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Monthly Archives: September 2013

This week’s question is a little bit of a difficult one to answer. I didn’t want to answer it originally but the more I thought about it, the more I wanted to. Having a think about this question is something I think everyone should do every now and then, in order to soothe the soul and re-assess your self-perception.

What makes you attractive?

Having pretty low self-esteem, it’s not easy for me to find the right answer. Of course, I’m not going to write a few hundred words about how wonderful I am because it would all be a lie and probably quite off-putting to many of you. However, over the years I’ve learnt that I’m not all bad, despite what my inner self-loathing may tell me.

Looking at myself in a light that I don’t often shed is odd. In fact, I had to ask my long-term boyfriend what he found attractive about me to which he replied my curves and my modesty. Now, naturally my curves are something I myself have a love/hate relationship with. The fact that he loves the way I am is something I was really pleased to hear. The previous comment is probably an example of my modesty. He loves that I’m unassuming with a lack of pretension and obviously that is a quality that I’m very proud of.

I guess something else that makes me attractive is my drive to be kind to people and help anyone as best I can. I’m never mean to anyone who hasn’t been mean to me and that’s something that is obviously attractive in other people. Therefore, I can only assume it’s attractive in me. I’m also a very hard worker and I suppose to some people, that is also an attractive quality.

It’s a strange notion to explore because obviously attractive qualities are entirely subjective. What my boyfriend finds attractive about me may be considered as ugly and reserved by others. I suppose the best way to be as attractive as possible is simply to treat people how you want to be treated, have a passion and be a little selfless once in a while.

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ghosttwinsunknownanimalTITLE: Unknown Animal
BAND: Ghost Twins
LABEL: Snug Recording Co
RELEASED: October 7th 2013

Around this time last year, I reviewed the self-titled EP of an atmospheric electropop duo named Crushing Blows. The Derbyshire pair have since changed their name to Ghost Twins and are about to release their debut single Unknown Animal under the new moniker. Adding a bit of a darker twist on their previous style, it’s time to prepare for the new age of this talented twosome.

Unknown Animal will have a twin of its own in the form of double A-side partner Dream On/Dream Off. Their new album is due for release next year and with comparisons to Arcade Fire, it certainly isn’t an event that electropop fans will want to miss. With comments from Artrocker such as:

“With elements that echo progressive rock, electro and pop, it’s quite nice to not to be able to pigeon-hole a band entirely to one genre.”

ghosttwinsIndeed, I love it when a band doesn’t fit into any established genre. It means their sound is original and likely to appeal to a range of tastes. Ghost Twins’ first effort is an eerie affair with a magical, haunting piano at its intro. Weird, whispery vocals join in and it seems to jog along to a soothing electronic guitar. Soft drums arrive and the ethereal wails of “unknown animal” create a real sense of fear.

Odd, unidentified electronics show up and you’d be forgiven for thinking an alien life-form had crept into the airwaves and created interference. Remnants of this invasion is present right until the very end with the electronic whizzes until the piano slowly plays us out.

It’s an unnerving track that will leave you with a monster and a feeling of mystery. Ghost Twins certainly look to on to a promising start, as their debut single certainly makes you think, causes some confusion and makes you want to listen again.

Fenech-Soler-Rituals-Deluxe-Version-2013-1200x1200TITLE: Rituals
BAND: Fenech-Soler
LABEL: Warner Records
RELEASED: September 30th 2013

Northampton electropop band Fenech-Soler have already had a hell of a year and they’re now about to unleash their second album. It follows on from their 2010 self-titled debut album and their promotional singles All I Know, Magnetic and Last Forever. With infectious cheer and plenty of pretty patterns depicted in their sound, they’re a band who appeal not only to hardcore party-goers but the chilled, thoughtful souls.

I’ve featured their videos on the blog before but I thought it would be cool to finally take a look at their music in depth, so the new album was a perfect excuse to do that. It kicks off with Youth, a bouncing siren and tribal theme with the funky dance rhythm moving in swiftly. Ethereal vocals accompany it, which gives it a bit more interest than a straight club anthem. A catchy refrain mixes with the electronic soundscape before it peters out into a thumping club ending.

