Archives for posts with tag: Cate Le Bon


There were 108 posts published on PopLib in 2019. These were the Top 12 ‘Most Viewed’ posts.

1 “Ah Bah D’Accord” by Juniore

“The pulsing bassline and buzzing farfisa organ topped with a coolly dismissive vocal updates that peculiarly French style of late 1960s pulp garage pop associated with Serge Gainsbourg particularly the colourful run of singles featuring Brigitte Bardot.”

2 “Voice” by Seafog

““Animal Lovers” is a perfect combination of raw and distressed Sonic Youth-styled wall-of-guitar noise frenzy (showcased on the relentless thundering 12-minute drone-jam “Feelings”) often set to pulsing motorik drumming, and the loose jangling lo-fi charm of bands like The Verlaines and The Clean in their earliest forms (as the more restrained and crisp “Voice” here demonstrates).”

3 “Dairy of a Rose” by Mega Bog

“On the surface it’s almost conventional and somewhat  hushed motorik guitar pop. But darting, buzzing and weaving among the rhythm guitar, synth, bass and drums is an unusual assemblage of delicately odd experimental musical noise, and the decidedly un-subdued and brilliant free-ranging lead guitar of Meg Duffy. The combination of that quietly bustling and burbling sonic mixture, the unexpected melodic twists, and Birgy’s vocal delivery brings to mind a variation on the kind of leftfield individualistic pop of Cate Le Bon.”

4 “Valse Tango” by Grand Veymont

“…multiple keyboard/ synth parts interwoven and ever-changing. At times reminiscent of exploratory psycehedelic rock, medieval music, and the kind of repetitive human-made machine music of the likes of Harmonia and Cluster. The vocals add an extra element of other-wordliness to this. Combined with the motorik keyboard music, sometimes evokes the kind of European grand pop of Stereolab, and at other times the wordless voice improvises flights of fantasy into the aether.”

5 “Datsun” by The S-Bends

““Datsun” shares a similar storytelling approach to post-punk guitar-pop as Don McGlashan in Blam Blam Blam and The Mutton Birds (eg: the similarly car-themed “White Valiant”). And there’s shades here of the kind of atmosphere (without the vocal melodrama) The Triffids regularly conjured – like the song is transporting the listener into scenes from a movie, or into the pages of a short story.”

6 “Cruise Control” by House Deposit

““Cruise Control” here seems less ‘dolewave’ and more like ‘droll-wave’ with its gloriously laconic sing-speak delivery, shared around the band members and somewhere betwixt the deadpan delivery of The Goon Sax and Courtney Barnett’s quotidian poetry. Simple stuff, doing the classic unfussy Australian strum&jangle guitar band thing very well indeed, and a very nice instrumental coda reminiscent of the Go-Betweens rhythm & lead guitar interplay at the end adding the perfect sprinkle of shredded dessicated coconut on their fluffy musical lamington bake.”

7 “Stardust” by Francisca Griffin

““Stardust” explodes like a supernova, solar flares of plasma manifesting in Forbes Williams’ structural guitar noise. That unexpected combination of prototypical Dunedin jangling folk-rock and equally prototypical Dunedin noise-rock forms propels the song into the “Stardust” of the title.  It all makes for something quite unusual and glorious.”

8 “Where Are You My Love?” By J.McFarlane’s Reality Guest

“The album is notionally ‘synth-pop’ but in a minimalist way. “Where Are You My Love?” stands out for its unusual simplicity, the song taking the form of an almost traditional folk lament sung over minimal instrumentation of synth, and flute.”

9th = “Hissing Waves” by The Leaf Library

““Hissing Waves”, with it’s twin-voiced lyrical meditation on “an endless looping cycle” of space and time, sits somewhere in the middle between the organic pastoral mood at one extreme and the mechanical hum at the other.  It serves as a perfect introduction to this enigmatic and individual album.”

9th = “Daylight Matters” by Cate Le Bon

“Once again there’s an Eno-esque quality to the sounds on “Daylight Matters” with its gorgeous descending chords and warm blanket of treated saxophone, with twisting guitar over a gentle bed of piano chords. It’s always the unexpected touches, like the parts the instruments are playing and the melodic diversions along the way, which help provide Le Bon’s songs with their distinctive appeal. That and her unmistakable voice.”

10th = “Breeding Feeling”“Breeding Feeling” by Current Affairs

“…the reverb-heavy chorus and flange guitar sound of “Breeding Feeling” draws on that classic post-punk sound, adding its own distinctive joyous earworm chorus.”

10th = “Tracks” by Russian Baths

“Russian Baths create a thrillingly brutal variation on shoegaze, their submerged dream-state melodic vocals bound together with layered rasps of metallic guitars that have more in common with Husker Du and Sonic Youth than Slowdive and My Bloody Valentine. The contrasts between extremes here on “Tracks” are compelling; noise with whispers, harshness with softness, turmoil with tranquility, menace with comfort, dystopia with utopia, darkness with light…”

Cate Le Bon 2019.jpg“Daylight Matters” is the first song shared ahead of the release of “Reward”, the 4th album from California-based Welsh musician Cate Le Bon, on 24 May 2019. As always with each of Le Bon’s albums, this first taste of “Reward” suggests something a little different and yet also unmistakably her good self.

