Hairy, dreadlock-sporting, acoustic-folk maestro Newton Faulkner has made quite a household name for himself over the last few years. After enjoying mainstream success with songs such as Dream Catch Me (although many people asked would recognise that song, but be unable to say who wrote it), he’s back with a new full length studio album, entitled Write it on Your Skin.
Write it on Your Skin is, in a nutshell, everything one would come to expect from a Newton Faulkner album. It’s fair to say, he hasn’t exactly pushed the boat out in terms of how the songs are constructed. It’s typical Newton Faulkner, but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Typical Newton Faulkner has a history of being great to listen to, so typicality isn’t a reason to not give this album a fair shot. Clouds, the first single to be released from the album makes an appearance on the tracklist, and is definitely up there in the high points of the entire record.
One of the most instantly noticeable things about Write it on Your Skin is the fact that there’s some lovely moments that really shine out from the rest. Sometimes it’s an entire song, such as Pick Up Your Broken Heart, which is especially emotive, well put together and, on the whole, a rather special song. Other times, it’s specific sections of the songs, such as the intro to title track Write it on Your Skin, which is brilliant.
What’s especially good about this album is that there’s nothing specific to have an issue with. Every song, whilst different, is enjoyable to listen to which is fast becoming Newton Faulkner’s trademark. The songs are lyrically emotive, wonderfully constructed, beautifully played and sung. Roll all that into one, and a listener ends up with something really special.
Issues – few and far between. Faulkner knows his stuff and knows how to make beautiful music. If one was to nitpick, it can be said that it won’t be to everyone’s tastes, and with others it will only be fit for them to listen to at certain times. Put it this way, don’t listen to it in the car after a hard day, it will put you to sleep at the wheel. It’s not fair to take away from the release itself with this argument, though, Faulkner is hardly going to think ‘this is lullaby-esque, music; I don’t want to be responsible for the deaths of tired drivers, better write something else.’
Write it on Your Skin is therefore set to become another unparalleled success for Newton Faulkner. It’s wonderfully written, excellently played and packed full of so much songwriting talent, it’s hard to know where to start. All that’s left to say is that this reviewer hopes that he’ll carry on exactly the same way for a long time.
Read the original article here: http://www.contactmusic.com/album-review/newton-faulkner-write-it-on-your-skin-new
Alternative rockers/reggae band The Dirty Heads release their anticipated newest album Cabin By the Sea amid high expectations. The album itself was released on June 19th 2012. The American band are known for their relaxing, experimental, feel good style of music, and this album looks set to not disappoint in that department. That doesn’t mean it’s good, though, that remains to be seen.
It’s an interesting sounding album, to say the least. The acoustic guitar is permeated by sounds that would ordinarily sound out of place, such as the sound of seagulls in the background or the sound of waves crashing on a short. In some places, it’s just the sound of people talking in the background. In other words; natural sounds that aren’t exactly music, but seem to work for the song in question. The great thing about Cabin By the Sea is that it’s relaxing. Smile inducing. Reggae music that the ordinary listener can listen to without getting irritated after a while. The random sounds actually fit in rather well, and are an element that’s becoming more and more common in music these days. This album would be a perfect soundtrack to a holiday.
The music itself is well crafted. The vocals are oddly relaxing, not too harsh on the ears and sitting just over the music very well. The music – there’s a lot to say about it. There’s different instruments on most of the tracks, but they all work very well, are all recorded very well, and all fit to serve their purpose, so there’s not really much else to say. The Dirty Heads are clearly extremely talented musicians that know exactly what they’re doing and how to use instruments (as well as ambient noise) to proper effect.
Problems – few. Perhaps that this style of music is an acquired taste, that or it will take some getting used to if a listener isn’t into this kind of music. There’s something for everyone to love on Cabin By the Sea, though, and nothing that anyone should particularly dislike about this music.
Overall, then, a tremendously talented and extraordinarily relaxing album. Cabin By the Sea has a bit of everything, and clearly took a huge amount of time, effort and musical talent to make. It’s a shame that this kind of music never seems to reach the mainstream and reach a wide audience, for whatever reason, but if it did, these guys would be right at the top of the charts. Brilliant.
Read the original article here: http://www.contactmusic.com/album-review/the-dirty-heads-cabin-by-the-sea
London based electro-pop/indie band Torches release their latest single, entitled ‘Sky Blue and Ivory’. It’s a very groundbreaking and unique release, with a lot of new ways of looking at traditional musical elements. But is it any good?
Psychedelic, trippy, expressive and progressive, Torches have managed to craft together a song with a lot of elements that sound very disjointed, and yet somehow they manage to work together extraordinarily well. One of the best words to describe it is ‘clever’. The deep, haunting vocals, enhanced by the presence of reverbed chorus harmonies behind it, sit perfectly on top of the echoing sounds of jangly guitars, also dripping with reverb that give it a great yet eerie feel. It’s a great way to make music.
