Track Review: In Hoodies- She Got Caught

TRACK REVIEW:

 

In Hoodies

 

She Got Caught

 

9.3/10.0

 

She Got Caught is available at:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hA4tqdwl6HQ

RELEASED:
23rd July, 2015

GENRES:
Rock, Alternative

ORIGIN:

Istanbul, Turkey

The E.P. She Got Caught is available at:

https://inhoodies.bandcamp.com/releases

Vocals-guitars-keys etc.: In Hoodies
Drums and percussion: Aliberk Aslan
Programming-String arrangement-Keyboards: Tim Wills
Bass Guitar: Martyn Campbell
Lead Guitars: Si Connelly
Violin -Viola: Mike Sidell
Cello: Ben Trigg

Written and composed by Murat Kılıkçıer

Recorded at Shed Studios (except bass and drum tracking; at Kore Studios) -London

SGC mastered by Ian Cooper; My Con mastered by John Davis at Metropolis Studios – London

Artwork by Ethem Onur Bilgiç (www.ethemonur.com)
Produced and mixed by Chris Potter
(Z Management)
www.zman.co.uk

TODAY marks both a milestone and a departure.

This will be my first review (of a Turkish artist).  Until recently, my European-based reviews have centered on U.K. artists: last week I assessed a French band (Archi Deep and the Monkeyshakers); today is the time of Turkey- a country whose music/musicians I am not overly-aware of.  Having been contacted by In Hoodies’ lead- he has a connected with Goldbirds’ Si Connelly (a band and man I am affiliated and familiar with)- it has been great investigating a brand-new sound; from a nation (in musical terms) unfamiliar to me- to see what Turkey is offering.  Before I get to my featured artist, I have been thinking about certain artists; how Rock and Alternative music is portrayed- and the male solo sector.  Let’s start with the issue of Rock and Alternative music.  In today’s market, those genres tend to be band-led: there are few solo artists that play this genre; that tends to be focused around Pop/Folk/Electro. themes.  It is a generalisation, yet one that holds firm: most solo acts in general steer away from Rock and Alternative sounds.  In the mainstream, the likes of Jack White- and his Blues-Rock anthems- sit alongside Beck and Frank Turner; Pink and Lorde could be included- to be fair, it’s a short list.  If you think about it really: can you name a list of new male solo artists (who play in the Rock/Alternative realm)?  I am not sure why this phenomenon exists- I guess it is easier to portray genuine Rock backed by a band- but loneliness/solo music tends to attract a certain ‘vibe’: sounds that portray longing and romance; introspection and desire- the Rock/Alternative market appeals more to the band; sound more tempting to them.  The male solo market in general is somewhat hit-and-miss: I touched upon it previously; it seems the quality is somewhat lacking- the female market is a lot more prosperous and varied; more dependable and reliable.  It is something that has to change- the predictable plight/sound of the solo artist- and brings about a revival of sorts.  The new music scene is quite burgeoning and prodigious: if you ferret around and dig; you will find genuine quality and longevity; artists that go that extra mile- and come across as genuinely innovative and new.  The mainstream is a little stagnated (at the moment): there is a leaning towards certain acts/genres; little mobility and sense of surprise- no surprise the last few years have been particularly slow (when it comes to fantastic albums and acts).  It is no one’s fault, particularly; I guess it is a rough/mediocre spell- perhaps the tide will turn in years to come?  What is embracing is the ambition of new music: over the past few months, I have witnessed (lots of great acts) shouting their intentions; fusing genres, styles and era- producing music of the highest order; defined by merit and emotion; meticulous detail and endless passion.  In Hoodies is both an unknown quantity (to me) and a bit of a forbearer: an artist new to my mind; someone who could bring about a revival- and inspire more (similar acts) to come through.  Last week I reviewed Bee Meru- built from the disintegration of Saturday Sun- who is (bar some additional musicians) a male solo act- and sounds better/different to most other music out there.  In Hoodies has slipped under the radar; managed to escape the mainstream lense- this will change in time, for sure.  The young Turk has a very particular image and artistry: paintings/graffiti-style images (of our hooded) hero; each image/publicity shot seems to be reflect a different art/genre style- from Manga to black-and-white drawing.  Murat (the man behind the hood) is based out of Istanbul; a city that is growing as a music centre; showcasing some great music- attentions should be focused here.  When reviewing Electro. artist ADI- who is based in Tel Aviv, Israel- I was stunned by the quality (coming from the city); how few listeners/media sources look here- one of Asia’s most flourishing and innovative musical centres.  Whether Istanbul (and Turkey) gains attention and credit- and diverts media eyes from the U.S. and U.K. – is hard to say; with the likes of In Hoodies coming through; this can change soon enough.  Although his social media pages are a little sparse- a few photos with little biography/background- his official site is eye-catching and humorous; fascinating and insightful- given a glimpse into the young artist’s mind.  The E.P. She Got Caught has been picking up buzz and attention; reviewers and listeners have latched-onto its layers and sounds; that mix of force-cum-intelligence- responded to its sense of endeavor and ambition.  Not just a great release (in its own right); the music contained not only could inspire more up-and-coming Alternative male acts- it could lead to mainstream shake-up; have the solo market undergo a renovation- and lead to a less homogenised (male songwriter) scene.

In Hoodies is pretty new on the scene- his E.P. is the first real recorded music- and making those first steps.  It is hard, therefore, to look back; see how he has developed- and how his music has changed.  For that reason, it is worth assessing the sound in the context of existing acts: where it fits in (genre-wise); which other acts coming to mind- whether She Got Caught is worth the time.  Addressing the latter point; the E.P. (only being two songs) shows a small window; a glimpse into his psyche- what is motivating him.  The E.P. looks at relations and romantic inner-workings; longing and desire- not portrayed in a predictable or usual manner.  In the mainstream- and artists that play the same music/style as In Hoodies- there is a tendency towards narrow themes/ideals: the lyrics tend not to stick in the ear (neither poetic or striking enough) and seem somewhat over-predictable.  The music has that similar fatigue and lack of ideas: not true of all artists; there is an over-reliance on a certain way of working.  In Hoodies has a sound that will appeal to lovers of the Indie/Alternative/Rock milieu- and the current crop of artists- as his sound is contemporary and modern; he goes beyond what is expected; coming up with something with a unique twist.  Just seeing his official website; you get the sense of a young man with a love of words and emotions: his poetry/haikus and scribblings have intellectual properties; twisted and skewed ideas- vivid scenes and emotional depth.  Not an artist with a rhyming dictionary and a list of clichés, this radiates in the music: the lyrics and scenes surpass the (somewhat bogged-down) vague metaphors and overly-familiar themes; the lyrics we have all heard before- and can quote with our ears closed.  In Hoodies’ music has a mixture of familiarity and distinction: the compositions have a radio-friendly edge; there is a contemporary vibe- albeit with an edginess and home-made sensation.  Based in Turkey, In Hoodies (is of course) familiar with British/western music; the sounds coming out- he mixes that with something homely and self-made.  What captivates me (when it comes to his music) is the richness and depth.  Going past what is expected/represented, In Hoodies brings exceptional music (and multi-talented musicians) into the fold; understands the importance of musical range and support- thus eliciting the biggest emotional reaction.  Semi-symphonic with an air of fragility; She Got Caught is as vivacious and intriguing as (its E.P.) cover- there is an underlying mystery and ambiguity behind everything.  It takes several listens- if you want to get to the bottom of each song- music that demands concentration and attention.  If these facets appeal to you; if this is what you seek (when hunting for a music muse) then call off the search party- here is the man for you.  When it comes to male-driven solo acts, there are few true originals (when it comes to Alternative flavours) so In Hoodies provides a much-needed breath of air.

A plaintive and tender guitar stroke welcomes She Got Caught in: it bristles with tease and swoon; romantic undertones and calm.  The mood then swells and builds; the guitars become more fevered and uplifted- the composition cracks and expands with a breathless passion.  Without a single word being spoken; the composition says so much: able to reflect a sense of reflection and longing, the coda gets inside the mind- and sucks the listener in.  Our hero is coming alone; coming to take chances: early words are delivered with a sense of inner-focus and refrain.  Whereas a lot of contemporaries let introductions linger on; showcase little emotion in the early stages- In Hoodies ensures the sapling exchange builds up momentum and speculation.  It seems the heroine- or subject being referenced to in the song- has “a plan”: you picture a coming-together or conversation; the two conspiring and conversing- maybe the heroine has set a challenge; declared an ultimatum.  There is a certain obliqueness and openness to the initial lyrics: allowing the listener to picture their own ideals; allowing some interpretation and subjectiveness.  The production values allow each note and vocal to come through strong: not mixing things low; cramming too much in, there is a naturalness and professionalism: everything is crisp and clear; there is plenty of atmosphere and (room to) breathe- the song swims and flourishes with conviction strength.  Caught and left in the rain- not feeling different or renewed- our hero increases that enigma and secrecy.  Backed by river-deep and autumn-vibed strings, the track has a quasi-orchestral sound: it is never overwrought or fake; each instrument elicits stunning emotion and clarity.  The song’s heroine expounded pretty words: our man advised rest and breath; take a break and take it easy- again, your mind wonders and speculates; what is being referred to?  In the midst of investigation and detective work, it is impossible not to be caught-up in the composition: it is sparse and gentle; has an addictive little lick- a sun-kissed undertone that is both calming and impassioned.  It seems the heroine has been through a tough experience; maybe life is taking a bad turn: she has been caught in the “eye of the storm”; in need of rescue and relief- our hero’s voice seems genuinely sympathetic and supportive.  In the accompanying video for the track (on YouTube) we see our man walk a forest; across the evocative scenery- in a hoodie and mask (looking like a Medieval warrior-cum-urban-gang-member) we see a woman on the ground- he reaches down to place a mask (on her face; a symbolic and romantic gesture).  Perhaps that is the background to the song; the real reason for events: our man can hide behind a persona; distance himself with his music (in a good way: reflect his pain through the songs) – our heroine seems bare and exposed; in need of communality and togetherness.  Maybe I am reading into things too much; it seems like ghosts are haunting the girls- spirits and haunt that “no-one knows.”  Reminding me of early-days Badly Drawn Boy (that vocal tone and melody) She Got Caught never needs to race or volumise: the stunning composition and gripping vocal does all the work- builds up fascination and loyalty.  Still gripped by the song’s video- which transforms and sees the two standing; both wearing masks it has an odd air to things.  Both spiritual and filmic (there are edges of Japanese animation) it is a beautiful video: highlighting the song’s sense of beauty and individuality.  The two sweethearts stand aside one another; our hero is lending a hand- all the time, you feel the two drifting apart.  A song that speaks to lovers and strugglers; those stuck in a hard situation: the track has a universality and familiarity.  The way In Hoodies describes events; how he lets his words and voice captivate- few other singers have that sense of power and distinction.  If anything, She Got Caught has embers of modern-day Beck: his Morning Phase sounds seem to have a modern-moment sister, here.  That album (Beck’s) was filled with warmth and beauty; determination and wisdom- immersive and tender.  There is sorrow and pain (in She Got Caught) yet the song has plenty of hope and strength: the focal messages implore change and motivation; getting out of holes (and bad ways) – there is that desire to change things for the better.  Metaphors and imagery is summoned up- bird on a wire; a human in a hole- to highlight the fragility and vulnerability; the sense of danger and uncertainty- you certainly root for the heroine.  In Hoodies’ voice remains romantic and concerned; never anxious or detached- always convincing and genuine.  The track begins to exude and emote (towards the final stages); the tension and urgency builds- the instrumentation becomes more heated and stirring.  Our hero looks at his girl; keeps his eyes set: she’s getting (in her own) way; making mistakes and caught in traps- all the while, you wonder what has caused this; whether a relationship break-down is afoot.  The duo got caught between “two fires”; both strained and lost- you wonder if the hero will come out of this the same.  Clearly there is a lot of back-story and history; the two have been through some real turmoil- there is that desire to see light and happiness.  The guitars chime and sparkle- with Indie/Alternative edges- whilst the vocal aches and campaigns- reminding me a little of Noel Gallagher.  In the final seconds, the composition takes a leap and shift: the guitar (bass and percussion) jumps and races; a push towards the end- keeping that energy and deep emotion clear and focused.

   She Got Caught brims with passion and moment; that sense of sorrow and heartache- undertones of redemption and hope.  In Hoodies’ E.P. is a two-song insight into a young mind: a man who has suffered some heartache and upheaval; someone with a deep soul- it is poured out across the E.P.  The title track is a perfect statement of his music: oozing tenderness and power, the song never relents or wanes; its messages are vivid and sincere.  As I said, the song has subjects/themes that are directed towards similarly-inclined people: those caught in a hole; maybe in need of direction.  The vocal is both unheard-of and familiar: there are suggestions of other artists- Gallagher and his ilk- yet the Turkish singer surpasses expectation- he is seamless when raw and open; effortless when calming and introspective.  Backed by superb backing- the musicians assembled perfectly compliment the lyrics- the song glides and floes; catches the emotions by surprise- and implores you to think.  She Got Caught mixes classical strings (they are subtle but effective) with multifarious and deep guitars- that are atmospheric and beautiful.  The composition supports and augments the songs; almost creating their own lyrics, the instruments marshal force and voice- whipping-up their own life and sense of ambition.  Maturity and logic; openness and inspiration: these are elements that come through across the song; radiate and gleam- the track hits the mark after the first listen.  With that exceptional and perfect production, you are compelled to revisit and go back: fill in gaps and lines; uncover mysterious moments- and try and dig to its core.  Whether the young master will follow up (the She Got Caught E.P.) with another- or take a break- he should be proud and pleased- he has created something current and fresh; very much his work.  Few modern artists pack this much promise and authority into their debut moments- an artist to watch closely.

