Tuesday, 14 December 2010

My Top Five Albums Of 2010


The Xcerts - Scatterbrain
'Scatterbrain' saw The Xcerts move out from that distorted indie pop sound that reminded everyone of Biffy Clyro and put them in a genre of their own. Recorded with Mike Sapone (who also recently worked on Brand New's 'Daisy' album), 'Scatterbrain' is a dark, relentlessly visceral record that I personally feel, is the most vital British album released this year.
www.myspace.com/thexcerts


Meursault - All Creatures Will Make Merry
'All Creatures Will Make Merry' sums up everything that is fantastic about lo-fi records, honest, emotional and with a song craft that has yet to be beaten, this release hasn't seen Meursault explode into popularity but it has definitely set them up for a fantastic 2011.
http://www.myspace.com/meursaulta701


Deftones - Diamond Eyes
After recording the follow up to 'Saturday Night Wrist', 'Eros', bassist Chi Cheng was sadly involved in a near fatal car crash and has been in hospital since. You would forgive Deftones for having a break until Cheng is back, but luckily for Deftones fans they did the complete opposite and recorded a brand new album, 'Diamond Eyes'. Crafting a whole new sound for them, 'Diamond Eyes' is possibly Deftones at their heaviest, but it's Deftones at their best also.
www.myspace.com/deftones


Underoath - Ø (DISAMBIGUATION)
After losing the last of their original members (and perhaps the most talented musician in the band), it seemed almost inevitable that Underoath's latest album would be utterly terrible but by hiring former Norma Jean drummer Daniel Davison, they have possibly one of the best replacements they could ask for. 'Ø (DISAMBIGUATION)' takes a fair few of its cues from Norma Jean, it's angry, it's aggressive and it's utterly brilliant.
www.myspace.com/underoath


Foals - Total Life Forever
I utterly didn't understand the hype behind Foals debut album 'Antidotes', but it's follow up, Mercury Prize Nominated 'Total Life Forever' has me totally smitten. The mature second album, it moves away from the cliché NME friendly art indie sound of the debut and establishes itself as a completely original piece of art, that I really struggle to describe. Foals are a sign of the fantastic level of talent we have musically in this country and if you have any musical sense at all, you HAVE to own this record.
www.myspace.com/foals

Friday, 3 December 2010

Tristram - Accident & Artifice

It is a great time to be a folk band in the UK with the continuing success of Mumford & Sons, not to mention Laura Marling's foray into the top forty charts, and the consistent publication of upcoming folk bands in popular magazines like NME (Villagers, Grizzly Bear and the list goes on...), if anything, the insurgence only looks like it is going to gain speed rather than falter.

With 'Accidents & Artifice', Tristram, a four piece band who met in Brighton quickly moving to London shortly after, show that with this, their second EP to date, they are more than ready to not only work with the success in the genre currently, but to, given the almost stagnant nature of the folk sound, help it to evolve into something more upbeat and original. Most folk bands are happy to rely on a minimal sound, concentrating on the guitar and well crafted lyrics, but from opener 'Dust Disturbed' and its follow up 'Song For Laurie', it's fairly obvious that Tristram have a high level on focus on driving drum beats too, filling any space left with haunting cello. 'Rhyme Or Reason' showcases Tristram Bawtree's ability to write infectious vocal melodies, harking back to Nick Drake's 'One Of These Things First' while fourth and final track 'Coelacanth' sees Tristram slowing down the pace for a more reflective sound.

'Accidents & Artifice' is an accomplished EP, my only criticism is that it is just that, an EP, only four tracks and it seems to be over just after it has begun. Great things await this band if they can ride the wave of folk popularity long enough to record a full length.

3.5 / 5

Tristram Myspace

Friday, 12 November 2010

Everything Burns - Home

What happened to all those metalcore, emocore, hardcore, or whatever plus the word core bands that I listened to when I was seventeen (let's not go into how long ago that actually was please)? Generally, they disappeared, because let me level with you here....they just weren't very good. Obviously the good ones are still around with Glassjaw, Norma Jean and on the lighter side Finch, still recording and touring but there is still room for another band to muscle in on the act, could that band be Cornish based Everything Burns?

Debut album 'Home', released on the ever growing UK metal label Rising Records ticks many of the boxes that a metal band should, highly technical and driven guitar play underpinned by frantic but at the same time intelligent drumming and also, the dreaded screaming that became somewhat cliché and over-used for my liking in the genre. What Everything Burns have that many don't, is a knack for melodies, with every song anthemic in its own right, opener 'Scars', alongside fan favourite 'Me Vs You' showcase this and the band perfectly, with the emphasis on emotive lyrics alongside passionate singing (not to mention, they ignore the tired scream verse sing chorus formula).

Until today, I would have happily said that emotional metal is dead, but I'm glad to say that Everything Burns are definitely here to prove me wrong. This release obviously isn't going to win everyone over, but with a ever growing touring schedule and this album behind them, they are hot on the heels of the genre's heavyweights.

3.5 / 5

Everything Burns Myspace
Allie Moss - Late Bloomer

Television has a strange way of turning us onto certain music, whether it is a well placed song in the softest romantic part of our favourite American drama, or a musical accompaniment to an advert, we are often subliminally force fed music we perhaps wouldn't have heard from otherwise, and such is the case with me and Allie Moss.

'Corner', the fantastic piece of music featured in the latest BT infinity advert is only one tenth of the songs contained on Moss' debut album 'Late Bloomer', so what can we actually expect from this album, is it acoustic singer song-writer genius, or merely just one small flash in the pan?

'Late Bloomer' firmly has its feet in the acoustic pop middle of the road music section, it isn't different enough lyrically to be with the likes of Laura Marling but it does spark of Katie Melua, just with more maturity and less depression. It's radio friendly and soft on your ears, your mum will probably like it, but while this is something that I would normally fight against, with 'Late Bloomer' I just can't and while the winter is heavily upon us, I am desperately needing something full of beautiful melodies to remind me of the summer, and for me, this album is it.

Expect big things from Allie Moss if this album is anything to go by, a fantastic talent.

4 / 5

Allie Moss Myspace
Allie Moss - Late Bloomer

Television has a strange way of turning us onto certain music, whether it is a well placed song in the softest romantic part of our favourite American drama, or a musical accompianment to an advert, we are often subliminally force fed music we perhaps wouldn't have heard from otherwise, and such is the case with me and Allie Moss.

'Corner', the fantastic piece of music featured in the latest BT infinity advert is only one tenth of the songs contained on Moss' debut album 'Late Bloomer', so what can we actually expect from this album, is it acoustic singer song-writer genius, or merely just one small flash in the pan?

'Late Bloomer' firmly has its feet in the acoustic pop middle of the road music section, it isn't different enough lyrically to be with the likes of Laura Marling but it does spark of Katie Melua, just with more maturity and less depression. It's radio friendly and soft on your ears, your mum will probably like it, but while this is something that I would normally fight against, with 'Late Bloomer' I just can't and while the winter is heavily upon us, I am desperately needing something full of beautiful melodies to remind me of the summer, and for me, this album is it.

Expect big things from Allie Moss if this album is anything to go by, a fantastic talent.

4 / 5

Allie Moss Myspace

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Johnny Flynn - The Water

Many of my friends have for the better part of two years, been trying to convince me of the genius that is Johnny Flynn and I have always dismissed it, claiming his music to be uninspired, dull, everything that leaves a bad taste in your mouth when people mention the word folk.

'The Water' despite featuring the brilliant Laura Marling (because lets be honest, who isn't a massive fan of her?!), still does nothing to change my opinion. If this track is anything, it is a stone, cold and emotionless, this doesn't stir me into feeling anything and it certainly doesn't make me want to buy Flynns latest album.

Avoid.

