Newcastle based indie-rock band The Longsands are making quite a name for themselves. From putting out their own singles in 2009 to releasing a full length studio album in June 2012, working with the ex-producer of The Whoand Eric Clapton, and supporting The Jam, The Longsands have come quite a way in the last three years. They’re at it again, too, with this, new single entitled Worlds Collide, out August 2012.
Worlds Collide packs a heck of a lot into the time it has. The entire song manages to build itself up to a huge climax without the listener actually noticing that it’s happening. In fact, it’s a very technically good song, with strong ties to musical conventions and, what some might call, the four-chord approach to writing a song. Not that this is a bad thing, people do it because it works.
The first impression one gets when listening to this track is a likeness to rock band Matchbox 20, with an inoffensive, soft approach to indie rock, with the pitter-patter of drums punctuating through softly played guitars and bass, with a strong vocal track singing emotive and meaningful lyrics in a passionate way. It’s very good, very well written. Vocally, the lyrics are strongly driven by the passion of the vocals, which works well because there would be no point in singing meaningful and deep lyrics in a non-meaningful way. The remixed version is much softer, and still great if not even better to listen to, and sounds even deeper and more meaningful than the original.
The other track on this single, Never Turn Your Back on the Sun, is just as musically talented as Worlds Collide,and shows the slower, softer, more acoustic side of the band. This is good, it shows in just two tracks that The Longsands aren’t restricted to making one style of music, but have a good amount of musical range. The song in itself is great to listen to, with almost cockney sounding vocals and a great, soft acoustic guitar in the background of the song, just enough for it to work very well.
Overall, Worlds Collide is another triumph for the Newcastle five-piece. The Longsands write passionate, moving music and do it the way they want to. The great by product of this is that listeners seem to love it at the same time! More of the same, please.
Read the original article here: http://www.poppedculture.co.uk/music-reviews/music-reviews/single-reviews/item/249-the-longsands-%E2%80%93-worlds-collide
Seattle band Minus the Bear are in the habit of making a lot of noise. Not just press or promotional, sit-up-and-look-at-us type noise, either, but instead really talented, musically creative type ‘noise’. Their latest album,Infinity Overhead, is out on August 28th, and is the perfect example of the American five piece’s brand of synth-pop-indie-rock (noise!) that this article is talking about.
The word ‘noise’ has bad connotations, so perhaps it’s best to explain its use in this context. Infinity Overheadhas a lot going on, all the time. It’s all fabulous, don’t get me wrong, but it’s a very ‘full’ sound. A noise. But a musical one. In more specific terms, this album has a definite ‘groove’ to it. It’s indie rock with a bit more of a funk-based feel to it, and the addition of synthesizers, whilst not completely original, is some of the most effective this reviewer has ever witnessed. They’re used sparingly, completely for added effect, and that’s how they’re meant to be used, rather than as a mainstay of the song.
Vocally, there’s a slight harmonizer effect on the lead vocal track, which gives it a great, deep feel and makes it stand out from the rest of the music in a great way. The lyrics themselves are well put together and well performed, sitting well on top of the rest of the music and giving the impression that they’re in control of the song. Musically, it’s well mixed. The guitars have a really satisfying crunch on them, especially noticeable at the beginning of Lies and Eyes.
There’s nothing really to improve on this album, either. Possibly, some of the songs sound a little bit busy and confusing, although it seems like this was intended. There’s nothing wrong with making a listener concentrate on where they are in a song though, so long as they don’t have to do it all the time. If anything, it makes the listener actually take notice of what they’re listening to, so in effect it’s actually a good thing.
This is a great album, it really is. The indie-rock idea might be getting a little bit tired, but Minus the Bear have managed to take it, make it their own, add some refreshing twists to it, and blast it back out again. It sounds enough to work alongside other indie bands, but is different enough to make it stand out from the crowd. It really is a well constructed, performed and recorded album. Fantastic.
Read the original article here: http://www.poppedculture.co.uk/music-reviews/music-reviews/album-reviews/item/248-minus-the-bear-%E2%80%93-infinity-overhead
Canadian four-piece Les Jupes are a bit of an enigma. It’s hard what to make of a band whose tagline is “Electrons. Crashing into other electrons.” No doubt this complete fragment of a sentence is meant to inspire some kind of deep, meaningful feelings within the reader. It might make more sense to look at their music to find out what feelings they inspire, actually. Happily,Les Jupes are obliging this request with their latest album, entitled Modern Myths.
