Canadian electro-pop sensation Lights has in recent months managed to take the Internet by storm, and has caught the attention of fans all over the world. Now, armed with a powerful new full length album, entitled Siberia, the name of which is apparently inspired by an old family quote, the stage looks like it could be set for Lights to continue wowing worldwide audiences and shoot straight to electronic-pop-based stardom.
Siberia screams one thing – bigger, better, more mature and more anthemic than before. Lights has gone into overdrive to create popular, catchy, sing along electro-pop, with a much more ‘real’ feeling to it than previous releases. It’s an album that one can take seriously, sing along and just generally enjoy listening to. Lights also seem to have jumped on the popularity of the dubstep genre, with some dub-based aspects rearing their heads throughout the album as a sort of salute in its direction.
Musically, it might suffer from a small amount of repetition inherent to writing electronic music, so there’s not much than can be done here. Lights overcomes this by putting slower, less thudding-bass-orientated and more melody-based songs next to some of the more intense ones, giving the impression of a constant chop and change in pace, so the repetitive nature of electro-pop is masked and the interest of the listener maintained. It’s repetition that’s masked quite well, actually.
The obvious comparison to other electro-pop artists like Owl City can still be made, which is slightly unfortunate. This seems to be inherent to the genre, as they all might sound similar but in actual fact Lights’ voice works better with the music than the auto-tuned tones of Owl City, it seems to fit in with the music in a more coherent and structured way. Auto-tune is more sparingly used here, as an added effect, rather than a staple backbone of the album, which is pleasant to hear. It might better to make the comparison, vocally, to some material by Ellie Goulding, if the latter was to make more electronic sounding music than she actually does.
Overall, it’s a more mature, developed and thoughtful release from the Canadian electro-maestro. Lights is quickly growing as an artist as her popularity dramatically increases, by clearly incorporating more aspects into her music, to demonstrate her reaction to her reception with her previous releases. This album is sure to at least maintain the popularity that she already had, and it seems almost certain that it’s going to increase her fanbase a lot. Aside from the slight issues inherent to her genre; repetitiveness and the issues surrounding writing songs that all sound different, it deserves a good 8/10.
Read the original article here: http://www.contactmusic.com/album-review/lights-siberia
Brighton’s indie scene gets a refreshing comedic twist in the form of rockers Sweet Sweet Lies, with the release of their latest full length studio album entitled The Hare, The Hound and the Tortoise. It’s released through Something Nothing Records, a label already having much success with indie artists such as Billy Vincent.
Initially, it’s very tell if Sweet Sweet Lies are a comedy band with serious aspects or if they’re a serious band with a comedy element, but either way, it seems that they’re good to listen to, if a little disappointing. It’s the sort of album that one might listen to when they aren’t feeling too great and need to listen to something to put a smile on their face, so in that respect, it’s actually quite good. It’s packed full of sing-along catchy choruses and hooks, good crunchy guitar sounds and ‘what-on-Earth-did-he-just-say?’ lyrics. In fact, it sometimes sounds like a cross between a set of sea-shanties and typical Eastern European music, in a pleasant-yet-weird kind of combination.
It inspires a dancing motion in the shoulders and yet, on the downside, sometimes it’s quite hard to take it seriously as an album. There are only few more serious songs on the album, which actually might actually be the highlight of it, such as No-one Will Love You (Like I Do). These more serious songs are too few and far between, which leaves a tantalising insight into what the album could be.
But even then, on the more serious songs, it has a slight ironic feel to it and it’s still hard to take it seriously. This might be the biggest failing of this album, because musically, vocally and in terms of production, it’s actually very good.
This is, therefore, really quite a disappointing album, because it’s an album that’s clearly taken talent to put together and has huge amounts of potential. The songs are all well written, recorded and mixed and make a pleasant sound to the eardrums. The presence of the irony only exacerbates this, because it’s cleverly done to add this aspect into the album so effectively.
