I'm just getting back into this again so hear is another update on my favourite songs of the moment.
Cut Copy - Lights and Music is from the album "In Ghost Colours" which has been on repeat for me over the past 2 weeks. Amazingly produced album and something a little different from my normal taste. Expect a review soon!
John Frusciante - Murderers was shown to me by Shaun, my housemate, and is an amazing song. I think it's on some skate video for Lakai too, not that I know much about skating!
Finally, I have this song, Bon Iver - Lump Sum, which I haven't been able to get out of my head. I know I am not telling anyone anything new when I say this guy has an amazing voice but I do think this song highlights it perfectly. Here is another version done live for US radio:
Friday, 5 December 2008
The Rescue is a unique record and project in a world where music is increasingly dominated by pressuring labels, pandering bands and consumers for whom an album is only as good as it's first listen. Recorded at, guitarist/bassist, Michael James' Austin house, The Rescue is the band's attempt at compiling a whole album of new material in two weeks, with the first 8 days dedicated to specific songs and the remaining time to mastering those tracks, a task which was also done by the band. With what sounds like a tiny amount of time, especially for a band who claim "it can take us months and months and months to write even a song", many artists would struggle without the tricks of their super producer and session orchestra but Explosions In The Sky still manage to produce something that is interesting, captivating and above all, refreshing.
Of course there are highlights and my personal favourite is the drum and bass led "Day Five" which is the band's attempt at writing "the saddest dance record in the world". The eventual sound is not so much one of sadness but more one of optimism and growth as the initial groove is layered upon with the addition of trademark guitar work and a simple, but effective, piano part. The band claim that this track has the most individual instruments they had ever recorded on a track to date but by no means does the song sound overdone as the contrary is true. The clarity of all parts is what makes this song sound so good.
Other highlights include "Day Two" where the band did the old switcheroo and changed instruments as well as the very odd choice of adding vocals! This results in a classic Explosions style build up coupled with some haunting choral vocals, very much like those heard on the Panda Bear album from last year.
This album is a chance for the band to take risks and experiment in genre which, while different, is often badly done by many bands. What Explosions In The Sky have achieved here is to break down the mystique's of song writing and produce a mini-album which is, not outstanding, but a very fun and interesting listen.
And there is more, it's all available for free here!
Friday, 7 November 2008
Tuesday, 16 September 2008
Mogwai are a band that I had ignored for some time as I stuck with my oh-so-reliable Explosions in the Sky and blinkered myself from the big scary world that can be "Post Rock". The thing about Mogwai that I never realised is, they aren't really that "Post Rock". They don't differ in a "16 minute long feedback epic" (see Boris or Godspeed) kind of way but instead in a way that means they just happen to write more interesting melodies, arrangements and songs than most British bands. Sorry Coldplay. They write the kind of music that conjures up anger about inferior bands, say, the Ting Tings. If Mogwai we're a steak, the Ting Tings would be a party sausage. No substance and supported by a little prick, sorry, I mean stick. Anyway, I have digressed.
Mr Beast is the bands 5th studio release and while not always critically acclaimed, contains enough stand out material to keep a wide eyed new fan like me entertained. The album is a dynamic and exciting listen with each track retaining enough stand alone value to shine individually. My personal favourite, "Acid Food", is a beautifully subtle song with it's steady beat and wondering bass providing the platform for truly stunning guitar work. However simple at times, the guitar harmonies are just perfect.
In contrast, the following track, "Travel is Dangerous", highlights the switches in style that the album takes by providing a brooding 4 minutes which explodes in aggressive fashion before simmering down again. Underneath the melodies and vocals lies a tight and interesting rhythm section which coaxes you through the opening bars and beyond.
The rest of the songs ebb and flow like the two highlighted with particular mention to the piano led opener, "Auto Rock", and the grand closer, "We're no Here". If you have even a bit of time for some intelligent and moving music, try Mr Beast. It will satisfy your hunger!
Mogwai - "Acid Food"
Tuesday, 5 August 2008
A while back I attended the Live at Leeds festival and discovered local experimental-rock band, Vessels. Thanks to Ben from Cuckundoo Records I now have a single and it is seriously impressive. I mean, seriously.
'A Hundred Times In Every Direction' is best described as a journey. There are subtleties here I never realised in the live setting and I can already see the progression the band is making. Bands like Mogwai and Explosions in the Sky have pushed themselves further into the record collections of the average muso and people are no longer scared of those long and intelligent song structures that such bands bring to the table.