Once again there’s an Eno-esque quality to the sounds on “Daylight Matters” with its gorgeous descending chords and warm blanket of treated saxophone, with twisting guitar over a gentle bed of piano chords. It’s always the unexpected touches, like the parts the instruments are playing and the melodic diversions along the way, which help provide Le Bon’s songs with their distinctive appeal. That and her unmistakable voice.

I remember this song – the words in particular – from Le Bon’s recent piano-based show in Dunedin on her recent NZ tour.  Words are important, as Le Bon explains, talking about the album name: “People hear the word ‘reward’ and they think that it’s a positive word” says Le Bon, “and to me it’s quite a sinister word in that it depends on the relationship between the giver and the receiver. I feel like it’s really indicative of the times we’re living in where words are used as slogans, and everything is slowly losing its meaning.”

“Reward” is available to pre-order now on all the usual formats. The pre-order from Bandcamp comes with a download of “Daylight Matters” now and the rest of the album on its release day. I’m hoping this will turn up in NZ record stores, but a digital pre-order is irresistible in the meantime.

Cate Le Bon Crab Day

Cate Le Bon brings her unique music stylings to Dunedin Tuesday 19 February with a piano-based performance which promises to provide an intimate and idiosyncratic gateway to her impressive song-list. Here’s “Wonderful” from her most recent album “Crab Day”.

Early albums “Me Oh My” (2009) and “Cyrk” (2012) were notionally folk, or neo-folk, or maybe psych-folk (or all of the above). “Mug Museum” (2013) started to expand the pop and rock elements in the sound much more.

All the albums pull in many directions. “Crab Day” is the most exploratory and intriguing; a kind of artful and fruity avant-garde psych-pop. In the same way that the likes of Robert Wyatt and Brian Eno, in their early exploratory solo music-making forms would confound familiar tropes while creating brilliant unusual avant-pop, Cate Le Bon also inhabits her own stylistic universe. It’s delightfully perverse experimental pop-craft, packed full of imaginative lyrics, melodies and arrangements. The subsequent EP “Rock Pool” (“the killed darlings from the “Crab Day” sessions”) is an essential addition.

There’s a distinctly experimental kind of oddness running through most of the music I’ve heard over the years from musicians from Wales. John Cale is probably the best known from his time in the Velvet Underground and string of classic solo albums starting in the 70s (“Paris 1919” is a great starting point if you are unfamiliar). Then in the 1980s it was the turn of post-punks Datblygu (a kind of Welsh-language equivalent of The Fall), followed by the extraordinary Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci in the 1990s then Super Furry Animals, each pushing their takes on psychedelic folk and rock out into space.

Here’s “Wonderful” performed live in the Radio K (KUOM) studio in Minnesota in 2016.

Cate le bon NZ tour

Drinks Cate le Bon Tim PresleyHappy New Year! It’s traditional to celebrate the arrival of the New Year with drinks, so here’s Drinks with “Corner Shops”.

“Corner Shops” is from an album called “Hippo Lite” released April 2018 by LA based avant-pop outfit Drinks. Drinks is made up of Welsh psych-pop experimenter Cate Le Bon and US anglo-phile lo-fi pop fanatic Tim Presley (White Fence).

It’s a great combination of musical adventurers.  Presley’s stock-in-trade is a kind of oddly British take on US garage rock, mixing a bit of early, Syd Barrett-era, Pink Floyd with some deconstructed Kinks and Who style pop into the scratchy melodic din. Le Bon’s music encompasses psych-pop, folk, avant-garde experimental pop and her own kind of unique spark that sets her apart as an original.

“Corner Shops” combines the best of these two artists, – music by turns playful, haunting, beautifully melodic, experimental in a post-punk kind of way, and just a bit minimalist and weirdly off-kilter, like some contemporary development of the partially familiar but strangely original musical forms of the likes of post-Roxy Music Eno or Robert Wyatt in his various post-Soft machine forms.

Cate Le Bon tours NZ in February, playing piano, accompanied by John Thomas (Cate Le Bon/Islet) on synth and sampler, for an intimate rework of her diverse catalogue.

Cate le bon NZ tour.jpg

Cate Le Bon Rock PoolI first heard this fabulously psychedelic Cate Le Bon song a few months ago but it’s taken until now to discover it is on Bandcamp, the title track of a 4 song EP released at the end of January this year.

There’s much about the music on this EP that reminds me of the weirdness of fellow Welsh psychedelic adventurers Gorkys Zygotic Mynci and also a kind of sparse and folkish take on the playful astral psych of Super Furry Animals.

But in “Rock Pool” in particular Cate Le Bon somehow manages to (accidentally?) evoke the kind of whimsical surrealist psychedelia of the likes of early 70s Robert Wyatt and Kevin Ayers. Turns out the tracks are all out-takes from her recent album “Crab Days”. Or as Cate explains them: “”Rock Pool” is the killed darlings from the Crab Day sessions brought back to life on a classic 2-2 formation. Written under the same banner of the impossibly absurd and emerging to unimaginable bedlam.” 

Now a bit of exploration of the entire Cate Le Bon back catalogue is required…