Overall, The Hare, The Hound and the Tortoise, inspires a broad spectrum of feelings inside the listener; they might find the songs funny, inspiring, strange or even enjoyable. For this reviewer though, it seems like a little bit of wasted potential, but still musically very good. For that reason then, it gets a 6.5/10.
Read the original article here: http://www.contactmusic.com/album-review/sweet-sweet-lies-the-hare-the-hound-and-the-tortoise
If one was to ask the question, “Where is the strangest place a socio-political, opinionated and musically charged punk rock star can come from?” the first answer might be strange and unexpected, but it probably won’t be anything as obscure as “their own personal zoo/farmyard, located just outside Budapest, Hungary.” But, that is exactly where European punk rocker Lazlo hails from, in fact not just a farmyard, but his own personal zoo, where he writes his complex, socially-aware music for his rapidly growing fanbase.
His latest offering, the debut UK EP entitled Venus, is a complicated and eccentric sounding mixture of noise, ultimately designed to ensnare the senses with what could almost be described as auditory mayhem, an ode to political punk rock and social observations. Lazlo has himself styled the release as a commentary on the social and political issues that surround our modern society, designed to provoke both a reaction to the music and a thoughtful response, and presumably debate on the issues it tackles.
To be completely honest from the off, it initially comes across as a little bit intimidating. Lazlo is dealing with complex social issues in his music in a very blunt and in-your-face manner. Not that this is a bad thing, in fact it could even be a good thing that Lazlo is so frank about it, because the issues he tackles in his music are issues that need to be discussed. The issues of homophobia, consumerist culture and greed are all addressed here. It’s just a bit startling, considering that they’re being tackled by a musician who lives on a farm in central Hungary.
Again, this is most certainly not inherently a bad thing, it’s just very different and obscure! Once the listener is past the initial intimidation factor and gets over the surprise of what it sounds like, it’s a lot easier to start listening to Venus properly.
Musically, it’s eccentric, again initially slightly intimidating and full of what could be described as almost post-modern sounds. Imagine a strange hybrid of the Sex Pistols and Kraftwerk, and you’re halfway there. It’s actually very cleverly done, well written and extremely bold and different. Upon first listen, expect to be surprised, and a listener should expect to realise after a minute or two their jaw has dropped and there’s an expression of complete and utter cluelessness on their face.
The obvious limitations to the music don’t really need to be explained in masses of detail, however, it’s clear to see that this kind of music will not appeal to everyone. That is, anyone who doesn’t have an open mind and a sense of acceptance of the more eccentric styles of music will almost definitely not enjoy this album. It’s a record that’s designed to be listened to with a screwed-up face and a thoughtful ‘hmmm’ on the listener’s lips, it’s meant to instil discussion, thought and debate, and this is what makes the album good. It isn’t meant to be bog-standard, average music that strives for popularity and hit after hit, it does exactly what it’s meant to do. The only problem is that what it is meant to do might not be what people want to hear.
In the end, then, it’s a completely original, completely eccentric and completely crazy socio-political punk gold-dust. It’s not particularly appealing to a popular market, which limits it slightly, but that isn’t what it has set out to do. It’s the sort of music that one will start off thinking “this is nuts” and then in the end find themselves enjoying it a lot. For this reviewer, then, 6/10.
Read the original article here: http://www.poppedculture.co.uk/music-reviews/music-reviews/ep-reviews/item/226-lazlo-venus
Deep in rural Hertfordshire, there’s something interesting afoot. Scholars, the Hemel Hempstead-based four-piece indie-rock band release their new, crunchy, single entitled Bad for Business under their own, unsigned steam. This is an impressive feat for any band that are just starting out, but is it actually any good?
Well, it’s a happy, upbeat and cheerful indie-sounding song, with plenty of aspect to get your music-appreciating teeth into and a wholly attractive sound that’s sure to get one singing along enjoyably.