1 / 5

Johnny Flynn Myspace Page

The Xcerts - Young (Belane)

I am a massive fan of The Xcerts, and have been since reviewing their debut album a couple of years back. On hearing 'Scatterbrain', their latest album, I instantly heralded it as one of the best albums of the year, not only that, but one of the most important also, and the more time goes on, the more my feelings grow towards this album.

'Young (Belane)' isn't perhaps one of the best songs on the album, it doesn't show the experimentation that The Xcerts have undergone to gain my high affections, but it does give a new listener an exact copy of what The Xcerts are about. It's noisy but it has the pop sensabilities that have made the likes of Biffy Clyro so important to indie-rock music in the mainstream charts and even as I type this, I can imagine hundreds of fans chanting along to the chorus.

Expect massive things for The Xcerts.

3.5 / 5

The Xcerts Myspace Page

The Last Republic - Parade

There was once a time when a glowing endorsement from Radio One, or sold-out gigs, or the likes of Foo Fighters' Chris Sheldon producing your album would have been enough for me to be interested in a band, but not anymore, no, this seems to be a ten-a-penny reference that many bands seem to try to push to sell their record. What I want to know is, do The Last Republic actually have songs to back up this referencing, or are they destined to be yet another almost band, acclaimed by many in the know but bought by bugger all in the market?

Let me start off by saying The Last Republic have something, I'm not sure what it is, but they have it and they showcase it in 'Parade' by the bucket load. Imagine if Muse got out of their own ass for a second and realised what made them popular in the first place and mix this with perhaps the vocals of Lostprophets and you will probably be in the mindset that The Last Republic must have been in when they created this record, these aren't songs, they are grandiose pieces of art, every song is easily a single which is rare for a debut album these days.

I wonder if the Muse tag has been thrown about enough for The Last Republic, it could potentially be their downfall but lets take nothing away from this band, 'Parade' is a great record, and should see the band reaching the heights of better things. A band to watch out for.

4 / 5

The Last Republic Myspace Page
Blood Command - Ghostclocks

Every once in awhile there will be a surprise in the review pile and this month, Blood Command take that title with their latest album 'Ghostclocks'. A trio from Belgium, I was initially drawn to this album through its artwork, for some reason I thought it was quite folky and that alone drew me into listening, it also drew me into a false sense of security.

Blood Command aren't a folk band at all. They are actually a self confessed punk band, although I would suggest to them that they have hints of hardcore with pop sensibilities thrown in for good measure. Aggressive and abrasive right off the bat, Blood Command demand your attention with frantic drumming, jagged guitar melodies and Blood Brothers-esque vocal yelps added in just to help matters (yes, I can't believe I have managed to add another reference to Blood Brothers either, but I do miss them so). Once you bed down with Blood Command for a short time, you start to notice that there is something different about this band, not only are they perhaps a scandinavian version of Converge, they also have a nack for writing a solid chorus which is showcased on 'On And On Chameleon', with its, they'll probably kill me for saying this, Paramore like vocals, it's brilliantly anthemic chorus.

It's actually inspiring to see a band in such a genre be so diverse. I thought my days of liking abrasive punk and hardcore music was over since Blood Brothers went their seperate ways, Converge went shit and Refused realised they couldn't write anything more iconic than 'The Shape Of Punk To Come', thank christ then that Blood Command are here to save the day (or my day, at least).

4.5 / 5

Blood Command Myspace Page
Ok Go - Of The Blue Colour Of The Sky

Can you remember Ok Go? Yeah, barely, me too. Having researched them for the purpose of this review, I revisited that one annoying catchy song they had that was ever so popular, 'Get Over It', did they actually record anything else, apparently so, but the sickly sweet 'Get Over It' is all I personally can remember and latest record 'Of The Blue Colour Of The Sky' seems a billion miles away from that (seven years and a billion miles away to be exact).

Five years have passed since their last album and a lot has changed. Firstly, Ok Go have severed ties with major label EMI (although that has nothing to do with the sound on this record, they left the label after recording this album) and secondly, the industry and the trends in music have swiftly changed since the days when Ok Go were deemed popular and successful. Its difficult to say where Ok Go sit in terms of sound on their third and latest album, to say they have become more dance orientated, or that they have even moved with the times would be to sell the band short. The band themselves state that the record was heavily inspired by Prince and it shows, but there are also times on the record that the vocals sound almost like, Blood Brothers, which I imagine would be frightening for most, but for me, that is bone shaking exciting right there.

To me at least, 'Of The Blue Colour Of The Sky' is an exciting record, it sounds like a band completely re-envisaging their sound, and almost testing their fans. It will divide the Ok Go fanbase, that's one certainty, but if you ask this critic, it's a brave move, and one I completely admire.

3.5 / 5

Ok Go Myspace Page
Norah Jones - Featuring...

So here I go, yes I confess, I'm a massive Norah Jones fan, she's a massive guilty pleasure for an alternative kid like me and I have enjoyed her music since the massive success of debut album 'Come Away With Me' (which to date has sold over an impressive twenty million copies, not to mention the winning of not one, not two, but five grammy awards). How amazing is it then, that here in front of me I have 'Featuring...', a collection of collaborations amongst many other things with the likes of Foo Fighters, Dolly Parton, Outkast, Ray Charles, Herbie Hancock, and the list goes on and on until your head is completely spinning with the thought.

Press releases will tell you all manner of things, usually bold faced lies and for the most part, the press release for this record is the same, stating that this compilation showcases Jones' diversity, when in actual fact, for the most part, the music spans very much what we already know from Norah Jones, it's a bit jazzy, it has hints of country and that works to her advantage because that style has always and always will, bring out the warm tone to her vocals. There are the odd occassions when the style does stray, 'The Best Part' is an eerie, slow and mesmerising track, while 'Life Is Better' touches upon a funk and almost hip-hop sound, and its good, but not great, and nearly every track on this record, regardless of style, can be accused of not really going anywhere, not to mention that Jones ends up making a fatal mistake for me, fade outs, it's fine with a few tracks, but when it covers almost all eighteen tracks on the record, it comes across as unimaginative song writing some what.

Lets be straight with each other here, records like this are frivolous, the result of a mass amount of media attention, not to mention a truck load of records sold and you'll eventually get a greatest hits, a b-sides album or a collaboration album. This isn't the worst album I've heard, but it is definitely far from the best and can only be solely recommended to Norah Jones fans, even that for me, is still pushing it.

2.5 / 5

Norah Jones Myspace

Friday, 29 October 2010

Ruarri Joseph - Shoulder To The Wheel

It's been a strange old career for Cornish based Ruarri Joseph so far. If you haven't already heard of Joseph then here is a quick catch up, originally signed to major label Atlantic, Joseph released his debut album in 2007, 'Tales Of Grime and Grit', which led to a degree of acclaim and also support slots with the likes of David Gray, Paolo Nutini and Seth Lakeman (who still speaks highly of Joseph, quoting his latest record as one of the best he's heard this year) but also led to Ruarri becoming miffed with the industry, tearing up his contract and fundamentally becoming his own record label for follow up release 'Both Sides Of The Coin'. 'Shoulder To The Wheel' then, is Ruarri's third album, once again released through his own label, Pip Records.

It's been fascinating watching the progession of Joseph, from one Cornish based creative person to another, while I initially heard Joseph from single 'Tales Of Grime and Grit' which was, if you ask me, one of the best songs released in 2007, the rest of the album didn't even remotely meet those heights. 'Shoulder To The Wheel' is pretty much as you would expect, mature, grounded, and a full album, not relying on one great song to get it through. The influences are still obvious, while Joseph vocally sounds slightly like Willy Mason, you have the obvious references to Bob Dylan, with hints of Leonard Cohen or Johnny Cash. There is also, or at least my dad tells me there is, a Bob Marley reggae feel to it, which I'm sure Joseph will love.

