Track Review: Echo Boom Generation- The Voice

TRACK REVIEW:

 

Echo Boom Generation

 

 

The Voice

 

9.2/10.0

 

The Voice is available at:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=URS1RiMQuwc

RELEASED:
17th September, 2015

(iTunes and Spotify)

GENRES:
Rock ‘n’ Roll

ORIGIN:

London, U.K.

IT is encouraging to be at the feet of a terrific…

young band.  Having assessed- over the past weeks and months- a range of artists (of all kinds of flavours; inclinations and sounds); it is back to something youthful, vibrant and hard-hitting- a great (local) band with a lot of potential.  The London-based Echo Boom Generation- it sounds like a mock-call at the current state of (mainstream) music; will expand on this later- are on a steep trajectory; really grabbing the public conciseness- taking music’s testicles and ripping them clean off.  I shall get to the band- and their artistry and abilities- soon, but at the moment, I am reminded of a particular topic: the young bands of the U.K.; the difficulties when it comes to sound-fusion- sticking in the minds of the listeners.  At the moment- and not a trend that is limited to British music- there are A LOT of bands coming through; by the week, we have new ‘saviours’- bands that are here to save music; take it to strange, new places.  The press tends to inject hyperbole into their focus: most of the acts (they proffer and promote) are THAT good- there are a few that manage to live up to the hype.  I am thinking about the mainstream- and all of the newer bands coming through- and few stick in the imagination.  Over the past few weeks, the likes of Totally Mild and Royal Headache (both Australian) have released L.P.s- the latter (and High) is particularly impressive.  I have waxed-lyrical on that album; extolled its virtues and majesties- it is a flawless album of tightness, passion and focus.  If anyone has not sought-out the band- and do not know they exist- I implore you to check them out.  Lead by Shogun (even his mum calls him that) and his feral-cum-romantic vocals (that recalls everyone from Johnny Rotten to Gerry Marsden); the mesmeric and nuanced compositions- songs that are short and (very) sweet; heart-on-sleeve and deeply memorable.  To my mind- the album is this year’s best for sure- the band are the best around: there are no other acts that are as good (as the Australians); have their quality and elements- a few British artists come close.  In my opinion, the new/underground acts are showing most potential: bringing the most original and grabbing songs; lingering long in the memory.  The young and hungry are making their mark- let’s hope they make their way to the mainstream- and really impressing me.  One of the most profitable (and staggering) forms of music is Rock ‘n’ Roll/Alternative: mixing ‘older’ bands (Led Zeppelin and Rage Against the Machine) with ‘newer’ ones (Queens of the Stone Age and Royal Blood).  The rise of Royal Blood- and, indeed, their Australian royal cousins- has led to a lot of followers: bands keen to capture their energy and flair; tap-into their short-sharp shocks.  Whilst Royal Blood have ‘borrowed’ a lot of musical/riff ideas from other artists- Jack White, Led Zeppelin and Josh Homme especially- their lyrics and dynamic (employing a bass as a guitar; the male two-piece formation) is their weapon.  I can understand why young bands are inspired by them- and their packed and fervent debut album- as the Brighton boys have a very dramatic and soul-grabbing sound.  (Their music is) filled with anthemic choruses and crunchy riffs; viper-like weave and avalanche percussion- stories of no-good girls and depression; loose change and personal regrets.  Simplistic and universal; personal and nuanced: Royal Blood have demonstrated huge potential- let’s hope their sophomore album sees more depth (acoustic-led numbers and thematic diversity) otherwise they could find themselves stifled and creatively limited.  Before I carry on this point- and go into depth with regards the British band market- let’s have a look at Echo Boom Generation:

ECHO BOOM GENERATION is a 3 piece female-fronted explosion of Rock & Groove all infused with Grunge influences based in London. Linda Buratto (guitar and vocals) and Emma Hughes (bassist) met at uni several years ago and have played together ever since touring, partying and stage-diving all over the globe as part of Kate Nash’s backing band. Joined by the extremely groovy & smiley (rarity for drummers) Callum Green on drums, this highly energetic band is going to make you want to shake your head and join The Boom revolution with them. The Boomers have made their mission to remind people that music & life are supposed to be a fun and entertaining experience rather than a self-indulgent and boring one.

Hughes and Buratto have recently been in L.A. – performing/partying with Kate Nash- letting the U.S. audiences hear their chops: it seems like they had a blast; seem at home over there- the audiences, in turn, are immensely receptive and warm.  Echo Boom Generation sounds like a call-to-the-masses; perhaps a taunt at the modern scene- how the music can be samey (an ‘echo’); that in turn creates a boom- or maybe I am overthinking it!  The coolly-named trio have just unleashed The Voice– thankfully not a song about, or every likely to feature on that retched show- which is causing excitement and speculation.  I am a recent convert to the band; have been digging back and investigating- seeing how they have progressed.  Being tender-aged and new; a band on the grow- I am staggered by their maturity and rounded sounds.  They are influenced by some giants of Rock- I shall touch more on this below- and funnel these influences into a very personal pot; a sound that is very much theirs- music ready-made for the masses; perfect for the sweat-and-jump of the venue floors.  The band have been hitting the road with Gelato and Flowerpot- two bands that play similar genres and music- and have been enrapturing crowds.  I know new music is afoot; the three-piece are concocting their next movements- I suggest you keep your eyes peeled and alive.

For one to get a full assessment of the band- and see how they have come along- it is wise to look back (and see how they have developed).  Recorded/released a couple of years ago, The End of the World burst onto the scene- a song that documents the apocalypse.  Spoken introductions- with the narrator leading the track in- gives way to a ferocious bluster.  The band unite and combine their instruments; Buratto’s voice sounds alive and alert- a little like Alison Mosshart combined with Patti Smith.  The chorus is big and boisterous- with vocal elements of Fleetwood Mac, strangely- with the vocals coming through gloriously.  It is said- you better “use your senses”- when the world’s end arrives.  Dropped into the mix are (charming and humorous) samples- dialogue from South Park appears alongside a fiery and rampant riff (adding smile and quirk to things).  Unless God is forgiving and “cool”, we are going to die alone- that foreboding suffocation keeps coming around and around.  With a Pop/Rock sensibility- the chorus has a great melody and catchiness- the band lace in Grunge and Desert-Rock; classic ‘70s sounds- a jam-packed and vibrant composition.  Endlessly driving and compelling, you cannot help but sing along- it is consciously aimed at the masses; to be sung back without provocation.  Requiring group participation and unison, the song is ready-made for live performances- few voices could resist echoing the song’s words and scenes.

Having produced such a cracker, any follow-up would be a hard task: making sure it matched (the quality of The End of the World) and sheer energy.  Broken Hip has a different flavor and direction.  Beginning with bongo-ing and pulsating percussion- the distillation of a carnival within a few seconds- we get distorted and twisted guitars; stealthy and bouncing bass- leading-in a dizzying and swaggering riff.  Both sexy and sweaty- elements of Suzi Quatro and Punk masters- again those vocals stand out.  With so much vibrant attitude; spit-and-slap ferocity- it is a fantastic Buratto delivery.  The band sound up for it here: the riffs, percussion and bass (venom and backbone) fuse supremely.  Looking at an anti-heroine- married a rather no-good man; carrying cash by the load- the song documents her plight- and how fraught her existence is.  The percussion is relentless persistent and heavy; the bass keeps everything in-check and disciplined- the guitar squeals, shouts and swarms- the vocal remains indefatigable and rampant.  Recalling the arena-king bands- Foo Fighters and Queens of the Stone Age; Led Zeppelin and Royal Blood- there is a fusion of heavy-and-hard; Grunge-unders and knife-edge tension.  A song that differs (from its predecessor) it is more hard-edged and unforgiving; less melodic- but instilled with more power and panache.  A great ‘counterbalance’ and contrast, Broken Hip is unashamedly anthemic and crowd-pleasing: another track designated for the venue pits; the enthralled and jumping bodies.  The matchmaker of classic Rock bands- and the glory of the ‘60s/’70s heyday- and modern-day grit, the track is a delirious and raw animal.  Few female vocalists have the same passion and lungs (as Buratto): she is compelling and captivating from first to last.  Hughes is in-command and lost in the groove: her bass notes conjure so much colour and weight; emotion and urgency- spoiling the song with a wealth of directions and possibilities.  Green’s skin-slapping is both tribal and multi-limbed: with Bonham and Grohl pummel- no mean feat- he adds the concrete and granite; the hurricane and danger- pulverising and completely insatiable.  Broken Hip is a more fast-paced and simple number; The End of the World is quirkier and more detail-orientated- both tracks have a heartbeat of vibrant Rock and phenomenal interplay.

The trio’s first numbers have spectacular consistency and quality; there is not a lot to tell them apart- aside from the themes and lyrics.  Sounding fully-formed and confident (from their first days), they have progressed and developed- their levels of confidence; rather than the quality.  The Voice is their best track yet- they were in no need of improving their sound; instead they have brought in a new concern.  More restrained than Broken Hip; more straight-laced than The End of the World– the band sound more urgency and nuanced here.  The quiet-loud dynamic- that was touched-on in previous numbers- is exploited and unfurled- Buratto’s vocals are more full-bodied and rounded; at its most insistent and dramatic.  Wordless (and sweeter) vocals are brought in; there are multiple riffs and diversions- here, they are more innovative and alive.  Whereas their previous songs had phenomenal quality and ability, they have upped their game: the running time is shorter (the song is more economical and focused); the chorus is one of their finest- their genre-fusing magic all present.  Bringing in more elements of Royal Blood and Queens of the Stone Age- whereas past numbers are more ‘70s-sounding- it is a more current-sounding track; contemporary and fresh- fully able to rub shoulders with Royal Blood’s best.  With little Blues-Rock touches- one riff/guitar line has elements of The Black Keys’ Money Maker– it is their finest moment (and a sign of a band that grow with each new track).

Running at 2:43, The Voice has a lot to pack in- in a short(ish) amount of time.  The opening moments lead from a strummed note- that lingers and hovers in the atmosphere- before Buratto unleashes (a distant and feral) cry.  Both innovative and distinct, the introduction is not your formulaic thing: most artists go in heard and heavy; predictable riffs and minimal thought- Echo Boom Generation are not ‘most bands’.  A hard and frantic riff is then offered-in: head-banging and propulsive- whilst not coming off too loud or raucous- it mixes composure with enraged; passionate with agile.  In the opening verse- as our heroine comes to the mic. to lay down her thoughts- there are romantic ideals and rather boring clichés.  Her beau- or object of her affection- wants kids; to live by the sea- as humdrum and pointless a life as you get (sorry; just is)- whereas she wants more.  Not wanting to be tied-down and dull- like 99% of people in the planet- there is a need to slow things down; cool his jets.  “Slow now” begs our heroine- her voice smoky and strong- as the compositions clatters and presses.  In the early phases, the band is incredibly tight and focused.  The percussion flails and rambles; it has a loose and child-like quality- whilst remaining composed and punchy; supportive and energised.  The bass notes (from Hughes) guide the foreground; add conviction and weight (to the vocals) – whilst perfectly sparring with the drums.  Our heroine’s guitar stabs and swoons; it jabs and stings- never exploding or wailing too prematurely.  In the song’s video- where Buratto is multiplied and layered; creating a tripped-out and mirror image effect- you get the full effect of deliriousness and attack.  It seems- our heroine is the- voice (that “shot your head”); a bullet-like thing that is dangerous and stalking.  Whoever her subject is- whether a current or former love- he is trying to run; get away- but she will keep coming back; even if they make a bet- it is one she will win.  You can feel that need for independence and control; not wanting to be pigeon-holed and dictated- a strong woman who will not be led and diminished.  Looking around at the kids and young (The Voice of a generation, as it were) we see lazy kids dancing to D.J.s; keen to mix it with the V.I.P.s- a rueful and unwise fate; something they should avoid.  That central message/chorus comes back around- to slow down and not burn-out- as our heroine casts her eye; offers caution in advance.  That chorus seems more effective second time around- especially with regards what has gone before- and the ideas of being “the voice” and not “noise”- will have you interpreting and speculating.  It would be fascinating to learn the origins (of the song); whether it is a real-life event- or something fictional and imagined- as you can hear that anger and urgency; Buratto (still seems) enflamed and provoked- letting that funnel-through her raw and blitzkrieg voice.  Mixing guttural growl with a powerful core, that voice commands the track- making sure every word hits home; makes its mark.  Green and Hughes (back up our lead) with appropriate zeal and desire; the bass is vivacious and carnal; augmentative and (instilled with an undercurrent) of fun.  As Green’s drum rushes and drives; whips-up a festival of emotion and influence- whilst tying together the bass and guitar parts- and the song gets inside the head.  The composition is insistent and classic-sounding- embers of the ‘70s Punk scene; little shades of U.S. Blues-Rock- whilst retaining its originality and voice.  Just past the 2:00 mark- with a little (perhaps unintentional nod) to The Black Keys- the song kicks up a gear; our heroine rallies the troops (“Let’s go”) – and the band unleash a storm.  Between wordless vocals/utterance, the composition takes charge: the guitar stutters and swaggers (with leather-clad cool); Hughes’ bottom-end and rhythm keeps time- and blends magnificently with the band- and fills the spots (there are few of them yet she manages to make sure her bass is in there); the bass helps accent the percussion- adding harmony and a sense of personality, too.  The biggest change-up is the percussion which gets heavier and more domineering: with extra flair and power; Green is on the attack- and adding oil, sweat and blood to the coda.  Before the song is through- the propulsive instrumentation gives the impressions the end is imminent- the chorus comes back through; rallies one last time- picking up additional significance and resonance.

  The Voice is a song that reveals itself (over the course of listens) – yet it does have some instant charms.  The band is at their very peak here: they have never sounded as in-tune and tight; focused and meaningful- maybe their extensive live performances have added to that.  The song itself has a live-sounding jam ‘quality’ to it- you can imagine this being a live favourite very soon- but essentially it is professional and composed.  A hard trick to pull off- yet one the band can do effortlessly- The Voice is a terrific statement.  Clearly the band have been influenced by certain ‘types’: men that are too eager and possessive; those that chase status and celebrity- elements society can do without.  Differing from their previous tracks- the band do not want to sound too confined and samey- they are constantly developing and changing- whilst remaining quality-assured and distinct.  The lyrics (throughout The Voice) are simple and effective; personally meaningful- whilst addressing wider concerns.  The composition is snaking and mutating; unpredictable and striking.  Buratto lets that inimitable voice run riot: it goes from scratched and fractured to emotive and forceful- making sure every thought and word is given appropriate consideration.  Together with her guitar work- which marries gnarled and taut riffs; sneaking and jumping lines- and it is a wonderful performance.  Hughes has one of the most expressive and powerful bass lines around: able to blend with the band, she uncovers so much heart, grit and melody- a fantastic sense of rhythm and a real feel for the material.  Green’s percussion work adds immense perseverance and attack; a tonne of musicality and control.  When fast and fevered, his performance is always reigned-in (and not too hysterical); when muscular and enduring, it never showboats or overwhelms (the composition and sound).  Capable of Funk and groove, it is another solid and reliable performance.  Larry Hibbitt’s production allows each word and instrument to be understood; nothing gets buried and toned-down- there is emphasis on the vitality and mood; it is not too polished and fake.  Where a lot of bands have overproduced and watered-down production- The Libertines’ latest album lacks that necessary bareness- here there is no such issue.  The Voice shows another side to the band; a new concern and offering- demonstrated just how flexible and imaginative (their songwriting is).  Barely a day old, the track is being met with effusiveness and praise- hardly surprising to see why.

Being close with Gelato- and having read live reviews of the band- I know how scintillating (Echo Boom Generation) are.  Buratto is a natural leader and Rock-goddess: that voice cuts through the music; it is filled with passion and power- her guitar work is electrifying and hair-raising; packed with meaty riffs and swagger; gliding licks and Devil-may-care attitude.  Hughes is the band’s groove-mistress and bass hero: gorgeous and focused musician; keeping her part tight and guiding- making sure there is ample melody, upbeat; danger, rhythm and swing.  Green is the all-smiling (and dexterous) percussionist: infusing rumble and concrete (into the agenda) his firm sticks- and Grohl-esque power- makes every song elementary and essentially; intertwines seamlessly with his bandmates.  The trio is so memorable for a number of reasons.  The first is the fact they are so close-knit: Buratto and Hughes met at university- and are firm and loyal friends- whereas the trio have a huge bond and natural affection- this comes through in their songs.  The band is a democracy and truly supportive thing: each player has equal footing; the songs give (each of the three) chance to shine- the music sounds effortless and natural; progressive and historic.  It is those tight and hypnotic performances that remain in my memory: The Voice shows how ambitious and determined they are.  With no loose notes or wasted lyrics, the song is as tight, catchy and impressive as they come- a song that should be play-listed on Absolute Radio; give Radio One some credit and kick- compel crowds for months to come.  A delirious and get-on-your-feet live proposition- the reviews and fan praise speaks for itself- the trio are energetic and arena-made; clearly in love with their fans- ensuring each face has a smile on it.  Perhaps the most impressive facet- and the hardest to pull off- is their blend of genres/sounds.  The band have grown up with the likes of Foo Fighters and Queens of the Stone Age; seduced by Led Zeppelin and Band of Skulls- bands that do things properly; know how to create epic jams and timeless anthems.  Being a huge fan of Queens of the Stone Age and Led Zeppelin; I heard some Grunge-cum-Desert-Rock elements- the band know how to mingle groovy riffs with dark undertones- that recall the Californian legends.  Their love of Blues and ‘60s/’70s Rock can be heard too: those Zeppelin-esque riffs; the gliding and stand-out bass lines- the meaty and metallic drum work.  Buratto’s voice shows signs of legends-past, yet is imbued with her own dynamic of lust and anger; rally-the-masses and openness- a rare blend in this current climate.  The young masters are a rare trio: there are few that are female-fronted; few trios at all (compared with bands and duos) – they are likely to inspire legions of up-and-coming bands.  With a prevalence of four/five-piece bands; the rise of (in the wake of Royal Blood’s inauguration) duos- how many trios do you see play (in the mainstream certainly)?  Not as limited and confined as duos; not as cluttered and cliché as a band- the trio seems like the perfect solution.  When it comes to female-fronted bands, the conception is they’ll play like girls: be quite effete and slight; make Pop-based music- not really Rock that hard.  No such issues with Echo Boom Generation: ladies (and gentleman) with plenty of attitude and command.  Being based out of London, the band has struck up relationships- with other bands are venues- they are vibing off (of this) companionship- having a great time being among U.S. audiences and fans, too.  What is the secret (to the band’s success) and rise?  The guys have grown up on some great music- from Cream and Hendrix; Zeppelin and Jazz- that enforces their writing and performances.  The trio takes the trippiness and psychedelic elements of ‘70s bands- like Cream and The Jimi Hendrix Experience- and lace in the power of Queens’ and Foo Fighters- mix them together in a brain-melting and drunkening cocktail.  The band’s social media numbers are rising- I am surprised they do not have more fans and ‘likes- yet they have a future ahead.  After The Voice has been taken-in- already it is garnering loads of love across social media- it will be looking ahead; working on new music; keeping that momentum going.  Few bands have as much quality and urgency (at their disposal); few manage to seduce crowds so readily- a trio that need to be taken to heart.  In a year that has shown some mixed music fortunes- the mainstream hasn’t stamped-out too many classic albums- it is down to the next generation- the best of the underground.  London is saturated and over-flowing; bands nestling and rubbing shoulders- all looking to gain support and attention.  Echo Boom Generation has the guts and glory to go all the way: become festival headliners and challengers to Royal Blood- carve out an impressive career.  It would be great to hear an E.P. (or full-length album) so they can really spread their wings: hear all their layers together; the full extent of their might- I hope it is on their minds.  It is left for me to congratulate the band- who have produced their finest song to date- and recommend you follow them carefully.  This year has seen two Australian bands steal top honours- Totally Mild and Royal Headache have produced 2015’s best albums- so it’s nice for a British act to come into focus- and perfect that power-attack sound.  Excelsior to them, and on with their noble quest: new faces and ears to captivate.  If The Voice is anything to go by, we will be hearing a lot more…

FROM this glorious three-piece.

