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Monthly Archives: February 2013

bastille-bandSet to cause a massive storm this year, a new indie/alt band are on the scene in the form of Bastille. Having not had much chart success to date, they released their new single Pompeii this week and it is one hell of a song. A catchy hook teamed with electronic guitar bleeps and a steady drum makes it a complete package for a guaranteed hit.

Formed in South London in 2010, the band have released singles before that have failed to chart. Originally a solo project by frontman Dan Smith, the band is now a team of four with Chris Wood, Kyle Simmons and Will Farquarson providing killer backing for their atmospheric sound. Although they are still virtually unknown, their earlier material has featured on Made In Chelsea, The Vampire Diaries and on FIFA 13 and their debut album Bad Blood is released next week.

British indie is a market that is growing all the time but I cannot understand why Bastille haven’t been successful before. They mix the best of classic indie in the vocals with the modern electronica of today’s big names. Great pop melodies and an epic quality to their choruses make it a fresh, unique sound that you’ll love forever.

They did play at last year’s Reading and Leeds Festivals, supported Emeli Sande and Two Door Cinema Club on their tours last year but they may get slightly more interest this time around. Thanks to the anthemic release of Pompeii, the album looks set to chart very well.

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maudTITLE: The Navigation
BAND: MAUD
LABEL: Unsigned
RELEASED: May 5th 2012

Having never listened to “organic electropop” before, I wasn’t sure what to expect when MAUD e-mailed me with an EP review request. I assumed it would be purely about the different sounds each instrument makes and incorporating them in interesting, original formats. Turns out that I wasn’t too wrong!

The North London trio have come together from very different, exotic backgrounds with singer Maud Waret and multi-instrumentalist Philippe Locke meeting in the Himalayas in India. Danish percussionist Nikolaj Bjerre joined later and with plenty of organic instruments and analogue sounds, the three set out to write and record their debut EP The Navigation. Their live shows also see the arrival of guitarist Diogenes Baptistella, which injects a massive dose of energy and lights up their performances.

485109_433158743433948_1689504811_nStarting with Latitude, the violin intro suggests a calming classical piece which then changes into a synth and bass filled backing. Maud’s soft vocals fall over the top in a floaty cascade in time to the pop beat. It is a little bit like a less dramatic Florence and the Machine number with a more tropical influence. The instrumental features an electronic sound that resembles an ambulance roaring off to rescue someone and it is a little disconcerting along with the dreamy atmosphere created.

It then rolls casually into possibly the most literal song I’ve ever heard, Deep Blue. As the title suggests, it’s a track that drifts along, ebbing and flowing in a mindless daze. A resonating piano and haunting vocal are the main sounds while the musical ocean gently sways into babe-in-arms mode, causing you to quite easily disappear into dreamland. If small children are having trouble sleeping, I highly recommend this track!

Third on the EP is Seule, which I like to think of as the central piece. It’s sung in French and adds that slice of culture to the EP, which is something that definitely makes it unique. Seule means alone in French and indeed, the song is a little isolated on the record. A melancholy piano runs underneath the monotone melody. It does end in more of a crescendo. which has some great live potential particularly when backed up with that guitar.

Moving on to my favourite track on the EP, Limbo. It’s a lot more upbeat and with the retro pop feel to (think ABBA), it’s a real feel-good song. Limbo has a lot more attitude to it than the other tracks and is almost like the problem child amongst a family of goody-two-shoes. The strong drum and electronic spurts make it exciting, fresh and altogether, easily their best. It’s the one song on this EP that is bound to get you dancing and having a real good time to.

Finishing on Lady Day, a classic mellow pop song, the EP ends on a retro note but retains the electropop element. The simple acoustic guitar keeps it simple and actually, for a band that love using lots of different instruments and layers, Lady Day is quite stripped back and there isn’t an awful lot to the music.

The Navigation is a great first effort from MAUD, who are without a doubt a very unique act. They clearly have a lot of talent and although their sound isn’t accessible to everyone, they have some killer tunes and the many faces of the group are shown to perfection on this record.

TravellingBandFeb2013mediumFolk-rock is seeing a boom at the moment and Manchester five-piece The Travelling Band are a group with a lot of colourful charm and a signature sound that slots right into the current wave. Quirky, original and a typical Northern slant on the vocal make them both classic and yet totally new.

Their new EP Hands Up was released just yesterday after they spent the majority of last year writing and playing a series of UK and European festivals. After releasing two albums Under The Pavement in 2008 and Screaming Is Something in 2011, they have successfully funded a third album through Pledge Music. The new record is entitled The Big Defreeze, produced by platinum-winning Iestyn Polson, and will be released this year.

