Fake Club: ‘Do What You Gotta Do’- Song Review

‘Do What You Gotta Do’-

 

9.6/10

 

Five-piece female band are hard to categorise, and impossible to ignore.

 

 

Availability: http://www.facebook.com/#!/fakeclubband/app_178091127385

___________________________________________________________________________

 

It will take the wind out of you, and make you want to not catch your breath…

 

not so much my assimilation, but a less than verdant paraphrasing of Art Wednesday’s judgement call. They go on to describe their song, ‘Over and Over’, as a mythological “Doc Martin stomping bitch-slap right in the gob”. It is a vivid and augmented reality of the experience one received from listening to Fake Club. No hyperbolic ‘angst’ or pseudo-rebellion; the five-piece group are a genuine article. Albeit it, one with tears in their tights and blood in their hair. That track, is filled with the band’s clench-fisted auteur; sound clips and distortion, mingling with collegiate passion and jittery assassination. The riff that baptises the song in a lake of fire, is staunch and invigorating. It is reminiscent of Arctic Monkeys, circa their debut; fresh and street-smart. When the vocal swings into action, it is all guns blazing. There is a little distortion, giving the tones and edges nods to the likes of Alison Mosshart, during her Dead Weather days. The guitar is barbaric and domineering; it wills you to stick your head in its jaws; and makes you tremble with fear and excitement as it crawls away. The percussion is staccato and pummeling; I could imagine the likes of Dave Grohl and Gary Powell exchanging fervent glances of jealousy. It is a stampede of a track, but not simply one of bluster and effect. The words, vocals and overall mood of the track is enforced to educate, enunciate and seduce as well as slap you. The track is quite chorus-lead. In the sense that the words ‘over and over’ are mixed with ‘under’ to create clever lyrical twists and catchy, chant-able snippets. There is no chorus-verse-chorus. The title and chorus is queen, and the sound chaperoning, is its abiding king. What you take away from that song, is a huge respect for the originality and zeal of the group; who also manage to integrate and incorporate elements of ’70s punk, creating a resultant head rush. I shall talk about the new single anon; a little more about the girls in the band…

 

Fake Club, are, consequently, Aicha, Chloe, Carmen, Rosie and Vicky– a London-based quintet. Perhaps sardonically done, or intended to be ironic or understated, the girls have ascribed themselves “Spice Girls with instruments”. It may be a fey piss-take or insouciant rebellion. The girls are a five piece likes the girls of spice. They are each undeniably gorgeous and heart-breaking; they have distinct and varied personalities, and are a close-knit band. The label is not altogether flippant. They have the potential and star power to be hugely popular and inspiration to a wide demographic; not just the premiated teenage market. They are not management tools or prefabricated characters; they are intuitive and headstrong, and intend to make a mark and exorcise message of encouragement, inspiration and meaning. In a sense they are a more mature, 21st century equivalency of The Spice Girls. Less concerned with the business of ‘fun’ and ‘catchy’, with all its ephemera; they have politics, passion and stacked heels. They admit themselves that they want to- some one imagine literally- kick against the odorous sub-culture of ‘fame’, ‘celebrity’ and all the assorted talent contests, prurient tail-chasing and noxious glossy magazine covers. They share ideologies with the punk pioneers, and in a sense they sound something quite brand-leading. The prevailing ideology amongst female solo artists and groups, has been towards a soul/pop leaning, with perhaps a hint of rock to its demeanour. To my mind there are seldom few, especially all-female, groups that can convey such a raw and authentic edge of punk, blues rock, metal and everything else you care to mention. Having looked at a rather fully-fledged and comprehensive article by The Guardian, I discovered that Fake Club are in the process or recording and finishing a debut album. That will be present, shortly, and will contain an intriguing and inscrutable mixture of sounds, attitudes and messages. Now, then; to the business at hand!

 

It is not with a bang or trumpeting nor punk thrash that begins ‘Do What You Gotta Do’. Instead it is studio chatter and ad lib. It is a little like Let It Be, only less tumultuous. One of the band are remarked to say: “Okay…when should I go?”, before a close-mic order of: “We’re rolling, whenever you’re ready” orders the music to begin. A subterfuge of a scream is let rip before an almighty riff beacons from the heavens. It is a swampy, staggering, wounded Joker, hunting for Batman on the streets of Gotham City. The street is on fire and the good people run, nullified by a denigrated cannonball of an intro. There are shades of Jack White; I’m thinking the White Stripes debut, and later The Dead Weather. It is moody and a real blues stomp. In, what will become a repeated requisite during this review, Queens of the Stone Age linger in the mix too. Also Superunknown-era Soundgarden crackle with furious intent. Seeing as some of those bands contain the greatest and most innovative guitars of the last 10 years, it is a remarkable feat. After the spoken word beginning, the fierce introduction shocks ever harder and the band display a keen and mature understanding of the importance of psycho-acoustics. If you hook the listener in before a word is sung, you are on to a winner. The drumbeat is fastidious and primal and ballasts the guitar beautifully as a metal toe-capped manifesto is pinned to the door of the Church of Celebrity, written in Dejavu Sans Condensed blood spatter. As the vocal cuts in, the overall sound fuses ’90s grunge and metal, together with Suzi Quatro ’70s glam; shifting and conflagrating the two in a wild tryst of sound. The lyrics: “I’ll tell you a secret/I’m afraid of lightning/put it in the shoebox” are quite dadaesque in its philosophyy, but perhaps is the beginning of the Fake Club’s modernisation of Parable of the Sower. I especially like the howling bursts of guitar played lower in the mix, punctuating the lines in the verses. It gives a great blues rock touch, and adds atmosphere and firepower too. The lyrics ride the line between Mosshart’s tenure during ‘Weather’s ‘Sea of Cowards’: all fuzzy drawl and cigarette store conversation. There is a fraction of Quatro, as well as rough-edged Patti Smith and Brody Dalle, and a more utilitarian Joan Jett. Just before the 1:00 mark there is a wordless vocal call and the mood becomes less aggressive as the chorus arrives. The title is repeated, delineated like a motivational mantra amidst chaos. It is catchy and grunge-tinged all at once. It is the sort of line the likes of Eddie Vedder, Chris Cornell or Kurt Cobain would utilise. However, Fake Club give it a slight pop edge, an air of accessibility. Almost to counterbalance the fight club of fused electrics that have assaulted your brain; the chorus sweeps in to invade your heart. It has an everyman appeal, and a simple message for a modern age: “Living isn’t easy/When you’re growing up/In the town”. There is a distorted whoops and an insidious chuckle as we are back to the harder sound. Against the ghosts of White, Mosshart and Quatro stand at the doorway as a more Gothic tableaux is unveiled. One that talks of graveyards, floral theft, moonlit rebellion, where out heroine explains she “put kisses on (your) forehead“. The chorus comes back up, and the displaced elation of ’90s grunge and modern pop combine gloriously. Where as the song’s initial stages reassembled a killer stalking her victim in the shadows, the closing stages are more jubilant and crowd-pleasing. The lyrics are given a less anxious feel to them and the sisters-in-arms spirit of The Spice Girls is influential.

 

I have gone into so much detail, as I was blown away by the band. They have the stunning looks what you would expect from a ‘girl band’, but are more mature and sexier and have brains and guts to their aesthetic; they are not plastic fake-ness and vapid-mind ambitions. They are strong, independent women, making incredible music. It is rare to hear an entirely female band making such authentic blues rock/metal sound, whilst able to infuse it with a populist edge that will appeal to the masses and underground, alike. The guitar work is inspired and enthralling from start to end. There is a lunging, staggering grunge punch to it. You can almost smell the rain of Seattle percolate lustfully. During the intro as well as towards the chorus there is an essence of stoner rock and metal. Blues rock is a common thread and the sound of Detroit and Mississippi join the party. There are a lot of modern influences too, and the guitar has a new and urgent aura to it. The bass and drums are superb, and help propel, levy and emphasise the lyrics wonderfully. Special kudos must be given towards the vocals. Although there are clear influences from The Kills, The White Stripes as well as glam and punk, again there is a uniqueness to them. They are intent and stick in your head a long time after the song has ended. The band are incredible tight and studied, and create a motivational monster of a song. I can’t think of any negatives, but it will be intriguing to see if any softer tones are present when the album is released, as I believe Fake Club have a vast array to their arsenal and can span genres and moods effortlessly with authenticity.

 

Get into the club, as it were, and hear everything they have recorded. It attests to a challenging and restless group of young woman, who could quite easily top charts and rule BBC 6 Music, XFM and Aboslute Radio’s play-lists for months on end. I loved the track and was not expecting such a feast for the ears and minds. If you are looking for something fresh and bombastic with a modern message of relevance and incredible reverence…

 

… Check out this wonderful single.

 

__________________________________________________________________________________

 

Official site:

http://fakeclubband.tumblr.com/

Facebook:

http://www.facebook.com/fakeclubband

Twitter:

https://twitter.com/fakeclubband

YouTube:

http://www.youtube.com/fakeclubband

Guardian:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2012/nov/13/new-band-fake-club

Google:+

https://plus.google.com/117766536300221820254#117766536300221820254/posts

Art Wednesday:

http://artwednesday.com/2013/02/12/fake-club-over-and-over/

 

 

 

 

 

 

Katsuo (remixed by Night Wolf): ‘Stereo Jesus’-

‘Stereo Jesus’-

 

Song Review

 

9.5/10

 

The Dynamic Duo join forces, and create an audio smash that lives up to its title.

 

Availability: Track will be available from 1st April.

___________________________________________________________________________

 

It’s the combination of wolf and masculinity that defines this remix…

 

because a lot of remixes add nothing to the original. There are a whole host of DJs and producers that will take an existing song- some good, some dreadful; and really not improve upon it. It is a waste of time and effort and rather than emit seminal flow of awfulness, you need to make it better; add something new. There are some worthy trysts of artist and collaborator. Whilst searching Google, I hit upon a remix of ‘Paradise’, reconfigured as a dub-step monster. What was once a listless wandering tramp of a song, with no real USP or destination, was at once put in a suit, shaven and is a borderline-paragon of innovation. It takes a bold astuteness to tackle a song and make it sound new and engaging.

 

Katsuo and Night Wolf are fairly disparate in context; the former is a rock step maverick, fronted by Alex Larkman. The latter is multi-faceted artist, displaying feathers of dub-step, classic and political spoken word to his plumage. It’s chairman, Ryan Wilcox has shown a great diversity in his music and producing, and have been impressed by his alma mater’s output as of late. Together, they appeal to a wide array of music lovers. I am usually entrenched in indie, rock and stoner rock and as of recently, hadn’t broadened my pallet to include the pairs respective genres. It is at the intersection of their audio venn diagram where the remix flourishes. It is guaranteed to thrill the old faithful, as well as pull in the po-faced, and undecided voters, alike. I was wondering whether this wonderful one-night stand would birth an apoplectic progeny; a guaranteed long-term romance, or a metaphysical testosterone brew of sweat, blood, tears; or simply a bloody good track.