In Hoodies is an act that (pretty much at least) gives me fresh impetus and invigoration: I actively seek great/different solo acts; the boys tend to be a little less daring- the Istanbul artist has produced a terrific track (and brilliant E.P.).  Having journeyed to London- and joined with an amazing and legendary producer- the results speak for themselves.  Not your run-and-the-mill, acoustic-led tale of love-loss-anger-introversion etc.; what you have it is music that delves deeper: it possesses the hallmarks of great Indie/Alternative music- the passion and anthemic appeal; that sense of swagger and heart- whilst displaying personality and individuality.  I said up-top; when it comes to Turkish music- or any outside of the U.K. and U.S. – my sights are a little limited.  Perhaps showcasing the natural limits of social media and the press- how can you make the people conscious of music from all around? – I am glad (to have assessed) In Hoodies.  She Got Caught (the E.P.) is a short insight into a daring young artist; someone with a rich knowledge of the scene- a young man who wants to make big impressions.  You can HEAR that ambition and passion come through: the music is consciously nuanced and catchy; the lyrics both outreaching and introverted; the production values seamless and completely befitting- keep your eyes and ears peeled, folks!  It is the imagery/sense of mystery that compels me: those sketches/artwork (on the official website); the cards-close-to-his-chest enigma; the music alone- you have to fill some gaps, but have a great time doing it; come to your own conclusions.  Before I finish up, it is worth assessing Alternative/Indie; a few thoughts about the E.P. itself.  My Con (the E.P.s second half) is a slow-building and soul-grabbing little slice: In Hoodies lets his voice seduce and pervade; dreamy and urgent- you get wrapped-up in the song.  Confessional and tender; devotional and hopeful- the song has quite a modern sound, yet seems inimitably his own.  Both tracks on the E.P. have a fairly soft and sensual sound: there is no break-away riff or stadium-sized lust- everything is kept fairly intimate and controlled.  This works in his favour; In Hoodies crafts music designed for lovers and dreamers; those that want to break away from the mundane- his music/voice is appropriately gripping and focused.  There are some great male artists on the scene- aside from my initial fears and diatribe- from the likes of James Blake to Sam Smith; Pharrell to, well… there’s a lot out there.  My main problems lie when you get into certain genre: when the boys stray away from Pop/Folk/Indie music, the most interesting results occur.  Maybe it is just my tastes- and having been overwhelmed by the wave of samey acoustic guitar-wielding acts- but innovation and originality always creates the biggest waves.  In addition to (the aforementioned acts); there are some promising new artists coming through the ranks- those that go beyond the stale and repetitive sounds (favoured by the charts and the media).  Personal and romance-based music does not need to be dull and predictable; it can be utilised in fantastic manners- In Hoodies is putting his slant on the themes.  Overcoming the pitfalls the genre/scene can produce- sticking to close to other acts; not getting bogged-down in cliché and superlatives- the Turkish star seems like he has a future.  It will be interesting what comes next: whether a full album comes out; another E.P. perhaps- if the sound is expanded somewhat.  She Got Caught showcases a unique lyrical voice; an artist going beyond the boundaries- let’s hope this drive and initiative continues long (for years to come).  Let’s finish off with the young man himself: how to describe him and his musical role?  Playing in the Alternative/Rock arena- a little bit of Pop can be heard- he is one of the genre’s finest new stars.  Away from the beige and insipid examples- we all can list quite a few- In Hoodies has that necessary edge and flair; an intelligence which results in some terrific- that is capable of leading to long-term success.  I shall finish with a list; made by In Hoodies- how he describes himself/his music (on his official website; read it to the sound of Radiohead’s Fitter Happier).

Self-made, song writer

Sponge heart, deal hater

 Big time… Naysaye

No talent, sketch-drawer

Half-baked, demo-recorder

Need a way, but a map-burner

Dream-head

Over-fed

Semi-weight

Neo-late

   Shelf-warmer

Few and far

In a ball of yarn

Lost, not found

 Bit of a mess-maker

Student of little kids

Mood swings, ill at ease

Praying with no bliss

A phony, a twist

Angst-reflector

Scooter-lover with no license

Story-teller got no guidance

A walking, talking crisis

Disturbed meditator

Hyper- empathic egoist

Bruised by educational fists

Slowly fading as an occupational disease

Just a windmill-fighter

Stuttering

Hollering

Whıspering

     Communicator

Hood-looking, with no dis.

 Not designed but a row of accidents

 All ears, all ears, all ears

    Disappointment supplier

Speaks truth as a foreign language

Burns the saint keeps the wıtch

Black as pitch

Switched-off

At last-ditch

Lost in the music…

TAMBOUINE break.”

 

_________________________________________________________

Follow In Hoodies:

 

Official:

http://www.inhoodies.com/

Facebook:

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

Twitter:

https://twitter.com/inhoodies

 __________________________________________

Music:

https://soundcloud.com/inhoodies

_________________________________________

Gigs:

http://www.inhoodies.com/#!gigs/c12yc

Track Review: Echo Arcadia- Ghosts

TRACK REVIEW:

 

Echo Arcadia

 

 

Ghosts

 

9.5/10.0

 

 

Ghosts is available at:

https://soundcloud.com/echo_arcadia/02-echo-arcadia-ghosts/s-kMvTz

RELEASED:
Late-2015

GENRES:
Folk-Indie; Pop-Rock

ORIGIN:

Edinburgh, Scotland

 

IT is a relief to be back with a band that….

have had a quiet year (this year).  I am glad to hear back from them- was going to check round their houses for any dodgy smells/piling mail on the doorstep- but the boys (and girl) have been busy working- getting some new music together.  Having called off the police- and putting my ‘body-poking pole’ back in the closest- I can breathe a sigh of relief and welcome them back- one of my favourite subjects from last year.  When assessing Beauty in an Average Life– the band’s L.P. released last April- it marked both a turning-point and an eye-opener.  On the one hand, my reviews became fuller and more detailed- the Scottish band’s music brought so much out of me- and consequently, turned me into a better writer.  The music- offered by Echo Arcadia- was so evocative and dream-inspiring; compelling and dramatic- filled with so much beauty and heart.  Few bands (up until that point) had elicited the same reaction- the hand-trembling visceral; that ecstatic paen- trying to get everything down.  Not to over-sell the band; the music had that special quality- something I had never heard before; have not heard since.  Deeply personal and special, it also had a wide appeal: songs that connect with listeners; sounds that both comfort and intrigue- the band’s passionate performances completely natural (and enough to overwhelm the sturdiest of ears).  Before I (re-)introduce the band- and update you on their activities- I am reminded of a few things.   My first point- don’t need to sigh that hard; I only have three (points) – concerns band variation/style.  A lot of what I am hearing- from my last review to the majority of this year’s- is heavy and Rock-influenced.  Bands tend to- and not that it’s a bad thing- turn the volume up; get those riffs screaming like a bitch; ensure (the music proffered) kicks balls and pulls hair- leaves the listener (a triturated) mess of skin and bones.  Within the chaos and coskureidness (not a word; sounds good, mind) there is nuance and intelligence- we’re not talking about Nickelback here!  It is always nice when bands are more ‘daring’; that is to say, go beyond the majority- craft something with that emotional depth; something possessed of symphonic edges- put beauty before muscles.  It takes a lot of guts and assuredness- making tender and emotive music requires more thought and patience- to deliver on this; go beyond the expected ‘norm.’- and create something that captures the mind (in addition to the heart and body).  I love my guitars-turned-right-up-brother kind of sounds: the Rock/Indie/Alternative market is throwing some terrific bands out (including my last review, Archi Deep and the Monkeyshakers).  Being influenced by the likes of Arcade Fire, The National and Radiohead- three of my favourite bands; shall touch on this more, anon– the Echo Arcadia-ns produce stunningly evocative sounds; filled with emotion and soul- no wonder they resonate so hard with fans and reviewers.  My second point is- shall return to my initial fascination soon- concerns Scottish music.  The six-piece hail from Edinburgh- a city that is producing some of the finest up-and-coming bands.  From my perennial, obligatory- and downright right-to-reign-supreme- lovelies Universal Thee (their Pavement-cum-Pixies blends are darned wonderful) to Ded Rabbit- a band amassing followers and effusiveness- and their tremendous anthems- the city is showcasing some (wondrous musicians).  I touched it on a previous interview- when questioning a Yorkshire-based musician- who said (the reason the county produced so much great music) was the lack of suffocation and shoulder-bumping- you may encounter in London and Manchester (and busier cities).  That lesser suffocation; the space and freedom (to conspire, breathe and relax) leads to better music; fewer anxious moments- a more intuitive and organic experience.  I think Edinburgh- maybe even compared to Glasgow, say- has that freedom; the engaging and brotherly (music) community; the space to create.  I know I bang on about London and its musical splendours- love that city; want to like it all over- but eyes should be trained to Scotland.  In addition to being quite overlooked- anything north of Manchester and the music media starts to switch off- the country is producing more variation and quality (in my opinion) than any other part of the U.K.  Echo Arcadia are the embodiment of this: a band distinct from the London-scene; indicative (of Scotland’s) growing nursery- where its children have already learnt to run; are a lot more savvy and developed (than their southern peers).  Before I get to my last point- and exhaust everyone’s eyes- let’s meet (once more) Echo Arcadia:

Leigh Moyes – Lead Vocals, Rhythm Guitar
Tony Dalton – Lead Guitar
Euan Mushet – Bass
Dan Ciesielski – Drums
Andrew Gray – Violin, Vocals
Jenna White – Vocals, Synth

Echo Arcadia make sweet music out of Edinburgh, Scotland. Their unusual mix of gritty rock backbeats, grumbling guitars and catchy pop melodies have gained them a growing fanbase. The seven members’ eclectic influences marry to create a fresh alternative to the usual indie-pop/rock fare.  The band consists of frontman and rhythm guitarist Leigh, lead guitarist and vocalist Vonny, guitar, vocals and trumpet taken care of by Kevin, Pete on keys and vocals, bassist Euan, Andy on violin and Dan on drums.  Following the release of their inaugural ‘Broken Chapter’s EP in October 2010, the Arcadians have enjoyed an intensive period of gigging, also relishing opportunities to play acoustically, allowing them to hone their sound and take their music to a new audience. 6 months later, they recorded their first single, ‘Joker’, (made available for download in early March 2011), Edinburgh Spotlight had this to say about it: “Sparkling and freshly polished…the track uses layers of shimmering guitar and Leigh and Siobhan’s atmospheric vocal harmonies to create a multi-faceted little nugget of poppiness.
All this builds up to a classic vocal refrain which we guarantee you will be singing in the shower, on the way to work, shopping at the supermarket and everywhere else until all your friends tell you to shut up (or until they get their own copy).”  
The band are scheduling gigs further afield with aspirations of a UK tour in the near future.

My last point relates to the band themselves: and, in addition to that, the personalities that come through.  A lot of new bands (and those bedded-in) do not win you with their personalities: they come off as gruff or aloof; concerned with the music itself- no need to speak to people, huh?  With Echo Arcadia- and what I love about the band- is their friendliness and approachability.  Having (had a) line-up reconfiguration- the odd change or two- has not fazed the band- they remain as effervescent and humorous as ever!  With their hirsute boys- except the under-fuzzed Tony: needs to get some serious beard-age going on! – and their gorgeous girl, the band compel and fascinate.  Their biography (on their official website) illuminates this side: Leigh is scared of submarines; Jenna is preparing for zombie apocalypse (aren’t we all, sister); Tony has a Burger-King-sign-meets-one-testicle-resulting-in-severance nightmare; Andrew’s street-cred. has upped; Euan has a magical bass- and Dan hits things (hope they mean percussion-wise; might want to keep an eye on that).  What you get- from their homepage and biographies- is a band filled with life, laughs and love- essentially qualities for any new act.  Why, you may ask?  Well, when you are a more relaxed and smile-inducing band, better music comes through: you have a complete package; you root for the band more heartedly; are more likely to want to see them live- and thus, remain in their camp.

Before I tackle (the band’s) new song- and get down to the nitty-gritty- it is worth assessing their progress; which acts infuse their sound- what new material sounds like.  In terms of new listeners- and where have you been all this time?!- the band list (the below) as influences

Arcade Fire, Radiohead, Biffy Clyro, Death Cab for Cutie, David Bowie, The National, Broken Records, The Smiths; The Cure, The Killers, Echo and the Bunnymen, Vampire Weekend, Pink Floyd, Air, Killing Joke, and Neil Young.

