Kiran Leonard- Brunswick Street- Track Review

Track Review:

Kiran Leonard-

  Brunswick Street

Kiran Leonard

9.8/10

A very young man, imbued with a mature confidence and striking talent, shows new talent how it should be done.

Availability:

Brunswick Street is available at:

http://kiranleonard.bandcamp.com/track/brunswick-street

Bowler Hat Soup is available at:

http://kiranleonard.bandcamp.com/

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AGE is a fixation, that has been rather unhealthily flirted with…

in the media.  It is a curate’s egg of a subject, when investigating new acts.  If a participant is under a certain age, magazines, media and the public are practically sweating with excitement.  Too much regard and precision is levied towards the subject.  Sure, it is impressive when young talent are heard and admired.  It makes you aware that the young are ambitious and dedicated early on, and inspires you to encourage other such youthful acts.  Where the issue comes, is with expectations.  Laura Marling has been the modern idol, when it comes to proving my point.  She has recorded a string of brilliant albums, and is still in her early 20s.  In a way she is the exception that proves the rules.  I hope that when she is in her 30s and 40s, that there is still material and desire in her: one suspects there will be to some degree.  Problems arise for the rest of the market.  Unless you are one of the greatest acts or artists of all time, then it is likely that you are not going to achieve the potential of Marling.  There are many in their teens and 20s, whom have energy and intent now, but one wonders whether they will still be making music a decade from now?  As a man of 30 myself, I am finding, that after 12 years of song writing, that I am creating some of my sharpest and most ambitious songs- and haven’t recorded a note yet.  I have thrown away songs, lyrics and ideas that seems like a good idea, but when being retrospective, are embarrassing or sub-par.  I would hate to think, that if I had put a band together in my late-teens, natural decay and market forces would have extinguished our flame by now.  Once that happens, and you exhaust solo channels, there is a real risk that you could be dead and buried in your early 30s.  Acts such as The National show how bloody good and inspiring you can be in your 40s.  So, what happens to today’s young wonders?  Reports have come out that suggest less attention is paid to new acts, and less long-term care is applied to their cause.  This means that they are often forced to fend for themselves, and face a worrying nervousness throughout their entire career: which can often end after a few years.  The media are largely to blame by putting so much attention and weight onto their shoulders.  Too many new young acts burst with too much energy and fervency keen, no doubt, to impress straight from the off.  This pattern and momentum continues for a couple of albums or so, before the seams begin to dangle loose.  It is tremendous if you have the clarity and songs early on; but unless there are labels and people willing to support that act, then a uncertain future beckons.  It is a tough and anxious choice: leave your great songs aside for a few years, and bide time until your mid-late 20s; or go in young and hard and hope that things work out well for the long-term.  I can fully appreciate the latter; if you have the songs and the desire, go for it!  I just worry that too much emphasis is placed on the subject of age, and puts too much expectation on young shoulders.  That said, if you look and scratch hard enough, you will find saplings, that are capable of growing into huge birds of prey.  Not too many mind, but just the right amount to give you some hope.

Kiran Leonard was brought to my attention via The Guardian: a publication whose music featured and reviews have caused as much chagrin and anger in my as anything else.  They featured Leonard, of course concentrating on age hugely, but also heaping huge praise onto him; referring to him as “gifted”- whilst highlighting his inventiveness.  I am going to try to nab him for future band work, as on paper, there are few more talented musicians on the planet.  He plays drums, guitars, electric piano and mandolin, amongst the long, long list of instruments to his name.  Between the fact that he is in his teen years, he is unlike anyone else.  Sufjan Stevens has a comparable multi-insturmental talent, but even he pales into comparisons.  I have long bemoaned the lack of information new acts provide to the potential listener/reviewer/stalker.  Aside from obligatory social media coverage, little consideration is given to providing biography or insights.  The music is all there, for sure, but there is seldom information about the band (or solo artist), or any insight into their music, lyrics or influenced.  If the music ‘can do the talking’ it goes someway to distilling the issue, but is still not good enough.  In an age where musicians are having to work harder than ever to be heard, recognised and remembered, it is vital that more is done by the act.  Leonard has informative and striking social media and BandCamp pages: colourful designs, great photography, and most importantly, commentary and details about his songs.  Leonard has released E.P.s before; working and honing his sounds, and making his name known to many.  Now, in the spring of 2013, he has unveiled his album Bowler Hat Soup.  You sense there is intelligence and personality working overtime in every nook and cranny.  The album cover is not a predictably dull portrait; instead it is a variegated and fascinating painting depicting psychotropic horizons, cartoon characterisations and trippy ’60s psychedelia designed by Kelly, whom should be very proud!  Leonard is self-deprecating and good-humoured.  His last album, The Big Fish, was worked on hard, but he attributes some failings and shortcomings.  He attests that the production values were underwhelming; there are too many loqouacious tracks and too few sharper compacts; little regard towards personal themes and too much oblique lyrics and philosophy.  One could forgive him in a heartbeat: debut albums are never spectacular; unless you are Weezer, The Libertines: or acts that are encouraged by enough various input and support.  Now, the 16-track opus is unveiled, and ready for public consumption.  The majority of the tracks are under two-and-a-half minutes (Sea of Eyes is 70 seconds long); some are longer (Drysdale is seven minutes and seven seconds long).  The titles are fascinating, the range spectacular and ambition matches that of the ’60s pioneers such as The Beatles, Rolling Stones and The Byrds.  Ordinarily a new act shows little invention regarding song titles; a tendency to the cloying is evident.   Leonard has Whisky Bath and Bora Bora on the track list: not something your Ke$has or Ed Sheerans would be smart enough to write.  In a time where there is a leaning towards the digital, Leonard has gone to great lengths to rectify the issues of sterility and lack of design.  Each track (if you access BandCamp) has a unique design picture/cover; as well as a few lines to describe what the song is about and entails.  Great attention is paid towards fans and potential fans alike.  It makes it easy to like him, and gain an insight into his thought process.

After an 18-month process of writing, recording and mixing, Bowler Hat Soup’s children are born.  As someone whom writes with terribly exhausting and ambition, and has a curious vocal range, I am always drawn by individuals that are unafraid to be bold and honest with regards to their talents and skills.  I have been off put by my own vocal ‘eccentricities’: Leonard has an even bigger talent for instruments, mixing moods and genres, and creating an array of wonderful sounds.  Although the album has been around for quite a few months (it was released in October of last year), songs such as Dear Lincoln have been gaining a lot of regard and praise.  Brunswick Street caught my ear; it is the album’s second track, and- in my view- the highlight.  The title refers to a street in Australia, and in a country where- unbeknownst to me- they have separate recycling bins for heroin needles- due to high proportion of junkies.  Although inspiration may be pointed towards drug-induced chaos, its personal portrait/cover depicts two sweet young girls, smiling broadly to camera: a wild and sharp juxtaposition.  I sat down to investigate the song, refreshed that I did not have to interpret another track about personal anxiety, love-gone-bad and the woe-is-me attitude towards Britain’s streets.  An acoustic strum opens the track, as Leonard’s voice arrives, sweet and calmed.  There are tones of modern solo artists, but I detected hints of McCartney’s ‘The White Album’-era work, as well as Crowded House.  There is that same sense of authoritative beauty to it.  It’s words: “A cold winter brawl/The fog masquerades” sets a stirring and poetic early scene.  Leonard’s voice drips with raw honey and whisky-stained soul: early Rufus Wainwright can be heard in the way his semi-operatic tones bring to life his words.  All the words are crystalline and fraught with emotion and remembrance: one suspects that a quivering lip could be detected during the recording.  Brunswick Street is “where the deadbeats meet”: a street that moves our protagonist in foreign and unusual ways.  The acoustic stillness is augmented by orchestral lustre and passion.  The kind of strings Nick Drake would unleash during Five Leaves Left are heard, and create spine-tingling waves.  Although you cannot compare Leonard to any other artists through study, intuitive ear or second-guessing, there are shades of various icons in little avenues: a bit of Paul Simon’s poetic and stirring lyrics; some Bon Iver vocal beauty; a swish of Kate Bush/Wainwright string work- the effect is quite haunting.  Evocations of Wainwright’s gorgeous timbre, as well as colours of ’60s legends are detectable in the vocal that follows a musical rush.  Percussion blows and strikes, tumbling and blowing steam; the strings are a whisper, and acoustic guitar joins the fray.  Street scenes and local figures are introduced: “The prose of a lost man”, who plays guitar and “speaks with hoarse experience” is to be heard in the baking sun, and vivid lanes.  There is less focus on the author himself, and his love strife and personal doubts.  Attentions are turned to a place few of us will ever broach; the images that are unveiled put you right there, fearful yet mesmerised.  Never is there any sense of any foreboding or bleak mood: there is a pop and orchestral strum for the most part.  Although Leonard’s voice quivers and emotes, the music remains supportive and comforting.  U.S. influences and arcs are layered into the architecture and bits of Dylan’s snarl can be detected when he sings “That’s where the cool beats sleep”.  Ballad of a Thin Man-cum-Bringing It All Back Home are worthy notations and footnotes.  As well as the lyrics, which paint wonderful pictures; the chorus is also strong and memorable; the music is charming and locomotive; but the vocals impress most.  Leonard growls, sneers, quivers and emotes; his voice belts, distorts and introverts, sometimes within the same line, bringing to mind the likes of Frank Zappa and Captain Beefheart, sans plain scariness.  When the frantic and busy mood is calmed to sleep, Leonard turns his voice into a sweet-natured call; bare strings are introduced, and tales of a “dent in your car” and “summers on Brunswick Street” bring us to land… well, almost.  For the final 35 seconds or so, a curious coda and outro is presented.  Strange echos and sounds can be heard: perhaps the true and purest evocation of the words are brought to life.  There is a dancing and tripping line of electric piano (?), that is backed by wooshings, twisted wordless vocals, and a psychedelic haze to it.  Due to the nature of the song, in the way that it subverts expectation and provides constant surprise, it is s fitting and memorable end to a brilliant track.

