Steve Heron- Saltwater- Track Review

 

 

Steve Heron-

 

 

Saltwater

 

 

Steve Heron Music

 

Track Review

 

 

9.5/10.0

 

  

 

I have featured the endeavouring Scot once before, but this track is a whole different kettle, of curious fish.

 

 

 

Availability:

 

‘Saltwater’

is available later in the year; Steve Heron available at

http://soundcloud.com/steveheron

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Today’s theme will mostly centre around the nature of the creative …

 

diversity of many acts. One of the defining cores of much of my recent praise, has concerned diversity and quality control within music. A lot of my discourse has been levied at bands and artists who seem to be understand how important it is to keep moving upwards and onwards musically; when so many are concerned merely with lateral and narrow moves. I guess if you are an established act, and have been pounding the beat for some considerable time, there is less of a pressure to deviate or grow, creatively. Nor is there much of an emphasis placed on them, with regards to conforming or fitting into a predefined mould. The problem that new acts face is, that they are entering a market, which is ever-expanding and crowded. It becomes harder to really make a mark and get heard, unless you have something special to say. I have been rather angry as of late, as a lot of praise has been heaped onto certain solo artists in the charts. A great deal of bands, too are being heralded and placed onto plinths; made into false idols, simply because they can record a couple of great songs in a row. Bully for them, I guess, but unless you are capable of stringing together a collection of truly impressive albums and songs, then praise (feint or not), should be reserved. It is the new acts that are breaking through, plying their trade, and making small waves, that are the most fascinating. In the same way as they are the next generation of music talent, they have a hard time of distinguishing themselves. In recent months I have been privy to a great deal of diverse and invigorating acts; each of whom has offered something different, if not necessarily, unique. A lot of my shoulder-sagging has revolved around the fact that, although all of the acts have been adventurous, too many have strayed too closely to an existing band; offering comparative little originality. As a flip side, there has been a growing number coming through, whom promise much spice, flavour and strange mystique, which is hard not to be intoxicated by. Whether a stunning love song has been offered, or a strange and hardened beast has been born forth, the resultant aftershocks have restored my faith in the next wave of talent. I guess it is hard to anticipate whether it is the more unique acts that will garner the most attention and fandom in the future, or whether the fickle market will clasp to its bosom the acts of a less adventurous ken; it is hard to tell. It seems though, that in order to obtain and cement a worthy reputation, one has to first of all, be original and bold, and secondly, once those first seeds have been planted, you need to stay fresh and- to an extent- unpredictable.

 

In a previous review for his track ‘Picturesque’, I have provided some honest truth and fictional back alley analysis about Steve Heron. In terms of my consciousness and peripheral vision, he came seemingly out of nowhere. I had not heard too much about previous to reviewing that track, and was a little alarmed by this. I shall dispense of any cheap heron-related puns, less I dilute the potency of the artist. In the way that ‘Picturesque’ won me over by its catchiness, positivity and sharp and impressive lyrics, his back catalogue and previous songs have won me over by their diverse colours and consistency. The man behind the songs is a like-able and honest human; displaying openness, bold sentiments and directness that few others would dare posses. He is a young man, but is a multi-talented musician, a prolific songwriter, and quite a favourite amongst his home crowd. With comparisons being drawn with the likes of The Smiths and Television, there is an inherent authority and steely punch to the incredible songs. I have been most impressed by the sheer range of sounds and moods that have been established over the course of Steve’s career. In lieu of the new track being available (for a little while yet), Heron is an artist whom deserves a fervent investigation and wide-ranging peer review. There are not too many Scottish artists or bands, aside from the mainstream, that are familiar beyond the borders. There are plenty of them out there, but in the same way that there is a slight ignorance in society towards unfamiliar peoples and lands, in the music world, there is a reticence to embrace a certain foreign sound. The media has been responsible for a lot of the blase attitude and lack of awareness. Certain publications and sites have given key spotlights to music from the U.S., Australia, West Europe and Asia, but there is still a lot of neglect when it comes to our native talent. In previous posts I have stated how much quality and exciting music there is, currently emanating from Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds and Bradford; so it is not entirely shocking that Scotland is also producing a great deal of stars. I hope that the media does focus attention beyond London and the southern extremes, as Heron is undeserving of suffering an ill-fated disregard.

 

It is within the opening few seconds, that the initial intrigue begins. ‘Saltwater’ is a song that breaks from expectation, and provides a delightful right-wing shift from the tones of ‘Picturesque’. Steve is being pretty mysterious and tight-lipped about future plans for the songs. Whilst perhaps not a potential single release, it seems that it is being earmarked as a potential soundtrack piece. The intro. lurks in the night, blood dripping from its fangs. There is ghostly mood, rushing wind, and an underlying sense, that something carnivorous will soon be knocking on your door. As the noise of sheer atmosphere abates, something more controlled, but no less mood-enhancing arrives. Sounding like a cross between ‘Lullabies to Paralyze’ QOTSA-cum-Kings of Leon-esque grab, the building smoke, entices. There is a lot of originality in the initial bursts; whilst having some U.S. influences, the way that the intro. moves and proffers, is unlike anything I’ve heard for a little while. There are perhaps some shades of darker-edged Cocteau Twins, perhaps. There is a certain baroque romanticism to things as well, and I can well imagine this song at home sound-tracking a intelligent twisting action film (‘The Bourne Identity’ sort of thing); but it would be equally at home scoring a northern European indie drama or ‘Breaking Bad’-style masterpiece. The guitar is light and bubbles; the percussion keeps pace but never sprints ahead, and, combined with a majestic Gothic backing, it is a parable that soon reminds me of some of Radiohead’s glory. It could be a ‘OK Computer’ or ‘Kid A’ gem; it has that same atmosphere and consistency to it. It is when the vocal appears, that things break away from the tones of Thom Yorke, instead reminding me much more of something more northern; something less anxious. With its childhood verses of film in the camera, deft touches, and curious little scenes, the track has a lot of Heron’s trademark observations and vocal authority. Previously I have heard the romantic and fun-loving elements of Heron’s voice, where he has played the part of romantic, and ringleader; yet here, there is a sense of revocation and remembrance. It seems as though memories are being recalled, and a story is unfolding, that holds hard facts and emotional memories for our hero; a sense that there is a tear beneath the soul. In terms of comparable singers, there is as much Ryan Adams as there is The Smiths, in the mix. It is quite a dark hue of a vocal delivery, and one which embeds a sense of disquiet into your heart. When Heron sings: “Try and talk you round”, it is initially delivered with pace; before settling calmly, and showcases, not only a fine and memorable voice, but a keen intuit for effective and pertinent delivery. In that respect, Heron shares some D.N.A. with current-day The National. There is a distinct and local accent announced, which adds weight to proceedings. The song deals with trying to talk a woman into remaining in a relationship and remaining in the author’s life, but, no matter what is tried, “I know you won’t stay”. His subjective muse has been “hitting the bottle”, when it is said “You should be hitting the hay”. The verses are delivered with passion, but there is elongation and time taken to make sure the words are heard, and hit home. In a way there is a lot in common with the classic bands of the ’80s: a bit of Depeche Mode lurks in the languid longings. Heron has Morrissey’s theatrical edge, as well as his ability to turn a phrase and make even simplest playlets of love, sound essential and tortured. Into the final third, providence is given to the music itself; as the band combine to create sonic flames, and hazy sway. The electric guitar, at once a Van Halen-esque arpeggio (or the type of shredding skills displayed on Michael Jackson’s ‘Beat It’), that explodes like a firework, before disintegrating into the cold air; the embers simmer with muted sedition. This parable is repeated several times, promoting a tension and emotion that is quite fitting, given what has come before. Just as you think that we are repeating to fade, Heron is back up front, this time with a more impassioned and immediate vocal. He tells once more of his efforts to make his former love stay, and the resultant self-destruction that she unleashes; where as before there was a slight restraint, now there is some desperation and a sense that he has won the battle, but can never win the war…

 

Where this track will end up, is unsure at this point. As Steve himself has said, there are big plans for it, but nothing firmed up at this stage. He needn’t have any reservations or misgivings, as ‘Saltwater’ has such a qualitative edge to it, that it is wholly mobile; effectively able to fit in wherever it needs to go. Whether it is going to form part of a future album, or E.P., or soundtrack something quite spectacular, that has yet to be unveiled. It is, however, another sure-footed step by Heron, who remains as enigmatic, as he does the everyman. As easily as he can pen a track to get the crowds chanting, and unite the steeliest of hearts, he can as easily create a song that burns and aches with emotion and hidden pain. It highlights my point about new acts (or in this case, relatively new) whom are able to evolve constantly, without sacrificing quality or their identity. It is as important in 2013 to make a mark, as it would have been in 1965. The only difference that has unfolded in 48 years, is that so much has already been done, and the definition of ‘original’ and ‘daring’ has become more fungible and loose. In a crowded market, where there is a lot of a much of a muchness, and a depressing over-reliance on playing it safe and leaning on the ‘caution button’, it is frankly refreshing to hear an artist whom is blithely unconcerned with getting stuck in rush hour traffic; instead making his own route and way, to a more prosperous end. Listen to his previous efforts, and the range of motions and sounds on display, because you may not be expecting ‘Saltwater’. Wherever this track ends up, one thing is for sure:

 

It is going to be a hard song to top.