And, therefore, yes, it’s actually pretty good. It’s an impressive and ridiculously catchy record, with punchy, gravelly guitar sounds that remind one of indie-rock bands such as Hundred Reasons or Max Raptor. Surprisingly, in some places, it even sounds a little like a slowed-down Billy Talent, especially in the vocals, although the Southern British accents make it sound slightly different. The singing has an angry yet tuneful quality to it, reminiscent of a lot of vocalists in the indie scene of today, but yet somehow still unique to the rest of them. It’s a mixture of half-singing, half shouting, something like a tuneful chant, which fits the type of music very well.
Musically, again it’s a crunchy, indie sound that’s sure to please a lot of people. It has the aforementioned crunch-filled guitar sounds, a powerfully present bass sound and tight, well recorded drums. In fact, all across the album, it’s very well recorded and mixed, and extremely professionally done. An example to unsigned bands everywhere that good music doesn’t just come from having a record deal. It sounds like it was enjoyable to write, play, sing and record.
It does however seem like it might have a bit of a specific target audience, though, which might limit its popularity slightly. But, the good thing about this is that Scholars’ style of music is extremely popular at the moment, which means that their limited target audience is, in fact, a lot of people. By making gritty, up-to-date, and, most importantly, popular music, Scholars are setting themselves up for a bright future of mainstream success.
Scholars, then, look set to be one of the best and most promising acts to come out of Hertfordshire since the rise of now music-giants Enter Shikari. With bags of talent and an uncanny knack for writing exceptionally catchy songs, Bad for Business is indeed, in the case of Scholars, good for business. 7.5/10
Read the original article here: http://www.poppedculture.co.uk/music-reviews/music-reviews/single-reviews/item/225-scholars-bad-for-business
London-based but Australian-born rockers Capelle look set to shoot straight to stardom following the release of their full length studio album Crooked Deluxe on March 5th 2012. It’s being released in conjunction with a documentary film about their recent exploits in a rented RV, travelling from Las Vegas to New York, set to be screened at several international Film Festivals.
The brainchild of the band is one Nic Capelle, the native Australian but London based music maestro. The other members of the band are apparently subject to change on an album by album basis, which initially seems like a harsh way to create a band, but in the context of this album, looks like Capelle’s selection on backup musicians was spot on. It’s a deep and thoughtful, rocky-sounding, groove-fuelled anthemic album, with plenty of hooks and sing-along choruses.
To begin with, Crooked Deluxe is a unique fusion of rock music and electro samples creates a groovy, rocky feeling sound with added depth. It’s got aspects to make the head bop up and down, and aspects that will make the listener want to start dancing. It’s an exciting mixture of the two elements that grabs and then keeps the listeners attention, and has the potential to become an excellent sub-genre of both rock and electronic music – maybe ‘electro-rock’. The dubstep-remix of single Muscle Car is testament to this, the song doesn’t lose its entire core sound as a rock song, and yet as a dubstep remix it works very well – it still sounds like rock but not quite pure rock, but more a mixture, as in ‘rock-dub’. It’s interesting, unique and very good.
The album does tend to lose its electronic roots in favour of more rock sounds as it progresses – the bopping head overtakes the desire to dance. The electronic samples become fewer and further between the nearer the listener gets to the end of the album. This might have been an accident or coincidence, or it might have been a deliberate shift towards the rockier end of the spectrum, as Capelle style Crooked Deluxe as a rock album not an electronic one. Either way, it isn’t necessarily a bad thing, the electro, almost disco aspects of the music are designed to enhance the full sound, not be in the driving seat of it.
Musically, then, it’s very well written, performed and extremely well recorded and mixed. All the aspects of the music are easily distinguishable from the others. There’s especially good, throbbing basslines that are the backbone of the rocky groove quality of the album and keep the lower frequencies in check. It holds the songs together well, and there’s also plenty of ingenious little bass embellishments throughout the album that put a smile on the listeners’ faces, especially on Distant Minds and Juxtapose. Elsewhere, the guitar does more than just act as the forefront of the music, as is typical in a lot of other modern music, but actually complements the other elements of the music instead, a refreshing take on the guitar as an instrument. It’s not meant to be the backbone of the sound, but all of the instruments work together, with none of them out-doing the others.