Fenech SolerNaturally, electropop in the style that Fenech-Soler have cultivated is always going to be popular on the clubbing scene. In Our Blood, Somebody and Glow all have sections which are much better for letting your hair down to on a Saturday night as opposed to sitting and listening to. However, all of these tracks also have some resonating vocals which are sung in a rippling, distorted fashion which is something that certainly sets it apart from typical dance outfits.

Visiting the pop rock genre, All I Know is the perfect catchy track for singing along to. It reminded me of the work of Cobra Starship who know how to merge the electronica tricks with straight-up melodic singing. A catchy rhythm and chorus are key components for a hit song and All I Know is just one song on this album that has both. Another is Last Forever, which I’m still singing despite it being the fifth song on an album of twelve. Due to its toe-tapping beat and melodic, echoing vocal, it’s probably the most well-rounded track on the album.

It’s not all high-energy as seen on Fading and Two Cities. The former features chiming synths and a simple drum with falling vocals. It’s perfect for chilling out in a relaxed atmosphere and as a result, I think it would do well as a single. Two Cities has a more downbeat rhythm than what we’re used to from them. Eerie wailing vocals and electronic slides create an atmosphere that isn’t there on the other tracks. It’s an interesting song that will lull you to sleep due to its laid-back and simple nature. Maiyu is another interesting case. Ethereal magical chimes create a whimsical eastern feel which combine with electronic bounces to provide us with something very different. Just to throw us off the track even further, a jazz element is definitely in the electronica which hasn’t been seen before and is never seen again.

The two short snippets of music that give the album its name, Ritual I and Ritual II are welcoming interludes to the main action. The first reminded me of Ellie Goulding’s Anything Could Happen, due its bright synths and resonating atmospheric vocal. The second has quite an aggressive tone with a bouncing electronic and a rising piano line. However, the floaty vocal softens it and the space-age ending allows it to drift off into the atmosphere. Each evoking a different emotion, the Rituals summarise Fenech-Soler’s current age perfectly.

Rituals is an album which has some really lovely sounds on it. Patterns depicted by metallic, electronic tones galore, a beautiful atmospheric vocal and the odd twist. It’s definitely one to get a party started but at the same time, you can sit and ponder over the intricate pictures that the music paint and make you own decision about what it all means.

nolitaviewepTITLE: Islander
BAND: Nolita View
LABEL: Unsigned
RELEASED: August 1st 2013

London indie band Nolita View are a mysterious lot. With very little information about their history on their social media pages, their origins are completely unknown and I quite like that about them. Taking their name from a song by The National, they have produced a series of songs that channel a retro rock and roll sound injected with a healthy dose of modern cool.

Islander is their most recent release and it begins with its title track. A growling high-pitched beep checks us in before we’re introduced to a funky indie guitar. Kooky vocals join the summer Americana riff with strong drums. It’s a chilled track, much to the approval of a genuine islander no doubt. Due to its infectious riffs, it’s the perfect live track too.

nolitaviewMoving on to Alive, again full of catchy guitar which repeats over and over. The indie vocal licks become quite atmospheric as the guitar dances along. Set to a chilled sing-song melody with a ringing riff to end, it’s a pretty indie track without a hint of pretension.

In the middle is the loveable Angel Eyes. An indie pop riff and steady drums with a melodic vocal. It’s a quirky song with a childhood innocence to it set to a marching rhythm. It wouldn’t look out of place as the theme of a kids TV show with its strong defiance, making it a great live track. You can imagine crowds singing back the words in an intimate setting.

Skin and Bones has a pop-punk influence in the opening riff. It’s a simple melody sung in a quirky pop-punk vocal with an indie accent. The catchy chorus is great for singing along to, which is such a key element in creating a big hit. Guitars play out the end with the hiss of cymbals accompanying them.

Ending on lead single Polly, which begins with rhythmic drums and a pretty pop-punk riff. A kooky indie rhythm is again present in this chilled summer party song. A relaxed hipster vibe surrounds it and the harmonies from the backing vocal give it a bit of oomph as the catchy indie song runs its course. There are no questions about how this is the most popular single to date with bloggers and reviewers praising it left, right and centre.

It’s a good indie album with hints of other styles of rock inside it. It certainly gets better as the record goes along with so much packed into just five tracks. They may be small at the moment but they’ve got a bunch of songs that will no doubt hit the world hard.

burninghousealbumTITLE: Walking Into A Burning House
BAND: Burning House
LABEL: Naive
RELEASED: September 23rd 2013

It’s not often I have hip hop on the blog, as it’s not exactly my favourite genre. However, I do liek my reviews to be as diverse as possible and I’m lucky that I get e-mails from all sorts of artists and groups. Burning House aren’t exactly straight hip hop but they certainly do channel the kind of old school New York style.

