Articles and music reviews

Music Australia Guide (MAG), 2013

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I spent a year writing articles and reviewing albums for national music magazine Music Australia Guide (MAG). Examples of reviews below and story in PDF at the bottom.

Marina and the Diamonds: Electra Heart
3 stars
Bubblegum Bitch, Homewrecker and Teen Idle are the kids of characters brought to life in Marina Diamondis’ second album, which she describes as an ode to dysfunctional love. Inspired by Valley of the Dolls, her songs aim to portray the depressing and sleazy side of the ‘American dream’ in a Lana del Ray-esque, primadonna pop style. Big reverberating beats and dramatic vocals create powerful and slightly off-centre pop songs that bring the ‘50s to life in a pleasing way. Album highlights are songs that focus attention on Diamondis’ folk-like voice, like Fear and Loathing and Teen Idle.

Alison Wonderland: Welcome to Wonderland
3 ½ stars
If the first mix album by a DJ defines their style, the Alison Wonderland’s is ‘anything goes’. From Arrested Development to Outkast to Joe Goddard, the Sydney spinner chooses music that reads like a cross-section of popular hip hop, house, disco and dubstep from the ‘90s to the present day. But despite the mix of genres the album is cohesive and the continuous mix would make a killer soundtrack to any house party. Highlights are remixes of 360’s Boys Like You and Little Dragon’s Shuffle A Dream.

Janelle Monae: The ArchAndriod: Tour Edition
4 stars
Since her 2007 debut, Janelle Monae has been building a complex and futuristic narrative through her music that came to completion last year with her latest album, The ArchAndroid. The quirky and highly-talented singer has now released a tour edition which features 25 tracks telling the entire story in one hit. Put simply, this is epic. Monae’s limitless vision and ambition combine with an eclectic style to create something truly powerful. With expert rapping and theatrical vocals, Monae effortless crosses musical genres from deep soul to futuristic funk and rock’n’roll. If this is your first exposure to Monae, get excited.

Gossip: A Joyful Noise
2 ½ stars
ABBA meets Madonna in the fifth album from electro pop group Gossip. More glossy disco than punk-rock, it’s a different and daring sound that works on one level for the band, but will leave their hardcore fans a little flat. Lead singer Beth Ditto delivers her usual waspishly fine, soul-infused voice, but without any of the fire that made Standing in the Way of Control such a hit. With electronic melodies and a sort of bratty charm, A Joyful Noise (produced by Xenomania’s Brian Higgins) is highly polished, but lacks any huge hits.

Nicki Minaj: Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded
2 ½ stars
After turning heads with 2010’s Pink Friday Nicki Minaj is back with a gender-bending, in-your-face album drenched in her ‘I’m better than you’ attitude. Split into two distinctive parts, the first half is the kind of gritty, abuse-filled hip-hop that, with her unusual rapping voice, could only be attributed to Minaj. Part two is sun-soaked urban-pop fantasy reminiscent of Rihanna and Lady Gaga. Unfortunately the album lacks cohesiveness and the few super-commercial and cheesy pop tracks (Sex in the Lounge) really detract from the imaginative and original style seen in the beginning of the LP.

The Dandy Warhols: This Machine
3 ½ stars
The ninth studio LP from this American alternative rock band manages to offer something new- despite the groups 18 year history- while staying true to its roots. The Bohemian Like You boys deliver 10 grungy and raw tracks with their signature head-bopping, guitar-centric melodies, but stay fresh by playing around with exaggerated and fun vocals in Enjoy Yourself, and experimenting with warped sounds in Alternative Power To The People. This Machine is an eclectic mix of tracks that will really please hard core Dandy Warhol fans and excite new listeners.

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