New Music: The Death of Grand Ambition?

New Music: The Death of Grand Ambition?

Queen

Will the 21st century bear witness to a song that can rival Bohemian Rhapsody?

I am departing from my (daily) routine of music reviews- due to a variety of different pressures and obstacles.  Until I can muster up the fortitude and resolve to reinvigorate some passion for reviewing, I am concerning myself with some personal questions (regarding music)- and this is one that is of the most-urgent concern: what happened to ambition in music?  Until as recently as a few weeks ago, I was contented to seek out new music; separate the proverbial wheat aside, and proffer their majesties to those whom were interested (usually just the band/artist themselves).  A series of recent (and current) events has soured my disposition and energies.  Due to a serious financial funk (debt in fact); health and emotional issues; an welcomed and unsettled home environment; loneliness; creative frustrations, I have had to focus my mind elsewhere- people have ended their own lives, having witnesses fewer set-backs and heartaches.  In light of my current burdens, I have changed my ambitious sights; turned my creative energies towards personal preservation- as opposed to assisting others wholeheartedly.  There are a few disappointing issues (one faces) when seeking out and reviewing new music.  For one thing, it is near-impossible chancing upon great sounds.  Most of my ‘leads’ were obtained from the likes of The Girls Are and The Guardian– I probably owe them a wealth of debt.  Having had to spend so much time and energy trying to find good music, I asked myself: why the hell is it so difficult?!  There are no websites (or music-based ones) that provide connections to new bands and artists in need of reviewing: nothing geared towards the likes of me.  As much as I have bemoaned the lack of good music websites (they all have serious flaws to be honest), I have also been trying to get my own music website up-and-running; getting it off of the ground level. As much as there is a difficulty when trying to find (great) new music; it is even harder trying to get assistance with regards to launching a website.  If you do not have thousands of pounds and a huge knowledge of web design, it is phenomenally hard to make ambitious web sites a reality.  I accept that finance is needed (with regards to building a webpage), but that is not my biggest woe.  Recently I have mailed student-based web designers; professional design consultancies- even acquaintances and trusted people in the know.  Weeks and months have gone by, and not a single human being has responded to me- not even with a bare-minimum “Thanks but no thanks”.  In music; in business and in life a lot of people are incredibly selfish and narrow-minded.  Perhaps my standards are high, but if someone like me (whom has a lot of details worked out for my music website) approaches someone- even a Facebook friend- asking for some basic advice, it is common courtesy to respond: why do people feel the need to be so unlikeable and unprofessional?  It is not as though my website proposal is unfeasible; nor is it a huge money-maker: it is for the benefit of new musicians, music-lovers and a whole wave of people- and fills a desperate, desperate market need.  Between getting angry at people’s lack of manners and help; and the difficulties of finding new music to review, I have gone a bit ‘off’ of the idea of assisting others and making their lives better.  It sounds cynical and cruel, but so few people are willing to help out those deserving, I am wondering why I do it so much?  I don’t believe in anything as asinine and ridiculously unscientific as karma or fate, but I do believe that there should be some give and take- with some ‘give’ aimed at my shores.  As well as personal issues and a lack of wider appreciation, I have been influenced by two others factors.  The first thing is that too few people are willing to help out new musicians.  Over the course of my reviewing career (so far), there has been few occasions where my work has been shared.  Sure, the band and artist is thankful (although in some cases they are not); but few people ‘retweet’, ‘share’ or promote my reviews- meaning it is usually only the artist themselves that read them.  I work 4-5 hours a day and write over 2,500 words (on an average review)- is it too much to ask that a few people spend 5 seconds spreading my work wider?  It is the lack of common consideration; self-absorption and selfishness that irks me most.  I spend as much time as possible helping others raise awareness about their music, charity work, personal needs etc., so it appalls me that there are few genuinely unselfish people out there.  In addition to- for want of a better phrase- wasting my time reviewing music, my biggest concern is this: there are not enough great new artists out there.

Everyone I have reviewed does their bit for music- with varying degrees of success and passion.  I have examined some Surrey-based solo artists whom are doing the county proud.  There are great bands and acts whom have a keen sight for quality and endeavour: willing to rise above the homogenous and predictable core- offering up something truly unique.  I am aware of the huge irony at the moment- nobody will read or share this article- but I am raising a genuine concern.  We are in 2013, and are fortunate enough to have witnessed the greatest music of all-time; the best bands and solo artists; the most wonderful albums- as well as having experienced a wealth of differing genres and movements.  There is all of this resource to hand; we have so much past music to be inspired by; yet by-and-large the aspiration and ambition being offered up is… underwhelming.  In the last year I have heard of a small amount of acts whom are actually doing something bold and exciting- most are great but hardly worthy of huge excitement.  My bedrock point- and base argument- can be boiled down to this: when was the last time that an ‘all-time classic’ was witnessed (in terms of an individual song)?  I have been flicking through music polls and charts; looking at what people consider to be the best songs of all time, and one think occurs: the vast majority of the tracks are older than 15 years.  I shall go into more depth below, but I am wondering what is causing a lack of glorious music.  There are some brilliant songs to be heard, yet no-one approaches a song (today) and exclaims: “This is one of the best tracks I have ever heard!”.  It seems odd, given that you can create whatever sound or song you want- there are endless possibilities available to the truly-ambitious.  Financial pressures have been consistent within the music industry- music is comparatively inexpensive to produce.  For the new artists there is an acute awareness of how much recording costs: hiring a studio; buying/leasing equipment (if needs be); producing and mastering the final product etc.  Even if one has a ‘home studio’ then costs can still be apparent- I know this from talking with a couple of Surrey-based solo artists- yet producing something approaching a masterpiece need not cost much more than producing any other track.  I think that the direction that a potential ‘future classic’ is going to emanate from, is the band market.  My trouble with bands revolve around the lack of individuality and differentiation.  There are still too many Arctic Monkeys-lite groups; too many dull Indie bands; too few great and daring acts: where are the modern idols lurking?  Historically some of the all-time best songs (and albums) have been created by bands (if you look at the ‘best of’ polls); so it seems that we should be getting the whiff of a potential all-time great forming: but is that really possible in 2013/’14?

To my opinion, the greatest track- but not my favourite- of all-time is Bohemian Rhapsody.  Everything about the song ‘ticks the boxes’.  There are epic guitar solos; strange and thought-provoking lyrics; majestic vocal layers- all centred around the wonderful performance given by Freddie Mercury.  It was Mercury whom wrote the track, and practically brought the song to the rest of the boys fully-imagined.  It is under 6 minutes long, yet covers so much ground; strikes so hard, that nothing else needs to be said.  It is a song that is unimpeachably ambitious and flawless- peerless in its sound and emotional effect.  It is widely considered to be- if not the greatest song ever- within the top 3 greatest tracks of all-time- it should be in everyone’s top 3!  That track was released nearly 40 years ago, and yet few comparable tracks have been created.  Bohemian Rhapsody is pretty unique and individual: it is not a track you can try to emulate without ripping it off.  Muse have made a few attempts at being a bit Queen-esque: infusing some of their tracks with Bohemian Rhapsody elements- coming off pretty short by comparison.  Songs that are not imbued with epic strides and multi-part layers also vie for the top spots (of the ‘all time best’ lists).  Imagine is a track which is beautiful and timeless: born with a direct and universal message of peace and hope.  Tracks such as Like A Rolling Stone are synonymous with sharp-tongued lyrics and incredible electric fireworks.  Even a song such as Life on Mars? are comparatively simple- although it does twist and turn a few times.  Between the respective artists’ reputation, ambition and quality, the aforementioned songs are defined thus: they are phenomenal and unique, yet not unbeatable.  It seems that the ‘epic’- the 4/5 part multi-segment odyssey- is what is needed when trying to challenge the top spots.  Aside from Bohemian Rhapsody; A Day in the Life, Good Vibrations and Stairway to Heaven are consistently considered as the all-time best songs- especially Stairway to Heaven.  These ‘epics’ are not considerably long- Stairway to Heaven is a little over 8 minutes long.  The reason that these types of songs are unanimously popular and classically timeless, is that they are restless; constantly engaging and emotionally-stirring.  Most of the grandest songs ever tend to have originated in the ’60s and ’70s (one or two took place in the ’80s).  Imagine was released in 1980, and since then, how many truly stunning songs have been created?  Tracks like Live Forever, Smells Like Teen Spirit and One were all created in the (glorious) ’90s, so my question is this: what has happened over the last (15 or so) years?  My favourite songs (and ones that will always remain in the memory longest) are the huge epic and sweeping tracks; and the last time that we witnessed such an example was 1997.  When Radiohead unleashed Paranoid Android, it was met with open jaws and drooling mouths.  It contorts, bites; spits and yells.  It is a song which turns direction; takes your breath away and is always unexpected and unpredictable.  It is longer (in terms of running time) than Bohemian Rhapsody, yet is considered as the modern-day equivalent to that golden theme: it is the best challenge to the crown since 1975.  Yorke and co. had realised what a gem they had created.  It is a song which takes years to rehearse (in order to play live), and has never been equalled…but why?  Paranoid Android came out 16 years ago, and there has not been a single track since, that has ever ranked alongside Radiohead’s OK Computer stand-out.

Many new acts and bands aim too low: there is too much fear, reservation and hesitation.  I have been scratching my head, when trying to theorise why we have not heard a song with the same majesty and fascination as Paranoid Android.  Perhaps because of Radiohead’s situation (they had a bit of money; were on their 3rd album; had a weight of public approval to inspire them) that means they were uniquely-placed to write such a track?  Is it simply a lack of finance that is holding ambition back?  Breaking down that track, one wonders if that is the case.  Songs like Bohemian Rhapsody, Paranoid Android and A Day in the Life are synonymous with attention to detail and time-consuming effort- as much as they are huge budgets.  The tracks may call for huge orchestration; multitudinous vocal tracks as well as a lot of instruments into the pot, but when you consider Bohemian Rhapsody (in particular); the biggest two truths are this: the talent of its creator, as well as the ambition behind it.  If this song has not existed, the cost of theoretically ‘making’ it are not huge compared with your average 6-minute song).  If you are a band then the biggest cost is studio time.  That said, if you have the song worked out; rehearsed and ‘perfected’ in your heads, then it would not necessarily take more than a few days to record- presuming you worked your arse off and buckled down.  Similarly Paranoid Android is ‘obtainable’ as well.  These are songs that are not enforced by huge budgets and resources out of the reach of us mere mortals- they are perfectly possible, considering that far more complex tracks have been created since.  If it is not cost, then the problem stems from two possibilities: a lack of talent and a fear amongst new talent/media expectations.  There are a number of great singers out there at the moment; there are some superb lyricists; there are some great bands with a keen sense of sonic adventure and range: how many acts or bands tie together all of these facets?  Radiohead are still existent (although past their prime), and it seems that there is plenty of scope with regards to writing the next grandly-ambitious epic?  Since 1997, there have been few songs that have ever troubled critical ‘best of’ lists.  In terms of emotional simplicity and directness, as well as all-sweeping majesty, no artist has turned in a single song that has featured on the list.  To be able to (realistically) create a truly staggering song you would need a tremendous and attention-grabbing voice; a phenomenal and unexpected composition behind it, as well as a distinct and unique sound.  I fear that there are few bands out there (or solo artists) capable of producing such a masterpiece.  If you have a wide and varied voice; an agile and ambitious mind, as well as a keen ear for quality then you can come up with the goods- money be damned.  There are websites like Kickstarter that means money is not a (huge) issue: the biggest problem is lack of ambition.  There is a fear amongst acts- especially brand-new ones- that subjugates ambition.  They think that if they crank out an 8-minute huge epic of a track- complete with huge riffs, orchestration and warped and wonderful avenues- that they will be laughed at; written off and buried.  The best music this year has been produced by the likes of Queens of the Stone Age and The National.  These are established U.S. acts whom are comfortable in their skins- and do their thing better than anyone else.  In the solo market as well as the new band core, I have not heard of anyone whom is trying to pen a future epic.  It saddens me somewhat; as it would be such a sumptuous and brilliant treat to witness a breath-taking and ‘mind-blowing’ song: something that sucks you in and intoxicates you completely.  The media tend to like their acts and artists ‘just so’: they favour bravery and ambition, but are hesitant of anyone whom challenges the established order.  16 years have passed since Paranoid Android came along, and if you consider the greatest tracks of all-time: how many are from the past 15 years?  I am going to say 1 at the most (if you know your music then there are in fact 0 that are worthy of a top 10 place).  We have more advantages and opportunities now than we ever have.  There are more artists; a greater number of potential partners-in-crime, and a growing need for something truly breathtaking: but do you ever think we will live to hear a contender for Bohemian Rhapsody.  The modern market is aware that simply ripping off an established epic will win you no points: you have to try something different.  I just worry that new music is synonymous with boundaries and predictability.  It is fantastic to hear of a great lyricist or a pleasing voice, but damn it to hell: when will we witness a track that is talked about in fervent tones; pulled apart, examined and drooled over (for decades to come)?  It may beg one question in your mind: if you know best, why not write one yourself?

 

The point is valid, but the sentiment is moot.  The ‘moot’ part arrives because of my situation.  Having no money and no short-term potential for musical collaboration, it is not a realistic prospect; yet there is a ‘but…’.  I have not idly been sitting criticising and moaning: I have been writing.  I have spent months writing a song which challenges the orthodox order, and is something that differs entirely from the current scene.  It is composed of 8 or 9 differing parts; orchestration and multi-layered vocals are in the mix; as well as huge intrigue and augmentation atmosphere.  The title is there; the lyrics are in the mix, and all the various components are in place.  I know what each vocal section will sound like; what the lyrical themes will consist of and how it will sound.  If I claimed what I could do with my voice; what I could write and what the song is capable of, is another case.  I wouldn’t bother writing so much and spending so much time on a single song if I did not think I could live up to my ambitions: huge and varied vocal swathes; different and fascinating lyrics and an overall epic and sweeping sound.  It is all on paper and in my mind, and just needs some band members to add the colour to the palette.  Of course a song such as mine cannot be realised for free: between finding a band, recording and realising the track it may run into £5,000 or so; yet here is the thing: if I have to sell my kidney on the black market I will make it so.  I have been writing music since I was 18; dreaming of being in a band since I was 20, and salivating over the possibilities of creating a huge multi-segment epic for years now.  If it takes months of trial and error; months of rehearsal or whatever, then that’s what will be done.  Even if you don’t win everyone- or even make a mistep- then who cares?  How many new artists attempt such a thing?  I don’t care that I have written another song; and understand that a few more ‘traditional’ numbers will have to be in the public consciousness beforehand; but that does not mean I am not going to work my heart out to make my realisations so.

