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Song Reviews

ice-cold-love-artworkTITLE: Ice Cold Love
ARTIST: Sofia
LABEL: Let’s Play Records
RELEASED: May 18th 2015

Kooky folksy female singers are always something that I’m interested in and Sofia is exactly that. Her new single Ice Cold Love is a chilled affair that is perfect for kicking back to this summer.

The half Venezuelan, hsofia-promo-02alf Lebanese singer based in London has been writing songs about her varied background and life since she was 13. Her first EP Once Upon A Time was released last year and she has appeared in The Huffington Post and For Folk’s Sake. She is also popular on the LGBT scene with features in Curve Magazine and Gay Times. This year she embarked on her first UK tour and is now recording her first full-length album called In The City.

Sofia has a pure distinctive voice and there is an endearing innocence to Ice Cold Love. The bouncing folk beat combined with the bluesy guitar spurts fit the song which is both sad but hopeful. It’s about walking away from a negative relationship and finding what you really want. Simplistic and pared back, the instruments really yield to the storytelling of the lyrics.

The beginning of the second verse begins “Tried my hardest to hold on to you but you threw me away like an old pair of shoes”, which sums up the heart of the story. However, it’s ultimately about letting love go for better things. After all, nobody wants ice cold love!

Sofia considers herself an advocate for social change and world peace and Ice Cold Love fits that attitude. It’s peaceful and easy-going, gently washing over your ears. Listen below!

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IN_MY_HEAD_ArtworkTITLE: In My Head
BAND: Vladimir
LABEL: Unsigned
RELEASED: April 27th 2015

Last year, I reviewed Vladimir’s single Come Over and now they’re back with a new one. The alternative band from Dundee have announced new single In My Head ahead of their London date with The Fall on April 24th.

Despite still being in their late teens, Vladimir have racked up an impressive live CV already sharing stages with Pulled Apart By Horses and The View. They aren’t for the listener who loves their quirky, upbeat indie or pop. These boys have a lot of grit and a darkness that haunts their power-driven rock. Q magazine described their music as “addictive melodies that smack you in the face like a belligerent drunk at a funeral”. In My Head is their latest down-and-out offering.

vladimirOpening with dark instruments and a dreary mature vocal, In My Head is a solid alternative track. There is no denying that Vladimir don’t sound their age and their moody tone is what gives them their appeal. Although they are bleak and dismal, they don’t sound like a group of stroppy teens. The noisy instruments frame the repetitive hook and monotone melody reminding us of their signature angsty edge.

They’ve got a reputation for being loud and energetic and In My Head is straight from the smoky bars of underground Dundee. However, that doesn’t mean it belongs there. They’ve got an Arctic Monkeys quality to their riffs crossed with Kaiser Chiefs-esque rhythms. Although they are the blacker side of indie, they’ve still got an innate slant towards the quirky.

Listen to In My Head below and fall in love with a young band who still have a lot more to give.

RLR - EP coverTITLE: Just Might Find/Lucky Thirteen
BAND: Red Light Runner
LABEL: Engineer Records
RELEASED: February 20th 2015

Kent pop-punk/emo quartet Red Light Runner are a rare find. Describing themselves as “old man emo pop punk” who are reliving their youth, their sound is spot on. Channeling bands such as The Gaslight Anthem and Jimmy Eat World, they certainly push a lot of younger bands to the sides with their bouncy infectious guitar-led music.

Originally forming in 2006 and disbanding two years later, Red Light Runner went through a renaissance last year. The double single release of Just Might Find/Lucky Thirteen is the result and if you love melodic pop-punk with a Brit twist, you’ll love it.

RLR - HeadshotsJust Might Find opens with a strong thumping drum and a singing riff before singer Dan comes in. The chorus is earworm quality with a hook that nestles into your head, accompanied by emo lyrics and fierce guitar lines. The atmospheric break where the instruments die down and Dan is left to sing into a muted guitar throb before the final chorus push is perfect for capturing a live crowd. It’s young, fresh and sits comfortably with the best pop-punks of the 00s from which Red Light Runner originally came.

