FEATURE: Radio Adage- From the Basement, Up

FEATURE:

  

Radio Adage

 

 

From the Basement, Up

_________________________

IN the coming weeks, I want to feature more on…

interviews, features (The Classics Series especially) and the like. Having completed my latest review- Ina Reni’s doggerel gem, I Thought You Were Gay– I am looking at a new concept- much more than a vanity project- that fills a real-world gap. I have got more into radio- until recently I was a devotee of C.D./digital music: no radio exposure- but I understand how vital its existence is. I have always balked against local radio- semantically null chatter and repetitious, middle-of-the-road music- and some of the national alternatives. Without radio, today’s new starters (in music) will struggle to get exposure. It is all well relying on social media and the Internet- you will only get to see a certain amount of bands and acts. Due to the compartmentalised and in-the-right-place-at-the-right-time nature: radio is a more successful, disciplined and dependable form of music streaming.

One of the reasons I have fallen for radio is B.B.C. 6 Music: the station that provides music the people. There is no political affiliation and leaning: they do not have to promote the mainstream; focus on brand-new talent. What (‘6 Music does) is sets aside from the crowd. The over-played and lame artists take a back seat: in its place you get an eclectic range of old and new songs- quality is the paramount consideration. It is not just the music that compels me: the D.J.s are among the most knowledgeable, witty and interesting you will hear. No inane chatter and half-arsed jokes: you get unadulterated quality and consistency.

There are a number of Internet stations cropping up. For those that state radio is dwindling in popularity: that assertion could not be further from the truth. Perhaps certain demographics are spending less time listening to mainstream stations. The proliferation of music-sharing websites means a lot- the younger audience- get their music from the Internet. With that said: there is a wave of new stations that are attracting younger listeners. Not dependant on ticking boxes and playing chart tunes: they are unencumbered and free from restraint. From Radio Hoxton and its uber-cool hosts: there are options for any type of music-lover. B.B.C. 6 Music will always be king for me: the inspiration behind my own ambitions…

Radio Adage is a way to distill the station’s ethos and charms into a once-a-week, four-hour (could be trimmed) show. Essentially, it would be a podcast that went out the same time each week- pre-recorded but something that engaged the listeners. At this moment (the station/show) is in its ideas stage. It is newly-born and not ready to walk. Aside from the logistics of costs, equipment and co-hosts- I will be doing more a producer’s role- I am excited anyway. In terms of features: I have got a few lined up:

NEW TRACK OF THE WEEK: A song from the mainstream- a single released that week- that is the week’s best.

NEW ALBUM OF THE WEEK: The best commercial album of the week- 2 tracks will be played from the album.

CLASSIC ALBUM: An influential or memorable album that deserves more exposure- 2 tracks will be featured from the record.

In the first show, I will be going with The Cardigans’album, Life. Future weeks will see the likes of Fleetwood Mac and Stevie Wonder in-focus. The first show will see the Swedish band’s sophomore album. A Pop gem from the ‘90s: it is one of the most underrated albums from that period.

CONTINENTAL DRIFT: Each week (Radio Adage) will feature a new act from a different continent. Whether Australia, Asia or North America: we will bring you an astonishing artist.

LISTENER POLL: In the week leading up to the show: a head-to-head poll will be launched via Twitter. Putting two artists against one another: the winning act/song will be featured on the show.

The first broadcast will put The Smiths’ Girlfriend in a Coma against The Ramones’ Swallow My Pride.

UNSIGNED HEROES: A chance to play a new track from an unsigned band/artist.

INTERVIEW/PERFORMANCE: This will involve a musician/band coming in and performing a couple of tracks; a small interview- they get to choose a song to end the feature.

ELECTRIC ROULETTE: Each week will see a new subject being addressed. It may be Soul or 1980s music: a certain artists or album. A small discussion will take place before a song plays.

The first week will go to the 1990s: its influence and how it has shaped modern music.

DROP THE NEEDLE! A chance to feature a terrific L.P.: something that benefits from the immersive experience of a record player.

The first album in the spotlight will be Miles Davis’ epic, Kind of Blue– and a track from that record.

CONSENTUAL GROOVE: A way to get collaborations occurring. This section will see a new collaboration: artists coming together to create a new song.

THE ORIGINAL: A mixtape from a selected listener. They can select three tracks and why it is special to them.

FEATURED ARTIST: Playing a song from a featured act- and talking a bit about them.

The first show will see Fleetwood Mac under the microscope.

COCKTAIL CLUB: We select a cocktail and find a song that matches its ingredients.

Show one will see a boulevardier selected: Louis Armstrong’s Mack the Knife fits the description well.

THE LONG SONG: A chance to play a six-and-a-half-minute-plus track in full.

The first song on the board will be Black Sabbath’s War Pigs

There are quite a lot of features there: I want to include more. Bringing listeners in more- the way B.B.C. 6 Music does- it would be good to have some like-minded features (a Biorhythms-cum-Desert Island Disco thing; The Chain-meets-Small Claims Court perhaps?). The best and more potential-laden features will feature- I will be asking people which sound most appealing. The idea- behind the show and station- is to have something that fills a market gap- an Internet station that does things unlike anyone else.

The show would try to mix the humour and fun of ‘6 Music– especially Sean Keaveny and Radcliffe and Maconie; The Frank Skinner Show on Absolute Radio– whilst playing exceptional music and the best sounds around. The breakdown of music played will be: 60% mainstream/older; 20% brand-new, unsigned acts; 20% new, under-the-radar sounds- artists like Beach House, Yak and Rozzy Plains.

My first song- that will open the show- will be Lauryn Hill’s Superstar: we will end with The K.L.F.’s Last Train to Transcentral. In terms of playlists and songs; I have a few acts in mind: Leftfield, Steely Dan, The Streets; Chemical Brothers Michael Jackson, Queens of the Stone Age; Everything Everything, Lana Del Rey, Tears for Fears; Funkadelic, Prince, Beck; Neneh Cherry, Beastie Boys, Pearl Jam; Stevie Wonder, Black Box, Paul Simon; D.J. Shadow, Janis Joplin- and that’s just the ‘older’ artists. There will be a great range of fresh songs and unexpected gems.

What about going forward? I need to look at costs and studios: a place around London I can set things up. I have mentioned the music features (above). There will be other aspects, too. The London Underground will see go to a Tube station destination and focus on the community there. A spotlight topic will put various issues in focus- like mental health and animal welfare- and talk about them. There will be film reviews and a comedy segment. I am not sure which are the best features- from the ideas above- but I am determined to get the thing started- find a mixture of presenters (a two/three-person team) and get it all started.  I will be up in London in a couple of days: formulating ideas and putting more work into it. Any feedback/opinions/ideas would be much appreciated. I will come after bands and people- to help and feature- and start the ball rolling. I am one of those who feels radio needs more attention and focus. If the wave (radio pun) of Internet stations has proven anything:

THERE is a huge demand out there.

TRACK REVIEW: Ina Reni- I Thought You Were Gay

TRACK REVIEW:

 

Ina Reni

 

 

I Thought You Were Gay

 

9.7/10

 

I Thought You Were Gay is available (to pre-order) via:

https://itunes.apple.com/fi/album/i-thought-you-were-gay-single/id1107169738

RELEASE DATE:
25th May 2016

GENRES:
Pop; Soul; Jazz

ORIGIN:

Berlin, Germany/London, U.K.

____________________________________

EVERY time I look for a musician- in order to review them- I seek something…

different, unique and special. These may seem like words that can be applied to a whole host of musicians: you’d be surprised how few actually fit under that banner. I am not suggesting the majority of new musicians sound like others- little distinction or personality- but it is getting harder and harder to sound truly fresh and without comparison. Today, it is easier to record music than ever before. The cost involved- to create something quite basic, at least- is fairly inexpensive. You do not need to go to a studio and fork out thousands of pounds: the bedroom-trained, D.I.Y. musician is becoming more prevalent and in vogue. Because of this: we are subjected to so many different kinds of artists. Those that remain in the memory- for whatever reason that is- should be promoted and applauded. I hear so many artists that can be compared with others- they do not stand from the crowd and give anything we haven’t heard before. My featured artist is someone who has her influences: she is one of the most idiosyncratic musicians I have heard- you’d be hard-pressed to think of anyone else. Before I come to her, I wanted to have a quick look at international artists- those hailing from Europe, especially- and why London is providing a second home. When we think of brand-new music: often, our minds go to the U.K. or U.S.- maybe Australia- but do not really concentrate on mainland Europe. German bands- Ina Reni was born in Germany- like Dagobert and Karies are two laudable German bands: the latter is fresh out of Stuggart. Der Ringer, Cro and Susanne Blech are providing what a diverse and strong musical economy Germany has. The likes of Granville, La Femme and My Friend Is are putting France on the map- from a nation that has provided M83, Phoneix and Nouvelle Vogue. Europe should not be overlooked- with regards great, innovative sounds- and ignored. What I am finding- besides the proliferation of great, European acts- is a pull towards London. The capital is an alluring and tantalising pull for so many musicians: a city that provides opportunities, fascination, and cosmopolitanism. If you are one of the London detractors- I hate those people- who whine about pollution (I don’t often walk down the streets choking on exhaust fumes) and overcrowding (what do you expect?!); the ‘rudeness’ (I live in a small place where the people are far ruder) and high costs (the wages are higher: there are affordable parts) really get on my nerves.

Those who bemoan and criticise London have not given it time and really spent time there- musicians are realising what a city (London) is. Ina Reni has a fascinating, rich D.N.A.- half-German, half-Bulgarian- who is based in London. Finding inspiration and spark in the capital: it looks like she is here for a little while at least- let’s hope she stays a lot longer. Before I raise a new point: let me introduce Reni to you:

London based German/Bulgarian singer-songwriter Ina Reni breezes in with her own brand of cool, sassy humour. 
Having performed widely across London’s important music venues and festivals, Ina made
herself known for her distinct vintage inspired pop sound. Her debut single “I thought you were gay”,
in which she describes the awkward situation that results from misjudging your best friend’s sexual
orientation, will be released on 25th May
.