To my ear (the Edinburgh band) are the link between Arcade Fire and The National; they fuse Pink Floyd-elements with David Bowie hints.  Those male-female vocal partnerships (that Echo Arcadia’s Leigh and Jenna boast) remind me of early-days Arcade Fire.  That intense and naturalistic interplay; the superbly unique (both equally important tones).  Relating to the Canadian band, Echo Arcadia have that same sense of danger and ambition- seen across Arcade Fire’ debut Funeral.  On that album, euphoria and drama mingled together (sometimes within the same song); the band created something daring and foreign- that engrossed and stunned the critics.  Echo Arcadia lace high-drama with something tender and introverted; they can switch between symphonic and detailed.  Arcade Fire (on their debut) introduced love codas and rallying calls: songs that belted their intentions; interlinked sonic innovation with nuanced and addictive mantras.  Similarly, the band investigated hard-hitting issues- suicide and desperation- and well-worn love themes.  Echo Arcadia (on the debut album), displayed that same flair and style: able to go deeper and darker, they always bring it back around; they interweave dizzying compositions with something singular and tender- putting me in mind of the Canadian band.  In terms of The National (and Arcade Fire) front-man Leigh- who shares vocal duties more on the band’s new cuts- has those distinct tones: the sonorous and world-aware soul of Matt Berninger (that runs rampant on the American band’s discs) and Win Butler’s lightness and all-empowering directness.  The National are masters of downbeat and intense lyrics- that are highly poetic and vivid- matched against gripping compositions.  Echo Arcadia are less ‘morbid’- if that is a fair assumption of the band’s material- yet have those same poeticisms and lyrical intelligent; able to create stunning lines and oblique images- all spiraled around deep and engrossing sounds.  If you look at Davie Bowie and Radiohead- the former’s Berlin-period work; the latter’s albums Kid A and In Rainbows– you get some comparable beats.  Between 1976 and 1979, Bowie’s ‘golden period’ was unveiled- albums including Low and “Heroes” were produced.  Low cut the album in half: one half was Rock-driven and more ‘conventional; the other side more experimental.  Angular instrumentations and odd beauty united beautifully; the album is challenging and complex; the guitars go between robotic and furious; the synthesisers go from ice-cool to textured- the entire album was a masterwork of style and emotional balance.  Echo Arcadia (on their early work; on their current sounds) battle chilled electronics with some jagged guitar lines; compositions that change direction and impression- putting me in mind of Bowie’s 1977 work.  By the time of “Heroes”– released the same year as Low– Bowie utilised harder sounds and deeper compositions; more detailed synthesisers and groundbreaking sounds.  Echo Arcadia are Bowie acolytes; they have studied his gleaming regency- have created something personal and familiar; their music dips into Bowie’s 1977-era- and matches it with impressive ambition and intuition.  Finally Radiohead- Echo Arcadia are fans of U.S. and U.K. bands; varied styles and genres- I am reminded of Kid A and In Rainbows.  The former album- released off the back of a glorious 1-2-3 for the Oxford band; after The Bends and Ok Computer– and boasted their most experimental and daring work.  Forgoing their Rock-driven past, emphatic and pioneering electronics swam over songs of fractured love; remaining optimistic (in the face of reality-checks) and wanting to disappear- when solace and peace is required.  Fast-forward to 2007 and In Rainbows provided another groundbreaking change: the band turned-in one of their greatest achievements.  With no wasted moments or songs; heartbreaking beauty and emotion mix-abstract and accessibility nestled alongside one another.  Radiohead employed heartbreaking metaphors and vivid imagery- death and suffocation; a trapped animal in a hot car- with songs of desire and a tremendous sonic collage (that married Rock swagger with Synth.-laden/dreamy love songs).  Song-orientated and stunningly pretty, Echo Arcadia have considered the challenge: their music puts me in mind of (these two Radiohead) diamonds.  Both pioneering and challenging- their synthesiser work runs a gamut of emotions and possibilities; their subject matter fuses optimism with heartache- Kid A aspects come out.  If you consider Echo Arcadia’s sense of beauty and accessibility; their fusions of Rock-drive and electronic dreaminess- just listen to their debut album; you get bucket-loads of it.

Since their Beauty in an Average Life phase- when all these artists and albums stunningly come to the fore- the band have remained consistency; yet have introduced new challenges and changes.  All that beauty, emotion and sweeping soundscape- that was trickling in every note (of their debut L.P.)- remains intact and pure; if anything there shows greater promise and mobility- perhaps a great sonic depth and emotional richness; some new themes and fresh ambition.  The band sound more confident and determined (on their current offerings); more ‘together’ and inspired- building on their early promise; the Scottish band sound completely striking and daring; they ooze quality and nuance- every song possesses stunning details and depth.  The changes concern both sound and line-up: the band have incurred a minor shift-around- band members have been promoted; new faces have provided Synth. Sounds- which has not altered their consistency, togetherness and unity- a plight that would befall lesser bands.  In spite of some re-workings; Echo Arcadia sound even-more together and relaxed; they seem more natural and ambitious- their new songs (although at the rough-and-ready stage) showcase immense potential.  At its heart is the band’s relations and solidity: they are great friends and truly together; completely in-tune and old-friends-jamming-once-again- this radiates in their new material.  What this all means- the albums comparisons; the changes/improvements within the ranks- bodes well; pointing towards a huge future- their second L.P. could surpass their debut; it will appeal to loyal fans (the core sound has not shifted too much) and bring in new followers- Jenna’s central/duet vocals breathe new lust and beauty (into the band’s repertoire).  The bond between partners (Leigh and Jenna) is at its peak; the band tightness is at it level-best- the music is at its richest and most ambitious.

Recorded in March (among the band’s other upcoming album tracks); Ghosts begins with some haunt and echo- appropriate give its title.  Languid, aching strings romantically strain and yearn; backed by a driving and pitter-patter, beat, the song whips up an evocative and tender beginning- eliciting a lot of emotion and beauty (within the first few seconds).  Initial lyrics see Leigh step to the microphone; his voice soft and urgent; emotional and shivering.  Ghosts are wrapped (around him) like a “winter coat”- you imagine what is being referred to; whether (the ghosts are) memories or simply bad times.  Keeping the cold at bay; until “time stands still again”- the images of ghosts and protection are enforced; distinct and vivid images come through. Keeping his voice level and restrained- not letting it needlessly fly or rise- the words are clear and concise; that sense of emotion and determination is clear- you find yourself rooting for the hero.  Whether coming off the back of a relationship- maybe love has broken down or ruction has occurred- you start to question and speculate.  To my mind, something less tangible is being referenced: perhaps some self-doubt and unhappiness; maybe some sense of vulnerability; what has caused it (I am not sure).  Leigh’s voice- in the early phases- reminds me of a cross between Bryan Ferry and Win Butler.  There is that romance and breathiness; a calming and soothed tone- packed with plenty of meaning, heart and passion.  As you get entranced within the song; dive inside the lyrics- and, subsequently, follow our hero’s plight- the song develops and augments.  Spiked and shimmer guitar notes come through- earlier in the song, a beautiful electronic/piano sound backed up the song’s grace and serenity- and instantly transform the mood.  From its tender and introspective beginnings, Ghosts starts to climb and evolve: the strings rush and spark; there is a sound of ‘70s Rock greats lingering in the coda (suggestions of Pink Floyd eek through).  Joined by Jenna, the vocals unite and rise: the duo’s voices perfectly mingle (within each other); Jenna adds some beauty and enchantment- her voice remains calm and serve; never stealing attention, it perfectly fuses within Leigh’s aching heart.  It is said “ghosts sit still and stare at me”- causing the listener to project some rather striking images- and cause anxiety and sadness.  Throughout these early moments- and hearing what has come before- you start to wonder its causation and origin: why is our hero in this place?  What has enforced these thoughts?  The band manages to project that balance of intimacy and grand.  The scenes that unfold- spirits hovering; the cold beckoning- are simultaneously epic and personal; universal and unique; each listener can relate to the song; share experiences and similar feeling.  Once again- and before you start to predict where the song may be headed- the mood shifts once more; the composition becomes heavier and harder- the percussion hisses and fizzes; the song becomes even more urgent and haunting.  With some spectacularly and tender wordless vocals (Jenna’s voice particularly stands out), those shivers increase; an extra layer of beauty is unfolded- you get a real visceral sense of specteralness and ghost-haunting.  Adding in some quivering and spirit-inducing electronics/synths., Ghosts earns its most immediate (and title-referencing) hit- that sonic embodiment of the song’s ideals.  What Echo Arcadia do so well- and proved so on their debut album- is that ability to switch sound and course; take a song through the heavens without warning- then bring it straight back down.  Lesser bands would simply keep on the same course- with regards the vocal and composition sound- yet Echo Arcadia understand the importance of instrumentation and unexpectedness- keeping the listener on their toes; subverting expectations.  Those images and metaphors keep coming back in; our duo seem haunted (still)- you wonder whether resolution and answers will be found; what is causing such unrest and investigation.  The ghosts pass through “like an open door”; whisper secrets as they go, the vocals (from Leigh and Jenna) remain firm and tender.  Like a “debt that can’t be sold”, that mystique and intrigue climbs ever higher: the band keep true revelation at bay; ensure true meaning and genesis is never released.  This means the listener is free to interpret and wonder: to my ear, the song is a universal message; designed to appeal to the masses- not one necessarily enforced by individual circumstances.  I know the band have had some tough times- some doubts and personal woes- yet the song seems to have a ubiquitous and wide-reaching message: its lyrics and meanings can be extrapolated by all; each listener can relate to an extent- Ghosts is a track that seems like an anthem for the broken-hearted.  With the volume and tension at a high- the band come in rushing and hard; tight and fast-flowing- Jenna unveils a sweet-sounding (yet chilling) insight: her heart and soul are laid bare; her vulnerability and fears exposed.  Parabonding with herself- Jenna’s backing vocals remain on the scene- you get a layered and transcendent moment; the beauteous and gripping voice hits its peak- and leaves the listener seduced and overcome.  Before the track ends its fight, the composition spirals and storms once again: the guitar dizzies and rises; the bass drives the composition forward; the percussion remains strong-willed and leading.  It is the electronic notes (synthesiser offerings) that add colour and evocation: that compositional ghost hovers and flies across the night’s sky; its work and damage done- as the band put the song to rest.

Before I mention the band themselves (and their role in the song), it is worth mentioning: this version is a pre-album, ‘demo’ version.  Some aspects could change; the overall sound may sound a little different (when the song gets into the studio), but from what is on offer, I would not change a thing.  The track sounds fully-formed and ready.  Whilst it has that live-sounding feel to it- the band may want something more polished and full- Ghosts is a tantilising and fascinating insight (as to what the band are working on now).  I chose the song (to review) because it boasted their merits and hallmarks: those incredible (duel) vocals; the detailed and everyman lyrics- topped off with a stunning band performance.  Ghosts’ raw form may want to remain as such- although the band may have different ideas.  First of all, it is worth commending the production and sound of the song.  Although a ‘Living Room Session’, there is clarity and concision- a lot of acts I have reviewed recently have negated this concern- you can hear the lyrics clearly and sharply; the composition is sharp and colourful- the quality comes through clearly from start to finish.  This quality is the result of the band themselves: the performance is consistently tight and impressive; each note and thought is delivered with the utmost sense of importance and passion- there is no wasted moments; no lazy offerings.  Leigh has come up with a song (that shows him at his creative peak: clearly inspired and compelled (either by real-life concern or something else) Ghosts is a stunning and nuanced track; one that sounds deeply personal- yet has a voice that speaks to all; lyrics that will resonate and resound.  His vocals (throughout) are calming and concentrated; direct and emotive- shades Berninger, Bowie and Butler come through- is ensures the song never slips from the memory; each thought and word is brought to life.  Showcasing his lyrical and musical dexterity, our hero has crafted one (the band’s) finest tracks; something intimate and grand- a song that demands repeated listens and fond consideration.  I am slightly new to Jenna’s voice; that sensual and soulful vocal- Leigh explained he keen to share the vocals; claims not to be the best singer around (pish!).  Whilst Leigh’s voice remains reliably gripping and dramatic; pairing with Jenna is a wise and considered move: the duo sound natural and made-for-one-another (being partners you can hear that connection).  Their tones complement one another beautifully: Jenna has an ethereal and sweet quality; plenty of seduction and raw emotion- when it stands alone, you get the biggest emotional reaction.  Joining Leigh’s rhythm guitar, Tony’s lead strings realty stand out.  Never stealing focus and encroaching at all, what he does is augment and emphasise the mood; add an enormous emotion of energy and mystery- so many colours and possibilities are unveiled.  When solo-ing, you get a scintillating and mesmeric sound; you are swallowed-up in its immediacy- he manages to employ so much evocation and weight.  Not only (does Tony’s guitar) have its own magic and plaudit; it bonds with the rest of the band; drives the rest of the instruments- becoming more subtle and blended-in when required.  Euan’s bass work acts as guidance and backbone: keeping the song supple and focused, he drives it forward; perfectly conjoining with (the drum and guitars) the bass is instilled with colour and personality; rhythm and melody- ample heart and energy.  Dan’s drum work impressed me from the first to last (as it did through the band’s debut album).  Most of the time, the drum is required to remain subtle and controlled- add a heartbeat and sense of urgency to support the vocals.  When the song climbs and explodes, the percussion leads that charge: both granite and combustible, the drum stands out loud and clear; evokes such an amount of grit and influence.  Ghosts also boasts some wonderful synths. and strings.  With violin (I may be wrong, that is the sound I picked up) adding some romance and shiver-inducing beauty; Ghosts is given a necessary dose of despondency and grace.  The strings remain light and tender; just weaving into the background- adding a huge amount of emotion to the track.  The synths. really stand out and pervade.  During the initial phases, the focus is on the vocals (largely): as the song mutates and expands; the synths. comes in and do their work- the representation of the ghostly spirit; an audible embodiment that certainly creates haunt and coldness.  That said, there is also light and energy to be found: the synths., on the one hand, create drama and tension; on the other, there is plenty of charm and wonderment.  Overall, Ghosts will please older Echo Arcadia fans (such as myself) as it continues their Beauty’ work- they keep their hallmarks firm; do not radicalise and transform their sound too much.   For those new to the band, there is plenty to recommend: the song is perfect for when you’re feeling introspective and thoughtful; it makes the listener imagine and reflect- a powerful and hugely evocative song.  Ghosts also has a stand-alone quality: it is a great track that should be played at full volume.  Never morbid or overly-emotional, it is a terrific song that reveals new light (across further spins); one of the most stand-out and stunning songs on the scene- I cannot wait to hear it sit on their new album.  On that thought, I would recommend you follow Echo Arcadia; check out their progress and going-ons: with a new L.P. coming forth, there is no real excuse.  Being such a patron and supporter (of their debut) their new material is both faithful and different: keeping that unimpeachable quality and brilliance, the band is investigating new themes/subjects- Ghosts sees the Edinburgh clan in inspired voice.

