Hear The Track HereI think one of the buzzwords that will spring to mind when we contemplate the years 2008/2009 in the future (at least as far as us internet musicians are concerned) is 'netlabels'. One netlabel caught my attention from the getgo, but only because they had signed one of my favourite bands of the past few years - Azoora. Strange really that it should be taking off now because the concept was around when I first started releasing music myself in the early 90's. In fact my own label, Rebel Riffs, became a netlabel in 1999 after the death of the old MOD scene. My review list this month starts with three separate netlabel releases but I have to say that this is the one I was really excited about. Not just because 23 seconds is an exemplary example of what makes a true netlabel, but because they were smart enough to spot Azoora's unbelievable potential.
In my year end awards for 2008 Azoora scored no less than FIVE tracks of the year, easily beating everyone else in sight - even their musical soulmates Can't Stop The Daggers couldn't catch them. By far my favourite tracks of theirs are contained on the three 23 seconds FREE EPs, so I was looking forward to this fourth EP with undisguised glee. In case you are not aware of this band, I would advise you to get a taste for them by listening to those first three EPs (Tall Tales, Revelations and The Big Bang) because there is not a dud in sight - and that really is a rare thing these days. Billed as an acoustic, electronic psychedelic band, Azoora are in fact impossible to define because they cover so much of the current modern music scene, they should have their own genre.
Future pop, I would argue.
If you are thinking that's just me spouting my usual bollocks, take a listen to Life of Fantastic, a classic example of what makes this band so special. Not only are Paul Loader and John Purcell two of the most cogent, intelligent songwriters around, but between them they make music so professional and commercial, it's a crime they are not world famous already. Aided ably by Ben Cochrane on drums and Jon Partelow (of Don't Stop The Daggers), of course. If you already know the band then Life Of Fantastic will make you come in your drawers; pure Azoora - exactly what I expect from them. Beautifully put together and harking back to (more than anything else) the immortal Smashing Pumpkins with that inescapable Azoora touch. On My Terms is a slower, almost ballad-like muse through some weird electronic/acoustic fusion that sounds just incredible. The tautness the electronic sounds bring to the party, contrasts amazingly with the loose, almost casual acoustic feel and example of what the term 'arrangement' really means. For my money, I could have done with a LITTLE less of those electronic sounds, as they tended to overshadow the vocal somewhat but that is small (nay chump) change.
The EP's title track Second Coming is again classic Azoora, the kind of track (like all Azoora material) you can spends months and months getting to know, but oh that time is so well spent it's untrue. It is my contention that Paul Loader has one of the most beautiful male voices it has ever been my pleasure to hear, and a truly unique vocal in that respect too. I'd recognise him anywhere and this track show exactly why. Aural honey. In common with their usual practice of releasing six track EPs with three original songs and three remixes, the last three tracks are remixes of the first three and - in their own way - as listenable as any of the more recognisable tracks. Personally, I like this mix and I absolutely LOVE this band. Don't miss out any further - this is the sound of the future, and remember you read it here first. Moreover, not only do you get the best music this side of heaven, you get some extremely eye-catching CD artwork to go with it - all for zip, nada, nothing, free. Now THAT is what I call a netlabel.
MUST HAVE classic Azoora. No one quite like them.