I have heard too many simple tracks; too many songs that are impressive but not all-time classics.  That is not to say that the song I am working on has the potential to rival any of the greatest songs ever; although there is not empirical proof to the contratry: it is only when it is recorded and released that judgments can be made.  My point is this: if I am willing to try- life situations and hardships in consideration- then why are new acts and bands not trying to?  If you don’t have the potential or talent then that is fine.  If you have even the slightest inkling, ambition or leaning towards creating something monumental then why not go for it?  Screw the media; screw expectation and if you can afford the time and money, then why would you not go for it?  The best you can do with a new song (in this climate) is having people remember it for a few months or so.  If you take a chance- even if it fails- then why would you not take a stab at recording a track that has the potential to be talked about in years (and decades) to come?  Musicians need to be braver and more conscious of market needs.  There is still too much fear, and a fear of what other people think- as oppossed to what they want and need.  The reputation of modern music is not great; and the fact that a worthy rival to Paranoid Android/Bohemian/Stairway etc. has not been created, speaks volumes.  With a burgeoning and packed scene, there is too much emphasis on creating songs quickly and cheaply: every artist and act has a disposability; a distinct lifespan and a lack of huge surprise.  Maybe it is just me, but I would wait 5 years to hear a song that was truly staggering than listen to dozens of tracks that are unadventuorous by comparison.  This is where my depression and lack of motivation has stemmed from: as much as I respect a lot of new acts; I don’t feel that any can blow the market away with a biblical track.  Maybe it is alchemy, and in 2017 such a song will be realised, but the hard truth is this: it seems very unlikely.  I hope that I am wrong.  I hope that a band (or artist) is crafting a meticulous and memorable epic, that will be on the ‘top 10 songs of all-time’ list.  I also hope that I can reconcile my drawbacks and ambitions: find a band whom are on my wavelength and will campaign tirelessly to summon up a track with epic- and perhaps underserved credentials.  It is 2013 and more risks have to be taken…

This is more of a plea/challenge than it is a derisive mandate.  The world has witnessed enough pleasing love songs; we have heard too many Indie 4-minute tracks about love/loss and the like: even though there is some diverse and wonderful other music out there.  It is not a coincidence that the likes of Stairway to Heaven, Bohemian Rhapsody and A Day in the Life still are at the tops of the lists (with regards to peerlessness): the public wants to hear something exciting; scary and mind-blowing.  I would not be upset if I heard a dozen bands each take a stab at producing a modern masterpiece: as long as they were not rip-offs or soundalikes.  In fact if a song as touching or epic as Imagine or Like A Rolling Stone were proffered I would be equally enamoured and relieved.  I can only do what I can do (axiomatic and tautological as it seems); so I hope that others take heed and note- but I am aware that the message may never stick or be spread.  I think my fears and anxieties stem from the state of modern music.  There is a lot of music being produced, yet so few people share great songs and help great artists.  I try to do it with as many people as possible; yet your average social media user has little consideration with propagating the best interests of new and worthy musicians.  The media promotes fear and limitations; so there needs to be a rebellion against this.  Maybe once grassroot issues are ironed out: no truly great music website; selfishness; too much music clouding your thoughts etc, then maybe a resolution and resurgence will be possible.  I hope that the huge wave of new music is not burying and burning the potential for a new grand epic: a track that truly stands out because of its ambition and multi-part flair.  It only takes one artist/band to do that; to put a track out there that gets people talking.  Once you do that, then a wave of inspiration and ambition is created, and- so long as there is not a sheep mentality with regards to creativity then an improved and strengthened scene will be created.  As much as I love the ’90s and the music that was offered, I feel that we need to challenge its majesty: it has been 14 years since 1999, and I fear that things will never be as good.  We all need to champion a unique voice; a sharp and intelligent lyricist, as well as a unique and quality band.  That is all possible and on-going, but at the same time we need to produce a track(s) that confounds and inspires: something that is as ridiculously grand as Bohemian; as epic as Stairway; and as twisted and angry as Paranoid- or maybe a combination of all three.

When this happens- and if it does- the ramifications and results will be spectacular.  I hope that I live to see the day, as a huge prize await those willing to take the risk: we need to get out of the homogenised and limited nature of ambition and quality.  People should not be intimidated by the all-time great songs- thinking that they cannot be equalled- as the musicians whom created them were human, and the songs were not superhuman.  It just takes trial-and-error; effort and a desire to aim that high.  If bands don’t have that spirit from the off, then why bother?  Every new act should have lofty sights: thinking that they are capable of turning out one of the best songs of modern times.  In a market where many come, and few are remembered, the task at hand is clear…

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Snow Ghosts- Murder Cries- Track Review

Track Review:

 

 

Snow Ghosts

 

 

 

Murder Cries

 

Snow Ghosts

 

 

 

9.6/10

 

 

 

 

Hauntingly-named; atmosphere-driven; solemnity proffering from Tones and Cartwright’s moniker: intrigue-aplenty guaranteed.

 

 

 

 

 

Availability:

Murder Cries is available at:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fzy6dE46vm8

The album A Small Murmuration is available from July 8th, but can be streamed at:

http://www.spin.com/articles/snow-ghosts-a-small-murmuration-album-stream/

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MY discourse will not stray too far from the nature of bands (tomorrow…

 

it will be back in full force).  Today, moreover, I am curiously hooked on the idea of duos.  It is somewhat of a rarity to see a two-piece making music together: well, in this country at least.  Across the U.S., and especially in Europe, the idea is not so foreign: there seems to be a boy-girl compositional set-up.  It is a bit of a surprise- to me at least- that there are not more examples of the form.  If we consider the current likes of She & Him- a U.S. duo fronted be actor Zoeey Deschanel- the formulae is producing some wonderful chemistry: critics and fans are fully on-board with the two-piece’s unique brand of ’60s/’70s power/sunshine pop revitalisation.  Deschanel has- as well as superseding expectations about actors-turned-musicians- proven herself to be a talented and merit-worthy pen smith: able to blend swooning melodies and sharp and impressive lyrics.  Any more members (to She & Him) would spoil the mood; too many cooks and all; three’s a crowd etc… I feel that the burden for the solo artist is quite great: they have to shoulder all of the creative effort themselves; the existence can be quite a lonely one too.  By pairing with a like-minded musician, a creative paramour is created that can herald some superb and focused results.  Simon and Garfunkel are perhaps the most obvious example of a duo whom go to prove my point.  Aside from their break-up; the music that the two produced during their career remains some of the best there’s ever been: it is the combination of the two’s individual talents that make it such a wonderful sound.  Modern examples such as Outkast are keeping the flame burning in support of the duo; yet it seems that-aside from the U.S.-heavy examples- there are not many current U.K. examples.  I have been puzzling my mind as to why there are so few duos in this country.  I have reviewed one or two over the last few months- including Bradford-based twosome Issimo- yet tend to notice that music acts are divided between two defined sects: the solo artist and the band (predominantly 4 or 5-piece).  The band market is bursting at the seams at the moment; hardly able to contain its own weight- and we find that there is a lack of quality control.  For all of the Indie bands out there (yep- I am off on my daily rant) it is hard really to distinguish the great from the sub-par: it is a meritocratic scene that tends to focus too heavily on specific genres.  I feel that being in a band (with 3 or 4 other members) there are inherent goods and risks.  On the plus side, there are plenty of creative participants: each of whom can offer their own ideas and suggest different sounds and avenues.  There is little emphasis on one particular members; it seems that the creative and day-to-day weight is shared amongst each member- which means that there is not an intimidating spotlight shining in one particular person’s eyes.  The negatives can be multitudinous.  For a start, relationships can break down.  Even the most tight-knit and bonded band can suffer entropy and obsolescence.  At the same time; going into an over-crowded market means that you have to work that much harder to make an impression- no matter how good your sounds are.  I do worry slightly with regards to music in general (a bold statement I know).  There seems to be too much predictability and preconceived ideas when it comes to new musicians.  Solo artists- on the whole- fall into various categories.  For the most part the sound and flavour of a solo offering is either folk/acoustic-based; or else their mandates lean towards pop, soul and the like.  Certain voices are heralded and celebrated; some solo artist’s lyrics are championed: sometimes you get lucky and the two are married together.  I am tending to notice that few surprises are to be discovered, when one investigates a new artist/band.  If a voice is striking, then the emotional range or overall ambition is lacking; if a band has a terrific sound, then their lead is charisma-lite.  With a wealth and abundance of technology and previous sounds to borrow from (and be inspired by), it should be easier now- as much as any time- to foster ambition and grand designs.  The fact that there have not been many challenges to the all-time greatest tracks begs one thought: do we have the ambition and talent in the U.K.?  I have found that the best and most exciting sounds have been coming from foreign lands.  Between the U.S. (and North America) and Europe (particularly the Nordic nations), a great variation and mobility has been offered up.  I have been surprised by the pick ‘n’ mix offerings that one can experience.  Sharp and tangy electronic sounds nestle alongside fresh and ripe bubble-gum disco.  If you dig deeper you can find flavoursome and delicious Indie-pop treats, as well as darker-shaded Gothic artists.  From the likes of Open 8, NoNoNo, Say Lou Lou; through to the majestic Kate Bush-esque sounds of Anna von Hausswolff, the nation of Sweden has been showing the way with regards to diversification and surprise- many of their best artists are duos (Say Lou Lou for example).  I have long said that U.K. artists need to take inspiration from European examples: not copying their example, but learning from their authoritative and far-reaching music.  I find that, when eyes are trained further to unfamiliar (but fantastic) shores; new inspiration and a fresh creative lease is available: this can lead to a whole wave of pioneering and variegated new acts.  You may wonder why I am making this particular point (today)?

 

Having been in existence for the last three years, our featured duo are making the right sort of impressions.  Aside from the fact that there is a glaring lack of two-piece artists, I was fascinated by a lot of the (in this context) small details.  Their ethereal and thought-diverting name suggests something quite otherworldly and ephemeral (although the music itself is far from ephemeral).  The history and derivation behind Snow Ghosts is a fascinating one.  Ross Tones is a Bristol boy (although he lives in London at the moment), and performs as Throwing Snow.  In a modern music climate, where a great majority of music can have some predictable and homogenised roots, the sounds that Tones proffers, offers up myriad delight.  Bristol has been synonymous with primal, dark and fascinating sounds for many a year now.  The legends that are Portishead call the place home.  It is that trip-hop/experimental outfit whom- to my mind- are one of the best bands of the past 30 years.  Even their most recent album (Third) displays as much of the innovation, bravery and surprise as their early work did.  The sounds contained within Third goes to show how much fascination and wonder can be created, by being bold and adventurous- the act shows no signs of slowing, and I hope that another L.P. is imminent.  It is Tones’s trip-hop passion and conviction that has marked him out as a local idol: he has garnered many impressive plaudits from fans and critics alike.  As part of Throwing Ghosts, Tones weaved dub step, hip hop and boogie: something that you cannot say about too many acts.  I know that there are many ‘pioneers’ and multifaceted artists at the moment; yet I find that they are still underground talent: how many music magazines and publications regularly promote trip-hop, experimental and Portishead-esque artists?  Tones combined with Augustus Ghosts’ Siren Hannah Cartwright: the two combined formed Snow Ghosts; and the rest, as they say is something-or-other.  Many music magazines have noticed that there are a few acts and artists whom have the words ‘snow’ and ‘ghost(s)’ in their name- but one can guarantee that none of them sound quite like our talented duo.  The duo have unleashed their debut album A Small Murmuration: a collection that promises a host of wide-ranging genres, sounds and styles.  The duo claimed that they wanted the album to sound as cohesive and together as possible (rather than a sprawling The White Album-type L.P.).  As much as I hate musicians (and people in general) describing their music/experiences as a ‘journey’ (experience does not have a geographical or travelogue nature; and it is a word/phrase that is cloying, cliché and a little overly self-important).  Regardless, the duo’s musical summation certainly has the appearance of a crystallisation; a transmogrification or beautiful coming-together: perhaps referring to them as musical paramours is more apt (or more pretentious perhaps?).  The duo appear in monochrome, sepia and black-and-white photos (their band palette and uniform consists of light and darkness); appearing as heroes of a new wave of experimental and prodigious new sounds.  The gloomy and down-turned expressions (that is sometimes projected in some of their shots) is in keeping with the Portishead/Massive Attack trip-hop-cum-experimental mould: the sounds are quite sombre and moody (at times) so one would not be constantly beaming and grinning.  In spite of the great qualities and majesty each member had with their respective outfits; it is when they combine that their ambitions and potentiality is augmented, galvanised and emphasised.  Although the album is only available to stream at the moment (see the link at the top of this review); it will be fully-fledged and readily-available as of Monday (July 8th). Spin magazine has recently profiled the duo; having witnessed and absorbed the album, they can attest to (as can I), it’s interchangeable and ever-mobile manifestations: ranging from dynamic drum and bass; crepuscular fireside parables; through to charming and lasciviously-driven folk movements.  As part of Augustus Ghost (still in business and going strong) Hannah Cartwright comes across as a modern pin-up/idol.  With an intelligent mind, agile creative and stunning talent; she blends her beautiful pipes to the moody and intoxicating aromas of her music.  Being somewhat good-looking (read: gorgeous and alluring) she extrapolates those merits and aspects; blends them into Snow Ghost’s bubbling boiling pot, and lends some very crucial aspects.  Cartwright has an understanding and intuition when it comes to atmosphere.  From the macabre; esoteric; sleep-deprived and lustre-filled, she is a multi-talented composer- one whom brings her knowledge and past experiences to the new venture.  Bristol local legend Ross Tones has a weight of conviction- born from his impressive back catalogue- and binds them together with Cartwright’s shades.  When the two combine- regardless of the differences and divergences from their pasts and present- a strange and beautiful love affair is created.  There is a keen affection for one another- both musically and personally- and this kinship and mutuality is what gives the debut L.P. such a conviction, tightness and spectral quality.  The duo have spent two years honing and perfecting their songs: pragmatically digging down and hunkering into work; making sure that the final product is the best it can be.  As much as I have been exhausted as-of-late by wanderlust- searching fervently for a great new act to become passionate about- I have found solace and redemptive light, in the form of Snow Ghosts.  I am not the only one whom has been seduced and startled by the pair’s dynamic sagacity.  On Twitter and Facebook, followers and coming thick and fast; glowing and lust-filled comments and praise has been heaped at their feet- something that will triplicate and evolve as the album arrives.  Before I get down to examining and wrestling with Murder Cries, a few more points are worth bearing in mind.  The first (negative-positive juxtapose) issue concerns recent reviews (of the album).  One of the reasons that a lot of acts are passed over or dislocated, is because of the lack of critical awareness: reviewers whom are narrow-minded and miss the point entirely.  Some reviewers have stated that the L.P.’s organs are too dysfunctional and distorted: dark and alienating to your average listener.  Although these reviews have- by-and-large- been intelligent and cohesive, they have focused on some (unwarranted) negatives.  Some have offered that the album is too humourless (how many albums does one laugh their arse off to constantly?); claiming that it is a tad morbid and dangerous.  The point of the album is to project a slightly eerie and resplendent ghostliness; but this is a gleaming talisman in the bigger picture: the quality is consistently brilliant; the sounds relentless ubiquitous.  As much as anything, the biggest plus has been given little credence: the songs have a great range as well as cross-pollination.  The Guardian (as much as I disagree with a lot of their reviewers) hit the nail on the head.  Paul Lester noticed the L.P.’s hints of folk metal- a connation of polemic styles- as well as stentorian and impressive sounds.  It was noted that the variegation, wide-ranging motifs as well as variegated styles- when fused together and nestling alongside one another- creates a harmonious (strangely) and sumptuous whole.  Many people will not fall in love with the album (and duo) because it is not ‘their cup of tea’; yet criticising an act for showing ambition and being adventurous is a cardinal sin- and something that is causing a lot of perturbation in me.  Anyway… before I get to the song (I know- sorry!) I will summarise my biggest pleasured discovery: how the two-piece manage to evoke spirit and semblances from past masters.  With their codified majesties the duo elicit sensations from ’90s idols such as Massive Attack and Portishead (the Bristol connection); as well as current beaus such as Atoms for Peace.  Tones recently completed a supporting spot with the aforementioned Atoms’ (as part of Throwing Snow): there are evocations and colours of the Radiohead man’s ethereal sidewinders within the work of Snow Ghosts.  I am always on the lookout for songs (and albums/E.P.s) that can reintegrate and reinvigorate sounds and slices of previous decades- the ’90s especially- and mix them with modern-day energies.  A Small Murmuration is awash with such explorative potency, and it is an album filled with fascinating steps and moves: each song has a different gravity and set of patterns that inspires and overwhelms.  Untangle Me is gaining a lot of effusive investigation at the moment.  It is a dark paen sporting some lustrous and spine-chilling string, a towering and burgeoning sonic force and a towering ambition.  As much as I love that track, it is the recent single Murder Cries, that has been on my mind.