It has taken a little while for me to be made aware of Kiran Leonard- shame on me, but also the media as well.  I have not heard of a better or more talented artist for a very long time indeed, and was rather taken aback at just how good he is.  He is very young, for sure, but if you factor that out (conceding that it is an impressive fact), and concentrate on everything else, then you will be a huge fan very soon.  The range of moods and movements on Bowler Hat Soup keeps you fascinated and enthralled, and there are so many wonderful compositions, lovely stories and strange scenes, that it is an exhausting, but vastly rewarding listen.  I do hope that many people turn on to his music, as well as being impressed by him enormously, I am jealous.  Have to nab this guy for the future, and there will be more like me, whom will try to recruit him into a band; knowing that he will give great weight and wonder to the mix.  As of now, as a teenage solo artist, he is in a rare position.  There are no musicians as talented as him, and in terms of a singer, he has few competitors too.  His words and tales are captivating and varied, and as a lyricist and composer he is also far ahead of his contemporaries; making the songs and albums more impressive than pretty much anything else out there.  Leonard gives detailed information and insights into his world: thus making it far easier to relate and appreciate what he has to say.  When we consider age, I hope it will not be an issue.  I am confident he will be making music in a couple of decades from now.  He has all the key components and a clear drive and ambition.  I just hope that the media will let him record and not focus too much on age, because in a time where too many solo artists and bands fizzle out- talented or not- it would be wonderful to see an artist making album after album, for years to come.  He should have no fear at all.  The public ear will be receptive and hungry for his music now, and the future, and I really do hope that when he reaches my age (really, really old), thoughts, songs, and compositions will still be renewed, played and presented to the public.  Take enough time to listen to the music, and see where I am coming from, as one thing is crystal-clear:

NO ONE like him will be heard of any time soon- if at all.

________________________________________________________________________

Facebook:

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

SoundCloud:

http://soundcloud.com/kiranleonard

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Brunswick Street available at

http://kiranleonard.bandcamp.com/track/brunswick-street

The album, Bowler Hat Soup, is released on August 26th- pre-order it at:

http://handofglory.bigcartel.com/product/kiran-leonard-bowler-hat-soup

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The Family Rain- Pushing It- Track Review

Track Review:

 

  

 

 

 

The Family Rain-

 

 

 

  Pushing It

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

9.6/10

 

 

 

 

 

Euphoric family of man, have blues and rock grit, but a steady heartbeat underneath.  Guaranteed to blow away the cobwebs, with panache.

 

 

 

 

Availability:

Pushing It is available at:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OL31Y4aNWfQ

The E.P. Pushing It is available at:

http://thefamilyrain.sandbag.uk.com/Store/DII-92-5-pushing+it+ep+%28cd%29.html

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RECOGNITION and late praise is something that bothers me somewhat…

 

The media in the U.K. is culpable to a large extent.  The issue is not nearly as rife in other nations such as the U.S., but here it is practically endemic: too little praise is given too late to too many great bands.  Some may consider it to be a minor problem, but is hints at a larger malaise.  As well as a swarm and plethora of new music coming into the market by the day, there is a huge amount of newly-established bands and artists whom are on the scene, deserving of attention too.  It seems that there is an obsolescence in the chain of reason, and too many kinks.  Social media is burgeoning and expanding beyond its limitations and there are plenty of music websites and on-line newspapers.  The trouble is, that so few actively and thoroughly look out for and promote music and new acts especially.  Far too many times I have come across a particular act by sheer chance; stunned at the lack of promotion and attention the artist has received.  Everyone is deserving of a space within music- regardless of  their level of talent or abilities.  Mediation and due attention should be paid, and more fervent regard should be paid, because frankly, too much good music is slipping through the cracks.  The artists themselves can only accomplish so much on their own; or by word-of-mouth.  Media outlets have a responsibility to help further new talent, and to my knowledge, too little is being done; there is no due diligence; no real insight or effort being carried out.  It is relevant to my point when considering artists whom have already made footsteps, but whom also need to be grasped my more people, and have their name and songs recognised more widely.  In the current climate there are few websites- if any at all- that dedicated time to highlighting these types of acts (as well as brand new ones).  A lot of time a broadsheet paper’s website or music magazine will mention a ‘New Band of the Day’; and that act may have been around for a fair few months.  Radio and music shows on T.V. are doing their part as much as possible: it is just the rest of the Internet and media that are dropping the ball.  It is not just a theme I bring up to fill space, but mention it because a lot of wonderful music is being left on the shelf too long, or relies on people stumbling upon them by chance.  I have arrived at the footsteps of some pretty strong acts, thinking that they are brand new on the scene; only to discover that they have been out there and making music for a good long time.  I suppose that in the future, measures will be introduced and websites designed, that make it easier to be kept abreast of all the happenings, and relevant new music.  For too long stations and the media have fixated too hard on the mainstream and popular act; relegating newer music and different sounds to dark corners, and small print.  Only time will tell whether this issue will ever be rectified, and people will be made more aware of good vibrations and brilliant sounds.

 

The Family Rain are a band that I have been aware of for a little while, but not one that have been featured too heavily in music magazines or online; I feel that they are victims of late praise and some retrospection.  The Guardian have just featured them as their ‘New Band of the Day’, in light of the release of new musical releases from the group.  Their Pushing It E.P. is released and the title track is catching a lot of ears and minds.  The band have been on the scene for a little while, and their song Trust Me… I’m a Genius, was met with a great deal of adoration and interest.  Many were comparing the group with the likes of the Kings of Leon; whilst others felt that they had all the hallmarks of classic rock groups of the ’60s and ’70s.  Their official website is striking and well designed, and there is an air of confidence about the boys: they know that you need to have good online presence, and not just great songs.  Little is known about the boys on an individual basis.  Their music does a lot of talking, but the guys are William, Timothy and Oliver, and are based in Bath.  Their sound is very much indie and rock, but there are harder elements as well as blues touches too.  At the moment the boys are touring, having just played Manchester.  Word and buzz are being built up, and there is a great anticipation and excitement with regards to their E.P. and future footsteps.  Whatever the future holds, for now they are recruiting a wide range and fans, and their live performances and reputation are doing them more favours than the media at the moment.  If the likes of the broadsheets and music publications are to maintain popularity and a good name, then they need to be more informed and involved with bands like The Family Rain, as they do seem to be an afterthought for a lot of publications, when they should be taking up a lot more of their space and time.

 

The opening notes of Pushing It have hard and ragged stomps.  There is a little bit of Queens of the Stone Age’s Lullabies’ work, especially Burn The Witch and Tangled Up in Plaid.  Definitely the sound of the desert and the U.S. lingers in the opening notes.  It is intently and striking, and pulls you along, not giving you time to absorb the music.  The band are “pushing it hard”; the vocal is quite an individual facet for the band.  Elements of U.S. stars linger in the tones as well as northern influences, but the overall sound is refreshing and individual.  It matches the mood and pace of the riff, and is intent and dominating.  When things are pushed past “the pace of the day”, there is a raw and sexual edge to the vocal.  The riff strikes and hits, whilst percussion and bass pound and provide hard-hitting support.  It is clear that momentum and power are bywords for the track, and the pace rarely lets up at all.  Many will find relatable familiarities within the song.  The northern influence is probably heavier, with ’90s Britpop nestling alongside modern idols such as Mile Kane.  A similar raw edge and fortitude are detected within the vocals especially, and the band have the same tight and confident stride to their step, as the likes of Kasabian.  Even though the lyrics and words have sly undertones, impassioned intent and a tongue-in-cheek to their edges, the composition and band performance is layered and intriguing.  Lesser bands may just infuse the track with too much sound and weight, and ruin the overall effect: The Family Rain bring the pace down to allow the vocals to shine when needs be; ramping it up and sidewinding to emphasis effect when required.  “It’s all undercover” the band sing; there is shadiness, weird and curious scenes and impending paradigm shifting events.  Everything is delivered with clarity and consideration as well; vocals are not spluttered or drawled; instead calmly delivered like a sermon, our front-man teasing the syllables and one suspects there is always a cheeky smile not far from his lips.  That hint of U.S. stoner rock-cum Manchester indie is particularly prescient when the band fire up and let their instruments do the work.  Guitar, bass and guitar codas snake and rattle, and spark electricity and fire.  The riff and percussive drilling has the nature of a boxer: punches are sprinkled; the fighter recoils and comes back for more.  The video for the track depicts a female boxer in the ring, appropriately hotting up the pace and getting shots in good and clean at this juncture.  Physicality and masculinity are also essential words as well, and the boys, through their words of things delving “under the skin”; and “microphone checks”always have a spiked and ragged passion to their performance.  The momentum and firepower never lets up; an unstoppable gravity and snowballing effect is elicited.  “The hairdresser’s in/And she’s seen it coming” is used a fair few times, and the guys have a way of conjuring up vivid scenes from doorways and town corners, that makes you think you are there watching it happen.  Characters and false idols are presented, and an underlying sense of controversy and danger lurk beneath the chords and beats.  In the way that the vocals are sometimes snarled or forced forth reminds me a great deal of early-career Oasis, as well as Arctic Monkeys; although possibly not influences for the band, there is a similar force and quality to the vocal tones, as well as the music itself.  Again when the band break and unleash another passage, Queens of the Stone Age comparisons are hard to ignore.  A bit of No One Knows can be detected, as well as Songs for the Deaf tones and flavours.  Not that it is ever a bad or overly-obvious thing: The Family Rain have an ambition and quality that means that they can sprinkle influences and familiar sounds into their riffs, but make them feel fresh and urgent.  Whatever you hear, imagine or can detect from the sounds: whether there is clear influence or some strange avenues, the abiding effect is one of impressive intent and ambition.

