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Artist: Austra

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Label: Domino
Album: Olympia
# Song Title   Time
1)    What We Done?
2)    Forgive Me
3)    Painful Like
4)    Sleep
5)    Home
6)    Fire
7)    I Don't Care (I'm a Man)
8)    We Become
9)    Reconcile
10)    Annie (Oh Muse, You)
11)    You Changed My Life
12)    Hurt Me Now

Performer Notes
  • Lyricists: Katie Stelmanis; Sari Lightman.
  • Personnel: Katie Stelmanis (vocals, recorder, piano, synthesizer, programming); Anna Sophia Vukovich (violin); Alia O'Brien (flute); Ryan Wonsiak (saxophone, keyboards); Ewan Kay (trombone); Maya Postepski (organ, keyboards, marimba, drums, percussion, programming); Dorian Wolf (synthesizer); Sari Lightman, Romy Lightman (background vocals).
  • Audio Mixer: Tom Elmhirst.
  • Recording information: Candle Recording, Toronto, ON; Electrical Audio, Chicago, IL; Goldon Ratio, Montreal, QC; Key Club Studios, Benton Harbor, MI; Soma, Chicago, IL.
  • Photographer: Norman Wong.
  • During the lengthy Feel It Break tour, Austra expanded from a trio to a six-piece, which allowed for more interplay among the band. This expansiveness helps Katie Stelmanis and crew find more creative and nuanced ways to explore the contrast between their chilly synth-pop and her huge, passionate voice on Olympia. Though the album's much fuller, smoother sound might be the first things listeners notice, Stelmanis' more personal lyrics are a close second; both shine on the single "Home," where she cries "you know that it hurts me when you don't come home at night" over pianos that switch from flowing balladry to rhythmic pop stabs. It's as though having a bigger crew around her allowed Stelmanis to dig deeper into her feelings than she did on Feel It Break. While she'd sound compelling singing almost anything, the tremulousness of her voice, coupled with Olympia's direct pleas and accusations, give Austra a new level of emotional impact. Stelmanis revealed that she listened to early Cat Power while writing these songs, and there's a similar heart-on-sleeve quality to her singing and words; it doesn't get much more naked than song titles like "You Changed My Life" and "Hurt Me Now," and her voice stretches up heartrendingly on "What We Done?" and "Reconcile." As Stelmanis gets more vulnerable and approachable, the rest of Austra becomes more refined and elaborate on Olympia. It's arguably a more sonically beautiful album than the the band's debut, with more organic elements mixed into their dramatic electro-pop, either blending like the marimbas on "Fire" or creating bold juxtapositions like the strings and dubstep-like bass on "Forgive Me." There aren't as many obvious singles like "The Beat and the Pulse" and "Lose It" here, though standouts like "Painful Like" and "Annie (Oh Muse, You)" are among the most danceable tracks here. Instead, Austra opts for a more balanced and poised version of the sound they set forth on Feel It Break; even though that album's rough edges and raw nerves were a large part of what made it so potent, Olympia feels like the beginning of a more sustainable, and versatile, direction for the band. ~ Heather Phares

Professional Reviews
CMJ - "Lyrically, OLYMPIA is all exposed tension. As a vocalist and as a writer Stelmanis is taking big risks here and reaping the rewards that come from exposing a secret part of yourself."

Q (Magazine) (p.93) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "Witchy dance beats and unfolding, '80s-inspired rhythms abound....Exquisite listening."

Paste (magazine) - "OLYMPIA is Austra's second album and second success, led by Stelmanis' ear for melody and her piercing tenor, which guides all the tracks faithfully..."

Format:CD (0 Disc); Stereo
Release Date:17 June, 2013

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