The album kicks off in a rather sinister way, opening track Myth #3 (The Mountain) is a dark sounding track, with low bass notes and deep, threatening vocals. The odd thing is, though, the more one listens to it, the easier it gets to listen to. The same track, barely fifteen seconds later actually becomes really, really quite good. The bassline is so well into the mix that it does exactly what it’s meant to do, provide a decent backbone to the song and be audible without actually being over-present at the same time.
This theme carries on throughout the rest of the album, as well. There’s some really excellent use of synth instruments to create brilliant, atmospheric effects. There’s also twinkling, effective guitar work, sensual percussion and the bass carries on being fantastic the entire way through. Modern Myths has a bunch of variety going for it, as well, the second track, One Solemn Oath is completely different to the first track, starting the album off as it means to go on.
Issues – really not many. The vocals leave a little to be desired, as they can get a little monotone if listened to all in one go – in fact at some points they do sound like something out of an 80’s electronic band, possiblyKraftwerk. But, the flipside of this is that the vocal lines work really well sitting just on top of the style of music that Les Jupes make, so to change the vocal tracks would be to change the style and feeling of the music completely, which is far too much of a drastic change to ask the band to make.
So overall, Modern Myths is a progressive, emotive and extraordinarily creative album, an album that’s taken a clear amount of talent to write and put together. It’s a little specific, though, and might limit the appeal to a wider audience. For what it is, though Les Jupes have put together something that they can be extremely proud of, and for this reviewer, their next one can’t come soon enough. Fabulous.
Read the original article here: http://www.poppedculture.co.uk/music-reviews/music-reviews/album-reviews/item/247-les-jupes-%E2%80%93-modern-myths
Folk-rock band Injured Birds, armed with their progressive, emotive brand of music release their latest single, upbeat-mellow song entitled, Happy as Clams. This song is taken from their upcoming debut album Silver Birches, released in November 2012. The Nottingham based band are a calm, acoustic, emotional brand of folk rock, and they look set on becoming the next addictive, quirky act on the music scene.
It’s not without its charm, either. It’s a simplistic, emotional song, not leaving much to the imagination. It’s well written, well recorded and mixed, which makes the sound quality both great, and because of the few elements to the music, really easy to listen to. The great thing about it is actually the few aspects of the music, as there’s only a couple of very thin-sounding instruments (ukuleles, etc) and vocals. Because of this, each element is clearly audible, and really showcases the talent that Injured Birds have as musicians.
But, this single is definitely not without its issues. The second song on this single release, entitled K, a B-side, sounds pretty much exactly the same as Happy as Clams. Therefore, one of the main problems is the lack of variety between the two songs. Now, the rest of the album might have more variety on it, but putting two songs that sound completely identical on a pre-emptive single release is probably a bad idea. It doesn’t show much imagination, and gives the impression that the rest of the album will sound exactly the same as these songs. That’s a pretty big downfall for such an expressive song, a song that shows this much imagination and creativity.
So overall, an expressive and creative song, let down by the lack of variety that the single seems to show the upcoming album to contain. If there’s more variety in the music on the album, then it should be a complete success of an album. If not, then it might get old very quickly. For this song, though, very good.
Read the original article here: http://www.poppedculture.co.uk/music-reviews/music-reviews/single-reviews/item/242-injured-birds-%E2%80%93-happy-as-clams
South African electronic indie-rockers Civil Twilight are making a lot of noise. After stirring up attention for themselves over the last couple of years, they’re back with a new album, Holy Weather, the follow up to the much acclaimed previous self-titled album, released back in 2010. This, the first single from the new album, entitled Fire Escape, pretty much seems to set the benchmark with what to expect from the new release.
When this reviewer says they’ve been stirring up attention for themselves over the last two years, it’s no exaggeration, either. Whereas the casual listener might not have heard of Civil Twilight, their music seems to be pretty much everywhere, and yet remains underground. Their songs have been used on TV shows like House, The Vampire Diaries and Numb3rs, and the band plan on supporting Keane this August. They’re no local band, put it that way.
This single, as mentioned before, is a benchmark for the rest of the new album. With big, stadium-esque vocals not unlike U2’s Bono or Coldplay’s Chris Martin, it has a great indie-groove to it that immediately sounds familiar and yet different. Add to that the satisfying, distorted bassline that forms the backbone of the track, with a funky, pleasant sort of sound to it, and Civil Twilight seem to be on to something.
It’s not perfect, though. The vocals, whilst large, epic and sweeping are a little too similar to other artists for this reviewer’s tastes. It’s been done, done again and done for a third time. In fact, the main issue with Fire Escape is that it’s too familiar. It immediately makes a listened think of another band that they sound like, which doesn’t really leave enough room for them to craft a sound of their own. In short, it could be a little more original in terms of style.