 

Beginning with a swelling and orchestral electric rise, Murder Cries contains the briefest of intros.: whipping up a stirring rush before being joined by a vocal proclaiming: “We wander through the darkness of the days”.  Cartwright’s voice is authoritative and strong; showing some weighty conviction as well as emotional undertone.  As our heroine implores and strikes; letting the words burrow beneath your skin (and into your brain); Tones builds up a forbidding and atmospheric mood piece: complete with twitchy and anxiety-ridden electronic interjection: both subtle and stirring.  As our hero takes control of the sonic black smoke- containing traces of Third‘s aural fascinations- our Siren-esque heroine continues to campaign; speaking (to an unnamed central figure) about dark nights; grave digging and a deathly and malefic coda: “So give your fingers what they crave”.  With tales of blooming blood-red flowers, stabs and sparks of fire are unveiled: electronic strangeness and fascination continue on as a symphonic sway purges and retreats- it pulses and teases the listener with gleeful abandon.  Our heroine has a unique and striking voice- controlled yet filled with nuance and passionate conviction- with subtle blends of the Grand Mistress of electronic/trip-hop music past: Beth Gibbons.  The two have the same haunting evocations and alluring layers, and Cartwright has a way of making the most forbidding and deathly scenes seem almost common-place.  With powerful summons and forceful intent, our heroine lets it be known: “You’ll find me where the crows fly”; her voice emotional and dusky- she seems to be speaking to a past lover, but there is mystery in the lyrics that hint that inspiration may be more literal and less autobiographical.  Violin swells and keep the energy levels high, as our heroine’s voice is doubled-up and dueted: layers of sultry mesmerisation are presented; pulling you under the song’s dark spell.  Cartwright steps out into the spotlight, her back straight, her voice true: talking of shadowy and windswept scenes.  An anonymous female figure is tear-stained (our heroine continually asks: “Why does she cry?”); wracked with pain and sadness “Where the crows fly”.  In the way that the vocal spar with one another; echo and reverberate with each other, a layered and hypnotic mood is created.  Before long the compelling vocal line gets eerier and more distant, as Tones’ influence comes to the forefront.  The violin, electronics and spacious crawl that has been supporting Cartwright’s sermons, now comes more to the fore.  Whereas the lines and parables (before) set mood and were campaigning in the background, now they come to the fore as an explosion is heralded.  Our hero unleashes a fist-pummelling and insatiable electronic percussive thud: it is like an iron giant punching the ground, such is its weight and impression.  Our heroine builds endless scenery; filled with Gothic imagery, murders of crows and storm-addled landscapes.  The jittering and menacing machine gun fire continues unabated; Tones whips up an insatiable and pulverising smash that barely relents: combines with Cartwright’s voice the effect is quite startling and effecting.  There are touches of Massive Attack’s Mezzanine clout: similar weight and majesty is all present here (without sounding too similar to the collective’s past work).  The percussive and electronic gravity pulls you in every direction, gets into your head and pulls your brain in ways that it shouldn’t be allowed to.  As much as there are feint touches of Massive Attack’s influence, parts Portishead (circa. Dummy) lurk beneath the surface.  The sound is very much modern and essentially fresh, yet the duo have managed to evoke the sound of ’90s trip hop; fusing this together with drum and bass influences: it is an incredible combination that gives the track a conviction and originality that is not often seen in the current scene.  As the sound of Satan reacting after missing his train to work end (there are probably more eloquent similes; but that’ll do), things are calmed as our heroine is back in full focus; her vocal lines intertwined and possessed.  I was truck by the way that the song was structured, and how its unique composition heralds big returns.  Few modern bands (or duos/solo acts) spend a lot of consideration, with regards to unique structure.  Snow Ghosts mix a combination of quiet-loud music dynamics (the unnerving drum pound contrasting with more seductive violin) together with vocal and lyrical consideration (fewer different words are elicited, but pertinent lines are repeated for maximum effect; the voice is constantly engaging but not too overwrought); that makes the song so special.  Our duo play their respective parts superbly and each bring something very unique (and diverse) to the table.  Tones is a master of mood-setting and sonic sting.  He mixes classical and romantic edges (especially in the initial stages) as well as drum and bass violence (mostly from the halfway mark onwards): fusing them together and creating a sublimation.  There is no sense of predictability or obviousness in his presentations and composition.  Just when you think you have the next move all figured out; something wild and startling is pulled out- causing you to be dragged and torn asunder; recollecting your thoughts as you are.  Not to go on too persistently about Bristol masters Portishead, but comparables can be drawn.  When the percussive assault arrives, there is evocation of Machine Gun/We Carry On (Third); as well as the heavier moments of their debut (and self-titled album).  Cartwright similarly has all of the hallmarks and qualities of the Bristol outfit’s front-woman: the alluring and smoky side; the stronger and more powerful edge; a similar conviction and ear for a great lyric.  Between the two, a great range is covered.  Each of them brings a distinct and essential element to the fold; which makes Murder Cries so potent.  It is a track that has garnered a great deal of praise and committed honesty, and clearly makes a big impression (to those whom hear it).

 

With A Small Murmuration a few days away (and available to stream), it is going to be a busy few weeks for the duo.  I have listened to the album in full, and can attest to the strengths and talents of the endeavouring twosome.  So much range and diversity nestles within, and it is a restless and varied collection of songs.  Cartwright and Tones may have come from different pastures and make different sounds; yet when they come together it works perfectly.  There is a clear affection and affinity between the two, and one of the album’s big strengths is the conviction and passion evident in every track.  Big publications such as The Guardian have latched onto the joys and layers of the L.P., as well as the brilliance of Murder Cries.  The track earns its stripes with its bold proclamations, heady mixtures and incredible ambition. It may not come as a shock to the duo themselves, but it is quite an unexpected sound in the U.K.  Whereas there are drum and bass, electronic and trip hop artists working today, few make it into your thoughts, and fewer still manage to mix so many different genres and styles together.  I have been stating for a long time, as just how stifled and stuck the band market is at the moment.  For every original and worthy new band that come along, they have to fight their way through a sea of similar-sounding and homogenous acts.  In terms of solo talent, there is a problem whereby acts rarely surprise: if the voice is good, the lyrics aren’t; if the words are good, the voice is not great- rarely do you ever hear of something whom ticks all the boxes and sticks in the memory.  I started by saying how baffled I was at the lack of duos in the U.K. market.  It seems like perfectly good sense and wise to form a twosome: in the case of Snow Ghosts, they have proved what results can arise.  It is going to be interesting to see where the duo go from here: another L.P.; an E.P. or interim single?  They will have plenty of options following on from A Small Murmuration: but it is crucial to let the album come out, and be shared and listened to as much as possible- and seeing how it is perceived.  I am confident that a mass of new supporters will be attuned to Snow Ghost’s sounds: each one hungry to hear as much as possible from the two.  I hope that once the L.P. is released that they stick together and make a lot more music together (as opposed to returning to their past lives).  Individually they had extremely viable and prosperous careers; making music that gained a lot of attention and support.  It is when they join together that their individual talents are soldered and reinforced.  The duo have hit upon a bit of a goldmine.  By employing sounds of the ’90s and modern-day; pulling in some past masters and current idols; they have achieved the best of both worlds: sounding fresh and essential, but steeped in the authoritative strengths and majesties of the past legends.  Time will tell whether any similar-sounding or similarly-ambitious duos will form- in the midst of A Small Murmuration’s release- but one thing is for sure: plenty of new talent should take note and inspiration.  On Monday the intriguing duo will unveil their L.P. to the world; wait to see what responses they get; and decide where they go from here.  The two should have no fear, as response and feedback will be effusive and positive; demands will be high (with gig demands being a very real future-prospect).  And as for the future itself?  For our heroic twosome…

 

IT will be exciting indeed.

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Official:

http://www.snowghosts.net/

Twitter: 

https://twitter.com/Snow_Ghosts

Facebook: 

https://www.facebook.com/SnowGhosts

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The Sundowners- Don’t Come Knockin’- Track Review

 

Track Review:

 

 

 

 

 

The Sundowners

 

 

 

 

 

Don’t Come Knockin’

 

 

The Sundowners

 

9.3/10

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wirral-based quintet have the gravity of a recent Glastonbury performance  to their name; judging by their sonic lustre, they will be future festival main-stayers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Availability:

Don’t Come Knockin’ is available at:

https://soundcloud.com/thesundowners/dont-come-knockin/s-020w4

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MY reticence about the band market (and its qualitative issues) has…

 

been enflamed as of late, by the sheer number of Indie-based bands.  A lot of my recent reviews have focused upon the bands of North West England- Manchester, Liverpool etc.- and the relative homogenised nature of the scene.  As much as I like band music- and feel that it is essential to the music industry- I have had a bit of a frown on my face as of late: something that has been hard to shift as well.  Diversification and range has been apparent when looking towards the music of Yorkshire, Scotland and the North East- yet in the North West there has not been a comparable quality coming through.  Many bands have taken on the mantle of Arctic Monkeys/Oasis (regular readers will be familiar with what I am about to say); sticking too literally to their sound and essence.  I can understand the appeal of appropriating a well-known band’s sound, and incorporating familiar sounds into the mix: it will mean your songs are relatable and will be crowd-pleasing.  My concerns arise because of this: a lack of originality is the worst crime a new band can commit.  I have reviewed a great deal of acts (over the months); and the strongest examples are those whom employ and inject some familiar tones into their music; yet have an abiding air of originality and pioneer.  Given what we have experienced over the last 60+ years- in terms of music- there are plenty of options available (to the new artist) when looking for some integrated sounds.  Bands such as Arctic Monkeys are still operating and recording, and by clinging too closely to their coattails, many bands come off as copycats: which alienates and frustrates people like me.  I guess this one specific issue has clouded my view of the entire new music scene: there are plenty of worthy acts out there doing things their own way.  I mention Yorkshire and although there is a heavy leaning towards solo artists, the band market has also impressed me.  A lot of U.S. blues sounds; country rock and ’70s alternative movements are being presented: mixed together with the modern-day sounds of the county.  Newcastle and Sunderland are offering some bold rock acts: heavier sounds, reminiscent of the ’60s and ’70s masters such as Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd- yet only containing a hint of the aforementioned.  It is Manchester- or the Mancunian scene- that has perturbed me the most.  Historically, it is not a city that has exactly been dragging its heels (with regards to presenting superb music).  Considering obvious modern examples, a lot of the all-time great bands- The Smiths, The Stone Roses etc.- have called Manchester home.  Entire movements and waves have formed from the city’s artists, and was- rather than is- a mecca of wonderful and inspirational music.  In 2013- as well as over the last few years- there has been a bit of a cessation of diversity; a weakening of ambition and difference.  The influence of the current Indie champions is being taken to heart too literally: rather than having feint shades taken from them.  Away from original and striking champions such as The 1975; the area is playing host to too many so-so and like-minded groups- most of whom have a one-dimensional quality to them.  As much as I have been bemoaning the lack of motivation (in the North West); I have been extolling the virtues of past sounds.  Artists whom I have recently featured, have managed to dip into the ’90s and ’70s: taking bits and pieces from the decades; and infusing that into their sound.  I always admire a group whom have an appreciation for the old masters- and wonderful music of the past- as their majesty and potency is just as relevant today as it always has been.  It is not a surprise- or shouldn’t be- that a lot of foreign acts are making big strides.  From the rock acts of the U.S., through to the disco and electronic groups of Sweden; I have been stunned by the fortitude and variation that has been offered up.  In particular, the softer and more seductive sounds of Sweden (and the Nordic countries) has struck my mind the hardest.  The artists and talent there tend to be a bit more experimental and daring when it comes to their music: their songs are infused with unexpected twists and euphoric touches.  I have postulated that another issue we have in the U.K, regards the role of the media (and the music press).  A lot of the time, the imputes and direction a new band takes, is enforced by the proferrings and reviews of the music press.  A lot of modern publications have been focusing too solely on British music; the new acts and artists we have here- without offering alternatives.  As it is important to highlight U.K. talent, it is also necessary to bring international talent to our attentions.  Some of the best music of the moment is being recorded in Europe, Australia and North America: how would you ever hear of it were it not for the media and social media sources?  Sources such as The Guardian and The Girls Are bring to my attention (regularly) terrific music from across the world: yet there seems to be few others doing this.  If new acts in this country are not made aware of what is happening elsewhere, then is an inherent danger that a lot of potential influence is being missed out on.  I would have regretted missing out on great acts such as Say Lou Lou, Club 8, HighField and The Open Feel- terrific international talent, whom I feel can provide fresh energy and inspiration to the U.K. scene.  Homogenisation and lack of variation is an issue that has been apparent for quite a few years, and I have been wondering whether some areas (geographical) will ever break away from their bad habits?  As much as Manchester has been holding itself back, I have been pleasantly surprised by talent from Liverpool and the Wirral.  There seems to be a more diverse and expansive palette- and a different work ethic- that has made me excited for the future.

 

When considering new bands (and solo artists), it is always difficult to mark out and differentiate quality.  Most artists start out at the bottom: playing local gigs, recording their tracks; trying to spread the word as wide as possible.  With such a crowded and bustling scene being formed, it is difficult and near-impossible for new acts to rise above the rest; get into your thoughts and remain there- it is something that established acts are better at.  I  have reviewed a lot of new talent, and most are campaigning for support; trying to get as many people to listen as possible, and above all, attempting to make sure they have longevity and a future-demand.  Even if your sound is fresh and alive; infused with originality and essentiality, it is still incredibly difficult to make yourselves knows.  The Sundowners are already a few steps ahead of most.  Their striking talent should be examined (I will mentioned it shortly); yet a recent appearance at The Glastonbury Festival has surely provided them with fresh urgency and patronage.  They have recently played the BBC Introducing Stage: showcasing their diverse and gripping songs to a host of new (and existing) fans- and gaining a lot of critical praise in the process.  It is axiomatic to say that the band have got themselves there with their talent; yet it can’t be ignored that such a lucrative and high-profile performance will draw in legions of supporters: making them a band that will be much demanded amongst festival organisers of the future.  With a newly-augmented C.V., the group have an excitement and passion for their future careers: which will make their next steps and sounds very exciting indeed.  The Sundowners are a five-piece act whom hail from the Wirral.  Composed of siblings Alfie and Fiona Skelly, as well as Niamh Rowe, Tim Cunningham and Jim Sharrock; our endeavouring band are setting their sights on what is to come: ensuring that their current sounds are heard as much as possible.  Given that the name ‘Skelly’ appears in the band line-up, it is hardly a shock that The Coral rank amongst the group’s influences.  The band have already supported James Skelly & The Intenders: joining them whilst they played gigs in the U.K.  I have always been a huge fan of The Coral, and I see them as one of the most under-rated bands of our time.  One of my all-time favourite albums is Magic and Medicine, and I have always been enamoured of that L.P.’s myriad sounds and inflections.  Many critics consider The Coral to be a bit ‘far-out’ and an acquired taste, yet it is their exceptional songwriter and unique music that cannot be faulted.  Few other modern bands have been as ambitious and striking as them; many reviewers and fans are talking about The Sundowners with the same excitement and fervency.  It is the close-knit kinship that the five members have, that can heard in their songs.  Each of them has affection and complete respect for the other; they teach each other new skills; support them in their troubles and come across more like five siblings (that a band).  A lot of current groups (and defunct acts) have tumultuous and fractious lives together.  If you have a genuine and strong affection and respect for one another, then your future together will be more prosperous: this strength through joy is also reflected in the songs- which will bring in more fans as well.  The likes of NME and John Leckie have poured praise on the band: highlighting their clear identity and impressive ambition.  Aside from the high-profile fans and effusive praise, the main reason why The Sundowners command such attention, is their unique sound.  In a scene (and part of the U.K.) that still favours Indie-centric flair and familiar sounds, our quintet have a different approach.  The acts and musicians that are included as influences range from Fleetwood Mac through to Tom Petty.  It is the mix of U.K. and U.S. influences from the ’60s and ’70s that can be detected in their boiling pot.  Sharp edges and sense of electricity are key to the five, yet it is aspects of melody and musicality that set them apart: like their idols they have a soulful and soft emotional core, as well as a keen ear for melody, evocation and remembrance.  Too many bands go fro pure force and unadulterated punch: negating the need for something more restrained and impressive.  I have long gone on (very long in fact) about the importance of retrospect and reinvigoration in music: adding tones and colours of past wonders into your songs.  Whilst it is admirable to portray a modern and essential energy to music (in order to sound unique and fresh); I feel that combining this with some older influence maximises your overall sound, potential and appeal.  Aside from striking this balance just right; our amiable and talented five-piece have a deft talent for image and projection as well.  If you consider their name- The Sundowners- one is already intrigued.  The 1960 film (of the same name) was set in Australia; focusing on the Carmody family- whom resided in the Outback and were sheep drovers.  Robert Mitchum and Deborah Kerr starred, and it is a film that- although not an all-time classic- was well-received and regarded- even if many people will not have heard of it.  I am not sure if our North West quintet were influenced by this film- or are fans of it- but one cannot help but smile when hearing their band name; knowing that its namesake is a charming (if slightly boring) Australian film.  Apart from their intriguing name, the five-piece are all very sharp and stunning.  The boys are cool, handsome and clean-cut (dark secrets may lurk): possessed of awesome heads of hair and a detached and far-off look that suggests they know how cool they are.  Likewise the girls are striking: stunning beautiful, but coming across as your girl-next-door idols (again they may have dark underbellies).  One gets the impression that the band are a band of the people: humble and hard-working; whom want their music to do the talking, as opposed to controversy.  Too many modern idols (I’m looking at you Liam Gallagher) spend too much time bad-mouthing and insulting others: knowing that their best musical days are behind them.  Our quintet are an all-imposing and all-inclusive group whom have a lot of respect for their contemporaries; as well as a fond affection foe the market.  They want to succeed and play for many years to come, and as well as a memorable stay at Glastonbury, they will be enjoying a lot of touring and demand- I for one would love to catch them in London as soon as possible.  There is no excuse for not turning yourself on to the group: they have an impressive and comprehensive online portfolio, including a great official website (http://www.thesundowners.co.uk/).