Having been involved in the Berlin Jazz scene- as a 14-year-old she was bitten by the Jazz bug- Reni relocated to London last year. Since then, she has been immersed in live performances- taking in some of the most charming, hospitable parts of the city- and making big strides. I Thought You Were Gay is her debut cut- her E.P., Plan A, will be unveiled later this year- and marks the arrival of one of music’s most exciting talents. On paper, Reni is pretty much your ideal musician. Her music has originality and memorability: humour, stand-out lines and a true Pop core- plenty of power, soulfulness and upbeat. She has those girl-next-door looks: a gorgeous young woman who captures the heart pretty readily. It is when you dig deep- looking at her past and what she is capable of- does your heart start to skip a bit. I have encountered so many artists that are rather pedestrian and one-layered: when you dig deep, there is not much to wet the appetite. In Hungary, artists like Compact Disco and Amber Smith have come through- it is a nation that has produced a lot of fine and stunning music. Reni has a fond love for Eastern Europe and the music there- you get shades of that in her single. Throw in an admiration for Jazz; a love for 1950s and ‘60s Pop- mix that with modern-day Hip-Hop and Reggae. Reni is making strides and working hard to achieve her dreams. Realising music is a battlefield- you need a huge budget and team behind you most of the time- she is not willing to compromise creativity for quick success. Her goals are to remain in music for a long time: forge a successful career and get her music into the charts. Nobody would bet against the young star getting there. She is one of the most determined and passionate artists I have seen. Constantly working and crafting material: I am confident Ina Reni will be a big star in years to come. Anyone that is expecting your run-of-the-mill, committee-directed Pop starlet should think again: Reni is her own boss and calls the shots- she is not someone that does things like everyone else.

The opening seconds of I Thought You Were Gay have a certain charm and playfulness to them. The piano notes dance and skip with merriment and infantile abandon. It is hard to listen to the sound without having a smile on the face. Such a care-free sense of alacrity comes out. After the introduction- that has Jazz shades and elements of Ella Fitzgerald to it- our heroine comes to the microphone. The song looks at a particularly personal moment. Recounting her gym trainer- who will remain anonymous- there is that recollection of the initial meeting. Ensuring her voice is determined and clean: “You were so funny/and I loved your sexy elephant tie” compel myriad images and something quirky. Knowing some history behind the song- Reni disclosed the origin in an interview with FM– the listener will be picturing scenes and seeing the story unfold. Reni has admitted how her sexual orientating compass sucks- trying to guess whether someone is straight or not. In this case, she is somewhat off the mark. Finding the guy cute and funny: he is good for an afternoon’s fun/training- not someone that would be interested in her, necessarily. Having become “best friends” and having a lot of fun: the assumption is everything is fine and dandy. It seems- as far as Reni is concerned- there will be no sexual tension and misunderstanding. The guy started getting “all weird” which caused confusion and head spin. Initial impressions- the guy being gay perhaps- is contrasted by a very clear come-on and flirtation. It seems (the guy) has romantic intentions and is interested. Praying it is not true: our heroine delivers the realisation with a sense of shock and weariness. The penny is dropping and the truth has come out: a rather ironic choice of words, perhaps? I can imagine that moment- when the guy reveals he’s straight- would have caused embarrassment and blushes.

It is not clear what would have caused the initial impression- about him being gay- but perhaps it was the fashion sense and a playful manner- maybe a muscularity (TOO much time in the gym) or just a general aura. Whatever led to this assessment has come back to bite. Reni hums and purrs: she puts so much expression and conversation into the song. Not just delivering her lines with a formulaic approach: there are tender little utterances and accentuation. The chorus mixes ‘50s Jazz with ‘60s Pop: horn blasts that recall the glory-days of Bacharach and David. Composition-wise, you could imagine the likes of Dusty Springfield or Dionne Warwick tackling such a sound. The warm, brassy blasts sit beautifully against punctuated piano and scuffling percussion. The band is tight and in-step throughout- ensuring the chorus is as big and urgent as possible. Reni brings in syncopation to give the story a sense of rush (perhaps blood rushing to her head) and nerviness. Finding out her trainer is straight- it would be interesting to see how that conversation went- there is a sense of backing out and stuttering. Few would be able to reverse the chat with much dignity and good excuses. Being in a sticky situation- “I didn’t mean to turn you on”- there is a distinct Englishness to the track. Idioms and phrasing would lead you to think Ina Reni was a British artist- she reminds me a lot of Yorkshire musician, Jen Armstrong. As I Thought You Were Gay progresses and caresses: you fall in love with a very pure and silky voice. Sexy and velvet-smooth on the one hand; sharp and cutting on the other- such a striking and gorgeous sound. There are no histrionics and needless baubles: Reni keeps her voice level-headed and straight (again, poor choice of word) throughout. Having entrenched herself in a mess of confusion: she now has to explain herself without sounding cruel and callous. “This really goes beyond my area of expertise” shows a truth and humorous side. Not used to these situations- although her sexual-compass-clumsiness suggests there might have been occasions like this- it is a very embarrassing and fraught scenario. Whether recalling a German man- or whether this happened in London- there is no going back. Once again- something few artists do- there are idiosyncratic tics. Certain words are repeated: the pace changes and the song is constantly fresh, nuanced and unique. So many Pop artists deliver verses and choruses with a very basic and unsophisticated approach.

Ina Reni is a musician that brings the most from her lyrics. Ensuring her words hit the mark- and the song compels endless replays and repeats- she provides a wonderful vocal. For a man that wore “purple skinny jeans” and weird fashion- that is from a “different galaxy”- you could understand the assumption. If I saw a man wearing clothes like that, I might (falsely) assume he were gay. Being straight- but having a certain flamboyance to him- others are likely to make that mistake- Reni should not be too hard on herself. Not your average love song: I Thought You Were Gay is one of the most individual and original songs I have heard in a very long while. Nobody who hears the song could have it on in the background- it is something that demands full attention and imagination. I could see our heroine and instructor conversing and training. Sending her topless images- he seems like a bit of a sleaze to me- the ‘replay’ button was always hit- thinking the guy was gay and had no sexual intentions. Knowing the full truth- the guy was hitting on her- it is all-the-more embarrassing and awkward. There is a charming naivety to Ina Reni’s plight. If the tables were turned- and I, or someone like me, gained such attention from a woman- you would not (I wouldn’t, at least) assume she were gay.

If the truth were different- and she was sending pictures and flirty texts are harmless fun- it would be quite a shock. There is something about the dynamic here that keeps the song from being too tense or controversial. Every line will produce a smile; a stand-in-the-mind line and a modern-day Wildean witticism. For those laboring national stereotypes- that those of Germanic origin lacked a sense of humour- will have that myth dispelled. Ina Reni is not someone who goes for cliché and easy tracks: those that point the finger at guys and go for the woe-is-me-like songs. Turning a rather red-faced scenario into something productive and cathartic: few musicians have the skill and nous to do this. Whether Reni has heard of Jen Armstrong- one of those singers that go for the humorous side of life- the two should share a stage. Clearly, London has had an effect on our heroine. Vibing from the British sense of humour; the playfulness and oddity of the streets- I Thought You Were Gay is blends ice-cold cut with warm, sunny vibes. The guy has misunderstood all the signals and words. The two parties are on different plains with different agendas: she wanted a professional bond; he wanted something more romantic and sexual. In a way, you feel a sense of sympathy for the heroine. She has done nothing wrong and has been rather honest throughout- unknowing a guy was into her. In retrospect, the signs were all there: the topless snaps and forthrightness; the unfiltered flirtations- the misguided fashion was a red herring. “My hottest friend”- the guy will take this as a compliment one, day- you cannot deny one thing: many would have assumed he was gay. Among these heated and retrospective words: the composition continues its plight and offensive. Those parped horns still recall Bacharach/David gems; the percussion has a Jazz sensibility; there is deliriousness and infantile smile- an infectious and joyous soundtrack. Such a rich and colourful musical cornucopia: so many different genres, themes and ideas are presented in the song. Knowing what a strong and memorable composition is at hand: it is repeated with passion and delight; I can see the song being a live favouirite. The closing seconds see Reni layering her voice- “I didn’t mean to turn you on”- and harmonising. A very soulful and spine-tingling vocal choir: it is the perfect way to end the track.

I have always loved Ina Reni’s voice but it really hits its peak here. Constantly beautiful and smoky; honeyed and sensuous- so many different emotions can be found. The production values ensure the words are clear; the voice is high in the mix- so many artists distill their vocal; making it hard to decipher the lyrics. The composition does not get second billing at all. All those gorgeous strands are given proper representation and attention. Each element is blended together expertly to ensure I Thought You Were Gay is a stone-cold hit. It is a track that could easily make its way into the charts- embers of Meghan Trainor and U.S. contemporaries come to mind. Reni blends Americanisms and British witticisms together. The Pop sounds recalls California and L.A.; the lyrics have a British sensibility whilst the composition bring ‘50s and ‘60s Pop together with Jazz and Hip-Hop strands. You know how much attention and dedication have been put into the song. It is not a track that has been lazily slung together to get YouTube views and airplay. So much heart and work has been put in: for that reason, I Thought You Were Gay deserves acclaim and applause. Reni’s voice is one of the most stirring and striking in current music: someone who could make any subject sound intoxicating and essential. Few musicians bring humour into their music- and get away from straight love songs- so that’s another reason we need to hold Ina Reni close. Make sure you grab your copy on iTunes (on Wednesday) as it will put a smile on your face- you will be quoting the lyrics for weeks to come!

I have known Ina Reni for a while and am excited to see just what she can achieve. Right now, she has a crowdfunding campaign- at https://vimeo.com/162746942- that will help ensure her career can continue and grow. Reni arrived in the country with ambition and determination. She has had to busk and perform on the streets: gaining experience and ensuring her voice is heard. Now- and for the coming months- she has gigs booked and a chance to seduce new crowds. She is someone that can easily seduce and get people hooked. There is an honesty and openness to her: a woman that wants to succeed and bares her soul through her music. A brilliant voice and rare talent: few people will be immune to her charm, strength, and drive. I can understand the lure of London: it is somewhere I have always yearned to live; will figure a way to work there very soon. Reni has many stories to tell- that will come to light in Plan A– and I feel we all owe her time, attention and consideration. Her backstory and upbringing has seen her travel from Europe to the U.K. She has tirelessly worked to get her music heard: the story is only just begun. The rest of 2016 will see I Thought You Were Gay being released, performed and (let’s hope) widely celebrated. After that, what is in store? An E.P. will be out and more gigs, for sure. So many new musicians are being dented and demotivated by the sheer cost of making music: the day-to-day reality of getting your ideas onto record. A hierarchical and money-intense industry: a lot are being scared off and limited. I guess there is no quick fix or easy resolution. Those who want it most- success and attention- have to keep going and battle. Reni is someone that will not give in and knows what she wants. Support her crowdfunding campaign as it will allow her to make music and get videos/songs made- without having to worry and stress.

That is the goal for any musician, I guess: being able to make music, unconstrained- free from the shackles of financial woes and struggle. I Thought You Were Gay highlights a unique artist with a sly humour at work: someone who works beyond the boundaries of been-in-love-got-my-heart-broken-the-guy-is-a-jerk songs. Plan A– when it is released- could see some heartbreak among the humour: Reni is not someone easy to pin-down and predict. For a debut single: I Thought You Were Gay is one of the most vivid, stand-out and original I have heard. I opened by looking at the appeal of London; the European music scene and artists that distinguish themselves from the flock. Ina Reni is not going to give up on her dream: she will find a way to do it and remain determined. London is the city to make music in- it is quite an expensive place to live/exist in. I can understand the coax and seduction of London: it is one of the world’s finest places; where young, ambitious people go to- to escape the boring and pointless towns/cities.