Lucky Thirteen is kicked off with metallic guitar bursts and a humming melody. Echoes of the first lines of the verses seem to be a motif that they’ve adopted and it’s fitting with their genre. This song is slightly more chilled than Just Might Find but still has that power driving it. The guitars work hard on this track and bring another energetic pop-rock creation. The crashing of instruments give it a great live track as it’s a true party anthem that wouldn’t be out of place on a teen movie soundtrack.

Although their vocals make them undeniably British, they have that classic authentic American pop-punk sound. Their influences of bands of that ilk is obvious but they are putting their own stamp on it. The fact that this is a band who have risen from the ashes too makes them a little bit more special in my book.

 

amiusefulTITLE: Am I Useful?
BAND: We Came From Wolves
LABEL: Saraseto Records
RELEASED: March 30th 2015

Up-and-coming alternative band We Came From Wolves will release their catchy new single next week. The Scottish foursome are currently touring their homeland in support of it but the song has already received critical acclaim from Rocksound, who summed it up with “Feels, hooks and more feels”.

The band’s debut EP Cope was released in 2012 and earned them airplay on Radio 1’s Introducing. Last year’s EP, Paradise Place received rave reviews from Rocksound and at Radio 1. Since then, they have supported Frightened Rabbit and Irish rockers And So I Watch You From Afar, as well as putting in appearances at T In The Park and Wickerman Festival last summer. However, their new single Am I Useful? casts a light on their self-doubt. Frontman Kyle James Burgess said:

WCFW600x250“Am I Useful? is about the doubts that creep into my head in direct conflict with my aspirations. Anyone trying to pursue a life doing what they love faces these fears, that the goal might never be achieved, and a more “ordinary” life may await…it’s facing up to those fears and earnestly asking myself the question of “what use would I have if not creating?”

A strong growling intro gives way to Kyle’s soft melody and melancholy lyrics while strong drums and singing riffs frame the powerful message. The hook gets you right away and is reminiscent of later Kids In Glass Houses. The whining guitar solo before the final chorus adds to the emotional atmosphere and the words speak to anyone who is trying their hardest to live their dream. The stuttered ending gives it more of an edge too. We Came From Wolves have that accessible sound that is perfect for lighting up festivals.

Catchy, energetic and a lot of big-hit potential, We Came From Wolves are a band who have a lot to give to those who have a KIGH hole in their lives. There is a touch of heavier bands to their sound too but they’ve definitely come along at just the right time!

 

 

starsarealignedTITLE: Stars Are Aligned
BAND: Darlia
LABEL: B-Unique Records
RELEASED: October 27th 2014

Last year, I introduced this trio of alternative rockers from Blackpool to you and I’m now pleased to say that a new single from them is on the way. Darlia are still a young band whose success seems to be growing by the months. Sitting comfortably amongst alternative rock giants at Glastonbury and the Reading and Leeds festivals this summer, Darlia have come a long way in the last year. With two sold-out UK tours under their belt already, their new single Stars Are Aligned comes at a great time for them.

After the new single got the approval of Radio 1 DJ Zane Lowe, frontman Nathan Day has said of the track: “Everything that we’ve done so far, is shaping our own future. I’ve always known that it’s not going to happen the way that I want it to go, until we release the songs that I want to release – so this is one of them, and I’m very proud of it.”

darliaStars Are Aligned kicks off with a solid mechanical drum and lingering riff, which is swiftly joined by Nathan’s unpolished Brit-pop drawl. It’s a simple rhythm with a catchy chorus, which is packed full of energy and roughly joined-together phrases. Plenty of frayed edges adorn the single and Darlia’s style really shines through depicting them to be a band who care little about anything but their music. There are hints at a pop-punk structure to the song but the dirty surface of the song keep it from being pigeonholed.

Dark lyrics and falling crashing instruments give it an air of destruction but the words hold an optimism for the end. The notion of stars being aligned is an acceptance of the existence of fate and knowing that your time has come. It’s not an easy song to pin down an interpretation of and as such, it’s abstract enough to draw your own conclusions. Either way, the song itself is an explosion which is perfect for unleashing to a live audience.