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Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/#!/steveheronmusic?fref=ts

Twitter:

https://twitter.com/stevejheron

YouTube:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Ds6e7VZ-YE

Reverb Nation:

http://www.reverbnation.com/steveheron

iTunes:

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/artist/steve-heron/id414581880

Jingo- The Matador- Track Review

 

Jingo-

 

The Matador

 

Jingo 

 

Track Review

 

 

9.2/10.0

 

 

 

My final review for the band, and it focuses on a track that completes an exciting, and rather unexpected trilogy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Availability:

 

‘The Matador’

is available via

http://soundcloud.com/jingomusic/the-matador

 

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It’s going to be a more brief, and summated overview

 

As I have focused quite tightly on Jingo over the past few weeks. I shall return to their well in a moment, but the nature of today’s paraphrasing, is concerning new bands in general. I have been pleased and quite frankly flattered, by a lot of the response and appreciation bands and artists feel, when having their work reviewed and focuses upon. You can tell that it means a lot that someone has taken the effort to write about a song(s), that they have spent a lot of effort on, and taken a lot of time, to complete. Of course, the flip side to that brings its own issues. Far too many seem to take any effort given to promoting their work, with a casual disregard. To be fair, a lot of that has been from ‘established’ acts- the type that has probably become disingenuous for no real reason; instead determined to play the role of ‘unappreciative artist’. For people like me, whom attribute a lot of concentration towards their music, and give a lot more insight and depth than your average pundit, it is rather galling and offensive. It has brought about a strict domestic policy: once ignored, forever forgotten about. I have expressly vowed to never go after any well-established act or band, as it seems that they have better things to do with their times. With regards to new acts, not all are entirely polite, considerate or worthy; just as recently as yesterday it seems that I perhaps should not have wasted my time focusing upon a particular band. But you know, you live and learn. It is a lesson that is more commonly learnt when dealing with your average person, rather than a musician. Your typical musician, by and large, tends to be a more humble, open-minded and kinder creature; aware that they are in a difficult and unpredictable industry, but one that is simultaneously enthralling and ever-changing. Consequently, as from next week, a more considered and cautious approach will need to be taken, with regards to praising and writing about new music. It is not to much as a chance to ‘get something off of my chest’, more a relevant tableaux, that has a wider and more sociological relevance. Whether it is the weather, the economy, or random event, but the people that you expect a lot from, tend to let you down the hardest. On the flip side, the folks that have less need to be nice, are usually the sweetest and most effusive. Strange moral and conclusion I guess, but based upon observation and keen-sight. Whether there is a subconscious implore to our featured threesome, or a deeper meaner, well… you’ll have to decide for yourself. I have been somewhat impressed by the sheer range and dynamism amongst many new acts, as of late. In an industry where there can be a conservative and bashful need to play it safe, and not show your hand, many new acts have been rebelling and pioneering; risking a possible future reputation and stature to do what they want to do, right from the start. The knock-on effect has been, that it has inspired me to be bolder with my own writing and take chances; in essence it has pushed me not to compromise, but to show boldness.

 

Jingo came to my attention nary a few weeks ago, and impressed me for a number of reasons. They have managed to capture my appeal, in spite of the fact that they have the least on-line coverage on the social media sites. There seems to be no Twitter account, not a lot of other coverage beyond Facebook and SoundCloud. I hope that alters, as there are many new fans awaiting over on Twitter. They are a different breed as well: less conservative perhaps, and also easier to connect with. No annoying ‘friend requests’ and having to trawl through crappy fan pages and such to find a band; it is a lot easier to connect and find like-minded music, and fans alike. Aside from the singularity of their wallpaper pattern, the group have a focused and filmic approach to their songs. I have previously scripted reports for their tracks ‘1Q84’ and ‘Same Without You’, impressed not only by the range of sounds and lyrics between the two, seemingly disparate tracks, but by the quality of the individual numbers. The group have claimed that their latest song rounds off a trilogy of sorts. Whether the songs will form an E.P. of their own, or are separate entities, ahead of a possible future release, it is uncertain. It is curious that the band have chosen to release their tracks one-by-one, instead of putting out a single 3-track E.P.; maybe it is a long-term strategy, but goes to show that the trio have a confidence that few contemporaries posses; and in a way signals to an act whom intend on having a long and uninterrupted tenure within music; not a mere nebula willing to float, and burn after a short time. In case you are a recent subscriber, or have a short attention span, Jingo is: husband and wife duo Jack and Katie Buckett, and Joseph Reeves. Katie is the sole American of the band, whilst the boys are English. I am unsure whether the future will see them branch out to producing E.P.s and albums; the group at the moment are saplings and letting the world know what they are capable of; contended to sit back and review the feedback.

 

Down to business, then. You can probably tell from the title, but The Matador, is not going to be a pared-back-romantic-ballad-of-a-song. Where as their previous two songs have invoked the sounds and sensations of the U.S., U.K. and similar allies, on their third release their is an obvious influence from the Spanish-speaking regions of the globe. There is a pleasing- if somewhat expected- rush of Flamenco guitar at the very beginning; it elicits and cements the tone and theme from the initial seconds, and lets you know that there is going to be little irony or misappropriation within the title. The guitar line is swooning and romantic. It has a little bit of a build; as if it were going to peak and punch, but instead, comes back down. With a vocal interjection, that is screamed with Hispanic lust, it is followed by a tinny-sounding drum patter; echoed and metallic. That is overthrown by the return of the guitar line which gifts images of sunny climbs, scorching beaches, tranquility and care-free moods. The drum keeps steady and solid; not deviating or wavering, just keeping a consistent beat. The guitar showers and dances, before the vocal arrives. The vocal from Katie is predictably reliable and solid, proffering scenes of “Silent rituals/Whilst she sleeps”. In terms of vocal comparisons, there is a little bit of the likes of P.J. Harvey, (the rougher edges of) Tori Amos; as well as a distinct flavour of the U.S. There is, perhaps, a restrained air of Adele, too; sounding at times quite similar at times. A little before the 1:00 marker, the mood shifts, ramping slightly up, with a palpable sense of impending explosion. As Katie’s voice rises at 1:14, having told tales of “the man and beast”; the Adele comparisons may not seem too premature; there is a comparable quality when Katie belts and shows emotional power. She can hold the notes, and perhaps, in an odd way, shares more in common with Bjork. The musical backing matches the electricity up front, the apolysis strum hints at another sound shift. Before long there is a duet, with Jack joining in; they sing of the bull hitting the floor, and the chaotic storm of the associated fray, the musical backing gets darker, more intense and punctuated too; matching the lyrical tone perfectly. As soon as the chorus has finished, there is a return to the softer, Flamenco verse. The hero of the song is preparing to do battle once more, as it is said: “He hears the cheers/And begins to wait”. Throughout the track, and during the verses especially, there is plenty of evidence that shows that Jingo can implant vivd and colourful scenes in your mind, and use their words effectively to conjure a myriad of emotions and movement. As the vocal ramps back up again, there is a little electric guitar buzz that has similarities with Jack White; both during his White Stripes tenure, and particularly his solo work. The chorus is unleashed again, portraying images of bloodshed, death and victory.

 

The nature of the lyrics, at its base, may not be new. The structure and way the story is told, has been done a lot before. The way that this track stands out, is that familiarity is stretched and expanded, in ways that are fresh and new. The subject and theme is unexplored and inventive, the lyrics are sharp and vivid, and the music especially is unpredictable, exciting and variable. It is refreshing and pleasing to hear Spanish sounds in any song, let alone employed by a popular band. I have gone back and listened to parts 1 and 2 of the trilogy, and unsure which of the three I prefer. I think 1Q84 has a slight edge, but is impressive and inspiring to hear of a brand new act, whom are unwilling to stand still, and stick with a singular sound. They have variety, a sense of innovation and style that is very rare these days. So, as I sign off my final review for them, and look elsewhere for similarly amazing sounds.

 

I think they will do just fine in the future..

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Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/#!/jingomusic?fref=ts

SoundCloud:

http://soundcloud.com/jingomusic

In The Valley Below- Hymnal- Track Review

 

In The Valley Below-

 

 

Hymnal

 

 

 

Track Review

 

 

9.1/10.0

 

 

 

 

 

 

As well as having a secular and Ecumenism curiosity; they pack a punch that will unify, enliven and shake your agnostic senses.

 

 

Availability:

 

‘Hymnal’ is available via

http://inthevalleybelow.bandcamp.com/track/hymnal-2

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The boy-girl/husband-wife/man-woman dynamic has not often been seen…

 

in musical circles. It seems to be- for some reason- an odd and underused combination. I guess if there is a relationship at the foundation, then it has a greater-than-average potential to break, thus disbanding the group (or duo). There are groups like The xx, Blood Red Shoes, and America’s The Open Feel, who have successfully managed to keep business and pleasure separate and make no bones or issue about the inter-gender structure. I suppose that it is quite uncommon to hear about any 2-piece groups at all. You either hear of a solo artist, or a 4 or 5-piece group. At a primitive and basic core, sex can cloud everything, as well as be unpredictable. It caused ruckus and explosion in Fleetwood Mac; a bizarre back-story and possible friction in The White Stripes, and anxiety and parallel lines in other, lesser bands. Of course, it is probably worth noting, that the best sounds can come from a male/female union. It can bring about some of the best an most informed lyrics, the strangest and most curious sounds, and a disciplined and focused band. It also means that the range of scope and material that the group can produce, is more varied and unpredictable than an all-male or female band, too. Just a theory I guess, but one can help but to wonder, what tricks and majesty is being missed out on and denied, but some rather inflexible and predictable ‘band rules’. I happened across HighFields recently, who managed to combine an inter-gender formation; as well as a multi-nationality aesthete; the resultant song that I reviewed, was magnificent, and I suspect made all the strongest because of the nature of their band set-up. I am also a fan of an all-girl group Fake Club, whom have a raw and hard rock sound; and are an incredibly tight and together band. That said, there is a bigger danger with all-female groups; it is not a cliche to say that female friendships become more strained easier than that of men, and there is an inherent likely-hood of tension and turmoil, should things go wrong. Circulating to my main thesis, acts and bands, in the past, as well as present-day are predisposed to fit into a pre-conceived ‘mould’ or ideal; one that seems to marginalise and subjugate any leanings towards mixing sexes, nationalities and ages. In the U.K. at least, there are a great deal of single sex, white bands; there is not a racist element, it has been the case that most black artists are solo acts, or part of a rap crew or seem to be stray a little from the mainstream. I would like to hear and see a lot more black bands and formations, as well as see bands whom are willing to rebel against old-age and outmoded ideals of ‘what a band should be’. When I can formulate and discover 4 like-minded figures to complete my band, I sure as hell want at least one female body in the line-up. I have a guitarist in mind, and will have to find a way to poach her or ‘borrow’ her; and I am also keen to find U.S., Australian and Canadian musicians too. In a perfect world I would have myself, a female lead guitarist, a male U.S. fellow-lead guitarist, Australian drummer and Canadian/U.K. bass player; picky and finicky, I know, but hey… a boy can dream?!