It’s not without its problems though. It does come across as a little pretentious, and the style of music is almost post-modern, that is, weird for the sake of weird. It comes across as a little bit like it’s trying too hard. The only other issue with it is the fact that it definitely won’t be to everyone’s tastes. Despite the fact that it’s really talented and well crafted, the less enlightened listener won’t give it a second listen. It’s a shame, really.
So overall, it’s a great and expressive listen, progressive and experimental. Again, it won’t be to everyone’s tastes, but that’s not really the point, and for every person out there that won’t give it a shot (and they’re missing out), there should be ten people who will listen to this and they’ll love it. Very good.
Read the original article here: http://www.neverenoughnotes.co.uk/2012/08/torches-sky-blue-and-ivory-out-now-fractions-of-one-records/
Progressive, experimental rock band Arcane Roots releases their latest album Left Fire through Play It Again Sam Records. It’s an ambitious, motivated release, clearly put together with a lot of talent, but does that necessarily mean that it’s any good?
A listener could initially be forgiven for being a bit dubious about this album. The opener, Aus Blauderen Verederen, Dus Moet Ik, is completely without lyrics and, apparently, completely without song structure either. It’s, to use exactly the right word, unsettling. The new listener isn’t left with much hope for the rest of the album, if this song is the trendsetter. However, the more this album is listened to, the more Aus Blauderen Verederen, Dus Moet Ik begins to make sense. A listener realises that Arcane Root’s music is progressive and experimental, more than it is ‘rock’. In fact, ‘rock’ is just a word used because nothing else seems to fit.
It makes more sense when reviewing this album to talk about the aspects that stand out the most and what the music focuses on. To that end, it’s necessary to talk about the music itself first, before the vocals or the production, or anything else. Clearly, the instruments are the most important element of the music on this album. Arcane Roots seem to want to push the boundaries of how songs are put together, as if they have looked at a guitar, a bass and drums and how all of them are ‘ordinarily’ played and said to themselves, ‘How can we make that different?’ In fact, it’s a very similar attitude to that of rockers Incubus in the ways in which the instruments are at the forefront of the music and played with unashamed, showcased talent. And why shouldn’t they show off? It’s excellent, and very well done.
Vocally, the singing fits perfectly. It’s not too intrusive a voice, sitting perfectly behind the instruments, accentuating them just enough to give the impression of song rather than improvisation. The high pitched tones don’t get in the way of the music and are present enough to just remind the listener that they are there. Very well done.
Highlights of this album? You Are is complete genius. An amazing song, very well put together and performed. Overall, a stunning and talented release and hopefully the music scene will be seeing more of Arcane Roots very soon. There’s something for everyone here, Habibty will keep the more metal-inclined of listeners happy, whilst Million Dollar Que$tion, along with the rest of the album, really, has the potential to keep the softer listeners occupied also. Fantastic.
Read the original article here: http://www.contactmusic.com/album-review/arcane-roots-left-fire
Electronic maestro Room E, a producer from San Diego, USA, releases full length studio album entitled Penguin Child through label Kudos Records. It’s an ambient, chilling sound that Room E seems to have gone for with this album. Not a bad thing, although maybe slightly overdone.
There are some strong points on this album – as electronica goes, it definitely ticks all the boxes. It’s uplifting and obviously talented. The use of live drums also seems to set it apart slightly from other electronica, making it sound more ‘bandy’ than other electronic releases. There is also a pervading sense of it being completely saturated in effects that ‘twinkle’ their way through the album, again, setting it apart from other electronica that uses mainly synth riffs to create songs, rather than a mixture of effects all put together to create sound. It’s a different approach and it appears to have been a bit of a success.
Limitations – some vocals wouldn’t go amiss to break the monotony of the music, which can get quite ‘samey’ as the album progresses. It’s also, despite its differences, still electronica that’s been done before. Talented, yes, but not wholly original. Maybe that’s not the point; maybe it’s not meant to be completely original and groundbreaking. It is, however, still rather good.
So, overall, nothing special, but yet, importantly, it’s nothing terrible. The music is good, excellent to put on in the background when a listener is busy with something else or it’s particularly good when put on in the car on a long drive. It could be improved with a little more originality, but it definitely shows much promise.
Read the original article here: http://www.contactmusic.com/album-review/room-e-penguin-child
London based pop/ska band Buster Shuffle (formed under the motivation of apparent imminent homelessness and a need to get free beer) return with this; their latest full-length, self-produced studio album Do Nothing – a title that completely belies the effort the band put into writing, recording and putting it together. The end result is something rather special.
