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(Great Escape 2012 flavoured!) Album Review: Grimes – Visions

 
By on Friday, 27th April 2012 at 12:00 pm
 

Due to unfortunate scheduling conflicts, I never managed to see Grimes perform at SXSW 2012. I do, however, consider myself lucky that I’d seen her perform months before she was signed to 4AD at the start of 2012, albeit it was for an opening set before Lykke Li’s show in May 2011. Claire Boucher and all her previous work had then been completely unknown to me. As this goth pixie with a little girl’s voice and fierce eyebrows readied her electronics, I wondered if she was going to pull a James Blake: I still don’t get the appeal really of Blake, and I get bored dead easy watching most electronic artists because I don’t find their “live” sets interesting enough. There was something oddly charismatic about the slight girl from Montreal; she admitted how nervous she was, yet she definitely knew her way around the synth garden before her. I gave her big props then. And now I want to give her big props now for ‘Visions’, a fully-formed, confident first effort for 4AD straight out of the gate for the Canadian artist.

Music by dance artists should be reviewed in order of the tracks as they’re originally meant to be consumed. ‘Infinite Love Without Fulfillment’ is a minute and a half of driving yet sultry electro, disarmed by Boucher’s electronicised voice; it’s a nice lead in to ‘Genesis’ (free mp3 and performance video here), probably everyone’s first real taste of Grimes. It’s ambient, yet it’s got handclaps. I think Boucher herself realised this conflict, as in the promo video for the single, she has her headphones on, seemingly oblivious to the high school antics going on in the background. For me, that’s what good electronic music does: it transports you somewhere, somewhere otherworldly and unachievable when you listen to even the best singer/songwriter, pop or rock acts. The first real good listen I had of ‘Visions’ as a whole was on a plane ride to California for work last month and I felt like I was cruising comfortably in outer space, thinking that aliens would think we’re pretty cool if they had a listen to this.

‘Oblivion’ is more traditional poppy than the rest of the album. With the words, “And now another clue, I would ask / if you could help me out / it’s hard to understand / ‘cause when you’re really by yourself / it’s hard to find someone to hold your hand”, is she showing how she’s afraid of the dark? Or is this a general commentary on life, on how we don’t know what’s up ahead? Not sure but it’s terribly catchy, with its “la la las” and boppy beat. An industrial effect is used against a high-pitched version of Boucher’s voice (there’s the internal battle of styles again) the brief ‘Eight’. I would have liked to see this teased out to a longer version and preferably with a vocal that could be intelligible throughout, but I’m guessing it was purposely short so to act as a short interlude, like ‘Infinite Love Without Fulfillment’.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JtH68PJIQLE[/youtube]

Having said that, I don’t think the words throughout ‘Visions’ are intended to give you an earth-shattering reaction and it’s acceptable not to go searching for the lyrics or what they’re ‘supposed’ to mean: it’s the beats and how Boucher has strung them together in many disparate ways. While ‘Circumambient’ is more experimentally wonky and doesn’t hit its stride until the final 1/3 of the song, ‘Vowels = Space and Time’ is as fun as anything by La Roux and manages to be crisp electronically in a way La Roux has never been (and never planned to be, really), and you will moonwalk to its beats. Another low key, almost Oriental interlude in ‘Visiting Statue’, and then the breakdancey ‘Be a Body’ with dreamy vocals and a synth effect that sounds like punctuated accordion chords (watch her performing below on a live video from KEXP).