 

It may seem artless to deny the charms of American acts. I am not sure if there is a foreign policy that encourages a home grown domestication; rallying against any U.S. imports, but I have not heard too much from the world leaders in music, as of late. Historically, sure; they are- if not as great as the combined talents of the U.K.- always produced staggering and legendary talent, from Bob Dylan, to Nirvana, through to Ella Fitzgerald. Most of the U.K. music rags and respectables dedicate a lot of focus and patronage towards the sonic outpourings of home-grown talent, rarely venturing that far north of the M4 corridor, as it happens. The U.S. band, In The Valley Below, consequently, have come to my attention, via the rather undignified second-hand smoke or inconsequential Internet about-face. Through my association, with L.A.’s stunning, The Open Feel, that I ‘found’ the group. They hail from the, somewhat unfamiliar to us folk, Echo Park; a bustling and dreamy neighbourhood, lying to the north-west of Downtown Los Angeles, and to the south-east of Hollywood. It is situated away from the fake suburban Disneyworld of the latter, and the danger and unpredictable aroma of the former. The residents of Echo Beach play host to the Lotus Festival, are within a do-able commute of Sunset Blvd. and is a locality that Elliot Smith used to call home. If you stray from the nausea, smoke and avenues beyond one’s ken, you will hear of In The Valley Below, and the local pride that has been tattooed into the water supply, and has reached tributaries beyond the tri-county area. At their core they are Jeffrey Jacob and Angela Gail. Joshua Clair and Jeremy Grant provide fervent accompaniment, in a brilliant group made up of a lot of Js, Gs, Cs and an un-delinated alphabetical book of ‘Indie Dusk, ‘Post Ghost’, ‘Sex Prog’ and ‘Dark Duet’. Formed in 2011, and being poets of dark riddles, with a soceror’s apprentices of pugnacity and hypnotic fever dreams and multi-coloured cauldrons, they have been cementing their manifesto, as well as fighting fire with gasoline, for 2 years, which has seen them gain a gradual and unabated clan of international followers. To look at the couple in the press and profile shots, and one would be forgiven to thinking that they were models. Angela is raven-haired, gorgeous and striking, decked in black-and-white; often sporting a rather fashionable and eye-catching hat, to boot. Jeffrey, similarly, sports identical colours; and is similarly trim, and has the Hollywood idol looks, one would not normally associate with a Californian musician. Well, not a mature and credible one, anyway. In a sense, they seem to have the air of a revitalised and reincarnated The White Stirpes, about them. Whilst Meg White and John Gillis (away from the pantomime facade that they were siblings) stuck to a strict corporate band uniform; red, white and black. The group were students and musical recruits of Nikola Tesla: obsession with the number 3, quirky and closed-off, with a fascinating knack of being able to toss off siphoning and pernicious electric charges. Luckily, our modern-equivalents are less mysterious, and one hopes more approachable; but their music and potency does not suffer from comparable dilution or temporisation. They recently released their E.P., ‘Hymnal’: a 3-track collection that promises healthy returns and investment-grade bonds. I was struck by the band name. I have heard the words ‘the valley below’ used in Bob Dylan’s ‘One More Cup of Coffee’ (which was, perhaps unsurprisingly, covered by The White Stripes). I am guessing- but maybe wrong- that the band did not have fiery hell in mind when figuring upon a band name, but who knows? A mysterious cool and lack of widespread media coverage and interviews, means that it is difficult to say where they got their inspiration from. There seems to be some religious fascination, as a whole. As well as ‘Hymnal’, ‘Last Soul’ and ‘Palm Tree Fire’ are the other two tracks on the E.P. One suspects that if Job were alive- and real for that matter- he would probably be aghast at the sacrilegious thud and twirl of the band’s unique brew.

 

That last sentence, perhaps, succinctly would sum up the intro, to the E.P.’s title track ‘Hymnal’. There is a brief twinkle unveiled; sounding sort of a cross between a glass xylophone and the de-tuned high notes of a piano, there is a fairy and child-like innocence to the first couple of seconds; a sound that could give credence to the thought that a whimsical and Lewis Carroll-esque dizziness was imminent. Any such naive notions are dispelled, as that sound is accompanied by, and domineered by a hammering percussive thud. It is the sort of sound and trick that Portishead pulled off during ‘Three’. It is also the same sort of experimentation spirit that Massive Attack unleashed all over their greatest album: ‘Blue Lines’. It is a Blitzkrieg strop of unlikely allies; juxtaposing the balletic swan waltz with something more industrial, mean streets and violent, is a heady and awesome mix. Beyond the 0:10 mark, there is an, almost reggae-like sound to the music; it sounds like a kettle drum, but is not. It is the myriad of questions and U-turns, that causes such a brouhaha of elicitation, and completes an unexpected and vital introduction. Like the classic English electro groups such as Massive Attack, In The Valley Below, have a similar talent for being able to intertwine dreamy and breathy female vocals, with a geographically relevant musical landscape. Perhaps it isn’t surprising that Echo Park has such diaphanous undertones, that a reciprocal instrumentation should sway in the background. Also, it is pertinent that savage and smoke casts shadows in the foreground, given Echo Park’s proximity to the suburban jungle. It is the combination of the duo’s vocals that creates a sedative wash and serotonin smile. The theme of the lyrics does not stray as far from the beaten track as the music, perhaps; but is universally acknowledged: “I wish I found you sooner/I could have loved you longer”, is implored, creating an arc of regret and longing, that is a prevalent notion. Whether the following words apply to a former love or is a disguised first-person narrative, it is hard to say: “This old sleepy town/Never even knew you were around”. Throughout the song there is discourse about the nature of remembrance and a strange mortality. The guy and gal of In The Valley Below, are subscribers to The xx’s philosophy of twinning meditative and swimming charm, with a haven of audio smells, sounds and substance. It is the combination of a vocal rush, followed by the interjected serried ranks of keyboard tones that blends together so effortlessly. In a way they have a bit of mid-career Fleetwood Mac to them; that same sort of authority and effect. As the track progresses and reaches its autumn years; the vocals again are calibrated and- to a certain extent- strengthened. The ‘dreamy levels’ are raised all the way to 11, and with some sharp razor cuts of electric guitar stabbed into the mood like fork lightning, a little tension is introduced. The chorused dream revelry hits the sky and, when it reaches the clouds, the guitars transform to a more composed shower; conveying some restraint and dignity, where previous there was a menace. The licks and side-steps at the end, are part of a musical paragraph, which fades, and leaves as it does, an intriguing ellipses.

 

Another month, and another new U.S. talent, that has been long cast away from our shores for too long now. With The Open Feel, I was impressed by their unique and capturing sound; a structure indoctrinated for a while, that has managed to wow their native California. In the same way, In The Valley Below have won me over with their combination of luscious music, which can ease the most fevered of brows; and tied that in with a curious design and back-story, that leaves you wondering where they came from, how they got their, and- because of their impressive work ethic- where they are heading. I am curious to hear more from them, and on the strength alone of their E.P., I am sure that they will win appeal from the U.K. and Europe as a whole. On the basis of ‘Hymnal’ they are making initial huge waves. For now, I shall leave you with my catchphrase…

 

I hope that we hear a lot more from this band in the future.

___________________________________________________________________________

 

Official:

http://www.inthevalleybelow.com/home.html

Twitter:

https://twitter.com/bookofITVB

Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/inthevalleybelow

SoundCloud:

http://soundcloud.com/inthevalleybelow

Last FM:

http://www.last.fm/music/In+the+Valley+Below

Death of the Sweetheart- Marriage: The Beautiful Revenge- Proposed 2014/15 ‘Mini- L.P.’ Release

Firstly, apologies for the layout of the ‘Inset’ design.  It is perfect in Word, but does not translate on WordPress due to general lack of sophistication of the site; anyways…

 

‘The Idea’:

 

After many a year of writing words (13), and working on my voice (10+), it seems that- in spite of the lack of finance- that gathering together a worthy collection of representative songs would be in order. A lot of bands form in their late teens, and some have long careers; but many finish after a few albums, and there is always something lacking. Having been writing for years, most of my tracks, I have seen as a bit inferior; lacking in something, or not as strong as they could be. Having discarded quite a few, reworded others, and started new ones, it is decided that the 7 included on the planned future release, are the best I have done, and will work perfectly for a band, willing to play to their best, and experiment and be bold. Once a band has been assembled, it will require a bit of funding, in order to hire additional musicians, studio time etc. but is hoped that, through the use of memorable tracks, and a terrific sound, it will lead to future albums, and be ranked amongst the more impressive debuts.

 

‘The Concept’:

 

It is a concept album, but has a loose feel. There are no character names. The woman, who is becomes married and then divorced, is called Emma. The man, who is the husband, and becomes divorced is unnamed, but is the ‘narrator’- the songs are first person and recall his side of the romance and events. Within the 7 tracks, there are other events and people alluded to. The songs do not follow a progression; there is no real story. The concept focuses on the formation of a relationship; the coming together-marriage, through to break-up and divorce. Most concept albums suffer as they feel too forced and cannot really pull of their ambition; and they seem like a novelty. The fact that the songs are more open, means that it is essentially a regular album, but has a theme and a flow; like The Streets”A Grand Don’t Come For Free’. If you listen to an album like Rated R by Queens of the Stone Age, a great number of the songs are so tightly edited that they almost run into one another. This means that there is a flow, and there is no pause for thought, which means songs do not lose their force and momentum. This release will be like the 2nd side to Abbey Road; each of the songs will flow into one another with no pause. The only pause comes after the 6th track; there is a 15 second pause before the final track is unveiled.