In fact, this album is best summed up in one word – nostalgic. Do Nothing is a collection of songs that remind a listener of age-old favourites like Madness, bringing a smile to the face. The great thing about it, though, is that it’s modern and fashionable rather than dusty and old-fashioned. Buster Shuffle bring pop/ska into the 21st century and, refreshingly, make it extra-cool.
Highlights of the album – The Lake Song brings the tone to a slower pace, giving it a more thoughtful and emotive twist whilst still keeping the feel of the music upbeat and interesting. It’s a nice breather from the fast-paced music of the opening four tracks giving the listener time to find their feelings about the music without having to take too much in, all in one go.
Vocally, the distinct accents make some very interesting listening, giving the music a more regional feel and adding to the nostalgic feeling of the music (again, it throws a general salute in the direction of pop/ska legends Madness). Musically, it’s very talented. Funky bass lines, just slightly protruding from behind shoulder-bopping guitar and piano give an overall pleasant sound and help to support the vocals very well. It gives an overall extremely ‘catchy’ sound and gets the shoulders moving back and forth appreciatively.
Problems – it’s slightly samey. Each song is easily distinguishable from another, but it can get tough to remember which song is which due to the similar tempos of each song when compared to another. This is an issue easily resolved – a listener just needs to listen to it more! Nothing brings familiarity to an album that constant listening and, due to the quality of the music on Do Nothing, listening to it more won’t be an issue for many people.
Overall then, Do Nothing is a catchy, nostalgic salute to an era of pop/ska gone by, brought forwards into the 21st century and re-popularised. The decline of the style means that Buster Shuffle are now one of the forefront runners in revitalising it, giving them an edge in reaching the target listening audience. Plus, the sheer quality of the music means that whosoever they do manage to reach with this album is likely to be hooked on it immediately. Fabulous.
Read the original article here: http://www.contactmusic.com/album-review/buster-shuffle-do-nothing
Styled as “the sound of young soul”, London’s newest indie-soul act New Street Adventure mean business. Their new EP, Say It Like You Mean It, released through Unmasked Recordings is release on May 28th 2012, and first impressions are exemplary. Let’s hope that first impressions are, in this case, everything.
First of all, and in no uncertain terms, there is literally no explicable reason as to why this genre fusion hasn’t been done before. It’s excellent, a fantastic cross-breeding of the old and the modern. The ‘wah-wahed’ guitars, funky bass line and excellently placed brass really gives the music a smile-inducing quality. When it comes to the singing, the Arctic Monkeys sounding vocals mixed with the curiously prominent-yet-background-based brass sounds really hits the idea of ‘indie-soul’ on the head. It’s like the idea of soul music has been taken out of context and completely modernised – brought into the 21st century. This is good – it means that the younger generation who aren’t exposed to soul music get a taste of it that they can relate to, and for those who already enjoy soul music get to hear something new and fresh. It’s win-win, especially for New Street Adventure, who should readily, greedily and deservedly lap up the attention that comes with success. Not many bands have the ability to take sounds that wouldn’t be out of place in the 1970′s and make them cool. Cue respectful applause.
Problems with the release? Not many. It’s got a little bit of everything. It’s a dynamic and varied release that keeps the listener entertained all the way through. It has a very ‘full’ and passionate sound – every song has a lot to listen to, but it doesn’t seem like too much. It just means that instead, a listener has to go around and listen again to make sure that they’ve heard all the elements. If one had to nit-pick, this could get tedious on the sixth listen in a row.
So, therefore. It comes as no surprise that this album looks set to shoot New Street Adventure to stardom. It’s very catchy, talented, upbeat and it presses all the right buttons. It will be very surprising if this band don’t become very big within the next year. If they don’t, it will definitely be a complete miscarriage of justice.
Indie rockers All the Young seem to have burst onto the music scene with pretty much no warning whatsoever. Their debut offering, Welcome Home, a title that rather presumptuously seems to assume that listeners will immediately be captured by their sound and feel like they’ve been ‘missing out all this time’, is a bold and intrepid release, with a sound and a feel that’s sure to be taken notice of.
It comes as quite a surprise, in all honesty. It’s a very well produced album, in fact the production is astonishing, and that seems to draw attention away from the actual music. Surely it’s better to write music that’s enjoyable to listen to however it’s recorded, than to make music that’s produced brilliantly but is ultimately rubbish? Not that this album is entirely rubbish, but there are some problems.
The issue with this album is that it’s just not as unique as the band seem to want to be. They claim, in their own words that they’re a band with “the brains, brawn and balls to take 2012 and smash it into a brave new frontier of indie rock n’ roll”. The problem is, they haven’t really done that. It’s not a brave new frontier of indie rock n’ roll, in fact the album can immediately be compared musically to some other rather famous bands, especially Biffy Clyro. This really draws away from the “brave new frontier” ideology that the band seem to want to put forward, in fact it collapses completely.