 

There is immediate validation from the remix. Before you can compose your thoughts and get comfortably seated there is a sledgehammer execration. The electric guitar sound shreds and kicks, and is a bucket of acid to the face. The vocal is quite high up in the mix, which is prudent, as it gives a chance for the lyrics to profiteer. Katsuo is up at the mic., fully intent on telling you what’s what: “I could be a rock star/Or just your mate/Take away the mic./And I’m not so great”, is the intriguing lead-off. I have heard the lyrics before, but notice, that given comparative isolation, the lines have an added piquancy to them. There is much more of a sting in the tale; somewhat of a rap/hip hop spit to it. That instant combination of guitar catapult and vocal sucks you straight in. That guitar is played to great effect; punctuating and teeing-up the vocal, and creating its own cacophonous brew in the background. straddling the first two vocal segments is a cocksure, almost rebellious laugh. As the chorus comes in, the mood is slightly lighter; not timid or overly-‘radio friendly’, but calmer and studied. There is an effective and stern drumbeat that italisises the mood. The chorus is given considerate tenderness. In the original it was catchy and had a euphoric spirit to it, and lynch-pined the song. It was a strong track from start to finish but it is the chorus that sticks in your head. Now there is a competing meritocracy within the space of 30 seconds or so. Sounds, ideas and moods campaign for your approval. There is a guitar hold and the drums come to play; then the vocal comes to the forefront and when the lyrics “And when the music gets loud/And you’re out of your mind/You better get down and testify”, are sermonised, they are given additional fervor and pertinence; I gave a sly grin during the word ‘testify’- the 3rd syllable is elongated. I could imagine Alex given a similar reaction in the studio! There are great moments of varied interjection; some of the syntehsiser/electronic sounds lower in the mix reassemble the New Romantic pioneers of the ’80s; it has a romanticism to it. The drums that accompany it are pulsating but have a hollow sound to them; this way it gives the mood a tribal air and the vocal becomes less a mission statement, and more of an election promise, that they will definitely keep. The lines: “Would you put me on a pedestal/like a diety” are given particular reverence. The song retains a lot of its original influence: Skrillex, Example, Chase and Status, but new sonic influences come to the fore. There is a harder rock sound, maybe reminiscent of early-Muse. When the lines: “And when the music is loud/And you’re out of your mind/you better get down and testify” are delivered and we float down to land, the experience ends.

 

Overall it is a triumphant result. The two display an entrepreneurial spirit and dispel any antiquated notions or cliches, of what a remix should sound like. Katsuo has recently completed a remix for Chess, and tackled one of the songs from her debut E.P. It will be fascinating to see what comes from that. In the same way that acts such as The Avalanches can take sounds and songs and create a light and fascinating mood, Night Wolf’s Ryan Wilcox has achieved this. Similarly, artists like Moby who can weld older sounds and voices and make it sound retro and alive is another influence I would point to. The mood shifts effortlessly between dream-like trance, dark streetlights and danger, through to hardcore rock step. The key components of the original are kept in place. The lyrics are sharp throughout. In the chorus there is a simplicity to them, to make sure they lodge in your head. In the choruses there are messianic declarations, self-doubt, confidence and the result is a mixed causality. The vocal is confident and strong throughout. Katsuo has a more lyrical voice than a lot of his contemporaries. The music is fascinating and ever-changing. Night Wolf have come into the fray and shown respect for the author. Soundscapes and ingenious touches are added; vocals are emphasied where appropriate and far from suffering from questionable cause; the song is intensified and made that much more daring due to his input.

 

Katsuo is touring London over the next month, and has new music and intrigue afoot. Night Wolf have released E.P. ‘Watts the Time Mr. Wolf’. The two are good friends and have a mutual respect for each other’s music. This shows through on this remix. It will be interesting to see if they work together more extensively or not. I would certainly like to hear more of their collaborative innovation. It is post hoc ergo propter hoc to assimilate that this close kinship is the reason for the resultant smash. It is in part true, but is mainly due to the strength of the original. All the foundations were in place. It is Katsuo’s comrade who weaves his magic and adds shades of light and dark where needed; tampering with the mood and making it more electric and interesting, thus creating a song that sounds new in its immediacy but familiar and safe too. 2013 will be a busy and successful year for both artists, and, truly…

 

… it will be fascinating to see what moves they make next.

 

__________________________________________________________________________________

 

Katsuo:

 

Tour dates:

 

March 21st:

Dear or Alive @ The Buffalo Bar, London

April 9th:

The Dublin Castle, London

April 30th:

The Good Ship, London

 

Official site:

http://www.theycallmekatsuo.com/

Twitter:

https://twitter.com/callmekatsuo

Facebook:

http://www.facebook.com/#!/theycallmekatsuo

YouTube:

http://www.youtube.com/user/theycallmekatsuo

 

 

Night Wolf:

 

Check out Night Wolf’s E.P. via:

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/watts-the-time-mr-wolf-ep/id607001115

 

SoundCloud:

http://soundcloud.com/nightwolfuk

Twitter:

https://twitter.com/ryanwilcox6

YouTube:

http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCdicASr89xZUiCQdNF-eEiQ

PureVolume:

http://www.purevolume.com/nightwolfhome

ReverbNation:

http://www.reverbnation.com/nightwolfuk

 

 

 

 

The Shakeouts: ‘Straight Edge’ – Track Review

 

The Shakeouts- ‘Straight Edge’- Track Review. 

 

8.7/10.

 

 

An Australian band in their infancy, are displaying a fierce, rebellious maturity.

 

 

Availability: ‘Straight Edge’ is available at http://soundcloud.com/theshakeouts

___________________________________________________________________________

 

This is just one selection from about half a dozen available on SoundCloud

 

which is probably the most relevant website showcasing their unique sound. They have featured in the press of their native land, Australia. They themselves have colourfully described themselves as an ‘eight-tentacled surf punk’ of a curiosity; backed by an octopus woman, death demon, and puffer fish. It sounds like a nightmarish mix of David Lynch and Home and Away. At the moment, they are campaigning to win a slot at a prestigious festival in Brisbane, and currently have 163 ‘likes’ on Facebook. In the developmental lifespan of their aquatic crossbreed, there are at the larvae stage. Don’t be fooled by thinking that ‘new’ is a synonym for unfocused or half-baked. It is true that there is but a mere smattering of songs available via the Internet, but they have a tireless blue-collar campaign spirit; a 21st century Manifest Destiny to their ambition, sound and combustible firepower.

 

When one thinks of the music of Australia, once you get the impression of didgeridoos, Rolf Harris and surf scenes, complete with long-maned guitar strummers exculpating their prurient end-game. There is no Summer Bay or Ramsey Street middle-of-the-road indie and over-emotive balladeering; nor any novelty or indigenous noise making. Whether it is the British influence (back in a time where the British had colonised the country) that enforces the sound of The Shakeouts, or whether they are inspired by equivocal U.S. acts is an enigma I’d love to unravel. If you dip back into the catalogue of their native output over the last 40 years, a large swathe of worldwide mega talent has emerged from the wizards of Oz. INXS, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Kyle Minogue, Silverchair, Crowded House, Midnight Oil, The Avalanches, AC/DC, and most epically of all; wife-collecting, body oil salesman and nightclub opener extraordinaire Peter Andre. Although he lives 5 miles from me, so Australia got lucky on that one!

 

Upon being greeted with The Shakeouts’ back catalogue I notice they have a glorious knack for titles. ‘Octopus Woman’, ‘Night Surfer’, and most memorable of the lot, ‘Surfing with the Death Demon’ spring to mind. I was tempted to review them as well to see if the music could live up to the slightly Baroque titles. The track ‘Straight Edge’ begins like a harder edged interpretation of the intro. to The Cure’s ‘Close To Me’. It is an intriguing smoke signal, that beckons you closer, unaware of the hording nautical army, waiting over the precipice. There is a slight indentation of The Doors, circa ‘Riders on the Storm’, albeit a looser, less tempered version of it. The drumbeat, cymbal and build up is reminiscent of some of the modern British rock crop, such as Kasabian and Cold War Kids. As the sea bubbles and froths, from a ’60s rock vibe to a beast of bouncy candour, the vocal enters the mix. It has a punk edge to it, chained and subservient to begin with as the opening line, “I love the way that you smile”, is proclaimed; the ‘smile’ elongated, with a pleasing familiarity to its diction and enunciation. Just when you think we are heading off to a punk thoroughfare, all broken windows, cigarette ash and piercings in the most inaccessible nether regions, the tone shifts again. Electric guitar comes in to supplement the solid bass-line. It is scuzzy, blues-indebted, corpulent and distorted. Put in your mind ‘Black Math’ from The White Stripes’ ‘Elephant’ and you get a sense of the lo-tech awesomeness that is about to be unleashed. The guitar is altogether funkier and- in a White Stripes analogy- has flavour notes of an introverted ‘Hand Springs’. It punches and pounds at the senses, and is an instantly likeable and memorable hook. It is guaranteed to pitch stool on your tongue for the foreseeable future and announce itself at the most embarrassingly inconvenient times. There are tones of the ’60s hit ‘Money’, as performed by The Beatles, as if they had been given full access to an electronic arsenal of grunt and innovation. In just over a minute, the band have introduced the players, presented a number of different twists and turns, and unfurled a cocoon of barbed wire, before standing their singer up to survey the wreckage. She has a pleasing individuality to her voice. There are influences of Joe Strummer and The Kills, but with fewer rough edges, and an overall more soothing tone. She has a raw authentic blues edge to her sound and has a great range as well. As the song progressing, there is a brief injunction; a fuse of The Lizzards’ ‘Money That’s What I Want’ and The Clash’s ‘Should I Stay or Should I Go’. It is a great testament to the band that they produce such a fresh sound. Sure there are hints of this and that to the trained ear, but everything here is new and alive. It does not wistfully long for days and bands past. It has a clear white testament and is begging for your attention. The infectious riff is riden for maximum affect, defying you not to dance and fist-pump along with it. The vocal comes back in and a real vivid sense of anarchic storytelling comes to play: “If I hit the bottle every night every day/You would get up and leave/You would not stay“, starts us off before she explains that she would “go straight edge for you”. Nota bene, the title refers to a song of the same name, by 1980s band Minor Threat. In that track, Ian MacKaye’s explains his straight edge philosophy. He had better things than to hang out with dead-heads and wasters. It was revolutionary, as it emerged from the dungeon of hardcore punk hedonism and excess of the time, and propagated the abstinence of alcohol, tobacco, promiscuous sex and drug use; extending as far to promote a vegan diet. In the case of our Australian friends, the heroine of the song is saying she would commit to a clean life and give all of her bad habits and proclivities up, if it meant a stable relationship. It is a clever allusion to a tangible past, and quite a radical and underused sentiment during the ‘oos. Our heroine goes on to implore that “all she wants is you and me“. Around the 2:20 marker, there is a great moment of free-form solo work. It wails, contorts and belches black smoke, staggering locomotive and tattooed. The volume is turned down, and the awaiting army is seen in the distance. The lyrics tell of how sobriety and stability are better than pills, booze and chaos. Just then the guitar and drums pick up and gain more momentum. In a way it is like ‘Zorba The Greek’ in its pattern and sound. You can imagine a taverna filled with rambunctious revellers, plates smashing all over the place, arms flailing and legs kicking in a wild dervish of revelry. It goes a bit ‘The White Stripes’/’White Blood Cells’, a little ‘The Stooges’, and begs you defy it. And like that it is done. It is over 3:30 minutes, but damn it, I wanted more!