 

The Band Ideal:

 

Guitarists * 2:

Male or female: preferably one will be a powerhouse; able to elicit the sort of force and electricity of Matt Bellamy, Van Halen, Page etc. They will be able to handle huge riffs, as well as create psychedelic noise and incredible solos (Hendrix; White). Looking for someone who has that ambition. The 2nd should have a similar flair, but display a talent for indie-style innovation and unexpected lines; thinking Johnny Marr, for instance. Not necessarily as hard and powerful a guitarist, but someone very intelligent, who can develop intriguing and fantastic riffs and passages to compliment the other guitar.

 

Bass:

A great bass player, who is able to fit the band, and has a flair for power and innovation.

 

Drum:

Powerful and primal for some tracks; in others more soothing and tactical. Think someone who has ambition to follow in the footsteps of Dave Grohl. Need to be able to handle that sort of pace.

 

The Writing Schedule:

 

2 of the songs have been entirely written; the remaining 5 will be completed during 2013; hopefully by the autumn, at the latest. The musical ideas for each track are in my head, but being unable to read or write music, will need a collaborator to flesh out the ideas, as well as translate them onto paper too. Plan to have every song written and as realised as possible by November at the latest.

 

The Planned Recording Schedule:

 

As soon as a band has been found, and gelling begins; financial issues will be next up. Provided it can be raised and budgeted so that each track can be performed, fully realised, recorded, and subsequently released, will aim to begin some time late 2014-early 2015. It may be a long way away, but comes around quickly, and obviously a bit of work and recruiting to be done before hand.

 

The Songs: Track-by-Track:

 

1. ——

Black Majesty Blues-

 

6:19

 

 

 

Beginning, as it will, with a huge riff it is quite a hard and heavy song throughout. The 1:00 intro tries to match the classics; and will hit and weave and be built off of a memorable and simple chord progression and pattern. The song itself deals with a woman that the hero has a thing for, but seemingly has nothing in common with. She is putting her life in faith, fate, spirits and things she has no control over, and gets knocked down and putting her good luck down to unreal forces and ideas. The protagonist is angry and saying that things are random, and cannot be predicated or assigned to a high being; that everything is in the control of the individual. The chorus is lighter and has a catchiness to it- somewhere between The Kinks and QOTSA’s ‘In My Head’. The song is a showcase for the band; the guitars will be huge and staggering at times, with terrific riffs, twisting tails and sharp punches. The drum will be pulsating and incredible throughout, and the bass will be outstanding and domineering. Vocally it will be pitched between a combination of Rob Halford, Freddie Mercury and Robert Plant. It goes from an authority semi-operatic rock belt, to wild high-pitched screams, except for the chorus, which will be more calm and composed. It is earmarked as a potential initial release, and is the heaviest track of the set.

 

2. ——

We Have Seen Better Days-

3:33

 

 

 

Being lead in by a subdued but exciting tail-end of guitar, the track has a shorter introduction, and is close in nature to a Beatles song; somewhere between Abbey Road’s 2nd side tracks, and The White Album. It has a similar musical feel and ambition to it. The lyrics concern two people being drawn together by bad luck and bad days; both having hit a rock bottom, but trying to work together to get better. It has that ’60s pop feel to the lyrics and sentiments, and is fairly romantic. The vocal will not be at the forefront. It will be impressive, but it is the combined band performance and sound of the song, which is king. There is a gorgeous and funky piano line, and the guitar, bass and drums, are not as heavy as the previous track, but are strong and tight throughout. It has a 2-part phase. It begins out as a subdued track, and has similar elements to ‘You Never Give Me Your Money’ and ‘Golden Slumbers’ before becoming more intense and building up the sense of motivation and fun; thinking more side one of The White Album. It has a terrific ending, as everything comes to an end; except for the sound of a radio dial being turned, amidst the sound of some feedback.

 

3. ——

Ultraviolet Robot-

 

3:51

 

 

 

This track again picks up from the end of track 2, and builds on it. In nature and style is has similarities with QOTSA and their work on Songs for the Deaf and Rated R. It is not as heavy as the opening song, but is scuzzy and metallic, and has killer riffs and a great melody. The lyrics progress from track 2, and now concern that rush of falling in love, and putting all the crap to one side. The title is referred to, and refers to romance; in the way that it can be quite mechanical, but changes direction, colour and has a hypnotic and sometimes dangerous radiation. The star of the show will be guitar, drum and bass. The guitar has a dirty tone, and there is an incredible riff at the intro, as well as a repeating coda. It changes style and sound; with the two guitarists weaving in and out, combining spectacularly for the choruses. The drum is savage and powerful in the verses, and combines and joins with bass in the choruses; being more controlled and inventive. The vocal will be more traditional rock, somewhere between Homme, Turner, Jagger or Morrison. In fact the aim will be trying to capture the raw power of Morrison. The song will end quite calmly, with just drum and a light guitar line, before an organ enters, and has a magisterial sway to it, bringing the song down to land.

 

4. ——

Emma Cool and the Boston Dance Party-

5:20

 

 

Intended as a potential standout, and a red herring, this will be different in sound and style to the rest of the tracks. The ‘Emma’ in the title refers to the girlfriend, but the song relates to a bad dream/nightmare: the most frightening and haunting thought imaginable. It reflects a deeper anxiety and comes after a wedding, and may spell that there are doubts underneath; or the fact that being alone is the worst thought possible. The lyrics tell of the man as an astronaut, who goes on mission to space, with a fellow crew member. They would set out to discover life and explore space, but when in outer space, find that there are problems with the shuttle. It is realised that he can never get back, and no way of being returned to Earth. There is a decision of what to do; he will spend his life in space, and is forced with a dilemma of how to live. With only a telephone communication with his lover, the final hours and days are spent with his crew member, planning on how to end their tragedy. It is not a morbid song, instead meant to be haunting. Church organ will be employed to elicit huge atmosphere, and will be an entire break with just organ and orchestra. There will be a 32-piece orchestra that plays, and conjures up emotion. The guitars, bass and drum will be exceptional, but play a back seat in a sense to the vocals, which will be varied and try to stun. It will be a mix of Antony Hegarty/Tom Waits style low and deep voiced wonder, with a higher and more ethereal feminine vibe of Eva Cassidy and Kate Bush. The vocals will combine towards the end, giving the sense of a duet between the stricken astronauts and the lover (Emma); and with the combination of strings, piano, organ and vocals, will have a combination of operatic pop and chamber pop; something like Antony and the Johnsons. As the vocal end, and the decision is made; essentially our protagonist wakes up, as the daylight comes, and the piano and acoustic guitar will play. These lines will begin the next track.

 

5. ——-

Minnesota-

4:38

 

 

 

This song is the most romantic and tender song. It is aimed to be a sort of Jeff Buckley-cum-Blur track. Again the vocal will be fairly high up, pitched as a gorgeous falsetto; that is crystal clear and pure, yet reaches and has incredible power towards the choruses. There will be roars of pain and passion, as well as incredibly pure and stunning vocal holds. Trying to pitch it is a Hallelujah-cum-Something type of track, and because of this, the lyrics will try and steal attention. They will at once be romantic, and incredibly touching, but also tinged with regret and some sadness. In terms of the concept of the album, these will be the first cracks in the relationship as it is seen that the girl/wife is pulling away and maybe has her mind on someone or something else, and the protagonist is trying to save it, before there is any tension or explosion. The rest of the band will be at their most tender, with subtle electric guitar being secondary to sweeping and stirring acoustic guitars, classic and 12-string, and gorgeous bass. Again there will be piano, similar to To Build A Home/Let It Be, with a string section evoking the spirit of The Cinematic Orchestra. I am- somewhat ambitiously- hoping to create a modern romantic classic, that will not be too sad or sombre; conveying the right amount of emotion and balance. The end of the track will begin to build up with acoustic and electric guitar combining, as if to produce a huge swell, because the track ends.

 

6. ——

Hand-Tied Bouquet-

1:56 (with 15 second break)

 

 

This is the last track that will be in the medley-style chain; picking up from the last notes of the previous song, it will be a quick and fast song, that has touches of Dylan; sort of Subterranean Homesick Blues-meets- It’s Alright, Ma (I’m Only Bleeding). It will have that pace, and will get faster, as the lyrics tumble out. The key component is the band who create a ’60s blues/rock sound, and marry that to modern day northern rock/pop; it is awash with atmosphere, tension and momentum. The drum will be lighter, but will be constant and powerful, adding extra tension to the mix. The lyrics are about the breaking up and cessation of a relationship; the thoughts and scenes that are present, as well as words about dreams, thoughts, surreal images; mixing striking poetry with wordplay. The vocal has a similar Dylan edge, and will be breathless and focused. It is the shortest track of the 7, but has the most words, ending with the final line, followed by a short electric guitar/acoustic guitar coda, that is struck and holds. When the track ends, there is a 15 second silence; giving the impression there is a hidden track coming, and giving the listener room to breathe.

 

7. ——

Vanity Mirror-

8:02

 

 

 

This is the longest, and most ambitious track, and hoping it is the finest. It has ambitions to be a modern-day Paranoid Android, and consists of 6 or 7 different phases. It is going to be a bit of a monster, and will be the song that ties everything up, leaves cliffhangers and twists at the end. The lyrics focus on love breaking down, the recriminations and the scenes and chaos following self-destruction and inner tensions. The song will build, twist, turn and stagger; the guitars will be a mix of huge and memorable riffs, incredible little explosions and contortion. The vocal will be multi-part, going from gorgeous falsetto and romanticism, going to hard edged imploring and strained vocals, through to full-throated scream. There will be a huge vocal chorus and rise near the end of the track, employing several hundred different vocal lines that will build one by one, and rise and amplify, creating a crescendo and high point. The intro, riffs, phases and outro will be hiughlights, and the entire song has intentions and aspirations to be a modern classic. It hopefully ends the collection on a high note, and leaves the door open for future releases.

