Feature: Putting The Right Words, In The Right Order.

Putting The Right Words, In The Right Order.

It has been a bit of an odd last 5 years for me (as a songwriter).  I have been pretty much working on this one track- which I will go into detail about later- as well as crafting a debut E.P.  I have stated that my music ambition projectiles are out of sequence.  I have named and written- pretty much- all of the five tracks, that I want to include on the E.P.  I have designed the front and back cover; every little photographic detail to do with that, as well as clever little design ideas for it (that I am keeping secret).  As a wannabe photographer, I have also designed a few portrait pictures and designs, as well as photos that can be included within the booklet.  Every visual detail is pretty much worked out, and I have also formulated the ins and outs of the E.P.  Each track will flow into one another; barring a four second pause after track 4.  It will be a concept E.P., in the sense that it tells of the relationship between two people, and the development, break-ups and joy across the course of the romance.  The difference is, that it will work backwards.  The first song tells of the recrimination and fall-out from the relationship, whereas tracks 2,3 and 4 work backwards towards the very beginning of the relationship.  The final track differs, but I will get to that.  I am planning to use different recording techniques, employing older recording equipment, together with brand new- pushing the limits and paying as much detail to the overall sound as anything.  In all of this I am keen to keep the release mostly physical.  As unreliable and fragile as C.D.s are, I am determined to put it onto disc- as well as a digital release- and have a clever and eye-catching C.D. design too.  I feel that music is subjugating and forgetting about the visual and artistic aspects.  Less attention is paid towards a stunning album cover, and few artists and bands put much effort into creating designs that are different and classic.  As a- again wannabe- music video director, I have one very clear concept in mind, and hope that track 2- an Arcade Fire-cum-Radiohead-esque track- will be the lead-off; tied to a video idea that I have been obsessed by (inspired by Michel Gondry’s video for Lucas With The Lid Off), which will feature an actress moving from scene to scene, with the camera constantly moving.  I know no one wants to hear of it, but I am excited none-the-less.  My point is, that I have all of the ‘finer’ details worked out; have been working on my voice and all of that, but need one thing: the band itself.  I need a band member to help compose the music for the tracks, as that is the one area I need most help on, but essentially want to find four guys (or girls) to help complete the band.  The plan for 2014 was the get away from the drawbacks of home and my current life, and persue what I want to do in life: not what I need to do for money.  I feel I have spent too long just ticking along and not doing what- I feel- I am best/best-suited to do.  I feel that all of my other creative ambitions- music cafe, music website, setting up a record label; directing and comedy writing- will emanate from the completion of the E.P.- it will give me the energy and impetus to keep pushing.  Below is the final track list and how it will all appear.  I know how each song will sound and what the quality level will be; but as I say, just need the band members.  I am painfully aware I need quite a bit of money, not only to record songs, but to practise with and recruit a band, and make all the moves needed to record.  I am looking on websites but not seeing many available musicians, so will keep trying to find people.  I feel that when situated in London, it will be a lot easier, so am painfully desperate to get to London in the spring- I am not sure how but will need to find a way.

Death of the Sweetheart:

‘Marriage: The BeautifulRevenge

Black Majesty Blues-

6:19 

Communicator-

5:23

Minnesota-

6:09

Last To The Trigger, First One To Shoot-

5:02

Vanity Mirror-

8:02

 

Running Time:

30:55

I have been excited by the first four tracks, hugely, yet the aim of this post, was to breathe a deep breath- because of the final track.  For the past five years I have been honing and working on the lyrics for the track Vanity Mirror.  It began life as a different track (Infamy As Child), was re-written and re-written again.  It has been a song I have been obsessed with and determined to complete, yet have never been satisfied with the lyrics when on paper.  Thanks to a good friend, Kate Hollowood, she has given the thumbs up, and been very kind, about the lyrics I have given to her to read.  Obviously I write a lot as a blogger/reviewer and sing obsessively (with my weird and all-over-the-place voice), and feel that the hardest aspect to nail is lyrics.  Not many bands or artists are notable because of their lyrics (there is still too much focus on the voice), and I have always been inspired by the older and newer greats, like Dylan, Cohen, Young, Morrissey and (Alex) Turner.  The first time I have been truly satisfied with the final product, is now.  The song is just over eight minutes long, and there has no be enough room for the music itself.  I feel that the words below are some of my best, and have a bit of an emotional range to them, too.  The actual song itself will feature huge orchestration, guitar parables inspired by Sweet Child O’ Mine, a huge vocal choir and chorus, as well as incredible still romanticism and an attempt at a classic intro.  The music itself is a huge facet, so I just hope I have not employed too many words- I think it’ll all fit.  The full details for the song are available in previous blog posts, but just wanted to put on paper the words: as it has been a long time coming:

Vanity Mirror (8:02).

My final words were the very same as my first

Silver nights in satin’s regard, oh how I long for you

Wilderness, broken water and silk are on your side

And I can’t bear to get over you

The kiss upon your hair lying naked on the floor

Love is not for heroes but for those who win the war

Awake in the arms of the man of my dreams

Because tonight we have too much in common

I’m saying goodbye to a God that never believed in me

Because beauty shows no mercy for beauty

 

You asked me which came first: the chicken or the egg?

Yet I’ve been running scared long before I was ever bred

Hold me like your brothers-in-arms so that we relate

Lost in your eyes because I can’t go on this way

To sink the cedar witnesses and trip the tongue of fate

You want the kind of love your mother used to love

A common muse for the chosen few

 

When you’re a man who looks like me

It’s not such a gift to see… what you do to me

Well you like chasing ghosts

Because they won’t come back to haunt you

And knowing that you’re never alone

Is the loneliest thing of all

 

The third-rate joke; second-hand smoke; first-class bitch

I’ve blown them all to scratch an itch

Better to fail at acting the punch-line, to succeed at acting the joke

Alone in a room with life, death and you

And each of them are only thinking of themselves

I bit your lip, cut your thigh to see doves fly the flood of your rags

Felt conquered flat by black language and frozen tall by the rip in your flag

 

Love songs only say it best if the best is good enough

Not all the cards that I hold to my chest will call the Devil’s bluff

 

The mirror isn’t a prophecy, merely a reflection of ourselves

The cat swallows the poison, the dog runs to the bell.

I’m the murderer in the romantic comedy

The mime artist in the film of the great war

The extra in the lavish musical

The hangman in the epic story of the lord

You can laugh at my condition

If you think it makes you tall

Although my scream is never heard

My silence says it all

It’s all really just a front/To leave the past behind.

Titancially-built/For survivor’s guilt

Arrogance through illness/And reality is the only cure

I was sent a Christmas card from the city morgue

Talking of new year’s plans and enquiring about my health

My love will you give me your hand

From inside of that young man?

Va te faire foutre, tomber raide mort…

Faire un essai!

There’s enough regret in barber shops and your Sicilian Defence is no alibi

I was born out of misconception whilst my father danced to TV static

Sleeping Beauty plays poker with Satan in the big charity game

She offers maternal damnation and he bluffs to her eternal fame

 

Infamy’s Child has found

When the fearless shall be crowned

Alone

 

Born into the same old world/So why do it to them? (*10)

If you’re not alive today/Then you are missing out. (*10)

 

My mother tongue came undone to sing a farewell midnight kiss

In the distance between the Jasmine Chorus and the edge of the abyss

As the Angel of Battersea she’d heard every line in the book

But the cover to the rules of love is never judged upon its looks

With your fingers teasing shivers I didn’t have a choice

I was born with the burden of a platinum voice

But it doesn’t take a cardiologist to know abandoned ships will rust

The sun and moon switched place

The night I saw your face

We’ll pray together to think for ourselves

Love and faith are double-blind, their truths diving rods

When bad point to vengeful man, when good a loving God

Eulogised the truth that lies in disguise and rhyme

I’m learning to be older in the balance of all time

 

Intention out of pure context should be word enough

Not all the cards I hold to my chest can call the Devil’s bluff

 

We both know the love that we make

Will never be equal to the love that we take

If I put into words my innermost emotions

It couldn’t fill the void between the heavens and the ocean

When you coloured the lights of London because they reminded you of home

The earth beneath my feet trembled more than you could have ever known

Clouds hold only memories from all who’ve ever been

The woman of my dreams wakes in her sleep

 

I often think of life, and exactly what it means

It’s the difference between all I’ve felt and all I’ve ever been

I know we’re brave my darling so let us take the leap

Your soul inside of me I’ll forever keep…

There are going to be a lot of horrors, stresses, setbacks and disappointments this year, but I realistically hope that making the E.P. is going to be the biggest step.  It may be the case that the first song is recorded, but as I intend that to by Vanity Mirror, that will be a big achievement; hell just getting a band formed will be a big leap.  The factor of money is the biggest barrier, and raising enough to record, rehearse and release music will be something I am going to have to figure out.  If I can find a way to get to London, and make a start, that will be good.  I may have to have two or three different jobs, but will try to figure something out.  If my year progresses or ends any other way, I shall be very disappointed and feel a failure- so the impetus to succeed in spite of everything, is there.  I have five goals this year, and one of them is to put some music on to tape, so having lyrics in front of me and knowing what I want to record is a big step.  It may not seem overly-impressive or hugely ambitious on paper, but have worked out enough in my head (compositions, mood shifts etc) to know that the end result will be worth the struggle.  Another ‘real life’ week begins again tomorrow, but am dreaming of spring, making plans and making moves.  There are people I haven’t met and I want to; goals I want to get ticked off; become more independent, and start putting my money where my mouth is.

I know that bad weather and horrible conditions squelch any ambitions or sunnier thoughts.  Hopefully by March or April things will be better, so seems like the time to start getting active and motivated.  I know a lot of musicians and hope that they are making plans; lots of others who have goals and things they want to do this year; so hopefully they can all achieve everything they want to do.  I just have this one request of all: If you hear of four wonderfully talented musicians:

Can you point them my way?

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Track Review: David Ward- slowly through the night.

TRACK REVIEW:

David Ward

slowly through the night

9.7/10.0

slowly through the night is available from:

http://davidwardmusic.bandcamp.com/track/slowly-through-the-night

The album, Golden Future Time is released on January 28th (by Golden Future); and available to pre-order from:

https://davidwardmusic.bandcamp.com/album/golden-future-time

_____________________________________________________________________

Invested with a Radiohead-cum-Stevie Wonder admixture, this track sees the Vancouverian (sic.) at an effulgent high.  With an Amber Moon kick and a Zurracapote (seductive) kiss; Ward is strolling a halcyon road.  It is still only January; yet we may be witness to one of the best acts 2014 will offer.