 

There is much to recommend about the track. It blends punk, blues and rock together brilliantly. The central riff is memorable and a striking thing. Sort of sounds like Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and ‘Rush Hour Soul’ slowed and given knuckle dusters. I love the guitar work throughout and is effective and gives the song a necessary swing and bite. The entire band are brilliant, and each player simultaneously create a fresh live sound, and a studied studio feel to things. The vocal is strong and raw where it needs to be, composed and subtle at other times. It is fantastic that there are so many different shifts and sounds within one song, and the track is tight and muscular.

 

If I had to point at suggestions, maybe giving it a crisp edge would help bring out the overall effect. If it were put back into the studio and cleaned up slightly, it would not take anything away from its hard edge and guts. The song itself is brilliant; it’s just a track I would love to see on an E.P. very soon. I want it louder, crisper, perhaps with the drums given more prominence, and the vocals brought higher into the mix. The vocal is strong but would like to hear a bit more force and volume to emphasise the lyrics. There are not many great hard rock/punk female singers on the scene at the moment, and The Shakeouts have one. I would like to hear that highlighted. Maybe double-track some of the chorus, have backing vocals, and to assimilate itself with the catchy riff, possibly giving some of the vocals echo or re-verb, would add intensity and sexiness, whilst staying true to the lyrics. The lyrics themselves are great, and I was impressed by the theme and context of the song. Contained within are noble sentiments, home truths and inspirational messages, if you are willing to look for them.

 

And you should look. You should check out the remainder of their tracks too, and try to liberate their unique and refreshing sound to a wider sphere. There are plenty of people in the U.K., U.S. and Europe who would take to the band passionately, and there is plenty of room for them. It is with support and fan patronage that they will accomplish this. I will safely and confidentally rubber stamp this track with my fondest approval. They are at an early stage and the band admit themselves that the songs they have, including this one, were written a few months ago, and are pretty raw. But that is the sound they are going for. With a bit of studio polish (but not too much), and a legion of fans ready to snap up their music, The Shakeouts will be huge. Take the band into your hearts, and seek them out…

 

… before Peter Andre covers one of their tracks.

 

__________________________________________________________________________________

 

Facebook:

http://www.facebook.com/TheShakeouts

Last FM:

http://www.last.fm/music/The+Shakeouts

SoundCloud:

http://soundcloud.com/theshakeouts

 

 

 

 

 

 

Little Violet- Track Reviews

‘Don’t Stop’

&

‘Shut Up’

 

 

9.7/10 & 9.5/10

 

 

Electro swing queen delivers knockout blows, on this superb, defiant double-A side.

 

 

Availability: Tracks available now via https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/shut-up/id576530246?i=576530835

___________________________________________________________________________

 

If you like your music edgy, exciting and shapeshifting; then you need to hear…

 

Little VioletShe came to my attention fairly recently, via online music website, The Girls Are. They are the unequivocal brand-leaders for promoting great female talent in the music industry, and I also was made aware of fellow allumnae Nadine Shah, and her single ‘Dreary Town’. I was blown away by that song;s unabated consistency and its ethereal langurouness. I was surprised I had not heard about Shah before, and it was with a similar awe, that precipitated my discovery of Little Violet.  The act, consists of male backing; dapperly dressed multi-talented musical wing-men, reminiscent of the sort of musicians who would accompany Ella Fitzgerald or a swing idol of the ’40s. They have a similar intellectual integrity.  In the spotlight, providing the voice is a young Northern lady with a hell of a curious aesthete. She has an undeniably remarkable beauty. Jaw-dropping yet with a vulnerability or shyness about her, she has a Siren’s allure. Unlike her equivocal beauty paragon, Cheryl Cole, Little Violet is a very different kettle of fish. From reading interviews and watching video clips, she is much more accessible. She told The Girls Are that she can be shy and sensitive, and she speaks with a smile; banters and jokes, unafflicted by the need to pander to anyone’s expectations. She adores music and expressing herself through this medium. She is incredibly cerebral and immensely likeable. She explains that she hails from a family with a musical background. Her childhood home was awash with sounds of the greats such as Sinatra; but there was a great range of genres heard emanating from the homestead, from doo-wop, to glam rock, and almost everything between and beyond. It is with a fervent admiration of the authentic jazz swing age, that Little Violet tries to reflect in their songs. There is a tangible sense of authenticity ensconced within the tracks. It is above everything, fun, lively and unexpected.

 

The first thing I would mention about the song ‘Don’t Stop’ is the video. It has quite an authentic mise en scène, with our heroine, battling against the tide, trying to catch her man’s attention. He is more concerned with an advert for burlesque dancers and sets off to catch the show, unaware that his wife has similar lasciviousness intent. It is a comical and fun video, and ‘fun’ is an adjective that best sums up the mood of the song. As soon as the scat introduction trumpets forth, your mind is immediately transported to the swing jazz age, and your toes tap and you want to get up to dance. The vocal is passionate and strong, and lyrics like: “Take control of what you’re worth” emit a steadfast refusal to be subjugated; with “Take it easy/just one step at a time”, imploring some ambition restraint. The theme of the song concerns not being content to stand still and taking the step to break the mould. “Keep on moving/Don’t stop” is the motivational mantra of the track. Special kudos goes to the band, who genuinely emit an appreciation and understanding of the jazz and swing greats, and yet add a retro, updated sparkle and kick to the sound, fusing a little bit of modern jazz to its supreme bodywork. The sound is tight and mesmeric throughout, and does what any great song should do: not only want to make you smile and dance, but dive into the jazz swing annals, and hear the original purveyors as well. On a positive note, the vocal as well has pleasing shades of Fitzgerald, Peggy Lee, as well as a little touch of Paloma Faith. In a way too, one can cross reference Little Violet with Caro Emerald. She too has a great talent and passion for a bygone, better age, but is similarly capable of modernizing the sound and making its appeal devoid of boundaries and labelling. It is such a fresh and lively drag, and blows a multitude of mental cobwebs away as you listen. It has no hidden agenda or skeletons in its closet. It wants you to jive, dance and get happy; employing a demonstrative edge to it. It grabs you by the hand and implores you to become involved. Reinterpreting the vocal again, I was impressed by the skilled improvisation throughout: there is sexy, pouting scatting, cohabiting with elongated notes, syncopated delivery and a sense of adventure. The heart and soul of the vocal, mind, is authenticity. Whilst it pays homage to its idols, it has an electioneering spirit and proves what an exceptional voice is on display. It is sweet, zesty, bonhomous, and bloody sexy, as well. There is an austerity to the cocktail as well (Remember how you made it here/A game of truth or dare), advising you to “keep your eye on the prize”. Although the path to Greenwich Mean Time has been fractious and risk-laden, as you are where you are now, take it easy, be true to yourself and you’ll be fine. It is a simple and inspirational mandate, and one that has a personal relocatability, and universal in its efficacy. One suspects that there is a personal relevance to the lyrics for Little Violet’s front-woman, who you can tell, loves telling this story and suspect that if she weren’t, her life would be listless by comparison. The trumpets percolate, the mood is indigo, and the words“If you can find that leap of faith/Then let the games begin” whisper in your ear. Before you can allow yourself to become seduced the chorus beats back in, rides the waves and keeps the Cheshire Cat grin where it should be. Back in the video, our protagonist- at once Grecian and Amazonian in equal measures, is back in the kitchen of their home, and rebuffs her houndog husband, before coyly turning and flashes a huge, alluring grin. It is a great metaphor for the song itself, and completes an exhilarating listen. But I have rambled too long, I will sum-up later.

 

Okay, then; next up is the flip of the double-A side. It is a more flagellatory animal. The sequin-adorned chanteuse Jekyl has, by the moon’s pearly light, transformed into a leather clad vixenous Hyde, in a missed heartbeat. Thematically, of course. From a cursory viewing of the video to ‘Shut Up’, the sequins and sparkle are in fashion, but where as before there was a sense of open palms, here the claws are out. The song slithers confidently forth, with the words: “He finds it easy to critise”, its in utero mindset, the babe born forth has a pugnacious cry. Its father was a no-good; not appreciating what was right in front of him; in his lover’s own words: “You’re too late/And you finished last”. The chorus wears its sleeve on its heart. The man has blown it, and his friends, and former paramour does not want to hear any excuses; all she wants to hear is “ssshhhhh!”. If I can break from the cautionary-tale and speak of the track’s D.N.A. Firstly it is quite a juxtaposition of ‘Don’t Stop’. Instantly the band have shown that there is more than fun and dance to their demurrage. The sound is slowed down, and smoother, allowing the vocals and lyrics to resonate appropriately. The band are tight and stunning throughout. As the chorus fades I can hear echos of Miles Davis’s ‘Kind of Blue’ (particularly the track ‘Blue in Green’). The band turn Lyrebird in their range of sounds. Davis can be seen, also shades of ‘Life in a Glasshouse’ by Radiohead can be detected; a little of Glenn Miller’s ‘In The Mood’; a smidge of Fletcher Henderson and Cab Calloway show up in the blood count. The band do not try to parody or replicate them. The sounds, spirits and perfumes are poured together and stirred to give a heady blend. It updates the genres and revitalizes them for the ’00s. The vocal does not suffocate or feel forced. At its most demure, it evocates Carmen McRae and modern singers such as Adele. When the tempo rises, Amy Winehouse, Sarah Vaughan and Nelly Furtado. It is a smoky and gutsy performance and has incredible soul and veracity to it. Our single lady talks about how (her former beau), had “a temper, which could break a heart”; who’d: “babble at you/Make you want to scream”. The chorus is deployed effectively between the heartbreak tableau vivants; the entire track is a bloodstained parable telling the story of a woman who is less Moll Flanders and more gangster’s moll. In the video, the heroine is fed up and looking for vengeance. She looks undeniably resplendent as she head into a smoky alleyway, as the disgraced hero drops his cigarette, and subsequently, drops to the floor, as she walks away.