My problem with 'Shoulder To The Wheel' is that it is nice. It is well written, the production is perfect, the sound is perhaps slightly dated but for that, it is probably a record that your parents my like. It is just middle of the road and for that, I just can't rate it.

Ruarri Joseph Myspace

2.5 / 5

Friday, 22 October 2010

Callel - Body Discovery

It says everything that Callel have shared the musical stage with the likes of Paolo Nutini whilst gaining radio play on Radio One and favourable reviews in pretty much every Scottish publication there is, such is the mainstream gravitational pull of debut album 'Body Discovery'.

Melodic and unashamedly pop and indie, Callel seem to have a wonderful youthful naivity that interplays with the kind of song writing that for most, only comes with age. Opening track "Body Discovery" is a playful indie-pop anthem complete with a sing-a-long chorus, a crowd pleaser I'm sure, while "I'd Like To See Your Brain" however, is a contemplative take on emotional acoustic music which definitely takes a leaf out of Elliot Smiths book, whilst also vocally, at times, sounding very much like an early Daniel Johns of Silverchair fame, then you have "Best Foot On The Ground", an electronic, foot stomping track with the pop sensabilities that we have seen charge the charts of late with Alphabeat, etc.

It's clear that Callel have something, despite their youth, they seem to have musical muturity that many spend years grasping at. 'Body Discovery' isn't flawless, at times it feels like it doesn't flow, that perhaps Callel don't know what genre they want to fit into but I'm sure, given the right time and development, they will easily be one of Scotlands massive musical exports.

3.5 / 5

Callel's Official Myspace

Thursday, 7 October 2010

The Xcerts - Scatterbrain

It seems like only yesterday that I heard The Xcerts debut album, 'In The Cold Wind We Smile', heralding it as the debut album that most bands could only dream of making. What a mammoth task The Xcerts have then, with their second album, 'Scatterbrain', as if the second album syndrome wasn't hard enough to overcome, let alone when your debut was as cracking as theirs was.

'Scatterbrain' isn't so much a second album, but more a re-invention of a band that were already fantastic to begin with. It's heavily apparent the influence that producer Mike Sapone has had on the band, as this record is as bold and brave as Brand New's 'Daisy' which he was also at the helm for. From opener 'Tar OK' to closing track 'Lament', its a dark harrowing listen, gone are the sickly sweet pop melodies of 'Home Vs Home' and the Biffy Clyro-esque stylings of 'Do You Feel Safe?' and they have been replaced by not strong singles, but a strong album as a whole with The Xcerts cementing their indentity and their place as one of Britains best up and coming bands.

It's a strange time for musicians still, but The Xcerts are a band that deserve to have a career and 'Scatterbrain' is without a doubt the most important record of this year.


5 / 5

The Xcerts Official Myspace

Friday, 1 October 2010

Tall Ships are a band who after blowing the heads off music fans in Cornwall, have been snapped up by Big Scary Monsters and have gone from strength to strength since. I caught up with them to dish the dirt on the new EP and all the touring they’ve been doing.

Hello guys, firstly could you introduce yourself and explain
a little about who Tall Ships are and how they came to be?


We are 3 brothers who met at university down in Falmouth and bonded
over our shared love of Cornish pasties and Craig David. We started to
play a bit in this tiny room in Rics house, busting out these pompous
jams for a giggle. Our mate Seany was putting Tubelord on at the University bar and asked if we were up for supporting them to which we said yeah.
So within 2 weeks we kind of had to reel in our extended silly
instrumental ditties into proper songs. Then we played them. And to
our surprise people actually enjoyed the songs as did we performing
them. After that we wanted to play again, and again and again.


You spent a lot of time in Falmouth, gigging around Cornwall, do
you feel your experience within Cornwall has impacted the way you
write, if so, how?


It definitely had a real big impact on how we kind of grew as a band.
Every gig we played was in front of our friends and just loads of fun,
which gave us the chance to figure out what we wanted to do with
it. Falmouth itself is real isolated and full of extremely talented
artists, writers, illustrators, designers and to exist within that
creative bubble was real great. Cornwall as a place is just
completely unlike anywhere else. The attitudes of the people and
general way of life is just so much more friendly, accepting and
relaxed which definitely fed into our music. Although, the 6 hour
drive to play a gig (full backline in a toyota corolla) anywhere else
was a bit of a ball ache.



Big Scary Monsters seemed to take hold of you guys quite
quickly, how important do you feel they have been to your progression
in the industry?


Kev Douche is an absolute legend. One of the nicest guys you'll ever
meet. BSM has released some real amazing stuff before like Tubelord,
Pulled Apart By Horses etc , so it was lovely to have him to release the
first EP. Alongside BSM it was also co-released by the beautiful Simon
Morley AKA Blood and Biscuits whom release Three Trapped Tigers. So
it was great to have two people behind us. As for our 'progression'
within the industry, it meant that we instantly had people who would
listen to the EP purely because it came through these two labels. This
exposure to a new audience was great as we hadn't played many gigs so
it got the name out a bit. It also meant we could play more gigs which
is what we love doing.



You've played with some great bands, including one of my personal
faves Minus The Bear, how has the experience been, have these bands
shaped the music on your new EP in anyway?


Yeah we have been incredibly lucky to play with bands that we have such
as Tubelord, Dananananakroyd, 65DOS, though the Minus The Bear shows
were unlike anything we had ever done before. To be watching a band
that you just absolutely love from the side of stage after having just
played yourself was incredibly humbling and surreal. The crowds were
stupidly big too which was something we had never experienced before.
It definitely made us realise that 'shit this is actually happening'
and our schoolboy fantasies of being in a 'proper' band were starting
to be realised.
With regards to shaping the new EP, Tubelord have
definitely influenced us a great deal. We have played so many shows
with them and they have such interesting ideas musically that the
various jams and discussions we have had whilst on tour definitely
have had an effect. Jamie Field who plays keyboard for them also
recorded and produced the EP so he had a massive effect on the whole
thing.



Your new EP 'There is Nothing But Chemistry Here' contains more
vocally than your previous self-titled effort. Was there a conscious
effort in adding the vocals or did it occur naturally and how do you
feel this has impacted the songs on 'There Is Nothing But Chemistry
Here'?


Vocals were always a funny one for us. When we started we agreed that
we wouldn't sing at all on any of our songs but that just changed. The
addition of more vocals was very much a natural progression for us.
Words are a much more instant way of connecting with an audience and
allow us to express ideas more directly than through just pure sounds.
They also allow for more involvement and exchange with an audience in
a live setting which is really important for us. We want everybody who
comes to our gigs to feel a part of the whole thing rather than just a
spectator and words are the easiest way to connect. But it was also
definitely a confidence thing too. Before, we were nervous and
quite self-conscious when it came to singing but after playing so many
shows and the response to the vocals on the first EP, we just
grew some balls and did it.

With regards to impacting the songs on T.I.N.B.C.H, it definitely ties
them together quite well which is something we felt the first EP didn’t
quite have. They feel like songs which belong together both
thematically and musically; a body of songs which all explore a
similar concept and are vehicles to explore the notions behind the
statement 'There Is Nothing But Chemistry Here'.



You have a tour planned to coincide with the release of the new EP
which sees you play alongside the likes of Tubelord, and also dates in
Europe with 65daysofstatic, how do you prepare for gigs now that they
are getting bigger and what are you most looking forward to in your
tour cycle?


Our preparation is always much the same really. We still very much
feel like we are just inflicting our bedroom hobby upon an audience so
we aim to go out and have some fun and hope that everybody else
watching will to. This rings true in front of 10 people or 1000
really. We are unbelievably excited to be going to Europe with
65daysofstatic. It was one of the things we have dreamed about doing
as a band. To visit a whole host of places we've never been too, get
travel costs covered, play music we enjoy in front of new people we can
hopefully meet, it’s just the best.




