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
Critically acclaimed and highly praised singer songwriter Ellie Goulding returns with her latest full length studio album entitled Halcyon. It’s the follow up to the extremely well received album Lights,which contained such hits as “Starry Eyed”, “This Love” and “Guns and Horses”, and if this reviewer is perfectly honest, it’s been a long time coming.
The overused cliché is that Halcyon should be “that difficult second album” for Goulding. Yes, it’s an overused phrase, but in this case there’s definitely some truth in it – she has a lot to live up to after Lights. In fact, the unparalleled success of the former makes life difficult for this album, and it shows right from the beginning. Opener “Don’t Say a Word” immediately comes across as more thoughtful, slow and emotive, and this theme carries on throughout the rest of the album, especially on “Joy”.
Goulding seems more conscientious about how her music is going to be interpreted by her listeners than she was on Lights, where the music was anything and everything she wanted it to be. Consequently there are more prevalent themes on Halcyon, with electronic, hefty, slow and melodic songs prevailing. The tracks aren’t oppressive or fast, but clearly demonstrateGoulding’s skill both as a vocalist and as a lyricist. It’s still bass-heavy, but that doesn’t come across as the point of the music. The style allows her vocals to develop wonderfully, taking control of each song and making themselves known. It also allows her lyrics to flourish, and they’re more noticeable than they perhaps would have been produced by another mainstream musician.
The one thing that could be said against this album is that it does have a lot less emphasis on the image of a singer songwriter. The music feels a heck-of-a-lot more electronic than before, which is surprising considering the vast majority ofLights was quite electronic. The prevailing instruments are that of the synthesizer, a bass guitar and an electronic drum kit, alongside heavily effect vocals. The acoustic guitars have for the most part (with the exception of title track “Halcyon”) been consigned to the dim and distant past, and in some ways that’s a shame, though the transition does work. Goulding thankfully has the talent to pull it off, and this fits comfortably as her new signature sound.
Overall, it’s a different kind of release from Ellie Goulding. Halcyon is a more electro-pop yet a slightly darker sounding album than Lights. It could be interpreted as another way in which Goulding is attempting to find her feet, and if that’s true that means that Halcyon is a slight concept album. But, whatever the interpretation, the important thing is that it’s a good album. It really is.
Read the original article here: http://www.drunkenwerewolf.com/2012/09/28/ellie-goulding-halcyon/
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/
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/
Hertfordshire based indie rock quartet The Electric Modern, return with the follow up to their debut self titled album of last year with an EP entitled Motives. Formed in 2008, the band claim that this EP reflects a new found focus and a renewed love of writing catchy indie music, music that’s anthemic and inspirational.
At first listen, Motives is a refreshing rebrand to the indie scene. It has an excellent trait of sounding extremely familiar and yet sounding really new and fresh at the same time. It’s a light and fresh sounding release, with melodic and emotive sounding and excellently sung vocals and sing-along, chants and choruses that can really get a listener to smile. It’s in some places almost a curious fusion of some 1980s electronica with 2000s indie rock, especially with the presence of uplifting background synth sounds on Let’s Get Away.
Musically, it’s what some might call simple and refined. It’s a well written album, the band obviously have bags of songwriting talent and know what to include and what to cut in order to make the structure of the music work for the genre really well.
The listener gets the impression that no instrument has been wasted and every note is exactly what the song needed. There is no sense that The Electric Modern have gone over-the-top and put everything they’re capable of into every song, but only included what each song needs to sound good. As a result, everything sounds well put together, and sounds quite light and airy. The effects on the guitars and the presence of prominent bass guitar sounds come together to create something that’s almost halfway between indie-rock and electronic-rock.
It’s an excellent sounding, fresh take on the indie genre. The bass solo on Too Much to Ignore is also an excellent and surprising feature, it was wholly unexpected, and it added an excellent twist to the song and deserves a special mention.
Motives won’t be to everyone’s tastes, though. It can sound a little like pop music in some places, which won’t appeal to everyone, but will certainly appeal to others. This reviewer is nitpicking for the sake of putting forward a balanced review, though, and it’s really not an issue.
Overall, it’s a new and refreshing sound to come out of the South of England, a county that’s making a name for itself for producing some high profile bands, such as Enter Shikari and The Subways. The Electric Modern is a fitting name for such an electronic sounding, modern take on the indie genre that was starting to get quite tired. Armed with more music like this, The Electric Modern should be set to be the name on everyone’s lips in the not-too-distant future. Keep an eye on these guys. 8/10.
Find out more about The Electric Modern here: www.theelectricmodern.com
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
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
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
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
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- Parkway Drive – Atlas Album Review (Bring the Noise Review)
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