THE NEW SOUTHERN ELECTRIKK
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THE JACQUES - THE CONTROVERSY - WEATNU
THE MANC TANK
featuring The New Southern Electrikk
THE CONTROVERSY 10
SCENE & HEARD 16-17 THE MIDNIGHT UNION BAND album launch 18 THE RUBY SESSION 19-29 30-56 57-61 62
IRISH ALBUMS/EP REVIEWS INTERNATIONAL ALBUMS/EP REVIEWS SINGLE REVIEWS FEBRUARY 4x4
8 PETER DORAN
U& I Mus ic Magazine 26 K ings Inn S treet Dublin 1 Editor-In-Chief: Phillip Ó’ Baoighealláin Deputy Editor: Greg Clifford Writing Staff: Eloise Cahill Gary Kavanagh Jamie Kelly Sean Brennan Liverpool Correspondent: Joe Loftus
EDITORIAL We come to our February 2015 issue and we have a cracker of an issue in store for our readers this month. We are very honoured to have The New Southern Electrikk on our cover and when we received the photo by Shari Denson we immediately knew it was going to shape our cover because of the iconic sense of style it has about it. The band themselves are very much making a lot of waves in the UK with all the right people. We also have an interview with The Controversy ahead of the release of their new album ‘Don’t Count On Me’. Their single ‘Queen Of Chinatown’ was voted our best single of 2014 and they recently played the NBC Superbowl party in Tempe, Arizona this month. So they are certainly a band on the rise in the United States for all the right reasons.
who can list Paul McCartney as someone she has called upon for musical advice. Dave Beech has also an interview with our new Bristol band The Jacques. We are launching a new feature in Unsigned & Independent this month called SONAR - Spotlight On
Manchester Correspondent: Dave Beech U&I Gigs Photographers: Eric Cooper Dom Marceleno
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our San Francisco co-op. Staying with the United States also sees us talk with Almark Thaolen of WEATNU- which stands for We Are The New Underground – to discuss the underground electronic music co-op he is working with. Another key project that we have been working at behind the scenes has been U&I Radio. We will be developing the show this coming weeks. We are very excited about this and we will be countries. The rest of our issue is made up of our usual high standard of live
THE MANC TANK
What do the new members bring to the dynamic that you have collectively?
by the huge reaction we got, especially from people like Evan Dando, John Robb and Bernard Butler. It was just a demo but nobody would believe that it wasn’t the final version, everyone said it sounded finished to them and the next thing we knew we were getting blogged about, played on radio stations all over the world and our Facebook page went nuts! We took a lot of positives from the comments we got and it drove us on to write more and push ourselves creatively. Our management team is great, they’re really well connected, so they make sure we’re getting noticed by people that can make a big difference to a band’s profile. If they’re confident our music is ready to go out then we’re happy to trust them and so far that’s working out really well. The only continent we haven’t been played on yet is Antarctica, but we’re working on it…
Beauty, Soul and a good sense of humour! We all share a really strong work ethic, we’re totally committed to the band and every practice is a melting pot of different musical ideas. We respect each other and we do everything with enthusiasm and love.
Recognition like that must bring its positives and negatives, but what did you take from it all that was worthwhile? Did it make you sit up and take things that little bit more serious with the momentum that it obviously brought with it for the band?
From the outside looking in it would appear that it has been a relatively amicable transition because you are already moving into a high degree of output creatively, while also seeing your profile being raised considerably at the same time. That is really impressive for a band to do in such a short space of time. Is that the case and what do you put it all down to?
Within 24 hours of launching our new single ‘Brown Eyes’ we were listening to it on BBC Radio 2. It was surreal and definitely one of those moments that reinforced the belief we all have in the music we’re making. Two weeks on and we’ve been played in six continents, Punk legend John Robb has signed us to his label, Louder Than War Records and Alan McGee has invited us to play his Creation Sessions in Liverpool on May 1st. We never expected it to get this big so soon but we don’t feel under any pressure, we’re just carrying on. If anything it gives us a validation to keep doing what we’ve been doing.
You have taken your name from your former band Mary Joanna and The Southern Electrikk, but in terms of what that band was about compared to what you’re about now, what remains the same and what’s new now you’re The New Southern Electrikk? The music is darker now, harder, more soulful and less contrived. The New Southern Electrikk represents a new beginning for a band that’s had some ups and downs. It took time to find the right line up, but as soon as the five of us got into the same room, we all knew it was right. When we started playing together everything fitted into place in a way it hadn’t before. We feel complete and ready for everything the future holds for us as a band.
We put all our energy into being positive and creative and that’s meant we’ve been really prolific writers, we’ve already got at least two albums worth of songs. The core of this is that we believe in what we do. We’re lucky that we’ve got management and crew supporting us who believe in us too. Having that support system in place means the pressure of dealing with all the day to day stuff is taken off us so we’re free to concentrate on working hard in the practice room and the studio. The bonus is the entire team gets on really well, so we’re a tight unit. We all enjoy our time together and we know we’re doing something worthwhile, creating music that means something. What has gotten the band noticed was your version of The Gun Club’s ‘Mother of Earth’. While the original is a Tex Mex /country affair you very much put your own stamp on things with your version. Is that a sign of what we can come to expect in terms of the sound that you will have or was it just something that worked exclusively for that track because you wanted to make it your own in the artistic sense? Kraut Rock and Post Punk influenced our version of ‘Mother of Earth’. We maintain that if you’re going to do a cover version you have to perform it in your own style of music so that’s how we approached that track. As we’ve said, ‘Mother of Earth’ was picked up by everyone it seems - Evan Dando, Bernard Butler, Joe Foster…to name but a few. It was a long list but an equally impressive one as well. Were you expecting it to be received as well firstly, and secondly, did you envision it turning up on the radar of people like that? We loved our version of ‘Mother of Earth’, it sounded exactly the way we wanted it to sound, but we were absolutely blown away
Who were the influences on you growing up that still hold relevance for you now? Are there any that have suitably come to have a bearing on you since? And do you see any of their influence coming through on the new sound? All our musical influences come through in our music… Sonic Youth, Killing Joke, Led Zeppelin, Janis Joplin, The Velvet Underground, The Shangri-Las and Joy Division to name but a few. Another thing that has gone well for the band has been the level of exposure for the band in terms of airplay. It hasn’t been confined to local and UK stations either. There has been airplay in the US with stations in San Francisco and Kentucky picking it up, while in South America you have gone out on stations in Brazil and Uruguay. How has that all come about? Again, we’re really lucky that our management have the right contacts in place to get us heard. If the music wasn’t good enough we wouldn’t get played, but as any band knows, it’s tough getting people to take notice of your band when there are so many others vying for attention. Having people on our side who can get our music heard by media outlets all over the world has meant that we’re making music that travels and reaches people in places we’ve never visited. That also applies for blogs and magazines that have picked up on you guys. Did you expect things to go so big in such a short space of time for you? We hoped people would connect with what we were doing and come on this journey with us; we
never dreamed there would be so many of them so quickly. It feels like the start of a massive adventure. Another quite interesting thing is your upcoming single ‘Brown Eyes’ and the other artists who covered it for you. Given that you had recently covered Gun Club’s track, how did it feel to have your own work covered to the extent it was by the other artists? Of the versions that you heard, were there any that impressed you more so than the others? Another band asked us if they could cover ‘Brown Eyes’ in their set and that led to a few more doing the same and that was cool with us…it was as though the song had taken on a new life of its own through all these different interpretations. We were very flattered to have ‘Brown Eyes’ considered as an instant classic! We don't have a favourite cover version; they’re all as good as each other in their own ways. We did have one that stood out from all the others though… a girl sent us a video of herself singing it, she’s nine and she’s brilliant! We posted that one on our Facebook for everyone to see and her mum said she was so excited she couldn’t sleep that night! ‘Brown Eyes’ is an old tune that Rikki wrote a long time ago, over 15 years ago to be precise. Why has it taken so long for it to get to where it is now? What is the song about? Rikki wrote the song after his girlfriend at the time walked out on him. A Shirelles record was playing in the background, ‘Baby It’s You’, and as the door closed behind his girlfriend, for Rikki everything in that moment was crystallised into undiluted and immense pain. Writing the song was cathartic but it took a really long time for him to feel like he wanted to face that moment again and share the song with other people.
away, disposable and meaningless, we really like the idea of confronting that by creating music videos that revolve around what it means to be alive without big business and corporate bullshit polluting our lives. The video for Mother of Earth is three minutes of a woman filmed from the shoulders up, it’s one of the most erotic films any of us have ever seen, but there’s no sex, or nudity, it’s just raw emotion, no gimmicks, we loved that idea and it ties in with how we want our music to be regarded – from the soul, authentic, no gimmicks. There was also the small matter of the Dispatches documentary that aired last month. While it wasn’t necessarily about the band per se, it was about the freelance photographers who work with you. Photographers and people who do the press for a band are largely the unsung heroes, but it must have felt good for you to see them get a little recognition as the source of that episode.What has that done to raise your profile also because you played your new single on that too? We’re lucky enough to work with two really talented photographers, Russell Bloor who was featured in the Dispatches film and Shari Denson who’s worked with a huge number of iconic musicians. Both are integral members of our team and they’ve brought so many ideas to the band. We agreed to appear in Dispatches to support Russell and everyone else who’s been put into an untenable self-employment situation by a government that cares more about reducing unemployment figures than it does about the wellbeing of the people it is supposed to be serving. The programme had a huge impact and was discussed during Prime Ministers Questions. We’ve had a lot of people discover us through our appearance, but more importantly, people are asking questions about the Coalition. Hopefully the answers to those questions will make them vote very carefully in the UK’s general election in May. Is it a tune that you all immediately considered fitted what The New Southern Electrikk are about? Over the years Rikki tried performing ‘Brown Eyes’ with different bands but it didn’t work. He got as far as going into the studio last year but there was something missing. Everything changed when Monica joined the band, her voice has got so much soul, she sang ‘Brown Eyes’ for the first time and everyone in the room had tears in their eyes, even the crew. That’s when we knew the time was right to release it and that The New Southern Electrikk were the only band to be able to do it justice.
Your single launch is going to be on February 13th in The Roadhouse, Manchester. Who is playing support? And are there any other gigs planned? We’re playing the Roadhouse with some really cool Manchester based musicians, Jordan Allen, The Larkins and Kaiden Nolan. We love The Roadhouse. It’s a great venue that’s been part of the fabric of the city’s music scene for decades.
The artwork is also impressive. Tell us a little about that too. We’re all very into visuals, whether it’s paintings, installations, art films, photography… imagery is really important to us. We found this amazingly talented young Dutch artist called Femke Huurdeman who created the piece we use on the cover of Brown Eyes, it’s based on a photograph of Frida Kahlo, she’s crying rainbow tears. We all fell in love with it and it fitted the song so well, a beautiful melody emerging from the acute pain and sadness of heartbreak. Your video premiered last month. Who directed it and what it the concept of the video all about? We make all our own videos. As with the artwork we use, the videos are all created from a desire to find imagery that reflects our eclectic sound. We work really hard to come up with concepts that are thought provoking. They don’t necessarily have deep and meaningful messages in socio-political contexts, but we want our imagery to resonate with people and make them feel something. In a world where pop culture is increasingly throw
We’ve had offers of gigs from the north of Scotland right down to the south coast so we’re looking at putting some dates in the diary, and we can’t wait to take Alan McGee up on his offer to play the Creation Sessions at District on May 1st, that’s going to be a great night. One of the important things culturally that was a big deal last year was the success of Night And Day Cafe in remaining open. As musicians, how important is a venue like that from a cultural perspective and more importantly as an integral part of the musical landscape in Manchester because of its history? How big a loss would it have been if new artists had lost such a resource? It would have been a big loss to Manchester if Night and Day had closed. We've all played there many times, it’s a great venue. It's vital that these places stay open. There are too many pubs, clubs and venues closing due to tough economic conditions. Live music is the lifeblood of any town or city. If you limit the ability for bands to hone their craft and express themselves, whether that’s through music, art, theatre, dance or whatever, you’ve got a generation of kids who grow up thinking reality TV is art and that fame and money are more important than creativity.
We hoped people would connect with what we were doing and come on this journey with us; we never dreamed there would be so many of them so quickly How do you see the current grass roots scene in Manchester? Are there any other bands out there that you would encourage people to check out? Manchester is full of really talented musicians and we’re really pleased to be in a position where we can spread the word about the music scene we’re from. We all dig The Watchmakers, Los Trasgos Muertos, our label mates Faerground Accidents, Kyoko Swan and The Tapestry. What else lies in store for the band in 2015? 2015 will be a busy year for us. We aim to record our debut album, do plenty of gigs across the UK, release more singles and keep this momentum going. We enjoy what we’re doing, we have a lot to say and we want to retain the excitement we’re feeling now, at the start of the adventure.
THE CONTROVE What is big for the band now is the upcoming album release, so that is where we will start. It was released last year but that was a limited release. So what is happening with it this time out? The album being released in February is actually the official worldwide release of our second album "Don't Count On Me". We did a fan exclusive pre-release in August of the same songs but with different artwork. It had been a while since we released new material and we couldn't wait to share our new music and sound with our core group of fans. The pre-release album was only out for a month from August to September 2014, then we took it down and we started with the industry release of our three singles, "Queen Of Chinatown", "Two Voices" and "You Know" leading up to the official album release in February 10th. Have you worked with the same people on the production side of things this time around that you did with the last record? We always produce our music ourselves. We can probably be tagged as control freaks and perfectionists, but for us, our music is the ultimate expression of who we are, what we experience and feel. Who can tell our story better than ourselves? We are lucky to have a circle of very talented friends that help us overcome our weaknesses when we lack knowledge or experience or we need a trusted ear, like our close sound engineer and music producer friend Mehdi Hassine, who has been helping us in every way he can since day one. With this album you are very much taking your sound in a whole new direction. Is this going to be a continuation of where the last record left off or have you re-invented yourselves creatively again with this one? "Real" was our first album and through it we met. Both ourselves, and therefore our sound, have changed a lot since "Real" was released in August 2011 and the new
music included on "Don't Count On Me" reflects this change. This wasn't something we did on purpose, it just happened. We didn't want to do another "Real" and we always try to push ourselves to do something different and to think outside of the box. We also started the songwriting process in different ways and the songs came out differently. In this new album we primarily started with a beat, bass line or synth idea and we built from there, where before it started in a more traditional way, with a piano or guitar chord progression and melody and then adding the drums and synths. We feel like this different approach is probably the responsible for the change of focus that is now more in the rhythm and synths.
Love’s’ director Amin Matalqa, who directed our music video for "So Low", asked us to write the title track for his movie and we tailored the song to fit the script. Both Thomas and I are producers and songwriters for hire and work on different projects together that are not related to the band. We now have a production company called Velvet Mind Productions for this kind of work but we didn't then, therefore the song being listed as The Controversy's but it has never been released without being part of ‘Strangely In Love's’ soundtrack. Since we wrote and produced ‘Simple Love’ specifically to fit the movie, the song's style is pretty far from all the other The Controversy songs and it's not the style we are going for the band.
When is it going to be released and is there anything else you can tell us about it?
With ‘Don’t Count On Me’ there is an inclusion of one acoustic track which is ‘Just Say You Love Me Again’. Given that it doesn’t take anything away from the overall aesthetic of the album, why did you include it on the listing given the rest of the track list were synth based or electronic in how they were styled? Was it for the creative contrast or was it a song that you wanted to include for other reasons?
"Don't Count On Me" will be officially released on Feb 10th exclusively on Bandcamp and on Feb 17th it'll be available on iTunes and all other digital distribution outlets. The album will also be available on a CD Digipack format that can be purchased through Bandcamp, Amazon.com, CdBaby.com and in over 15,000 record stores worldwide. We are also going to release the first video for our first single "Queen Of Chinatown" in the next few days and we are now starting to work on the video for our other two singles, ‘Two Voices’ and ‘You Know’, while preparing our live show. We are finalising the details for our CD release party to be held on February in Los Angeles plus a lot more shows to follow in March. There will be a lot more details coming soon! So if we turn the clock back 12 months to this time last year, February 2014 saw you release the video for ‘Simple Love’. In terms of how your sound is now that is something that makes for an interesting contrast with it’s more soft and bespoke manner. Can we expect to hear some of the same on your new album as well? ‘Simple Love’ is a song Thomas and I wrote specifically for the movie entitled "Strangely In Love". ‘Strangely In
We felt that "Just Say You Love Me" was a good album closer and we always though of it as a bonus track, a little after thought to give closure to the album. We recorded this acoustic song live and we filmed the recording session. We wanted to invite our fans to the studio in that one, give them that feel of freshness and vulnerability of live music. The video of the recording of the song can be seen on YouTube as well. How do the dynamics work on an artistic level when it comes to making the music? Thomas and I have now been working together for 4 years and we discovered what our strengths and weaknesses are and we are really lucky that we can compensate each other's. He is really creative and artistic and really good at starting ideas from scratch. I'm normally more overwhelmed by the "blank page syndrome" and I'm better at hearing the overall song in
We got to hear the ‘Don’t Count On Me’ pre-release. When you play it alongside ‘Real’ you can see the progression in terms of sound and artistic merit, while also the relevance of ‘Just Say You Love Me Again’ included on the album too. But by and large it did mark a rather positive departure. Were you worried about any ‘second album syndrome’ creeping in during the recording process or did you have a high degree of faith in what you were doing artistically? We try not to think too much about making songs that are going to sell but to keep true to ourselves and our artistic integrity. In other words, we just did what we felt was right in our bones while creating the songs, recording and producing them. The seal of approval was when the song felt right to us. The difference in style in comparison with "Real" is because we tried to do something new and push ourselves to our limits, experiment with new sounds and try to make music in a different way. And "Don't Count On Me" happened. Who worked with you behind the scenes on the album?
ERSY my head once he's started to play with the first sounds. Then we are both involved in the creation of missing elements and production of the song and I normally take over more in the arranging and mixing stage, that's where Thomas gets overwhelmed. We are both involved in the process at all times but one of us takes the lead in different stages. Another thing that really shows how well you and Thomas work together was ‘So Low’. That was originally a solo project that you undertook but how did he come to be involved with it? After you had worked on it together were you pleased to see it go on your first album?