 

It is through The Guardian that I was made aware of the band’s new E.P. and it was by chance that I happened by the band a few months ago.  It seems, that in 2013, better and more prominent steps should be put in line, so that someone like me, who wants to hear about The Family Rain, should not have to work so hard to do so.  The emphasis is still placed well and truly on chart music; mainstream sounds and bands that have already cemented their sounds and credibility.  For those that are saplings, or on the rise, their futures are not giving as much consideration and affection as they deserve.  I hope that The Family Rain have a chance to be heard and seen by a lot more people.  At the moment, they have a hell of a lot of followers via Facebook and Twitter, and are attracting huge crowds from all around the U.K.  If they want to break into America, and get the credit they deserve, people should be prepared to help out and share their sounds, as they are clearly a band that are going to be around for a long time to come.  Their E.P. is a perfect representation of where they are now, and how good they are.  Their indie, rock and hard sounds are hard-hitting and memorable.  Lyrics of personal relevance are mingled with something more universal and commonplace.  Vocal performances are consistently strong and impressive, and have a clear identity, as well as containing bits of U.S. and U.K. stars.  It is when the band come together that the most stunning results are realised.  They are tight and professional; have a great energy and swagger and a clear affection for one another.  Riffs, lines and middle eights are ready-made for festivals and venues, and also tailored for the best radio stations out there: Absolute, BBC 6 Music, XFM, etc.  In weeks to come, many will be speaking of them, snapping up their E.P. and looking forward to what comes next, and the band should prepare themselves for that.  What a future album will herald: softer sounds mixing with their anthems, or a different sound completely, it will be exciting to see.  To help further the cause of great new bands, that are deserving of much plaudits, give them a listen…

 

AND spread the word.

________________________________________________________________________

Official:

http://www.thefamilyrain.com/

Twitter:

https://twitter.com/thefamilyrain

Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/thefamilyrain

YouTube:

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

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Bronagh & the Boys- Green- Track Review

 

Track Review:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bronagh & the Boys-

 

 

 

 

 

Green

 

 

 

9.3/10

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Belfast-lead and Glasgow-based, the endeavouring six-piece girl and Boys make music with a gentle heart, designed to charm and seduce.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Availability:

Green is available at:

http://bronaghandtheboys.bandcamp.com/track/green

A Young Heart E.P. is available at:

http://bronaghandtheboys.bandcamp.com/

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THE success and appeal of any new band does not solely depend upon…

 

talent or an aggregation of talent and a collection of strong tracks. A lot of the time, bold movements and ambitions can be realised by fusing together people from different countries; each influenced by different styles of music. I recently focused on HighFields, a group of men and women whose members hailed from areas as disparate as Norway, Canada and Singapore. At their core was a mutual respect and fascination, but it was the collective diversity and scope of various influences, when mixed together, that saw a magnificent sound being made. The music was intriguing and celebratory; the vocals strong and fresh, and a sense of fun and adventure was evident. I was well aware that each member was extremely talented, but got to thinking that it was probably the geographical diversity that enhanced their music. Each artist, wherever they hail from, has separate tastes and interests and lives in different landscapes. A great deal of the new acts that I have reviewed recently, have members whom hail from the same town or county. Most either met at school, or later in life, but the common bond was one of geography. I find that if a band consists of members that live in the same town, the music often has less weight when compared to the music of a band whose participants emanate from different climbs. Songs and sounds can somewhat sound homogeneous or single-minded when you get down to it. There is an over-reliance for particular acts to project the sound of their city or county, and more often than not, they can come off sounding too similar to existing acts or other artists. I have witnesses a few groups such as The 1975, whom have managed to elicit originality, as well as portraying enough flavours of their native soil (Manchester). Too often I have heard bands and solo artists trying to present themselves as ‘The Next…’, without realising that that lack of originality and foresight alienates and divides a lot of people. It is not too much of a coincident that some of the best bands out there at the moment, are those whom have variegated backgrounds, tastes and members. For as long as I have been bemoaning the lack of variation and surprise in current music, I have also been extolling the virtues and wonders of Scotland. Perhaps due to the distance from London, and subsequent dislocation from the U.K. media’s epicentre, this country has been somewhat overlooked with regards to new talent. The diversity and quality that I have witnessed has been impressive for sure: much stronger than the national average. It is going to be a hub for future music generations, and when looking ahead, Scotland is going to be a key focal point.

 

Bronagh & the Boys’ male members come from Scotland, and it is where the band are based. Adding their names to a growing list of future stars, the 6-piece are fairly new on the scene. The music that they have made so far has been gaining positive press and a lot of admiration. It is not only because of where they are situated, but also because of their influences and inspirations. The band are influenced heavily by soul and the likes of Amy Winehouse. Their front-woman, Bronagh Monahan is from Belfast, and you can sense influences of Northern Ireland as well as Scotland in the songs of the group. One of the heroes for the 6-piece is Fleetwood Mac, which in itself is quite a rarity in 2013. There are a surprising number of people who are not aware of the band’s existence, or capable of naming any of their songs. Bronagh and the Boys also incorporate some of Fleetwood’s magic into the mix as well. You can detect a similar dreamy quality; the ear for melody and emotion also has flavours of the legendary group, but the overall quality and credit is definitely theirs. Monahan herself is only 22 years of age, but since moving from Belfast in 2008, has made a name for herself around Scotland and the U.K. as a whole. Her distinct and incredible voice has earned plaudits from the likes of Radio 1. She has also been featured on the BBC Introducing show: earning herself praise and the fascinated eyes of large sections of the media and population. Having completed a degree in music recently, her sights are set on the future. The Irishwoman, together with her Scottish band of men, are stirring up some fascinating sensations and lines, and it has resulted in their debut E.P. It is early days for the fledgling group, but they are gaining a steady stream of fans and followers via their Facebook and Twitter pages. On Facebook, the group attest to being inspired by the likes of Laura Marling, Queen, The Supremes as well as Norah Jones: quite a mixture of genres, and all top quality and memorable artists. Usually when bands list their icons on websites and social media, it is normally just a checklist for reviewers and fans. As soon as you hit play, one can pick out certain bands and artists from different parts of the song; so by the end you have a long list of very obvious influences: often making the associative act seem like copycats. Recently I have noticed a cessation of this habit. Many new acts are keeping their social media sites sparse, and reducing them to the bare-minimum, afraid of showing their hand or revealing any tell-tale signs of tributing. Bold bands whom have their own style and originality are comfortable in listing their icons: as much as anything it helps people like me to get a sense of who they are and where they come from. If you can do this, and not have your music sound like a composite of those influences, then you have done exactly what is required. With the release of the E.P., Bronagh & the Boys will expand in the market with regards to on-line representation, and draw in a great deal of new fans, all eager to get inside their minds and fall in love. The E.P. A Young Heart is in the market and available for all to hear, and should be studied close. It is a 4-track collection, but each track is detailed and crammed with substance, twists and emotion. The second track from the set is their debut single, and has been garnering a lot of respect and attention from a wide range of sources. It is indicative of the group as a whole and ties together their signature sound, whilst blending seamless flavours from some of their heroes and heroines.

