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Who are Angus and Julia Stone?
Angus and Julia Stone are a two piece band from Sydney, Australia. The band write their own music and play their own instruments. Angus and Julia are siblings, which oftens confuses people as their genre of music is very love and relationship orientated. Their parents played as a folk duo before Angus and Julia were born, and encouraged them from a young age to learn to play instruments, join bands and practice writing music. Angus and Julia formed a duo in 2005. Prior to that, they both had performed as solo artists at various gigs and since making the decision to collaborate they have released 6 EP's, a compilation album and 2 studio albums. The band's genre of music is very versatile and ranges from pop, blues, folk and melodies. Angus and Julia both play a wide range of instruments which can be heard in their songs. Some of these instrumets include the drums, harmonica, guitar, piano, trumpet, cello and mandolin. If I had to compare their music to another band or artist, I would definetly say they are very similar to Bon Iver, Bob Dylan, Noah And The Whale, Bombay Bicycle Club, Fleet Foxes, Mumford and Sons, etc. Obviously though they have their own unique sound.
The Band Members
Angus Stone - Vocals, Song Writer, Guitar, Harmonica, Trumpet, Cello, Mandolin, Drums
Julia Stone - Vocals, Song Writer, Piano, Violin, Guitar, Harmonica
A Book Like This
A Book Like This is the band's debut album. It was released in 2007 in Australia but took time to become noticed in the UK, however by 2008 they were in the UK charts. Their are 13 full length tracks on the album and an alternative version was released in 2009 which had new material on it. Angus and Julia, with little external help, produced the album. Since the release of the album, it has become Platinum in Australia. The album was greeted with open arms and recieved some of the most positive reviews in music magazines that I think i've ever read. The Guardian said "Angus and Julia Stone fill my heart to bursting point with joy". after the release of their album, Angus and Julia also collaborated with Newton Faulkner and David Gray.
You can really tell that Angus and Julia put thought and effort into creating the art work for this album. It is quite a simple illustration in black and white of a group of children standing at a sign in the middle of no where which points in different directions. It reminds me alot of the Wizard of Oz. The story behind the artwork, told by the designer, is as follows - "While at the family farm in Nimbin Australia, shooting the video clip for "What You Wanted", Julia discovered an old children's book in the attic belonging to her great grandmother, at the time Angus, Julia and Mitch were working on new songs for the upcoming debut album and were inspired by the three child characters on the cover, thinking they were an ideal symbolic reference to the band and their journey. From there the name "A Book Like This" was spawned." The back of the album is very plain, it shows an illustration of a field and trees which is really spooky looking but simplistic. The tracks are listed (unnumbered) down the left hand side. The font is quite hard to read as it is swirly but I love it anyway, it looks really vintage.
Price and Availablity
I bought my copy of the album from Amazon and paid £6.99. It is also available from Supermarkets such as tesco and it is also stocked in HMV, CEX and other music shops. Prices vary from £6 to £11. Obviously if buying from eBay you can get it cheaper, but I think that the album is well worth the full price of £11 because it has 13 full length tracks and it is such a beautiful album which has obviously had a huge amount of time and effort put into it.
Track 1 The Beast
As the album's opening track, it's not the best choice they could of made as it is one that alot of people will probably skip after 10 seconds of listening to it as it starts out quite slow, but then it does actually progress within the blink of an eye into a bizzare merge of upbeat instrumentals while Angus sings about a village torturing a monster. Anyway, I do actually quite like this song, although it's taken me a while to come to like it as it's quite different to their other songs - it's much faster paced and the vocals have a bit more versatility, they don't keep one tone throughout the voice which some people might see as a good thing. The instrumentals at first are bizzare, but then the strong, rock sounding guitar riff and drums kick in. In my opinion the song is about feeling victimized. It's about societys expectations and how bad the world is becoming.. how people live in fear of the governments and higher authorities, and basically been a slave to society. The line "kids trading roses for guns" is quite a powerful line. There are also drug refrences and a line about running from the police. I love the duet at the ending wih Angus and Julia singing over each other in different tones of voice (one upbeat (Julia) and one depressed/fed up (Angus). Anyway, this isn't my favourite song on the album - I prefer the slower paced songs.