Being my second experience with Echo Arcadia- barring a drunken dream we shall never speak of- I have been both surprised and comforted.  Having speculated as to their whereabouts- vivid images of zombie apocalypses, Burger King lawsuits and submarine attacks came to mind- I am glad the Edinburgh band is back.  As the band explains, they have been hard it; contributing their music to a film (Safe Haven); they have been adding synths. to their work; working busy-busy- putting together their sophomore L.P.  Can they top (the staggering) Beauty in an Average Life?  Short answer: hell-yeah, course they can, son!  To be honest with you- given that album’s impeccable standards- there was not much room for improvement- with their new material, I don’t know, they sound even better!  Perhaps re-inspired or energised- by relations within the band or some time away- but the new music (I have been lucky enough to hear) is among their very finest- and this is the ‘demo.-sounding’ tracks coming out.  I chose Ghosts– as their album’s standout track/one I think best sums them up now- as it contains all the bands’ hallmarks: those entrancing and emotive vocals (supplied by Leigh and Jenna); the incredible composition- that draws in so much beauty and atmosphere; history and evocation; grandeur and tenderness- and the stunning lyrics (that seem to connect with everyone, somehow).  The band themselves make (the music so) gripping: their performances are tight and well-rehearsed; they have such an affiliation and connection- you can hear those solid bonds; that natural (shared affection).  This all bodes well for the future: when their new album drops (not sure what it is called yet) I for one will want to get on top of that: dig into its mysteries and warm kisses; untangle its messages and mysteries (or something less pretentious).  What Echo Arcadia have done- in addition to pleasing my musical senses- is confirm my deepest beliefs: that Scotland is producing some fine-ass music; showing the U.K. how it’s done- differing from the London/Manchester/Liverpool (predictable; over-exposeed0 co-efficiency.  The band has that radiance and cheekiness; those distinct and loveable personalities: a group you want to hang with; lift pints with- share their adventures.  When it comes to the music, they are both entrancing and nuanced: their songs grip (upon the first listen) and then keeps giving more- every new spin uncovers something special.  Ghosts is a perfect 2015 track: it encapsulates a lot of modern vibes- and what the finer end of the mainstream is producing- and adds warmth and quality to a (let’s face it) somewhat lackluster musical year.  It only leaves me to summarise, now- sure you’ll be glad to hear.  Having been contacted by Leigh- the band’s leader and all-round nice dude- I was primed for something special: following Beauty in an Average Life; my expectations were high.  Having regrouped- or slightly reconfigured- the band have had a creative retreat; put new thoughts to paper- fusing and concocting their new sounds.  I can tell you this- and from having the new album (in a nearly-ready form) on my laptop- the signs are all good.  Building from their debut- retaining its core sound and qualities- the guys have added new elements (instrumental and lyrical); the vocals are stunning (both Jenna and Leigh offer highly-charged and gorgeous tones); the compositions are rich and colourful- lush and flowing; building and grand.  Make sure you check out Ghosts– go to the band’s iTunes page and check their first album out- and buckle your seatbelts: Echo Arcadia will be back hard and fast- sparing no prisoners!  It has been great to reconnect with the Edinburgh band- and hope they hit-me-up when the album is released- and assess their new sounds (again, one of my favourite songs from this year).  Having spilled my thoughts- and possibly caused pronation of the fingers- it is time to leave the zombie-bashing-testicle-missing-submarine-fearing-thing-hitting band to their business; wish them the fondest- and keep an eye peeled.  Back last year- when reviewing their album- that review changed my writing; made me more hopeful and deep- their music broke the boundaries of (the music I was used to) hearing.  This year, I have heard a lot of terrific music- more varied and impressive than last year- but Echo Arcadia have done it again: connected with a part of me (I thought had dissipated).  Whether it is their particular music brand; their kinship and warmth (something else, perhaps) – those Scots always strike me hard.  Anyway, have a listen/investigation; dive into their creative annals and…

BE sure to snap-up their forthcoming album!

 

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Follow Echo Arcadia:

 

Official:

http://www.echoarcadia.co.uk/

Facebook:

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

Twitter:

https://twitter.com/EchoArcadia

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Music:

https://soundcloud.com/echo_arcadia

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Videos:

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

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Gigs:

http://www.echoarcadia.co.uk/

 

Interview: NINA

Interview:

 

 

NINA

 

ANOTHER week; another great female artist…

has come to my attention.  London-based; German-born, NINA is one of the most impressive Pop/Electro.-Pop artists coming through- her voice is among the most distinct on the scene.  A lot new Pop-based artists tend to stick too closely (to someone else’s voice); come off as somewhat uninspired and unoriginal- NINA has no such flaws; she is one of the most captivating and singular artists on the block.  Under the caring wing of Aztec Records, the superstar has recently covered Heart of Glass– by the inimitable and timeless Blondie.  Her fan-base is building and diversifying- gaining support and kudos from all corners of the world- new music is mooted; the signs are all bright.  Inspired by the likes of HAIM, Fleetwood Mac and The Doors; NINA channels multiple sounds/sensations into her music; creates stunning atmosphere and compositions- those that get inside the heart; convey everyday emotions and personal insight.  Having released the E.P.s My Mistake and We Are the Wild Ones (one of its tracks is featured/reviewed below), eyes on are the German singer: it will be exciting to see where she goes next.  With her music gaining so much support; her songs winning-over so many fans, I was keen to catch up with NINA; see who influenced her (growing up)- and when we can expect a new E.P…

Hi NINA. How has your day been?  Where are you speaking to us from?

It’s been a productive day.  I just finished recording a new track in my home studio.

The modern scene is seeing a lot of female singer-songwriters come through.  What would you say separates you from the crowd?

It took me a long time to find a project (and a sound that I wanted to represent) and I think I found something that it’s different from the rest.  Something that takes me back to my younger years, the retro feel, the synths; the sounds I grew up listening to.  I think people can relate to that.

You are based in London- and represented by Aztec Records.  How have you found life in London?

There is no place like London- I’ve lived in London for 11 years.  I’ve pretty much lived here throughout most of my youth.  Although I’m a free spirit, and don’t call anywhere my ‘home’; I put London very close to my heart.  The music scene is like no other.  London is magical and very influential.

Being born and raised in Berlin, how does the music scene differ here (compared to London)?

I think it’s hard to compare Berlin and London.  I couldn’t tell you which music scene I’d prefer; they’re both so different. I like how hardcore Berlin can be- with their Techno/House raves- and how surprising London can be (with constant up-and-coming raw talent).  Amazing artists like Amy Winehouse, Ed Sheeran; Jessie J., John Newman (and many more) all started off performing in little venues in London.  It’s inspiring to see.

Growing up, which artists influenced your sound/direction?

I loved bands like Depeche Mode, Queen, The Doors and artists like David Bowie, Blondie and Cyndi Lauper.  Their stage presence, charisma and sound were mesmerising.

Which current artists would you recommend?

From the U.K. it has to be The Levity- a new up-and-coming band from Devon.  Their live shows are awesome and I’ve been collaborating with them recently on a couple of songs.  They’ve got the ‘80s sound nailed to perfection.

And from the States, HAIM- they’re simply awesome.

Your latest track is Heart of Glass (a cover of the Blondie song).  What compelled you to record that track?

I’ve always been a huge Blondie fan.  Growing up listening to them definitely shaped my music style, so it was an easy choice.  I knew I wanted to make it my own; but that isn’t easy to do with a song you’ve listened to all your life.  But me and my drummer (Laura Fares) sat down one evening and it just flowed.  I’m glad the response has been great- and I’ve had lots of Blondie fans sending me lovely comments.

Your My Mistake E.P. (released last year) was met with acclaim; it resounded with listeners.  What themes inspired the E.P.?

The ‘80s era and the New Synth-Wave movement.  The main theme is about learning from unsuccessful relationships.  It can hurt but it will get better.

I am reviewing We Are The Wild Ones -the title track from the E.P. – and was wondering: that particular song stands out in my mind.  Can you tell us a bit about it (what inspired it etc.)?

Like ‘My Mistake’, the ‘80s were a big influence.  I collaborated with another band and we knew exactly what we wanted it to sound like.  It’s about escape, wanting to be free and loving ‘til the end, no matter what.  “Find what you love and let it kill you” like Bukowski said.

Can we expect new music from you soon- an E.P. or album- and touring dates?

Yes; I’m releasing my 3rd E.P. very soon- and I’m working on that with amazing producer Richard X (who I deeply admire).  I’ll also be touring Sweden, Italy and Germany before the year ends.

What advice would you give to up-and-coming singers; are there any words you would offer?

Always stay true to yourself.  Work damn hard; find yourself and your own style and never give up.  Be strong, be focused.

Finally- and for agreeing to take part in the interview- I will play any song here (of your choice) – name it…

Massive Attack – Teardrop 

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We Are the Wild Ones’ title track looks at “Midnight street lights”; a place where there is haunt and (lack of) forgiveness- a cold and shallow countenance.  The opening (electronic beats) remind me a little of Erasure.  Matching their Wonderland-era climb, the introduction pulses and smashes; it is a lot harder and more sexual (than NINA’s peeps’ music) and makes its declarations know.  The percussive beats are both dramatic and scenic- you get a sense of city streets and harsh sounds; cold and dark avenues; juxtaposed by star-crossed lovers and (the lights emanating from) local bars.  In fact, the entire introduction has that ‘80s-Synth-Pop sounds- the likes of Erasure, Gary Numan and The Human League.  NINA concocts her own (swelling and catchy) blend of beats and electronics; hard to tie them with anyone else- that distinction and originality shines through.  Eliciting so much potential (in the opening exchanges) you wait for the voice to come in; what tone it will take- how it will melt with the composition.  NINA’s voice- on the wave of ghostly Synth.-Pop beats- is light and emotive; not too heavy-handed, the vocal dispenses its words with careful economy- ensuring the listener understands each idea and image.  It seems our heroine is waiting for a man- her wannabe star-crossed lover- as she tangles within the shoulders of a London night- knowing some (of their) hearts will break.  Right from the start, the lyrics aim for philosophy and life truths- life is shorter than we’d care for; we have to do all our living soon- that urgency and sense of determination shouts its name.  Wanting to- in the name of her man- “stretch across the highways”; “Until our voices echo through the dunes”; you get a sense of the romance and bond- that hungry desire to be rekindled and united.  After initial proclamation, an air of defeatism creeps in: as (the two) are the wild ones; the lost souls- maybe there is no hope for them.  It seems those more ‘ordinary’ and predictable find happiness- they do not have ambitions and those desires- whereas the young and restless do not get what they seek.  That air of pessimism is never heavy and mordent: the electronics crackles and sizzle; the beat remains static and insatiable- giving the song a king-size sense of atmosphere.  As our heroine’s voice endeavours and promises- she has a “full tank” of gas; a heart full of dreams- you root for her (and her man).  Dreamy and nuanced, the electronics-cum-beats-fusions back up the mood and momentum: the voice is perfectly complimented; allowed to nestle in the sonics- and let (her words) do their work.  The chorus underlines and emphasises the song’s core: the lovers and wild and free; outsiders of sorts- maybe this world cannot accommodate their lust and ambitions.  Riding that wave of emotion, NINA lets her voice glide and break; there is an underlying sadness and acceptance- maybe the lovers will remain distant and parted.  Towards the final stages- and as the chorus completes its work- the dizzying, hypnotic electronics comes back around; sparkle with multi-coloured grace.

We Are the Wild Ones is an anthem for young love: those that do not fit within societal boundaries; sit outside the borders- and yearn for something special and different.  The gorgeous German has clearly witnessed frustration and heartache; short-lived desires and a lot of what-if- I hope she is in a happier place now (the song was released two years ago).  The entire track bristles and campaigns with alacrity and underlying twilight.  Perhaps in London- and her beau being in Berlin or elsewhere- you picture the scenes and conversations; that sense of alienation- all vivid and real.  The percussion bonds beautifully with the electronics; the former is a racing heartbeat; a granite-tasting kick- paradoxically, the electronics mutate between swooning romance and razor-edge anxiety.  Having fallen for the E.P. We Are the Wild Ones– and its motifs of frustrated love and wild hearts-NINA continued her noble quest; producing even-more engrossing and staggering music- it bodes well for the future.  With a third E.P. on the production line, I am curious where she goes next: more tales of near-miss desire; talents of happier romance (she may be in a committed relationship) – or something more oblique.  Given (NINA’s)

  

 

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Follow NINA: 

Official:

http://www.ninamusic.co.uk/

Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/NinaSoundUK

Twitter:

https://twitter.com/ninasounduk

YouTube:

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

SoundCloud:

https://soundcloud.com/ninasounduk

Instagram:

https://instagram.com/ninasounduk/

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Tour Dates:

http://www.ninamusic.co.uk/

Track Review: Archi Deep and the Monkeyshakers- Nowhere Man

TRACK REVIEW:

 

Archi Deep and the Monkeyshakers

 

 

Nowhere Man

 

9.5/10.0

 

 

 

 DSC_1139-4

Nowhere Man (teaser) is available at:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W7sVC2SNBEo

RELEASED:
9th September, 2015

GENRES:
Rock ‘n’ Roll

ORIGIN:

Oléron, France; London, U.K.

The album #3 will be released in October:

Recorded and Mixed at Ardent Studios (Memphis) by Adam Hill.
Mastered in London by Noël Summerville.
Designed by Storm Studios.

Produced by Archi Deep and the Monkeyshakers.

