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Monthly Archives: July 2013

wewerefrontiersepTITLE: Giveth Taketh Away
BAND: We Were Frontiers
LABEL: Unsigned
RELEASED: August 5th 2013

After completing a successful set at last year’s Reading and Leeds festivals, We Were Frontiers released their debut double single Wildfire/Demons, which gave bloggers and their local music scene something to sit up and listen to. The Leeds based fivesome are still a young band who have so much more to give and their first offering comes in the form of their debut EP Giveth Taketh Away. Bring The Noise said of them:

“We Were Frontiers are an incredibly heart warming quintet whose soothing vocal melodies and catchy choruses tickle listeners into an induced warm rush of delight. Their richly flavoured folk compositions are spiced with a distinctive individuality, with nods to a blues rock sound”.

wewerefrontiersIndeed, there is so much packed into their songs, thanks to their wealth of musical talent. They infuse genres in a way that they create something entirely new and unlike anything else. The EP starts with Night Terrors, which shows off a wide range of instruments straight away with a harmonica thrown into the intro. A slow ringing riff is joined by the folksy slant which then evolves into a miltant melody set to a tribal beat. The dark northern vocals enter and the first glimpse of the western theme occurs.

Glorious Days begins with a spooky, ghostly electronica intro. A country vibe surrounds the singing riff which remains throughout. Chanting from the backing vocals adds to the feel of a mob and although there are only five members of the band, it’s like a huge group are behind them. This bright and sunny song eventually breaks down into a clapping section where just the vocals are exposed. All in all, it’s a country-themed party song that is perfect for slapping your thighs to and dancing underneath the sun to.

Madness Of July is an instrumental frenzy with little in the way of lyrics. The initial ringing accordion is drowned by the guitar which takes on an alternative style. The few vocals that are there are full of grit, backed up by a clear female vocal. A full-on folk party ensues on the chorus, creating a summery and carefree atmosphere. It’s unpolished and chaotic but so reflective of a bohemian summer party. The absence of lyrics also points to the suggestion that it’s a song about having fun as opposed to conveying a serious message.

Ending on Devil’s Type, which runs with a smoky, space-age intro provided by electronic spurts. Long drawn out strums moan over the top and the drums build suspense. The ever-present country twang prevails in the rhythm and the vocals drop deeper than they have before. It then explodes into a perfect amalgamation of alternative rock and country and an atmospheric clapping section, which would be great when played live. It’s a song about being betrayed by someone as the chorus describes “I never saw you as the devil’s type”, implying that you never really know someone until they show their true colours.

For a first EP, it’s so promising. They’re a band who effortlessly join rock and country together with a touch of blues on top. Showcasing all of their tastes on a first record is the perfect way to gain fans who will no doubt stick with them for a long time. It’s also a sure-fire way to show that they’re not just a one-trick-pony and they’ve left open a lot of avenues that they could go down with their next release.

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gaolersdaughterstpeterTITLE: St Peter
BAND: Gaoler’s Daughter
LABEL: Unsigned
RELEASED: May 1st 2013

Back in June, I featured the video to Gaoler’s Daughter’s debut single Cordelia. The London four-piece’s album How To Make Time will be released on August 26th but as an extra teaser, the band have offered up a free download of album track St Peter. The album was funded by dedicated fans which include Zane Lowe, Steve Lamacq and Tom Robinson, so it’s something that will no doubt hold an extra special attachment to the band and those who have supported them over the last year.

Having supported the likes of Babyshambles and We Are Scientists, Gaoler’s Daughter may be about to break through with How To Make Time, as both songs released so far have a cool, catchy sound which burrows its way into your head. No doubt they’ll get a lot of airplay with so many DJs joining their following, so be prepared to start humming along all autumn!

gaolersdaughterSt Peter has a drawn out electric guitar running through it with a steady, indie drum beat. Lead vocals not dissimilar to that of Two Door Cinema Club come in over the top and it becomes a great summer tune to blast out of the iPod at upcoming barbecues. Although it’s an upbeat number, there is a darkness instilled in the sing-song riffs and indeed in the lyrics.

A rather ominous chorus suggests that it’s foreshadowing sweet revenge. “Everything you’ve done will come around even when you’re lowered into the ground” is about karma catching up with the bad things you’ve done and going to hell. It’s seeped in religious imagery as the title suggests, depicted by a very cutting tongue which seems to have pure hatred for the subject of the song.

