Blouse Makes Great ’80s-Styled Music

BlouseAfter their rave SXSW show back in 2012, the buzz began to build for the Portland, Oregon dream-pop band simply named Blouse. Headed by Charlie Hilton, who is a modern day Nico look-alike with a distinctively dreamy voice to match her sexy looks, this three-piece band has all the classic sounds of synth-oriented ‘80s pop down to a structured science. And with enviable results too.

To call Blouse a retro band with all the right stuff is to ignore the art of taking popular music and infusing it with new things to make it stand out further, make it pop off the record and into your consciousness where it’s supposed to stay (if it has done its job).

With a full-length, self-titled album already in circulation since late 2011, Blouse has set the stage for a good future. The album is loaded. Ten songs in a span of about a half hour brings back a magic of the past that relied on awesome content, not so much the cram of many half-assed tracks that seem to permeate so many albums these days. Quality is the reason we fall in love with music, not quantity.

BlouseBandIf you like any of the synth-pop from the ‘80s, then you’ll be immediately intrigued by this fresh band that takes a familiar sound and reshapes it into a twangy, ethereal gorgeousness.

The eponymous debut from Blouse contains contagious gems like “Into Black” (check out their stunning video for the song at the end of this piece), “Videotapes,” the perfection of “White,” and the quirky “Time Travel” with the interesting lyrics. You can stream the entire album below, thanks to the band and SoundCloud.

If ‘80s-styled pop — a little on the dark side — sounds like something you might be interested in, I highly encourage you to investigate Blouse. The name might be a generic oddity, but their music is memorable, deserving of a place in your playlist, or your library, or whatever it is that you use to listen to your music these days.

Review: Rainbow Melodies – Mellonta Tauta

coverMellonta Tauta is an interesting term to be adopted by a band as its name.  It means “things of the future”.  It is also a short story by Edgar Allen Poe.  I knew the latter as I’m a Poe fan (Just ask my HS English teacher.  She’ll tell ya!).  The former I had to look up.  Still, it’s an interesting term.  And still an interesting band name.

Mellonta Tauta have their geographcal roots in Argentina, comprised of three very versatile musicans that include Daniel López Quiroga (guitars/bass), Federico Aldaz (drums), and the vocally talented Karina Altamiranda, who also writes the songs found on Rainbow Melodies.  As the history of this band goes, Mellonta Tauta began in 1994 at a time when the Gothic music of the ’80s began to become a genre all its own with multiple spikes in various directions in style.

Fast forward some 20 years later, this band reassembles, as luck will have it, via the communicative powers of Facebook.  The result is the excellent neo-classical hybrid album that is Rainbow Melodies.

Rainbow Melodies is a collection of songs that skate from one side of the genre to another.  Cue the first song, “Love Is Happiness”, and you get a richly textured layer of sound, with Karina’s  ghostly vocals providing the shimmer of the track.  But move over into the second track, “Twenty Years Later”, obviously a reference to the re-emergence of the band, you get something entirely different.  With a steady drum track, and vocals sounding like the alien operatic in The Fifth Element (and I truly mean that in a good way as I adored that part of the film), the song is an immediate favorite.

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Rainbow Melodies has within its parts, songs that incorporate a highly enjoyable jazz element with excellent saxophone blended in.  On  the lengthy and electric, “Travel To The End”, the sax is mournful and, when it meets Karina’s operatically talented voice, it offers an emotion of a different kind.  The sax is also heard in the equally lengthy folllow-up track, “Live Here Forever” but not before Karina has you travelling on a melancholy road.

“Paris Noir” gets a little psychedelically electric, and jazzy.  Karina handles it well because she has a voice that can do miracles with every style she embraces.  Her two musical partners, Daniel, and Federico supply no lack of expert musicianship to make the album what it is, one to pay attention to and to enjoy.  There’s not a whole lot of bands like them out there.

Rainbow Melodies is an excellent album.  After 20 years, it’s clear that Mellonta Tauta is destined to be together.  With its bold blending of jazz, neo-classical music, electric psychedelia, and heavenly voices, sometimes all in the same song (“Rainbow Melodies”), this album is one to be enjoyed.  So, call the music what you want – Shoegaze, Darkwave, Dreampop.  I’m going to call it refreshing and worth my time.

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Release Date: April 16, 2013
Label: Projekt Records, Twilight Records
Website
Availability: CD, DD

–Matt Rowe