This year is going to be an exciting one for the German-born artist. She has already achieved a lot- her social media numbers are climbing; a few great gigs under her belt- and there is a lot of love, online. Fans are lining up to pay tribute to a very special musician. She is not someone who hides behind production teams and is told what to say. She is a very real and relatable person that opens her heart and speaks directly to the people. There is no fakery and ego: no pretense and controversy. What we have is a determined and strong woman who has left her birth nation to forge a new home. It is a scary and daunting prospect but have no fear: we will hear a lot more from Reni very soon. I cannot wait to hear new music and have loved investigating I Thought You Were Gay. You get- with the song- a gorgeous blend of modern-Pop and ‘60s sounds: ice-cool sassiness and something quite delicate. It is hard to distill and define her song- I have tried my best- because there is so much depth and layers in there. At its heart- I Thought You Were Gay– is a singalong, fun song that has plenty of memorable lines. For all the talent show-bred Pop stars out there: we need to start backing those doing things honestly- those with talent and longevity. I Thought You Were Gay is available to buy on Wednesday- it is available on SoundCloud– and worth every penny. The best and brightest musicians need funding and ongoing support. Such a competitive and expensive industry: we need to be more vigilant and aware of musicians’ plights. Ina Reni knows what she wants and is striving to achieve it. Having released such a bold and standout single…

WHO would bet against her?

___________________________________________

Follow Ina Reni

 

Official:

http://inareninow.com/

Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/ina.reni/?fref=ts

Twitter:

https://twitter.com/inareni

___________________________________

Music

https://soundcloud.com/inareni

TRACK REVIEW: The fin.- Through the Deep

TRACK REVIEW:

 

The fin.

 

 

Through the Deep

 

9.5/10

 

 

Through the Deep is available at:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YCKlbIAzAnA&feature=youtu.be

RELEASED:
April 29th 2016

GENRES:
Dream-Pop

ORIGIN:

Kobe, Japan

The E.P., Through the Deep, is available from June 3rd:

https://itunes.apple.com/jp/album/through-the-deep-ep/id1089821169

RECORD LABEL:

Lost in the Manor

MASTERED BY:

Joe Lambert

TRACK LISTING:

White Breath

Divers

Through the Deep

Heat

Anchorless Ship

Night Time (Petite Noir Remix)

DOWNLOAD:

Divers; Through the Deep; Anchorless Ship

STANDOUT TRACK:

Through the Deep 

____________________________________

THIS review marks a bit of a milestone for me…

as this is my first Japan-based review. Such a large and populous nation: I am shocked this is my first Japanese band. I know the country has such a rich and busy music culture: rarely, do we get to see too many Japanese acts make their way to our shores. Before getting to my featured act: it is worth looking at the music coming out of Japan; the genre, Dream-Pop- focusing on what the rest of this year holds. Whether you have heard of Dir En Grey and The 5.6.7.8.’s: Maximum the Hormone or The Pillows- Japan has created some seriously great acts. Arashi and An Café can be added to this- rather long- list. Many of- when thinking about Japanese music- get two ideas in our head. We think of Heavy-Metal and Rock: heavy and hard bands that leave little to the imagination. A lot of people- rightly, to a degree- think of Japan as quirky, strange and bizarre- there are many Japanese musicians whose music reflects that stereotype. While Japan does things differently- and has a unique way of life- that is not to say we should assume stereotypes and clichés. In the same way Britain is not a stiff-upper-lipped, repressed nation of red phone boxes, posh-speaking toffs and chimney-sweeping East Londoners: Japan is not a country filled with neon-lit signs and head-melting oddness- there is subtlety, beauty and grace to be discovered. If we label a nation- thinking we have their number- then it closes the imagination and limits our expectations. In the same way, U.S. perceptions of Britain is way off the mark- very few Americans bother to visit us- we are just as naïve about Japan. While I have listed some awesome acts- that play things with grit and anger- the likes of Jinn, Luna Sea and Nightmare (a trio of Rock acts) are not the ‘norm.’ Japanese Pop music- or ‘J-Pop’ as it’s known- is its own culture. Country Girls and Buono!; Juice=Juice and Dream- just a few names (among dozens) that have made Japanese Pop music synonymous with invention, quality, and originality. I am a big fan of Perfume’s blend of Bubblegum-Pop and Synthpop: I love their bright fashions and instantaneous songs. In that spirit: Morning Museume are one of the freshest- and most distinct- girl groups in Japan.

It is great discovering The fin. They are a band you know will transcend to the big leagues and travel the globe. Before I carry on, let me introduce them to you:

Hailing from the vibrant Japanese port city of Kobe, The fin. are a reputed and singular attraction in their homeland due to their stylish Europhile blend of synth-pop, chillwave and dream-pop, complete with English lyrics addressing universal themes of everyday uncertainties. Often referenced alongside the likes of Beach House, Phoenix, Metronomy and M83, the quartet have, since forming in 2012, performed before thousands of rapturous fans at major Japanese festivals including Fuji Rock, Rising Sun and Viva La Rock. Not content with such acclaim in one country alone, Yuto Uchino (vocals and synths), Ryosuke Odagaki (guitar), Takayasu Taguchi (bass) and Kaoru Nakazawa (drums) set their sights worldwide and in 2015 embarked on a major tour of the US, which included a performance at SXSW, before making their first forays into Britain with a handful of dazzling shows in support of their debut UK EP, ‘Night Time’. Their much-anticipated return to these shores this spring comes in the wake of a second British release and a growing recognition that there’s an act of rare, sophisticated beauty creating a big noise in the East. It’s time to turn your gaze to The fin.

There’s a theme running through the beauteous new EP by The fin. that permeates more than just the song titles. Oceanic imagery features heavily in Yuto Uchino’s lyrics, as references to ship, shore and submersion loom large. The singer articulates these tales of impermanence and transition to a shimmering, sophisticated indie art-pop backing that will be familiar to fin. fans, even though there’s a greater electronic influence to this EP, as synths carry more of the weight, melodically and rhythmically.

Opener ‘White Breath’ builds on its vehement piano/vocal intro to envelop a cropped hypnotic groove with springy keyboard stabs, dubby fx and, of course, Uchino’s soaring harmonies. “I saw you jumped into the sea/What could you see from there?” the singer then questions to the symphonic arpeggios of ‘Divers’, set to a characteristically minimalist beat and crunchy bassline that segues into a second act of controlled yet quietly euphoric trance-pop.

The title track, ‘Through The Deep’ opens with a swell of surf guitar and thump of percussive kick drum that evolves into a stylish, deceptively complex composition that hums with sonic exploration and an ambient energy that will only tease the listener with its brevity. Even shorter is the 67 seconds of ‘Heat’, which finds The fin. at their most stripped down, just a wash of sine-waves, a sparkling melodic refrain and Yuto’s distinctive tones proclaiming the sudden onset of intensity. Finally, ‘Anchorless Ship’ is a modest masterwork of smooth, uncluttered funk built on a sustained pulse resembling the sonar ping of a submarine’s radar. A wash of synth then announces a change of course towards the tune’s expansive, ecstatic coda, as Yuto sings about deeper immersion in dreams.

The compelling video to ‘Through The Deep’ depicts a colourful traveller in a post-apocalyptic landscape, who happens upon a decrepit fairground and its ageing inhabitant. It’s a video full of grace, space and mystique, and as such is the perfect accompaniment to the ethereal wonder of The fin.’s new EP.

The band is in the U.K. at the moment. Tonight, they are in Brighton: taking part in The Great Escape 2016. They take on Tooting Tram and Social on 26th– visiting Hull in the meantime. After that, the band visits Portsmouth: they head back to Japan in June. The Kobe-born band mixes English lyrics with a Japanese sensibility: ensuringng they translate across the globe and have a wide fan-base. There are Japanese acts that sing in Japanese: there is that danger they will not be fully appreciated by the English-speaking world. The fin. have no such issues: their fan numbers are rising and their stock is rising. Going against expectations and predictions: Yuto Uchino, Ryosuke Odagaki; Takayasu Taguchi and Kaoru Nakazawa mix J-Pop with something more European (U.S. flavours in there). We in the U.K. have our share of Dream-Pop artists: it is a delight to see a Japanese act come through with similar sensibilities and ideas. That is not to say The fin. are westernised and betray their roots- Japan has a growing number of Dream-Pop acts. Sugarplant and Lemon’s Chair are a couple of acts that you should seek: showing just what Japanese musicians can do. The fin. are able to unveil Through the Deep (released on June 3rd) and its title track is seducing a lot of people. I have been lucky to receive the E.P. – one of the first to hear it in full- and can pay testament to the stun and beauty throughout.

Through the Deep’s title track is available on YouTube– complete with a gorgeous and unique video- and has gained a lot of praise. Whether you see The fin. as dreamy and surreal; hazy and pretty- few people will come to the same conclusion. Such is the strength of their music: so many different emotions and adjectives reveal themselves. Through the Deep opens with a shimmering and endeavouring sound. The guitar shivers and vibrates- oceanic and land-straddling- whilst a heartbeat-like percussion drips with emotion. After seeing the song’s title- and hearing the initial notes- I get impressions of self-actualisation and discovery: a band that is looking for answers and looking to brighter skies. The song’s composition does nothing to dispel that assumption. Yuto Uchino wanted The fin. to be seen as borderless and without boundaries- not rigidly defined and clear-cut. Through the Deep sees a haphazard wandered stumble upon a (abandoned and desolate) fairground (the video).

That light-and-shade contrast can be found in the first phases. Whilst the song’s video sees a wide-eyed girl run to the fair: the song’s lyrics look at “emptiness” and sentimentality. The fin. are masterful when it comes to emotional outpouring and meaning. They are revelatory and open yet always keep the full truth inside. Through the Deep could be seen in a number of different ways. Perhaps it is a tale of finding love and direction in life. You can see it as a general assessment of solitude and pain- each listener will have their own views. One thing that cannot be disputed is the unadulterated beauty and emotion that explodes from the speakers. Even when insular and self-examining: The fin. are a stunning and constantly engaging and mesmeric. You get vibes of The xx- whatever happened to them?!- and something cinematic and twilight. We hear of ships “with no destination” that are “drifting on the waves”- themes that run through the E.P. as a whole. I was thinking about a break-up and distance in a relationship. Maybe the duo- if it is taken from personal memories- are going through the motions and seem rather fragmented. There is that desire to rekindle an old spark or find common ground- knowing that things will never be as they were. Such evocative music calls for deep analysis and speculation- well, from my standpoint it does- and you cannot help but imagine and conspire. Before the half-way mark; the vocals become more unified- colour and layers come together- as the beat (that heartbeat pound) become more defined and clear. Elongated, stridulated electronics fuse with ocean-side waves- the resultant cocktail is one that cannot be beaten. Few bands are as astonishing and talented as The fin. There are a lot of Dream-Pop examples on the market: few have the originality and authority of Kobe’s masters.

