Let’s start this one with a sweeping yet thoughtful statement. Derbyshire-based electro-rock-pop duoCrushing Blows are extraordinarily hard to describe. Put it this way, they descrive themselves as ‘noise-pop’. That’s not even a thing.
There’s so much in their music, it’s impossible to listen to it all in one go without missing something. In fact, their latest EP, a self titled record is only four songs long, and yet it seems like they’ve managed to pack so much into it that they’re almost impossible to put into a genre without missing out a huge chunk of the music.
It might sound from this that Crushing Blows are too technical and too complicated for their own good. Cries of “it’s too complex and overpacked, it’ll sound a mess” would be well reasoned, justified arguments. But they’d also be dead wrong. Opener The People You Will Never Meet sets the tone for the rest of the record – it has a slow, plodding and yet peaceful feel to it, but there’s still elements from thrash (trebly sounding, distorted guitars) to psychedelic funk in there that mix up the sound nicely, don’t sound too complicated and make the music hard to classify. It’s really talented, and really well done, because this style of music is something that could be quite easily ruined if not properly paid attention to.
The rest of the EP continues in this fashion, I Dream of Becoming a Girl is a psychedelic, trippy masterpiece of crystallised sounding synthesizers and dance-track-esque basslines that have the capacity either get a listener lying back and relaxing, or on their feet bounding up and down like a loon. In some ways, the music is quite scary.
Issues – really not many at all, but there’s a couple. As a sound, the fact that it’s hard to classify(whilst a good thing when it comes to originality) means that some listeners might shy away from it (their loss) because it’s not what they’re used to. Going deeper into this idea, those who do dare to listen to it might find that it’s just too strange to listen to. In Lehman’s terms, the music is almost post-modern.
Overall, then a great EP, if a little bit weird and trippy. Nothing wrong with this, though, it will just take a bit of getting used to if Crushing Blows are to make it into the mainstream. Nobody is denying that the guys have songwriting talent, though, they’re really onto something that could make them very successful, as well as very expressive. Keep it up, it’d be great to hear more.
Read the original article here: http://www.neverenoughnotes.co.uk/2012/11/crushing-blows-crushing-blows-12-11-2012-super-heavy-weight-records/#.UJvT9m996So
Texan music maestro and electro-pop sensation Matthew Dear returns with his new release, tentatively entitled Beams. His fifth studio effort is an easy listen, but it still remains true to the dance-music roots that Dear has made so much effort to stick to.
Spending a few years in Detroit, well known for its contribution to techno music, Dear’s retro electronic influence is clear. His is an available yet nostalgic brand of music, certain to appeal to a wide audience. This ease of access has apparently held Matthew Dear in good stead over the years, and Beams is set to be no exception. It’s a dynamic and psychedelic record, with a lot of strange sounds in the background that might raise an eyebrow or two on first listen, but in the long run, it’s definitely a grower. Beams doesn’t really know where to sit – there’s music not unlike to club and dance tracks, vocals not unlike David Bowie or even Marilyn Manson, and percussion in the background that wouldn’t sound out of place at a Stomp show. Despite all of this, though, Beamsis on the whole quite pleasant to listen to.
The 70s and 80s influences that Dear is so famous for relaying are clear. Uplifting synth sounds are used in conjunction with some great padded bass lines that make tracks sound not unlike Eurythmics, darker Vangelis or any similar 80s electro-pop act. It’s a throwback; nostalgia for anyone who was in their teens in 1986. It’s also an interesting, new direction for the younger listener open to new genres. Above all Beams is an accessible, reflective album that has both clear influences and clear talent.
There aren’t many issues. This is the kind of music that is very clear on what it’s meant to sound like: the ‘does-exactly-what-it-says-on-the-tin’ kind of approach. That’s all very well, but if the music is no good the plan is irreparably flawed. Happily Matthew Dear’s music is good, so this approach only helps his success. The only real problem is that the nostalgic techno might be dismissed as ‘unoriginal’ by more cynical listeners.
Overall however this is another success for Dear. It’s not like he isn’t used to it, but apparently it’s not gone to his head, because he’s still making great music. In terms of this album, it’s just as catchy and just as accessible as it would be if it were to come out in 1985, and that, it seems, is the point.
Release date: August 27th 2012, Ghostly International
Read the original article here: http://www.drunkenwerewolf.com/2012/08/21/matthew-dear-beams/
With a tagline like ‘a savage colossus of sound’, anyone in their right mind would be eager to listen to the new single from electronic/rock artist ‘Hooray For Earth’, entitled ‘Never’. Released on September 24th, first impressions are that it’s going to be filling dancefloors everywhere the minute it’s released. But is that really the case? It’s certainly not David Guetta type music, put it that way.