 

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Follow Echo Boom Generation:

 

Official:

http://echoboomgeneration.com/

Facebook:

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

Twitter:

https://twitter.com/EBGtheband

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Music:

https://soundcloud.com/echoboomgeneration

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Videos:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCE89KWOu4oUVfeo6tKQdXvg

This Week’s Albums: September 9th, 2015

This Week’s Albums

 

 

September 9th, 2015

 

 

 

 

IT is a case of “Something old, something new/something ‘borrowed’, something…

 

that doesn’t rhyme”.  I do a D.J. gig every week at The Stoke Pub and Pizzeria (https://www.facebook.com/TheStokeGuildford?fref=ts); I have the opportunity to play four different albums: one that is ‘old’ (to my mind, anything pre-1985), something ‘new’ (released brand-new that week); something influential (and has inspired a genre/other acts)- in addition to dealer’s choice (any album I choose).  Having done this for over a year-and played everything from Graceland to Pearl Jam; from FKA twigs to Beastie Boys- it is enormous fun.  I get to talk to people about music; play some awesome stuff- turn people on to some great/forgotten sounds- well, I try to.  I shall publish this every week; try and highlight some fantastic albums- maybe some you had forgotten about.

The Old: Joni Mitchell- Court and Spark (1974)

 

9.5/10

 

Whilst Blue remains perhaps her most recognisable album; Court and Spark is her finest: the infusion of Rock and Folk strands; her most astute and assured collection- a step-away from the more confessional/personal work.  Court and Spark is more character-driven; it mixes humour with relationship-insight outpouring.  Revolving around a simple concept- the issue of trust in relationships- it delivers remarkable consistency.  Free Man in Paris (the album’s stand-out hit) looks at the evils of the music industry; its urgent vocal enforces the song’s lyrics- the using-and-abusing; the business-like double-cross.  Raised on Robbery– about the realities of the singles bar scene- sees predatory figures exposed.  Lacing wild Jazz horns with multi-tracked vocals- it is an evocative and scintillating number.  With Down to You looking back- it sounds like it could have featured on Blue– investigating the transience of morals and ‘love’; Mitchell unites her past and present.  The Canadian’s lyrics match warm and wry; funny and tragic- her most accomplished set.  Her vocals on this album have a warmth, depth and passion- perhaps lacking in earlier releases- whilst her commitment is paramount and unflinching.  In an age now- where every artist wants to release something Joni Mitchell-esque- listen to the original; the legend herself- and see how it should be done.

 

The New: The Libertines- Anthems for Doomed Youth (2015)

 

8.0/10

 

Few people could have predicted a third ‘Libertines album- given the acrimony and fall-out that occurred during their sophomore release- yet the brotherly unity shared between Pete Doherty and Carl Barât burns bright.  The band does not try and replicate the past- most critics are disappointed by this- instead offering an of-the-moment representation of their sound.  Lead single Gunga Din recounts The Libs’ of old: the drunken haze and spotty recollections; the morning-after regrets and who-gives-a-f*** swagger (although its cod-Reggae verses sound a little flushed).  Heart of the Matter (their newest single) showcases Morrissey-does-Reggae fusion; looks at blame and attention-seeking behavior.  The title track is both slow-burning and impassioned – “life can be so handsome”- showcasing one of the album’s best Carl-‘n’-Pete shared vocals.  Elsewhere, rollick and ‘traditional ‘Libertines’ sound comes out in Glasgow Come Scale Blues– and stands as the album’s stand-out.  An instant and memorable chorus; ragged and drunken guitars; catchy riffs a-plenty.  Whilst the production values are too polished- Mick Jones’ raw and ragged ‘Clash-esque touch is sorely missed- all the key ingredients are here: the love and passion; the trials and inequities of modern youth- everything the band stands for.  Whilst not their finest L.P., it is good enough to rival 2015’s best: essentially, The Libertines back in force!

The Influencer: Gang of Four- Entertainment! (1979)

9.0/10

Released in 1979, the English post-Punk band (on their most spectacular album) influenced a sea of bands- including Fugazi and Rage Against the Machine.  One of the first albums to mix spoken/shouted lyrics; dirty and scuzzy guitars, a mix of sexual and social politics- its templates have been employed countless times since.  Selfish and corruptible politicians are laid bare in the dizzying I Found That Essence Rare; sexual politics are under the spotlight in Damaged Goods– “Your kiss so sweet/your sweat so sour”.  Lead-off track Ether looks at Special Category prisoners in Northern Ireland; Natural’s Not in It and Return the Gift expound Marxist themes of commodification.  Album closer Anthrax draws everything into one glorious swansong: the distorted and animalistic guitars; the Punk atavism and virile energy; the love-is-like-cattle-disease analogies- wrapped around an intense and endlessly compelling band coming-together.  Rapturous and snarling; accomplished and inspirational: it was an album that changed the Punk scene; altered the face of music in the 1970s -it introduced a wave of acolytes and admirers.  If the lyrics do not compel you- and their mix of sexual incongruity and Marxist ideologies- the music surely will: you are helpless to resist its dance-worthy energy; the layers and nuance- a timeless and sensational record.

The ‘Other One’: Stevie Wonder- Songs in the Key of Life (1976)

 

10/10

 

One of music’s greatest albums- where Wonder celebrates the joys of life and strength-through-God- it has influenced countless artists (Prince claims it is his favourite album ever); the album is a vast and ambitious work- few double-album releases are as accomplished, focused and spotless.  With issues like ghetto exploitation, religion and romantic transcendence put into focus; Wonder is at his most heightened, here.  For fans of his older works- that look at social and race issues- tracks like Village Ghetto Land (about the harshness and realities of the ghetto), Black Man (looking at those who helped build America) and Pastime Paradise are stand-outs; Summer Soft and Joy Inside My Tears mix cathartic and romantic- redemptive and introspectiveness too.  As– one of the album’s most-covered and celebrated songs- looks at that peak of passion: loving someone to the boundaries of impossibility; channeling faith and spirituality into the mix- a mesmeric celebration of love’s possibilities.  A total of 130 people worked on the album (it was recorded between 1974 and 1976) whilst Wonder himself barely slept or ate – just vibing and working; never stopping; others around him struggled to keep pace.  That dedication, inspiration and passion shows throughout Songs in the Key of Life: an essential album that re-shaped R ‘n’ B, Soul and Pop; floored critics and listeners- a record whose ambition, scope and wonderment will never be bettered.  A true work of genius from a master at his peak.

 

Feature: That Single Moment- The Song That Matters the Most

FEATURE:

 

 

 

That Single Moment:

 

  

The Song That Matters the Most

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We all have that particular song: the ones that means the very most.  It may not be the best; it may not be the coolest- that track that stands above the rest.  Keen to share my choice- and get opinions from others- let us begin

____________________________________________

BEING my 400th blog post- my fingers pay testament to that number; how many words have been…

typed- I thought it best to try something collaborative- and share a personal thing.  Music is that subject mistress; a domain that seems both personal and universal- where different sounds appeal (to different people).  I am always baffled when someone does not share my music tastes; has never heard of (a particular band/artist) – and fails to dislike pretty awful music.  My favourtite album is The Bends: Radiohead’s (in my mind) finest moment, remains untouched.  The 1995 masterpiece has that perfect balance of emotion and vulnerability- heartbreaking tracks like Bullet Proof… I Wish I Was and Fake Plastic Trees– stunning Rock epics- the title track; My Iron Lung and Just– it has it all.  Thom Yorke’s voice is the defining feature: it beings every emotion to life; captivates at every turn- a stunning performance throughout.  From the woozy and drunken- the band’s own confession- mess of Planet Telex; High and Dry’s catchy refrains; to Street Spirit (Fade Out)’s haunting finale- an album that never fails to mystify; puts me in a better place.  It my favourite album for a number of reasons.  The band performances are consistently tight and memorable: they spar and fuse perfectly; back one another up- each track sounds vital and alive.  Aside from Yorke’s (timeless, angelic voice) there is an enormous amount of power and emotion: even in the more optimistic moments, you feel somehow seduced and thought-provoked.  Above all, The Bends marks a particular moment: in the midst of ‘Britpop’s celebratory regency, Radiohead stood as the outsiders- the band unconcerned with cool and ‘fitting-in’.  I can listen to it over and over; it never loses its magic and mystery- and it never will.  When it comes to my favourite song, that honour goes to Deacon Blues– from U.S. Jazz-Rock legends Steely Dan.  I have dedicated an entire post to that already- so shall not go into too much depth- suffice it to say, that track holds special memories.

Whereas Deacon Blues is my favourite song- and the finest track I have ever heard- it is not the most important one.  That track evokes different memories and emotions; it is for a particular time and place- I would not say it is the most important track (from my perspective).  So what defines the most important track?  I guess it depends, really.  For me, it would be the earliest music memory; when it started to reveal its beauty- that moment everything changed.  We all have our own perspective and choice; why one songs stands out (above the rest).  For me- the choice of most memorable track- would not be classed as ‘obvious’.  Tears for Fears are not a band I spend time with; I only have one of their albums (Songs from the Big Chair) – they do not feature in my thoughts much.  Their best-known track Everybody Wants to Rule the World has never left my mind.  Its sister album- Songs from’– was released in 1985: during its release, that track was all over the airwaves; it struck my young mind hard.  At the time of its release, I was a two-year-old: a developing (and very noisy, I have been told) human being- music was a somewhat strange concept.  Whilst a lot of tracks- I was born when Thriller was at the top of the charts; New Romantic music was popular- just passed me by; this song just stuck.  In the subsequent years- as I was entering toddler-hood/school days- artists like T-Rex, Glenn Miller and The Rolling Stones (would be a common sound around the home); my music upbringing burst into life.  Everybody Wants to Rule the World is my earliest music memory, and to me, remains my most important (music experience).  Whether in a cot or bed- I have distant memories of hearing the song in that environment- that track brings back memories (memories of nothing, but important none-the-less).  At the time- and for many years after- I naively assumed it to be an upbeat song: its composition and chorus is so peppy and effusive, I was being misled.  In the same way (some assume Born in the U.S.A.) to be a pro-American song- when it is anything but- I assumed Everybody’ was something rather jolly.  Perhaps a celebration of life; big businesses starting to come through- it was 1985, so who knows?  Of course, the song relates to war-mongering; everybody wanting to go to war- the chaos and political turmoil of the time.  In subsequent/ recent years, not only does the song seem ever-relevant- it becomes more fully-rounded and tangible; in my adult mind.  Whilst I am not a huge fan of its sister album; its key moment is a crucial track- it is when music began for me; the day everything changed.

I can’t listen to that intro. without being transported back to the early-‘80s; the safe and care-free childhood- when everything was a lot simpler and less stressful.  I love the song- but for different reasons- as it is powerful and evocative; stunningly performed- brimming with urgent caution and meaning.  That is the strange thing about music: not only is that song a defining moment; its legacy and importance has shifted slightly- it has taken on a new life.  Whilst no track will surpass Deacon Blues– in terms of sheer quality and genius- and no album will beat The Bends– for ticking every box going- nothing rivals Everybody Wants to Rule the World.  It is a song that proffers wonderful memories; a revelation that cannot be topped- the first exposure (to the majesty and beauty) of music.  Whilst my interpretations (of the track) were misguided and short-sighted- I was an infant, so can be overlooked- it didn’t matter.  Everything about it hit me: its cascading composition; those distinct (and beautiful sounding) vocals; the catchy chorus- and those thought-provoking words.  Quite a spellbinding and wonderful thing, is music: for some (certain tracks) hold dear memories; for others, it is pure garbage- there will be many who loathe Tears for Fears’ greatest number.  That’s okay, and I understand it: I am not a fan of David Bowie and; have little time for Foo Fighters and Biffy Clyro- bands and acts (most people anyway) seem to love.  As I said; music is a subjective and personal thing: certain songs/albums/acts affect everyone differently; elicit different reactions- do different things.  That’s my story, so what’s yours?  It would be fascinating to hear other people’s choices; which songs (mean the most) to them- and exactly why.  For me, it is that first musical moment; the beginning of childhood- the realisation of music and its power.  1985 was filled with some interesting and varied music; perhaps another song could have stuck in mind- it could have been pretty interesting.  Everybody Wants to Rule the World clearly has that extra something; a distinct power- something that can’t be explained.  As I end my gushing and (to some rather dull) story, let me know- which song would you choose?  Get in touch (will share it on this blog post) and…

LET everyone know.

 

Split-Cassette Review: Terrorista/Outer Rooms- Terror Rooms

SPLIT-CASSETTE REVIEW:

 

Terrorista/Outer Rooms

 

 

Terror Rooms

 

9.4/10.0

 

Terror Rooms is available at:

https://terrorista.bandcamp.com/album/terror-rooms

RELEASED:
1st  September, 2015

GENRES:
Post-Punk

ORIGIN:

Toronto, Canada

Performed and recorded by Outer Rooms and Terrorista all at once:

Andrew Fitzpatrick; Sean Fitzpatrick; Matt Frewen; Sam Hargrove; Rich Taylor

Mixed by Kevin O’Leary

Mastered by Jay Hodgson.

TRACK LISTING:

People Float (Terrorista ft. Outer Rooms) – 9.4

Driver (Outer Rooms ft. Terrorista) – 9.4

 

 

I’M not in Kansas anymore…

or London, for that matter.  It is back to Canada, for what is, a rather different review- with two new acts.  Normally, I just take on an act/band/whomever; assess their new song/E.P. (occasionally) album- and that is that.  Today, something unique is unfolded: two fellow (Toronto-based) acts; conspiring and bonding forces- for a split-cassette/two-track release.  The very notion made me smile and wonder: how often does that occur?  Even in the U.K., it is almost unheard-of: artists coming together for a mini-E.P./release- usually music (in that sense) is compartmentalised and disconnected; singles are released (with collaborations; album tracks too) yet a stand-alone release?  Being in unknown territory- in regards the componence and presentation of the music- it brings me to a few new subjects.  I love the idea of bands getting together; putting together a ‘split-cassette’ record; a two/three-track presentation- each band takes a lead on one track; collaborate on the other.  Not only does it unveil new material; a new sound from a band- it shows how they unite (with their fellow musicians); provide something quite different and fresh.  It is not quite a single (unless you count one track a B-side); it is not quite an E.P. (not sure how you’d classify it) – it has its own label and identity; something not-often tackled in music.  Maybe it happens (a lot in) Canada; something that is being popularised and proffered- I am not overly-sure how the Canadian music scene differs- or this may be a one-off.  It seems there is a great communal spirit; a brotherly spirit- coming out of the musicians of Toronto.  My featured artists pair seamlessly; along with (fellow acts) Watershed Hour and Sly Why, there seem to be an affinity and mutual respect- all-too-willing to share the music, ideas and the stage.  This gives me much heart and reflection; new sorts of music- where one-off releases can really inspire something influential.  I have not really heard of it in the U.K. – where there would be a split-cassette-like happening- but it may have occurred; it should certainly happen more.  What the Toronto boys have shown- on their latest collaboration- is what results can come about; how strong the music is.  Instead of introducing the band(s)- like I usually would in a paragraph- it is worth assessing them together.  Terrorista are a two-peace (sic.), Punk/Post-Punk band.  Sam Hargrove and Rich Taylor offer “post-post-post-punk” (they are THAT ahead of their times) that seems to be classic and futuristic- something elementary raw and instilled with melody.  Keeping their make-up simple- your drum-guitar-vocal combination- are you get something of-the-moment.  With the likes of Royal Blood- a name I like to bandy-about- leading a Rock/Punk revival; Terrorista are harder and faster- a by-the-seat-of-your-underwear duo; they make a regal sound- whilst showing enough heart and intelligence (to soothe and satisfy those who want some peaceful edges).  Over the summer, the Terrorista two-some united with Outer Rooms: the brainchild of Andrew Fitzpatrick, Sean Fitzpatrick and Matt Frewen.  Heart-rocking, soul-lifting and feet-moving Rock is created; a small band (with small guys, as they claim) they make big, big music.  Blitzing and kick-to-the-head riffs soar and grab; their music is both primal and anthemic- ready-made for the hungry arena crowds.  Whilst both bands have a different sound; they share a common ideal: to make sky-scarping music; inject hard and heaviness with stunning riffs- ensure the end result is instantaneous and emotive; demands fevered investigation.  It seems only natural the two noise-armies would unite; weld together their (distinct and eager) sounds- into something stunning and scintillating.  Having their own sounds- and both bands being original- there may have been trepidation: how would they work together?  Would collaborating distill (each band’s) sound?  On all fronts, skepticism and doubts have been allayed; any reticence has been dissipated- the results speak for themselves.  Before I assess the new songs- and give a musical history on both acts- I am back in Canadian territory.  A while ago, I was in the midst of a Canada-only review cascade.  It got to the point where I had to levy an embargo- having been on the mailing list of a music agency; I was being pelted with samey bands; from the exact same area.  With the musicians of Hamilton, Ontario (dozens of the buggers) mailing me by the day- where the bands started to merge and lose identity- it got too much; quite frustrating and depressing.  It was great reviewing the odd band- there were some gems in the haystack- yet I am glad I have stepped-away from Hamilton: arriving now in Toronto; it will be my last Canadian review (for a few weeks at least).  I have always been a fan of Canadian music- its vibrancy and inventiveness; the diversity and originality- yet some areas (not Hamilton, in particular) tend to produce similar acts: a lot of Indie/Alternative sounds; a lot of the same sound very similar (to everything else out there).  I have reviewed Toronto-born music before- loathed if I can recall the names of the acts/bands- but came away feeling refreshed and stunned; it seems to be breeding terrific music- a city with a wealthy and glorious history.  If we look at Toronto, it has spawned some legendary acts: from Barenaked Ladies and METZ; to Crystal Castles to Death From Above 1979; along to Feist and Broken Social Scene.  There is a lot of different genres being represented: Rap from K-os; Electro-clash from Peaches- Hardcore from Cancer Bats.  Across the spectrum and range, there is endless passion and options- a city that provides sounds for all music-lovers.  Canada’s most populous city, it may not be a surprise- that it is showcasing so many wondrous acts- but there is a great sense of neighbourhood and altruism; connecting and sharing- that may be the reason behind it.  Whatever the reason; eyes should be trained here- one of the world’s most prolific music centres.  Among the new, young musicians; playing terrific hard/Post-Punk jams- two of its finest have joined forces.

Released in August (recorded last year) the Colour Tape Compilation was Terrorista’s last release.  Boating vibrancy and stunning designs- the band are naturals when it comes to eye-catching covers and releases- it is packed and busy record.  Able to purchase in purple, pink, green and blue, the compilation resonated with fans and reviewers.  Philip Seymour Hoffman is a jagged and rumbling thing.  A track that has an endless drive and determination, it has a stripped-down and lo-fi sound; production values that allow it to sound live and somehow polished- a rare trick.  Darren vs. Bag is a more guttural and ‘90s sounding track.  It has a great by-gone flair- mixing undertones of Grunge and Metal- yet is very much distinct and original.  Sean Drums is a more relaxed and uplifted affair- in the opening exchanges- that shows the band in a more relaxed mood.  Looking at cracked pavements and empty rooms; stars and the moon- the boys are in more pontificating and reflective mode.  Canvas stutters and races in the opening; within silence there will be laughter; you can (song’s subject) use my “body as a canvas”- put holes in it.  The song is vivid and eye-catching; it could be a story of love and fractured relations; perhaps something less tangible- there is some mystery and obliqueness to things.  The eight-track release shows the band at their fiery peak: brimming with ideas and passion, the mini-album has no fillers; it is packed with stand-out moments.  One of the record’s down-sides is the clarity: some of the lyrics get buried and overlooked; they are mixed too far down.  Because it is a raw and gritty release, it can sacrifice concision and audibility- there is an emphasis on feel and sound; as opposed to lyric clarity.  Terror Rooms shows the same sort of production values; yet the lyrics seem clearer and more understandable- not quite overlooked and buried.  Outer Rooms have a similar backstory and sound, so when the two bands combine, there are no scares and slips- it is very much business as usual.  Both acts sound at their most vibrant and essential: the new (two tracks) are among the most compelling and rewarding- either act has ever produced. A year ago, Outer Rooms unveiled (their self-titled) E.P.: a four-track record that is a little less raw and lo-fi (than Terrorista).  What Outer Rooms is more clarity and decipherability: they provide lyric sheets (on BandCamp); making it easier to dig into songs- get behind them and discover their meaning.  Ribbons sees punched-up vocals inject emotion and vivacity.  The lyrics look at alleyways and beat-downs; sweaty tongues and ribbon-filled mouths.  Not as rushed and energised as Terrorista- their music is a little more ‘traditional’ in that sense- there is obliqueness and fascination.  The words grab you in; you are fascinating and intrigued- just what their origins are.  Domino Backyard is about returning home- after being kicked out- and looking at the wasted teenagers; the rather mundane life and trying to move past it.  Perhaps there is an air of sadness- maybe wanting to be part of the home scene; the graduates and the wasted teens- yet there seems to be underlying resentment and anger.  Rawhead is a clattering and jumping thing; a song that looks at peeled skin and spit; danger and violence- those spectacular and detailed lyrics are back.  Outer Rooms- as compared to Terrorista are more oblique with their lyrics- whereas Terrorista go for more direct and emotive.  The Outer Rooms sound is- whilst more tradition-based- imbued with clarity and emotion; less Punk-y and hard (than Terrorista).  Since last year- and working with their mates- Outer Rooms have a new lease; they seem more confident and urgent- picking up hints from their city-mates.  Driver– their contributing to the cassette- sticks with their lyrical traditions and sounds; the addition of Terrorista sees harder edges come in- mixing the sound (of both bands).  Bottom-line, each act has grown in stature and confidence; they sound effortless and up-for-the-fight- the songs ooze light, dark and emotion; interesting scenes and fascinating characters.  With new Terrorista music in-the-works, let’s hope Outer Rooms follow suit.

