Abbe May, leader of the CD stacker

kiss my apocalypse by abbe mayPerth singer-songwriter Abbe May blasted onto my radar with 2011’s Design Desire, a rockin’ album, blistering and sexy. So blistering in places I’d quite forgotten its tender, electronic moments that have been further explored on Kiss My Apocalypse.

This album is insanely slinky, sexy, cool. DD‘s bluesy, rock guitars are eschewed for synths and beats: steamy, savvy, invasive… the title track and Karmageddon are the kinds of tunes that you find yourself humming hours after.

Throughout, with the amps down, May’s voice is allowed to roam through her impressive range. It’s pop meets electro meets attitude. There’s even an undertone of flamenco.

Outside the couple of atmospheric bites and minute-and-a-bit F**k/Love, each song carries its own weight on what is a fairly even-tempo collection.

There’s an inner city or inner suburban feel; a sense of melancholy, of waiting, of love on hold or disappointed; of frustration and defiance and a will to overcome. That we will not fall into the cracks in the pavement, we will not go quietly, we will not accept the betrayal and the inadequacies; we will demand respect.

Maybe the message of the album is that, when love lies bleeding, we will rise above. And if not, well, this is a damn fine album to go down to.

Other new music of 2013 on rotation:

savages album silence yourselfWild ‘n’ arty England four-piece Savages‘ debut, Silence Yourself. If Abbe May is seducing you into the end of the world, then these gals are tearing it down around your ears. There are clear roots to the 80s — Joy Division, Siouxsie Sioux, Bauhaus — but there’s a modern polish, aided in no small measure by the vocals of Jehnny Beth. Getting slammed shouldn’t feel this good, should it?

Yeah Yeah Yeahs‘ newish album Mosquito provides a pleasant mix of textures, none tastier than the title track. Opener ‘Sacrilege’ feels almost like a bridge from previous, electro outing It’s Blitz until the guitar buzz opens up on the way to a gospel conclusion, and the suggestion of Blitz 2 is left behind. ‘Subway’, backed by train-on-sleeper rhythm, shows they can tone it down, too. Eminently listenable, but then, Karen O is, ain’t she?

I helped kick-start Free Dominguez‘s Volcano and the Sea, based on the ear-grabbing awesomeness than is her band Kidneythieves. Alas, the poppy solo outing isn’t quite as grabby, sliding by innocuously and pleasantly enough with plenty of style, but failing to announce its presence. There’s a remix ep that features a cracking KMDFM version of ‘The Wolf’.

Likewise, Helalyn Flowers‘ new album, White Me In Black Me Out, sports a couple of wonderful tracks — the title song’s one of ’em — but too much of this new album from the ’80s-loving Italian electro-goths does too little.

Into that same territory of passing good but unexceptional are The Next Day from David Bowie — extra points for using the word ‘gormless’ in a song — and Depeche Mode, following up the meh of Sounds of the Universe with equally meh Delta Machine. Black Celebration feels like such a long time ago. Oh, crap, it was!

falling echoes album counterclockwiseAnd finally, fresh out in cyberspace, is the debut album from Falling Echoes, being my mate Aaron R Walker of Wretched Villains fame and his mate Cristian Matheson (not to be confused with the writerly son of Richard Matheson, Christian with a h). Those familiar with the Villains’ foot-tapping gloom rock will appreciate this outing, though might miss Peter Green’s axe. The album, Counterclockwise, is a rhythm-led, simmering affair with touches of Cure-like joie de vivre. Ideal for walking home from the station on foggy nights.

Check these out on bandcamp:

  • Attrition: album The Unraveller of Angels electro-industrial goodness, hovering between the sensuous delights of sex and death
  • Nicki Jaine: Her album Of Pigeons and Other Curiosities should please Jill Tracy fans with its gritty cabaret sound — ‘untitled’ is particularly suitable in these days of depressing headlines, filling my head with noirish imagery of sweaty bedroom sheets and barely turning fan and, on the other side of the dusty blinds, streets descending into bedlam.

    Retro buy:

  • Dr John‘s 1968 debut, Gris Gris. Swamp blues comin’ at you, bone-shakin’ and bayou drippin’. Play it with the lights down low and go, baby, go.
  • Armageddon, or, 50 minutes of Abbe May is not enough

    So the world was meant to end, last week, was it Friday or Saturday? Something like that. So it seemed appropriate to hit the Toff in Town on Thursday night — the eve of destruction! — for the Karmageddon tour of Western Australian rocker Abbe May.

    Last year’s Design Desire was a rockin’ bluesy outing with a leather ‘n’ lace voice; the titular single from the forthcoming Kiss My Apocalypse album is more on the lace side, synth-driven and slinky. The Toff gig was all about the slink: velvety tunes building with synth and rhythm section, pressure mounting, to the point where it was like, strap on that guitar and cut it loose, girl. Rock the house!

    But just as we were reaching the point of eruption, 50 minutes in and with a smokin’ cover of Motels’ ‘Total Control’ under our belt, time was called and the band left and the disco began, and we were left to finish our drinks and then wander down on a clear and mild Melbourne night to knock back a last pre-train coffee in Fed Square and talk armageddons and Karmageddons and the friction between art and commerce, as you do.

    Now to await the arrival of Kiss My Apocalypse, which on the strength of Thursday promises to be a strong, smooth, cohesive album. And man, didn’t ‘Karmageddon’ just pop live!

    Meantime, season’s greetings, and a safe — apocalypse free — summer to all!

    Design Desire: Abbe May hits all the right notes

    album design desire by abbe may

    Greatly enjoying Abbe May’s latest album, Design Desire. It’s one of those long-players that demands the attention of your ears and, while it offers some killer tracks, it provides a complete journey as an album.

    The Aussie singer, from Perth, kicks off with the title song, an urgent introduction to the nine tracks that follow. It’s hard to disregard, and once you’re hooked, there’s no wiggling away.

    She knows her songcraft, varying light and shade throughout the album and within the songs. ‘Taurus Chorus’ goes from electric guitar wail to sublime croon, for instance; on ‘Mammalian Locomotion‘, the guitars howl like the tyres of dragging cars. There’s lonely echo on ‘Universes’; steel guitar meets slow jazzy groove on ‘No Sleep Tonight’.

    The beat varies, too, but blues rock is never far away – ‘Cast That Devil Out’ is hard to go past, and ‘You Could Be Mine’ is a showcase tune. Throughout, there are shades of Sonic Youth, Siouxsie Sioux and the White Stripes, amongst others. ‘Carolina’ has the country guitar soundscape that suggests the song should be set much farther west.

    And then the end, ‘Blood River’, a drifting, piano-driven dirge that lasts just long enough, letting the listener go gently.

    The vocals mirror the superb guitar control, too, from soft to snarl, delivering musicality as well as lyrics, changing to suit the needs of the song, carrying the emotion.

    There’s an honest, almost live, feel to this album. One of the year’s best.

    Catching up on the tunes…

    Some ‘on hold’ music while I’m otherwise engaged …

    Warpaint: ‘Elephant’ is a cruisy Sunday afternoon.

    The Horrors: stop us if you’ve heard these synths before!

    Sietta: Aussie beats and fetching vocals … interesting.

    Call me shallow, but if you put a cow skull and a bra on the album cover, yeah, I’ll have a listen… and well worth it too, with the ripping eponymous tune from Abbe May’s album, Design Desire.

    Sarah Calderwood’s debut album is due out in November. Thoroughly exciting!

    Felinedown: new EP, awesome live show, tunes to throw you around the room (on tour in October)