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.
  • Yeah Yeah Yeahs/White Lies/Howling Bells/Kristeen Young

    While I’m in a musical mood, a few quick bites:

    A review of last night’s Tycho Brahe — really hitting their chops, obviously supporting Human League has done them the world of good — gig is here.

    yeah yeah yeahs, it's blitz

    yeah yeah yeahs, it's blitz

    Yeah Yeah Yeahs, It’s Blitz

    Really enjoying bashing this album from the New York trio Yeah Yeah Yeahs and not missing the indie guitar sound at all. Of course, with a lead singer such as Karen O, they could probably make a polka album and I’d love it… hm, maybe not. Here’s a taste, the insanely catchy single Zero.

    white lies, to lose my life

    white lies, to lose my life

    White Lies, To Lose My Life

    Balancing out the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, English outfit White Lies’ have a superb, shiny retro sound (Joy Division, Echo and the Bunnymen) that catches the ear. Such as on the song, To Lose My Life. Not sure how much shelf life this album will have — I’m betting more than the Killers, with whom they share some slinky rhythms — but it certainly has some strong tunes that deserve a listen.

    Howling Bells, Howling Bells

    On advice from Cam of Company Sin, I’ve eschewed the new Howling Bells album, Radio Wars, in favour of their self-titled debut, and am enjoying the early listens. Low Happening is a good example of their sound, stripped and a bit more miserable than their most recent effort, I’m told. Vis:


    Kristeen Young, Music for Strippers, Hookers and the Odd-Onlooker

    KRISTEENYOUNG, a New York-based duo, dedicate their latest album to Morrissey, with whom they’ve toured and sensationally been fired from.

    They’ve certainly got the complementary dark edge, the sarcasm, the cynicism. I Won’t Be Home for Chrismas, He’s Sickened by my Crude Emotions, If You Marry Him, Comfort Is Never a Goal … there’s not a lot of sweetness and light here.

    The emotions explode on this album, featuring Kristeen Young on keys and Baby Jef White on drums and percussion. The combination might bring Dresden Dolls to mind, but this is no slinky cabaret; there is little glimmer of Amanda Palmer’s trademark tease.

    Young comes across like Kate Bush on speed, Tori Amos stripped of subtlety and armed with a carving knife. The album, her sixth, is produced by Tony Visconti, who’s worked with Morrissey and Bowie, on whose album Heathen Young performed.

    The opening three songs are frenetic, and even the slower, more introspective Everybody Wants Me to Cry has an ominous tone to its piano.

    Fall Out Boy’s Patrick Vaughn Stump guests on the catchy, sombre That’s What It Takes, Dear.

    Music … is not a background album. The cut and thump of the drums; Young’s distinctive, high voice; the crash of the keys — Comfort Is Never a Goal is a good example, with its pop chorus and fractured verses _ demand attention.

    Keyboard like a Gun introduces synths to offer a whimsical experimental/pop interlude, essentially bridging the 14-song album to its encore including Protestant, which comes across as a shot at her fundamentalist Christian upbringing.

    Thanks to the performance, and the sparse production, there’s a live feel to this overlong album that helps make it rewarding, if not always comfortable, listening.