_______________________________________________________________

IT has been a sort of interesting first few weeks to this year, for a number of reasons…

When I have looked into the pages of music journalism, many have predicted the ‘Albums of 2014’.  I know many bands and artists will not lay out their intentions for a while, yet the predictions laid out are not filing me with huge intrigue.  Aside from some much-needed releases from the likes of Jack White and (possibly) Radiohead, there is not a lot to get your teeth into.  I have been searching around and trying to see what one can look forward to this year, and have not come up with too much.  I feel the issue is that a lot of the best releases were unleashed last year- the likes of Queens of the Stone Age and Daft Punk unveiled their L.P.s.  The best and brightest from last year will probably not be putting out new music for another year or so, so it is left to a new wave of musicians to fill the gaps.  I have stated in previous blogs about the relative merits of new music, and the potential growth factor of this genre.  Last year I was excited by a small number of new artists and their music, whilst being left a little cold or indifferent to many more.  Over the past few weeks I have heard enough to suggest that sapling talent could make a genuine challenge to the established cognoscenti.  The band market has probably put up the most fierce and immidiate sounds, yet the solo realm is providing much fascination and excitement.  I have reviewed some great solo female talent, as well as some diverse and original male talent, and today another sterling male comes to my focus.  Before I get to the business of summing up and dissecting my featured artist, I will go into a bit more depth about the male solo sector.  In so much as music journalists are keen to compare every new talent with an existing example, it is important to find the uniqueness and personality in each new act.  Although artists such as Adele, Amy Winehouse, Jeff Buckley and Michael Jackson are for instance, they have already existed and amazed.  These artists are better than any other potential soundalike could ever be, and are idols for a reason.  I am not disappointed when I hear too much of another artists in someone’s voice, I just feel that if one is going to present themselves as such, they need to have a lot more in their arsenal.  Part of my reticence and abhorrent rage has stemmed from the fact that there is still too much straight replication music.  I have heard so many acts that are pretty much mimicking an existing act, and wonder why the hell they even bother?  Anyone can- with a few exceptions- copy and get the voice of someone else (there is no singer that is impossible to replicate).  The plain truth is that the original artist is always is the best, and if you are no more than a second-rate copycat, then your music career is going to be short and pointless.  I shall not name names, but there are a huge amount of artists out there that are guilty of this sin of omission.  Apologies for being a dog with a bone, but it is a particular issue with me, as new artists are supposed to inspire and influence as much as anything.  If you look about the ocean of new music and hunt for potential parental figures, you are not going to want to latch onto someone whom is a pale replication.  I have examined the female solo sector before, and will go into more depth about something directly relevant to me: the male solo genre.  When I think of my top 5 male singers I think of Michael Jackson, Freddie Mercury, Jeff Buckley, Thom Yorke and Chris Cornell- diverse voices but each filled with power, range and beauty.  I am always a little excited when a new male act employs a tiny semblance of one of these singers, yet annoyed when there is far too much influence.  Jackson has that unassailable and unbeatable vocal sound: a childlike sweetness combined with an incredible power and range.  Jeff Buckley is the man-angel and ethereal beauty.  His phenomenal voice was crammed with beauty, trembling emotion and tenderness.  Yorke, similarly possessed these facets, yet also employed (and still does) a snarling swipe; potent force as well as something quite unique.  Chris Cornell is a roaring lion of a singer; one of the grunge gods whom is my casual link when thinking of my love of heavy metal.  I can trace his voice from the metal icons and hear it is some modern-day rock singers, too.  Mercury, to me, has a voice that is not as impossible (to replicate) as Jackson, yet is the king.  His voice is everything that a singer’s vocal chords should possess.  His huge power is an axiomatic point, yet something that you cannot ignore.  The way with which Mercury could shift gears and emotions (within the space of a line) has not been equalled by anyone.  I feel that it is because of his sheer majesty that no one has attempted to, or will be able to equal, his staggering peaks.  Everyone else has their own favourite singers, yet mine are probably never going to be changed or altered.  As much as I love these legends, I am always on the hunt for a new example that can make a claim for my soul.  The way this is done will not be some derivation amongst my established favourites; or a codified amalgamation of strands of their vocals; nor a mutual indemnification the way it will happen is with something truly special and rare.  I feel that this calendar year will see too many that are too close to an existing artist- foolish people them- yet there will be enough that have their own unique charm.  In so much as the greatest songs and albums have not been matched over the last couple of decades, the greatest voices have also been undisturbed.  Too many artists neglect important factors when assembling their music, identity and releases.  The vocal projection is just a small percentage of the overall package.  There is so much neglect when it comes to compositional integrity: making sure that the music is as compelling and fascinating as possible.  The lyrics, too, need to contain enough personal interspersing as well as some detached observation.  Even visual aspects such as album cover designs can go a long way to making an artist.  If you spend enough time considering all of the pieces of the puzzle and dedicate enough focus to getting them right, then a truly worthy artist is unveiled.  Pretty much any new artist or band has the potential to do anything.  The voice can be stretched to indefatigable and unprecedented lengths; from a cooing soprano to a guttural and whiskey-soaked growl- be you male or female.  It can foresee and foretell a myriad of differing emotions, from infantile regress, stark and naked emotion, through to vitriolic anger.  Lyrics can be fantastical, autobiographical; filled with wit, nuance, love and thought-provoking psuedo-philosophy.  Album and song titles can be compelling or endlessly curious.  When fabricating your colour chart and mixing your spirits, multifarious and vivid results are possible.  It is only when being truly ambitious and different that real change takes place- if you are content to be flat and listless, then music’s charm will capitulate and implode.  This may all seem like a diversion from the beaten track, yet it leads me to the highways, back roads and landscapes of Canada.

When I have investigated and examined new music, I have not had the fortune of witnessing too many international talents.  Over last year I heard some Swedish electro-pop; U.S. rock and sunshine bliss, as well as some Australian hard rock.  Most of my time and attentions were firmly in the U.K., and as respectful and admiring towards homegrown talent as I am, I felt that it would have been nice to herald some foreign flair.  North America is always producing a lot of great talent, yet it seems to be buried amidst the quagmire of manure that is the mainstream pop charts.  For every turgid waste of life such as Robin Thicke, Justin Bieber and Miley Cyrus, there are examples such as (L.A.’s) The Open Feel, whom are being undervalued and having to fight hard for attention.  Canada is not a country whose musical output is overly-familiar to me.  Aside from legends such as Neil Young, there have not been too many new musical examples whom have been apparent to me.  I know for a fact that there is a huge wave of new musicians working in Canada, and there are some fantastic bands and solo artists waiting to burst through.  I am lucky enough to be reviewing a Canadian wonder today.  Before I get down to some background regarding David Ward, I shall say this first: I hate this guy.  Since listening to his track slowly through the night, I have not been able to shift the bloody song from my head.  I shall be reviewing it anon, yet the fact that one song has become so imbedded in the obsession portion of my brain, says a lot.  At this moment I am listening to Chris Isaak’s Wicked Game.  In so much as it has been sadly over-covered by female artists as of late, I am going to bring the 57-year-old American into proceedings.  Isaak is probably a perfect example with regards to my previous thesis, and someone I can use to help with regards to my David Ward hypothesis. Wicked Game is a perfect example of an artist whom takes a little of others, yet has the abiding air of a truly unique talent.  He claims that “Strange what desire/Makes foolish people do“, yet it is words like this that stick in your mind.  It is a song dripping in sweat and lascivious undertone.  The song is lyrically economical, employing the right amount of potent words.  Your mind is filled with images and scenes, and Isaak perfectly transports you somewhere mellifluous and romantic.  The instrumentation and composition are tender and compelling, and perfectly scores his voice.  The voice, itself, is a thing of wonder.  It is man’s voice, yet one that can make a man tremble; it is a low-toned and seductive weapon that I have not heard equalled.  The thing is this though: you can hear some Elvis Presley and Roy Orbison in there.  It is true that Isaak’s influences are apparent, yet he manages to out-romance Orbison and sing sweeter than Presley could ever do.  His themes (especially in Wicked Game and Blue Hotel) are very much his own.  Orbison and Presley had different views of the aspects of love and heartbreak, and their projection and aesthete were as diverse as you can imagine.  Isaak intersects the two, yet is in a field ager that is his alone.  He is as relatable as he is original: the overall sensation one is left with it hard to describe.  Ward is someone whom has some comparable merits and strands.  I shall get more into his influences when reviewing his track, yet two names spring to mind: Michael Jackson and Stevie Wonder.  There is a smidge of Buckley and Prince too, yet it is the aforementioned that are clearest.  In spite of this, Ward is tactile and intelligent enough to strike on his own terms- with only a little hint of Jackson and Wonder.  His compositions are diverse and fascinating.  There is soul, blues, ’90s groove, ’90s rock, as well as modern-day electronic influence as well.  Each track has a fascinating sonic backbone that augments and emphasises Ward’s words and voice.   As a lyricist, Ward mixes original spins on love, literary reference and intelligence throughout.  His new album, Golden Future Times, has been receiving a lot of buzz and excitement.  It is an L.P. that has two distinct halves to it.  Its first side, Lost, has been described as progressive and experimental, as well as rock-infused; employing some influence of late-’90s/early-’00s Radiohead-cum-Pink Floyd.  The second half of the album, entitled Golden Future Time, is a different beast.  Its veins and heart is soul-infused and steeped in historical and latter-day wonder.  There is a shade of Stevie Wonder, hints of Michael Jackson, as well as flavours of the soul and blues greats of the ’60s and ’70s.  Whereas most new artists put out an album that has a true ‘voice’ and is consistent throughout, Ward is brave and bold enough to present a record that is multi-layered and diffident.  The nature of the songs is compelling and brilliant.  Tracks focus on personal tragedy as well as all-encompassing love.  Be Here is steeped in soul lustre and transcendent; the kind of track that Wonder stamped out in 1973/4.  Bird in the Hand, meanwhile, is Wonder-ful; whereas mid-career Pink Floyd can be heard in other numbers.  The album (Golden Future Times) will draw in people like me, in awe of albums such as Dark Side of the Moon, Thriller, Bad, Grace and Kid A.  There is a hypnotic blend of ’70s-current day U.K. rock greats, commingling with ’80s and ’90s U.S. greats.  Few artists come out of the blocks with such ambition, range and quality.  I shall go into more depth about the album later, but I want to finish by speaking about Ward himself.  Ward is the central centrifugal force of the songs, yet is backed by some wonderful musicians.  We have Andrew Peebles (drums), Mark Wilson (keyboards); Joseph Lubinsky-Mast (bass) and Dan Klenner (percussion).  Together, the boys rustle up a Technicolor blitzkrieg of sound.  When I was looking for some information on our hero, I found this from his official website: “Taking his cues from the past and with a vision towards the future, David Ward has created a portal to the spiritual, the dirty, the beautiful and the raw on his second solo album, Golden Future Time.  Fresh off an acclaimed performance at the 2013 Vancouver International Jazz Festival, Ward’s star is in the ascendant. Following up on 2012’s celebrated EP trilogy, The Arrival, he has readied a textured brew of the cosmic and earthy; a sonic exploration of the muse combining electronica, R&B, funk, art-rock, disco and cabaret.  Cinematic in scope both musically and lyrically, Golden Future Time is a two-part saga created for the artistic opportunity of vinyl. Each side takes the listener through different worlds and genres without compromising quality or cohesion. Side A (Lost) was produced, engineered & mixed by Tom Dobrzanski (of The Zolas); Side B (Golden Future Time) was co-produced by David Ward and Andrew Peebles, and mixed by Anthony Dolhai (DiRTY RADiO). The album is set for release in Canada on January 28th, 2014“.  It shows that the young man has a clear vision and a bold ambition, for sure.  In terms of personal information, the pages of social media keep their cards to their chest.  Our Canadian is in his 20s, and is a fine-looking fella indeed.  He has a great range of influences, and has been wowing audiences throughout Canada for a while now.  Aside from that, there is not too much to be found.  Ward, it seems, wants only the music to be investigated and examined; little concerned with distilling its essence with personal heartache and inanity.  At the moment, our young hero has relatively few followers across Twitter and Facebook.  I am confident that the ensuring months will see Ward gain a huge following, and gain thousands more supporters.  At the moment, Ward’s social media seems to be run by his management- providing little chance for fans to know more about the man directly.  It is perhaps a minor criticism, but hopefully one that will be addressed shortly.  For now, Ward is working hard on his music, and keen to let it be heard as far and wide as possible.  Most of Ward’s fans emanate from the U.S. and Canada, but it seems that the U.K., Europe, Australia and beyond will all be jumping on the good ship Golden Future Time.  The tracks that are contained within are universally inspiring and are songs that will speak to everyone.  It is the passion and quality of Ward’s voice as well as the quality of the tracks themselves, that remain long in the memory.  I have taken it upon myself to review a perfect distillation of Ward’s abilities.