 

Green is the longest of the quartet of songs on the E.P., but also the most evocative. Beginning with a vocal rush, our front-woman is joined by her band members; the resultant rush of voices swells and emotes. Bronagh’s voice is full-bodied yet romantic, announcing: “Green is the colour that makes me feel hope”. There is a distinct dreamy quality to the vocal project, sort of Fleet Foxes-cum-Fleetwood Mac that is a rarity in 2013, or in fact recent years. I was wondering if the colour of green has an autobiographical or symbolic relevance to the band and Monahan: maybe an Irish connection, and when she sings “And green reminds me of you”, I was curious if there was a man waiting in Belfast for her; or whether green referred to grass; Spring; happier times and climbs: there is a mystery and fascination to begin. Colours have been used before as synonyms; especially blue and black: Amy Winehouse went Back to Black; The Marcels sung of a Blue Moon, and various acts have incorporated colour schemes into their songs. The initial vocal swells: that begin as chorusing calls, before focusing on just Monahan’s tones, are subdued at the 0:24 mark, and replaced by gently-picked strings. Green’s initial stages are a mixture of Californian sunshine and soul, mixed with folk and ’70s pop scenes. The light and luscious guitar sounds are joined by a gorgeous piano coda, that when blended, is genuinely spine-tingling. From the early rush and energy of the vocals; now we are laid down and tenderly rested: the effect is quite startling. Strings of a classical nature enter the scene very shortly, eliciting Irish flavours: the romantic sway and sensation has its heart rooted in parts of Northern Ireland, as well as E.I.R.E. When the next verse is delivered, the tone is more sedate and introspective. Our front-woman’s voice is soft and tender and crystalline in its purity. She speaks of doubts, stating “I’ve made mistakes”; her vocal evocations being subtly backed by the band, who keep the mood fragile and warm. In the way that a lot of band and artist write themes of love-gone-wrong and fill their lines with some bitterness and spikiness, here the sentiments are much more respectful and earnest: “In you I’ve found that love could be restored”. Bronagh’s band: Neil, Andrew, Tony, Allan and Michael let the voice speak clearly and be heard, never trying to crowd it with too many notes or noise; instead their musical polymorphism compliments the voice and lyrics superbly. There is never hint of sadness within Monahan’s voice; everything is delivered strongly with focus: one suspects that any demons that were present are gone, and she is now focusing on her love and what is to come. The chorus is repeated, adding weight and familiarity in equal measures, the true meaning behind its words are no clearer the second time. One suspects that there are links to home and far-away places, but also a lot of hidden meaning behind ‘green’ and “Green in the colour that makes me feel whole”. Throughout the chorus and verses, as well as the musical passages too, there is an abiding sense of youthfulness and child-like innocence. Fairytale sparkle can be heard in the strings and piano, and evocations of beautiful landscapes, verdant valleys and fields are summoned forth. For all the gentle soulful words, that make you think of times and eras past, there are reminders of today as well as more vulnerable moments: “Who knew a drunken moment would make see some sense”. It is when the chorus is introduced for the third time, that the vocal harmonies are reintroduced. Slowly, more meaning and relevance is unveiled from the lines of the chorus, and you get a clearer sense of what our heroine has been through, and where she wants to be. Whomever and wherever her heart belongs, it is anonymous, left to the listener to decide if it is home, a paramour or a particular place she is dreaming of, but you suspect that there is a little of all three. Monahan’s voice has some comparable with some female contemporaries, but the abiding sense is that her quality and tones are more similar to the folk and soul icons of old, as well as influences such as Fleetwood Mac. In the modern climate, female voices- with a few exceptions- go either for raw power and belting (Adele for instance) or are too sickly-sweet or bland. Here, there is more authority, passion and conviction. Sure, a few modern singers have a similar ambition and quality, but they are few and far between, and it is pleasing to hear a voice you can have faith in. Not to demote the band to any sort of background fascination, they add as much as to atmosphere and mood as anything. When the chorus ends, piano, strings and additional vocals are heralded that are swooning, delicate and passionate. “It’s true I’m not blue/When I see green and you know who I mean” becomes a mantra in the song’s final third; musical accompaniment is sparse but effective and the vocals (by Monahan, as well as the rest of the band) create a stirring scene. Percussion is added to the mix, as well as wind instruments, and Monahan adds more power and passion to her voice as well, to match the rising energy. With further revelations from the repeating of the chorus, the song comes to an end. The overall effect is one of a pleasing satisfaction, where a personal message has been delivered, with a little mystery and intrigue at its edge.

 

It is difficult to compare Bronagh & the Boys to any current act. Perhaps the better-educated of music-lover will disagree, but I found that there was a vital freshness and originality to the sound. Elements of ’60s and ’70s pop and folk mingle alongside modern-day sounds. Green is infused with sunshine, rainswept and has a wind of Ireland, Scotland and gorgeous views. The lyrics are romantic and tender at their heart, and the chorus is particularly memorable and impressive: it has a simplicity and obliqueness mixed together that will be familiar and relatable to a lot of people. All of the musical accompaniments and shades fit the song perfectly, and add passion and tenderness where needed; the entire composition is consistently impressive. Perhaps the most striking and memorable facet is the vocals from Monahan. Her voice is calming and gentle, but also possessed of power and plenty of potency. The band’s maxim is to produce music that speaks to people and inspires. Harmonies, lyrics and songs will lodge in your brain a long time after you hear them, and there are so many different colours and sounds to be experienced within the E.P. as a whole. Green is a gorgeous love song that tells of fond memories filled with soul, and smiles. I’m His has Kate Bush/The Carpenters stillness and haunted beauty, and tells of a relationship that seems one sided: the man seems uncaring and distance when our heroine gives all she has. Young Hearts steps away from a personal narrative, and examines young lovers and is filled with beauty and positive sensations; where as the closer Not My Own hides deeper scars and doubts. No matter what the subject; whether it is first or third person, pain-filled or overwhelmed with joy, it is delivered beautifully by the band; lead by Monahan’s pure voice. Seek out the E.P., as it is filled with texture and layers, and is very much a work of originality. You can hear influences from Scotland, as well as Ireland, with hints of modern and older influences too; fused together to create something that is endearing, captivating and will appeal to lovers of soul, folk, pop as well as devotees of something heavier and more foreboding. In a year where too many new bands are too concerned with heavier and more forceful sounds, and negate the importance of something more sensuous and thought-provoking, Bronagh & the Boys…

 

ARE showing how good beauty can be.

________________________________________________________________________

Twitter:

https://twitter.com/BronaghMonahan

Facebook:

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

Soundcloud:

http://soundcloud.com/bronaghmusic

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Crystal Seagulls- Yours For As Long As You Keep Me- Track Review

 

Track Review:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Crystal Seagulls-

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yours For As Long As You Keep Me

 

 

 

9.5/10

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Masters of “Sexy Sexy Love Music” have a rare sense of humour, and sounds that are seriously good.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Availability:

Yours For As Long As You Keep Me is available at:

http://crystalseagulls.bandcamp.com/

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UNIFYING elements from the ’60s and ’70s, and fusing them with…

 

movements of the modern-age, is near-essential when producing music that can inspire masses, as well as paving the way for other bands to do likewise. Originality and the nature of identity is something that is elementally flawed. New bands are always tasked with coming up with ‘their own identity’ or having a sound that was theirs, and theirs alone. There are a multitude of issues when trying to formulate a very utilitarian business plan. Not only does an act have to please the media: critics, reviews and the likes; they also need to recruit fans, inspire fellow acts, as well as appeal to the next generation of upcoming musicians. Archiving this is damn near impossible: every sector demands a different sound or sensation, and pleasing everyone is never going to happen. If a group is considered too individual or ‘eccentric’ then they risk alienating large sectors from the off; at best they can hope to elicit some retrospective appeal and restoration. The main problem with acts today is that they either ape existing music, or else have too many familiar tones in their songs. The latter is far more depressing and common-place and exemplifies the current scene, whilst going a long way to explaining why there are so few genuinely worthy bands on the market. It is the rarefied climbs of innovative and subversive base camps, that will inspire people like me- both as a reviewer and songwriter- to become excited and regain some semblance of faith in the potential of my generation. I can fully emphathise with the plight of the new act: there are myriad temptations and appeals to the music scene; yet striking the right balance is a precocious art form. In essence there is chemistry, biology and physics involved with regards to arriving at a profitable hypothesis. Bonding together the heart, mind, blood and ‘soul’ is an alchemy that is rarely perfected. If you can make your potential audience feel sympathy towards any- whether they are lyrical or musical- heartbreaks, then you win ‘souls’. If the music and words are authentically heartfelt and everyman, then hearts can be captured with ease. If, into the mix, you can throw in sparks of energy, magic and mystery; sure as hell the blood will rush to all parts (and I mean ALL), as well as boil with lustful stupor. Cementing the foundations with cerebral proffering, thought-provoking melodies, lyrics and songs appeal to the intelligence and hippocampus. For those willing to formulate ways of striking gold, and mining oil, then the rewards are multitudinous and affirming. Predilection leans towards ticking maybe three of these four boxes. More often than not, bands and solo artists negate the need to seduce the mind: concerned too much with electioneering to lowest common denominators. It seems that the most efficient way of being able to achieve all the necessary goals, is to marry sounds and sights from various eras. Add a little bit of ’60s and ’70s invigoration, with a smattering of ’90s swagger and sweat, and top it off with a drop of up-to-the-moment-2013, and you are going to yield healthier crops. Originality and a unique personality are sacrosanct as well, but can easily be obtained in addition to drawing in variable influences and genres. Not that this has seemed to penetrate to a lot of the modern-day crop, whom seem bereft in a sea of multiplicity, or else do not have enough mobility within their own sounds to be able to sustain longevity. A few, do, however, get it right…

 

Formed back in July of last year, and consisting of John, Jim, Elliot and Ben, our four-piece brethren hail from unrelated counties: Greater London, Warwickshire, Cheshire and Hertfordshire. Historically, those regions have sired some influential bands and acts; maybe Hertfordshire has been slightly more diffident and insular in that respect, but it is the acquired evocations from the diverse localities that has contributed to their accomplished sound. In addition to having won the Unsigned Isle of Wight Festival Competition, the boys are unsigned at the present time. Little is known with regards to the band members individual biographies: as well as scant being offered when pertaining to their heroes and influences. I have encountered many new acts that take similar lines; none want to give too much away, less reviewers and fans fixate too much upon it. When evaluating an act’s influences, many will use it as a pretense to sublimate the act’s potential, or lazily compare them (to the bands/artists that they are in awe of). I have been pointed in their direction by a lot of fellow musicians, including Steve Heron: a Scottish singer-songwriter. The guys have an evident sense of humour, and have a generously populate their social media pages, with links, reviews and information. They understand the importance of generous promotion and representation, as well as producing exciting and wide-ranging sounds. If you can pull of these under-used aces, then you are already 3/4 of the way to achieving long-term attention. Their name as well- Crystal Seagulls- is appropriately evocative and intriguing. Both precious but precocious; valuable yet antogonising. With odd imagery, strange dreams and psychedelic buzz in mind, I broached the subject of the band’s music.

