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Exclusive Q and A: Gold Fields Talk Buzz, Buds, and 'Black Sun'

Australia’s Gold Fields are in for quite a year. After being named one of 2013’s bands to watch by MTV alongside up-and-coming heavyweights like Macklemore, the band is ready to take their insanely catchy blend of synthpop and indie rock to the international masses. They’ve already toured the states with the likes of St. Lucia and Diamond Rings, and are gearing up for another US jaunt this February. We caught up with frontman Mark Fuller to chat about the triple recording of the band’s upcoming album Black Sun, their remix process, and the effect of their massive burgeoning buzz.

OS: You guys just wrapped up a US tour with St. Lucia a little while ago. What was that like?

Mark Fuller: It was awesome. We were already fans of St. Lucia before we heard we were doing the tour and how it actually happened was that they asked us to support them. It was a pretty short tour, I think it only was six or eight shows, but getting to watch them every night was awesome. And when you tour with great bands like that you learn a lot, especially from their live shows; theirs is very tight, and they’re almost perfect live. Even though they’re a young band like us, they’ve got their live thing down pat. Touring with a band like that lets you learn a lot, but at the same time it’s fun because we love their music. The shows themselves were in front of crowds that reminded us of crowds that we play in front of back home, and they were probably bigger. The show in New York was amazing. It was to a packed ballroom; Bowery Ballroom maybe? It was just packed and awesome. One of our favorite shows.

OS: You’ve been named a band to watch in 2013 by multiple big sources: MTV, MySpace, and more.  What’s your relationship like with that buzz?  Do you try to ignore it?  Embrace it?

MF: We don’t really feel it at all. I know that reading stuff like that “ like MTV coming out and calling us a band to watch for the year “ is really weird for us, because MTV to us is like this massive American thing. It seems almost like it’s not real for something like that to happen, for them to talk about our band. Obviously we’re thankful that they’ve done that, and we feel very lucky that they’ve come across us and are thankful they’ve included us. At the same time, anything like that isn’t going to change what we’re doing. Since we’ve started, we’ve always tried to do what’s best for us and make sure we’re having fun and get other people to enjoy it as well. Any sort of things like that “ the buzz “ you have to take it in your stride, but it doesn’t change anything really. We’re still doing exactly what we were going to do all along.

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The Re-Launching of Fiona Apple

Here we go again again! Another online article where the subject is Fiona Apple. For the last few weeks, it seems, it’s been virtually impossible to turn on the computer without stumbling across a new headline about the 34-year-old singer-songwriter. I can’t think of any other musical celebrity this side of Kanye West who, in recent memory, has gotten quite so much mileage out of being both ridiculously talented and endlessly quotable.

And Apple doesn’t even tweet (yet)”or date a reality TV star!

Her musical gift and her gift of gab pretty much ensured that the June 19 release of her fourth album, The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do, would arrive with more fanfare than the expected critical gushing. In fact, after one week of release, the new set sold 72,000 copies, good enough for a No. 3 debut on Billboard’s Top 200 album chart, immediately making The Idler Wheel… the highest-charting album of Apple’s career.

That would be chump change in the coffers of Adele or Lady Gaga, but considering that Apple released her last album, Extraordinary Machine, way back in 2005, before the world had heard of Adele, Gaga, or Katy Perry, and the year in which Rihanna released her debut album, it’s as extraordinary as one-half of her last album title.

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Lana Del Rey's SNL Appearance: A Mainstream Gambit

If you have a life outside of the Internet, then there’s a good chance that you haven’t heard of singer-songwriter Lana Del Rey. In that case, consider yourself introduced.

Del Rey, the handle of one Lizzy Grant, has become a figure of infamy within the online music world with unprecedented speed. Between the highly stylized videos, the songs about video games, Diet Mountain Dew and shooting her boyfriend in the head, the accusations of her image being a well managed concoction, the hipster baiting and”most importantly” those lips, it’s hard not to have an opinion about her.

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Sets And The City: The Sound, The Fury – The New Music Of Friendly Fires

A week ago today you could find me smiling ear-to-ear at New York’s Bowery Ballroom. Friendly Fires, one of my all-time favorite dance bands, played a solid sold-out show. My seventh time seeing the energetic trio, this venue proves particularly special to me. Hands down best date I’ve ever been on took place here nearly two years ago. And whom had we come to see? None other than the ever-catchy Friendly Fires. And White Lies, another UK-hailing favorite. Sigh. It was quite a night.

This time, I decided to fly solo, taking in the animated Saint Albans-based threesome all by my lonesome. I must say, though, that their performance style has somewhat shifted; while lead singer Ed Macfarlane still delivers the same sexed-up, hip-thrusting dance moves we’ve not seen since Elvis’ pelvis, which is oddly comforting, their delivery has taken a turn. In part I think the BB sound system was a bit botched, but the instrumentals were especially augmented. You know when you expect something to resemble your record, only live? Well, this was different. More so than the expected differentiation. I welcome change, and disappointed the audience was not (there were cheers, clapping and whistles aplenty), but it caught me off-guard. It wasn’t simply the new tracks that threw me, but the familiar tunes too. Regardless, I adapted.