Vessels manage to pack a lot into their 6 minutes and 24 seconds but this isn't one of those 'epic' songs that really leaves you waiting too long. It hits the spot, right from the first bar. Beginning with light percussion and subtle noodling the track explodes around the 90 second mark. Hello Deftones fans. I think I've found something. After we're gently eased out of the madness, the real genius begins. Harmonised vocals, a beautiful lead melody and the super technical rhythm section is tight as always. I have to say, the vocals remind me a little of Biffy Clyro circa 'Infinity Land' but this is by no means a bad thing.
Anyway, this is a really promising song from a band that needs attention. Make sure you check them out or see them live in the coming months. Check the label page for gigs and the new album.
Vessels - 'A Hundred Times In Every Direction'
Monday, 4 August 2008
Recently, I have been listening to the albums 'Late Night Final' (2001) and 'Coles Corner' (2005) a lot. I cannot get enough of his classic voice and the lush arrangements. The latter album gained a, rather late, nomination for the Mercury Prize in 2006 but the award in question was won by the Arctic Monkeys, then fresh faced and new on the scene. Hawley's fellow sons of Sheffield were quick to make a nod of respect his way with Alex Turner announcing, in his acceptance, that Hawley had been 'robbed'. Enough of the interesting facts though, here is a track from that album. Remember, Alex Turner likes it!
Richard Hawley - "The Ocean"
Thursday, 31 July 2008
Saturday, 28 June 2008
Here is a short film on our friend Matt Bayly, credit to a guy named Shane Chapman. Check out his myspace too.
matthew christopher bayly - short music promo (preview)
Saturday, 21 June 2008
So, this week I turned 19 and I am now in reflective mood. What is different? Can I provide enough tenuous links in this to music? Am I 'blogging'? Yes!
Firstly, I am one third of Big Elephants, a radio show on LSRfm which will hopefully be returning for it's second spell in September. We play music like this;
Bright Eyes - "Four Winds"
Meanwhile, I listen to more 90's Alternative American Music than previously. WHO CARES!? No-one, and they never really did. That's what makes 90's Alternative American Music good, and special. Case Study;
Sunny Day Real Estate - "Theo B"
My pre-requisite for friends has changed. Previously, they could be anyone. Then they could be anyone with suitable music taste. Now they could be anyone again. Anyone who listens to this cannot afford to be choosy;
Paramore - "That's What You Get"
I still love this album;
Friday, 20 June 2008
"I descended down a dusty gravel ridge", the opening line which leads us into DCFC's 7th release, Narrow Stairs. The album, mixed by guitarist Chris Walla, is their first in one continuous mix and so the descent seems entirely appropriate for an album best listened to in it's entirety.
The opener "Bixby Canyon Bridge" is a slow burner, which builds and builds before exploding and then fizzing out with the electrifying guitar work at the end. It then leads on to the first single, which has been both lambasted and applauded by fans and critics. Whatever your thoughts on the 4 minute introduction, it is no doubt that the band have taken a brave step and this really is no "Sound of Settling", the hit present on every OC fans iPod. For the record, I love this song and I see the introduction as completely integral, especially when it is all build up for possibly the best lyric of the year;
"How I wish you could see the potential, the potential of you and me
It's like a book elegantly bound, but in a language that you can't read"
After the indulgences of the first two songs we then have some more typical rock tracks, but these are by no means throw aways. Not only are songs like "Long Division", "No Sunlight" and "Cath..." very integral on record, they are songs that should translate brilliantly into the bands live set. "Cath..." in particular is as catchy as a pop song can be, while still maintaining enough interesting instrumentation to sound fresh. The gentle riff at the start gives way to a more staccato rhythm as the song develops and the transitions between light and soft are simply beautiful. The Death Cab live set has been one part of the bands arsenal that has often been criticised, especially after 2006's gentle Plans which, while critically acclaimed, struggled to win over all spectators on tour. However, even after the first three songs on Narrow Stairs I already find myself clambering for a chance to see the band.
Of course, DCFC aren't always about rocking out and it has often been Gibbard's softer efforts that have found their ways into fans hearts the world over. "Grapevine Fires" begins with a relaxed drum beat before meeting equally inclined instrumentation, a brooding organ, the perfect foil to Gibbard's harmony. It is another reminder that the band really have decided to experiment more, especially as this song touches very dangerously on AOR while still just managing to remain different enough and totally listenable.
