You may not have heard of Austra yet, but you certainly will once December rolls around with its Best of 2013 lists - the band's June release is definitely a contender - and by that point you will have missed their fall tour and the kickoff date in Pontiac. Which, as any music fan can attest, is a terrible feeling. Here at SHEI we're all about avoiding terrible feelings and so if our warning's not quite enough, allow us to present five more reasons to check out Austra on August 30 at the Crofoot Ballroom.
The second album from name Austra - no sophomore slump here - Olympia is full of orchestral synths and deep set grooves accentuating the obvious focal point and trademark in the making: frontlady Katie Stelmani's powerhouse vocals. By her own admission, the album is significantly more collaborative than the debut Feel It Break, players Maya Postepski and Dorian Wolf have evolved to full on musical contributors and backing vocalist Sari Lightman wrote many of the lyrics. (The band's Facebook page lists a full roster than includes Ryan Wonsiak and Romy Lightman in addition to Stelmani, Postepski, Wolf, and Lightman.) Clear, crisp, and composed to a fault, the end result is an engaging album that creates a unique niche for Austra among all the electro R&B and synth enthusiasts, finessing what Feel It Break set down and filling it out with a full staff.
4. Katie Stelmani's Lungs
As we mentioned, Stelmani's vocals are really Austra's calling card (not to mention something we definitely want to see live) and she makes use of her endlessly impressive range and power, turning her voice into an instrument all her own. Put to essential effect on Olympia, Stelmani adds the emotional weight and gravitas that ups the investment ante just that little bit more.
Along with "Painful Like," "Home" is one of two singles released so far off of Olympia and frankly, it's excellent.
2. It's Classical Music
Well, not really. But as we mentioned, Stelmani is classically trained and has mentioned that as an influence when it came to writing Olympia. Her operatic vocals matched to sweeping compositions (albeit electronic) adds a certain class to Austra not often found in the electronic world (we're looking at you, dubstep). Powerful is a word we use a lot to describe Austra but there is delicacy in the details, not to mention the whole thing just sounds good.
1. Canada-Michigan Love
Stelmani has cited Detroit house as an influence in the sound of Olympia and the Crofoot is Austra's North American Come Feel It Tour kickoff. Toronto is but a hop, skip, and a jump from Detroit and come on, Canadians are involved, good vibes will definitely abound.
Here's one more track for the road - this time from Feel It Break - give it a listen and buy your tickets for the August 30 ($13 advance / $15 door) here. Doors at 8pm, DIANA opens, Austra ensues.