When The fin. released their debut E.P. Glowing On the Red Shore– around the same time as their L.P.- they were fighting against being on the outside. Unconventional and brave: the Japanese band have never had the full backing of the media and movers-and-shakers. Through the Deep’s self-titled anthem sees them in uncompromising and dazzling mood. You will be hard-pressed to discover a song as gorgeous and fascinating. The band has grown in popularity in Japan- although they weren’t a couple of years back- but write music that has international appeal. They do not stick to J-Pop moulds and limitations: their music breaks beyond Japan and is intended for the wider world. Having traveled the globe- across the U.S. and Europe- The fin. have picked up a lot of inspiration and influence on the road. Through the Deep is an intense and fleshed-out diamond that shines with determination. Uchino demonstrates what an extraordinary visionary he is- the rest of the band take a back seat when it comes to songwriter- and what a talent he possesses. Awash with reverb and soulful vocals: they evoke so much emotion with so few instruments. The keyboard and percussion are matched with subtle guitar strings- a veritable painting unfolds before your ears. Through the Deep is a song that could mean everything and nothing: a look at love, life and death; each person will take something new and special (from the song). By the end notes, you sit back and struggle to capture everything- you need to come back to get a full reign on the song. Although the quartet have not fully captured the Japanese mindset- there is a need (in Japan) to quickly release songs; lest you leave things too long- they are a huge hit overseas. When they return home- and finish touring- they hit the studio for album number two. It will be exciting to see how far the guys can go. They have such a bond and talent on-board: few other acts are as consistent and limitless than them. Through the Deep shows just what a force of nature The fin. is. They have few equals and no limitations: by freeing constraints; they allow their imaginations and thoughts to run free, unhindered.

The fin. released Days With Uncertainty in 2014 and showed how formed and united they were. The 11-track album sported no weak moments and possessed a huge amount of diversity and urgency. Even at their dreamiest and most seductive points: the band was fully capable of stealing the breath; taking you somewhere (almost) spiritual. Forward two years- with a bit of music in the interim- and there is a blend of evolution and consistency. The band has not changed their sound too much- they didn’t need to- but sound more confident and adventurous than before. Sonically, they employ more risks and have expanded their palette- the same goes for the subject matter and themes. The performances are tighter and the vocals contain more emotion, layers and nuance. What we have- with Through the Deep– is an E.P. that will please existing fans- able to recruit plenty of new followers. White Breath is awash with swooning vocals and layers of sound: the track is an instant energy-burst and takes you by surprise. The beauty-assault grabs you by the scruff and demands your attention. One of the band’s only- forgivable and understandable- weaknesses is the accessibility of the vocals. Being Japanese: their English vocals can suffer some indecipherability and clarity loss. That is a minor quibble inside music that is more about mood and feel- the concision and lyrics are almost second-nature. You get embers and waves of ‘60s sunshine: Psychedelia and melancholy entwine in a rapturous and cohabitate bond that sparks with life and lust. The casual listener will be enthralled by the goosebumps-inducing vocals and dreaminess: those more serious will appreciate the subtle composition: one that adds extra emotion and grandeur to the track. The guitars flick with subtlety: the electronics buzz and burble- the percussion drives things; the bass packs plenty of groove and kick. That blend of expression, rhythm and purity combines in a stunning opening track.

  Divers begins with a more gradual and subtle pace. The electronics start to rise: leading to a very ‘Japanese’ sound. When hearing the cascading electronics: your mind is transported across the oceans to the city of Kobe (Japan’s sixth-largest). That contrast of mountains and the metropolis come together: the rush and crowds; the space and fresh air of the open. Listening to the- entrancing and elliptical- electronics and you swim in a very pleasing and warm sea. The percussion claps and slaps: the waterfall-sounding ‘tronics flow and smile. The band pulls all their key strengths together. The harmonious vocals- the blend of male and female tones is a pleasing contrast; a consistent high- and twanging bass ensure Divers drives and swoons- a verbal embodiment of the song’s ideals and values. Whilst lyrics look at ocean depths and discovery: the band take your mind with the song; allow the listener to become ensconced in its tenderness. The fin. display their incredible musicianship throughout the song. The bass features prominently- a pounding and bouncing centrifuge- while those electronics continue to evoke chills and sunshine. Mixing ‘60s-Pop with something modern and city-bound: one of the highlights from Through the Deep.

   Heat sweeps into life with an intent and direct vocal. The band layer the voices to create something heavenly and brief- the song is the shortest on the E.P. (1:07). Showing how economical the band is- they do not allow any track to outstay its welcome- you get a song that is by-no-means a filler- it is one of the most beautiful pieces on the E.P. Mysterious and wise- the lyrics could be taken literally; perhaps attest a romance- the listener will have their own take on the song. Sometimes the band’s vocals get buried underneath the compositions- that clarity issue- but, once more, there is more emphasis on the complete sound. Judging it on pure motives and merits: Heat showcases how effective the four-piece is. Few groups are able to write a 77-second song that puts so much emotion and evocation together.

  Anchorless Ship is (perhaps the E.P.’s) most direct and hard-hitting song. The light-baring and sunny vibes are there: everything is tighter, louder and firmer. The electronics plink and flash- rather than stretching and flowing- and there is an underlying fear and uncertainty. The song’s title suggests a rudderless and lost soul: someone floating in the ocean without gravity and destination. For that reason: the vocals are more one-dimensional and distilled. It would be disappointing to discover an E.P. where every song sounded the same: each track has its own soul and way of working. Anchorless Ship is the most unique and distinguished song from Through the Deep. The band’s most ‘serious’ revelation:  there is still playfulness and comfort to be found. That combination of electronics-and-percussion (with some mean and cool bass) sticks in the head. A regimental march that builds momentum as time elapses: a powerful swan-song that will want you desiring more (such is the definition of a truly great E.P.). Anchorless Ship moves through different stages and movements. After the tense and introspective opening: a building- delirious and cinematic- middle unfurls its wings. At first, the electronics hop and jump- an innocence and sense of playfulness- before it fizzes and bursts into life. The band raise the stakes and inject everything they have into the song. The bass swaggers and dances: the vocals become more defined and deep- a beautiful blend of ‘80s Synth.-Pop and modern—day J-Pop.

A few weeks ago: I did not know who The fin. were. It has been wonderful unravelling and inspecting a stunning and dream-like band. The fact they hail from Japan makes it much richer and interesting. I love getting stuck into London music and the sounds of the U.K. We should all support our home-grown artists and what is happening on our doorsteps- not forgetting to promulgate the best international sounds. It has been so long since I have been in Asian waters: the last review (in this continent) was when I assessed Indian artist, Antriksh Bali. It is not often I get to go beyond Europe and North America- Australia is a rare treat- and witness a great act that is producing stunning music. The world of music has become poorer over this year. With the loss of so many great artists- from David Bowie and Prince- we look to the new generation for inspiration and guidance. Whilst we might never witness those kind of titans emerge: that is not to say music, in general, cannot inspire and amaze.

As listeners/purveyors: we are too defined and restrained with regards musical experimentation (besides those who really have a burning passion). I would never have thought to check-out a Japanese Dream-Pop band- luckily I am in a position where these kind of musicians come to my attention. From this serendipitous discovery: I have been compelled to investigate Japanese music and the acts coming through. The fin. have set tongues wagging with the track, Through the Deep. The same-named E.P. will get the senses tingling and buzzing. A five-track (plus a remix) shows what consistency and talent is in The fin. camp. The bond- between the players and instruments- results in some of the most scenic and soul-baring music you can imagine. I will keep an eye on the Kobe-based band and what we can expect. I have not been able to see them this time- they head back to Japan in the coming weeks- but I will check them out when they return to these isles. The future is looking very bright for them. They could have a residency in the U.Ss or Australia- two nations that embrace the kind of music they play- and the U.K. has been gobbling them up like sweets. If you are unfamiliar with the quartet- and I’m guessing you will be- then check out their single, Through the Deep. When their E.P. arrives (in a few days) grab it and let its magic entrance you. That is one of the beauties of the music industry: there is so many variation and unexpectedness out there. With Japan’s The fin…

THEY epitomise that statement… and some!

 

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Follow The fin.

 

Official:

http://www.thefin.jp/

Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/ThefinMusic?fref=ts

Twitter:

https://twitter.com/_thefin

Instagram:

https://www.instagram.com/the_fin/

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Music

https://soundcloud.com/user745587

 

 

TRACK REVIEW: Kindest of Thieves- Wanda

TRACK REVIEW:

 

Kindest of Thieves

 

 

Wanda

 

9.3/10

 

 

Wanda is available at:

http://kindestofthieves.bandcamp.com/track/wanda

GENRES:
Americana-Blues; Ragtime; Roots Music

ORIGIN:

Leeds, U.K.

The E.P., Cul-De-Sac, is available via:

http://kindestofthieves.bandcamp.com/

TRACK LISTING:

Wanda

White Feather

Bones to the Gurney

Baudelaire Black

Want You Something Rotten

DOWNLOAD:

Wanda; Baudelaire Black; Want You Something Rotten

STANDOUT TRACK:

Wanda

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OVER the next couple of days, I am reviewing everyone from a…

Japanese band to a Germanic solo artist- with some Trance/Electro. music thrown into the mix. You cannot say music lacks variety and range. My featured act- before I formally introduce him- embodies charm and originality. In modern music, there is that need and desire to be ‘ultra-modern’: sound of-the-moment and urgent. Consumers are not as predictable (as many artists) assume. The charts and mainstream are filled with artists that are like-minded, staid and overly-familiar: modern-sounding but without much distinction and colour. I would like to see more artists look back at the past and incorporate that into their music. There are musicians that blend decades and genres into their sounds: to my mind, even that can be limited and tame. Maybe it is seen as ‘uncool’ to revert to past days: it is 2016, so why would we want to hear something based out of the ‘50s, for instance? Well: consider this. Music (as we hear it today) did not just come out of nowhere: it has evolved over time and owes a debt to the early Blues masters of the ‘20s and ‘30s. The only reason music stands the test of time- and has mutated through the years- is from that initial basis. Who knows whether we would have a music industry at all were it not for those bygone performers? The best and most innovative albums/songs have drawn from a variety of sources and sounds. We cannot just look at music and assume it should all sound chart-ready and instantly digestible. The greatest albums of 2016- James Blake’s The Colour in Anything and Radiohead’s A Moon Shaped Pool– were/are packed with sonic innovation, changeable moods and stunning invention. The Pop charts are far too flaccid, rigid and distilled. I yearn for artists that put something interesting and unique into music. Christopher J. Fox- not the most eloquent way of introducing someone- deftly manages to be ultra-modern and vintage at the same time. He is a one-man-band of force and beauty. Taking his inspiration from an array of genres- Blues, Ragtime; Folk, Gypsy-Swing- we have an artist that certainly stands out from the crowds.