After the tour and release of the new EP, what does the future of
Tall Ships consist of?


Well definitely more and more shows. We’re planning a headline tour for
December which is both exciting and scary. We won’t be able to suck off
the popularity of the headline band like the leeches we are but rather
will have to (hopefully) play to people who actually have come to see
us... Apart from that well, we’re going to do a cheeky single sometime soon
and then we shall have to face up to the rather worrying notion of
producing a collection of songs which is longer than 18 minutes.....


Tall Ships second EP ‘There Is Nothing But Chemistry Here’ will be released on October 24th through Big Scary Monsters and Blood And Biscuits.

Tall Ships Myspace
Tall Ships Twitter

Friday, 17 September 2010

Codes In The Clouds - Paper Canyon Recycled


When Codes In The Clouds escaped obscurity in 2007, having signed to Erased Tapes, I was quick to write them off. Being a huge fan of instrumental music or dare I say it, post-rock, at the time I found myself at ease coining them as Explosions In The Sky-lite or perhaps This Will Destroy You Mk II, but this was perhaps just more my opinion as they seemed to gather more and more praise with their debut album 'Paper Canyon'. A year on, Codes In The Clouds are gearing up to release a new set of material upon our ears but before then, this, 'Paper Canyon Recycled', a collection of remixes by fans and fellow artists of tracks from their debut release.

Strangely enough for me, the first track, 'Don't Go Awash In This Digital Landscape' by Paul Mullen of Yourcodenameis:milo fame is completely mind blowing but then it is closer to a Yourcodenameis:milo track than one of Code In The Clouds, seething between beautiful bright guitar work before it explodes into guitar distortion and emotional howling, it is perhaps the one thing that Codes In The Clouds don't have that really sets this track apart from the rest on this album, vocals.The problem I have with the rest of the album is, that aside from the odd electronic element here and there, it's all quite obvious and predictable, infact, it could almost be as if that were the original song, un-touched. There is no doubt that this release is beautiful in parts(just listen to the final track 'The Distance Between Us' by Nils Frahm) and that it is well written also, but is this offering anything new from the debut release, no not really and is this offering anything new for instrumental music fans, once again, no not really. Maybe Codes In The Clouds should really have taken a leaf out of the Explosions In The Sky book, because the remix version of their album 'All Of A Sudden I Miss Everyone' was something to really be inspired by. Please avoid this unless you are a massive fan.

2 / 5

Codes In The Clouds

Tall Ships - There Is Nothing But Chemistry Here


Tall Ships are back! I can actually write that and people will actually know who I am talking about. After some successful support slots playing with one of my favourite bands Minus The Bear alongside their own UK tours, they have managed, somehow, to fit in the time to record a new EP entitled 'There Is Nothing But Chemistry Here' which will be supported by tours with both Tubelord and also 65daysofstatic.

It's nice to see a band come on leaps and bounds since their debut EP, first track 'Plate Tectonics' oozes in its indie confidence complete with thank christ, vocals. The vocals are hardly Whitney Houston but they are endearing and not too far from what we would expect from Jake Snider of Minus The Bear fame. Second track 'Chemistry' is perhaps what Tall Ships were always missing before, a real single that deserves to be played on the radio, its jagged art-indie intro making way for a more subtle Tall Ships sound complete with the sing-a-long lyrics "There is nothing but chemistry here and with that in mind we have nothing to fear". Its gently built melody is exactly what the likes of Foals should be looking to create. 'Ode To Ancestors' has one of those moments, where my heart goes into my mouth and I wonder if Tall Ships are going to ruin the mood by going from something beautiful into something a little sea shanty and humourous like they would have in the past, but they surprise me and the off beat melody that comes in somehow adds to the song. 'Snow', possibly my least favourite on this EP is filled with electronic drums, colourful guitar melodies and bright keyboard melodies, it also sees a slight experimentation in terms of vocals, moving slightly away from the baritone of the previous tracks, which is a lovely addition.

It's easy to see how much Tall Ships have grown. 'There Is Nothing But Chemistry Here' is a mature indie release and if given the right publicity, there is no reason why this EP can't put Tall Ships on the map, sitting beside the hard-working bands they tour with and maybe even higher and onto the mainstream charts like the likes of Foals have achieved.

4.5 / 5

Tall Ships Myspace

Friday, 13 August 2010

Spring Offensive - The First Of Many Dreams About Monsters

So here is the new single from art-indie indepent band Spring Offensive, the fourteen minute single, free to download, coming fast on the heels of their self-released debut album 'Pull Us Apart'.

Inspired by 'The Grief Cycle', a five step insight created by psychiatrist Elisabeth Kúbler-Ross in an attempt to discover peoples methods in dealing with the difficulties in life, 'The First Of Many Dreams About Monsters' is broken down into several bite-size sections, and is as far removed from the bumbling up your own ass feel that comes from both concept records and also long tracks as can be.

If you have heard Spring Offensive before, then you will know exactly what to expect, drumming that provides a great backline to the band but is also original and challenging at the same time, while the guitar interplay is both bright and melodic working to its highest ability when combined with intelligently thought out lyrics.

'The First Of Many Dreams About Monsters' won't set the world alight, and I am still personally expecting better things from Spring Offensive but that aside, this is still a great place to discover the band.

3.5 / 5

Spring Offensive Myspace

You can download the single for free on August 20th by clicking here.

Friday, 6 August 2010

Grasscut - 1 Inch / 1/2 Mile

Grasscut are a band comprising of award-winning film and television composer Andrew Phillips and his as of yet unknown counter-part, Marcus O'Dair. Their first release together, '1 Inch / 1/2 Mile' has already gained favourable reviews, creating all the right noises from all the right publications and genuinely being touted as the new Gorillaz (because let's be honest, they aren't up to scratch anymore), but is it really worth all the fuss?

'High Down', the first track on the album is all based around a simple piano melody, with breathy almost Porcupine Tree-esque vocals colouring the song before the drums crash in with a dirty electronic bass tone. Seething up and down between quiet verses and loud chorus', 'High Down' is a psychedelic dream and a fantastic start to this release. 'Old Machines' is off beat and completely different but still, somehow maintaining some element of mainstream through its Nintendo-esque use of synths, could this somehow be the new school version of trip-hop, I definitely think so. 'The Tin Man' is a strange song to say the least, orchestrally, it sounds very much like a title song to perhaps a band movie, being epic and grandiose, but the use of the female vocals over an industrial use of the drums is both different and inspiring and really has to be heard to be believed. 'Passing' is more of what I would expect from a band compared to Gorillaz, a hip-hop drumbeat, but with an interesting arrangement assembled and layered on-top, it is strangely both bright and also extremely dark and moody with a series of electronic bleeps overshadowed by dark distortions.

'1 Inch / 1/2 Mile' definitely isn't an album for everyone. The connections to acts like Gorillaz may yet be to Grasscut's peril, there are definitely no 'Dirty Harry' or 'Feel Good Inc.'-esque tracks to be found here but I am certain that if you allow yourself time with this release that it will be more than fulfilling.

4 / 5

Grasscut Myspace
Collapse Under The Empire - The Sirens Sound

Could Collapse Under The Empire really become any more prolific than they already are? Afterall it only seems like yesterday that I was unwrapping their album to review and not long after here comes their latest release, a five track EP entitled 'The Sirens Sound' released via independent label Sister Jack.

After perhaps playing up to their influences on previous releases it is on 'The Siren Sound' that they really do find themselves in a comfortable home of their own. The lead single 'Grade Seperation' really showcases all the good elements to Collapse Under The Empire, electronic beeps with a droning underscore that can at times sound akin to Thirty Seconds To Mars before the drums and guitars crash in together to destroy the melody. It isn't all post-rock feedback though, there are real melodic hooks in the lead guitar playing, that played over and over really engrave themselves into your skull, something which the heavyweights in this genre still have yet to master. 'Beware/Lost' really masters the electronic elements that they have been working on since their inception in 2007 and along with some really tidy drum work and clever guitar play, it stays fresh without ever really moving on, the use of piano on this track really is bright and warm aswell, a welcome inclusion.