 

My earliest musical memory was around about aged 6. I had a red co-kart my late grandfather built. Myself and a couple of my friends would speed along with racing pretensions listening to a red cassette player. If it wasn’t T-Rex being played it was an old compilation called; ‘Jive Bunny and the Mastermixers: The Album’. It was a novelty act that would fuse swing and jive classics from the likes of Glenn Miller and Chubby Checker. I loved it and was fascinated by the sounds and fell in love with swing and jazz before any other form of music. For a number of reasons, the music has a personal relatability. I love the snatches and snapshots of sounds and moods the band collate to produce a visceral and chemical reaction amongst the listener. For a genre of music that was once roaring, it is somewhat of an underground niche. There is no need for a reappropriation; more of as revilalisation, and Little Violet are going to make big strides to achives this. The mix of brass, drum, upright bass and piano, delivers authenticism and a passionate love letter to the past swing and jazz era. The combination of band and singer works wonderfully. No one is too high in the mix; each are given equal weight to tell their tale, and both tracks are diverse and brilliantly impressive. The music is positively Newtonian. The band want you to be inspired and to smile and to get as much pleasure out, as they put in. They can close caption a relatable malaise in ‘Shut Up’, a track, one suspects will resonate more strongly with a female audience. In ‘Don’t Stop’ acts as a premiate; it gives you self-belief and implores you to get up and be inspired. I would advise you to listen to the tracks with the videos as well, as the films are brilliant shot, projecting a very noir feel to them. They are miniature tapestries and tell the stories perfectly. Although both tracks have been available since November of last year, there is new music afoot; and I for one, cannot wait. I have been so depressed and uninspired by a lot of new music and hunted for something fresh and invigorating to sleep soundly in my brain. I have found it, and has inspired me to write and experiment with my own music.

 

Little Violet deserves huge success and plaudits. She gives a great appraisal and recognition to her cohorts and comes across as thoroughly cultured and intelligent and thoroughly likeable. She is fun and upbeat and, whilst following her Twitter and Facebook feeds she is good to her fans, and has an accessibility and savviness to her. Complete with a maturity and worldliness that belies her 20-something years, she is someone who understands the importance of saluting her musical heroes, whilst updating their sound; in order to allow for cross-border popularity; thus drawing in new listeners and not betraying the roots of the core sound. Combine this with a voice that can melt hearts and inspire minds, and a beauty that is genuinely staggering, success and popularity will not be hard to achieve. Not to gush, but the songs I have heard today, are amongst some of the best tracks I have heard this year. Little Violet explains that she has a constant stream of lyrics and melodies building towers and planting seeds inj every corner. She explains that the only way to block these out and get to sleep is, curiously, by using the sound of a hairdryer to create a white noise affect. This is something I can sympathise with. I have been writing lyrics for 15 years and still not peaked. I find myself drifting off with a couplet in my head, and have envelopes filled with vaguely decipherable lines of various songs on them. My main passion is vocals and often have various vocal lines and key changes struggling to get out. I have not perfected a method to stop me seeming like a madman and singing to myself all day. I will have to try a hoover or hairdryer! In the meantime, I am going to fall in love with YouTube all over again and revisit my passion for blues, swing, jazz and the all-time greats. Little Violet is the flag-bearers of a new wave of exciting and inspiring music. Listen to their songs now, and wait with baited breathe, because…

 

 

… something truly special awaits.

 

 

Key Track: ‘Don’t Stop’.

__________________________________________________________________________________

 

Official site:

http://www.littleviolet.co.uk/

YouTube:

http://www.youtube.com/user/cuckoorecords?feature=watch

Facebook:

http://www.facebook.com/littlevioletmusic

Twitter:

https://twitter.com/_Littleviolet

iTunes:

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/shut-up/id576530246?i=576530835

The Girls Are:

http://www.thegirlsare.com/2012/11/08/introducing-little-violet/

SoundCloud:

http://soundcloud.com/little_violet

 

 

 

 

Olivia Sebastianelli- Track Reviews

Rose of Stone/Despite The Day/Sunset.

 

 

 

9.5/10, 9.5/10 & 9.5/10

 

A woman with guts, brains and a rebellious distain for BRIT School posers. I’m a fan already.

 

 

Release date: Tracks available via: http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2013/mar/06/new-band-olivia-sebastianelli

___________________________________________________________________________

 

With a beguiling allure, a steadfast work ethic, and a terrific ear for quality, Olivia is sure to rule your head and heart…

 

and kick you in the nuts whilst she’s at it. Olivia Sebastianelli, as you can probably detect from her name, has Italian roots (her dad is Italian). She has quite a curious family. Her mother is an English businesswoman, whilst her Italian dad is tattooed and is a hotrod enthusiast. She is not your usual girl-with-a-guitar, and loves grunge, and the harder edge to music, citing Chrissie Hynde and Debbie Harry as influences. She suffered isolation and bullying during her childhood and is not exactly Amy Macdonald when it comes to her vocals. She has a more haunting tone, and a real conviction to her work. A lot of her storytelling is informed by loss, guilt, revenge and sadness, and has an incredible maturity to her work and attitude. She hates the BRIT School graduates and talent show rejects. The world does not need another Ed Sheeran– someone with no teeth, who is all image and no substance; Sebastianelli has a lot more backbone, talent and wonder to her, and I can fully understand why she hates shallow, fame-obsessed sub-breed; I do too. Music will be rooting for her. Olivia is a child of a past time, and confessed to being opposed to iPods and loves vinyl. In a way she has similarities with the old blues legends and protest singers. She has endured tremendous hardship and internalisation and wants your heart to bleed when listening to her songs, as one suspects her heart bled when writing and singing them. She has a diversely ambitious business plan. She wants to travel the world and reach as many people as possible. But in her soul she would be delighted if even one of her songs changes one person’s view on life or made a difference.

 

Olivia is a big fan of Elvis Costello. Her favourite song is ‘Alison’, and I was curious as to whether there would be an Costello music on the tracks I was about to listen to. I was in for a lot of nice surprise. She has an album in the works, to be named ‘Pebbles’. The title, she explains, refers to the fact that, like snowflakes, no two are alike, and that is what she attests her songs will reflect. There will be range and diversity, and will play like a storybook. A lot of the current stock of solo artists release debut albums that rehash the same sound 11 times, and never really wow you. Sebastianelli will be hot property, and a genuinely inspirational artist who has a brilliant ethic and ethos, and will never to succumb to a Napolean Complex, any time soon. She is incredibly beautiful, striking and sexy; as well as being relateable and having a slight air of vulnerability to her. A lot of lazy journalists compare every male singer who can sing falsetto, to Jeff Buckley; and every woman who has an ounce of soul to her, to Amy Winehouse. The comparisons are always ludicrous and narrow-minded. Olivia’s voice and words are her own and spectacular. She can appeal to the proletariat and upper-classes; the men with tears in their eyes, and the women with maternity in theirs. She is raw, but not under-cooked; heart-stopping but life-affirming, and wants you to be moved and inspired.

 

Her single, and biggest song to date is ‘Rose of Stone’. It possesses a casual link to her childhood, and the psychological tumultuousness is reflected within. Her childhood, at times, seems to have been a curate’s egg. The video for the song, was filmed outside of the chapel at her former school, where she spent years being tormented and feeling an outcast; a miasmic influence in a sense. The inventory has been compiled and I sat to watch the video, ready to be haunted. I can only describe Olivia’s voice with great reverence. It is husky and seductive, filled with emotion and when she sings: “Take a look around/Winter’s creeping in”, it is evocative and spellbinding in its imagery. The beginning of the video is snapshots of cigarette smoky, half empty coffee cups and empty, wind-rushed rooms; meanwhile Olivia sits behind the wheel of a car, staring listlessly into the distance, explaining “you know as much as I do”. Although the song’s protagonist is a mere 19-year-old, there is a vast maturity to her voice; it is calming and has the heart of the blues in its mouth. The musical background allows for the vocals and lyrics to shine, and is kept simple; painting the black and white with colours of grey and blue. There is a hint of The Cardigans’ ‘For What It’s Worth’ to some of the vocal delivery, and a smattering of Chrissie Hynde in the vocal tone, as well as a bit of a young Beth Gibbons and maybe Bjork too. There are jazz inflections in the background, but the voice is highest in the mix, rightfully spearheading the track, with Olivia singing sweetly and tenderly about a time that was probably not too nice for her. Her lyrics are a potent allegory, and when she sings “lost among the flower blooms”, it is a bare-fisted and bare-breasted confession. The luscious musical paradigm, is evocative of smoky Hollywood streets of the ’40s. All black and white scenery; thin-lipped heroes taking another drag, whilst staring at a neon sign above a disreputable gin joint. Olivia gives the impression of being forgotten about and there is a great sense of lost, and a lost childhood. The video lends credence to the theory, which shows her looking on mournfully and a collage of visual metaphors are displayed.

 

With a rapacious guitar strum, that is lighthearted in its insistence, has me thinking immediately of Oasis’ ‘Wonderwall’. That was unexpected! Before I could conjure images of Liam Gallagher, clad in a parka and sunglasses, hands behind his back, about to sing “Today…” a much more pleasing voice comes to play. It is reminiscent of Hynde again, and has a soothing familiarity to it. The guitar sound, as well as having dabs of Oasis to it, also has a measure of The Bends-era Radiohead and Nirvana’s ‘Polly’ to it. It differently is an intoxicating rock/grunge cocktail, and when we kick into fourth gear, a little before the 1:00 mark, Olivia’s voice becomes inflamed and strong. She is on a Harley Davidson, toothpick between her lips, her hair whipping in the wind. Around about 20 seconds later, we kick into fifth, and a slight shift that reminds me of Green Day’s ‘Boulevard of Broken Dreams’ in its cool-eyed Strum und Drang. The song also had a resonance of regretful confession and resignation and when Olivia delivers sermon fragments such as: “If the world spins/It stops to burn” and “The sky turns black/the sun is like a lead balloon”, Dante is penning another chef d’oeuvre. The lyrics are alarming in their vividness, yet one suspects metaphors for dark memories or current malaise. In that sense they have a lot in common with grunge, and especially pioneers such as Pearl Jam and Soundgarden– the latter coming most to mind. It is the sort of lyric that one would hear on ‘Superunknown’, yet one has the inkling that Sebastianelli is singing of romance, rather than clinical depression. In fact she has a bona fide sonic range of epic proportions. She can match Alison Krauss and Jessie Ware when she purrs and emotes sweetly; yet when she lets her lungs stretch she becomes a female Chris Cornell and Kurt Cobain. The lyrics are sharp and focused on the task at hand, and again display a vast maturity to them. The track is tight and memorable and despite some of its more mordant subject matter, has a peppiness to it, and manages to make you smile as well as frown. It also is demonstrative of the fact that Olivia has no intention of being labelled, boxed-in or defined by current music’s standard and critical expectation. She is the sole author of her songs as well, and means that it is purely her voice and talent on display; undiluted by an army of plastic, fatuous producers and so-called ‘songwriters’.