It is with pleasure- perhaps invariably- that my attentions return to Leeds- can never seem to escape the darned place! Having moved to Leeds- born in Manchester- Kindest of Thieves (Fox’s mysterious alter ego) has found a natural home. The Yorkshire hotspot is synonymous with embracing retro. music. Over the years, everyone from Electro.-Swing revivalist Little Violet- A.K.A., Cherie Gears- and The Holcombe Family String Band (sadly defunct) have come under my radar. I am not sure what it is about the city that breeds such a wave of rare musicians. While the likes of London and L.A. have a variation of acts: Leeds seems to surpass them all. With a lot of bands calling time- lack of popularity or the pressures of the game- we need to start paying attention to artists that are worthy and have the potential to last. I was sad to see The Holcombe Family String Band- a similarly-quirky and brilliant Leeds bands- disband recently. Their Hokum-cum-Ragtime sounds possessed swing, flair and something innocent. Looking back at simpler days: the group combined the romance of the past with modern production values and ideas. Kindest of Thieves does things in a similar manner. He (Fox) dips into the music’s past and shines up some (long-forgotten) sounds: stylising them and adding shine. Keeping faithful to the original text- making sure the genres still have their soul and heart- we get something eclectic, electric and new. It is like going into a fashion boutique. Kindest of Thieves scours the racks for various colours, fabrics and styles: experiments- with age and design- to come up with something dazzling and unexpected. Perhaps that was a little pretentious of me, but you know what I mean? He is a mixology and cocktail-making machine; he’s an innovator and risk-taking musician: however you see Kindest of Thieves you cannot deny this: there are few other acts that do things the same way! Before progressing- drilling down to the music and Cul-De-Sac– I am always impressed by a musician that can take things into their own hands. The musicians that impress me most are those that can transgress the biggest problem of (in my opinion) today’s music: the lack of ownership and personality.

So many artists are committee-written and have packs of writers on their albums. Even Beyoncé- an artist whose album Lemonade documented her rage at Jay Z (her ill-advised and disloyal husband)- had so many cooks in the kitchen. That vexed me somewhat. Why would you put something so personal onto record and have other people write it? Beyoncé is a woman who is capable of writing a song: does she need a dozen other people to make her (personal and distinct) messages come to life? If you are not able to write music yourself- or need a glut of producers to help you out- then you should not be in the game to start with. Those who have the talent and capacity to create music- from the initial germ to the finished product- gain my respect and adulation- regardless of the resultant quality. Kindest of Thieves is an artist I have been watching closely for a number of months now. Fox impresses me with his passion and authority of older-days music. Cul-De-Sac is a five-track E.P. that takes us to the ‘40s and ‘50s: a slight detour to the U.S.; a saunter to the northern coasts of the U.K. That is why Kindest of Thieves resonates and affects: you get so many places, decades, and genres in a single song. We need to start appreciating the musicians that want to keep history alive. Those ignored and overlooked types of music- Ragtime, for instance- deserve respect. At Cul-De-Sac’s heart is something contemporary and ‘today’. The songs combine a D.I.Y. charm with something slick and professional. If you have not followed Christopher Fox’s imaginative machinations: you owe yourself the opportunity to discover something rare and brilliant.

The Taxidermist (the E.P. released in September 2015 showed what a talent we had in our midst. The three-track record laid-out Fox’s stunning imagination, workmanship and wordplay- the way he could entwine personalities and portray love in a new and unexpected way. A fine and astonishing work: Cul-De-Sac expands that (early) promise and turns it up a notch. Right from the very first song: you are captivated and hooked. Whilst other songs (across the E.P.) have some oblique edges and mystery- not directly aimed at a particular person- Wanda is one of the most heartfelt and clear songs on the E.P. Our man wakes up to the morning and begins Wanda with bleary-eyed charm and rouse. If you thought Wanda was a pure and dedicated love song: there is teeth and humour to be found. The hero does not wake to “your leather hands”. Right there, you might imagine an ‘older’ female in the song- perhaps a misguided tryst- or someone that is not a typical heroine. The morning has come and there seem to be regrets and mistakes made. With any Kindest of Thieves songs: right from the off you start to get imagining and conspiring. My mind went to a sunlit bedroom- a small room in a quiet town- where our man is tip-toeing and collecting his clothes. Maybe my mind is starting shallow: there might be something more innocent and chaste at heart. The composition instantly evokes the glory-days of Ragtime and early Blues. Christopher Fox is a musician that has surrounded himself with old vinyls: you can imagine him spending evenings sat, embroiled in scratchy 45s- needle-jumping records from U.S. Blues champions and British Ragtime bands. With each passing second, the smile broadens on the face. The rather ‘uncontoured’ breasts and supple wrists are matched by a questionable girth: our boy’s bed has been ground to the floor- the mattress is getting a severe workout. In a year where love songs either sound sworded and seedy- drizzled in sweat and tongue- or distant: here, we have something charming (a word that will be used frequently in this review) and funny. Whatever caused this comical mismatch: you cannot help but jump into the song and imagine the parties in the morning. Fox is a man that has regrets and pain- having been struck in the eyes with various (loose-fitting) body parts- and is documenting his ill-fated congress. Compelled and energised by the spirited composition- it keeps cherry and heel-clicking right the way through- every listener will come away (listening to the song) with images and words bouncing around the brain. Wanda seems like a girl blighted by age, weight and gravity-defying size- someone that could appear in the pages of Viz. While our man stands back and assesses the wreckage- both metaphorical and literal, it seems- there is never any malice or cruelty.

Wanda has that old-skool Ealing comedy vibe to it: there is tongue-in-cheek and wit brimming to the surface. The cruel mistress- bedecked in furs and strange fashions- cause shivers for our hero. It would be great to know what motivated the song to come to life. With every Kindest of Thieves song: you know there must be some back-story to it. Wanda seems like a song that could only exist in the ‘30s and ‘40s- few modern-day writers have such a storytelling talent. Maybe Fox shared a bed with someone unglamorous and cruel: translating and modifying that experience into something vintage and humorous. Whatever the inspiration for Wanda: it is the perfect way to kick-start Cul-De-Sac. Nobody will be able to resist the spirited performance and stunningly pure vocal from Fox. I had to listen to Wanda a few times to let those words and scenes seep into the mind. The first listen was dedicated to embracing the oddity and quirkiness of things. Repeated spins saw me get into the lyrics and really dig deep. Even now- upon the fifth time- there is some mystery beneath the surface. The hero can “barely stand no more”- of the romance or life in general? – and he wonders how Wanda manages to carry on. By the two-minute mark, the song reaches its peak: the vocal is at its most inflamed; the strings sharpen and spin. Wanda consists of few original lines- codas and ideas are repeated for maximum effect- but that shows the economy and skill of Fox’s writing. He manages to make such a compelling and busy song with very few lyrics. The commitment of the performance and wide-eyed sense of surprise makes Wanda a real winner. It is a wonderful introduction to Cul-De-Sac and its finest moment.

After immersing myself in the likes of Radiohead, James Blake and Yak (there artists that are filling my head with all sorts of pleasure) I needed to step away from them and embrace something different- give my mind a chance to discover something new and lesser-heard. Kindest of Thieves- aside from the clever name- is a name you should familiarise yourself with. Other, similar-natured artists have (sadly) split: I feel Christopher Fox will not have the same problem. His social media numbers are solid: he is gaining new supporters by the week. There is a loyal band of fans that follow and cherish everything (Kindest of Thieves) does. The next gig- for those interested- will be the Warrington Music Festival. Fox is staying local at the moment: keeping himself in the north, at the very least. I would love to see him come down to London and play some gigs around here. I know there will be venues and pubs that would love to host him- clubs and spots that would go crazy for his music. That said, areas like Brighton would readily embrace the quixotic and heart-melting music- potential and possibilities around the U.K. Right now, Fox will be concentrating on the E.P. and ensuring people hear it. If you head over to his BandCamp page- the link is at the bottom of this review- you can hear the E.P. in full. Cul-De-Sac packs so much story and substance across its five songs. White Feather– one of the barest and most ‘live-sounding’ tracks on the record- begins with finger-picking and a delightful rush.

Compelling you to tap feet and get moving: the song spares no time in being aloof and wallflower-like. I am unsure whether white feather- the subject of the song- is a current sweetheart or a dream. “I want to take it out on you” and “perversion disrobes you” paint something dark and disturbed- other lyrics look at something more heartfelt and passionate. With every line of the song, the listener starts to imagine scenes and possibilities. Fox delivers the words with such passion and strength- marking himself as one of the most underrated singers in British music- ensuring White Feather sticks in the mind.  I was thinking about love and romance: maybe a particular girl is in mind; someone that is quixotic and strange; you never quite know the absolute truth. Kindest of Thieves is an act that combines mystery and direct: every song has layers and room for interpretation. White Feather has such an effusive kick and swagger to it: no listener will be immune to the rush and energy of the song. Fox grumbles, growls and rises (with operatic splendor): encompassed in gentle notes and a seaside-adjacent scene- embittered and affected by the “cold and rainy weather”. His heroine has a war within her- she seems quite restrained and bottled-up- whilst the hero wants something more explosive and expressionist. Maybe I have got my theory wrong: perhaps the ‘white feather’ is more a concept or emotion- perhaps something intangible and more theoretic. It takes a number of plays for the song to reveal its truths: when it does, you will be hooked on its unique blend flavor.

Bones to the Gurney swims, swallows and lurches into view. A drunken merriment brings the song to life. Again, you wonder whether love is in the midst: perhaps our man is looking at an object or chattel. Bones’ possess one of the most complete and busy compositions across Cul-De-Sac. There is rambling, train-hoping brass sounds; punchy and tight percussion- heartfelt acoustic strumming. This one-man-band puts such originality, invention and beauty into the music. An accomplished and intuitive musician: Fox displays an affection and understanding of everything he performs. A musician that has one foot in the past- the ‘40s and ‘50s especially- and one in 2016- there are few musicians quite like him. Bones to the Gurney puts thoughts and ideas into the imagination, no doubt. Our hero wants to be looked over one last time: perhaps a romantic supplication or something different? With every line, you wonder whether romance is being documented- Fox keeps his cards close to chest. Listening to Bones to the Gurney and it is like you are in the room with Kindest of Thieves. Listeners are brought directly into the listening experience- without periphery and baubles- and you are fully immersed in the song.