Collapse Under The Empire aren't exactly re-writing music, they aren't even rewriting the post-rock genre but what they have done is find their own little niche, which is a collection of the great instrumental bands, and knocked out a fine EP that you'd all be best checking out.

4 / 5

Collaspe Under The Empire Myspace

Friday, 30 July 2010

The Gaslight Anthem - The Diamond Church Street Choir/Boxer


The Gaslight Anthem, a band who have been continuously heavily tipped with success over the last year and have been doing the rounds this summer with every British festival possible, have yet to impress me, but here is their latest single(s) to be released from their latest album 'American Slang'.

First track 'The Diamond Church Street Choir' is possibly the poppiest that i've heard The Gaslight Anthem and it must be said, it definitely works for them. Containing a bright, bouncing guitar melody that, along with the drums and bass really works in its attempt to get you tapping your feet before they march into the rockabilly-esque chorus that i'm sure many a drunk fan will be happily chanting in gigs to come. The second single, 'Boxer' is more upbeat and definitely touches upon a pop punk feel with Brian Fallon sounding very much alike Alkaline Trio's Matt Skiba.

My issue with The Gaslight Anthem still stands though. While obviously talented at what they do, what they do comes across to me, as so contrived and unoriginal that I actually find it difficult to express any form of liking towards them. I must admit though, that while 'Boxer' is an absolutely unmemorable song and should never have made it as a single(which never bodes well for the album I feel), the other single 'The Diamond Church Street Choir' is definitely a summer tune and a half and it is worth any music fan checking this song out, just don't expect to fall in love with The Gaslight Anthem from that song alone.

3 / 5

The Gaslight Anthem Myspace
Mogwai - Special Moves



'Special Moves', the first official live release by instrumental or dare we say it post-rock band Mogwai is also twinned with 'Burning', a live DVD, both of which were recorded during a three night residency at Brooklyn's Music Hall of Williamsburg in 2009.

'Special Moves' starts off with the gloriously beautiful "I'm Jim Morrison, I'm Dead", the lead track from 2008's 'The Hawk Is Howling', lushously moving with a bright piano underpinning overwhelming guitar distortion as the bass thunders along with the steady drum beat until the track completely sonically explodes. You start to get a feel for the live environment that Mogwai are playing in by track three, "Hunted By A Freak", a slow burning track from their stand-out album 'Mr Beast', that is heavily applauded by the fans there. "Mogwai Fear Satan" is perhaps the most spine chilling song to be found here, strangely as it is one of their older materials, it just showcases both just how long Mogwai have been together and also how emotively inspiring they can be. Starting with droning feedback it gradually builds up before exploding into a complete frenzy, with the drumming a real stand point. The best bit however, comes mid-way through the track, just when you think everything is coming to an end as everything cuts away and the delay of the guitar slowly careers off to a path that nears silence, it suddenly re-explodes, shocking the listener back into life with this complete ear destroying beauty. "Glasgow Megasnake" is perhaps the best way that any instrumental gig can be finished. After the meandering beauty of other tracks, it sees Mogwai at their most aggressive, firing into guitar riff after guitar riff, rarely slowing the pace and really showing their versatility.

The DVD 'Burning' is the perfect equivalent to the CD, containing many of the tracks found on the CD and more so, the highlight being the stand-out track from 'The Hawk Is Howling', "Batcat" which really does contain one of the most memorable guitar riffs from the last few years. Different from usual DVD accompaniments, it feels more movie like than usual music DVDs and is definitely worth looking at from a fan perspective.

For fans of Mogwai, big fans, this release will be a huge relief as we all have to wait a long time to get our Mogwai fills and this will at least tide us over for a portion of time. That is all this release is though, it will not win them any new fans despite how brilliant it sounds.

4 / 5

Mogwai Official Website
Mogwai - Special Moves



'Special Moves' the first official live release by instrumental or dare we say it post-rock band Mogwai is also twinned with 'Burning', a live DVD, both of which were recorded during a three night residency at Brooklyn's Music Hall of Williamsburg in 2009.

'Special Moves' starts off with the gloriously beautiful "I'm Jim Morrison, I'm Dead", the lead track from 2008's 'The Hawk Is Howling', lushously moving with a bright piano underpinning overwhelming guitar distortion as the bass thunders along with the steady drum beat until the track completely sonically explodes. You start to get a feel for the live environment that Mogwai are playing in by track three, "Hunted By A Freak", a slow burning track from their stand-out album 'Mr Beast', that is heavily applauded by the fans there. "Mogwai Fear Satan" is perhaps the most spine chilling song to be found here, strangely as it is one of their older materials, it just showcases both just how long Mogwai have been together and also how emotively inspiring they can be. Starting with droning feedback it gradually builds up before exploding into a complete frenzy, with the drumming a real stand point. The best bit however, comes mid-way through the track, just when you think everything is coming to an end as everything cuts away and the delay of the guitar slowly careers off to a path that nears silence, it suddenly re-explodes, shocking the listener back into life with this complete ear destroying beauty. "Glasgow Megasnake" is perhaps the best way that any instrumental gig can be finished. After the meandering beauty of other tracks, it sees Mogwai at their most aggressive, firing into guitar riff after guitar riff, rarely slowing the pace and really showing their versatility.

The DVD 'Burning' is the perfect equivalent to the CD, containing many of the tracks found on the CD and more so, the highlight being the stand-out track from 'The Hawk Is Howling', "Batcat" which really does contain one of the most memorable guitar riffs from the last few years. Different from usual DVD accompaniments, it feels more movie like than usual music DVDs and is definitely worth looking at from a fan perspective.

For fans of Mogwai, big fans, this release will be a huge relief as we all have to wait a long time to get our Mogwai fills and this will at least tide us over for a portion of time. That is all this release is though, it will not win them any new fans despite how brilliant it sounds.

4 / 5

Mogwai Official Website

Friday, 25 June 2010



Stornoway - Beachcombers Windowsill


An indie pop band from Oxford, no way, you have to be kidding, one of these is like a needle in a haystack right? Well, no, not really. After the independent success of Youthmovies, the more mainstream success of Foals and the global success of Radiohead, it would be daft to suggest anything other than Stowaway are a band that need to be watched from the outset.

This, their debut album, "Beachcomers Windowsill", is filled to the brim with melodic hooks that are not only poppy but folky and in places almost sea shanty-esque. The first single and first track on the album "Zorbing" is an upbeat affair with melodies that sit somewhere between The Coral, early Noah And The Whale and perhaps even Bombay Bicycle Club, with a simple melody underpinned by a beautiful use of vocal contrast, the lead vocals being carried by deep and warming backing vocals as the guitars and the further use of instruments such as trumpets get you tapping your feet and bouncing around, you just can't help yourself. "I Saw You Blink" their latest single to be released from this album continues with the positive lyrical themes of the record, with Briggs claiming that he missed his train because he was daydreaming about a girl that might just be the one. Lyrically, it often feels honest but tongue-in-cheek while musically, the style oozes a feel good summer of pop, something that we could expect from certain Beach Boys releases. It isn't all happiness though, "Boats And Trains" is the typical band commentary on the failure of long distance relationships and for once, it is actually nice to have diversity lyrically from an album. The album is at its best on the last track mind, "Long Distance Lullaby" starting with a bell chiming before Briggs recalls a story of being drunk and calling up his lover just to say that he misses them, while behind, the drums cut a steady shadow behind a bright and glossy guitar melody.

"Beachcomers Windowsill" is going to be my album of the year, it's only late June and I have already decided that nothing that arrives on my lap for the rest of the year will even remotely touch how great this album is, and just think, it's only their debut, so they can surely only get better?