People Float sees Terrorista take the lead (first off).  A crunching and cosmic guitar swagger greets to the track- with some hissing and tender percussive drive backing it.  Emotive and dramatic, initial words cause speculation and wonder: “If you live through this/you’ll never run faster”.  Those words had me guessing and picturing; what was being assessed- a myriad slew of sights can to mind.  Beautiful life and peaceful nights; the band are at their most pressing and captivating- the vocals reminding me a little of Nirvana and Foo Fighters.  With such a graveled and concrete projection to the voice- that brings all the words sharply into focus- you get sucked-into the song.  Although some words get mixed-down/overshadowed, the texture and passion of the song resonates- it is hard not sit to attention.  With Terrorista and Outer Rooms forming a five-piece sound, it allows the song to become fuller and more dramatic- the bands are seamless together; fusing their sounds naturally- resulting in something both new-sounding and familiar.  There is a great emphasis on the complete sound; those instruments combining and voicing- the composition is nuanced and insistent; anthemic and fist-aloft.  Vocals are combined in an army-call of “sit up”- a mantra that seems to be the song’s core; a call-to-attention; a kick to the mid-section.  Razor-wired and electrifying, the bands are at their height- the song gets its biggest punch of power and passion.  The track uses the river metaphor to great effect: some people float downstream; others sink like led- I was curious what was being documented.  Washed-up in the compositional fury- and the rabble of words and lyrics- by this stage, I was looking-back- seeing what the boys were witnessing.  To my mind, there is a general evaluation of the population: maybe the anger is directed at a subject, yet there seems to be larger concerns- a general malaise/issue that is affecting them; causing disconcertion and disgust.  The song hits its peak when the vocals are augmented and shouted: the bolstered and bellicose codas hit their stride- it implores you to sign along in protest; direct your energy at (the song’s subjects) and get on board.  The song boasts terrific interplay and understanding: both bands understand their role and place; they boost and drive each other- never stepping on toes or failing to gel.  Connecting and playing with the utmost intuition and respect, you get a stunningly evocative track- the heaviest thing Terrorista have produced.  Following-on from their last release- and its spirit and sound- they are more compelling here; have a new injection of inspiration.  Perhaps there are one or two minor points- that issue of intelligibility and concision come back- and at times the vocal gets too rushed and tripped- meaning some of the words are over-layered and muted-out.  The important sentiments and subjects remain true and understandable: the boys manage to compensate with plenty of spirit and wonderment.  Outer Rooms are a useful addition: the extra bodies (and voices) add to the song; give it a vitality and substance.  Whether they will unite again- or carry on their separate paths- it would be great to see.  Here, they seem to be completely dedicated and focused on the subject matter: Terrorista are in their playground; Outer Rooms are a little heavier and foreign here- neither sounds nervous or unsure (at any point).  People Float is as striking as its title; simple and effective lyrics that whip-up a storm of ideas and speculation- the band have a skill with lyric economy and momentum.  The track is a stunning one-off (well, two technically) that shows possible future direction- perhaps their new E.P. will contain similar numbers?

Driver sees Outer Rooms take the lead.  A fast and finger-picking riff opens the song- you think it will go into Ace of Spades territory- giving it a huge initial kick.  Unlike People Float, here there is more emphasis on build-up and instrumentation.  The composition jumps and bounces; it elicits a punchy and passionate kick- compels the listener to nod their head in support; be swept away by the force and potency.  Losing track of “who I want to be” there is introspection and anger at the start: the vocal is enflamed and determined.  Self-doubt and recrimination is afoot; some need for investigation and change- the listener is engrossed by that catchy and effusive composition; the spellbinding swagger and urgency.  Feeling lost and angered- “Who’s going to talk with me?”- our hero’s voice is wracked with pain and concern.  Concerns about contentment; bloodied noses; people smiling- images and scenes wrapped and twisted into the boiling pot.  When coming to a definition of the song; what has caused its creation- there seems to be a lot of personal angst and rage here.  Whether compelled by the community/an aspect of it- or some heartache or split- it is being funneled into a riotous and psychotropic.  Sounding heavier and more rushing- than anything the band have created to this point- you can hear Terrorista’s influence; their hard-edged brand of music works (its way in) here.  The song has the feel of a jam session; a live session- the instrumentations was recorded in a quick collaborative session- bringing the song to life.  It does not mean it is unfocused and tossed-off: the urgency and insistency of the setting has worked wonders; brought the song to life.  The firework guitar work- the riffing arpeggios and frantic lightning- bonds with the persuasive percussion.  Both bands offer plenty of weight and authority: you are stunned by the momentum and urgency.  Our hero is tired of smiling and sitting back; snarling at nothing- action is being taken.  The Terrorista boys add some vocal bite and chomp; combined with Outer Rooms you get a multi-layered attack: something that adds emotion and nuance to the delivery.  The composition- benefitting from the input of both bands- keeps mutating and developing; little touches flourish and burn; notes spiral and smile- it is a rich and fascinating thing.  Like the sister track- where both bands unite in a chant- here we get a similar thing.  Our hero direct to the driver- whether it is a limousine or a taxi- to “rollup the windows”.  You get the impression they are headed for a river; plunging into the depths- maybe as a story counterpart to People Float.  Maybe I am reading too much into it, but it seems like this is the ‘first part’- or follow-on from the previous tale. The instruments are turned down slightly; the vocal is up front- that repeated messages come back; it is clear and concise.  Blood-curdling and fierce, the message is clear: “Let’s so how deep this lake is”.  Whether suicidal or death-defying; maybe a dare or a last option- you sense the vehicle racing to the water.  Hard and vibrating; rampant and buzzing, the composition really hits home; keeps on pressing and amazing- doing its work.  Before the song is through, the bands unite their voices; reinject that coda- the images of bloody noses and smiling.  As the last notes fizz, you wonder how it ended: has the vehicle hit the water; what is their fate- and how did they fare?  Anyway, you are compelled to revisit and spin the track; hear that stunning composition- all its layers and sounds; its dance and energy.

Both bands present different and unique tracks.  Staying close to their roots- and following on from their last releases- the news tracks mark a slight change.  Terrorista have brought in an element of composure and melody- thanks to Outer Rooms- whereas their mates have a bit more bite and intensity- thanks to Terrorista.  I cannot fault either, much: both songs are stunning and gripping; neither passes by without a fight- and both leave huge impressions.  To start, the instruments were recorded live; on the flip- captured in a live setting as it were.  After that, the vocals were added-in; mixed to create two raw and stunning songs- that should be witnessed, investigated and loved.  The production values give (both songs) a very edgy and natural sound; like you are listening to the songs in the flesh.  Exhilarating and exuberant; packed with slice-of-life lyrics and personal insight- kudos to both bands.  Their timeless and brotherly bond makes both songs fizz and remain; I would love to see more collaborations- another split-cassette offering.

The Toronto-based Terrorista are sure to do good things: they have tapped-into a rare vein of form; a fantastic sound- that lodges itself into the brain.  With Outer Rooms, they are among the city’s most urgent and impressive bands- the current release showcases that.  I know both bands will be hitting the road; taking their music to the masses- embarking on their separate careers.  The duo has just completed their new E.P.; a chance for fans to hear their work- and what is currently on their mind.  Their local representation and fan-base is growing; they have a loyal and rising core- that is going to keep on expanding.  In the coming weeks, the boys will gauge reception (to the split-cassette); see how it is being received- and plan new moves.  Outer Rooms have their own course set.  In addition to touring with Terrorista (and a couple of other local bands) the boys will be setting their sights on music- stamping their claim on the music landscape.  Terror Rooms‘ two-song cut is not just a chance for some larks- friends coming together for something unique- but it is a welcome change to experience new music.  The duo of tracks shows how well the bands work together; what a (combined) noise they can make- the results are scintillating.  I opened the review by mentioning two topics (specifically): Canadian bands and the Punk scene.  I have been away from Canada a little; spending time reviewing U.K. and U.S. bands- remise and ignorant to the developments.  Having discovered all Ontario can offer- you would think anyway- I am back in Toronto.  Being Canada’s most populous and busy city, it is producing the nation’s finest acts- a wealth of diverse and innovative bands.  In the U.K., cities like London are surging through; stamping some (of the U.K.s) best acts- and inspiring the rest of the nation.  The mainstream media- and media sources that dig out the best new music- tend to focus on their own nation- it is hard to assess music from everywhere.  Away from dedicated blogs and wars-to-the-ground merchants, how do we discover (acts like Terrorista and Outer Rooms)?  You can rely on chance and luck- social media sharing and bloggers- yet that seems like a bad way to do it.  I fear I am missing out on so many great acts- because it is so hard to find them all- and wonder how we can rectify this.  For now, it is a case of taking positive steps.  Having been made aware of Terrorista (and Outer Rooms) I am keeping my eyes on Toronto- from a listening perspective- digging-out what they have to offer; hoping to be led to other great acts.  Terrorista have a great bond with Outer Rooms; the two works wonderfully together- Toronto has a community spirit and a great collaborative air.  What Terror Rooms has shown is the power of inventiveness: doing something different and charming.  The two-song release has a great retro. edge to it.  Although available online- BandCamp and SoundCloud- there is a physical release- a stunningly-designed cassette that fans can snap-up.  It helps the songs are awesome too- as People Float and Driver prove- and this should lead to something great.  It would be interesting to see (if the two bands) do this again; whether other acts do a split-cassette project- they are a great breath of fresh air.  It leaves me to talk a bit about Punk: a genre that is wide-open and diverse.  With U.K. bands like Wolf Alice coming through; some terrific up-and-coming Pink acts showing themselves- the genre is witnessing a revival.  It has always been plugging away, yet it is very much in vogue: the public are being gripped and seduced; Punk sounds are filling the waves.  The Punk scene has a lot of mobility and wiggle-room.  It is not just a one-note flat genre (like some can be) but has potential to be opened up and reinvented.  Terrorista and Outer Rooms play Post-Punk (a modernised version of the classic ‘70s sound); they have a lo-fi and raw sound; something vibrant and gut-kicking.  With the proliferation of bland acoustic guitar acts; generic and predictable R ‘n’ B; plenty of insufficient music- we need more reliability and dependability.  In the U.K., the underground is producing some vitality and potential: acts that can be mainstream leaders; genre-splicing and eager.  In Canada, it seems the same is true: the public want something different; music that is nuanced and rich.  Terror Rooms is not a gimmick or a trick; it is a passionate and stunning release- sure to influence other acts.  With autumn upon us and the mainstream not really igniting- it is high-time we embrace something new and steeped in potential.  Terrorista and Outer Rooms are tremendous bands (in their own right) but together they are even stronger- working wonderfully off of one another.  If you have not heard Terror Rooms, make sure you change this.  You will…

NOT regret it.

____________________________________________________

Follow Outer Rooms:

  

Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/outerrooms

BandCamp:

http://outerrooms.bandcamp.com/

____________________________

Follow Terrorista:

 

Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/trrrorista

Twitter:

https://twitter.com/TerroristaMusic

BandCamp:

http://terrorista.bandcamp.com/

SoundCloud:

https://soundcloud.com/terroristamusic

 

Track Review: Eliza Shaddad- Waters

TRACK REVIEW:

 

Eliza Shaddad

 

 

Waters

 

9.6/10.0

 

Waters is available at:

https://soundcloud.com/elizashaddad/eliza-shaddad-waters

RELEASED:
16th June, 2014

GENRES:
Folk

ORIGIN:

London, U.K.

The E.P. Waters is available from:

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/waters-ep/id871722873

TRACK LISTING:

Waters– 9.6

When We9.3

Alright Again9.4

You for Me9.5

DOWNLOAD:

Waters; You for Me

STANDOUT TRACK:

Waters

 

TODAY marks a step forward…

and a step back (to an extent).  It is good to find a new talent; an artist that genuinely goes beyond the boundaries- a solo act with a tremendous work ethic- someone quite inspirational.  The song- and subsequent E.P. – I am reviewing was unveiled last year; one of 2014’a finest- a sign of what is to come.  I consider (finding a great new artist) as a step forward; uncovering a great new voice- there are so few about.  When it comes to the solo market, there are few really staking their claim; getting inside the head- really standing you to attention.  My favourite aspect of music is vocals: finding that set of pipes that makes you smile; compels you to dig deeper- and fall in love.  With regards the modern scene, I have to say, I am a bit stumped: a small list forms in mind; few that really do something special (people I have reviewed, no less).  Maybe it is this bias- that is enforcing my statements on modern music- yet those stars out there.  Those voices that really dig emotionally; project something quite otherworldly- I guess you need to employ luck and hard work.  When it comes to my featured artist- and her distinct and remarkable voice- I was tipped by a Facebook friend; led in her direction as it were.  Perhaps social media is the way to do things; the best way to stumbled-upon the best music- one wishes the process was easier/less serendipity-based.  Today’s review marks another ‘victory’; a great moment: as it concerns music within the solo arena.  I have bandied my opinions before- on this subject a few times- but have always been a little half-hearted; somewhat downbeat and cynical- thinking the solo market was underwhelming and disappointing.  Whilst not completely reformed, for now at least, here is a genuinely great act- someone doing the sole market wonders; showing how it’s done.  Before I introduce her- and get down to the business of reviewing her music- a new issue/thought has cropped-in: the musician as an ambassador; getting involved (in more than just) music- and using their name to benefit others.  There are some musicians genuinely involved in community; passionate about altruistic endeavours- using their influence and time to help those less fortunate.  Since I reviewed London-bases RKZ- who is an ambassador for a mental health charity- I have been looking about for those that go beyond their art; spend some time with other concerns- doing something charitable and benevolent.  RKZ- in this particular case- was/is a businessman; he helps (support those with) mental illnesses- using his music as a platform.  It happens more in the mainstream- and particularly the U.S. artists like Taylor Swift- where we see charitable bands/artists make the media; set-up businesses and organise events- not just focusing on the music.  I can understand the (reluctance and rarity of this happening) as music is an all-consuming thing; it requires a lot of money, passion and energy- little is left for outside concerns.  When it comes to Eliza Shaddad, my points all come together- just as well really; would seem like an odd tangent otherwise.  Shaddad is part of the female-led collective Girls Girls Girls: a group who celebrates female creativity; support Orchid Project (that aims to end the trade of female genital mutilation).  On the website- for Orchid Project- they are described thus:

We are Sam Lindo and Eliza Shaddad.  Musicians that wanted to create something a bit bigger than ourselves. We formed ‘Girls Girls Girls’ as a little collective of female artists who put on events to raise awareness, money and to stand in solidarity with females around the world who have been affected by Female Genital Cutting.  We have been joined by visual artist Charlotte Ferreira and photographer Georgina White-Aldworth and we work with London-based charity, Orchid Project, to forge links with female artists from various disciplines and genres, who come together at these nights to empower each other as performers and support this important cause“.

Shaddad understand the importance of the modern age: it is not good enough to simply sit by; let issues and problems occur and worsen- getting involved is the only way to (help beat the) issues.  It is impossible to get all the people involved in all issues- to ensure we all help fight inequality, discrimination and false practices.  Without getting misty-eyed- and dropping THAT Edmund Burke quote into things- I am proud of musicians- I know quite a few doing some tremendous work.  Whether it is charity fundraising; linking their name to charities- or just getting involved in their community- there is a rise in music-based altruism.  Orchid Project means a lot to Shaddad: she is a woman compelled to make changes; not just sit and do nothing- more should follow suit.  It is worth looking at Shaddad (herself); where she came from- and how she has been received:

Born to Sudanese and Scottish parents, Eliza Shaddad is a descendent of a long line of artists and poets dating back to the 1800s. Raised across Europe and Africa and now based in London, her recently released four-track EP ‘Waters‘ was produced by Mercury Music Prize nominated Chris Bond — the huge talent behind Ben Howard — and released on Beatnik Creative.  Following heavy support from BBC Radio 1, BBC Radio Scotland, XFM, Amazing Radio, and acclaim from The Sunday Times, The Line of Best Fit, Clash Magazine, and i-D Magazine, Shaddad played three brilliant shows at this year’s The Great Escape, and launched her EP at a sold-out full band show in London this June.  As a vocalist and writer with chart-dominating electronic outfit, Clean Bandit, Eliza appears on their UK Shanty and Mozart’s House EP’s as well as recently released debut album, ‘New Eyes’. With Clean Bandit, Shaddad has supported Rudimental, SBTRKT and Mercury Prize-Winners Alt-J, not to mention having played across the UK supporting the likes of Michael Chapman, Rue Royale and Rhodes, in her own right. A composed and captivating live performer, she has also played festivals such as Glastonbury, Blissfields, Beachbreak Live, and Sunrise.

Shaddad is among London’s most prominent (and impressive) musicians: an artist with a tremendous reputation; putting together some phenomenal music.  Waters was released last year- the title track to her incredible E.P. – and was met with huge acclaim.  It is not just the originality and confidence that comes home; it is that inimitable and peerless voice- a sound and sensation you can’t define; something haunting and dramatic- that is romantic and heart-aching.  I have been trying to find a reason- as to why her voice resonates so hard and urgently- and it may be because of her background (her heritage and her musical upbringing); perhaps her collaborative spirit- and the fact she has played with some diverse musicians.  There is a natural edge (to Shaddad’s voice) and something supremely commanding: each note and song is seductive and spine-tingling; Soul-blended and simply captivating.  I shall have to untangle that (the mystery behind the voice) later, but for now, to the music.

If you are foreign to Eliza Shaddad; curious as to her origins- you would do good to investigate her idols.  Covering a wide range, she cites the below (as inspirations):

Nina Simone, Martha Tilston, Ella Fitzgerald, Al Green, Alison Kraus, Ani DiFranco, Billie Holiday, Billy Bragg, Bob Dylan, Bob Marley, De La Soul; Dolly Parton, Eva Cassidy, Fat Freddy’s Drop, Jack Johnson, James Brown, Tori Amos, Jewel, Nick Drake, Kate Bush, Miles Davis, Nick Harper; Pacode Lucia, Robert Johnson, Skunk Anansie, Tracy Chapman…Festivals, Fat Gold Chain, MC’s, Birmingham, Boys, Girls, Horrible and Beautiful beautiful beautiful people and places.

When the shivers and seduction arrives, I am reminded of Nina Simone and the Soul greats.  When her voice is sweeter and more serene, shades of Eva Cassidy and Tori Amis (can be heard).  With Shaddad, there is a great mix of sensations and soulfulness; sweetness and vibrancy- a complete package.  I would use the above as guidance; maybe tread carefully- our heroine cannot be directly compared to anyone (on the list above).  She is very much her own signer; guided by intuition and individuality- as opposed to upbringing and others.  The artists above all have (had their) place; made their mark- and, as such, should be appreciated and loved.  A mix of black and white artists; Hip-Hop, Soul and Reggae (and everything in-between) – quite a variety to be found!