Baudelaire Black starts with a racing kick: getting off to the races with no thoughts of walking or calm. Strings twirl and nod- almost Grecian or Hispanic in their sound- whilst our hero wipes blood from his body (again, you wonder just what he gets up to in his spare time) his heroine wears a startling dress- the colour, Baudelaire black. Charles Boudelaire was a French poet (1821-1867) who remains one of the most influential essayists and art critics ever. Given that context: you start to imagine various scenarios and ideas. Baudelaire Black is (actually) one of the most straightforward and direct songs on the E.P. It is about a heroine- someone that is quite exotic yet relatable- wearing a dangerous smile. Fox makes sure his voice is compelling and impassioned to the very last note. Representing a heartfelt- if somewhat odd- love note: you picture the heroine and the exchanges that take place. My mind- and yours will be- was taken back to the 1940s- the juke-joints of the U.S.: where cigarette smoke fills the air and the hat-wearing suave lean against the bar- maybe I need to stop watching so many old films! One of the most stunning tracks on Cul-De-Sac– second, only to Wanda– and you have to tip your cap to Kindest of Thieves. Over the course of three minutes (and two seconds) you are taking into a dazzling mini-epic with anti-heroines and blood-shed: double-cross and deceit; head-spinning strings and something spider web-alluring beauty.

Want You Something Rotten brims with northern charm and accent. Even pronouncing the song: you will do so with a distinct accent and angle. Even before the song starts, I get images of ‘40s music hall stars with ukuleles: ditties about special girls and lampposts (got to stop listening to George Formby so much!). The track begins with our man at his most helpful: he has been “teaching slaves to kneel” and sets his sights on the girl. The hero has been lonely and lost for a little while: he needs something fulfilling and exciting- he is setting his mind on getting the girl. With a busy and special mind: the boy is not going to relent or demure. Once more, Fox combines a bedroom-made sound- again; you are in the room with him- with exceptional musicianship and dedication. The vocal brims with spark and urgency: the composition combines contrasting emotions and sounds; a compendium of dance, fever and exhilaration. By the closing moments, the listener has taken in so much. The words tumble and you envisage the conversations taking place. The music gets the body motivated and the senses primed: one of those songs that’s destined for the live crowds. Want You Something Rotten has a singalong quality that would translate brilliantly to larger audiences. Whether Kindest of Thieves sticks to intimate, home-based crowds- or expands the horizons to something more intimidating- few can overlook what a treat Cul-De-Sac is. The five tracks whizz by and leave a deep impression- you are seduced into repeated investigation. Whether you are a fan of U.S. Blues and Gypsy-Swing- and the other sounds invested- you cannot refute the charm and memorability of the music. There are so few musicians doing what Christopher J. Fox is doing. If you want a smile put on the face- who of us doesn’t?!- then you need to do this: listen to Cul-De-Sac and…

HAVE your day brightened, thoroughly.

 

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Follow Kindest of Thieves

 

Official:

http://kindestofthieves.wix.com/kothieves

Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/kothieves/?fref=ts

Twitter:

https://twitter.com/kothieves

_________________________________

Music

http://kindestofthieves.bandcamp.com/

 

INTERVIEW: Laura Saggers

INTERVIEW:

 

 

Laura Saggers

 

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SHE may have been born in the home counties- and lived in one of my favourite places, Chesham- but Laura Saggers is ensconced in California. After leaving the U.K. to pursue her dreams: Saggers has been building up a solid reputation- marking herself as an immense talent. A classically-trained pianist- one of the most stunning and jaw-dropping pianists I have heard- she boasts a tremendous Pop voice a rare accessibility. Add an infectious personality and huge passion for music: she seems ready-made and primed for the big leagues.

In a state- and part of the U.S.- where competition is fierce: the British-born musician stands above her peers. Having performed a range of stunning cover versions- and original singles including Summer Fling– there are few musicians quite like Laura Saggers. I was keen to chat and find out what the future holds: whether we will see new (original) music; how the U.S. compares (to the U.K.)- and whether talent shows are good for the music industry…

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For those new to your music: can you tell us a bit about yourself? You were born in England but live in California. What compelled the move to the U.S.?

I fronted an Emo/Heavy-Rock band back in the day (Sennah) and as the scene started to fizzle I decided it was time for a change. I packed my bags; bought a flight and literally never looked back. Honestly, can’t believe it has been nearly 7 years since I did that. It has been such an amazing ride.

I spent a lot of time in Chesham- where you lived: my aunt owned a business there- and can imagine it has a warm and alluring pull. Do you miss places like this or prefer the excitement and expansiveness of California?

I love this question: it is like asking someone could they live without cheese or ice-cream- if that person were obsessed with both (I can’t live with either F.Y.I.). I adore England and will always consider it home. I love the sarcastic wit of the English people and the countryside is stunning. London is a vibrant, eclectic hub of awesomeness but California had a scene for music that, for some reason, I wasn’t being able to locate as easily in the U.K. I would say L.A. is the toughest town (socially) to move to and can really bring the most-optimistic person down at times. The opportunities it offers are absolutely endless: you have to be a ridiculously determined person and prepared to work your butt off in order to benefit from what it has to offer. I guess I am lucky that I was born with two stainless steel testicles- metaphorically speaking of course😉

Are there any local artists you could recommend at all?

YES! Of course. L.A. is a hub for aspiring artists. I have played and met with some great ones. My top-3- at the moment- are:

Ari – amazing girl from Canada. Heart of gold, a hustler: a hard worker; her Power-Pop voice is crisp and ripples with woman power. https://www.facebook.com/iamARImusic/?fref=ts

Brian Davis – an amazing songwriter. Every time I go to a show I get absorbed by his lyrics- such a great storyteller. http://playingforpennies.com

Everett Coast – just heard these guys last week and the harmonies are ON-POINT. Sounds something like a ’90s Acoustic-Rock band (and oh-sooo-good). http://www.everettcoast.com/

Dreams is your latest cover song. What compelled you to tackle that number? Is Rumours– where the song features- one of those albums that’s particularly special to you?

I have always loved Fleetwood Mac. My voice suits their songs and she (Stevie Nicks) was just- and still is- so incredibly bad-ass- who wouldn’t want to cover her? I also chose Dreams (as) when playing around with it in the studio it really suited the patch sound on my keytar.

Each of your recordings is defined by a very sultry and stunning vocal. Which singers/musicians were key to you growing up?

I love voices. I am always attracted to the voice before anything else. Ella Fitzgerald has always been a huge top contender for me. I also love Norah Jones, Meiko, Lenka, Jasmine Thompson; Tracy Chapman, Hayley Williams. Anyone who can sell a song to me when it is stripped-down and in its rawest form shows true talent to me. It is easy to play loud but give me a piano or an acoustic guitar- and one beautiful vocal- and I’m happy.

Summer Fling– released via Snapchat last year- showcases a unique style and vocal. Was there a particular time/person that inspired that number?

Ha, yes. I had just come back from a trip to England where I met the most dashing of young men and got whisked away into a summer frenzy. I felt like I was 16 on some super-random summer vacation. The trip ended; I came back: wrote a song about everything we did as a kind of diary entry and that was that. It was very unexpected: very unlike me; the experience was awesome.

On the subject of your own music: can we expect a Laura Saggers E.P./album anytime soon?

The album is done: ready to release. It has taken me two years to perfect but I am soooo excited about it and can’t wait to share it with everyone.

Having been performing/recording for a few years now: which memories stand out in your mind?

I played with an ‘80s cover band for a while and we played some massive stage. Some were in front of 20,000 people and I remember looking out to the crowd and dancing with keytar and thinking: damn I made it! This is what I came for and then instantly feeling proud and grateful all at the same time.

You are a classically-trained musician. You have had a very rich and impressive musical background- making your name honestly. Do you think the decline of (music) talent shows is a good thing? Are they- the contestants that appear on them- good or bad for music?

Hmm. I have been begged by family members to go on these shows and I actually did a few auditions for a couple of the massive shows and got through- but after reading the contracts I politely declined. The reality is this: those shows have a purpose. They are good, live entertainment. Nothing more. If you are 15-year-old and have nothing to lose then absolutely go for it- but you may notice that you will never find an actual professional musician on those shows. The contracts involved are so dangerously one-sided that it hinders the growth and ability for musicians to have an actual career. Don’t believe me? Name 5 artists in past two years that came from those shows that are now huge stars…. nope? Thought so!

I came here to live the dream as a real musician. If I don’t make it- in the commercial sense of the word- then so be- at least I will be happy with myself. But I’ll be damned if I sell-out and crumble to a huge corporation that cannot guarantee me a future but profit from my talent.

Are there any plans to play in the U.K. this year at all?

I hope so! Working on it!

What advice would you give any aspiring singer-songwriters looking to follow in your footsteps?

Go take a business course in music. Go understand the industry you are trying to succeed in. The industry has changed so much over the years and it is so (so) crucial to understand what you are getting yourself into. You say you want to earn money by making music? Then understand where that money comes from and work your way backwards.

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Follow Laura Saggers

 

Official:

http://www.laurasaggers.com/

Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/laurasaggersmusic/?fref=ts

Twitter:

https://twitter.com/laurasaggers

Instagram:

https://www.instagram.com/laurasaggersmusic/

________________________________

Music

YouTube:

https://www.youtube.com/user/laurasaggers

SoundCloud:

https://soundcloud.com/laura-saggers

INTERVIEW: Alice Avery

INTERVIEW:

 

 

Alice Avery

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THERE are a lot of great artists coming out of New York: few as stunning, committed and passionate as Alice Avery. Expired Love– her previous single- was a mouth-watering release from Kicking the Habit: Avery’s E.P. that is released later this week. Obsessed (the latest single to be released from the E.P.) was released today. I was keen to catch-up with the Belgian-born star. With so many fans behind her- her music talked about in fevered tones- I was curious.  We chat about her influences and upbringing; how New York feeds into her music- what she has planned for (the rest of) 2016…

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For those new to you- and your music- could you introduce yourself? 

I’m Alice: singer-songwriter-actress, independent artist, runner; yoga-lover, vegetarian, optimist, serial dater; sister… (I feel like this is a dating app. bio.). I make Pop music with a bunch of different influences like Soul and Indie.

You hail from Belgium. How does the music scene there compare with other parts of the world? 

Musically, Belgium is mainly known for its Dance music. Besides that, there’s not a large amount of wildly-known Belgian artists. Stromae is probably our top musical export right now. It’s a small scene since it’s a tiny country and nearly everyone knows each other. There are a bunch of great artists and musicians.

I feel that it’s not always the greatest ones that get recognition- however that’s a problem everywhere; not only in Belgium. We have some great Flemish music, sung in our native language- which I appreciate so much more now living abroad.

Based in New York: what is the metropolis like for an aspiring musician? 

It’s overwhelming, exciting, inspiring: there’s opportunity in every corner! If you wanted to, you could perform in this city every day. You meet interesting artists everywhere you go and you never know who you might sit next to on the Subway. The other day, I took an Uber pool and ended up in the car with a girl that works for Kanye and Drake.

 

 

Expired Love– your new single- boasts a romantic and bold vocal; lyrics of fighting-against-the-odds. Which musicians and artists have been important to you? 

