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Monthly Archives: June 2012

TITLE: Money
BAND: Sucker For Pumps
LABEL: Unsigned
RELEASED: June 29th 2012

This LA foursome is coming to the UK with American charm, witty lyrics and a whole host of talent. If you’re a lover of indie with a dark side, Sucker For Pumps are certainly for you. Sounds of the 80s are fused with some of the best indie names of today to create something a bit edgy and perhaps slightly sexy.

Money is their second EP and follows Lights, which was released in 2009. Both albums are packed full of melodic guitars and catchy drum beats with emotion seeping from every word. Now with a new guitarist, Robert Melero, Sucker For Pumps look set to step out and make their mark on the over-populated indie world.

The EP begins with the clever twists and turns of Orpheus, a smoky indie-pop track with a hint of recent Arctic Monkeys in the riffs. This hint of British style could be a real winner, when they cross the pond. The instrumental around the two minute mark would make a great gig outro, as the singing guitars let you know that these guys have got something special. They’re not just using the same rhythms, which plenty of other bands have done- this is something new.

The title track begins with a similar guitar melody and then launches into singer Ruben’s deep vocals about the harsh reality of being broke. It’s a universal theme, which is often written and talked about (badly, might I add) but Sucker For Pumps deal with it in a mature and frank way. “Can you see me making money?” is almost like they’re questioning the listener about whether they think the band will make it. It’s a powerful track, which incorporates plenty of raw emotion.

Pistoleros moves the EP into a more indie-pop phase and the slight electronic sound to the guitars make it the most upbeat track. As is common with a lot of great songs, the instruments don’t always mirror the lyrics and indeed Pistoleros falls into this category. The great thing about it is that despite the downward lyrics and energetic riffs, it still manages to be unlike anything else out there at the moment.

Closing with another dark rock song like Stampede brings the EP full circle and we’re once again treated to bluesy guitars and simple rhythm. It’s slower and more mellow than Orpheus, which is to be expected in the warm-down but with another instrumental that would make an electrifying outro, the band seem to know their talents. They have indeed clocked up an impressive live CV and to have them in the UK is an incredibly exciting prospect.

As they begin the international leg of their journey as a band, they simply state:

“Our intentions are to play to anyone that will have us.  Our goal is simply to make good art.  If at the end of the day the fame and stardom never dawn, we’re good with it.”

So, watch this space!

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TITLE: Runaway
ARTIST: Portia Conn
LABEL: LAB Records
RELEASED: July 29th 2012

Since first seeing this girl at James Bourne’s acoustic set back in March, I’ve fallen in love with her voice. She appeared on Deaf Havana’s latest single Little White Lies and now she’s announced her debut solo single, Runaway. The EP will also be out soon and she’s looking set to be the next biggest female talent.

With so many young, beautiful female singer/songwriters around at the moment, you could be mistaken in thinking that Portia is just another one of them. Just take a listen to her tracks and you’ll see that she’s not simply a new starlet with a pretty voice- she’s got talent by the bag-full and she’s working her way into the industry in her own way.

Runaway is a simple pop track, showing off her full vocal range. In places, it does flirt with the Disney Channel tone that is becoming all too commonplace now but it’s certainly not a Hannah Montana/HSM copy. Portia’s innocent sound could lend itself perfectly to teeny-bopper tunes but the fact she manages to steer away from it means that it’s more credit to her for writing in her own style.

The lyrics are about craving freedom from a situation, whether it’s from a relationship or simply from the place you’re stuck in every day. This is certainly something that a lot of people tend to feel in their late teens or early 20s, when you’re ready to break out into the world and live your life. Shot in London, over 100 miles from Portia’s Stratford-upon-Avon home, the video is a perfect illustration. A great theme for a debut single as it’s a true reflection on where Portia is at in her life. We’re getting to know her, which is what listeners want from a new artist.

Effortlessly skirting around the Vanessa Hudgens/Lea Michele comparisons that critics will certainly try to make, Runaway is your ideal chill-out track this summer. Keep an eye out for the EP at the end of July too!