Track 2 Here We Go Again
The instrumentals at the beginning are gorgeous, it has a real spanish fiesta kind of sound to it lol - very upbeat. This song is a solo song, with no Angus, just Julia singing. The song is about living together, been almost ontop of eachother, but not feeling anything emotionally - "You can live in the corner of my room and I will live somewhere between the ceiling and the wall." She doesn't love him anymore but wants to keep him close as it's all she knows - "it's not as fun as it used to be." The instrumentals are lovely in this song, they're the only reason that I really listen to it (I find the vocals slightly repetitive), but I love how it all builds up at the end with the piano, harmonica, trumpet, drums and guitars. I can't fault the vocals in this song as her voice is so pretty and unqiue, but it just gets a bit too samey for me, this is probably because I prefer and relate more to the more in depth and fast paced songs.
Track 3 Wasted
I like this song but it's not really one of my favourites as it is quite repetitive. The instrumentals build up and then fade again, it's a really unusual sounding song. The song is about a girl been infactuated with a man who doesn't love her back/doesn't know she loves him. She has guys after her but isn't interested as she only wants one certain person, which is why her love is wasted. The song is really good, you can hear the confusion and frustration in her voice. I really like the ending when the instrumentals and vocals fade out and I also like the parts where angus and julia duet.
Track 4 Just a Boy
This is another of my favourite songs. Angus is solo in this which I love as I adore Angus' voice. The guitar riff at the beginning really sets the upbeat mood of the song and then the drums, piano and harmonica kick in. This song has something special. It's such a sweet, innocent and true song. The song, I think, is about a guy (Angus) who is infactuated with someone. He is talking about how one kiss from her is enough to feel drunk (on love) - "One kiss from you and I'm drunk off of your potion." He feels silly though as he has only just met the girl - "I met you once and I'd fallen for your notions" and he's keeping himself from telling her how he feels - "I bit my tongue in the akward coversation". I think the song might be about a groupie, and him having sex with her, as a number of lines suggest this, including - "A big old smile is all you wore". Another possibility is that the song is about him losing his virginity to someone, but the person thinking that he's too inexperienced and young to have sex yet, but he persaudes her that he is - "Girl you make me want to feel, things i've never felt before" and "Did I say i'm just a boy? You can hold me to that" This has a very feel good, care-free sound to it. It's a very folky, indie song, the type you'd hear at a big country fair or picnic with people dancing about to it. The instrumentals get a bit hectic at times, however it definetly works - it doesn't sound too over the top and it simply helps in building the whole emotion and meaning of the song.
Track 5 Bella
This song is one of my favourites on the album - it is beautiful in every possible way. I get chills as soon as the song starts. At the very start of the song, a sweet little voice says "Hello!" in between the gentle guitar twangs - it really freaked me out at first as I didn't realise it was part of the song. It sounds like a little girl, but because of the versatility of Julia's voice and her ability to sound much younger, I think it's likely that it is Julia who's the one saying it. Why she's saying hello I have no idea but it makes the song what it is because the beginning somewhat merges in with the meaning of the song. Then the beautiful, upbeat instrumentals start - a guitar and a piano (I think), and Angus' vocals kick in. As soon as his voice hits my eardrums it's like I fall into a coma. His voice is seriously that relaxing. His voice is just amazing - so soft, meaningful and 'true' - you know when he is singing that he means every word, you can just hear the passion and love. The lyrics to me at first was about a boy meeting a girl and asking her to dance because he's attracted to her - "And there you spoke the words of a gentleman, can I have this dance with you?", then getting to know her and becoming infactuated with her and then the couple mutually falling in love. When I write song reviews I always research the song to make sure that I don't miss anything important out in my review, and when I researched this song I came across an interview in which Angus explained the meaning of the song. The song is about a childhood friend of his and Julia's. The friend's name was Bella. Bella died of cancer, and this song is about her. After finding this out and relistening to the song several times, it all makes sudden sense. It's about childhood naivity when it comes to death, and is talking about the death of a friend from the perspective of Angus as a child, as this line shows - "Won't you come on home, I built us a flying machine." He doesn't understand that she is gone, and misses her and her beauty desperately. Then it's got a line that shows that Angus wants Bella to experience the things in the present (although obviously knows that she can't as she's