This Week’s Albums: September 16th, 2015

This Week’s Albums

 

 

September 16th, 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; FKA twigs to Beastie Boys- it is enormous fun.  I get to talk to people about music and play some awesome stuff. I turn people on to some great new acts and some that people may have forgotten about.  I’ll be publishing reviews in this format every week. I’ll be highlighting some  try and highlight some fantastic albums- maybe some you have forgotten about, and hopefully some that are entirely new to your ears.

The Old: Kraftwerk- Trans-Europe Express (1977)

 

9.5/10

 

Kraftwerk’s Trans-Europe Express ranks among music’s most influential- inspiring the likes of Radiohead (and Kid A) and Afrika Bambaataa– its effects are still being felt.  Those minimalistic beats and electronics mutate into catchy and lush choruses. The compositions swirl and hypnotize, dragging you into a delirious dreamscape.  The song Europe Endless chugs and builds as the lyrics look at life’s timelessness:  Mention of parks, hotels and palacesconjur the width, wonder and majesty of the continent.  Metal on Metal is a hard-edged and mechanical smash: beats patter and replicate while the metallic sounds crunch and smash. The song is a cross between a railway locomotive and an industrial army of metal soldiers readying for war.  Franz Schubert is a song that is softer and romantic: It pays homage to the master whilst eliciting plenty of colour, contour and imagery and is one of the album’s peaks.  The Hall of Mirrors is one of the albums songs that looks at reality and self-imagery.  It has quirky and whimsical electronics; a stamping beat (sounding like someone stamping).  The contrast of lyrical concepts within the album sounds coherent and compelling, never losing focus. Kraftwerk surpassed their Autobahn work and touched a new generation.  Romantic and awe-struck,  serious and angelic: Trans-Europe Express is an album that has no peers.

DOWNLOAD: Europe Endless; Trans-Europe Express; Metal on Metal

 

The New: Lana Del Rey- Honeymoon (Released 18th September, 2015)

 

8.5/10

 

Lana Del Rey’s newest albumHoneymoon, reached audiences due being accidentally leaked; ahead of its planned release at Urban Outfitters.  Wanting to return to Born to Die’s successful templates; Del Rey has offered Hip-Hop beats and psychedelic strings and lush harmonies.  The title Music to Watch Boys To perhaps an homage to Andy Williams’ Music to Watch Girls By– is bathed in beauty It soothes with gorgeous and rich vocals. The song was inspired by the image of men passing by as a shadow; in front of a girl’s eyes. The track  High by the Beach is all skittering beats and echoed vocals.  Terrence Loves You evokes images of her track Video Games and her work on Born to Die, whilst boasting the album’s most transcendent vocal (and quoting Space Oddity in the process).  Lana Del Rey’s sophomore album, Born to Die, was met with a somewhat-muted response.  Perhaps a little too naïve in its themes of Americana dreams, boys and cars; highway in the hair.  Ultraviolence (its 2014 follow-up) was more cohesive and rounded: the pace may not have changed, yet Del Rey’s voice had grown in confidence- the results show.  Honeymoon suffers no nerves or fillers and ranks as Lana Del Rey’s finest album yet –  an album that becomes richer- and more emotional resonant- with each listen.

DOWNLOAD: Honeymoon; Terrence Loves You; Freak

The Influencer: N.W.A.- Straight Outta Compton (1988)

9.0/10

 

With Straight Outta Compton still showing in cinemas, it is timely I guess- featuring the album behind the film.  Taking in Los Angeles’ dystopian, burned-out neighborhoods, the album has a fixation on gang-beating, drop-smoking, sexism and racism.   Exhilarating and endlessly energized, the album inspired legions of up-and-coming Hip-Hop artists and popularized Gangster-Rap.  Lyrically, Straight Outta Compton revels in its drunken, women-harassing; shooting it out against the law.  With an air of  invincibility and naivety,  the tracks do not show remorse or look at outcomes- they just luxuriate in their bombastic and hell-raising agendas.  The opening 1-2-3- Straight Outta Compton, F** tha Police and Gangsta Gangsta– are dizzying and machine gun-flowing.  With Ice Cube and MC Ren penning some of music’s most desolate and evocative lyrics expressing the realities of L.A. street-life in the late-‘80s- the album remains a crucial and monumental landmark.  Express Yourself is one of the album’s most celebrated moments and is relatively free or profanity and violence, allowing for a well-needed breather.  Heavy-going and intense, Straight Outta Compton is an album to be patient with and let its magic take hold.  When it comes to artistic integrity,  Dr. Dre’s stunning and bare production style allows each track, vitriol and diatribe to ring clear.  Few albums are as forceful, aggressive and politically-motivated.  While few acts or albums would ever match Straight Outta Compton’s heights, – that blend of profanity and social observation has become commonplace; none has topped N.W.A.’s 1988 gauntlet.