 

 

Music Video (For Lead-Off Single):

 

1. ——

Black Majesty Blues-

 

2 concepts or

 

2. ——

 

We Have Seen Better Days-

 

2 concepts.

 

 

 

Although I have a better concept for We Have Seen Better Days, I suspect that Black Majesty Blues will be a better options, but am excited about the four different concept. In terms of budget they range from several hundred pounds, to thousands, so will be dictated by economic logic. For each song there is one concept that costs hundreds; the other, thousands.

 

The Art, The Credits, The Insets:

 

Front and Back Art:

 

The cover is going to be as striking as possible. The image will be stark, memorable, but also humorous, too. The central image will be a person dressed as the Queen, being blown up. The image is not intended to be anti-establishment, as am a huge royalist myself; it is merely meant to be iconic. There will be the central image of the clothes being blown open, there is a comical bottom half of suspenders being seen, but mixed with shocking images; such as organs being blown apart, and blood. We will see the crown being blown off and hair (implying it is a wig), and every part of the explosion; from the crown, to the organs, will represent a song title or lyric. Little clues, items and objects will be mingled in the explosion that represent titles, lyrics and ideas. The shot will depict a London scene, possible shot near Buckingham Palace. The entire album will be concept, as well as a mystery: is it a dream, a film, or real? There are clues in the cover. In the middle of the image amongst the explosion will be a flash of light or fire, where the explosion started, and you can see the killer’s face, or part of it. There is a mystery and lots of story within the cover; it is a murder mystery, a film, and has twists, turns and questions and odd little scenes. In the background will be commentaries on modern life, such as gun crime, violence, economic depression, and are little scenes and images which are striking. In the same way that Sgt. Pepper’ has a collection of famous faces combined, in a section close to the top right of the image, there will be a host of current and past faces, together; ranging from politicians, and musicians. The entire ‘scene’ will depict the sun setting and will be a gorgeous landscape in itself; seeming like several images put together, and the entire cover draws your eyes in different directions, but there is one key image/clue/revelation, that people will miss, as naturally other scenes and areas will draw your attention away. In a tube train in part of the photo, there will be a homeless person with a sign that says ‘Death of the Sweetheart’; surrounded as he is by drugs and a dead woman as he holds a gun and smiles, rather oddly.

 

The back cover mixes tragedy with comedy. It will show a pair of legs hanging from shot in the cold and rain, implying that the guilt party has been hanged. It is a man, but someone who is wearing high heels. It will be a rain-swept scene and will be at night, as we see siren lights, streetlights and various colours and fires, as again there is a lot going on in the background. One of the seven dwarfs is sweeping up, and there will be a mix of surreal and unusual images, as fantasy figures and famous faces mingle in various scenes, including one with Churchill being arrested. There again will be social commentaries, including scenes and images related to natural disaster, as well as unemployment, and hollow reality shows and celebrity. One of the bold and striking images will see two naked figures entwined and will be quite stunning, but also fairly sexual. There will be money handed from the woman to the man, maybe commentating on fame, or the nature of celebrity. The idea is that there will be clues to unravel the mystery if you look in the right places, and various characters and people will hold clues, and if you put them together, you can solve it. There will be a bride, with a ripped dress and her makeup running, who is stood looking to camera, and has a tattoo on her arm that says ‘Marriage: The Beautiful Revenge’. There is a blood stain on her arm as well, and she gives a mysterious and striking look.

 

Inset and design:

 

Death of the Sweetheart– ‘Marriage: The BeautifulRevenge’

 

 

(Mini L.P.)

 

 

1. ——

Black Majesty Blues-

 

6:19

 

In The Beginning:

dislike and hating the girl; a rally call to see science, not blind faith. 

 

 

3:33—– 2.   We Have Seen Better Days-

 

 

The Intrigue Unfolds:

Both down on their luck; mutual need for companionship; romance begins.

 

3. ——

Ultraviolet Robot-

 

3:51

 

The Passion, The Power, The Pride:

The thrill of pure passion; fall deeply in love and headspinning lust. 

 

 

5:20—— 4. 

Emma Cool and the Boston Dance Party-

 

Dreams #1-#3:

In bed and have most frightening dream possible; changes hero’s views on his love.

 

 

4:38—– 5. Minnesota-

 

Things Go Wrong:

Both start to pull away and try to make it work; old times remembered.

 

6. ——

Hand-Tied Bouquet-

1:56 (with 15 second break)

The Break-Up- Divorce Ahead:

The anger boils to the surface and builds and builds. 

 

 

8:02—— 7.    Vanity Mirror-

 

 

Showdown And Grand Finale:

The petitions, court dates, emotions and split; to be continued…?

 

 

‘Duration’: 33:39 (Weeks; Days/Hours)

 

 

The inset will be over 2 pages. To the left will be the track listing. It will be designed as you see above, but is part of a wider image. The entire page will be a marriage certificate/divorce certificate. There will be phrases and paragraphs throughout, but the only words that are highlighted are those above. The song titles and words fit seamlessly into paragraphs are are part of sentences. The ‘Beautiful’ and ‘Revenge’ part of the title will be in different hand-writings, implying that the wife wrote one, and husband the other. There is a tear stain on the ‘Revenge’ word and cigarette burn and ash on ‘Beautiful’, as well as there being a red wine stain further down the contract. It is designed to be a very stylish and memorable image; one which could be an album cover in its own right.

 

The 2nd page of the inset will have the credits and have a look of a mix between a divorce contract and a film poster. The band members names will be listed and instruments played etc. but in the context of a film’s actors/guilt parties. For instance one of the guitarists will have ‘Strings’ as a credit. There will be parenthesis by it that says (None attached) and (Heart Strings Also Pulled). Producer and Engineer credits are given similar attention with words added or crossed out, so it appears like amendments have been made by lawyers or the parties involved. It look quite stylish, and the Lyrics and Music credits will be given key scrutiny, and seen as the key ‘guilty’ players.

 

Photos/Designs:

 

Each track will have a separate page, that has a different photo or image for each one. It may be appropriate or stunning, and there will be different styles- colour, B/W, animated, etc. and will consist of the song title somewhere in the image; either as a street sign or worked in cleverly. There will be 7 images, and 3 others that would feature the entire band in some way. They would not be regular band photos, instead stylised; one would feature the entire group in a gripping and great image; and the other two would see two different sets of band members, each in different scenes or scenarios.

 

In Conclusion/Thoughts:

 

As well as funding and members required to add the colour to the black and white as it were, it is an effort to get the ball rolling, and lay out everything that I want and need to do for the first steps, of hopefully a long career. As soon as I have finance will be moving to London, and hunting for 3 other people to help me do this. From there it is about getting the necessary money to make it a reality. I am sort of fed up with lacklustre debuts and underwhelming debuts from acts. Whether it is because of innovation or finance, it shouldn’t be that way, so aiming to buck the trend and begin with a bang, and never let up…

We Died At Sea- I Am Drinking Again- Track Review

 

We Died At Sea-

 

                         I Am Drinking Again cover art

 

I Am Drinking Again

 

 

 

Track Review:

 

 

9.5/10.0

 

 

The ‘middle-class’ men of Leeds, have the sound of working-class America; in spite of a modest following, they will soon appeal to more than the two polar sects.

 

 

 

Availability:

 

‘I Am Drinking Again’

is available via:

http://wediedatsea.bandcamp.com/track/i-am-drinking-again

 

___________________________________________________________________________

 

Class is something, not often mentioned or explored, when pertaining to music…

 

Everybody is aware of the obvious bastions of the classes. The so-called ‘working-class heroes’, from John Lennon, through to Oasis, have always managed to capture a variegated and diverse sector of society. Their core message and aesthetic, at its core, is proletariat; but the abiding quality and nature of the music, is often not concerned with status or class. The words are never concerned with such meaningless issues. That said, there does seem to be- if not a scientifically-based- linkage between class and quality. In particular, with few exceptions, the most memorable musicians, greatest songs, and acts with the greatest longevity, seems to have emanated from the working, and lower-middle classes. Being in that group myself, I have always attributed the possible disparity in quality, down to the financial and emotional constraints. A lot of the all-time greats; especially the likes of The Beatles, most of the soul and blues greats, and the great majority of the modern troubadours, all have suffered hardship and oppression. From my perspective, if you have little money and are constrained by circumstance and hardship, you become more introverted, and focused upon an escape. For those of whom music is their main passion, the concentration is going to be on your art; your first love. It costs nothing to write and to ‘create’; in fact some of the best moments and most inspired thoughts come when you are down in the depths, or else hell-bent on peaceful insurrection. There is no predisposed correlation as such between classes and talent; it just seems that limitations or constrictions can bring about the most concentrated and brilliant music. As much as anything the key lyrical themes: love, money, life in general, come from a real place and seem much more genuine and convincing. Many of the acts I have been focusing upon over the last few months, predominantly have suffered a hard road to future success, and have said that financial restrictions have been a major hindrance, as well as a key muse. It is perhaps not an equivalency that extends perhaps to acting, or main other sectors of entertainment, nor, unfortunately does it feature highly in the biographies of politicians. It’s not to say, of course, that if you are, or were born under a more fortunate star, then you are going to be fall inferior under the Bayer designation. Many of the greatest and most spellbinding artists have managed to transcend and marginalise class barriers, by projecting themselves are likeable and worthy champions. In the ’90s and ’00s, there have been a greater number of examples of the undiluted and non prejudicial class. The fact that recording and distributing music has become more cost-effective and simpler than it has been ever, is encouraging a lot of less well-off musicians, to lay down their sound; in essence creating an unsubjugated, border-less mass unity, amongst all musicians.