 

The opening salvo is always tough to get right. You are mandated to hook people in, and keep their attentions held. Yours For As Long As You Keep Me, begins its climb and sight-seeing with appropriately gentle intention. There are distinctive patterns of the ’90s to be heard from the initial seconds: remnants of (What’s the Story) Morning Glory?-Oasis; 1995-Britpop; essences of modern-day solo artistry too. Sparsity and emotional resonance are all present and correct, and it is the simplicity of the effective electric strum that leads in the song confidently. Lyrically, the mood shifts slightly from the shores of Oasis, Blur and from the ’60s masters as well as modern-day troubadours. If the skeleton hints at times past, the organs are very much that of Crystal Seagulls. “Saline drip my dream” is as evocative and provocative as any opening line; galvanised by “Blunt the edges/Reinforce what’s real”. A sense of dislocation as well as displacement linger within the opening verse. Poetic and direct notions go on to mix with oblique and dream-like sentiments. Everything is delivered with confidence and passion. When the second verse kicks in, it is done with audible abandon: the drum snaps into life, and an energy rush is elicited. Words of concern seem to layer into the mood. Our hero clearly has a girl in mind; one whom has caused sleepless nights and anxiety. You would never tell from the vocal tones that there is too much inner scarring. Like the brothers Gallagher, as well as northern contemporaries such as Doves and Elbow, there is a masculine confidence and bravado: even if you suspect that deeper down there is some pain and tears. From the opening thoughts, the energy is built ever upwards. By the time we hear of “So tell me if they work you like a dog?”, our protagonist unleashes a slight gravelly growl. Plenty of swagger is abound: the boys have a fond admiration for the heyday of ’90s music. You can hear the same little slams and lines in the verses; yet expectation is circumvented so that they come off as fresh and modern. As much as the quarter parade and march, underneath there is a sensitive that tells of times where they’d “gaze and watch your stars come alive”. There is an anthemic quality to proceedings. If I had to cheapen the moment and compare the track, I could hear elements of mid-career Blur, as well as early Oasis. A comparable quality and vitality rules the sound. Even if there are some Britpop-cum-Grunge undertones, then the abiding impression is very much one of 2013. The boys whom want it said: “Shoot me scouting for an even feel”, twist and turn their words inside out; display plain, hard emotion as well as more open-ended mystery. It is not just the lyrics and vocals that intrigue and strike. The rest of the band whip up gorgeous and diverse guitar lines, that go from ’90s blister, through to 1960s pop smile, via ’70s Steely Dan (and their jazz expeditions). Little flecks of Crowded House and their gift for vocal and audio melody, and a comparable lyrical talent is on display: “Cos if my heart counts for something/Don’t care what they say, it’s not wasted on you”. Crystal Seagulls can unveil their inner-most demons, yet infuse everything with a sense of bonhomie and uplifting energy. Ordinarily, songs that have slightly anxious or downbeat sentiments, are delivered with appropriate gloom. The boys keep everything positive and interesting. The percussion, bass and drum summon up lines and passages that are filled with blues authority, as well as star-gazing prowess from ’90s and ’60s pop annals. As much as there is introspection and questions asked, the abiding them is one of love and hope. The final line reads: “Be here by my side, I’m still here waiting for you”. It is a graceful and romantic coda, that encapsulates the song’s majesty.

 

I guess for a long time, I have bemoaned the lack of inspiring bands and sounds in the current scene. Perhaps my standards are too high, or my sights too narrow. Whatever is causing this malaise and very real discontent, is a long way from being reappropriated. Too many bands and new artists lack the basic knowledge and ambition that is required to capture minds. Even fewer are aware of what is required within a song/E.P./album, in order to captivate: must glaringly there is little originality or excitement. Crystal Seagulls understand that it is important to incorporate themes from bygone times into your sound. It displays no lack of innovation; quite the opposite in fact. They also have not fallen into the trap that most have, of distilling their own essence with too many other ingredients. Our four-piece, in Yours For As Long As You Keep Me, have laid down a song that is as ready-made for the festivals and arenas, as it is for the mainstream radio stations. It is unsurprising that success has come to them, and many are latching onto their sounds. Through a combination of fresh and impassioned vocals; pioneering and exciting musical lines, and a sharp and intelligent set of lyrics, the track manages to excite, endeavour, seduce and captivate. Not many bands can lay testament to that, and certainly not too many in 2013. Whatever the future holds for them: E.P.s, albums, tours or the like, they deserve to be snapped up and encouraged more by the record labels, as well as influential media bodies and outlets. Word of mouth, ambition, accomplishment and talent have got them a long way in a short time, but I suspect that their sights are set even further. In order to scale some ice-tipped peaks and murky climbs, a greater understanding and exposure needs to be begun. So long as they keep going strong, then the next few years should be very prosperous indeed. Join them, and see what the fuss is all about:

 

WOULD I lie to you?________________________________________________________________________

Twitter:

https://twitter.com/CrystalSeagulls

Facebook:

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

iTunes:

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/crystal-seagulls-single/id558476975

Soundcloud: 

http://soundcloud.com/crystalseagulls

YouTube: 

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

__________________________________________________________________________________

 

 

 

The 1975- Chocolate- Track Review

 

Track Review:

 

 

 

 

 

 

The 1975-

 

 

 

 

 

Chocolate

 

 

The 1975

 

9.7/10

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A 38-year-old name, a personality built around black-and-white and a rising fan-base, means only one thing: one hell of a sound.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Availability:

Chocolate is available at:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FfBKqaVk2Co

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A lack of authoritarianism, and a rampant drive of electioneering…

 

is as important as anything, in the current climate, with regards to gaining and keeping a foothold. It is obvious that a great swarm of acts and bands are coming onto the market by the week. If you’re lucky, you may get a bit of press attention. There may be an obligatory short biography; contained within will be some feint praise, and an annoying tendency for the associated writer to compare the act or artists to someone or other. Every piece seems to begin: “Meet the new…”. It is the lack of imagination within the media, as well as an apparent lack of originality within music, that has sunk many a ship, and condemned a fledgling act to a premature- and often painful- death. Social media is as important as anything these days. The influence and power that it has, is utilised by new music, and is responsible for getting an act’s music to unusual places; gaining them new legions of fans, as well as inspiring other bands as well. Of course, one can not solely rely upon these facets, nor can they have an overconfident naivety, and assume that everything will work out for them. Too few new acts have done the bare-minimum with regards to promotion, on-line coverage, and getting their sounds perfected, differentiated, and spread to the public. Sticking too closely to a particular promotional format and mould, and being too restricted and predictable, can also cause early entropy. If a new act not only wants to survive, but to be heralded as a modern great, then it is as important to have a sound that is fresh, all-encompassing, and stunning. I have focused long on twin pillars: location and originality. With regards to the former, most of my concentrating has been aimed towards the north of England, as well as Scotland. The latter tends to have greater range, and a bit more fascination, but the former has growing numbers and consistency. Bradford, Leeds and the general Yorkshire area is proffering a great deal of variable talent: swing, blues rock and ’60s Nancy Sinatra-esque pop mingles alongside indie flavours. It is farther west that something more distilled is to be found. Whereas the Yorkshire contemporaries portray greater range, over in Manchester there is a focus primarily on indie bands as well as rock and hard rock groups. I have stated unequivocal that these area are producing the ripest crop of current talent. Long have I wiped my brow when trying to formulate scientific conclusions why this is so, but there seems to be a busier local scene here, as well as being a greater number of stronger acts. As much as I have been in awe of the passion and protestations from the musical fellows, I have been as dismayed by some rather worrying trends. More often than not, originality is a big issue. In the past few weeks a great deal of groups I have focused upon have been aping Arctic Monkeys. I understand the desire to try and emulate a group that is popular and (relatively) local: but why bother compromising your identity to achieve this? We already have Arctic Monkeys and no matter how close you mimic or how hard you try you are not going to be as good; either musically and certainly not lyrically. Alex Turner’s voice is also ripped off, and you get the sense that as well as there being a lot of movement in the north, there is not a great deal of imagination…

 

