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Monthly Archives: March 2013

sleepaloneTITLE: Sleep Alone
BAND: Hot Damn
LABEL: We Are Triumphant
RELEASED: March 26th 2013

With pop-punk being a genre that has been very close to my heart for many years, it’s always very exciting to discover new bands within it. Hot Damn are the latest to come to my attention and their debut mini-album Sleep Alone is fundamentally pop-punk but with a definite alternative twist. A lot more angst and pent-up passion is unleashed within the lyrics and at times, it’s only really the instruments that retain the upbeat pop-punk sound.

South Wales five-piece Hot Damn begin their album with Sincerity, a minute and a half introduction that eases us in slowly with Americana vocals and a slow fuzzy guitar. Lapsing into the frantic Worn Out, which is the first sign of anger in the vocals. The passion behind the vocals force them to sing out of time with the instruments which produces a disjointed, interesting result. Although, like much of the album it isn’t stereotypical pop-punk, it still retains the rhythms. Worn Out also features a false ending at the three minute mark which is something a little bit unique.

hotdamnMy Life In Your Eyes is the first of the summery sounding songs. A singing riff opens it and it begins to take on a Boys Like Girls feel, reverting back to the more traditional pop-punk sound. Slamming drums and a melodic catchy chorus ensure this is one for the summer playlist next season. Willows is also an uplifting track with lyrics such as “every cloud has a silver lining”. This is the track that I think shows off the vocals best. The guitars take a step back and some of the best lyrics on the album shine through.

I’d Hate Me Too and title track Sleep Alone have strong resemblances to The Wonder Years and early Fall Out Boy. Plenty of energy and desperation is pushed into the lyrics and the guitars are sped up. There is a touch of electronica in the beginning of Sleep Alone and we start off by thinking they’ll throw us into a rogue electropop number but the innate angst stops us in our tracks. I’m Not An Island (You Have Nothing To Stand On) is another angry track that has catchy singing guitars. There is a real sense of revenge on this track which is a sure, moshpit anthem.

Ending on another angsty live track, Nosebleed begins with a fast bassline, which I don’t think there are enough of on the album. The soft chimes of the cymbals join in before it explodes into a fit of angry, anarchic guitars and vocals, which would slot in nicely to their ready-made post-hardcore set. A fiery and frantic exit leaves us wondering where they could take us next.

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BadBloodBastillealbumTITLE: Bad Blood
BAND: Bastille
LABEL: EMI
RELEASED: March 4th 2013

I wrote an introductory article to Bastille last month and now that I’ve listened to their much-hyped album Bad Blood, I felt that it deserved a favourable review. Bastille are a band who are currently being talked about everywhere. They have recently received a lot of airplay of their latest single Pompeii, which actually could be described as overplayed despite it only being released at the end of February. They are set to release follow-up single Laura Palmer in the summer when they will no doubt be entertaining festival crowds everywhere.

The London foursome are incredibly talented individuals who have cultivated a unique sound which provokes a variety of emotions during the length of the album. The record actually has three songs which were released as singles last year but which failed to have major success. These are Overjoyed, the title track Bad Blood and Flaws. Pompeii has definitely been their turning point and the one track that has made us all sit up and listen.

bastilleThey begin with the big gun and its strong pop beat coupled with the catchy backing vocals that any radio listener is now very familiar with. Pompeii is a big song and not simply because everyone now knows it. The synths and resonating choral backing, which is common on the album, scream out “this is a big hit”. Bastille are great at creating this effect and as a result, their songs seem like the type of music that would be a lot better appreciated when heard live.

Upcoming single Laura Palmer is much the same as Pompeii in its epic statement. It has that great melodic quality teamed with a string arrangement that grows as the track continues. A catchy chorus is the final piece that ensures it has the wow factor that is needed for a great live addition. Similarly, Bad Blood and These Streets also have this “big” quality embedded in the echoes of the backing vocals. Although both of these tracks have more of an electro influence than Pompeii and Laura Palmer, the choral echoes are a strong motif on the record.

The choral chants become a bit darker on Icarus and Daniel In The Den, when they take on a haunting tone. Icarus refers largely to the Greek myth from which it takes its name and therefore the subject matter is quite dark with the backing taking on a church music feel. There is a definite sense of doom within the song and it is altogether quite a disturbing listen. Daniel In The Den has an upbeat melody but set to a slow, dreary piano which can come across as a little strange at first, although intriguing. An electro whine runs in the back and the chants together with the lyrical content are unsettling.

