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Austra, Feel It Break

 
27 December, 2011
 
 
 

 

By Katerina Antonopoulou


I still remember how I first discovered this Toronto trio. A late, boring night a couple of months ago, I was sitting with just my laptop for company trying to find something interesting to see or a friend how wasn't half asleep to talk to on Facebook. That's when I noticed a friend's post mentioning the band. I usually trust his wicked musical taste so it was easy for me to hit play… Moments later I found myself staring the screen, mesmerized. For those wondering, "The Beast" was his choice of track. 


Katie Stelmanis' operatic voice, in combination with her skills on the piano, turned a tedious night into an atmospheric one. Like most people, I did my research and I learned about her classical background and education in the Canadian Children's Opera (she has studied the viola and the piano) along with the background of Maya Potepski (her drummer) and Dorian Wolf (her bassist). You will allow me to say -hers- because although Austra may be a trio, the songs are primarily written by Stelmanis herself and the band seems to be just her way of creating something bigger and better than her debut record "Join Us". Austra's touring lineup includes twin back-up singers Sari and Romy Lightman of "Tasseomancy" and Ryan Wonsiak of "Ze and the Boyfriends".
She has a very strong Do It Yourself attitude, which is branded in her mentality and way of work led her from Toronto to England where she booked her own gigs. Until she signed with Domino Records. Also having the likes of Damian Taylor (Bjork, UNKLE) producing "Feell It Break" came in handy. The comparison with Bat for Lashes, Kate Bush or Ladytron's earlier work is inevitable, but the thing is, after you listen to "Shoot the Water", "The Noise" or "Beat and Pulse", it doesn't really matter. Her ethereal vocals and her dark lyrics compensate for the slight repetitiveness of the sound throughout the album.  Case in point: listen to Stelmanis oh-so most dramatic voice asking: "The morning that I was born again I was made into a beast. Am I free now? Am I at peace?"


Yes, this is not a happy album nor is it a sappy one, lyrics-wise. It's one of those that make you want pure yourself a drink and simply let yourself drift away in your thoughts while moving your body slowly to her warm electro-goth rhythm. In her own words "I used to write songs with the intention that people would listen to them in their headphones when they needed to escape. Now I keep the same mentality, but also want people to be able to dance and completely lose themselves in a more physical way. If I can emotionally stimulate the mind and the body through music, I'll feel like I've accomplished something significant."


I'm not the one to tell you if she has achieved her goal. But she has managed to write an album that makes it difficult not to press replay at the end of it. And in this reviewers humble opinion, that's not something that happens very often. 

 



QUICK ALBUM FACTS

Primary Genre: Indy

Subgenre: New Wave

Release Date: 17 May 2011 

Label: Domino 

Influences: Kate Bush, PJ Harvey, The Knife 

Like This And You'll Probably Also Like: Fever Ray, Nikki & The Dove, Chelsea Wolfe 

Album Highlights: Lose It, Beat and The Pulse, The Choke, The Noise, The Beast

  

 

austra   

 


 

NIX'S 2 CENTS

 

"I enjoy listening to this a lot, some of these tracks have been on my ipod playlists for a while now and I keep discovering subtle little nuances that keep it fresh for me. Really good work, I'm feeling a decent 7/10 on this"

 

austra1

 


 

Contributor mini-profile

 
Katerina Antonopoulou

Katerina Antonopoulou

 
10 Fluffy Reviews
 
Remember what Dread Astaire used to sing: “Shit happens when you party naked”. It sounds disturbingly fun. Don’t you think?
 
Mini bio

She almost failed math in high school because instead of solving integrals she kept reading "Q" and "NME". Luckily she is somewhat intelligent and managed to get her degree from Uni. She now works her way towards becoming a broker, which would be relatively easy if it wasn't for the fact that her social skills are equal to those of Mr Bean.

 
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The Dead Weather
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Depeche Mode

 

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