5/5

Stornoway Myspace
Pete Roe - The Merry-Go-Round


How someone like Pete Roe can tour with the successful likes of Laura Marling, accompioning her as part of her live band aswell as being mentioned in the same breath as Mumford & Sons, and still, somehow find an ounce of time to write their own material is completely beyond me, but he has managed it with this, his second EP to date, "The Merry-Go-Round".

Firstly, of merit, is the artwork. Most are happy to settle for a square CD and a quickly made paper sleeve but not Roe, not at all. The CD case is so intricately designed, with such detail put in to its artwork, that the case alone would be a selling point for this EP. That aside, lets start talking about music, after all, that is what we all want to know about and I'm sure you all have the same thoughts as me. Roe has the tough task, having been name dropped aside his counter parts, of living up to the great expectations that fans of those artists have come to feel they deserve. Let me make it clear from the start, this isn't Mumford MK II or Marling MK II(perhaps the same thing currently), but more a different kettle of fish. Still acoustic but less, NME folk than his counterparts, Roe has a vocal tone much akin to The Decemberists' Colin Melroy and with a feel behind his music that is much more positive than a lot of distortion-less music doing the rounds currently. Opening track "Bellina" is a strong example of Roe's ability to be uplifting, the guitar melody sunny as the lyrics encourage you to put all your books away and take a trip on the ocean. "Oh Susannah" is a love song, with Roe pining for his perfect girl claiming that he will be hers between some beautiful vocal melodies. "Underneath The Apple Tree" is Roe possibly at his best, taking a stab at a Nick Drake Influence which works perfectly on the chorus as Roe sings, 'Where the path leads up their garden and the whole world is closing in, I am underneath the apple tree and I am waiting for something to begin'. The final track to the Ep is "The Merry-Go-Round", a slow contemplative way of ending the CD, taking away the sunshine of the previous three tracks and concentrating on Roes beautiful use of lyrics to create something that will give even the more cold hearted of music listeners a swift exchange of butterflies.

Every once in awhile a release comes along that really moves me, "The Merry-Go-Round" is that release, I highly recommend it!

4 / 5

Pete Roe Myspace
Wintersleep - New Interiors

I found Wintersleep in the strangest of fashions, having seen their album in HMV, I immediately downloaded "Welcome To The Night Sky" on the strength of its artwork alone and upon hearing "Dead Letter & The Infinite Yes" and "Astronaut", I immediately set upon buying the album and it continuously grew on me becoming one of my more favoured albums, not just of recent times, but of all time. Now being a rather big fan of the Canadian band, it was always going to be a huge task for them and their follow up "New Interiors".

"New Interiors" is an entirely new beast to "Welcome To The Night Sky", while "Welcome To The Night Sky" seemed intent on grabbing you in with honest and relateable abstract lyrics that stuck with you long after the album had finished, "New Interiors" seems more inclined on catchy poppy hooks and repeated chorus vocals in an attempt to gain access to a more mainstream audience and to some extent it does actually work. "Encyclopedia" has a dirty grittiness that seems to nod its head towards Queen Of The Stone Age before it folds back sounding more like a mix of Interpol and REM with Samuel repeatedly singing 'You're alive, but what's it worth'. Other standout tracks include "Blood Collection", a slow, brooding and haunting tune and also "Black Camera" which is an upbeat and rousing number complete with 'ahhhhh' backing melodies, which always helps to improve a song in my book.

The problem that "New Interiors" has is that, despite "Welcome To The Night Sky" sounding alike REM, it still had a sense of urgency and it had a huge feel of uniqueness within it, which is something I admired. "New Interiors" has reigned this in somewhat for a more polished and commerical feel, to an extent it feels like they are marketing themselves for a mainstream American rock chart and while it is still on the whole a good album, it trails off unsuccessfully midway through and you find yourself listening to it and checking what song number you have got to and how many more songs there are to go. "New Interiors" though, will still become one of my more favoured albums of this year, such is the price of a horrifically bad time for good albums in the industry, so please buy this album so Wintersleep get another stab at it.

3 / 5

Wintersleep Myspace

Thursday, 27 May 2010

Jaguar Love - Hologram Jams


I was pretty distraught when Blood Brothers decided to part, granted their latest record, 'Young Machetes' didn't quite reach the same heights that I enjoyed within the edgy brilliance of 'Crimes' but as a fan, I still felt that sonically, they still had sounds to explore. Jaguar Love, comprising of two members of Blood Brothers, vocalist Johnny Whitney and guitarist Cody Votolato, explore these sounds on their latest record, the second to be released by Jaguar Love and first for new label Fat Possom Records, 'Hologram Jams'.

Jaguar Love and this album are a strange being, Whitney's vocals haven't moved on since his former band and his screechy vocals often bring you back around to reminiscing about Blood Brothers, especially when his trademark screaming comes into the fold, you can't help but wish the deeper vocals of Jordan Billie were around to balance the whine of Whitney like they did previous. Vocals aside, the comparisons with Blood Brothers generally end as Jaguar Love musically approach you from a dance synth direction rather than an alt-punk one. Most notable is the use of drum programming rather than a drummer, often this can lead bands into dangerous places creating over complex loops to compensate for a lack of members but Jaguar Love are extremely reigned in when it comes to percussion and the drums are the driving force on this record, simply making it impossible to not tap your foot along to the album, regardless of whether you like it or not. Guitars are still there but the in your face style of Blood Brothers has been replaced with a subtle approach with guitars often just there to offer something extra to the sickly sweet sound of synthesisers. Lyrically is where I feel Jaguar Love really let me down though, while Whitney once inspired me with his lyrical ideals, I now feel sick to the stomach to hear him sing the line "Everything is rad, everything is awesome, drive a tank through your head that's awesome", a far cry from his Blood Brothers days and while it suits the tone of the music, lyrically it comes across as uninspired and childish.

'Hologram Jams' isn't as I expected, Jaguar Love aren't what I expected, the poppy dance sound of a good alternative punk band stripped of their individuality and shoved into the modern music scene armed with everything needed to be deemed cool. We want Blood Brothers back.

2 / 5

Jaguar Love Myspace

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Alt Track Interview

The best part about independent bands for myself, is watching them grow both in performance and also musically. From the moment I heard Alt Track I knew that they had something that could go somewhere. I caught up with Micky shortly after their first UK tour to ask him about the tour, their future European dates, their debut album and his thoughts on politics currently.

Please tell everyone reading who you are and how you came to be...

Hey, I'm Micky and I play in a band called Alt Track with my band mate, Pete. We write political dance music and have been gigging together for three years now. We met after our previous bands disbanded and after a few weeks of jamming and an impromptu gig, we made it come together in the end and here we are!

Pete and yourself seem to have a very different taste in music with you stating influence in more the folk/trip-hop and post-rock field, while Pete on the other hand seems to venture on the heavier side but with touches of hip-hop. How do you feel that eclectic combination of influences works for Alt Track and has it ever caused problems?

If you were to go back two years ago when we first started playing, we were writing pretty dull post-rock, ambient, instrumental, electronica kind of stuff because that's what I was into back then. Since then we've both shared bands and influences with one another and alot of Petes taste in dance music, hip-hop and punk has rubbed off on me. Now we've really started pushing into that heavier direction, but we still try and bring in the elements of melodic post-rock and trip-hop. Having an open mind to one anothers tastes and music in general is really a positive thing for us, while conflicts do still sometimes happen when we're tugging the music in a different direction, it does always seem to work.

What is the routine within the band in terms of songwriting. Is it all down to one of you or both of you?

We both write and on the album, I'd say it's totally fifty fifty as far as content goes. Some songs feature one persons ideas more heavily whilst others are a complete split down the middle.