It is not often that the intro. to a track gets you standing to attention.  Most songs take a little longer to bed in, or reveal their charms later on; yet slowly through the night is a track that strikes hard right from the off.  The initial seconds of the song tempt you softly in.  Beginning with a few seconds of near-silence, Ward builds in a little soft electronic swirl and whispered audio.  It is Peebles’ percussive beat that hits next.  It is almost like measured gunfire, in the way that he rifles the drum slams, almost with Morse Code precision and temporized consideration.  It is a calling card that sets up the next stage of the intro., which is a gorgeous and swooning keys segment.  The sound is pure soul, as one is put in mind of Stevie Wonder’s Superstition.  Ward’s take is a low register and slower jam, yet the quality and resonance is comparable and tangible.  When combined by the solid and forceful percussive beat, the two combine to summon up a sexy, slinky and funky coda.  As much as you might think of Wonder or soul greats, there is also a sense of Radiohead’s Amnesiac.  I heard a little bit of I Might Be Wrong within the intro. too, which excited me.  There are no clear-cut or obvious references within the intro., and you’d have to be a severe anal-retentive to pick up on anything obvious.  Ward and his men create something that is less an amalgamation and codification of past masters, but a fitting and splendid opening, which builds curiosity and gets the listener on  a natural high- from the embryonic moments.  Your mind and attention is enraptured within the musical opening, unaware of how effective and potent the ensuing vocal is going to be.  When it- the vocal- arrives at 0:30, there is instant wonder.  Ward’s soft and gorgeous falsetto implores, explores and seduces, as he confesses: “Please don’t take me now“.  The line is delivered with a one second pause between each word, so that the line is delivered with effective regard.  When repeated, Ward elongates the ‘now’; his voice down to a silky and delicate whisper.  That word comes into play for a third time, on this occasion  not lengthened, just punctuated.  The way Ward delineates and delivers his words, is impressive indeed.  From just one line alone, a huge sense of consideration and momentum has been projected.  After a short audio interlude, Ward is back on the mic. and shape-shifted and evolved.  Whereas before the vocal was falsetto-infused and slow-paced, now he switched to a distorted and tenor-range shift; the pace is staccato and tumbling; his words are syncopated and- almost- rapped.  There is much intrigue to be found in his words: “hide us under the floor so they’ll never know, but we’re all enemies here ’cause the fear is sown, can’t trust our own“.  It is uncertain what our hero is referring to, yet is seems that there is personal relevance and inspiration to be heard.  Before the next sermon, a light and scene-setting sonic line is revealed.  That delicate and evocative guitar mixes splendidly with a steady and restrained percussive measure.  Ward has retreated from the spotlight, yet comes running back in, bringing more news and truth: “catch me by surprise then it’s always the same, dress it up in disguise, I’ll remember the names… and keep wearing the shame“.  There is a certain detachment and obliqueness to the lyrics, yet it seems that our hero is keeping his direct emotions in check.  Some people have clearly hurt and affected Ward, yet the way that it is characterised and personified is clever and effective.  Just as we think there is going to be a third incarnation of this lyrical theme, the ‘chorus’ returns.  The beautiful and floating vocal returns, and the mood shifts once more.  When the next chorus comes into view, the imagery one rustles up is quite vivid: “keep the keys to the kingdom, jangle them high, we’ll keep thinking in circles, the gramophone mind…keeps buzzing in time“.  I imagined a tempestuous and fraught sweetheart teasing and frustrating Ward; keeping happiness at bay for some reason and contended to continue down a frustrating path.  Everyone will come to their own conclusions (and summon their own images); such is the ambiguity and openness of the lines.  Again Ward spits and smashes his words, ensuring that they hit their marker, and stick inside your brain.  An elliptical refrain is roundly roused, given enough time for the lyrical tumble to sink in, before we are back inside Ward’s psyche: “I’m pushing ahead, I’ll take the blame, just leave me enough in this ugly refrain…so I can go home again“.  Ward has divorced some anger from his mandate, yet there is clearly regret and frustration under the surface.  He is keeping going, but taking blame undeservidly; just looking to keep going and get away from things.  Whether the lyrics refer directly to a failed or existing relationship, or have their origins somewhere less personal I am unsure.  So many artists are too direct and unsophisticated with regards to their lyrics- leaving nothing to the imagination.  Ward leaves room for mobility, so that everyone that listens will draw their own conclusions and visual projections.  The final 80 seconds of the song are reserved for sonic exploration.  Ward has said all he wants to reveal, and allows himself and his compatriots time to enforce some musical lustre.  Twinkling and rippling electric guitar cohabit with steady and peppered percussive beats; the guitar sound mutates into something darker and more disgruntled- imagining we are coming into land.  Just then, the mood and energy is picked back up.  A jittering and weaving electric guitar line is then presented.  On my first listen I was reminded of the song Kanga-Roo, when performed by Jeff Buckley.  If you listen to its outro. when he played it live, there is a similar energy and sound one can detect.  If you watch Live In Chicago, Buckley would be plucking at his guitar, skipping and dancing around the stage, interjecting “Wa…hoo“s into the mix, with gleeful abandon.  I imagined Ward was probably a bit more reserved in the studio, yet that palpable sense of kick and joy are present.  Around the 2:50 point, a percussive teeing-up and strike adds extra weight and gravitas to the sound, and once again introduces a new time shift and mood.  The sound gets heavier and snowballs; whipping up its own gravity.  Songs like I Want You (She’s So Heavy) earned their stripes with phenomenal outros. that repeated a line or sound, and made sure that sound kept building and rising.  Ward does not cut the song dead like The Beatles did, yet gracefully takes it down.  With a little cosmic infusion (a wee touch of Subterranean Homesick Alien by Radiohead?), the track is complete.  I began the review pretty much accusing Ward of infesting my brain, due to the memorability and catchiness of the song.  It is the darndest thing.  The 3:38 track manages to shift mood, sound and pace so much that your mind is constantly engaged, surprised and stretched.  We begin with some blues and funk, segway into some harder edges rock/rap, before ending with some punk-laced guitar-and-drum.  Interspersed is some golden-voiced implore from our hero, meaning that a hell of a lot of ground is covered.  In the way that Ward restlessly moves and weaves is incredible, and the sonic accompaniment is no inferior species- it is as striking and brilliant as the vocals.  As a lyricist, Ward does not use too many words, and actually dedicates more time to letting the composition itself to impress.  His ‘band members’ are elementary, backing up our hero, and incorporating momentum, emotion and wonder into the melting pot- without overwhelming the sound or coming off as too imposing.  I fear I may need electroconvulsive therapy or a bare-breasted distraction to ever shift the song from my head; although I fear it may not be that easy.  With just one song, I have been compelled to seek out Ward’s back catalogue and wait with bated breath for his L.P.’s release.  Golden Future Time is a oddessey of self-reflection and investigation, and offers so much to the honest listener.  slowly through the night is not a synonymous of signature sound, instead just one (of many) different sensations and sounds.  There are other upbeat and catchy songs on the album, yet there are plenty of romantic and introspective tracks; some complex and strange moments; plenty of joy mixing with reflection.  slowly through the night has some light touches of singers such as Jackson, Buckley and Yorke; as well as some musical evocations of Radiohead and Stevie Wonder, yet none of these artists ever penned a song like this: it is Ward’s work and his alone.

Okay, then.  Having absorbed the near-masterpiece from David Ward, I am strangely in two minds.  The mark of a great and worthy artist is one whom inspires others.  Having listened to Ward’s music, I have been compelled to write and devise my own songs.  Haven’t already penned an E.P.’s worth of material, I find myself filled with fresh ideas- inspired by slowly through the night.  I have often found- not being able to read or write music- it hard to write direct and original compositions, yet have sketched and drafted some rather interesting ideas.  To be honest, I am a little angry that I have not heard of Ward before.  Social media and the music press tends to be several steps behind logic, when it comes to proffering the worth of truly great musicians.  Most of the music acts I reviewed in 2013, I encountered second (or third)-hand, and had been making music for months.  In Ward’s case, he has been on the scene for a little while, yet his name and reputation seems to be insulated and contained within his native land.  The U.K., Europe and Australia are areas that have as much influence and fans-in-waiting as anywhere else in the world, and it is essential that action is taken.  I myself have little influence or power, so it is down to the larger publications and sites to do their bit, and work harder at promoting international acts.  Too much focus and consideration is given to ‘mainstream’ acts; a lot of which is pure tripe.  It seems that too many acts are being cast asunder and passed over, for no reason or logic.  Anyway, I shall leave that ‘rant’ for another day, and summarise, thus: Ward is a serious name to watch this year.  Ward has completed two tours of the U.K., yet I have only just been made aware of him.   I hope a third tour is in his mind, as I am desperate to see him live.  Reviews have been glowing, it seems.  Clash have said the following: “It’s all about the voice…David Ward is blessed with a high, trailing singing voice, the sort of thing which could recite the phonebook and have an audience in tears”.  When it comes to slowly through the night, Q explained: “Hailing from Vancouver, David Ward not only possesses a stunning voice like Jeff Buckley’s, but his compositions, like on Slowly Through The Night, are, similarly, as expansive and operatic as the much-missed singer-songwriter’s. His new single marks the emergence of a very special artist indeed”.  The quoted snippets contain no hyperbole or false assurance, as Ward has an incredible voice.  There should not be too much focus on his vocal ability, as that would suggest that the music, lyrics and overall sound are second-best.  This is not the case, as Ward’s album is awash with wonderful sounds, memorable songs- which begs for repeated listens.  Although it seems that Ward’s social media sites are management-driven, it is best left to the listener to come to conclusions.  Take in mind the reviews that have been written, yet go into his music with a clear mind- and open arms.  Ward is in the process of recording songs for a new E.P., and it seems that his creative energy is untamed and bustling.  I cannot wait to hear what is forthcoming, as on the strength of his current L.P., it will be a cracker.  The Fly summarised Ward, thus: “On paper, David Ward’s sprawlingly ambitious mix of Jeff Buckley-esque, quasi-operatic angst with ’70s soul sounds like a disaster waiting to happen. But ‘Golden Future Time, the Canadian songwriter’s shortly-to-be-released second solo album, has the chops to pull it off — though the latest track to be culled from the record, ‘Lost’, actually puts us more in mind of Pink Floyd. Either way, it’s a slow-burning treat…”.  In my opinion, one should not instantly compare Ward to anyone else, or have any preconceived notions of his sound and sensation.  If you do, then there is the danger that your opinions will be preconceived and predetermined; if you let the music enforce your opinions, then the overall listening experience is enhanced.  Our young hero has a talent for penning songs that lodge in your memory, whether it is due to the catchiness or sheer emotional force, you cannot help but be impressed.  The male solo realm is one that is frequented by a multitude of players and participants, and there is often little to recommend or get excited about.  There are too many vague and lifeless solo artists whom are as contended to be as generic and bland as possible.  The cliché of the twentysomething lone artist, acoustic guitar in hand, crooning about love departed, is something that is overworn and tiresome.  There is room in the market for male (and female) solo artists, yet if you are coming to play, then at least be spectacular- or vastly different.  I have always shrugged and felt a part of me die, when faced with a great number of solo artists.  Luckily, examples such as David Ward are given me something to get excited about.  Ward is not a songwriter contended to be like everyone else, and provide the minimum of fascination and quality.  His music is synonymous with potential, range, excitement and passion and he is an artist that has a bright and long future ahead.  If you are not a fan of the type of artists Ward is inspired by, it is well worth listening to his music.  Ward is not the sum total of his idols, and not the square root of critical feedback and expectation.  Here is a young man who has his own unique blend, his own sound, and the results are impressive and spectacular.  Our hero may be walking slowly through the night; yet when it comes to this year, Ward will be enjoying…

GOLDEN future time.