 

I mention this rather contentious issue, as We Died At Sea, label themselves as ‘middle-class’; yet have a fascinated split personality. For one thing, the bio/tag lines on their Facebook page, quote Dostoevsky. The quote concerns work, and the nature and meaningfulness of it. It speaks volumes about their devotion to, and passion for, music; as well pointing at an augmented intelligence and focus that few contemporaries possess. The Leeds-based boys, underneath the skin and clothing; have an American sensibility, that brings more to mind more Seasick Steve than Tim Rice-Oxley. The musical masquerade has been yielding curiosity and plaudit since 2012, and there is a pastoral charm to their look as well as sound. On the social media official sites, there are floral landscapes, Victorian industrialism, and the inescapable feeling of ease and tranquility. It is with great intrigue that I approached their music; wondering whether I would hear lilting folk guitars and lush vocals, or else a ramble of bluegrass and anthemic Detroit punch. They are quite under-subscribed at the present time, possessing as they do, a small, but respectable handful of fans. They are in the infancy of their developmental process and are taking the first exciting steps. From listening to the group’s work there is no inscrutable noise; no basic level due diligence, and no attitudes towards the notion of ‘playing it safe’. They have a bold and flammable spark to their sound; a positively out of left field surprise to their songs; especially their intros. The band consist of leader, singer, guitarist and accordionist Chris Wallum (whom is also the band’s songwriter); violin and mandolin star Rob Bromley; double bass maestro Filipe Petry; and percussion and vox accomplice Francis Watson. Together they are We Died At Sea; a band that I am confident, will be a festival staple of the future.

 

‘I Am Drinking Again’ is, what the band calls, a ‘2-track album’. Whether that is pinpoint, or whether you see it as a double-A side, or mini E.P., one thing is for sure: it is fascinating. I have listened to the 2nd track of the two, called ‘Wolves’. That song is a lush and swelling beauty, or gorgeous strings, beautiful vocals, and lyrics filled with vivid and frightening imagery. Please do check it out. I felt compelled to review the title track, as from the opening notes, I was captured. The intro. catches you quite unaware. It is not your standard acoustic guitar strum-cum-predictable linear crawl. It begins with Mediterranean strings. With some Greek wild sway; Spanish seductiveness and Italian passion, it is up and dancing; a mix of sounds are unleashed, with what sounds like a washboard being used as percussion. The final seconds of the intro have a flavour of France to them; it is romantic and invigorating. One imagines that the sound of America will be arriving some time a little later, as there is nothing but European brilliance and innovation within the opening seconds. When the vocal arrives, the voice that produces it is like none I have heard before. Ordinarily I can pick a voice apart, and assigned various tones, sighs and screams to other artists; essentially be a bit of a pedantic arsehole. When inking up my pen, ready to take the review in the direction of Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, or any other U.S. grassroots pioneer, I was a little stumped. There is a pleasing everyman appeal to the voice; it has some familiar tones but is its own man. The words tell of drunken days and nights, and scenes of drinking “to pass waking hours away”. The dark and open words are never delivered in any sort of morbid or depressed way. There is a matter-of-fact delivery, that suggests whether the words are autobiographical or not, perhaps our author has come to peace with things. The sense of emotional balance and restraint is enforced by the musical backing, which never lets up its charm and drive. It is a melodic and memorable dance; close to a waltz with a bit more of a spring to its step. The chorus arrives, and reminded me slightly of ‘Up The Bracket’-era The Libertines, only less scuzzy and more mannered. It is a song that is destined to soundtrack a huge future film; maybe something of a gangster film- it has that flair and edge to it. It is quite an unnerving experience when listening to the music and vocals, and seeing them juxtaposed against lines like “If I die tonight”, and “I shall not fear the end of the rope/Or the ghost”. The protagonist seems to have a relaxed attitude to his mortality; whether that is the drink adding confidence, or taking away his soul, is tricky to fully understand. Whether too, the merrier and more jubilant background is intended as accompaniment to a drunken anthem, or offset the bleaker central mood, is also a tough one to call, but one suspects that the band are keen to create a fun skin to offset a darker core; in a sense making a more complete and pleasing whole. If you tie a weary and depressing musical coda then the overall effect is going to be exhausting. Leonard Cohen, Elliot Smith and Nick Drake could do it expertly, but in a modern climate, if you can match poetic and thought-provoking words with a romantic and invigorating backing, you are going to unite a lot of casual voters, and pull off quite a rare and neat trick. There is a hint of the brothers Finn to the vocal performance. There is a similar pattern and familiarity in the choruses, and a hint of eponymous album Crowded House when Wallum and Watson combine. As the second verse is unveiled and settles in, the sense of infectious sway cannot be denied. “So we laid coins on her eyes/To send her from life to new life” may not be up there with ‘Hey Jude’ or ‘Karma Police’ in terms of chant-able anthems, but damn it all if you don’t sing along after the 2nd or 3rd listen. The entire song, and especially the repetition of the chorus (combined with wordless s chorusing), creates a woozy and dizzy charm, that will seep into your veins and intoxicate you.

 

If you hear America, Europe or Australia in the song, let me know, as was caught between the three. It has a working-class appeal and conviction, yet is educated and confident. The group and tight and compelling from start to finish and I was impressed not only by the sharp and unhinged nature of the music, which I swear is probably the catchiest and most memorable example I have heard all year; but by every component. The lyrics are intense and mordant, yet are delivered in a way that will not pull you down or cause a tear to form; instead will sweep you along. Regardless of proclamations of social classification or any preconceived notions you may have, there is no denying that We Died At Sea are going to make huge waves (pun unintended). They have an appeal and professionalism that is impressive so early on, and although they have a small number of songs to their name, they will build upon it, and I cannot wait to hear the results. In a year that has provided a little too much generic acoustic music, too many similar guitar bands, and too few real noteworthy artists, it is refreshing that there are groups out there that can enliven and amaze. They may tell of tales of drunken mess and chaos, but there is no sobering alarm. They are a band for the people. I cannot wait for their next step…

 

And hope that we hear a lot more from them, in the future.

_______________________________________________________

 

Twitter:

https://twitter.com/WeDiedatSea

Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/#!/WeDiedAtSea?fref=ts

SoundCloud:

http://soundcloud.com/we-died-at-sea

Gabriella Cilmi- Sweeter In History- Track Review

 

Gabriella Cilmi

 

Sweeter In History

 

 

 

 

Track Review

 

9.8/10.0

 

 

The Australlian-born wonder is still capable of confounding, intruiging and overwhelming, after 5 years, and a fascinating road to glory.

 

 

 

Availability:

‘Sweeter In History’ is available via

: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a4swJmvfTpo&feature=youtu.be

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IT has been a long while since I have been excited by an established female artist…

 

whom has also managed to inspire me, as well. One who has managed to blow the cobwebs from my daily routine, and bring about a creative about-face. I shall become less mysterious, whilst explaining more about the appeal of Gabriella Cilmi, accordingly, but wanted to begin by taking you 10,000 miles away. That would be Australia, of course, and it is a country, nae, continent, that has produced a hell of a war chest of stunning musicians. In spite of the fact that the country is a fresh-faced teen in history’s long autobiography, the music stars of Australia, have made great leaps to supersede and confound expectation with a varied, and variable impact. There have been acts, that, in my view are not entirely indicative of the innovation and spirit of the country. Men at Work spring to mind. I never got their appeal; too gimmicky at times, and they seem to have built up a popularity, that has baffled me. That said, some of the best songwriters and bands have hailed from a land down under. Nick Cave is one of the greatest examples I can find. Classic rock bands such as INXS, AC/DC and The Easybeats, modern gods such as Silverchair, Tonight Alive, The Vines and The Avalanches are favourites of mind. Legends such as Kylie Minogue, Wolfmother and Slim Dusty hail from the hallowed turfs, and my personal favourites Crowded House do their country proud. Of course there is some rather bad fish amongst the filet mignon. Merchants of nauseating cheese such as Peter Andre and Delta Goodream do the nation no real service, as do the professional plagiarists (and the now defunct) Jet. There are vastly more positives in the mix, and the vast range of sounds, styles and genres, shows that even in a country where the T.V. and movie industry has a lot of catching up to do with regards to the U.K. and U.S., the music industry is arguable on a par. I know for a fact that there are a lot of great new acts bursting through, especially around Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne. The cities, as well as the smaller towns are playing host to a raft of eager talent. It is down to the role that station Triple J, as well as festivals such as Big Day Out play in heralding and supporting this talent, but with bands like The Ruebens, After The Fall, The Shakeouts and Empire of the Sun providing a fervent patronage, existing acts are helping to further the cause of Australian music. There is still an insidious leaning towards soft pop and what is considered ‘mainstream’ or worse, ‘radio-friendly’; but if you scratch at the surface, and prepare to be open-minded, then many treasures and delights are to be found. I have been blown away by the sounds that are emanating from the island. Some have been played on Radio 6 and XFM; others I have heard played faintly in the background of a scene during Neighbours; as others have come to my attention through word of mouth and association with other bands. There is no box social marketing and commercialisation; men and women of incredible ambition and talent are still preferred to those with no talent, teeth or guts, whom and are all cosmetics, plastic and ‘ums’ ‘ahs’, ‘like’ and ‘you knows’. It is perhaps more prevalent in the U.K. and U.S.; because of a larger population and wider media, but I have been somewhat put out by a lot of new solo talent. Unless the women have common flavour notes of Laura Marling, Adele, Eva Cassidy, Jessie Ware or such, then the music proffered tends to be rather divisive and unsatisfactory. A lot of artists I have heard interviews seem incapable of stringing a coherent sentence together, and tend to be the sort of vomit-inducing crap you get from The X Factor: hollow, sob-story whiners, who have no talent to write songs, instead making existing songs worse. I don’t know, maybe it is just a bad time, but there are very few genuine, intelligent, likeable and extraordinarily talent solo female artists at the moment, beyond the mass of vanilla boredom that seems to be a staple. It is a bigger issue in the male market, but I have found that it is in areas you least expect, as well as in parts where spotlights rarely shine, that the most prodigious solo artists lie waiting. I have been impressed by a lot of the existing crop of solo artists such as P.J. Harvey, but very few younger established acts have pricked my senses. It is those that are in the Ansoff matrix/cap and trade crossover stage in their careers, that seem less pervious.