TRACK LISTING:

Nowhere Man– 9.5

I’m on the Run9.5

High Minds9.3

I Can See9.5

Real9.4

If Only it Was Sunny9.4

DOWNLOAD:

Nowhere Man; I’m on the Run; I Can See; If Only it Was Sunny

STANDOUT TRACK:

Nowhere Man

 

THIS is my first review I have had to resort to an online translator…

to decrypt a band’s biography.  Thanks to Bing- and apologies to the band if the biography (below) – is inaccurate.   My featured band is based in France: my first review to emanate here; few new bands hail from here- at least the ones that reach the media’s attention.  Today marks a departure and fascinating diversion: I get to assess a French act- not one you’d think of; you’d have preconceived notions- and look at Rock ‘n’ Roll- its representation in today’s scene.   Looking around the music landscape, most of the bands (coming though) originate from the U.K. or the U.S. – it is a generalisation that has some truth to it.  Having recently reviewed a few U.S. acts- two from New York; one from L.A. – I have been back in British territory- reviewing the talent here.  The media in this country tend to focus their attention on homegrown acts; occasionally putting their mind in the U.S. – although in the case of Totally Mild and Royal Headache; in Australia too- but rarely does it extend to Europe.  When we think of ‘European music’ we tend to have stereotypes and false ideals: a lot of people tend to think of Euro-Pop or something arcane and bygone.  Perhaps this was true years ago- as recently as the ‘90s the European music scene has not been that varied- but recently, a lot of great bands have come through.  From Swedish Electronica to German Pop; Europe is producing some incredible music- that is possessed of character, soul and diversity.  Although my featured band has links with London, they are a French act: their sound, oddly, has U.S. tones to it.  Perhaps geography is an irrelevance (in today’s market): so long as the music is good, who cares?  Well, there is a reason for my tangent: the mainstream media neglects a lot of land; tend to focus too narrowly- there is a world of varied music out there!  Recently I have encountered everything from Israel-based Electro.-Pop- the irrepressible ADI- and German Synth./Electro. sounds- the equally capitalised (and beautiful) NINA.  I understand (music from Europe and Asia for instance) is less voluminous- you have to dig quite hard to discover great acts away from obvious areas- but we should all change our thinking.  Being in contact/connected with French journalist/online peeps, I get to hear French music coming through: fewer acts come from here (compare to the U.K.) yet the quality is very high; the sounds are adventurous and agile- there is plenty of ambition and urgency.  The French music scene is showcasing some great new talent; depending on the region/locality, you can find some wonderful new sounds- that will blow away any antiquated perceptions and clichéd ideas.  Before I raise a new point, it is time to introduce Archi Deep and the Monkeyshakers (apologies if my translations appear idiomatic or inaccurate):

Everything begins in the dark light and the London fog, Deep Archi is armed with his guitar and preach the gospel to the streets of London (Himself!): I do not want your money, I want you to like me on Facebook!  Soon after, a phone rang, he must go, we need him, but he will not come alone …!  Deep Archi and the Monkeyshakers to appease on the island of Oléron between each eruption!  They are needed: strong, raw (l) s, free and possessed!  Their determination and their rage open the doors – without trial and without label – allowing them to dust off the lobes and globes with electrically incorrect riffs, bass and scrap O rage on drums!  All wrapped towering irate!  They take you away.  Fire begins to set, in November 2013 they released EP # 1!  A hundred dates in the legs, ultra-room equipped with the most creepy cellar, they exploit every centimeter between unstructured groove and tantrums! Live on stage and off!  A surprised public – lobotomized – starts with them!  Schizophrenic and transcendent, they operate, fast, very fast!  Basic training, eccentric structure, not at all impressed!  Almost disrespectful for a tangy Rock’n’roll, abused and assured manner and the Archi Deep Monkeyshakers!  The DANCE takes a prominent place in this public – monkeys – He has no choice, he is caught in the throat, the most violent songs (but sexier) since their creation, take everything on their passage!  Finally – regurgitating – EP # 2 album (June 2014) even stronger!  He strikes with US power!  A summer of more than twenty five dates!  All the more explosive than the other! They operate in Rock’n’roll service!  Psychotic and disconcerting!  September sees the start of a promo tour in five months European target for the second album!  With over thirty dates from France to England: they claim that their place is on stage!  These three are determined to prove that he will have to reckon with them from now on!  Hold on!  To quote a friend ‘Rican: {} They are (NOT) just a (fuckin’) rock’n’roll band!

In addition to having (perhaps the) best band name ever- you cannot read it in print without conjuring vivid/strange images- the boys really look the part: the have the ice-cold swagger and vintage-cool wardrobe of a classic Rock act; the cocksure sound and incredible exhilaration- they are compellingly tight and confident; brimming with confidence and intensity- without compromising quality and integrity.  One of the band’s qualms/issues is being called ‘just’ a Rock ‘n’ Roll band- the term, in fact, does tend to limit perceptions.  If you look-up the term ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll music’ you will get images/search results of 1950s music- maybe Elvis Pressley and Buddy Holly; something quite specific.  I guess their sound is Rock ‘n’ Roll to an extent- it has that thrilling evocation of Pressley and Little Richard; Bill Hailey and his contemporaries- although their projection/sound is very modern and 2010s.  What you get from the band is something familiar yet very unique: you can hear shades of (other bands); the overall sound and feel is very-much their own- they are a group indebted to nobody.  The most arresting aspect of Archi Deep and the Monkeyshakers is their comradery and tightness; their undeniable flair and quality- each of their songs is deep and layered; they do not produce tossed-off fillers.  Having just discovered the band- being tipped-off by their manager, Arthur Di Piazza; one of the best things (about the French band) is their song-craft: so many modern Rock/Alternative bands focus on one/several aspects; something always gets missed out- no such luck with these guys.  They have the stunning images and photogenic portfolio- they make sure fans/reviewers have plenty of photo options- and great personalities- whether dressed in costumes/masks; leather jackets or something else, they are always interesting, cool and compelling.  In addition, they have the music-related pluses: for one, their songbooks are packed with slice-of-life motifs; tidbits of wit and vitriol; slabs of modern-day love woes- quotable and relatable; unique and fresh.  Their compositions are full-bloodied and nuanced: with each listen you notice something new; their performances are consistently stunning and high voltage.  Most importantly is their spirit and genuineness.  They have a clear desire and passion; they are a True Rock Band- not posers or fakers in any sense.  With so many vague/mediocre bands on the block, Archi Deep; are a cut above.

When it comes to (the band’s) new ventures, it is worth looking back- and seeing how they have changed.  Looking back at their past work, it gives a glimpse of what inspires them; the themes they relate to- and what has compelled their current work.  I Got Inked has a scratchy and juggernaut opening.  Howling strings fuse in to create an intriguing and emotive opening.  The song looks at a hard relationship; being driven mad (by his other half); having to make sacrifices.  The chorus has a memorable catch to it; the vocal is a bit underplayed- and feel a bit more force could be elicited- with our hero sounding quite wracked.  Whoever the heroine is, it seems the relation is imbalanced and hard work: our hero is by her side; they are going through the motion- whether there is underlying love/passion, I am not too sure.  Erase Yourself is a more soft and gentle affair.  With its acoustic-led beginning, the song has a calming and relaxed air.  Our man is being treated like a fool; recriminations and anger comes to the fore- his voice remains controlled and level.  Mutating into something wracked and pain, the track begins to mutate and grow.  As the title suggests, there is that need for a break: our hero is in a bad place; a relation that is causing its scars and heartache.  You can sense that strain and annoyance throughout; the vocal here is more convincing and determined- portraying the full depth of emotions- whilst the band are tight and impressive.  Half of a Two is (at that point) the band’s best track: the full embodiment of their talents, it is a catchy and hypnotic number.  The song looks at wanting to be different; in a relationship it is a cautionary tale: our man sees everyone else- and the way relationships usually go- and does not want to be like that.  The voice is more characterful and alive; filled with idiosyncrasies and nuance- little yelps and howls come into the fold.  The quirkiness and vocal prowess reminds me of early-career The Rolling Stones- it has that ‘60s vibe to it.  The guitars rollick and strike with Blues licks; they jump and tumble; colourful and full-bodied.  Dizzying and dancing, this is the band’s stand-out cut- boasting their finest lyrics and most impressive performance.  With #3– and tracks like Nowhere Man– the band have hit their stride.  Sounding more confident and intuitive, they have upped the quality; there is more consistency and passion- the tracks are more detailed and memorable.  Their current offerings are their finest achievements: for new fans, it is worth going back; looking at what they have produced- it is stunning and filled with intrigue.  Over the last few years, the boys have regained new inspiration- fewer tracks deal solely with relationship imbalance- and they have introduced new sounds into their tracks; mingle more Blues-Rock tones- their music is more rounded and complete.

Nowhere Man starts with a slight pause: a teasing little gap; a moment of reflection- before the band rush into proceedings.  Cocksure and breezy, the opening seconds see our man in louche voice; relaxed and confident- living “like a nowhere man.”  Perhaps referencing The Beatles- and imaging themselves the lead in their Rubber Soul classic- the band (who would go on to reference other songs across the mini-album, #3) instantly intrigue.  Our man does not know “where to go”- only he knows he “can’t go back”- seemingly in the grip of unfolding drama.  Introspective and anxious; unsure and determined- there is that fight-or-flight instinct.  Things have reached a head- and the situation/life has got out of control- so there is that desire to escape.  Whether coming-up against an obstacle or for, our hero has reached a plateau- there is tangible stress and tension.  Addressing (perhaps a girlfriend or lover) you get a real sense of urgency: this is augmented and defined by the ensuing compositional coda.  The riff/parable unleashed is spiraled and groovy; swaggered and cool- a marriage of Blues-Rock sex and Classic-Rock authority.  Putting my mind if early-‘90s music- Rage Against the Machine’s debut; Nirvana’s Nevermind; perhaps some embers of Pearl Jam- and you get suggestions of Grunge and Metal; not overwhelming and visceral; that underlying threat and potential.  Having raised his initial concerns- and made his decelerations and feelings known- our hero is in reflective mood: backed by a bolstering composition, he is kicking his feet up; places and spaces are f******-up his mind- you feel a real connection with his plight.  Both oblique and emotive, some of the lyrics make you wonder: is he talking about his home town?  Is a relationship causing him to be so nervy?  What has caused this situation?  Rampant and edgy (the composition); cool-handed and concentrated (vocal); the song gets right under the skin.  Not able to complain- so the song foretells- our man asks (his baby) what to do; where to go- clearly our hero needs some direction and inspiration.  The French band brings in some Beatles suggestions.  Whereas they reference (Rubber Soul’s stand-out in the title); perhaps juxtapose and transpose the song’s theme- casting themselves in the role of the Nowhere Man– there are other Beatle-esque touches.  The riff- that spiraling and cocky swagger- puts me in mind of I Want You (She’s So Heavy) – from Abbey Road– cum-Revolver (little touches of certain songs).  At the backbone, is perhaps, some Rage Against the Machine touch- a little bit of Killing in the Name’s central riff (slightly muted and melodic).  This is not to say the boys are cribbing others; shirking originality: they cheekily lace-in classic samples; nod to the greats- lace it into their stunningly centrifuge.  Both pleasing and daring, the effect really comes off: that riff/the riffs have an air of familiarity yet seem completely natural- like they could belong in no other song.  Perfectly sound-tracking (our hero’s) travelogue- and supremely voicing his inner monologue- the band are tight and focused throughout.  The percussion clatters in the background- whipping up a heady storm- as the bass drives and powers through.  The guitar stutters and smashes; completely intoxicating to the very last- with our front-man in enflamed voice.  As the vocal gets echoed/processed- in the final stages- things become more blood-thirsty and dangerous; the song snarls and bites- this bad-dog attitude rules the foreground; it insinuates itself in every note and moment.  As the song starts to draw-in that chorus comes back around- our man still seeking guidance; seemingly drifting on a breeze of confusion; needing his girl to lend her hand.  Still invested in the unfolding; the song keeps its cocky swagger up-top: that energised and rampant riff presses and campaigns; it gets more urgent and spiky.  By the closing notes, the listener is overcome and exhausted- what with the pistol-whipped storm that has unfolded- and is given a chance to rest and reflect.

Before moving on- and reflecting on the rest of the E.P./mini-album- it is time to dole-out praise.  The vocals throughout are determined and focused: our hero lets his voice strike up emotions- without letting it wander- keeping things tense and tight.  Never over-abusing his talents, the vocal turn does not need to yelp or yowl- he projects so much passion and drama with few notes and pitch changes.  Making sure everything remains anxious and gripping; Rock-infused and energised- the vocal performance is stunning and nuanced; filled with detail and emotion.  The bass work is fantastic and driving throughout.  Containing plenty of melody and rhythm, it guides and supports the song; drives the (other band members) along- whilst ensuring things do not lose focus or become undisciplined.  Percussion duties ensure Nowhere Man has plenty of power and panache; huge weight and a real sense of danger.  At times it is viper-like and night-crawling; at others it is more teasing and subtle- switching course and projection within a few seconds.  Making sure the song never loses its fascination and unpredictability, the drum work is hugely impressive.  Mixing well (with the rest of the band) the percussion sits neatly in the fold; never treading too far into the spotlight- instead it shows its own personality and sense of endeavour.  Finally, it is worth mentioning the guitar work: the riffs and codas are exhilarating and scintillating.  Fusing and sparking so much passion and sexuality, they always get inside your mind; never renounce their ruler-ship- completely takes the senses away.  Employing some near-familiar riffs- some ‘60s and ‘70s Rock touches- the guitar mingles modern with vintage; tender with rampant- the results are immense.  Nowhere Man is synonymous with its stunning riffs and epic solos; that dangerous-cum-sassy electric drive; the fizz and explosion.  The song looks at common anxieties and concerns- that need to figure things out and get some perspective- and you wonder whether (the song’s hero) ever finds absolution.  Clearly pained and confused; aimless and determined- there is that contradiction of emotions and needs; a man desiring something real and stable.  Backed by fantastic production- which is clear and concise- you can hear every note in crystal-clear detail.  The production values give the song a rugged and raw edge- without making it sound slap-dash and under-produced- whilst ensuring each instrument and facet are given proportionate representation.  A stunning whole; a wonderful track: Nowhere Man is a perfect opener; a great example (of what Archi Deep and the Monkeyshakers) are all about.  Boasting their hallmark sounds and themes, the boys have created something timeless and of-the-moment- a song you dare not ignore!