We mainly do everything ourselves, meaning Thomas and I. From songwriting and recording, to producing and mixing. We work on the songs at home and keep on tweaking them as we go. Our process is very intertwined. We produce and arrange while we record and we try to keep a well-balanced mix during the whole process to have an idea of the end product. When we feel the song is done we call our good sound engineer friend Mehdi Hassine to come and lend us his honest ear. It's very helpful for us to have a third ear that we trust and hasn't been involved in the song since the beginning to get a fresh opinion. Then we discuss his suggestions and make any changes and then we do the final mixes with him. Audio Animals in London have mastered the album and we highly recommend them, great people, great results and very fast. Why did you opt to go in that direction musically? Again, it just happened. It wasn't really planned. We always try to keep it fresh and challenging for us, do different things, experiment. These songs felt good like this for us so this is the way they stayed. Three singles came off that album – ‘You Know', ‘Two Voices’ and ‘Queen Of Chinatown’. With the latter going on to be crowned the best single of 2014 by Unsigned and Independent. When you were recording the album did you immediately sense that they were going to be the singles? Not at all. We basically wrote and produced the backbone of ‘Queen of Chinatown’ in an evening (which is very rare for us, it normally takes us way longer) and we were really happy with it. The
Actually "So Low" was the second song Thomas and I wrote together. It came out very spontaneously while working on another song we were recording in the studio. I can't remember which one it was. He was playing around with the "So Low" chorus chords and I started singing what became the song's melody saying "solo" because I wanted him to record a solo on the other song we were working on. I think after that we stopped working on the other song and started to develop "So Low", and to this day, it's one of the songs we wrote the quickest. What also seemed to be another perfect marriage for that tune was how the video came together as well. Who directed it and explain what the concept is about. Our good friend, Sundance winning director Amin Matalqa, directed the video for “So Low”, after we collaborated with him on his movie "Strangely In Love". In the video we wanted to convey that while we lose our innocence as we grow older, we keep that hint of magic and illusion from childhood that stays with us as adults. The video explains how a young girl, that shares her life with her best friend, an imaginary beast, grows disenchanted with life but finds a glimpse of her imaginary friend and the magic of her childhood in her adulthood in the most unexpected place.
ideas just flew from one to the other, everything clicked and it just felt right. We immediately sent it to a few friends to get their opinion. And it was a bit divided, some had a very positive reaction to it and loved the song and some thought it was a bit too weird. So, for that reason, we doubted if it was the best choice for a single. We had it pretty clear with ‘Two Voices’. The song is the most pop catchy song on the album so this one was pretty much a no-brainer. And we never meant ‘You Know’ to be a single. It's not that we didn't believe in the song, on the contrary, this is one of the songs that we still get goose bumps every time we listen to it, even after hearing it a million times. But since it's a slow love song we never considered it as a candidate for a single. What changed our mind was the amount of good feedback we got from it and how people said it touched them. ‘Queen Of Chinatown’ is not just a great tune but the theme is an interesting one also. Tell us about that and where the inspiration for it came from. Did you sense it was something special when it started to come together? Well, we really didn't know how people were going to react to the song. We did a bit of testing on friends and colleagues and people either loved the song or didn't quite get it. Also, its subject is quite controversial in itself. The inspiration for ‘Queen of Chinatown’ came to me one night when I went out with some friends. We went to this club in Chinatown where we met this amazing transgender woman, you could tell she was the heart and soul of the place and everyone loved her. I started imagining how her regular weekdays would be leading up to her weekend reign at the club. And this is how the story of Aima (which is not her real name) was born. Did the theme of the track help with the direction that the video took? Absolutely. We wanted to invite our fans into Aima's life and show her struggles, strength, power, confidence and vulnerability all at the same time. Thomas and I directed, edited and filmed the video with the help of Mehdi Hassine, who was the camera operator filming Aima's footage, and the amazing make-up artist Jessica Faraday. The video for ‘Queen of Chinatown’ is now online and people can see for themselves what it is about. You released ‘You Know’ on the 12th of January. What else is in store for the band for the rest of the year? We have a lot of plans, projects and dreams we hope to accomplish this year. First on the list is the release of the music video for ‘Queen of Chinatown’. Then that is followed by the ‘Don't Count On Me’ album release on February 10th, our CD release party in February in Los Angeles (more details TBA) and our regular show schedule to get started in March. We are planning on two more music videos, one for ‘Two Voices’ and another for ‘You Know’ to be released later this year and we hope to tour nationally and internationally. Stay tuned on The Controversy's website and on our social media networks for updates.
One of the remarkable things about the digital age we find ourselves in is that it is a golden era for new musical innovation. What originally began as an idea on Soundcloud in August to bring electronic artists together, We Are The New Underground (#WEATNU) is now becoming a movement of unsigned and independent artists. That momentum is now carrying over and seeing new ideas and formats devoted purely to electronic artists come from it. We caught up with founder Almarek Thaolen to see what it is all about and where he is looking to take WEATNU in 2015.
It all started in August last year, but already #WEATNU is beginning to be something that artists and people who are into the music are getting behind. How did it all start and what is it that you are hoping to achieve from it on a musical level? The idea started from all the frustration I've had since 2010 for getting simple exposure, and I don't mean 30 people; I mean a good fan-base, which is hard to achieve these days without a label. I wanted a way to promote myself and I knew in order to find like-minded individuals I had to bring everyone with me. I was also tired of the unknown electronic artist getting the shaft, purely ignored and unheard from sending to many sources. Some of us try harder than the mainstream artist these days just to get in simple underground magazines. #WEATNU is changing this. It's a boast, but it's a promise and it's working. I wanted change. For over 14 years the Electronic underground has been ignored, showcased and then put away again. I mean, it's ok to keep it secret but when you are required to sound EDM to get noticed, how does the electronic artist ever come to the surface? I don't mean the surface of the mainstream. I mean the surface of the streets, before the mainstream. Most of us are stuck below the underground. How long have you been involved on the Electronic music scene? v
I personally started writing abstract electronic music (non-genre) stuff in 1998, without a scene, without friends, alone in a dark apt. It wasn't until 2010 where I released my works to the world through platforms like Bandcamp, Souncloud, Facebook and YouTube. When I started to spread my music to Twitter that was when I noticed others doing the same thing. You utilised Soundcloud to get it all going initially in the early days. Was that a hard to thing to mobilise or did you find that it was an easy medium to use as a networking resource for getting in touch with artists you were interested in working with and vice versa? It was hard, I mean when you are up against so many dance type artists, mostly DJ's, it's hard to get any kind of clout being so different and avant-garde. In the beginning it was very hard. You might get a few likes every week or so, but it got better when someone made a group for audio bio's, then after I sent in an audio bio I started noticing others finding me. Twitter was my breakthrough in 2013. Once I leapt into the Twitter world I promoted my music day and night for many months. Then people started to take notice. I met the modern virtual underground, which is massive and scattered and not known by many. When you began embracing the digital format did you begin to see other
interesting and new ideas emerge as you began to see things take shape? Oh yes, I moved fully into the digital realm in 2009 with Buzzmachines (Jeskola Buzz) then later other Daws and settling in Ableton Live, which I love. We are talking about daws here right? Ableton live has allowed me to write music from my brain to the screen and keyboard, something that isn't possible with Reaper Audio or other daw's I've used in the past. The digital age has brought us amazing tools to create and compose. Given how successful it has been will you look to mobilise everything using similar music based platforms â€“ Spotify, YouTube etc? Yes, we're using the already free platforms to create a system to bring the music to the world and this is working. It took me a while to come up with a way, and I thought 'Why not, it's worth a try.' For one, all of it is organized and music is lost due to it not being organized. People need to start movements to get the music out there. #WEATNU was this answer to the 'unknown artist' Perhaps the hope we all dream of has come finally. We also use Spotify for the group, which is listened to sometimes. This year we are invading YouTube with our playlist, and of course Soundcloud, and Bandcamp.
Is what you are trying to do localised on a specific music scene or are you looking to open it up to a bigger scale – be that nationally or internationally – for other emerging artists to come on board with?
Are there any other plans or projects that you are working on to develop your identity and build on the current foundation of artists that you are already collaborating with?
With this movement we are looking for a real change. Not just Facebook or Twitter but a means for these artists to gain exposure. Already we're starting #WEATNU Digital Magazine, and the website reflects this or will soon. #WEATNU is for the Electronic artist, the underground sound, left-field, IDM, Avant-garde, the types who are ignored but very talented. We have many styles, synthpop and more. I think though we're starting to accept some indie pop, given, it's electronicbased, as that is important to #WEATNU and its artists. We stress that the mainstream sound isn't what we're after. You can get that in 1000’s of groups and those people are better exposed. So #WEATNU is thinking differently, it's rebelling against the system and now people are following it
Because of the changes made to the website we want #WEATNU to put these artists on the digital map. It is my hope that labels and magazines, TV, and other media outlets finally take notice at these ignored but 'greatly talented' musicians. We already have #WEATNU Records, and that is our net-label, and we're experimenting with a pay option. Hopefully in time we could be the next Warp Records. It's hard to say, but there is a lot of hope. #WEATNU is 5x stronger then it was in 2014, how it grows, I don't know. People are craving exposure. How was I to know my heart was theirs? I personally use #WEATNU as the platform for my music, but hey, it's working! It's also working for many others through word of mouth promo… need I say we're going viral, as much I detest the word. Though it would be nice if Wikipedia allowed #WEATNU into their hard but prestigious club of notable acts.
You have plans to develop the already existing roster of artists you are working with. That is through podcasts via RadioAktiv. Are you planning to develop that platform further and if so in what ways? Well, we were using RadioAktiv and are still affiliates, but felt it best to break away into our own mixlr podcast, for the sake of freedom to do a show any day of the week. Every month 'except' this one, we do our 'Showcase Radio’. We've had two so far. Taking the latest artists that come to #WEATNU and playing two hours of their songs, one song per artist with a lot of live listeners that night. How has the response been to the radio shows? It has been very good. People love them. It's the height of the exposure, but I'd like to do more of them. I run a lot of stuff on the tech side behind the scenes for #WEATNU. We have a small group helping now with promo and our magazine. And the 24/7 radio #WEATNU [OUR] picks up the slack daily. You are also planning to launch a magazine as well. How far long in the pipeline is that project and when are you hoping to see it launch? We have no actual date (yet) but we're hoping to see it come to fruition in February. We think we're just about ready to start adding articles to the PDF. We have been working on a front cover, and sections and stories, plus interviews, features will all be added just as other magazines do, but there is a difference. Everyone in #WEATNU can be in the magazine. We feel that keeps everyone on the same level…I think of no one higher than the next. How healthy is the local music scene at an unsigned and independent level? It isn't good. What I mean by that is people try their best to be heard, they try their best to get a gig, sell a record, give away their album! And so few take notice, why? Because, they lack their target-audience and need to find it, and since the Internet is pretty much the means of communication these days we need to find ways to express ourselves artistically.
Outside of the artists that you initially knew or were aware of before you began, what have you made of the new artists who have approached you to work with them? A few of the new artists such as Mangabros, Us As Effigies have asked to work with myself and a few other #WEATNU artists. It's been hit and miss with my time, a collab happens only once in a while for me, perhaps I am strange, solo has always been my focus, but given the right person, I'm happy to work with them and make music, just as I did with 3dtorus on the album Favourite Delusion and Thalie Nemesis in 2012. I have to be inspired to work with others and have time, and #WEATNU takes most of my day. Independent labels are taking less and less artists in these days and those artists succumb to giving away music instead of making any kind of living off of what they love, which is a shame. I personally think the music industry is not dead, but undead…it's only trying to survive. We need something virtual to keep the new age working. The community aspect is one of the telling features for what the collective is all about. Primarily what you are doing is bringing everyone together as a digital community but would you like to see more live music events take place that would fall under the WEATNU umbrella? That's a hard question. We are growing by leaps and bounds but how far can it really go outside the net. If you mean festivals that takes money and without it one can't do a lot. It would be more than great to see #WEATNU artists come together in person, and surely crowds of people would take notice then of these artists, but are we virtual or are we physical, I don't know. Until that time comes we won't know. If the future holds such success, then I'm all for it.
But it is an idea that is beginning to pick up interest as well on an international level. So will you be looking to expand on the fabric of what is already in place or do you think the ideas will come naturally as more people become involved in the collaborative process? I'm astounded that it has become internationally known, people are talking about us in pubs in the UK, even upper New York. Many years ago there was a website called groovetech.com, DJ's playing around the clock, world-wide. I got the idea for #WEATNU from that. It is now gone, sadly. Surprisingly #WEATNU is very popular online in the US, which is very good. But this is the Internet and many of our artists are from Europe, UK, Germany and so forth. The ideas come and I apply them, or get with the #WEATNU Board (a group of minds who donate their time to this movement) for ideas. When I get an idea I just move with it, and who knows what the future holds. But I can tell you it's good. And about expanding, we are settling in place finally and if anything more were to be offered, I would hope magazines and TV would take notice such as PBS, CBC, BBC, who knows. It's important to get #WEATNU known. EDM is known and it's the de-facto movement these days. What about an electronic movement? We don't hear about those. Well we just might if we keep this up. It's a group effort, something I hoped from the start; an idea, a big one.
‘With this movement we are looking for a real change. Not just Facebook or Twitter but a means for these artists to gain exposure’.
What else is in store for 2015? I want to complete my new album 'In the Scheme of Things'. It's time to release new works, my last was -ATD- and expressing myself artistically will always be important to me as music is my life and the main reason for starting #WEATNU. I hope to do some unfinished shows, such as -ATD(live) which would be broadcast to #WEATNU [OUR] and people would then be around to listen, which is good. Work on my next idea 3.1459, a show that is a follow-up to my album “Thought Patterns in 'Documentary' Form.” As the year passes, so does my want to continue plans with my music. #WEATNU becomes easier to manage, thus I get more personal time. I also plan on releasing more videos. I just released a video to the single 'Oracle' that is quite avant-garde. I want to conclude one thing. I started #WEATNU because I was annoyed and tired of and nearly gave up trying to expose my music. In a last ditch effort I formed this movement and finally I broke through to gold. I had a friend give me a story one day about a man who stopped digging for gold when he was only 3 feet from the mother load. If I had stopped, we wouldn't have #WEATNU, and I'm glad for that story. It's hard to be an indie musician these days, it's very hard. #WEATNU is giving these people real hope. I'm an artist, and I understand what other artists are going through. We have to fight for ourselves these days. #WEATNU is fighting for them now and it's about time.
Interview by David Beech When people remember '00s indie, they remember it with a sense of rose-tinted nostalgia, a feeling that for those too young to have appreciated Brit-Pop, this was our generation's answer to it. But whilst Brit-Pop busied itself with trying to escape the drudgery of 90’s Britain, before becoming the antithesis of what it once stood for, the likes of Franz Ferdinand and (early) Arctic Monkey's sang about what they knew, what surrounded them - what we knew, and what surrounded us – we didn't need Blur, we had Bloc Party and we certainly didn't need Oasis, we had The Libertines. It was this era's tendency to wear their hearts on their sleeves, and sing about their immediate situations however, that also made it the least dangerous epoch of British indie, with introspection and Topman advertising campaigns holding more importance than social injustice. Let's face it, The Libertines were more of a danger to one another than they were the fabric of British society, unless you count making heroin cool for the first time since Kurt. Now, had Bristol-based The Jacques been around then, chances are they would have faded in to obscurity by now; their jangly urchin-pop falling by the wayside in favour of the more electronicallydriven stuff that came to the fore at the turn-of-the-decade. The fact of the matter is though, The Jacques were formed almost-exactly a year ago, and as a result the clattering urgency of their debut EP is one of the most exciting, and dare I say it, dangerous things we've heard in the last couple of years. Their sound certainly isn't going to upset anyone in Parliament, but it might upset the current musical status quo enough to encourage a host of other bands to follow suit. Their sound isn't even wholly original, the obvious comparison being The Libertines, but they also bring to mind The View at their loosest, The Strokes at their fuzziest, and a host of '60s pop acts such as The Kinks.
Hi guys, great to catch up you with you again, how's it going? It seems the new year started well for you? Great. We have played to some really good audiences, starting with a rowdy mob at the Thunderbolt in Bristol then some great London Shows with This Feeling at the Macbeth and John Kennedy’s Remedy all dayer at the Barfly. You formed almost exactly a year ago, did you ever imagine the how quickly things would take off for the band?
Last time we spoke you mentioned you were working on your second EP over winter, how's that been going? Are we still looking at a spring release? We went back to Rockfield with our favourite Dan Swift just before Christmas, so yes, all on track for Spring release! What, if anything, has changed between this forthcoming record and last year's ‘Pretty DJ’EP? Probably best if you tell us when you have heard it!
No. It is a weird thing because it sort of just keeps going – a little and a little, gigs come in, people write reviews, radio DJ’s play tracks. It has been brilliant because every week almost it seems like something else happens. This time last year we wanted to have played some gigs, and to have some recordings that we were happy with. We have surpassed that and it has been brilliant. What's been a few of the highlights of the last year? Hyde Park – the BST Libertines gig. We were on a small stage at the back but there were so many people, it was brilliant. You recently became involved with clothing label Jack Wills, how did that come about, and what it does mean for you as a band? Someone from Jack Wills contacted us to ask if they could use our track “Foreign Films” for a promo. It might mean that people who would not otherwise hear us, do, and it is good to know that somewhere someone is listening to new stuff and trying to use it.
It seems this year has seen the amount of shows you're playing increase as well. How're you finding that? Are you still looking at touring around the EP's release? We’ve still never played more than two shows in a row (although we are doing three sets in different venues on one night in Hastings this month. You also mentioned festivals in the past, is there anywhere you'd particularly like to be asked to play? We all grew up within a few miles of Worthy Farm so what do you reckon? We also loved doing Dot2Dot last year and would really like to do it again. T In The Park would be brilliant. Festivals are the perfect way to spend every weekend in the summer, so we will do that one they made up for the Archers last year if they want us. Also, I've read a couple of articles that made some mention of an album coming later this year, can you tell us anything about that?
You're looking at releasing you're next single 'Weekends' towards the end of next month. The title’s pretty self-explanatory, but what about its b-side 'Baby Turn the Light Off'? What's the story behind that?
Who knows when – no plans to record an album in the immediate future anyway.
None of your business, Sir.
You too Dave!
And, whilst most bands as fresh-faced as The Jacques would falter at the speed with which their career has progressed, such urgency is mirrored perfectly in the band's song-writing, resulting in a somewhat fast but ultimately fitting ascension to where they are today; a band on the cusp of releasing their follow-up EP, with whispers of a full-length to follow; a band for whom the wheels of the hype machine are very much in motion, and for a change, rightly so and perhaps most importantly, a band whose sound, whilst not wholly original, possess far more energy and passion than many of their contemporaries, and at a time when a lot of music is feeling forced and contrived, that is something worth holding on to.
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Thanks guys, pleasure as always, hope to catch you soon!
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When we branched out in 2003 we established two co-ops in the United Sates. They were in San Francisco and Seattle respectively and this month's featured co-op is our San Francisco network. The following 10 acts that we are recommending very much epitomise the diversity of artists that our network is able to call upon. Thereâ€™s also a playlist streaming on our official Soundcloud page featuring these acts WE WILL BE LIONS This band gets a lot of things right with their sound. It has a solid contemporary feel to it in places that meets something tight when it gets going. Comparisons with The Killers are warranted but they take things beyond being a wannabe in how it is all styled.
RIN TIN TIGER A band that cut loose with something that has a certified pop sensibility to it all, but behind it there are qualities that embrace a more leftfield nature in the folk showings. That is what makes them an interesting band to listen to and everything is cleanly brought together as well in a way that shows.
8TH GRADER A suitably stylish artist who blends hip hop graces around nou disco soul. Everything about the music here stands out and has an invigorated calling that is incredibly stylish. The selective way that the cool is brought to proceedings adds a distinct level of style meeting substance.
BIG TREE A Brooklyn band who are now residing in the Bay area they have a careful accountability in their sound which has a smart demeanour that meets with a bigger sense of presence. A sound with maturity in the right sense but also processes something distinct in the process which gives everything a noted footing that carries weight in the musical formalities. - 12 -
FRENCH CASSETTES A formidable band that display noted brevity in the sound. Something about it has a raw punk edge undertone that is carried across with a sterling pedigree alongside the smooth transition. Casual and stylish, they bring a true joie-de-vivre across in the music that strikes the right chords in the darling feel that comes through in the approach.
IN LETTER FORM This post-punk band has a lot going for them in their music. With the Joy Division comparisons in the sound alone they suggest that they have breakout potential. Everything on show has a noted sense of fashionable to it that is not just underground and edgy but backed up by an unprecedented showing of cool that filters through explicitly.
SEATRAFFIC Blessed with a high creative output, what these guys are capable of producing in their sound has a clear sense of definition on show with everything. With the manner of how the synthesiser, drums and other beats all come through collectively you can see what the buzz about the band is all built upon. They command your attention with the sheer presence of their music.
MY RED DRESS The hard angle of the shoegazer style is impressive with this band. But there is also a retro chic in the play that is rather subtle. In how the two combine there is a formidable connection which gives all of the musical trappings a distinguished ebb and flow. This conclusive hold settles upon the sound with a lavish aplomb but there is a conveyance on show each time that invitingly creates the intricacies.
NITEPPL Incredibly tasteful best describes the sound here. There is something the works that deliberates in the processes which results in a lavish offering in all the right ways. A commendable blend of synthesised beats, lavish retro charm and indie disco combine in all the right ways here that leaves you wanting more each time you hear it play through.
VELA EYES From checking this band out you are immediately impressed by how they make good use of their indie credentials and display this in their sound. How the candid dalliances are brought through bring a forthright preserve of excellence. In the shoegazer tone everything impressively steps out and the departure is incredibly stylish. The sweet and savoury lightness of touch here is of such a high standard that it is impossible not to stand back in admiration. - 13 -
by Joe Loftus
Natalie McCool The Jackobins are deemed as one of Liverpool’s most exciting new bands and exciting they most definitely are. Their eerie symphonies of haunting choMulti-Award Winning Natalie McCool is one of the biggest names on the Liverpool music scene at the minute. Her music is a cacophony of emotion, atmosphere and sensation, whilst her voice stands alone in a deserted barren landscape of broken hearted guitar riffs and heart-felt melodies. ruses and maddening cacophonies; crippling riffs and softening keyboard kisses. They’re certainly one to keep your eyes on… Since the magazine is Dublin based I guess it'd be rude not to point out how McCool is a pretty Irish name. Do you know much about that? It’s a weird one really. I used to live with John (keys) when I was in university Yes I know all about the legend of Fionn McCool - I've yet to visit Ireland though. I think Fionn McCool's pub would be first on the list. Then I'd go to Donegal where my ancestors are from. My friend actually found some crisps made by Tayto which were called 'Fionn McCool's Giant Snack' - he sent a picture straight to me!