Overall, a great song, with a great sound. A little overused and unoriginal in terms of sound, but still a great song, and it’s definitely a great preliminary track for what should hopefully turn out to be a great studio album from the South African indie-rockers. It seems like Civil Twilight have no other plans except to go from strength to strength. Watch out for them, you might be hearing from them soon.
Read the original article here: http://www.poppedculture.co.uk/music-reviews/music-reviews/single-reviews/item/241-civil-twilight-fire-escape
Morbidly named and emotional sounding rockers Black Swans release their latest single, entitled This Looks Like Yesterday, taken from their upcoming debut album The Life We Chose. The Liverpool quintet have a pretty sounding style of emotional indie-rock, characterised by their uplifting, expressive vocals and excellent instrumental work.
This Looks Like Yesterday, the first single, has the capability to become a complete anthem. It’s a slow paced, almost ballad type song. Think roughly the same pace as Iris by the Goo Goo Dolls, but without the harsh, crackled vocals and with more of an electronic, uplifting, ambient feel and you’re pretty much hitting the nail on the head. Definitely emotionally driven, This Looks Like Yesterday has it all, echoing guitars, reverbed, soft vocals and the uplifting strings in the background, all designed to bring a tear to the proverbial eye. It’s good, too.
The other track on this single is the bonus track, Killing Time, which is slightly more upbeat than This Looks Like Yesterday, and it actually reminds me of indie bands such as The Killers or Kings of Leon, especially famous track Use Somebody. It’s still got that air of ‘being-played-in-a-large-hall’ about it, giving it an eerie, echoing quality, but the faster beats and more upbeat sounding guitars/drums make it less emotive than This Looks Like Yesterday, but it is still rather good.
Issues – the fact that it does sound a lot like indie bands already out there might deter some listeners from liking this band purely because they’ve heard it all before. There could be slightly more originality about them, which would make them stand out from the crowd a little better. There’s nothing particularly wrong with the music that Black Swans are making, but there’s nothing particularly groundbreaking about it either. Good, solid and entertaining, just not very original.
Overall then, two great songs, taken off of what should turn out to be a great album. For fans of the style of music that Black Swans are making, they’ll be another band to add to their list of favourites, and this reviewer has no doubt that some will love this. The fact that they sound so much like other bands, though, may well come to be their undoing unless they can find that edge to make them stand out. Other than that, Black Swans are great.
Lettie, well travelled electro-pop queen, is apparently one of the most extensively musically experienced yet new artists on the scene today. She has released two of her own albums with no promotional help, worked with Anthony Phillips (formerly of Genesis) and, in her own words, “seen the advent of many female artists and remained herself under the radar”. It’s no wonder, then, that she is starting to get noticed herself.
This album, Good Fortune, Bad Weather, is Lettie’s third studio release, but the first that has been promoted commercially. It has had a turbulent journey into existence, and it shows. It’s a mature sounding album from a would-be new artist, which comes across initially as a bit confusing. It’s a unique sounding album, with a confident, mature vibe that sounds like it should come from an artist who has years of music experience behind them – which Lettie does – we just don’t know it.
As sounds go, it’s essentially a huge melting pot of synthesised electronic noises and instruments that somehow manage to structurally work together. Vocally, Lettie’s singing is in a strange position. She sings in short and snappy bursts on a lot of the songs, which, when mixed with the constant sound of the instruments, should mean that her vocals take a backseat. On the contrary though, they’re right at the forefront and very noticeable – very cleverly done. She has emotive and mature lyrics that are another aspect that show off her experiences despite her lack of commercial success. One of the vocal highlights is Mister Lighter, a song that manages to tone down the album in a pleasant way and showcase Lettie’s range extremely well.
In some places it’s a bit eerie, actually. At times, eerie in a pleasant way – relaxing and chilled music that wouldn’t be out of place in a backstreet European cafe – and at others eerie in just a scary way – for example Aluminium Man.
Lettie’s chosen image of ‘musically-experienced-but-fresh-on-the-scene’ artist is actually quite accurate. As an album it has sounds that are recognisable as influenced by some of the best in the electro-pop genre, but at the same time it’s not quite like anything that has been heard before. The title track, Good Fortune, Bad Weather,is a prime example of this – it reminds of everything from Genesis to Michael Jackson to Kraftwerk, and yet it’s different to all three in many ways.
Overall, it sounds like Lettie has waited long enough and worked hard enough to deserve her own musical success, and from the quality of this album it seems like she has the talent to get it too. This reviewer would not be surprised if the music scene will be hearing from Lettie again very soon, and every listener should be looking forward to it. A thoroughly deserved 7.5/10.