It is in no question that the band have changed on this record. There are new sounds, ideas and attitudes conveyed in the 44minutes and 50 seconds, all well tied together by the bands ability to write and perform top quality alt-rock songs. Lyrically, you could write another review on Gibbard alone as he writes from other perspectives, "Your New Twin Sized Bed", and takes inspiration from literature such as Kerouac on "Bixby Canyon Bridge", while of course taking much of his own inspiration as well. The band tie together exactly how you would expect one of 10+ years experience to do so with Walla's razor sharp guitar cutting through the mix at the most important times, and the rhythm section both experimental, tight and often, a necessary part of the melody (see the Single!).
Death Cab For Cutie - "Cath..."
Death Cab For Cutie - "Grapevine Fires"
Thursday, 19 June 2008
I picked this record up at Jumbo Records in Leeds, on recommendation and have had it over a month now. So now, I have chosen to write about it, finally! That, and the fact that I'm back from university and unemployed. But, I digress.
Wildbirds & Peacedrums are a Swedish two-piece, semi-rooted in the blues, but to describe them that simply would be an injustice. Mariam Wallentin's vocal is anything but ordinary, and often verges on that of The Knife before veering off into the weird and wonderful. The instrumentation is heavily rhythmic and can differ from simple percussion to heavy drum passages, all by drummer/vocalist Andreas Werlin. Any other instruments are electronic but these are sparse and only feature on a few tracks.
The start of the album is so sparse you almost wonder in anticipation at some explosion of sound, but eventually you can begin to appreciate the simplicity of those first few tracks. My personal favourites are in the middle of the album, the jumpy "Doubt/Hope" with its danceable drum beat and the atmospheric synth's of "The Battle In Water". In truth though, this really is something truly different and that is saying something in an age of music where that word is so difficult to use. It may be a tough listen at first, but persevere with this duo and you will be rewarded.
Wildbirds and Peacedrums - "Doubt/Hope"
It's June, my month of birth, and here is another update on the songs that have captured my attention recently!
Death Cab For Cutie - "Cath..." from the album Narrow Stairs.
Elliott Smith - XO
Until recently I always considered Either/Or to be my favourite Smith album, but the sheer perfection of XO has finally caught up with me. Tracks such as "Baby Britain" and "Independance Day" have to be some of the greatest pop rock tracks ever penned, arranged and recorded.
Arcade Fire - "Une Annee Sans Lumiere" from Funeral.
Fleet Foxes - "Mykonos" from the Sun Giant EP.
Wednesday, 14 May 2008
So, I've been thinking about posting a little more regularly and letting people know more about what music has kept me ticking over the past few days. No better way to do this than with a little run down of my recent listening while revising;
The Decemberists - EVERYTHING! Including YouTube vids!
Lightspeed Champion - Falling Off The Lavender Bridge (esp. Dry Lips)
Fugazi - Live in Irving Plaza
Sunny Day Real Estate - LP2 (both courtesy of Zen and the art...)
Smashing Pumpkins - Bodies!!
The guitar riff is so good with that constant rythmn, took my ever wise Dad to point it out but now I'm hooked!
Sunday, 4 May 2008
Live at Leeds is a live music event which spans all of the cities independent venues, showcasing a huge range of Yorkshire's new talent, along with a few special guests.
This year, due to perfect weather, great company and constant supply of a certain chilled beverage I probably didn't get to see as many acts as I should but despite this my first experience of the event was a brilliant one. Here is my rundown of my top 3 of the day, in no particular order;
Vessels are a progressive rock/metal band who use unique time signatures and highly technical guitar playing to create frantic, but often beautiful songs which bridge the gap between a both the indie-rock and metal crowd's. Taking to the stage at around half 2 at Leeds Cockpit, the band found themselves a large audience in the main room and immediately launched into a heavy riff, captivating most of the crowd. Central to their stage presence is gifted, and charismatic bassist Martin Teff but the whole band worked hard to present a decent show. Definitely one for listeners with the time.
For fans of: Tool & Explosions in the Sky
Mi Mye are a rousing folk band from around Wakefield, England who took to the Cockpit's smaller stage at around half 5. Charming lyrics and driving rhythm's ticked boxes for most of the tightly packed crowd and these local favorites had many of their friends singing a long, bringing a warm communal atmosphere to the gig. This is definitely a fun band to check out, if only for the amazing double bass that has been lovingly restored.
For fans of: Architecture in Helsinki & Twee!
Flowe were first on at the Faversham and despite playing to only a few "early risers" their brand of "folk n roll" immediately set a standard few matched for the rest of the day. With cheeky smiles, quaffed hair and a firm stance against electro, the boys definitely had the style, but they had the substance too with catchy dual vocals backed up by a tight, but creative rhythm section. One's for the future!