Wow, I bet there ain't too many of those in Widnes. What influences took over from that? I know I can definitely hear a lot of different contrasting and collaborating influences in your music - the likes of Kate Bush, Mary Black and The Cure.
Donegal is not long from where my people are from. It's a small world. Anyway, you've been on the music scene for a few years now. How long has it been?
Funnily enough I don't really listen to any of those bands/acts you have mentioned! My all-time favourites are PJ Harvey, Jeff Buckley, Cocteau Twins, Radiohead and Gomez. I like a lot of 90s one hit wonders. Right now I'm listening to Jesca Hoop, Sia, King Krule and Ben Howard. I think Sia is a genius.
I've been performing music on stage since I was 14. And I presume you were into music long before that?
So a lot of different sounds being thrown into the frying pan. How did it feel winning the Yamaha songwriting competition?
I began playing guitar when I was about 8 years old. Then I started singing when I was around 12, and finally started writing songs properly at sixteen.
That was amazing - I was only 19 so still quite young. Through that I met Steve Levine who produced my first album. So it really set me up in a good position to make music after I left LIPA.
Who was it that got you into music in the first place? And even bigger than that, I have heard that you had a one-to-one songwriting session with Paul McCartney, how did that go? Was he any different than you first presumed?
Well my dad played a lot of blues style guitar and still does. Our house is full of guitars...there's a guitar in every corner. I have this amazing Spanish style nylon string guitar that my granddad brought over from Spain. It's absolutely authentic and beautiful.
He was very down to earth and really, really made you feel relaxed. I played him one of my songs that I couldn't figure out a bridge section for, that is I didn't know where to take it after the second chorus. So he came up with some chords and a lyric and I took them away and worked on them, eventually incorporating it into the song. The song is "America" on my debut album. Like him or not, that would be astronomically inspiring for any songwriter. Strange question - One I have never asked before. Has anything incredibly funny or peculiar ever happened whilst you were playing live? Well I have two superfans who when they come to see me perform at almost every show they always shout "WE LOVE YOU NATALIE" which is amazing! Also because they are Welsh it sounds even more amazing! What in your eyes has been the greatest achievement of your career as a musician so far? Performing at St George's Hall with Boy George, Mark King & Bernard Butler last summer was just fantastic. And what has been the greatest challenge? I suppose it has been finding my sound which has really evolved in the past year. Where are you aiming? To make great music that people find meaning in.
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THE MIDNIGHT UNION BAND - 'Of Life & Lesser Evils' album launch Whelan’s (5-2-2015)
THE RATTLING KIND We have been itching to see this band live for a very long time but our paths have just never crossed for various reasons. Having heard how good this band are live from people all across the city we made it our mission this evening to put that wrong right and we were glad we did. They started it all off with ‘Never Know Your Luck’, a song that builds strongly. The warmth of the vocals of Eddie Sherlock prevails here to give the urgency a marked calling. That solid showing comes together and the context of what the song is about identifies well with the audience too as it closes out strongly. ‘Follow The Moon’ is next. It is a sweet little number that is drummed in with precision. The avenues of Americana add a proven vibrancy that finely moves through. It then progresses to something with finer bluegrass subtleties which impress finely with their fluidity. Third track ‘The Ballad Of Lugs Brannigan’ has a highly tasteful showing in the pace. The astute features of the mandolin add a great deal to the quickening of the pace. The smart way this collects gives the tune a fashionable calling that tidies away everything as it all steps out, with the grit of the vocals truly nailing it. After the harmonised opening gives way there is a plush kick to ‘Wandering The Mire’ that suits the rhythm. How it is carried off has a telling flair to it that holds. While there is a maturity offered in the lyrics that fires up the stage presence. They closed out with a tune we are familiar with here at U&I called ‘All Around The Town’. It is a song that touches on everything that is real about the hardships of Dublin life for a lot of people. The trappings accounted for travel in a universal way which collects in a sombre way to offer a casual saunter in the process. Then it brings a raucous kick that feeds off the tight playing. It is all in sync and when it clicks into gear it shows a fine level of excellence on all fronts.
............................................................................................................................... IN THE WILLOWS
It was our first time to catch this band live and their first song is the provisionally titled ‘Intro’. A rather intricate calling takes it places which holds in the stirring ebb and flow underlined by the sweet caress of the violin. The room was filled with awe. The delightful consideration on show captivated the audience who hung on every word because of the high standard displayed. They harden the resolve with ‘Valentine’ This gets underneath the showing and brings through the faster flourishes of the delivery. There is something delightful that is caught in the chorus which meets with approval. How the folk influences add up here move admirably through the running. ‘Reaching Out’ opens interestingly. They flit between one line each in the shared vocals which piques interest and they draw strength from that. The awning projected is captured here in a certified way that leads in impressively. Then it becomes a bigger number off the back of how it steadily comes together. The stripped back showing elevates the vulnerability at the heart of the song.
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An insightful tune follows with ‘Time Of Year’. Here the neatness of touch imparts a sense of the personal in the reflections. It is rich and poignant. That sees them lay down a fine marker that displays a lot of worth in the comfort. The make-up of the song styles it all in a seasoned way which takes the lay feel of enchantment at the core to where it deserves to go. With the mainstream calling comes ‘Sirens’. This has a comfortable degree of expression about it which comes through in the relaxed showing, The delivery sees them emphasise the music in a foremost way. That is then followed by the perfectly timed ‘It’s Over’. This telling number sees the sorrow spill out and situates a bewitched calling which tells a great deal. The powerful voice of Tara Heffernan holds in a shapely way and she seems to lose herself convincingly in her own performance. With ‘Rowing boats’ there is a comparison that screams Arcade Fire meets ‘Norwegian Wood’ by The Beatles. It is an assured number that steps out in an abundant way. The tempo has a strong calling that gets everything right from beginning to end. Which sums up the set from this band here tonight throughout.
THE MIDNIGHT UNION BAND Tonight was all about these guys and the launch of their debut album ‘Of Life & Lesser Evils’ (which we have also reviewed this issue). There is a sense of distinguish about ‘I’m Your Leader’ that has a great deal of redeeming qualities on show. They carry it through here and it is played in with a formidable declaration that adds to the sleight of hand that is the American calling on show. The throes of ‘Just A Scar’ meet with a passionate calling. That allows the resolve to build around the compact touches. It proves to be a very astute move because it enhances the majesty present in the live showing here. They take in a different direction with ‘Stormy Thoughts’. The zesty appeal travels well here and holds charm over everything on show. In the sauntered manner of the tempo everything is delivered in an upright way. There is a pleasance to the calling that travels well because the detail of the playing is of such a high standard that it proves their credentials as a live band.
‘Note To Self’ is a distinctly different affair. It is a gradual number that is extremely rich in presence. The delicate manner to how this is all laid out follows through with distinction. The high degree of relevance that comes to settle upon it is also rather fortunate by design. A song that leads the charge sums up ‘Of Life’. It has an inspired sense of drive that comes to pass in how it is highly pressed. This adds to the dynamic and provides it with an excellent basis as it cuts loose on the bridge. After that full on affair comes ‘Gospel’. There is a great deal to admire here from the way it holds true which draws you liking it. There is something smart on show which pulls the strings. In turn this puts the spotlight upon the band wonderfully. There is a rich texture here that sees them find their calling. It is vibrant but it is the smash and grab affair that the bridge becomes that seals the deal. The formality to how ‘The Burning’ cuts loose has a strong level of bravado that lands by design. It is what keeps it all moving along. The lead guitar is incredibly sharp here. This leads to a somewhat Tex-Mex beauty shunting across. The high end of the delivery rolls across the spacing in the 7’s. It is that spacing which gives the vocals room to breathe and in turn build the song. ‘The People’ is a determined number. The poise of the tune is actively pursued and this is something the opening profits from. They seem to capture the audience in a trance with this one but they keep that resolve within reach, which grants the handling a somewhat noble calling. That accentuated approach works on ‘Walk On Down’ with the harmonica and the bellow of the organ carrying things impressively. This is a tune that very much has volition. The certainty in the urgency is cornered in a way which stares it all down superbly as much as it shows a strength of depth as the solid and resilient kick of the bridge sees them go all out. After that comes the remedial calling of ‘If You’d Stay’. This tidies away with a believable degree of impetus. How it steals a march is easy to agree with. The trumpet suits the revelry and pomp that they round on. How they do it so effectively really works the crowd up. But it was a great number to bring the curtain down with none-the-less.
A telling number followed with ‘I Miss You’ which benefits kindly from how it is laid out. Here the vocals steal a march on everything. The evident stature guides the warmth but in how it takes flight on the chorus really brings the excellence through. They then safely guide everything through on ‘Beast Of Eden’. This retains something faithful which is richly called upon. The clear way it is all placed shows. In how the piano intimately holds the song is given licence, but it is the committed showing from frontman Shane Joyce things spread out commendably. After that things pick up again with ‘Raise It Up’. They certainly do in the amble opening. This bursts into being in tremendous fashion. There is a quickening to it that sees them raise their game and the pitch of the vocals comfortably reflects this. In the confident stride of ‘People Like You’ they close the delivery around something that matches the intent of the tempo. This is well checked as they turn on the class. The upbeat confidence surging through in every ounce of fibre carries with it a true sense of importance on a musical level. Overlooked for the album, ‘Howling At The Moon’ does make you ask why. There is a lightness of touch to how the guitar works through. That leads to a formidable heft about the play as a whole here which goes the distance in a complete way. Then we come to ‘Law Ain’t Justice’ with a rich country/blues showing in the tone. The depiction in the lyrics vividly conveys the imagery in the religious subtext. They loom large and smartly here. There is something to admire in how they affix to the song and the substance they faithfully provide in the process.
An encore followed with two great tracks. The first was ‘Behind The Truth’. You are caught up in this immediately. The steady way it builds along with the harmonica on the opening alone steals your appreciation. The clever and mature way it carries that composure. It reliantly pays its dues with the Americana workings that also show how high a standard they are capable of musically. The final track of the night, fittingly, is the final track on their album ‘But I Am the Night’. It captures something forlorn that necessitates by virtue. The honest becoming of the live showing here is high on the wow factor. The passive deliberation closes the night out with a resurgent touch of class that savours the moment of the night. One of the best gigs we have seen in a long time in fact.
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THE RUBY SESSIONS Doyle’s Bar (3-2-2015)
STEPHEN JAMES We have always been impressed with the honesty that Stephen James can convey as a live performer. He is another Ruby’s regular who always gives a committed showing whenever he takes to the stage here and he got things going with ‘Beautiful Sunshine’. This is a tune that sees the longing touches carefully captured and this allows his voice to rise on it. The settled way it lands wonderfully accompanies the free demeanour on show. There is a clever whim that leads it all through here which impresses in a truly fortunate way. That is then followed by the amble calling of the lonesome derivative of ‘Inside My Dreams’. There is a soft and bespoke quality to it all here which suits his humble attributes. It also gives everything a high degree of artistic merit in the stern countenance that stand it good stead in the lyrics before a cover of ‘Work ‘Em Track’ was followed up by ‘You Like To Tell Me’. Here there is a partial parlance that leads it all in. the opening line has a committed level of charm that is highly becoming. The kind flow in his voice is something which catches on fast. Here he plays to his strengths from the candid grasp that befalls it. Not only does it give it pull but in the whimsical showing the weight also carries it all through.
............................................................................................................................... TIM CHADWICK
‘Dreamers’ is a revealing effort which meets exceptionally well with the fine calling in his voice. The tumble of the guitar brings some urgency to the compact feel of it all. The softness and reach of his voice give a good contrast to the artistry on show. Following that is another grounded effort called ‘I Want You’. There is a pleasance to it all that is facilitated further by MARK CAMPBELL on piano in a rather comfortable way. How that sees the latent presence of the remote qualities right counts for a great deal. Overall it carries the sentiment in a way that richly considers the emotional heft and offers more than initially suggested.
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He curtails this old-school male vocalist feel on ‘Games’ that makes it a heartened effort with a broad calling. That circles it all in a way that is drawn across from how it plays out. This leaves things feeling somewhat vulnerable but it is comforted in a way that is equally interesting here. The fluid way it is done keeps to a standard pace but it is nothing to really find fault with. His last song brings a rich showing of harmony called ’Belong’. The befallen tone is rich and sees him lean into the tune in a way that gets under the playing. That comforts the graceful and gospel feel in a truly complimenting way here and has something akin to ‘Let Her Go’ by Passenger in the right places. This is a rather revered effort indeed.
Irish Artists THE MIDNIGHT UNION BAND Of Life & Lesser Evils
This is a very select album through and through. From the dignified grace of ‘I’m Your Leader’ things build with a formidable showing through and through. An ushered feel resides in the vocals and is neatly caressed alongside the dandy temperament freely concentrated in the tempo. They seize upon a stirring sense of momentum with ‘Just A Scar’. The sturdy pick up is commendable and the urgency is carefully constructed alongside some impressive Americana callings. They dig deep on this one and you are impressed for all the right reasons here. Something heartfelt pours out on ‘Beast Of Eden’ that brings a believable sense of depth to proceedings. How it comes to pass engages the underlying sentiment and carries it through off the back of a suitable calling in the strength of the playing. It is how it is all framed that the emotional heft doesn’t become overplayed. They continue with that sophisticated weight on ‘Note To Self’. The highly reflective calling of the lyrics settles into the dynamics. From that well-versed calling it grows in stature. A lot rests on the beholden feel of the music upon which the song is carefully constructed and grants it a deserved level of maturity. The direction of the album changes with ‘Stormy Thoughts’. The flow from the opening has a coveted feel about it and it leans towards a troubadour/vaudeville distinction in places, but it is balanced. The composure here gives them free rein to express things on a more musical merit which sees their endeavour rewarded with a rich number that has a lot going for it. Again that middle-America feel comes through
on ‘People Like You’ and they take to it well. The appreciated touches of play add some countenance to the anger and protestations in the lyrics.Ov erall the delivery here is gathered well and they sit back to allow it all flow naturally when it gets going. They take things back to a richer calling with ‘Gospel According To…’ It steps out in a rather tidy way that is mindful of the minute touches in the play. Also coming through on this one is a wider scope in the narrative that is displayed on all fronts – both lyrically and artistically – which gives the tidings a granted sense of purpose that brings everything full circle comfortably on the bridge. How ‘The People’ is motioned shows how good they are as songwriters. The relative turning on the patient build holds in an exact way that captivates the song as a whole. It is also quite ardent in terms of how honest it all comes across, which gives it a noble calling. They provide a forthright effort for the album with ‘Behind The Truth’. That excellence comes to pass from the off, and it has a sullen calling which gives it an edge that reflects the intent on every turn. ‘Law Ain’t Justice’ is a sweet number in all the right ways. What is fixed on the showing here sees it right on every turn. It is evenly balanced and the rich structures that reside here are a courteous extension that commendably brings it all through. In the tidy flight on show with ‘Of Life’ things smartly take off. The gradual way it builds captures a sullen worth that offers up a great deal when it comes to pass. ‘But I Am Night’ is the song that closes the album. It gathers the forlorn virtues on show and that leaves a settled offering in its wake that closes around the lonesome derivative fittingly. There is a conclusive calling that is found here and you also sense it is what they were looking for because there is an honesty about it all.
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Fly The White Flag Of War The follow up to ‘Plans? What Plans?’ picks up where that album left off. There is an impressive feel that comes through on the urgency of the rhythm on ‘Inked On Eye’. The generous helpings of guitar are administered in an explicit way, while the later alternative progression holds with a clever distinction. A solemn calling is also marked out in the vocals before the hardened approach kicks in to carry it all home. The eponymous ‘Fly The White Flag Of War’ exudes class as it opens. The full on calling rides in high and the even way the vocals open out sit comfortably on everything. Hints of latent grunge found in the rhythm are carefully cornered. Yet the signature style that the band has for developing a song within a song shows again with the smart progression that also comes to pass in the changing direction. It gives the sound a more loaded presence but one that they comfortably fashion. ‘Clown The Spade’ deliberates in an overblown way that takes you along for the ride. There is a competence in the anthemic qualities of the chorus and hooks of ‘take this back’ bellowing out. They do lose themselves in the music here quite efficiently and it is good to see a band that get into their playing like this because the unbridled calling gives everything a natural sense of worth. Removing things from the leaner calling that has determined the album so far comes ‘Wall’. The fanciful reflections in the lyrics suit the softer showing. It builds in an abject way that is rather rich and tidy. When the play picks up it does bring forth an extra level of intent that suitably steps out and carries the flag. After that confident effort comes ‘As They Stood Questioning The Bee (part 1)’. Here thy go all out and hit the ground running.
Broad overtures abound in a relevant way here and furnish the tune with balance as the playing muscles its way through this ensemble piece. After that comes ‘Chewy Hair’. This is a great tune. Everything falls into place just right. It has a hardened resolve that suits the promise of the upbeat showings. How the urgency kicks in connects well with everything but also shows the high level of production values that have gone into the album. This is very much on the money in so many ways. You are immediately drawn to ‘As They Stood Questioning The Bee (part 2)’ from the clever hooks. The catchy flourishes of the intro are carried over and built upon in a noted way. The panged vocals of the ‘’Aah Aah’ that bellow out confirm the songs arrival in a defined way, but there is no mistaking that it is a formidable showing that grasps what it sets out to do musically. Again they stick to their guns with ‘Blue’, but on this one there isn’t the cohesion that there is on other tracks. Something comes up short here that is noted, while it still mirrors the sound the album has had up to this point. That sense of familiarity is where it seems to fall down despite a strong showing in the play. There is a flitting between the angst of the scatty vocals pitched and a more consummate calling on ‘I Can’t Believe It’s Not Sargent Murder’. Granted they cut to the chase here, yet there is a sense of everything not quite adding up. They redeem themselves with the highly developed sharpness of ‘Pugman’ and how it takes the album up a level. High in progressive intent, how the structures power through makes you sit up and take note. The handling displays finesse that brings with it a noted sense of stature that is encapsulated at every turn. There is anything good or bad to say about ‘,’. It is a tune that has a sense of indifference about it and plays accordingly. Then the album closes out with long player ‘Pennysqueezer’. It combines their rock styling in a pertinent way with the latent grunge qualities that their progressive leanings display. It is a rich number with dalliances of instrumentalism giving it everything and you sense that they are savouring the moment with this one all the way through.
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Even though this album changes the playing arcs in paces, the excellent direction takes nothing away from how it is to be appreciated. What marks it out as an album that is deserving of praise for all the right reasons is to be found in the music. The joyful pleasance that glides through the album’s opening track ‘Coffee And Clementines’ builds the arrangement steadily. But alongside the lightness of the flight is a resilient kick in the tempo. This gives the selective touches in the arrangement and vocals are a fine marriage of convenience. The allure of the Parisian richness to ‘Etre Moi’ and the other French characteristics come full circle on a truly classy affair. How it is walked through demonstrates a demeanour that has a heartfelt essence at the core. This is captured with a true intent all the way. Third track ‘The Sad’ brings a hint of reggae to their sound. It is highly attractive, while the presence of the vocals formidably necessitate on the delivery. The melancholy wrapped up in the lyrics adds a definitive trait that holds it all together and brilliantly denotes the deep lying sincerity of the context. The opening harmony of ‘Honeymoon’ is what builds everything. The ambition elevates the album and carries the emotive depth through alongside the pressing way that the arrangement is framed. The genuine way it is all encapsulated is a rich showing here that carefully proves their worth. Then the album adopts a jazz sound with ‘Share The Crown’. This tasteful showing changes the playing direction but doesn’t take anything away from the
album. It has a conjecture of cool that abounds in the prominent bass and piano chords which meet with approval. It is the classic feel naturally abounding which lights it all up in the right way here. A comparison with Eva Cassidy is rightly made on the strong showing of ‘Bluebird’. There is a lot to admire here. The melodic flow of the lyrics passes through the vocals with an almost perfect precision, while there is a lot to admire about the textured kneading of the tempo that carefully resides from the off. This is something that shows they have potential and how they realise those aspirations cannot be overlooked. Some more sincerity shows in the timid qualities of ‘Sorry’. The knowing openness displayed conveys the vulnerability on show in the performance excellently. In doing so the dalliance portrayed corners the telling qualities and caresses the enamoured calling of everything as a whole.