Happily, on the plus side the excellent production means that, despite the problems that comes with it, every element of the music is clearly audible, and within it there are some redeeming features. The vocals are excellent, and the presence of massive amounts of echo and reverb on the guitars gives the music an eerie, haunting quality, that’s mournful in some places and uplifting in others. As an overall sound it really does remind one of Biffy Clyro, but whilst this puts paid to the unique ideology that the band want, it’s not actually a bad thing because it does sound rather good.
So, it’s not necessarily an entirely bad album, but it has slightly been overproduced which has given it the wrong angle to approach an audience from. With a little more care and consideration when producing the music, it might be received slightly better.
Read the original article here: http://www.contactmusic.com/album-review/all-the-young-welcome-home
Indie folk trio the Bowerbirds’ second full length studio album The Clearing is the follow up to 2009′s album Upper Air. After a turbulent couple of years fraught with break ups and reconciliations, it’s almost a miracle that the album made it to production at all. But we should be glad that it did.
Initially, the first thought is that indie-folk is a strange genre to put this album in. In fact, it’s a strange genre full stop. Folk is usually unmistakably unique, and therefore it’s odd to put the title of ‘indie’ in front of it. With The Clearing though, it all seems to make a lot more sense. It fits the idea of indie-folk quite perfectly. It’s not quite the same as other folk, there are other elements in there too, which makes it interesting to listen to, and makes it more unique to other folk releases.
It’s a relaxing sound, more than anything. Moore’s vocals are of a soothing and mellow sort, complementing the folk music excellently, and the vocals of the excellently named Beth Tacular are exactly the same. It’s good background music, well recorded and really quite pleasant to listen to. Musically it’s gentle and acoustic with the addition of some other alternative elements, like some dance drum beats and even some Spanish castanets that added variety to the album.
It’s not going to be without its dissenters, though. This album certainly won’t be to everybody’s tastes, it’s a bit slow and takes some getting used to, and the more impatient listeners might not give it the chance that it deserves. It has more depth than most new releases, and this might stop it from reaching a wide audience.
So, it’s an experimental and highly successful release, from a band with a lot of songwriting talent and a carefree attitude towards the music they make. It’s a refreshing take on music, with little care for the commercial side and an obvious love towards writing music that sounds like it has been written for the love of writing and playing music. It might not reach a commercial, widespread audience, but that’s not what it’s about.
Read the original article here: http://www.contactmusic.com/album-review/bowerbirds-the-clearing
The glamorous location of Brooklyn, New York has seen some famous people come and go in its time, but one of the most recent stars to erupt from its depths is the R’n'B singer Doe Paoro, who’s unique and experimental debut Slow to Love comes out this week.
As new sounds go, the first thing that strikes you is that it reminds one strongly of late seventies/early eighties pop star Kate Bush, Doe Paoro’s voice really throws itself back to her eclectic style in a big way. It’s a fresh, new look at the R’n'B scene, yet retro at the same time. One of the other special things about this album is the way in which it manages to cement itself firmly in the genre of female popular R’n'B and yet remains unique at the same time.
Strengths – its unique traits will encourage listeners to broaden their horizons and listen to something a little bit different. The way in which Doe Paoro has managed to write something that will both be different from mainstream marketable music and also remain within the same classification as it means that some more mainstream listeners will be, in some ways, forced to listen to and enjoy it. There’s also no denying that Doe Paoro has an extremely powerful voice that she puts to excellent use. The use of vocal harmonies is also thrilling, especially on the Intro, which can remind a listener quite easily of Imogen Heap’s famous song Hide and Seek, and the vocals on I’ll Go Blind remind of some early noughties hip-hop.
Limitations – it’s really not going to be everyone’s cup of tea. Some might find Doe Paoro’s voice a little grating and the music a little sparse. There isn’t a whole lot for a listener to sink their teeth into really, it’s going to take a lot of appreciation for the elements that ‘are’ in the music – the vocals, some occasional drums and some even more occasional bass sounds – for a listener to be able to enjoy this album to its full potential. This might limit the audience slightly, and drive away some would-be listeners. It also sounds rather manufactured, which this reviewer appreciates might be the point, but still won’t be to everyone’s tastes.
It is, therefore, a slightly vexing release. There’s definite potential in the artist and in the song writing ability but the genre and the production clouds this slightly to make something that isn’t fully realised, and sort of a flop. There are some shining moments on the album that show that Doe Paoro really has the potential to be a great artist, again like the impressive vocals on I’ll Go Blind, but it needs a little refining and a little ‘spicing up’, really. Minimalism is, in this case, not the key. 5/10.
Read the original article online here: http://www.contactmusic.com/album-review/doe-paoro-slow-to-love
- 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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