DOWNLOAD: Straight Outta Compton; Gangsta Gangsta; Express Yourself

The ‘Other One’: The Traveling Wilburys- The Traveling Wilburys Vol. 1 (1988)

 

9.5/10

The Traveling Wilbury’s is one of the original supergroup formations: George Harrison, Roy Orbison, Tom Petty, Bob Dylan and Jeff Lynne formed the band.  Initially George Harrison recruited the musicians to collaborate on Handle with Care (a B-side he was working on) – the idea for a band came together.  One of the most fun and optimistic albums I have heard- it remains one of my very favourite because it is the sound of five middle-aged legends having a ball.  Loose and tossed-off musicianship creates a stark contrast with the album’s gleaming production- by the ever-fastidious Jeff Lynne.  Handle with Care and End of the Line are two stunning and upbeat songs- the video for the latter was recorded shortly after Orbison’s death, making for tracks that define the album.  Not Alone Anymore is a romantic ringer among the pack- showcasing Orbison’s tremulous voice to its full.  Rattled is a Jerry Lee Lewis-esque tribute by Jeff Lynne; Heading for the Light is one of the album’s standouts.  Each musician was at their peak, none more so than Dylan, who wrote the funny Dirty World.  Few albums exist that show so much optimism and togetherness; fun and frivolity- for that reason, ensure you seek it out. 

DOWNLOAD: Not Alone Any More; Tweeter and the Monkey Man; End of the Line

Track Review: Holy Moly & the Crackers- A Punk Called Peter

TRACK REVIEW:

 

Holy Moly & the Crackers

 

A Punk Called Peter

 

9.6/10.0

 

 

A Punk Called Peter is available at:

https://soundcloud.com/holymolyandthecrackers/apunkcalledpeter

Recorded, Mixed and Mastered: Blank Studios
Written and Produced: Holy Moly & the Crackers

RELEASED:
13th July, 2015

GENRES:
Gypsy-Folk; Rock ‘N’ Roll; Punk-Rock

ORIGIN:

Newcastle/Yorkshire, U.K.

 

MY featured band is a reviewer’s dream…

So much so, I shall break it down into sections: there is a lot of good to be found- within the boundaries of Holy Moly & the Crackers- that deserves to be unveiled.  For one thing, the band has a great official page: informative and well-designed, it is a great one-stop portal (and one of the best sites I have come across).  It may seem like a minor point- and perhaps a little bit anal in essence- yet having an engaging site; a great official page- that will draw in fans and followers.  So many bands/acts have no official site- relying on the usual social media channels- which seems a bit remiss.  If you present something captivating and informative; easy to navigate- with all the information you could want- it goes a long way.  It should that act/band are serious; they have a real attention to detail- and care about fans/reviewers.  It is a particular point I guess, yet felt compelled to mention it: my featured act has a brilliant official website; they have been a lot of thought into it- the results speak for themselves.  My featured band sources its members from across the north- mainly divided between Yorkshire and Newcastle- and proves a valid point.  The most diverse and scintillating music is emanating here; the most genre-daring bands; those that splice-and-dice- and come up with something tremendous.  The Holcombe Family String Band- another act from Yorkshire- has a similar composition and flavor to Holy Moly’- there must be something in the water!  Semi-joking aside, the northern towns/cities are showing how it’s done: regenerating ‘lost’ genres; fusing traditional-sounding music- with something modern and up-to-date.  Before I continue on this point- and subsequently raise another one- it is high-time we come to Holy Moly & the Crackers:

Conrad Bird – vocals/guitar/trumpet
Ruth Patterson – vocals/fiddle
Rosie Bristow – accordion
Peter Hogan – electric guitar
Jamie Shields – bass
Tommy Evans
– drums

Holy Moly & the Crackers is a seven-piece ‘gypsy folkNroll’ band from the U.K. They released their debut album ‘First Avenue’ in October 2012 and an EP ‘Lilly’ a year later – described as “a re-imagining of three traditional folk/blues songs that evokes eras of whiskey and guns on modern punk folk steroids”. Their newest single ‘A Punk Called Peter’ (2015) is “a sort of New Orleans funeral march mixed with some fine and highly danceable reggae”. Tracks from the album and EP have been played by Amazing Radio, BBC Introducing and leading music critic Mike Harding.