Across #3, the boys augment their name and stamp their authority (on proceedings).  Building from their previous E.P.s, the tracks are more solid and detailed; more nuanced this time around- compared to previous outings.  I’m on the Run has a fuzzy and woozy opening; it is sexual and sensual- a really dizzying assault.  On the edge and tense, the composition teases and stops- before exploding into life.  Our man is on the run and hot; being chased and nervy- there is that sense of (wanting to kick away) the blues; find some solace and direction.  Mixing elements of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Queens of the Stone Age (and Led Zeppelin); the track is propulsive and racing; raw and hardcore.  On the run (from pride) the hero is wrapped in a lusty and zesty- cigarette-stained and whiskey-drunk.  The band is up for the challenge as they unleash a meaty and compacted swagger- both unpredictable and heavy.  Riffs and solos erupt into sonic orgasms; the vocal crackles and ignites- the band sound at the top of their game.

   High Minds is gentler and rushing.  The acoustic guitar jumps, skips and hops; the track starts on a restrained note.  Referencing The Beatles- moving from Rubber Soul-referencing Nowhere Man- they bring in Revolver– paraphrasing Eleanor Rigby.  Our man looks at “all these lonely people”- a coda and lyric slant that is charming and bold.  Surveying scenes (and the world around him) our man sounds uninspired and lost.  His voice roars and electioneers; it sounds essential and assault-ready- in no mood to take prisoners.  One of the most exhilarating and gripping lead vocals, the song looks at the present and future- high minds are failing; our man drives like a “wild honeymoon.”  Hand-claps and calmer moments come in, to help define this song of change and desire.

I Can See is grumbling and chugging beast.  Locomotive and low-down, the opening moments are Blues-Rock (sound of early-career White Stripes; teasing in some modern Jack White elements).  The vocals have elements of Jack White throughout; that same yowl and yelp; similar tones and colours- without sounding too similar.  The song’s central riff is soaked in whiskey and attitude; it is without inhibition and motive; it is an animal cut loose.  That indelible composition then rushes and explodes again- the band is masters of subverting expectations.  Being cut out and alienated; that feeling of being distant is reintroduced- the mini-L.P. is a bible of disconnection and misdirection.  Funk-laden and cool riff strides and swagger about; the band unite in a tight jam- the composition is economical and hugely effective.  An arena-sized jam, it is designed to get voices singing and feet stomping.  Our hero can see no shame- not sure if he is referring to a girlfriend or friend- that sense of being pushed-away comes in.  The Most psychedelic and hypnotic riff, Archi Deep and the Monekyshakers are on fire.  The song is psychotropic and drug-addled; staggering and drunken- the boys make the sweat drip from the speakers.  Those squalling riffs remind me of Rage Against the Machine and Hendrix; parts Muse- without the needless bombast.

   Real has that Blues sound; part Detroit, part New York.  Classic-sounding and modern (at same time); the introduction has elements of Pixies- their Doolittle phase especially.  When the opening vocal arrive, they are haunted and cooing- the bass guides and supports with a supple heart.  The track begins to build second-by-second; gets a little more intense and pronounced.  No-one can faze him out (our hero); nobody can get him out- maybe he is in trouble or struggling.  With the vocal less intense and more focused, the track stands out distinctly; it is a stunning creation.  Strong tones and pure emotions a-plenty; great Rock/Blues sounds unite perfectly.  The bass work really comes into own; it drives the song forward (and contains lots of melody and passion).  Similarly, the percussion snakes and stings; rattles and rolls- keeping the song essential and vibrant.  Real has that quiet-loud dynamic- Pixieis and Nirvana come back to mind- and really catches you by surprise.

If Only it Was Sunny is a catchy and addictive closer.  Our hero’s voice is enraptured and snarling; it twists and turns; he wants to find reason and resource- showcasing full emotional and octave range.  Things would be better if it were sunny (so it is said); life needs to be understood- again those feelings of doubt and clarity define the motives.  Here, the band really come to the plate- their most electric and compelling performance.  Filled with rapture and drive, the boys are scintillating.  Things wouldn’t be scary (were things brighter); it seems life is in need of revitalization; some fresh inspiration- that feeling of anxiety seems palpable.  When you least expect it the track stops; the sound of (a rewound tape comes in); you think things have ended.  Just then, you get a wheezy and dizzy little riff; the vocal comes rushing in- and a final coda is elicited.  Repeated over and over (the words hard to decipher; the sense of emotion and pace gets in the way) – the song ends its plight.  Recorded in Memphis; mastered in London, the album unites British and American sounds; fuses classic and modern sounds- into a boiling pot of wonder.  The mini-L.P. has quality and emotion throughout; the band is seamless and tight- the songs are nuanced and addictive.  Each track is bracing and amped-up; the band brings the swagger hard and heavy-a concoction of pure Rock and Blues sex.  Revealing new insight with every listen, make sure you investigate #3 (upon its release) – one of the finest records of 2015.

I have vacillated and carried-on with loquaciousness and fervor- fascinated by these new kids on the block.  In fact, the band have been around for a little while; well-known in their local area- making waves (and building a reputation) in London.  With social media/music media being compartmentalised and disconnected- it would be impossible to have every media source aware of every great band- I guess we (at some point on another) will see great music slip by.  I am glad Archi Deep and the Monkeyshakers have not passed me by: investigating their current offerings has been a huge pleasure.  With my opinions already laid-out- with regards their forthcoming single and E.P./album- it is down to the reader/listener- I hope their music is shared around; they get due attention and acclaim.  It is just left for me to raise a few (smaller, you’ll be happy to know) points.  I hope the band come and play London soon: they have links here, so it would be good to see the boys in the flesh.  With the U.K. unaware (of acts like these guys) I hope that soon changes- their imminent release should see them grab column inches.  With a full and considerate online spread- their official website is full and eye-catching; they are all across social media and music-sharing websites- the band have laid the ground work.  When it all comes down to it- regardless of looks and electronic details; attitude and promises- the music does the talking- if that is not good enough, you will not last long.  What comes through with Nowhere Man- and their E.P./album itself- is the quality and confidence.  The words ‘epic’ and ‘anthem’ will be bandied-about (when reviews come in) but that is what you get- each song seems like an event; they have that grasp and sense of ambition.  The performances are stunning and bristling; the range of Rock sounds is exhilarating- all underpinned with genuine emotion and plenty of heart.  The French-Anglo band differs from their peers and colleagues: a lot of Rock/Alternative bands tend to sound like someone else; miss a key ingredient- what you have here is a group that has few cracks and minor faults.  When their new music is officially released, make sure you give it a fond regard: check the myriad twists and turns; the fascinating stories; all the drama and force- something that will (linger long) in the mind and invigorate the senses.  I started this review by looking at French/European music; its rarity and misconceptions- the way the public reviews and perceives it.  Gone are the days of Euro-Trash and narrowness; the European scene is as vibrant and prosperous (as that in the U.S. and U.K.)- the range of artists (coming through here) is impressive indeed.  For now- and because their latest cuts are privy to mine (and a select few) ears- get onto their SoundCloud account; check out the track below- and imagine what is to come.  Superseding and overthrowing their previous songs- the boys have produced their best work this year- you are sure to fall in love; admire the band’s spirit and verve- if you don’t now; soon enough you will.  Whatever you do, promise me two things: that if you love what you hear (and you will) share it about social media; the band have a bright and long future ahead.  For music to thrive- that which is instilled with promise and ambition- it needs continued patronage; a thoughtful audience.  Oh, and secondly, don’t call Archi Deep and the Monkeyshakers…

JUST a Rock ‘n’ Roll band!

 

______________________________________________________

Follow Archi Deep and the Monkeyshakers:

 

Official:

http://www.archideep.com/

Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/archideep?__mref=message

Twitter:

https://twitter.com/archideep

Instagram:

https://instagram.com/archideep/

 _________________________________________

Music:

https://soundcloud.com/archideep

____________________________________________

Videos:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCfHhYpgoc_9T3BBcxM0TUug

 

__________________________________________________

Gigs:

http://www.archideep.com/concerts


Track Review: Bee Meru- Paraphrasing Prophecies

TRACK REVIEW:

 

Bee Meru

 

 

Paraphrasing Prophecies

 

9.4/10.0

 

Paraphrasing Prophecies is available at:

https://soundcloud.com/bee-meru/paraphrasing-prophecies?in=bee-meru/sets/a-handshake-with-who

RELEASED:
August, 2015

GENRES:
Folka Archaica

ORIGIN:

Swanage, U.K.

The mini-album A Handshake with Who is available at:

https://soundcloud.com/bee-meru/sets/a-handshake-with-who

TRACK LISTING:

Paraphrasing Prophecies9.4

A Maya Calling9.2

When I Was a Hedge9.2

Pass on Through9.0

Giant, in This Life9.0

Post Bop9.4 

DOWNLOAD:

A Maya Calling, When I Was a Hedge, Post Bop

STANDOUT TRACK:

Paraphrasing Prophecies

Album features the wonderful musicians, in no particular order – (The silky day confederation have approved, reconfigured and beamed alien impregnation into all) –

Allan ‘Ghengi’ Varnfield – Drums (1,3,4,5,6)
Alec ‘Rover 2k’ Harrison – Bass (1,3,4,5)
Tobias ‘Baines’ Fitton – Bass (6)
Alex ‘Boo Big Gun’ Hedley – Vox (2,6)
Jack ‘Harmodessey’ Cullimore – Strings (1,3,4)
Michael ‘Vibagrove’ Alberry – Keys (4)
Anna ‘Anaine Banome’ Merrick – Vox (1)

OVER the past few days I have been concentrating on…

female-based music.  It has been great getting to grips with its depth and range: I have been amazed by what has been offered; how many different sounds have come forth- it has been quite sensational.  From Folk and Electronic music; across to Country and Beatbox; there seems to be ample talent out there- a scintillating melting pot of genres.  Few would argue about the quality coming out (when it comes to new female musicians).  The guys have their talent and abilities, yet the female acts/bands seem to be nudging ahead: when it comes to diversity (at the very least) they are edging into the lead.  I have been searching around for some great male solo artists.  Over the past few weeks I have been investigating the odd male-led band; U.S. artists that have intrigued me a lot.  When it comes to male solo acts, there has been a scarcity: not too many great examples are coming forth; I am not sure why this is.  I guess a lot of the male-based music is contained within bands: compared to the women, the band market is largely male-dominated.  The mainstream is not really helping issues too much: if you real think about it, can you name three (great) male solo artists?  I had to Google it, and still couldn’t name three- the solo realm is dominated by female talent.  I guess the girls are better on their own; there is a certain personality required (to make it as a solo act).  Less evident in new music, there are a few male sole stars coming through: when it comes to range and innovation, they are still (the men) lacking.  In my mind, the men seem less daring- when it comes to genre and sound fusions- less experimental and ambitious- their sounds are more linear; perhaps more restrained and confined.  A lot of Folk/Pop-based acts- represented by the likes of Ed Sheeran and James Bay- are emerging; fewer stunning artists- that lay out their emotions with any degree of sonic inventiveness.  My featured artist is a bit of a mystery and enigma: with few online sites- just a Facebook account- there is scant information; he is just starting out- emerging from the ashes (of a deceased) act.  Billy Merrick- the man behind Bee Meru- was a member of the band; one of the most distinct acts coming out of the scene- is stepping out on his own (albeit with supporting musicians) to create new life.  Before I go into more depth, it is worth mentioning Saturday Sun.  Having reviewed the band a while back- and being impressed by their originality and sound- it is sad they no longer play.  Derived from a Nick Drake song- from his album Five Leaves Left- the guys mixed gentle rhythms with gorgeous rhymes; lusciousness and beauty- tracks that crept and swelled; bubbled and overcame.  With the music industry being what it is- bands and artists can collapse and call time- out of it comes Bee Meru. Employing similar atmospherics and mood-shift; hugely evocative and emotive tracks- it is great to have him on the scene.  With the hole Saturday Sun has left, few artists have stepped into the breach- and continued their magic.  Bee Meru’s mini-album A Handshake with Who sees Merrick step out in the music world; bring his voice to the party- and capture new hearts.  It would be good to see Bee Meru more widely represented (in time).  Having a SoundCloud account- for the music- and Facebook (for the social side of things) a Twitter account would be wise: it would allow more fans and acts to connect; reach a wider audience.  When it comes to music-sharing and recognition; getting people connected and listening- Twitter is a much more effective and simple tool; something the young artist should consider.  That said- and when music videos start to come- a YouTube account would be good; maybe BandCamp too.  In the social media age, it is important to get your material (and name) as far and wide as possible- the first months/steps are all-important.  Some more Facebook photos would be good to: see the man behind the music; a few studio shots or live captures- just fill in gaps and reveal a bit more.  Merrick is in his initial phases; putting Bee Meru’s most together- I’m sure this will all come in time.  What is important- and what is being displayed now- is the music itself.  Stepping aside from his peers/market expectations, Bee Meru is an outfit with a distinct and striking voice: the music captures Saturday Sun’s hallmarks; adds Merrick’s distinct words and ideas- the resultant seduction has resulted in a terrific creation.  A Handshake with Who is a mini-album/E.P. filled with atmosphere and grip; passion and spirit- the songs are not predictable or sound-alike; they change course and projection.  One of Merrick’s talents- when he was a member of Saturday Sun- was his distinct guitar sounds.  On A Handshake’ they are put to the fore: stunning and variegated; scenic and passionate, he is one of the most stand-out strings-men on the block.  He is showing what the male singer-songwriter can achieve; go beyond boundary walls- and rival the best (the female representatives) are showcasing.