For fans of: The Good Life & Bright Eyes
Friday, 2 May 2008
Saturday, 26 April 2008
Less is more seemed appropriate enough for BSS’ debut but second time round, that famous mantra was out of the window as they handpicked friends and artists from Canada’s music scene to help create You Forgot It In People. Behind every composition is a lovingly created song, brought to life by the talents present in the now 10+ strong ranks. Whether it be the lazy groove of “Looks Just Like The Sun” or “Almost Crimes” pounding beat, BSS never sound out of place and the album ties together in a story like fashion, beginning, middle and end all serving their purpose. The listener is coaxed out with the dream-like "Lover's Spit" and "I'm Still your Fag", totally suitable after the exhausting start, crashing cymbals and all.
Broken Social Scene - "Looks Just Like The Sun"
Broken Social Scene - "Lover's Spit"
Friday, 11 April 2008
21, the latest gambling flick set in Las Vegas, is the lucky benefactor of this brand spanking new LCD creation and some treat it is.
The track begins with a very "80's synth rock" drum beat which I can see fitting perfectly in the movie. Add to this a snaking bass riff, twisting and turning around the rigid drums, and various echoed synth's and you have yourself yet another tune worthy of any dance floor worldwide, and any headphones too. The icing on the cake is Murphy's charismatic vocal and a solid sing-a-long chorus.
LCD Soundsystem - "Big Ideas"
Saturday, 29 March 2008
At it's time of release BNSH was seen as the most innovative hip-hop album in years and too this day it hasn't lost one ounce of it's individuality.
Heavily rooted in dub-reggae beats and Rastafarian culture, Roots Manuva (Rodney Smith) takes each beat and makes it his own with his engaging flow, operating like an extra instrument with the twists and turns of his complex rhymes.
First and arguably best track, "Movements", combines a dark and mysterious synth with a pulsating beat, simple yet effective, and providing the perfect canvas for Smith to complete with his words painting a vivid picture. On the chorus you hang off each word, "left...right", appreciation of the sheer perfection of this track.
The album title is a nod to Smith's modest upbringing and a phrase his mother used to use, but the themes of growing up, strength and battling inequality shine through amongst the most 'English' of lyrics,
"I'll slap the bacon out your mouth, dance upon your sarnie"
Such words provide the laughs amongst some serious content always spoken with utmost integrity, and an album which has and will, stand the test of time.
Roots Manuva - "Movements"
Roots Manuva - "Wisdom Fail"
Thursday, 20 March 2008
Rotary Ten are a four-piece who find themselves sat happily between the spiky rock of bands like DCFC and gleeful guitar crescendo's of Explosions In The Sky. A couple of weeks ago I was lucky enough to catch them in Leeds, at a gig that was unfortunately very poorly promoted. However, the band who hail from Sheffield/Lincoln, managed to illuminate the faces of all present with their delightful intricacies, airtight rhythms and enthusiasm, especially in front of what was a surprising crowd for them. Having played together for over 5 years the band are far more comfortable in the live setting that many established artists.
Now signed to Xtra Mile records, home of artists such as Frank Turner, the band deserve, and should have, a bright future. Single "Time is not a Line, and I am not a Rock" is an immediately like able, yet refreshingly rewarding song and it is the perfect way to introduce you to, Rotary Ten.
look myspace download
(Apologies for low sound quality)
Wednesday, 19 March 2008
Yes, long awaited new material from the much-loved Death Cab For Cutie has been spreading like wild fire over the past few days. "I Will Possess Your Heart" is a clever release and it definitely finds DCFC at their most creative, a real testing listen for those who are more like single fans than hardened vets.
The spiky bass riff and minimal guitar certainly take their time but those who stay around for the vocals will not be disappointed making this even the more satisfying, even on first listen. Enjoy!
From the forthcoming album, "Narrow Stairs" - May 2008, Death Cab For Cutie - "I Will Possess Your Heart"
We all make mistakes, and I made one at the beginning of this year. Failure to include this record in my best of 2007. Infact, a little secret, I made a mistake long before. Failure to listen to this record in 2007!?
Okay, stay with me. Back on topic. Panda Bear (or Noah Lennox) has created something special here, an album which has caught the imagination of music lovers worldwide. Cleverly recorded using a multitude of samples, from the smallest of birds to the repeated percussive sounds that hold the songs together, the tracks flow seamlessly from one to another, creating a mood, far stronger than the songs them self.
Each listen gives the you chance to unearth more from this musical box of treats. For me, the centerpiece is the 10minute+ "Bros" which blossoms into a beautifully deep song, topped with Lennox's echoed vocals. Sounds are as diverse as you will find in modern music, an example being the leap into the choral vocals in the following track, "Im Not" which is almost built on vocal loops alone with only subtle percussion in support.