So many. I feel like I never have a great answer to this question because I listen and love so many artists. But then someone told me that as an artist it’s your job to listen to all kinds of music and it would be small-minded to not appreciate and listen to everything with an open mind. In life, I love Beyoncé and Alicia Keys (as does every other 20-something-yea-old female) – other artists I love and listen to- so therefore also seep into my musical subconscious- include Banks, Jhene Aiko, Norah Jones; Duffy, Amy Winehouse, Katy Perry; Sara Bareilles … mainly strong woman.

 

 

Kicking the Habit (E.P.) is out on May 20th. Can you tell us about the songs/inspirations that go into that? 

Kicking the Habit is mainly about love. I know (gross right?!) But don’t get too excited because it’s mostly about love that isn’t really love-love- but more like crushes on steroids; falling for the wrong people and being afraid of commitment. There are seven songs on the E.P.: some more ‘Pop-py’ than others but there’s something on there for everyone. My main inspirations were New York; entering ‘adulthood’ (is that a thing?), being far away from home; and then f***boy. Not texting them when you’re drunk: A.K.A. Kicking The Habit. Just kidding… kinda. No, but really: I’ve been an asshole with ‘commitmentphobia’ very often too.

A lot of your songs- that feature on the E.P.- explore love (its positives and negatives). How vital have relationships been to you as a songwriter? Do you find pain and heartbreak can lead to great creative moments? 

I do think pain, heartbreak and vulnerability all lead to great creative moments. I haven’t been in a serious relationship in forever (cat-lady alert!) but I have been dating- and have met many great and not-so-great people along the way. It’s really through your interactions with people and discovering how you yourself react to moments, tough and emotional situations that you realise who you are, what you want and learn about yourself as a person. As a person, I always try to step back and ask myself if I’m reacting to the situation or reacting to my emotions. As a songwriter, I’m like: okay emotions pour out of me on this paper right now! That being said, I think in super-happy and calm moments you can still write a great, happy Pop song. It doesn’t all have to Emo. and dark.

Which other acts around New York- may be a daunting question- could you recommend to us? 

Hmm, that is a tough question because there are so many talented people in New York! About a year ago the girl that performed after me- at The Bitter End– was called Raye Zaragoza: she is this amazing blend of Norah Jones-meets-Sara Bareilles. I’d say she’s definitely one to watch! And the guy who plays my cheating “love interest”- in the Expired Love music video- Adam Vinson, is a rapper who’s dropping his E.P. soon- under his artist name AV (which I’m really excited about). I went in to sing some vocals for him the other week and his record is going to sound awesome!

Looking back on your career so far: which memories stand proudest in the mind? 

This E.P. coming out and the music video that I just released this week are two major moments for me because there went a lot of time, hard work, sweat, grind and hustle into it. It’s major for me because I did most of it on my own: luckily, with a great group of people I found along the way. Even though this is (honestly) just the start- it’s been a long road already.

But looking further back: in Belgium, some of the biggest shows I did were VlaanderenMuziekland en Suikerrock– which were both really cool. I loved writing a weekly column for Flemish teen magazine JOEPI– about my adventures in New York.

I think one of my proudest moments- and biggest decisions- was deciding to move to New York in 2012- even though I was just at the start of my career in Belgium. It was one of those moments knowing that, if I stay, I’d probably have a good life- a career that’s starting to unfold and great people around me. But I always knew I wanted to live abroad and chase my big dreams- not just settle for the most convenient route.

Once Kicking the Habit is out; you will be promoting it. Any plans to take in the U.K.? Which countries will you be visiting? 

I’ll be visiting Belgium and The Netherlands this July. And yes, I am actually (also) visiting the U.K. this summer- but I can’t give away any details yet; I can tell you it’ll be in London. As soon as I’m allowed to say more, you’ll be the first to know!

Music is a demanding mistress; New York a crowded city. How do find time to relax? What do you do when not concentrating on music? 

Honestly, there hasn’t been a lot of time to relax. New York is demanding and expensive so I work part-time (or should I keep up the glamour and pretend it’s already with just music that I can pay this ridiculous New York rent?). I sing in a wedding band and then there’s my own music that I’m working hard on. I haven’t been on a relaxing vacation in three years (besides my trips home to Belgium to visit family) so down-time is really precious and rare. My biggest way to unwind is working out (I know- I’m weird), I just love running along the Hudson River and letting go of everything. I also love a good yoga class or a walk on the beach. Oh, and they have really good and cheap pedicures up in Harlem where I live- which I like to treat myself to on a rare occasion (And Netflix and Chill, obviously).

What does music mean to you, personally? 

Music to me means being able to express myself. In our world where everyone has an opinion about everything- and everyone judges everyone and you’re not supposed to do this but you are supposed to do that. For me, that just all doesn’t matter when it comes to music. It’s this raw thing where you feel an emotion and you produce sound and words (and you can sing your problems away). So that’s actually a very selfish part of it: that I do it because I love it and it makes me feel better. But then there’s also the fact that you can connect to people and talk to people; tell them stories through songs- let them know that they’re not the only ones experiencing a certain thing, or let them laugh, cry or feel things.

What can Alice Avery fans expect in the future (after the E.P. is released)? 

The first full album of course!

For being a good sport: choose any song and I’ll play it here. 

Any song?! Well, Expired Love, duh! And then Someone New by Banks!

 

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Follow Alice Avery

 

Official:

http://www.thealiceavery.com/

Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/thealiceavery

Twitter:

https://twitter.com/aliceavery

YouTube:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC6SO_65gQUiJvxtzxsQD8uA

 

TRACK REVIEWS: Jasmine Rodgers- Icicles/Sense

TRACK REVIEWS:

 

Jasmine Rodgers

 

 

Icicles/Sense

 

Icicles/Sense are available at:

https://soundcloud.com/jasminerodgersmusic

RELEASE DATE:
June 17th 2016

GENRES:
Alternative; Folk; Electro.; Rock

ORIGIN:

London, U.K.

The album, Blood Red Sun, will be released later this year.

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AFTER a (kind of brief) exploitation to Australian and American music…

it is back in my favourite place: London. I try and extricate myself from the city now and then: invariably; I am drawn back to the wonderful music. There is so much wonder, joy, and quality to be found in London. The music is not just confined to certain genres and ‘types’: there’s a smorgasbord and vast array of sounds and styles. Before I come to my featured artist, I wanted to look at the children of musical legends; the importance of traveling (conducive to adventurous music) and reinventing the Folk genre. Entering the music profession is a risky and unsure thing. If doesn’t matter what start you had in life; how wealthy you are: talent and determination are the most important, and underrated assets, you require. What fascinates me about new musicians is their background: especially those that herald from an artistic/musical background. You do not often encounter artists that hail from such creative and arty beginnings. With Jasmine Rodgers being a second-generation musician: I have been compelled to investigate other (children of musicians) examples. From Eliot Sumner- Sting’s daughter; formerly I Am Coco- there is inherent pressure to succeed and ‘prove yourself’. A lot of today’s artists go through music school or find their own path: something quite ‘traditional’ and ordinary. They will work hard and raise money to produce songs. It is always pleasing seeing genuinely great musicians make their way- regardless of their background. Those that have had that distinct musical education- well-known parents or a very musical family- have that edge and additional education. That is not to say- by proxy of their D.N.A.- they have an edge and will be naturally talented- they will have the experience and know a lot about the industry. Too many musicians get blind-sided by the harshness of the industry: what it takes to succeed and how challenging it can all be. Jasmine Rodgers is someone who knows what it takes to make it. Before I continue my point, let me introduce her to you:

Too many musicians get blind-sided by the harshness of the industry: what it takes to succeed and how challenging it can all be. Jasmine Rodgers is someone who knows what it takes to make it. Before I continue my point, let me introduce her to you:

Born into an artistic family – her mother a Japanese poet, her father the legendary vocalist Paul Rodgers (Free, Bad Company, Queen) – Jasmine Rodgers knew her way around both keyboard and fretboard before she even enrolled at secondary school. But given her love for art and zoology (in which she has a degree), music was initially a passionate pastime rather than a full-time pursuit. This changed when her older brother Steve, on hearing the ethereal beauty of Jasmine’s voice, asked her to sing with him and they formed the group Boa. Boa went on to record two albums, achieving renown in the Americas, France and Japan, after their single ‘Duvet’ featured in the anime series Serial Experiments Lain. The group disbanded in 2005, but Jasmine continued her association with the anime/manga genre, writing songs for the soundtrack of Armitage: Dual Matrix, which starred Juliette Lewis.

Jasmine continued rehearsing, writing and recording, releasing an EP of self-penned alt-folk nuggets and collaborating with artists including Indian classical musicians Mendi Mohinder Singh and Waqas Choudhary. She found inspiration for new material in the exploits of her travels (live performances led her from the Royal Albert Hall to the Venice Biennale and the Edinburgh Fringe). It was one such journey to the Joshua Tree desert in California that inspired Jasmine to capture the best of her material on a full-length album. She enlisted producer Sean Genockey (Tom McRae, Futureheads), whose experience working at Joshua Tree’s Rancho de la Luna studio made him ideal for bringing forth the material’s widescreen yet rootsy vibe. Blood Red Sun, to be released later in 2016, was recorded at Black Dog Studios in London and is the sound of an exceptional artist drawing deep from global musical experiences to craft a set of inventive, euphonious 21st-century folk.

Rodgers has had that filmic and made-for-the-big-screen upbringing. Given the fact her father is one of the most respected vocalists of all-time: it is, perhaps, not a shock his daughter has such incredible pipes. Raised in that musical and astonishing household- where her mother’s art and father’s music would have spiked her young mind- it was only natural (Jasmine) would chase music. Given Paul Rodgers’ connection with Free and Bad Company- later, Queen- Jasmine seems to have been fated to music since her first day. After singing around the house- her brother noticing her fine talent- she was encouraged to pursue music and take it by the horns. Just because you have a musician parent- father in this case- does not mean that will translate naturally. I have seen a lot of examples where the child does not hit the peak of their parents: this is not the case with Jasmine Rodgers. Possessing the power, passion and rawness of her father; a sweetness and beauty that is all her own- an amazing and unforgettable tone.

I can tell how influential her father has been: her mother’s art and itinerant background has compelled Rodgers to travel the globe in search of inspiration and subject matter. Too many of us are rigid and tied to home- I am culpable of this- and do not explore what is out there. With such a big, compelling and astonishing planet out there: more of us need to get out there and see it. Rodgers’ wanderlust and lust for inspiration has seen her travel widely and absorb cultures. If you are stuck in a city/town- London, for instance- you are likely to be limited when it comes to imaginative songwriting. Even if you have a wide and varied musical taste: that is not to say your own music will be suitably eclectic and multifarious. Rodgers has taken it upon herself to engage with the wider world and see what other countries are producing (in terms of music). When you hear Jasmine Rodgers perform- and when you listen to her interviews- you get cross-continental blends and something truly exotic. Using Folk as a basis- but stretching it and breaking ground- many people might assume (Rodgers’ music) would be predictable and narrow. Folk is one of those areas of music that can be very mixed and average. That image of the acoustic guitar-holding singer- who performs songs about the natural world with little energy- pervades. Jasmine Rodgers is a lot more than your run-of-the-mill Folk act. She brings Rock and Electric shades into the mix: something harder and grittier; cosmopolitan and ethereal. Every song (she produces) covers new ground and brings together something fresh- guaranteed to enthrall and impress the listener.