To get a sense of (some of the) potential of Bee Meru, it is worth mentioning Saturday Sun- and the legacy they have left.  Having been featured in The Guardian- part of their Band of the Day featured- last year; they highlighted the spine-tinging vocals (by Alex Headley); the shimmering and shivering guitars; the nature-referencing lyrics and scenes.  What the band did- and the main reference point for critics was- their fusion of The Bends-era Radiohead; Jeff Buckley (the vocals especially) and ‘90s-based bands.  Saturday Sun had that great evocative sound; when music was at its peak: sometimes downbeat and reflective, the music was never dull.  Compelling and emotional; grand and compulsive- few listeners could ignore its assault.  Out of the dissolvent (of the band), Merrick has kept a flame alive- his voice has its own stunning appeal; the instrumentation remains stirring; the songs equally potent and wondrous.  For Saturday Sun fans; this should be a natural move/discovery- you will find some familiar and pleasing similarities.  Anyone new (to Bee Meru) should judge it on its own merits; jump in with fresh ears- and let it do its work.  Whilst there are shades of Radiohead, Jeff Buckley and ‘90s music to the songs; what you get is something both modern-sounding and personal- songs that means a lot to Merrick; are defined by his stunning vision.  With Merrick’s voice recalling a little bit David Bowie; parts Nick Drake, it may be wise (to check out those) acts.  In terms of Bowie albums- that can be compared with Bee Meru- it is worth seeking-out The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars.  That album- whilst the songs’ style may vary from Bee Meru- showed grand-sweeping ambitions; individualised and unique vocal delivery; a far-reaching sense of musical ambition- Bowie mixed Glam-Rock with Pop; strings and hooks; cinematic and apocalyptic.  Bee Meru has a similar sense of adventurousness and innovative spirit: across songs, Classical shades fuse with Pop hooks; Rock drive spars with twisted undertones- running a gamut of emotions and sights.  On a contrary note, one would do well to investigate Nick Drake’s Five Leaves Left: an album that possess distinct melancholy and glorious strings; stately compositions and that rich voice- with one ear to the grave; another to the sun.  As I explained before- when it comes to making comparisons- Bee Maru should be judged on merit alone; use these references as a guidance/jumping-off point.  Combining ‘60s/’70s heritage with current ambitions, A Handshake with Who is an E.P./mini-album packed with power and quality; covering such a wide spectrum- in terms of instrumentations, emotions and ideas- it will appeal to a wide range.  With Pink Floyd influences- a combination of Wish You Were Here’s sweeping epics; Dark Side of the Moon’s odd beauty- and you have a stunning record; from a very promising artist.

One thing I would say about Paraphrasing Prophecies– and the vocals across A Handshake with Who– is that sometimes clarity and concision get lost.  Because of Merrick’s dusky and distinct vocal style, some of the lyrics do get lost and buried.  It is perhaps a minor qualm- and one that can be applied to a lot of acts coming through- yet the song’s instantaneous drama and wonder floods any concerns at all.  The early words looking at paraphrasing and “(All) prophecies new-born…” the song’s intriguing and compelling title is investigated and highlighted- there is an instance and urgency to the early words.  After an acoustic guitar-led introduction, the song gets underway quickly and efficiently: no needless build-up and wandering; the E.P./mini-album begins its pioneering within a few seconds.  Merrick’s voice tows the line between grave and optimistic: there is a sense of romance and calm to his tones; that husky/dusky quality gives the words gravitas- each utterance is delivered with conviction and passion.  The composition begins to build and climb- strings are introduced and the backdrop becomes moodier and duskier- and our hero sounds pained and reflective.  After the embryonic acoustic/calm scent, the composition becomes rushing and spiced; aching and spiraling.  The percussion starts to punch and pervade; the song becomes more electric and enflamed.  Mutating into something animalistic and invigorated, electric strings bubble and burble: sounding contorted and sexualised, the song changes course again- becoming more dramatic and gripping with each passing moment.  Having built off a few, cautionary words- the song now becomes something orchestral and grand; eliciting a range of images and thoughts.  As the guitars twinkle and yawn, the strings vibrate and shiver- the combination creates an ecstatic and exhilarating whole.  Whereas the listener (is at the early stages) invested in the vocal and its plight; now you become lifted by that composition- something that speaks a volume of words with few notes.  Strangely moving, the strings carry you away; there is plenty of energy and movement- it is hard not to be swept along.  Merrick’s voice quivers and tremors with meaning and desire: compelled by the heightening backdrop, he seems at his most intense and focused.  That insatiable and spirit-raising coda keeps coming round for more- few artists spend so much consideration when it comes to atmosphere.  Our hero seems to be entranced and intoxicated: his voice seems haunted and tormented; paradoxically hopeful and seeking.  Once more the composition mutates and changes: past the half-way marker, it becomes sparser and more relaxed.  Blues-infused and calming- strangely reminding me of Dire Straits to an extent- a spectral and gorgeous backing vocal comes into the fray; adding to that sense of chill and emotion.  I have mentioned Pink Floyd before- and so have other reviewers- when assessing Bee Meru.  In the most genuine/complimentary way, Merrick laces his compositions with Floyd-esque theatrics.  In the same way Dark Side of the Moon brims with peculiar sounds and off-kilter notes; fractured emotion and gorgeous melody- so too does Paraphrasing Prophecies.  The backdrop is at no times secondary: it always creates its own drama and story; grabbing the listener and eliciting such a sense of ambition.  Never disingenuous or muted, the strings (and percussion) continues its course; the guitar lines mix sensual and woozy; the backing vocal Siren-esque and tender.  Towards the final moments, you get the biggest hit of the song: given what has come before, the track starts to level-out and fade- you start to take it all in; look back and reflect; the song’s nuance and potency hits the mark.

Before congratulations and recommendations are ladled, it is worth looking at the lyrics- at times they do get overwhelmed and lost.  Merrick has a tremendous voice; is one of the most impressive lyricists on the scene- some of his potency does get watered-down and negated.  Putting the vocals higher up (the mix) would result in great decipherability and clarity: the words would become more focused and intelligible.  That said, the track is always going to compel as a whole: which is very much the case with Paraphrasing Prophecies.  The lyrics/vocal mix is a minor detraction: when you judge the song as an entity, it doesn’t really become an issue- only problematic when trying to interpret and extrapolate the meaning before the song.  What you come away with- and what is most obvious- are the song’s natural qualities.  Starting with the vocal itself: in spite of some words being missed; what I get is that sense of occasion and emotion.  Merrick is not a singer that has to fake and force anything: his tones are completely authoritative and natural.  Reviewers have noted the comparisons with David Bowie and Nick Drake- this would do him a disservice.  I have always found Bowie an acquired taste- limited in some aspects; not capable of truly haunting- and Drake too particular (no singer will ever come close to Drake’s sound).  Merrick infuses the slightest hint of both; he is very much his own artist.  Feather-light (and alternatively) filled with the world’s weight- it is a rich and varied weapon.  What Merrick does fantastically is to create weight of emotion, without ululation and over-emoting- which is what a lot of modern-day singers do.  Paraphrasing Prophecies is one (of A Handshake with Who’s) most orchestrated and composition-heavy tracks.  Whereas other tracks (across the record) are more bare and simplistic, the opener is heady and multifarious.  Allan ‘Ghengi’ Varnfield’s drum work is one (of the track’s) stand-outs: teasing and light at one moment; emphatic and steamrolling the next- he shows himself to be a stunning sticks-man.  Seamlessly keeping the song tight and flowing, the percussion ensures everything remains controlled and focused- no mean feat given the song’s ambition and sonic endeavours.  Alec ‘Rover 2k’ Harrison (love the nickname!) provides supple and passionate bass notes.  Like Varnfield, Harrison provides plenty of power and urgency; he offers plenty of texture and personality.  Harrison (like all good bass players) understands his role: he fits well with the other players; knows when to step back (and when to be right in the mix) – perfectly drives and augments the song.  Jack ‘Harmodessey’ Cullimore provides the song’s strings- and the song’s emotional heartbeat.  Being a progressive and inter-changeable song- in terms of the composition and energy- Cullimore perfectly sound-tracks (the hardest-hitting moments).  Emotional and graceful; sorrowful and shivering, his strings create plenty of beauty and amazement- at times you are overwhelmed by how affective (his performance) is.  Final kudos must go to Anna ‘Anaine Banome’ Merrick- the echoed, ethereal backing voice.  Whilst Merrick, (Billy) is the pained and troubled lead voice, Merrick (Anna) offers a counterpoint of light and hope- something that lifts the mood and perfectly sits in the mix.  The entire ‘band’ comes together superbly; there is such an intuition and closeness- each member understands the role (of the others).  Completed with a lush and polished production sound, Paraphrasing Prophesies is a dramatic and layered song: one that never loses its sense of beauty and force; that endless sense of invention and potency.  A perfect introduction to Bee Meru- and A Handshake with Who– the track is one of this year’s most affecting.

Having followed Saturday Sun- and been entranced by their music and way of working- Merrick contacted me; explained he has a new release out- wondering whether it could be featured.  I was expected some Saturday Sun-esque music; something that did not stray too far from their mould- I was pleasantly surprised.  Bee Meru- a great and catchy name- is an act to watch very closely.  A Handshake with Who is a six-track collection boasting fascinating stories, swelling compositions- subtle and effective guitar work to boot.  A Maya Calling sees Alex Hedley (his old bandmate from Saturday Sun) take on vocal duties: backed by echoing and haunting strings, the song is a beautiful and thought-provoking thing.  Shimmering and lustful; haunting and touching- it put me in mind of Kid A-era Radiohead- the song is stunning.  With the vocals yearning and firm; the acoustic guitars pastoral and simple; the emotive backdrop ever-urgent and pressing- it comes together superbly.  You are caught into that voice: it is quite tired and wracked; there is emotion and insistency- augmented by that symphonic backing, and the track envelops and flourishes; spreads its wings and encapsulates.  When I Was a Hedge is a more playful and delicate thing: with its introduction mixing Nick Drake (Five Leaves Left-era) with Folk stands, it is a gorgeous beginning.  Tripping and flowing; riparian and calming, the strings ache and echo; the guitar trickles and rushes- you transport yourself to somewhere safer and more ensconced.  Whipping-up images of sun and the river; the tranquility of nature- the listener is giving a chance to dream and imagine; witness something genuinely special.  Pass on Through begins with a clatter and upbeat march: the percussion smatters and jumps; the introduction mutates and grows- our hero comes to the microphone.  Merrick’s voice is up top- as it is throughout the record- and has a Bowie-esque croak and whisper: both natural and world-worn, it perfectly represents the (song’s lyrics).  Giant, in This Life is a serene and emotive affair.  One of the E.P./mini-album’s sparsest tracks- it contains no strings or keys- it mixes Pink Moon-Nick Drake with honest and open lyrics: that sense of emotion and vulnerability is never far from the surface; the song reveals its intimacies and honesty over repeated listens; shows something new (you may have missed upon an initial listen).  Post Bop sees Headley back into the fold: leading the vocal charge, he conspires with Merrick’s guitar- old bandmates back together; combining on one of the record’s most stunning tracks.  A perfect bookmark- that matches the opener’s ambition and quality-level- the track builds and builds; becomes more pressing and urgent.  Pink Floyd comparisons come to mind: mixing their Dark Side of the Moon experimentation/ghostliness (with some Wish You Were Here texture and imagination).  Soulful and tight- the composition and instrumentation is seamless and perfect- the song relies of wordless vocals (Headley lets his ethereal howl flow through the notes).  The track builds up to the heavens; gets more intense and loud- such an evocative and scintillating piece.  Tying together old Folk masters- the likes of Nick Drake and Neil Young- with ‘70s Psychedelic and Avant-Garde music; A Handshake with Who is a complex and masterful E.P.- something few other artists could produce; a product of a singular mind.  A perfect record for a new listener- those not attuned to Saturday’s Sun’s legacy- and fans of Merrick’s past life; there is enough for everyone.  Cleverley lacing in older sounds will unite older generations; the modern production and sound will draw in the young- the E.P./mini-album has a crossover appeal and ability to unite- it does not confine its appeal and campaign.  Before I conclude, it is worth going back to my initial point: that which concerns the male singer-songwriter core.  I have grown a little tired of the placid and boring male songwriters: those that sound bereft and uninspired; strum their guitar and offer little personality- they do not experiment with sound and genres; little regard to atmosphere and innovation.  Billy Merrick was always a skilled songwriter- Saturday Sun’s back catalogue can attest to this- and on his own (backed with a few choice musicians) he has produced something impressive- a sense of ambition few of his peers possess.  Since the early offerings from James Blake- and his stunning voice-and-electronics combination- I have been crying out for a new voice; someone with that quality and sense of accomplishment.  Bee Meru has a skillset not often found (in today’s music): that consideration for compositional atmosphere and nuance; the focus on stunning vocals and lyrics- the complete music package.  Differing from the bland-as-you-like modernity, Bee Meru is a name to watch; an artist with plenty more to come (let’s hope at least).  With A Handshake with Who in circulation- and it beginning to grab reviews and attentions- it is my hope others will follow suit- and come up with something distinctly unique.  With the (male) singer-songwriter genre being in stagnation, Bee Meru could act as guidance; give impetus to the new breed.  His music and ambition could well be a…

SIGN of things to come.

 

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Follow Bee Maru:

 

Official:

http://resonancereload.tumblr.com/

Facebook:

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

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Music:

https://soundcloud.com/bee-meru

This Week’s Albums: August 28th, 2015

This Week’s Albums

 

 

August 28th, 2015

 

 

 

 

IT is a case of “Something old, something new/something ‘borrowed’, something…

 

that doesn’t rhyme. “  I do a D.J. gig every week; I have the opportunity to play four different albums: one that is ‘old’ (to my mind, anything pre-1985), something ‘new’ (released brand-new that week); something influential (and has inspired a genre/other acts)- in addition to dealer’s choice (any album I choose).  Having done this for over a year-and played everything from Graceland to Pearl Jam; from FKA twigs to Beastie Boys- it is enormous fun.  I get to talk to people (about music); play some awesome stuff- turn people on to some great/forgotten sounds (well, I try to).  I shall publish this every week; try and highlight some fantastic albums- maybe some you had forgotten about.