 

Gabrielle Cilmi has long been in my focus since she arrived on the scene, back in 2008. Aside from goddess looks and a stunning sex appeal, she has a keen intelligence and brilliant songwriting ability, that has seen her on many people’s lips and tips of tongues for 5 years now. In interviews she comes across as extremely down-to-earth and playful, whilst showing a great affinity for her contemporaries. In 2008 she scored big at the ARIA awards, and was nominated for a BRIT award the following year. Perhaps a sobering proposition was placed at her feet: how to keep the pace and strength this high, and manage to stay relevant and fresh. Her debut album, ‘Lessons to Be Learned‘ was met with large approval, and predominately positive reviews. Publications such as BBC music and Daily Music Guide were perhaps lukewarm; the latter stating that there may be “too much gloss” to the sound. Allmusic were more positive, highlighting that the album possessed a great range of styles and shifts, and kept interest high. The lead-off single ‘Sweet About Me’ was a bit of an iron lung. In the same way that Radiohead’s ‘Creep’ was the anthem of their early career and something they could not escape, it also gave them exposure that lesser songs would not have. Radiohead wrote ‘My Iron Lung’ in response to the mixed blessings that that song brought, and Cilmi and her collective back catalogue took a back seat to ‘Sweet About Me’. It was- and is- a terrific song, injected with interlinked sounds of the U.S., U.K. and Australia, presenting its author as something of a mysterious vixen. It was a stylish and gutsy slab of pop and soul. It was written after Cilmi relocated to London, and was inspired by a trip to a record store in Paris. It was the most played song of 2009 in the U.K., was used in several advertising campaigns, ratcheting up a mighty 70,000 sales. It was written by its young heroine, who wanted to let it be known that just because she is young, doesn’t mean she is inexperienced, naive or clueless. It was a song that was played a great deal, and brought exposure and plaudits to Cilmi. It was seen as the key cut from her album, but at the same time, brought some mixed blessings. Many critics and fans might have been looking for 11 or 12 replications or mutations of the track, and due to the vast spotlight the track received, many felt that the rest of the album may have not hit the same high notes. It is endemic of the industry and people as a whole, when they latch onto a particular song, and feel the need to hear the same type of song duplicated for the rest of the career of the artist. The debut album has a lot of diversity and the record’s release came at an inopportune time. With the likes of Duffy and Adele on the scene at the same time, it suffered in an overcrowded market. The following release ‘Ten’ fared better. That exceptional voice was at the forefront once more. It is an instrument that has been compared to Amy Winehouse, as well as ‘precosiously sparkling’ by The Guardian. Songs like ‘On A Mission’ and ‘Hearts Down Lie’, brought in new fans and its sexier and funkier sound appealed to many reviewers. A few years have passed, events have unfolded. Cilmi has been more influenced by a blues sound, as well as artists like Dolly Parton and Tricky. Perhaps a little downcast following, what was seen as negative reception to ‘Ten’, Gabriella has been releasing songs; ‘Vicious Love’ was met with many questions, to which Cilmi has responded to, by stating that the song (as indeed the forthcoming album), will be more reflective and soulful, with the emphasis that the impending album will be made by her, for her, and the album she wants to make. ‘Vicious Love’ is about or heroine’s view that in spite of any sort of vicious love and seeming dead ends, most roads in life are dead ends; so effectively, just go with it. It is a tantalising cut that shows that our protagonist is going to unleash a more mature, and more scintillating and evocative album, with tender, personal edges, as well as innovation and crackle too.

 

The suburbanisation of her musical landscape, has lead to a beautiful avenue: ‘Sweeter In History’. It was Calvin Coolidge that said “Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence”. Cilmi has shown a bag of omnipotence, with regards to her career and artistry, and it has lead her here. There is the simplest and briefest of introductions; with just a chime that announces the vocal. Cilmi displays her stunning voice; parts Macy Gray and Amy Winehouse; with none of the restrictions of the former, nor grave foreboding of the latter. It is soft and reverent, with a seductive and has some influences of the blues and souls greats. I could well imagine modern-day Billie Holiday or Nina Simone writing this sort of track. The tones are smoky and sexy, with protestations such as “It didn’t taste as sweet/As it was meant to be”, being early shots. There is initial dislocating; Cilmi wondering how she got “caught between two cities”; unsure as to how events have taken the course they have. The vocal trickles and caresses, giving the words a tender consideration, but also adding weight to the emotions. At around the 0:40 marker, the pace intensifies and a crescendo is born. Scenes are set and a tale of love-gone-wrong, or bad memories are exorcised; with Cilmi declaring that “Some things are sweeter in history”. I guess that it seems events are easier to deal with retrospectively, and it is hard to lose a grip from something you do not want to. The verses are enveloped with a powerful conviction; the nature of the voice gives condemnation as well as acts as a spiritual ballast. If you watch the associative YouTube video in conjunction, it adds some credence to this summation. In it, Cilmi is painted in black and white; this classical look maybe ironically proves that the course of events and love is not black and white; but as much as anything it projects a filmic and cinematic epic sweep. Cilmi herself has dispensed with the long locks, sporting instead a shortened length; she is now a gorgeous woman, instead of a beautiful girl. There is a sense of ethereal whisper; a lot of imagery focuses upon faith, dusty rooms, seconded cloisters, and a crucifix being caressed by our protagonist. She looks from windows and wanders streets (sometimes under a veil), with a contemplative and deep in thought expression. You can tell from the song that there is a lot of rumination and looking back. Gabriella’s former suitor has been cast asunder as she wanted to preserve a memory of him in a particular place and time; a time that was perhaps a more redolent time. There are pointed words with a little scorn. As much as anything our young heroine is recounting days past, and when there were times you used to lie “with your perfect design”, and Cilni wanted to feel empowered and not enforced, it is perhaps prescient that the disgraced beau is recounted as someone who “didn’t get what (you) came for”. The vocal for the most part is traditionally reliable Cilmi: powerful and authoritative. I mentioned Winehouse earlier, and there is a little of her ‘Frank’ emotional cuts, as well as ‘Back To Black’s stronger moments. When the pace intensifies, the vocal spills and sparks; almost syncopated and rapped at times. It is tender and wracked at some ventures, and at others is quite composed and Socratic. She fears no god or consequence; instead her words tell of a woman who has learnt from an experience, and seems galvanised and together in spite of any misgivings or heartache. The composition itself is impressive and grand. The piano, especially is potent and heart-skipping; at times it is in accordance with ghostly vocal backing, and at others stand alone. In that respect there are parallels with Radiohead‘s experimenting emotionalism during ‘Kid A’ and ‘Amnesiac’. The most prolific moments during those two albums employed the piano effectively; it was a flaming ace up the sleeve, and created evocative mood and tangible emotion. Cilmi, too, interlinks that, latching it to a blues and soul motif; creating a swelling momentum throughout. As the song climaxes (almost sexually), the tension and gravity pushes you further to the floor, and succumbs to entropy; leaving but a haunted cry. The percussion is exemplary, in the sense that it does everything it needs to do. It backs the vocals up perfectly; keeping the spine straight, and the back supported, but at the same time, elicits its own momentum; speculating and pioneering, and able to add extra depth to the proceedings. In the music video, Gabriella arrives at the foot of a marble (?) cross, after surveying some nearby gravestones. Perhaps it is a symbolic inclusion, but as the final frame arrives and she looks back, there are questions left in the mind. I was wondering if the song is inspired by a break up or turbulence in her past, and whether she has come to peace with events. There is a little mystery and curiosity in the lyrics; a lot of sharp-shooting and literal lyricism is displayed, yet there is some oblique and open-ended wording that means you can draw your own conclusions as well as emphasise and support the core theme.

 

I shall not ramble for too long, in conclusion. For those fans that wander where the ‘Sweet About Me’ girl has gone, then the best I can say is that musical puberty has hit. There was never any petulance or naivety within that song, and as Gabriella herself stated, it was a song saying how wise and switched on she was. The rules have not changed and the posts have not been moved. The only thing different here is the sound. There is less emphasis on fun and swing, instead it is more introverted and a calmer beast. It is a stronger track in my view, and shows how far our heroine has come since her debut. She has always been a fine songwriter, but here there is maturity and a wise head on young shoulders. Whether you want to accept it or not, the sound of Gabriella Cilmi may well replicate the majesty of this track. There may well be a lot of left and right turns, and if you are familiar with her work, you know she does not like to stand still. For sure we will hear some fun, some lively kicks, and some blending of invigorating sounds and revitalised themes. She is a woman who knows what she wants, and someone who is able to play upon familiar themes, and put a stylish and impressive spin to them. Many may go to the Winehouse well when analysing the vocal and the sharp and thought-provoking lyrics, but the two are different artist. There will be no self-destruction or questionable morals in a personal or professional context, as Cilmi has stated that she wants to herald a sea change in her sound, and mix things up a bit. ‘Sweeter In History’ has been in my head for a while and have found myself humming the tune, and singing along; sometimes having my sanity questioned by passer-bys. I have been compelled to start a new song, and as I am working on a ‘mini-L.P.’ of my own and trying to focus my attentions towards a more personal plain, the ‘honourary Brit’ has given my food for thought. She has also inspired a few rather wonderful music video ideas that I am now desperate to harness, damned if I know where they will end up!

