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Monthly Archives: June 2013

lewismckaleepTITLE: The Bigger Picture
ARTIST: Lewis Mckale
LABEL: Unsigned
RELEASED: June 17th 2013

Brighton based actor and part time singer-songwriter Lewis Mckale recently contacted me to let me know about his recent EP The Bigger Picture. It’s his second EP after his first My Father’s Son was released in November 2011. I was surprised to read that music is Lewis’ side project next to acting, as he seems to have a real flair for it. There’s no trace of an amateur hobbyist here as he has such a professional recording voice.

After gaining a childhood interest in music from his father, he began his music career in many failed bands. Lewis decided to go it alone and has since gained inspiration from the likes of acoustic master Frank Turner. His determination and personality to make a name for himself really comes through in his music and he states himself that he is here to prove everyone wrong.

lewismckaleThe Bigger Picture begins with its title track, a gentle folksy pop number. Slow strumming begin while Lewis’ high, misty vocals melt over the top. There’s a definite quirky folk influence in the sound which is really appealing as is the simple acoustic approach. A touch of Ed Sheeran is present but Lewis is much more edgy. When a piano enters, there is a different layer and another is added with the pretty chimes towards the end. I detect a lot of memories being dragged up in the broken pictures and reminiscing, which gives it a doleful tone.

Those Were The Days is the real nostalgia fest with its chilled indie intro and “live for the moment” message. The folk thread takes on a Parisian theme with the harmonica making an appearance. The vocals are slightly nasal but really show off his distinctive voice. It’s a simple melody in a sweet acoustic pop song that is so well executed.

Prove You Wrong is definitely my favourite track on the EP and it’s the one that I think best defines Lewis. There’s a taste of country in the riff and a focus on the passionate vocals. It has a busker feel to it and I can imagine a really talented street performer giving an awesome rendition of it in a tube station. It’s very stripped back and beautiful with the mantra of doing what you want to do even when facing adversity. Lewis’ vocal licks are at their best on this track and he does some tricks that make you stop and think “wow”.

Ending on (Don’t) Forget Who You Are, a relaxed acoustic number with a slow pop beat. Lewis’ melodic drawls are back and there is such a pure quality to his voice that is addictive by this point in the record. The riff has a rolling clear tone in the background of the lyrics which are about not changing for anyone and staying true to yourself.

I love the clear, defiant messages in Lewis’ songs. They’re all such wise words and you can tell that they’re lessons he has learnt during his life that he wants to pass on. Considering this EP is from a side project, it’s a really catchy and beautiful effort which is sometimes thought-provoking and inspiring.

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despicable-me-2-poster-largeTITLE: Despicable Me 2
STARS: Steve Carell, Kristen Wiig, Russell Brand, Benjamin Bratt, Steve Coogan, Miranda Cosgrove
DIRECTORS: Pierre Coffin, Chris Renaud
RELEASED: June 28th 2013

Just the first of a summer full of movies that appeal to me, Despicable Me 2 was a group outing with my friends. Although we’re all in our early twenties, we may as well have been ten as we settled into our seats. The first film was released in 2010 and since then, the little yellow creatures that are the minions have never really got old. As a result, the sequel definitely played on their popularity and there were a lot more minion adventures this time around.

While the first film saw how three orphaned girls melted the cold heart of villain Gru, the sequel shows the reformed father do anything to protect his girls. Due to his previous work as a villain, the Anti-Villain League (AVL) enlists Gru to trap the mastermind behind the creation of a chemical which transforms any living thing into invincible monsters. At first, he’s reluctant to help due to his new business venture of jam-making and his new responsibilities but after the departure of Dr Nefario who claims to have taken another job, Gru agrees to help the AVL.

As well as this, Gru also has to deal with eldest daughter Margo’s interest in boys and the pressure put upon him to start dating. The contrast of him conducting a serious important mission and dealing with everyday struggles as a single father shows him in two different lights and much like the first film, he’s a likeable and well-rounded human being as opposed to the evil villain as seen at the beginning of Despicable Me.

Naturally the minions provide the bulk of the comedy with their Italian-inspired dialect delivered in chipmunk voices. The ending features a particularly hilarious minion scene, which sees them take on a pop song as they did with Copacabana in the first film. Although I was watching it as an adult, I laughed out loud and exited the cinema on a real high.

The storyline isn’t as compelling as the first film but it is a lot funnier. There is also a much bigger focus on the minions too, which can only be because of their huge fanbase. In fact, they could well carry a movie themselves and I think a Minion Movie won’t be too far away. Steve Carell’s eastern European accent continues to make us smile and Kristen Wiig puts in a good show as new character Lucy Wilde. It did come with the warning of “slapstick violence” which was funny as it is and there are plenty of minion fisticuffs to back that up!