 

There, was to my mind, a bit of gallow’s humour on display, during ‘Sunset’s divinely gentle introduction. I suspected that there was going to be a mood shift soon enough and a harder beat would emerge. I’m delighted to say that that wasn’t to be the case. It is simply a stunningly beautiful song, and shows yet another incredible shift. Where as previously we have heard grunge, rock, Britpop, haunting balladry and jazz, now the mood is… folk? Acoustic? It is bloody gorgeous. The guitar work brings to my mind Eva Cassidy, Kings of Convenience and Fleetwood Mac, circa- ‘Rumours’ (Songbird, Dreams and Gold Dust Woman). Olivia’s voice has shades of Christine McVie and Stevie Nicks, in its combination of sexiness and seduction, and also is a near match for Cassidy, and has a similar spellbinding and ethereal, hymnal quality to it. The lyrics have a cynical and betrayed edge to them. There is wisdom and recrimination to be unearthed: “Laugh out loud/though the joke’s worn thin”; ruminative wonder: “I could freeze one moment in time”, to string-backed photographs of city life: “Urgent traffic lights/Trumpets of doom”. There is wit, mystery, and undulation in the themes and scenes conveyed, backed by a simple picked guitar arpeggio. It is a beautiful and delicate number. The music and vocals take you down to the riverside, and hold you in their arms, tenderly stroking your hair, as the sun sets.

 

Whilst her contemporaries were hard partying and wasting time, Olivia was listening to music, studying and learning. She was learning her craft and building her artillery. In many respects she is ahead of her times. There are not many female talents out there who solely write their songs, play guitar and sing, and have such a refreshing view on music and celebrity. In a sense she belongs with the legendary ’60s performers such as Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell and Nick Drake. I guess, coming from the life that she used to have; one of struggle and emotional deciduousness, she could be perceived as an outsider. It is being an outsider which forces you to be good; to be better than ‘ordinary’ people. I had very similar experiences myself, and have always been on the outside. I immersed myself in words and lyrics and have consecrated a large amount of time to my voice. Seeing what I could do with it, how far it will go and what range it can produce. I hope one day to be able to premiere it, and let it do the talking. For now, Olivia Sebastanelli is showing her peers how it is done. She is a formidable songwriter, with an admirable, adventurous edict; no one from a talent show or BRIT School could ever produce anything like this. She has taken a range of influences, included Costello, and produced something unique and exceptional. As a lyricist she is vastly intelligent and sharp, and can craft lines of poetic soulfulness, as well as dark foreboding sentiment, and pull each off with conviction. Her voice is impressively expansive capable of a delicate hush, to a full bloodied shout, and again she has shades of other singers but sounds like no one else. And from what I have learnt about her as a human being, she deserves to be enormous. She has put a great deal of herself into her music, and deserves so much from it. She adores music, and authentic genuine talent and is a strong and gorgeous woman.

 

I have only heard three songs from her, and was blown away by them. I love her attitude and personality and am genuinely excited to hear her album. In a year that promises releases from the likes of Laura Marling and The xx, Olivia can proudly stand toe to toe with them. Whatever you do…

 

… check this musician out and make yourself proud.

 

Key Track: ‘Rose of Stone’.

__________________________________________________________________________________

Official site:

http://www.oliviasebastianelli.com/

Facebook:

http://www.facebook.com/OliviaSebastianelli?filter=3

Twitter:

https://twitter.com/OliviaSeb

Myspace:

http://www.myspace.com/oliviasebastianelli

VDM Music:

http://www.vdmmusic.com/artists/olivia-sebastianelli/

MTV:

http://www.mtv.co.uk/artists/olivia-sebastianelli

YouTube:

http://www.youtube.com/user/OliviaSebastianelli?feature=watch

Night Wolf: ‘Burn The Money’- Song Review

 

‘Burn The Money’Song Review

 

9.5/10

 

A teachable moment, for a dark time; that is not made to be forgotten.

 

Availability: http://soundcloud.com/nightwolfuk/night-wolf-burn-the-money

___________________________________________________________________________

 

The Night Wolf is stalking, and hungry for prey…

 

Probably wouldn’t make much of a difference trying to run, either. I was recently impressed hugely by Ryan Wilcox’s (Night Wolf) debut E.P., ‘What’s The Time Mr. Wolf?’. I hadn’t them before reviewing, and was wondering what to expect from the outfit. Any act that purports to blend sounds effectively, whether it be rock, rap, dub-step or hip hop, a lot of times fall short of the mark. I needn’t have worried mind, as the tracks on show were varied, constantly surprising, incredible and non-colloquial; thus achieving two key outcomes: it introduced me to, and opened my mind to a different type of music, and consequently compelled me to delve into the archives of the music the songs fused. Secondly it roused me to be more daring and adventurous in my own music; not to be content with one particular style, but to experiment and see if alchemy can be achieved.

 

When the latest song arrived into my in-box, I was thinking that it would be a continuation of the E.P.’s style and mission statement. Possibly a slab of dub-step/classical/hip hop cocktail that would have you seeing double, dancing manically and drooling over a toilet bowl, before the bell for last orders had been rung. It takes literally less than one second, to realise that a different sort of wolf was lurking beneath’s the moon’s candid glow. An angrier, more politicised is baying for flesh; one with intention.

 

Night Wolf was inspired to write ‘Burn The Money’ after watching a series of videos. It was then that the idea to write a hip hop number, all be it a grittier, more diverse song. The first thing that happens in this song is the introduction of a vocal. It is not sung, however; it is spoken word. As the title may suggest, the manusia of the song is a financial figure; it is a relate-able tableaux for a modern age. The music underscoring the voice, begins life bearing dark, languid strings. It is an instant mood setter that does not dominate or even try to equal what is being said; instead lurks in the shadows. The recording itself seems to be from an American newscast or news programme; I am not sure. Instantly there is a sense of mystery about who this man is, that is prophesying imminent economic doom. He talks about interest rates on national debt will mean that, theoretically, by 2013 it could mean “total bankruptcy for the U.S. economy”. Instantly there is a immanency to proceedings. The message does not go on to bring us tidings of joy, but stays on message, explaining what the wider implications will be. At the 0:30 junction, the recording is stopped and the piano line is not in the spotlight. It is initially dark and funereal; reminiscent of Stravinsky and Raschmaninoff, with a hint of an audible shoulder drop. There is a build-up as lighter notes mix with dark; a feint drum cymbal is heard, before strings come back to play. They are playful and delicate, counteracted by a solid and militaristic drum beat. In a way the mesh and interplay of sounds and moods reflects the theme of the song and act as a musical countenance. The tone now has more of a hip hop theme; a bit of Massive Attack, Tricky, maybe later Portishead too with a delicate nod to Cypress Hill, The Progidy and Jay-Z. Just before the news recording recomposes itself, your mind is somewhere else. In mine at least, driving down a dark road heading for London, neon, multicoloured light beckoning my hence. Before I can be too entrenched in my own fantasy, we are back. It is only for a nanosecond, and the hip hop roll is in the fray; the synthesised night crawler is back; doing battle with a voice that says “the only way to make more money/Is to create more debt and inflation”. The combination of the two mileaux’s creates a psychotropic effect. The words affect the mind, soul and brain; the music raises the body, inflames the ears and brightens the eyes. It is a curious sexual call, from a curious allure. The sea has calmed slightly, and the infectious beat pitches tent in your limbic system. Just when you think that we are preparing to fade, Mr. Ominous, like Carrie in a 3-piece suit, rises bloodied from the water, to deliver another apocalyptic bromide. The coda of ‘Burn The Money’ is that in spite of all the downturn, and fiscal tsunami, we need to “use it to our advantage”. Bloody Americans!

 

The track as a whole has a sort of retro feel to it, that harks bark to the genesis of hip hop and big beat. Unlike many of the pre-pubescent shirt tuggers that are trying to acclimate base camp in your brain through a series of left turns, explosions and sample-laden perturbation, Night Wolf have pulled off a neat illusion. The track is quite uncategorisable. Sure there is hip hop, big beat, romantic classical with a light crust of old school rap. There is much to recommend for any lover of any genre of music. The spoken word segments are deployed effectively, punctuating the mood, and coming to the fore at the most effective times. The announcer is suitably anodyne and Mid-Western; in essence quite flat. This, coupled with the extraordinary soundtrack that levies the momentum, interject perfectly and the resultant song is spellbinding its efficiency and effectiveness. It is a tight number as well, and does not overplay its hand or descend into parody or morbid hyperbole. Instead, it is a tight manifesto that will long by remembered once the song has ended.

 

Night Wolf are a multi-directional Mevlevi Order. Ryan has a Queens of the Stone Age rebellion to his musical ambitions. Their front-man Josh Homme has never concerned himself with what is on trend, or what is considered ‘mainstream’. The band have stayed true to what they know and what works: keep it heavy, interesting, varied, and unpredictable. It is no coincidence that they are, in my opinion, the most dominating musical force in the world today. They do not derisk their sound to ‘fit in’. Night Wolf have a similar trading forecast in their business plan. I have heard a range of songs for them, and could not put them into one family tree. There seems to be little direct lineage at play and it is because of this that the songs are so fascinating.

 

I would advise you check out this track. Once you do, check out the E.P. When you have done that listen to everything else and disagree with me. I’m not sure you will, as it is clear that…

 

 

 

Night Wolf are here to stay for a long while.

 

__________________________________________________________________________________

Check out Night Wolf’s E.P. via: http://soundcloud.com/flyproductionzltd/sets/watts-the-time-mr-wolf?utm_source=soundcloud&utm_campaign=share&utm_medium=facebook&utm_content=https%3A%2F%2Fsoundcloud.com%2Fflyproductionzltd%2Fsets%2Fwatts-the-time-mr-wolf

 

SoundCloud:

http://soundcloud.com/nightwolfuk

Twitter:

https://twitter.com/ryanwilcox6

YouTube:

http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCdicASr89xZUiCQdNF-eEiQ

PureVolume:

http://www.purevolume.com/nightwolfhome

ReverbNation:

http://www.reverbnation.com/nightwolfuk

 

 

 

 

Emma Stevens- E.P./Track Reviews

Emma Stevens- E.P./Track Reviews

 

‘Heart on Hand’ (E.P.) & ‘Once’ (Single)

 

9.5/10 & 9.5/10

 

You can tell from the E.P.’s cover, that it is going to be mesmeric.

 

 

Availability: E.P. is available via https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/heart-on-hand-ep/id567453391. The single ‘Once’ will be released in April.

