Oxford based singer/songwriter Lewis Watson has grabbed musical opportunity with both hands. His first debut and self-produced EP, It’s Got Four Sad Songs On It, BTW topped the iTunes singer/songwriter charts, and now the young lad is back with a second EP, imaginatively named Another Four Sad Songs.
Watson has an immense amount of talent. Despite the EP being called Another Four Sad Songs, the music isn’t exactly what one would call wholly depressing. Melancholy, maybe, but it’s definitely not as sad as the title makes out. If anything, the songs are actually very pleasant to listen to, in fact, Sink or Swim is really quite wonderful.
Musically, Another Four Sad Songs is enjoyable if a little bit predictable. Lewis Watson has clear songwriting skill, but don’t expect anything groundbreaking – the singer/songwriter, guy-with-an-acoustic guitar thing isn’t exactly original. But, groundbreaking isn’t exactly the point, but instead the order for the day here is bags and bags of passion in the music. It’s easy to get the impression that Watson has poured his heart and soul into every song, and that he’s clearly enjoyed writing, recording and releasing the songs, songs that clearly mean a heck of a lot to him. And let’s be honest, that’s the point of music.
Bad points – there really aren’t any, unless a listener doesn’t like the sound of a well played acoustic guitar and a great singing voice. Those people are going to be few and far between, and so there’s really little to say against Another Four Sad Songs. If one were to nit-pick, it could be claimed that the songs sound too similar, but it’s one voice and an acoustic guitar, it’s pretty much impossible to stop that from happening, and Watsonplays so beautifully that it won’t be noticed.
Maybe the only thing that needs changing about this EP is the title itself – the music really isn’t that sad! It’s just great, relaxing and passionate music, with possible downhearted lyrical themes, but that’s really about it. What’s not to like?
Read the original article here: http://www.neverenoughnotes.co.uk/2012/11/lewis-watson-another-four-sad-songs-out-now-warner-records/#.UK_ZGIftR2A
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
Let’s be honest, making music about feelings of sadness, loss and sorrow, either fictional or true, isn’t the most original or groundbreaking way of making music. In fact, ‘emotional themes within music’ as an entity has recently managed to evolve itself into an entire genre of its own.
Not that any of this matters to acoustic musician Paul Cook, who releases his latest studio album under the guise of Paul Cook And The Chronicles. In terms of this album it has to be said; it’s a sad one. The album itself is entitled ‘Volume One’, a snappy title that obviously pre-empts more ‘volumes’ as Cook’s career progresses.
In a nutshell, the entirety of ‘Volume One’ is full of sorrowful and eerily haunting vocals, which are laid almost lovingly over an extremely crisp and bright-sounding guitar. Mournful, sorrowful music and melancholy lyrical themes are the main ideas for the sound of this album, and happily it’s rather good.
The vocal tracks are consistently dripping with reverb, giving both the illusion that it was recorded in somewhere as cavernous as an empty Royal Albert Hall, and an eerie, ghostly quality that can send shivers up the spine. The guitar is recorded very clearly, with an almost pure sound that hangs in the air with a nice jangle, adding well to the ghostly style of the music.
Cook uses any sort of percussion in the background very sparingly, which means it has the ability to produce a massive effect on the actual sound. In fact, the percussion ends up shifting it from quiet, soft acoustic track to full-blown song with just the addition of some quiet snare and some maracas, which is both effective and clever. The lack of bass sounds also keeps that thin, melancholy sound going which was therefore a wise omission from the album.
The names of the songs seem designed to tell listeners a story as well, from ‘Girl Trouble’ to ‘Guilt’ to ‘I Forgive You’; the titles on ‘Volume One’ seem designed to be as progressive as possible. The problem with this is that the sound itself doesn’t really progress as much as the titles of the tracks would lead a listener to believe it should, but in fact remains the constant, mournful sound that the opener ‘Six Places’ falls straight into.
From the beginning to the end of the album, the sound is consistently slow, sorrowful and hushed, and never really gets going. Cook has obviously written it with the express intention of keeping it as slow, as melancholy and as quiet as a funeral procession, but giving the album semi-progressive song titles to create the illusion of story and progress, and then writing music that doesn’t progress at all gives off the impression that Paul Cook couldn’t really make up his mind on how to construct the album.
The standout track on ‘Volume One’ would have to be ‘Girl Trouble’ which cleverly moves through three and a half minutes of an almost, dreary, completely monotonous drone of a sound, and yet manages to both not get tiresome and progress through an actual song-structure (verses, chorus, etc). It’s really quite cleverly done, and really shows off Cook’s song writing ability.
