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Monthly Archives: November 2012

theshapersIf I said the words “French pop-punk band” to you, what would you think? Some kind of weird Europop trash with a few tinny guitars slung in for good measure? Bet you wouldn’t think of a combination between Good Charlotte and Blink 182. However, that’s pretty close to what the Toulouse trio The Shapers are.

Three friends who love skateboarding and American Pie-esque escapades, they’re a band that you can’t help but love. Finally, something awesome has come out of France that you can’t eat or wear and that doesn’t sound completely off of everyone’s radar. Tapping into those who love a bit of cheekiness served with a side order of punk attitude, they have just released a compilation album entitled 360 Back To School, which is available as a free download on their Facebook page!

Proving that they can do it as well as the Warped Tour gang Stateside, they’re a band who are young and carefree, who just want to show the world what they’ve got. Singer Anthony’s voice has more than a touch of Joel Madden to it and the riffs and rhythms are as upbeat and  friendly as those of your favourite pop-punks. The riffs and rhythms of their track No Way To Go is pretty reminiscent of the Good Morning Revival period in Good Charlotte’s career. See if you agree!

Summer Date proves they can also go all Blink on us.

A fun, summery sound which is perfect for those who are currently returning home red-faced and blue-lipped and hating it. Keep up with them on Facebook to find out about further releases and tour dates.

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So I realised that they’ve been away from my blog for far too long. Luckily for me, a new acoustic video of a very special live performance of their latest EP title track We’ve Come Too Far To Live In The Past arrived online today. They’re awesome live performers and I really love this acoustic version of a song I’ve loved for months. Stripped back and simple, they still rock. Check it out!

 

An alternative four-piece from Liverpool recently followed me on Twitter and with influences like Arctic Monkeys and Oasis, I had to give them a listen. Bands made up of talented teenagers always intrigue me because I always feel like they have such a long journey in front of them. Open Season are young, fresh and incredibly unique.

Self-made over the last two years, which have been spent switching and searching for band members, 2012 has really been their year. Having released two EPs this year, their debut Those Were The Days was released in February and its follow-up In Time came in the summer, they’re now in their element. News of a mini album has also been spread and it is due out in the near future.

A great alternative sound with indie vocals, they may sound like a regular modern-day unsigned band to those that haven’t given them a proper listen. When you consider the short time they’ve been an active band, it’s remarkable what they’ve managed to achieve. A mature indiepop sound with impressive riffs and steady drumming are what define them and it’s certainly not a run-of-the-mill style but rather something that sounds like it has been developed through a lot of hard work and determination.

Listen to their tracks on their soundcloud page and keep up with them on Facebook.

Everyone loves a bit of quirky pop every now and then and Lola Dutronic’s latest single is a perfect fit for that. An 80s Europop vibe floats through the five minute track, which is based around the notion of sympathy for the dead, no matter how much they did wrong in their life. With vocals from Stephanie B and music by Richard Citroen, backed up by a handful of talented backing vocalists, it’s a great retro pop track.

TITLE: A New Season For Love
ARTIST: Cormac O’Caoimh
LABEL: Baby Moon
RELEASED: April 13th 2012

One time frontman of Irish band The Citadels has been branching out on his own since 2007 and his latest offering A New Season For Love has arrived. It’s a haven for acoustic folk goodness and those who want to get in touch with their inner bohemian should definitely have a listen to this album. Lyrically sophisticated with plenty of stories to tell, it’s an album that largely sticks to the same sort of sound like a constant mother figure who takes you through an earthy journey through tales of old.

Cormac kicks off with There’s Gold There Somewhere, which sets the repetitive acoustic theme that continues without a break through the record. A simple song with a pretty riff accompanying it, as is the melancholy folksy ballad Remember When We Didn’t Kiss. Both tracks feature a continuous riff backing up a soulful Irish lilt. Repetition and re-using of musical sequences is commonplace on this album and as a result, the rhythms are incredibly catchy.

Title track A New Season For Love is piano based, as is 100,000. The title track resembles an indie classic by The Smiths with a droney atmosphere and is altogether relaxing. 100,000 has a catchy poppy rhythm and Cormac does a lot of musing in the track. The sparseness brings about a kind of euphoria which is visible on other tracks too, such as Heart Attack. Mellow to the point of lullaby is something that is stimulated a lot on the album and it is in fact the ideal cure for insomnia.

Classic indie can be detected in Grow Up To Be Good which has an indie slant in the vocals but it does instead take on a magical form. Mystical chimes in the backing create an ethereal feel and it does conjure up images of enchanted woods and fairies. A catchy rhythm is at play but it is on the whole, another monotone track. Head On is a powerful folk ballad about staying sane, which despite its dreary sound does stop you and make you think.