Finally, then, Crooked Deluxe is massively appealing to a huge audience. It will please those who are into their rock, those who are into their electronic and dance, the dubstep remix will even appeal to the clubbers out there, but at the same time the album doesn’t sound like its sole intention is to appeal to as many people as possible – that would make it a bit of a ‘sellout’ record, purely written for the intention of making money and maybe perhaps not very good. No, this album sounds like it was just a by-product of a group of people who love to make good music and have fun, and they’ve done exactly that. The fact that they’ve made something that’s very appealing to a broad audience is more of an accident than anything else, but in this reviewers’ humble opinion it’s exactly what they deserve. Keep an eye on these guys. 8/10.
Read the original article here: http://www.poppedculture.co.uk/music-reviews/music-reviews/album-reviews/item/224-capelle-crooked-deluxe
Energetic Bristol-based 4-piece Fighting Fiction return in July 2012 with their full length, self titled debut studio album, revitalising their trademark “ska-punk rock” genre and packing it full of socially aware lyrics and almost angry, punchy guitar sounds.
It’s crunchy, fast and furious sounding punk-rock, but it also has a good mix of soft, more acoustic moments and passionately sung, heartfelt vocals that keeps the listener on their toes and interested. It’s not exactly predictable, it’s mostly catchy and on the whole it’s good. But, it’s been done before, quite a lot. It has elements that remind of Frank Turner or even The Clash, but in this case it works for Fighting Fiction quite well.
Although Fighting Fiction claim to have created a sort of “ska-tinted punk rock”, with this full length album, there seems to be less of the ska and more of the punk rock. There’s more tinges of ska on their older releases, but there aren’t actually very many moments of it on this one, maybe one or two throughout the whole release, but not enough on the whole. It’s more pure punk, with a very British twist to it, vocally – The West-Country accents make sure of that.
This doesn’t make it any worse, but slightly disappointing when it’s expected. It’s still an enjoyable listen, it deals with some big issues and does it in an eloquent, musical and well-written way. It’s very well done.
But, one of the biggest issues with this album is that, again, it’s all music that’s been done before. There’s nothing particularly special about it, it doesn’t stand out from what could be described as a saturated scene. This doesn’t make it any less good, in fact, what is the point in changing anything if it works? It just means that some might be impatient with it, claiming that they’ve “heard it all before” and dismissing it without giving it a chance to impress.
Overall, then, a good, old fashioned ode to British-born punk rock. Nothing distinctly special about it, but nothing particularly bad about it either. It’s well written, performed and presented and it sounds very good, but it just needs that little extra spark to make it stand out from the rest, to make it more distinct and individual. An average 5/10.
Read the original article here: http://www.contactmusic.com/album-review/fighting-fiction-fighting-fiction
It’s easy for many to assume that Derby, being in the heart of rural Northern England, isn’t particularly famous for producing big named, famous bands. This could be about to change though, with the appearance of pop-rock creation Riptide, with their debut release This Could be the One, chock-full of energy – in the form of huge choruses, uplifting, tuneful vocals and happy, lively melodies with enough hooks to make a fisherman jealous.
First impressions are thus – this EP is excellent. It has huge, sing-along lyrics in the choruses, attractive beats aplenty in the verses to make a listeners head bop in an appreciative way and catchy guitar riffs, dynamic enough to make anyone sit up and take notice throughout the lot. From this, it can be said that Riptide look set to be one of the most popular and unique bands to have come out of the North of England in a long time.
In more depth, it’s catchy, jumpy, upbeat and energetic pop-rock music, the sort of music that one finds themselves singing along to even if they don’t fully know the words. It uses rock aspects fused with the more uplifting sounds of orchestral strings and echoing, reverb effects on the guitars and vocals to give it more depth than average rock music, and this makes it slightly different and gives it some more unique aspects that are pleasing to the ear. It has all the catchiness and energy of rock music, and the elevating aspects of more electronica/pop music to create something original and innovative.
