Author: Emily Dix

saf

SAFIA – Internal (Album Review)

SAFIA.

The name has been prominent in Australia’s independent electronic music scene for a while now, and from the moment they released their first single Listen to Soul, Listen to Blues in 2013, it has been well and truly evident that these guys are nothing like any other band out there. Characterised by strong beats, pulsing synths, catchy riffs and melodies, and vocalist Ben Woolner’s unique soul-tinged voice – at times powerful, at times light and husky, with a vocal range that jumps around between tenor to falsetto with seeming ease.

Despite having only released five singles prior to this year, three of these five have made Triple J Hottest 100 countdowns and the band has had no trouble selling out headline shows across the country and flooring crowds at music festivals such as Groovin’ the Moo.

It goes without saying then that the anticipation for an album has been around for a very, very long time; well before making one was even alluded to, yet alone actually announced. However, the excruciatingly long wait is finally over with today’s release of their long-awaited masterpiece: Internal. Read more …

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Enter Shikari drop surprise new single “Redshift”

Enter Shikari have released a surprise new single, Redshift, and it characteristically marks a divergence from the band’s signature sound.

Enter Shikari have been making waves in Britain’s music scene ever since the release of their 2007 debut album Take to the Skies, with a music style that has shifted noticeably over the years. In their 12 years as a band, their music has evolved from post-hardcore to a style “abusing music genres’ worthless boundaries”, with the band blending elements of different genres from Drum n Bass to Acoustic Rock, Jazz to Trance, Hardcore to Dubstep – all while still retaining a signature Enter Shikari sound.

It is therefore no surprise when every song they release contains new sounds and thought-provoking ideas not previously heard from the band, and when they dropped a surprise new single and music video in Redshift last Tuesday, it was certainly no exception. The single’s release comes almost a year after the band released their latest album The Mindsweep to critical acclaim.

The track is a significant departure from Enter Shikari’s signature heavy style. To begin with, it is perhaps now the most depoliticised track in the British genre-crossers’ arsenal since their first album in 2007. Renowned for being a socially conscious band with their politically charged lyrics, the new single takes a broader approach… Literally.

Enter Shikari have taken to the skies and focused their attention on the ever-expanding universe, with the cosmic themed new offering merely being about “good luck,” as vocalist Rou Reynolds explains. While it is uncertain whether life exists elsewhere in the universe, it is clear to Enter Shikari that the existence of humanity is a product of the right time and right place, and the grand nature of space intrigues this lyricist.

“Our universe is expanding faster and faster and a few trillion years from now, everything will have sped away from us so fast that all we would see when looking out from Earth is empty space”

Accompanying this track is another change of direction, this time musically. With the band’s biggest UK and European tours imminent, the evidently more pop-inspired anthem pairs an epic hook with a whole lot of ‘woah oh-ohs’ to craft a signalong that is stadium sized.

The song is concurrently a beautifully poetic ode to itself. Designed for stadiums bigger than this electro-hardcore band has ever before fathomed, the track fittingly emits a sense of gratefulness for being special enough to be able to live in this expanding universe.

For any other band of this calibre, a shift toward pop music this deliberate would be a death sentence, or at the very least, cause for lots of backlash. But Enter Shikari stay true to their trademark sound with an impacting chorus that only they could create, and a finalé that reflects the very raw Shikari the fans know and love.

While the song certainly sounds much more pop-influenced than previous releases, upon listening closer one will realise that the trademark Enter Shikari genre changes within their songs are still evident, with drums that start the song with a drum-and-bass style beat, which transitions into their more common hardcore-influenced drumming towards the end of the song. The guitars too get progressively heavier during the song as well, and while the vocals remain clean throughout the song, they also sound noticeably heavier in the finalé of the song than the start.

Enter Shikari have, yet again, carefully blended the sections of the song to seamlessly build up the volume before the listener even realises that it’s happened, and much like previous releases such as Gap in the Fence, the song goes from calm and melodic at the start to a powerful finish that leaves an impact in the listener’s ears.

Having said that, not everything about this track feels completely seamless. The lyrics in the verses sound a little unfinished at times with lines that often don’t rhyme, leaving some lines feeling like they don’t quite belong. Frequent repetition of words like “contemplate” also add to this slight lyrical discordance, leaving the listener feeling like something is unfinished but not being quite able to put their finger on it.

All of this is forgotten, however, as soon as the chorus kicks in and has its impact, the non-rhyming lines lost in the melody as the listener is exposed to the powerful glory of a true Enter Shikari chorus.

Of course, the track is quite neutral thematically and is also a much more accessible track to new fans, but this doesn’t detract from the entertainment value Redshift holds to devoted Enter Shikari fans.

Enter Shikari 2015

Written by Timothy Neville and Emily Dix

Safia

SAFIA – Counting Sheep

This electro-indie band from Canberra has only released 6 original songs to date since 2012, with Counting Sheep being the newest. One should not, however, be fooled into thinking that their music is still in that awkward still-trying-to-figure-out-how-to-write-great-songs stage; this is a band which knows how to produce good music, exemplified by their single from April 2014, Paranoia, Ghosts and Other Sounds. With it’s pulsing synths and incredible build-up throughout the song, Paranoia has impacted many listeners greatly, leaving it a popular request in Triple J’s request hour and even making it’s way into the Hottest 100 of 2014 at number 96. This song in particular has left listeners wanting more and then even more again, so thousands have taken advantage of Counting Sheep’s appearance on SoundCloud, where it can be heard before it’s release on this Friday the 13th of March.

 

‘Friday the 13th’ is an undoubtedly intentional release date for what lead vocalist Ben Woolner-Kirkham describes as the “evil sibling” of Paranoia, a dark but catchy ode to insomnia. A ticking clock and sinister violin fill at the start set give an idea of the darker mood, though the first verse and chorus still very much sound like the SAFIA that we hear in their other songs, with pulsing synths, strong vocals, and a strong beat. The bridge that follows the chorus, however, is unlike anything heard from them before, and what follows next is not another verse as expected but rather a bunch of warped vocal excerpts talking about fear and insomnia. As the anticipated verse and chorus finally come back in, one is left wondering a little what they just heard. At only 2 minutes 53, this song is also quite short, and this is not helped by the somewhat sudden ending. This is a song that will grow on you – it leaves one scratching their head and wondering what they’d just listened to the first time, but after a few more listens it establishes itself as another great, solid song from SAFIA. All the elements of SAFIA that have captured listeners – the solid beat, Woolner-Kirkham’s soft but prevalent voice, and the fantastic utilising of side-chained synthesisers and dynamics – are still well and truly present, and while Counting Sheep is certainly different, it is absolutely in no way inferior.