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Follow David Ward

Official:

http://www.davidwardmusic.com/

Twitter:

https://twitter.com/davidwardmusic

Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/davidwardmusic

BandCamp:

https://davidwardmusic.bandcamp.com/album/golden-future-time

SoundCloud:

https://soundcloud.com/david-ward

YouTube:

http://www.youtube.com/davidwardmusic

Something To Reflect Upon

I am back to music blogging come Saturday, yet have given my mind something else to focus on.  Off of the back of some rather unexpected and unpleasant family news, I have decided to do something to focus on.  Having seen a few members of my family survive or die due to cancer, it has struck my how unfair and cruel life can truly be.  The best and most generous people always seem to suffer most, and it is something I will never get used to.

On 12th April, I will do something I have not done for a while.  In my childhood years, I was a keen runner and dedicated all-round athlete.  As well as being a cross-country runner, I was an eager athlete, footballer and swimmer- and kept as active as possible.  Life and work then got in the way, and the past couple of decades has seen me focus more on education and development as opposed to returning to my first love.  I am preparing for a 14.5-odd mile run in just over 10 weeks.  I plan to start in the town I was born (Guildford); cover the various roads, streets and miles from there; and end up…back at home.  It is a route that will take in some familiar sites, and if all goes according to plan, I can complete the run in just over 4 hours.  I have not done any real strenuous or dedicated excercise for many years, and it will be a big undertaking.  At first it will involve aclimatising my body to running again, and will take it in steps.  I have been talking with some wonderful people, and getting advice on what needs to be done; how to best prepare- and how to build myself up.  It is a few months away, yet feel that I will need the time to fully ready myself.

I am doing it, not only to raise money for a wonderful cause; as well as pay homage to many I have known whom have been afflicted by cancer- but there is something else.  Personal frustrations and anger has compelled me to distract my mind.  The vicissitudes of life have left me incredible exhausted and filled with daily headaches and pains.  It has taken too long to type this far, given that my arms are barely able to lift themselves.  I have been disappointed by my life in general and am incredibly angry at myself for so many reasons.  In addition I have felt myself giving too much to people, and not receiving; being taken advantage of by some- and has really gotten to me.  Finally, this god-damn pile of miserable crap excuse for winter we are experience, is the icing on the cake.  Each prophecy of torrential rain (which seems to be every day), takes so much out of me.  The sleepless nights, stress and misery has stripped every ounce of strength from me.  We got through it again Friday; then Sunday, and possibly every other day for two more months.  It is a horrid and sick joke of a season that makes me want to leave the country forever.  I feel the need to bury my head and ignore people and intimate hostility, and aim for something more worthy.  In so much as I can rely upon dissatisfaction concerning reciprocal relationships, I am confident that participating in a half-marathon for a great cause is something that will fulfil me.

I have been remiss when it comes to pushing myself, and I have been a little negligent of secondary family members, long overdue my attentions.  I hope to counteract this imbalance this year, and prepare myself for April.  None of you know my uncle currently in the final stages of an arduous and tumultuous cancer battle; nor the aunty that was claimed by the disease, yet we all know someone whom has been affected by cancer- either directly or indirectly.  I know that one run will not cure cancer, nor change my life, yet it is something that gives me something to aim for.  If it can distract my sore head and exhausted muscles, and give them something to work for, then that can’t be bad; if it can take my mind away from the absurd weather are experiencing, then so much the better.  Above all, I hope to raise some money for a great cause which tackles a disease which is bigger than all of us- and all of our problems.  There will be an altered diet; some aching limbs and a lot of sweat, but hey: seems like a small sacrifice.

I hope to raise over £500 over the next few months, and hope that some can pitch in.  It will mean a great deal to me, and hopefully will mean a lot to a lot of very worthy people, too.

I shall blog every few weeks just to update; but for now…

Wish me luck x

Track Review: Saturday Sun- Singing Logos

TRACK REVIEW:

 

 

 

Saturday Sun

Singing Logos

9.5/10.0

Singing Logos is available from:

https://soundcloud.com/saturdaysun/orix-singing-logos?in=saturdaysun/sets/orix-1

The album Orixé is available from:

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/orixe/id784477561?affId=1930871

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The ironically-named group may be seasonably optimistic; yet the Dorset-based treasures are fearless indeed.  After a triumphant and sparkling E.P., comes a track (and album) one cannot help but crave.

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A mere two-and-a-bit weeks into the fresh calendar year, and something wonderful…

is emerging from music’s chrysalis.  Before I once again dissect the new music/band market, I have been trying to shift anxieties from my mind.  The past few days has presented turbulence, emotional olive branches; as well clearly presenting the proximate causes of each.  A sense of emptiness and personal loneliness has been reeking havoc with my sleep patterns and emotions, and my mind cannot help but wonder and speculate about one particular woman.  Musical ambitions and a renewed desire to ‘follow my dreams’ has caused me to reassess, reappropriate and renew some subjugate feelings.  I have found myself becoming simultaneously aloof and hardened; as well as vulnerable, focused and trepidation-filled.  Amongst my aims for this year, was to find someone to fall in love with; to have someone whom can make me fill secure- as well as provide a safe and happy long-term future.  In my ambassadorial role as ‘ambitious music-maker’, I have mandated that this year will see my words and voice put on record- which is long overdue.  I have consecrated and moulded the plans and codification of a five-track E.P.; a music-themed (and massive) bar/café (ideally to be situated in central London), as well as a multi-layered and interactive music website.  I have given a lot to a lot of people over the past few months, and find that the rate of reciprocity is dismally low.  When thinking of others and fixating on trying to remedy other people’s troubles, I have negated and alienated my own needs- which has caused my heavy heart to put on weight.  Everybody makes resolutions to improve their lives (on the dawn of a new year), yet few stick with it.  My ideals and ambitions are not based around a pointless new year ritual, yet form the basis of an essential desire for change.  The past year has been synonymous with wasted chances and personal frustration.  I have grown tired of shadow-dwelling and pining, and feel it mandatory that action is taken.  With regards to romance and the fulfilment of desires, I am bidding time and stepping smartly; yet when it comes to slaking my musical lusts, I have decided to be more direct and bold.  I am woefully under-financed, yet feel that I need to make music, regardless.  Plans are being made to recruit a band, and I am drawing together sketches and blueprints for the music café.  The reason that music-making is on the precipices of my soul is due to the quality of new music.  As recently as a few weeks ago I was bemoaning the lack of brilliant new music; yet just now my cynicism is starting to dissipate.  I am finding that there is still too much high-density stupidity amongst many bands and acts.  Far too many musicians are ripping off established acts, and lacking any direction; too few seem to be lacking the necessary ambition to inflame the senses.  It is merit-worthy, mind, that there are a brave band of siblings that seem to want to change the established order.  The likes of Los & The Deadlines are purveying hard-hitting and addictive rock sounds; soloists such as Chess and Harts are reinvigorating the tired embers of over worn predictability, and several others are pushing through.  I am not sure that there will be an instantaneous overhaul of new music, yet it appears that more genuinely worthy acts are presenting their sounds.  Part of my reticence is reserved towards the shores of originality.  I have become so pissed off with bands and solo artists whom take it upon themselves to mimic someone else.  If you are going to walk into the music arena, at least have some unique weaponry in your arsenal.

Over the past few decades there have been some stunning innovations and movements in music.  From the ’60s psychedelic pop movements, through to ’70s disco, music has evolved and delighted.  The ’90s was especially prosperous, as it saw the birth of Britpop; fascinating and memorable dance music, as well as a uniformly impressive music palette.  When considering historical elements, there is a veritable smorgasbord of colours of flavours the new musician could incorporate.  If you consider music- as well as the human voice- as a colour chart, then you can visualise what is truly possible.  Every genre, band and sound denotes a different shade.  When you mix a few together you come up with something different; stretching this point to its logical limits means that there are near-infinite directions one can take.  A sprinkling of early-’80s pop, blended together with some mid-’90s rock can produce an eye-opening colour; a liberal dollop of ’70s soul, comingling with some present-day electro-swing leads to something ubiquitous in its appeal and energy.  The point behind my schematic, is that there is a world of possibility and potentiality to be discovered.  The bands are solo artists I have recently reviewed have embodied this elementary fact, and are- as a consequence- stamping out some incredible sounds.  Over the past few hours I have been listening to artists such as Tom Waits and Kate Bush, and staggered by how durable and mobile these talents are.  By keeping your identity, but incorporating different scenes and movement into the music, means that fascination and popularity will provide dividends.  I hope I am not being too tumescent in my declarations, as I do firmly believe that a renaissance is possible.  In terms of my personal aims, I have found that the best results are obtained when you delve into the annals of music, and are sagacious with regards to integration.  I have mentioned/bored before with regards to a song I am writing, called Vanity Mirror.  Over its 482 seconds, I have crammed in some soul touches; ’60s pop minutes; diverse and multifarious orchestral swathes; swaggering rock punches, as well as Dylan-esque lyric aims.  Hopefully 2014 will witness a semblance of quality about-face as our best and brightest start making their moves.  As a humble music-lover I hope the likes of One Direction and Justin Bieber die an unnatural death; the multitudinous acoustic bores slip away, and a faction of bold innovators ascend to the throne.  I may be a dreamer…but I’m not the only one.  There may not be the same sort of wanderlust as we saw during the ’90s, but there may be something mighty close.  The past few weeks has provided ample excitement, and I feel that January is a month that will keep on giving…

