Australian falsetto crooner discovers commercial value in aching sadness and wintry desolation.
Hometown: Los Angeles.
The lineup: Ry Cuming (vocals, music).
The background: If you were wondering who the desolate-sounding singer with the Bon Iver-ish falsetto was on the new Sony Bravia TV advert and you couldn’t get SoundHound to work, it’s Ry Cuming. He’s an Australian from the coastal town of Angourie in New South Wales, now living in LA and signed to Infectious, home of alt-J, These New Puritans, Drenge and Local Natives. And that song from the TV advert (for TVs) is the title track of his latest EP, Berlin. It originally came out through Swedish label Dumont Dumont this summer but now that it’s advertising Japanese tech throughout the UK, France and Germany it’s being reissued. Today’s New band of the day is brought to you in conjunction with Google Earth.
Cuming is a busy boy. He’s part of “an electro-project” – a three-piece called the Acid. He also does something called the Howling with a gentleman by the name ofFrank Wiedemann, which doesn’t sound a million miles different to what he’s doing as Ry X. We did notice that pretty much everything he does do has had about half a million YouTube hits, so basically, that’s carte blanche right there to call yourself what you like, Ry old bean (although probs best not to trade as Ry Old Bean).
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His early influences were Pearl Jam and Jeff Buckley and he released a couple of records in Australia, where he toured with Maroon 5 and won awards for Best Pop Song and Best New Artist. Berlin is winning accolades if not actual gold statues for its searing sorrow and sepulchral sadness (we’ve just won a gong for most “s”s in a single sentence). With its heavy echo emphasising his isolation it seems to celebrate loss and despair and hovers at the interface between lonely and lovely, to the extent that it would work perfectly as an anti-Christmas anthem. Not that he’s anti-Christian (he might be, we have no idea – he certainly has a long beard that tapers towards the end), just that the song taps into the melancholy of the season. “And I’ll stop waiting by the phone,” he wails. Do people still do that, even with mobiles? Surely there’s no need to stay in one place anymore vis a vis the tardy cellular transmission? Anyway, his voice adroitly captures longing. It’s a bit Art Garfunkel, actually: angelic with a side order of husky (huskies – also big this time of year). Shortline is equally quiet, only with a spaciousness suggestive of implicit electronica, if you catch our (snowy) drift. It’s haunted and haunting, that old chestnut, and it grows and builds to an unexpected noise-out. Vampires is more percussive, oddly enough like a depressed Vampire Weekend: tribal pop if the tribe in question were all on downers, cold and afraid for their future. Ry X, on the other hand, is set to bask in the warm glow of success.