 

A lot of talk and praise has been heaped on the band’s previous efforts; the likes of Roll the Dice and Wild As The Season have been received with acclaim and adulation; with many critics and fans hungry to hear more.  I was not in the crowd for their recent Glastonbury performance, yet can imagine that their songs were fantastically received.  Having investigated their previous tracks, I can attest that their sound is filled with intrigue, nuances and memorability- they are songs which stick long in the memory.  As well as the quality of the music itself, their range is also impressive: they have their signature sound, yet show such a mobility and adaptability that they constantly catch you by surprise.  With so much love and admiration being paid to Shifting Sands– the B-Side to Don’t Come Knockin’– it goes to show how much quality is evident throughout their music.  It is with considered and hungry ears (and eyes) that I approached their single- eager to hear what moves and surprises the band could offer up.  With a brief hint of electric feedback and a heady rush of guitar, we are under way (and instantly hooked).  It is the initial hook-up between Skelly (Alfie) and Sharrock that is most present.  With that evocative and enthralling electric guitar work- which snakes and sparkles with heavy and heady undertones- it is the drum work that makes the biggest (early) noise.  Sharrock unveils a hard-hitting, punchy and impressive percussive line: one which stands you to attention and blends beautifully with Skelly’s guitar work.  Before too long, the influence of Skelly (James) can be heard as a Coral-esque coda is let loose.  The guitar wobbles and buzzes with jubilant energy: displaying some of debut album-era The Coral (Skeleton Key and Spanish Main can be detected).  As is  a key (and obvious) hallmark with any great band: the influence is there, but it is not obvious.  The way that the swaggering and rambunctious intro. gets into your head is something that is intoxicating; making you hum and tap your feet along in time- and wondering what is going to come next.  Guitar, drum and bass work is impressively endeavouring (from each member), and it is the way that they combine that gilds and cements their incredible confidence.  Instantly you notice how tight the sound is; how well rehearsed the song is, and how much intuition and affection is present within the bands ranks: the blending of individual parts is seamless.  With an infectious introduction- which takes in ’70s U.S. elements as well as ’60s U.K. ones- you are settled in, and on board with whatever comes next.  One of the things that impressed me is that the band is female-lead.  It may sound like a weird thing to say, but most modern bands- and a majority of northern groups- have male leads: in fact a majority of modern bands are all-male.  When you hear of inter-gender groups (a rarity in the U.K.) there is often one female voice- or the male takes the lead- which often sounds superb, but one wishes there was an additional voice to bolster the overall sound.  I have encountered a few new U.K. bands (whom are composed of boys and girls) whom have a female lead.  I find that the combination of incredible and impassioned music and a striking female voice, provide the best (and most intriguing) music.  A lot of male voices (especially within bands) come off as a little harsh: lacking in real emotion; a lack of seductive and sex appeal; too hard sounding.  The female voice has always struck me hardest, as I feel that the tones and qualities they can display adds greater weight to songs as a whole- especially bands and their music.  Whilst the boys inject the mood with some impassioned and rumbling sounds; a wordless vocal is introduced by Rowe and Skelly (Fiona).  There is a fundamental and unswaying energy that is detectable; and is something that continues for a while: the song’s fledgling moments are a myriad of sing-along vocals; an endeavouring and intoxicating composition, and a abiding and heady rush.  As the wordlessness abates, and a spiralling and tumbling guitar line is deployed; the song settles down to business.  Early words speak of “In the deep of the night” and “In the arms of solitude”; our heroine imploring: “You hear my call”.  Whomever is being addressed- a current love; an ex-paramour; a friend- is all alone and by himself, as he does not come knocking; he has resigned himself to a lonelier lot in life.  Our heroine’s voice has harsher and strong edges that enforce and reinforce her words; yet there is an honest and openness as well.  Sonic evocation is an important facet and weapon for the band.  As much as the scene-setting and winding intro. sparks your imagination and gets the blood rushing; the band punctuate the verses with similarly-exhilarating rushes.  No sooner have the initial words been proffered and laid bare; then we are witness to another buzzing, fizzing and pulsating guitar coda: the words “Knockin’ no more” are chorused and deployed with alacrity.  The way that the insatiable guitar parable plays off of the vocal, is impressive indeed: the voice is composed but potent, where as the guitar work is bursting with vigour and expression.  When our heroine’s voice comes back in, there is a little bit of Alison Moyet and Stevie Nicks to be heard (a similar weight and comparable power can be detected).  Those are probably not names that get attached to many other modern singers (so is a pleasure to hear), but it is the way that a striking originality is tied together with some legendary edges, that makes the vocal performance so impressive: alive with passion and energy as it is.  The band never let the pace slip or the energy relent; going from guitar-heavy jam, through to percussive pummel.  At the 1:11 mark, a rumbling drum layer is introduced- it succeeds the guitar fuzz and introduces a line stage/movement to the track.  As the drum kicks and dances lower in the mix, a new- and more potent- guitar attack comes in: it buzzes, warbles, wails and thrashes; pulling you into its sights and not letting go.  The tribal call-and-response that opens itself up is the most immediate and potent part of the track (so far).  Each band members adds to the mood, as a veritable sonic storm is whipped up: guitars and bass rain, clash and strike like lightning as percussive thunder and wind adds additional majesty.  It is quite a brave move for any act (established or new) to unveil a fairly extensive musical line (rather than fill each moment with vocals).  Groups such as The Coral were masters of it (able to intoxicate with their mastery), so it may be the Skelly influence/effect that has influenced Don’t Come Knockin’.  A sense of atmosphere and gravity is unveiled- the lead guitar wails and howls demonically at one point- saying an immense amount (without a word being sung).  You cannot help but let yourself be mesmerised by the twirling and psychotropic fireworks.  Evocations of the ’60s and ’70s masters can be heard, from Hendrix and Clapton-esque guitar weight, through to Fairport Convention swathes and colours: it is as essentially modern as it is effortlessly classical.  One cannot help but smile when listening to the track, gleefully caught up in the rush and primal urges the music proffers.  The song could just as easily soundtrack a taut and tense thriller as it could a balls-to-the-wall action blockbuster: it has that ubiquitous and utilitarian quality and strength to it.  As the musical coda continues (unabated) and the swaggering bonhomie and confidence has played its part, another wordless vocal is introduced (bookending the track quite neatly).  The girls melt their voices together; projecting as much muster and kick as the sonic parable it follows.  As our heroine proffers for one last time; addressing the anonymous beau- amidst a sway of consequence and circumstance, conspiring to make a “fool out of you”.  As a final sonic plunder is evoked, the song comes to an end- and a chance to catch your breath, and reorganise your thoughts.

 

The overall impression one is left with is one of surprise.  For a while now I have postulating as to the reasons why a lot of northern-based music has been in a funk: too limited and unmoving.  I have heard of a few Liverpool acts whom are making some impressive steps, yet with the majority of focus still aimed towards Mancunian shores, I am relieved that a band from the Wirral  are inspiring my thoughts.  The five-piece have proven themselves to be a formidable and potent musical force; impressive given that they are still in their infancy.  The Glastonbury aftermath will see a lot of new subscribers and followers flock to the feet of The Sundowners- our quintet should prepare for a busy and jam-packed future schedule.  As well as the incredible and original sounds that the group proffer, it is their image and presentation that makes its marks.  The boys have a cool and charismatic look, whilst the girls are stunning and alluring.  When you tie the two together, the band seem ready-made for the modern scene; as well as being steeped in authoritative edges that the likes of Fleetwood Mac and Tom Petty are synonymous with.  With a handful of songs to their name, the group are still in the early stages, yet have won over so many minds and made such impressive steps, that their careers will be very long indeed.  The close ties the band have can be heard in the music; everything is constantly engaging and tight- displaying a fond affection for one another.  In a modern scene where the majority of new acts take a long time to make an impression; the quintet have already achieved a hell of a lot- making them the envy of their contemporaries.  The influence and patronage of The Coral can be heard in the band’s music, which contains a comparable intrigue and enthralling sound.  Don’t Come Knockin’ has swathes of fascinating guitar lines; primal drums; taut and tight bass, and sharp and alluring vocals (which blend beautifully).  The quintet have managed to introduce and infuse their influences into their sound, and married it with an essential and urgent original voice- one that is a rarity these days.  I have been down on Manchester bands as-of-late; wondering whether there was going to be anything that could soothe and ease my mind.  The Sundowners will go a long way to restoring my faith in the modern scene: I am keen and excited to see where they go from here.  It has been a frenetic and spellbinding last couple of weeks for the group, whom have been awash with Glastonbury preparation; festival chaos- now they are focusing on the future.  I am not sure what moves the five-piece are planning to make: whether an E.P., L.P. or future singles are favoured?  I would love to hear an album from them (but it may be a while off); although an E.P. would be just as tantalising.  There is going to be a lot of demand and fervency aimed at them: fans will be hungry to hear as much from the group as possible; so it is going to be interesting to see what happens.  Don’t Come Knockin’ is a bold and potent signal from the band; and is a song which is untraditional and innovative.  Few groups would give more ground to the music (compared with the vocal); yet the way that the song is balanced works perfectly.  There are not too many needless interjections; no unwarranted diversions: everything is balanced and employed to maximum effect.  The vocals are both authoritatively strong and alluring too: at once emotional and at the next quite punchy.  Guitar, bass and percussion layers are unexpected, memorable and heady: the combinations and various representations are quite spellbinding.  I am sure that the five-piece will be playing Glastonbury in the future- perhaps making to the Main Stage.  Festival bookings are a very real prospect for the future, and swathes of fans will want to catch the group in person.  Plenty of plaudits have been aimed towards them, and I hope that the quintet have some big plans afoot.  Few new acts have the luxury of being able to carefully consider their next moves (although I am sure the group are taking things very seriously).  Whatever is going to arrive in 2013: another single; an E.P.; plans of an album; I am convinced that The Sundowners will be in receipt of a lot of new followers and supporters.  They have shown how good they are- and what they can accomplish- so many eyes will be trained in their directions.  With so many new musicians coming across as second-rate versions of existing acts, it is a breath of fresh air that a unique and passionate voice is breaking through.  Take your seats; absorb the music being offered up and…

 

BRACE yourself for what is to come.

________________________________________________________________________

Official:

http://www.thesundowners.co.uk/

Twitter:

https://twitter.com/TheSundownersUK

Facebook:

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

SoundCloud:

https://soundcloud.com/thesundowners

YouTube:

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

MySpace:

https://myspace.com/thesundownersuk

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Say Lou Lou- Fool of Me- Track Review

 

Track Review:

 

 

 

 

Say Lou Lou (Ft. Chet Faker)

 

 

 

 

 

Fool of Me

 

 

Say Lou Lou

 

 

9.5/10

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Columbia Records newbies Miranda and Elektra Kilbey, straddle Stockholm and Los Angeles.  The Scandinavian-Antipodean twin sisters fuse ’70s majesty and style together, with ’90s ‘heroin-chic’, alacrity and beauty: creating a glorious and astral sound.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Availability:

Fool of Me is available at:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DXKFdQkoCS0

The E.P. Julian is available at:

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/julian-ep/id639869892?affId=1930871&ign-mpt=uo%3D4

___________________________________________________________________________
THERE are a number of different themes that are on my mind today…

 

in light of some personal ambition.  Not to blow any trumpets; or advertise myself; but I have been formulating- and adding to- a (hopefully) soon-to-be music website.  Recently I have been looking back fondly at music (rather than forward); remembering and reminiscing about great past moments (instead of anticipating future potential).  I have felt that there is a bit of a stagnation and slowing-down at the moment (in the current scene).  I am unsure as to the ‘why’ behind the phenomenon- it could be due to overcrowding in the market; or else a fallow period (that will soon be over).  In my reviews- over the last few months or so- I have postulated various themes and concerns: including homogenised sounds; an over-abundance of Indie bands; lack of international awareness in the U.K.  I will address all of these (once more; as well as the idea of my website), as well as nobly ease into introducing Say Lou Lou.  In this country (as well as some parts of Europe), we are in the grip of a homogenisation.  Too many different areas of the country are compartmentalised- there is little cross-pollination and collaborative spirit- and there is a split of quality and sound (depending on which part of the U.K. you focus towards); both in terms of a north/south divide, but also a split across certain counties.  For regular subscribers, my discourse may seem all-too-familiar (I apologise, but it is making a point); I feel that there are some rather alarming trends.  Within the U.K. there is still a tendency towards proffering and emphasising all-male guitar bands: most of these groups tend to offer few surprises.  Within the northern climbs of England, a proliferation of Indie bands seems to be ‘the norm’: by the week there seems to be half a dozen new examples; each touting modest accomplishments.  Diverse parts of the nation, such as Scotland and Yorkshire are being largely ignored: yet it is areas such as these which are bringing about a resurgence.  Away from the guitar band-heavy current music scene; if one fancies variation and fascination options tend to be limited- where do you go to experience something different?  Within Scotland, a great deal of sunshine pop; alt-rock and punk waves are making themselves know: heavier and edgier than the Indie core; offering fond evocations of the ’70s masters.  Down into Yorkshire, doo-wop and swing movements are occurring; reminiscent of the likes of Caro Emerald- there are a lot of similarities to be heard.  It is seen as counterintuitive and unusual to present new music which is, by and large, ‘old-fashioned’ and ‘retrospective’.  I have encountered some genuinely fascinating artists (solo usually) whom are reinterpreting and reintroducing the heady sways and sensations from the swing and doo-wop artists of the ’30s and ’40s such as The Andrews Sisters.  In 2013 it may seem like a bold and unusual move (making new music that is 70 years old); however, looking back is often the way to move forward.  It is great that there are a rush of bands coming through: each hungry and determined to make an impression.  My concerns arise when I consider how much diversity there is between these (multitudinous) bands.  Manchester, Liverpool and large swathes of the North West of England are culpable of encouraging an Indie-centric scene- away from these parts there is a bit more mobility.  London has been quiet for a long while; yet I know (from recent reviews) that some terrific rock bands; as well as punk and Indie-Pop examples ripe for discovery- with songs and sounds that are worthy of mass future appeal.  In the early part of the ’00s there was still a lot of pioneering and prosperous music being made; yet there has been a significant slowing and quality degradation thereafter- especially over the last 10-or-so years.  My abiding point is that there is a jam-packed market (which can be good and potential-filled), yet there are few uniquely different sounds to be heard- both in the band and solo markets.  We in the U.K. have always been at the forefront of great music: in fact decades such as the ’60s and the ’90s were largely dictated by British wonders.  As we are in a bit of a quagmire at present, options and assistances need to be considered: so what is the logical resolution?  Over the past few weeks I have summarised and profiled some exceptional international talent; many of whom emanate from the U.S.  Covering power pop and punk; folk tinges and synthesised R&B, it seems that the Americans are at the forefront of a diversified and experimental scene.  Perhaps their new music scene is not quite as ‘bustling’ as ours here- although one must assume that we are on a level par in this respect.  I just feel that the U.S. have a greater consideration of diversification and freshness; whereas in the U.K. new bands and sounds are dictated and enforced by a combination of market trends; copycatting and playing it (a little too) safe.  What I have noticed (with regards to the most prosperous nations) is that the likes of Northern Europe are making the boldest moves.  Norwegian and Danish solo troubadours have filled my ears with sweet and mature melodies; Finnish electronica has spiked and pumped my blood; and- perhaps most impressively- the Swedish newbies are capturing the most ground.  Recently I reviewed NoNoNo and their exceptional single Pumpin Blood: a myriad wonder filled with delirious electronic moods and a catchy-as-hell melody (that sticks in your brain for days).  Disco acts and electro-pop seems to be a big market; they are genres that are impressing critics and music-lovers alike.  Away from Northern Europe, Australian rock and Indie bands have also been making huge footsteps; invoking some affluent ’90s movements, as well as infusing their concoctions with fresh-faced beauty.  If we in the U.K. took notes from these acts (and nations); encouraged new talent to stray away from the familiar, and broaden their palette, then the state of new music (as well as the state of future music), will be vastly improved.  My main thesis is this: we need more range and fascination.  The four or five-piece male band is appealing to a degree; in the same way that the soft-voiced female solo artist is: the way to go forward and make huge impressions is to diversify the melting pot.  For every home-grown exception like The Staves; there is a proliferation and mass of Arctic Monkey-esque bands- this is something that we need to get out of.  My inspiration for designing a (music) website- as well as trying to encourage diversity and individuality- was to introduce music-lovers and new musicians to the wonders of the past; as well as make them aware of fascinations of the modern-day.  I think this is part of the big problem: too few remember and appreciate the majesties of past years; and not enough are conscious of terrific foreign music.  When- and indeed, if- my site is a reality; this is going to be a small part of its overall intention: providing a wealth of past music; linking it to the everyday music listener/band; as well as promoting international talent and artists- as well as new home-grown acts.