Clearly, they have gone on to achieve a very loyal fanbase. Indeed, last night they appeared on BBC 6Music with Marc Riley, an early championer of them and performed a live set. 2013 will see them touring the UK in aid of the new album. Glastonbury organiser Michael Eavis has said of The Travelling Band:

“The sounds they generate took me back to my musical roots. Marvellous music to savour and enjoy.”

Very big compliments from someone who obviously listens to a lot of folk bands! Indeed, their sound is something a little bit different and even if folk isn’t normally your thing, I think you might fall a little bit in love with them. Upbeat, approachable and incredibly likeable, listen to their tracks on their bandcamp page.

jamesrutledgeThe indie band’s hit album has been re-worked into a one track remix by long-time fan and producer James Rutledge. A clever masterpiece that really encapsulates the true essence of the album in just under seven minutes. James said of creating the mix:

“Everything Everything are one of my favourite bands. I wanted to remix the entirety of the new album into one coherent track that retained the emotive punch and some of the thematic threads that run through Arc. To just build a song using disparate parts from the record.

I’ve always loved tracks built from samples and musical collages/ bricolage, edits, tape splicing etc. but really wanted to create something contemporary rather than retroish.

Whilst I was working on it, I had a day where I had to travel on the overground to the other side of London. Steve Reich’s Different Trains was in my earphones and I couldn’t hear it too well because the tannoy announcements during my journey were so loud. As I flipped backwards between my rough version of the remix, the EE album and the Reich track I realised that I wanted the remix to sound like a serene and abstracted train journey where you glimpse bits of the album through the window and fragments of the tracks blow around in the dust.”

Listen to it here on soundcloud.

OriginsTITLE: Origins
BAND: Forerunner
LABEL: Unsigned
RELEASED: January 19th 2013

If you read my review of the final of Surface Festival 2012, then you’ll remember that Forerunner were one of the only bands on the bill that completely blew me away. Naturally, they were up against some fierce, professional competition but they were certainly my favourite of the night and feel that they were robbed of a prize. When playing live, this Brighton foursome are truly mesmerizing and now I’ve heard it, their music is equally awesome on download.

Origins is the band’s latest EP and despite being a relatively young band, they have had some pretty massive successes aside from Surface Festival. They were voted amongst the Top 10 Live Acts in Brighton by none other than Heart FM and in the Top 15 Young Bands in the UK by studentbeans.com. On top of that, this EP has received a lot of love from a variety of music blogs and websites, so I’m just here to simply add another one!

forerunnerIt’s pretty hard to categorise Forerunner’s sound, due to the fact that they play guitars and drums, have the element of electronica and also retain a soothing, therapeutic aura. Origins shows off all three strands perfectly in just three tracks, starting with The Escape which I think is my favourite. An indie slant on the vocal and the electronic note in the background continuously keeping the beat team up with a very catchy hook, set to a pop rhythm. It’s a really great mix of the alternative rock side to Forerunner and the modern, quirky techno that they also bring.

The title track has more of a rock edge with a little of, dare I say it, McFly in the lead vocal. It’s a pretty awesome combination actually as the song has the grit needed to achieve the desired effect and yet it also has an innocence to it. I will also compare them to Muse at this point, who are also notoriously difficult to shove into a genre but who have a similar sort of thing going on. They’re not as heavy as Muse but the influence can definitely be heard. Another catchy chorus and plenty of live atmosphere created means that Origins is a track that simply has to be added to their set.

Finishing on six minute-long Going In is a gentle touchdown back to Earth. After the dizzy, rocky heights of the previous track, we are now lulled back into a kind of haze. A breathy staccato vocal towards the beginning evolves into a fierce guitar and drumming session, which actually simulate a kind of electronic beat. At around the four minute mark, it drops into an spacey, chill-out track and when five minutes has gone by, the backing vocals arrive creating a haunting ripple effect that lasts until the gradual end.

Origins is without a doubt, one of the most polished, unsigned EPs that I’ve come across. It’s dark, ghostly and relaxed, conjuring up emotions all over the place. A truly awesome record.

Haven’t posted a SoundOut Track in a while but here is one that definitely stood out for me amongst the many I’ve been sent. Soothing, melancholy acoustic pop from an awesome unsigned trio, I Am Not Lefthanded. It’s a taster of their debut album The Fire And The Sigh, which was released last summer. It’s mellow-core to the max with an interesting video to boot!

This is just to make you all aware of a Kickstarter project by film-maker Volker Schaner, who has been following Jamaican reggae artist Lee Scratch Perry for the past fourteen years. As a massive fan of the now 72-year-old star, Volker has gained Perry’s trust and now has exclusive material with which he wishes to transform into a feature-length film.

Schaner has joined Perry on a spiritual and geographical journey across Jamaica, Ethiopia, Switzerland, Germany and London, which is part biography, part fairytale documentary. With the right funding, it hopes to become one of the biggest musical documentaries ever made. Watch the trailer below and be sure to visit the Kickstarter campaign page.