One of the positive things about working electronically means that you don't need a full band to write and jam through new material, so when we write on our own we can pretty much record and demo a song and then bring it to the table. Most of the time Pete will progam something, some beats or a bass loop and then at practice we'll play it together. I might bring a piano melody into the picture, maybe a lyric or two and we'll spend a long time structuring it. Sometimes I wish we could play more with real instruments though, just to get a better feel for the songs and do more subtle things but programming seems to still work best for us.


You said about wishing there were live instruments more readily available, has there ever been a discussion in moving towards more of a band dynamic?

That's something we're always being asked actually! We've discussed it alot aswell. The short answer is no. We both feel we've got something unique in our creative dynamic as a duo. I know there is nobody I can write music like thiswith other than Pete, and onstage people say that our personalities come across clearly.

On the next album we are planning to feature more acoustic instruments though, and some guest vocalists and musicians but I don't think we'll ever be looking for official members, it's just too handy being able to fit us and all our gear into a Renault Clio!


Your EP, 'A Nation Is On Fire' very much owed to the likes of Muse and other grandiose bands whilst on 'Silence Is Approval', you seemed to develop all your influences to move into a genre of your own. How was that achieved, was it discussed and planned or did it naturally occur?

There was a definite point after we did the EP that we wanted to find our own sound. We both like the songs on the EP, some of them I love listening to still but it isn't what we're really about.

In terms of Silence Is Approval, it kind of just fell together. We were both writing and jamming new songs at gigs and were planning to record another EP but one day we kind of just sat down and realised we had enough new songs for an album. So we went into the studio, working with an amazing producer called Simon Mawsom, and he helped us work together alot better than we had been. We ended up writing most of the songs in a short space of time throughout the recording process, and while in hindsight it may have been rushed, it was still really natural.

Looking back, it was definitely the best time either of us have ever had recording and I guess because of the rush, we didn't really think about genres. It was only once we had finished it and listened back for the first time that we realised that we'd written something pretty different.


Both of your releases have received great comments from the music media, myself included. How do you feel as an independent, unsigned band, you can build upon this for the next release?

We have had some lucky breaks in terms of media coverage so far, especially when you take into account how bad at self promotion we are! I think the most exciting comment that we ever received was by Steve Lamacq when he played us last year on prime time Radio 1, that was amazing.

In alot of ways I think our music is taking care of itself, that's what we know how to do, but the other side of music, sending out e-mails, press packs and letters all the time in hope of getting acclaim, that's the hardest thing for us.

Actually getting ourselves out there to badger the more important people in the industry is what we need to improve on for our next release, definitely.


Lyrically, you often move into political territory. Was that always the intention with your music, do you feel that people may be turned away from your music because of this and do you feel that having political views is important in modern music, if so, why?

We always say that lyrics are based upon observations. Right now, the world is in a mess, corrupt politicians, wars, propaganda, lies and injustice. That is something we have to speak out about and music has always been and hopefully will always be, a platform for change.

We're really lucky to have the opportunity to communicate with people in this way, I don't think people are turned away by it, some people may not want to hear the bleak truth but at the same time, we try to remain positive and show that there is a possibility for change, a good change.

I don't think it is crucial to always be ranting about politics in music though, if people want to write about love, drugs, money or war that is up to them. The only thing that I think is important in music, is honesty.


With the UK political battle currently being plastered everywhere, where do you place your music in terms of encouraging young people not only to vote but to vote sensibly?

People have got to come to their own conclusions on the weight of the voting system. I don't really know well enough where I stand to be encouraging other people. I've not met anyone who's got complete, certain, steadfast faith in the way we elect governments, and I don't think anyone's ever been sure.

I think we need some radical change though, and I think a hung parliament is going to be the way to go, even if it's just a foothold on a bigger thing. Keeping the BNP out of any more seats or success is a key part to our message though, no way should those racists be allowed to stand for election.


Back to music now, have you started on a new album yet and if so, any hints on what it will sound like?

We started thinking about a new album straight away, it's there somewhere in our sights but we don't want to rush it.

The first album was exciting, simple and raw to make and I think that comes across. We really want to refine our sound on the next one, input all the details we perhaps neglected on Silence Is Approval.

I don't have too much to say on the sound of the new one yet, I think it will just be bigger, more uplifting, more guitars, more pianos, I don't really know, you'll have to wait and see!


The last few months saw you embark on your first full UK tour, how did it go and also, what do you expect from the European dates you have coming up and what can gig-goers expect from you?

The UK tour was amazing, we played some of the best gigs we've played and met some great people.

It's going to be strange gigging in Europe, I remember a few years back thinking that touring the UK, or playing outside of Bradford was an unreachable, crazy idea, but here we are doing it, and the idea of actually being able to go and play our music on the continent was impossible! We're pretty excited, the anticipation is definitely outweighing the confusion right now.

One thing people have always commented on is how much energy we have on-stage. We try and explore the whole room, not just the stage, and really perform. Every gig counts to us, no matter what the situation, crowd size or sound system. So whether you see us in Bradford or in Belgium, we'll still be giving one hundred and ten percent.


Last question, everything you have done so far has been off your own back from self recording and releasing your album to organising your own tours. Do you think this helps or hinders you and do Alt Track have any aspirations of being signed?

It would be a lie, I think, if any band said they didn't want success in the mainstream. Yeah, it would be nice one day if we had somebody who could do the grinding day-to-day job of e-mailing, photocopying and calling people but right now, I think i'd only ever want to do it ourselves. The longer we remain independent, the longer our music and any success we achieve belongs to us and I hope we'll be able to look back on this time as the important years where we did the practical and mundane things off our own backs.

On the other side of the coin, it means being skint and being abit of a hermit at home when we're not on tour, but for us, it's well worth it. We wouldn't have it any other way!


You can check out Alt Track on their Myspace by clicking here.

Sunday, 25 April 2010

The Coffee And TV Wreck - Better Than Your Friends

Thom Crang, the mastermind behind Cornish folk/indie act The Coffee And TV Wreck releases his latest EP, 'Better Than Your Friends' after honing his craft with two downloadable albums available via his myspace.

The five tracks on offer here, don't stray from acoustic territory, with guitar and vocals at the forefront, occassionally with group vocals, the use of tambourine and once or twice, the inclusion of a xylophone and for '44 and counting', drums. That is however, all that is needed for this lo-fi release, with the concentration on the emotion in both the lyrics and the way they are delivered.

'Trouble Adjusting', is a country sing-a-long, sparse and minimal it relies on its ability to make your head bounce from side to side with the rhythmic tambourine use and you singing along to the chorus line of "Threw all my money and my clothes, away". Its strength lies in that lyrically it is emotionally honest and perhaps even depressing, but musically, it doesn't take itself too seriously, touching upon a sound not too dissimilar to Conor Obersts latest works. 'Watching The World End', perhaps my favourite song on the EP, lyrically concentrating on a feeling of hopelessness with the chorus "You and me on a cliffs edge, watching the world end" as the backing vocals sway in and out, feels more diverse than the other tracks upon the EP, more haunting than emotional and very different to the influences Crang wears on his sleeve, freshening this release up nicely.

'Better Than Your Friends' isn't perhaps groundbreaking, treading on an inoffensive acoustic folk country and indie sound but unlike alot of signed acts that NME is currently dribbling over, Crang has managed to channel huge amounts of emotion into his music that we haven't heard since Noah And The Whale's First Spring. This along with a real nous for song writing, puts The Coffee And TV Wreck in a position where it would be a real shame if they were ignored.

4 / 5

The Coffee And TV Wreck

Friday, 16 April 2010

Ólafur Arnalds - ...And They Have Escaped The Weight Of Darkness

Ólafur Arnalds' second full length album '...and they have escaped the weight of darkness' is a credit to the ever growing list of releases that have formed their way from the independent UK label, Erased Tapes, a collective of music lovers and bands that release beautiful pop to instrumental music that perhaps wouldn't be heard otherwise.

