Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Genre Wander: Shapes On Tape - Jake Berry - Lake Jons

Shapes On Tape - My One and Only True Love.

Background promo - "My One and Only True Love' is actually about my one and only true love. It's about my girlfriend. It is a factual account of just a few of the things that make her a marvel of nature. She was a ballerina but should have been a drummer in a riot grrl band--or perhaps both. She did go to space camp two years in a row, as well as art school. There's no question that she is the smartest, funniest and best woman to ever be able to put up with me. Also, it explores a Faulknerian inspired notion that the very specific actually creates and ironic sense of the universal, but that is very much secondary."

Shapes on Tape was an arranged marriage. In 2012, Jason Matuskiewicz left behind a reasonably decent job as a young litigator in a relatively secure law firm to move to New York City and "make it" with his band. A solid career move to be sure. His famous last words were, "If I had known it was going to be this easy, I would have moved to New York a long time ago." Hilarious. Spoken like a true fool. As the labels and other industry types began to gather, and various kinds of deals were offered, the band did what many bands do under pressure of any kind. It completely imploded.

Having nearly attained his wild dreams only to have them snatched away did not affect Jason in the least of little bits. Or so he told everybody. His girlfriend, however, did not believe him, and to this day claims evidence to the contrary. She demanded that her friend, genre-hopping producer/multi-instrumentalist and 90’s groovebox enthusiast, Adam Kruckenberg, play music with her mopey boyfriend, in order to snap him out of his interminable funk. And guess what? It worked. The duo hit on a collaborative process that highlighted both of their strengths. They soon took Jason’s effortless punk-tinged folk songs in a far more electronic direction.

Matuskiewicz’s lyrics and straightforward style always flirt with the relationship between high and low concept, taking on complex social and emotional issues with an abrupt three chord frankness that never takes itself seriously, while Kruckenberg’s synthetic re imaginings take the songs into lush and dynamic sound that is simultaneously unusual and instantly accessible. The Deli has described the band as "effortlessly transitioning between laid back dream pop and rock infused dance anthems," which is about as good a description as possible.

'My One and Only True Love' musically reminds me a little of New Order, however vocally it's far to upbeat and then the comparisons fade as Shapes On Tapes stamp their own mark on the song. Anyone with a sense of rhythm may find dancing unavoidable, enjoy!

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Jake Berry - Spinning Top.

Background promo - On March 11th, singer-songwriter Jake Berry will release his new single titled “Spinning Top”. His blissful new track brings a new tone to the tradition of sophisticated indie-folk, building upon artists like Red House Painters and José González. With a cross pollination of Nick Drake-esque intricate folk and some minimal jazz flavours, “Spinning Top” is a charming mix of bright overtones with some shades of melodic warmth.

“Spinning Top” features Berry’s growing signature style of subtle ornate arrangements with dulcet vocals and seen on his previous release Glossolalia. While the song has a delicate arrangement, “Spinning Top” is one of those rare singles that combine alternative flavours with catchy vocals hooks. Including jazz influences, this single has a unique feel and arrangement unmatched by contemporary indie-folk.

On the subject matter of the track, Jake has described the track as his remedy for anxiety. He says:
“this track is about remembering the things in my life which are unshakable, unmoving and trustworthy, and looking to the past to overcome similar struggles to the present. The idea of a ‘Spinning Top’ is a visual metaphor to describe anxiety within which is constantly moving but pointlessly going nowhere. It was written at a time in my life when I was having anxiety about relationship and life circumstances that made me stop and think about the way I would respond and what that would say about me as a person. It’s a good reminder to just relax and breathe sometimes.”

Recorded in the Blue Mountains at Queens Road Studio, “Spinning Top” was also influenced by the subtle influences from the tranquil landscape and beauty of Lawson. After being written and arranged by Jake, the track quickly took shape after four full days of re-recording a bedroom demo. Jake will be writing and recording new music this year for his upcoming release, and performing across Sydney.

It was the Nick Drake reference in the promo that gained my interest first. Thankfully this is not an attempt to be some kind of tribute act, rather the comparisons are valid and positive. Brimming with indie folk charm, 'Spinning Top' is a feast of fine musicianship and quality production. Vocals are gentle (and largely where any Nick Drake similarity might spring to mind) and in all, this is a really fine song.

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Lake Jons - My Friend.

Background promo - Lake Jons is a finnish trio, formed by a happy accident in 2014. Singer-guitarist Jooel Jons got accompanied by guitarist Jaska Stenroth and drummer Mikko Pennanen while performing his songs at their friend’s graduation party.

The trio started working together as Lake Jons, creating their beautiful folk sound at a garage somewhere in Helsinki. Since then Lake Jons have played loads of live shows and charmed people with their music which combines the spirit of dusty garages, rumbling canyons and Nordic woods. Gorgeous vocal harmonies and moods referring to Bon Iver, Josh T. Pearson and Beck are in the center of it all.

Their new EP 'Explore' contains 6 songs. EP was on power play at the Finnish national youth Radio YleX. 

'My Friend' is the first of six songs on the 'Explore' EP, and it really is, only one sixth of the whole. The band explore (sorry) differing styles and pace throughout the EP, however the quality and sheer craftsmanship of this collection is constantly apparent.


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