 

I am going to finish with a couple of points, that will include quotation and comedy. It was Friedrich Nietzsche that said: “The essence of all beautiful art, of all great art, is gratitude”. Gabriella has has a long, and not always easy ride. She has fought off and overcome some critical doubts and has had to stay strong and focused in a busy market, that has had little sympathy for similar artists in the past. She knows how hard you have to work to be remembered and revered, and it is her refusal to stand still and compromise that has lead to the first steps of her forthcoming 3rd album. She has shown a musical shift filled with confidence, and little nerves. There are strong signs that the upcoming release will be her strongest yet, and will un-crease any loose edges. “The idea of writer as sage is pretty much dead today” is what J.M. Coetzee said in relation to his own work. Cilmi is going to be added to a short list of female artists, today, whom are able to write personal and relevant material, and have a level of conviction and talent that will appeal to all: regardless of age, gender or musical persuasion. In the middle of the pot is the voice, which is queen. Many would have to smoke 50-a-day and drink 50 gallons of gin to obtain something that comes naturally to Cilmi. Those who have trepidations about the upcoming album, will- I’m sure- not be disappointed. I shall leave you with some pathos- albeit, funny. It perfectly encapsulates the nervous voice of young artists; the shock you get from hearing an unexpected wonder of a voice, and the critical reaction; before the central figure turns burnt out critic. It is not something Gabriella should be fearful of (far from it)- but there are pertinent aspects: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uYgVYvc7Neg.

 

Enjoy; and prepare for what is sure to be a ‘must-hear’ album for 2013.

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Twitter:

https://twitter.com/gabcilmi

Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/#!/gabriellacilmiofficial?fref=ts

iTunes:

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/artist/gabriella-cilmi/id268949601

SoundCloud:

http://soundcloud.com/gabriellacilmi

YouTube:

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

MySpace:

http://www.myspace.com/gabriellacilmi

Camera Obscura- Do It Again- Track Review

 

Camera Obscura-

 

 

‘Do It Again’

 

 

Track Review:

 

 

 

9.5/10.0

 

 

 

They are a band with a huge social following and an exciting future; an essential addition to stereos and iPods.

 

 

 

Availability: ‘Do It Again’ is available via http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JHryk07Rs_k&feature=youtu.be

 

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 The future and security of bands who have managed to make an impact…

 

is not necessarily cemented and solid. I have never believed in anything as trite as fate or destiny. It is part of a wider discourse of anger I have, relating to, what I see as a naivety amongst many people. It will cost potential romance and long-term prospects of contentment, but ultimately comes from a bedrock of intelligence, science and logic; as well as perhaps a pessimism. I only mention it, as there is a transferable lack of understanding within music. Many bands or acts allie any success to the notion that their righteous success is down to fate; a lot of newer musicians attribute good fortune or deserved plaudit to this notion. The music market is as fickle and cruel as any. The greater the number of new acts and artists coming through, the less likely it is that you will be noticed, unless you have something tremendous in your box of tricks. As a comparable to the burgeoning population, it is perhaps not simply advisable to be born, aerate with no ambition, go grey and simple be satisfied with your lot. It is as wasteful and baffling to be constrictive and narrow in life, as it is within music. Because of a wealthy chest of historical talent; new and exciting technology, and a whole host of possibilities, it is rather discouraging when groups or artists simply play it safe, or show timidity. Circling to my primary point, success and fortune is equivocal to talent, likeable personality and an original and stunning sound. I have been affronted by the lack of communication and appreciation I received from a well-established U.S. band recently, with regards to a recent review I wrote for their new song. My anger is hardly assuaged down to the fact that they are awesome musicians and are a phenomenal band. If you want longevity and the ardent gaze of society as well as music media, then you need to tie these sought-after qualities together. The truly note-worthy acts that are in existence have managed to claim a foothold because of this. It is not due to a prefabricated destiny; they have worked their collective arses off to get there. If I refer to my argument about the somewhat fickle nature of the business, there is a large sector of music that contains flaccid, plastic and vile bile; artists whom tick none of the boxes and achieve a great financial wealth and fan-base by appealing to lowest common denominators; who appeal to undeveloped musical minds, with only prurient interests and shallowness to their personalty. I have been fortunate enough to hear of a lot of new artists, whom I fondly believe will be tugging heart-string and challenging minds for many years to come. Something in the way they move; attract me like no other musicians. The abiding factor that has enforced this opinion is a number of different considerations. They all have terrific personalities; a humble nature to them as well as a set of tremendous and intriguing songs. Image has played a part, as well as a catchy or intelligent band name: one that excites you, and gives insight into the band’s psyche, as well as what their music may well sound like.

 

This takes me, perhaps with not the composed neatness I was aiming for, to the shores of Camera Obscura. Screw it; it is a tidy segway. All of my aforementioned thesis will be rationalised and proved as I continue, and will bring evolution and depth to my conclusion. I must be frank first of all: up until this week I was not overly aware of the stylish beauty of Glasgow’s 5-piece. Their name alone elicits a monsoon of curiosity and back story. The band name has a historical origin. A camera obscura, is a photographic devise, which projects the image of its surroundings, onto a screen. It has the appearance of an overhead projector, and is quite primitive in nature, yet an influential discovery that has lead to the development of a lot of equivalent technology, and can be seen as future forefounder muse. It also has a local relevance to the band. In Edinburgh the name is given to an attraction which has been in existence for 150 years, and gives the opportunity for people to learn about the history of the city, and displays huge images of the city onto a viewing table. It is an experience that ties in the basic, yet pioneering technology of the device, with a modern-day desire and shift. The band constitute Tracyanne Campbell, Gavin Dunbar, Kenneth McKeeve, Lee Thomson and Carey Lander. On their Facebook page, their profile page shows them shrouded and enveloped in smoke, dressed resplendently, and stern-faced and mysterious. The band mixes a bi-gender chemical composite, with a range of ages and experience. The men are variably intimidating and welcoming; the women are alluring, yet relatable. It is the way that the band blend history, modernity, science, technology; and a quadrophonic blast that hits you, and hits you hard. The group has an album, ‘Desire Lines’ just around the corner, and it promises to be a terrific listen. Having surmounted a bit of local knowledge about the band, and after a cursory listen to a lot of their previous work, I seated myself, eager to see what images and scenes would be projected forth.

 

The title is one that has been employed by a number of acts, including U.S. legends Steely Dan, but from the opening notes, one cannot help but be reminded of The Cure as the opening percussion rumble, leads to a mazzy and exciting guitar weave. Perhaps not a conscious choice on the part of the band, but it had me hooked. It has some introverted and transposed similarities with some of the band’s songs, but the group here manage to make the sound fresh, and updated. They also create more curiosity and wonder than a lot of The Cure’s work. I hear some ’60s influences in the intro, as the initial carnivorous primitivity becomes anthropomorphised; it is an invigorating and sprightly combination of percussion, bass, and guitar and has sparks and controlled fires of bliss. As the voice arrives on the scene, it is calming but seductive. After a 17 year history, and with four albums to their name, Camera Obscura have not forgotten anything or missed a step. There is romantic build, and explosive reactions mingling in the lyrics. Traceyanne recalls that her beau has been given her number, and she likewise notices, “you’re insatiable”. The vocal melody has a soul flavour to it, as well as a loyal home accent; both modern and pleasing to hear. As the details and declarations are unveiled, Campbell asks: “Would you do it again?”. The drums roll and crack to add extra point and clarity to the lyrics, as the band conjure atmosphere and excitement. The chorus of “Let’s do it again”, is repeated and given a celebratory tone, which adds to the positivist and joy of the song. The initial choruses are repeated, and the story is less linear and progressive as some of their previous tracks; instead it uses its strengths brilliantly, and creates a bluster of vivid scenes and sounds, and makes sure that it is imprinted in your mind. In a sense there is an appropriate nod to the title, in the fact that the same lines are repeated. It gives depth and meaning to the song, and makes sure that it does not wander or needlessly waste words. By the 2/3 mark, we are introduced to a musical break/middle eight, that, like the intro., has some classic punk edges, as well as modern indie youth to it. There are punctuated and dips and dives of guitar; the drum is steady and keeps the song’s posture correct and upright. As it ends, and the chorus/verse structure comes back to the fore, the song builds back its sexual tension and frisson, before spluttering and collapsing with exhaustion.

 

After listening to ‘Do It Again’, I am confident that it will be bouncing around my skull for a long while. It has a catchy nature to it, and keeps the band’s ethos and sound loyal and unwavering. It will be familiar to fans of the band, yet can entice and embrace new listeners, too. The song has sharp and interesting lyrics, that will be familiar to many people; there is a relatable intrigue to them, and a universal appeal. The composition is highly effective and it is a tight and professional song, that also has a nice loose smile to it. With strong vocals and an amazing band performance, it is a stunning window into what will be contained within ‘Desire Lines’. They are a band who prove my earlier points. When they were brand new and released ‘Biggest Bluest Hi Fi’, critics and fans alike were on-board, and encapsulated. They managed to hold the attention, because of their talents, and honest approach to songwriting. There was no need for unfair attributions; the group have kept a level and unflinching quality, and 2009’s ‘My Maudlin Career’, received a huge amount of praise, with many saying that it was assertive and addictive, and stayed close the band’s colours and tried and tested formulae. The group know that their current album will be a success, and hope that it does not take long for them to gain a knew sea of fans. I am disappointed I have been out of their loop all of this time, and have dedicated a large amount of time to investigating their collective work. In a week where the word ‘Spring’ has a fungible and ironically flexible definition, seek out a song from a band who can bring it straight to your door. There is enough climate to appeal to the fair-weather and established alike. As a message to new acts, wondering how you become popular, and stay memorable…

 

 

… this is how it’s done.

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Official:

http://www.camera-obscura.net/

Twitter:

https://twitter.com/camera_obscura_

Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/#!/CameraObscuraMusic

iTunes:

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/artist/camera-obscura/id17885376

Spotify:

https://open.spotify.com/artist/5gInJ5P5gQnOKPM3SUEVFt?ref=atw

iHeart Radio:

http://www.iheart.com/#/artist/Camera-Obscura-39057/?ref=atw