'...and they have escaped the weight of darkness' is a Ronseal quick dry advert if ever I have heard one. Beautiful, melodic and light, there are no hints of darkness or a struggle here, just peace. Sparse piano melodies make up the forefront of this collective of tracks, with intelligently composed string movements filling the void. Ocassionally, like in the final track, brass instruments will come out to play, but it is rare that Arnalds strays from the formula of the other tracks. While at times this will alienate the mainstream crowd in terms of buying this record, that is not to say that these tracks couldn't appear in a mainstream setting with adverts or movies that need dare I say it epic background music, could surely do no wrong in picking any track from this gorgeous release.

Intelligent, polished, beautiful yet subtle, Arnalds has created something worth noticing with his second full length. Lets just hope people start to take note not just of his talent but also the hard work of Erased Tapes to discover and release it.

4 / 5

Ólafur Arnalds Myspace

Sunday, 4 April 2010

Laura Marling - I Speak Because I Can

For most, it was a surprise that Laura Marling and her debut solo album 'Alas I Cannot Swim' was nominated in 2008 for the ever more mainstream Mercury Prize. What surprised me more however, was that Marling wasn't accepted with open arms as much as other folk or solo acoustic acts that have followed. 'Alas I Cannot Swim' was an easy but yet harrowing listen, filled to the brim with infectious folk melodies, so obviously built up through her time with the impressive Noah And The Whale but with an added poetic cynacism, that Noah And The Whale would not yet achieve until their latest album, post Marling. Brilliantly intelligent, the album scoped many emotions we all have to succumb to in our day to day relationships but did so in a tongue in cheek manner. The follow up album 'I Speak Because I Can' holds a huge burden, the burden of following up where 'Alas I Cannot Swim' has left off and the task of propelling Marling even further into the mainstream limelight.

As is the case with many follow up albums, 'I Speak Because I Can' is more mature. Gone are the tongue in cheek lyrical quips that I once heavily admired and into the fold come intelligent and dare I say it, more mainstream lyrics. Lead single 'Goodbye England' has been receiving an overly annoying amount of play on Radio One and while it isn't perhaps the catchiest number that you would expect to hear on daytime radio, it is a beautiful piece of music adorned in orchaestral instruments and accompanied by minimal piano melodies and Marlings simple guitar work, that fits perfectly for the song. Lyrically, Marling is in mourningfully good form and while you perhaps don't have the ability to quote the lyrics as much as the singles from her albums predecessor, the emotion strikes you more than anything she has previously released. Opening track 'Devil's Spoke', my personal favourite from the album, is an upbeat hint towards old Americano music and starts off the record in foot tapping fashion, encouraging you to listen further unlike many other solo acoustic artists who are happy to comotose you from the first second. 'Hope In The Air' is bitterly sad, opening with the line "There is a man I know, seventeen years he never spoke, guess he had nothing to say, he opened his mouth on judgement day" and slowly building from a single guitar melody into big haunting piano bass lines and then drums and group vocals before the track falls back for Marling to sing the best lyric of the album perhaps, "A friend is a friend forever and a good one will never leave, never".

There is no doubt that 'I Speak Because I Can' is a different being than 'Alas I Cannot Swim' and in many ways, this will alienate previous fans as Marling blatantly tries to push from her underground success and ride the wave of money that folk artists Mumford & Sons have created and in all honesty, I was alienated until I really paid attention to the album. 'I Speak Because I Can' is keeping to what we expect from Marling, but building on it three fold and there is no way that this won't make it onto every journalists album of the year list come the end of 2010. It will make it onto mine, that is for sure.

4.5 / 5

Laura Marling Myspace
Draw Me Stories - Becomes The Hunted/Oars

On latest double side single 'Become The Hunted/On The Galley', Draw Me Stories sound like the folk/indie monster their previous publications have hinted at. 'Become The Hunted' is drum driven, the frenzied, snare friendly drums of Samuel Souter pushing the song through all of its structures perfectly. Guitar and bass wise, the song perhaps suits its name perfectly, sounding dark and eerie but crashing down into a flurry as vocalist Carl Hodgetts sings "the hunter becomes the hunted" in a Bjórk like fashion somehow. Its more arty indie than folk but it is original and it works, hugely.

'Oars', much like 'Become The Hunted' is driven by the drums again but has more emphasis built around a folkier sounding guitar melody accompanied by intelligent bass playing. What really pulls Draw Me Stories away from the possible folk contemporaries that they may be compared to is their structure use, 'Oars' is particularly strange in its almost Youthmovies or Foals esque oxford guitar work mid song and also the wah wah pedal build up in the middle eight, it sounds like it shouldn't work and perhaps in many ways, it really shouldn't, but here, it really sounds fantastic.

On the strength of these two tracks alone, I am baffled that Draw Me Stories are unsigned. Sure, they perhaps wouldn't reach the dizzying heights of the nu-folk that is Mumford & Sons but I am pretty sure they'd give it a damn good try and wouldn't come far off. All we need from this three piece now, is a full length album as good as this to back me up!

Draw Me Stories Myspace

4 / 5

Friday, 2 April 2010

Bunny And The Bull - Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

This is possibly the strangest sensation I have had. A soundtrack for the movie Bunny And The Bull infront of me, composed and performed by Ralfe Band and I am expected to form an opinion of it. Don't get me wrong, I am a huge fan of soundtracks and have bought and listened to many in my life so far but it genuinely seems strange to me because I have yet to see the movie.

Strangely enough, if I were to not know it were a soundtrack to an independent movie, I would guess it within the first 'song' anyway. Beautiful but haunting piano melodies are generally the focus here, violins beautifully move into the fold and often instruments like accordians are brought in aswell often to accent the piano sections more so. It feels emotional at times, particularly towards the end of the release with songs like 'Stephen' but on the whole, it has a gypsy folk feel to it, that makes you want to smile, particularly within the early tracks. On the whole, the soundtrack is vocal-less as you would expect but when the vocals do make an appearance on 'Attila The Dog Man', 'Stephens Finale' and 'Fairground Waltz', they sound somewhere inbetween the great Beirut and perhaps Devotchka.

Overall, a strange listen without knowing the film but an interesting and entertaining one at least. On the strength of this soundtrack, I shall be trying to get my hands on the film, so in many ways, this soundtrack has done its job perfectly.

Bunny And The Bull Official Website

4 / 5
Trail - To The Rest Of The World

Trail and their album 'To The Rest Of The World' isn't something I hugely want to write about excessively. Somewhere inbetween the rocky mainstream moments of bands like Lifehouse and perhaps just the ability to pen a catchy song like let us say Take That, they are both listenable and if you are me, unlistenable, in equal measure.

Musically, they are very standard. This is ground that has been successfully covered by the likes of Nickleback already in that it is rock but it has that polished over feel that shouldn't offend you but yet somehow does. Vocally, Trail are extremely strong, Charlie Afif somehow venturing into perhaps a Savage Garden niche, which to my surprise works a lot better than expected and certainly brings out the emotion double fold in comparison to your gravelly Scott Stapp-esque rock singers. Every song on the album has that potential single feel about it and you can imagine each one being played at a mainstream time on Radio One and even some making it on those cheesy american teen sitcoms that seem to be ambusing E4 currently. 'Worry Free' is perhaps the stand-out track for me, mostly lyrically. If you ignore the sickly sweet "If you journey with me, I'm worry free" then you will get to what I deem to be the near perfect line of "What is life if not a collection of treasured moments", Gary Barlow would be proud indeed.

It isn't original and it isn't particularly fantastic but if your mum enjoys the likes of Take That mixed with Nickleback and other watered down rock acts then I am pretty sure that she would enjoy this.

Trail Myspace

3 / 5