Read the original article here: http://www.poppedculture.co.uk/music-reviews/music-reviews/album-reviews/item/231-lettie-good-fortune-bad-weather
Leeds-based singer/songwriter Rupert Stroud follows up his accomplished and critically acclaimed debut album with this, his latest full length studio release, entitled Chasing the Night. Stroud sells himself as a versatile and mature artist, and the album as a mixture of rock, indie and acoustic music. He’s looking to showcase his talents in the broadest and most ambitious way possible, but it remains to be seen whether he’s been successful.
From the off, it’s plain to see that this album is ambitious. There’s a definite mixture to all the sounds on it, rock, blues, indie and indeed acoustic do all indeed make an appearance at some point throughout the album, and this definitely shows off Stroud’s talent as a songwriter. In fact, the album physically, as well as audibly, shows off his talents as a musician, the album cover itself looks very impressive; it looks professionally done as well as sounds professionally done. It’s impressive.
The fact that it’s very ‘showy’ might also be its undoing, though. It does sound a little bit too much like Stroud has tried to get as many different sounds into his album as possible in order to show off his entire spectrum of songwriting ability. This means that there’s no real central ‘core sound’ to the album, really. The songs all sound very different to each other, which means it’s quite hard to get into, as Stroud chops and changes between styles all the time. This isn’t to say that the album itself isn’t any good, Stroud has done a very good job in showing off his musical talents, and musically it sounds very good.
Vocally, it speaks of the early-nineties grunge. Stroud has an almost monotone, drony kind of quality to his voice that lends itself well to all of the musical styles that he goes for throughout the album. It’s the one feature that remains constant throughout the album and allows the listener to remember that the same person wroteall of the songs. Lyrically, the album is extremely emotive and mature, showcasing Stroud’s abilities as a songwriter again.
The only other issue with this album is that it can get quite repetitive within each song. Whilst each song sounds different from each other, each song also repeats itself a lot, especially Sunday Night Blues, which can weight quite heavily on the ears after a while.
So, to sum it up, Chasing the Night is a showcase for the considerable songwriting skill of the young Rupert Stroud, who has wasted no time in letting his listeners know that he has the talent to do it and the determination to succeed. It might be said that he didn’t need to go so over the top to convince us that he’s a talented songwriter, it was obvious enough already, but this doesn’t detract from what is, overall, a very successful and charming release from the young Yorkshireman. A good 7/10.
Read the original article here: http://www.poppedculture.co.uk/music-reviews/music-reviews/album-reviews/item/232-rupert-stroud-chasing-the-night
Leeds based band The Wedding Present have had a turbulent and epic history since their inception, years ago in the mid eighties. But, the spirit seems not to have been lost, as they seem ready to shoot back on to the scene with their latest album, Valentina, an album recorded and produced by tiny label, Scopitones, set up and maintained by the band’s lead singer David Gedge.
It’s good, too – it’s vintage-sounding rock ‘n’ roll. One can almost imagine music videos to the songs in black and white. It sounds aged, mature and thoughtful, with a happy, head-bopping kind of twist. It’s enough to keep the listener on their toes throughout the whole album, and there are some major shifts in how songs sound halfway through the songs themselves, such as the abrupt change from fast paced rock music to a haunting, buzzing synth sound on Back a Bit… Stop, which was totally unexpected. Also, the rapid change in pace on Girl from the DDR is another good example of this. It makes it sound interesting, free and creative.
The Wedding Present, as a band, have a lot of history behind them, and as such a lot of songwriting experience. So, it’s only natural that they should have a more mature sound than perhaps some more mainstream, modern indie bands, and that’s exactly what’s happened here. It’s a mixture of old-fashioned rock and roll and newer styled indie music, so it’s therefore bound to appeal to a wide audience. It’s catchy, and also sounds like it can be used in many contexts – it’s good background music, but it’s also music that can be listened to intently, and enjoyed wholly in either situation.
Vocally, Gedge’s voice lends itself perfectly to the retro rock ‘n’ roll style. It’s melancholy without being depressing, tuneful without being over-the-top and masculine without being gravelly. It’s somewhere in the middle of pop-rock, indie and old-school, early-nineties grunge, and the fact that it’s so accessible and at the same time so unique is one of the things that makes it good to listen to.
The band have a long had a standing of deliberately not signing to a major label. So, this isn’t commercialised, manufactured music, it’s music that’s been written, honed to perfection and then recorded in a small studio, the way music was, in their opinion, meant to be made, not made on a computer and plastered all over the Internet. It’s an ode to ‘sticking it to the man’ in a less-punk-more-rock-orientated kind of way, an ode to freedom of expression and songwriting creativity. It’s pleasant to hear.
