Band To Watch: Austra

Austra is the Toronto trio of vocalist/pianist/etc Katie Stelmanis (ex-Galaxy), drummer Maya Postepski (ex-Galaxy, currently TRUST), and bassist Dorian Wolf (ex-Spiral Beach), but the bulk of the band’s promo photos feature the singer by her lonesome. Even if Stelmanis wasn’t the primary songwriter, her powerful, instantly memorable voice would deserve the front-and-center attention. Some background: She joined the Canadian Children’s Opera at 10, sang for the Canadian Opera Company, and pursued a career in opera (while learning viola and piano) until she attended a punk show and joined a band. Instead of going on to focus on music in college, she listened to NIN and the Knife and started doing production work (for soundtracks and local plays), deciding she wanted to “make classical music with really fucked up, distorted crazy shit on there.” She went on to contribute to Fucked Up’s The Chemistry of Common Life and released the album Join Us under her given name, but considering all that history, Austra’s excellently dark and danceable Feel It Break feels like her proper debut. It was mixed by Damian Taylor (Björk, The Prodigy, UNKLE) and it feels huge. It’s not the fucked-up classical music she first envisioned, no — you could think of another goth-y, minor key-obsessed singers like Zola Jesus and Karin Dreijer Andersson, but Stelmanis & Co. create a lighter, more shimmering atmosphere. At times you might be reminded of Nico’s extremely icy The Marble Index with a warmer new wave pulse. Whatever the case, it’s a strong (100% dud-free) collection and one of 2011′s surefire best. Get acquainted via “Lose It.”

Feel It Break:

01 “Darken Her Horse”
02 “Lose It”
03 “The Future”
04 “Beat And The Pulse”
05 “Spellwork”
06 “The Choke”
07 “Hate Crime”
08 “The Villain”
09 “Shoot The Water”
10 “The Noise”
11 “The Beast”

Feel It Break is out 5/17 via Domino (and on the same day in Canada via Paper Bag). An earlier 12″’d version of “Beat And The Pulse” shows up in different, shorter form on Feel It Break. Here’s the older take:

Make sure to catch Austra at SXSW:

03/17 – The Independent (Prefix) 4PM
03/17 – Emo’s Main Room [outside] (Domino) 10PM
03/19 – Barbarella (Brooklynvegan) 2PM
03/19 – Flamingo Cantina (Nomanis) 3:30PM
03/19 – Poolside in Austin (Cheer Up Charlies) 5PM

Austra - Feel It Break

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Comments (5)
  1. Katie Stelmanis’s vibrato in “Lose It” is incredible.

  2. Oh Wow!!!

    I need to hear this whole album. “Lose It” is incredible!

  3. they were amazing at sxsw!! top 3!

  4. Am in love with Beat and the Pulse

  5. very florence in love with the texture of her voice

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