___________________________________________________________________________

 

Gorgeous music; beautiful words; exceptional talent and an extremely striking young woman…

 

make for quite an extraordinary listen. Emma Stevens far exceeds any expectations. There is a bit of a split between female musical talent. There is the mainstream, which has a vast mixture of average pop fodder where you can delineate the moment their talent runs out and they are running on fumes. There is a smaller core of artists, such as Adele, Jessie Ware, Laura Marling and their ilk, whom have vast credibility and talent. Then there is miss Stevens. Here is a very young artist, who is her own words writes “haunting folk/pop with a twist and lots of sparkle”. She is a graduate of A.C.M, plays six instruments- including the cello- and is honest, beautiful and down-to-Earth. She tours prodigiously, and has an incredibly hardworking ethic.

 

‘Heart on Hand’ comes with a slightly sad back-story. The cover of the E.P. is a gorgeous design by Emma’s mother, who sadly died last year. The E.P. was released in October of last year, and her artwork is a permanent monument to her work and spirit. A song that is to be released shortly called ‘Dreaming Trees’, was written in her memory, and will feature on her upcoming 2nd E.P. I sat down to listen to her first E.P., and realised how brave and honest the music is.

 

The first thing you hear on ‘A Place Called You’ is a ukulele. It is instantly sunny and warm, and your mind and body are transported to sunny climbs, warm beaches and gorgeous landscapes. Accompanied by a harmonious whistle, the song puts you in a good mood, right from the off. “You’re my knight in shining armour” Emma sings, her voice smiling all the time. It is a much softer Lily Allen; a stronger Ellie Goulding, but purer and more beautiful than both. It is confident and manifests a huge range, able to switch from a whispered calm to an emotional and power rush. The song talks about all the guys who have come and never measured. In Emma’s words: “Why kiss another frog?/You’re the only one I want”. Through use of fairy tale metaphor and imagery, our heroine is aloft in a tower, waiting for our hero to rescue her. It is not mournful or downcast; instead multicoloured and joyous, where the message above it all is that she wants the man she really wants and not pretenders. “I’ve been cooped up in a tower/For hours and hours” gives the impression of longing and desire. There is a little hint of Eliza Doolittle, and Laura Marling, and Emma shows an eidetic musical talent, where she can draw instruments and sounds together to produce a luminous soundscape. Towards the 3 minute mark the pace quickens, and the vocal scats and skips and dances, showing shades of ‘Whoa Nelly!’-era Nelly Furtado in the upper registers. The song is the psychoacoustical embodiment of ‘be the change that you want to see in the world’ With a final chorus of whistling, percussion and ukulele, the sun sets, and we wonder whether our princess will ever kiss her prince.

 

With a slightly darker start, of guitar and percussion, ‘This Is For You’ doesn’t have a heavy heart, but tells of rain-lashed scenes where anyone can shelter from and meet the person of their dreams. The song has a more philosophical edge, and the lyrics are more in my focus this time; especially when Emma sings: “And I wish/I could help you to breathe”. As the chorus arrives, heralding a siren’s chorus and sensual breathlessness to it, I can’t help but wonder whether the subject of the song has a personal relevance. There are shades of Cocteau Twins in the vocals, as well as Gemma Hayes. The acoustic guitar and musical structure puts me in mind of Simon and Garfunkel and Ben Howard. It is gentle and sensitive but has light and hope to it. As the chorus repeats, there is a gorgeous acoustic guitar strum that puts me in mind of ‘Toxic Girl’ by Kings of Convenience. For those that can’t smile or feel happy, and are weighed down by the gravity of life, then this song is for them. It is there to cheer and to say that, no matter what, things can change when you least expect and a bad situation can be instantly made good. At just a little over 3 minutes long, it is the shortest song of the E.P. and leaves you wanting more. It is incredibly tight, as well as being memorable and spirit-lifting.

 

With an intro that has shades of country to it, as well as Bob Dylan, ‘How To Write A Love Song’, also nods to contemporary acts such as The Lumineers. The track begins by telling of a former beau, who, much to our heroine’s chagrin, kept asking “Hey, when you gonna write me that love song?”. Ironically for him, it is when he has walked out and taken the best from our protagonist, that the words came. The disgraced ex-sweetheart cheated and became needy, and through all of his actions, he taught Emma how to write a love song. It is a great title for a song, and a clever devise is employed. In a sense I guess it does have a large country influence. There are elements of The Dixie Chicks, and Taylor Swift, but will appeal much more to a wider audience, due to the touching and striking lyrics, and gorgeous vocal performance at its heart. Emma, in a way is trying to expurgate the sinner, because “Trying to find a melody/Is easy now you’re gone”. The track has a great, memorable and catchy chorus, and in spite of the fact that pain has been caused and there is an air of regret, there is no sad mood. The song has a sweetness to it. It is a gorgeously crafted song, with brilliant imagery and evocative spirit.

 

With a skipping heartbeat and its best clothes on, ‘The Simple Things’ is another bright and breezy number, designed to inspire the soul and put a smile on the stoniest of people. In a way it is similar to a Jack Johnson song. I was transported the sun, sea and sand and is a blissful number. Emma can’t stop smiling, and says that that is “all I need right now”. There is calm in her heart and the simple things are most important. It is a great and simple message and another track that will put a spring in your step, and smile on your face. Emma’s voice is luscious and strong throughout once more, and is full of conviction and passion. It is one of the highlights of the E.P. and shows what a range Emma has.

 

The final track is a pared-back piano version of ‘A Place Called You’. It has been stripped down and given a romantic and passionate. It is a remarkable version and the vocal is tender and tremulous. The piano is soft and warm and will bring a small tear to your eye. It is hard to believe that it is the same song, but shows the talent and interpretive skills Emma has that it works so well, and makes her own material brand new once more. It is a wonderful end to an assured, multifaceted and impressive E.P. It hits its stride with music, lyrics and vocals and tone. Emma is a skilled composer and exceptional musician, and has a maturity and lyrical eye that belies one so young. Her voice is brilliant throughout and shows herself as an awesome talent.

 

‘Once’ is being released in April. From the first few seconds, it is good business as usual. All of the key ingredients are in place. It is warm, embracing and sunny and is going to feature on the upcoming E.P. It is dreamy and uplifting and talks about how you only need to fall in love once, and that’s all it takes. She explained that she has been with guys before who seemed like they would be the one, but have gone: “But don’t forget when things are great/You only need to find love once”. There is a tangible and universal message conveyed in the song, and one that we can all relate to, which gives the song a winning edge straight away. Again there is a bit of a country flavour, together with an infectious musical and vocal blend, that makes you want to get up and sing along. It will appeal to a wide audience and is a tantalizing and intriguing sign as to what ‘Dreaming Trees’ will sound like.

 

Emma is going to be on Terry Wogan’s radio show this Sunday, and is going to be very busy indeed. If you haven’t already heard her debut E.P., then you should and learn from it. With a music scene where most of the participants would rather frown than smile, Stevens is a breathe of fresh air and shows a talent and maturity beyond her years. It is wonderful to see someone so talented make such an impression, but the great thing about music, is when this sort of thing happens, it inspires you to write, sing and perform. This is exactly what has happened to me, and you cannot ask for more than that. So, if you are stressed, lost, in need of direction and inspiration…

 

… listen to Emma Stevens, and make yourself happy.

 

 

Key Track: ‘A Place Called You’.

__________________________________________________________________________________

 

Official site:

http://www.emma-stevens.com/

Facebook:

http://www.facebook.com/estevensmusic

Soundcloud:

http://soundcloud.com/estevensmusic

Last FM:

http://www.last.fm/music/Emma+Stevens

Twitter:

https://twitter.com/estevensmusic

Tumblr:

http://emmastevensmusic.tumblr.com/

Casual Sex-Track Reviews- ‘Stroh 80’, ‘National Unity’ & ‘North’

‘Stroh 80’, ‘National Unity’ &‘North’

 

9/10, 10/10 & 9.5/10

 

Glasgow band of brothers, have plenty of spit and punch.

 

 

Availability: Stroh 80 is available via http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tJhIelkwrzg

___________________________________________________________________________

 

I suppose the band name gives an indication of what to expect; but nary a hint of what you actually experience…

 

Let me qualify that summation. For one thing they are an absolute bastard to search for via Google. My Internet history has had to be purged, and being a 29-year-old, thought I had seen a lot. After a quick cold shower, you get to the music. I have had the pleasure of experiencing a wide spectrum of music this week; everything from ska/reggae to dub-step, through to soulful pop. I was ready and prepared to hear what Casual Sex had to offer my ears.

 

Being a songwriter and singer myself, I feel quite adept at dissecting music and giving it a good analysis. It’s what my brain loves to do, and I am always keen to experience strange and wonderful new sounds and sensations. Our heroes are Glasgow-based, and have recently been anointed by The Guardian in their ‘New band of the day’ segment. There, they were described as being purveyors of “spiky, tart pop music”, and have a multi-faceted array of musical styles in their wardrobe from “glam to white reggae”. The band, as it happens, were brought together by chance meetings, and thus created Casual Sex after congregating at Glasgow’s Green Door Studio. To business, then…

 

I have a curious fascination with song titles. I performed a quick Internet search of what Stroh 80 was. Essentially it is an Austrian rum, used extensively in Austrian cuisine. The numerical value denotes the ‘proof’ of the rum. 80 is the strongest you can get, and presumably is used to fuel medium-sized planets. I would be remiss if I didn’t at least approach the song with a certain imperiousness. I was expecting a cacophonous riot of a track. What was the come, was a lot more pleasing. It begins with a few seconds of distortion; a sound similar to an intergalactic phaser being fired. Following on its heels is a propulsive guitar strum, at first reminiscent of ‘Coffee + TV’, but mutating into a rawer beat altogether. When Sam Smith’s vocals are introduced they have a warming familiarity to them. They are an amalgamation of Edwyn Collins, Jarvis Cocker, Lou Reed and David Bowie. If you could imagine such a mythical creature! It has great disco and glam element to it, the music inspires hand claps, hip moving and fist raising in equal measures. The song itself is about is being caught in the act with your girlfriend’s pal, in the “aftermath of a drug party on the floor of a local occultist”, according to Sam. With tones of Steve Harley, Suede and early-Bowie in its sound, the song is rousing, confident and alpha-male. There seems to be little regret; although when the words “swallow my pride”… “she/she feels so cold/on the doctor’s sofa” paint vivid images of strange smells, magic, mystic, red faces and a whole lot of mess. Due to lack of pitch change in Smith’s voice, it is hard to sense whether his Tommy Lee feat of sexual candour weighs heavy on his mind, or heavy on his genitals. The backing ‘woahs and ohs’ from his fraternal cohorts suggest that the party may not be over. The guitar and drums skiffle like strobe lighting; they are locomotive and surge the blood around the whole of your body. As the track fades, the protagonist collects his trousers, assesses the scene and has a whole lot of explaining to do. There is an aching world-weary cynicism to the vocals- Bob Dylan detoxing; and the band employ smart chord sequences and CBGBs-esque lasciviousness.

