Posts Tagged ‘Wake Up’

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Hazel English has shared a new video for her single “Five and Dime” taken from her debut album “Wake UP!” , which you can pick up now from the Polyvinyl Store. Before I dive in, grab the nearest hairbrush, broom, swiffer – whatever your mic of choice is. Because Hazel English’s “Five and Dime” is a you’ve-absolutely-gotta sing along kinda track. And now it’s got an incredibly fun new video to boot! The visual has Hazel traversing every color to dazzling effect. Dive in now.

And don’t you dare miss out on Hazel’s wonderful World Cafe session! From science fiction to an intimate home recording, it’s truly such a treat.

‘”Five and Dime” is a woozy, idyllic view into Hazel’s world, which is built on timeless-sounding melodies, retro-tinged soundscapes and a knack for resonant lyrics. The mid-tempo number is reminiscent of the playful love songs of ’60s pop, as Hazel frustratedly muses on a love interest who is consuming her thoughts and detracting from her focus, “Gotta get away cause you’re taking up all of my time / You know I need my space so I’m heading to the Five and Dime.”

Speaking about the new video, Hazel says: “Five and Dime” is about longing for escape and freedom so I thought it would be fun to create an idyllic beach vacation, constructed from a set with cardboard cut out waves and fake palm trees. The idea behind it is that while I’m fantasizing about escaping to a tropical place, it’s clear I’m just kind of stuck in this pretend version of it. I wanted to evoke the nostalgia of Hollywood musicals from the ’50s and ’60s, complete with dance choreography and bright colourful costumes.”

Five and Dime is taken from my debut album “Wake Up!”

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With her debut full-length album, Wake UP!, Hazel English has traded the hazy, reverb drenched production styles prevalent in her earlier work for sounds synonymous with classic pop records from the late 60’s. Production isn’t the only dramatic change, however. A move from San Francisco to Los Angeles to explore a collaborative relationship with producer Justin Raisen (Sky Ferreira, Charli XCX, Angel Olsen) proved to bring a fine tuned sense of pop craftsmanship to the songs that would become Wake UP!

On tracks like Shaking, Off My Mind, and Five and Dime, English’s sharpened sense for song writing are on full display with timeless pop hooks and addictive melodies. Wake UP! casts a wry, appraising eye over modern life and promises to be one of the highlights of 2020.

Straw-man time: If it’s hard to make a truly bad dream-pop album, it’s equally tricky to make a really good one, and for identical reasons. The essential ingredients are the same in either case. You need reverb, introspection and hazy melodies that evoke ’60s pop. How you fit them together is what makes all the difference. Australian-born Los Angeles transplant Hazel English puts those elements to use in service of 10 songs that glide by comfortably on her full-length debut, Wake Up!. It’s a respectable enough effort, full of chiming guitars and sleek vocals as English delivers lyrics that parse feelings of isolation and explore power dynamics from romantic relationships to capitalism. Despite the sometimes fraught subject matter, her songs are engaging and pleasant, as well as a reminder to be present and engaged with herself and the world around her.

They also feel more fussed-over than the EPs she released in 2016 and 2017, which had an immediacy these songs sometimes lack. After demonstrating intimacy and charm on her earlier material, English shows with Wake Up! that she’s capable of making a bright, big-sounding album. Once she gets around to combining those sensibilities, well, look out.

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“Sometimes I feel like we’re just sleepwalking through our lives. We’re not really present.” Hazel English wants us to open our eyes. Through her shimmering, daydream-pop, the California based singer-songwriter is on a mission to rattle the cages of our very existence, asking us to dig deep and ask challenging questions of ourselves. “Wake UP!”, her debut album, is a call to arms: an attempt to “make people become more aware and mindful,” she says.

Since debuting with bittersweet single ‘Never Going Home’ in 2016, the Sydney-born artist has felt the urge to connect with her listeners in a meaningful way. Blending wistful, candid lyricism with jangling psych and beach-pop sounds, English’s compelling song-writing has earned her over 25 million streams, airplay on BBC Radio 1, 6Music and Beats, praise from Lauren Laverne and Annie Mac, and press acclaim with double EP Just Give In/Never Going Home labelled by The 405 as “one of the strongest records of the year”. 2019 saw her gain an even wider audience after touring with Lord Huron and Death Cab For Cutie.

Where the double EP was very much a lo-fi, bedroom-produced record, English left her home setup behind in favour of roomy recording studios and tapped up session players for her debut album. Bigger, lusher, and more live-sounding, the LP shows a new side to English: one that conveys the joy and excitement of collaboration. Drawing from a more grandiose sonic palette while pulling on the same sun-kissed thread of her previous work, half of the record was made in LA with super-producer Justin Raisen (Sky Ferreira, Charli XCX, Angel Olsen), while English flew to Atlanta to work with Ben H. Allen (Deerhunter, M.I.A, Animal Collective) on the other half.