 

Say Lou Lou are a duo whom I have recently become aware of.  I have been stating (or moaning) that it is so difficult to hear about great foreign music- most music websites and newspapers are solely interested in the U.K. market.  Miranda and Elektra Kilbey are sisters- twins in fact- and have Scandinavian and Antipodean heritages.  On their Twitter page they claim Stockholm and Sydney as their home town(s): two more different places you could not imagine.  The girls have the fascination and devotion from Sweden- they were featured in People Magazine there recently- and have earned a lot of love and support from Australia.  As much as I have been in awe of some sharp and edgy Australian bands; as well as some terrific solo talent (Matt Corby etc.); I have been enthralled by Swedish sounds.  Our duo love and fight as sisters (as is natural); yet have an inherent and natural close bond that can be heard in their music.  It is said that twins have a sort of telepathy and psychic bond (psychics don’t exist; it is more an intuition): they are able to sense when there is trouble with their twin; able to predict their mood and mind-set, as well as bond with the other with a natural grace and passion.  Considering the shared time in utero– as well as the close association they have during childhood- it seems only fitting that twin sisters whom decide to make music together will have a Sympatico: both fractious but above all, mesmeric.  One thing that annoys me about twins (about the parents; not the twins themselves) is that parents protest at just how different they are- they are of course; they are different humans that share a birth date.  The problem is that when these parents- whom go on about how unique they are- begin dressing them in the same clothing- the exact same- and cut their hair the same- again exactly alike.  This disturbs me somewhat, as these parents are consciously making the twins look alike: both a baffling attitude and a bit of a cruel insistence, as those children will have a harder time of things.  I mention this, as many may have preconceived notions of what twin sister musicians would look like: identical band uniforms; a similarly-uniform appearance and identical attitudes.  One of the most alarming things about Say Lou Lou is that they are distinctly unique women- as well as having a close and loving bond.  Both are incredible beautiful and stunning (every inch the modern idol); and will inspire young women as much as they will, um… overwhelm the young male (sans prurient fascinations).  The continent-straddling sisters were born in June of 1991 (a month and year that saw a glorious influx of stunning music); and these 22-year-old stars are also spending a great deal of time in L.A.- as well as the likes of Sweden and Sydney.  I have read a few interviews that the girls have given, but am not too familiar with their upbringing (where the Australian and Scandinavian roots emanate from); I just know that the sisters have been based predominantly in Sweden (as well as L.A.).  Whereas U.K. female duos (or sister acts) would probably be predictably folk-influenced or unadventurous; the vast maturity and diversity that the two offer up separates them from the rest of the scene.  The girls have been to London recently- highlighting at the rather audacious lack of summer weather- and will have a natural home here (should they ever decide to relocate).  In a summer here that is going to be defined by some rather un-summery sounds; their unique brand of sound is going to enliven and reignite the market here: something that is desperately needed.  The girls have spent most of 2013 readying their new E.P., Julian.  The sisters claim that they wanted to marry the glamour ’70s Berlin, as well as the ‘heroin-chic’ of the 1990s.  The numbers of the E.P. display a stunning maturity; tied together with pop melodies, yearnings of beauty and alluring codas.  There are two original tracks on the E.P. (Julian and Fool of Me); yet there are four different remixes of their first single, Julian.  On iTunes, the E.P. have garnered unanimous acclaim: commentators highlight the E.P.’s dreaminess, potency and consistent quality and fascination.  The drop dead gorgeous twins have made this possible by their keen and admirable passion for music- especially sensations of the past.  Julian has been inspired by everything from cult German films (Christiane F [Wir Kinder vom Bahnhof Zoo]- which was set in the late ’70s- was one key plot-point).  In fact; style is a facet that is crucial for the duo.  As well as German cult classics; they are inspired by the likes of David Bowie and Kate Bush (kookiness and beauty aplenty)- the glamour and decadent polemics of the ’70s is something that fascinated them (It is the combination of styles and artists of the ’70s and ’90s that can be heard in the contours of the music).  The girls are enamoured by the likes of T-Rex, Prince and Tim Buckley: artists whom portrayed a great deal of sensuality and sexiness.  In addition to the ’70s masters (Dolly Parton and Fleetwood Mac count as idols); the sisters adore the sounds of the ’90s: Nick Cave, P.J. Harvey and Jeff Buckley are particular favourites.  Combined with a love of ’70s and ’90s music, comes a passion for the great movies of the era; from Boogie Nights and The Runaways (the ’70s); through to Pulp Fiction and Stealing Beauty (the ’90s).  Everything I have read about them makes me fall in love with them: their passion for incredible (and near-forgotten) music; an eye for style, passion, fashion and potency; as well as a masterful ear for melody and musicianship.  As much as their heart-melting looks will drop men to their knees; it is their music and ambition that will keep them there- for women, their relatability and inspirational nature will win their hearts and minds.  I am glad to have encountered Say Lou Lou and their E.P.’s proffering: one wonders when a day will arrive, that means artists such as them will be better promoted by the media?  As much as the murk and dredge of Indie-lite shadings have dulled my senses; my heart, brain (and loins) have been energised by spectacular acts such as Say Lou Lou.  Recently, the E.P.’s title track (and lead-off single) have been sending the Internet (and musical clans) atwitter: glowing and love-filled reviews have summarised and distilled the track’s essence and wonder.  It has left critics smiling and stunned; and is a tantalising taste of what the E.P. has to offer (making Fool of Me all the more intrigue as well).  The girls’ social media pages, as well as official website (http://www.sayloulou.com/) attest to their adventures and goings-on (since the release of the E.P.): trips to L.A. (or La La Land); prestigious interviews; sojourns in London (and the U.K).; as well as a natural residency within Sweden.  They have been promoting and signposting their E.P.’s potency far and wide: wanting as many people as possible to absorb its messages and nuances- as well as gain them as many new fans as possible.  Between the 15,000+ Facebook ‘Likes’; the-almost 3,000 Twitter ‘Followers’- as well as a mass of international fans- the sisters have a lot of support (off of the back of their current music).  I can guarantee that the future will be rosy and busy for the girls as we edge slowly towards 2014.  The positive (and almost enraptured) response to Julian (E.P.) has meant that another E.P./debut L.P. will be much-demanded; as well as a lot of tour dates (I would love to catch them in London for sure!).  On the evidence of Fool of Me, it is not hard to see why the twins have garnered so much effusive praise: it is a song that sets out their stall; interlinks their multi-genre and bi-decade loves- melting them into a heady and flavoursome boiling pot.

 

Before I get down to the song itself; it is worth noting (and only right) that the track features Chet Faker.  Our Australian-born collaborator is a renowned electronica artist, whom has been invigorating his native land with his blends of future beat and down-tempo soulfulness: something that is apparent in his tones and stylings (as well as abundant in his 2012 Thinking in Textures L.P.).  Given that Say Lou Lou built such a reputation from their own voices and input, it was interesting to see how Faker’s unique influence would fit within the context of Fool of Me.  The opening seconds of the track promote and tease a slow build of intrigue and potential.  Echoed vocal interjection is replaced with a clattering and eerie electronic/percussive line.  In the initial movements, I found some evocations of ’90s pioneers such as Cocteau Twins and Air: their comparative fascination and influential edges nestle within the dislocated and ghostly build-up.  With an electronic and scratchy percussive duet-that produces a metronomic tic and a pulsing heartbeat-  intrigue and atmosphere and elicited and expanded.  Strangely- or maybe unexpectedly- there is some of Massive Attack’s bold majesty (think of their Mezzanine-era high)- a feint whisper of Teardrop‘s scuffling moodiness can be detected.  Perhaps there is a lighter and less trip hop/experimental hip hop-heavy edge to the sapling moves; but one can hear a relatable quality and resonance.  At the same time, native Swedish electronica and dance lingers in the heady layers; as does late-’90s/early-’00s U.K. dance and electronic music.  All of this together creates a intro. chocked with potentiality and intrigue: bursting with nervy energy, potent blood flow and romantic sway.  Like modern idols such as Jessie Ware, a subtle and well-considered intro. announces a hefty weight of expectation and excitement- before a single word has been sung.  Fool of Me‘s adolescent moments have vinyl scratches and crackle; a myriad of cracks and sparkle (and percussive punctuation), which relaxes and stimulates the mind all at once: making you wonder quite what is coming next.  When the vocal arrives into the fold, it is seductive and smooth: possessing breathy sexiness as well as strong and authoritative urgency.  It is claimed that: “You never cried/I’d say love let me wet your eyes”; suggesting that either a break-up or emotional upheaval has occurred.  It is unsure whether the anonymous paramour is lachrymose due to upheaval and a break-up; or because of a transcendent and tender moment: the tender and soft vocals from the sisters suggest that the latter is pertinent (although apologies if I have misread that).  Each word (and line) is smokily and langurouslesly deployed: summoning up the maximum amount of emotion and reciprocation, as well as grabbing onto your attention.  The girls will forgive me (I hope) for drawing some comparisons, but I could detect some influence from Mazzy Star, Liz Fraser (of Cocteau Twins)- and even Jeff Buckley.  It is the way in which the aforementioned idols portray a tender and ethereal headiness; that one can link with Miranda and Elektra’s soothing tones.  As an atmospheric and crackling sonic background supports the words, our heroines claim that “The soul won’t burn”; mesmerically drawing you into their thoughts and intentions as a startling realisation is unveiled: “If you don’t hurt inside/You feel no pain”.  I am always keen and curious to know what inspires a song (and its lyrics); so was entrenched and interested by the early thoughts.  Whether the song focuses on the vicissitudes of a current relationship; the retrospective analysis of a failed romance, or a semi-autobiographical tristesse on a the nature of love, I am unsure: yet from what I gleaned from the potency of the words and voice; I would say that there is personal relevance to the narrative- whether it is Elektra or Miranda’s woe (or a shared pain).  As your mind gets caught up in the meanings and visuals (the lyrics suggest), the girls ease and quell any anxiety.  Their Siren-esuque and harmonious vocal twines (displaying some slight edges of Bedtime Stories-era Madonna) hide- as well as add weight to- hidden and dark emotional pains.  Plenty of hurt, tears and heartache strikes in the hearts of our heroines; it is a motif that inspires words such as: “I’ll top you off with a taste that I’ve not forgot”.  The chorus comes into view; bursting like a nebula- summoned in with a vocal rush.  The shared voices having tastes of early-’90s Madonna; mid-career Kate Bush, as well as Gran Turismo-esque The Cardigans (the softer edges of…).  In fact the Nina Persson-helmed Swedish quintet came to mind in the verses too; yet that revocation is galvanised in the chrous’s dreamy and impassioned rush.  I have always adored Persson’s seductive and engaging voice; the band’s huge talent (as well as their inspired mass appeal); and our stunning duo have tutored and similar positives- but have a stark originality to their vocal tones, I have to add.  The “You made a fool of me” coda is elongated; gorgeously tempted; breathed with a delicious tenderness.  In the same way as Jeff Buckley’s anthem Last Goodbye told of the sadness of a break-up (from our hero’s regretful perspective); the chorus almost suggests the side of Buckley’s lover: maybe it’s just me, but I get that feeling.  Playing the role of the hound dog bowser; Faker is the lover-in-disgrace; arriving into the song with his downturned and soothing vocals: a little bit of Nick Cave-cum-The National.  Faker’s chocolaty tones are confessional and apologetic: “I’ve been told I am cold/Been known to sting”; delivered with emotional conviction and syncopated flourish (that enforces the lyrical potency).  There are not too many songs that would contain the line “I’m a brute shooting from the hip”: it is delivered with much consideration; and as the dust settles here, soon enough the girls add their voices into the verse (“Straight in to my heart” is the first line the vocalists all share).  Faker’s confessional sermon is not in the spotlight for too long, as our heroines dreamingly seduce: “In the dark you confess/That you’ve made this mess”.  The chorus’ reintroduction (given what has come before) contains extra gravity: bolstered by a sonic collage of crackles, percussion and electronic sparks.  When the vocals are blended during “You’ve made a fool of me”; it is both emotionally fraught, as well as strangely exorcised.  The chimerical lovers duet pioneers on: shocked by an energised and intent vocal accusation (“How dare you“).  The chorus is something that has a catchiness (is that the right word?) to it: the sway and sound will lodge in your mind, and recall itself to your lips consistently.  When the final verse is unveiled; a rolling and tumbling percussive crackle summons in the words; which present the lover-as-a-machine parable.  Our heroines sigh and ponder the possibilities of love: images of artificial and mechanical life forms are presented.  If the distant and cold lover could be taught how to love; a mechanical being that followed instruction (“My machine”); then a compromise/satisfaction could be obtained: “I learn to reach inside your ribcage/Flick a switch and you engage”.  It is during these phases that the Madonna/Persson vocal reminiscences are re-infused (together with the nature of the lyrics and music, produce an intriguing coefficient); the sense is one of strength and matter-of-fact honest- there is no quivering emotion or anger to be detected from our duo.  Once the (hopeful) verse concludes; it makes way for a dreamy and emotive parable: with eerie and spectral rushes; wordless vocals; scratches and crackles and a gradual build-up.  Without warning, a rampant and tribal drum line begins: cementing the coda’s magic and adding a layer of gravitational pull.  For one last time (well it is repeated– semantics be damned!) the chorus is presented: the trio combine and- backed with the multitudinous and variegated sonic palette- herald the song to land: leaving you with some questions.  As well as the song plays its part and gets into your mind; I was wondering how things were resolved: was satisfaction met, and did the ‘lovers’ make a truce?  Was a compromise realised, or is an unsettling easement the future tense?  Either way there is mystery and mystique aplenty; and one is happy that questions are remain, as the overall sensation is one of satisfaction.  You hope that there is not too much personal heartache amongst our sisters’ hearts (the mandates of Fool of Me have seen ghosts exorcised).  The abiding and authoritative sensation that you take from the track is one of wonder.  That combination of voices blend superbly: each are dreamy and seductive, but have a potency and emotional resonance (that few contemporaries possess).  The soundscape has touches of trip hop and experimental elements from the ’90s; fused with some keen ’70s fashions; polished with modern urgency and influence: augmenting the track and adding colours to the black and whites.  Faker plays the role of illegitimate/wrongdoing lover perfectly: displaying resentment and thoughtfulness, yet capable of change and rebirth.  The lyrics are constantly engaging and detailed; infused with sharp and intelligent lines, as well as deep and tender emotions (the chorus is especially memorable).  It is the combinations of vocal, musical and lyrical lustre, which rises the song above the parapet of the modern-day expectation: displaying a quality and endeavouring nature that is synonymous with the best songs of the ’90s.  Sweden and the Nordic regions are spearheading a new wave of vital and inspiring music; enforced by a qualitative edge and defined by a sharp mandate: mix emotional and symphonic sounds with gorgeous vocals; add focused and thought-provoking lyrics; make sure that the music remains in the consciousness for a long, long time.