Due to the strong emotions reflected in the song, it’s very powerful and so full of anger but in a chilled and assured manner. It’s not going all out and raining down insults, it’s very matter-of-fact making it a bit of a weird one emotionally. You can download it for free via the band’s soundcloud page.

Today’s question caused me to think a little and indeed, anyone reading this may have some very different, awesome ideas to me but as we all know, stretching your imagination and putting a bit of thought into something is always fun. Again, if you have any specific questions for me, simply put them in a comment and I’ll answer in the coming weeks.

What will we be nostalgic about from the 00’s?

In the not so distant future, I imagine technology will have once again moved on significantly. Phones, computers and other gadgets will have features not even thought of yet and therefore the original iPhone and Apple Mac will be a thing of the past. One thing I think I’ll miss is the amazement at being able to read my e-mails, manage my social media and make a phone call all from the same device. That is something we won’t ever be able to re-create in the same way and I’ll definitely miss that feeling.

I hope that we won’t be nostalgic about books. Books are such a huge part of my life and although I am very much in love with my Kindle, there are times when physical copies of books are what I yearn for. They’ve been around for hundreds of years and as a result, I think we’ve always held onto the fact that they’ll stand the test of times. However, with the growing number of e-readers available and the rising popularity of audiobooks, their future has never looked more bleak. Fingers crossed, my children and grandchildren will know the power of the written word and I’ll be able to buy them physical copies of children’s classics.

Musicians of the 00’s that I’m sure will leave a legacy are Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber and One Direction among others, of course. I’m pretty sure that whenever I hear one of their gloriously cheesy songs in years to come, I’ll feel a huge wave of nostalgia for my younger days. No doubt my kids will hate them and groan about how uncool it is and although they’re not exactly my taste, they’ll bring back memories for me.

TV talent shows may also be a thing of the past, due to their already diminishing viewing numbers. The notion of spending hard-earned money voting for who has the best singing voice and then getting angry when the most outrageous gets through to the next round will probably seem ridiculous to future generations. Indeed, I hope it does. I mean, there may be an even sillier replacement but being glued to a compulsive-viewing and terribly addictive series every Saturday for the rest of my life doesn’t sound all that exciting to be honest.

Other things I hope to be nostalgic about are Ugg boots and the obsession with guys wearing their trousers halfway down their thighs. I’ve never got the appeal of Ugg boots. I think they’re overpriced but with a chavvy stigma to them. I’d never be seen dead in a pair, even if they are warm and cosy. Also, I think the trend of young guys strapping their jeans around their thighs has been complained about enough just about everywhere but I hope it becomes a thing of the past that we can all look back and laugh about.

Harry Potter and Twilight will also probably provoke nostalgia. I love the former and detest the latter but both will no doubt leave a trail into the future and they will be read and watched for years to come. As they get older, we will of course remember what it was like when they were brand new. The excitement of purchasing the final Harry Potter instalment will always stay with me and that’s something that I hope my children will get to experience.

melicalbumTITLE: An Hour To Anywhere
BAND: Melic
LABEL: Beatnik Geek Records
RELEASED: August 5th 2013

I am a great lover of bands that merge their genres and London foursome Melic certainly do that. They’re a collection of hugely talented musicians across various fields of the art and together they produce what can only be described as indie-alternative-rock-folk with a side order of jazz. Consisting of a funk bassist, rock singer-songwriter, metal drummer and classically trained saxophonist and pianist, Melic’s songs are intriguing and unpredictable.

Due to honing a unique style and showcasing their individual skills, Melic won the Best Overall Band at the 2012 UK Unsigned Awards run by Play Music magazine. They have since gained a record deal with Beatnik Geek Records who have now produced their debut album An Hour To Anywhere. Twelve songs, each different to the one before it, means it’s a very diverse album that leaves you wondering what’s next.

melicIt begins with a melodic riff that becomes Better Off Before and the nasally indie vocals make their first appearance. There is an American twang in the voice which comes back at several points in the album. As it progresses, grisly alternative guitars enter and they complement the passion in the vocals. It ends on an atmospheric instrumental which seems to be another thing Melic are great at.

