Friday, 25 February 2011

Maybeshewill - Critical Distance

It is always inspiring to hear of bands that even in the current climate of the music industry of today, ignore the usual templates set up and do everything themselves. Maybeshewill manage themselves, book their own tours, produce their own records and design their own merchandise and have been doing so since their formation in 2005, which has seen them steadily grow into a band that gain favourable reviews in the likes of Kerrang, which is no mean feat for an instrumental band.

During my instrumental binge phase, I distinctly remember hearing this bands first record and thinking that it was okay but there was something missing, and since then, I disappeared off the instrumental radar (rather than the band). The release of their latest single 'Critical Distance' from their forthcoming third album puts the band well and truly back onto my radar. The single oozes an electronic atmosphere that made early 65daysofstatic so popular, while mixing this with the grandiose beauty of an older and more refined Mogwai sound. Unlike most instrumental bands, Maybeshewill don't seem resigned to writing in the typical structure that involves slowly layering sounds up until you reach a climatic crescendo, instead they approach this single at least with their conventional mainstream heads on, creating a gloriously bright distorted guitar, piano and percussion interplay that is a breath of fresh air for the genre. The b-side to 'Critical Distance', 'I'm In Awe Amadeus' is also thoroughly refreshing, built on acoustic guitar interplays between strummed and jagged picked folk melodies while piano, xylophone and organ sounds soothe themselves in and out. 'I'm In Awe Amadeus' doesn't really go anywhere musically, but it doesn't seem to have to explode into a wall of distortion for me to fall in love with it and this is perhaps what makes it the surprise plus to this single (because I never thought I'd ever rate a b-side higher than an a-side).

All in all, fantastic stuff, if their new album is completely like this I can see no reason why the band can't continue their climb in the instrumental genre because they definitely have grabbed it by the balls, now let’s hope they can kick it until it coughs up blood and changes its ways.

4 / 5

Maybeshewill Official Myspace
You Me At Six - Rescue Me

After the success of their previous album, now is a very important time for You Me At Six, a time where they can shed that emotional radio friendly it isn't quite pop or punk or emo but it is clearly good at what it is, and create a sound more mature and original.

'Rescue Me' clearly isn't a track that is going to blow music critics heads back claiming about how much the band have grown. Yes it has the whole inclusion of the hip-hop/rap artist Chiddy (whoever the hell that is...) but every man and their dog is doing the same currently and has been for several years now, you only have to look at the Thirty Seconds To Mars demo version of 'Hurricane' to see the same technique used but with Kanye West, a more acclaimed and respected artist, so in many respects this collaboration comes across as half arsed and slightly playground in comparison.

Fans of the band will still like this though, it has everything that made You Me At Six so popular amongst younger girls, those emotive lyrics that even a broken hearted primary school student could make sense of sung in a way that if it gripped you before, it will still continue to tug at your heart strings. Musically it is very typical of the band as well, nothing new to report in that sense, it is alternative but not alternative enough to actually be challenging in any sense, it is mainstream, but not mainstream enough to make me vomit into my mouth like the likes of Take That have previously. All in all, it is very safe, and yet, disappointing from a band that are clearly talented enough to achieve more.

1.5 / 5

You Me At Six Official Myspace

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Jeniferever - Silesia

There are only so many times that I can mention Jeniferever, a four piece Swedish export who have paid their dues more than perhaps the more successful Swedish acts (can we say their name without shuddering...The Hives), without feeling like people are clearly being ignorant. 'Silesia', their third full length album, is the follow up to 2009's 'Spring Tides', an album that received a glowing review from myself and showed the band experiment further from the shoegazing sound that was so obvious in their also fantastic debut 'Choose A Bright Morning' (although, just to show I'm not being biased, I reviewed their EP inbetween and found it to be bitterly disappointing).

I can almost understand to some degree, why this band have had to force their way into peoples hearts. The material on the first record was very ambient, very dreamy, it was perfect if you wanted a soundtrack to a Sunday morning stroll on a hillside but you'd be damned if you wanted something to give you some get up and go. Its follow up addressed that somewhat, a punchier, louder, rawer record, but with this came an alternative sound that you knew would alienate people, and certainly wouldn't find its way onto British radio stations. In many respects 'Silesia' sees these issues, and pushes the band into a territory that almost demands more people to be attracted to their sound.

The emphasis here is definitely on immediacy. Recent free downloadable track 'Waifs & Strays' has a cutting guitar melody that slices its way through a lush pop sound to create one of the more note-able chorus' i've heard from the band to date, eventually making way for a guitar solo, something I'm glad that the band have continued to include in their music. 'The Beat Of Our Own Blood', once again lush and pop, has a funk feel to it that we haven't heard from the band before they jump into an imaginative chorus with layers of bright keyboard synth sounds and a guitar play that reminds me of one of my favourite albums from last year by Foals. 'A Drink To Remember' shows old fans that the old band are still in there, it's slow at times, contemplative, and for the most part emotional and utterly soul moving. While 'Deception Pass', which has been coined as their heaviest track yet, perhaps isn't heavy, but merely unrelentless, moving at the break neck speeds that we'd expect from a tornado, not a band, with the bass and drum combination refusing to slow even for a second until the last fuzzy notes ring out.