In terms of more mainstream sounds, Herculean Sky has a funky bass motif which certainly makes it stand out from the rest of the album. An incredibly wordy chorus and plenty of bass appearances give it a slight uplift. Perhaps the darkest track, Heart Attack begins with an Ed Sheeran style intro and continues with a rolling acoustic riff. Delving into such serious themes can cause controversy but Heart Attack is just pretty haunting.

The “rain” songs And The Rain Falls and Counting The Raindrops are pieces of art, in terms of the images they paint. With guitars that sound like raindrops and the repetitive pretty riffs adding a little bit of happiness to the otherwise dreary grey tracks, there is both light and dark within them.

All in all, the album does have a repetitive nature and those who love something a little bit more upbeat should probably steer clear because this doesn’t venture into it at all. The up sides of it are that it’s perfect chill out music and if you simply need lulling to sleep. I’d have perhaps preferred something a little more light-hearted but we all know that acoustic folk certainly sells.

A Texan six-piece with plenty of good old-fashioned Americana are on the scene. Down To Friend are the latest hybrid-of-genres outlet to come out of the States and if you love friendly bands with a sound that is just too darn catchy, then you’ve discovered your new best friends with this lot!

From humble beginnings and sacrifices of other musical projects, guitarists Roger and James, bassist Shawn and drummer Kris banded together to create something magical. With the addition of keys player and electronica man Sx and vocalist Randy, Down To Friend was born in Plano, just outside Dallas last year. Now armed with a handful of kick-ass tunes, they’re ready to show the world what they can do.

With the perfect dose of cheerful New Found Glory-esque pop-punk, vicious growls of hardcore and even a touch of dubstep/electronica, Down To Friend have a sound that is ready made for live performances. Having such a wide range of sounds to tap into means they can play any type of venue anywhere in the world and still put on an amazing show for those that are there. Their track I Forgot The Weekend is the perfect example of the three main threads to their sound.

Check out Down To Friend at https://www.facebook.com/DownToFriend

TITLE: When We Were Young
BAND: Alaska Campus
LABEL: Unsigned
RELEASED: March 24th 2012

I recently discovered a new indie crush in the form of Hertfordshire band Alaska Campus. A little bit Kooks, a little bit You Me At Six and a whole load of melodic guitars encompass an upbeat, quirky sound that is bound to catch on a loop in your head. When We Were Young is the band’s second EP, following on from last year’s Keep Yourself Warm.

Opening with a catchy indie track called You, Me And The Sun, which incorporates an unusual hollow wooden block into the backing of the second verse. It gives it an old-worldy feel and is something that really sets it apart from the ridiculous amount of indie tunes around today. With melodic guitars and a young refreshing sound with a tinge of pop-punk to the vocals, it’s an all-round favourite.

Drifting on to Roseanna, a pretty love song with a doleful vocal. Plenty of longing and romantic laments make it a track that is packed with emotion. A chilled intro with plenty of passion, it’s one for every sucker for an atmospheric live track, as the guitars slam home the aggression. A mixed bag of feelings create this altogether beautiful song.

Mon Reve is a classic British indie song with a twist of American pop punk vocals, which Alaska Campus seemed to have adopted. The strongest resemblance to fellow alternative rockers You Me At Six is shown on this track, as the riffs are simple but original and leave you thinking “hey, that’s pretty cool”. The staccato, plodding riff instrumental is particularly thought provoking and it has such a catchy rhythm. In fact, it’s the rhythm not the words that will stick in your head.

Stark, slowed down ballad Story Of Alaska Pt.1 does verge on emo particularly in the vocals, which are a little dreary and monotone. The instruments really amp it up at the two and a half minute mark and transform it from a bare, isolated vocal track into an electrifying show-stopper. The title is certainly intriguing and it doesn’t go unnoticed that the track shows all aspects of what the band can do. A really band-personal song with a possible great story.

Closing the EP with Control, the band leave us with an upbeat sunny outlook. Although British indie/alternative music tends to weigh heavily on the slamming guitars and gritty vocals, Control is a track which puts back the happiness. The quirky indie vocals have returned and it’s all about the ringing guitar solos. Instrument central, it’s a little thin on the ground when it comes to lyrics but this EP isn’t about creating great literal narratives.

The instruments really speak and despite there being a couple of tracks, which give way to the riffs and beats of musical solos, it still tells a multitude of stories. As I said, they’re a band I’m really excited about.