Have a listen to it below and keep an ear out for future Darlia releases as they’re certainly going to be driving a new version of alternative rock within the near future.

kendrick-lamar-iTITLE: i
ARTIST: Kendrick Lamar
LABEL: Top Dawg Entertainment
RELEASED: September 23rd 2014

He had a great year last year and Californian rapper Kendrick Lamar appears to be continuously rising up the ranks of hip hop. Influenced by big names such as Jay-Z, Tupac and Notorious B.I.G, Kendrick has always aimed high and channelled his own brand of creative energy into his songs. Due to this, I have to say that I do enjoy his music and recognise him as a frontrunner within the genre.

His last release Good Kid m.A.A.d City was a regular on best albums of 2012 lists and clinched the top spot of Pitchfork’s, BBC’s and Complex’s lists. Early last year, MTV awarded him the accolade Hottest MC In The Game and he won a MOBO for Best International Artist. This year he received seven Grammy nominations and his status is rapidly accelerating with the dawn of his new album approaching. Don’t expect many other artists to make appearances though. KenKendrick-Lamardrick has stated: “I have so much to say. It’s almost selfish of me.” There is no official release date yet but latest single i is the first taster of what is to come and it looks set to be an upbeat record with plenty of catchy hooks.

Sampling 70s soul hit That Lady by The Isley Brothers, i mixes the classic cheerful rhythm with Kendrick’s slick lyrics. A lonely guitar whines along in the background while Kendrick discovers his inner Kanye and delivers the chorus “I love myself” as we’re left to bathe in the retro beat. It is undeniably catchy and will have everyone screaming with self-confidence and declaring their greatness (maybe!). Eventually, it reverts to a heavier electronic sound with a throbbing bass and techno whizzes complete with angry car horns and offbeat electro wiggles to end.

There are darker undertones which are most obvious in the second half but it is a very honestly happy song. Lovers of old school happy music will appreciate Kendrick giving us something to smile about and a damn earworm of an instrumental to go with it. Have a listen right here!

janetdevlinsingleTITLE: Creatures Of The Night
ARTIST: Janet Devlin
LABEL: Insomnia Music Records
RELEASED: September 22nd 2014

Former X Factor contestants quite often seem to fall off the face of the earth once they leave the show, sometimes even winners, but every now and then, a special case will show itself still going strong in the music business. Janet Devlin, who finished fifth place in the 2011 series, is just that. Aged just 16, Janet entertained us every Saturday night with her quirky hippy vibe and beautiful unique voice treating us to renditions of Sweet Child Of Mine and Fix You.

Through weeks 2 to 5 of the live shows, Janet received the most public votes, winning British hearts everywhere with her kooky Irish charm. Since then, she has been busy in the studio and has written with many accomplished songwriters, as well as Newton Faulkner who co-wrote her latest single Creatures Of The Night. It is on her debut album Running With Scissors which was released in June this year.

janetdevlinSticking to her upbeat folk style, Creatures Of The Night comprises of a simple catchy rhythm made of acoustic strumming and soft drumming. Janet’s hypnotising vocals trickle over the top of the instruments in a shimmering fashion which match the magical feel of the song. Her voice is unmistakeable and although the song itself is a typical pop-folk track not dissimilar to those we’ve heard before, Janet’s whimsy tones are exactly what gives it the charisma and personality that make it memorable.

There’s no denying that it is incredibly catchy and it’s the perfect antidote if you’re feeling miserable about the arrival of autumn as it will certainly remind you of chilled-out summer parties. It is a little sparse on lyrics so after a couple of listens, you’ll already be singing along to the whole thing and tapping your feet to the cheerful instruments. It probably won’t be heard by many ears due to it being released via an independent label but Janet is the kind of artist who makes music for herself rather than the fame. However, Creatures Of The Night is a song that I’ll be singing for a long time and is guaranteed to put a smile on the face of all who hear it.

Illustrated and animated by Gary Dumbill, the video suits the song perfectly and will no doubt warm you up with joy this coming season.