 

Being a fairly new proponent of Say Lou Lou’s extraordinary talents, it is with fresh eyes that I approach Fool of Me.  The girls have a sound and texture that fits perfectly within their native scene; yet is distinct and ambitious enough that it supersedes the next-best: making it one of the most immediate and essential songs this year.  In the U.K. there is a scarcity of similar music (in fact there is none that quite have the same memorability); so it is axiomatic to say that we need more of Say Lou Lou.  Most of my current malaise has surrounded the lack of explorative and ambitious new music- too many fledgling artists display music which seems incomplete and fairly hollow.  The E.P. Julian has not long been released, yet is already gaining the stunning sisters a lot of fond patronage: devoid of hyperbole and over-exaggeration.  Given what I know about Sweden’s current scene, it is perhaps not a great shock that the likes of Say Lou Lou exist (and have such exceptional chops).  What is surprising is at how much mobility and variation there is within the marketplace of Nordic nations.  The girls have spent time in L.A., Australia and London; managed to draw influences and D.N.A. from the diverse nations, and stir it into their aromatic recipes.  Elektra and Miranda Kilbey have an assiduousness and passion for what they do: an ambitious and original eye for song writing, as well as a fond appreciation of the starling sounds of the ’70s and ’90s.  It is rare- in this modern climb- to hear such haunting, yearning and spellbound sounds: especially from a duo so young, yet so mature.  Fool of Me is a fascinating and memorable track, and layered with immediacy, nuance and majesty- and one that will leave a big impression in your mind.  It is a proud representation of an E.P. which is filled with intention and multitudinous conviction- the title track is a dreamy track that stands up to many repeated listens.  As much as the music bowls me over (the girls will not need my patronage and thumbs-up to make it a resounding success); it is the central figures themselves that impress.  Possessed of (or blessed; if you are of a religious bent) startling beauty and girl(s)-next-door appeal, the twin sisters are impressive ambassadors of modern music.  Too often I have encountered vapid and stupefied pop starlets (nary a thought in their hollow heads); arrogant and repellent rock egos, and dull and one-dimensional solo artists: where are the idols for those whom favour intelligence and fascination?  Our Say Lou Lou heroines are the antithesis of the vagrant pop star: instead they are interesting, relatable and have a ubiquitous appeal (that is very rare).  Whether it is because of my age (30-*sob*); but it is the common ground shared (between me and them) that marks them out as influential women.  Their musical tastes of the ’70s and ’90s (as well as film preferences) were instantly familiar and plaudit-worthy (especially their English-heavy leanings: P.J. Harvey, Kate Bush, T-Rex, David Bowie etc.)  In interviews, they come across as very humble; lacking in any ego, and completely in love with music.  It is these facets and merits that elevate and highlight their musical qualities- marking them out as a serious future-prospect.  I began the review by talking about the hardships one faces when trying to find genuinely great music (that is not U.K.-born).  The media (as well as social media) is a paradox and contradiction that makes it easy to locate local and national new music; yet near-impossible to find many great international acts.  As I say, I am in the process (the ‘ideas stage’ at present) of formulating and creating a music website; I hope will be an all-encompassing and encyclopaedic source for musicians, music-lovers (and the casual listener alike).  Whilst many music sites focus heavily on one specific U.S.P. (Internet radio; music downloads- not so unique when you see how many sites offer the same thing); I would like to incorporate a multitude of aspects: Internet radio, downloads, new and old music; band recruitment/networking, music video pitching- and a whole (WHOLE) lot more to boot.  It is only when the communication lines are strengthened and multiplied, that we can crawl out of the current miasma: a distinct lack of international awareness; compartmentalisation of the music scene etc.  In the U.K. we are in the midst of a stifled and fair-weather music scene: one which relies too heavily on predictability and homogenised nature.  Say Lou Lou have a universal appeal that can inspire cross-pollination, and a re-appropriation of new music’s (somewhat shaky) reputation.  I was stunned by Fool of Me’s heady brew: psychotropic and seductive in equal measures.  Having listened to the E.P., I am excited and curious to see where the girls go from here.  Demand and expectation will grow and burgeon (as the E.P.’s existence becomes wider known); so it will be great to see if a new E.P. or L.P. will be in the works for the future.  They have plenty of impetus and inspiration; great talent and awareness- and bring a lot of fresh energy and quality to a sub-par modern scene.  Take a listen to Fool of Me (as well as Julian), and become entranced by its spectral qualities.  Few (new) acts come around, that are as strong as them: so take these jaw-dropping girls to heart…

 

AND discover the treasures they offer up.

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Official:

http://www.sayloulou.com/

Twitter:

https://twitter.com/sayloulou

Facebook:

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

SoundCloud:

https://soundcloud.com/sayloulou

YouTube:

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

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Gallant- If It Hurts- Track Review

 

Track Review:

 

 

 

 

 

Gallant

 

 

 

 

 

If It Hurts

 

 

Gallant

 

 

9.7/10

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brave, spectral soulfulness and ethereal R&B, from this 21-year-old L.A.-based talent: guaranteed to shiver the spine.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Availability:

If It Hurts is available at:

https://soundcloud.com/gallant/gallant-if-it-hurts-prod-felix

The tracks that will appear on the (Felix Snow-produced) Zebra E.P., are available at:

http://www.brooklynvegan.com/archives/2013/06/listen_to_a_son_1.html

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THE qualitative nature of the voice, is something that is always at the…

 

forefront of my mind.  When considering a solo artist- be they new or existing- a lot of emphasis and consideration is given toward the nature of the voice.  If you happen to be a fantastic lyricist or musician (how few there are of them); then consideration is paid to the words and themes.  The likes of Laura Marling (as well as having a distinctive and powerful voice) have their songs poured over; the lyrics and ideas are interpreted and picked apart- with many critics postulating and theorising hidden depths and meanings.  For the rest of the solo scene, the major focus is paid to the vocal prowess.  Shows such as The Voice are doing no favours to the scene as a whole.  When winners and runners-up from these shows enter the marketplace; they have already been moulded/moulded themselves into a Mariah Carey, Christina Aguilera or Whitney Houston proximity- for the guys there are obvious influences too.  As much as the band market is growing and bursting at the seams- and is producing some of the best music at the moment- the life and trajectory of the solo artist is as fascinating as any.  Over the past few months, there have been a few promising endeavours: I have heard of some genuinely unique and exciting talent.  When the full creative and personal weight is placed on one set of shoulders- without having band members to assist- it is always harder to make decisions; put yourself ahead of the crowd and really stand out.  I have heard some terrific female voices in the U.K.: from Yorkshire-based ’40s swing stylings, through to New York soul evocations.  It is always a great pleasure to happen across a uniquely exciting voice: one which catches you by surprise and keeps you listening- and has you spreading the good word far and wide.  A lot of excitement concerning the solo market tends to be pointed towards male shores.  In the mainstream, as well as amongst the up-and-comers; focus still tends to be levied heavily towards the male market.  I have never had a lot of respect for a lot of the current crop of male solo artists.  Currently talent such as Tom Odell are being heralded and championed: to my mind he has limited emotional range and an unremarkable voice/set of songs.  Away from him, there is a lot of residual fascination towards the likes of Bon Iver, Matt Corby and Ed Sheeran- artists still touring, but not currently in the studio.  As a male songwriter- whom, until a band can be located; is a lone wolf- I am always readily-tuned to the solo market.  I respect the amount of hard work and tenacity it takes to make your first steps- let alone become successful; hold onto public fascination.  There are no other humans to hide behind; so additional members to take the burden: the priority and emphasis is on you and you alone.  Taking this into consideration, I provide a measure of grace and consideration towards new solo artists; but I have to say one thing: I am not overly-impressed at the moment.  The likes of Odell and Sheeran are very young- and to my mind- years and bounds off of being considered exceptional.  Neither has a strong or memorable voice (they seem quite bland in fact) and lyrically they are good at best; but tend towards banality, immaturity and cliché: their overall sound and artistry is somewhat sub-par and unimpressive.  Away from the aforementioned- whom mainly appeal to the young female market- there are one or two great singers.  Matt Corby is an Australian singers whom (erase the fact that he appeared on the Australian version of X Factor) is a worthy songwriter and potent voice- and is still in his 20s.  As much as the man has a powerful and guttural roar- as well as a sweet-natured potentiality- I find myself ambivalent.  His songs are strong enough (the lyrics often are deep and poetic; the sound diverse and unexpectedly powerful); yet his range seems limited.  As a songwriter the tracks all tend to stick to the tried-and-tested love-gone-wrong-discuss parable; and his compositions have a ‘hallmark’ sound, that often shows a lack of flexibility or elasticity.  It is the vocal ‘limitations’ (perhaps a harsh term, but I can’t think of a more appropriate one) that trouble me the most.  He has that impressive and dominant growl and plenty of oxygen in his big lungs- capable of taking the wind out of your own- yet there seems to be no ace up the sleeve.  His voice seems stunning and unique over the course of a few E.P.s, yet when L.P.s and future singles arrive, one feels that the appeal will wear off; if he can’t add layers and tones to his voice (as well as song writing); you have to entertain the possibility that he will not be on the scene years from now.  My point is that voices can appear fascinating at first- whether it is due to a great emotional range or a U.S.P.-yet given time (and successive E.P.s/albums) can have its essence distilled: simply because it becomes less startling as time goes on.  The female market has a similar expiration issue.  A vast majority of new female voices can be sweet-sounding and ‘cute’- yet lack in power and soulfulness- or else they are soulfully operatic and sexy: but when you examine closely, they are lacking in individuality and differing colours.  A great deal of female solo artists- in the U.K. at least- have been celebrated critically (Emile Sande; Laura Marling; Adele; Jessie Ware etc.); but have been so, due to an incredible talent that covers song writing, presentation, musicality, emotion- as well as the voice itself.  Eyes and ears are primed and hungry for solo artists whom have something different and stunning about them: whether this is a voice capable of longevity, or a great backstory and personality…

 

This all brings me to the case of Gallant.  I came across the Maryland-born artist via The Guardian‘s ‘New band of the day’ segment (something that has provided many opportunities for me).  That profile feature highlighted at the importance of the assemble of a track- as opposed to the vocal alone.  I think a lot of the current malaise, stems from the lack of evocative and gripping music that accompanies a vocal performance.  Whilst female talent like Marling can bring a folk texturing to her songs; Adele a bigger and bolder sound; Ware classical and ethereal edges, and Lianne La Havas mixes various sounds into the boiling pot; most do not put too much thoughts into the overall composition.  For a vast majority of the solo scene, too many acoustic/electric guitars rule the land; too little consideration is given over to atmosphere- resulting in unambitious and uninspiring compositions.  It is not a coincidence that the talents whom put more thoughts into the overall ‘sound’ of the song- considering each compositional aspect carefully- that merit the grandest plaudits.  Gallant is a star whom has taken a lot of time to make music that can inspire and encapsulate.  Most of my recent attention has been paid towards U.K. talent and acts- with some focus on Swedish and European sounds.  Perhaps the most impressive and varied tracks have emanated from U.S. artists: ranging from L.A. sunshine pop, through to Missouri teenage punk.  It seems to be a nation that is fostering the most agile and electioneering new music.  In the U.K. we have some great young artists coming through- whether they will stand the test of time is another matter- yet the U.S.A. have a bolder and more enterprising approach to the matter of new music.  Granted I have largely been exposed to the band market and duos (with some solo work in there too); I have noticed that there seems not to be a ‘staple sound’: there is less homogenisation (and a need to sound like existing artists).  We in the U.K. need to take notes from the U.S.- with regards to how to bring the best talent to attention quickly- as some of the most fascinating sounds of the moment are coming from there.  Our 21-year-old from the ‘Old Line State’ has had an itinerant existence (in such a short time); locating to New York, and then to L.A.- where he current calls home.  He is a new talent, yet his voice has been compared to the like of Michael Jackson (The Guardian are amongst several to make this comparison).  Gallant has a trembling and evocative falsetto that is as much parts etherealness as it does mystique and hidden depth.  Few current artists can claim to possess such pipes: that mix falsetto and divinity within a musical framework, and posses the diversity and range to soundtrack any song.  The likes of Bruno Mars have had Jackson comparisons made; yet (and to my mind) his lyrics are too juvenile and his sound too limited and unappealing (in fact some of his lyrics come across as truly shocking and appalling).  Newer and less well-known acts such as Night Beds have displayed some of Gallant’s majesty (listen to Even If We Try); but away from these examples there are few comparisons.  A great deal of the excitement surrounding Gallant’s sounds are because of the ‘sound’ itself: Felix Snow is responsible for adding texture, emotion and fascination to his tracks.  Gallant is making big impressions with his talent alone, yet it is when he collaborates with Snow, that a lot of the ‘magic’ occurs.  Artists such as SZA- whom has also worked with Snow- attest to the producer’s chops.  SZA is responsible for some The Weeknd-inspired music: that which mixes R&B etherealness with some synthesised panache.  Where as other producers would add odd effects; overbearing noise, and clichéd touches; Snow would employ the sound of wind chimes, whistles and supernatural chill to the mood: enforcing the songs fully, and adding layers of nuance and wonder.  It was this endeavouring and pioneering work ethic that was brought to Gallant’s E.P., Zebra.  That E.P. is not released until August, yet is a collection that has gained a lot of kudos and respect; not only because of Gallant’s core talent- but due to Snow’s special touch.  Few artists would touch any song by Ke$ha (I personally find her to be repulsive; with no redeeming features), yet Gallant saw a glimmer of hope in her Die Young; wringing out the Auto-Tune plastic-ness; scrubbing away at the fake and perfunctory studio noise: and transformed it into something special indeed.  That song- which is a rarity for Ke$ha- has some subtext to it: quite dark in fact, according to Gallant.  By concentrating on this, and adding a new sound and vitality to the track (with Snow’s helming); a ghostly and haunted chill that one would never associate with Ke$ha herself (well not in a good way at least).  The ‘producer aspect’ is not something that is ever concentrated on when considering solo talent- what a great support they can be with regards to enhancing a sound.  William Orbit and Mark Ronson are probably the two most recent examples of producers whom can add so much texture and subterfuge to a track; and it seems that the Gallant/Snow partnership could last a long time.  With Snow having worked with the likes of Shaggy (if you can believe it); he brings experience and a weight of authority to our young artist’s work- helping to get the most out of that incredible voice.  Let us not focus too much on Snow: instead a bit more about Gallant himself.  We here in the U.K. are new to the joys of the Maryland troubadour- in fact a lot of people will be experiencing his name for the very first time.  Not much is revealed through social media- good in a way, as a sense of mystery, longing and wonder is brought to mind- our hero keen not to give needless information away; presenting the essential facts: the music itself.  His online profile is building momentum: on Facebook he has 1,241 ‘Likes’ (as of July 1st, 13:54- G.M.T.); as well as 1,143 Twitter ‘Followers’- I suspect that a lot more will show their support in the run-up to the E.P.’s release.  A sense of humbleness and appreciation are evident, when one surveys the social media pages of Gallant (as well as his official site).  He is filled with respect and thanks for any reviewer or new fan: a man thankful that his work is being given the credit it deserves.  Gallant has a personable and likeable personality: at once an enigmatic figure; the next a ubiquitous and effusive.  Scant praise is given- in these times- to considerable talent; so it is always great to happen upon new talent (if in this case it is vicariously).  Gallant’s personal website (http://sogallant.com/) is awash with kooky and charming photographs; insightful commentary- Dadaesque, impressionist, abstract and impressionistic strokes and scenes can be found.  Barring the occasional misadventure (there seems to be a genuine appreciation for Justin Bieber- we all are allowed a vice, right?  Although if I have misunderstood on this occasion, I apologise) our L.A.-based hero is every bit the modern-day idol: letting his music do most of the talking, and making you draw your own conclusions about the man behind the voice.  It is to that voice that we pull towards, once more.  The forthcoming Zebra E.P. displays a young artists capable of bold and innovative interpretation (his take on Die Young); as well as a brave original voice; adept at incisive and thought-provoking lyrics (mature as well for a man in his early-20s).