I’d definitely recommend it to anyone who enjoyed the first film. Don’t expect too much of an engaging storyline or indeed any thoughtful reflections but simply sit back and enjoy it for what it is -a light-hearted, hilarious and adorable summer film.

duveauxepTITLE: Duveaux
BAND: Duveaux
LABEL: Unsigned
RELEASED: April 19th 2013

A fellow music blogger Sarah at Three for a Girl recently introduced me to a band that she’d been working with and asked me to give them a listen. Duveaux are an incredibly unique band who mix rock and “gloom pop” with a little bit of hip hop. The Isle Of Wight five-piece have recently gained a big new following after their appearance at the IOW festival with their latest acoustic video gaining over 10,000 in a week. Still a very young band, having only begun playing since last September they have already racked up an impressive live CV and released their debut EP in April.

It begins with Come Around Here, which has an energetic bouncy strum at the intro. A funky bass makes its first appearance and frontman Dan Duveaux’s distinctive vocals come in. It’s a nasally, quirky tone that was more prominent in the 60s and 70s. Indeed there is a retro theme in a lot of the tracks coupled with a weird, witchy tone. The bass adds a dark undertone to the upbeat riffs giving it light and shade.

duveauxTheir single Favourite Feature comes next. With fun indie riffs and a retro dancing beat while the bass plays funks tricks underneath the distinctive vocals. There’s a catchy 70s style to it and it breaks down into an acapella section with background clicking. It finishes with a final launch into the starting upbeat riff, reaching the midpoint on a high.

That Way Inclined is an interesting song. It’s much more classically indie than the other tracks with a Franz Ferdinand-esque intro. The bass is the backing to a more gentler vocal than what we heard on the rest of the EP. I love how Dan’s vocal range is explored a lot more on this track. We really get to know his high register, which is really refreshing. The words “that way inclined” are uttered in a second or two of floaty dreamy music before reverting back to the indie vibe. The final lyrics are drawled through the end and it finishes on a slow, gradual drag.

Ending track Felicity Ginn has a pop-rock opening, which turns into a metallic sounding affair reminscent of HIM. The vocals are the focus of the song as it tells the story of the title character. It’s repetitive indie rock with the retro flavour coming in through the backing “ooh”s. It’s a great live track due to the impressive riffs and a catchy rhythm, which resonates through you.

I am really glad I was introduced to Duveaux. They’re an awesome hybrid band whose sound will play in my mind for a long time. Dan’s voice really gives them the stand-out factor and it’s this element that I think will ensure their career soars, particularly on the live set where his apparent showmanship will flourish.

kittenpyramidsingleTITLE: Uh Oh
BAND: Kitten Pyramid
LABEL: Unsigned
RELEASED: July 22nd 2013

Kitten Pyramid are a group of experimental rockers who are just about to release their debut single Uh Oh. It’s the lead track from an album of the same name and interestingly, it’s not simply a music venture but all-round creative outlet for music and film. The album will follow the story of Polish immigrant suffering from schizophrenia working in the UK, giving fans something more than just the music. Frontman of Kitten Pyramid, Scott Milligan is passionate about creating a quirky approach that engages an audience and avoids self-indulgence.

kitten-pyramid-allAlthough this will be Kitten Pyramid’s first single, all of its members come from experienced musical and cinematic backgrounds with links to Midlands rock band The Leisure Society and BAFTA award-winning drama film Tyrannosaur. As a result, Kitten Pyramid intrigued me as they’re unlike any other band I’ve reviewed in that they span across multiple forms of entertainment.

Uh Oh has prog-rock roots with its fierce strumming and old school riffs. Reminiscent of both 70s punk bands and 90s rock, it has a great uplifting sound that makes you want to let your hair down. Instruments are doing a lot of the work and the brass section including horns add a dramatic flair that continues until the very end. The switch between acoustic to rock to jazz infused with rock is seamless and I love how it twists and turns through the genres that this band can do.

So much is happening and it’s impossible to pinpoint which style of music it would ultimately fall into. I’ve never seen genre clashing like this in a single song, so hats off to them!

This is the first Sound Out track I’ve posted in a while. I am a big fan of The Voice UK and Bo Bruce was the runner up of last year’s first series. With such a unique style and voice, many were shocked that she didn’t win but adverts for her album Before I Sleep which is available now have been everywhere! Ringing, atmospheric vocals like hers mean her songs will all be beautiful, ethereal ballads. Alive is just one of many!

bridiejacksonsingleTITLE: Prolong
BAND: Bridie And The Arbour
LABEL: Debt Records
RELEASED: July 29th 2013

Winners of this year’s Glastonbury Emerging contest, Bridie And The Arbour are set to release a new single in July. It will follow on from their debut Scarecrow, which received critical acclaim from The Guardian and A New Band A Day to name just two of their building fanbase. Impressively, they beat 8000 bands in the Glastonbury Emerging competition and will play on the acoustic stage at this year’s festival.

