Wednesday, August 08, 2007

I don't remember how I happened upon Kate Nash, but it was sometime last winter. The track was "Merry Happy", a kitschy piano number with cutesy vocals-- does this sound familiar? If you heard the track and thought "Regina Spektor?", you weren't alone. Nash herself admits that Spektor is a heavy influence on her own songs, which both made me automatically love her music and also kind of made me be turned off by it. But let's weigh the facts: Nash is only 20, came to prominence through promoting herself on myspace, and even Lily Allen says she's the next big thing, and that's she's "well good", and I have to say-- I've been converted.

It happened around the time Nash released "Foundations", a song (which later became a 7" with a radio edit and B-sides) full of programmed synths and beats that is addictive and for lack of a better expression, really fucking good. The track was the first single from Nash's first real album, Made of Bricks, released on the Fiction label-- an offshoot of Polydor Records-- in her native UK just a few days ago, and which has been getting massive plays on UK stations like London's XFM.

Made of Bricks should put the Spektor comparisons to rest a little bit, though certainly not to death since the influence is still there in a subtler manner. However, the record really gives Nash a chance to shine and expand her own vision in longplayer format, and it's a format that suits her well. With the exception of a few quieter, more introspective pieces ("Birds" and "The Nicest Thing"), the record is full of Nash's self-proclaimed love of Garageband-- lots of programmed beats, drums and synths and layered vocals, and of course some good old fashioned piano and guitar playing on Nash's part. It's kitschy while still remaining accessible, and is full of Nash's quirky humour (see "Foundations": You said I must eat so many lemons, cos I am so bitter) and the mess that is being 19 and 20 years old and figuring it all out.

I literally haven't been able to listen to anything else, so that's usually a good sign. The US took nearly a year to get hip on Lily Allen, so I imagine Kate Nash's fate will be much the same, but she will be here eventually. Might as well say you knew her way back when.

Kate Nash - Foundations
Buy Made of Bricks

Dappled Cities (formerly Dappled Cities Fly) have the energy of ten bands put together. You can tell just by listening to their latest record, Granddance, which finally sees statewide release this August after having been out for a while in their native-- you guessed it-- Australia. This energy only became more evident last week at the Mercury Lounge, where the boys played an hour long set full of raucous, hyper tracks with an earnest passion that translated into an amazing show.

The album itself is a nice effort-- the band's second, in fact-- and is full of colourful melodies and a great take on their obvious pop-rock sensibilities. Also their first single and played endlessly on Triple J, the album opens with "Holy Chord", a track that builds on an isolated vocal which is both haunting and exciting until it becomes alush track full of fantastic orchestration and melody. This leads effortlessly into "Work It Out", another toe-tapping number that you'll find yourself humming for the rest of the day. The entire album follows in this vein, and comes together to form a feel-good pop-rock record full of memorable songs that you'll want to listen to on repeat. The band's true strength comes together live, when you can see it all put into action. Catch them if you can-- you won't be disappointed!

Dappled Cities - Peach (from A Smile LP)
Dappled Cities - Holy Chord (from Granddance LP)
Buy the album