Some, more ‘new mainstream music’ orientated listeners might feel like it sounds like it’s recorded in a very ‘retro’ way which they might find sounds a bit ‘old’ for them – because of the fact that it obviously hasn’t been manufactured and processed. To many people, yours truly included, it will sound genuine and distinctly ‘not-artificial’, but to others it might sound antiquated.
But, on the other hand, maybe that’s what it’s meant to sound like, seeing as The Wedding Present have claimed that they have, since their outset, been “refusing to play the record industry’s game”. By making their album sound deliberately ‘old-school’, it reinforces the idea that anyone can make, record and distribute their music without the help of a professional label. It’s a good idea, it brings the idea of making music away from the commercial and, in some senses, unreachable and makes it more about creativity and freedom. It’s refreshing and pleasant, and it brings the band closer to their audience.
Some might even view this as a little bit ‘gimmicky’, but in this reviewers mind they’re a band that’s taken the idea of ‘indie’ to the extreme that, in some ways, actually needs to be done. It’s music with a message, and that message is to make and enjoy music for what it is – not a business.
Overall, then, it’s a total gem of a record, an excellent sounding, excellently written and recorded album. The Wedding Present may have been around for a while, deliberately avoiding major record labels in favour of musical and creative freedom, but it sounds like it’s a formula that works for them, and it’s a formula that helps them make good music that all can enjoy. A solid 8/10.
Read the original article here: http://www.poppedculture.co.uk/music-reviews/music-reviews/album-reviews/item/229-the-wedding-present-valentina
Young artist Maz Totterdell is creating quite a stir in the music scene recently. After her initial success by getting the opportunity to feature on BBC Radio 2 and also 6 Music, her debut album Sweep is out on May 28th 2012, and it looks set to shoot the young singer/songwriter to stardom. At just 15 years old, featuring on national radio, and writing and releasing a complete album is an impressive feat for someone so young, but judging from the quality of album it seems like this is just the beginning for the young starlet.
The album itself is a work that definitely belies Maz Totterdell’s years. It’s an extremely mature work for such a young artist, and therefore it should be reviewed as such. Ignoring her young age for a minute so as to be slightly more objective, the album itself is actually very good by anyone’s standards. It’s simplistic, ‘pure’ sounding music, in some places just the vocals and an acoustic guitar, which makes it pleasant music, reduced to its bare bones, and yet it somehow it doesn’t sound empty.
Musically, Sweep is extraordinarily pleasant, calming and relaxing, singing and acoustic music, with some other occasional elements thrown in for good measure, as and when they suit. The acoustic/vocal combination is the bare backbone of the album, though, but some of the other instruments can add some really quite good aspects to the music, to break up the repetition in style and keep the listener’s attention. The presence of the violin on Kaleidoscope is an especially lovely and effective addition to the music, and the use of piano (sparingly and effectively) is done perfectly. It’s very well done.
Vocally, Maz Totterdell manages to sound like she’s pulling off what she can sing without putting any strain on her voice, it all seems very effortless for her. This is pleasant to listen to, she seems confident and happy with her vocal range and therefore sees no reason to test it. Lyrically, the songs are poetic in fashion, captivating and trance-inducing. This actually adds to the whole pure-sound that the album seems to be going for, it’s almost minimalist in some ways, it’s not crowded at all and it’s a relaxing listen, sure to bring a smile to the face.
Issues – actually, there aren’t many. It can get slightly repetitive in the music and style itself, but this isn’t really a problem, but more one that musicians face in general, and now this reviewer is ‘nitpicking’ when he shouldn’t. Other than that, there aren’t really that many issues; only that it will be interesting to see how the music itself fares in the fast paced music scene of today, but Maz Totterell has definitely found a niche in the market that should prove to become her own style. It’s hard to see how anybody could fail to at least appreciate her talent, even if they wouldn’t go out of their way to listen to her.
It will definitely be interesting to see how Maz Totterell’s music matures alongside how she matures herself, but for now she should at least be celebrating what, upon its release, should prove soon to be the success of her impressive debut album. It’s also safe to say that it looks set to blast her straight from the heart of rural Devon to the fast paced world of musical stardom. An extraordinary feat for one so young, and a very high 9/10.
Read the original article here: http://www.poppedculture.co.uk/music-reviews/music-reviews/album-reviews/item/228-maz-totterdell-sweep
- 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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- January 2013
- November 2012
- October 2012
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- June 2012
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- Born Music Online
- Bring the Noise
- Contact Music
- Never Enough Notes
- New Junk
- Popped Culture
- The Daily Mail
- The Daily Post
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