Kate-Boy-One-Digital-PackRGBI’m pretty excited that after more or less a year of being subscribed to Google Play Music, the service is finally tuning into my musical tastes. I can now log in at any given time and it will helpfully suggest everything ranging from indie rock and electro, through classic jazz and back up to indie hip-hop. The service is also getting pretty good at letting me know about new releases from bands that apparently, at some point, I decided that I liked. Or maybe I liked bands that were similar to these artists? Man, I don’t know, the Google overlords now know a lot about my taste in music so I guess that’s just the way it is.

Last week it told me that Kate Boy had released their debut album “One” and a few weeks before that it told me that I should probably listen to the debut of Nicole Dollanganger “Natural Born Losers”. I don’t recall exactly the circumstances of these recommendations, but who am I to question tailored recommendations of new music?

I don’t know exactly how it happened, but over the past few years my love of synth heavy music has grown to an absurd degree. To the point where I’m willing to forgive a lot of pretty grievous crimes against music if there’s a good back beat and heaby synth line. I shouldn’t like Walk the Moon for a lot of reasons, but part of me can’t deny their throwback 80’s dance riffs. In fact, Walk the Moon fits nicely into a category I call “80’s Teen Movie Closing Credit Music”. You know, where the nerdy guy gets the courage to ask the outcast girl to dance and then there’s a crane shot of the unlikely romance dancing at the center of the high school gymnasium, roll credits?

Just me?

Ok.

Anyways, Kate Boy taps into clean beats and synth heavy jams with a punchy female vocalist that is right up my 80’s nostalgia alley (with a lot less cheese than something like Walk the Moon, which I’m still terribly ashamed to admitting I listen to). Kate Boy popped up on my radar several years ago when they released the very enjoyable single “Northern Lights” which features the repeated lyric of “Everything we touch, it all turns to gold” which is obviously great. The whole thing gives off a very similar vibe to Empire of the Sun, but if Empire of the Sun grew up in Sweden instead of Australia and had a woman singing.

That track came out in 2012 I want to say, and is probably what got them noticed. As a result, it’s no surprise that they didn’t stray too much from that formula over the next 3 years when making this album. “One” is basically a 13 song exploration of the sound they hit on in “Northern Lights”.

What does that mean? Well, watch the video below and see if you like the song, if you do, you’ll probably like the album. It’s always a pain in the ass to try to describe music with words and in this case I don’t have to. You can just listen to this one track and know if you’ll like the album. Thanks Kate Boy for making this so easy for me.

So yeah, I do quite enjoy this album. There’s nothing incredibly steller going on here, but it’s all quite good from start to finish.

nicole coverThe next disc which I’ve been giving a pretty good amount of my time to is Nicole Dollanganger’s “Natural Born Losers”.

This album popped up on my radar well before it was even released. I’ve always paid at least some amount of attention to the going-ons of Grimes. I’m not the biggest fan of everything she does (I’ve never seen her live), but the songs I like I really like. Her being from Montreal basically insures that I’m always at least peripherally aware of what she’s up to. There’s something kind of alluring about someone who is still interested in controlling every element of her music from production to presentation.

Anyhow, when she announced that she was starting her own artist-collective called Eerie Collective and that Nicole Dollanganger was going to be the first release I was like “ok I will remember to check that out.”

And hurray for me, I totally did.

I don’t know if the Grimes connection is what did it, but I couldn’t help but draw comparisons to the two artists as I listened to “Natural Born Losers”. Dollanganger sort of answers the question “What if Grimes was more mellow and didn’t care about dancing?”

Don’t get me wrong, their sounds are very different. Dollanganger prefers mellow, gloomy piano to paint a very dark kind of sound that is pretty much (with a few exceptions) devoid of any sort of percussion or bassline while she sings about killing animals and urine stained dresses. But there’s a similar feeling to the two artists.

Either way, I dig it. My only criticism, and this may be more of a function of the sound itself than the actual execution, is that the songs all kind of bleed together. It works pretty well to hold the album together as a single piece of work, but there’s no single stand out song that really sticks out. It’s more like a 40 minute song about being sad and fucked up.

Which I guess is ok with me. Certainly worth checking out and if she blows up you can be like “Yeah I heard of her, pssh.”

Another cool thing is that Grimes seems to be giving her the full vote of confidence, electing to have Dollanganger open for her on tour. Which I think is kind of a cool thing in the modern era to hook up new talent not just with deals but to also give them as much exposure as you can.

Later taters,

Keith does all sorts of things here on 9to5.cc, he works with the other founders on 9to5 (illustrated), co-hosts our two podcasts: The 9to5 Entertainment System and Go Plug Yourself and blogs here as The Perspicacious Geek.

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