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iqR6EolWARE[/youtube]

Then I get to ‘Colour of Moonlight (Antiochus)’ featuring Doldrums and I’m spellbound. The crunching of beats sound like muffled gunshots, and the layered versions of Boucher’s voice fill the track with light, as do the other various percussive effects employed here. Brilliant. You can take or leave ‘Symphonia IX (My Wait is U)’; except for the beats, it’s too Enya for my liking. The album is quickly brought back to life with ‘Nightmusic’ featuring Majical Clouds, which will suck you in, the various Claire Boucher alter egos singing in your ears like cute little birds. This is followed by ‘Skin’, the longest track on ‘Visions’, clocking in at over 6 minutes. The first 3 minutes of this song is as minimal as Grimes ever gets on this album, but Boucher is not content to rest on her laurels; instead, she pulls the vocals around sonically, so much that you can imagine the waves of words swirling around you. It’s not as catchy, but it works. ‘Know the Way’ ends the album with on a surprising note, first beginning with the sound of running water before singular notes sound and dreamy vocals end your sojourn with Grimes languorously. This album feels good pretty much all the way around, and if you’re looking for a good starter album to get into electronic music, this has enough pop crossover appeal not to disappoint. If you’re already an electronic fiend like me, you’ll find a lot to love in ‘Visions’. Well done, Claire. Can’t wait for your next release.

8.5/10

‘Visions’, the first release on 4AD by Grimes, is available now. She will be performing at the M is for Montreal/Brooklyn Vegan showcase at the Great Escape on Friday the 9th of May at Brighton Digital, with a set time of 20.45.

 

Video of the Moment #729: Grimes

 
By on Wednesday, 7th March 2012 at 6:00 pm
 

Here is the new video for Grimes‘ ‘Oblivion’, a track off her forthcoming album ‘Visions’. High school football games and monster truck rallies are not what comes to mind when you think of Claire Boucher’s sweet tunes, but I think this visual proves that music through a set of headphones can take you anywhere. Watch it below.

Grimes’ album ‘Visions’ will be out on the 12th of March on 4AD.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JtH68PJIQLE[/youtube]

 

Preview: SXSW 2012 – 10 Bands New to You

 
By on Thursday, 1st March 2012 at 9:00 am
 

Since the various laundry lists of bands that had been accepted for this year’s SXSW had been announced, I bided my time. I wanted to wait for the official venue announcements, carefully poring over what had been released through the 2012 SXSW Web site while also considering smaller, nonofficial events that bands have been posting on their Facebooks or official Web sites. The headliners have been briefly profiled in part 1 of my SXSW 2012 preview.

As you can imagine, there are so many bands playing at SXSW this year than we have written about here at TGTF, so for the sake of brevity, I had to cut down my “I’d love to see them at SXSW” list. This group of 10 bands, listed below in alphabetical order, are bands you likely have not heard of, or if you have, I imagine you don’t know much about them, since they’ve only just gotten tipped recently.

Django Django – They’ve written quite possibly *the* earworm of 2012, ‘Default’. Performing at the Scottish Music Industry Association showcase at Easy Tiger Bar at 12:00 AM on Wednesday 14 March and Huw Stephens / UK Trade Investment showcase at Latitude 30 at 10:00 PM on Saturday 17 March.

Drop the Lime – Luca Venezia is better known by his stage name and all the high-profile remixes he’s done. But he’s an artist in his own right, ready to drop some huge beats in parties across Austin. His ‘Shake Baby Shake’ track is streaming below. Performing at Club Create’s showcase at the Madison on Wednesday 14 March (time TBA) and at the Filter Magazine / Dickie’s party at the Lustre Pearl at 10:00 PM on Thursday 16 March.

Fiction – they opened for Dutch Uncles at their Christmas show in Manchester last December (review here) was impressive but this will be the first taste Americans get of the London band. Watch the video for the infectious as all hell ‘Big Things’ below.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NbU-_sYA4X4[/youtube]

Grimes – Canadian Claire Boucher is making waves on the back of her third album ‘Visions’ released on 4AD. Lovers of electronic and eclectism need look no further for an spellbinding performance. Listen to ‘Genesis’, a free download we offered up previously in this MP3 of the Day post, below. Our previous coverage on her is here, including her support slot of Lykke Li last spring. Performing at Central Presbyterian Church at 11:30 PM on Thursday 15 March and Clive Bar at 11:30 PM on Friday 16 March.