Amidst the foundations of new music’s striking architecture, is a band that will be leading the charging pack.  Before I disseminate biographical information about our subjects, one issue needs addressing.  Dynastically-speaking, the spiritual home of music’s regency is located north of London- quite a way north.  There are some terrific acts based in London (Crystal Seagulls, Los & The Deadlines for instance), yet the rolling landscapes of Yorkshire house the most forward-thinking and varied talent.  Over the months I have been reviewing, there have been few acts that have emanated south of London.  Saturday Sun hail from the coastal locale of Swanage.  As well as hosting an episode of The Inbetweeners, as well as- horrifyingly- a James Blunt video, it is a town that boasts panoramic views, beautiful historical buildings- but little in the way of musical output.  The sea air of the Jurassic Coast has clearly inspired an intrepid quartet.  The band have been around for a while, yet are a new name to my brain.  I was introduced to their majesties- once again- by The Guardian.  I should probably pay Paul Lester a finder’s fee, as he seems to have his ear firmly to the ground, with regards to sniffing out terrific music.  The Dorset four-set formed back in 2010, off of the back of a impromptu jam session by two of its founding members; and they have grown and developed from here.  Alex Hedley, Billy Merrick, Allan Varnfield and Tobias Fitton have been hailed as serious names to watch, in no small part because of their E.P., Seagull.  The release introduced Saturday Sun’s music to a large sect of new fans, and showcased some beautiful and wondrous music.  Reception from Seagull was immediate, and along its itinerate rise, tracks were played in the U.S.; tracks sound-tracked T.V. shows- and the group earned a supporting slot alongside Sigur Ros.  The four-track release won high praise from the likes of Q and Daytrotter, alternatively emphasising the group’s “luscious melodies” as well as the way the boys “orchestrate and bend those minutes” through introspection as well as “inner turmoil“.  The Swanage men mix psychedelic rock and ’70s Pink Floyd moments, as well as Americana, stripped-back acoustic breeze- in addition to Grunge and heavy elements.  It is no surprise that the group’s musical diversity has received huge praise from critics.  Their Solidago swoons and haunting sounds can at once overwhelm and palpitate; the way that they can- with augmentative lustre- lift songs to breaking point is admirable; the group portray arable desolate, scenic romanticism and sonic bliss- sometimes within the space of a single song.  In addition to the wondrous audio considerations, the band have another ace up their sleeve- frontman Alex Hedley.  The bandleader has garnered admiring coos from reviewers and fans, each of whom highlight his emotive and powerful voice; imbued with measures of Grace-era Jeff Buckley and The Bends-era Thom Yorke.  There is a comparable stillness and beauty to Hedley’s vocal; he has the same sort of stratospheric belt as the aforementioned idols, and can go from a whisper to a lascivious scream within the space of a semi-quaver.  Here is not a band reliant on, or indebted to, one particular human.  It is the composite strengths of the four members that make Saturday Sun such a potent and remarkable force.  When it comes to nomenclature, Saturday Sun has an interesting progeny and derivation.  The final track from Nick Drake’s second-best album was perhaps the inspiration from the band’s name.  Five Leaves Left was Drake’s debut, and showcased a young man of breath-taking genius.  sensitive and evocative sadness nestled within the orchestral lustre of Way to Blue and River Man.  As the album reaches its swansong, we hear the young Drake speaks, thus: “Saturday sun came early one morning/In a sky so clear and blue/Saturday sun came without warning/So no-one knew what to do“.  These sentiments perhaps can best be applied to the way the band have arrived in an open market, and left jaws dropping.  It is not surprising that the Buckley and Yorke comparisons have been made, as the band were growing up with albums such as The Bends and Grace were embryonic.  The spectral emotions and sadder inflections could possible inspire another Saturday Sun lyric (“And Saturday’s sun has turned to Sunday’s rain), yet the boys are more than the sum of their influences.  There is not uniform depression or desolation in their music; instead beauty, nuance and joy; there are guitar effects, trippy moments and alacrity on offer.  The next month see the band play everywhere from Devon, Cambridgeshire and London; yet I feel that the quartet will be in demand internationally, as their latest album takes full effect.  Orixé is the result of months of hard work and focus from the Dorset boys.  Its name means ‘origin’, but as the band’s frontman confesses, it is also the result of mashing several Gaelic words together.  The L.P. itself contains 13 tracks (some of which appeared on Seagull), and is a fully-fledged wonder of an album.  It is a window into the psyche of a band whom have a lot more to offer, yet are fully committed to the present day.  The effort and work rate put into the album shows, with each song bristling and bursting with evocation, emotion and potent seduction.  The album’s cover is a black-and-white depiction of a woodland tableaux; it catches the eye and sparks the imagination.  The music contained within similarly inspires and mesmerises, as the quartet shape shift, contort, implore- and make hairs stand up on end.  One may highlight the fact that there is not a great deal of happiness or overt optimism within the baker’s dozen of tracks, yet consider this: how many of the greatest albums do?  influential records such as Five Leaves Left, The Bends, Grace and such were awash with codas of self-doubt, sensitive longing and dislocation.  These records connected with- and still do- with millions and are considered masterpieces.  If you are looking for an album which will ready your soul for summer, then you may look elsewhere.  What Orixé epitomises is a body of work that can not only inspire many up-and-coming musicians, but put a smile on your face- in spite of the nature of the music and subject matter.  I did not want to review the entire album, in fear of producing brevity to the individual tracks, so felt it prudent to focus on a single song.  Each of the album’s tracks say something different and has its own essence and mood, so it was a huge task when selecting the ideal track to review.  I will go into more depth later with regard to other tracks on Orixé, but for now, my thoughts are with Singing Logos.

The title of the album refers to the unshakable craving for food (usually sweet foods), and each of the tracks off of the L.P. leave you wanting more.  From the opening seconds of Singing Logos, the curiosity and fascination dial is cranked up to 11.  The band unveil a crepuscular and moody audio storm initially, unleashing a window scene; before a soothing arpeggio supersedes.  The guitar tone has romance and swoon.  The sound has a touch of blues and bluegrass; a little U.S. Midwestern rock- it is drenched in the heat of a sunny desert.  You picture yourself driving down a lonely highway, the slight wind keeping the temperature bearable.  As you pilot your passenger-less Mustang, you let your mind wander- as you head towards the lights of the distant city.  The listener is relaxed and has their mind taken somewhere wonderful.  Whether you are thinking about the gorgeous girl at home (beckoning you forth), or a relaxing stream and shady tree, you are at once calm and invigorated.  The intro. seduces and kisses; it touches and caresses: the romance and vividness that is presented, encapsulates your attention, fully.  There is grandeur and mesmeric allure to proceedings.  It is the sort of introductory coda that could score an indie film.  The title of the song may create a whirlwind of stunning and strange imagery, and the hypnotic guitar light adds black and white (and soul) to the scene.  Before any human being has stepped into frame, you can picture and see a clear image, and a sense of event and atmosphere is built.  The sound and sensation of the introduction puts me in mind of Radiohead, circa. Amnesiac.  There is a little bit of Knives Out to be heard (albeit with an introversion).  The vocal does not come in until the 1:05, yet when it does, it is arresting and immediate.  Our frontman’s voice is sweet and tender, and puts the hairs on end.  The Yorke and Buckley comparisons may come to mind.  There is a similar falsetto beauty and impassioned strike to Hedley’s coo, as well as a sprinkling of Bon Iver and Patrick Watson.  It is the individuality and personality of our hero that shines through strongest.  The vocal performance is the most prominent focus early on.  Emphasis is put towards emotion and less towards pronunciation.  My only minor criticism is that the lyrics are not overly clear; with there being no lyric sheets available, it is a little hard to transcribe a lot of being what is sung.  My reticence and criticism is a minor point, as the glory and beauty of the track is the sound and sensation- rather than the story being told.  As I mentioned, the track instantly puts images and landscapes into your brain.  There is a continuing sense of motion and fascination, as Hedley’s gorgeous voice seductively teases.  The band are no slouches or second-best stander-bys.  The guitar and drum, when combined with bass keep the Amnesiac/Kid A feelings firmly alive.  It is no bad thing, as this type of combination and incorporation has not effectively been attempted or proffered since the early ’00s- when those albums were released.  As our hero continues to plot and implore, he speaks to a central figure: “You feel alive“.  Whether the song has its roots in a romantic relationship, or something less autobiographical is unsure, yet there is definite passion and intensity to be witnessed.  As it is said to “move together“, I feel that the memory of a sweetheart is strong in the mind of our hero.  In my mind- as a listener- I would imagine a lone traveller on the road, dreaming wistfully of his lover at home- fantasising about a noble cause.  Past  the 4:00 mark, the pace and tone gets harder and faster.  There is a definite rock theme to the song, and the shift at this point adds to the emotion and fascination already laid in.  The boys kick up a gear and really hit their stride.  As impressive and striking as Hedley is, the sounds unfurled by his comrades is just as important and wonderful.  The guitar is constantly moving and inventive, and the drum work is restrained by keeps the heartbeat strong and alive.  Bass is taut and tight, and the infusion of these components adds layers and force.  The band extend a musical break past 4:00, allowing the listener to fantasise and dream.  Whereas most bands would wander aimlessly and fill the void, Saturday Sun remain compelling and mobile, and weave deft sparks and flavours into the mix.  The final stretch is dedicated to a tender comedown.  The band seamlessly shift from a rock-infused rush into a tender and calm finish.  In a sense the storm has been witnessed, and the rain and wind have now stopped- as the sun bursts through.  It is a beautiful and considerate way to end the song, and the perfect outro. one could imagine.  I was left stunned and impressed by the track, as it is as unique and stunning as any song I have heard for a while.  There is enough of the majesty of early-’00s Radiohead to draw in their fans.  It is only a small component of the overall song, as the band very much have their own identity and way of working.  The vocal performance is a memorable and stellar force, which shifts between soft and elongated coos to a rousing and emotive belt.  Hedley is a strong and imperious vocal who can buckle knees and cause shivers- definitely a name to watch.  Merrick, Varnfield and Fitton are incredible musicians.  There is never too much mood or atmosphere; they consider the voice and lyrics, and perfectly accompany and augment them.  The guitar, bass and drums twist and pervade- and lift and strike when needed.  From that incredible and scene-setting intro. you are captured and bowled over.  It is such an engaging and fascinating element, and the boys never let up from there.  You always have one ear on what is being sung, and one on what is being played.  The sonic layers and threads create images and emotions, and leave you quite overwhelmed.

I cannot think of any strong criticism when thinking about Saturday Sun, and Singing Logos.  A lyrics sheet would have been nice, as it is sometimes difficult to hear what is being sung.  I apologise to the band if I have misquoted any lyrics, as decipherability is a small issue.  Seeing as you have such a compelling voice and incredible band at work, being able to analyse and dissect  the lyrics is a paramount importance.  Other tracks on the L.P. do not suffer in the same way, but as I mentioned, Singing Logos is a bold and incredible song, that seduces and wins you over with its atmosphere and fascination.  The merit of a terrific band is the way they can inspire imagery when you listen to their music, as well as compel you to write and pen your own music.  Having surveyed their album, I have written my own lyrics, planned songs and made changes to my own work.  I yearn and aim to be half as mesmerising a vocalist as Hedley and feel that he is a singer with a huge future.  He has enough of Yorke, Buckley and the like, yet is distinct and unique that the comparison will not be overly-obvious.  His range is huge, and you feel that there is even more that he can offer as a singer.  The band’s music and compositional skills are a key component and they have a real ear and mind for setting mood and taking the listener somewhere special.  I rambled with misty-eyes earlier about what came to mind when listening to Singing Logos.  You sort of drift off, get lost in your own head; allowing your mind to summon up vivid movie scenes and romantic diversions.  The Orixé experience is a heady and endlessly fascinating one.  Songs like Life In The Garden has a jaunty and spirited kick to it, with a flair of early-career Oasis.  Whale Song is mood, sound and emotion is huge measures.  The band shift through various stages and take you on an incredible thrill-ride.  Seagull is tender and romantic and sees our hero’s voice in robust and impassioned mood.  Blinded By The Truth and In Your Head have anthemia appeal and wonder, whereas Seeds To The Sun may be the best song on the L.P.  Even though there are 13 tracks on the album, there is no filler.  The band know how good they are, and there is never any stagnation and ponderous drag.  Each song has its own identity and intention, and this adds a great weight of quality to proceedings.  Usually new bands present 10 or 11 songs that roughly sound the same- and have scant variation.  Saturday Sun have unveiled an album filled with diversity, nuance, wonder and ambition and this is to be applauded.  They are a relatively new name to my mind, and I am disappointed I have not heard of them sooner.  I going to make amends, and enjoy their album as much as possible.  I would recommend that as many people as possible listen to, as few bands will come along that will stick in your mind as hard as our Dorset men.  Each of our foursome are incredible and multi-talented, and the song writing is uniformly compelling, intelligent and filled with emotion and quality.  The star of the show is Hedley’s voice.  It is something that is constantly engaging and stunning, and it brings the songs to life, as his vocals inject mood, romance and life to the tracks.  People whim fear that we are witnessing an insular, depressing and morbid band bringing winter chill to the fore, should reassess.  The songs are not the cheeriest you will hear, but have a noble and positive heart and mind.  Like the truly great bands, there is an optimism in everything they do, yet the way Saturday Sun lay out their emotions is tender and sensitively.  There is enough spirit, rock and pace to draw in fans of harder and more energetic music, and plenty of calm and tenderness to engage everyone else.  The rest of the year is up for grabs, as far as the band are concerned.  The album will see a lot of new fans engage in social media connection, and the feedback and reviews of Orixé have been unanimously positive and effusive.  I am sure that there is going to be a lot of demand put out, with regards to touring.  I hope that radio stations get on board with Saturday Sun and Orixé, and bring their music to a wider audience.  Too many bands have little to say, and do so in the most unappetising way.  Saturday Sun are a quartet whom have the potential to be around for years to come, and I cannot wait to see where they go next.  I am sure that there will be many more albums afoot, and implore people to jump on their good ship.  This year may not be as revolutionary and monumental as the mid part of the ’90s, yet I feel that thanks to bands like Saturday Sun, a huge quality rejuvenation will be witnessed.  I have become tired and bored of bland and vague bands and acts, and pine for nascent change.  Saturday Sun are celebrated and beloved in Dorset and London, and I am sure will be in-demand across the U.S., Europe and Australia.  If you don’t believe me:

BUY the album, and see for yourself.

