How to collect pop music from down under, part five: the dance course

Australians love to have a good time, or so the stereotype goes. Musically, it shows, with a lot of dance acts – DJs, producers, everyone else in between – making lots of waves, with some lucky enough to sneak out of the country and make it big globally. But since the development of Aussie pop music centered mostly on rock and pop, it took a while for the electronic scene to break through to the mainstream and become an essential part of the landscape – well, essential enough to make me feel old, because this never really was the music of my youth. But soldier on we must.

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Review: Wildflower by the Avalanches

Wildflower by the AvalanchesSixteen years has passed since the release of the Avalanches’ seminal record, Since I Left You. On the strength of that one album alone – and, perhaps, also on the idea of plunderphonics – the Aussie group has built a somewhat legendary reputation, and the anticipation towards a follow-up built up as well. Sure, Since I Left You was widely praised upon its release, but it was always a slow burner of a record. It took me several listens before I could really appreciate it – but then again, this was in 2010, when its reputation is already intact, and when I already loved the title track. I believe the same is the case for Wildflower, that long-awaited follow-up. The formula is still the same, although the group has changed its line-up and it has enlisted the help of folks like Toro y Moi, Father John Misty and Danny Brown to add to the samples. The result is a record that, while meandering, focuses on the sunshine, always suggesting something bright up ahead. And, yes, after one listen, it hasn’t quite landed yet: I found it too meandering and too sunny. But, perhaps, like its much-adored predecessor, it will take a few listens for us to figure out, definitively, if Wildflower deserves the hype, or if Since I Left You is better off on its own. [NB]3/5

“If I take another step, then I just might die.”

“Frankie Sinatra” by the Avalanches | They’re finally back. Sixteen years after the release of the almost mythical Since I Left You (which I wrote a bit about two years ago), and just as long a time speculating about the follow-up, the Avalanches – now down to two original members – are returning with a new album, a 21-track thing called Wildflower, and this single, called “Frankie Sinatra”. I have a gut feeling the new album will actually drop today or tomorrow, so by then we’ll figure out what they’ve been up to all this time. [Update: the album will be released on 8 July.] That means we’re taking this song a bit out of context: this fun trip, featuring Danny Brown and MF Doom, sounds like one side of a multi-faced coin, the “Frontier Psychiatrist” to “Since I Left You”, and I can’t wait to hear the rest. Maybe tomorrow.  [NB]

“Since I met you, I found the world so new.”

“Since I Left You” by the Avalanches | I waited so long – much longer than this blog’s existence – to be able to write about this song. Now I’m writing about this because, as it turns out, Sally Seltmann is married to Darren Seltmann, co-founder of Aussie electro group the Avalanches. (He only left a couple of months back.) It’s been almost fourteen years since the release of their debut, Since I Left You, a record made entirely of samples repurposed to create weird pop tunes (in the case of “Frontier Psychiatrist”) or summery ones, like this one. This is perhaps their most defining song: a sunshine-filled track about the aftermath of a break-up, despite the chorus being taken from a 1960s obscurity about the beginnings of a relationship. (The lyric I quoted up there is from the original.) It’s just, you know, happy. And sad. And happy. And sad. And sadder, when you watch the music video, perhaps one of the best music videos ever – I can’t help but hold back the tears when I watch the joy preceding metaphorical (or physical) death. It’s been too long since that debut. Come on, boys. You’ve been working on your follow-up for seven years now. [NB]