Marit Larsen – I was impressed listening to her set supporting Teitur last Friday (review here), what an incredible voice. Listen to ‘Coming Home’ below. Performing at Beale Street Tavern at 10:00 PM on Wednesday 14 March.

Polarsets – I already knew last year with Little Comets‘ debut that Newcastle was the latest hotbed of activity in the North East, and this Geordie band further cements that region’s place in fantastic new music coming out of Britain. Listen to their appropriately sunny track ‘Morning’ below. Performing at the Karma Lounge at 1:00 AM on Friday 16 March as part of Neon Gold’s showcase.

Reptar – Not to be confused with a green dinosaur in the American children’s animated programme Rugrats, this Athens band mix bits of electronic and bits of tropical into a frenzy, which adds up to a lot of fun. Sound like Friendly Fires? ‘Sebastian’, the opening track to their debut album ‘Body Faucet’ out in May can be streamed below. Performing at the IFC Crossroads House at Vice presented by Paradigm at 8:00 PM on Thursday 15 March and at Buffalo Billiards at 11:00 PM on Friday 16 March.

The Wonder Villains – They sound a bit like General Fiasco (have a listen to ‘Ferrari’ below) so I was taken a bit aback by the fact the two bands share the same management. (Birds of a feather?) Tipped recently as a New Favourite Band of Steve Lamacq’s, the Derry quartet featuring a female lead singer sound Performing at the Tap Room at Six at 8:00 PM on Wednesday 14 March to kick off the Northern Ireland showcase that also features General Fiasco and Cashier No. 9.

Wonfu – The West might be cynical about it, but bubblegum pop is still alive and well in Asia. Enter this Taipei, Taiwan band that may end up being my guilty pleasure from this year’s festival, with cheeky lyrics (admittedly, in Taiwanese) sung in cutesy voices and incredibly catchy melodies. Have a listen to ‘Do-Re-Mi’ below. Performing at the Loft at 8:00 PM on Wednesday 14 March.

[audio:http://beforebigs.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/Do-Re-Mi.mp3]

Zulu Winter – Despite my famous friends stumping for these chaps, I wasn’t sold until I heard ‘We Should Be Swimming’ (previous Video of the Moment post here, video below). Our previous coverage on Zulu Winter is here. Performing at Antone’s at 9:40 PM on Friday 16 March as part of the Billions Corporation showcase.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fCVGxH5fEo0[/youtube]

 

MP3 of the Day #497: Grimes

 
By on Monday, 27th February 2012 at 10:00 am
 

Grimes is fun. Grimes is brilliant. And judging from 6music’s playlist, Grimes is good for alternative music radio. Below is more of a mash-up than a remix, it’s American rapper Deniro Farrar singing over ‘Genesis’. Love it? Hate it? If anything, it’s a Canadian/American curiosity worth at least a listen or two. Hear it and download it for free below.

 

MP3 of the Day (and more!) #479: Grimes

 
By on Monday, 23rd January 2012 at 10:00 am
 

I discovered soft-spoken musical visionary Claire Boucher (aka Grimes) through her support slot with Lykke Li last spring (review here) and I’m so glad that I did. About time that a woman stepped out and turned solo electronic music on its head (translation: enough of that James Blake bloke already).

The Canadian has just signed to 4AD and will be releasing her first album with them, ‘Visions’, on 21 February in America. (The UK release will follow on the 5th of March.) To get your interest piqued, she’d like you have this track, ‘Genesis’, for absolutely free. And one better, there’s a visual to go with this post too: you can see Boucher performing the track in the video below.