Then the album breaks into a more collected stride on ‘Nineteen’. There is a firm cut to the guitar that adds weight to the running. The deft and comfortable sway of the direction it insightfully takes it further and adds a telling sense of worth in the parlance skipping through. The revelry on show reined in captures a purity to everything as it all comes together. ‘The One I Love’ also features Funzo as a guest vocalist. Here the earnest wanderlust is a crowning facet that neatly commandeers the loving qualities this duet has. The simple and tidy skip is appropriate and envelops the running here with an added touch of distinction that does not go amiss. The album closes out with ‘So Well’. Again the added emphasis on developing the arrangement stands it good stead as the richness of the passive attributes come to pass so brilliantly here. You feel something in how the sensibilities laid out in the outlines add so tellingly to this song.
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THE TURNING The Turning
This is fresh and that is what you note from how ‘Settle For That’ launches into everything. Here is a band that exudes confidence which facilitates the high pomp of the track here. What hangs off the guitar riffs is expertly applied to the rhythm and it feeds through with an impeccable degree of character that invigorates the feel in a truly stellar way. Second track ‘You Make Me Take The Weight’ is another track to truly dig. In the sleight of hand on show you admire what they are attempting in the approach. How that gets beneath the playing is where the real meat on the bones is found. It has a slick keel about it that they take hold in a real way that adds fortitude to proceedings. After that they launch into ‘You Think You’re Better’. A resilient intro, they hang back off it slightly and this allows the presiding urgency to find its feet. There is a catchy paunch in the rhythm that displays an exactness of majesty for how it adds the necessary weight here. Fourth track ‘How To Play The Game’ is another 60’s revisionist number that embraces a lightning quick pace with aplomb. The guitar hooks here are slick and they are a clean calling in every respect. It is well paced and the confident strut that the band have about them sees them play to their strengths here as much as it shakes everything up. Bristling with charm is ‘I’m Out’. Not just in
10 the harmonica on the intro, but the confident demeanour of this one charms you in the right way. The fluid projection of the running is excellent and hardens the showing. It has an edge to it that is pure rock’n’roll but how it resides is carefully judged. They come up with the goods again on ‘Shake’. In some ways it is a mainstream tune but it is a solid piece of playing. What they put down here is a hell of a marker that has blues influences at work giving it real backbone. The tangible force of the rhythm moves you in a way that excites. Keeping to a tighter running is ‘Stand Clear Of My Mind’. This also sees them walk the walk. The album also matures with this one because what is hiding away in the lyrics makes it a killer tune. How that combines with the rest of the song reasons well and shows style meeting substance in a true way. Then we come to ‘I Don’t Wanna Do That’ and it is here that the album shows how much it has evolved from the opening number. They come up with something that is highly catchy, but there is also no compromising on developing it from the expectations that they have set from their own standards. This grabs your attention for all the right reasons. The last track here is ‘Le Responsible’ and from the opening riff you are drawn to it like a moth to the flame. It packs a punch, but here there is an edge that shows them to be serious contenders. You can draw a comparison with The Clash here because it is dangerously exciting and loaded with kick. The whole album has this wonderful energy to it that offers a compact sound marked out with real urgency and presence throughout.
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ALICE SIGNAL FIRES Ghost
Review by Greg Clifford
As stated on the group’s facebook page, ALICE SIGNAL FIRES are ‘an indie rock collective based in Belfast, Northern Ireland and Stockton-on-Tees, England’. They cite acts such as BRIGHT EYES, RADIOHEAD, THE NATIONAL and BOMBAY BICYCLE CLUB, amongst others, as a source of inspiration. ‘Ghost’ opens the 8 track LP. A charming folky acoustic guitar sets the song in motion, which aptly reflects the general subject matter of remorse. Verse 2 then effectively adds strings and delicate electric guitar entries to enrich the song’s texture. At the 2.22-minute mark one senses the track has concluded, with an ideal for radio running length, coupled with the track having stated all it needs to. However, the track builds back up into a sonic explosion akin to THE SMASHING PUMKINS circa 1995. Some may dig this, but for me the ‘coda’ is ultimately superfluous and detracts from what could have been a shrewd commencement to the album. ‘Raise The Dead’ follows and is a more stripped back number as a sole acoustic accompanies the anguished voice. Parallels exist between this performance and BOB DYLAN. The track means well, and does explore a theme that is applicable to modern society, but is a little loose for my liking and a could probably do with some external advise and production. ‘Consolation Prize’ presents a shift in instrumentation with
drums and bass making a reappearance. The track oozes ballad, pseudo-emotive rock, with the inclusion of the obligatory electric guitar solo. The vocal performance here is much more assured though, as control is exerted throughout. The track concludes with a satisfactory crescendo, which pulls on the heartstrings. ‘Phantoms’ is up next and straight away has me singing DEEP BLUE SOMETHING’s Breakfast At Tiffany’s. The track ventures slightly further afield though, as the piano plays a well-constructed rolling motif. The chord progression in the final measures of the song also deserves a special mention. Nice work on that front lads. ‘Pacing’ picks up the tempo a touch, with a modern take on a JOHNNY CASH drum pattern. The influence of KODALINE can be sensed at this point. ‘A Clean Escape’ then kicks off with an amiable acoustic guitar. Subtle glockenspiel can be heard at times throughout this number and creates a certain naivety and innocence that is alluring. The penultimate track comes in the form of ‘March 18th’, with the full band sound being explored again, as the band surely draws influence from RADIOHEAD. ‘Starting Gun’ is up next and brings the curtain down on affairs. A full soundworld is presented to us with piano and strings creating a sense of strength.
This album has all the hallmarks of a young band exploring songwriting and trying to find their sound. At times it’s a little rough around the edges and could benefit from production. But if ALICE SIGNAL FIRES ‘stick-at-it’ they will unearth their own individual voice and hone their craft. Genuine graft and hard work is required, but this LP does offer glimpses of hope for the outfit.
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THE POX MEN The Pox Men
This is a hard album to be favourable to for the right reasons. Taking stock of the Celtic mysticism in how the rhythm plays through gives ‘Sez You’ a fine calling. Yet the laboured feel of the shanty attributes are just that. It lacks in inspiration in a big way here and the by-the-numbers approach that you find with it doesn’t excite you in any way. That applies on second track ‘Thornado’. However there is a more formidable kick to it, ala Dropkick Murphys. The folk elements in the playing suggest they are accomplished musicians and because of that they sell it short somewhat. Things pick up on ‘Time Is Like A Horse’. There is a good sense of fortitude to this. The urgency collects steadily but the merging with the psychedelic touches lacks cohesion, but the more direct approach in the sound does land well by design here. The shanty sing-song ‘The Life Of A Ghost’ isn’t necessarily the dismissive novelty it first appears to be. There is a neat level of playing ability in the delivery which packs a punch but it suffers from the immature approach that seems to be the signature of the album. You expect more from ‘Emigrant Song’ because the opening is superbly rich. But the failings of the album lie in the shortcomings of the writing. It is a hard ask to see beyond that here because it is a tune that peters along in a way that is obvious. ‘The Witch’ and how the music is arranged impresses. They go all out on this one and the rich
structure is a marked move in the right direction because it seems to give them a sense of impetus. That then carries through with the 60’s revisionist kick on show with ‘Bog Surfer’. The rhythm is incredibly solid but once the lyrics come through you switch off. It becomes this drab which is a shame because the roadhouse showing here is excellent from the music side of things.
Going all out with ‘Warrior Women’ sees them hit the ground running and the pace is steady enough to meet the needs of the urgency here, but it is repetitive and mirrors the previous tracks in all the same ways. To use a pun, ‘Unpredictable Weather’ is a drab affair that doesn’t offer much and it is hard to praise it really. There is nothing going for this. Holding neatly is ‘Tin Whistle’ and it stands out from the album. The reflective characteristics of it are actually quite admirable and while it has shortcomings, it sees them begin to offer glimpses of a serious tone in what it has to offer. The ironically titled ‘Away With The Fairies’ comes next and this is another poor effort. The lack of any inspiration sees the novelty wear thin very soon. That is mirrored with ‘Paddy The Saint’. There is revelry to be found on this though in the hard showing of the tempo but that is all. Nothing about it has any saving grace here. The bass line on ‘The Men Of The Pox’ is quite good and merges neatly with the Irish folk in the tempo, but again you are met with a barrage of disorganised noise that doesn’t add up. The folk trappings are commendable and neatly considered in how they play out. The final track here is ‘Begone’ and it immediately alienates the listener. This is limp, unimaginative, drab and at this stage the pretentiousness of the novelty has long worn out.
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COLUMBIA MILLS Factory Settings
‘Never Gonna Look At You The Same’ gets things going. It has an inventive style that embraces a tone that comes across as a textured Americana meets shoegazer. It displays a high degree of originality and worth in the way it is laid out. The passive demure of the vocals sinks into it with such sincerity that you are immediately smitten by the sultry way it carries through. There is a hip and fanciful bounce to the rhythm of ‘Headlights’. Again the withdrawn qualities capture a redeeming feature that draws you in. How it is paced seems to enhance the steady balance that resides in the running, but it seems to revel in the ornate way it flows. You can only describe ‘Fishbowl City’ as excellent. The finite calling on the vocal is expertly placed. How the lonesome calling resonates in the arrangement firmly cements the innovation at work. The expressive showing is there to be admired and by daring to be different they stand out for the right reasons. The final track on this is ‘Factory Settings’. In the motioning the synthesised showing rises delicately. There is a kind maturity in the vocal reach that fixes to the delivery in a noted way. Also admirable is the manner in how the tempo converses with the running. It adds a patience to it all that is open and relevant, while the passive side to the track is fashionably positioned to allow them situate themselves artistically within the music in a controlled way.
.......................................................................................................................... THEM AGAIN Them Again
We saw his Galwegian duo play live in Dundalk last month. The opening track here is ‘Contradiction In Term’. This is a dependable number that benefits from the acoustic guitar and cajun combo. The very fortunate way the vocal lands add up in terms of how the tempo settles. That also applies on ‘Jealousy’. Here the softer calling is angled in to allow them process their endeavour. It is a light number but it is not as empty or artificial as initially suggested. The progression here in the faster beatbox styling corners a neat showing of intent. A dalliance announces ‘Charades’. In the tidy bustle of the guitar work here a tidy number comes through. Enchanted by the specific way the elevated motion of it comes to pass, the shared vocals tidily add something of relevance which is richly considered. The lyrics have real depth to them and wonderment that they chase down cleverly. Final track ‘Avalanche’ and this conclusively closes things out. There is an endearing and heartfelt presence to be found here. Akin to Taylor Hudson in a lot of ways, they do also cut to it in their own right. It is a carefully worked number that gauges the compact calling of the acoustic guitar when it is needed.
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AILBHE REDDY Dwell
A very fortunate showing comes to pass on the careful way that ‘Dwell’ is weighted. The smart feel of the guitar fleshes out the song which is the confirmed by the heartened feel of her vocals. A listless purity broods on the song which gives the departure something eventual and that is what you really admire it for. The passive way her voice accentuates everything on ‘Cover Me’ is a complete virtue all of its own accord. This develops something in her velvet tones that blankets the tune in a defining way which comes to settle upon it majestically. With ‘Swan Song’ there is an earnest sense of romanticism developed in the virtues displayed. The smooth transition of her voice across the delivery adds to the impressive fortitude on show. There is an intrinsic value to this that comes off in a lingered way but seems to process a defined sense of the real about it in the process. The final track here is ‘Love Of Your Son’. In the vacant and fragile attributes the finesse shows. This steers the reflective calling of the lyrics in a pertinent way by giving them a cursive sense of direction, which in turn is cleverly steered through by the telling distinction of the musical arrangement that comes to pass in the sweeping style.
.......................................................................................................................... KICKING BIRD Kicking Bird
There is an intuitive sense of brevity that collects strongly on ‘Nowhere To Die’. That gives the fluid bearing that comes to pass a progressive precedent. The approach is one that steadily builds before attractively stepping out. That is followed by the incredibly charming ‘Yodel Song’. Hints of Johnny Cash and June Carter are immediate and apparent. This is a bright and upbeat number that comes through with a charm that is affluently attractive. It is them mirrored by ‘Blue Bird’. It follows it all the way through. The country styling on show has relevance but there is something to how they approach this one that shows them very much come into their own on it. Again there is an unbridled hint of Americana which furnishes the running of ‘Edge Of The Earth’. This is a sweet number indeed. In the steady way that the urgency is directed a true abandoned ambition lets the music do the talking. As standards go this is exceptionally high but the relevant way they set out to achieve all of that is cornered on all fronts here. This is a tune that could very well be the making of the band.
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Stick & Abide As the innovation hits, you step back and admire what is on show with ‘If & When’. It is not just the contemporary liberty that comes through but a very engaging level of musicianship carries across in the urgency. The scope of movement incites it by giving it a splendour that matches the impact. Second track ‘Brainseed’ makes the most of the funky derivative on show. The difference in approach invigorates the EP considerably. Alongside the hardened showing of the rhythm there is a clever focus to the sound. This is unconditional and the richness displays their artistic excellence. On show in ‘Lose Your Mind’ is a more lucid leaning on the intro. Those touches create a sated ambience before cutting to an intermission. After that they get down to the task at hand with ‘All The Way Home’. With the readiness on show the lean cut comes across in a determined way. That gives the compact showing a platform and it is steeped in a relevance which leverages a taut underground vibrancy and reserve through. After that graduated showing comes ‘Howzenweis’. This is an instrumental affair, developed in an Avant Garde manner which is confirmed by the background rainfall included. The expressive touch gives it a longing expanse that embraces the ensemble showing before the vocals neatly come in. It has an industrialised Dark Wave feel about it which takes hold reservedly but in a way that sits right. Bonus track ‘Circus Jam’ is just that. Nothing more than a coming together of electro beats and funk, but it holds considerably well.
.......................................................................................................................... DAN BRADLEY Gemini
Opening track ‘Better Days’ is framed in a tidy way, which sounds almost identical to ‘Learning To Fly’ by Tom Petty. It is extremely obvious in terms of the way the guitar comes across. On its own merits it is a very tidy affair with the pleasantry factored in to give it shape and direction. That appropriately mirrors the softer calling here. Then we have ‘Faith’. This has a matured feel to it on the opening and it correlates in an emphatic way despite it being comfortably paced and weighted. There is kindled resolve to how it sounds and carries across, with the revered vocals really feeling at home as the song pulls you in. ‘Movin’ On’ is the third track on the EP and denotes a keen appreciation for developing things musically. The arrangement has a high inclusive feel that resides cleanly. There is a comfort to be found and it is what brings it all in to focus, with a pleasing melodic presence kept together and checked diligently by the astute style of the play here.
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Everybody Needs A Little Love Working into everything on ‘Eye Of The Storm’ is an excellent showing of production values. That takes it away from being dismissed immediately. The lightness in the control that keeps it all on track, but it moves explicitly. A depth is also noted in the lyrical content and in the nou disco handling of the tempo it becomes a rather inviting number in its own right. Then comes the more powerful showing with ‘Wash It All Away’ and here she is joined by Tina Turner’s pianist Billy Livsey gives it a more grounded presence. It is a big number and it builds impressively. Reverting back to a more secure showing is ‘Isolation’. This is another neat number. In the tracking there is a lot to be commended because the rhythm holds fast from how this is all furnished. The vocals reside where they need to and the same applies for the arrangement overall. It is a strong body of work and working with Locky Butler as producer here has worked its magic. Selected as the lead single is ‘Everybody Needs A Little Love’ and it denotes a very settled tone that meets a richness of songwriting. There is a lot to admire for the words because they bring an intrinsic value and sense of worth here which is lightly considered by design. Closing out proceedings is ‘Bad World’ and this is the best track on the EP. This is a very accomplished showing indeed. It hits in a big way and the value of it is a certified trait. If any of the tracks have the potential to make her a break out artist this is it right here.
.......................................................................................................................... FICTION PEAKS Fiction Peaks
Recorded in Darklands Audio, this is one of those great EPs you hear. The provisional vacancy of ‘Dye Is Cast’ purifies the air akin to The Strokes c.2000 before it hangs back to something that motors along. The finesse of the vocals also hints at bands like Oasis in their heyday. All these comparisons are on the money because this catches an inspiration all of its own making. Neat and tidy track ‘Future In Replay’ comes next. This is another brilliant tune that collects introspectively. That gives it a marked departure which inventively considers everything in the musical sense. The rich texture carries it through as much as the patient resolve of the vocals does. Embracing a graceful sensibility is ‘Document Dissent’. What resides in the patient decadence of the rhythm corners something mindful. The neat manner of how it is weighted pursues an impartial approach which telling forges ahead with a brilliance displayed that is all of its own makings. The fourth track here is ‘Gun For Hire’. Slimmed down in the narrow approach of how it all holds runs a cold comfort. The relevance of the reflective lyrics captures that. How the looming sound wraps around the running blankets it all in a sophisticated showing that compromises on nothing and, in doing so, yields a real touch of refinement in the process that suits everything on show. One of the best EPs we have heard in a long time.
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JASPER RUA Circles
The entire ensemble affair begins with a graduated opening. This times everything and in some ways slows it all down to expertly allow your attention to be diverted to the music. Minimalist to begin with the progression neatly picks up and brings forth a stellar contemporary piece of work that is fluid and well-contained throughout. The broad conveyance of crashing waves opens ‘Ocean Notion’. Here there is an unrelenting tranquillity that looms smartly. The broader accommodation in the sound is fanciful. The extensive clarity in the reach acts in a proactive way and contains everything. The expression of minimalism comes to pass on ‘Dot.’ The development here is more rotund. A conclusive showing of depth is more pronounced which correlates in the affirmative. The notions of grandeur are collected tentatively. This sounds highly experimental and the baroque margins of electronica offer a commendable sense of innovation. ‘A Song For A Butterfly’ displays an incredible amount of dedication. The superlative handling of the guitar neatly gathers in the flourishes of the Spanish guitar work. It is a high-end adulation in a lot of respects. The quickening of the pace also serves it well. The looming presence of final track ‘Night Owl’ captures the essence. There is a smart calling to how it builds which is rich in ambience. Again he carefully constructs this and allows a high level of instrumentalism come to pass in the dynamics at work. This is definitely the thinking musician’s EP.
Surface Tension Forging something in the trip-hop aspects that meet with Afro-Celt sound is ‘Both Sides’. This is a rich number with a telling identity. An impressive coalition forms in the relative way that the beats are dropped down which sells it. It is not just all about talking a good game here and ‘representing’ with this one because it has a noted sense of development on a musical level coming through. On ‘Run’ the mysticism of the arrangement resonates. There is clandestine calling to it which operates in a manner that exudes a sense of modernity in the touches. It is rather competent and feels that way with the clinical drum and bass dynamic on show. ‘John Coffey’ embraces a more hip hop feel. From the opening riff of the subtle overture it expresses itself. The proportionate context of the lyrics call it as they see it and it is refreshing to hear. The real life narrative doesn’t dwell on any of the stereotypical. Instead they let the narrative be its own animal here and are rewarded for the bold approach with an innovative offering. The spoken word French of ‘Hear Thee’ adds a touch of class. The steady precision of the music comes through with a fuller definition and the pace of the lyrics offer pertinence. The brass fanfare hauntingly hanging back on this gives it a Latin demure which is a tidy nuance, but the way it calls the shots in the lyrics is sharp and fresh. ‘Champagne And Chinchillas’ has a slick urban feel about it. Taken along for the ride here, it is a smooth number and the encapsulation of the lyrical here is a fine calling indeed. When it picks up you really admire it because it nails everything. This is high on the wow factor and is an excellent tune all the way through. Things are more representative of a hip-hop style with ‘Reservations’. By digging deep here you realise how serious the artistic intent is. The acute showing is relayed in a proven way that displays nothing artificial in any of the musical endeavour. The final track here is ‘Strangerphobia’. In terms of development this one has a lot of admirable consistency to it. The quickened pace of the freestyle vocals impresses but so too does the carnival feel of the tempo when it gets going. Again it underlines everything that works for the EP and closes everything out with a commendable level of proven ability hanging on everything.