It is important to see how Shaddad has developed: looking at her earliest days, we can see a definite progression- in terms of confidence and range; her urgency and conviction.  Released a few years ago; A Good Man is ethereal and bare.  With flecks of Laura Marling in her voice; yearning and aching notes seduce forth- with a slight fleck of U.S. Country.  Gorgeous and finger-picked, one can hear embers of the Folk greats; it is insistent and uplifting- a song that sounds fresh and alive.  Our heroine (expounds the virtues) of a good man.  Seeking soul-nourishment and redemption, there is that deep passion and underlying desire- wanting to have her body and heart cleansed and soothed.  The lyrics resonate and hit the mark; the words are both personal and classic- a real stand out track.  When it comes to the vocals; they become multiply and expanded- creating more atmosphere and chills; something quite tranquil and delirious.  Not a ghostly and foreboding number, it is purely heartfelt and open- a song that you cannot help (but fall in love with).  Soothing and steeped-in-passion, the song is filled with grace and melody.

   Seven– taken from the same E.P., January-March- boasts tender and serene beginnings.  Like A Good Man, the vocal is pure and velvety.  Swimming and trickling over acoustic guitar, it is a pastoral and scenic number.  The track- and the E.P. in general- sticks to the acoustic guitar-led vibes; that touching gentleness and wonderment- the ability to buckle the knees.  Keeping her words personal and hopeful, Shaddad does not want to stay alone- she wants to go where she can feel wanted; a connection and a sense of togetherness.  Showcasing just how imperative and captivating (her voice is), our heroine sounds completely at home here: there are no wasted moments and loss of passion; every note comes across intoxicating and essential.

The E.P. Covers was unveiled one year ago.  It broke away from original parables- like the title suggests- seeing Shaddad tackle some well-loved songs.  Whereas a lot of artists cover their favourite songs; artists that mean a lot to them- in this case, the tracks/songs might not be (in Shaddad’s) top 10.  Choosing songs that require expansion- and can be improved-upon- each track is reinvented and giving new life.  Hideaway (originally by Kieszia) is more haunted and rounded (than the original).  Stripped-back and awed; it is a fantastic version.  The instrumentation is less Folk-based- as was more normal on earlier release- and here moves towards Electro. realms.  Teasing beats meet silky undertones; the vocals play in-and-out of one another; the song is nuanced and chilled- injecting bursts of passion when needed.  It implores the listener to seek-out the original; investigate its worth- and see the changes!

Another (of the E.P.’s) stand-out moments was Driftwood– a new take on Travis’ hit.  The vocal and composition remain bare and funereal- not in a bad way; there is a spectral quality to the sound.  Like a call across the oceans; a calm and reflective song is unveiled- one that surpasses the original.  Travis started Driftwood with some curiosity and beauty- as much as they could rustle- yet here it really steps up and impresses- what you’d hope the original would sound like.  Like she does with every song, Shaddad makes this her own; you believe these are her words- she shows no nerves at all; as though this is her most tender moment.  The covers are a collaboration with Turtle- Shaddad’s label-mate- and it has enforced/inspired the Electro. sounds- his producing and artistic prowess inspired Shaddad; helped reinvent the songs (and make the E.P. sound like it does).

Around this time, Shaddad collaborated with Clean Bandit- featuring on the tracks Birch and U.K. Shanty.  The former has light-and-dark elements; it has modern Electro. sounds- that recalls artists like FKA twigs- and bristles with life.  Underpinning the flow are sensations of ‘90s Trip-Hop (acts like Portishead) that gives the song a richness and sense of expansion.  The track races and trips; it clatters and fizzes- the beat really gets inside your head.  Shaddad’s vocal seamlessly fits in and works; making sure her voice is heard- and makes its presence known.

U.K. Shanty is more urgent and spiraling; electronics (here are) more warped and woozy- the whole song has great energy and pace.  Against the frantic backdrop, Shaddad lets her voice conspire- sounding completely natural and authoritative.  Able to adapt to the beats, she lets her notes trickle and reflect; emote and exude- a terrific and full-bodied performance.  Making sure the song ppossses huge emotion and beauty, she seems like a natural mate (to Clean Bandit)- let’s hope they collaborate again.

Over the last few years, Shaddad has developed as a singer.  In her earliest moments, there was the leaning towards Folk and Pop; her voice was at its most sweet and beautiful.  Perhaps influenced by Laura Marling- her voice sounds very similar; or perhaps her most natural sound- she has grown and developed; expanding her range and sound- she comes off more original and distinct (in her most recent work).  Shaddad has shown how (great an interpreter) she is; how she can revive a song- and really make it her own.  Similarly, her collaborations demonstrate how she can link with others; fit into their songs and ideas- retaining her personality and uniqueness; adding colour and strength (to the numbers she performs).  Waters– and her most recent songs- show Shaddad at her peak; her voice has never sounded as insistent and stunning- her songs are at their finest; the coming-together of all her strengths.  Employing Folk beauty- that she showed in her earliest recordings- together with renewed confidence and strengths- gained since then- it all slots together perfectly.  It begs the question about her next release: when her future E.P./album arrives, what will be contained (within)?  It is clear to be fascinating and multi-layered; contain (new songs) on love and meaning; seeking something life-affirming- all wrapped up in those sensational and wonderful vocals.

Evocative and tangible (from the opening moments) the cascading beats come into view: that sensation of wave-roll and tide; something soul-seeking and dangerous- beckons in the track.  Part-tribal call-to-arms; part-heartbeat-against-the-rocks; Waters spends no time (wasting moments and being underwhelming).  Instant and dramatic, you are hooked-in and invested- curious as to what comes next.  Electric guitar (an effective and sensual shimmers) glides and ripples; the sound of rain (or perhaps a waterfall) it is caressing and powerful.  The introduction stretches and pervades; it keeps a static sounds repeated; yet it gains potency and importance with each unveiling- building a momentum and weight as it goes along.  Within the first minute- and with few vocal notes elicited- you are drawn into the song; completely under its spell- a slave to its charms and beauty.  When our heroine arrives at the microphone, (her initial sentiments) are both illuminating and dream-like.  With the beat askance (yet resounding with heart); the guitar cascading with determination- you speculate and imagine.  Shaddad dreams in greens and blues; all the things “that I have seen”- you find yourself impressed by the lyrical dexterity and economy.  The vocal favour matches chocolate and honey; there is a darkness and rich centre- something sweet runs through it.  Perhaps a somewhat pretentious assessment, Shaddad’s voice demands close investigation- it is something impossible to distill; imbued with so many shades and nuances.  In the early stages- as she assesses her dreams and the world- there is huskiness and breathlessness; an air of submission and relent.  The water-based metaphor is a powerful and giving mistress: Shaddad uses it wonderfully- twisting and teasing multiple avenues and meanings.  When she is drowning and struggling- swimming against the tide without much hope- she is saved and pulled-in.  Whether a lover or friend, it seems (this man/person) is always there; a life-raft and savior.  The idea of water-as-an-emotional-image has been used multiple times; yet few create such a sense of drama and suffocation- our heroine’s stunning voice (tied with her intelligent lyrics and compositional flair) results in something original and staggering.  As the water begins “to slide up (my) skin”, Shaddad feels not-long-for-the-world and bereft; in need of something satisfying- the intensity of desire is upon her.  Helpless to resists- the lure of her man; object of her affection- that intensity and longing emanates hugely.  From the banks of the river- where your mind might be at the very start- now they turn to the bedroom; perhaps a dimly-lit night- as that sexual anticipation grows.  The lyrics and story mutates with an intense sense of unpredictability; our heroine’s mind seems overcome and possessed- the song starts to whip into life.  Hurried out the door; wanting something more- she seems to be walking away.  Wanting more (from her beau) – whether speaking spiritually or sexually- there is that need to reclaim soul; find a new direction- her man does not “bother (me)”.  Standing by the shore; back at the side of the water- you start to sum-up and predict.  Perhaps a relationship has broken down; maybe Shaddad is seeking more- not being nourished and satisfied as she wants.  The song sparks into life due to a number of reasons.  Firstly, the vocal is deployed and delineated superbly; some words race and rush; others elongated and syncopated- stunningly intertwining with the composition.  That composition- and its representation of water and danger- has a physicality and huge emotional pull.  The two combined elicit such a wonderful effect- coupled with tremendous production values (giving the song an eerie, live-sounding bareness) results in a wonderful effect.  Moving out “from the shore”, she cannot hear (her man) – the below is beckoning and calling.  After this revelation- and the song’s most potent and haunting moment- wordless vocals are laid-out; creating a shivering and spectral sound, you find yourself gripped.  Shaddad has a way with evocation and presentation: her vocal-and-lyric combination ensures the scenes and words vividly come to life; you transport yourself into the song- standing alongside; wondering what will unfold.  It seems there is dissatisfaction and disconnection; Shaddad is walking away; going towards the water- her anxieties and doubts taking their toll.  It seems that “every time we end up here”- whether in bed or in a relationship- our heroine’s fears come through: whether it is fading from view; making mistakes- repeating patterns and squandering a very real connection.  There is that niggling sense of imbalance and quench: our heroine needs more (from her man); there is always a something lacking- if it were better; the two connected and stayed together, that would be perfect.  The final seconds are filed with the song’s most heightened moment; the desperation and fear shouts- our heroine is being sucked under; at her most afraid.  Imploring to her man- not to be let go- that torment and vulnerability is evident and heartbreaking.  The final moments arrive; you wonder whether our heroine will be alright- if she’s managed to find solace and love.

 Waters is its mother’s most prosperous offspring: instilled with beauty and strength; a nobleness and dark undertone, it is a wonderful thing.  In a market where the likes of Florence + the Machine are attempting similar dramas- about drowning and love’s grip- Shaddad is up to the challenge; an equal to Florence Welch (and her stunning talent).  What marks Shaddad out- and takes you away from any Florence’ comparisons- is her vocal restraint.  Always affecting and emotive, she never sky-scrapes and ululates- always focused and keeping the emotions in-check.  The scenes and paradigms (throughout the song) build vivid scenes and thoughts; transport you inside the song- each line and verse is hugely effective; as though you are alongside her.  A hard-impossible trick to pull off, our heroine is a hugely skilled story-teller- avoiding clichés and predictability, her words get inside your head (and cast their spell).  It is worth noting the production, which allows every note and vocal to shine and effect- without being too polished and plastic.  The track is clear and concise; each instrument and layer is perfectly blended and placed- creating something rich and nuanced.  With that, the song comes off as live-sounding and bare; natural and open- given the song’s themes, that is a genius and appropriate result.  Shaddad links metaphor with reality; passion with caution- never stepping over herself; never coming off clunky and insincere.  Always effective and emotionally-charged, the track is a gem.  A lot of songs- most in fact- lose their potential over multiple listens; start to wear thin.  Waters unveils something fresh with each new discovery: keep playing and its full spectrum unfolds; its emotional potential really hits home.  Backed by wonderful accompaniment- the guitar is spellbound and rip-tide; the percussion is a wave that never desists; a powerful advocator- and you have a wonderful composition.  Shaddad is an accomplished and talented guitarist; someone in-tune with instruments as her own voice- when combined, she can elicit something quite spine-tingling.  That has proven to be the case here: Waters is a track you will not shake off; it shows Shaddad in full flight- a supreme and sensational talent.  I have mentioned singers like Laura Marling and Florence Welch- a tad of each can be detected- but truth-told; Shaddad is hugely distinct and effective- surpassing both artists.  Released a year ago- and having been digested and adored by a large number- the song has lost (none of its) appeal; it is a song that never will.

The rest of Waters contains plenty of amazement, depth and treasure- the four-track release is awash with tremendous music.  When We is a tender and introspective song.  Our heroine is listening and wants truth; a conversation between lovers, there is that desire for resolve and togetherness.  With her voice at its most tender and heart-aching, the track rides on a wave of strings: it is both riparian and water-side; insistent and attention-standing.  The vocal is that rarest of thing: it is both jaw-dropping and still; yet it never sounds uninteresting and vague.  The song grips and compels from start-to-finish; the purity and etherealness is transcendent- the images flow and weave their tapestry.  You picture her and the man; the passion that exist; the comfort and the longing- and your mind starts to speculate.  Maybe the song references a friendship; a long-formed bond that is timeless and unbreakable- maybe undergoing the weathers and strains of life.  The lyrics to the track have a simplicity and complexity: the words cannot be misheard or overlooked; yet their meanings can be interpreted (in different ways by different people).  I was imagining a summer-time bond; Shaddad (the heroine) lying in the grass; letting the world pass by- dreaming of her sweetheart.  Throughout the track, you are washed-up by the guitar sound- it is melodic and shimmering; emotive and heartfelt.  A terrific and fully-rounded track, it showcases Shaddad’s full talents: her ability to be powerful and venerable (in one moment); switch to stern and urgent (the next).

   Alright Again pairs beats and strings: a punched and pulsating (but not overwhelming) back-beat pairs with sparse electronic guitar.  Shaddad lets her voice cast out: against the uplifting (yet appropriately bare) backing, the vocal is entrancing and still.  The song looks at friendship and bonds; being there for someone- when they need it most.  Whoever the song’s core is- perhaps a friend of Shaddad’s- our heroine offers comforting words.  When fear and anxiety strike- they seem to be stalking the song’s subject- help is at hand; a reliable person- someone who will be there (no matter what).  Promising hopefulness and happiness, there is an uplifting and positive message: something modern singers could learn from; take heart from the messages.  Never cloying or saccharine, the track remains sincere and unforced- a track from the heart and soul; you are compelled by each thought and note.  That back-beat continues to pervade and push- making sure the song flows with a heartbeat; never loses its urgency.  Soothing and aching strings conjoin- and tie-in with the acoustic guitar- to create something very special.  Shaddad understands the issues at hand- the ease at which grace and patience can be lost- yet there is hope and a chance (to throw that all off).  Maybe an ex-love is being assessed: the song mentions another woman- someone who makes them feel better and fulfilled- so perhaps a new relation is afoot.  Containing some mystique to its bones, Alright Again has a slightly sorrowful and tear-stained undertone- a sadness that never bogs-down or becomes too overwhelmed.  Throughout proceedings, Shaddad shows herself to be a light and a strong soul: against the words and their meanings- perhaps she is the loneliest and deserves happiness most- she offers her hands and words; you empathise and root for her (hoping she will be alright).

   You for Me closes the E.P.; it is a fitting swansong- a song that builds and grows.  Beginning with quiet and building atmosphere- the song fades-up and gets more urgent- it is a stunning start.  Guitar notes flourish and ache; the song starts to expand and intrigue.  Rumbling and tender beats fuse; the electronic strings yearn and pervade- a perfect combination.  Our heroine lets her voice glide over the song; casts her eyes around the situation- bringing scenes and emotions to life.  When dreams become frightening; when the morning seems too harsh- she needs that special person.  Whether directed at a new love; an old friend or relation- there is that desire and hunger.  To my mind, it is a lover; someone that seems quite important (to her).  Completely in-awe and lost, she describes her man; the person she seeks most- that need to be comforted and touched; the completion that would come.  Sounding desirous and tremulous, those shivers are delivered: the vocal is at its purest and most urgent; the beauty is endless and mesmeric.  It acts as a perfect closing track; a brilliant way to end proceedings- taking Waters down (to a gentle) close.

Throughout the E.P. there is a consistent and passion: every track sounds deeply personal and compelling; there are no minor notes and unforgettable moments.  From the first notes (to the last semblances) Waters cascades with life and tranquility; power and passion- everything you could want.  Shaddad’s voice is at its most magisterial and divine: always sounding angelic and pure, you are powerless to resist.  The production values are superb, throughout.  Each note and track is crystal-clear; it allows all the emotions and elements to come through; each thought is decipherable and unfettered- meaning you get a full immersive experience.  Shaddad herself makes it what it is.  That voice is just the start of things- there is so much more to her.  The guitar-playing and instrumentation- where she does work with other musicians- is compelling and multitudinous.  Most of the songs contain drum and guitar: the way they are deployed and used focuses on mood and projection; ensuring there are no wasted notes or unpromising compositions.  Looking at subjects like love and yearning; life and death- our heroine shows no fear of death; not bothered by it- the lyrics and songs are vivid and memorable.    Sounding fully-formed and completely in-control- not nervous or under-developed like some of her peers- the E.P. shows a huge amount of work and instinct; the result of years of graft and honing.  Whereas previous release see Shaddad promising and engaging, here she offers so much more- letting her voice glide within notes; there is a move towards projection and delivery.  The tracks sound more textured and nuanced- compared to previous offerings- and Shaddad is brimming with confidence and pride.  As a lyricist she taps into inner recesses and nooks; digging into her soul and psyche- filling the songs with so much openness and honesty.  Tackling well-worn subjects- requited love and partnership- she tackles the themes with a unique bent; a real fresh perspective.  Vital and alive; knee-buckling and trembling, the barely-whispered voice is a stunning revelation.  It takes a few listens (for the E.P. to reveal all its beauties, insights and promises), but when it does, the effect is quite profound.  Waters sees Shaddad at her peak: more in love with music than ever; at the top of her game.  It points towards a very promising and stunning future- her next release will be met with a huge amount of entrance, fascination and love.

Although Waters was released last year, its legacy has not dissipated- the E.P. is still gathering praise, adulation and respect.  It is easy- in this fast-moving climate- to overlook music; let it pass by- the best sounds should not be overlooked.  Shaddad’s name is on the rise; she is plotting new moves- brand-spanking music is due in the autumn.  Waters– and its title track especially- is the sound of a young woman finding her voice- that voice is enough to buckle the senses.  It is not just the voice that entrances so- and to be fair, it is the standout element- but the complete package.  Her endless soul and passion defines every moment.  Reviewers and listeners always use the same word (when describing her sound) which boils down to: haunting.  It is a good word to use- shivers are elicited for sure- yet only tells a fraction of the story.  There is plenty of beauty and enticement; atmosphere and rich soulfulness- embers of Aretha Franklin come through at times.  Tied to this are the lyrics: an insight into the young artist’s mind; the concerns and troubles she faces- and how she battles them.  All artists have personal woes and demons; a need to exorcise them- music provides that portal.  Shaddad uses music a different way: there is that conscious effort to draw listeners in; not to something tormented and troubled- something beautiful and pure.  I mentioned Aretha Franklin; Shaddad has a wide range of icons- from Kate Bush to Miles Davis; through to Al Green.  You can tell how much music means (to her); flecks of others come through (shades of her icons) into something both rich and vibrant- music that begs for your attention.  In a sea of below-par and forgettable musicians, it is nice discovering some long-lasting: a talent that has a clear desire; in no mood to call quits- expect to hear a lot more from her.  In the next few weeks/months, there will be new music- the latest installment from Shaddad; an opportunity to see how she has progressed.  If Waters is anything to go by, there will be intrigue and fascination: it is going to be well-worth the wait.  I started the review by mentioning solo artists and their quality; musicians and charitable endeavours.  The solo market is growing in the underground; starting to flourish and broaden- catching-up with bands/duos (and the regency they have).  I have been ambivalent towards the solo artists; skeptical about their potential- always more inclined towards other music.  Over the last few months, something has happened; a revival has occurred-and excited me greatly.  In the past, I was hearing a lot of same-same Acoustic-led acts: guitar in hand, it was hardly innovative or game-changing; rather minor and vague.  From Electronic and Pop soloists; some Alternative/Rock cross-over (acts); along to Soul artists- showing just what they are made of.  There are still some cracks and fault to be found: acoustic-led artists tend not to spike my imagination; a lot of the Hip-Hop/Rap artists (are still seen as) niche- being overlooked and relegated to narrow corners.   Aside from a few acts, there are not that many Rock/Alternative solo acts- it would be good to see more (of them).  The most pleasing aspect of it all- when it comes to solo music and their representatives- is the quality and passion.  Being such a hard area of music- being on your own is always more challenging; harder to elicit a band-level response- it is quite understandable; it takes time to fully come together and improve.  Among the swell or upcoming talent; the glistening solo artists- Shaddad ranks among the most memorable.  Based out of London, she is reveling (in the capital’s) myriad sounds and artists; drawing from the communities and experiences- channeling them into some confounding music.  My other point to end on- and one I began on too- regards charitable and conscientious musicians.  Shaddad is affiliated/part of Orchid Project; determined to end (the heartbreaking cases) of female genital mutilation- ensure the practice stops.  It is impressive to see her get involved (with a cause and project that does great work) and let’s hope this continues- her voice and influence is making an impact; inspiring others to follow suit.  Music (and musicians) is not the arbiters of social responsibility; they have a great platform on which to make changes- a literal voice that can lead to betterment and improvement.  Being a reviewer/music journalist, I see a lot of ‘low-level’ music-related charity occurrences- runs and events being organised; gigs being put-together- in addition to bigger and more ambitious happenings.  Music is among the most influential art forms in the world; its fan-base growing without impedance.  It seems a lot more can be achieved.  There are so many causes out there; so many ills going ignored- an opportunity to step-up and make those changes.  Maybe I am missing the point; going off on a tangent- it just got me thinking, that’s all.  What my point is- and there is one in there- relates to the good musicians do (like Shaddad) and how effective they can be.  I shall end with a brief note; a slight conclusion- regards the voice itself.  As my featured artist’s voice has stunned many- and continues to confound and stagger listeners- it got me thinking somewhat.  A lot of solo artists tend to stick too closely (to another voice); come off slightly familiar and tired- it is a blight that affects bands too.  It is those original and unheard-of voices that take the hearts of the masses; ensure a bright future- if the songs are terrific too; more-so the better.  Shaddad has a consistent and multi-layered set of songs; her pen is both affected and sharp- music that desires multiple listens and a dedicated heart.  It is that voice that perhaps lingers longest- and not to belabor the point to death- but it is something not-oft heard.  Waters (the E.P.) contains so many sides to that voice; such emotion and soul- few of her contemporaries can match that.  Everything comes together in her music: that altruism and endeavor; the passion and the emotion; the vulnerable side too.  A woman and artist with confidence and pride- she also has a shyer and tender side- she is fascinating to me.  Whatever you look for in a musician- whether it is the complete package; maybe just something very unique- Shaddad hits the mark; she will satisfy.  Ensure you check her music out; let Waters (the track) be your starting-point; work back and see how far she has come- and where she is headed.  It is those ‘future movements’ that will be the most intriguing; speculated-about and wonderful- just what is coming next?  Who knows, I guess, but one thing is for sure- and given everything we know and has been written about her- would you really…

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http://www.elizashaddad.com/Eliza_Shaddad/Home.html

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Videos:

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Gigs:

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Track Review: Them & Us- Sleep Talk

TRACK REVIEW:

 

Them & Us

  

Sleep Talk

 

9.5/10.0

 

Sleep Talk is available at:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ULwwfvQYQNw&list=PL5lyD7dfZmbwsCGrtnfphymqR9bFZTsrz

 

 

 

 

The E.P. Chapter 1: And So it Begins is available to pre-order at:

https://itunes.apple.com/album/chapter-i-so-it-begins…/id1023353759

RELEASED:

11th September, 2015

GENRES:
Dance, Pop

ORIGIN:

London, U.K.

