Friday, 28 January 2011

The Hole Punch Generation - The Hole Punch Generation

Somewhere in the midst of all that glossed over, trendy, auto-tuned bullshit that we call the modern day music industry, there are bands who truly deserve to be listened to, and you won't find them in the five pound January sale section of your local supermarket, you have to dig for them, and it's generally only luck that allows you to find these gems.

The Hole Punch Generation are one of these gems. Formed over five years ago in Boston, they have been compared to Radiohead, Sigur Ros, Arcade Fire and Coldplay, but strangely sound nothing like any of them in general (perhaps tinges of Sigur Ros). What we have here infact, is lush dreamy soundscapes reminiscent at times of the likes of M83, but never losing any form of originality.

Here is music that is happy to sooth you to sleep, here is a band that desperately should not be overlooked.

4 / 5

Conversations by The Hole Punch Generation from The Hole Punch Generation on Vimeo.

The Hole Punch Generation Myspace

Friday, 21 January 2011

Thirteen Senses - Crystal Sounds

When their first album, 'The Invitation', entered the UK top forty chart, there was perhaps only one direction that the once Cornish band Thirteen Senses could go with their somewhat typical Coldplay or Keane-lite mainstream indie sound and that was down. With its follow up, 'Contact' only achieving a seventy six spot in the chart and the following long silence from the band, as well as their release from major label Mercury perhaps signalling for most, the end of this band, it comes as a surprise that here we have it, at the start of 2011, a new album 'Crystal Sounds'. Are Thirteen Senses still relevant though, or will this album be destined to fill the bargain bins, ignored by many.

Recorded and produced by the band themselves in their own studio, one thing is for definite, 'Crystal Sounds' could be Thirteen Senses ticket to experimenting away from the sound that made them popular but also made them too typical. Opening track, the title track, is full of intent, hand claps are built alongside ever growing guitar lines and the use of synth before the almost Arcade Fire-like drums come in, it is almost a war cry in comparison to the Thirteen Senses we've heard before. Lead single, 'The Loneliest Star' has a definite eighties sound to it, which seems a smart move considering the trends in music of late have been in more of that direction. Somewhere in the middle however, Thirteen Senses find some horribly sticky middle ground where the vocals are sickly sweet and sound very Gary Barlow-esque, while musically, it goes down that well tread Keane road once again. Luckily for Thirteen Senses, despite their need to play it safe, they do still have the musicianship to pen a decent tune, and this is showcased in the later stages with the operatic number that is 'Out There', heavily orchaestrated, it shows another side of the band, and makes all these little comparisons I've made to Coldplay and Keane seem somewhat daft.

Thirteen Senses are Cornwalls most successful export it's true, but how long for really? With a wait this long for a third album and the ever increasing difficulty in actually getting fans to buy albums, this could have been Thirteen Senses opportunity to pull it out of the bag, no major label, everything recorded and produced by themselves, it could have been great, and at times it is, but for the most part it is what we have come to expect not only from Thirteen Senses, but also from the pop indie bands from the last decade.

3 / 5

Thirteen Senses Myspace

Friday, 14 January 2011

Codes In The Clouds - As The Spirit Wanes

Ah when I was a young whipper snapper, fresh from my young and naive obsession with both horrendous metal and emo music, I became somewhat connected with I don't want to call it post-rock, so lets just call it instrumental music. Still to this day I have the likes of Explosions In The Sky, This Will Destroy You, Upcdownc, Mogwai, Mono, Sigur Ros and god knows how many other instrumental CDs blissfully placed within my ever growing music collection. My collection however, has never contained British band Codes In The Clouds well received debut album 'Paper Canyon', my reasoning being, I already have Explosions In The Sky albums, why would I need a British version of those albums?

Two years on, we have the official sophomore return of Codes In The Clouds (I'm definitely not going to count the tripe that was 'Paper Canyon Recycled', a somewhat abysmal remix album should never be considered a second album) and I'm not going to beat around the bush, they still won't be making it into my CD collection. There is a whole host of instrumental bands and the general way these bands go around being interesting is by layering their sound into a climatic finale. Codes In The Clouds have this ability and more so, the ability to be more than that. They write some stunningly beautiful music, most of which you can imagine being used for uplifting television adverts, but there is literally no direction to this album, you can get to the end of a song, and wonder what the purpose of it actually was and beauty aside, I'm sure we all want to feel like we've achieved something from listening to not only a song, but a record as a whole and there isn't one track on this release that stands apart as being note worthy, which for a band as acclaimed as they are, is disturbing.

There is no doubt in my mind that here we have a group of brilliantly talented musicians, and I am sure that this album will be well received by most critics, but to me, someone who spent a good few years listening to all manner of instrumental albums (including some god awful ones), this is a band that definitely has the ability to create something better, I just wish they would stop disappointing me and would do just that.

2.5 / 5

Codes In The Clouds Myspace