 

They are making an impact on both the national and international tour circuit; they have played well over 200 shows throughout the UK, including sell out concerts in London, the Midlands, Yorkshire, Newcastle and Edinburgh. In October 2013 the band toured internationally in Europe. The band has performed at major festivals across the country, including shows at Hop Farm Festival, Secret Garden Party, Boomtown and Cornbury Festival, where they opened for Jools Holland.

 

Holy Moly and the Crackers are influenced by an eclectic range of styles and artists – the honest grit and gravel of Woody Guthrie, the gypsy bone-cage burlesque of Gogol Bordello: punk, ska, reggae, folk, blues, honky-tonk, Balkan etc. As such they play a unique mash-up of folk/blues, waltz tempos and hoe-downs and french zazou in outlandish carnival style. It is loud, funky and fun.

At this current time- and throughout a lot of my reviews- I have been hearing the same sounds: the guitar-drum-bass configurations; the Indie/Alternative variations- some faintly interesting Pop moments.  I am not down on new music- in fact, I have come across some tremendous acts this year- yet there seems to be little mobility; a fear and unwillingness- few are getting their feet wet; really pushing the envelope.  Whether deemed ‘uncool’ or ‘by-gone’; older musical themes- sea shanties and gypsy rhythms; hillbilly lullabies and fire-side romp- are being left in the cold.  The 21st century bands- by and large anyway- are concentrating on traditional/modern sounds; fusing in some classic ‘60s/’70s elements- it is both popular and dependable; marketable and profitable.  What Holy Moly & the Crackers are showing, is that music can offer more- without being niche or forgettable.  The critics’ descriptions speak for themselves- with concerns the steroidal updates of older music- and paint vivid images.  When you hear the music the band offer, the mind starts to dance and project: their hoe-downs and low-down dance (dances); their whiskey-soaked songs fuse with camp-fire sing-along- an intoxicating compendium of flavours, sounds and decades.  The band deftly unite U.S. sounds- New Orleans Jazz and Blues- with British elements- Folk and sea shanties; rich modern-day Soul (the likes of Adele is owning).  The band are not unfocused and freewheelin’- not in a bad way at least- and have full mastery and authority.  From fiddle-fury rapture to the intoxicating vocals- of the band’s leader Conrad Bird- the guys (and gals) are a heady brew.  More common around Yorkshire/the northern climes; the multifarious and mind-blowing mixture is seducing hearts- and no surprise really!  In 2015, you cannot rest on your laurels; come in like everyone else- and think there will be a market share; hope for the best.  Too many new acts have that tired old refrain: the rather ho-hum choruses; the generic and heard-it-all-before vocals- everything sounds recycled and uninspired.  Too few are being daring and forward-thinking- assuming listeners will ignore them; they will be laughed-off- but Holy Moly & the Crackers are filled with confidence and showmanship- coupled with incredibly vivid and addictive music.  Some might say the band has no cross-over appeal- that their particular brand will not win stoic hearts- yet that would be short-sighted: the sheer verve, ambition and quality they put into their music wins you over; the group have no limits- thus ensuring everyone is entranced.  Having unveiled an album already- that has infused and wowed critics and listeners- the clan are on the offensive; setting their sights- in no mood to demure or settle-down.

The Holy Moly & the Crackers clan have a wide range of influences- in terms of genres and artists- that can be broken-down as such:

Delta Blues, Rythm and Blues, Rock and Roll, Trad. Irish Folk, Trad. Balkan Folk, Punk, Ska/Reggae, Gypsy-Swing:
Robert Johnson, Woody Guthrie, Bob Dylan, Nina Simone, The Pogues, No Smoking Orchestra, Gogol Bordello, The Clash, Molotov Jukebox, Johnny Flynn etc etc

Perhaps a toned-down and truncated list, it assesses the band’s range and loves: the music that compels them; the styles that go into the tunes- and who you should reference.  Although the group is inspired by modern music- and channel current artists- their chest is ostensibly historic/older-sounding.  From the ‘20s and ‘30s U.S. Blues to Bob Dylan; Gypsy-Swing and Irish Folk- there is a rich and fascinating palette.  If you are inclined to the above- or are unfamiliar with any of the artists- I would suggest seeking them out; check the artists out- get a sense of where Holy Moly’ came from; what goes into their music.  Of course, that is only half the story: our band goes further and deeper; have their own personalities and ideas- use their idols as a jumping-off point.  There are few modern comparables- one can levy to draw alongside the band- which is actually a good thing.  So unique are the band; so rarified is their music- it has few siblings.  The best idea is to clear your mind- and purge any preconceptions- and go in with fresh eyes.  The best comparisons/pointers- away from purely musical terms and areas- reference emotions and feelings.  Holy Moly & the Crackers’ music is joy-rousing and fun; it is upbeat and merry- filled with nuance and emotional depth; musical innovativeness and little details.  Away from the fun-fun atmosphere, the band can be sensitive and heart-rending: when they turn things down- and aim for the soul- they are stirring and impassioned.  If you need some uplift and pleasure; seek something comforting and supportive- the music here is ready-made for you.