The 1975, however, are a band that have defied this, and have done everything right. The guys met over 10 years ago now, but through a shared affection as well as a combined passion for music, the band was formed and cemented, 1975 itself was a year that saw some of the best songs from the likes of The Eagles, Wings and Alice Cooper. The group consist of Matt Healy, George Daniel, Adam Hann and Ross MacDonald. The band themselves are not beholding to simply tributing an existing act, nor sticking unyielding to one genre: they mix punk energy, with Motown, northern European dreaminess and big pop hooks. Innovation as well as cross pollination is as essential as anything, if one wants to create songs that are memorable as well as innovative. In spite of having only released their debut E.P. a year ago, the four-piece have been restless: promoting and touring extensively, and summoning a prodigious and consistent workload. Many new bands neglect the power and necessity of on-line representation. I have come across too many acts that maybe have a basic and skeleton Facebook page; and maybe something on Twitter too. More often than not, these pages and spaces are neither memorable, nor especially informative. The 1975 are a band that appreciate the value of spreading the good word as far and wide as possible, and their social media representation, as well as wider appeal, is awash with black-and-white classical edges. There are few colour photos or colours in general to be found: their appeal and aesthete is representative of their band name’s heritage and implication. Small things impress me: they have lyrics on their official site, even though the words are not differentiated, making it hard to get too much out of it. Too many bands do not publish their lyrics, and combined with vocal performances which are often unintelligible and indecipherable, it makes for a frustrating experience. Of course it not just because of their impressive on-line portfolio that the band have amassed an army of impassioned fans. The music itself, in terms of its original ambition and qualitative regard is what gives The 1975 their stellar reputation. As well as their pioneering nature with regards to mixing genres, it is also the clear affection the guys share, and the passion they have for music. Last year they released their debut E.P. Facedown., and gained a lot of positive radio play, with crowds and the uninitiated latching onto their unique blitz and energy in the live arena. The E.P.s Sex and Music and Cars followed, and gained attention from the likes of Zane Lowe. Following on from this IV ensued, and pulled in new fans, all hungry to hear what the band will come up with in 2013. The debut, and self-titled album is all-but-completed, and will be unleashed in the Autumn. It is axiomatic to say that the album will be met with a firestorm of intrigue and demand, and will project a mix of their trademark sounds, as well as some new avenues and sensations. It may be the E.P. IV that is gaining the current share of attention, but Chocolate is one of their most-celebrated tracks, and derives from the release Music for Cars.

 

It is the pulsating and almost-electronic percussive thud; combined with a pupated building energy that lights the fuse for Chocolate. Once one siphons through the myriad of trolls and pointless vitriol on the YouTube comments section, and focuses on the video, it adds weight to the track. Reliable hues of black and white, stylised and filmic beauty, alongside foreboding nightscapes, represents the song’s authority perfectly. Past the 0:10 mark, the percussive smack mutates with electric guitar sparks. The rhythm kicks and dances in a bonhomie disregard; it is a mixture of modern-day vitality-cum ’60s and ’70s charm that gives the song its initial intrigue. The intro. itself settles upon a pattern and format and holds itself true: it draws you in and is as exciting as it is relaxing. When the vocal arrives, the tone is invigorated and raw-edged. There’s a little of Kings of Leon’s U.S. drawl, mingling with Mancunian accent, that is apparent. Any fear of hearing something overly-familiar or overly-replicated is expunged immediately, to be replaced by something that is as imbued with originality, as it is with vitality. The voice has youthful passion, but has married in influence from the band’s idols, as well as tones from the modern scene. Chocolate’s words deal with ambiguity of love and cessation of a parabond: “Call it a split/Because I know that you will”. When the words are delivered, there is some unique delivery: lines are tripped out, skip and trip, making the meaning more pointed and evocative. Scenes of city life and associative danger are spoken: “We got guns hidden under our petticoats”. It is with energy and firm evocation that the band support the front-man. The bass and guitar bubble and create waves; the drum work is solid and galvanize’s the track’s spine: together the effect is one of youthful vigour and sensationalism. In the way that The 1975 are influenced by the likes of Motown, The ’60s legends, as well as The Rolling Stones, this is apparent in the way the music is projected. Delivery is given special consideration. Lesser groups would choose force over construction, produce something more anodyne and monotonous. The 1975 blend the hallmarks of different genres when projecting, and means that their words and themes are made more memorable and exciting. The boys tell of vignettes and scenes where “We’re never gonna quit/If you don’t stop smoking it”. It is the mandate of not giving in and resilience that is repeated to great effect: the words are said more convincingly than any other in the track. If the guys can differentiate the lyrics on their official page it would have made it easier to deduce this; but is something I hope will be rectified in the lead-up to their album release. It is the re-enforced themes of petticoats, chocolate scents and lawlessness that gives Chocolate an almost romantic and bygone-era charm. It is the sound and sights of a wild north-west: hero and heroine embroiled in the unpredictability and danger of the night. Of course there is a pure heart and tenderness underneath anything, with our protagonist (in the song’s video) alternately looking forlorn and thought-provoked: he projects the air of a punk idol, shrouded in mystery and cigarette smoke. Familiarity and key themes are at the pinnacle of the order of magnitude. Phrases and words are repeated and enunciated to elicit maximum fortitude; the composition is perpetual and unwavering, and the vocal is impressively sprightly and captivating throughout. Chocolate is a track that does not outstay its welcome, nor waste breath or words. You can tell a great deal of thought and detail has been considered with regards to the song. The lyrics are evocative, yet intriguing in their intentions and meaning: “We’re dressed in black/Head to toe”, for example: a sentiment that can have numerous meanings and implications. There are no needless solos or gaps, with the band given the task of remaining focused and tight throughout.

 

As a whole, the track is simultaneously a perfect representation of the band’s codas, as well as an example of how simple and effective storytelling can draw you in. I have traversed the shores of The 1975, and explored their history quite immersed. Whilst their tracks are varied and differing, the boys have a keen ear for melody and punch. Underneath Chocolate’s layers is a punk edge and authority, even if at the core something warmer lies. I was impressed by the group’s tight performance and ability. The composition is well structured and exciting. Tones and reminiscences of the U.S. as well as northern England fuse together. Special kudos goes to our protagonist, whose voice is something quite striking. I am particularly struck by vocal prowess and effect, and there are no signs of any other artist inherent in his D.N.A. There is definitely a leaning towards modern energy and sounds, but little slices of older and wiser artists can be detected too. The way that the words are delivered is impressive too: movement, vitality and richness are chapter headings. Being slightly late to the party, I have had to do a lot of retrospective investigation and catching-up. Their forthcoming album will be interesting to hear, and will be exciting to see what direction the band take. Based on the strength and consistency of the work contained within their E.P.s I am certain that they will retain their solid and reputable sound, but coalesce a multitude of genres and diversions. The modern music scene is as susceptible to dry rot as it is to a lack of differentiation. The 1975 are a breeze of fresh air in that respect. Displaying a talent and keen edge for ambitious sounds and striking songs, they break away from the parable of “mimicry is the most sincere form of flattery”. With their ready-made festival sound and merit, 2013 and the next few years will afford them many opportunities and possibilities. With over 71,000 ‘Likes’ on Facebook; 40,000+ Twitter followers and a multitude of fans that grows by the day, they are not going to be seeking too much approval or thumbs-up from me. That said, if the band can sort out the niggling issue of their lyrics page, then they will win over many new fans. Being quite enamoured of lyrics and words as I am, the band have a lot of great lyrics and memorable lines. Making them more visible and less cryptic will make it easier to quote them. Although, that said the annunciation and projection is always pretty clear, so it not a huge issue. My main and central thesis with regards to originality and location is prescient and relevant. Here is a Manchester band that can reappropriate some credibility with regards to originality, as well as highlighting the merits and profitability of having a fresh sound. This, combined with an expansive and thorough on-line coverage, has meant they have graduated from the bustling and dangerous underground, and seen some daylight, that will help them grow in the future. Above all it is the ambition and hard work of the guys that will see them firmly in the creative, financial and historical black. With a predictably British Spring in force, where seasons come and go illogically, grab a hold of some consistent sunshine…

 

AND brightern the day.

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Official: 

http://the1975.com/

Twitter: 

https://twitter.com/the1975

Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/the1975

iTunes

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/artist/the-1975/id542640016

Soundcloud:

http://soundcloud.com/the1975

YouTube: 

http://www.youtube.com/user/The1975music?feature=watch

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Love L.U.V.- In My Daydreams- Track Review

 Track Review: 

 

 

 

 

 

Love L.U.V.-

 

 

 

 

 

In My Daydreams.

 

 

9.3/10

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Their name is taken from a track by the Shangra-Las; their sound infused with U.S. elements of garage-rock: an effect that is hard to shake off.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Availability:

In My Daydreams is available at:

http://www.youtube.com/embed/NHCS2ebMAS0

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GARAGE-rock and heavier, yet controlled sounds are not often…

 

heard at the moment. Band that are new to the market, and make their first tentative steps into unsure waters, face an inherent gamble. Depending on the year, often depends on what the public wants. Trends and demands, fickle as they are, have an infantile lack of concentration. Over the last several years there has been a shift in popularity; from The xx-style other-worldliness, through to of-the-moment fascinations such as Daft Punk, Vampire Weekend and Emile Sande. Little consistency, pattern or structure seems to dictate minds and demands. It has been a worrying trend over the last few years: something that looks set to continue too. When the likes of Britpop and indie were in vogue, you could always rely on the fact that, at least for the new few years, the public would be clasping and seeking out this type of music. There was some mobility in the market for new bands, but by and large, trends tending to control output. I guess it is good to an extent that there is more diversity and less dependence on fitting into a mould. However, new acts have a tougher time ahead of them. The public, unfortunately, are still as inexplicably unpredictable when it comes to consistency of opinion; popularity and credibility often hinges as much on striking the right chord at the right time, or else being so unique or different, that a sheer curiosity is the focal mandate. In 2013, it is harder now than ever, to determine what is going to be required , from the public’s view. A host of variable and colourful acts are bursting forth, nestling into the marketplace, and vying for admiration and notice. If one were to say what is required most of all in the current climate, I would say heavier blues sounds; or else garage rock sounds with a kick of the U.S., and its heart in the U.K. Too many bands now are bogged down in indie sounds and The XX-esque navel-gazing mystique. Sure, there is a great deal of interest when it comes to the compositions, but with regards to the atmosphere, vocals and lyrics, there is little diversity, intrigue or potency at all. We hear too much sedateness, a lot of so-so guitar noise, and a world of indistinguishably. It is true that, if you dig hard enough, you can hear music that will capture you- but you have to look far too hard for comfort. Modern music is still being made memorable but existing acts. The biggest and most profitable acts of this year will be established acts. As well as Daft Punk and Vampire Weekend, the likes of Laura Marling, Queens of the Stone Age and The National will be making the ‘top 10’ lists, come the end of the year. I have witnessed few examples of bands whom can ever challenge the established order, and make viable steps towards a coup. Solo artists suffer a similar issue. There has been a few that are a bit different; but so many are so similar: bogged down in unspectacular acoustic scenes, proffered by a voice that is either vastly unoriginal, or else mind-numbing. When hunting through the media, and keeping your ears close to the ground, where do you situate yourself, when hoping to find something that is outside of the norm., and capable of eliciting fascination and excitement?