Today, it was confirmed that I have a 2:1 in my degree, which I’m so happy about. I will be officially graduating on July 13th. It’s all so exciting and I can’t wait to take this blog to the next level and really get my career rolling. Thanks to everyone who has been on board so far and I welcome anyone who is yet to join me! Love Alex x

TITLE: Survival
BAND: Muse
LABEL: Warner Bros.
RELEASED: June 27th 2012

The new Muse track was leaked today and it’s been branded as the Olympic theme. With this in mind, the title seems a bit ironic considering surviving is what Team GB will probably manage to achieve. Not to dishearten anyone but we’re hardly a nation of sporting winners (take a look at England’s performance in Europe over the weekend- seriously, a crash out on penalties again?). However, Muse make award-winning British music, so it’s an awesome motivator and morale booster.

As well as being a warm-up, excitement inducing Olympic track, Survival is also the first flavour of the band’s new album The 2nd Law, which is due to be released in September. It’s an incredibly powerful and full-on track, which because of its Olympic origins, probably doesn’t fully reflect the rest of the album.

Survival begins with a doleful, wonderfully British violin intro, which could have come straight from the opening credits of a Disney movie. The jazz kicks in with the piano and when Matt finally arrives, the song is being carried by the staccato “ah ah ah’s”. The incorporation of opera and the classic British guitars give the whole song that epic, wow-factor. It’s a show opener and no doubt it will really light up the opening ceremony.

With inspirational, let’s-do-battle lyrics, the song is looking set to be a massive hit over the next few weeks, as everyone jumps on the “you can do it, you’re British” bandwagon. Lines such as “You won’t pull ahead, I’ll keep up the pace and I’ll reveal my strength to the whole human race” could only refer to Olympian strength and might. Of course, it’s a track with a lot to say for standing up for yourself and it certainly has a message that we should all take on board -fight for what you want.

Being accomplished live performers, Muse are likely to give an amazing performance of Survival and stir a feeling of pride in all British eyes that are watching. The song itself is a great union of rock, opera and orchestral music, which mirrors the union of nations that the Olympics is. Like the London 2012 Olympic Games, it’s big, overdone and could perhaps have benefitted from a little less drama but when asked to write a song for the Games, Matt pretty much got it right.

TITLE: Oceania
BAND: The Smashing Pumpkins
LABEL: EMI
RELEASED: June 19th 2012

The Chicago alternative band have unleashed their new, long-awaited album Oceania and it’s certainly a great addition to any iPod. It’s their first release since the 2009 effort Teargarden by Kaleidyscope, which received rave reviews. Oceania was originally part of Teargarden but it has now been released as an album in its own right.

On the whole, Oceania is a chilled-out record with a lot of slow guitar riffs and even some eerie space-age ripples in places. Guitarist Jeff Schroeder said of the album:

“In this day and age, with what’s going on politically and socially, it just feels right to play something that’s a little more spacey and dreamy. We want music to move people on an emotional level.”

The Celestials was released as a single last week and it’s a great choice for a first release, as it incorporates a lot of the themes that run through the album -melancholy, emotion and simple sounds which create an ultimately relaxing atmosphere. There’s also a great mix of the classic guitar rock that we’re used to from the band and the new electronic synth, which is used a lot on the album.

The title track is nine minutes of genre-switching and it can be a little hard to keep up. It begins with a Linkin Park-esque chime/guitar intro and drifts into Billy Corgan’s signature drawl, which carries the listener through a song which swerves in all directions, from haunting tinkles to slow calm acoustic. Entering into the fifth minute and the song is building again with a drum roll full of suspense, finally giving into a screaming guitar solo, which evolves into an outro that is unlike anything else on the record. Movie fight scene music, if ever you heard it!

Oceania also flirts with a pop/punk sound in The Chimera, which has the upbeat guitars and rhythm with a touch of soul thrown into the vocals. It’s a track that will appeal to most people and it’s probably the one to put on your party playlist, in order to get everyone up. The singing riffs aren’t a million miles from All Time Low or even Bowling For Soup, so it’s certainly one to put a smile on your face.

Glissandra and Inkless are also similar tracks, which give a nod to a more pop-based sound. The Smashing Pumpkins are an established alternative band and they’re great at producing tracks, which could feature as backing for movies or TV adverts. These tracks have got that quality, which means that they’re great musical accompaniment in the office or for when you’re home after a stressful day.

