Tag Archives: Ladyhawke

Rocks In The Attic #764: Ladyhawke – ‘Ladyhawke’ (2008)

RITA#7642008 was a big year for me. I up-rooted sticks and flew to the other side of the world. When I got to that mysterious land of milk and honey (and pineapple lumps), a young singer-songwriter released her debut album just six months later.

Ladyhawke, or Pip Brown to give her real name, had a history of playing in art-rock bands both in her native New Zealand and across the ditch in Australia. She then released her self-titled debut, Ladyhawke, in September 2008, and it’s a pearler.

At the time I seem to remember it borrowed a fair bit from the Killers’ Hot Fuss, another record from the 2000s that I love to bits – similar art-rock moodiness, some lovely synth-work, and lots of singalong choruses. It has a foot firmly placed in the 1980s, with the other foot almost taking a futuristic leap into the 21st century. In the decade that has since passed following the record’s release, it seems to have improved with age. It feels like a forerunner of the synth-wave revival of the last five years; an album ahead of its time in some respects.

RITA#764aHit single My Delirium is a belter of a song, with a tricky pre-chorus that repeats on itself before launching into the chorus. It’s one of those songwriting quirks that might make you launch into the chorus early if you were singing it at karaoke after a few beers. It even caught Ladyhawke out when she reportedly fluffed the song, performing it at Halloween in Auckland following the single’s release. It’s such a good song that when my good friend Bucko visited New Zealand and went on a coach tour around the country, she was upset that My Delirium was chosen as the team song of the coach she wasn’t on. Her coach leader settled on a different, lesser song. For shame.

Unfortunately the album has been out of print on LP until very recently. This reissue is pressed on pristine white vinyl, has a great watercolour gatefold and comes with a beautiful colour booklet with lyrics and a couple of pages of concept art and photographs charting the original design. Until now I’ve only known the album digitally. It’s wonderful to rediscover it all again through my turntable.

I love this record. I have trouble separating it from my mindset in 2008 – a new life, in a new country with untold opportunities ahead. I’m pretty sure it should conjure up images of neon and cityscapes, but for me it’s the sound of sunshine, L&P, beaches, open roads and freedom. It screams NEW ZEALAND. Thank-you so much, Pip Brown.

Hit: My Delirium

Hidden Gem: Magic

RITA#764b

Rocks In The Attic #451: Cliff Martinez – ‘Drive (O.S.T.)’ (2011)

RITA#450Drive was my film of the year in 2011. Anybody who has spent a good deal of time playing Grand Theft Auto since the game-changing third iteration of the series in 2001 should like Drive. In fact, if they licensed it as a Grand Theft Auto film, it’d probably be the best video game adaptation ever to set foot in cinemas.

The film has a great cast – Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan, Bryan Cranston, Christina Hendricks, Ron Perlman, Albert Brooks, and Oscar Issac (General Organa’s most daring pilot) – and a fairly simple plot, revolving around a stunt-driving anti-hero pulled into the world of small-time mobsters.

One of the standout aspects of the film though is the music. Cliff Martinez – a former Red Hot Chili Pepper – always constructs his scores around the feel of a film, rather than writing the music to fit certain cues, and Drive displays this approach perfectly. It doesn’t sound too far away from video gae music in fact. The ‘80s tinged vocal tracks which kick off the soundtrack are mesmerising in their effortless simplicity and sheer coolness. They fit perfectly with Ladyhawke’s eponymous 2008 debut album – another retro sounding record which helped bring the ‘80s back into the zeitgeist.

If there was ever a film that made me want imitate art, it’s this one. Although, finding a reason to evade police in a fast car, while wearing driving gloves and a white satin jacket with a scorpion on the back, might not be the easiest thing to do.

Hit: Nightcall – Kavinsky

Hidden Gem: Tick Of The Clock – The Chromatics

Rocks In The Attic #411: Tame Impala – ‘Currents’ (2015)

RITA#411I don’t often buy contemporary music, but when I do…

This is the third release from one-man-band Kevin Parker, a resident of Fremantle, Western Australia.  Parker seemingly listened to Tomorrow Never Knows by the Beatles on a loop throughout his childhood. Who can blame him? What else is there to do in Perth anyway? Chase flies? Work on your tan?

That isolation from the rest of Australia – and from the rest of the world – has seen other artists sprout out of Fremantle, namely Bon Scott from the mighty AC/DC. There’s even a statue of Scott erected in the harbour in Fremantle. I wonder if Parker has seen that statue since it was built in 2008. If he has, I wonder what he thought about it. Given the hipster mentality, I’m guessing he thinks it’s just about the worst thing that could potentially happen to somebody. If they proposed it, he might die from embarrassment, and then they’d definitely have to build one in his honour. How awful…

Tame Impala’s third marks a slight departure from the garage rock sound of Innerspeaker and Lonerism. There are noticeably more synths this time around, but essentially it retains that similar sound – rotating soundscapes, dreamy vocals and what feels like a never-ending toy box of musical instruments. The drums sound more programmed rather than played, and so it’s not a million miles away from where Daft Punk were moving to on the more chilled out moments of Random Access Memories. The Less I Know The Better sounds like it could have been on Ladyhawke’s debut album – and in fact a decent chunk of the album has that lovely, dreamy ‘80s pop thing going on, in the vein of Cliff Martinez’s score for Drive (2011).

Since buying Currents, I’ve hardly had it off my turntable. Opening track Let It Happen is currently my favourite song of the moment – almost eight minutes of Kevin Parker giving the world an update on where his head is at the moment. Here’s to album number four.

Hit: Let It Happen

Hidden Gem: The Less I Know The Better