[vimeo]http://vimeo.com/25338800[/vimeo]

 

Live Review: Lykke Li with Grimes at 9:30 Club, Washington, DC – 15th May 2011

 
By on Tuesday, 17th May 2011 at 12:00 pm
 

The first date on Lykke Li’s spring 2011 North American tour went off with a bang Sunday night in Washington DC. Well, not the kind of bang that the Swedish songstress envisioned, but judging from the number of times I heard “oh my god!” uttered behind me, the show was a success. Opening for Lykke Li was Grimes (aka Claire Boucher), an 18-year old Canadian singer that seemed perfectly suited for her touring companion. Remember when LL sang borderline baby talk on her first album, ‘Youth Novels’? That’s what Grimes does, and with insane dance beats and synths aplenty. Wearing combat boots (I’m a woman, hear me roar!), and a trippy skirt with metallic fringes, you would not expect the angelic, albeit childish sounds coming out of her mouth. To be honest, I think the Montreal lass outdid LL with the dance vibes. The audience may not have known who she was to begin with, but she won the crowd over with her ecletic mix of queued up samples (harp and string sections along with dance beats, anyone?). Watch her video for ‘Vanessa’ below.

[vimeo]http://vimeo.com/22215457[/vimeo]

And I mention the dance vibes, because apparently Twitter and other social networking have been abuzz since the show ended Sunday night that the Lykke Li show was another example of the usual stoic nature of DC crowds being unable to dance (here’s an example, and a follow-up Tweet by Will Eastman, co-owner of the famed U Street Music Hall [dance club] in our town). The problem wasn’t so much the crowd. I think in general (and the 9:30 Club suffers from this quite a lot, as our largest club-sized venue), most people did not know the new songs, many of which are more introspective and less dancey than her previous dance hits (‘I’m Good I’m Gone’, ‘A Little Bit’), the songs that got the most audience reaction. Lykke Li herself also admitted to being poorly; even though I couldn’t tell there was anyting wrong with her voice, perhaps she did not push herself as much as she could have.

And a third possible reason for audience lack of enthusiasm? Strange set list order: she should have saved “I’m Good I’m Gone” or recent single “Get Some” for the end of the encore, instead of playing “Unrequited Love” (admittedly a gorgeous number, but was unfortunately marred by people talking upstairs during the quieter number, presumably because they were bored). It’s too bad that she complained after (ironically) ‘Dance Dance Dance’ that people weren’t dancing, but as Eastman pointed out rightly, “However, it’s not the audience’s responsibility to be compelled to dance, it’s the artist’s responsibility to compel them.” Well said. And I know it’s not DC’s fault, because Delphic, Two Door Cinema Club and Cut Copy, just three gig examples in the last 8 months, got people to their feet. Okay, coming off the soapbox now…

Lykke Li wore fierce black platforms and a black leotard / cape number that disappointingly did not separate from one another as I had incorrectly predicted would happen during the tribal rhythms of ‘Get Some’. As Tim Gunn of Project Runway likes to say when clothing is too cluttered and makes no sense, “that’s a lot of look,” that’s a good way to describe the stage for Lykke Li’s performance. Black drapes hung like noodles from the ceiling. I will say that she wrapped herself in one of those drapes right after ‘Paris Blues’ before jumping out rather impressively for ‘I Follow Rivers’, very cool and a definite highlight of the night. But other than looking cool, the drapes started blocking everyone’s view of the star once the smoke machines (and the fans to blow the smoke around) started.

‘I Know Places’, featuring Lykke Li singing while playing what I think was an autoharp and being accompanied by a lone acoustic guitarist, was a nice change of pace and evidence that she’s a true performer and not just the dance music star some people thought she was. The new songs sound incredible, but I think the show would have been better in a smaller space, designed to contain less people, and therefore more dedicated fans, the type who would have appreciated the performance much more.

After the cut: photos and set list.
Continue reading Live Review: Lykke Li with Grimes at 9:30 Club, Washington, DC – 15th May 2011

 
 
 

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There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

We love music that has its heart on its sleeve, tells a story, swims around our head all day or makes us dance like no-one's watching.

TGTF was edited by Mary Chang, based in Washington, DC.

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