Icicles and Sense are some of the earliest works from Jasmine Rodgers. Music has been pivotal for year: she is still so young and making her initial steps. If it were not for her family- and brother’s persistent she get into music- would our heroine be where she is now? I’d like to think so as you know art and music coarse through her veins. She is taking her time to craft music of the highest order: you can hear the detail, work-rate and attention in her songs. Given the reaction to Icicles– it has been lauded and promoted by D.J.s and bloggers- there is a demand for more music. Sense and Icicles are two tracks that have a familial connection: they are natural album-mates and it will be great to see them alongside one another. It is at this point of a review that I look at an artist’s progress and development- see how far they have come; compare their new stuff to the older. Jasmine Rodgers is making her first moves- making it difficult to make comparisons- but her new songs are incredible. Intimate and open- like being in the wide expanse of nature- there is etherealness and passion in every note. Blood Red Sun is unveiled soon- Icicles is going to feature- and it will be a chance to see the musician in her element: stretching her talent and showing the world just what she has at her disposal.

Icicles begins with a very gentle and springtime feel. You hear the natural world breathe: the wind blows and you can feel the sun on your face. When our heroine comes to the microphone: you are instantly hit by the power and immediacy of her voice. It is so clear and crisp in the mix- right up-top and with stunning clarity. Backed by tender strings- a balletic, gently-picked guitar sound- there is sparseness and bare-naked purity from the first notes. Looking across the land and water: Rodgers lets her soul fly; she is sending it to a particular person. Whether a current love- or someone that is an important piece of her past- there is that desire and love in the vocal. So calm and reflective: you can get lost in the voice and its serenity; the tranquility smoothness and delicious, chocolate-like sweetness. Whomever is being sung about: clearly someone that means a great deal to our heroine. Having been lost “for such a long time”: with the intensity of the mood; the composition becomes darker and more tense. Mystical and dark-hued bass notes conspire: Celtic, Anglo and Middle-East sounds melt into something delicate and pure. Our girl will be flying “ever-so-high”; she will be making her way across the land- in order to hold her man. Part of me tried to pick the lyrics apart and see what inspired them. I instantly jumped onto themes of love and departed sweethearts- there seems to be more to it. Whilst deeply personal and heart-aching: I feel Rodgers has lost a lot more; is chasing more than a particular person; longing for something deeper and more profound. When combining her vocals- layering them and adding an urgency to proceedings- the emotions stake up and the fascination rises. “

I instantly jumped onto themes of love and departed sweethearts- there seems to be more to it. Whilst deeply personal and heart-aching: I feel Rodgers has lost a lot more; is chasing more than a particular person; longing for something deeper and more profound. When combining her vocals- layering them and adding an urgency to proceedings- the emotions stake up and the fascination rises. “How sweet to find”, it is said, “the meeting of minds”. You start to wonder what that refers to- taking me away from realms of love- and your imagination starts to spark. Chasing dreams and climbing mountains: if she is after a man; he must be someone rather special and wonderful. That obliqueness and mystery means Icicles is a song that needs repeated plays. You are affected the debut spin: new light and dimensions feed in when you give it more time and dedication. Our heroine’s heart is haunted and in need of satisfaction. When she finds her subject- whether lover or friend- icicles will melt. Such is the magnitude and importance of that connection: the climate will change and the world will move. You never get the feeling of hyperbole and over-exaggeration. Rodgers is not someone who employs ululation and needless over-emotion: everything she sings is performed with honesty. By the closing seconds, you are entranced by the images and lyrics. Waters are swelling and rising; snow is melting and everything is changing. Without a kiss being delivered; before a word is spoken: such a heavenly and biblical transformation will occur. It is this passion and intensity that makes Icicles such a bracing and spectacular thing. Imbued with beauty and tenderness- an arpeggio and little other accompaniment- the focus is on the lyrics and vocals. Few musicians could carry a song- with so few layers- and make it such a beautiful thing. Credit to Jasmine Rodgers who not only makes Icicles worthy: she makes it sound utterly essential and unforgettable.

Sense is the second-half of the double A-side. Whilst its sister was concerned with capturing love and a sought-after beau: we see a dynamic shift and a switch in emotions. Icicles was dedicated to chasing and fulfillment: positive and lustful; world-straddling and fast-moving. Sense begins with a similar arpeggio flair: it rushes away and ensures the listener is stood to attention. Clearly affected and determined: Rodgers asks the question: “Can you hear me?”. That sentiment is repeated and enforced. You sense- from the first words- these words are directed towards a lover. Perhaps someone who has been inattentive and remiss: a human that has not been as loyal and understanding as they should. Again, we get layered vocals and that build-up. The song has that live-sounding feel to it: you can imagine it going down particularly well with audiences; Sense is a shivering, atmospheric and mind-grabbing track. “Everybody needs to be believed”, our heroine attests: “So, why then, don’t you put your faith in me?

Again, one-half of the brain will look at lovers and the imbalance they have- the fights and distance; the broken hearts- but you can take that interpretation to friendships and family- maybe something unexpected and different. In these early exchanges, little insight is given. Rodgers elongates the words and performs them with an underlying anger. You imagine a boyfriend or sweetheart is being assessed: someone that is not as supportive as they should be; dropping the ball. Such is the fascination you get from Rodgers: every line has a little mystique; room for interpretation. When delivering the lines- “Can you feel me?/Do you know how I feel?”- she spins the words and tees-up a funky beat. There is a definite kick and soulfulness that makes its presence known. Differing from Icicles– which was more straightforward and gentle- here, we get something harder and more Funk-influenced. Showing another side to the musician: you start to tap the toes and get the head nodding. Everybody needs to be believed and shown faith: something we all can relate to and understand. I would love to know what the circumstances are behind the song- and who has compelled the words. Such is the commitment and determination of the performance- embers of Laura Marling and Natalie Merchant come through. The composition boasts some wonderful percussion and busy nature: the strings spike and fizz; the drums roll and crack- it is an intense and complete song. While the seconds tick down, you hear reflections of Folk’s past masters- Nick Drake and Neil Young.; Joni Mitchell in there- given a modern and updated shine. Rodgers rides her mantra- not being believed and supported when needed- against a crackling and emotive composition. By the end, you hope satisfaction was achieved and she obtained that faith- knowing she might have to fight for it still.

Dan Carey (who produces here) has worked with the likes of Kate Tempest and Nick Mulvey. He brings the best out of Jasmine Rodgers and gives each track a shine- without making it too glossy and unnatural. The voice is out high in the mix ensuring every word can be heard and understood. Icicles and Sense are two different sides to an intriguing talent. The former allows something pure, tender and divine to come through- gentle acoustics and something that unites Celtic and Middle-East sounds. The latter is a more brash and angry song. Rodgers is in pensive mood and seems lost in confusions and anxieties. This allows for a more multi-dimensional and Funk/Rock-inspired sound to emerge. Carey ensures Rodgers’ sound is as clear, crisp and defined as it can be. Joined by Dan Kavanagh (he plays drums on Sense) it is remarkable to hear an artist- new and eager- sound confident, complete and astonishing. I know Blood Red Sun is coming out later in the year. There is cover art and album credits available- on SoundCloud– but only Icicles and Sense are available to hear. Icicles/Sense will be released across digital platforms (as a double A-side) from June 17th.

Jasmine Rodgers is one of those modern-day artists that will succeed naturally and without obstacle. A very beautiful and confident woman: just listen to her being interviewed and you can hear that passion and determination come through. She is not someone that is here for the short-term: you would not bet against her being a mainstream star in a few years to come. The double A-side Icicles/Sense demonstrates how spectacular and wonderful Rodgers. She creates lush and vivid soundtracks: moments that takes you someone beautiful and arrest the senses. Bringing together multiple genres and sounds; emotions and dimensions: few artists are as bold, confident and accomplished. I love coming back to London music and embracing the best home-grown musicians. This city has such a vibrancy and community. So many amazing musicians are being born and making London one of the world’s musical hotspots. Maybe L.A. and New York have more musicians- by virtue of its size and population- but London (not bias or anything) has more magic and mystery. It is something inexplicable and hard-to-pin-down. Rodgers is one of those musicians who will keep playing and plugging for a very long time. She loves performing and bringing her music to the crowds. With every interview and gig; you learn a little more about the young star. Revitalising and updating Folk for the 21st-century: one of the most vital and impressive artists we have in our midst. You cannot have Paul Rodgers as your father and resist the lure of music- refute the bite and itch to get up there and play. I mused about the subject of musicians’ children and following in footsteps: whether a musical heritage instantly results in inherited ability and knowledge. It is clear

Jasmine Rodgers has an advantage right from the off. Her mother’s art and father’s music filled her senses from birth: got inside the mind and (if subconsciously) drove her musical desire. Those expecting a Free/Bad Company-esque sound will be a little disappointed. Sure, Rodgers has a spectacular voice and incredible power: the music she plays differs (from her dad’s). Icicles/Sense have already been premièred: the reception garnered has been incredible. Not just focusing on getting the sound right- collaborating with some wonderful international musicians- the visuals are amazing. Icicles’ video is filled with unforgettable images and gorgeous views- perhaps natural; given her mother’s poetry and art. We have a complete and astonishing musician that surpasses her peers: one of those people you hope will go all the way and be a huge success. Listening to her speak- her recent interview with Jammerzine- you get lost in her voice and what she says. Music means everything to her and something that is in her blood.

So what of the future? In June, Rodgers will be playing across London- Dalston Eastern Curve Garden on the 7th; The Finsbury on the 14th (the single launch)- playing the Cambridge Rock Festival on August 6th. I will have to come and see her play as- on the back of her double A-side- I have completely fallen. Nobody will be immune from the beauty, passion and power of Jasmine Rodgers. I feel there are not enough musicians coming out that are themselves. People try and imitate others and get caught up fitting into a mould. Very few have the bravery, patience and guts to be different, unique and special. Jasmine Rodgers has not traded off her father’s cache and legacy: she is her own woman and makes her own music. Blood Red Sun will be arriving soon and is sure to receive a rapturous reaction. In the meantime: ensure you get to grips with Icicles and Sense. Two different sides to a wonderful and multi-talented musician: world domination will surely follow? I could see Rodgers having a huge fan-base in Japan and Asia: Australia and the U.S. are all likely to follow. The U.K. is on board and embracing one of its most extraordinary talents. If you need any more proof, check out her music; one thing is certain:

IT is among the best you will hear this year.

 

 

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Music

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