It’s an uplifting, synth-heavy release, with a catchy vocal line and electronic-strings in the chorus that wouldn’t sound out of place if a listener was surrounded by a lot of people, flashing lights and lasers. But it’s not necessarily a club-anthem just yet. The drums don’t pulse almost painfully in the ears, as is the standard for a lot of dance music, and the focus on the vocals is higher than in a lot of club music, which focuses more on bass.
Problems – it might not actually be popular with the clubbers among listeners, purely because it’s not pure club music. That’s a bit unenlightened, though, and for every listener who dismisses ‘Hooray For Earth’, there will be ten who fall in love with them.
So it’s slightly different, but still fits into the dance scene. The most important thing is that it’s good. It’s like club music without the headache, and rock music with an added electronic twist that makes it slightly euphoric. It’s got a little bit of everything, and certainly does fit into that tagline – ‘a savage colossus of sound’ very well.
Read the original article here: http://www.neverenoughnotes.co.uk/2012/08/hooray-for-earth-never-24-09-12-memphis-industries/
Well Muse have been quiet for the last couple of years. 2009 saw the release of their last album, The Resistance, and since then? Not a lot. Not until now, because they’re back. The band first made an appearance at the London 2012 Olympic Games Closing Ceremony, which pre-empted a resurfacing from them, and now the British supergroup are releasing a single ahead of their sixth studio album, entitledThe 2nd Law. Entitled Madness, this song is the medium through which Muse have chosen to rear their heads again, and it has to be said, it’s very different.
There was a bit of a scare a couple of months ago when listeners got a preview of the new Muse through YouTube and were worried. “Oh no!” came the cries, “Muse have gone dubstep!” Well, it looks like those claims have become a bit of a reality. Madness is slow, electronic, pulsing, thudding dance/dubstep. It does, however, have a lot of redeeming features. It is very, very progressive and yet somehow very classicMuse. It’s definitely catchy, it has a great, pulsating beat to it, and vocally it gets listeners singing along with the endlessly repeated “m-m-m-m-m-m-m-m-mad, mad, mad” (it looks daft when it’s written down) even if they don’t like the song.
The best thing about it, though, is that Madness builds up in a very satisfying way. It sneaks up on a listener and manages to explode into an epic finale section at about three minutes in, without anyone listening actually noticing it’s coming until it happens. It’s clever, and from then on until the end, the song becomes fantastic.
It’s well titled too because it does seem to epitomise feelings of madness (especially if listened to through large headphones) in musical form. The drums pound very heavily on listeners ears, and there doesn’t seem to be any guitar work that isn’t smothered in chaotic-sounding effects so much it no longer sounds like a guitar, except for a brief (and well played) solo. As always with Muse, the bass work is phenomenal. Hats off to Chris Wolstenholme, again.
The vocal work sounds very familiar, very typical Muse, which obviously it would do. But, it also sounds suspiciously like a bit of an ode to Queen. This reviewer wonders if that’s deliberate. Do Muse fancy themselves a bit of a new Queen?
By releasing it ahead of, The 2nd Law, an album due for release on October 2nd 2012 (clever.), Muse are playing a dangerous game, because this is a very love/hate kind of song. Fans of the old Muse, where the main instrument was a guitar rather than a synthesizer (Origin of Symmetry) aren’t going to like this song. At all. But that’s not the point, is it? Muse are moving on, experimenting with new sounds, and expecting the true fans of their music to come along for the ride. As well they should. It’s different from the Devon rockers, but not necessarily bad. Muse are drawing a line under their older material and beginning a new phase of their musical career. And we as listeners should all watch with interest, these guys aren’t done yet.
Read the original article here: http://www.bornmusiconline.com/muse-madness/
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
US based singer-songwriter Alex Kelly releases her first full length studio album, Orange Circle this month. I caught up with her recently to find out how things are going and what her plans are for the future. Read the interview below.
Orange Circle is your first full length studio album, since going solo. Excited?
Yes! It’s a wild ride.
2. Has the road to Orange Circle’s release been a smooth one, or has it been tough?
It’s been a bit of both. Even at times of extreme frustration, I enjoy finding the answers, I enjoy my process.
3. Who are your main influences? How far can they be heard on Orange Circle?
During vocal practices, I sing songs from my real book. I purposely made references to that music when it came to the vocal styling of Orange Circle. You can really hear it in Splendor Solis.
4. What’s your creative source? Where do you get your inspiration from?
I find inspiration mostly in nature. There is an underlying intelligence in nature that keeps me in a state of wonder. Sometimes I just listen to birds sing, sometimes I stare at trees.