 

Hopes were high, and my senses inflamed, when I discovered Love L.U.V. All the ingredients were in place: the classic four-piece formation with male and female blends; gorgeous and striking girls, with cool and suave boys; a curious biography and ambition, as well as a sound that I have not heard a lot recently. Lucy Doyle is the vocal queen; Tommy Atkins the guitar warrior; Steve Quigley the drum lord, with Jessica Turner playing keys pioneer. With a unique and intriguing band name, and a distinct band uniform and uniformity: a lot of black-and-white photography, alongside black clothing. Cards are kept close to chest, and the social media sites that they are on, give little insight into their influence and individual biographies. You are required to write your own assumptions and arrive at conclusions based on the strength of their music. It is a tact and requisite that many new acts have taken. Having only formed last Summer, the band only made their live debut three months ago. The fledgling steps have been positive and celebrated: more dates beckon, and a steady reputation has been built. Limehouse, east London, and ‘The Disco Room’ was the location the band used to record In My Daydreams- as well as the associative video. I am always fascinated by the initial months of any new act’s career. Even if they have a manager or record label on board to begin, a lot of their personality, development and consciousness is developed by them alone. They are orphaned or un-adopted children, left to fend for themselves in the music world, with all its heady sounds and smells and barbed wire. Many struggle with the pressure and independence, whilst others thrive and turn it to their advantage. Love L.U.V. have a bold confidence and convincing ambition, which to my mind, indicates a smooth and prosperous road. Certainly based on the strength of their single, they should have no anxiety or apprehensions…

 

In My Daydreams has a cool and seductive electric guitar strum. Sounding like something between The Everly Brothers’ All I Have To Do Is Dream-cum-debut album The Beatles (Do You Want to Know a Secret/A Taste of Honey), it is a smooth and pleasingly evocative initial introduction. As a light percussive tap arrives, with cymbal emphasis, a guitar riot is unleashed. It has the blues/garage rock sound of Seven Nation Army, as well being reminiscent of a less aggressive Arbeit Macht Frei (off of The Libertines’ eponymous album). It seems like a witch’s brew of the two, with a rollicking kick of something quite intoxicating. It will have your head swaying, feet tapping, and with evocative edges, and a fresh spark of 2013 London garage rock, it is invigorating and intent.  It is hard to shake off the Seven Nation Army comparisons. It never brings to mind any sort of reappropriation. It is fresher; less twangy and hard-hitting: it is more inclusive and melodic, with more percussive influence, and less tortured drama. In a way it the perfect introduction, as it is short and sharp, and will certainly be in your brain for a long, long time. In the way that Detroit and London are introduced, given alcohol, a quiet room, and a packet of cigarettes; the resulting progeny is wide-smiling, relaxed and filled with ethanol tangs and serotonin release. The track concerns an unnamed beau being our heroine’s “star-crossed lover”. There is a romantic coquettishness, as well as an impassioned power to Lucy’s tones: honeyed, but born with a tough fists. Jessica provides ample and effective supportive vocals, adding an extra layer of emphasis and authority to the words. Tommy and Steve work wonderfully together, unveiling a twirling and psychotropic twist of blues, rock, that mixes ’60s and ’70s sides, with ’90s recollections, that are both soldered to a modern-day steel template. The vocal is something that struck my ear hard. Ordinarily, and being a self-proclaimed (and regrettable) master/anal retentive when it comes to vocals and their lineage and heritage; I was stumped. Lucy has few of the pitfalls of most singers: I could not instantly recall a comparable voice, or hint at an obvious influence. There are minute shades of Cyndi Lauper; tiny punk edges, with some early-Madonna as well: not that it is either obvious or overly-apparent or predominant. These vocals are given time to pervade and strike up front: unencumbered by too much sonic inference, yet are punctured beautifully by a rabble of rumbling keys, drums and guitar. The motif of daydreams, and scenes “In my visions”, tell of our protagonist proclaiming and exulting the benefits and wonders of an anonymous subject. Whether the man in question is a lover, former or present, or a friend, there is always a positive regard elicited. Comparisons with The Kills have been levied at Love L.U.V. and I suppose there is a similar bait and switch with the vocal and music; as well as a cinematic stomp in the sound and lyrics. Romantic dispositions and charmed proclamations give the track a positive energy and pop sensibility, that, when combined with the rush and blood-rush of the audio energy, produces something natural and cohesive, as well as surprising and unexpected. Our protagonist says that, in daydreams, she is not (just) “this little girl”: she wants to be taken “to the stars”. The coda and theme of ‘stars’ is emphasised, repeated and ramified. Its simplicity and effectiveness is infectious and gains a momentum and gravity, that lasts for probably a third of the track, with precious little lyrical or vocal diversion.

 

Love L.U.V have stepped forward with big results. In a year where there is a heavy reliance on softer sounds, or rock force with little melody, the group are pulling together forgotten threads from stronger times. The vocals are original and fresh, yet have some ’60s charm along the lines of The Shagri-Las and The Ronettes. The keys, guitar and drums have garage rock elements from the ’90s and early-’00s, yet have an urgency that is very much as modern as anything out there. It is early in the game to say what the future holds, with regards to the direction their music will go. If they can keep producing more songs like In My Daydreams, then they will be in the public consciousness for a long time. One suspects that there are a lot of other sounds and styles in their arsenal, which will be unleashed in due course. The band have a knack and talent for hooks and lines that have memorable pop swing, as well as steely kicks to them. Each member plays their part brilliantly, and there is no sense of anyone trying to steal the limelight: everything supports and blends together to create the best sound. In spite of some White Stripes ruminations and interjected spirit, nothing comes off as tributing. It is a fresh and urgent sound that is a fond departure and needed remedy to counteract a lot of modern bands and sounds, which are, with all the best will in the world, stale and forgettable. Some new groups such as The Strypes (stupid name aside): with all their Beatle-esque ’60s style and raw energy, are worthy of consideration and support, but too many are contended to offer precious little memorability. What the group intend to do for the rest of 2013, is hard to say: touring, an E.P./album in the works, or another single, perhaps. There is a market need and gap that needs to be filled with garage rock contenders and bands such as Love L.U.V. Let’s just hope that whatever comes next…

 

HAS the same kick as In My Daydreams.

_____________________________________________________________________________

Official:

http://loveluvband.tumblr.com/

Twitter:

https://twitter.com/LoveLUVband

Facebook:

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

YouTube: 

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

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UPCOMING GIGS (SO FAR):
July 4th – Paper Dress Vintage, London
July 13th -East End Live Festival, London.

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Annie Drury- Some Day- Track Review

 

 

Track Review:

 

 

 

Annie Drury-

 

 

 

Some Day.

 

 

9.7/10

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another rare bird, of soulful beauty, is flying high in the Cuckoo nest.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Availability:

Some Day will be available shortly on Annie’s debut E.P.

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THOUGHTS and diversions once again are in familiar waters…

 

I have long said that the burdens the young solo artists face are numerous, and hazardous. I shan’t flog a dead gift-horse again; suffice it to say there are two important and vital components to perfect, with regards to making an impact. The lyrics and music are as important as anything. Too often style and substance have taken a back seat to a set of songs, that are deeply personal, but incongruous. The words are seldom fascinating, poetic, or even original: bogged down in a quagmire of cliche scenes and lazy metaphors. Of course first person personal narratives are a perennial favourite, and win most minds- if done right. I have heard so few bands or artists whom talk of subjects away from love, or even take the subject of romance and give it a literary or filmic spin. When considering the voice; this is my biggest sticking point. It is possibly a bigger issue with female singers, compared to their male counterparts. Too many solo artists have a voice which is so androgynous, it is hard to tell whether they have any sort of talent at all. The vocals may be sweet and pleasant enough, but either sound exactly the same as several dozen other artists, or else run the risk of mimicking an existing artist. It is an ever-present problem, and one that is in danger of burying a lot of artists, whom are genuinely unique and promising. I know it is a bit of a sore subject for me, but the voice, and vocal prowess, is a key element for me, when considering new music. It is essential to be a sharp lyricist and great composer, but the voice is the most prominent and immediate facet to any artist. It is always a pleasure to hear a voice that has expressiveness, soulful edges, power, and above all, a unique flair to it. I emphasise and sympathise with the plight of the new artist. With the ever-growing number of acts entering the market place, combined with the pressure faced with regards to originality, there is a bit of a terminal velocity limit. Getting a foothold and making impressions a lot of times, can rely upon strokes of luck, as well as being in the right place at the right time. In 2013, and for the last few years, there has been a demand for either innovative bands that have cerebral edges and heavier potential, or solo artists whom are have soulful tones and ethereal underpinnings. Keeping your identity, whilst simultaneously fitting into the market and giving the public what they want, can be an almost-impossible task.

