Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part of our Song of the Day podcast subscription. This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unreleased tracks, and recordings from independent artists that our DJs think you should hear. Each and every Friday we offer songs by local artists. Today’s selection, featured on The Morning Show with John Richards, is “Beat and the Pulse” by Austra from the 2011 debut single on Domino.
Austra’s fronting singer-songwriter, Katie Stelmanis, was opera bound at age 10. She studied privately for years, learned viola and piano, and performed with the prestigious Canadian Children’s Opera Chorus — that is, until she went to a punk show, joined a band, and listened to NIN and The Knife. And while the darkness-obsessed, classically influenced sound might have been the driving force in her musical career, the result with Austra is utterly danceable, shimmering, and with the right amount of mood: sexy and big. Her vocals aggressively yet beautifully kick through the electro-synth-pop goodness brought forth by the other elements in the group. Teaming up with fellow former Galaxy member Maya Postepski on drums, and Dorian Wolf on bass, Stelmanis has finally let go of three years of fierce book-it-yourself independence with her solo career and opened it up in Austra, and a force to be reckoned with was born.
Their debut single, “Beat and The Pulse,” is chrome-plated music with a bass track to die for. In spite of the digital overload and cool production, the vocals wash over it, albeit one brief wave at a time, with Stelmanis’ molten voice and the empowerment of reverb. Today’s song of the day is a sensual exchange between hot and cold, dark and light. And it’s entertaining to hear it play out as big as it is coming from the Toronto threesome.
For now, there are just a few East Coast and Canadian dates to see them live, but don’t fret; there are surely to be more from them soon. To see the full list of dates and venues, and to check back for more tour updates go to their website, Facebook or MySpace pages. And if hearing it isn’t enough, visualize it in this video (warning: even this “clean” version may be NSFW):