Tuesday, July 16, 2013


Austra is ...  well, where to start?  The group is plugged full of seemingly endless musical ideas and quite a few contradictions as well.  As much as this is 21st century dance music, there's a surprising amount of organic, and real instrument sounds behind it.  Lead singer/writer Katie Stelmanis straddles a fine line between robotic vocals and ethereal, Celtic sounds, again ancient and modern.  The classically-trained vocalist is just as passionate about the beats.

As much as her echoed vocals seemed to be coming across some distant moors sung to either Heathcliff or Frodo, these are actually modern stories, Stelmanis singing about personal relationships with friends and such.  It's largely postive too:  "You changed my life for the best" one of the direct messages.  All this makes it cathartic and smarter-than-the-average-bear for dance, but it's the beats and riffs that win out.  Nicely though, even the construction is way smarter than normal, with all the little touches of layered backing vocals, actual bass, heavy strings and pretty textures making these more songs than grooves.  This answers the question, can dance music be serious composition?

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