TRACK LISTING:

Ami’s Theme/And So it Begins9.4

Sleep Talk– 9.5

Happy Ever After9.0

Pass on Through9.1

Heart Attack9.2

Lost Our Heads9.0

 

DOWNLOAD:

Ami’s Theme/And So it Begin; Sleep Talk; Pass on Through; Heart Attack

STANDOUT TRACK:

Sleep Talk

ALL TRACKS WRITTEN AND PRODUCED BY:

Ami Carmine and Lee Michael

BEING may last review for a little while (perhaps) it is fitting….

to go ‘out’ with a bang- with a home-grown act offering stunning and powerful music.  My featured act goes beyond musical expectations: most bands/acts you expect certain things; they fit into a particular mould- not usually superseding surprise and predictability.  When it comes to Them & Us, things are very different- I shall introduce them in due course.  I am compelled to investigate a few points: the first one relates to the music brimming from the capital; the sort of sounds flowing from London.  I have covered this point before- well, smothered it in honey; tied it to a four-poster bed and given it a right going-over- but with each dawning week; comes a new (and enlivening) musician.  Over the past few weeks, I have been treated to Soul-based magic; Pop and Rock fusions; Electro.-Trance offerings- with some terrific Indie and Alternative thrown into the pot.  In the past, I have been attracted to the north of the country; across Yorkshire (and leading into Scotland); those areas have been most fruitful- producing the most diverse and original acts coming out.  It is true; Yorkshire has a rare and fantastic allure: they are promoting Retro.-Swing artists (that make you smile, kick and evocate); arena-made bands (like Allusondrugs); terrific Pop acts and glistening Folk-Pop duos- a cornucopia of bristling and busy sounds.  To my mind, London is taking back the throne: perhaps they are lack Swing/Electro.-Swing artists, yet they make up for it elsewhere: the sheer range and confidence emanating is something to behold.  The London market is a very young one: there are some ‘older’ musicians working the scene; what I am picking-up on is the vibrant youthfulness; the 18-35 market- artists starting out on the scene.  With such a rich and communal music scene, London is housing some serious names to watch- there is so much potential and fantastic music.  In addition to the communal aspect, social media is playing a part: fellow London acts (are supporting one another); they are connecting via Facebook/Twitter; spreading music and gig news- making connections and forming (important) bonds.  From the Soul/Urban-fused sounds of east London- I have unearthed some great talent out of Mile End, Hackney and Bow- to the great bands of North London; the terrific Pop and Indie artists elsewhere (extending anywhere from South Kensington and Chelsea to Greenwich)- there is a wealth of eager talent.  It is not just the range of sounds (that is impressive) but the depth and innovativeness- going beyond the stale and samey sound of the mainstream.  What is most pleasing regarding this trend- and something happening in London music- is the introduction of electronic sounds.  I am a huge advocate and patron of Rock/Alternative bands- they consist my favourite type of music- yet something rather curious is shaping-up- Electronic music is among some of the most feverish and impressive of 2015.  If you like something more introspective and romantic; that with a bit of Pop edge and sound- there are some great Electro.-Pop artists (usually female).  Whether you like your music a bit heavier; taking in Rock elements and club sensations- there are some great Trance and Electro.-Rock hybrids.  If that sounds a bit niche, then there is another option: Electronic-based music that ties in all of that; keeps going and elicits something limitless and all-encompassing.  Whether it is Dance or Trance-based; new artists are finding limitless potential; expanding the emotional (and sonic) pallete- creating something spectacular.  Throwing twisted guitars together with low-down beats; snaking myriad electronic colours- from chocolate-smooth to jittery; pulsating to ‘90s-influenced- it is the most burgeoning and prosperous genre/sub-genre.  It is London that is leading this charge: the capital is spawning the most fierce and intelligent proponents of the craft; together they are leading a noble charge- something underground and secretive; growing yet held-back; sounds that will see the light soon enough.  With the mainstream being somewhat limited and narrow- not showing the same sort of elasticity and variegation as the new musicians- it is time for an upheaval; start beckoning-in the best (new music has to offer).  This brings me, somewhat ineloquently, to my featured act.  Before I go into depth (with regards my featured artist) let me introduce them:

Ami Carmine (Vocalist, Songwriter, Producer)
Lee Michael (Songwriter, Producer, Beatbox, Bass)

The duo (themselves) is courtly and approachable; friendly and fan-embracing- having contacted them about reviewing their new music.  The two are skilled and multi-talented musicians; they have been working hard for years- forged a tight relationship; a seamless kinship (that reflects in their music).  Lee Michael is a multi-vocalist/Beatbox pioneer/producer; one of the most talented musicians around.  Bringing an inimitable and multi-emotion take to the music; his chops and skills run riot- across the music of Them & Us- his compositional genius radiate and stun; one of the most agile and nimble talents in the U.K.  Ami Carmine ranks among the most striking singers in the country.  Being a fan of girls with colours in their hair- from Jen Armstrong to ADI- Carmine is an azure-haired songstress; ADI and Armstrong mix shades of pink, blue and purple.  Carmine certainly strikes the eye: one of the most beautiful and jaw-dropping humans in music (not a relevant point; just an observation); her voice startles even more- a tremendous proposition and natural-born performer.  When the two combines, you get the effect of (their combined) arsenal: the galvansied beats and deep dips; the lush-cum-jagged composition pairings- all wrapped around tight and intoxicating performances.  Their music is mind-bend into the heavens; a trip across multiple genres- they tie in Pop and Electro.-Pop together with Dance and Dub-Step.  Having worked with a note-worthy roster of producers- who have, in turn, worked with The Prodigy, Bloc Party and One Republic- and you get a multiplicitious and genre-hopping sound.  The London two-some have a clear affection and understanding; they melt their talents together; whip a spectrum of sound and emotion- conjure something eye-watering and heart-stopping.  Whilst not a new-sensation act- there are other duos out there like them- they go above and beyond the fray- hitting harder and more passionately; lingering (longer) in the memory.  Before I get down to assessing Them & Us (and their past and present music) I am back in ‘duo territory.’  London is turning-in some terrific and varied duos.  From lovers and sweethearts- Gypsyfingers; Greenfield and Conder- to friends (Ivy & Gold), there is something for everyone- it is a genre/formation that is coming into vogue.  Band formation will always be popular- with more bodies and creative minds; it makes writing and recording easier- whereas the solo market is the most full and completive (it is the easiest way to start in music; the simplest way to record music).  Duos have always fascinated me, though.  From mainstream acts like Royal Blood; through to new music like Waiting for Wednesday- such a staggering array of (diverse and different) sounds are coming out.  As close and in-step- as any other duo out there- Them & Us are less love/romance-based; the duo are not in a relationship- they focus on common concerns and the dream-like; the emotions and bigger themes- wrapping it in huge and gravity-defying compositions.  One of the U.K.’s most fast-rising and critic-grabbing two-pieces off the block, this is just the start of things; the guys have produced their E.P. (Chapter 1: And So it Begins) – and preparing to tour the country.

When it comes to evaluating the modern moves of Them & Us, it is worth stepping back- and see how they have developed.  Oh My God is (one of their) earliest works: a song that is bracing and layered; compelling and expectation-shifting.  The vocals begin light and tender.  Employing sounds of Hounds of Love– Kate Bush at her finest- you detect undertones of Cloudbusting and Hounds of Love (title track) – that similar voice and sense of projection.  Riding and pushing that vocal is an evocative beat- again, born out of Hounds’- that dives and powers; shakes and jumps.  A hugely uplifting and spiritual sound, our heroine is in the eye of the storm; her voice is echoed and multiplied- adding to that sense of beauty and weight.  The song is wind-swept and dancing; child-like and innocent- with a wounded heart.  The track rises and falls; catches your breath- before that Dub-Step explosion occurs.  Blowing everything else away- expect our heroine’s beauty and conviction- the coda is robotic and city-squashing; blood-baying and zinging- a biting, vibrating attack.  Released a couple of years ago, the song is an emphatic and fully-rounded statement.

Eight months ago, One Day was unveiled- a track that builds from (Oh My God) and sees the duo grow.  There are Folk and Pop unison- in the early exchanges- that sees the heroine sway and dream.  When the beat comes in- and starts to punch and stutter- there are initial Dub-Step elements- it is never heavy-handed or overly-primal; quite restrained and supportive.  Our heroine has her head tied-up; in knots, she seems emotive and lost- that sense of confusion and meaning comes in.  Although treading on familiar scenes- that idea to find safety and get out of a whole- the voice and production raises the song; highlights the urgency and passion- adding head-rush and massive intrigue.  The song’s Dub-Step input puts me in mind of Skrillex and Rudimental; elements of Nero too- a combination of the genre’s masters.  Them & Us show a lot of character and uniqueness; making sure they come off as fresh and distinct, the track has their patented blends and notes: gorgeous, scene-stealing vocals; everyday lyrics and struggles; married to fireworks beats and electronics.  Over the course of two songs, you can see diversity and mobility: they sound different and their own beast; both brimming with confidence and authority- revealing something new with every listen.

Since last year- and the duo’s earliest moments- they have gained new impetus; increased their ambitions and grown (on their early) promise.  The five tracks see a two-piece with fresh zeal and campaign: retaining their early hallmarks, the new tracks sound even more impassioned and colourful- adding plenty of heart and electricity.  If anything, the two have expanded on their sapling moments.  Those cinematic elements- that were hinted-at at times- are now large and proud; more gripping and dramatic, they are right at the fore.  The main impressions are of consistency and identity; the duo has not lost their voice and skin- remaining loyal to their infant offering.  Those stunning vocals remain in-tact; mixing Lana Del Rey and Kate Bush; swimming and graceful- they steal the limelight throughout.  The genre-mix is all there, too: ‘70s Pop fuses with modern-day Electro.; Alternative and Dream-Pop sounds are tied together.  At the core, is that Dub-Step menace: an animal that keeps coming back to feed; never seems to relent- always pushing and pressing away.  Fans of the early work will find much to love; if you are new, I would suggest delving back- and seeing where the duo came from.  One of London’s most innovative and stand-out acts, they always (seamlessly) mix the dangerous with safe; the light and the dark- ensuring each song comes to life with a bang.

Bird song begins Sleep Talk: a calmed and soothing refrain; you are given a sense of relax and scenery- picturing meadows and sun; the landscape and peace.  The song’s video (available via the YouTube link; at the top of the review) is cinematic and grand- eye-catching characters and big sets; something quite epic.  The song (itself) starts off more intimately and tender: after some clattered vocal rush; backed against a tribal and teasing percussive line, our heroine comes to the microphone.  Early words directly reference the (song’s title): she has been sleep-talking and in a daze; with stories “whispered in the dark”- you speculate as to their origins; what the secrets are.  Quite emotive and direct, the vocal resonates with urgency and openness- there is a sense of anxiety and pin underneath everything.  This central idea and point- about talking during sleep- is repeated and pressed; such a determination and desire- as though the words are intended (for a subject or lover); again, you wonder what is being said.  Whether romantic confession or dark-held secrets, there is mystique and obliqueness.  Backing this charge and campaign is that beat: both slight and powerful, it perfectly suits the vocal; ensures it supports and augments in- whilst creating its own weight and momentum.  Ghostly vocals trip in the background- with an electronic and shadowy sound- and add to that element of shiver and night-time confessional.  At night (it is said by our heroine) the fire burns; burning and extinguishing dreams, there is this inner-turmoil and heartache; she cannot find solace and answers- being kept awake by something troubling and deep.  It seems there is history and a past (behind the dreams); maybe a sweetheart is back in mind; perhaps desires are being lost- deeply personal, regardless of the origins.  To my mind, I sensed that need to escape and run; achieve something more meaningful and better- the horror of being stuck in an undesirable life.  Before the song fully enchants and hooks- and as you’d expect from Them & Us- a hardcore and heady beat is dropped.  Chilling and hurricane-force; earthquake-like and missile-deathly; it strikes through the dark, igniting with a burning desire- shaking everything to its core.  Against the turbulent ballistic, our heroine continues her charge- dreams are burning and secrets revealed- and sounds essential and troubled.  Whether referencing a break-up or something less obvious, there is clear emotion and conviction: every word and sentiment is delivered with an upmost degree of immediacy.  The song relies on a sense of simplicity and tradition: the lyrics are designed to be quoted and sung; remain in the mind- make them too complex and the song loses appeal.  At its center is that secret-revelation and trust: whoever is with (our heroine) is being implored; the need to keep that secret- the mystery is never revealed or uncovered.  By ensuring the song has clarity, does not mean it is slight or effete: each time the lyrics are revealed, you get new sensations and nuance- the composition, in turn, unearths little insights and contours.  It is hard not to be gripped (by the insatiable) coda: our heroine is “burning down”; her passion reaches fever-pitch.  Like previous Them & Us compositions there is that projection of armies and flames; burning scenes and spectacularness- Sleep Talk projects a very epic and grand-swelling mood; something evocative and fantasy-based.  It is the mix of the fantastical and realistic that makes the song so gripping and memorable.  Towards the latter stages, there is a key line- “Look at the bridges we’ve burned”- that gets my mind thinking.  I can’t help imagining whether this is a friendship or relationship; it seems the situation is irrevocable- maybe things have gone too far.  Whether there have been too many arguments and fall-outs, you can feel that heat and resignation- like there is no going back.  Repeated and reintroduced; echoed and essential, that thought comes to the precipice- designed to haunt its subject; our heroine’s voice mixes feather-light and empowered.  Once again- and retaining that quiet-loud dynamic- there is another dip (I am loathed to compare anything to a roller-coaster; the song has a definite movement and shape) that brings in a death-rattle beat.  With each new presentation, the song seems to up a gear; you get lost in the electronics and beats- the soundscape projects such a host of images and possibilities.  Whilst your mind starts unveils cinematic sights and something fiery; your heart sticks with the lyrics- wondering how things will resolve; whether our heroine is okay.  Towards the final seconds, the final comes more to the fore; rushing and breathless, our heroine is holding on- against the spectral grasp of the composition.  As the track ends, you are afforded a chance for breath; take things in- and get to the bottom of it.

Sleep Talk– as has been noted in other reviews- does not bring up new subjects.  In a packed and busy music scene, few songs (when it comes to themes) are going to be original.  The public want something they can relate to; songs that mean a lot to them- Sleep Talk will resonate and affect.  The way the words are delivered and teased-in gives the song huge emotive force.  The production is gleaming and polished: not polished-to-death, essentially everything is given room to shine and strike; nothing seems too murky and raw- giving it a vibrancy and energy.  The E.P.’s standout track- although there are plenty of treasures to be discovered- it is a superb number; one that has cross-over appeal and enough force- to draw in new listeners a-plenty.  Carmine shows herself to be one of the (best and most multi-talented) voices on the scene: she can go from emotive and haunted to ecstatic and vibrant.  Bringing so many emotions to the plate, the song goes beyond expectations and the current (Dance/Dub-Step) scene.  The lyrics remain focused and sparse- there are few original words; they are repeated to great effect- whilst showing an air of fragility and vulnerability.  As I stated, these are words that are universal and true: many listeners will feel sympathy and familiarity; that relatable coda will mean it is a natural crowd-pleaser.  Michael ensures the song is given a whirlwind of sonic innovation.  Lurching and head-spinning moments sit with swimming and tranquil electronics; lighter percussion spars with cinematic lust.  The beats and electronics ensure each word and sentiment is given full exposure; brought vividly to life- and lodges in the brain.  Together, the pair sounds completely in-step and seamless: they raise and support one another; have a clear affection and understanding- meaning Sleep Talk sounds tight and compelling throughout.

Chapter 1: And So it Begins is keen to start off with something fascinating and different– Ami’s Theme/And So it Begins certainly draws the listener in.  The opening (first part) is a narrative.  Delivered by a young male voice (both calm and pressing) a tangle of scenes is elicited.  The voice behind the words is actually Lee Michael- a rare chance to hear his voice on the E.P.  In the initial seconds we hear of arrivals and departures; hills scream for mercies- a place where the land is eaten by titanic steps.  You try and take it all in; picture what is being spoken- those epic scenes and slice-of-life images.  Here, there are massive drops and harmonious break-downs.  It seems the armies are coming-together; there is a battle afoot- winter has frozen to the core.  Casting himself as the narrator; maybe a warlord or leader (the young narrator) retaliates into the forest floors; in a strange land where children became heroes.    It is said animal instincts are needed; human touches sought- their voices will be heard in future tapestries.  The commentary is fast and furious; words and scenes tumble and fall; you sense an epic fight unfold- our heroine’s voice is represented; Carmine’s testimony laid-out; introducing the E.P.  As the opening develops- and the song’s second half comes through- we get a vibrant and pulsating Dub-Step beat- that will sound familiar to fans of the duo.  Its intensity shakes the speakers; a storm that is acid rain-laden it is trippy and terrifying; toxic and evocative.  It is the sound of the armies coming-together; the opening lines- the E.P. has a storybook/novelistic approach.  Almost like a book’s first chapter- where a war is unfolding- the swelling and looping coda has rhythm and progression; swagger and teeth- highlighting the song’s ignitions and soul.  Towards the closing moments, the song intersperses dialogue- that was referenced in the opening moments- to stunning effect.  Elongating and echoing; repeating and tense- it adds to that building drama and passion.  As our heroine’s voice swims in the background- the repeated “I just wanna be” seems like the song’s business statement- and sounds intense and intent.  The composition remains hard and accelerated; the beat smashes and leaps- ensuring the song’s (early lyrics and story) is brought to life; given a breath of air and life.  A stunning opener, it is a perfect leading statement- that sets out the E.P.s themes and sound.

