You may have heard us discuss the (in-)famous ‘Recommender Queue’ on here before. For the uninitiated, it’s basically the long line of drafted posts that we create when we discover new artists that we’d like to cover. Once someone floats onto our radars we immediately open up a new draft post and tip in any information and links that we can quickly locate about the artist. Then they sit there until it’s time for us to write up and edit the full post, with photos, videos, SoundClouds and the rest.
We are known to be a selectively picky bunch here on The Recommender, so getting onto this queue is definitely a positive step. Sadly, some artists sit there way too long and after a silly amount of time we can find that we’ve all moved on too far to return to them – a case of ‘close, but no blog post’. Others are plucked out for the full editorial attention. There’s approximately 35 drafts sitting in this queue currently, so who knows if the likes of The ABC Club, or Oh My!, or Kimbra, or Midnight Lion, will ever get the daylight they deserve, but we’ve never entered the dreaded blog race, where other bloggers are forever trying to be first, so we’re happy to show a little reserve.
As we scanned down the drafts today we noticed that we’d put tabs on Austra, a relatively new trio from Toronto, having first read about them last year. Well the PR machine is in gear currently as they’re now signed to Domino Records and have their debut album, Feel It Break, in the bag and ready for a release on May 16th. With such a successful record label behind them they had access to Damian Taylor (Björk. Unkle, Prodigy) in the studio and the resulting production is masterful.
You may recall a post we did a couple of years ago when we first came across the mesmerising voice that goes by the name of Katie Stelmanis. Operatically trained and standing alone in the field of quality vocals, she’s an astonishing talent. She’s as delicate as a Ming vase and as powerful as an entire horn section, so it’s with much delight that she’s finally found a band in which to set her diamond abilities.
The results have created a dramatic and achingly addictive batch of left-field pop songs. Comparisons to Zola Jesus, The Knife and more recently to Nikki & The Dove have bounced around, as there’s a glacial finish to the pop, but yet there’s also flashes of warmth and lots of ceremony, which brings up thoughts of PJ Harvey, Bjork and Florence & The Machine.
Lose It has a Soft Cell pace, with synths that pop around, whilst Katie yelps to amazing effect. There are moments and breaks tucked away in this song that are as good as anything they’re compared to. The mature pop structures and unobtainable vocal notes continue with Beat And The Pulse, which has a slightly darker edge, but is carried in a different gear throughout once the synths begin to march.
NME magazine gave Katie’s previous solo work the moniker of “Nerd Opera“. With this new evidence and a change of direction it’s clear that she’s kept all of that operatic tension, yet channelled it into some ridiculously decent, polished electronica. Perhaps the Geeks shall inherit the earth after all. One thing is certain, you cannot blame Austra for leaping out of the Recommender’s queue and jumping straight to the front. (MB)
AUSTRA – LOSE IT
AUSTRA – BEAT AND THE PULSE
AUSTRA – SPELLWORK