Quite odd considering their roots are on the western coast in San Francisco as well as in Paris and Berlin. Made up of Chief Xcel (Blackalicious) and keyboardist Herve Salters (General Elektriks), Burning House are a real mixture of electronica, jazz, hip hop and funk. Showcasing their talents for creating interesting pictures with their music, their debut album is the funk fan’s favourite autumn listen.

burninghousePost Party Stress Disorder has been remixed by several artists already but the original recording features a funky electronic with slow motion whines at the beginning. An eerie spacey vocal related in a robotic delivery joins the dancing electronica and ringing synths. Its repetitive whizzes and bounces are quite hypnotic, which is common on this album. The fuzzy guitar towards the end adds a rock dimension to it, throwing something else into the mix.

Glitches galore feature on Turn Off The Robot and Whispers In Your Headphones. The former has militant drums and a retro whistle with the kooky robot’s voice over the top. Whispers In Your Headphones has a creepy feel to it that leaves you a bit unnerved. A sporadic piano backs a funky steady electronica and spooky whispers. It’s a haunted but funky mash and leaves you with a pretty freaked feeling.

Some stand-out songs are Tokyo Airport with its Eastern influences shown through some metallic bounces and Frozen Conversations, which is a much more chilled song with swaying rhythm and an odd moog sound arriving at the end. Both songs are pretty relaxed and simple compared to other tracks around them. Tokyo Airport is a pretty soundscape whereas Frozen Conversations is soft kooky vocal leading a resonating piano.

The jazz side of their sound is most prominent on The Nightbirds, Daydream Mama and Scatterbrain. The Nightbirds contrasts the jazzy trumpeting with children chanting along to an old school hip hop beat. Quirky, echoing metallic tones add a haunting feel which the funky electronica plays it out. Daydream Mama is a little bit Scissor-Sisters-does-hip-hop. The ethereal vocal is there along with the jazzy element, which manages to squeeze itself into the clapping beat and electronic monotone. Scatterbrain stays true to its name and sounds like several different songs playing at once. A funky drum, trumpet blasts and kooky screeches make up the unpredictable, forever-turning track.

The penultimate track is Rhythm In The Machine, a dancing electronica and melodic synth with a soft choral vocal. It’s probably the most commercial song on the album with its funky beat and catchy rhythm. Ending on Boomerang with its fiddly fast electronics and quirky pipe sound, it’s as if the duo are returning to the start. It simply repeats alternate electronica and the folksy pipe, causing a whimsical and varied combination which makes for an interesting finale.

If you’re not a fan, don’t be put off by its hip hop or jazz elements. Yes, they’re both there but this is an album that can be enjoyed by all musical tastes. It’s innovative, hypnotising and a little bit on the weird side.

satellites02TITLE: 02
ARTIST: Satellites
LABEL: Vesterbrother
RELEASED: August 2nd 2013

Johnny Vic, aka Satellites, is a Danish artist with a unique sound that is bound to pique the interest of those who love dream pop with an electronic injection. Last year, he released 01 which caught the attention of Rough Trade, who made it their 16th best album of 2012. Since then, he has been joined by a range of musicians during the production of the new album in order to make it as varied and intriguing as possible. Wasteland was released as its lead single back in July.

Wasteland is perhaps the trendiest song on the album. An electronic tone acts as pacemaker throughout the song and spacey whizzes accompany the dreary robotic vocal. It remains all on one level but is without a doubt a cool, meaningful track. Madison Park Bell and Bone Trophies also feature the dreary vocal with a lot of electronic interest. The former is set to a funky pop rhythm and the latter has jazzy elements in the background, adding accents of diversity to the album.

satellitesThe electronica continues to work hard in Neon Sun and This Is All That There Is, which is a chilled melody with a floaty, dreamy climax. Compared to other tracks on the album, it’s quite stark but it still creates a beautiful fusion of soundscape and atmosphere. Another atmospheric track in Beg Steal And Borrow, which is a bit of a sleepy haunting song. The folksy slant in the instrumental adds a different spin on typical dreary, indie-electronica which is what the bulk of the song is.

