on the Lake - Gracious Tide, Take Me Home

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Another band I discovered mid way through 2010 and who've spent 18 months firmly in the category of 'favourite bands' are Lanterns on the Lake, signed up by the impeccable Bella Union at the turn of the year the sextet spend the first six months playing a few shows (included the spine-tingling shows I caught at The Great Escape and finalising their album 'Gracious Tide, Take Me Home' which was released in September

The album fulfilled every ounce of my incredible expectation, awash with natural beauty and elegance, the purposely restrained melancholia that shrouds the eleven tracks are the very definition of sensual, dreamy bliss. The soft, delicate whisper of Hazel's voice is enough to make you fall in love alone.

It's difficult to pick highlights, the album flows so beautifully it's best to sit and listen on one luscious sitting, windswept instrumentation sweeps and swoons while heartbroken melodies tug at your heart strings, the updated version of "I Love You, Sleepyhead" the perfection summation, genuinely gorgeous. Equally sumptuous is "If I've Been Unkind", a rich tapestry of intense beauty and arrangements from the heavens.

Another track revisited from the early EP's "A Kingdom" is fantastic, sweeping strings and galloping beat, Hazel's voice combines perfectly with Adam's while the graceful elegance of "Keep on Trying" provides more unrivalled emotional joy. Cinematic soundscapes delivered with such heart-tugging grace, it's simply to die for.

A Kingdom by Lanterns on the Lake



2. Josh T. Pearson - Last of the Country Gentlemen
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Josh T. Pearson, an absolute guarantee for my gig of the year (read my review of the first time I saw him and was left completely speechless here), ' Last of the Country Gentlemen', his first solo record and first release since an album with his then band Lift to Experience in 2001 is extraordinary. Everything about it is so compellingly heartbreaking, beautiful, transfixing that it's impossible to do it just in a brief review of about 200 words from a writer with zero ability, I feel pretty embarrassed just trying.

The flawless "Sweetheart I Ain't Your Christ" is a dark, morose and lengthy track of stark, honest Americana / Country, lyrical, melancholic, and incredibly intelligent, like the entire album is deeply intimate and bears the scars of Josh's failed relationship. It's a hard ride for some, I've read countless one star reviews, personally I think this is possibly the most moving album I've ever heard. His guitar playing varying from quite shimmering to raucous strumming in an instant, he's quite the exceptional player too as anyone who has seen him live with testify.

"Woman, When I've Raised Hell" follows in similar fashion, equally heart-wrenching and haunting beauty, weaving a long road of candid and confessional narrative and self-pity "Honestly, why can’t you just let it be / And let me quietly drink myself to sleep". The most stunning most though is on the devastating centrepiece "Honeymoon's Great! Wish You Were Her", the longest track in an album of lengthy numbers, at thirteen minutes it's raw, emotional and regretful "I’m in love with another woman, please don’t tell the wife / I cannot seem to stop it and it’s fuckin’ up my fucked up life" (in fact just read the whole lyrics here), a poetic lament to unrequited love and being stuck between two women. I'll repeat myself, an album of such heartbreaking fragility and beauty that I can't say any more than just listen to it.

Josh T. Pearson - Woman When I've Raised Hell (Radio Edit) by Mute UK



1. The Joy Formidable - The Big Roar
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If you've been here before then this is amongst the most obvious (but also the most deserving) top spot I'll ever give, I'm some what of a fan-boy when it comes to The Joy Formidable and their debut full length 'The Big Roar' is hands down my album of 2011, the band have defined by musical tastes of the past eighteen months plus and continue to do so, I cannot wait to see them again next year (and again and again) and am more excited than a kid in a sweet shop about the follow up due next year.

I'm not going to review this album, I've written about the band countless times already (including a lengthy prose just last week; read through the label here if you'd like to see that and do make sure you've at least listened to the record, it will blow you away.

Whirring by thejoyformidable

EMA #6- Endless Nameless

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Another week passes and guess what, another week with an EMA posting. Erika has announced a split Nirvana cover 7" with Male Bonding, EMA's take of "Endless Nameless" was mentioned here a while back and it seems the folk at Rough Trade and Sub Pop liked it enough to get it released on wax. Limited to 500 copies you can pre-order here, expected 6th January.

Seriously, this is just insane. Thick guitar sludges, crashing cymbals and screaming vocal cries; alongside Oh Land's take of "Bloodbuzz Ohio" by The National and Chelsea Wolfe's rendition of Nick Cave's "I Let Love In" this ranks as the best cover of the year, by far. Listen / watch, be blown away below:

EMA - Endless Nameless

EMA #5 - La Blogotheque Presents A Take Away Show

Dear EMA, please stop releasing so many extraordinarily amazing sessions, you are taking over my blog:

I said on Sunday that I'm continually posting EMA sessions because they keep blowing me away; guess what, it's happened again. Saying that, this one isn't just amazing, it's absolutely fucking essential. La Blogotheque Presents A Take Away Show are well known to me for being out of this world and this is no exception.

No more words, search the label for more on the songs if you want, just watch these, all of them, now:


EMA | Butterfly Knife | A take Away Show from La Blogotheque on Vimeo.

EMA | Marked | A Take Away Show from La Blogotheque on Vimeo.

EMA | Anteroom | A Take Away Show from La Blogotheque on Vimeo.

Buy Erika's debut now - it's brilliant and then come and see her at Heaven in a few weeks, can't think of many better ways to spend your hard-earned myself.