 

National Unity is a spikier, more swaggering animal. Beginning with an arpeggio of electric guitar, it opens the theme song to an ’80s spy movie; all dark streets, bad hair and 80 BHP German sports cars. There is a little bit of The Libertines (Can’t Stand Me Now, Last Post on the Bugle and Don’t Look Back Into the Sun especially), and when the drumbeat curates a dizzying choppiness, it is intoxicating. The band let the music do the talking to begin with, employing an H-bomb of intrigue: a mix-breed of disco, white reggae and indie. It defies you to stay seated and within about 30 seconds is patronising your hips, and puts a scotch and cigarette in each hand. Sam is heard for a brief time, before the music pushes him under the waves. The guitar mutates between Magic and Medicine The Coral, Rubber Soul The Beatles and imbued with a pernicious stab and punch to it. The front man returns to the fray, unveiling a vocal which is slightly more composed than on ‘Stroh 80’. There is a bit of an incestuous mix of Barat and Doherty; salaciousness whispered and drooled. The guitar work as well has a lot in common with the Libs boys too. At times too there is some early Bloc Party and a rhythmic testicular swagger that recalls the glory days of ’90s Blur, Oasis and Pulp. The song only shares a collegial bond with anything you’ve ever heard from the band before. In fact the majority of the song is purely instrumental. It flexes its muscles and bares its skin. The recycled jive and sway of the music is infectious and injects lysergic acid into your brain. It’s what Lewis Carroll would sound like if you let him loose in a recording studio, and it is bloody brilliant. The words “Can’t you feel this unity?” are repeated like a mantra from a cult, interrupted briefly by a barked vocal interjection. Blur employed the same trick with ‘We’ve Got A File On You’, and like that song, you don’t need to hear more. It is a disease that you will not want to medicate. As soon as he has returned, Smith departs and here we go again! It is a remarkably tight song, and I was begging for at least 7 minutes more. It is a track which will not leave your brain for many weeks to come, I promise you that.

The track was released on the WCSP label last year under ‘Mao Disney Fluxing Up the Asethetic’ complilation.

 

Completing our trio is a more raucous and name-worthy parable. Casual Sex are once more armed with plenty of ammunition and unleash a biblical in flagante delicto. As with ‘National Unity’, ‘North’ has a similar late-night attitude to it. Again there are flecks of The Coral, The Beatles, with bits of The Velvet Underground and Bloc Party. It sort of continues where ‘National Unity’ left off. Like The Beatles’ ‘Abbey Road’ side 2 medley, you could imagine running the two tracks together seamlessly. Welll… until the vocal comes in. It is pure Jarvis Cocker, with a teaspoon of Elvis Costello. The music again is brilliant: twangy, coordinated and discontent. There is a terrific bass line that holds it in check, as around it there is a drunken chaos. Flashes of distortion and re-verb; bouncy twangs; and a sound that may be a synthesiser or a keyboard, I can’t tell. The entire track twists and turns, builds up and goes down and is a collage of sounds and texture. There is a brief flash of ‘Roxanne’; and a solid and muscular drumbeat that is solid and impressive. “We’re still just the same, now”, is one of the first lyrics that strikes my ear. The vocal changes to a Bowie-influenced register and is again vocal and lyrics take second place to the music around it. It is a bold choice for a band with such an impressive singer, who can give conviction to the band’s novella’s of sex, drugs and everything in-between. “We’re still just the same now/honey, what we gonna do?” (‘Honey’ is replaced with ‘baby’ interchangeably), are more-or-less the only words you will hear; but is all you will need to. It has that beautiful ’70s sound to it, and is a remarkable track again. One that will suck you in and brings to mind so many different scenes and scenarios. The lyrical sparsity and musical mosaic are a wonderful blend and put a huge smile on my face. This song was a split A-side with ‘Wake The President’.

 

For a band that is almost Google-proof, they deserve a huge following and mass exposure. I would judge you harshly if you did not check out this band, as they are without pretension. Despite me hinting at their influences, they are their own band and are fresh, gutsy, talented and brilliant. The Guardian described them as “potentially the best Scottish indie band since Franz (Ferdinand)”. I think they are being a bit myopic. I think they are the best indie band of the moment, and have the potential to overtake their countryman’s achievements easily. So there you go; if you only listen to one band today, for God’s sake…

 

… experience Casual Sex and make sure you keep their number close.

 

 

Key Track: National Unity

__________________________________________________________________________________

All quotes in this review taken from The Guradian’s profile of the band:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2013/mar/11/new-band-day-casual-sex

 

 

Facebook:

http://www.facebook.com/casualsexmusic

Soundcloud:

http://soundcloud.com/casual-sex

Twitter:

https://twitter.com/CasualSexBand

Swimfest:

http://swnfest.com/lineup/casual-sex/

 

 

 

 

Bigtopp-Track Reviews- ‘Boomerang/No Doubts/I Roam/Girl Called Melody’

‘Boomerang/No Doubts/I Roam/Girl Called Melody’

 

9.5/10, 9.5/10, 9/10 & 9.5/10

 

Home-grown ‘ska/reggae/rock band’, trumpet their intentions with genre-contorting confidence.

 

 

Release date: The album ‘Mischief’, will be released on March 14th.

___________________________________________________________________________

 

 

 

They are a young outfit, but filled with confidence and talent that belies their combined years…

 

And the songs I have heard today have made me proud to be from Surrey. Don’t get me wrong, I do not hate Guildford. It is pleasant and safe but doesn’t spark, shine or intrigue you. The shopping facilities are generic and un-interesting; the people are nice enough but it is the history of the place that is its defining characteristic. Since the likes of The Stranglers, Guildford has not produced too many iconic or relevant groups. There is a lot of new talent bustling in the underground, and the A.C.M. has its fair share of emerging wonder. Bigtopp are an intriguing outfit that will put my hometown on the map, for the right reasons.

 

I have been a bit of a musical Chris Columbus as of late. In the sense that I have been searching the media for a certain type of band, but have stumbled upon others altogether. Bigtopp were a new name to my ears as recently as last year, but since hearing about them, I have been hooked. They have actually been around since 2006, and I noticed them when they entered, and subsequently won The Music League competition in 2012. Since then they have played summer festivals and adopted a large and loyal fan base. They are an 8-piece group but have an amazing fraternity to their bond and sound, and are also decidedly tight and focused. Having met in college, it is clear that this sense of friendship and shared influences enforces their sound and success and are going to be around for many years to come.

 

‘Boomerang’ is first up. In the first of one pun-based commentaries from me, this is a track that you will not want to throw away. If you do it may come back to smack you in the head, because it means business from the off. Starting with a grand and precocious piano line, it has quite a classic edge to it. Part Beethoven, part Liszt; but not in a sardonic way. Muse perfected the same kind of flamboyance, most notably on Absolution. It is unexpected and stirring. The piano also has a ’90s club stomp to it, and this is backed up by the war hammer of a drum that introduces itself like an avalanche. The vocal has a reaggae/ska edge to it; there are tinges of Paolo Nutino at first, but harder, more endearing and authentic. One of the most frequent adjectives levied at the band has been ‘danceable’, and this is obvious. It pulls you from the corner of the room and demands you move until you drop. They have elements of Mad Caddies, Madness and The Specials to their veracious bonhomie and jubilance, and it shines through on this track. “Like a boomerang/it all comes around/Like a boomerang/it’s the same old sound” is sung during the chorus, and repeated to great effect. The song deals a lot with how similar a lot of music sounds, either as a metaphysical innuendo or as a direct commentary on modern music- I am not sure. The lyrics, and chorus especially are simple and effective and it is a lyrically economical track. It is a rebel-rousing rally cry, a euphonious sunshine smile. In all an incredibly pleasant and memorable song which updates the classic reggae/ska mantle and brings it into 2013.

 

With an immediate and commanding vocal performance, ‘No Doubts’ talks about (how doubt) is “like a shadow chasing me”. The track has its trademark liturgical jubilance to it but is more reflective. It is a track that uses imagery beautiful: “Jury, judge and execution/they’ll be with my elocution” is a savvy and intelligent lyric. Doubt is dragging Bigtopp down, and we sure as hell can’t stand for that! In spite of any recriminations or deeper questions the band sure as hell no how to set the mood alight. The brass and drums crackle and set fire to the rain, washing the streets with colour and parade and bring joy to the isocratic citizens. The music stops, starts, jumps and teases, jives and swoons and although doubt is the “nasty word” that cannot be spoken of, it has an endearing positivity to it. The band will not let anything takes the smile from their lips. The band are fantastic and resplendence to proceedings, and add colour to the black and white dubiousness or some of the lyric’s sentiments. It is plain to see why they are becoming a staple of the summer festival Lazy Susan. They are enjoyable to listen to, and no matter what mood you are in they make you smile. They make music that sticks in your head and contextualizes your negativity and makes you forget about it. It is another barnstorming track, and although possible moleculary superior to ‘Boomerang’. Quite an emphatic 1-2. Strangely the song reminded me a little of Chris Cornell’s theme to ‘Casino Royale’ in its melody. This is the type of number that could easily score a big movie; probably less Bond, and more Bondi Beach.

 

Music lovers and commentators aren’t psychic (psychics aren’t psychic either, but that’s another matter); so predicting that a certain sense of mortality would enter the fray was unexpected. Don’t misunderstand. The band have not gone all Ian Curtis and need Diazepam dropped in their tea, but they are in a slightly more pensive mood. The fireworks are still illuminating the view, but words such as “As I Roam/As I Roam/I ain’t allows appreciated” suggest that there are some clowns at the Bigtopp party. The vocals have a pleasing urgency to them, delivered at a breakneck, almost rap-pace at times. It has many similarities to many traditional reggae songs in its D.N.A., as well as its execution. There is a sharp incongruousness to the music and vocal bi-play. Although some of the words paint a picture of a lonely tableaux: “I’m a one man and his dog”, the music does not wallow or become morose as: “its detrimental to my health/don’t want to be somebody else”. Bigtopp‘s lieutenant is walking through the streets, through memories, and down dusty roads, but knows his friends will never leave him. There are delineated sermons of defiance throughout, and when the vocal chorus of ‘ohs and woahs’ arrive at the 2/3 mark; the bullish and island vibe feel starts to seep back in. The vocal becomes more whispered, there is some guitar feedback and a fantastic electronic storm is brewed, reminiscent of Bellamy, Van Halen and Santana. There is a glorious musical Technicolor throughout and a brilliant mix of sound. There is a greater rock element in this song, marked particularly by electric guitar- providing a sense of soucier shadow to the landscape. I suspect that when the album arrives it will be a remarkable corpus, but one that will clearly have a predominantly joyous and and celebratory vibe, with a frisson of despondency.