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THE GRAVITY DRIVE Testament
‘The Wilderness’ opens the album and the richness of the intro is like a Bond theme meets Moby. That falls away and a neat tune formidably comes to pass. Mindful of that they touch on the lingering attributes in a way that is conclusive. A high end calling is met in the acoustic instrumental showings at work that lends it a greater sense of grandeur which takes it where it needs to go. They move it up a gear on ‘Fun’. A prominence is called upon in the synthesised disco beat on show. It catches the right side of pop sensibility but also has a leaning towards a richer undertone akin to how Pulp would deliver something social in the catchy style they had. This is in the same class. Again some opulence comes to pass on ‘Trick Of The Light’. It is styled in a lucid way to begin with before the beat kicks in. The steadfast drumming drives it forward and the Balearic trappings give it a fundamental appeal that is easy to get behind. There is a rich chic calling to be found on ‘Circles’. This is a clever tune. Firstly the lyrics catch the showing just right; secondly, there is an avenue to the arrangement that meanders through in an upright way that is lavishly engaging; the third aspect that works is the shapely way it engages the approach because it seems to find a vigorous resolve from how it operates. The way that the synthesised beats score ‘Cherry Ripe’ makes you sit up and take note. It comes across in a calculated way that takes off expertly. The freshness of the lyrics add up in a
big way here as much as the catchy rhythm that flows through this one. With the intricacy that carries across on ‘Hearts And Minds’ the framing is explicit in the savoury sense. A smart and fortunate level of detail arranges the lyrics but there is also a dainty refinement to the latent 60’s overtures on show. That is a favourable extension to the running that gives it an additional degree of wealth that taps into their potential. Even though it opens with a string arrangement there is an acquired edge to be found in the subtext of ‘Tear Me Apart’. A broader tune in comparison to the rest of the album until now, it still retains that neat touch of class that has presented prior. They also indulge in a freer sense of expression with the vocals. They take a slight risk with doing so but they pull it off because this leaves its mark on the track. Leveraging the bereft calling against the more reflective nature of the lyrics gives ‘Boy’ a fitting sense of grandeur. The delivery identifies well with the musical arrangement to give the neater flow something to build upon. It does so and the commendable patience of it all is consistent enough. They leave the listener with ‘Blindfold’. From the deliberated distinction of the piano arrangement you sense it will be a slow number. It is. The routine showing in the ethereal hold does progress evenly and that brings more to the mix as it gets moving.
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As Long As The Money Lasted The way that the album’s opening track trades on the sophisticated touches of ‘Close To The Vest’ is highly inviting. A stylish level of indifference neatly carries across in the relaxed vocals before settling into the appreciation of the instrumentalism at work. A very fine opening effort indeed and it is followed up by ‘Robots With Guns’. The more contemporary showing feels out the playing in a justified way. All of the progressive fronting to it sits neatly but there is a later development in show that continues to build on the playing presence. The joyous sombre calling of ‘Inland Sea’ connects well with the listener. A lot is facilitated on the scope that catches a finite sense of concentration in the expansive nuances that connects all the dots. How that suits the reflective depth of the vocal delivery marks a high level of creativity at work with the evident substance of the ensuing output further proof of their credibility here. The steel drum and calypso styling on show bring out the best in ‘Cosmonaut Romance’. Again there is a listless anomie that comes to pass with a textured deliberation. How it is exerted has a way of negating the impartial finesse coasting through the way it all sounds but also adding a noted sense of worth to what tidies away in the background. The latent
progressive grunge calling of ‘I’d Love To (But You Play Too Rough)’ takes flight in a way that signals a high level of intent. Featuring Nigel Evan Dennis on the track, ‘Out Of Season’ walks a finite line. The mediation of the resolve is firmly seized upon. Here the calypso styling of earlier falls into the background, while the more progressive calling is angled to suitably bear fruit from how it forges ahead in the pressing delivery. The clean manner in how the album has now come together shows with rather relevant ‘1981’. Found in the lingering stupor is a well tracked tempo that accommodates a broadened ebb and flow. That latent adulation crosses over here and fits the overall outline and impartial calling with a telling suitability. All the steady qualities give it resolve and this is loosely styled without anything being lost in the process as it becomes more. The anticipation builds on ‘Robots II’ and the distinct way it plays out differs from all of the other tracks before now. It is heavier and the rock element is more emphasised. That gives it reach and the divergence in sound reliantly brings something different to the mix that takes nothing away from the overall aesthetic of the album. - 36 Final track ‘The November’ is another progressive showing. The opening line invites you in and from there the concentrations in the playing lend the track a more deliberated weight that adds up. It is an incredible closing tune that fashions a pedigree from the touches of modernity that come to pass. - 31 -
Little Smartphone People This is an album that is out there on its own and will more than likely stand the test of time. The stylish opening track ‘Disco Bunny’ is a fine effort that brings elements of hip hop, electronica and other synthesised beats together. The result is an innovative hybrid that pulls out all the stops and grabs your attention as much as the slick tempo does. The sophistication of ‘Move The Head’ shows where they are at. The steadfast motion of the rhythm invigorates the chic approach. Hints of retro are there but they are secondary to the track being about creating something that reflects their identity you feel. That is what makes it as good as it is. With third track ‘Watch Ur Behaviour’ things feel more confident. There is a striking psychedelic in the undertone that adds a delightful hint of revelry. The dynamics materialises and there is fresh face value to the sharp cut of the hip hop lyrics that immediately elevates it to another level. With the trumpet called out on it, ‘Sundowner’ finds a groove that really benefits from the jazz touches. The splendour in the richness shows and the impeccable standard of majesty at work here has cool written all over it. At only one minute long ‘One Hot Finger Lickin Minute’ still packs a lot in and has the same zest that has been the standard from all the preceding tracks. How it avoids complacency is equally impressive despite the brief running time. Then we come to ‘Little Smartphone People’. The intricacies are maintained throughout and they charm you unreservedly. Yet there is a resolve in the even keel that is portrayed and brought through. The lay underground vibrancy also exerts itself quite deliberately but also brings a mark of progression for the album. The guitar riff that tidies away on ‘A Man Is Just A Man’ then welcomes the rest of the musical arrangement that follows. The firm footing it is built on gives it the necessary impact that allows the concentrations of playing and differing playing arcs to meet in a way that gets the best out of it all. With ‘Selfie @ The Zoo’ there are
Arabian folk elements thrown into the mix that really land. The repetition rides in neatly and doesn’t feel drawn and that is because the musical arrangement has additional layers added which build it all up very cleanly. You can draw a comparison with Ian Dury And The Blockheads with ‘Until They Kick Us Outside’ tat then evolves into something like The Chemical Brothers. This is brilliant. The courteous synth elements fuse neatly with the belying drum and bass calling to really produce an exemplary tune that flies high from the off. ‘Who Is Bill Carson?’ again sees the underground hip hop flavour come to pass superbly. The instrumental touches on show worked in by design are excellently considered. What they bring is considerably impressive here. After the brief interlude of ‘Say It’ comes the truly outstanding ‘Freckles & Hairslides’. The mainstream appeal of the tune is found in the bounce that the rhythm and beats drop down on it. A pronounced climb in the rhythm also gives it a clever impetus that duly brings the process full circle here. Seeing the tone of the album delve into dance anthem territory is ‘I Know U Know Why’ but it is a tune that keeps the departure in check. The relativity of the showing reflects the design of the way it is all tracked and this in turn brings a smart sense of focus to how the rhythm evolves to a nou-disco beat in the later progressions. What can only be described as a hybrid of hip-hop and industrial New Wave is ‘Helicopter’. How they make this work really sees them step up to the plate. Blanketing the sound is an industrial organic that creates a fitting affirmation that really gets under the- playing 36 - with an immaculate level of credibility showing through. They bring that hardened showing to pass again with ‘Granted’. The rich demeanour is reflective of the high points of Massive Attack’s ‘Mezzenine’ album in a lot of ways. The rich texture of the beats defines it but also suggest something dark hiding away in the lighter recesses that piques interest. The final track on this truly stellar album is ‘Mos Eisley Cantina’. This has rich instrumental work residing alongside the experimental touches of EDM. The ensemble characteristics necessitate everything here and extend it in a way that truly leaves a lasting impression.
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ARTIFICIAL HUMAN Goddess
From the beginning you are interested in what this album has to offer. That is aided considerably by the distinction steadily opening proceedings on ‘LVYRSELF’. What is concentrated collectively radiates in the texture to stylishly enrich the vocal delivery. The innovative showing continues with ‘The Gift’. The scratched and looped rigour framing the beat accommodates both the casual sway of the neat vocals and beat. But in the dynamics there are drum and bass characteristics picked up on which truly bring it full circle. Two tracks in and already this album has you by the time ‘Survival Mode’ plays. The pronounced and innate intro gives the progression something to follow on from. This in turn gives the withdrawn minimalism a token showing that gives a more effective approach to how it all builds. Again there is a calculated drum and bass feel to things with ‘Beelzebub’ that gives it all a habitual presence. The smooth transition of the vocals hangs back as more of a side though. In doing so things come up that little bit short, which lets the promise shown in the opening go to waste. After that comes the more distant ‘Play Dead’. Holding the more alternative feel serves everything quite well because it shepherds the sound in a way which sees the album migrate in a forward direction. When ‘It’s Not Complicated’ kicks in that transition from how it sounds at the beginning is confirmed. Here the electronic aspects dominate but seem to bridge a
New Wave de facto in how it works. The high rise of the guitar looming over it adds a remarkable panache which is further worked through by the well-reasoned vocal showing. It is style commendably meeting substance.
The deft flight of ‘Omnivore’ makes for attractive listening. Behind the play the placid elements fit by design. The patient build picks things up steadily and manoeuvres everything in an explicit way that doesn’t reach beyond its means. It is tidied away and that emphasis bridges the clean movement that comes to pass. What ‘I Can See Forever’ offers musically extends what has gone before but offers a more distinct contrast. Hints of reggae and calypso form the rhythm and the sharp way they pick up sees a reversion to the earlier drum and bass feel of the album. The concluding end has a finer showing with ‘Somehow’. This is one of the tracks on the album that has true contention marked out in how it all goes down. Hints of Bran Van 3000 come to pass with real flair. Everything can be sounded out for praise on this track, and rightly so because it shows a level of commitment forged in the approach creatively. ‘Evolution’ seems to work a more synthesised calling into everything but the engaging way shows the ambition at work. Where and when it hits gets it going by design. - 36 - That clever intent is rewarded with an endearing effort full of lucid charisma that suits the title. Things close out with ‘Unconsciousness’. The opening is reminiscent slightly of Lips Inc’s ‘Funky Town’ to begin with in the lay way it is traced. That gives way to allow a more methodical resolve. The heightened showing works in all the right ways. That apparent awareness concentrates the trappings in a very effective way that cleanly works.
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HANA PIRANHA Cold Comfort
‘Back Again’ gets the album underway. Once the raw guitar riff on the intro falls away an anomic sense of being comes through. That diligently guides the urgency by catching the lean showing superbly. A more foreboding tune follows with ‘Chipping Myself Away’. In the dark nature of the lyrics the glory of self-destruction is embraced. That awareness in the scope which hints at going Beyond The Pleasure Principle as Freud would say gives it a degree of relevance. Yet it is also finely delivered and managed throughout. The album finds further resolve with the neatness of how ‘Incubus’ begins. From the rich overture a haunting temerity is created which savours the solemn touches. When it steps out everything moves up a gear immensely but retains the remote qualities as it closes out to bring it full circle. Fourth track ‘Dirty Arrows’ has a glam rock kitsch that holds in the affirmative and rides in high. Yet it is fanciful and the volume on show is exerted in a controlled way that moves the flight tidily. That is followed by eponymous track ‘Cold Comfort’. The cool demeanour gathered in the rhythm sets a high standard but also shows the diversity at work in the way the album now sounds. What materialises by design here is quite interesting because it seems to catch something neatly mainstream that has substance to it. Then we come to ‘Ice And Rain’. Again
there are enticing stray attributes but it is an effort that benefits from the clean way it is paced. It is big on creating expanse but even that is honed and reeled in which keeps it all on track. It is somewhat by the numbers, but the tracking on show is a saving grace. The pangs of a lonely violin open ‘Drinking For Two’ before it launches into a full on affair. The earlier gothic sentiment now returns to how the album sounds. Playing to that approach lets it down in a way when you consider how promising the progression has been until now because it doesn’t maintain the momentum.
The final four tracks of this album are brilliant. What follows with ‘Rosie’ gets things back on track. There is a lightness of touch exerted but when the weight is applied in the harder progression it becomes a more balanced affair that holds firm. There is also something of note for how the vocals settle into the delivery that comes across in a proven way. The nou-disco vibe to ‘Sackcloth And Ashes’ is excellent and gives it a brilliant New Wave flow. There is a narrowed calling that adds to how the dynamics are cleverly tracked alongside the catchy beat. Adding a sense of poignancy is ‘Daddy’s Girl’ which sees ambition and scope meet with ability. The choice way she steps up to the plate embraces the grandeur - 36 - in the calling that matches the intent on show. The album’s closing track ‘Sunshine’ is rather different in tone. The somewhat pop sensibilities are appropriate, yet it is also offbeat and leftfield in a tidy way which makes you further appreciate it. That diversification also suggests that there is more to come from her artistically because the album closes out with a great display of further potential being hinted at.
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The Magic Of Time After the brief intro that is ‘Stella’ the album comes into play with ‘Starlight’. The serene opening meets a sweeping patience called out in the vocals that is rather selective. In return the ambience takes the playing arc into an interesting foray that denotes a high level of innovation. The sunken attributes of the following interlude ‘String & Piano’ enrich it in mood and tone from how they come to pass with darkened fervour. The interesting vein is kept going by the rich instrumental work of ‘Winter Dream’. Allowing the bespoke projection come to pass locates something telling and interesting in the dark current of the performance. Marked by how the direction changes is ‘Bye Bye Motorcade’. Managing the upbeat skip in the tidy way it steps out brings dutiful hints of Bowie and you do sense he is an influence because it is an almost unapologetic tribute, but nothing to find fault with. It is quite amazing to hear and it leaves a sense of wonderment in the air in doing so. The consistency in the simple formations of ‘On Your Day Of Pretty Eyes’ bear softly and leave their mark. Drawing a precision in the dainty narrative gives it an explicit calling that deftly lingers by design. Also noted are the astute intricacies of slight musical flourishes in the background which steal something momentary in the inviting way they build presence. After the nursery like chimes of ‘Bridge Over’ give way ‘Housebroken’ comes to pass. An apparent level of true maturity pushes the proverbial envelope. A lot of the detail speculates just right in the arrangement which elevates the appreciation with a degree of explicitness that is rather remarkable. Again the right balance between
innovation and creativity comes to pass on ‘Silk String Rubber & Crew’. This rich effort is highly alternative with the dynamics falling into place with an all-encompassing exactness that benefits from the practicality applied. Again the direction shifts with ‘The Shows’. The desirable kitsch and funk off the bass line brings a rounded absolution to proceedings. The fine marker laid down by the intent is smartly tracked. The way it is kneaded through cleverly resonates and allows the music to come to the fore when it picks up. Lightning strikes twice with the chic retro appeal of ‘The Lady Fell’. A steadfast synthesised tune that heightens the retro touches perfectly. Then the album reverts back to more alternative territory with ‘You Two’. A somewhat refined beauty reasons well in the context of this that deservedly shoulders the defining offbeat elements alongside the bittersweet. The handling of the noir sentiment ‘The Hippie Shakes’ cleverly hangs back giving the hardened resolve a Trent Reznor vibe. The darker merits sit well with the reverb of the bass hook. It is the combination of lean flair and sultry fervour managed in the details that you admire it for. Then we come to ‘In’ which carries on that late 90’s temperament but develops the sound more. While it opens in an electro rich vein it then benefits from the instrumental approach that allows the experimentation in the musical progression to get everything right. This is then followed by two further interludes with ‘Pure’ and ‘Frustration’, the first of which is highly dismissive. After that is the penultimate track ‘Strings’. The overtures imbue it with a formidable stature akin to Prokofiev’s ‘Peter And The Wolf’ in a lot of ways. - 36 - Closing proceedings is ‘The Fantastic Creatures Of Never’. T beatnik attributes give the spoken word approach adopted something that get behind the rhythm like a treat. The brilliance residing gives the album the closing tune it so richly deserves. The layered arrangements are also excellently applied and bring it full circle with a noted sense of completion. Overall this is an album that opens divisively but produces something of incredible artistry further on in.
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The Dance Of The Diaspora There is something consummate about how deliberate the album gets underway with ‘Dollar $cience’. The approach allows the Avant Garde feel of everything spread across in a heightened way without taking anything away from the appreciation. This has the effect of creatively enhancing the changing directions to allow the arcs pique interest musically. The intro of second track ‘Temple Dancer’ sees a more ambient tone administered. This is layered and neatly works alongside the Dark Wave industrial feel of the tempo. Again the progressive fusion captures the innovation of their approach without any evident shortfall. The sound becomes a little more electronic based on ‘The Mistress Of The Coiffeur’. But when it embraces the later progressive styling traditional Indian music is factored into the mix with a sense of modernity that fashionably collects those processes. The substantial retro calling of the tempo is attractive on ‘Nani Season’, while the lyrics give it a neat sense of flight also. The darker trappings called upon in the later progression seize upon everything in a celebratory way. That develops a haunting sense of reach that gets under everything in a firm way that lights it all up but retains a darker identity throughout. Fifth track
‘Bumblebee’ grows in stature from the off. There is a sublime blending of grooves that displays real smarts here in how the dynamics operate. That distinguished touch in the lavish way it comes across is excellence personified. ‘Old Bad New Good’ follows the leftfield approach but embraces a gritty rock element in part. The flitting between upbeat aspects and more contemporary withdrawn elements bring out the best in it. The beat is one that has incredibly catchy hooks, while the more patient flow sees their artistic integrity come to the fore in a way of real value. With a strange certainty coming through, there is an enamoured sense of appeal going for ‘Snowfield’. The selective elements on show cleverly gauge everything and that results in a distal calling that is steady. The ensuing maturity envelopes the running with clarity and brings things up a requisite level in doing do. Arguably ‘Palootam’ is a true display of fusion as jungle meets alternative. The able way that it is all tracked sits right in terms of texture. An ambient affair is a lot of ways there is a high level of expression noted in how it is all arranged. Last track on the album is ‘Origami’. J-pop in terms of how it opens, it is a tune that seems to embrace a more mainstream appeal in places but it moves on from that to bring things through on a rich musical - 36 level. Overall this is a very tricky album to get your head around, but the components on a broader scale bring a lot of innovation to the fore and for that you do have to take in everything with admiration because they pull it off each time. - 36 -
Always Tomorrow You are grabbed by an album that takes you along for the ride through eleven exceptional tracks as soon as you press play. With steady opening number ‘Fool For You’ hints of pomp akin to the heyday of 1970’s New York electrify the air with the charged feel of the guitar work. It rips through confidently and that zest confirms everything flawlessly. On their second track ‘Never Wanted This’ they show how good they are. The jarred sophistication sees an edgy front emerge that is carefully contained but sees them savour the paunch when they cut loose. There is a true sense of abandon on show with ‘Always Tomorrow’, yet the anthemic intent cornered speaks volumes. The momentum deliberately carries it forward and this confident strut necessitates the rich appeal in a way that goes far. From the drumming on the intro you sense big things to come from ‘Everyone’s The Same’ and it lives up to that promise. The lay feel of the vocals comfortably melts into the running. The stylish slant of the elective tempo mirrored in the overall breakdown succeeds in pulling the listener towards the music for all the right reasons. ‘Hold On’ sees them take everything on head first. This oozes confidence and the punk sensibilities of the undertone rise formidably and give it a distinct level of pace as it all cuts to the chase. Yet it is stared down impeccably with no let up
from beginning to end. After that comes ‘The Best Four Years’. They seem to embrace a careful shoegazer showing that is a welcome change of direction. There is warmth in the lush touches carefully angled in at the beginning but it opens out into a more complete showing as the later progression all comes together. Reverting to their more hands on calling is ‘The Gun’. This hits the ground running. The loaded kick brings real panache which naturally flows. The suitability of the lean vocal showings resides here in a way that deservedly accentuates. You almost feel like you are in a mosh pit listening to it on account of how real it comes across. ‘Figure It Out’ is another invigorating number. The fine way they charge ahead commands everything with a raw edge that comes to the fore. They have this unbridled quality about their sound that is natural, but here it shows more than others. In the handling of the dynamics there is an exceptional level of reach that confirms everything from the word ‘Go’. With ‘Girlfriend’ they seem to extend this appeal only this time out it is more urgent. The impact that the robust tempo carries catches your attention for all the right reasons. That off-the-hook presence comes through again on ‘See You Again’. The brilliance about the band is that there is no sense-of36complacency or monotony in the sound. Again what they offer is invigorating, fresh and, more importantly, all about letting the music do the talking. On the final track ‘I’m Gone’ they embrace a heavier sound. The lyrics convey the tone and their non-conformist content match what they are intending here. It is a formidable tune all the more for it and closes the album in a way that it is truly deserving of.