Listening to the record, it should come as no surprise that ‘Revolver’-era Beatles, The Mamas & The Papas, The Zombies and Jefferson Airplane were all at the forefront of her mind while recording. “Radical messages need a raw and vibrant backdrop to pop,” she says, and she’s kept her trademark sunshine-filled sound that fits her Los Angeles dwelling, but with bigger, stirring choruses. It’s a testament to English’s writing style and ear for a hook that she won’t make anything that she couldn’t play stripped back to its bones, refusing to rely on production to carry a song. Standouts like the infectious ‘Off My Mind’ and ‘Like A Drug’, with its swirling hypnosis, find English’s songcraft at its most accomplished.

Lead single ‘Shaking’ wears its ‘60s psych influences on its paisley patterned sleeve. Written by Hazel and frequent collaborator Blake Stranathan (Lana Del Rey), it was a painstaking effort: “I just couldn’t rest until I had gotten it to a place where it felt like I could sleep at night. And I’m really glad I did,” she says. Tackling themes of power, lust, manipulation, pleasure, and control, its Erin S. Murray-directed video strikes right at the heart of this idea, finding English as the charismatic ringleader of her own Manson-esque cult, manipulating her subjects in a baby doll dress and beehive hairstyle. “It presents the promise of a spiritual awakening as a kind of seduction,” she says.

An open sufferer of anxiety, English wrote the record following something of an existential crisis. Stuck and isolated, she felt like life was becoming a series of mundane objectives. She began asking herself: “am I happy? Do I like the direction I’m going in life? Am I engaged with my community? Do I feel connected to others?” English realised that the answers to all these questions were, for her, resounding nos. The album’s title became a kind of personal mantra to her – “a reminder to wake up and be present in a time where we are used to switching off and looking for constant entertainment,” she says. “[‘Wake UP!] will mean something different to everyone. Like, oh yeah, I’ve been sleeping on this goal of mine, or I need to spend more time with my kids. It’s for whatever people need to confront.”

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Obsessing over old movies and vintage clothing since the age of 15, English took cues from surrealism, dadaism and the writings of sci-fi novelist Philip K. Dick for the record. She wrote words before she became a musician – before a student exchange programme prompted her San Francisco move, English was studying creative writing in Melbourne and writing poetry prolifically. After reading Guy Debord’s 1967 book The Society of the Spectacle, English began pondering our obsession with self-image. In it, Debord considers how we get caught up in the ‘spectacle’: How am I perceived by others? How can I make it seem like I’m successful? English draws parallels from the ‘60s text with our social media-crazed present as “essentially creating a fabricated version of yourself and making sure it seems like you’re living this amazing life. It’s not a true experience. That just makes us unhappy, I think.”

Confronting issues with the rampant, consumerist nature of capitalism and “our human propensity for dissatisfaction,” Wake UP! also explores power struggles, with English looking at how shifting dynamics affect relationships, be it in the music industry or in romantic life. The record dives into unbalanced power dynamics, be it “feeling stuck in a one-sided relationship where the other person cares less,” “needing space in order to seek power within myself, or feeling like I’m the one holding all the cards in a relationship.”

Wake UP! is a rallying call to our 2020 selves; a reminder of what our core values are, packaged up in a glorious, sparkling record. “I hope I can inspire others to also search for their inner truths and find their own inner strength in the process,” English says. “I wanted to create something really dynamic, and kinda wild.”

releases April 24th 2020

WISCON – “

Posted: August 8, 2016 in MUSIC
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Last Friday, “joy-wave” band Wiscon released a brand new single called “Wake Up.”

The track, which was recorded by music maven Brandon Eggleston (Mountain Goats, Modest Mouse, The Dandy Warhols), features warm, fuzzy guitar and synthesizer sounds and claustrophobic drumming, resulting in a Devo-like quirkiness. Paired with Taryn Renee Dorsey’s strong, Mowtown-style vocals and layered harmonies the result is something of a Jetson’s themed sock-hop scored by the bastard child of Mary Wells and the Rentals.

The band seems to have a good sense for storytelling, both with the song’s lyrics and the accompanying official video. This is a full-fledged early MTV-style short film starring the band as both characters and performers, intended for active viewing to give the song added meaning. I love the shots of the band members’ images performing as a projection on their bodies, and I kind of want they to set up while I’m sleeping and wake me up with the song like they do to Dorsey at the video’s conclusion, though oddly enough she seems to have another member of the in bed with her on this particular morning. Perhaps they have some sort of Fleetwood Mac style thing going to make sure they don’t actually wake up alone?