So overall, Paul Cook’s album, ‘Volume One’, is an emotive and saddening release which is well performed and pleasant to listen to. There are certainly a few creases to iron out. Cook should focus on his production of an entire album. Each song is excellent but when put together on one release, the problems start to rear their ugly heads, like a musical game of Whack-a-mole. For the most part, though, ‘Volume One’ is a great and successful album.
Read the original article here: http://www.neverenoughnotes.co.uk/2012/08/paul-cook-the-chronicles-volume-one-27-08-12-grandpa-stan/
Emily Barker and the Red Clay Halo ft. Frank Turner – Fields of June Single Review (Never Enough Notes Review)
A sure-fire way of getting noticed as a just-starting-out artist or musician is to collaborate with an already well known musician. Depending on who that artist is can, in a strange way, sometimes determine how successful the song released actually is. In this case, folk artists Emily Barker and the Red Clay Halo chose to collaborate with successful punk/folk artist Frank Turner on this, their newest single, entitled ‘Fields of June’. In fact, there aren’t many better ways to get a career in music off the ground than to collaborate with someone so both a) successful and b) influential.
But, it’s more about the music than who wrote it, or who sang on it to promote it, though. To sum ‘Fields of June’ up succinctly as a song, before going into specific details, it’s a lovely, relaxing song, with a warm folky feel to it, and a great beat.
It’s smooth, with a satisfyingly ‘pure’ sounding vocal line that makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. Barker’s voice is gorgeous, very clear and clean-cut sound and it works really well with the gruff, deeper male vocal line. It’s an exquisite sounding song, vocally.
Musically, the folk edge is very obviously there, with the use of walking basslines and strings, in conjunction with both the vocals and the lyrics themselves gives it that punk/folk edge that Turner is so famous for, but with a different, softer and purer twist. It’s actually great, extraordinarily relaxing, really quite catchy and just that little bit different that makes it special.
Negative points – few. It’s a little bit specific to the genre, which means it’s a little bit specific to the fanbase it’s going to attract. That’s not the point though, and despite that fact, it’s such a pleasant experience to listen to ‘Fields of June’ that even people who aren’t particular fans of folk music will find something here to love.
So overall it’s a great song, where the collaboration effectively helps the song both musically, and to make it heard by the masses. But it importantly doesn’t overtake or overshadow the original artist at all. Excellently written, performed and produced. Wonderful.
Read the original article here: http://www.neverenoughnotes.co.uk/2012/08/emily-barker-and-the-red-clay-halo-ft-frank-turner-fields-of-june-13-08-12-xtra-mile/
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/
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.
Fusing two different music genres can, at the best of times, either go really well, or really, really badly. Therefore, it’s always a bit of a gamble for bands to try it as the backbone of their sound. Most bands, therefore, stick to the standard ones, pop-punk, punk-rock, etc. Whilst Jim Lockey and the Solemn Sun is probably one of the most obscure names for a band to have been come up with in recent times, their music isn’t to be sniffed at. This, their latest single, entitled England’s Dead, is plenty evidence of that. It’s emotive, well written and really something quite special.
Musically, the first impression is that it’s acoustic based funk, pure and simple. And this impression continues until well over the one-minute mark of the song. In fact it’s at 1:15 (oh, spoiler alert) that the instruments really kick in and the true colours of this song are revealed. Alongside the soft, acoustic vocal sounds are a hard hitting, distorted, crunchy electric guitar sounds that sounds more like punk-rock than folk. It’s a good fusion, actually, giving it an emotive and unique feel, yet with some degree of familiarity at the same time.
Vocally, Jim Lockey and the Solemn Sun sound a lot like what one might call a ‘British Billie-Joe Armstrong’ (Green Day, just in case you were wondering). This does even more to ram home idea of the punk-edge to this song, alongside the hefty distortion (very hefty for folk, anyway) and well-placed marching snare. In fact, a folky-sounding, British Green Day is a pretty good way to describe the sound that Jim Lockey and the Solemn Sun go for on this track.
One single isn’t long enough to point out anything wrong with this song, it wouldn’t be fair. The only thing to improve is to make more of it. Hopefully, an album or at the very least an EP should happen soon, because this band really have the capacity to go far. That’s really the only advice this reviewer can offer.
So overall, England’s Dead is a great fusion of folk-punk, which sounds like the musical equivalent of putting peanut butter on a digestive. It sounds gross, but it really works, and it’s really, really good. Try it, (the music, not the biscuit), because you might just be pleasantly surprised.
Check out Jim Lockey and the Solemn Sun in more detail at http://www.myspace.com/jimlockey.