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O, That I Had Wings There is an air of sophistication about this Brooklyn outfit that immediately sounds them out as one to watch. Opening track ‘Echoes’ confirms this with the withdrawn styling that meets the synthesised element. It selectively furnishes everything with a high end derivative that is steadily motioned but it also gives licence to the more indie sensibilities on show in the electronic elements. There is something in the construction of ‘Time Bomb’ that sees the contemporary elements tracked innovatively after the track departs from the manner it opens. It takes off with an indie-shoegazer feel wrapping around the retro qualities that sharply pick it all up. With the sunken calling of ‘Raise Voices’ the patient temperament of the tune is a wonderful calling that notably presides over the temperament. The chic nouveau disco vibe alongside the impartial air of the high pitched vocals stirs some latent Avant Garde touches, but it is the underlying touches that seal the deal. Then we come to ‘Right World’. Here there is a marked sense of maturity on many fronts. The rhythm collects in a way that keeps abreast of that in the way everything is approached. That sees the conviction play across and keep everything in tandem with the upbeat tempo that deftly busies itself on the delivery. With ’Stained Glass House’, even
though there is a static calling to the way it is arranged, something forlorn is also displayed in the careful way everything is let out. That makes the best of the lucid attributes that the minimalist approach conveys in the musical structures. It defies convention in the way that it works. What lands on ‘Pure Joy’ makes the most of it. Again the minimalist calling shapes how it is framed and that is relayed unobjectively in the sound. The underlying flamboyance carries across carefully but has a noted sharpness to it in the right place that is keenly felt. Then things move to a more alternative showing with ‘Dead Girls’. The absence of the nou disco vibe gives everything a milder touch. But it is realised in the indifferent calling in a way that stands it good stead. Even though the nou disco feel kicks back in the marked change in direction doesn’t detract from the appreciation of the album as a whole. With ‘Real Love’ the drum and bass combination are measured more so than before. It is encouraging and the way it gives everything a sense of flight has a Stevie Nicks apparel running through. Again they seem content in the certainty of the sheltered styling that isolates the play and here it adds an additional relevance from how it curtails - 36 the delivery while putting a lot on show. The final track here is ‘Idle Days’. Even though it maintains that same softness of tone there is a somewhat marked intent about it. It bides away but there is a hint of purity before it gradually comes to pass.
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Happiness In Matrix Coming via our US based music network we were suitably charmed by this band from Moscow, Idaho. They let it all loose with the livewire feel of ‘Japanese Beer’. The fanciful level of pace fashions the tune in accordance but it also as something charming to be found in the offbeat characteristics that add to the abundance on show. The Japanese pop styling comes to pass on ‘Information’ yet they have a sense of defiance in how it doesn’t conform to type. It is impressively considered and that is what sees it right. The antimainstream fundamentals on show are backed up by substance to avoid any criticisms of complacency. That impressive footing and innovation are again on show with ‘AKA Girls’. The leftfield showing sees them lose themselves in the music and the scant disregard for any opinion sees them lose themselves in the music. Here there is a richer New Wave call to match the outlandish showing but it also has a stellar Krautrock kitsch hiding away on how it builds Following the interlude of ‘Intermission A’ they grabbed the urgency of ‘Death Of A Supermodel’. This moves the approach and the ambition up a notch without them falling short. It captures an underground organic that prevails among the Dark Wave feel that draws comparisons with Depeche Mode for all the
right reasons. The originality of the band is confirmed with ‘Sharks Of Love’. The inviting ebb and flow in the tempo takes pride of place while there is a richness in the lyrics and the shared harmonies that is conclusive. The excellence is localised but it filters through it on all fronts. ‘Cold Like Fire’ then sees them engage in the magic of the lithe Parisian saunter that is procured in the rhythm. The spoken word narrative adds integrity to it as a whole and how it is delivered as a whole is appropriate on all that is shown. The dark processes of their imagination are purged on the interestingly titled ‘Kim Nowak’. The prevailing way it opens is let down by them not adding anything to it. It is a repetitive loop and it doesn’t come across as anything other than pretentious. The album’s title track ‘Happiness In Matrix’ hooks you with the 8-bit synth that ten beckons the soothing piano arrangement that blankets the outline. The passive way it breaks down is easy to appreciate and the relative way it consistently builds is encouraging. Opening with a telecast from ‘Body Heat’ we have ‘Enjoy The End Of The Summer’. It is wonderfully attentive and the keepsake manner in - 36 how it hangs back prevails. The glorious feel of the synth touches it out just right which is repeated differently on closing number ‘Stupid’. The Gallic sensibilities of the vocals arrive on it immediately and as it plays out you can draw a comparison to the later workings of Pulp because of how distinct it all sounds.
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ANDY AND THE PANDYS
It Only Gets Darker Immediately a sense of Americana comes to the fore on first track ‘Die Alone’ that carries it home. The resilient touch of the tempo catches things just right and how it opens up characterises a solid sense of intent. In the honest conveyance of the lyrics they catch those American folk attributes and focus them in a direct manner. More country amblings are present on ‘Anther Wasted Year’. The tidy ramble of the opening gives way to a hardened showing that has kick. With third track ‘Faith’ there is a more opportune derivative in the passive calling of the context. The depth is paramount and sees it right. With the fundamental way it all moves and carries through there is a solid sense of togetherness that presses ahead when it gets into its stride. The lean cut of the ‘Cynic’ hints at a Tom Petty influence at work. It is chased down and then gathers momentum as it plays out. That wholesome occupancy is there on all fronts –lyrically and in the rhythm – which sells you on it without it feeling laboured. But they still maintain their own identity throughout. After that comes ‘Bloodless’ and it is a rich affair. The striking composure of the string arrangements soothe in a way that necessitates the approach. Encapsulated by
the heartfelt sentiment the song is a due affair that sits neatly in terms of how it is all laid out. Then we come to ‘Drinking Song (Party 1)’ and ‘Drinking Song (Party 2)’. The first half plays to a waltz and it retains a sense of closure that holds impressively around everything and also accommodates the broader showing it has when it steps out. The second offers something cut from a similar cloth although it is full on from the very beginning which suits the brief running time, to suggest it might be a real crowd pleaser to see live. Hints of Band Of Horses come to pass on ‘Past Myself’. Be that in the faster flourishes if the guitar work that are matched with the neat vocals it is an impressive showing, but it has a lean cut that suggests some Foo Fighter latently lying in wait in places. Seizing upon the neat underplaying is ‘Tyrant’. The sunken drive of the tempo relays that before it picks up in a compact way. In the urgency of the flight rests a distinct calling that is fortunately crafted and shows what they can deliver on as a band in doing so. The penultimate track on the album is ‘Fate’. In the bespoke opening the deft touches fall lovingly into place. The reflective sense of realisation of loss through one’s - 36 -provides it with subject material but it doesn’t own irresponsibility dwell on it in a way that reverts to type. Instead the angst is what provides it with direction and nurses the intent. Last track ‘The Weight’ sees them go all out and put everything into the tune. That gives the album a cautious perspective in the well versed showing of the tune here. - 40 -
DAVID AND THE CIRCUMSTANCE This Part Of Me
‘This Part Of Me’ has a great sense of reflection that is curated in the careful way it is all carried off. The enamoured sense of appeal conveys this with the inner perspective that gives his delivery a convincing sense of realisation, and, one senses, something that comes from an internalised place that is both personal and real. Tessa Douwsrta adds vocals on ‘All Across The Sea’. The soft acoustic breakdown brings a lot to the table here yet it cleanly hangs to a telling sense of virtue in the calculated hardened showing that comes to pass also. A dalliance presides over the guitar work on show with ‘Is It Not You’. Then a solemn deliberation fondly comes to pass in his voice. It accentuates the delicate calling alongside the remote sensibilities that come around on this one. The poignant application enriches the demeanour in a tidy way that is quite prolific in its simplicity. How ‘Perfect’ seems to hold on to the bygone pleasantries offers a great deal. There is an accentuated intuitive touch that correlates with a marked process of distinguished purpose. The slide of the rhythm guitar provides a suitable level to how it flows. It has this feel of the Bee Gees when they
would write their softer tunes in the 1960’s, which is a good comparison to make. From the opening you are suitably impressed with the intriguing way ‘The Wrong Road’ leads. It has an intricate beauty to it all that is handled in an unrequited way which brings an effective level of appreciation to everything on show. Breaking into a more confident stride is ‘Time Moves On’. It moves along impressively. The forlorn calling of the lyrics capture the moment and give insight along with that. You feel that it owes a lot to Paul Simon here in how it comes to pass. A resolve comes over everything on ‘Mr Darkness’. There is a fragility and vulnerability to be found in the clarity. This sheds a little light on the subject material and you appreciate the melancholic aspects furthermore by understanding where they originate on this. Even though it is a brief tune it carries across a great deal in the short running time. The conveyed richness that he has as an artist is called upon with ‘Right Where I Belong’. The passive weight of the vocal is carefully married to the becoming - 36 sensibility of the lyrics. How it soaks up the endearing sobriety is effective and adds to the appreciation. The album closes with the suitably titled ‘Ending Now’. A tidy skip from the guitar and it comes to be. The knowing richness pours out and grows in stature as it progressively builds. There is an intimacy to it that branches out favourably to kind of illicit the detachment it needs. - 41 -
Under Every Sky This one of the albums we have been looking forward to in 2015. How ‘Caribesque’ retains the exactness between the lyrics brings a telling sense of fortitude through. It is rather forthright and the masses against the classes derivative gives it an additional keel that ably comes to pass with real aplomb. The leaner calling of ‘Morning Song’ steps out considerably. The hardened showing neatly builds alongside the smooth transition of how the guitar riffs add to the mix. The pick-up brings a sturdy sense of balance that shows a real togetherness on all fronts. They move the direction of the album somewhat with the maturity of ‘In Motion’. Hints of Scott Walker and Morrissey impressively come to pass here. The assured brevity of the vocals breathes confidence into this and is mirrored by how formidable the playing is carried through. The insular appreciation in the formations of ‘Way To Fall’ gives it an earnest conviction. The conclusive showing in the weight here formed around the playing gives it direction. Lighter folk elements also add a kick to the delivery that grows into the running with a warranted calling that comfortably frames everything. ‘The Hanging Tree’ sees them get down to the musician side of being in a band with an ambitious tune. In the definition there is a determined sense of reach that captures a sense of artistic completion. The intent is clear and suitably impressive on repeat listening. The workings of ‘Down Along The Jordan’ harbour an astute appreciation that gives the running an open value. It doesn’t necessarily have the impact of previous tracks but the approach is about getting more out of the playing details which sees things adopt a richer stance in that regard.
They let loose on ‘Big Society’ and the fanciful texture of the rhythm takes you along for the ride. The clever deliberation in the blues rich approach exerts upon it an unbridled kick that is matched by the vocals. Again the old school rock sensibilities are found on ‘When We Walk’. How they go all out embraces that approach and the urgency collects in the compact structures excellently to bring it through. With more of a spring in the step, ‘A.L.O.N.E.’ proactively embraces the notion of cool in so many ways. But it has a substantial symmetry about it that embracing the richness of the musicality which brings the volume to the equation in a lot of ways. The excellence of the Reggae undertone enriches the appeal of ‘Come On In My Gun’. This hangs back and sweetens what is evident on the surface. The minute absolution of the manner in how it blends with the rock characteristics of the sound is equally inviting and gives a good grounding for the charged up affair that is ‘It Don’t Please Me’ to come in on the back of. Here they hit the ground running and hark back to the opening style of the album’s earlier tracks. The full on aplomb sees them get down to business in a way that lets the music do the talking. Taking stock of a great deal in the lyrical narrative is ‘This World’. They are ably rewarded for their endeavour here because this shows a true depth of expression in the songwriting. It is a very calculated effort that allows the tempo - 36 - the arrangement as a whole which gives it further to comfortably accompany prevalence. The last track here is ‘Green Lane’. From the off you are pulled in. The undertone is akin to ‘Superstition’ by Stevie Wonder, which give things a token funk but they display a fundamental staggered play here that transitions everything in a sublime way. A great track to close out on really.
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LE BELLE Le Belle
There is a soft and structured calling to the piano on ‘The Sea’ that is met by the rich texture of the vocals. The neatness on show carefully comes through even before the hardened approach kicks in. As an opening track it sets down a marker for the band with their album that is noted. There is a departure in terms of sound from how ‘When You Wake Up’ sounds. The upbeat clarity that the rock side brings announces itself and draws you in along with the highly detailed playing. The lean rushes are handled conclusively which draws you in immediately from how they are seized upon. The opening to ‘So Tell Me’ is one of those ‘fuck me’ moments that a great tune can have upon you. Here they really come up with the goods. This is more than the sum of its parts and it is brilliant from start to finish. The big ambitions set out for it are met and matched by what comes through in the music. Steeped in poignancy is ‘Little Pieces’. The warmth of expression tidily fed through in the lyrical narrative adds to the equation in a token way. In the lightness of touch a contrast is noted against the lyrical angst. It gives it a conclusive showing that wonderfully keeps all of the worth within reach throughout here. What follows next with ‘It’s a Joke’ is something that should be taken seriously. Pun intended, there is a capable showing here that draws comparisons with Kate Bush. A hardened showing elegantly finds the perfect partner in the obscure
10 eccentricities that are reined in on this. Feeling like an extension of that is ‘Resistable’. How the emphasis on the creative impulses comfortably show gathers everything up in a well-intended way. The softer callings the band indulges in are distinct. This is proven on ‘Eyes Like Wildfire’. The endearing way that it is all processed shows in how it is all brought through. That is a central facet here that is impressive and the meandering distinction opens the tune out explicitly. Hints of The Joshua Tree era U2 are picked up on with ‘For Granted’ from the opening alone. It has a precision about it in the patient build that sees it go the distance. Hints of Leonard Cohen are also present and this really sets the bar high. An interesting contrast is then offered with ‘Hold Me Down’. It is immediate and the exacted reach of the sensibilities ease into the track definitively. In the plush flow of ‘Don’t Start’ there is a finer calling that reaches into the lonesome depth of the song and finds the substance. That level of sincerity is attractive and the evident purity comes through as it builds. In the hands of a lesser band perhaps ‘Secret Life Of Snails’ may falter. Again the Kate Bush comparisons are made for the right reasons. This is a fulfilled effort indeed with a broad reach that is extended into every nook and cranny. On that showing you see what they can do on an innovative - 36 level. Bringing the album to a close is ‘Adore You’. The rather kind showing is there to be found, but with the way the shared harmonies are carefully constructed it holds sway. The deftness of touch is paramount to achieving this but it is so subtle that the upbeat pick-up closing it out adds to the showing in a noted way instead of taking away from it by changing the playing arcs.
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Dreaming Free The opening track to this album moves ever so eloquently. With ‘Close Your Eyes’ the neatness of the rhythm perseveres and then allows the comfort of the ushered vocals come to pass deliberately. The tidy pick-up from the synthesised beats really adds to the lush texture on show by giving it a telling parlance that is comfortably handled. Keeping synth in fashion is de rigour these days but here it is in the hands of an artist who appreciates it as an art form. Intricately holding firm is ‘Open Tales’ and the select way it steps out orchestrates everything in the right context. Again there is a glorious representation on show for how it gets moving that fuels the appreciation for this artist in so many ways. With ‘New England Love’ the retro leanings are more confirmed. What is spelt out cleanly in the running is rich but also has a large degree of mainstream appeal that is established as soon as it begins. ‘Remaining’ is a fully musical affair that embraces his love affair with the synthesised sound. It is a steady tune that is here as a side note to fill out the album but it still fits the overall aesthetic on show. It allows for the more relaxed ‘Waves’ come to pass. The withdrawn resolve hangs lavishly here before it picks up in a truly brilliant way. This is excellent and you are taken aback by how it catches you off guard. It is robust, commendable and highly aware of how good it is, which
10 is what a track as good as this should convey. The album has confidently moved up a gear now and this show with ‘Ghost Lights’. The indie disco way it is all styled highlights everything that this artist has going for his sound. Poise, elevation and relevance are qualities this track has in abundance and they all combine to exceptional effect here. Again he comes up trumps with ‘So Heavenly’ but in the demeanour resides something more select. A relative and attractive quality comes to the fore that was not necessarily present on the other tracks until now. It marks a high sense of progression in terms of song-writing ability and the instrumental layering is more prominent which underlines this assessment, but the breakdown compromises on nothing either. What comes to pass on ‘Waterfall’ affirms all of the promise that the album has hinted at until now. The beautiful precision in the flow provides it with a sterling presence that is captivating to hear. A departure then comes across on the bereft signature that is ‘Setting Close, Travelling Far’. It embraces that solitary derivative and the sweeping crescendo of the haunting piano creates a sullen mood that looms large but doesn’t over indulge. The reach of ‘Lemoncholy’ mirrors the solitude that has gone before it but is something that has its own identity. - 36 The final track here is the bonus song ‘Silver Fields’. This is a great number that has something about it that bewitches the listener. It is a subtle tune to begin with but expertly ups the tempo. The steady maturity in the sound benefits from this and allows the arrangement as a whole come to pass as it steadily builds.
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MEXICO INDIGO Single Blind Design
Lovingly opened by the free flowing bravado of ‘The Trumpet’ the album is carried off with real charm and class by it. What is confidently chased down radiates in a truly definitive way and it harbours those qualities with a truly prevailing front. A slight kick is also noted which pushes it along dandily to cleanly accompany the sharper styling. Second track ‘Day of The Den’ enjoys a free run. In doing so there is a natural consistency in the way it clocks in. It is a robust tune that has a casual finesse that is carried well alongside the more compact pick-up on the pace that moves it along. The ska styling gives ‘Lost And Lonely’ flight. Again the snappy discourse gives it bite, but they keep it tidily in check to get the best out of it. The hard calling of the guitar and drum work preside over it with gritted determination and the pace gathered also has a servitude that keeps it all on track.
that is threaded through in the running. It doesn’t try to be anything more than that but you can sense that was never the intention here and because of that approach it works as well as it does. The best of the album begins to show on ‘Northern Line’. The favourable calling of the tempo situates upon the acoustic guitar gracefully. Lingering touches light it up and the sweet sentiment of the lyrics captures something heartfelt that captures the natural contentment of the workings superbly.
Some Americana neatly creeps in with ‘Close My Eyes’ and it finely brings something cursive to their sound that is reasoned well. In that solid showing they confirm that they are a complete band. The excellence of the guitar riffs bleeds true class here. Another really catchy tune comes next with ‘Fragments’. The sharpness of the drumming hits you on the intro in the right way, while there is a lot going for the shoot-the-breeze-feel
Hard and fast, but in a controlled way, sums up ‘Voodoo’. They get straight down to business here. The charged fashion of the tune is well considered and the electrified presence gauged in a way that mirrors this. Hunts of the blues also fire it up as they shoot across the rhythm. Somewhat repetitive in a way is ‘Semi-Hectic’ and that is not necessarily helped by the weak fronting. Playing wise it is evenly balanced but it lacks the organisation in part and it falls short on account of them. A kinder sentiment commands on ‘Single Blind Design’ and is brought through valiantly. The clear way it is laid out shows. The lay vocals neatly feel it all out which allows the narrow sense of focus connect well in the grittier way it levels out. It is a - 36 sweet number when it gets going and it sets up the final track ‘Vampires’ rather well. The harrowed feel of the lonesome guitar work steadies the intro which is then exorcised fully in the lyrical narrative. This rather realised affair carries a forthright presence in that regard that cleverly accentuates the patient touches on show when it steps out and leverages against it with the right degree of intent.