Happy Never After starts with gentle and melodious steps.  Tip-toe and gentle; you get an electric buzz- the Dub-Step element comes in hot.    In the opening moments (our heroine sings of) “Sugar-coated dream”; dancing through April showers – living like “we just don’t care”.  There is a sense of optimism and hope early-on; that happiness and hope- our heroine seems filled with potential and life.   With the world her playground; she seems to be addressing the world- rather than just a particular person.  Given what has come before- and ideas of battles and dreams- the song casts outwards; never seeming too insular and personal it is a mandate for the people- a song designed to be chanted and sung.  After that initial optimism- where everything seems possible- the seasons change; things get harder and colder- the summer vibes are replaced by something unpredictable and autumnal.  With the change of mood; the composition reflects this- and becomes supportive and darker, too.  Carmine’s voice never sound mordent and angry; it remains controlled and light- making the words and sentiments more effective and urgent.  Throughout, the lyrics seem pressing and emotional; the world is getting her (Carmine) down- it is just “another Monday morning”.  Maybe a sly reference to Manic Monday (by The Bangles) this is the updated version- that fear of a new week; the end of happier times; harsher, colder times.  The composition never impedes too much: remaining level and equal, it never goes solo- meaning the song is balanced and beautifully realised.  With some subtle notes (electronic piano?) there is off-kilter electronics and jagged beats- adding to that atmosphere of discontent and resignation.  With our heroine bereft, the composition rises and projects- suddenly announcing its first explosion.  Whirling in a centrifuge, the rain pours and drowns; the composition matches the intensity (of the lyrics) – a full whirlwind of song.

After the misery of Monday/winter; Heart Attack begins with build-up and fade-in.    Starting-off with a punchy and gripping sound; it is insistent and dramatic.  Our Heroine does not want to wait; does not want her drug to be taken away- she won’t to kick habit.  A metaphor and idea- that has been used multiple times when explaining love and passion- it will seem familiar to many; maybe a little been-there-seen-it-done-it.  No such fate with Them & Us: the way the ideals are projected is original and stirring; personal and distinct- making it a new and vibrant song.  Our heroine is scintillated and overcome; enraptured (by a lover or feeling) she does not want to relent.  The wavering and ghostly electronics augment that insatiability and delight.  Euphoric and drug-addled, our lead wants every second to count- her sonic hero boosts this feeling with zipping and spine-tingling electronics.  The beat teases and tempts; stifled and opens- covering such a spectrum of emotions.  There is emphasis on the lyrics: that suffocation and pain; the desire and longing- it is (one of the E.P.’s) most emotive and immediate tracks.  The chorus (on this track) is the E.P.’s finest- memorable and indelible, it will be remembered long (after the song has ended).  That sound of Ibiza-Trance-cum-club-sweat radiates and effuses.  In spite of this- and the genres described- there is mainstream appeal and sound; the song is not overpowering or divisive- it can be loved by all; it has a populist edge.  The central mantra is tangible and relatable- being under the spell of an intoxicating love.

Lost Our Heads takes the E.P. down: it has a woozy and druggy composition.  Bringing Chapter 1: And So it Begins, the song snares and tumbles; before concentrating and running (with firepower and punch).  Our heroine has lost our head; she seems lost and confused- a song about making mistakes and not being wise?  There is that lingering sense of threat and danger: the uncertainty and edginess comes out; whether it is a dalliance or meeting, you can feel the anticipation.  Not wanting to be anywhere else (tonight); our lead knows the risks; she does not care a bit.  Maybe it is a sexual encounter; perhaps something quite proclivous- she has been here before.  The composition is a swirl of beats and notes; they tangle and kiss- a sonic representation of the song’s thoughts.  The voice always says high-reaching and emphatic; delicious and urgent- never become overcome and fatigued.  A great way to end the record- and perhaps the last chapter of the first book- it completes proceedings with memorability.  Over the course of events, the duo has covered a wide spectrum- never sounding anything less than essential and divine.

The entire E.P. is defined by the interplay of Carmine and Michael: the beat-master and innovator supplies the sonic elements; the heroine and voice-in-chief provides the lead.  Having performed together for years, there is a naturalness and intuition: they each know (the other’s strengths) and play on this- in turn, ensuring every song is rich and vibrant.  The production values are terrific and atmospheric: each note and track comes to life; the vocal (and composition) is not buried or toned-down; everything is given a crisp and rich platform.  Sounding both urgent and passionate, the duo hit their peak here: never have they sounded so up-for-it and dramatic.  With Carmine and Michael providing true-to-life lyrics- that we can all understand; have a personal aspect to them to- you get a writer with a unique and intelligent voice.  Evocative and scenic, the words are quotable and memorable; they are always tight and focused.  That voice (from Carmine), too, has such a huge grasp: covering a wide range of emotions- from sugar-sweet and honeyed to snarling and operatic- it (is the E.P.’s) central pivot; the axis (by which everything else rotates)- a startling thing.  Not just confined to Dub-Step confines, there is a fluidity and endless mobility.  Sounding instant and confident; without any nerves or false moments; Chapter 1: And So it Begins is a terrific achievement: few other duos have created something so deep and nuanced (this early in their career).  The soundtrack for the broken-hearted and hopeful; those that want better things in life- and do not want a single boring day- it is a kaleidoscopic and dare-devil record; one that never sits still- keeps coming at you!  Consistent, challenging; universal, dramatic and tender- the E.P. has it all.

Given the E.P.’s title; the duo has more plans and ambition- this is just the start of things.  Being their first chapter, it is the early days; the sapling steps- all the signs are incredibly positive.  The five-track collection packs punch and panache; tenderness and underlying sensitivity; themes that look at dreams and personal pains- which the listeners can relate to.  Amidst the common themes and tangible motifs, there is a lot of personal insight; the lyrics are very much Them & Us’- an insight into their creative mind and personal struggles.  What compels me about the act is the truth behind the songs.  Through the E.P. there is some torment and pain- from sleep-deprived moments to dream recollections; broken hearts to personal splits- and you wonder how much is fictionlised.  Our duo (Carmine especially) projects with such conviction and emotion; pure force and purity- every word seems raw and honest.  If that is true- and the songs all emanate from personal events- it is both impressive and saddening.  All acts have their share of woes and discontent; the way they present them is paramount.  Them & Us project such a weight and rush, you do not get bogged-down- the abiding mood is one of hope and potential.  Carmine and Michael bring two very distinct (and equally potent) voices to the fold.  Our heroine is a sensual-cum-evocative voice- with her beguiling beauty- with a huge range and nuance; vibes of U.S. Dream-Pop with U.K. Dance music, you get suggestions of multiple eras- flairs of the ‘90s; undertones of the ‘00s; plenty of modern-day lustre. Michael has darker and more urgent tones- and has often been compared with Nero- that juxtaposes nicely; seamlessly blends when needed.  The duo has a huge understanding (of one another): their vocals do not encroach or compete; they have a natural affection; both performers motivate and compel the other.  Few other acts combine Urban explosions- sounds of Grime and the streets; the clatter of the concerted jungle- with something cinematic and accomplished- compositions and moments that swell and sway; project and defy.  Nestled in-between are Pop melodies and Rock undertones; Dub-Step juggernauts and theatrical beauty.  On that note, the London duo has a live reputation: their shows parabond entrancing visuals and phenomenal production values- creating a hugely immersive and unforgettable live experience.  Throughout November, Them & Us embark on U.K. dates: taking in the likes of Manchester, Bristol and Sheffield, they are taking in some great venues.  It will be a change to showcase their new music; the E.P. will get a first-hand reaction- the initial buzz is effusive and excitable.  I can add my praise to the list; the dup have an exciting future ahead; I am sure more E.P.s will be in-the-works- what we have now is stunningly realised and dramatic; theatrical and brave- with plenty of personal insight.  What great music does- and not many do in the current climate- is to relate to the listener; speak to them and their lives.  Themes like love, isolation and dreams are common themes- and have been interpreted in thousands of ways- yet it is how to differentiate your version (that makes that impression).  Them & Us have created (in their E.P. and single) something crowd-uniting and sky-scarping; music that hits all the emotional centres- and sound utterly addictive and memorable.  I am left to come back to my opening subjects: London music; duo and Electronic music.  It is clear something great is occurring in London: the city is a fast-rising hotbed for our best talent; where there is more diversity and ambition (than anywhere else, I would argue).  Maybe it is a sign of things to come; perhaps it has always been this way- the 2014/’15 wave of new music (is among the most stunning) I have ever heard.  As I stated before, it is the innovation and uniqueness that compels me: from genre-splicing and cross-pollination through to Indie anthems; terrific young Rock bands and Soul-Pop girl bands- the U.K.’s music epicenter is being cemented and defined.  Them & Us are clearly enticed by the city; vibing from its music and community- inspired by what is unfolding and taking shape.  A lot of duos have a very familiar sound; perhaps come across a little un-emotive and slight- even if that is not their intention.  Carmine and Michael inject each track with energy-rush and mysticism; theatrical grandeur and hard-hitting street-beat- a delirious and comforting blend.  At the heart of matters- and the core of their explosive sound- is that combination of fierce and restrained.  For every fast-rushing and domineering Dub-Step moment, there is something more refined and emotionally-driven- the way these are connected and defined is tremendous.  If you have not heard of Them & Us; may balk at (the sound of their) sound-blend and biography- shake-off preconceptions and dive right in.  I am not a huge fan of Dub-Step; have little time for (most of the) modern Club genre- the London duo go above and beyond expectations.  The two-piece never needlessly overwhelm or try to fit-in (to a market-man demand or niche); they make music that makes them happy- in turn, that which seduces the listener.  Chapter 1: And So it Begins may be the start; it sure-as-Hell isn’t the end.  The duo has a sound that could extend to an L.P.; a wealth of ideas and potential- I am sure 2016 will see new music and records.   Sleep Talk is their stand-out track and current single: a song that defines their objectives and colours (in a single moment).  If you are seeking a song to take you away; nestle inside the brain; transcend your mood- then this is the song I’d recommend.  Make sure you do not overlook (this young) London duo; an incredible music force.  When it comes to cinematic grasp, emotional resonance; stunning evocation and intense passion…

FEW acts will come close.

 

________________________________________________________

Follow Them & Us:

 

Official:

http://www.themandusofficial.com/

Facebook:

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

Twitter:

https://twitter.com/itsthemandus

Instagram:

https://instagram.com/them_and_us

 __________________________________________________

Music:

https://soundcloud.com/themandusofficial

_______________________________________________________

Videos:

https://www.youtube.com/user/ThemandUsOfficial

 

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Gigs:

http://www.themandusofficial.com/#!live/c9a0

This Week’s Albums: September 3rd, 2015

This Week’s Albums

 

 

September 3rd, 2015

 

 

 

 

IT is a case of “Something old, something new/something ‘borrowed’, something…

that doesn’t rhyme. “  I do a D.J. gig every week at The Stoke Pub and Pizzeria (https://www.facebook.com/TheStokeGuildford?fref=ts); I have the opportunity to play four different albums: one that is ‘old’ (to my mind, anything pre-1985), something ‘new’ (released brand-new that week); something influential (and has inspired a genre/other acts)- in addition to dealer’s choice (any album I choose).  Having done this for over a year-and played everything from Graceland to Pearl Jam; from FKA twigs to Beastie Boys- it is enormous fun.  I get to talk to people (about music); play some awesome stuff- turn people on to some great/forgotten sounds (well, I try to).  I shall publish this every week; try and highlight some fantastic albums- maybe some you had forgotten about.

The Old: Miles Davis- Birth of the Cool (1957)

 

10/10

 

Standing as one of Jazz’s most pivotal moments- the period where Cool-Jazz was born (hence the album’s title)- Mile Davis’ opus compels still- some 58 years after it release.  Whereas (Birth of the Cool’s) follow-up- the multi-coloured and orchestral- Sketches of Spain sounds more romantic and innovative; Birth of the Cool is his finest moment: an album brimming with Bop malleability and chilled seduction- never running too fevered or hot; each track is concise and measured.  Like a lot of Jazz albums (Davis’ own work included) there are no sprawling narratives; none (of the twelve tracks) exceed 3:13 (Moon Dreams is the longest here) – meaning emphasis is placed on the tone colour and the tunes themselves.  Numbers like Israel have become Jazz standards; Jeru is the album’s highlight- a perfect distillation of the themes, dreams and (the) serene.  Recorded over three sessions (between 1949 and 1950) the album does not lose focus and concision.  The mother of the ‘Cool-Jazz’ movement, Birth of the Cool was inspired by Classic music techniques (such as polyphony); this innovativeness and forward-thinking technique revolutionised the Jazz movement- an album (whose tracks and moments) have seeped into modern culture- it remains a timeless masterpiece.

 

 

 

The New: The Arcs- Yours, Dreamily (2015)

 

8/10

 

The Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach steps away from his alma mater– creating something fun-filled and familiar.  Retaining some of The Black Keys’ Blues-Rock sounds- a lot of Yours, Dreamily can be compared with the likes of Turn Blue and El Camino– the album is packed with big choruses and fuzzed-out guitars.  Outta My Mind is (one of the album’s) most Psychedelic/Beatles-inspired moments (it could easily fit into Revolver); with backwards-sounding loops and drug-addled strings, it is a clear standout.  Stay in My Corner is more gentle and plaintive: heart-aching and earnest, it shows the band at their most yearning.  Pistol Made of Bones (is evocative as) its title: compacting snake-like groove and ambience; it is hard not to think of El Camino-‘Keys.  Critics have noted the out-of-body nature of the lyrics- the songs take on a spectral and existential quality- it sees Auerbach looking down on himself; reflecting on things.  Whilst not as stunning (as The Black Keys’) best albums- or as intoxicating, as say, The Alabama Shakes- the album shows a new side to the Ohio man.  Not as narrative-driven (as it could be) Yours, Dreamily is very much Ours, Gratefully.

 

The Influencer: Oasis- (What’s the Story) Morning Glory? (1995)

9.5/10

(What’s the Story) Morning Glory? became a catalyst of the ‘Britpop’ movement: the swagger and optimism (contained throughout) compelled Oasis’ peers- the album stands as a changing-point in British music.  Although Noel Gallagher has been criticised regards his lyrical depth (or lack thereof; they tend to contain clichés and bogged-down sentiment) and compositions (that crib from the likes of The Beatles and everyone else you can think of) the lack of originality does not dampen the magic- the energy and passion demonstrated is infectious and anthemic.  The natural tension between the Gallagher brothers resulted in their finest music: Oasis produced their most varied and compelling work.  More emotional and romantic (than Definitely Moment) tracks like Wonderwall and Don’t Look Back In Anger show a softer, more heart-bearing band; Roll with It– which went against Blur’s Country House in the ‘Britpop’ battle of ’95- and Some Might Say are classic Oasis stadium-fillers.  Liam Gallagher’s voice sounds less sneering and snide here; filled with greater soul and nuance- bringing the songs fully to life.  Changing the landscape of British music, Oasis beckoned-in a wave of followers- the rules were ripped-up and changed.  If you need a reminder (of a time when) music was untouchable- this is a timely reminder.

 

The ‘Other One’: Arcade Fire- The Suburbs (2010)

 

9.0/10

 

One of the most consistently innovative bands of modern times, The Canadians hit their peak here: their third album stands as their most captivating and grand statement; an album overflowing with heart-stopping moments.  Where Funeral (their debut release was angrier and darker) here there is a playful optimism; a mass appeal album that reaches to the people- songs that (metaphorically represent) the suburbs of America.  Having been compelled by anger and disillusionment, The Suburbs sounds more peaceful and motivated: tracks like City with No Children, The Suburbs and Rocco glisten and shine.  When the album gets slower and more introverted- cuts like Wasted Hours in particular- there is no loss of magic and appeal- the album keeps promising hope and redemption.  It is said, there is little hope in the suburbs: there is no giving in or succession; you have to keep pressing and hoping.  N.M.E. called the album “hautological”-  “… state of temporal, historical, and ontological disjunction in which the ostensible immediacy of presence is replaced by “the [metaphorical] figure of the ghost as that which is neither present, nor absent, neither dead nor alive.”  However you define it, the truth is this: few albums convey a juxtaposition of home-comfort and fear; leave you dreaming and thoughtful- quite an achievement!

Track Review: Queen Kwong- Cold Daggers

TRACK REVIEW:

 

Queen Kwong

 

Cold Daggers

 

9.3/10.0

 

Cold Daggers is available at:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RbLHuilG4ec

RELEASED:
14th May, 2015

GENRES:
Punk; Rock

ORIGIN:

Los Angeles, U.S.A.

The album Get a Witness is available at:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/get-a-witness/id1018965951

RELEASED:

28th August, 2015

TRACK LISTING:

Cold Daggers

Newt

Get a Witness

Love Me (cover)

Red Devil

Bells On

Medicated

Purrfiction

 

DOWNLOAD:

Cold Daggers; Get a Witness; Red Devil; Bells On; Purrficiton

 

STANDOUT TRACK:

Cold Daggers

OVER the next few weeks, I hope to review…

everyone from The Portraits (a London-based Folk band) to Eliza Shaddad (another London act; a Dream-Folk/Electro. act); through to Alysse Black- a Seattle-based Soul singer.  In the middle, I am looking at a couple of (young, upcoming) bands- one Surrey-based Punk act; another U.S. band.  At the moment- and when it comes to reviewing- I am splitting my time between the U.K. and U.S. (mainly a London-L.A. divide); concentrating on female-led music- giving the girls a real investigation (in a non-weird/perverse way).  Before I get to my featured band- and their new single and album- I am reminded of a couple of points: one concerns new punk sounds; the other looks at new bands coming through- and the variety you can expect.  When it comes to the genre, there is a lot of misconception: people always have very distinct views and perceptions; a lot turn their noses up- others expect a very particular sound.  From the days of Sex Pistols and The Clash- via The Ramones and the U.S. giants- the genre has shifted and mutated: modern punk music is varied and evolved; distinct and fascinating.  Back in the ‘70s and ‘80s there was a lot of political and social rebellion (in the music): the punk masters were rallying against injustices; their sociopolitical lyrics attacked government flaws and ills in the community- tackling large issues and vital themes.  It is not true Punk bands have completely turned away from politics; strayed from the course of injustices and inequality- there are fewer bands campaigning the hot topics; using music as a platform- it is needed in today’s climate.  What Punk is doing- and I guess there are a lot of bands that do not fit into that model- is providing aural and sonic illumination; genre-fusion and compelling avenues- really pushing the boundaries of the genre.  Whilst the likes of The Clash and The Ramones (are among my favourite bands) the genre has moved-on since the 1970s- the modern innovators build upon their forefathers’ work; inject youthful vibrancy and direction- tackles subjects of love, alienation and harsh emotions.  I guess tastes and desires have changed somewhat: music-lovers seek that emotional and romantic support- bands that can channel and represent their frustrations; their sense of disenfranchisement.  When it comes to bands (and Punk acts for sure) we need a familiar voice; someone voicing our inner concerns/experiences- people we can relate to.  Perhaps the most fascinating aspect of new Punk is the range on offer: compared to genres like Indie and Pop; Punk is producing more colour and personality; a much greater grasp and ambition.  Before I continue on my theme- and raise a new/connected issue- it is worth mentioning Queen Kwong.  Coming to my attention- via a Facebook friend- I have been fascinated by their music; their current album (Get a Witness) has not-long been released: already, it has been met with critical acclaim.  Impassioned hearts have been queuing to offer congratulations; dig into the music- and provide patronage to a stunning band.  The L.A.-via-Detroit clan has been making music for a while now- and is growing in stature and reputation.  The band have a reverse-modesty/honesty about their music: songs will take time to love; some require great patience- Queen Kwong’s ‘unique’ blend is spicy and alcohol-flavoured; sharp-tongued and dark- a very beguiling and strange concoction.  Led by the stunning and snake-tongued Carré Callaway, the band has a natural and vivacious leader: that voice recalls Patti Smith and Joey Ramone; the energy and passion and insatiable- the venom-and-vulnerability mix is heartbreaking and intelligent.  Backed by her musical brothers- Wes Borland, Fred Sablan and Hayden Scott- the four-piece are moving through the ranks- gaining high-profile kudos and backing.  With the likes of Daniel P. Carter counting as fans/patrons- the band recently played Reading Leeds; a dream-come-true realisation for them- the future looks positive.  Perhaps Queen Kwong are a band that will win-all in time; ensure there is less division and balkanisation- not all the world are attuned to their potential and strength.  Having seen their Cold Daggers video (and reviewed the song below) there are some cynical and blunt comments: the YouTube illiterate- with their inarticulate and misspelled criticisms- has voiced their opinion; there are some doubters and detractors- you can’t win them all!  I appreciate (that a lot of bands) do not deserve unanimous praise: some bands are plain overrated; others cannot inspire everyone- I feel Queen Kwong deserve a lot more support and love.  The band are forward-thinking and original; their music recalls music giants- from Queens of the Stone Age to Nirvana- whilst their live performances are the stuff (of drunken) recollections and histrionics.  Their album will silence some dubious tongues; affirm their status (as one of the most promising bands around) – the tide will turn in their favour.  Containing so much aural surprise; swathes of sonic surprise- Get a Witness is an album ready-made for 2015.  With the likes of Drenge and Wolf Alice- providing this year’s best, heavy albums- Queen Kwong should not be overlooked.  Their violet-haired lead is one of the most scintillating voices on the block: going from a gurgled and intoxicated hush to a full-throated assault, she is capable of eliciting so much emotion and imagery- few other singers have such a range at hand.