The clear use of strings is also very prominent throughout this EP. It helps add to the size of the music, helps to make it unique and makes it sound like it’s designed to be played in a stadium. Maybe Riptide have ambitions of grandeur, and are pre-emptively creating music that will fit into the huge arenas they want to play in. Or maybe they just like to write and play big sounds. Either way, it works.
The only major problem is that it’s too short. Because of its length, it seems like the EP doesn’t really go anywhere. That is to say, if there were more of it, it might seem a little bit more progressive from start to finish, rather than just a collection of songs that have been put together with no other thought in mind.
The only other problem, other than its length, is the slight overuse of effects. It can, on occasion, distort the rest of the sounds, especially when there is echo on all the aspects of the music – the guitars, bass and the vocals. It does mean that the sound kind of merges into one huge-sounding, echoing mass, which may indeed be the effect that Riptide were going for, but it may be something for them to watch out for. By contrast, and as an upside, the use of the echoes and effects does indeed end up setting Riptide apart from other indie-rock bands and makes them slightly more unique. It also adds to the size of the music, again giving the impression that this music is designed for stadium-based play.
Judging from the quality of this EP, then, 2012 indeed looks like it could be a big year for Riptide. Now they just need to hurry up and write more, record more and play more. It easily deserves a good 7/10, and with more it might even be higher.
Read the original article here: http://www.poppedculture.co.uk/music-reviews/music-reviews/ep-reviews/item/222-riptide-this-could-be-the-one
Early Morning Rebel, indie quartet hailing from the glamorous location of Los Angeles, California, release their new single Lifeboat on February 20th, and already count some famous names among their fans. It seems that they’ve brought some of the glamour and glitz of LA over to the UK with them, by being set to play some very prestigious dates in Central London during London Fashion Week, between the 16th and 19th February 2012.
The single itself, a song named Lifeboat, is a curious mix of powerful vocals and minimalist musical elements. This is a tried and tested combination, usually used as a break in a more intense sounding album. In this case, it’s used as a single in its own right, but it works. It’s a good song, experimental and unique, but sure to be popular.
In fact, the best way to describe this song is ‘fashionable’. The CD itself has two tracks, the original track ofLifeboat and a remix of the same track. The original is, again, slow, melodic and passionately sung, with minimal musical aspects, whereas the remix has, as one might imagine, more of an upbeat, dance feel to it.
The remix itself is a very good one; it shows effectively how much the original can be changed to give it a whole different feel, whilst not changing the core aspects of the song. The addition of any kind drums is the most dramatic, striking change, and in this case they fit very well.
Actually, it seems that the original song has been created in a deliberately minimal way to allow maximum opportunities for remixing, to allow it to be versatile and adaptable to many different styles, to allow as many people to enjoy it as possible. It’s almost as if the original single is a sort of ‘base template’ for other artists to experiment and play with and change. This is a brave move by Early Morning Rebel, and interestingly enough, it doesn’t actually detract from the original song at all, which is good in its own right, if a little bit repetitive at times. It’s slow and chilling, but still good.
Overall, then, it seems like it’s a song designed to be changed and interpreted in many different ways. An ode to the popular and fashionable of today’s fast paced, ever changing, borderline impatient society, and therefore it deserves an above-average 6/10.
Creating melancholy, haunting and eerie synth music seems to be the popular ambition these days. Or at least, definitely the goal of indie project The Machine Room, an Edinburgh based band, self-styled as a salute to popular group The Smiths. Their debut EP, Love from a Distance, is a spine tingling, ghostly collection of synths and echoing vocals designed to get the hairs on the back of your neck standing and the inside of your head pulsing.
Love from a Distance, is described by the band themselves as the sort of music, “you’ll stick on (loudly) at the end of a night of heavy drinking.” Presumably, to wind oneself down then, because there’s nothing particularly upbeat about any of the songs and definitely nothing on there that one would find at a traditional ‘night of heavy drinking’, anyway. It sounds like it’s been recorded inside St. Paul’s Cathedral, the sound is so large. Almost everything is echoed and pulsed back into the ears of the listener, occasionally weighing down on the brain unpleasantly.