Pop-punk features a couple of times on the album in Nowhere I’d Rather Be and Ripples. Their intros take on a commercial, metallic sound which is common in a lot of celebrated pop-punk tracks. Melic’s take on the genre is to mix it with a classic alternative edge, which reinvents the sound and makes it their own. Nowhere I’d Rather Be has an infectious electronic bounce in the backing and a melody which borders on cheesy metal. It’s a bit like Nickelback and AFI got together and through a bit of compromise, came up with this track. Ripples is a more dramatic affair with steady drums and a darker vocal. The rippling effect adds a certain mystic element and it has the air of little things being created from big things as reference in the lyrics -“ripples fall, big waves come crashing”.

The first of the folksy songs come on He Was A Fighter, which is led by a calm acoustic guitar with a country twang. It’s soothing swaying rhythm and clear vocals have such a twee effect but the lyrics deal with a serious story about never giving up and facing up to adversity. The echo of the saxophone adds a touch of sadness but you’re left with the positive message that fighting through bad times is the way forward. No Escape also has a folksy twist with a harmonica infusing the acoustic guitar and dreary vocals. It’s reminiscent of Of Monsters and Men and No Escape wouldn’t look out of place on their set. It’s a great carefree hippy track that is all about happy memories and living for the good times.

Having a talented pianist in their midst, Melic certainly don’t scrimp on pretty, enchanting piano sections. Cemetery is the first time we get a full-on blast of the keys, as they spiral downwards in a waterfall formation. This lick is repeated throughout the song and although vocals are put in over the top, it’s the piano you focus on. It bounces through an electronic phase before melting into what is a commercial pop-rock song. Towards the end of Cemetery, the vocals take on a sound which is uncanny to that of Simon Neil of Biffy Clyro. Followers is the next time the piano takes centre-stage. This time it’s joined by alternative guitars which jump through an electronic, futuristic sounding track. Again the Biffy Clyro sound is back on the pop rhythm and jumping riffs.

Instrumental track Pacific showcases all of the band’s instruments. The piano goes all eerie, the drums darken and the sax pierces through the mist. It has a great bluesy vibe that gives off a haunted impression. To lighten things up a bit, the album goes into its final three tracks which are all upbeat. The Chase is a casual acoustic track which speeds up and becomes a repetitive festival song. Inhaling Butterflies is led by a bouncy electronic riff and takes on a Fall Out Boy-esque style with a ferocity in its vocals. The sax inclusion on the chorus is what distinguishes it from a regular pop-rock track. Ending on Ting Tong, perhaps the most unique track on the album, we are left with the impression that Melic have a wealth of possibilities at their feet. A funky disco intro to their big finale and a quirky chorus that laughs along to the perfect sing-a-long dance track.

An Hour To Anywhere is full of surprises and the merging of fuzzy guitars, screaming saxophones and electronic pianos is divine. The songs are repetitive but the constant changing of viewpoint between the instruments keeps us interested, offering such a wide range of emotions. It’s an album for those who love something new around every corner.

vaccinesepTITLE: Melody Calling
BAND: The Vaccines
LABEL: Sony Music
RELEASED: August 12th 2013

Since their debut What Did You Expect From The Vaccines? back in 2011, The Vaccines have racked up a number of killer indie tunes and no less than three awards. After a quirky and traditionally indie debut album with hits like Post Break-Up Sex and If You Wanna, they evolved into something a little more edgy with their 2012 album Come Of Age. I Always Knew and No Hope took a darker turn, although the album was tinged with glimpses of the past in Teenage Icon. The band have now announced an EP to be released in preparation for their next full release. Speaking about the four track Melody Calling, singer Justin Young has said:

“We recorded a few songs in LA last month with John Hill and Rich Costey and we’re just working out what to do with them. They feel like a bridge to something else so I guess they’ll be an EP but I guess there is a small chance they might be the start of album three, because I feel very creative at the moment. They feel quite different so it’s exciting. We’re trying a lot of things for the first time.”

thevaccinesIt begins with Melody Calling, which is a bluesy-style indie song not dissimilar to the Come Of Age tracks. A rhythmic riff starts it off and it sticks around throughout the song. Justin’s dark, murmured vocals begin and the whole thing becomes shrouded in a mist of drums and guitar licks. Ghostly backing vocals surface on occasion adding to the dark tones and there’s a definite chanting motion to the vocal delivery of the chorus. It’s a catchy, radio-ready track but with a lot of mystery and darkness to delve through.