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Follow Saturday Sun:

Official:

http://saturdaysun.get-ctrl.com/#/

Twitter:

https://twitter.com/SaturdaySun1

Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/saturdaysunmusic

YouTube:

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

SoundCloud:

https://soundcloud.com/saturdaysun

E.P. Review: Chess- Tuxedo.

E.P. REVIEW:

Chess

 

 

 

Tuxedo

9.8/10.0

Tuxedo is available from:

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/id766924425?i=766924552&affId=1736887

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The Maltese Siren returns with a confident (and tremendous) E.P.  Following on from Babygirl‘s template, Chess augments her previous sounds with edge, punch and… imħabba.  This year will see a huge rise to prominence for the young starlet: coming to a venue near you…

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HAPPILY, I get to focus, once more, on the merits and idiosyncrasies of the….

female solo realm.  Over the past few weeks I have featured the likes of Harts and Emily Kay- both tremendous solo artists.  The former is a prodigious 19-year-old from Melbourne; garnering favourable comparisons to the likes of Prince.  The latter is a young black artist from Birmingham; striking of voice and assured of great things this year.  Most of my attention last year tended to focus on the band market, and quite a few different genres of music.  My main objections and fears- when faced with the lone artist- has revolved around quality.  Although the solo market is crowded and burgeoning, I have always been puzzled why there are not more noticeable stand-outs from the genre.  I have been surprised and amazed by some of the acts I have featured, but when I look towards what is considered ‘mainstream’ or ‘popular’ there are few I can recommend.  Most male solo artists tend to be acoustic, and- to my mind- unspectacular, boring and generic.  For every James Blake there seems to be dozens of wishy-washy examples whom sing about broken love and longing- in other words, the same as everyone else.  In terms of the female market, I find that the lyrics and songs are more compelling, yet the voices seem to be too twee or bland.  In order to strive and to gain voters, one must break from the well-worn parables; inject personality and diversity into your sounds, as well as be original and memorable as possible.  This year will act as a litmus test for any new solo act- as well as those thinking of entering the scene- whom want to win fans and ensure that they are in-demand into 2015.  The northern climbs of England have been producing the brightest new solo talent, and Yorkshire especially has fervently produced some wonderful talent.  When looking closer to home, all seems not to be lost.  As well as solo acts such as Second Hand Poet (based in Surrey), I have been hearing some great young artists. One of the best young artists I have witnessed has been a young lady, Chess.

The woman behind the moniker is someone I have known for a while now.  Although we have never met, she seems like an old friend, given the fact that I have reviewed her a few times now.  Chess (Fran Galea) has grown and matured as an artist over the last couple of years.  My first encounter with her was when I was listening to some covers she had recorded.  Whereas most artists are unadventurous and narrow when they go to cover an existing song, Chess showed herself to be more unique and brash.  Not only in the sense that her voice is a dominant and remarkable force, but also the types of songs that were being featured.  Modern-day soul and latter-day blues were put under the spotlight, and the young heroine showed herself to be well-educated and intelligent with her song choices.  From those initial moments, I was sure that in Chess I had discovered a rare and worthy talent- and one that has few direct equals.  Further communication with Chess increased and multiplied my respect (for her), and compelled me to keep a close eye on her career.  Chess if of Maltese origin and has been reviewed, celebrated and promoted in her home nation- gaining some prestigious airplay and patronage.  She is a key and beloved name here, and it is not going to  be long before her music transfers to further foreign climbs.  To my ear, Chess’s style and range means that she will have supporters and fans waiting in the U.S.  I have surveyed many American acts and know that Chess’s sounds would fit in perfectly.  In terms of her long-term ambitions I am not sure, but it is certainly something she should think about, as we move through 2014,  I know how much music and realising her potential means to her, and how much of a relief the E.P.’s release provides.  The song Vanity is the first song to be released from Tuxedo, and is a perfect summation of Chess’s talents and abilities.  In terms of social media following, Chess is building a steady collection of fans and supporters.  The past year or so has been a fairly busy one for Chess, and it is a year (2013) that saw the release of her debut E.P., Babygirl.  Across the trio of tracks on that collection, we saw the fledgling artist take some of her first steps- and was an E.P. that really struck me.  With the help of her producer Edd Holloway, Chess unveiled tracks filled with tenderness, redemption and revitalisation.  Some of the big themes that were explored within the E.P. included not giving up; patience in relationships and holding on when things get tough.  There was a great deal of positivity within the collection, and this was augmented by Chess’s vocal performances, which were filled with power, conviction and passion.  Some of Chess’s influences include Freddie Mercury, Prince, Christina Aguilera and Michael Jackson.  I could detect the same kind of gusto and conviction (within the songs) that Mercury was so adept at; a comparable silky sexiness that the likes of Prince and Jackson were masters of, as well as an Aguilera-like set of pipes.  It was hardly surprising that Babygirl was held close in many people’s hearts, and the ensuing praise and support the E.P. gained, saw Chess’s stock rise.  A series of stunning cover versions and tracks such as Happy End kept our young heroine busy and focused, and it has all lead to this moment.  Our heroine has received airplay in three countries (Malta, England and Australia), has been featured in magazines and multiple blogs; has played venues including The Luxe and performed to thousands of people.  Too many new artists are given too much credit, whilst those deserving are often overlooked.  I hope that Chess gets a lot more airplay in the U.K. (and abroad) and find herself a whole legion of new fans.  She should have no fear, as her latest E.P. is a confident and stunning set, and will see her transcend to a new audience- as well as the attentions of many high-profile radio stations and venues.

Tuxedo is perhaps the most apt title for Chess’s latest E.P.  Whereas Babygirl gave the impression of a heroine effected by and in need of love, Tuxedo has a style shift that suggests more grandeur and edge.  I adored Chess’s previous E.P. and felt that the writing and production was sophisticated, impressive and inspiring throughout.  I know over the last few months, our heroine has worked hard and pressed her agenda.  The latest E.P. is draped in style and class.  If you look at the cover to the E.P. itself, you will see that it is a black-and-white symphony of memorable imagery.  Edge letter of T.U.X.E.D.O. is represented by a different image or character; mixing cigars, time pieces, necklaces and tuxedos.  It is a nice touch and a stunning logo that you can’t help but take your eyes from.  Our heroine herself appears contemplative and in deep thought (on the cover).  Dressed in black and white, and wearing shirt and brace combinations, she is stylish, striking and smart.  I have seen many of the photos, stills and shots from the E.P., as well as the video to Vanity.  Chess appears always as a stunning and gorgeous young woman, and someone capable of turning heads- and taking away the breath.  She has a vibrant sexiness as the likes of many of her female idols, and she is a vivacious and captivating presence.  When starting out investigating the tracks on Tuxedo, these thoughts and merits stuck in my mind.  The opening seconds of Vanity lead you beautifully into the E.P.  It is a romantic and argumentative piano line that flourishes and twinkles.  It trips and pauses; strikes and presses which creates a stirring atmosphere.  The opening words set  the scene quite succinctly: “You need the applause/You need the attention“.  Chess’s vocals are convincing and imploring, as she points the finger at society.  Whether there is anyone particular in our heroine’s mind, or if it is based in fantasy, I am unsure; but we can all relate to the type of person that is being surveyed, and “Caught in a downward spiral“.  Chess’s vocals are powerful and impressive in the early stages- backed by the pulsating and energised piano line.  She incorporates influences such as Christina Aguilera into the mix, yet you can not tell of any direct comparisons.  The projection and sound are very original and she is an artist whom employs hints of her idols, but is very much her own voice.  Before long, the song explodes into life, as a hard-hitting bass and drum strike backs the vocal.  The sudden rush takes you by surprise, as Chess continues her assessment of our attention-seekers (“You just want to live in your own world“).  I notice a cheeky little reference to You’re So Vain (“I guess you think this song is about you, don’t you?“), as our heroine unleashes the full power and force of her vocal.  You get the sense that Vanity could soundtrack many a club night out, as it has that ready-made dance floor flavour, but also has elements of the classic and wonderful dance music of the ’90s.  There is a huge emphasis on conviction and prowess and you can tell that Chess means every single word.  I have been informed (by Chess) that the song concerns self-absorbtion in the wider society; it is clear that she is being put to rights, as it is stated: “You’d like to think they all love you“.  Chess unleashes her voice but does not let it get to breaking point.  At one moment she sings softly and contemplatively, before rising and striking within seconds.  This gives weight and extra emotion to the lyrics, which reminds me a little of Lady Gaga; as well as the aforementioned Aguilera.  The chorus itself is perhaps the catchiest and most impressive part of the song, and when it comes around for the second time, you find yourself singing along: already familiar with it, it sticks that quickly.  The sensation and electricity which sparks from the chorus has a great summertime feel and I am sure will be blaring from many car stereos in a few months time.  Although the song deals with taking to task a vein and empty figure self-absorption, it never loses any spirit and energy; it is constantly uplifting and memorable, and gets your feet tapping and arms pumping.  It is not surprising that the track is the lead-off single from the E.P., as its blend of catchiness and potency will mean it is a fan favourite for a long time to come.  In the same way that Michael Jackson began Dangerous with hard-hitting and edgy tracks, Chess has done likewise.  In a way, Babygirl may be her Bad (in the way that it is more redemptive and romantic), whilst the follow-up shows our young artist filled with fight and spirit.  As the memorable chorus brings the song to an end, we are given a slight twinkling outro, that gives us time to breathe, and reflect on what we have just heard.  Vanity is a striking and stunning start to the E.P. and shows our heroine in full flight and fantastic of voice.  The energy and quality continues unabated as we lead into the title track.  Beginning life as a swirling electronic coda, reminiscent of an air-raid siren, a funky and hypnotic beat begins.  It has hallmarks of classic Jackson and Prince, and is infused with funkiness and rhythm, as our heroine steps up to the mic.  Early tales see our songstress in thoughtful mode: “Life is like a game of chess…”, as the vocals trip and roll with syncopated rush.  Chess’s voice again is awash with conviction and passion as she delivers her messages: “Ain’t nobody here to judge no more“.  Themes and lyrics deal with the realities of life and simple truths, as Chess intones: “What you see is what you get/It’s black on white“.  I was curious whether there was any particular motive behind this song; whether a person (or persons) had influenced this track, or whether our young artist is surveying the world around her.  There is again an edge of Gaga, as well as early Britney Spears, yet the vocal performance is more impressive and stirring (to my mind).  Where the title is spelled out (T.U.X.E.D.O.) the letters are delivered with a breathless seductiveness.  It is repeated- backed by a punchy and hard beat- that means your attention and mind is captured fully.  I am impressed by the vocal shifts in this song, especially.  The first verse was delivered with a shotgun and staccato pace; the song’s title is given a sexy and soft tenderness.  When the next verse is unveiled, there is another shift, as the first two words are held and slowed, before the pace quickens.  In this way the meanings and lyrics are given extra emphasis and your attention is once again captured.  When Chess sings:  “Tonight/You and I/Become/Tuxedo“, you can hear the crackle and pop in the music.  As I stated, it has underpinnings of Prince and Jackson, and a similar funky and catchy kick to it.  Whereas Vanity has a dance floor potential, Tuxedo a great sound of ’90s pop/funk, as well as modern-day female pop (Gaga, Rhianna and Beyonce).  Our heroine is constantly engaging because of the passion and conviction with which she delivers her words.  All of the greatest singers are synonymous with these merits, and Chess infuses every word with force, power and clarity (a rarity amongst the modern scene).  When the chorus swings back into view, again it is something you are singing along to.  Because of the memorable lyrics and excellent and stunning production, the words and music burrow deep instantly- so many songs suffer because the vocal is indecipherable or the composition is too imposing or overwhelming.  With another round memorable chorus-ing, Chess takes Tuxedo to its conclusion, her vocals weaving in and out of one another; layered and huge- adding weight and passion to the final seconds.  The outro is a funky and electric guitar buzz; accompanied by that punching and bold beat.  The final track of Tuxedo‘s trio is an intriguingly-named curiosity.  Dangerously Beautiful could be a film title; a perfume or a classic album title- it has that fascination and nuance to it.  The song itself gets off to the races quickly.  Scored by a guitar line that almost sounds Flamenco, there is a certain Hispanic or Latin sound to the guitar.  This track gets under my skin very quickly, and really stood me to attention.  The composition is stunning right from the off.  The drum beat which crackles and tumbles is bold and exciting.  There is an audacious skill and consideration at work that you would not expect from someone so young.  I keep harking back to the likes of Jackson and Prince, and it no hyperbole to state that the rhythm, sound and flair of the song could rank alongside some of their best work.  There is a romanticism and sexiness about the delivery- not only within the composition but the vocal itself- as our heroine starts her trajectory: “I couldn’t be without you anymore“.  It is hard to shift the guitar line, that is a pivotal focus and force throughout the early stages.  Chess’s vocals are swaying and romantic, infused with blues and soul- yet once again powerful and convincing.  With “danger coming” the song is a reconnaissance and assessment of a relationship that is doomed to failure.  The Dangerously Beautiful is a man- unnamed- whom seems Siren-esque and intoxicating in his appeal.  Our heroine wants to “save your life“, and warn (the anonymous female) away from him.  Chess is standing back- aware of what might await our female subject- as another voice enters the fray.  Chris Birdd is the other voice heard on the song, and provides another tone to the song.  His quick-fire rap matches the electric backing as he wants to “chill with ya” and “talk about how I feel“.  Here is our hero- or anti-hero- imploring and justifying himself; claiming that he is not as potent and deadly as Chess makes out.  There is a great sense of storytelling and by-play in the song, between our imploring and wise heroine, and the vilified hero.  As he speaks about “don’t fear what your friends think“, you get caught up in the energy and rapid delivery of the vocals.  Having witnesses the previous two tracks with Chess alone, it is striking and a great shift to hear another voice- it adds an extra weight to the song.  As Budd completes his mandate, Chess boldly steps to the mic.; wrestling back attention from the “Dangerously beautiful” rapper.  Within the elliptical and pulsating guitar, Chess unleashes some wordless vocals; some coos and soprano rises which add extra emotion, sexiness and potency to proceedings.  If the first two tracks have their futures mapped out in clubs and the summer-drenched airways, then Dangerously Beautiful seems earmarked to score ballrooms as well as clubs.  It is another track that will be a live favourite and will be interesting to see if Chess and Budd ever perform this together- it will be a tantalising prospect.   There is sweat and fire dripping from the speakers, and Chess provides a passionate and memorable vocal once more.  One of the hallmarks of the E.P. is the strength of the choruses, and again another gem is served up here.  As the chorus brings the song down to the ground it ensures that you are left hungry at the end- looking for another track; another repeat or something.  Yet with a teasing wink, that will be left for another E.P.  The abiding impression one is left with- after listening to Tuxedo– is what an impressive work it is.

