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March 17, 2008 | by  | in Music | [ssba]

Album Reviews


Pikelet; noun; a small, thick colonial-style pancake, known in parts of Britain as a drop-scone or Scotch pancake (see pancake); a British regional dialect word variously denoting a flatter variant on crumpet or muffin (see crumpet). Pikelet also refers to Melbourne musician Evelyn Morris, and the name of her recent self-titled release. Pikelet’s enchanting, multi-layered tracks enthrall and enrapture with smatterings of accordion and guitar, loops loaded with punchy, syncopated percussion and melodic, lilting vocals.

Opener ‘Bug-In-Mouth’ and track ‘Tamarin’ have a traditional Romanian/gypsy feel to them, emphasized by upbeat, wild, tambourines and chaotic accordion rambles. These songs contrast with tracks like ‘Size Matters’ and ‘Still Growth’, where Pikelet’s ethereal voice is backed by soft, sweetly plucked guitars. Other noteworthy tracks include lullaby-esque ‘Sewerage Man’, ‘Kept on Ice’ and ‘What’s Sown Will be Reaped’, where the pure beauty of Pikelet’s sound will astonish.

Pikelet’s lyrics are also part of the attraction of the album. She weaves stories into her songs; from a vain princess (Princess Mertilda), “she dances with them all, but the suitors she her eyes glaze, she wants nothing more, than to stare at her own pretty face”, to eating bugs whilst sleeping (Bug-In-Mouth’), “instead of counting sheep, I’m going to count how many bugs I eat in my sleep”. She also approaches typical subjects, such as love, in an innocent, childlike manner, adding a sense of vulnerability to the songs, “I get tired of this game they call love, so take me off your lips” (‘They Call It Love?… Wow’). This c.d. encompasses many different styles of music, from ambient pop, to gentle folk, so it is certain not to bore or disappoint.

It’s hard to believe that the seemingly sweet Pikelet is also a feisty drummer, who plays in several Melbourne hardcore and punk bands. However, she admits that this music was created with her family in mind, “I wanted to make some prettier music for mum… it was kind of like, well, she used to make pikelets for me so I thought I’d make a pikelet for her.”

By Sophie Barclay

Ben Kemp

The third release from Ben Kemp, Inside theUn-Cut Apple, shows the Tokyo-based Maori artist extending his love for traditional Maori culture in conjunction with a more modern approach to Japanese music. His music, dubbed as “Polyn- Asian”, brings a unique mix of traditional and contemporary sounds, absorbing the many environments that inspire him. Kemp’s vocals display a real sense of solitude and clarity. Induced with melodies that will sweep listeners away, like the swelling ocean he describes in ‘Cirrus’, it’s hard to feel grounded, and not be taken on his journey. A comforting sense of calmness would render anyone while listening to “A Wedding Song”, but Kemp’s voice sounds like a calling spirit in “Kabuki & Politics”. The flute style of Mitsuru Ogata, shadowing the melody, makes Kemp’s voice even more ghostly than it already sounds. The foundation of many songs on the album is the guitar work that continually keeps the tempo and keeps each song moving along, while the other instruments influence a more organic blend. The first single “Tenatee’s Jukebox” has a sentimental sense of childhood wonder. Ogata’s flute really takes flight within the song, emphasising the sweet nature of the lyrics. “The Devil & the Saint” references his Maori heritage in the beginning of the song, while the sounds of a distant flute ebbs towards the flow of the melody, embodying a sense of being stuck in a lucent dream. The album exudes a strong sense of honesty. His songs sound very natural and his unconventionality seems instinctive. His accompaniment of three talented Japanese musicians, known collectively as Uminari, give life to Kemp’s philosophical lyrics that show the essence of his inspirations and his admiration for the cultures that affect him. Inside the Un-Cut Apple bustles with hopes and a love for nature. An album to set a mind at ease.

By Sarah Taane

City and Colour

I wasn’t impressed when I first saw the cover of City and Colour’s latest album ‘Bring Me Your Love’. The artwork on the cover is a sketch of City and Colour’s solitary singer/ songwriter Dallas Green that looks a lot like the cover of Iron and Wine’s ‘Our Endless Numbered Days’. I instantly thought, ‘okay this is lame. He’s blatantly going for the Iron and Wine aesthetic, especially with the emphasis on beards and closed eyes.’ This even led me to think that the record would try to mimic Iron and Wine’s sound.

Fortunately it didn’t though, and I must say that the music on Green’s sophomore effort more than makes up for lack of originality regarding the artwork. Particularly notable is the diversity on the record as he utilises more distinct elements of folk and pop and his song writing is more mature and powerful than his previous release ‘Sometimes’. This hasn’t meant he’s completely changed his approach however, as he reapplies his melodic vocal delivery and guitar-playing style that established him on ‘Sometimes’.

With regards to lyrics, it is evident that Green is trying to crack mainstream market. His words are simple and relatively unoriginal. But on the whole this album has promise and it will be interesting to see how the mainstream responds to it.

By Stefan Reyners


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