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Tag: No Doubt

Ummagma’s Frequency: Ethereal, shimmering, unique

ummagma

Just imagine yourself on a rowboat in the final moments after the sun has completely set behind a twilight ocean. Someone behind you is doing all the rowing, and all you have to do is look forward and prepare for a meditative boat ride. That’s what Canadian-Ukrainian duo Ummagma did to me when I listened to their latest EP, Frequency. The mood is fanciful and tranquil, coruscating with electronic, dreampop, and rock elements.

“Lama” starts out dreamy and electronic, then pushes through that cloudy atmosphere into a silvery, rock-inspired galaxy. While earlier in the song the ambient texturizing is the focal point, it’s the eventual rock instrumentation that sets an intriguing, exciting mood.

“Winter Tale” features a cherubic choir, with female vocals calling back and forth to one another over steady, humming beat. It’s a bit exotic-sounding, like Eastern meditation music–and then this kind of splitting, surging sound pierces the utopian chorus towards the second half, like a shooting star flying by and almost hitting one of our choir angels in the halo.

Our rowboat has transformed into a gondola on “Ocean Girl.” Now we’re drifting down a narrow, Venetian water alley with tender accordion, subtle tambourine, and an overall gorgeous, romantic instrumentation accompanying the ride.

The three “Lama” remixes underscore the dreampop aspects to the EP: The Robin Guthrie Remix has deep, sensuous bass that accentuates Shauna McLarnon’s airy vocals; the Malcolm Holmes’ OMD Remix includes catchy dance sections; and the Lights That Change Remix builds into an unexpected electronic dance-rock vibe, almost like No Doubt may pop out of nowhere.

However,  the best part about Ummagma is that you can never really imagine other artists stopping in for a brief feature. Ummagma is discernibly their own style, and Frequency is their ethereal, shimmering lovechild, born for the dreamers and built out of moon rock DNA.–Rachel Haney

Colour the Atlas: Amethyst

colourtheatlas

Colour the Atlas is labeled an alternative/trip hop band, but I find it more accurate to compare the liveliness found on Amethyst to 2000s UK rock. And the more thrilled I got about this revelation, the more I thought vocalist and key player, Jess Hall, resembled the one and only pop-punk princess, Avril Lavigne. Don’t let this confuse you though–Colour the Atlas may involve a recently-retired pop punk sound, but they’ve put a contemporary, soulful spin on it.

It’s more than the texturizing of swelling piano, emotive guitar riffs, and rocky percussion–the vocals most effectively aggrandize emotion. “Scared” features head-turning male and female vocals that somehow never compete with the pop-rock instrumentation. Hall’s voice soars on “Lighter,” where her confidence in range is Aguilera-esque. And “Sweet Harmony” takes the amplification down a notch with a pairing of breathy, smoky male and female vocals.

Variance in instrumentation peaks during “Hold Me Down,” a charming mix of luscious vocals, rich bass, and even glimpses of soulful guitar lines that are all initiated by exotic bits of percussion. Lyrics like, “Hold me down and make me feel/Take me anywhere but here/Show me love and show me fear,” give this track soul.

But it was “I’ll Be Your Lover” that clung to my heart like a Joss Stone song. Once the beat drops, there is a No Doubt feel that had me hooked, especially with the breezy vocals that drift through the dreamy trip-hop.  I can imagine “I’ll Be Your Lover” as the opening song on the Ten Things I Hate About You soundtrack. It’s a pair of high-waisted jeans, a crop top, and short/spiky hair in song form.

Colour The Atlas hasn’t missed their time; they’re just bringing it back, alternative/trip hop style. —Rachel Haney