After following the plight (and embryonic growth) of the Babygirl E.P., I was excited- as well as a little nervous- when investigating its progeny.  Chess’s previous E.P. was a memorable step, and I was impressed by the maturity and quality that was offered by such a fledgling and new talent.  Chess was a familiar name in her native Malta, and has recorded quite a few songs previously; yet this was her first big release, and I was taken aback by the tracks on the E.P.  The trio of tracks were steeped with positivity, uplifting codas and evocative imagery.  The songwriting was confident, assured and strong, and was backed by the solid and assured professional production of Edd Holloway.  Our heroine appeared (on the E.P.’s cover) as a gorgeous and tender chanteuse.  I came away from reviewing Babygirl filled with confidence that in Chess, a great and fertile local talent has been unearthed.  That was 14 months ago now, and a lot of time has passed between the two E.P.s.  I know how hard Chess has worked in the interim; not only on creative planning and input, but making sure that a new E.P. was a financial possibility.  There have been obstacles and setbacks along the way, and I was wondering whether these cracks in the pavement would deter or weaken our heroine.  Tuxedo is immediately reassuring and confident.  The latest E.P. is a dancier and edgier affair, yet retains a lot of the trademarks and unique Chess moves that the debut promised.  Fran Galea has demonstrated that she is a strong songwriter.  Her lyrics do not suffer from cliché or bloating- like so many contemporaries- and she has the innate ability to make a chorus lodge in your brain for many months.  The compositions are fascinating and layered as well as vary between soft and tender piano-led songs, to thumping and anthemic rushes.  All the true and terrific elements have remained in tact, yet Chess has kept her sound fresh and ever-mobile by injecting harder edges; heavier elements- as well as thematic shifts.  Within Tuxedo there is an element of foreboding and accusatory finger-pointing.  There is a sense of warning, moralising and hard-hitting truths.  I am familiar with how good our heroine is (from her covers as well as original material), and she is a vocalist that has an incredible range, yet has her own unique and meritocratic identity.  Chess has some influences within the likes of Christina Aguilera, Lady Gaga, Etta James, as well as Michael Jackson and Freddie Mercury- you can hear a little of each in her delivery.  The three songs are filled with memorable hooks and choruses; huge vocals as well as detailed and catchy compositions.  I am sure in the back of Chess’s mind she is plotting a possible E.P. number three.  There is going to be a huge demand for one, and by the end of Dangerously Beautiful, I was aching for more- such is the effect of Tuxedo.  Last year, Chess performed in some established and prestigious London venues; gained some incredible airplay- and drew in a lot of new fans.  The release of Tuxedo will see this rise to prominence continue, and I will not be shocked if I hear Chess’s music appear on BBC Radio 6 or BBC Radio 2 even.  Special credit also goes to the following musicians (Terry Michellis – Guitar; Dan Aquilina – Bass; Billy Grammatikos – Drums) as each brings something memorable to the table.  The guitar work is strong and varied and adds great weight and excitement to proceedings.  The bass work keeps the tracks flowing and incorporates a strong and taut backbone, whilst the drum work is prolifically memorable- especially on the closing track.  This year will see our star making some headway towards hitting mainstream success.  There will certaintly be more high-profile gigs, as well as some important and repeated airplay.  Once the impact of Tuxedo is fully felt, it will bring in the attentions of record labels and venue promoters.  I am confident that the end of this year will see Chess ascend rare heights and see her stock rise hugely.  Whether there are imminent plans for more music, or whether she just wants to get Tuxedo out and see how people take to it, I am unsure, yet it is clear that acclaim will be universal.  Sit down and let the E.P.’s wonders and dizzying spells overwhelm.  It is only January, yet- in terms of new music- Chess has done this:

SHE has produced an E.P. that could well be one of the best we’ll hear all year.

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Follow Chess:

Official:

http://chessmusic.co.uk/

Twitter:

https://twitter.com/chessofficial

Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/chessofficial

YouTube:

http://www.youtube.com/chess4music

ReverbNation:

http://www.reverbnation.com/chessmusic

Today I Will Experience Joy

Forever true; forever necessary…

mylittleponderings

Image

Mummy Hollowood always loves to tell the story of my Christening, where the Priest chose to read a scripture all about Joy. I assume, as I am too young to remember, this must be about the joy of new life, the joy that life brings to the family and hopefully, the joy that life will experience. Now, I’m not all that religious myself, I enjoy certain rituals that come with Christianity and I live my life (as much as possible) to the 10 Commandments. However, I do hold a lot of value in the word “Joy” and I like that it is associated with me when…well…at least my Mum hears it!

It also worries me a little too because lately, I haven’t been the most joyful. Despite having an amazing end to 2013, I’ve returned to London heavy-hearted and full of worries. I seem to have forgotten to experience joy, even…

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Track Review: We Died At Sea- Memphis Flu

TRACK REVIEW:

 

 

 

We Died At Sea

Memphis Flu

9.2/10.0

Memphis Flu is available from:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=36z_JGJAf3o

The E.P. The La La Bird is available to pre-order via:

http://wediedatsea.bandcamp.com/album/the-la-la-bird

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Northern English hokum, blues and mud stomping; infectious as it is unusual, will linger long in the mind- and blow away the winter blues.

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TODAY I am breaking slightly from the parable of my usual discourse…

To focus on something a little different.  I am going to start with a familiar and comfortable rant.  Last night saw the beginning of a new series of The Voice.  It is this annual competition that promotes, encourages and celebrates Britain’s blandest, most pointless and least original singers possibly imagine.  Forced to watch the opening 10 minutes last night, I was staggered about how self-indulgent and pointless it all was.  Aside from the fact that the judges entered the show singing their own songs, and promoting their own music; it seemed that ever contestant nauseatingly was intent on singing one of the judge’s songs- again publishing their own material.  Each version of each song was depressingly unspectacular and ridiculous- the entire competition seems like a karaoke show for those on the brink of alcoholism.  For those mentally and spirituality sober, the whole thing offers nothing more than an excuse to laugh at morons.  I am sure there are people that enjoy the show, but are not people who I care to spend time with or will ever really understand.  My point is, is that- in spite of plummeting viewing figures- this type of mindless dross is still offered up by broadcasters, and is seen as a genuine alternative in music.  For the life of my I cannot remember of a time where the reality T.V. show route offered up anything of any note or distinction- or provided a contestant with a long-term career.  I am hoping that these types of shows will die brutally over the next couple of years, as music should hold no room or regard for anyone as plastic, talentless or asinine.  My overall point is that the type of music proferred by these contestants is taking time and attention away from some genuingly wonderful groups and artists.  Over the course of my reviews, I have witnessed and summarised some terrific acts; wonderfully diverse and interesting sounds- giving me renewed hope of a renaissance amongst the traditional order.  On a non-presidential basis, new music has flourished under some rather undemocratic terms.  Too many generic and bubble wrap artists have emerged and been celebrated- whilst those thoroughly worthy have been passed over.  It has been on my mind a lot, as to how the north of England produces such fascinating and diverse acts.  In addition to my praise of Cuckoo Records and the kind of wonders they are representing, it is worth noting that Yorkshire seems to be leading the way.  I know that there are a lot of ordinary and cliched bands and solo artists plying their trade (in Yorkshire), yet in terms of sheer multifariousness- this county have something special about them.  I have mentioned that there seems to be a fond regard for retro electro/swing: artists such as Little Violet are doing this genre proud.  Interesting blues rock movements are being made, from Detroit-via-Wakefield.  Across Bradfodr and its envrions, witty pop and brassy soul music is being created- joy and the upbeat seem to be the order of the day.  I have been stunned by just how ambitious and forward-thinking musicians have been, and how different they are to most overs.  When you think of London, there seems to be less fascination and joy when it comes to the sound of new music.  The north-west seems to be synonymous with rock and indie and has less mobility.  The fresh air and the bonhomie spirit of its citizens has led to a reciprocal influence upon the musicians of Yorkshire.  It is not just British sounds- old and new- that are being affectionately portrayed, yet foreign flavours are also being investigated.  It is the music and majesties of the U.S. that are being given fondest affection.  As well as blues rock, older blues sounds are being renewed, updated and adapted.  It takes a lot of bravery to break away from the pulpit of the familiar, in order to aim for something more unusual and rarer.  Revivalists and the noble are causing re-appropriation and reinvigorating good-time, Ragtime motions.  I suppose that bands such as Mumford and Sons have attempted to make music that has its heart lodged in the Deep South and mountain ranges of the Ozarks.  In this case, I find their music to be too bland and grating, and not good enough to really appeal to genuine music-lovers.  This particular brand of music is very much focused on fun and merriment, and implores the listener to get up and stomp their feet.  Because it is quite a rare sound to hear these days, it is difficult for new artists to popularise it- and make it appeal to a somewhat disjointed and narrowly-focused generation.  New music is in need of an overhaul and definitely needs a smile across its lips, as there is still a tendency for new musicians to err towards the introspective or maudlin.  Even our indie rock and heavy rock still leans towards angry and anxious shores, so it is vital that clement and invigorating sensations are celebrated and rewarded.  This year is going to see a rise of new music, and will see a multitude of individualised acts- all polling for votes and plaudits.  Today’s subjects are a group that could well blow away the winter cobwebs; solid of tensile strength; suffocating of intention…