Away from the sneering and empty minds- that tend to poo-poo a band like Queen Kwong- a loyal and ardent fan-base are following the L.A.-based band: their social media ranks are multiplying and dividing; their army is growing by the day- hardly surprising, given their musical ambitions and achievements.  Having worked hard the last few years- and spent time honing and developing their sounds- the band are hitting their peak: their L.P. is the result of hard effort and fettling; experimentation and consideration- it has picked up some very effusive feedback (from a large range of reviewers).  It is important we embrace and seek-out Queen Kwong: few bands like them exist; they have a very distinct sound- a lot of bands sound tired and uninspired; too bored to forge a personality.  The U.S. up-comers suffer no such comparison: they are a band of the moment; nestling into that (small core) of genuinely great Punk acts.  In the past, the female-led Punk clans- from Bikini Kill to The Slits- have revolutionized the genre; inspired a wave of new acts- Queen Kwong’s music will lead to such movement.  In the U.K. we have Wolf Alice- a young group with a hell of a kick- that blend of snarling kick and ethereal down-beat.  In the U.S., the Punk/Alternative scene has a different tone of voice: perhaps more direct and fully-formed (artists like Queen Kwong) embody the past masters; the Grunge/Punk masters of old- weave in some majestic oddity; a dash of drunken haze- wrapped inside a cloak of heartache and attack.

When it comes to Queen Kwong, there are acts you can bring to mind- that (may have) influenced the quartet.  Comparisons are made with The Stooges, Nirvana, Iggy Pop and Patti Smith- in fact; Roger O’Donnell (The Cure) made those comparisons.  With regards the vocals, Callaway has been tied with Smith: that same graveled and raw undertone; the drama and emotion.  In that sense, I can see links with Bikini Kills and The Slits: that same undisciplined lust; the anarchic spirit and inchoate edges.  With regards (the band themselves) you can draw links with Queens of the Stone Age, Nirvana; Iggy Pop and The Clash.  That raw and vibrant animalism; the dark and seedy underlies; the guttural and determined guitar sound- echoes of Iggy Pop and Nirvana come out.  The songs- on their latest album; their past work- mixes anthemic grandeur with personal confession.  As Nirvana did (with In Utero) you get a grittier and bare-naked sound; something corrosive and angered; impassioned and savage- at the heart is heart itself; something constructive and thought-provoking.  Queen Kwong always sound- in spite of some jagged and slanted moments- cohesive and linear; always in control of the music- never letting it wander and ramble.  Their discipline-and-anarchy approach leads to some wonderful results: Get a Witness is filled with juxtapositions and contrasting emotions; mood-shift and unexpectedness- you never know what comes next.  Perhaps the biggest (and perhaps, less obvious) comparison is Queens of the Stone Age- I hear shades (of the) Desert-Rock legends.  That crepuscular and blood-lust crawl; the Lullabies to Paralyze-era work.  Critics noticed- when reviewing that work- the sexiness and late-night cinema sound; minor-key ghostliness and foreboding Metal (Allmusic’s words).  That L.P. marries Hard-Rock heaviness with something brooding and dangerous; whiskey-soaked swagger- cool-as-shit attitude.  Queen Kwong initiate and infuse these qualities; those variations and themes- the range of sounds and components.  Whilst their work is less authoritative and mesmeric- time will rectify this juvenile slight- the early signs are quite positive: they channel Q.O.T.S.A.-cum-Nirvana sensations; undertones of Patti Smith and Iggy Pop- encapsulated in older Punk sounds; a veneer of modern-day Alternative.  If you are inclined towards any of these acts/artists; if you are compelled by the above- it is well-worth seeking-out the L.A.-ers.  Having spent time in Detroit- where some fantastic Blues-Rock has emerged- there are some shades of early-career ‘White Stripes- their debut-album sound can be extrapolated (in some of Get a Witness’ songs).

Before ‘getting down to business’ it is worth assessing the band’s progress: seeing how far they have come; whether their music has improved/altered much.  Love is a Bruise (released in 2010) showcased Callaway’s serene and sensuous voice; the stunning and singular voice- something that haunts the songs; causes shivers and stun.  Fans noted the impeccable production and sparse sounds: some moments were built (solely around) the voice; few other touches and intrusions.  Bad Lieutenant (released three years later) saw a slight shift: more band-orientated; the E.P. is a heavier and harder affair- our heroine’s tongue sharper and more acidic.  There is melody and soothe to be found; these moments are fewer and occur less frequently- this time around, the sound is more driven and fierce; the lyrics remains razor-sharp and memorable; the sentiments and intentions without question.  Having evolved and changed a bit- within the three years between records- Callaway gained confidence and impetus; her voice sounds more rounded (on Bad Lieutenant); her passion and zeal more engaging- perhaps there are fewer pure moments.  That lack of serenity/beauty- that was more evident across Love is a Bruise– was replaced by a more rampant and urgent.  Separating herself from the female singers on the scene, Callaway comes across more rounded and nuanced; her voice has more layers and potential- able to authoritatively rule when calm and reflective; stunning when letting her voice shout and campaign.  When it comes to the new album, there is another gear-shift: the L.P. is even-more band-centered; there is an emphasis on the complete sound- as opposed to Callaway’s voice.  Get a Witness was completed in 9 days; a song a day (was recorded) – a White Stripes-esque sense of workmanship and economy.  Whether avoiding studio costs- or more likely, going for something immediate and natural- the band improvised the tracks; flew by their pants- and let the mood hit them.  Whereas previous incarnations (and their songs) are more rehearsed and considered, here, there is a different vibe: you can sense the unpredictability and unchartered sound- the music does not suffer or compromise.  If anything, the band sound more alive and tight; there is a distinct sense of relax and intuition (perhaps the environment and confines suited their creative process).  Being such a skilled live band- where anything can happen; set lists often take a back seat- the band show no nerves; the record (is essentially) a live-sounding/recorded beast: perhaps Queen Kwong’s most home-made and raw record.  The band have grown in confidence; become more daring and bold- their adventurousness and playfulness (maybe the wrong word) has paid dividends.

With a name like Cold Daggers, you would expect something evocative and tormented- the song’s first lines (not only reference the song’s two words) they paint a troubled tableau.  The words ‘cold’ and ‘daggers’ seem to come right to the fore: our heroine- seemingly lying on the street, struggling- has a hole in her chest- one, that is, “so damn wide.”  Being the album’s (Get a Witness) lead-off track- and the L.P.’s first words- you get an instant bang.  The vocal sounds emotive and affected; the delivery is fast-paced (yet instilled with nuance and melody).  One of the most essential stand-outs- from the song’s fledgling moments- is the composition.  Bare and efficient, the bass pules and stings; the guitar yowls and roars- elicited as punctuation; teeing-up the vocal- whereas the percussion teases and sprinkles.  Hugely atmospheric- the combination creates so much speculation and attention- the song begins with a hefty deceleration.  The band (all at once) sounds fully-formed and tight; no signs of weakness- there is clear passion and focus.  Of course, I am looking at things literally: the idea of murder and violence; something horror-inducing and disturbed.  The listener could perceive things in another way: the idea of being shot a cold stare; someone tossing an evil glint- our heroine being chilled and ripped-apart.  That open-for-interpretation potential; the what-ifs and uncertainty- it gets the mind and imagination racing.  As our lead has lost time; is under the spell of a personal curse- seemingly affected by events and relations- that composition gets under the skin.  Insistent and pulsating, that bass keeps driving and rushing- such a catchy and additive sound.  Whilst the feet tap; the head nods- you are drawn to the background.  The guitar acts as rapture and fire: it spews animal-like bite on occasions; emphasising the sense of loneliness and hollowness.  The track starts to step up and change-up: the percussion gets harder and more masculine; the mood gets more packed and claustrophobic- everything tightens and constricts.  The production values give everything a necessary authenticness and sense of occasion- were it over-produced the song would sound insincere- with the vocal especially note-worthy.  There is a charming petulancy to the voice: it is womanly and strong, yet has a slight temper and rebellion- a Punk-attitude teen that can’t get her way.  I hear elements of Alison Mosshart and Patti Smith: that cigarette-beaten sexuality and dark-lipstick moodiness; creating something both vintage and utterly primal.  Our heroine asks- “how did we lose our heads?”- and slams; she wants to remain bed-bound; hide from things- that desire to escape is paramount and prescient.  It seems a relationship has hit a reef: there is recrimination and regret; a lot of overt anger- being presented in an idiosyncratic and delirious way.  Callaway screams and breathes; she hushes and hurdles- a performance that trips and spirals.  The guitar becomes more ghostly and wailing; purging its way to the forefront, those howling notes build the tension- and back up the vocals in their plight.  Before the 2:00 mark there is a loss of clarity: some of the vocals get mixed-down and buried; the clarity suffers- the franticness of the delivery means some words get lost.  That is not to say it is a major detraction: the emotion and sheer vibrancy does its work.  At this point, the percussion gets even sweatier and more alarming: backed by bass and guitar, the composition closes the walls in; seemingly bouncing off Callaway- she seems to be reacting to the tension in the music; similarly, the boys vibe off her demonic rattle- it is a heady and head-spinning coda.  That chorus is reintroduced and chanted; its importance cannot be overlooked- the heroine seems utterly tormented and overcome.  After the pain-staking execration, the band step into the breach: the guitar reverberates and throbs; echoes of Queens of the Stone Age come out.  Both cosmic and militaristic- the percussion-and-guitar combination teases Prog.-Rock and an army march-call- the song reaches full intensity; not for the faint-hearted.  Towards the final moments, there seems to be no way back: that voice gets more sucked-in and detached; the song gets more weighted and foreboding- our heroine unleashes a wordless vocal; the band hammer and punch around her.  Blissed-out and unhinged; the track ends on an appropriate note- that cold dagger-stare; the harshness and trapped-in vibe; wanting to escape a harsh experience.

Being inherently undisciplined and unpredictable, Cold Daggers may scare a few faces: it has a raggedness and rebelliousness not often witnessed in new music.  Reminding me of Horses-era Patti Smith: an album where Smith mixed ‘60s Blues-Rock with Beat Generation poetry.  Her untamed and compelling compositions seduced listeners and critics- gaining acclaim and accolades over the years.  Queen Kwong (and Callaway especially) has Smith-esque traits; her voice explodes and calms- both exhilarating and in-the-moment.  A unique and distinct track, it is quite foreign- and has few contemporaries and sound-alikes- so requires patience and consideration.  If you give it time- and allow its charm and quirks get to you- the rewards boast multiplicities.  The track has an instantaneousness and hook: those pulsing strings and persuasive percussion notes- they get to you on the first listen!  I love the track because it sound so vital and alive; it is untamed and completely engrossing.  The vocals never sound forced or off-putting.  A natural and intuitive singer, Callaway laces the song with theatrics, vulnerability and beguiling colours- making it such a stand-out cut.  The band not only adds their own weight, they perfectly conspire (with their lead).  The instruments enforce the vocal drive; the vocals compel the boys- that togetherness and bond makes Cold Daggers such a rough diamond.  Indicative of the album itself- those open wounds and stirring atmospherics- the band show masses of innovation and contours.  The guitars switch from howling to focused; lightning-strike to tender.  Similarly, the bass and drums match that acclaim.  The former is a constant presence: pulsating and heartbeat, the bass is nervy and bouncing; completely memorable and stand-out.  Adding emotion, rhythm and focus, it does what a (great bass) performance should do- keeps the song level and driving; everything is kept in-check.  With the percussion hissing and snaking; rolling and stamping: you get huge amounts of gravity and force; teeth and venom- perfectly befitting the song’s mandate.  Altogether, you have a band both winging-it and utterly in-command: the song boasts unquestionable energy and desire; the band want you to love it- you are powerless to resist.

The rest of the album contains wonder, fascination and depth: no two songs sound the same; there is so much diversity and depth to be discovered.  Newt builds off rumbling percussion and snarling guitars.  The vocals are duplicated and elongated; determined and hypntoised- there is a sense of somnambulism and delirium (our heroine seems wracked and tired; strained and concerned).  The scuzzy and fuzzed-out guitars have hints of Sonic Youth and Grunge- recalling memories of the ‘90s heyday.  The entire composition sounds tight; the percussion is particularly stand-out and impressive- creating a never-ending charge and momentum.  One of the tracks minor songs- not in the top three; not in the bottom three- is a great way to kick follow Cold Daggers; a dramatic and dramatic statement.  Get a Witness starts with slight (and faded-in) sounds; tender and mystery- quite light and tender.  The vocal remains pure and calm; the lyrics talks of ashes spreading; someone staying on a sinking ship.  Quite oblique and atmospheric, you wonder what is being referenced; who our heroine has in mind- the images are intriguing and striking.  Throughout the song the instrumentation is sparse and effective; the odd note flickers and ignites- the percussion rumbles and flows (like a wave) without too much force.  Love Me leads with an urgency and passion.  When Elvis Pressley tackled the song, he brought soul and immense heartache to the track.  Queen Qwong strips it down; it is less layered and overwrought; the vocal is light and ethereal- always floating, it is imbued with tears and strain.  A great and unique cover, the track drills down (to the song’s) core; it sounds new and original- something quite befitting of Queen Qwong.  With the organ floating and hovering, there is a gospel and ethereal edge; tie that with some Indie and Punk lo-fi attitude and the song will get inside your head.  Red Devil kicks with distortion and backwards-sounding sample; Psychedelia and ‘60s Pop then mutates into something driving and Hard-Rock; our heroine is on the road and hitting the highway.  The first words reflect my insight:  in the driving seat, the song starts on the tarmac: there is a lustful and evocative sound; the vocals alternate between sensuous and angered.  The song’s lyrics look at lies and dishonesty; being healed with stones and peace.  As advice, medication and spirituality are offered, it appears our heroine cannot be cured- she is taking drugs and still feels “like hell”.  The composition mixes Revolver with Hole; touches of Nirvana and Queens of the Stone Age- a complex and varied composition.   By tying in ‘60s-Beatles with ‘90s-Grunge, you get a mingling of primacy and Pop nuance; raw emotion and emotional complexity- one of the album’s stand-out moments.  Coming next is Medicated.  It starts with a wooziness and drugged-out crawl.  The guitar is drunken and dark; night-crawling and baying- the instruments stab and retreat.  Seeking light and creatures; the vocal seems like a mantra.  It is the vocals that grip the most; cling to the mind and compel you to speculate.  It seems access and success is not enough; those thoughts are repeated and reinjected- the words weaving inside the compositional notes.  On this track, the band stand-out too: the composition is improvised and live-sounding; that energy and unpredictable force comes out- creating something dangerous and dark; engrossing and haunting.  Purrfiction builds ever-up.  Hazy and vibrating, the strings (electronics and percussion) slowly tease and glide.  That composition then bursts and staggers into life.  Thrashing and demonised, the track gets a shot of adrenaline- our heroine looks at “pull-down stitches” and “build-up bridges.”  Lead vocal switches from purring and smooth to enflamed and desperate- mixing with the bolstering and primal composition.  Touches again of Queens of the Stone Age come out again: that Lullabies to ParalyzeEra Vulgaris sound- the witch-like cauldron song; the dirty and disconnected emotions.  Quite a delirious and trippy number; it is one of the album’s finest moments.  Bells On is a stamping and ramping beast.  It kicks right off the bat; that determination and urgency is paramount.  The voice looks at dreams and longing; (it appears) these dreams have gone.  Whether romantic or music-based (or something else), there seems to be loss and heartache- the sentiments are repeated; they get heavier and punchier.  A track harder and more tortured- backed by a Grunge-cum-Noise-Rock parable- it shows the band at their exhilarating best.  Later into the song, images portray animals (being beaten into the ground); odd and disturbed images are brought in- showcasing the band’s gift for lyrical evocation.

Improvised and on-the-fly, the album does not suffer preconceived ideas: that it is patchy and unfocused; lacking concision and depth- that is not true at all.  The L.P. mixes themes and ideas; the vocals alternate between soothed and insatiable- the composition mutates and remains unpredictable.  The entire group comes together superbly.  Each track is tight and intuitive; the guys know their role- the vocal drives the composition; the composition inspires the vocal.  Lead by a natural voice, Callaway brings vivid life to each song- her multifarious tones say so much; cover so much emotional ground.  Some singers have a narrow and insipid voice; others are not adept at conquering too much territory- not really exploring the entire spectrum.  Callaway is consistently stunning and dramatic; her voice brings each word to life- sucking the listener into her mindset.  Backed by an incredible band; Get a Witness is a tremendous album.  The production allows each note and idea to be heard; everything is extrapolatable and detectable- nothing gets lost in the mix.  That lo-fi and live-sounding production makes (the album) sound like a live recording; you picture yourself alongside the band- as though you are watching them in concert.

I would recommend you check-out Get a Witness: an album that steamrollers the Punk/Alternative scene; offers something fascinating and fresh- a band with a huge amount of confidence and passion.  It is clear to all- and something the band would confess themselves- some songs/moments are divisive: certain tracks may split opinion; others are instant classics- whilst some take repeated listens.  That is the point of great music: no band gets universal acclaim from all fans; for all of their tracks- the best acts are those that reveal their beauty (over time and listens).  Queen Kwong- and their Sci-Fi-cum-Ancient-Egypt moniker- are a festival-primed band; they have the support and ammunition- why would you ignore their potential?  Their sound will appeal to Punk-lovers old and new: those with their heart back in the ‘70s; those born in the ‘90s- the music reaches and touches a wide range of ages and tastes.  Embers of Queens of the Stone Age, Bikini Kill, Nirvana and Patti Smith comes out: all tied around a very personal and original band motif.  Carré Callaway is a striking and stunning singer: with sides of vulnerability, heartache and optimism, she (strikes me at least) a complex and fascinating woman- a singer with a unique voice; a personality that speaks to fans.  She is not some faux-Punk Siren; an insincere and forced representative: she is a genuine article; a woman with a lot on her shoulders- able to exorcise those demons through some staggering and emotive music.  The entire band is tight and electrifying; ear-grabbing and mind-altering: an act that should be ruling the festival scene; for many years to come.  Having played Reading and Leeds- given the British audiences a first-hand window into their live majesty- the guys embark on a mini-tour.  Having returned to the U.S. – and launched their album in New York- the band are back in Europe (in December) – taking in Germany and Holland.  The Punk scene has changed somewhat (since the ‘70s and ‘80s0; its proponents have shifted focus and topics: less politicised and socially-motivated, the tendency is to concentrate on love and the self- something, perhaps, the younger generation will relate to (more heavily).  It seems Queen Kwong have a unique opportunity: with so few Punk/modern band attacking politics and inequities; maybe they should rise through- tackle racial prejudices and gun violence; political corruptions and impunities.  Maybe that is not their thing; they current music is connecting with a vast audience- I am happy for them for sure.  It is a shame there are critics and naïve: those listeners not connected with the band; happy to distance themselves and snide- they are missing out on some terrific music.  Whilst some songs require multiple listens- others are more direct and immediate- that is the band’s hallmark: in time, all of their songs reveal their charm; worm their way to the front- and make their effects known.  It is time to end; and before I close things down, I shall return to my initial thread: concerning Punk bands; the range of acts on the scene- where do Queen Kwong fit in?  Well, if you take their sound and album: how many other acts convey such a sense of occasion, drama and fascination?!  With so many pale and sexless acts ruling the airwaves- the stations seem to be a mesh of bland and same-same acts blathering on- it is refreshing to hear Queen Kwong shout their intentions: shaking- up expectations and adding their dizzying assault; comingling old and new sounds- embracing tracks that speak to the masses.  Aside from the clandestine ‘haters’- that spew their bile over YouTube – the reaction has been emphatic and impressive- fans from around the world have been keen to voice their praise.  Callaway and her boys are on an impressive trajectory: off the back of some festival odyssey; Daniel P. Carter-inspired magic; some wonderful memories- the U.S. band are in rich vein; ready to kick (the world’s) ass- and make a name for themselves.  It is still early-days period; the band is still honing, working and fine-fettling: Get a Witness sees few cracks and minor-notes; songs brimming with lustre and passion- a stunning grasp of concept and feel; few listeners will come away opinion-less and unimpressed.  There is no much meagerness and unimaginative music (on the waves); that sallow and beta male wussiness- the public yearns for something with guts, grit and balls.  The Americans offer just that; they go further and provide a deeply unique and fascinating experience: music that delves deeper and elicits resonance and reaction; combustible and strange music- guaranteed to impress and seduce.  If you are not familiar with Queen Kwong, then rectify this: their new album is a perfect starting-place (make sure you hear their past work).  As the weather changes; the season changes- and my musical mind grows weary of the established lot- I am seeking something alive and hopeful- music that goes beyond expectations.  When it comes to L.A.’s Queen Kwong, my desire is not only met…

IT is hugely satisfied.