Going all patriotic on God Bless America, the first signs of a country slant is visible. Naturally, this is taken from rural American tracks and it has an authentic country rhythm. It’s a great party track and is carried along by upbeat chimes. Country makes an appearance again in World At Your Feet, which is a chilled mysterious track that simply ambles along casually. The folksy instruments contrast with the dark vocal that is so prevalent throughout.

Satellites has natural dark and brooding vocals and they’re best on Ghost Of A Memory and closing track Hourglass. Ghost Of A Memory has the dark country twang and a piano enters unexpectedly joining the whimsical ripples and chimes. Hourglass is led by a sad haunting piano, the rhythm of which takes on the form of a ticking clock. Twinkles coupled with a shimmering synth culminate in a beautiful ending which wouldn’t be out of place in a fairytale. As a result, the album is finished with a big explosion of magic and stars leaving us mesmerized.

It’s a very odd album which seems to alter its style between tracks. Ever the presence of electronics means that it has a futuristic vibe to it and appears to come from a different planet. Hearing all of the instruments coming together in interesting patterns is a delight and I love the pictures some of these songs conjure up. Probably one to avoid if you like friendly, upbeat vocals though!

Birdy-Fire-Within-Deluxe-Version-2013-1500x1500 (1)TITLE: Fire Within
ARTIST: Birdy
LABEL: Warner Music Group
RELEASED: September 23rd 2013

It’s hard to believe that Birdy, real name Jasmine van den Bogaerde, is still only seventeen. Her debut self-titled album reached number one in three countries and her breakthrough single, a cover of Bon Iver’s Skinny Love, was a certified success across Europe. With so much success at such a young age, Birdy seems much older than she is.

The Hampshire born singer-songwriter has had her songs featured on film soundtracks such as The Hunger Games and Brave. She even performed at the opening ceremony of the Paralympic Games last summer before releasing her second album Fire Within’s lead single Wings in July this year.

birdyIt begins with Wings, a more upbeat track than her previous album. Resonating piano tones and ethereal vocals, which create a capitivating atmosphere. Distant choral backing vocals make their first appearance and the steady beat provides a beautiful track that would be perfect for a lyrical, contemporary dance piece. Following on is Heart Of Gold, which has a kooky rhythm and melancholy melody. It’s pretty similar to some Leona Lewis tracks with Birdy’s big voice eclipsing the simple instruments. Violins arrive towards the end of this beautiful tragic love song.

Upping the showcase factor in Light Me Up, she goes all Florence and the Machine on us. A resonating electronic tone behind a kooky vocal delivery before the drums break in. A retro disco guitar also glances in as does 80s-esque metallic electronica. It’s pretty empowering and is a great tribute to someone who is obviously a big support in her life. All You Never Say, on the other hand, is an understated piano-led track. It’s a pretty melody in a floaty pop ballad with eerie wails in the background. It’s one of the most commercial songs on the album and would be perfect montage music in an advert.

I love the folk influence on this album too. It’s first seen on Words As Weapons, introduced by the acoustic guitar and dark piano. A deep emotional vocal dealing with the serious issue of receiving verbal hate coupled with ghostly backing vocals creates a haunted feel until the violin swirls arrive and it takes on a Celtic theme. The folksy sound returns on Strange Birds in its whimsical rhythm and tribal folk section after the chorus. It crops up again on Maybe, a hipster summer anthem and again on All About You, which also has a slight country slant to it.

Birdy is known for her atmospheric acoustic pop ballads and there are more than enough of them on Fire Within. No Angel has a slow trudging melody set to a simple piano. Standing In The Way Of The Light is in the same vein with its melancholy vocal and atmospheric climax. The final tracks of the album, Dream, Older and Home are all piano-led with ethereal atmospheres and Birdy’s vocals performing beautiful tricks.

My favourite track is definitely Shine. A shimmer in the background and a soft piano launching into a pretty emotional ballad, decorated with meaningful lyrics. It’s all about following your heart at all costs and not being afraid to chase your dreams. It’s so inspirational and really motivates me to keep doing what I want to.

It’s a beautiful chill-out album, albeit a little depressing in places. Not really one to listen to if you’re getting ready to go out or the best party playlist but it’s ideal for relaxing at home or falling asleep to. Birdy has so many stories to tell for such a young girl and her talent is undeniable.