The Leeds-based band We Died At Sea are a group I have reviewed once before.  I summarised their song I Am Drinking Again back in April (https://musicmusingsandsuch.wordpress.com/2013/04/25/we-died-at-sea-i-am-drinking-again-track-review/); impressed by its fresh and embracing sound, and the sheer contradictions that I encountered within.  These Leeds-based boys are middle-class chaps consisting of our heroes, below:

Chris Wallum – Voice, Guitar
Rob Bromley – Violin, Voice
Felipe Petry – Double Bass, Voice
Fran Watson – Percussion, Kazoo, Voice

I can say with great confidence, that I have not heard anything similar to what We Died At Sea are presenting to the world.  It is a veritable breeze of fresh air that is capable of inspiring other acts to follow in their footsteps.  When I reviewed the lads last time I around, I stated the following: “… I mention this rather contentious issue, as We Died At Sea, label themselves as ‘middle-class’; yet have a fascinated split personality. For one thing, the bio/tag lines on their Facebook page, quote Dostoevsky. The quote concerns work, and the nature and meaningfulness of it. It speaks volumes about their devotion to, and passion for, music; as well pointing at an augmented intelligence and focus that few contemporaries possess. The Leeds-based boys, underneath the skin and clothing; have an American sensibility, that brings more to mind more Seasick Steve than Tim Rice-Oxley. The musical masquerade has been yielding curiosity and plaudits since 2012, and there is a pastoral charm to their look as well as sound. On the social media official sites, there are floral landscapes, Victorian industrialism, and the inescapable feeling of ease and tranquility. It is with great intrigue that I approached their music; wondering whether I would hear lilting folk guitars and lush vocals, or else a ramble of bluegrass and anthemic Detroit punch. They are quite under-subscribed at the present time, possessing as they do, a small, but respectable handful of fans. They are in the infancy of their developmental process and are taking the first exciting steps. From listening to the group’s work there is no inscrutable noise; no basic level due diligence, and no attitudes towards the notion of ‘playing it safe’. They have a bold and flammable spark to their sound; a positively out of left field surprise to their songs; especially their intros.”  It is true that there is a vein of intellectualism and high-minded regard in the We Died At Sea camp, yet that is not to say that the music they are making is disingenuous.  It is unusual that a band such as this would make the music they do.  When one listens to their plaintive strums and rambunctious merriment, you would probably see them as hirsute, toothless good ol’ boys; filthy of clothing, yellow of teeth banjos and fiddles in hand as they dance around a fire.  If that is where your mind is taken when listening to the music, then do bit it, but our Yorkshire boys are having the time of their lives.  The past year has seen success and adulation come their way.  Just recently their song Wolves was seen as one of the best tracks of 2013 by Ear To The Ground Music.  The band have had a busy year of touring and recording, and have enlivened and excited their native fans with unabated energy.  All of the impetus and creativity that they have summoned over the year has led to the release of their E.P., The La La Bird.  It is all sold-out on C.D., yet readily-available on BandCamp, still.  The four-track release offers up many surprises and gems, and sees the group building upon their previous templates- whilst giving tantalising glimpses as to what their future music could sound like.  The E.P. has its heart set in a particular time; a particular enviroment and a vidi landscape, and the Yorkshire men take your mind there, paint vivid and fascinating pictures, and leave the listener with a big smile on their faces.  At the moment, the quartet have a solid and supportive following across social media, yet I feel that they deserve a lot more attention.  They are daring to be different, and are pushing the boundaries and expectations of music- going down avenues that not many other have done so.  The E.P. is a testament to the raw talent and intoxicating sound of a group of men whom may have their bodies ensconced within Leeds; yet have their souls and minds in a part and era of the U.S. that may seem foreign to many.  If new music- and the music scene in general- is to trulty diversify and offer up real treasure, then bands such as We Died At Sea should be applauded and kept in close regard.  Possible the wisest thing you can do this month, is to snap up their E.P., as it is the perfect antidote to the stormy and tempestuous weather have been experiencing.  It will make you forget about things for a while; and provide some much-needed sunshine.

Beginning with a frenetic and scratchy guitar swathe, Memphis Flu builds its momentum early on.  It is a brief refrain, as the vocal kicks in; accompanied by a heady sonic rush.  When assessing the vocal nature, one is not reminded of any other singer.  Wallum has a voice that is very much his own, yet has some essences of the old, great U.S. singers of the ’20s and ’30s- as well as some modern influence.  As our hero sings of “Memphis flu at your door” affecting rich and poor, the band are unified in song, as their vocals blend to augment the merriment.  In spite of the lyrical themes, the band are infused with energy and good-time spirit.  The percussion is steady yet propulsive, as it backs up the vocal layers and keeps the spine firm.  As the horrors of southern influenza stalk our hero, he implores: “I don’t want to die“.  The band make sure that the song is infused with singalong potential, as you find you cannot help but sing and cheer with the guys, as the survey the scenes and sights.  The first verse itself is built with staunch and vivid imagery, and sets the tone out straight away:

Nineteen hundred twenty nine
Pretty women, men are dying
Call a nurse, call a doctor, call a priest
The Memphis Flu is at your door
And it will surely kill the rich and poor
If we don’t turn away from our shame

Your mind is steeped and filled with scenes and smells, and there is a tangible element to the group’s storytelling.  If you are unfamiliar with the Ragtime and Western Swing sounds that are presented, then it may take several listens for the song to reveal its charms.  Some people I know are familiar with the Ozark Mountain Daredevils; the soundtrack to O Brother, Where Art Thou? as well as Seasick Steve.  There are feint D.N.A. strands detectable, and fans of those artists and works will find some familiarity.  In a real sense, though, there is modernity and urgency within the song.  The pace is fast and frenetic, as the vocals are delivered with a breathless aplomb.  The playing is tight and impassioned, as the band combine beautifully.  Consideration and breaks are provided between the verses, allowing the infectious music codas to take effect.  You can imagine a merry hoedown taking place, people dancing, and a good time had by all.  I like the way that the darker or more morbid subject matter is accompanied by juxtaposing sonic flair.  The pace and nature of the composition is energetic and upbeat, and you almost forget and pass by what is being said.  As the song continues its path, more sights and sensations are presented:

Nurse came to my bed
And she dropped my medicine
Told my partner, “Hey Johnny! Go get him some more!”

Charm, wit and tradition are laced within the lyrics, as you cannot help but to picture the scenes, and wonder what became of our hero.  The Memphis flu is clearly a relentless and cruel master, yet it has not dampened the spirits of We Died At Sea.  The vocal has a distortion and quality to it that reminds me of Jake Bugg, Jack White and Alex Turner.  Some native and homegrown accentuation is evident, yet there is also a flavour of U.S. blues: the melting together adds weight and conviction to the song.  The band themselves are continuously impressive as they keep the energy, sparks and kick constant; never letting the mood drop, and ensuring that your mood is always lifted.  Backed by his comrades and brothers-in-arms, our protagonist is coming to the end of his sage:

Hospital I lie
And I know I’ll surely die
And I don’t want to die
The Memphis Flu is at your door

As the song ends, and the final line is delivered (“If we don’t turn away from our shame“), we come to the end, and are left wondering what became of our hero and his band.  It is well worth watching the video for the song, which is a black-and-white video depicting dancing men and women (looking as though the film was shot in the ’20s or ’30s), accompanied by pictographic representations of the lyrics.  In spite of the fact that the song is under 2:30, it makes its impact and leaves clear impressions.  You cannot help but walk away invigorated- as well as curious to hear more songs from the intrepid band.  The themes of Memphis Flu are unique and potent, and it is not a subject you will hear in any other songs- or from any other acts- this year.  The Leeds outfit are a quartet steeped in tradition and vintage regard, but also have a love of the modern-day local scene.  The way they marry these disparate factions together creates a wonderful little song, that is a fitting swan song to the E.P.

As much as I have derided the talent show wannabes and faithful, it is important that truly great and original music is given its due.  We Died At Sea are still in their infancy, yet have a clear idea of where they want to be, and who they want to appeal to.  Their sounds are not meant for a small clique; it is music that is designed for the masses.  Their E.P. is a terrific achievement and provided nuance, memorability as well as an excuse to have a bit of a jig.  The next year will see the Leeds boys transcend beyond their localised paradigm, and seep into the mainstream.  There is going to be a heady demand for their special blend of song, and I would not be shocked to see them make moves throughout the U.K.- as well as further afield.  It is axiomatic that the U.S. will be familiar with the sound they pervade, and it seems as though they might find themselves playing throughout the U.S.A.- from the bars of Texas; across New York and California.  In that sense, the likes of Australia, Europe and South America will embrace the music and welcome the guys into their hearts.  I hope that more music is imminent, as the boys have struck a rich vein.  Last year saw a multitude of bands come through that said pretty much what had already been said.  I witnessed many indie and rock bands come through, each of whom seemed to lack the necessary bite, originality and drive that many were demanding.  When I reviewed the band’s 2-track album I Am Drinking Again, there were definitely mordent and saddened tones to be found within.  Wolves was a lush and orchestral sway that was packed with gorgeous imagery and stirring scenes.  There has been a bit of a shift with regards to sound, yet We Died At Sea have kept their identity intact and expanded upon their palette.  I am not sure whether a fully-fledged album or another E.P. is in the minds, yet it will be fascinating to see what the lads are planning.  The La La Bird E.P. is out on 1st February, and there will no doubt be great demand for live performances from the quartet.  They are supporting The Stray Birds when they arrive from America, as well as making their own moves.  I am not sure what it is about Yorkshire, but this county has been in my focus for a long while now.  Whether the likes of Cuckoo Records will snapping at their heels it to be seen, yet I would not be shocked.  There is a lot of innovation and bravery to be seen in Yorkshire, and it is the mixing point for the most potent, interesting and original sounds of the moment.  This year will need to see a revitalised implore from its participants, so if anyone is short of inspiration and focus, they should be setting their sites towards the north.  The sounds of the ’20s and ’30s have not been dabbled with too much, and I am not too sure why.  On the evidence of Memphis Flu, as well as The La La Bird E.P., there is plenty of room in the market for our heroes.  I shall leave you with a thought and sermon, concerning the necessities and demands of the music-lover.  I speak from experience and frustrated desire, when I say that we need to see a bit more fun and excitement in music.  The reason that I love swing and electro acts like Little Violet and Rose and the Howling North, is that these artists provide kick, energy and invigoration in all of their songs.  There is still a tendency towards the flat and listless in new music, and although sensitivity and introspection very much have their place, I have heard little evidence to suggest that there is going to be any sort of sea change or mobility.  We Died At Sea have the impetus and energy to strive and achieve, and need the support and patronage to assist them.  They have a great following within their native climbs, but deserve wider appreciation and analysis.  Forget about the rain and wind; close the curtains, and spin the four-track blitzes with The La La Bird.  The boys may be a new name to the minds of many reading this, yet I hope that they will not be strangers for too long now.  They love ragtime and blues; they are a band on the rise and have the potential to be festival mainstays…

AND that’s no hokum.

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Follow We Died At Sea:

Twitter:

https://twitter.com/WeDiedatSea

Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/WeDiedAtSea

SoundCloud:

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

YouTube:

http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCSZufgt80tJDPBJjd7JwhZQ?feature=watch