Their music has already been played on Radio 2 with Dermot O’Leary and 6Music, as well as clocking up a number of successful live shows in their hometown of Newcastle. They’re an all-female foursome who have been described as: “somewhere between the lushness of Norah Jones and the quirkiness of Joanna Newsom”.

bridiejacksonProlong is a haunting, folksy ballad with pure, bluesy vocals. The notes are dragged out, living up to its name -each crystal clear tone is prolonged. The kooky acoustic instruments give it a rustic, simplistic character and their Glastonbury victory means it’s evidently a very popular style right now. A soft, swaying dream floats between the lines and there’s a definite whimsical something about it. Prepare to be enchanted and transported into a different world.

So much uniqueness surrounds Bridie And The Arbour and I think it’s this that makes them so fascinating. They’re magical and weird but with such great pulling-in power. Something that should really make listeners sit up and take notice.

screamshoutalbumTITLE: Threads
BAND: Scream Shout
LABEL: Scylla Records
RELEASED: July 22nd 2013

Scream Shout are a five-piece with so much attitude and some killer tunes to back it up. Originally named Scream! Shout! Say Nothing a whopping ten years ago, they began life as a non-serious band who simply wanted to make music. Two EPs and some big support slots (with names such as Deaf Havana and Enter Shikari) down the line, they have now shortened it to Scream Shout.

Threads is their first full length album and it has taken the last five years of writing and producing due to the band’s determination not to take the band so seriously. As a result, their lives didn’t halt the album’s process meaning that the trials and tribulations of the band members’ happenings were put before the production.

It begins with Sister You Don’t Know What Rough Is, a chilled guitar intro with the odd piano note thrown in. The vocals have a desperation, angry element to them with a chant in the background, which crops up several times on the album. The drums up the attitude again before breaking down into a soft melodic choir and a slow, lulling sway brings it to a close. As with a lot of the songs on Threads, it’s a mixture of moods. Never have I heard an album that does both chilled and furious mid-track!

screamshoutYoung Bucks has a slight Sum 41 style riff and is a rare glimpse of the band doing pop-punk. Once again, the vocals have that strained quality that is present on most of the tracks. It has a great summer anthem feel about it coupled with a freak-out moshpit vibe. Again, it’s a very mixed track with a definite air of nostalgia, due to its looking back. Over Over Out sees the pop-punk sound return with the familiar choir chants also making a comeback. There is a particularly impressive guitar solo in the middle of it and there is a pretty closing instrumental. It is in fact my favourite on the album.

Scream Shout even dabble in country influences on Conductor Conduct, A Hush and a Heavy Hand and The Hardest Part. Conductor Conduct has an American sound instilled in the guitar and although it has a certain country twang, there is also a hint of Mayday Parade to it. A Hush and a Heavy Hand has passionate, spat out lyrics and a chanting choir set to fuzzy drum beats and crackling strums. The vocals become more distorted in the second half of the track and there is a repetitive atmospheric ending and the odd electronic whizz. The Hardest Part is the penultimate track and it begins with an indie bass. Sunny vocals and a high pitched riff take over. It seems to march along to a steady rhythm with the bass dying in the chorus. It’s perhaps the catchiest track on the album and has an interesting country style to it. A real hipster vibe encircles it and adds another facet to their sound.

There are even tracks on the album that are more philosophical such as A Great Roar. It compares a man who has lost everything and is unsure of what to do to a lion. It’s a powerful metaphor and the lyrics are quite deep. It is perhaps the most stripped back, simplistic track on the album although it does have a shouty chorus. The breakdown is really quite beautiful though both musically and lyrically. It’s followed by the title track, which has a funky riff and intermittent drums. There is plenty of angst and glitchy dancing riffs to end.

Broadening their sound even more, I detected a little Fall Out Boy on I Should’ve Been a Pair Of Ragged Claws (even the title suggests it!). The instruments are centre stage and the vocals have more of a melody than on the other tracks. They’ve captured the dark guitars and crashing drums seen on so many Fall Out Boy songs. Again, there’s a breakdown to a twist which has a softer guitar and a smokey atmosphere is created. I pictured waves coming and going in time to the guitar, which repeats over and over at the end. After the initial frantic mess, these songs always calm down for the second half. Ending on We Bake, We Sew, it is both a lazy summer song but supported by a militant drum, which forms the heartbeat. Again, the choral backing vocals adds another layer and the lead vocals appear to stumble tiredly through the forest of instruments. It is a definite “end of the party” track and you can almost hear it fall down in exhaustion by the time it finishes.

Threads clearly depicts the many strands of the band members’ lives over five years. A rollercoaster of emotions plays out and there’s no clear feeling left at the end. There is something for every emotion and is an all-round, great post-hardcore album. I love that the band don’t take themselves too seriously and there’s definitely an element of that on the record. There’s not a lot of sincere, pretentious stuff going on and as a result, you really get an idea of the band’s personality.