'Silesia' is the record that Jeniferever had to make in order to move forward, it is emotional and shoe gazing at times, it is Jeniferever of old, but it shows a song writing quality to the band, that they have more tricks up their sleeves than they have been willing to put out on the table before now, and with the amount of ideas that we have on this record, surely now is the time for the band to reach the limelight.

5 / 5

Jeniferever Myspace Page

Monday, 7 February 2011

Mogwai - Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will

I remember a whole host of people blabbering on about Mogwai and that I needed to check them out, that my life depended on it, that I really couldn't listen to post-rock as a genre without Mogwai being a part of it, and I just laughed them off for as long as I could until one birthday my dad bought me 'Mr Beast' on vinyl and that was the start of this infactuation with the scottish band that until this day, has yet to cease.

'Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will' is the bands seventh album, and I wouldn't blame anyone who perhaps looks at the band and wonders after such a productive career spanning several albums, eps and a fair few soundtracks, how can they still not only be making music, but still be re-creating their sound and maintaining their relevance in a music industry that has continuously evolved since their birth in 1995, but the fact is, Mogwai have never been so cool that they've gained the popularity to be able to sell out, they've just steadily it seems, gone about their business releasing the music that they want to in that snapshot of time. 'Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will' is another snapshot of time, but unlike their previous efforts, for me showcases the versatility of the band not only for their instrumental rock roots but also showing the electronica and trip-hop sections that the band have been daring to show us for years.

Mogwai of recent, can be so painfully beautiful that you wonder if they've lost their bite, opener 'White Noise' deceives you with its Battles-esque guitar melody before evolving into this beautiful landscape of sound that we've heard from the likes of Sigur Ros before, it's all very lovely but for most Mogwai fans, this is what we've grown to dislike about the band and it is at this point that I'm painfully hoping the rest of the album won't be so gorgeous, so lush, so shoegazing, so...samey. Luckily for me, by track two 'Mexican Grand Prix', that feeling is dispelled completely, it's upbeat, driven by this racey bassline which I'm sure inspired the title of the track, while its trip-hop-esque vocals recall the so far popular tones of The XX, which would generally be a bad thing for me, but with Mogwai, it seems to be an extension of their sound. 'Letters To The Metro' is new Mogwai by numbers, if you ever needed a song to encapsulate the bands prowess at writing a solumn track that has the ability to command a listeners attention within one bar of music then this is it, built upon a fragile piano melody, it puts instrumental music at its finest peak, showing that you don't need lyrics to evoke emotion. Every time Mogwai fool you into thinking they are mellowing in age, they hit you where it hurts and 'George Square Thatcher Death Party' does exactly that, once again built on a relentless bassline, this time punky, really this is a band that are comfortable doing anything, as long as it is making music, any music and it is frightening how many times this album makes me question whether I am listening to the same band.

'The Hawk Is Howling' was a let down for many people (not especially for me though) but 'Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will' definitely will put the band back on form for all fans to see/hear. At times it is fragile, ambient while at others it has a baseball bat and is thoroughly beating you over the head with it, it's post-rock, it's trip-hop, it's ambient, it's punk rock, it is nothing short of attention grabbing and has already made me excited for a new year of music.

4 / 5


Friday, 4 February 2011

Penguins Kill Polar Bears - Vessels & Veins

Seriously, what do the Scottish feed their young children on these days? It must be something special because the list of talented Scottish artists has just grown and grown and grown, with every band a potential successful export. Penguins Kill Polar Bears are on this list and have already been named alongside media favourites Biffy Clyro and my personal favourites The Xcerts, so it doesn't seem like it will really take too long until we've all heard of them.

Four track EP 'Vessels & Veins' explodes with post-rock tendencies, it's all about crashing percussion and effect soaked guitar melodies that often at times recalls a sound that has made Explosions In The Sky popular. Vocally I don't think that Ben Proudlock could sound more Scottish, whether or not that actually works to his advantage I'm unsure, but it doesn't make me cringe and it seems to fit perfectly with the emotional attack of the guitar play. It is only perhaps chorus wise that I feel the band can't quite match up to the heights of their contemporaries. Biffy Clyro have a nack of writing a decent chorus, and The Xcerts, even despite the experimentation of their last album, still managed to create an album with almost anthemic chorus' at times and this is something Penguins Kill Polar Bears need to learn, when to reign in the experimental sensabilities.

'Vessels & Veins' is only the second EP release from a band two years old so it seems a little strong to ask them to be as good as a band like Biffy Clyro who have been going for years, but this release shows a definite potential and I don't doubt for one second that this band will have any problem gaining fans, except for maybe that perculiar name.

3.5 / 5

Penguins Kill Polar Bears Myspace