 

Almost half a dozen times, I have focused upon or mentioned Cuckoo Records. The Yorkshire record label is housing a small but innovative group of artists whom range in style and substance. There is swing, blues rock and ’70s pop/soul to be heard, and a host of other diversions and nooks to be discovered. Annie Drury was born in 1992, a year in which music began to really hot up, following a rather hit-and-miss ’80s. Britpop was a couple of years away, and grunge was in full swing. In the U.K. there was a great deal of credible dance music, fantastic pop, and modern soul. Now 23 was in the charts, and boasted hits from the likes of Charles and Eddie; Crowded House; INXS; Roxette and Peter Gabrielle. The range and quality was variable, but there was a higher percentage of memorable acts and songs then, than there are now; a lot of these tracks still stand up, 21 years later. Our Yorkshire singer-songwriter, was probably subjected to a lot of the sounds of 1992. However, the likes of Bruce Springsteen, Nina Simone and The Beatles are counted as her influences: meaning her household was buzzing with many sounds of the ’60s and ’70s (and ’80s to a degree). Annie’s father and grandfather were both musicians; her grandfather was a prominent musical figure in the 1940s. As well as being enamoured of, and inspired by the strong female influences such as Joni Mitchell and Kate Bush, the likes of Carole King were also prominent. These are artists I have been inspired by and in awe of- especially Bush and King. These talents between them mix gorgeous piano melodies with stunningly evocative vocals; portraying scenes of ill-fated love and stranger more mythological scenes. When I was born, True by Spandau Ballet was number 1, and Thriller was on everyone’s mind. The mix of New Romantic music, and Michael Jackson gems were familiar to my ears when I was young, as well as the likes of The Beatles T-Rex and Kate Bush too. The music you are raised on and absorb at a young age, is as influential in forging your musical identity as modern influences are. A mixture of stunning legends and a strong musical upbringing, inspired Annie strongly. Modern artists such as Amy Winehouse and Bon Iver are key too, and unsurprisingly this mix of high quality and varied genres, has lead to a number of venues booking Annie. Before signing to Cuckoo in 2012, Annie toured around Leeds and Yorkshire (as part of a band and solo too), gaining followers, reputation and valuable experience. As her sound was honed, and her appeal noted, she brought all of this confidence and passion to Cuckoo, and has been growing as an artist over the 16 months since. Annie’s new E.P. is out very soon, and the young artist has a lot of plus points. She is a modern pin-up but has a lot of the girl-next-door charm and appeal too. Annie has a down-to-Earth charm and friendliness, and it is rare to hear of a talent in their early-20s, whom is influenced by the ’60s and ’70s legends, as opposed to artists such as Adele, Christina Aguilera, Mariah Carey and their ilk. Annie’s coda is to live in the present-day; for the moment. Her music, as well as having a heritage that suggests strong and wonderful sounds from artists past, is very much the sound of 2013…

 

Starting, as it does, with an exciting and evocative piano arpeggio, Some Day catches your emotions and mind immediately. There is romantic and passionate power behind the passage, and it succeeds in hooking you in, before a single word is sung. It is a brief and memorable dance, and introduces the vocal. Singing of “Oh what a day/What a day”; Annie’s voice has a soulful edge to it; as well as being breezy and seductive, it is also authoritative and romantic, with edges of ’60s and ’70s folk and soul. Annie has said that she tries to not sound like any of her idols; instead incorporate the sounds and flavours into her music, whilst retaining her individuality and ambition. It is difficult to hear any direct comparisons with any artists. Too many solo acts sound like a poor man’s version of their idols- bands do it too often as well. It seems to be a natural go-to for every new act: they have to sound like someone recongisable or popular, I suppose in their mind if they do not then they will alienate the media, fans and undecided voters alike. This is a crazy and short-sighted sin of omission. Individuality, originality and unique projection is the essential component and hallmark every single new act should strive for: something that Annie has figured, and does so brilliantly. Her voice is hers alone, but has the those edges of soul, folk and pop too. If anything, there are light shades of Laura Marling: a similar inflection and delivery to some of Marling’s tracks, and a comparable hew to the vocal tones. If any wisps in the voice suggest modern-day Marling, then the composition components: propulsive and impassioned piano, blending with lightly plucked strings, is far from Marling’s wheelhouse. It has more in common with past masters such as Bush and Mitchell, yet reinvented and modernised for 2013. Thematically, there is Clouds-era Joni Mitchell. Personal emotions and romantic considerations are alluded to, but the scenes within Some Day refer to dreams, ambitions past, and personal realisations: “You know I could have been a painter”, Annie intones, a hint of longing and regret nestles in her sweet hues. Rumbling and skipping drum rolls join the fray, and adds electricity and weight to the track. The chorus itself is summery, light and a sonic smile: our heroine mixes the song title with wordless declarations: this, blended with the composition behind it, gives it a modern and fresh kick, Irish flavours can be tasted between the strings, percussion and insatiable bonhomie: tantilising Mumford and Sons lines run parallel too. When Annie sings about personal regrets, doubts and recollections, she does so with edges of jazz, swing and soul. In the same way that modern artists such as Lilly Allen, Jessie Ware and Lianne La Havas have a way of enunciating and delivering their lines: at once pointed and punctual; the next floating and breezy, Annie does likewise. One can tell that the old legends remain in her soul. Her evocations, tales and delivery has a lot of the same graces and qualities. Her lyrics too are to be noted: “I could have been a lawyer” she claims; going on to say that she could have helped out her guy to “make you a better version of the miserable man you are”. When many contemporaries are projecting songs of love-gone-wrong, with lines wallowing in introspection and maudlin woe-is-me sympathy-seeking; Annie instead shows spiked heels. By linking professions with methods of hurting her no-good man, creates a sort of modern-day 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover. It is evocative and brings myriad images to mind. Where as Mr. Simon told of the ways he could hit the road; mixing light-hearted images with lighter music, Annie does the same. She may have violent or vengeful intent and desire, but the vocals and skip in the music catches you off guard. Everything is kept spirited and strong: there is never any depressive undertones or fatigued anger. The wordless vocals and merry abandon of the music brings to mind Irish music, and their traditions- unsurprising given her family history. The strummed string backing- violin I would presume- has a romantic and swaying beauty to it: it creates energy and gravity, and blends well in the chorus. The track itself is quite short, but hits such a chord that it says so much, without having to extend itself. The lyrics are original and clever. There are hints of the likes of Lily Allen: artists whom can add wit and vivid imagery to their songs. Annie has created a song with sweeping and changeable musical scapes: shifting from romantic strings and pianos, to folkier ruminations. Her words are sharp, inventive and witty: love, giving it to a wrong-doer is giving a new spin and angle, setting it aside from most of her peers. The voice is sweet and soulful throughout. On other tracks I have heard from her, lean towards slower and most lustful proffering; but here there is a relentless energy and spring that keeps your heart skipping, even though the words have a sharp tongue to them.

 

Annie Drury is an artist with a great knowledge and passion for music. Understanding the importance of having a unique voice, whilst displaying a range of different emotions and sounds, she is far from your everyday solo artist. For far too long, there has been far too many whom are in the middle of the road and have no merits to their voice or music. Annie is in her early-20s, yet has the confidence and range of someone far, far older. Having heard River Flow in addition, it is clear that whatever the upcoming E.P. holds, will be something special. River Flow, I have been told, will be augmented with strings; the version that is currently available highlights Annie’s romantic and stunning piano playing skills: beautifully composed and able to elicit the maximum amount of emotional resonance. Annie will be a star of the future, and will be another name from Cuckoo’s books, that is sure to make huge waves. She is quite a diverse and different talent. Not merely contended to play a modern version of her favourite singers, or portray an inferior version of an existing talent, like so many of her contemporaries do. The combination of a rich musical upbringing, and a steely determination to enforce her originality and unique sound, results in music that will have a mass appeal; and will win respect across a number of different genres, counties and countries. In a year where the best moves are being made by established acts- The National, Daft Punk, Laura Marling, Queens of the Stone Age etc., the rest of the year, and 2014 will not have to suffer such a one-sided eventuality. Where there are acts, such as Annie Drury, willing to cast any conventional shackles off, and pioneering to take on the established acts, and be held in the same regard, it will be a very bright future indeed. If she can keep her ideals and talent at the level it is now…

 

SHE will not be relatively-unknown for too long at all.

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Official:

http://www.cuckoorecords.com/artists/annie-drury#/artists/annie-drury

Twitter:

https://twitter.com/anniedrurymusic

Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Annie-Drury-music/185837401492957

SoundCloud:

http://soundcloud.com/anniedrury