The special thing about this album is, it allows you to escape and it gives to the listener on every single spin.
look buy download
Saturday, 1 March 2008
As of March I'm going to be looking to take the blog in a new direction, change the layout and styles along with the kinds of posts. Gone will be most full album downloads, unless they are requested by people, and in will be single's and mixtapes. In that case, I'm looking for anyone who wants to contribute, wants photos up etc in order to try and move the blog forward.
+ I need to put more effort in!
Sunday, 3 February 2008
I was full of anticipation for this gig, a new venue for me in Manchester and much hype surrounding EitS as a live act. Of course, as the band produces such beautiful and professional albums I was fairly hopeful that they wouldn't disappoint but I was still a bit nervy for this one.
The opener was Eluvium, an ambient solo artist from Portland, who builds up quite intense and heavy musical soundscapes using mainly his trusty Fender, a keyboard and his looping pedal which he would be lost without! Eluvium is someone for listeners with utmost patience and he was very appropriate for this support slot, brooding and building anticipation for the main event. However, aside from the relatively short 'Radio Ballet', I don't think he is someone who I could listen to while just at home.
Around 9 o'clock the spectacle begun with the guys from Texas entering to a rousing applause from the huge Manchester crowd. They played a set which spanned all material although there was a lot of focus on the latest effort, 'All Of A Sudden I Miss Everyone', with most tracks being played from that. As well, there were some classics from 'The Earth Is Not A Cold Dead Place' with 'First Breath After Coma' being a particular highlight, the marching drums and jittery guitar riff combining to create such an amazing staccato sound. As I was promised, the sound was excellent and this goes for both the band and the venue.
An extra bonus for me was the bands tremendous stage presence. Bassist/Guitarist, Michael James, an ever present in the centre of the stage, flanked by the guitarists either side, Mark Smith being the epitome of cool and Munaf Rayani, his complete opposite as he twists and turns. Before them lays an absolute abundance of pedals and processors, which I'm sure they used to effect as the gig was simply breathtaking. Last mention goes out to the drummer who, aside from being solid as a rock, is the glue that brings EitS together with his never predictable, but always suitable style.
Explosions In The Sky: The Birth and Death of the Day
Tuesday, 29 January 2008
First brought to the attention of the world through their support slots with Nirvana, the Boredoms have been part of the fabric of the indie-rock scene for over 20 years now. However, they are still pushing boundaries today and picking up new fans, like myself.
On this album, VCN, they create a hypnotic sound scape which mixes their distinctive tribal percussions with dreamy electronics. My favorite track on the album, (Tilde), starts uses a breaks-y drumbeat to amazing effect, gradually layering the blips and beeps on top. I find they are the perfect accompaniment to work or the such like, as they're probably abit too frantic to totally relax too.
Wednesday, 23 January 2008
I'm usually more of a fan of laid back beats, but Desire hits you with it's upbeat mix of styles right from the off and the production is exempt throughout. The Trilogy towards the end of the album, a three section song possibly about the break-up of a love triangle, provides the most jazzy beats in the latter sections. Everything is here in the big melting pot of genre's, a hyperactive nod to Public Enemy on "Welcome to the Terrordome" and more soulful R'n'B styles on track's such as "Desire" and "Push".
While the beats may occasionally be hard to get your head around, the lyrics are pretty much a relentless flow as PM proves his worth and talent. He is charismatic and distinctive, ever evident on Desire.
Sunday, 20 January 2008
Tuesday, 15 January 2008
I'd known about Rodrigo Y Gabriela for a long time before I got hold of this and I have to be honest, I'd put off listening just because I expected it to be so difficult to get into. The truth though, is that I couldn't have been more wrong.
The mix of guitar techniques by the extremely talented pair makes for an engaging and fun listen and the percussive nature of the Spanish guitar really stands out, especially to someone who hasn't listened to much music like this before.
Favorite track would have to be Ixtapa at the moment for the violin solo in the second half, amazing!
Saturday, 12 January 2008
Sweet melodies, lush production and soft vocal that evoke thought's of Iron & Wine are all reasons why this debut EP from 21 year old Sam Jackson is a success. Hailing from my hometown of Nottingham it's a wonder I haven't seen this guy yet, although hopefully I'll be catching him in March where he is on a small UK tour. The title track Deadman is available on a free download from his Myspace and is definitely worth checking out. Be prepared to hear more from House of Brothers very soon!