Australia seems to be delivering some of the brightest and newest stars in the sky of electronic music, and the rest of the planet is very, very happy about it. 2015 saw some incredible EPs released onto the scene, of which we at The Broken Chord have discovered some stellar artists such as: Wafia, JOY. and Vallis Alps. There’s nothing quite like spending time browsing the “other artists you might like” section on iTunes…am I right?
Because we love all three EPs equally, we decided to do our first ever triple album review to kick off some of your new summer music listening.
- Wafia “XIXX-EP” (Future Classic, 2015)
Shadowed, veiled, mysterious and reserved–just some of the tones that come through on Brisbane-based Wafia Al-Rikabi’s work on XIXX. The album title stands for the Roman numeral ’29’-referring to the atomic number for Copper, a metal always in a state of change.
The EP begins with a beautifully sombre piano-only prelude, only allowing vocals to woefully enter near the end. This sets the ghostly tone for the whole EP, and does it seamlessly. Deep synths and clean cut beats give way on “The Raid”, the popular release “Heartburn” and the brooding track “Untitled”, full of longing. Each track is a multi-layered feast of eccentric sounds and instruments, altogether captivating. The final track on the EP “Fading Through” features fellow Aussie artist Vancouver Sleep Clinic, who has an uncanny vocal resemblance to the haunting Bon Iver (and we aren’t complaining). “I climb onto rooftops, to catch a glimpse of the moon, a fading trail of you” “Oh we’re fading through…nothing left to do, can’t you see if was all for you?” A poignant and sad track that leaves the listeners wishing the EP was a full-length album. We can’t wait for what’s next.
2. JOY. “ODE-EP” (Sony Music Entertainment Australia Pty Ltd, 2015)
Brisbane-born Olivia McCarthy, now Sydney-based artist JOY, has set the bar high for emerging female artists in the electronic scene (oh yeah, and did we mention she’s only 18 years old?). Her entirely self-produced EP “ODE” is fully mesmerizing, clean and smooth.
The opening track “Falling” invites the listener to wander around the dark and mournful world of the EP with contemplative lyrics and heavy bass synths. “I keep on falling–in and out of love with you. I know you’ll keep on calling, I hate the ghost you’ve turned me into”. She then ushers in the breathy vocals on “About Us” with poignantly placed harmonies that cut through us like a knife. The synth heavy “Crazy for You” is a true delight for the ears, with layers upon layers of well-executed electronic magic. The EP finishes strong with “Heads or Tails”, full of a sombre presence, well-placed guitar swells and a clean/simple beat: “You confused me from the start, then you left me all alone in the dark…when you turn to say goodnight, do you miss me by your side? Do you love me?”
We’re excitedly anticipating the next works from JOY, but have this EP on repeat in the meantime.
3. Vallis Alps “Vallis Alps-EP” (Vallis Alps, 2015)
Hailing from Canberra and Seattle (cleverly called ‘Ameristralia’ on a triple-j unearthed interview), this duo (David & Parissa) brings a dreamy and almost child-like innocence to the electro-pop scene. Their self-titled EP has a bright sound, but has a lingering sadness just below the surface, peeking through in the lyrics.
The EP begins with their well-known track “Young”, which has a simple and soft melody with consistent and comforting beats and well-paired guitar licks to give a smooth base for the lyrics to play out upon: “weeks went by but felt like hours”, “in the end, time forever favours the young…”. Continuing on with the track “Thru”, those buttery smooth synths and vocals guide the listener through, with playful instrumental lines taking the stage in the latter half of the song. “Oh!” is one of the more upbeat tracks on the EP, acoustic guitar driven and sunny. The final track, “Reprieve” starts with a very classic feel, sad-soaked melody lines/vocals from Parissa’s haunting voice and lyrics that present a justifiable heartache. The middle of the track sees a small lift with well-constructed synth layers that carry the song through to the end: “Just let these tunnels cave, just let this fire fade–maybe the sky’ll break. We’re just a lie away from proving to ourselves we’re not afraid”, “We’re suddenly fate’s latest casualty”.
Absolutely thrilled to hear more from this duo in the future, and happy to see that they’re out spreading the live music love on tour in Straya this summer.
All we can say is, come to Canada soon ! Listening to all three of these EPs on repeat all summer long.