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Austra's Olympia review

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Austra, Olympia

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The Canadian’s band’s second album, Olympia, is a gorgeous blend of musicality, meaning and muses. Austra, named after the lead singer’s middle name, also finds meaning in the goddess of light in Latvian mythology.

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Their first album, Feel It Break, was released in 2011.

After Ellen conducted an interview with Katie, the lead singer of the band, in March 2011 they discussed her comment of wanting to be in a gay band. When asked she replied “I’d like to say that being a gay band means being gay and being in a band but most of my band mates are gay and we’ve never really had that classification. I’m not sure if it’s based on the type of music we make or the community we come from, but I’ve always wondered why we seem to be exempt from that label. It probably has to do with the fact there are a lot of stereotypes of what a gay band (particularly lesbian-identified band) should sound like and we don’t really fit in with those stereotypes, which is confusing.”

Read more about Olympia’s tracks:

“What We Done” is trippy. The monotone refrain works because of the instrumentals. The verses are very much about the lead singer’s bravado. It is not the best track of the album but it certainly sets the mood of the set. If you seek beats, wait for the 3:05 mark, which unleashes a rhythmic trance worth the wait.

Forgive Me” begins faster than the previous. The third single of the album has a harmonic feel to it, which repeats itself in the mind. Its simple ode to forgiveness blends vocal acrobatics and a great harmony.

Watch the music video for "Forgive Me" as part of the 30 best songs of 2013 you have probably not heard.

“Painful Like”, the second single, is strong yet subtle. It could serve as the soundtrack of household chores or even a melancholic walk down the busy streets of a city in the nighttime. With lyrics uttering “You can come here any time/ Ride past their prying eyes” it drives such melancholy home. But not before the mischievous “I held you in my underwear/ Someone might see, but I don’t care!”

“Sleep” brings it back to a mellow place. Its message of social norms, or perhaps those things which separate persons from each other, is told with intriguing layers. However, it may do what the title implies and put you in a sleepy trance.

“Home” ruptures the trance of “Sleep”. It falls in the category of Scissor Sister’s “Baby Come Home” where the singer implores her or his partner to return instead of being kept out in the world, essentially enjoying the pleasures desire can offer.

“Fire” could be about many things, but its gorgeous message can be applied to the earth, some themes share by the likes of CocoRosie and Antony Hegarty of Antony and The Johnsons. This one begs for a visual (a music video would be great for this track).

“I Don’t Care (I’m a Man)” is a gorgeously poetic lyric put to music. It challenges the social structure of gender and humanity. It has a great effect elongating the message of the previous track.

“We Become” is another lyrically rich track with lines “A coward’s crown – please raise it high/ I couldn’t stop the warning/ Split like a lip on top of mine”.

“Reconcile” returns to a dream-like state of synths and instrumentals. The ethereal feel is matched by its outro “I hope you understand/ Again/ I know you’re there/ You will love again/ It’s there/ In truth”.

“Annie (Oh muse you)” is a retro nineties homage. The rhyming lines allow it to glide swiftly line by line, beat by beat.

“You Changed My Life” is the most emotional of the set. This feat is achieved by raw vocals and genuine incantation. The build-up from the 1:13 mark until the end, is a great break from the gorgeous note held before it.

“Hurt Me Now” ends the set beautifully with the same sense of calm which started it.

Other reviews:

Music: KENN's We Killed KENN : VV Brown's Samson & Delilah : Sammy Crawford's Reality Sets In : Melanie C's Stages : Madonna's MDNA : Nelly Furtado's Spirit Indestructible : CocoRosie's "We Are On Fire" : Stephan Nance's A Troubled Piece of Fruit

Videos: Christina Aguilera's "Your Body" : Lily Allen's "Hard Out Here" : Tom Goss' "It's All Over" : Eric Himan's "Dust" : Scissor Sisters' "Only The Horses"

Films: Meth Head, the movie : Echoes (short) : Titans of Newark (short) : A Cure (short) : Precious, the movie : This Is It (documentary)

Concerts: Natasha Bedingfield : Andy Grammer : Kate Voegele

Stand Up: Kevin J Thornton

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