Electronica is definitely a common occurence and is seen again on Weight Of Living Pt II and Flaws, the latter of which features arcade game-esque bounces. Together with quirky indie rhythms and the ever-present backing vocals, they are both catchy and likeable tracks with huge potential. At times, Bastille merge indie, folk, pop and electronica which may appear to be a bit too much but they somehow make it work most of the time.

Although it is quite a chilled album on the whole, Oblivion and Get Home are the track that stand out to me as being the warm down songs. Oblivion’s intro is almost like a lullaby and it acts as a calming, swaying interlude in the middle of the record. Get Home has distorted harmonies and hypnotising vocals set to a simple, stripped back piano that winds its way through your head, chilling you from the outside in.

Bad Blood is one of those albums that you just know will be up for awards later this year and early next year. It is definitely Bastille’s breakthrough record and at last, the masses get to hear the amazing songs that simply weren’t given enough promotion on their release.

Here is a Sound Out track that I thought was a little different. It’s a bit poppy, bit rocky, bit electro, a bit everything! The Aussie trio Atlas Genius released their debut EP Through The Glass last summer and toured the States as promotion. If So features on the video game FIFA 13.

Irish band Kodaline are having a bit of a moment right now and their hit High Hopes has just been converted into a pretty soulful acoustic version. After becoming finalists in the BBC Sound of 2013 competition earlier this year, they’ve gone on to receive rave reviews for their album In A Perfect World with High Hopes being a radio regular.

The latest video from Fall Out Boy dropped this week and it’s the second taster of what’s to come from their album Save Rock And Roll, which is released on April 15th. The Phoenix is another stomping track with a catchy rhythm and quite a sexy video. Many Fall Out Boy fans will see this song as the band rising from the ashes of their last album Folie à Deux, which didn’t do as well as their previous releases. Has the real Fall Out Boy returned?

100yearoldmanTITLE: The Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out Of The Window And Disappeared
AUTHOR: Jonas Jonasson
EDITION: Hesperus Press
FIRST PUBLISHED: September 2009

Being the huge bookworm that most of you will know that I am, you might guess that I spend a lot of time in bookshops notably Waterstones. I rarely pay attention to the charts section in there and normally head straight to the horror and/or fantasy section but I figured that this might be the reason I tend to read books that are all pretty similar. This book was in the charts on one of my recent visits to a bookshop and I felt like picking it up.

Originally published in Swedish four years ago, the English edition has only just arrived in the UK and it is fast becoming a book that everyone is reading. Experienced readers may look at the title and think “that’s a metaphor for something” or “what could that possibly be about?” but it is in fact a literal description of the events of the story. Allan Karlsson escapes through the open window of his bedroom in the Old People’s Home in the Swedish town of Malmkoping on the afternoon of his hundredth birthday.

It was a bit of a slow burner to be honest, although by the end I did very much like Allan the protagonist and so wanted to know what happened to him. His extraordinary life as a travelling bomb expert is played out to us and we learn that he has enjoyed friendships with some of history’s most powerful leaders due to his knowledge of explosives. There is a lot of political chat in the book which is ironic because we’re reminded more than once that Allan himself hates talk of politics and if you’re as afraid of it as he is, this book may unfortunately be one that you give up on pretty quickly.

There were a few moments that made me laugh and this level and style of humour continued throughout the book. Mainly caused by the image of a very very old man getting into scrapes and just generally not being a typical very very old man. The characters he meets along his way including fellow old man Julius, teetotal Benny, Benny’s estranged brother Bosse and the eccentric Gunilla aka The Beauty are all equally amusing in their own ways. The strange circle of friends find themselves on the run from the police after an unfortunate chain of events makes them unlikely murder suspects. The ludicrousness of this storyline is what gives the book its charm and it definitely was Allan’s normal but extraordinary character that kept me reading.

Despite there being a lot of political history covered, it is still a book that turns up the corners of your mouth on more than a few occasions. As a result I’d recommend it as something that perhaps shouldn’t be taken seriously and enjoyed simply for what it is -a satirical, funny and at times whimsical novel.

 

fireatnightHampshire rock trio Fire At Night have just uploaded a live acoustic set which they played at Harlington Centre in Fleet on December 19th 2012. With them being regulars on this blog, I simply had to share it with those of you who have since discovered them.

It certainly gives a great idea of the nature of their live performance and although I am yet to attend a gig of theirs, hearing this live set confirms that they sound pretty good. Listen on bandcamp where you can also download all five tracks.