 

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Follow Queen Kwong

 

Official:

http://www.queenkwong.com/

Facebook:

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

Twitter:

https://twitter.com/QueenKwong

Instagram:

https://instagram.com/queenkwong/

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Videos:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCrpMwyJqtsTY0OWL7rD1yPw

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Gigs:

http://www.queenkwong.com/#!tour/c9a0

Track Review: In Hoodies- She Got Caught

TRACK REVIEW:

 

In Hoodies

 

She Got Caught

 

9.3/10.0

 

She Got Caught is available at:

RELEASED:
23rd July, 2015

GENRES:
Rock, Alternative

ORIGIN:

Istanbul, Turkey

The E.P. She Got Caught is available at:

https://inhoodies.bandcamp.com/releases

Vocals-guitars-keys etc.: In Hoodies
Drums and percussion: Aliberk Aslan
Programming-String arrangement-Keyboards: Tim Wills
Bass Guitar: Martyn Campbell
Lead Guitars: Si Connelly
Violin -Viola: Mike Sidell
Cello: Ben Trigg

Written and composed by Murat Kılıkçıer

Recorded at Shed Studios (except bass and drum tracking; at Kore Studios) -London

SGC mastered by Ian Cooper; My Con mastered by John Davis at Metropolis Studios – London

Artwork by Ethem Onur Bilgiç (www.ethemonur.com)
Produced and mixed by Chris Potter
(Z Management)
www.zman.co.uk

TODAY marks both a milestone and a departure.

This will be my first review (of a Turkish artist).  Until recently, my European-based reviews have centered on U.K. artists: last week I assessed a French band (Archi Deep and the Monkeyshakers); today is the time of Turkey- a country whose music/musicians I am not overly-aware of.  Having been contacted by In Hoodies’ lead- he has a connected with Goldbirds’ Si Connelly (a band and man I am affiliated and familiar with)- it has been great investigating a brand-new sound; from a nation (in musical terms) unfamiliar to me- to see what Turkey is offering.  Before I get to my featured artist, I have been thinking about certain artists; how Rock and Alternative music is portrayed- and the male solo sector.  Let’s start with the issue of Rock and Alternative music.  In today’s market, those genres tend to be band-led: there are few solo artists that play this genre; that tends to be focused around Pop/Folk/Electro. themes.  It is a generalisation, yet one that holds firm: most solo acts in general steer away from Rock and Alternative sounds.  In the mainstream, the likes of Jack White- and his Blues-Rock anthems- sit alongside Beck and Frank Turner; Pink and Lorde could be included- to be fair, it’s a short list.  If you think about it really: can you name a list of new male solo artists (who play in the Rock/Alternative realm)?  I am not sure why this phenomenon exists- I guess it is easier to portray genuine Rock backed by a band- but loneliness/solo music tends to attract a certain ‘vibe’: sounds that portray longing and romance; introspection and desire- the Rock/Alternative market appeals more to the band; sound more tempting to them.  The male solo market in general is somewhat hit-and-miss: I touched upon it previously; it seems the quality is somewhat lacking- the female market is a lot more prosperous and varied; more dependable and reliable.  It is something that has to change- the predictable plight/sound of the solo artist- and brings about a revival of sorts.  The new music scene is quite burgeoning and prodigious: if you ferret around and dig; you will find genuine quality and longevity; artists that go that extra mile- and come across as genuinely innovative and new.  The mainstream is a little stagnated (at the moment): there is a leaning towards certain acts/genres; little mobility and sense of surprise- no surprise the last few years have been particularly slow (when it comes to fantastic albums and acts).  It is no one’s fault, particularly; I guess it is a rough/mediocre spell- perhaps the tide will turn in years to come?  What is embracing is the ambition of new music: over the past few months, I have witnessed (lots of great acts) shouting their intentions; fusing genres, styles and era- producing music of the highest order; defined by merit and emotion; meticulous detail and endless passion.  In Hoodies is both an unknown quantity (to me) and a bit of a forbearer: an artist new to my mind; someone who could bring about a revival- and inspire more (similar acts) to come through.  Last week I reviewed Bee Meru- built from the disintegration of Saturday Sun- who is (bar some additional musicians) a male solo act- and sounds better/different to most other music out there.  In Hoodies has slipped under the radar; managed to escape the mainstream lense- this will change in time, for sure.  The young Turk has a very particular image and artistry: paintings/graffiti-style images (of our hooded) hero; each image/publicity shot seems to be reflect a different art/genre style- from Manga to black-and-white drawing.  Murat (the man behind the hood) is based out of Istanbul; a city that is growing as a music centre; showcasing some great music- attentions should be focused here.  When reviewing Electro. artist ADI- who is based in Tel Aviv, Israel- I was stunned by the quality (coming from the city); how few listeners/media sources look here- one of Asia’s most flourishing and innovative musical centres.  Whether Istanbul (and Turkey) gains attention and credit- and diverts media eyes from the U.S. and U.K. – is hard to say; with the likes of In Hoodies coming through; this can change soon enough.  Although his social media pages are a little sparse- a few photos with little biography/background- his official site is eye-catching and humorous; fascinating and insightful- given a glimpse into the young artist’s mind.  The E.P. She Got Caught has been picking up buzz and attention; reviewers and listeners have latched-onto its layers and sounds; that mix of force-cum-intelligence- responded to its sense of endeavor and ambition.  Not just a great release (in its own right); the music contained not only could inspire more up-and-coming Alternative male acts- it could lead to mainstream shake-up; have the solo market undergo a renovation- and lead to a less homogenised (male songwriter) scene.

In Hoodies is pretty new on the scene- his E.P. is the first real recorded music- and making those first steps.  It is hard, therefore, to look back; see how he has developed- and how his music has changed.  For that reason, it is worth assessing the sound in the context of existing acts: where it fits in (genre-wise); which other acts coming to mind- whether She Got Caught is worth the time.  Addressing the latter point; the E.P. (only being two songs) shows a small window; a glimpse into his psyche- what is motivating him.  The E.P. looks at relations and romantic inner-workings; longing and desire- not portrayed in a predictable or usual manner.  In the mainstream- and artists that play the same music/style as In Hoodies- there is a tendency towards narrow themes/ideals: the lyrics tend not to stick in the ear (neither poetic or striking enough) and seem somewhat over-predictable.  The music has that similar fatigue and lack of ideas: not true of all artists; there is an over-reliance on a certain way of working.  In Hoodies has a sound that will appeal to lovers of the Indie/Alternative/Rock milieu- and the current crop of artists- as his sound is contemporary and modern; he goes beyond what is expected; coming up with something with a unique twist.  Just seeing his official website; you get the sense of a young man with a love of words and emotions: his poetry/haikus and scribblings have intellectual properties; twisted and skewed ideas- vivid scenes and emotional depth.  Not an artist with a rhyming dictionary and a list of clichés, this radiates in the music: the lyrics and scenes surpass the (somewhat bogged-down) vague metaphors and overly-familiar themes; the lyrics we have all heard before- and can quote with our ears closed.  In Hoodies’ music has a mixture of familiarity and distinction: the compositions have a radio-friendly edge; there is a contemporary vibe- albeit with an edginess and home-made sensation.  Based in Turkey, In Hoodies (is of course) familiar with British/western music; the sounds coming out- he mixes that with something homely and self-made.  What captivates me (when it comes to his music) is the richness and depth.  Going past what is expected/represented, In Hoodies brings exceptional music (and multi-talented musicians) into the fold; understands the importance of musical range and support- thus eliciting the biggest emotional reaction.  Semi-symphonic with an air of fragility; She Got Caught is as vivacious and intriguing as (its E.P.) cover- there is an underlying mystery and ambiguity behind everything.  It takes several listens- if you want to get to the bottom of each song- music that demands concentration and attention.  If these facets appeal to you; if this is what you seek (when hunting for a music muse) then call off the search party- here is the man for you.  When it comes to male-driven solo acts, there are few true originals (when it comes to Alternative flavours) so In Hoodies provides a much-needed breath of air.

A plaintive and tender guitar stroke welcomes She Got Caught in: it bristles with tease and swoon; romantic undertones and calm.  The mood then swells and builds; the guitars become more fevered and uplifted- the composition cracks and expands with a breathless passion.  Without a single word being spoken; the composition says so much: able to reflect a sense of reflection and longing, the coda gets inside the mind- and sucks the listener in.  Our hero is coming alone; coming to take chances: early words are delivered with a sense of inner-focus and refrain.  Whereas a lot of contemporaries let introductions linger on; showcase little emotion in the early stages- In Hoodies ensures the sapling exchange builds up momentum and speculation.  It seems the heroine- or subject being referenced to in the song- has “a plan”: you picture a coming-together or conversation; the two conspiring and conversing- maybe the heroine has set a challenge; declared an ultimatum.  There is a certain obliqueness and openness to the initial lyrics: allowing the listener to picture their own ideals; allowing some interpretation and subjectiveness.  The production values allow each note and vocal to come through strong: not mixing things low; cramming too much in, there is a naturalness and professionalism: everything is crisp and clear; there is plenty of atmosphere and (room to) breathe- the song swims and flourishes with conviction strength.  Caught and left in the rain- not feeling different or renewed- our hero increases that enigma and secrecy.  Backed by river-deep and autumn-vibed strings, the track has a quasi-orchestral sound: it is never overwrought or fake; each instrument elicits stunning emotion and clarity.  The song’s heroine expounded pretty words: our man advised rest and breath; take a break and take it easy- again, your mind wonders and speculates; what is being referred to?  In the midst of investigation and detective work, it is impossible not to be caught-up in the composition: it is sparse and gentle; has an addictive little lick- a sun-kissed undertone that is both calming and impassioned.  It seems the heroine has been through a tough experience; maybe life is taking a bad turn: she has been caught in the “eye of the storm”; in need of rescue and relief- our hero’s voice seems genuinely sympathetic and supportive.  In the accompanying video for the track (on YouTube) we see our man walk a forest; across the evocative scenery- in a hoodie and mask (looking like a Medieval warrior-cum-urban-gang-member) we see a woman on the ground- he reaches down to place a mask (on her face; a symbolic and romantic gesture).  Perhaps that is the background to the song; the real reason for events: our man can hide behind a persona; distance himself with his music (in a good way: reflect his pain through the songs) – our heroine seems bare and exposed; in need of communality and togetherness.  Maybe I am reading into things too much; it seems like ghosts are haunting the girls- spirits and haunt that “no-one knows.”  Reminding me of early-days Badly Drawn Boy (that vocal tone and melody) She Got Caught never needs to race or volumise: the stunning composition and gripping vocal does all the work- builds up fascination and loyalty.  Still gripped by the song’s video- which transforms and sees the two standing; both wearing masks it has an odd air to things.  Both spiritual and filmic (there are edges of Japanese animation) it is a beautiful video: highlighting the song’s sense of beauty and individuality.  The two sweethearts stand aside one another; our hero is lending a hand- all the time, you feel the two drifting apart.  A song that speaks to lovers and strugglers; those stuck in a hard situation: the track has a universality and familiarity.  The way In Hoodies describes events; how he lets his words and voice captivate- few other singers have that sense of power and distinction.  If anything, She Got Caught has embers of modern-day Beck: his Morning Phase sounds seem to have a modern-moment sister, here.  That album (Beck’s) was filled with warmth and beauty; determination and wisdom- immersive and tender.  There is sorrow and pain (in She Got Caught) yet the song has plenty of hope and strength: the focal messages implore change and motivation; getting out of holes (and bad ways) – there is that desire to change things for the better.  Metaphors and imagery is summoned up- bird on a wire; a human in a hole- to highlight the fragility and vulnerability; the sense of danger and uncertainty- you certainly root for the heroine.  In Hoodies’ voice remains romantic and concerned; never anxious or detached- always convincing and genuine.  The track begins to exude and emote (towards the final stages); the tension and urgency builds- the instrumentation becomes more heated and stirring.  Our hero looks at his girl; keeps his eyes set: she’s getting (in her own) way; making mistakes and caught in traps- all the while, you wonder what has caused this; whether a relationship break-down is afoot.  The duo got caught between “two fires”; both strained and lost- you wonder if the hero will come out of this the same.  Clearly there is a lot of back-story and history; the two have been through some real turmoil- there is that desire to see light and happiness.  The guitars chime and sparkle- with Indie/Alternative edges- whilst the vocal aches and campaigns- reminding me a little of Noel Gallagher.  In the final seconds, the composition takes a leap and shift: the guitar (bass and percussion) jumps and races; a push towards the end- keeping that energy and deep emotion clear and focused.

   She Got Caught brims with passion and moment; that sense of sorrow and heartache- undertones of redemption and hope.  In Hoodies’ E.P. is a two-song insight into a young mind: a man who has suffered some heartache and upheaval; someone with a deep soul- it is poured out across the E.P.  The title track is a perfect statement of his music: oozing tenderness and power, the song never relents or wanes; its messages are vivid and sincere.  As I said, the song has subjects/themes that are directed towards similarly-inclined people: those caught in a hole; maybe in need of direction.  The vocal is both unheard-of and familiar: there are suggestions of other artists- Gallagher and his ilk- yet the Turkish singer surpasses expectation- he is seamless when raw and open; effortless when calming and introspective.  Backed by superb backing- the musicians assembled perfectly compliment the lyrics- the song glides and floes; catches the emotions by surprise- and implores you to think.  She Got Caught mixes classical strings (they are subtle but effective) with multifarious and deep guitars- that are atmospheric and beautiful.  The composition supports and augments the songs; almost creating their own lyrics, the instruments marshal force and voice- whipping-up their own life and sense of ambition.  Maturity and logic; openness and inspiration: these are elements that come through across the song; radiate and gleam- the track hits the mark after the first listen.  With that exceptional and perfect production, you are compelled to revisit and go back: fill in gaps and lines; uncover mysterious moments- and try and dig to its core.  Whether the young master will follow up (the She Got Caught E.P.) with another- or take a break- he should be proud and pleased- he has created something current and fresh; very much his work.  Few modern artists pack this much promise and authority into their debut moments- an artist to watch closely.

In Hoodies is an act that (pretty much at least) gives me fresh impetus and invigoration: I actively seek great/different solo acts; the boys tend to be a little less daring- the Istanbul artist has produced a terrific track (and brilliant E.P.).  Having journeyed to London- and joined with an amazing and legendary producer- the results speak for themselves.  Not your run-and-the-mill, acoustic-led tale of love-loss-anger-introversion etc.; what you have it is music that delves deeper: it possesses the hallmarks of great Indie/Alternative music- the passion and anthemic appeal; that sense of swagger and heart- whilst displaying personality and individuality.  I said up-top; when it comes to Turkish music- or any outside of the U.K. and U.S. – my sights are a little limited.  Perhaps showcasing the natural limits of social media and the press- how can you make the people conscious of music from all around? – I am glad (to have assessed) In Hoodies.  She Got Caught (the E.P.) is a short insight into a daring young artist; someone with a rich knowledge of the scene- a young man who wants to make big impressions.  You can HEAR that ambition and passion come through: the music is consciously nuanced and catchy; the lyrics both outreaching and introverted; the production values seamless and completely befitting- keep your eyes and ears peeled, folks!  It is the imagery/sense of mystery that compels me: those sketches/artwork (on the official website); the cards-close-to-his-chest enigma; the music alone- you have to fill some gaps, but have a great time doing it; come to your own conclusions.  Before I finish up, it is worth assessing Alternative/Indie; a few thoughts about the E.P. itself.  My Con (the E.P.s second half) is a slow-building and soul-grabbing little slice: In Hoodies lets his voice seduce and pervade; dreamy and urgent- you get wrapped-up in the song.  Confessional and tender; devotional and hopeful- the song has quite a modern sound, yet seems inimitably his own.  Both tracks on the E.P. have a fairly soft and sensual sound: there is no break-away riff or stadium-sized lust- everything is kept fairly intimate and controlled.  This works in his favour; In Hoodies crafts music designed for lovers and dreamers; those that want to break away from the mundane- his music/voice is appropriately gripping and focused.  There are some great male artists on the scene- aside from my initial fears and diatribe- from the likes of James Blake to Sam Smith; Pharrell to, well… there’s a lot out there.  My main problems lie when you get into certain genre: when the boys stray away from Pop/Folk/Indie music, the most interesting results occur.  Maybe it is just my tastes- and having been overwhelmed by the wave of samey acoustic guitar-wielding acts- but innovation and originality always creates the biggest waves.  In addition to (the aforementioned acts); there are some promising new artists coming through the ranks- those that go beyond the stale and repetitive sounds (favoured by the charts and the media).  Personal and romance-based music does not need to be dull and predictable; it can be utilised in fantastic manners- In Hoodies is putting his slant on the themes.  Overcoming the pitfalls the genre/scene can produce- sticking to close to other acts; not getting bogged-down in cliché and superlatives- the Turkish star seems like he has a future.  It will be interesting what comes next: whether a full album comes out; another E.P. perhaps- if the sound is expanded somewhat.  She Got Caught showcases a unique lyrical voice; an artist going beyond the boundaries- let’s hope this drive and initiative continues long (for years to come).  Let’s finish off with the young man himself: how to describe him and his musical role?  Playing in the Alternative/Rock arena- a little bit of Pop can be heard- he is one of the genre’s finest new stars.  Away from the beige and insipid examples- we all can list quite a few- In Hoodies has that necessary edge and flair; an intelligence which results in some terrific- that is capable of leading to long-term success.  I shall finish with a list; made by In Hoodies- how he describes himself/his music (on his official website; read it to the sound of Radiohead’s Fitter Happier).

Self-made, song writer

Sponge heart, deal hater

 Big time… Naysaye

No talent, sketch-drawer

Half-baked, demo-recorder

Need a way, but a map-burner

Dream-head

Over-fed

Semi-weight

Neo-late

   Shelf-warmer

Few and far

In a ball of yarn

Lost, not found

 Bit of a mess-maker

Student of little kids

Mood swings, ill at ease

Praying with no bliss

A phony, a twist

Angst-reflector

Scooter-lover with no license

Story-teller got no guidance

A walking, talking crisis

Disturbed meditator

Hyper- empathic egoist

Bruised by educational fists

Slowly fading as an occupational disease

Just a windmill-fighter

Stuttering

Hollering

Whıspering

     Communicator

Hood-looking, with no dis.

 Not designed but a row of accidents

 All ears, all ears, all ears

    Disappointment supplier

Speaks truth as a foreign language

Burns the saint keeps the wıtch

Black as pitch

Switched-off

At last-ditch

Lost in the music…

TAMBOUINE break.”

 

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Follow In Hoodies:

 

Official:

http://www.inhoodies.com/

Facebook:

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

Twitter:

https://twitter.com/inhoodies

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Music:

https://soundcloud.com/inhoodies

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Gigs:

http://www.inhoodies.com/#!gigs/c12yc