 

The opening moments to If It Hurts have their roots in ’90s U.K.  There is a little bit of Massive Attack’s trip hop experimentation to be heard; as well as Radiohead’s electronic movements, circa Kid A/Amnesiac.  There is a ghostly quiver and moan, with a pulsing and persistent beat that infuses it.  One can practically detect Thom Yorke hovering in the mix; as the evocation of Yorke- and current-day U.S. hip hop-can be detected in the initial notes.  Once that parable has let the wind swallow it; a guitar arpeggio elicits: at first it goes solo, before joining with the haunted coda; to summon up plenty of shivers.  Introductions are hard to get right- and make impressive and impactful- so it is all the more sterling that Gallant produces such a weight (within a mere few seconds).  Snow’s innovation and golden touch help to summon up a riot of atmosphere and intrigue.  Initially Gallant’s voice is- for want of a better phrase- a ghost in the machine: he seems distant and dislocated looking over the scene and sound; adding his tender tones to the mix.  Initial thoughts have room for interpretation: “Not enough colors (sic.) in the world, thought I would invent some”.  The etherealness could suggest some introversion or emotion; yet the words point towards a young man whom wants to bring more joy and passion to the world.  He is an artist whom could “fade to black/Jump-cut to alone/Cross-fade to emotion”: backed by a tribal and heart-wrenching percussive beat (which adds some punch and kick to proceedings).  Gallant’s voice never dwells or ponders too much- in the sense that it becomes maudlin or saddened- instead the tenderness and light touches he weaves into the tapestry (backed by a beat that is potent as well as catchy) will make you sit to attention, get caught up; and listen carefully to what is coming next.  Such is the ever-changing nature of the track (it changes course and directionality a few times before the 1:00 marker, that your thoughts cannot catch their breath), that fascination and authority are kept at a maximum: the mood seems content to endeavour and electioneer, rather than sit still.  Atmospherics and electronic lustre are put at the top of the mix; forcing their way into your brain- as our hero unveils a wordless coda that mixes breathy sigh with falsetto hold.  There is at once evocations of classic Radiohead; modern-day European electronic music; as well as the sound of 2013 L.A.  The sweet-smelling melting pot whips up a heady smoke: multi-coloured, fragrant and intoxicating.  As the wordless chorus continues, that persistent and foot-tapping beat gets under your skin: it has its own gravity that supports the vocal, but also creates its own pull.  As Gallant’s echoed voice comes back into the fold, the chorus makes its mark.  Talk of: “If it hurts, then baby you’re all I need” shows tenderness and mature sensitivity; as “I’m thinking reality could happen- make it complete” hints at a heart- broken or aching- that is longing for satisfaction.  The unnamed and anonymous centre-of-attention is causing a little tribulation: yet the abiding sensation is one of a young man wanting to find happiness.  The tender-minded parable is repeated (for maximum emotional impact); our hero’s voice aching and imploring with aplomb.  I can see where the Jackson comparables are born from.  Gallant’s vocal has a similarly-stunning litheness: it is feminine and sturdily masculine all at once.  A little bit of Jackson’s Off the Wall majesty can be detected in Gallant’s tones (as well as a similar lyrical maturity); yet it would be unfair to solely focus on the late King of Pop’s flavours.  Yes, there is a little of The Weeknd’s evocations; but a sharp and focused originality can be heard: our U.S. hero is more spellbinding and captivating than any obvious names.  During the chorus (and the song as a whole) there is a strong soul vibe that comes to the fore.  If Prince were starting his career all over again, he would probably produce a If It Hurts paradox- although whether the Snow-infused layers would be employed is another question.  In the way that our hero stretches, repeats and reintroduces the chorus- like a hypnotic wave- one gets washed away and intoxicated by its intentions.  Messages of “If it hurts, then baby you’re all I need” come back around; constantly calling out to the anonymous paramour to let him in- to ease her burden and let Gallant in.  If the simplicity and simple honest is the hallmark of the track’s first two minutes or so; then the remainder is demarcated by intrigue (and some obliqueness).  We begin with some openness-cum-bold endeavour: “Not afraid to show myself the truth, to see what I’ve been missing“- it’s clever wordplay and evocativeness are impressive indeed.  It seems that there is a lot on our hero’s mind- both good, bad and complicated- that needs to be resolved and exalted.  Whatever the circumstances behind If It Hurt’s origins- an open love letter; a personal exhumation; retrospective examination- it seems that a more pressing thought (is troubling our idol): “But then again, the midnight I was in was so much more appealing”.  It is hard not to draw your mind away from Jackson or The Weeknd; and back towards the likes of Mr. Yorke: the intricacies and mood-setting evocativeness suggest some of the Oxford man’s wonder.  It is this line that will remain longest in your consciousness: what it means; what it intended; what is in our hero’s mind.  There is some modern reference and relevance to the Snow-helmed sonic blasts: a bit of hip/trip hop; a bit of modern pop and Indie lines as well- yet whereas some of those genre’s examples employ similar sounds as ephemera; here it is used to intensify and emphasise the emotion and openness that is proffered.  The combination of wordless coo (both choral and deeply personal); combined with the heartbeat-like percussive line is ridden for a while; before the chorus returns to pioneer once more.  Authority, conviction and intention are hallmarks of Gallant’s vocal line: words are punctuated, pointed and emphasised to make his message stand out.  If words such as “I’m thinking reality could make it”- backed by a swooning and potent sonic swathe- don’t make their mark; then a granite heart you possess.  Additional layers and kicks are added to the snowballing composition: making the final stages more intense and emotionally-charged.  For the final seconds, the intro.’s guitar arpeggio is reintroduced: calming the nerves; settling us to landing, and beautifully bookending the composition.  In just over 4 minutes, a great amount of fascination and potency has been sewn: the track’s aftereffects are quite startling.  In a modern scene where there is too much Auto-Tune; too little genuine sounds and voices, and a heavy reliance on noise; not sound.

 

It may be the case that the U.S. continues to produce some of the most fascinating new music.  Two of the best albums of this year have been turned in by American talent (The National’s Trouble Will Find Me and Queens of the Stone Age’s …Like Clockwork).  Whilst here in the U.K. we have managed to produce an album that could contest for medals (Laura Marling’s Once I Was an Eagle); the majority of the best and brightest music today is U.S.-born.  In this country there is still a big issue with homogenisation and over-familiarity.  Too many Indie bands are present; with it seeming to be the favoured sound- and is an issue that will only get worse.  You have to dig really hard to uncover some genuinely great music; and even more so when trying to locate some terrific solo gold.  I am not on a downer (when it comes to solo talent); yet it seems that for every 100 or so new acts arrive- possible half a dozen remain in the memory (and the marketplace) years later.  There is an over-reliance to just turn up on the scene; armed with an acoustic guitar; play some nice tunes about falling in love (and out); repeat 11 or 12 times… and that’s it.  For every Marling or Adele there are dozens of Sheerans and Odells- it is a balance and injustice that needs to be righted as soon as possible.  I believe that solo artists have the biggest potential- both short and long-term- as a shift away from the band-heavy market will become apparent.  Gallant is a perfect example of an artist (young at that) whom is starting out differently- someone going against a predictable flow.  The lyrics are emotionally-charged and deep: containing enough mystery and relatability to intrigue and soothe.  It is not just Gallant’s wordsmith-potential that is striking; but the range of emotions and styles over the course of three tracks.  Zebra is a brave E.P.: a debut release that contains a cover version; yet is one which will be talked about fervently.  Gallant’s interpretative qualities- as well as originality- mark the E.P.’s tracks out as amongst some of the strongest you will hear this year.  This is something that is made possible by two more (dominant) facets: the stirring voice and excellent production.  Snow’s legendary and authoritative helming not only brings the tracks to life- making sure everything is essential and captivating- but it is the little (and big) touches that he adds that make it that much stronger- and there are quite a few additions.  The combination of Snow and Gallant works much the same as Orbit and Madonna (Ray of Light), as well as William Orbit, Fatboy Slim and Ben Hiller’s Blur collaboration (Think Tank)- a perfect blend of two different minds; combining splendidly.  The mixture of beautiful- and at some times, otherworldly- vocals; combined with some strange and splendid sounds; makes the songs what they are.  It is the voice itself that stands out as much as anything.  It has some timbre of early-career Jackson; as well as mid-career Yorke: but is its own man and beast, and is not subject to easy categorisation.  Gallant has a sound that posses shades of the past; as well as a dedicated and impassioned love of music.  He may have travelled from Maryland to L.A. (via New York); yet it seems that London would like him as a resident; as his talent and collaborative spirit is something that is much-needed in the capital (and the U.K.).  My anxieties about the new music scene will never be completely abated (given the questionable quality of a lot of new acts); yet with artists such as Gallant arriving; making some impressive and large first steps, my reticence and trepidations may have to take a back seat.  I am always impressed by a great voice- one that is original and not prefabricated- and especially one that ties striking lyrics and bold sounds together seamlessly.  Change begets change, and my hope is that there will be a paradigm shift away from bland and lipid acoustic solo work; as well as plastic and nauseating pop (Rhianna, Katy Perry and yes…Ke$ha) and towards the likes of Gallant.  The current crop- as well as generations yet to come- need some sturdy and solid sounds to be inspired by; and if they are not readily available, then a somewhat underwhelming scene is produced.  Gallant’s sound is redolent of a (stronger) past era: one that was more abound with innovation and risk-taking; so I dearly hope that his spirit and determination continues.  It is always great being surprised by music, and If It Hurts certainly does that- what more can you ask for?  Its honest and earnestness; as well as mystery and open-for-interpretation edges cement beautifully: the result of a studied and mature songwriter.  The sonic evocations and atmosphere that is elicited (with Snow’s assistance) gives the number a ghostly and disassociated impression that lingers long into the mind.  Overall it is a song which will subvert expectations (in a good way); as well as go a long way to re-appropriating any disinclinations about new music’s potential.  I am thankful (most of the time) that publications and websites such as The Guardian (and specifically their ‘New band of the day’ segment) are available; so that we here in the U.K. are made aware of great U.S. (and international acts).  I am always appalled that there are not better channels of connection and awareness; but it is a problem I am trying to work on as we speak (trust me on this).  The next few weeks will be busy for our L.A.-based artist: the E.P.’s released; promotion will follow; touring and gig commitments and bookings will surely be an issue.  Once all the dust has settled, and the public have absorbed and experienced Zebra‘s wonders; I hope Gallant will play more in the U.K.  His sound and appeal is something that easily translates here, and one suspects that the likes of Europe and Australia will jump readily on board (I know that Northern Europe and Australia will welcome the music with open arms).  Regardless of my fears about new music; as well as my desire for more spectral voices, I feel that the next few years will play host to few artists like Gallant.  Whether this trend is going to be a result of the lack of likewise talent; a scarcity of great music websites (making us aware of new music)-or a combination of the two- is unclear; yet it is apparent that more people are made aware of worthy talent, capable of longevity.  So.. I am going to try and assist (as much as possible), and hope that more people here latch onto If It Hurts and spread the word.  Gallant is a modest young man, and someone who appreciates kudos, representation and reviews, so I hope that he has many E.P.s and L.P.s in him- as I am genuinely genuine when I hear great music.  Few artists (especially new young artists) inspire people like me (30-year-old songwriter in awe of the established masters); yet I have been compelled to write:  “Drink until we’re numb, drink until we’re dumb enough to keep on thinking more/I’m offered salt to quench my thirst/Crawl along the floor, climb up the walls until we confuse the battle with the war/And die for so much worse”.  What it means: I am not sure.  What it will lead to: who knows?  One thing is for certain: if music (even a single track) can bring about creative output (however miniature/personally interesting); as well as adulation and bona fide excitement, then what more could you ask for…?

 

WELL… that you listen hard; and wait with bated breath for the upcoming E.P.

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Official:

http://sogallant.com/

Twitter:

https://twitter.com/SoGallant

Facebook:

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

SoundCloud:

https://soundcloud.com/gallant

YouTube:

http://www.youtube.com/sogallant

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Colour Me Wednesday- Shut- Track Review

 

Track Review:

 

 

 

 

 

Colour Me Wednesday

 

 

 

 

 

Shut

 

 

Colour Me Wednesday

 

 

 

9.4/10

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Explosive four-piece of Uxbridge have influences of the early-’90s; tied together with an of-the-moment urgency: it makes them essential listening.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Availability:

Shut is available at:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lkni5QYgcvE

The album I Thought It Was Morning is available at:

http://colourmewednesday.bandcamp.com/album/i-thought-it-was-morning

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MIXED genders and mixed agenda are subjects rarely discussed in the…

 

music business.  The nature of bands tends to be somewhat homogenised.  Groups stray towards either the all-male or all-female stratagem (predominantly the former).  It seems that there is a disproportionate amount of male bands on the current scene- most of whom are plying their trade in the Indie realm.  Sexism and gender subjugation is an issue in society at-large.  In the workplace; in sport and in social segments- even in 2013- there is still a rifeness of inequality and disproportionality.  As much as sectors such as government and business are male-dominated, it is alarming that there is lacking awareness (or self-awareness).  It is unsure whether- and if so, when– the inexactitude will supersede; but small steps are required- gradually made by as many feet as possible.  Feminism is an important facet of the modern age; and is something that needs it voices as wide as possible.  I have always had a cautiousness when femininity is proffered in music.  The likes of Beyonce have somewhat underpinned their cause with their life trajectory (marry a millionaire; make millions; donate nothing to women’s charities).  It seems like a hollow message when you are on a pulpit, singing down to your audience- the likes of Beyonce may have had a hard upbringing, yet she is in no way on a level plain with her fans and supporters; or most women as a whole.  Of course gender inequality is not an issue in music itself.  It is an industry with a welcome idiosyncrasy: doors are open to everyone, regardless of financial constraints or situation.  There are no rules; no interviews; no narrow-minded attitudes with regards to the entry fee: if you have recording equipment and a song(s); then you can take your place in the market- although this does cause an overall lack of quality, which I will mention later.  Musicians themselves have an important role; yet have little political sway.  If the roles of M.P.s and female musicians was transposed; we would be in a much fairer society- where the inequalities of life would become more apparent; and swiftly rectified.  Taking all this into consideration, you may ask this: what is my overall point?  Well; it seems that music- although politicisation of music is a big mistake- is a sector that continues to grow (by the week); and it is the songwriters and artists of today, whom have the biggest influences of the young (probably more so than any other type of professional).  As much as I have enjoyed the offerings of all-male bands recently; it seems that a lot of female-orientated musical wonder; tends to emanate from the solo scene.  With the band market currently the most jam-packed of sectors (how many new bands does one encounter by the week?  Seems like dozens!); public eyes are focused on their shores.  I have heard some diverse and spectacular music from female-heavy bands, ranging from home-grown talent such as The Staves and Fake Club.  The former comprise three sisters; whom promote spectral and ethereal harmonies- and have currently completed a large tour of the U.S.  The latter are an up-and-coming rock band, with perhaps one of the greatest modern guitarists in their ranks (Carmen Vandenberg).  Although sexism is a rare occurrence within music, it seems that a fickleness is a bigger issue.  Too many media outlets focus too heavily on the male bands- letting some of the female groups slide somewhat.  Commercially and historically it may be the male bands whom have pulled in the biggest plaudits, yet some of the best sounds I have heard recently, have emanated from female bands.  If the music industry is to become more diversified- and increase its quality and ambition- then ears need to be focused away from the (yawn) four-piece-male-Indie-band-whom-love-Arctic-Monkeys.  Before I arrive at the feet of Colour Me Wednesday, I wanted to bring up my two favourite themes/rants: musical locality and ’90s influence.  I have practically turned purple, trying to find great bands in the south.  As well as in the music media; most people I know (whom have their ears trained) keep banging on about the Indie bands of Manchester and Liverpool.  It appears that there is too much focus on the northern bands- and consequently there seems to be a whole batch of Mancunian bands each day-with the abiding sound being in the Arctic Monkeys/Oasis mould.  I am getting tired of the predictability and over-familiarity with new sounds (I am excluding solo acts largely); wondering when the acts from the South of England will ride up.  Over the past few months I have heard only a tiny amount of bands from areas south of Watford (The Staves are based in Watford so are excluded).  London is strangely quiet and introverted when it comes to pushing forth new music.  If one were to detail schematics; draw a climate/topographic map (detailing what type of music was played where; and which decade is most evocative in their sound); then Manchester and Liverpool would be thick with Indie bands- each seemingly inspired by ’70s legends and ’90s classics.  Yorkshire would be most speckled; having jazz, blues, swing and doo-wop colours- with a mix of ’40s, ’50s and ’70s-modern-day influence.  If eyes were to track down to London, then the map would be less bold.  There are some great musicians in the capital; yet when it comes to great new bands, well… there seems to be a sensation of rations.  I have also been barking on dementedly about the lack of 1990s influences within modern music.  I will arm wrestle a nun to prove my point; but the ’90s was (and still is) the finest decade for music- ’60s be damned; you are over-rated!  In many of my recent reviews, I have (as well as been passively-aggressively poking fun at The Guardian’s limitations as music reviewers) been asking why there are not more ’90s flavours in 2013: given that it was one hell of a majestic decade?