5. Can we expect to be seeing you in Europe any time soon?
I certainly hope so. With any luck we will be there by the end of the year (hint hint).
6. Any other outlets than music?
Many. Too many. I like to cook, hula-hoop, write poetry, and grow watermelons (just to name a few things).
7. What’s next? Any plans for after the release?
We want to do a tour in Europe, so we’re keeping our fingers crossed. We have a few music videos in the works and of course, more shows in NYC. Check out calendar at alexkellymusic.com for future dates.
It seems like the trend these days is to create rock/electronic music, a fusion of two very different genres. This is something that Israeli club duo Rendezvous seem to have unwittingly managed quite successfully with their latest release, club/electronica compilation Another Round Please. Recorded in the midst of violent conflict in the middle of Israel, it’s a euphoric electronic release that’s set to soon be successfully occupying club dance floors everywhere.
From the off, there’s no element in particular that’s special about the music that Rendezvous have made; other than that it’s all just really rather good. It’s got plenty to keep the listener occupied – it starts off with a pulsating bassline and sparkly-sounding electronic sounds that have the power to catch the attention of the unsuspecting listener and draw them in within a matter of seconds, and this theme continues throughout the whole album. The use of synths is excellent, not too over the top and not used too sparingly so that it’s too rare, it’s just right.
It’s definitely not your everyday, run-of-the-mill club music, though. It has salutes to some of the lighter artists of the electronic persuasion, not just thudding basslines and bass-drums, like Kraftwerk, Jarre or Vangelis. It’s not as heavy-sounding as normal club music, it’s a lighter, more trance-esque sound that gives it a club feel without the pounding on the eardrums. It’s a more uplifting, euphoric mix than general dance music. The rock elements mentioned earlier take a slight backseat as the album progresses to make way for the electronic sounds at the forefront, but there’s some band-like elements in there for good measure to keep up the rock-side of the music, such as the use of an acoustic drum kit on Prisoner which keeps it sounding ‘real’ despite it being mostly electronic. It’s very well done, and a good word to describe some of the synth sounds would be ‘sparkling’ or ‘glittering’.
Limitations – repetitiveness is always an issue with this type of music, and Another Round Please is no exception. Rendezvous have found their formula on this album and stuck with it. It consists of a catchy bassline, drums to match and electronic synth sounds over the top, and this is the format that remains for almost all the songs on the album, which can get slightly ‘samey’ as the album progresses. Once a listener has heard one song on this album, there’s a tendency to say that they have heard the rest, although the melodies differ enough for each song to be easily distinguishable from the others, so this might be a slightly cynical view.
Overall, then, it’s a crystalline fusion of electronica, club and a small amount of rock music that’s sure to inspire the dance scene into taking notice. It’s ambitious and yet the same as what’s already been done at the same time, which is no mean feat. Recorded under intense pressure, Rendezvous seem to have kept their cool and produced something innovative and pleasing to the ear that is sure to set them apart from some of the other dance artists of today. In fact, it might even inspire a reformation of the old electronica classics.
Read the original article here: http://www.contactmusic.com/album-review/rendezvous-another-round-please
Venue Cymru, Llandudno
Sunday [15th January] evening saw the first of two nights of performance from the internationally acclaimed Moscow City Ballet, with Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker, directed by company founder Victor Smirnov-Golovanov and choreographed after the original of Marius Petipa. From the beginning, the presence of the live orchestra added incredible dynamics to the performance. From the first notes of the famous overture an excited hush overcame the audience as they began to anticipate a spectacular show, and they weren’t disappointed. Despite the fact the Moscow Ballet’s performance deviates in many ways from the original Nutcracker in some places, it was a joy to watch and mostly easy to follow throughout.
Some of the highlights of the performance were the tense conflict between the Nutcracker’s Gingerbread Men and the Mouse-King and his men, an exquisitely performed Dance of the Snowflakes ensemble when Clara awakens in the Land of Snow, as well as the National dances – most notably the Chinese dance that had some of the audience chuckling to themselves good-naturedly. Perhaps the most memorable moment, though, was the grande pas-de-deux, a breathtaking and daring concluding performance that left many wishing for more.
The corps de ballet supported the main dancers extremely well, maintaining a fluid, moving background, although at times it did indeed seem that there were rather a lot of people on the stage, which had the capacity to get slightly confusing. These instances were few and far between, however, and both large ensemble pieces were captivating. The changes to the original story were mostly forgotten as the Sugar Plum Fairy and the newly-crowned Clara danced their audience into a trance, and looked genuinely like they were thoroughly enjoying performing.