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LOVE FOR PLUTO Into The Night
Review by Greg Clifford LOVE FOR PLUTO, or [love for pluto] as how it appears visually on their website, are a New Jersey based 5 piece exploring a combination of indie and alt rock. They are described as ‘having warm atmospherics and power pop chords’. The LP opens with ‘Sea Of Fluorescent Lights’. There is a desired lushness to the textures and overall sound-world. Elements of CLOUD CONTROL exist in this track, particularly in the vocal delivery, which for me is a good thing. Overall this is a well-constructed, professional sounding composition with charm in abundance. ‘Neptune’ opens in a relaxed manner with repeated arpeggiated electric guitar chords. Synths are then added to create a ‘glacial’, ‘washy’ sound. The simple modern drumbeat is unassuming and provides sufficient energy and drive. The chorus must be commended here for its polytextual approach with a kind of call and response created. Next up is ‘Disease’, which opens with some nice interplay between the bass and electric guitar. The chorus’ chordal progression is quite astute and reveals their musicality. There are however some slight timing issues present which effect the overall enjoyment of the track. A drawn out snare roll suggests an epic coda section however it turns out to be slightly underwhelming. ‘Red Jeans’ is a quirky number with the bass and guitar playing interwoven ideas and motifs. Again aspects of CLOUD CONTROL can be sensed. This song reveals that the bands influences are quite varied and I commend them for attempting to create an authentic fusion based sound.
‘Delicious’ exhibits shades of an eerie sinister air, as the band knock out a real ‘belter’. ‘Blonde Octopus’ then reveals the group’s tendency to change things up. Here the piano takes center stage and suggests a smoke-filled, dimly lit blues bar. This is also compounded by the presence of the saxophone, as a mood of desolation is captured. ‘As The Sun Is Slowly Setting’ follows and sets off in a jovial fashion on accord of the opening guitar riff. There is a fitting lazy playfulness, which is in keeping with the title, while the lyrics are somewhat more poignant; a well constructed juxtaposition.
‘Waiting For The Fall’ starts off in a delicate fashion, yet suggests something more haunting than it would lead you to believe. The guitar doubling the lead vocal is a sweet touch here and makes the melody even catchier. Subtly charm is displayed throughout. ‘White Owl’ has a hint of 50s emotive pop/rock. This is epitomized by the percussive pattern, guitar melody and of course the obligatory chord progression. ‘In Autumn’ has a slight Bossa Nova, syncopated beat to it. The band, for the most part, sticks to a familiar pattern here and create what is unfortunately a largely bland offering. ‘Antarctic’ picks up the pace again to bring the album to a close. There’s a blend between soothing rock and edgier qualities brought to the table, which culminate to create a satisfying concluding track.
- 36 -to a gratifying concoction of atmospheric, assessable Overall we are treated indie/alt pop/rock. Credit must be given to the group for their endeavors in trying to sculpt an album, as opposed to a randomly selected collection of songs. They change the tempo and mood at the correct moments and showcase their potential throughout. ‘Sea Of Fluorescent Lights’ is undeniably the strongest track on the album and is one I’ll be returning too.
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SAM BROOKES KAIROS
Review by Greg Clifford This is a straight out fantastic album! Based in London, this songster forges his own brand of impressive alt folk. He crafts emotive stories about day-today life, told beautifully and accompanied by wonderful atmospherics throughout. BROOKES amalgamates his stated influences, which include Joni Mitchel, Bert Jansch and Travis, to create something largely unique. Comparisons can also be made between BROOKES and BON IVER and BEN HOWARD due to the purity and honesty that is prevalent throughout. ‘James’ is the albums opener and sets off like a genuine voyage, which is in keeping with the lyrics that are soon added. The JONI MITCHEL influence is felt here with the inclusion of a quirky percussive accompaniment and wellplaced and executed harmonies. I also like the sounds of moving around a microphone and brushing off leads that greets us as the track draws to a close. This makes the album ‘human’ and reminiscent of BON IVER’S LP ‘For Emma, Forever Ago’. Next we have ‘Crazy World And You’ which really displays the artist’s immaculate voice. The subtle percussion and accompaniment again leaves room for BROOKES to take centre stage, while providing a superb platform to build upon. ‘Frequencies’ follows and is a stunning atmospheric journey akin to BEN HOWARD. It exudes professionalism and has genuine single potential. The sound is comforting yet poignant and reflective. ‘This Is The Place’ picks up the pace a touch, as the artist goes for a more textbook type folk song. Again, exceling himself vocally, he produces a powerful
10 and moving track. ‘One Day’ encapsulates talent and the integrity of RAY LAMONTAGNE as the artist offers us this live recording. As before, I find it most alluring to hear ‘movement’ and ‘brushing’ sounds being picked up by the microphone. This is a very touching song and is sure to leave a leaving impression as the final chord is struck and the noise of a car passing recedes into the distance. ‘No Time’ washes pleasantly over the listen as well-placed, subtle, catchy hooks suck the listener in. ‘On The Mend’ then has a more soulful approach, but refuses to settle for becoming contrived or generic on account of the percussion loop he creates and the obscure, but welcomed, banjo interjections. Traces of HOZIER’s vocal delivery are sensed at moments during this number. Bringing proceedings to an effective end is ‘Breaking Blue’. Once more the listener is treated to poetic and thought-provoking lyrics. BROOKES trained as a glider and states ‘I approach my music with the same ethic I held whilst gilding - working hard to create something beautiful’. This stance is pertinent and evident. The album, consisting of 8 tracks, is relatively short but I’m very much into this. It leaves the listener craving more. In an age where the general universal attention span is diminishing, as a result of the sheer magnitude and saturation of art, music, imagery, social activities and least not the Internet, I 36 - and more shorter albums being released. There is believe we will see- more pressure on artists to not leave much time between releases, especially in an unsigned artists world, as the artist does not want to be forgotten about or left behind! So therefore it makes sense to save some songs for future releases. Another reason for my fondness of only 8 tracks here is due to the album’s natural flow. We’re treated to an LP void of filler. Surely 2015 is going to be a successful one for SAM BROOKES!
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THE NUDE PARTY KAIROS
Review by Greg Clifford THE NUDE PARTY are out and out 60s psychedelic pop/rock fanatics and this is evident from the sound they conjure up. Hailing from North Carolina, this 6 piece serve up a tasty dish! ‘Sweet Shops’ is the album opener and is an apt sign of what is to come. The opening measures are akin to THE ZOMBIES’ track ‘She’s Not There’ due to the slightly distorted organ and its rhythmic pattern. As the track unfolds the vocalist reveals his proficiency and dynamic understandings. The lead guitar solo, which bares similarity to that of Robby Krieger of THE DOORS, deserves a special mention too as the guitarist displays his technique and control. The soaring organ is a key feature in the following song ‘Maybe Baby’. The reverbs and guitar stabs again ooze 60s groove, while the vocal performance recalls THE CHOCOLATE WATCHBAND and aspects of THE YARDBIRDS. Although this is a genre close to my heart, I believe this group is creating a kind of homage rather than unearthing a way of fusing their ideas with the style they love so dearly. No doubt this energetic 6 piece would excel at any live venue, however to elevate themselves to the next level of recognition and musical development they may have to explore more contemporary aspects and timbres, such as the likes of TAME IMPALA, TEMPLES and JAGWAR MA. A sonic shift then comes in the form of ‘iPhone Blues’, with low-fi, ‘rawer’ qualities explored. Suspect title, but a solid track. ‘Nude Party’ kicks off with a surreal explosion of lunacy, before chilling out into 60s psych-blues. The vocalist again excels and effectively displays 60s sensibilities and attitude. The organ sound, which I dig, is cohesive and synonymous with this genre. The following impromptu recitative section has
all the hallmarks of Jim Morrison, with the vocalist even mentioning the ‘lizard’. Surely an ode to Mr. Mojo Risin’ himself? ‘King Bee’ sets off with an expected rock/blues standard riff. The song has a certain intensity and reminds me of the analogue recordings of Nick Cave’s GRINDERMAN. There is also the presence of a ‘buzzing’, almost irritating, resonance. I’m not sure is this intentional or unintentional word painting (where the music reflects the words of the text), but either way I do enjoy the bee being suggested by the frequency. Nice touch! The obscurely titled ‘March Of The Worms’ is the album’s next offering. At this point I would like to see them alter proceedings slightly. In fairness albums can be difficult to truly nail track wise, but with the band sticking to their proverbial guns the LP is in danger of being far too predictable. However, if one responds well to this style and assesses the track on its own merits you won’t be disappointed. Traces of Irish bands THE URGES and THE REVELLIONS exist here too. ‘Cobra’ makes a virtue of strung out acid rock, with the music exuding alluring hypnotic qualities. ‘Wild Coyote’ then brings this relatively short album to a close. This track means business. A catchy guitar riff sets the song in motion, before whistling enters the fray, which is a welcomed hook. It has a ‘jammy’ break down which I could imagine goes down well at their live shows. There is a kind of looseness to the music, but this is what gives the track its charm. Following this ‘jam’ section comes an amusing moment as the band proceeds to howl like, you guessed it, wild crazed coyotes! ‘Forbidden Fruit’ is a fine psychedelic collection of songs. It doesn’t ask too - 36 many questions, but fans of retro tendencies will enjoy what THE NUDE PARTY has to offer. This is by no means a fresh sound and the band will make no apologies about that (and in ways why should they). I do however believe if they put their own personal stamp on this style and create a fusion they could have genuine success. The guys can play for sure and a certain vision and rapport and respect for the past sound is palpable, but with a few tweaks and modern touches here and there we may well be seeing more of these young retro-heads.
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WILD HIGH SDREAMS
Review by Greg Clifford WILD HIGH present themselves as purveyors of past and present fusions. The 4-piece Denver garage, indie rock outfit treat us to a hugely impressive debut album. Kicking off proceedings is the immaculate ‘Palmist’. Aspects of ARCTIC MONKEYS and THE STROKES are present, but WILD HIGH are certainly not carbon copies. Of course certain comparisons are unavoidable, but that can be said about almost any musical ensemble. However, WILD HIGH are forging their own identity. There is a charming loose groove, which is captured as the band recorded the full 10 track LP live. They sought to capture their live show and are certainly justified in making this decision. On some level it’s an endearing decision due to the lack of pure recordings today. The studio and technology often becomes the boss of the sound and end product. So kudos guys! The track is also the perfect single length with a running time of 2.40 minutes. So far ticking all the right boxes! Next up we have ‘Symmetry’, which makes a virtue of swirling reverbs and interwoven guitar motifs. This song displays their psychedelic leanings too. All round another impressive track. ‘God In A Woman’ has the chordal quirkiness of BECK fused with the lazy delivery of more laid-back songs composed by THE STROKES. The vocal performance is akin to LOU REED and is most accomplished. The track is ultimately quite minimalist but never feels bare and is sonically very pleasing, with the well selected slap-back delay and effects creating cohesion
between the songs. ‘Soft Castles’ is quick out of the traps and has real drive throughout. There’s restrained angst and aggression, which creates well-constructed tension in the right places. ‘Tidal’ opens with an impressive bass line. Again the vocalist showcases his proficiency, while the overall soundworld is one of restrained rock without losing the required intensity. The chorus is also a treat for the ears with the weighty timbre that ensues. Not the strongest track on the album, but more than worthy of its place on the band’s debut release. ‘Dip’ is next in line and opens with a new age kraut¬¬rock type beat akin to NEU and KRAFTWERK. This is right up my street! The track is hypnotic and reveals that this is a band channeling their influences in the correct manner. They nod to the past throughout but are not willing to live in the shadow of past masters, instead they grab the aspects they love and run with it at high speed into the future. ‘Boomerang’ has a more relaxed vibe throughout. The band again stays true to their style of mingling and meandering electric guitar lines. There are brief explosive hooks throughout, which slightly throw the listeners expectations. ‘Ophelia’ follows and continues with the more airy relaxed feel established in the previous track. There is the inclusion of waves of filthy guitar that give the track appeal and excitement. ‘Overdose’ picks up the pace again, but fails to amount to anything more than a filler track. ‘Broken - 36 - debut LP to a formidable close. Comparisons Chairs’ then brings their between the Denver 4-piece and THE CRIBS spring to mind at this point. WILD HIGH embraces neo-garage psychedelic aspects and creates an LP full of raw emotion. The band creates a distinctive sound of over-lapping electric guitars and low-fi vocal effects that will certainly leave a lasting impression.
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International Acts YOU
In Halves The first track here is ‘In Halves’. There is a marked sense of suggestion to it that lies behind it all. The ushered feel of the pursed vocals settle into it commendably. In the context of the rhythm there is a heightened showing which creates a mood that is solemn and carefully administered when the reach calls for that to be extended. Second track ‘Shell’ sees a more inner calling be found. Yet it doesn’t rely on it solely as its point of origin. The later progression that takes hold retains the contemporary identity but steps it out in a more compact way. Again the distal ebb and flow carries a fulfilled definition through on ‘Memo’. The softer calling triumphs here. It adds a natural and figurative distinction that the ethereal approach benefits greatly from.
.......................................................................................................................... SUBCULTURE Future Selves
We loved this EP and it is now an office favourite here at U&I. From the relevant showing in the opening of ‘Vertigo’ they display a keen ability for building a track. The conclusive feel of the nou-disco beat that is channelled here adds up in a consummate way. But it then progresses to a more contemporary affair with a distinct shoegazer calling that is richly procured. ‘Hammer Horror’ is an extensive tune. The hardened way it hits the ground running hangs back. It retains an edge to it all and as the synthesised tracking begins to score the music you sense how rich the reach on show is. It is also rather rotund in its own way which underlines that raw appeal.
A lighter affair follows with ‘Ladies’ and this sees them carefully direct some strong pop sensibilities into the mix. This is rather shapely. The abundance in the tempo characterises this to good effect. It has this telling sense of kitsch about it that draws comparisons with The Cure because of the indie cred it also has. Final track ‘Dark in the Darkness’ is more than just a great title. What a tune though. Those post-punk romantic notions that ride high turn on the style in a big way. Adding to this is the slick way that the guitar riffs drag across and preside over everything cleanly. They harden the slick feel of the beat and you are really left with a lasting impression from the disco chic that plays a part here also.
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PINK MURDER Pink Murder
Another band that we are continually playing in the U&I office is Pink Murder. The first track here is ‘Fresh And Made’ and it has cool written all over it. The select way that the tempo graduates allows the calypso elements of the undertone to hang back. But when it adds the funk to the mix you see how detailed the instrumental arrangement is on the process as a whole. That charm and appeal is confirmed by ‘Set Her Free’. The strength of the playing pulls it through in a co-ordinated way that is cleverly brokered here. It is a steadfast showing with a true sense of mettle to the groove when it gets moving, yet the tepid calling of the vocals only enhances the already fine precedent that has been set out by this as a smooth operator. The final track here making up an excellent trinity is ‘You Three’. This is arguably the best of the three also. It is insanely catchy but they don’t necessarily trade on that. Instead it develops in a proven way. The higher feel of the expansive derivative catches the essence on show and it is a beautiful effort indeed. The curt and refined measure of the vocals gives it lift and the careful magnificence that sets it apart works out brilliantly. This is an amazing EP and it is hard to find superlative to describe just how good it is.
.......................................................................................................................... EVVY Evvy
Once again our New York music network brings another fantastic artist to our attention. There is something exceptionally open about her as a performer that comes across in her voice as well. First track here ‘Got Me Movin’’ determines her indie pop credentials brilliantly. The purity of the rhythm here creeps through but has a determined hold on proceedings and it shows. In the sleek touches things are suitably built. After that comes ‘You Said’. The opening has a sheltered calling that welcomes the more presiding temperament of the flow when it progresses. The relevance of her splendour is uncontested here and what she arrives at is something of an impeccable standard that calls the revelry out fearlessly as it is all chased down. ‘Haze’ is the third track. She seems to find her calling on this one. Again the open flow of the tempo is orchestrated in a direct way that facilitates a lot of the playing details. It is so efficient in how it comes full circle that you note it for all the right reasons.
Without any reservation she launches into ‘Collide’. That confidence exuded in her vocals here is an astounding facet. There is a lot to say about how the steady rhythm is processed here. The rich vein of the synth beats here gives it a creative boost that marches the positive vibrancy on show. In short bursts it adds flavour but as a collective showing it frames the arrangement magnificently as it rolls out. The distinctly different feel to ‘Calling’ takes away from the more upbeat signature that has been present. Instead this one relies on the subtle. Yet there is a neatness to it that has everything figured out. Also admirable is the smart way it is built because this captures the finesse throughout. How ‘Never Let You Go’ is scored has a distinct New York signature. The sweeping demure illuminates it by hanging back before gracefully picking up to give it a telling club feel. That direct showing holds court. It is a sublime tune and the inviting way that it is all pieced together adds up. Closing things out is ‘Swing’. The breakdown and the fractured composure see it take flight gradually. Her sweet voice is a dulcet addition which channels the motions deliberately. The free range of the expression is paramount on the EP but here it is more reserved. But in doing so there is something comparative about how it all moves that is splendidly considered throughout.
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BILLIE BLACK 000100
This London soul singer doesn’t skim on anything in her music. Her opening tune ‘I Don’t Need Another Lover’ is an impeccable showing. There is a sense of emancipation to the liberated female empowerment of the tone. This is tastefully approached and it finds a rich vein of form alongside the accentuated feel of the music. It is rather lush and rich in virtue in that regard but it sets a high standard that suitably impresses. The tone drops down slightly with ‘Do You Really’. It is a proactive showing and the careful deliberation adds balance to it all here. Again it is a tune that revels in the splendour, yet there is something meaningful in her voice that finds a calling here. Again there is a longing sense of maturity that falls into place with ‘Black & White’. The way she handles herself here defies her 19 years of age. It catches a vacant quality and fills that void with the substance it is calling out for. That is what marks her out as a performer to watch in 2015 because she is attracting a lot of attention for all the right reasons. The final track here is ‘I Waited For You’ and she ushers in the song with the careful consideration of her vocal delivery. Ably assisting this approach is the relativity on the arrangement which firmly kicks in. The tempered and even flow is a joy to behold which gifts it a generous face value that it is truly deserving of. All in all it puts the proverbial icing on the EP by adding a sense of variety to how it collectively sounds but all the tracks line up side-by-side.
.......................................................................................................................... TWIN OAKS There is a telling sense of virtue to ‘Liars & Thieves’ . This is carefully considered and it gets behind the play. The soft calling in the vocals hangs back and allows a fine temperament to become processed in the overall management of everything on show that keeps the lay Americana calling in check. They step it out somewhat with ‘Find A Way’. Again there is a conclusive draw to the resilient sound of the tempo. As the voice come across a looming drop spreads out in the spacing that reverberates in an assured way. It is carried across brilliantly. Adding a sense of diligence to things is the opening to ‘Constellation Lines’. This is a sweet affair which is brought to bear in a definitive way. The soothing projection of the rhythm allows you to escape into the music here with a relative consistency to it all.
Tidying things up is ‘The Gathering’. It covets the distinguished flourish of the lay country music at heart. In doing so there is a calm demeanour to it all and in the lyrics there is a sense of reflection and defiance of circumstance at being happy with one’s choices. Yet the dandy way it all takes flight catches everything superbly here and adds in a rich way. ‘Sea The Sun’ hardens the showing here to begin with. When it gives way there is a powerful showing from the courteous way that the soft caress of the vocals adds to the pull. This is what draws you in but there is a telling sense to how they connect to the music here. Seeing a looming presence come over everything from the off is ‘The Road’. It awakens something in the somnambulistic calling that walks through here. It fits it perfectly and adds a sense of deserved refinement that they are comfortable with. It also steadily moves the patience of the tempo along without it descending to a melancholic direction. In avoiding that it grows in appreciation throughout. The closing track here is ‘The Lion’s Den’. The sheltered poignancy of the track builds it splendidly. There are hints of Lana Del Rey to it in places sees them get to the best parts of the song through the playing. It offers something rather persuasive indeed and you are left with a track that suitably bridges a placid calling alongside a reflective tune of forbearing magnitude that builds in a big by adopting the minimalized approach it does.
