New York Music Daily

Global Music With a New York Edge

Tag: blonde redhead

Moody, Goth-Tinged Duo the Smoke Fairies Play a Rare Free Show in Williamsburg

British duo the Smoke Fairies set unpretentious vocals with low-key harmonies to attractive, tersely constructed, subtly orchestrated keyboard melodies with a typically shadowy, nocturnal ambience. A lot of Jessica Davies and Katherine Blamire’s songs bring to mind Blonde Redhead at their most darkly shoegazy. The Smoke Fairies have a new self-titled album, their third, streaming at Spotify and a free, full-band show coming up on Sept 1 at Rough Trade in Williamsburg at 7 PM.

It’s a change of pace – is the heavy use of synths and piano this time around an attempt to replicate a mannered, campy Lana Del Rey faux-noir vibe? Happily, no. What most of these songs are is 90s-style trip-hop pop, very cleverly disguised and arranged. There’s more than a hint of classic 70s Britfolk in the vocals, and a nod to 80s goth-pop and darkwave in the background. The opening track, We’ve Seen Birds has the synth imitating a guitar tremolo – “Did you think we could exist like this?” the duo ask enigmatically. Eclipse Them All reaches toward a funeral parlor organ sound with the occasional lingering cry from the guitar – it’s a shot at seductively anthemic, Goldfrapp-style atmospherics.

Shadow Inversions works a more anthemically ghostly ambience, swirling over a simple, rising bassline with distorted, echoey guitars and drums. The slowly vamping Hope Is Religion builds to a hypnotic, Indian-flavored string ambience. Waiting for Something to Begin, a pulsing, angst-ridden escape anthem, blends distant Beatlisms into its nocturnal downtempo groove.

Your Own Silent Movie is another slow, angst-fueled anthem, sort of a mashup of 80s goth-pop and teens chamber pop, the dynamics rising and falling: “Each room of your house a drama you’ve been staging, but I will never let the curtains unfold,” the two insist.

Guest Andy Newmark’s tumbling, artsy drums raise the energy of Misty Versions above by-the-numbers folk noir, building to an icily seductive mix of crackling guitar noise and dreampop vocalese. Drinks and Dancing is hardly the bubbly pop song the title would suggest – instead, it’s a more hi-tech take on torchy, wounded Amanda Thorpe-style balladry. Likewise, Koto is not a Japanese folk song but a simple, tersely crescendoing two-chord trip-hop vamp.

Want It Forever takes an unexpected detour into garage rock, souped up with layers of keys and guitars. The Very Last Time ponders a torrid but impossible relationship that sounds like it was doomed from the start, set to what’s become an expectedly echoey, minor-key, hallucinatory backdrop. The album ends with the haunted, bitter, defeated Are You Crazy,opening as a regretful piano ballad and growing to a swaying, deep-space pulsar ambience. It’ll be interesting to see how much of all this orchestration and atmospheric hocus-pocus the band can replicate onstage.

The Mad Pride’s Free Downloads Are Amazing

The Mad Pride is an Australian band from Wollongong, New South Wales. Essentially, the Mad Pride IS songwriter Rowan Galagher, a one-man band playing virtually all the guitars as well as bass, drums, keys and banjo on the astounding 39 tracks on his Reverbnation page. The songs are so good that you can just pull up the page day after day, stream them and get lost in the brooding, moody intensity (if you’re at work, good luck getting anything done). Even better, you can download the equivalent of about four albums’ worth of this stuff for free.

Here’s a look at just the first half-dozen tracks on the page. Scapegoat is a swirly, creepy 6/8 anthem, psychedelic 60s gone noir cabaret with 80s goth production: watery guitars, icy keys and vintage Bowie-esque vocals. Track number two, Berserkergang sets quavery/whispery goth vocals over reverberating Radiohead-style electric piano (reverb is an important part of this guy’s music – he uses it masterfully). Out to Sea is basically Michael Hurley’s Werewolf redone as late 70s Bowie; the real stunner on the page is Malice, an absolutely evil chromatic piano anthem, like Blonde Redhead at the top of their creepy mid-90s game. The last track here is Fade Away, 70s folk-rock as Radiohead might do it. Fans of that band as well as Leonard Cohen, the Church, Nick Cave et al. should get to know this guy. With 39 tracks at this one site alone, he’s got an awful lot more than most bands have – and he does it all pretty much by himself.