 

Truncating the joyride is ‘A Girl Called Melody’. It has a symbiosis with the other three songs, but has a slight Pacific Coast feel to it. It has a tone to it, familiar to some of the songs of Steely Dan‘s album ‘Countdown to Ecatsy’ (I can hear ‘My Old School’ in the brass that plays just over the halfway mark). It also is another slight gear change. It has romance in its blood. The music has a repourposed emaciation to it, as not to clutter the sentiment and overall tone, which is one of positivity. The words “all-time/all-time/all-time high… I’m at an all-time/all-time/all-time high” provide a sweet coda, which is repeated frequently. The brass blasts metonymically and has splatters of Nutini and The Skints. There is a bit of Donald Fagen in the vocals which is an unexpected treat, and it is a confident and impassioned performance, once more. The seeming positivity of the chorus hides a secret pain. It appears that our hero will not end up with Melody, and won’t “take on the world as two”. Where as inferior modern acts would convey the break up of a relationship with hyperbole and assonance; here the words are direct and meaningful. The band back up their front-man staunchly, not allowing for any rhuemy, wallowy crap. Things happen, move on with it! The chorus is repweated again to the end, and one hopes that the ‘all-time high’ is biological, and not psychoactive. This is a track that will appeal to a wide field. It has a summary feelgood synecdoche to the music and the lyrics about changing love and circumstance do not detract from the force majeure that has been displayed throughput the four tracks. The song is fresh, open and busy, with an infectious joy to it. One can have their own interpretation of the song itself, and whether the author has any regrets. Maybe I have missed their point. I like to think, that in spite of it all, Bigtopp are going to smile their way through it.

 

This review has- I hope- surmised the key points of what is the be, the first four tracks from their upcoming album ‘Mischief’. These tracks are only 2/5 of the story, and it is hard to say what the other tracks will focus on. The quartet I have heard are assimilate examples of a wider whole. I adored the tracks I have heard. I am a big fan of ska, reggae and rock, and Bigtopp have produced an iridescent blend. The brass, drums, guitar and every little musical ingredient compliment the vocals perfectly, and elevate and enforce the lyrics. The vocal performance is incredibly strong; imbued with authenticity and a great individuality to them. It is this combination that makes the band such a name to watch and love. I would implore you to rush out and buy their album on the 14th. It will be a perfect summation of a band who can traverse the musical quagmire with aplomb.

 

There is a Beyonce-sized but coming up… do not ignore them if reggae or ska ‘isn’t your thing’ For those who think the genres are concubines of their favourite music, I would advise open-mindedness. I myself am not myself an aficionado or devotee of this ‘type’ of music. The band transcend misconceptions and doubt with charisma and good old-fashioned talent. They are superbly tight and cohesive and do not allow the standard or fun to stop or drop for even one second. As it is so goddamn cold and miserable, perhaps the album’s release date is apropos. The music will put a huge smile on your face, make you want to get up and dance, and take your heart and soul to a Caribbean beach.

 

The ‘Mischief’ album, will be, according to the band’s press-pack, a work that “tells the story of human fragility” but does so without tristesse. I am a fan after just one listen, and am sure you will be as well. Head over to their website and hear what they have produced already and if you aren’t smiling by the first track I’ll eat my hat…

 

… and I wear a Beefeater, so know I’m to be trusted.

 

 

Key Track: No Doubts

__________________________________________________________________________________

 

Official site:

http://www.bigtopp.co.uk/

Facebook:

http://www.facebook.com/bigtoppband

Twitter:

https://twitter.com/Bigtopp

Myspace:

http://www.myspace.com/bigtoppband

BandCamp:

http://bigtopp.bandcamp.com/

Songkick:

http://www.songkick.com/artists/1894879-bigtopp

SoundCloud:

http://soundcloud.com/bigtopp

 

 

 

 

Dead Social Club: ‘Sunlight’- E.P. Review

 

‘Sunlight’- E.P. Review- 8.5/10

 

Lush, jangly, campaign-winning and a perfect antidote to Winter

.

 

 

Release date: Available as a download via: http://www.facebook.com/deadsocialclub/app_204974879526524

___________________________________________________________________________

 

It will lift you up, make you smile, and forgot all of your woes…

 

This is my summation after a mere 10 seconds of listening to opening gambit, Sunlight. Dead Social Club are a London-based 6-piece ‘alt indie’ band, who have garnered many sumptuous reviews and won plaudits and fans alike. I know been aware of the band for a few weeks now, but was surprised I had not heard of them sooner. Upon studying their SoundCloud page, it attests that they have been played multiple times of BBC 6 Music and Absolute Radio and have attracted fan as far a field as the U.S. and Canada. The band have played numerous gigs and headlined summer festivals to boot. I am a little late to the party, it seems, and the fact that I have missed out on a citrus-cool, stunning band for so long, has caused discourse. I have often mooted the possibility of launching a website where it is easier to find out about new and established bands. Often, unless you are in the right place at the right time, you miss out completely. All I can say is, I am glad I have found them now!

 

Dead Social Club have a hint of the austere to some of their work, but generally convey a positive mood. They are an adventurous and sweet-scented band with a proficient arsenal of memorable tracks and an extraordinary credibility that puts them at the vanguard of the indie scene. The indie scene is a rush hour tube train of congested at times. There are a lot of new bands that arrive on the scene who are labelled as an indie band, but are often never heard of again. Very few stick around for a long time. To my mind, Dead Social Club, will be a name on people’s lips for many years to come.

 

The title track is the first track of the E.P. It is an instantly engaging, wunderkind of an intro. It begins with guitar. Sounding a little like a lighter version of Blur‘s ‘No Distance Left To Run’ it dances and insinuates itself with lustful sedition. The drums arrive to provide backing, displaying hints of The Libertines and The Cure. In my mind, it is soundtracking my summer road trip movie of a life. It is evocative of windswept highways, epic bar tales, and nubile bronzed goddesses. A lot of speculation and critique has been wavered towards the lineage of singer Paul’s vocals. The most frequent comparison is to that of Robert Smith. I can hear a fleck of the old goth master, for sure. The vocal is less candid and more youthful. It has elements of Joe Strummer, but also a little of Maximo Park. Such comparisons may be seen as inauspicious, as the band have a unique sound all of their own; such lazy labelling would belie their mandate. The U.S.P. of the song is the link-up of guitar and vocal. When the lyrics: “I don’t want to hear what you’re thinking” are sung, the accompanying music does not over-enforce the sentiment, giving greater resonance to the words themselves. The track bubbles and at times sounds a little like a redux of ‘Friday I’m In Love’. No that that’s a bad thing; I can just hear some similarities in the track’s progression and overall sound. Special kudos for the drumming in this track, which is solid and unregimented throughout. It is a brilliant introductory song. Although the lyrics have an anger, desire (“Just drag me back to London”) and regret (“I’ve never felt so blue”) to them, the mood is not repressed and downbeat. It is an honest and open song with a tight band performance that will definitely prick up your ears and spark your interest.

 

‘Stockholm’ arrives next. It begins with a bulletproof and rapid drumbeat, that reminds me of the likes of Inxs, Blondie, U2, and ABC. The ensuing vocal, however, is similar to none of them. It is strong, focused, and powerful. Little flecks of ’80s Duran Duran come through in the guitar. It is an intoxicating and nascent mix, that is guaranteed to put a smile on your face. “Keeps me on this island” is a lyric that is repeated, and there is a sense of dislocation and “hostages call it innocence” adds a lemon twist, to the cocktail. Vocals, like Sunlight, are terrific. At once calm and measured, the next impassioned and frightened. There are suggestions of ’80s front-men such as Tony Hadley, and to my mind, Paul could easily be on a level par, with regards to his semi-operatic tones. ‘Stockholm’ is the longest track of the E.P. It is not a track, mind, that outstays its welcome as it goes through a series of shifts and gear changes, and packs a lot of weight and punch in. Around about 3:00, the track slows, to leave guitar, bass and drum to give a metronomic cadence. Just when you think we are in calmer seas, the drums pound furiously and bare-chested; the mood becomes almost unbearably tense, to the point of explosion, before the front-man returns to the fray, to restore semblance of balance. There are little guitar spurts, indebted to Franz Ferdinand’s ‘Take Me Out’, during the final hurdles, and I would give special mention to the band performance as a whole. It is an incredibly tight and homogeneous performance, but it is the guitar work in the track that compels me most. It is innovative, structured and unpredictable at the same time.

 

Completing our tour is a visit to the wonderfully-titled, and ambiguous ‘This Painting Is Cursed’. It is a beautiful fenestration into the window of Dead Social Club’s mindset. Beginning as it does with an introduction of deserted end-of-the-pier organ, and emerging from its cocoon, a variegated sabre-toothed butterfly, the song hooks you in. I hope the band won’t mind me saying, but is has influences of The Cure to it, as well as Joy Division. As the lines ‘Close your eyes/settle down now’, the vocal is strong and authoritative, and the entire track is a compact, homunculus of a song, clocking in at under 3-and-a-half minutes long. The outro/coda as well is brilliant, containing a slight influence of Two Dancers-era ‘Wild Beasts’.

 

Overall this is an impressive and dominant display of individual talent, and tight kinship. Influences and style icons are not employed for fashion or shock value, they are part of the band’s upbringing but are not superior to their individual voice of originality. In fact it is due to such a melting pot of influences that such a fascinating progeny is born. The song titles are diverse and fascinating, and the band are tight and compelling throughout. I was impressed not only but the vocals on the E.P. but the entire band. The individual players are at the top of their game, and provide stunning backing. The lyrics are intelligent, sardonic, poetic, thought-provoking and deep, which contrasts perfectly with the music, which is often lighter and more stoic. The whole E.P. is focused and concentrated, with no wasted words or notes. It was a pleasure to listen to.

 

If I were to point at some suggestions, it would be that some of the lyrics were hard to hear. Sometimes it was hard to decipher what was being sung, whether the vocals need to be mixed higher into the final edit, or was for some other reason, I occasionally strained to understand what was being said. Also, I feel that the final track is a little welterweight, when compared to its predecessors. The instrumentation for me is king on that track and would have been great maybe to have heard a fourth track, as there would have been room for it.

 

Those are minor subjective quibbles, as it is a riveting and information E.P., and provides much needed rays of sun, light and warmth to many cold hands and cold hearts. ‘Sunlight’ has been out for a couple of months now, and I would recommend highly that you give it a listen, as I guarantee…

 

Dead Social Club will brighten your day.

 

 

Key Track: ‘Sunlight’

__________________________________________________________________________________

 

Official site:

http://www.deadsocialclub.com/

Facebook:

http://www.facebook.com/deadsocialclub

Twitter:

https://twitter.com/DeadSocialClub

BandCamp:

http://deadsocialclub.bandcamp.com/

iTunes:

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/artist/dead-social-club/id414360199

Last FM:

http://www.last.fm/music/Dead+Social+Club

SoundCloud:

http://soundcloud.com/deadsocialclub