Overall, it was an extremely enjoyable, beautiful and fluidic performance, and despite the deviances in story, occasional over-crowdedness and what seemed to be a small and minor curtain malfunction at the very end, it was exquisitely choreographed and assembled, and performed with a serene dexterity that fused music and motion perfectly, making this seasonal classic also a timeless one.
Read the original article here: http://www.dailypost.co.uk/leisure/theatre-reviews/2012/01/16/the-moscow-city-ballet-the-nutcracker-55578-30132263/
Whatever anybody has said, disco electronica isn’t quite dead yet. Swedish musician Sebastian Arnstrom abandons his previous post as post-rock guitarist with Aerial to begin anew with electronic-pop creation Simian Ghost, proving that electronica lives on with tasty debut EP Lovelorn, released through Heist or Hit Records.
The obvious comparison one could make with this release would be to Jean Michel-Jarre. It’s got ghostly, haunting electrical sounds that have the capability to make the hairs stand up on the back of one’s neck. This comparison to Jarre, whilst not completely incorrect, might be a bit unfair, however. Lovelorn sounds like a lot of thought and effort has gone into it, and to generalise it like that immediately wouldn’t really be reasonable. It’s fresh sounding and has a very ‘sparkly’ feel to it. ‘Sparkly’ isn’t exactly a technical term but it’s the word that describes the sound best. Arnström uses his instruments and synths very cleverly to create something very atmospheric, not pretentious and uplifting. It’s ‘bassy’ without weighing on the listeners’ ears’, which is no mean feat. This sets it aside from dance music or drum and bass, releasing it from the shackles that would otherwise tie it to these other genres. It’s free to breathe easily and along the same lines is extremely easy to listen to.
The first track on the EP, Free Agent, doesn’t really set the tone for the rest of the tracks; it’s much more upbeat and has more pace than the rest of the songs, reminiscent of a disco (it even speaks slightly of the Bee Gees in some ways). Though some might see this as a bad thing, it’s really quite misleading and it could be said that the rest of the album is a slight let down after this promising opening. The other tracks are much more melancholy, a lot slower and deeper. The ‘sparkling’ sound doesn’t go away either – it’s prevalent throughout the whole EP, giving it a vague feeling of entirety. It makes very good background music and wouldn’t go amiss at a party either, making it an accessible and potentially very popular release. It caters to a very wide audience in a variety of situations.
Because of its accessibility, consistency and obvious talent that it took to create this release, it deserves a very good 6/10.
Read the original article here: http://www.contactmusic.com/review/simian-ghost-lovelorn
London’s dance scene gets a refreshing boost with the release of Around the Sun, the debut offering from Monarchy, popular Techno/House artists. New, dedicated techno music has been thin on the ground in recent years, so Monarchy have taken advantage of a lack of competition and broken their way onto the scene in a big way. They put their name into the history books forever in June 2010, broadcasting the first ever live show directly into space from Cape Canaveral, Florida. Monarchy have also remixed tracks by some very upmarket artists, such as Ellie Goulding and Lady GaGa, to get their proverbial foot in the door, and so their first studio release was very anticipated. Said debut album was released on July 11th 2011, and, on first listen, it lives up to its expectations.
Monarchy have a unique method of blending constant, band-esque lead vocals with soulful and uplifting, synth based pulses of music, and to be honest, it’s really pleasant to listen to. It works on this album extremely well, and it’s very good to hear a new take on the genre, which some could argue is tired and stagnated. Some house and dance music pulses very heavily and weighs a lot on the eardrums, eventually becoming an unpleasant experience for the listener. Not so with Around the Sun. It’s uplifting, epic sounding dance music, and without the vocals, it could even pass for trance music. The vocal part of the music is ever at the forefront of it, it’s constant, verse-to-chorus and back again singing, an unorthodox trait for dance music, which has always heavily focussed on the beats and synths. It’s a refreshing change, one which makes the music much easier to listen to, and which makes the music itself much more accessible to a wider audience.
The only problem I would find with this album is its relevance to the scene that it aims at. Dance music is more often than not found within bars and clubs, and the absence of pulsating bass-lines and ear-throbbing punches might make it hard for this type of music to fit into that scene if it were ever to go into the mainstream. This might make it less popular with the masses. This could be a small problem though, as Monarchy have already played several open-air festivals and countless shows, including The Big Chill and at top venue XOYO. Overall, this album is a respectable and experimental first release from the ambitious Monarchy, an experiment that has paid off for them. It’s a sensual, uplifting and trance inducing dance experience, and for what it is, I won’t hesitate to give it a very good 7/10.
Read the original article here: http://www.contactmusic.com/album-review/monarchy-around-the-sun
- 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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