Violet Rays, Pinwheels and One Diamond, One Heart are all firmly in the spacey, dreamy vein that the band were going for on the album. With slow, emotional lyrics, they’re stand-out tracks and are an exciting insight into where the band could be going next. The pulsing synths and building, Coldplay-like electronic tones bring them into the 21st century too, which is something that any band who have been around a long time, like The Smashing Pumpkins have, need to be able to do.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a Smashing Pumpkins album without the heavy metallic bursts and gravelly vocals. The opening tracks Quasar and Panopticon do just that and long-time fans can get some more of what they love about the band. Atmospheric vocals, steady drums and simple riffs that make an impact are what they’ve always been about and although this is a new venture, there’s still plenty of classic rock to get lost in.

The album rounds off with Wildflower, which is packed with profound thought and Billy’s soulful tone. Emotion is seeping through every second of it and the repeated “I’m wasted along the way to reach you” really buries itself in your head, giving it an overall hopelessness. The wail of the guitar, as it cries through its solo is incredibly touching and will certainly move even the toughest listener.

Oceania is a valiant effort from a band who have been away for a while. They’ve kept up with trends though and still managed to put their own spin on it. One thing that The Smashing Pumpkins have got in bag-fulls is originality and when you hear any of the Oceania tracks, you’ll know who it is straightaway.

TITLE: Never Close Our Eyes
ARTIST: Adam Lambert
LABEL: RCA
RELEASED: June 25th 2012

The American Idol runner up has released a new track, which is set to be another dancefloor filler. This summer is teeming with songs with thumping beats and splattering electronics, meaning the summer charts are packed with club smashes.

Guyliner-wearing, San Diego born Adam has just finished touring with Queen, where he took on the challenge of standing in Freddie’s shoes. He recently said of the venture:

“One of the exciting things about fronting Queen is that we’re crashing two worlds together. I love the music of Queen and classic rock but right now, I’m creating music that is a little more dance/pop hopefully with a rock ‘n’ roll spirit.”

Adam’s new album Trespassing showcases his work with other artists and right from the first listen, you can hear the Bruno Mars in Never Close Our Eyes. With heart-wrenching lyrics such as “If I had my way, we’d never close our eyes”, it couldn’t be written by anyone but Bruno. The production is by Dr Luke, who also produced Katy Perry’s and Ke$ha’s biggest hits, as well as Britney’s comeback single -club classic Hold It Against Me.

Slow piano riffs escalate to a steady pulse and Adam’s voice rolls over the synth with an instrumental culmination, which brings the song down before building again into a dance explosion. It’s nothing original and it’s exactly like the other dance tracks you’ve heard recently but Adam’s tone slots into the genre well. Despite the campness, Never Close Our Eyes is a catchy tune. It will swim round your head for hours after you’ve listened and of course, it will get you up on the floor.

TITLE: This Is Love
ARTISTS: Will.I.Am, Eva Simons
LABEL: Interscope Records
RELEASED: June 24th 2012

The Black Eyed Peas frontman has recently been all over our TV screens, embracing all things Britain. From carrying the Olympic torch through Taunton, coaching some of the country’s finest vocal talent on The Voice, to constantly professing how much he loves the British public, Will seems to have fallen in love with us. His new single shows that Will’s ability to integrate is not simply limited to the society he’s in -he’s also a master at integrating musical genres.

This Is Love sees the LA producer collaborate with Dutch singer-songwriter Eva Simons, who has yet to have her big breakthrough song, although this could well be it. It’s the first taste of Will’s new album #willpower, the name of which gives a nod to his well-documented Twitter addiction. It will probably be a massive success, thanks to the amount of publicity he’s gained recently.

With a slow piano and soulful melody, the song begins like a pop ballad before beginning the steady climb to the dance break which is so typical of Will.I.Am tracks. Will comes in with his rap, backed by a thumping beat and the song has transformed into an R&B club anthem. Eva’s voice enters with rolls of “Can you feel the love?” followed by the synths, which is definitely what will fill the dancefloor. Will has used all his talents and put them into a neat five-minute package.

The video begins with Will playing piano in front of Tower Bridge, which only enhances his newfound Britishness. The song is a great mixture of both British and American sounds, which is clearly Will’s intention. It will definitely be a massive hit, due to the fact it’s so… well, dope.