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TERROR BIRD Clubs
There is a lot about ‘I Am A Sliver’ that falls into place. It encourages a regal lingering feel that floats the rhythm in an admonished way. There is a hint of bravado to the synthesised beat but it hangs back to bring a sense of the impartial. It shouldn’t work as effectively as it does, granted it does beg more of the track, but it seems to set up the following track ‘Clubs’ come to pass. This is a brief tune but it has a well-developed sense of reach in the brief running time it occupies. Third track ‘And The Sky’ actively engages the synthesised style. There is something chased down in the pace because it is more prominent here. Although the style is settled there appears to be more investment in the vocals and positioning them here. Which is a shame because the arrangement suggests more could come to pass from this one. It has hints of an early Madonna post-The Breakfast Club feel to it. Again that comparison catches your attention in the controlled presence of ‘This Tired Scene’. Here you start to see what they are about. This has a good sense of stature that is capitalised on by being withdrawn. ‘Flowers’ assumes a stance that is more ambitious. It is now that we see a side to the music that matures. The despondent derivative of the sullen showing here is carefully contended with and it reliantly gets beneath the playing with a conviction that is all of its own making. Again another brief tune follows called ‘The Briefness Of Records’. There is a hint of Kate Bush here because it has a darkened Avant Garde feel to it that is suitably noted. Yet there is a sleight of hand that gives it a hint of 80’s retro that is reined in. It is quite interesting to hear actually. The final track here is ‘Most Romantic Girl’. Canvassing the tune is a sweet and dulcet vocal tone that falls away by design. The richness of the composure resides comfortably and it is let out. There is something to this which sees them try to detach themselves from their music which in turn makes it all the more attractive. That is a clever call and it brings everything full circle here.
.......................................................................................................................... PEOPLE IN MY HEAD People In My Head
There is a sense of innovation at work which gives the opening track ‘Dirty Dirty Mouse Trap’ a profound sense of momentum. That creativity is zeroed in and the way that they hone the smart characteristics of the tune are astutely measured. The sway of the balance collects in a noted way towards being original and they then embrace a more relative calling which builds the song. ‘Head Of Security’ has a grand railroad funk feel. The impact of the rhythm carries it all off, while in the lyrics there is a noted dandy feel which is in keeping with the American troubadour styling on show. You feel it as it is fed in and the offbeat charm to it is distinctly pressed, but it has a lightness of being to it that carries weight.
They close out with the more relaxed settings of ‘Down The Tracks’. There is something to how it drifts along that is relevant. Again they keep it together and the weight that sits upon it comes off with the vocals. Everything has this accomplished sense of reach and they lay it all out in a way that keeps it together in order to get that process through definitively . It works and doesn’t work in equal measure is a fair assessment.
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JENNIE VEE Die Alone
The smooth way that opening track ‘Die Alone’ operates carries through with a defined air of confidence. A lot is there to be admired from the slick way that the indie sensibilities carry through. They offer a telling sense of resilience that her voice feels at home alongside and the calculated pace here really sees it click into gear. Then the direction becomes more prominent with how ‘Wicked’ is delivered. The fragmented flow reverts to a retro chic that is fitting. She invests herself here and the glorious way the rhythm finds reach is incredibly fortuitous by design. The committed way this all falls into place is excellent. The 80’s dreampop calling of the EP is confirmed with ‘Say Goodbye’. The sheer brilliance that befalls it is found in the chic touches of the tempo. They admirably encourage a telling sense of development to take over the running, while the impressive way her voice collects in the showing . This is excellence personified. You just don’t want the track to end. At a tidy 2:41 ‘Gone Away’ could be a radio friendly hit. The warmth of her voice seduces the listener here. What also fronts the tune is an incredible showing of substance to it on all fronts. It more than goes the distance and then things are closed out with ‘Red Flags’. Here the rhythm is more high end and fronted by the demands of a more resolute guitar sound. It has a lightness of touch to begin with but that allows the more attentive calling to reach out and grab the listener. This is more interested in developing her vocal range you feel but it still contains a telling sense of smarts in the lyrical showing.
.......................................................................................................................... STATIC ALICE
The Ghost Of Common Sense From the very second that ‘Black Cadillac Man’ drops you sense the urgency. Albeit some of this has a by-the-numbers- approach they do go full out and that brings a presence to things. The even way that they process the playing here captures the intensity quite admirably. Nothing wrong with that. Then we come to ‘Alive’. Again the rock and the guitar sees it all click into gear electively. The lean way that they turn on this is steadily considered, while there is accountability in how it is laid out which sees it all pick up neatly. There is a chaste calling in part which corners the angst by design. They grow in stature with ‘Southern Star’ and this sees them step up to the plate. With the leaner sense of purpose spilling out they shake things up. The quickened showing in the bursts of play corner something impressive that shows them to be up to the task of chasing this down.
Hints of RHCP come across on ‘Failing Glory’. It all correlates in a pleasing way which necessitates a lot of the calling toward a distinct concentrated effort. However where it comes up short is in the lack of a clear sense of direction. There is a focus to the delivery though but it needs something more. They do play through on it with an excellence to how it all comes together. ‘Save Our Souls’ is a full on rock affair. The high pitch of the vocals powers the performance. It is big in bravado and the relevance of the guitar work lends the bridge a telling sense of precedent. It is rich in tone and the tempered direction of it all works. The final track here is ‘Fashion Victim’. It leads in neatly and when it gets going it has a tremendous resilience about it. This makes up for the shortcomings that previous tracks held and it does see them save the best for last. How it drops down, with the flitting between different levels of pace, gives it all a proven sense of determination.
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SPANISH CLASS Sven
This alternative London Punk band has a clear sense of identity which shows in the contemporary style they have. This holds ostensibly with ’Sven’. With how the guitar riffs drop down they create hooks with a telling sense of subsistence to it all. That gives it a seasoned showing that is both mellow and rich in volume, but they carry it all across with a fundamental degree of confidence from start to end. After that comes ‘Southbank Rainstomp’. This doesn’t initially sell you to begin with but it does come to pass smartly. However it is a bit too ordinary and the tempo doesn’t carry anything that resembles a spark. This is where it falls short and it is hard to warm to it here. Closing it out is ‘Sven II’ and this does make up for those shortcomings in a big way. The clever way that the upbeat tempo is leveraged sees them find avenues in the playing that are explicitly called upon. They are not as full on as they could be but they are intelligently processed. The sombre temerity lands well and the softened layering does sit well by design. It suggests the band have potential even if they have come up short here in places.
.......................................................................................................................... HONEYMILK Sanguine Skies
This is a brilliant EP and the intent is marked out on the opening track ‘Let’s Talk About Compassion’. There is a tremendous kick about it all when it gets going that exudes confidence. The sharp cut to it all sees them get down to business. All of the taut leanings collect and the vocals also exude confidence, but it has a fashionable get up and go that takes you along for the ride. ‘A Scene In Between’ opens with a formidable blues guitar pitch that carries on through. The rhythm breathes a life into the track from the off before the psychedelic callings are confirmed by the contemporary keel of the vocals.
Again there is a determination coming through on ‘Sanguine Skies’. They shoot straight from the hip in terms of how the rhythm is developed and that gives it all an air of confidence as much as it does a deserved kick. Fourth track ‘What Are We Gonna Do Now?’ is commendably built. The lavish feel of the guitar and drumming combo lights it up explicitly when it is unleashed. The rhythm guitar adds a flourish and the intent is well-conditioned here. Adding to the equation in a calculated way is the vocals come across. They give a sense of ruling the roost and develop a presence that gives this tune the necessary leverage it needs to exert the brilliance that the resilient passing comes to add up to.
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STORIES HIGH Hey
How this South African band finds their calling on their opening track ‘Silly Boy’ fits the tune. There is reliance in the touch of class found in the elegant poise that envelops this one. The latent homosexual context of the song and the social stigma called out in the tale are rather descriptive. They linger in the air and provide it with a choice notion but it is has this Beach Boys air of contentment to it also. It is a solid tune in how the savoury aspects are elevated here. It is a rather positive coming out song in fact. Off the back of a very impressive bass hook comes ‘Loverland’. There is guidance to the tune that is drowned out in a specific way in the vocals. That is by design and doesn’t distract. It allows the rhythm to collect and it keeps the mainstream sensibilities in check by giving the tempo lift. The beat to this is an 8-bar and it very much gifts it everything it needs. A more inverted flow carries the alternative sensibilities of ‘The Forest’ through. The lo-fi feel of it lingers in a telling way here while there is an intrinsic value to the vocals and how they reside. The last track here is ‘Hey’. The hooks here are excellent. It is a sassy little number with an accountable pop savvy feel to it all. It has a determination which follows through in the running from how it is fixed. The fullness of the volume gets moving with the freestyle of the vocals when they come to pass. It is steady but they are also aware of what they want to get from it you feel.
.......................................................................................................................... OH, ROCKET! Clever Clever
This Indian band is gaining notoriety in their home country and got shortlisted for the recent Pepsi/MTV unsigned competition as finalists. The intricate spacing on show with the opening track ‘Begin’ there is a rather steadfast nature. This allows the emphasis on the elemental approach to work its magic. It is a distinct number and the referential touches are equally neat. Things step out with a pop notoriety in show with ‘Broccoli Negative’. This is a rich affair and smartly corners the pop attributes in a way that sees them correlate it with telling indie credibility in the tracking. You could listen to this track all day.
The third and final offering here is ‘Blue Raccoon Dog’. This is a divisive one because it is a steady tune in its own right, but it plays that card too well you feel because there is anything on show that stands out for any particular reason. With that as a serious consideration you have to accept it as something that comes up short.
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International Artists THE FIREFLYS Branches There is a subtle and impressive showing to this on all fronts. The acoustic guitar is reasoned well, but the overall seasoned tempo is a welcome hold here. It allows the tune to build and the deeper calling of the harmonies excellently absolves all that is on show. All of the endearing virtues come to pass and grant it a well-intended sense of resolve that is impeccable.
BLACK & WHITE Infinite Love
There is a refined attribute to this. In the minimalist way it is arranged the artistic expression finds inspiration. The patient weight builds in a noted way here and filters through something that at first appears withdrawn, but on closer inspection reveals itself to be an intricately arranged attribute that formidably redeems the tune from how it adds passively to proceedings.
ECHOTAPE See You Soon This is a really impressive number. The tidy skip captures the intent as it takes flight. The clean hooks in the vocals also add mettle with the urgent upbeat calling of the tempo. It boxes clever as it takes off and how it drops down on the turn freely captures the listener for all the right reasons. A very confident track indeed and the chorus seals the deal here.
BLIND RACKETEERS Flies
Here is an interesting tune for all the right reasons. The indie pop styling adds a twist to the rhythm that is rather diligent. In the controlled way it steadies the delivery you are drawn to it, but there is also an attractive showing from the voice of Christina Kelly that gives it that deserved sense of worth it needs. They caress the song in the meanderings to also get the best from it. Superb.
THE LITTLE SECRETS All I Need The opening line collects this song and really shows what they are about. The latent 60â€™s revisionist touches carried through pocket the charm but also back it up with a neat showing of substance. The desirable feel reasons extremely well here and enhances the attractive appeal that it already has. The softness of touch in the rhythm lingers in just the right way.
SILENT PARTY Remember Your Strategies
This is an excellent number. Upbeat and solid from the very beginning, the checked feel of the pace picks up when it needs to. Then it tidily drops off and builds the anticipation in doing so. That adds a solid sense of direction everything here that is cleverly versed from start to finish. It is a handsome indie-disco number that rightly adds up.
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This is a solid showing in so many ways. The finesse which gives it something guarded as it hangs back attracts you to this like a moth to a flame. In the synthesised structure there is a resolved countenance which grows in stature with the overbearing playing arcs as they bring a harder showing to proceedings. A lot rides on the tidy instrumental work and the high level of detail appreciates further by not diluting the complete way everything comes to pass.
Here is a tune with a heightened resolve about the synthesised tracking. It fittingly embraces the overall aesthetic here and the neatness of the vocals marries well to the seductive intricacies that are evident. Rich in a retro chic, the electronic elements of this carry across a relative showing which capture something in the pop sensibilities that adds substance.
THE CRADLES Ideal Girl There is something in the old-school appeal here that sweetly comes to the fore.International Hints of Teddy Boy in places it seems to treat the tune in a way that revels in the appreciation. But it develops further in to something that richly embraces psychedelic rock and the progressive showing marks a rather formidable departure from how it started out.
LITTLE LAPIN Remember The Highs This is a tune that has this impeccable transition to it that is incredibly smooth. You are immediately grabbed by it and the commanding degree of poise collects here in a way that revels in a strong sense of the melodic. The light hints of jazz that are also present give the dynamic something to further whet the appetite of anyone who appreciates fine music.
10 CRY MONSTER CRY Postcard
This is a great tune. The catchy styling suitably meets something of substance. A lot comes to pass in the vocals, but the sturdy way that everything is fastened together here shows. In the grandeur that is specifically located there is a noted sense of revelry which takes you along for the ride with the sweet resolve of the harmonic here.
ROSS BREEN Idyllic Valley
This resonates in a vibrant way from the get go. In the thunderous way that the gospel attributes are cornered you appreciate just how good it is. On an instrumental level there is a lot going on and the harmony from the backing vocals is also significantly important here. Yet there is a sheer showing of pure will to this that captures an essence that quickens the tune in a sharp way through and through.
DARK FURS Hearts (Fuck You, Goodbye)
This grabs you as soon as it opens. The richness of the tempo delivers something formidable. Then you have to take the shared vocals into consideration. It is a beautifully layered track but in an upbeat fashion. Stared down in the running is that hardened resolved which offers the chic factor something concrete upon which the entire track is impressively but still gives it an exceptional level of retro charm.
This brilliantly captures an aura that stirs the dark side of dreampop. The broad calling of the rhythm caresses the sultry and offers a dangerous seduction that is endearingly fraught. The vocals also mirror this in a textured way that is all of their own. How it is projected crafts the isolation and turns the innate insecurities outward. That projection guides it all through and gives it an edge.
THE SPECTORS 180
International The due way the retro resolve is accounted for shows. All of the steady tracking in the music shows. The immediate appreciation for it is confirmed when it takes off. The air of confidence to the lyrics finds something to call home with how the tempo carries everything. It is not just the majesty of it all but the prevailing way that the urgency building sees it all home with abandon that sells you here.
SHORT SKIRTS All Sliced Up
A song that gets straight down to business. The hard kick to the pace electrifies but it plays through with an incredible sense of confidence which makes you sit up and take note here. As the guitars riff through with scant regard for any appreciation you take the band at face value. Here the intent is to go all out on the track and that is exactly what they achieve. The balls out affair it comes to be passes with a lot to show for it.
BOWS Everywhere This is a really clever tune. It settles into something that initially feels guarded and closed but is actually an open effort that is high on expression. The fanfare of the brass bellowing out from the trumpet adds something sophisticated. There is a hint of Avant Garde to this but it avoids being pretentious. The strong calling to the emotion is kept in check but it is still relayed with warmth. The broad definition adds something incredibly neat here that confirms the collective showing.
SILENT NOISE PARADE Sirens
This builds from the solemn tone of the opening. Embraced in the style is an underplayed New Wave tone that embraces that resolve smartly. It keeps the resolve in check and it seems to have a distal quality to it that suits the industrial feel of the heavier derivative that feeds into the tempo. It is a tune that has some anomic qualities built in by design, which can be decisive at the same time.
THE FONTAINES Cate Blanchett
International With the carefree charm that runs through this as a whim you note the confidence. It is also rather carefree in terms of how it is styled which adds to the appeal as it is all carried off. The spry pull of the tempo is excellent here and the opportune feel of the vocals really feel at home because they help to build it equally so.
THE NORTH SEA Drinking Alone
A rather foreboding feel in the rhythm denotes a telling sense of maturity. Then the voice of Eoin Kenny pours out and you see how well reasoned everything is. Here there is a solid refinement that takes hold which nails it. The neat ebb and flow offer countenance to the substance of the lyrics. Here is a tune that has a telling sense of purpose and is laid out to reflect all of that from the off.
International Straight away this clicks into gear, but the urgency of the guitar sound is something that steadily climbs. It lingers more so than launches full on into a hardened showing. They retain a raw edge which has a hint of fraught shoegazer about the sound. The vocals are also comfortably addressed here.
THE MANTELLS Men In Suits
Another fine Manchester band that we are quite fond of here at U&I. They come up with the goods here. The tidy abundance of the rhythm catches a lot in the hooks which gives the tempo an even lift. That complements the latent 60â€™s vibrancy that readies itself on the sound and fixes to everything in a rather fluid way which gives it a sharper degree of presence also.
SCYCRY Eternal Youth Hints of PJ Harvey cut to the chase here. The withdrawn and sultry feel of her voice is a rich endeavour here that piques interest as soon as you hear it. The candid withdrawn characteristics of the delivery are also relayed finely in the sullen tracking of the acoustic guitar. This guides everything with a heightened sense of practicality to accompany the broadened sensibility that comes through in the ambient reasoning of the lyrics.
BANANA BEACH Trouble
This is a tune to immediately fall in love with. The precision of the pop sensibilities kick in smartly and are given a telling sense of determination in the calculated showing of the synthesised beats. Rich in texture and volume, they come to offer a resilient outline to it all which gathers momentum in the nouveau disco showing rather superbly. Cutting to the chase in the sweet manner that it does really displays everything that they are about. This is a truly wonderful track all over.
International This is a track that embraces the retro sensibilities of the artistic integrity expertly. In doing so a fine calling collects in the tempo that lights it all up instantly. There is a sense of the pragmatic noted in the approach which accentuates the casual demeanour in an exquisite way, while the subtle touches that collect flow in an impeccably free way that elevates the appreciation.
The latent calypso groove of this tune carries off a valiant sense of style that is very kind to it. The patient demeanour of the tempo guides everything through smartly. Adding something fashionable to the running here is the moot feel of the tempo which hangs back in a deliberated way. That adds something appealing that equates exceptionally well here and brings a noted sense of balance to everything.
VANN MUSIC Boy
In comparison to their earlier output this marks a telling progression in their sound. A telling sense of distinction builds immediately, while there is a telling maturity in the lyrics which brokers incredibly well here. As the splendour of the track builds you see the clear intent on show because this takes things to a distinguished level through and through. What they have produced here is a truly marked tune of intense deliberation and focus on all fronts.
RED EMPIRE Deliver Me
There is a high standard to this track from how it is intricately opened. The dalliance of the piano is a proven quality that leads everything in. It is let out in a rather neat way with the vocal approach here deliberating over the delivery emphatically. That in turn seems to add relevance to the way the tune takes hold in the emotional aspects that epitomise everything that works for it.
THE RATTLING KIND The Ballad Of Lugs Brannigan There is something respectable about this one. The impact and quickened pace add something assured in how they are projected. What it offers is a liberated tune that is sweetly tracked. The invigorating touches of the folk influences unify the delivery in a way that shows some forward thinking on a musical level. A great kick is also present which gives the underlying ska pick up something to get behind.
BLURRY MOUNTAIN Someday
Here is a fine effort indeed. The rich splendour of the alternative aspects round out the play explicitly. That gives the alternative psychedelic touches a fine grounding. What is also proven here is the immense way that they embrace the music and the emphasis doesnâ€™t overburden their approach to producing something that is carefully constructed on an artistic level. The results speak for themselves in the music.
This is the February 2015 4x4. It is an editor's pick of four videos by four artists selected from four of our music networks. At U&I we work with 94 co-ops across 49 countries and the music network that the recommendation comes from is indicated in brackets.
FRAGILE ROCK "I Am Sad And So Am I" (Austin, Texas)
SUNBOY "ABCDNA’’ (Denver, Colorado)
BARBARIAN "Pheremoans’’ (San Diego, California)
FREEWEIGHTS "True To My Game’’ (Helsinki, Finland)
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Published on Feb 7, 2015
In this month's issue we have interviews with The New Southern Electrikk, Natalie McCool, WEATNU, The Jacques and The Controversy. We also b...