 

Colour Me Wednesday are a group whom have a keen ear for the music of the ’90s: in fact, the Indie bands (of the early half of the decade) are big influences for them.  The band consist of Harriet and Jennifer Doveton; Carmela Pietrangelo, and (sole male) Sam Brackley.  Our girls (and guy) are based in Uxbridge: the administrative headquarters of the London Borough of Hillingdon; it is located in the west of London and has a population of just over 26,000.  Uxbridge is an area not usually associated with musical outpourings; yet has a landscape and history that would suggest fertile and ripe conditions.  Away from the bustle and congestion of Central London, it has given our intrepid quartet room to be inspired, create; make their ambitions known.  As much as I have been mentioning defects and glaring omissions within new music; lurking in mind has been a dissatisfaction: too few new acts provide enough relevant information.  Most give a simplified Twitter and Facebook account; so that for people like me, you are left struggling what to say.  Our Uxbridge clan are pretty giving when it comes to details: you can find out a lot about them; but not too much.  With Jen on vocals; Carmela on bass; Harriet on guitar, and Sam on drums, the quartet have been electrifying audiences for a while now; bringing their blend of sound as far and wide as possible.  The guys don’t do music civil wars: no competitions with other bands; they simply want to bring their songs and movement onto the scene- and intend to stay around for as long as possible.  With a wide range of idols and influences, that go from The Beatles and R.E.M., through to The Sundays and Dinosaur Jr. (as well as those ’90s Indie flavours); the band bring a range of textures and sensations to their overall sound: it will stick in your head for a long time after it has ended.  Looking into their social media pages, and one gets the impression that they are all down-to-Earth and good-humoured.  On their Facebook page they attest to enjoying “computer gamez (sic.)” as well as “hyper kittens and puppies“.  The three girls are all striking and beautiful; raven-haired and stunning; with our percussive hero being very dapper and handsome (not sure how to compliment guys aesthetically).  Although the group has been in existence for 5 years now, the present line up in only a few months old: one that hopefully is cemented, as the sound and tight kinship between the members gives the music a conviction and urgency, few other current acts can claim.  Their band name struck a chord with me.  On their official website, there is a sketch of Wednesday (from The Addams Family)- making me wonder if that is where the moniker came from.  It sounds like a game for child fans of the show (and films): a black-and-white sketch of Wednesday that you can spend literally minutes colouring in.  Not sure where the fun is, but such is the fascination (with the band’s name) that several theories spring to mind.  Luckily they are not affiliated with the God-awful ’80s/’90s act Color Me Badd.  The Oklahoma four-piece sold 12 millions records in the U.S. (inexplicably); and are still operating as a trio to this very day.  In addition to their pervy signature song I Wanna Sex You Up; the band never really won over critics (probably not hard to see why).  Luckily our London-based heroes are filled with intrigue and momentum; having a sound that could see them playing festivals and large venues very soon- who would bet against a Leeds or Reading slot in a few years?  Having experienced Glastonbury; where acts from the sublime (The Rolling Stones) to the terrible (Azealia Banks; Mumford & Sons) have been dominating the news, our Londoners could easily make their way to the illustrious festival- they have a ubiquitous quality and utilitarian likeability that could see them win over crowds.  If proof were needed (that they could fill seats aplenty) sites like The Girls Are can lay claim as to their prowess.  The music website reviewed a gig of the band’s last year; enraptured by the quartet’s incredible hooks and blitzkrieg sounds: with punk and Indie-Pop layers weaving in and out one another.  The band market is- as I have regularly suggested- the most compacted and sought-after there is: hundreds and thousands are playing across the U.K., yet only a small amount are worthy of attention.  It is axiomatic that the group have affection and consideration for their fans.  In addition to their album I Thought It Was Morning, they also offer variations and multiple versions of the L.P.- including a vinyl edition.  The group provide plenty of choice for prospective fans.  As well as vinyl and C.D. versions of the album, there is a digital version; as well as a Lyrics Booklet Zine- in addition to a 28-page booklet of lyrics, there are baby pictures (of the band) as well as explanations behind certain songs.  The L.P. cover itself is a black-and-white comic book strip: various scenarios and scenes are represented with the album title appearing in individual panes.  Too many new acts see themselves as completely indispensable and precious: afraid that by giving information away; making their music too readily-available, their appeal will wear thin.  In 2013, we are faced with a swagger and wave of varying acts: each one hungry for recognition and fan-bases.  If you take the business and seriousness of music too lightly- coming off as aloof or unconcerned- then you risk being forgotten about forever.  Colour Me Wednesday want as many people to listen to their music (and buy it as well); giving fans choice, and making the job of reviewers (like me) a lot easier.  Before you have even listened to a word of their music, you get a sense of what they are all about: where they came from; what turns them on (musically); how they got there- and where they want to go next.  You will have to- *sob*- wait until July 28th to get your hands on the album; but their new single is readily available for digestion.  Having gained a lot of positive feedback because of its infectious and stunning sound and sharp lyrics; the track is gaining mighty appeal.  It is the lead-off track from their forthcoming 11-track set, and is a brilliant cut- representative of the group’s key and core sound and style.  Before I get to the track itself, the future L.P. promises much intrigue- from the song titles alone!  Numbers such as Unicorn In Uniform; (I’m Not Coming To Your) BBQ; You’re Not My Number One Bastard, and- the gloriously-named-Purge Your Inner Tory, are to be found.  The humour and fascination that the song titles proffer, have roots in the punk era; where similarly-glorious song names could be found- in fact I Thought It Was Morning could easily be an album by The Clash (circa. 1978).  With a rich and all-encompassing motif that aims for as many people as possible; tied to a sound that has elements of ’70s punk, ’90s Indie and U.S. and U.K. influence; my fascination was stacked high.

 

The video for Shut certainty seemed fun.  It depicts Jen spinning around on a playground merry-go-round; smiling as the song plays (although one suspects she became nauseated after a little while).  The sense of fun and energy is played out as soon as the intro. begins.  The combination of guitar and drum- in the initial stages- builds up and up; then down and back down again.  The structure is at once unusual but authoritative; with edges of punk legends such as The Clash and The Ramones, as well as modern-day Indie shades.  It lasts but a brief time, yet sets the mood perfectly: punching a few times; retreating; before coming back around again.  The band are in awe of acts such as Bikini Kill; and whilst that group’s better-known tracks (Rebel Girl for instance) are noted for their heavier edges; the two groups share a similar talent for potent and razor-edged riffs.  Whilst our London quartet may have a more ubiquitous sunshine to their sound (on the evidence here); the authority and conviction with which the intro sparks up, promises a tantalising song.  When Jen’s voice arrives on the scene, the tones are less of the likes of Strummer and Ramone; instead touches of Kate Nash can be detected (as well as Kathleen Hanna).  As the pogoing and striking guitar, bass and drum combination works its magic, our heroine speaks of some unsettling truths: “It’s like I’ve failed my teens/Now I’m failing my twenties”.  Although there is little sign of introversion and sadness in her voice, there is a matter-of-fact calm to be heard- a smile in fact is almost audible when “High on anxiety” is sung.  It is the way that words and sentences are phrases as well; which adds emotional weight.  When “High on anxiety” is proffered, Jen’s voice grins; the rejoinder “Low on attention” is presented with a resigned sigh- everything is more convincing and impressive if attention is given to projection.  It is clear that there are anxieties and concern in our young heroine’s thoughts.  Whereas most songs (modern mainly; historical as well) deal with vicissitudes in and out of love; power games in relationships; blame and revocations (read: sympathy-seeking), Shut’s mandates are more relevant (to the modern youth).  Our heroine does not speak of the woes of modern-life because she is in the minority (and needs to be saved); she does so because she is in the majority (and is speaking the truth).  Even someone like me; in my late-’20s (30 technically), can relate to sentiments such as: “There’s a million and one things/That we’ll never make sense of”.  The central voice is of young London: speaking on behalf of the young U.K.; it is strong and convincing, with flecks of tongue-in-cheek and punk spit- not many voices you can say that of, in today’s climate.  The band are constantly consummate: professionally tight, with a relentless energy and evocation of punk and Indie-Pop corners.  The riffs and sonic evocations that are offered up are never too heavy or intrusive: simply hook-laden and catchy.  Little snippets of past masters can be traced in the sound; as well as classic ’90s flavours (I detected some early-career Blur and Oasis- which I hope the band do not object to).  At the heart of proceedings are the words- open-hearted and honest, as well as rally-against-the-world: “Self-satisfied clowns/Ruin everything”.  Whether the song’s theme has been forged due to uncertain weather; paradigm shift; heartbreak, or simply some arsehole being too arsehole-ish remains to be revealed; yet our heroine puts her points across with loveable pugnacity.  For a woman who claims “(‘Cause) I can’t stand it/I can’t sit down”; the restless energy makes the song strike a hard chord.  With a voice that has semblances of Miss Nash; there are sweet-natured and seductive tones as well that the likes of Daughter and Haim have popularised.  It is these combinations (and juxtapositions) that make Doveton, Jen, such a compelling singer.  As the supporting trio infuse the mood with electricity and sublime punch (great riffs, impressive bass work and solid percussion are the hallmarks on offer); our heroine continues her thought-process- one which seems less of a diatribe, but more of a confessional turn.  The following verse speaks of self-doubt (“Regrets set in”) and everything in-between (“And I’d change the world/One person at a time”).  Whether the song is speaking to an unnamed man (ex-love perhaps); or just kicking out at the world, I am unsure; yet there seems to be a wider (and more pressing) malaise- our heroine has seen and felt her fair share of disappointment and unmet expectations.  Future motifs on the comparative prosperity of the past (“Remember when things used to happen to me?”); and its irksome retrospect (“Yeah I hated that too”- one suspects there is sarcasm in the voice) are experienced.  Bolstering and supporting the mood, the guitar and bass roll and sway- as the percussive waves crash around them.  Our front-woman has an unerring positive edge to her voice; never succumbing to teenage angst or quivering sadness: it is the perfect blend to make you sympathise with her plight, but also get swept up in the song.  Our twenty-something heroine was “Short on motivation”; in “Slow motion/Crumbling to dust”; her mind overwhelmed.  Whether there is a abiding factor or fear that is mitigating her thoughts- the government; the nature of modern youth/life- it is not revealed; yet the song seems as much as a protest (“Are we numb to this outrage?”)  as it does autobiographical.  Ambiguity and mystery mingle together (within the final verse) as our heroine states: “‘Cause I can’t stand this/Adolescent state”, Jen’s voice sways and electioneers; chirps and rises, summoning up a riot of emotion, conviction and intention- more so than the likes of Kate Nash and Lily Allen muster.  One of the most striking things about the songs are the contrasts and light and darks.  Jen’s voice is pleasing and steeped in punk and Indie potential (and conviction); able to bring to life the song’s themes.  The words themselves can appear Draconian and anxiety-etched: mixing regretful past days with modern uncertainty.  It is the sonic evocations that tie it all together; marrying pulsating and nerve-jangling percussion with barbed-wire guitars; complete with tight and spine-straightening bass.  There are whispers of U.S. punk acts like Green Day (think of their Dookie/Insomniac regency); as well as 1992-The Lemonheads.  The punk and U.S. influences are apparent as an extended musical break/middle eight is introduced (2:18 onwards).  It is here that the band galvanise their spiky and infectious codas- as our heroine is allowed to step away from the mic. (briefly; to catch her breath).  As the chorus comes back around for a last time; our singer still wonders: “I don’t know why/I keep my mouth shut most of the time/When I burn inside”.  In a way the song can be seen as a sly and subtle commentary on modern music.  Our heroine talks of how she used to have disappointment; regrets keeping her mouth shuts; wanting to change the world “One person at a time”- although given what we know about the band (not wanting to compete); I may be reading too much into it.  As the song ends and the dust settles, a point has been made loud and clear; and an insight into the thoughts and ideas of Colour Me Wednesday has been gained.

 

The band’s forthcoming L.P. promises much range and diversity.  Not Much You Can Do’s anger and vitriol- mixed with rebellion and hard truths- is one side of the coin.  Purge Your Inner Tory has an obvious target (“Tory boy you can’t solve anything“); whereas Unicorn In Uniform mixes clever wordplay (“You fetisise the truth that you can’t touch“).  The band structure allows democracy and openness in the writing and creation.  Songs are written by Harriet, Jennifer and Sam (mostly individually; occasionally in collaboration); so you get different perspectives and biography.  In that sense too, there is no hogging of credit or a dictatorial lead: sharing and collaboration are bywords which enforce and cement the band’s effortless quality and conviction.  Shut is the first song from I Thought It Was Morning; and one of the most stirring and evocative tracks.  Whereas a number of the L.P.’s tracks have sharper and looser tongues (the F and C-bombs are deployed during certain tracks), Shut has a feeling and atmosphere that could see it played across BBC Radio (Radio 1 and 2 especially); as well as some of the less mainstream stations such as Xfm and Absolute Radio.  It is the quality which will see them on the playlists of the best U.K. radio stations; in demand at festivals, and make their way above the sea of current bands- so that they stick around for years to come.  The group’s all-inclusiveness and approachability, as well as the impressive online content will see them bring in a lot of new fans; and gives them an edge on most of their contemporaries.  Each member brings a great deal of tightly-honed and loose-cannon glory to the pot.  Shut is a song which lodges in your brain, and has you sympathising for our heroine- you lose yourself in the track’s gravity.  Jen’s voice has a clear and local accent; making her accessible and unique.  The way that the song’s words are inflected; treated; considered and pointed, show great consideration for intention and projection; ear-marking her out as a future singer to watch.  Bass and guitar work is fantastically impassioned and energetic: it summons ’70s and ’90s punk authority (from the U.S. as well as the U.K.), whilst the percussion is charged and pulsating.  Few modern bands are making similar sounds, as well as easing my anxious mind.  In a market where Indie-heavy emphasis is the natural order: and diversity and differing sounds and given less consideration, it is refreshing to hear Colour Me Wednesday.  Whilst most contemporaries are too fixated with narrow themes and songs that rely too heavily on relationship issues; there is also an issue about homogenisation: too many bands sound like too many others; leading to a indistinguishable blur.  Our London quartet have plenty of chutzpah; tenderness; guts and intelligence: so few other bands have these unique colours.  I am pleased that there are ’90s influences and tones within their sound (I hope to hear more of that in their L.P.)- as it is a decade that I miss dearly, and want to hear more of in modern music.  What is best, is that the band is female-dominated (apart from Sam, whom is a dominant force).  The group can re-appropriate and relaunch a female resurgence- distilling the male-dominated scene and adding some much-needed range.  Too many four and five-piece male bands stalk the scene, and (apart from the solo scene) there are few female groups.  Kudos to Brackley, Pietrangelo and the sisters Doveton; whom have covered a lot of ground and made huge impressions in a short time.  If some of the song’s morals speak of past tense and present anxieties, then they should fear not: the future will be rosier and less uncertain.  As much as the band market is bulging and burgeoning, its future prosperity and growth will be dependant on the truly worthy: not those whom are bland and unambitious.  Too often I have encountered sub-par and unflinching bands; those for whom music seems like a diversion rather than a passion.  Those willing to appreciate their position and offer something different and brilliant are the ones whom stand the test of time.  Colour Me Wednesday- as well as gaining ground for the under-represented South of England- show signs of vitality and intention that will see them in the public consciousness for a long, long time.  On the evidence of Push, they offer ambition, range, potency and a relevant voice (for contemporary musicians and the youth of today).  The release of their L.P. (in late July) will be the test and summation of their current surge: and will also gain them a swathe of new fans and followers.  In  a Manchester/Indie-centric scene, it is essential that bands such as Colour Me Wednesday are fostered and promoted- so that diversity and originality can be proffered.  Push is a bold and intent step; so listen hard and absorb its myriad layers.  When the album is unleashed and consumable; I hope reviewers and media outlets help to share I Thought It Was Morning’s potentiality and benefits.  If we want to keep music from stagnating and limping, then acts such as our Uxbridge quartet need more oxygen and support; but I am confident that this is…

 

SOMETHING that should not be a problem for them.

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Official:

http://www.colourmewednesday.com/

Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/colourmewednesday

Twitter:

https://twitter.com/nononoofficial

SoundCloud:

https://soundcloud.com/nononoofficial

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