All posts tagged famous

  • Rolling Stone album reviews, December 2010: The Naked and Famous, Fuzz Phantoms

    Two albums reviews for the January 2011 issue of Rolling Stone.


    The Naked and Famous
    Passive Me, Aggressive You
    Somewhat Damaged/Universal

    New Zealand punks bring the dance-noize to new audience

    Owing to their fascination with Loveless-like walls of guitars and the synth-led electro-pop of Passion Pit and MGMT (circa Oracular Spectacular), this N.Z. five-piece have a foot planted firmly in both past and present. Their debut album bristles with nervous energy, like they’re itching to impress. And they do. Central to Passive Me, Aggressive You’s success is the skill with which their two main reference points are balanced: “Frayed” paints a mood of dark, distorted menace, yet it follows the album’s most optimistic jam (“Punching In A Dream”). In “Young Blood”, though, the band has conjured up one of 2010’s best singles. Alisa Xayalith delivers its self-aware opening line (“We’re only young and naïve still”) amid a storm of skittering synths and a hefty bass swoon. It’s a monster track masterfully handled, yet there’s the unshakeable sense that their best is still yet to come. Despite pursuing two disparate musical styles, The Naked and Famous embrace both, and thrive.

    Key tracks: “Young Blood”, “Punching In A Dream”, “Frayed”

    Elsewhere: An interview with singer/guitarist/producer Thom Powers for The Vine


    Fuzz Phantoms
    Fuzz Phantoms

    Kisschasy frontman’s garage rock side-project unveiled at last

    Best known as the lead singer and songwriter of pop band Kisschasy, Darren Cordeux has left his bandmates behind – for the time being – in favour of pairing up with his partner Tahlia Shaw under the Fuzz Phantoms moniker. Funded by 50 individual backers via online platform Kickstarter, this debut is a 12-track, 28-minute collection that flits between power pop and garage rock. Shaw is no gun on the kit, but her loose style is nicely juxtaposed by Cordeux’s considerable chops: his occasional flights of six-string fancy (best exemplified in “Met A Youngster”) are tasteful and impressive. Fans of Cordeux’s past work will find much to like here. The singer seems to have found solace in simplicity: stripped back to basics, Fuzz Phantoms sounds like two musicians (and their bassist pal) enjoying themselves. They’re unlikely to set the world alight with this release alone, but for the moment, the pair seem content – and rightfully so.

    Key tracks: “No Crime”, “Nowhere”, “Met A Youngster”

  • The Vine interview: Thom Powers of The Naked and Famous, December 2010

    An interview for The Vine with Thom Powers of New Zealand pop/rock act The Naked and Famous. Excerpt below.

    Interview – The Naked and Famous

    Throughout their long musical history, the island nation of New Zealand couldn’t lay claim to a single blog-worthy buzz band. Split Enz? Pre-internet, by a long shot. Shihad? They’ve been mining the same hard rock territory for 20-plus years, and they’re unlikely to extend their influence beyond anyone who’s not already a fan. Cut Off Your Hands? A contender, sure, but they’ve not released new music since 2008. Die! Die! Die!? Amazing band, but probably too punk-niche to be retweetable. Flight Of The Conchords? More of a comedy act than musical, I’d argue.

    Formed around the creative partnership of Thom Powers and Alisa Xayalith, The Naked and Famous took their name from a Tricky song. Soon joined by electronic whiz Aaron Short and then David Beadle and Jesse Wood, The Naked and Famous’ fortunes took off with the release of ‘Young Blood’ in May 2010, much to the delight of music fans with an urge to scratch the same itch first disturbed by Passion Pit (and earlier, by MGMT’s debut). A divine slice of electro indie-pop, ‘Young Blood’ – 900,000 views and counting – is a monster single that taps right into the vein of naïve adolescence (for real: its first line is “We’re only young and naïve still”). The September-released album, Passive Me, Aggressive You, shot to #1 on the New Zealand off the back of that single and its equally addictive follow-up, ‘Punching In A Dream’. (Interestingly, first single ‘All Of This’ was released in November 2009, nearly a year before the album’s release. It failed to chart.)

    Despite their neon-glow, both singles betray the band’s true sound. Influenced by acts like Nine Inch Nails and Tool, Passive Me, Aggressive You’s non-singles exhibit more of a fascination with walls of shoegaze-like guitars and electronic sequencing than bright synth-pop. This is promising; it suggests that The Naked And Famous have a plan that extends much further than a couple of hypeworthy singles. Ahead of their appearance on the 2011 Big Day Out tour, TheVine connected with the band’s co-founder, singer, guitarist and producer, Thom Powers, to talk hype, remaining independent, and Reznor.

    I’ve seen the word ‘hipster’ getting thrown in the band’s direction a bit lately. How do you respond to that?

    Dissing us, are they?

    Sometimes it’s positive, sometimes it’s negative. The connotation of ‘hipster’ tends to shift a bit.

    I don’t know. Hipsters are always going to exist, I think, and then they move out of home and grow up I guess. [laughs] I’m not sure, I don’t know. I don’t really know what to do about it. I’m not one of them, so I can’t really relate.

    Good answer. Do you read your own press?

    Sometimes, yeah. I skim through it. I try not to take it all too seriously. But it’s really hard unless you’re some sort of Zen Buddhist to actually detach and not become emotional about things, so it’s more to protect yourself. Don’t read the good ones, and don’t read the bad ones either. I do skim through them. I take it at face value, really.

    Do you care about what people think about the band?

    It’s a weird question. Yeah, I think I do, but at the same time if all I cared about was what people thought about [us], it would be superficial. I think that’s a pretty complicated question to ask, because I would care about what people thought if they thought it was destroying the world. But if some hipster thinks that I’m not cool enough, and he wants to call me a ‘faggot’ on the Internet, then I don’t really care about that. I can’t quite answer that question because there are too many social levels to answer it on.

    For the full interview, visit The Vine.

    More of The Naked and Famous on their website. The music video for their song ‘Young Blood‘ is embedded below.