That isn’t to say that the album isn’t good. It is. In fact one finds oneself singing along, despite the fact that once it’s been turned off, there’s no way that a listener will remember the lyrics. It’s like the music is creating a marked impression on the listener, but only whilst it’s on, and then once it’s gone, they can’t remember a single thing about it except that it was a tad slow and depressing. Or maybe just thoughtful. And soon even that goes, and it has to go on again, just to refresh the memory. This makes the album really, really interesting to listen to, despite the fact that it must be concentrated on. The only problem is that it’s also really hard to concentrate on without zoning out and relaxing completely.
So, if one isn’t trying to analyse it and wants trance-inducing background music, this is definitely a good choice. It’s slow, melodic and mellow, but with cheerful and expressive lyrics. Vocally, it’s still spine chilling and eerie, but at the same time not unpleasant. Musically, again it sounds like it was recorded in a huge underground cavern with the microphone sellotaped to the ceiling, but this in context of The Machine Room’s target sound it works really well.
Overall, then, this album is excellent for having as a background soundtrack to a relaxation session, or as an in depth challenge at musical analysis. So, for that reason, it should be really quite appealing to a lot of people. The only issue is that if one doesn’t like melancholy, moody electronic synth music, this won’t appeal. 7.5/10.
Read the original article here: http://www.contactmusic.com/review/the-machine-room-love-from-a-distance
Experimental, psychedelic New York rockers White Hills return with their latest offering to the scene, Frying on this Rock, an innovative and unique take on the alternative rock genre.
White Hills style themselves as “space rock” and judging from this album it’s easy to see why. The combination of pulsating, electrified synth sounds and the crunchy noise of overdriven guitars and punchy drums creates something very spaced-out yet rocky, and in a sense good but in others dubious.
First, the few low points. The second track, Robot Stomp is very aptly named, because it sounds like the march of an army of robots or the soundtrack a factory floor building robots. It’s probably the low point of the album; the relentless march of Robot Stomp soon grows old, what appears to have been created in an attempt at being trance-inducing has ended up being quite irritating. Happily, though, the rest of the album is slightly better; the opener Pads of Light is extremely catchy and You Dream You See is good for head-bopping.
All of the songs, though, seem to have the same downfall of being slightly repetitive. This makes it psychedelic, and White Hills have stated that this is the idea that they were going for, so in this sense the repetitiveness makes sense. However, White Hills also state that their style of music needs to reflect the ‘limitless-feeling’ of space and the repetitiveness of the music denies that ability. It feels controlled and regulated; pulsing, standard time signatures and repeated riffs give the feeling of order, rather than freedom.
Now, the good points. It’s a good fusion of rock and psychedelic-ness, excellent use of synths and electronic sounds alongside the more rocky aspects of the music is done extremely well and they work together better than one might initially expect. It doesn’t fuse them in as obvious a way as, for example, mainstream musicians Enter Shikari, but has a much more subtle nuance to it. It’s quite pleasant to listen to in some places.
Vocally, it could remind one of rockers Thrice, who manage to sound slightly mournful and yet tuneful at the same time. The lead vocals hold the tune and yet manage to sound slightly monotone at the same time but in the context of the rest of the sounds this is good and the way in which the vocals echo does manage to give the album a sense of ‘open space’. This, as mentioned before, is the sound that White Hills seem to be going for. The sense of open face is especially pronounced on 8-minute track Song of Everything.
Overall, an interesting listen more than anything else. It has some very good points and White Hills are clearly talented; they’ve thought about what they want to sound like and then created it. To improve, they need slightly more variety and less repetitiveness.
Read the original article here: http://www.contactmusic.com/album-review/white-hills-frying-on-this-rock
- Biffy Clyro – Opposites Album Review (Planetmosh Review)
- When We Were Wolves – The More Things Change, The More We Stay The Same EP Review (Planetmosh Review)
- Alexisonfire – Death Letter EP Review (Bring the Noise Review)
- Lewis Watson – Another Four Sad Songs EP Review (Never Enough Notes Review)
- Parkway Drive – Atlas Album Review (Bring the Noise Review)
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