Read the original article here: http://www.neverenoughnotes.co.uk/2012/08/jim-lockey-and-the-solemn-sun-englands-dead-out-now-xtra-mile-recordings/
London-born folk musician Sam Lee releases his debut full length album, entitled ‘Ground of its Own’, an austere title that pre-empts the attitudes that Lee has taken towards its contents and the music on it.
It’s an apt, title too, because he’s right. It’s folk music, but it’s definitely, forgive the terrible pun, on a ground of its own. So, ‘unique’ is the word for the day here. It might even be possible to use the original meaning of the word ‘indie’ and call it ‘indie-folk’, although this might be reading too much into it.
Before getting onto the actual sound itself, it’s worthwhile mentioning that even the process of putting ‘Ground Of Its Own’ together has been unique and unorthodox. It was apparently originally sought through word of mouth and oral traditions, definitely something that hasn’t been done properly before. Lee is careful to mention where he sourced each song as well, definitely something that isn’t often done.
The music itself is imaginative, different and, on the whole, very pleasant to listen to. The unique way of thinking carries on throughout the whole album, it’s one of the only albums that this reviewer has ever heard where the sound of a guitar’s jack plate meeting the plug on the end of a cable, but not quite plugged in so it makes a “bzzzzzzz” sound, used as a constant effect, behind what sounds oddly like a banjo.
It works, too. Sam Lee’s baritone voice is oddly soothing, so much so that it would send a listener to sleep, were the music less interesting to listen to. So it’s soothing, and it keeps a listener’s attention, as well as being unique. He is ticking a lot of boxes with ‘Ground of its Own’.
Points against? It might be slightly gimmicky, or at least that might be how some people see it. That doesn’t feel like the intention, but it might be how it’s perceived. Other than that, the vocals, whilst soothing, are quite deep, quite a lot of the time. A little variety wouldn’t go amiss, just to make them slightly less monotonous. Other than that, there isn’t really anything to gripe about on this album, it’s just generally rather good.
So overall, an experimental, expressive and extraordinarily talented album, taking a unique perspective on both how the music is made and put together, as well as the music itself, leaving a listener guessing what sound they are going to hear next, and wondering where the song and the sounds on it actually originally came from. Excellently done, wonderfully produced and great to both listen to and talk about. More of the same, please, Sam Lee.
Read the original article here: http://www.neverenoughnotes.co.uk/2012/07/sam-lee-ground-of-its-own-the-nest-collective-out-now/
On-the-rise folk artist Gary Stewart releases his latest EP, entitled Year and a Day on June 18th; a follow-up to his debut album release Boy Cries Wolf.
As far as listening quality goes, this album is brilliant. It’s mellow but not depressing, perfectly atmospheric, good as background music or music to be listened to intently. Not a sound is wasted, from the subtle violin on Eve that adds to the atmosphere perfectly to the harsh, penetrating percussion on the opener Thorns that can make a listener jump. Even the haunting backing vocals on Blue feel absolutely essential, like the song wouldn’t be the same without them. Everything has a place and meaning.
Vocally, Stewart’s voice fits in with the style of music absolutely perfectly. It’s soft and high pitched, as close to an imitation of the sound that an acoustic guitar makes that the human vocal cord can reach, without doing a direct impression. The result from this amazing synergy between vocals and music is something very relaxing and enjoyable to listen to. Even when the upbeat Green kicks in, despite the drastic changes in tempo, the music still has that mellow quality to it, it doesn’t feel particularly hurried and it’s still very easy to get lost in.
There are few bad points to mention about this EP. The only one that springs to mind is that it’s too short. Four songs of this is nowhere near enough, any listener who gets their hands on this album will immediately want more. In a way, it’s understandable. This album hits the nail of its target genre on the head so successfully it’s easy to see why it’s not longer – it couldn’t be rushed. This is a good thing, really, as well, because it will definitely increase Stewart’s fanbase dramatically. Let’s just hope that he gets more out soon. Fabulous EP.
Stewart , having already played numerous shows across the UK on his latest tour, is set to play more shows over the coming few months. For more information, see http://www.myspace.com/garystewartband
Read the original article here: http://www.neverenoughnotes.co.uk/2012/06/gary-stewart-year-and-a-day-ep-18-06-12-babaganoush-records/
The first thing that strikes a listener is how emotive Growth and Squalor is. It’s a thoughtful, slow and almost melancholy sound that prevails over the release. It provokes silence and almost forces a listener to pay attention to it, purely because it’s on.
So, with Growth and Squalor, Accents have hit the nail on the indie-folk head. It’s uplifting, atmospheric, punchy and, above all, catchy. Even those who don’t particularly like folk music but have an open mind will almost definitely find something to love about this album, it’s an overall indie-folk musical masterpiece.
- 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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