Do You Want A Man has a chilled guitar and militant drums which are interspersed with some darker, alternative riffs which growl their way through. It’s the one track on the EP that I thought was something a little different to what we’ve heard from them before and could therefore be the best reflection of where they’re likely to go next. The chorus is delivered via layers of vocal harmonies which makes for an interesting effect. However, the repetition of the title gets a bit tedious and you’re left wanting a bit in the lyric department.

On to Everybody’s Gonna Let You Down, which is a laid-back indie number with that retro vibe adopted on Come Of Age. It could have belonged on their last album in fact although it isn’t quite as upbeat. A singing guitar leads you through the indie anthem which is told through Justin’s smoky vocals set to a catchy riff. As the title suggests, there is an air of cynicism and as a result it’s the stroppy teenager of the EP. It sticks rigidly to what it knows and has a negative view on the world, which of course isn’t unlike many Vaccines singles.

Ending on a remix of Do You Want A Man, produced by Rich Costey and John Hill, the LA duo who The Vaccines have been working with. The marching drums are still there but the guitars bubble over the top of them in the re-worked version. Justin’s vocals are largely drowned out by the instruments but weirdly, it begins to take on a summer country vibe which isn’t there in the original. The glitches of the electronica add a new dimension and it’s a refreshing change from the straightforward indie provided by the band.

Overall, it’s an EP that will be popular with existing Vaccines fans. However, it’s not far enough from their usual sound to win them any new ones. It would seem that we are yet to see another musical shift from the band who grew up between album one and album two. Perhaps the darker, cooler stuff is here to stay.

Even though my blog is mainly about unsigned musicians, I wouldn’t be much of a music blogger if I let possibly the most anticipated album of the year go unnoticed. I’m definitely not a Jay-Z fan. In fact, I’m not really a rap fan but I do love Justin Timberlake and the opening track of Jay-Z’s recently released album Holy Grail is actually something pretty special. A mish-mash of Jay-Z’s steady rap, Justin’s sweet-like-chocolate vocals and even a little sample of Smells Like Teen Spirit (yes, really!) and you’ve got this huge summer smash.

strawbearsnobberyTITLE: Snobbery
BAND: Straw Bear
LABEL: Oilbug Music
RELEASED: July 29th 2013

With a lot of industry support behind them already including fans at the BBC, Straw Bear are already climbing up the ranks within the indie folk genre. The London based five-piece have gained praise from 6Music’s Tom Robinson and Dermot O’Leary as well as several rave reviews on music review sites.

They were founded by singer Ian Ray and guitarist Chris Gray, who met at school in their hometown in Cambridgeshire. Later came the arrivals of bassists Cate Wicks and Tom Shipp and drummer Pas Struthers to form Straw Bear. Snobbery is the second single to come from their album Black Bank, the first being Kitty which was also received a lot of radio time. Speaking about Snobbery, singer Ian says:

strawbear“If you take the song at face value, it’s just an amusing lyric about a horrible snob whose
girlfriend’s family is a little rough around the edges but on a more general level, it’s about that very strange experience of trying to integrate yourself into somebody else’s family. I think everyone has had that feeling of meeting a partner’s family for the first time and thinking ‘These people are actually insane’.”

The song is a smile-raising, witty track that tells the story of a guy who is very much in love with his girlfriend but has very fixed, negative views on her family. Adopting a folksy style and running along with an indie vocal, Snobbery weaves through a blues-influenced soundtrack complete with a violin accompaniment in its second half. The chorus tells us so much about the character with the words “It’s lucky I want you… We can go so far away that they cannot afford the train to come and visit us”. It’s a cruel dig at her family and expresses the strength of his desire to get away from them.

Snobbery is the perfect title for the song and because of the title, the sarcasm really comes through. It’s not a serious song and it’s quite clear that these views aren’t genuine, hence the self-aware title. As a result, there is a lot of acting and character portrayal which is simply another layer to the song and gives it an identity.

It’s a great chilled summer song and one that will no doubt be popular with a lot of indie-folk fans. It’s also incredibly catchy and you’ll be humming it for hours after, making it perfect radio listening material.