Joining Macfarlane and his partners-in-crime Jack Savidge (percussion) and Edd Gibson (guitar) on stage were a second drummer, a saxophonist and a third on his horn. While they’ve been accompanied by additional backup band members before, still something’s tweaked. Live, they’re all around more, well, big band. Jazz. R&B. Our main man seemed to scat at times too. (Keep an ear out for Running Away, at least live.) As per usual, Macfarlane intermittently rocked two mics and, frequently, as is his signature maneuver, clunked himself on the skull with one. And, to be sure, there was no lack of cowbell or maracas adding texture to the set.

Photo by Vincent Cornelli; Prefixmag.com

This show was the first time I’d had the opportunity to hear several songs from their forthcoming album Pala. I’d heard their single Kiss of Life live the last time they were in town, but, apart from that, their sophomore record remained a mystery. Of their thirteen-strong setlist, only five were classics (On Board, “Skeleton Boy, Jump in the Pool, Paris and Lovesick). On Board brought the club beat and JITP made the floor shake so much I thought we’d all fall through. Paris was essentially shouted in unison by the crowd.

FF went on a tad after 10:00 with a newbie entitled Blue Cassette and closed (a tad after 11:00) with Kiss of Life, which I’m counting as new too. During the latter, Macfarlane frequently bark-sneezed the word life and, after the song had essentially ended, he continued to shake that thang. Surprised? Of the new material, Show Me Lights proved extremely ’90s-esque R&B. Even the lyrics alluded to this similar aesthetic; Late night dri-vin’, Macfarlane crooned, showcasing his soaring falsetto whilst reinforcing the fact that indeed white men can dance, too. Hurting was another in this same vein. There were several fist formations, yanked down emo-female style. (P.S. Based on firsthand research, the next disc is poised to be the bomb for shower sing-a-long sessions.)

The direction Friendly Fires have taken lyrically is especially love- (and love lost-) centric, with titles like True Love and Pull Me Back to Earth, the latter a new favorite that maintains this same romantic strain. It’s all legit, I’ve just got to acclimate to the new tune of Friendly Fires. I wouldn’t go so far as to say they’ve spun a 180, but they’re taking an audible risk a bit. Given how hard the world fell for their eponymous debut, I applaud them for challenging themselves and their fans. I personally cannot wait to hear Pala through headphones.

An acknowledged departure from my memories, Friendly Fires nevertheless remain the same passionate, sweaty, dance-y dream team I came to know and love so long ago. Macfarlane’s lost the slippers (which he used to don onstage, presumably to help him better bust a move), but cutie’s still a smokin’ sex symbol in the eyes of women and men, his gyrating body and facial contortions bypassing PG-13 and approaching R. At least some things can be counted on to stand the test of time.

Looking forward to their return to New York this spring when they’ll play Webster Hall in May and also be making cameos in several other cities across the country. Get your tickets stat, if they’re not all gone already…

Photo credit: Vincent Cornelli, PrefixMag.com.

Scene & Heard: New York, NY

Trying to encompass the music scene of New York City with one article is a daunting task. With its diverse cultural centers, countless musicians, and seemingly infinite number of rooms that are considered “major music venues,” navigating the town is just short of impossible. I’ve done my best to pull together a comprehensive review of music venues, arts publications and local acts/genres.
There are a couple places that locals and outsiders alike would consider a “great New York venue.” The Mercury Lounge and the Bowery Ballroom“ among others“ have provided a stage for countless acts over the years. Hosting upcoming performances such as LCD Soundsystem and Flyleaf, the Mercury Ballroom is a high profile venue which also allows for audiences to check out up-and-coming New York talent on a nightly basis.
If you’re looking for a more diverse calendar, you can check out (le) poisson rouge. This eclectic venue hosts everything from pop and rock acts to new music and art exhibits. Having hosted acts such as Matt and Kim and Moby, the venue does have an impressive resume. In fact it was named “Best Rock Venue” last year by The Village Voice. By its own definition though, the venue’s goal is to merge the reception of mainstream music, art music and visual displays into one contemporary location. Looking at the calendar, it becomes clear that you won’t see the same show every night.
OurStage band Man on Earth base themselves out of NYC. With a lot of shows under their belt, extensive press coverage and impressive collaborations with Ken Lewis (producer for Lenny Kravits, Beastie Boys, Fall Out Boy) and Dr. Fink (keyboardist for Prince), the band is certainly gaining credibility. However, notoriety is rare in a market like New York City, and most bands struggle to define their own sound while still producing music that fits their scene. Needless to say, NYC is full of emerging talent and up-and-coming bands.
When asked to describe the scene in one sentence, Steven Nathan of Man on Earth called it, “Busy, confused, eclectic and easily-distracted but deeply-inspired.” He went on to say that it is also “capable of changing the world.” The band recognizes the amount of noise that they must fight through to be heard in such a competitive market. Even though Man on Earth has played venues like the Mercury Lounge, Nathan mentioned that their favorite recently-played venue is Brooklyn Bowl. This smaller, multi-purposed space features local talent many nights of the week and is set to feature a DJ set by the Roots’ Questlove later this month and Les Claypool of Primus in June. While the band mentioned Brooklyn Bowl isn’t the typical venue, it showcases the quintessential New York vibe.
Be sure to check out Man on Earth’s OurStage profile. They recommend that if you’re visiting the city to hear some great local music, go out there with a plan “ know who’s playing and where. No matter what you’re looking for, you’re sure to find it in NYC.