The Old: The Rolling Stones- Sticky Fingers (1969)

9.5/10

 

Having turned-in Let It Bleed (in 1969) – the band’s most accomplished album up until that point- Sticky Fingers exceeded expectations.  Packed with punch and panache, the album tangled fury and anger- cuts like Bitch and Dead Flowers harked back to their early days- whereas Brown Sugar and Wild Horses rank as two (of the band’s best songs) to that point.  Filled with sex and raunchiness; attitude and confidence, the album saw the band at their peak- their creative levels firing on all cylinders.  Tangling Blues, Soul and Hard-Rock, the album enflamed and overwhelmed critics.  Jagger’s voice is at its most electrifying and rampant: tracks like Can’t You Hear Me Knocking bristle with energy and attitude; the Richards-led guitar groove is infectious.  With congas, brass and guitars entangled in a clatter of epic proportions, it is a stand-out riot.  The Rolling Stones showed a softer side (on numbers like Wild Horses); cranked the sweat levels up to 11- the emotional balance was perfectly-realised.  The band was in the middle of a creative hot-streak: they would follow Sticky Fingers with Exile on Main St. – argued as their very finest album.  For those looking for reminders at how good ‘60s music could be, check out a true masterpiece- one that has seldom been topped.

 

The New: Royal Headache- High (2015)

 

9/10

 

For the second week running (the best release) of the week is both Australian-bred and utterly fantastic.  Whereas Totally Mild (last week’s pick) mixed Electro.-Pop sounds with emotive lyrics and stunning vocals; Royal Headache are a different bag- they portray classic Punk sounds, wrapped around the unique vocals of front-man Shogun.  Back in 2011- when the Sydney band released their debut album- the band hit a crisis; their internal struggle and upheaval led to a break-up.  Back in the fold, the guys sound focused and compelling.  Their instrumentation is feverish and nervy; completely intoxicating and urgent- perfectly balanced by Shogun’s fiery and nuanced voice.  Another World boasts meaty hooks and plenty of Punk hammer; Carolina fused teary-Soul with heart-on-sleeve lyrics.  The band have clearly reconciled; peace is back in the camp: they sound tighter and more passionate (than their debut); working with one another, rather than against.  Not contented to be labelled a Hardcore or Punk band, the Australians offer plenty of breeze, soulfulness and romance- a heady brew that is hard to ignore.  In a week where the likes of The Strypes have disappointed- investigate a band that live up to the hype.

The Influencer: Public Enemy- It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back (1988)

 

9.5/10

 

Last week I reviewed Maxinquaye (by Trip-Hop maestro Tricky).  Its key song (the peerless Black Steel) was a cover of Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos– one of It Takes’ standout moments.  One of the most influential Rap albums of all-time, its political messages (and social commentary) compelled a generation of Rap wannabes- bands like Beastie Boys and Jurassic 5 have sampled (Public Enemy’s) music.  Revolution-mixology and smack-down beats sparred with socially-aware lyrics; sample-crammed moments and a staggering sense of grandeur.  Chuck D. (the band’s leader) looks at white supremacy and race issues; self-empowerment (for black artists) and musical exploitation.  With Chuck D.’s boundless vocabulary and dazzling rhetoric, the songs not only stood out alone- their messages inspired legions of listeners (who felt oppressed and discriminated against).  Throw in Flavour Flav’s machine gun-frenzied jokes and what remains is an album truly representative of its time.  Other Hip-Hop acts have attempted to match It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back– it has never been equaled.  Not just for lovers of the genres, its diversity and intelligent will appeal to all music-lovers; few have an excuse (to pass this album) by.

 

The ‘Other One’: En Vogue- Funky Divas (1992)

 

8.5/10

 

In an age where girl bands boasted credibility, influence and mesmirising tracks- as opposed to today’s severe draught and questionable examples- En Vogue stood at the top of the genre.  The girls’ insatiable harmonies define the album: each number is elevated to spiritual levels; when combined in voice they elicit a heavenly high.  My Lovin’ (You’re Never Gonna Get It) stands as their finest hour: a rampant and f***-you anthem of sass and independence.  Free Your Mind– in addition to brimming with Rock-hard attitude and swagger- addresses the issue of race and discrimination- in the song, our heroine cannot go anywhere without being watched and judged.  A call against narrow-minded judgement and bigotry, it is a stunning cut.  Whilst the album sags towards the end- it is a top-loaded L.P. – there is enough ammunition to please existing fans (and new listeners).  One listen to tracks like My Lovin’; recollections and nostalgia flows; those choruses lodge in the head- you are powerless to resists their allure.  One of the finest girl groups ever- who would go on to inspire a host of upcoming bands- Funky Divas is an essential cut; guaranteed to lift the spirit- and get the voice singing loud and proud.

Interview: Hannah Dorman

Interview:

  

Hannah Dorman

 

IT has been wonderful watching great artists develop and mature….

and really start to spread their wings.  In this country, there are a lot of great young acts breaking through; offering terrific sounds- and taking the scene by storm.  When it comes to (the young) female acts, there is a high degree of richness and variation: from electronic sounds and genre-spicing; solid Pop and Rock; terrific Soul sounds- it is hard to ignore the quality of material (coming through).  I have known about Hannah Dorman for a while now: her music fuses Country and Rock; sounds of the U.S. – Kelly Clarkson; The Pretty Reckless and the U.K. – the likes of KT Tunstall count as influences.  Having caught the attention of radio stations, producers and venues- picking up blog kudos and effusive reviews along the way- Dorman ranks as one of the most promising young talents on the scene.  Country-Rock is not often attempted (by young U.K. talent); it a shame more do not attempt it- as Dorman has shown, it can lead to some tremendous results.  Mature and emotive, catchy and addictive; Dorman matches heady rhythms with nuanced lyrics- that combustible talent is catching ears and hearts.  Take Control– the next single from the young singer- is released on October 16th.  Launching the single at World’s End, Finsbury Park (the official release venue), it will be an exciting event: one sure to attract new fans and support; lead to lucrative gigs and some extended airplay- Dorman is already accruing some impressive patronage.  With all that has happened this year- gigs and Take Control afoot; radio play and new music- I was keen to catch up; see what the future holds- and what has been the best memories (from 2015 so far)…

Hi Hannah.  How has your week been?  What have you been getting up to? 

Hi, Sam, good thanks!  Very busy as always, but that’s the way I like it to be!  I’ve been working towards the single release.

Your new song Take Control is coming up for release.  What can you tell us about its inspiration and contents? 

I wrote the song about a big decision a friend made; saying they don’t need to rush into anything, and how they need to ‘take control’ of the situation- and think about what they’re doing.  The chorus is basically saying ‘you think I’m okay with this but I’m actually not’.  But as always, the song can be interpreted in multiple ways!

Having heard the track, it is a great fusion of Country and Rock; confident and dramatic.  Do you think that- mixing genres and emotions together- leads to better (and more memorable) music? 

If I’m honest I just write and whatever comes out comes out!  I was told my voice has country elements to it, and the band really bring the rock.  It’s nice to have something slightly different that makes people sit up and listen; even if it’s not the brief I set out with (as there’s generally no brief!).

With regards your influences and idols: which artists have been particularly important to you- with regards your musical upbringing? 

When I was little my late grandparents lived in Padstow, Cornwall (which was a 5-hour journey) and I would insist we’d play Anastasia, Shania Twain, Avril Lavigne (and other artists like them).  I’d sing the whole journey (even though at the time I wasn’t a very good singer).  These artists (as well as) others like Delta Goodrem, Alanis Morissette, No Doubt and Kelly Clarkson were played around the house when I was younger!

Take Control– and your back catalogue- is defined by its tight sound and stunning interplay.  It sounds like you and the band have a great chemistry.  How long have you guys known one another? 

Thank you!  I went to A.C.M. with this lineup- me Jack and Jon (bass and guitar) were in the same performance classes- so we were used to performing with one another, and they were already in a band with Kamil (drums) – so the dynamic works really well.  And we all get on, which definitely helps!

Can you give us a glimpse into 2016: any new music/E.P.s coming from you? 

I’m currently writing a lot, with intentions of more music in 2016… so watch this space!

I often ask musicians this question: what inspires your songwriting and creative process?  Do you have to be in a particular mood/mindset or do songs come from dreams/off-the-cuff moments? 

I generally have to be sad to write, but I’m trying to break out of that as I’m in a good place at the moment!   I’ll sit down with my guitar and usually I’ll get one hook, or one line- which I’ll work the rest of the song around.  I’ll have about 4 songs on the go at once as I’ll get bored of one idea and then move on to the next, and so on- then probably come out with 1 song and 3 unfinished ideas; I have so many voice memos on my phone of rubbish!

You are based in Surrey- and have London pretty close-by- where there are fewer music venues/opportunities?  Can you see yourself relocating/moving to a larger city in the coming years? 

Surrey is great.  I’ve lived in Surrey my whole life and it’s beautiful.   Regards to music I think there are a lot of opportunities here, if you look for them.  I went to A.C.M. which is the heart of so many talented musicians and contacts- I wouldn’t have had living somewhere else, but London can be quite saturated.  If my career moves me, then I’ll move with it, but for the moment I’m happy!

Your fans on social media seem to connect with your music.  How important has social media been with regards your music career? 

Social media has been 100% essential to me and my fans.  I launched a Kickstarter campaign for my last E.P.- and because of my fans and the relationship I have with them on social media- I was able to fund the recording of my last E.P.   I love keeping up-to-date on social media: whether it’s just a photo to say ‘hi’, or a funny video (that made my day), I think it’s a great way of the fans getting a glimpse of artist’s lives (which helps get to know them better).

Few of the female artists coming through play in the Country-Rock field.  What would you say to any female songwriters wanting to follow your example? 

Stick to your guns, write original music and keep plugging away!

You clearly have a tremendous passion for music and performing.  Take Control has just been featured as BBC Introducing (South)’s Track of the Day.  What have been your highlights from 2015? 

Yeah that was definitely a highlight!  Just the whole recording process and putting out a record.  When things go right, it’s amazing!  Don’t get me wrong, as any artist will know, 95% of the time things are going wrong; but what’s the fun if everything runs smoothly?  I love the journey of having a song and creating everything to go with it- the music, the imagery, the video- then seeing people’s reactions. Those are the highlights for me.

Modern music is defined by its financial pressures and stiff competition.  How have you managed to stay strong and focus- against the tide of tough competition? 

I look back to the 3-year-old singing in front of the T.V. to Top Of The Pops who would say ‘Mummy, I’m gonna be on that show one day’.  She didn’t have any doubts; and at the age of 3, something in me knew it was possible to make it onto the big screen…how can I let little Hannah down?

For those new to Hannah Dorman, can you tell us a secret (something you have never told another interviewer)? 

I’m a mean knitter!

Finally- and for being a good sport- you can select any song (and I’ll include it here) – why is it special to you? 

On the nostalgic theme… No Doubt ‘Don’t Speak’, because I sang it when I was 3! (Here’s the vid, I’m happy for you to feature it!!)

 

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Take Control bristles with vigour and directness.   Beginning with a Rock-infused introduction, the mood starts to come down: Dorman steps into the spotlight.  Elongating and stretching her voice, the messages coming through loud and clear.  Backed by her band cohorts, our heroine has some clear advice: if you want to do it for yourself (and keep in control), then it is within your reach.  Motivational and uplifting, this (inspiring coda) is supported by a passionate and soulful vocal- Dorman sounds rich and filled with intent.  As the song progresses, some doubts creep in: whether (the subject) is trying their hardest; truly alright.  Letting her voice hit (crystalline highs) and soar upwards, you get a real sense of imagery and story: imagining someone lacking that extra self-confidence; demure and reserved somewhat.  Letting Dorman’s voice shine, the band provides ample support: the performance is consistently tight and strong.  Never encroaching into the mix, the boys ensure they drive the song forward (the percussion is particular noteworthy and punchy) – there is a clear bond and understanding (between the players).  Enraptured in her own tale, Dorman’s voice shine beautifully: switching between delicate swoon and belting highs; natural and genuine with each gear change.  When speaking of intentions- saying one thing yet doing another- there is a real longing in the vocal (as though Dorman has had her heart broken; been let down by someone).  Making sure notes and lines (stick in the mind) the track- and chorus especially- is a catchy and swaying affair- mixing U.S. Country sunshine with British Rock granite.  That summer-cum-rain juxtaposition blends superbly: at one moment you are smiling widely; the next rooting for our heroine.  The track has a great sense of rhythm, movement and dynamic: going down to a soften kiss; building up to a fevered chant.  Towards the latter stages, Dorman keeps her focus clear: that chorus is re-injected and repeated- its messages designed to resonate and affect.  As the band whip up the decibels (for one last round) you find yourself longing (to repeat the song) – it has a sense of brevity and tease (in spite of it being nearly 4 minutes long).  Closest in tone (to songs like Rent This Space) Dorman sounds comfortable and assured when powering and soaring- expanding on the promise of her previous E.P.  Take Control has oomph and panache; that killer touch and sweet touch- topped off with a tight-knit (band performance) and stunning lead vocal.  Keep the language and lyrics direct and simple (yet complete with originality, depth and wisdom), Dorman is a wise head on young shoulders: someone who knows how to win a smile with as few words as possible.  The song’s music video will be released soon: a great opportunity to see Dorman in the flesh; what images and scenes are conjured- from the evidence here; it will be arresting watch!

Words sourced from review of Take Control (Live Version):

https://musicmusingsandsuch.wordpress.com/2015/03/20/track-reviews-hannah-dorman-take-controlsave-the-day/

Take Control is released on October 16th.

 

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