gone) that she never did - "we'll sail the seven seas." You can tell from the lyrics and passion in Angus' voice that Bella really lit up a room and meant an awful lot to those around her. You can tell how much this girl meant to Angus, with him describing her beauty and his feelings relating to her. It's a beautiful tribute to her, and it's lovely as well as heartbreaking. I know it sounds rather depressing but it isn't, although it does make me feel quite sad and empathetic but this is only because I know the meaning behind the song. The instrumentals keep an upbeat pace and merge into the vocals so well - Angus' voice goes through a range of emotions which keep me hooked to the song until the very end. Angus' vocals are so powerful, despite how soft he sings, he doesn't need to shout or scream to get his feelings and point across. This is one of those songs that sticks in your head as it's so catchy and beautiful, it's the sort of song which when you listen to it with your partner it makes you fall in love all over again. I just love it and I can't reccomend it enough.
Track 6 Hollywood
I didn't really like this the first time I heard it as the guitar and violin at the beginning are quite slow, but once the vocals kick in it totally transforms into a magically beautiful piece of music. The song really is beautiful. The song is sung by Julia, who's voice I love as she sounds so sweet and innocent but she has the ability to really build up emotion in her songs. This is a really meaningful song when you sit and listen to the lyrics. The song is about the lack of reality in todays TV/childrens programmes, which create a false impression of the world to children, and it goes through a variety of different Disney characters and discusses what there fate in the real world would be, for example "Cinderella would have scrubbed those floors till her hands grew old and tired, and nobody would look away" It is a really sad song, it just really speaks so much truth, and you can hear the dissapointment in her voice - "I blame you Hollywood, for showing me things you never should show a young girl, in a cruel world." and she is saying how she feels like she will never find true love or have a happy ending, although she is aware that other people do find happiness - "Because life's not a happy ending, i'm sure there is some, like Johnny and June." This is referring to Johnny Cash and June Carter, which I think is more irony than anything and it backs up that the TV portrays things that are overexaggurated and manufactured to be fun and happy, which simply isn't the real world.
Track 7 A Book Like This
This is such a powerful song. It is about a couple drifting apart and saying their goodbyes, she is telling him how much he means to her - "Sun lights up the day time, you light up my life" but they need to seperate for whatever reason and it's beyond her control. Julia's voice reminds me of Bon Iver's voice in this song for some reason because of the gritty edge. I absolutely love it when her voice cracks slightly, and I love the meaningful, relatable (to me, anyway) lyrics as they progress throughout the song, growing stronger with passion and then suddenly fading down.
Track 8 Silver Coin
This is my favourite song on the album. I will never, ever get sick of this song and it's far too beautiful to ever forget. It gives me goosebumps from the second it starts. The instrumentals are gorgeous and progress through the song, building emotion and energy. I'm not entirely sure what the instruments used in this song are. I think there's definetly the guitar, piano, drums, violin and something else that I can't quite put my finger on. The lyrics are brilliant and the vocals emphasize each word. Angus' voice as I have said previously is extraordinarily beautiful. He could sing a nursery rhyme and make it sound heartbreakingly beautiful. Julia's backing vocals appear once or twice, giving it that extra bit of meaning and emotion. I love the beginning as it makes such sense to me, been in a crowded place but only been able to focus on that one person or been distracted by the thought of a loved one. The song will probably have different meanings to everyone. I personally think it is about a man (Angus) in a relationship that he can no longer mantain, he knows that his partner is going to leave him and wants her to know that he'll miss her when she's gone but won't be chasing after her. The reason the relationship is over is because she thinks that he doesn't appreciate her enough, when in reality he is infactuated but too afraid to show his true feelings - "All the love has gone away, cos I didnt have the heart or strength to say, i'll miss you when you're gone." Then he is reliving the past in his thoughts about that magical moment that he met her. It is such a gorgeous song, the vocals are so meaningful without been depressing, he doesn't sing slow or quietly like alot of guys do when singing about love, he pelts his words out with such force and emotion, if you sit and listen it's like he's talking directly to you. It is such a beautiful song and so catchy, especially the chorus. I really can not fault this track. The lyrics and vocals are so meaningful and the flawless instrumentals really help keep the song fast paced and they bring out the emotion that bit more.
Track 9 Stranger
This song is very folk sounding and kicks off with a harmonica, drums and piano. Then Angus' relaxed and upbeat vocals come in. It's definetly a love song, he is talking about how this girl is different than the others, he only met her a few times, but he loses touch with her and she becomes a stranger to him - "I've never missed a stranger before" Despite losing touch he remembers every detail of been with her, even recalling what she was wearing. Okay, that sounds creepy, but it's a very sweet song, with Angus' vocals so soft and innocent.
Track 10 Soldier
This song is really ironic, it has such an upbeat sound with the instrumentals guitar riff, violin and drums, but the vocals scream emotion, and the lyrics are so sad and desperate. Julia's voice is gorgeous in this song - although the emotion is oozing out of each word she speaks, she sings with such gentleness, and the insecurities, fear and desperation all seap out. I think it's about a lonely girl - "I said I don't know anyone, so how could I possibly know you?" - meeting a guy, a soldier who has recently returned from the horror of war, who makes her realise how intreverted and naive she is after he tells her stories of the war, hate and greed in the world, and she is shocked by his attitude on the world but oddly intriguied so continues meeting him to hear his stories of the world, but slowly falls in love with him. By the end of the song the vocals are very strong and almost screechy - I like this as it makes a change to Julia's usual sound, which is very fragile.
Track 11 Jewels and Gold
I love the gentle guitar at the beginning, and then the drums come in and make it quite a rock sounding song. The song is a very relaxed song, with the opening line been self explanatory about what the song is about - "I'm going round to my friends house to get myself high", and the song is basically the nonsense and daydreams that is in Angus' head while he's under the influence. It's a really relaxing song, and I love Angus' range of vocals - quite deep at times but then he's back to his usual gentle vocals. The bass guitar comes in at 30 seconds, merging rock music with folk, and then at the end the harmonica plays wildly - it's a lovely song.
Track 12 Another Day
This is a nice song, it's got quite a vintage old granny sound to it. It starts out with the piano and then the trumpet starts. Julia's voice is really lovely in this song - husky, sad, full of hope. The song is about been left out and feeling isolated. Angus said that the song was written about a time when him and his friends were surfing on the beach in Australia and Julia turned up in flippers and goggles and he told her to leave them alone and go home, and the experience has stuck with Julia. In the song you can tell she is really upset aout it - "Don't suppose i'll come out to play with you, I'll just sit at home, write another song about how I wanted to" It's quite a sarcastic and ironic sounding song because of the upbeat instrumentals. At the end their is a merge of voices which sounds like children who are backing Julia's vocals, it's weirdly beautiful and haunting.
Track 13 Horse and Cart
This song is gorgeous but I find it a bit too slow. It is a bit 'samey' to the other songs and the song doesn't have a huge amount of meaning.. from what I can gather it is about Angus having a drink at the pub until late and then making his way home. As he walks home his thoughts and feelings for someone are running through his mind as he analyzes the streets and houses in his local town.
A unique album full of emotion and gorgeous vocals to keep you hooked. I can guarentee you will be able to relate to atleast one song on this, as the amount of subject matters that they cover is very diverse. The album is amazing and I can not reccomend it enough.
The brother/sister duo Angus & Julia Stone are the best kept secret `til now.Their debut long player is set to be one of 2008's word of mouth hits with reviews such as Uncut suggesting "A triumph of Intimacy", The Clash "Alive with voices and characters that enchant you" and Nottingham Evening Post "Dreamy folk album packed with melodies".