A Punk Called Peter is a new single- and to new fans, hard to explain- so it is worth looking back; see how they have developed- and whether their core sound has changed.  It is worth looking at their 2012 album (First Avenue) and 2014 E.P. (Lily).

  Highway Shoes starts with plaintive and aching strings.  Some- rather sweet and rousing- duel vocals lead to some fiddle-frenzied moments.  When it comes to the song- and its central story here- it’s time to hang up highway shoes: the song’s hero has been beating the dust; meeting all sorts of characters- time to put those memories to bed.  Looking back, we hear tales of beggars and thieves; people on the road- (our hero) knowing he’ll be back soon.  Looking at memories on the road; the dreams and swords-in-stones, the lyrics are well-considered and picturesque; fascinating and evocative.  Bird and Patterson unite in the chorus as the fiddle- with strings and percussion- weave around them.  It is a delirious and swaggering composition- although not as frenzied as some of their tracks- as the song goes from introspective and story-telling; to captivating and high-spirited.  We/the hero looks at old and blind men; wise tales and avenues- that desire to return to the highways.  You can hear that ache and need to return- within the committed and stunning vocals- and makes you root for the hero.  Endlessly gripping and charming, it mixes Blues and Folk; smatterings of Gypsy-Folk;- into a rich and heady boiling pot.

  Comfort in Lies– softer and more romantic than other tracks on the album- is led by Patterson.  The song has a gentle and passionate start- aching strings and swooning vocals can be heard- that is a false-start.  From the dusty pathways and streets- and events contained within- the vocal is silky and Blues-inspired.  There is, it seems, comfort in telling lies; the composition swirls like a circus waltz; a carnival ride- all colours and smiles; screaming tongues and blurred lights.  Looking at placing blame (and love’s indiscretions) the sworded realities and necessitated truths intertwine. The accordion sways with drunken haze- whipping-up scenes of the sea and shanties- whilst the band is tight and compelling.  Urgent and mesmeric, the score is perfect: it propels the vocal whilst retaining its own sense of twilight and mystery; salaciousness and smoothness.  Shades of Billie Holiday and Nina Simone come out in the lead vocal; Blues and Soul greats- a spine-tingling lead for sure.  Another unpredictable and nuanced song, it shows how nimble and multi-talented Holy Moly & the Crackers are.

   Willy Had a Fiddle is not as sexual or perverse as the title suggests (or just my dirty mind reading between imaginary lines).  The song begins with a measure of intensity.  Willy had a fiddle- and played all night- played his drum and marched all alone.  The vocal rushes and spirals; Willy is trying to play his instrument (and not getting it right) – aching strings and pitter-patter percussion soundtrack his plight.  Orders come in to charge and go a top the hill- the song has sense of nursery rhyme and old-fashioned fable.  One of best lyrics and stories is unfolded here: evocative and stunning, it is packed with detail and wit; heartache and quixotic gleam.  The composition trades marching drums with see-saw fiddle; a hefty and rampant emotional punch.  The vocals- led by Bird and backed by Patterson- are dedicated and committed; they take you in the song- ensure every second and step is real and tangible.

   Cocaine– from the E.P. Lily– unlike a lot of the album- is a lot more upbeat and energised.  The lyrics stray close to drug-referencing ideals.  We hear of a cocaine house on Cocaine Hill- the song is a waltz-cum-circus-dance- a cocaine heroine with her cocaine-stained nose.  Snakes and elephants give ideas of hallucinations and drug-addled visions; add to the oddity and beguiling entrance.  The vocal is light-hearted and spirited; the band is at their peak: sounding as alive and smiling as ever.  Morphine Sue comes into the fray; replete with a little shot in the arm- turning a rather dark subject and making it sound quite cute and flighty.  The composition has a swaying beat and catchiness: a feet-on-fire Jazz flavor; Swing-scented too- such a heady brew.  Our heroine- resisting any drug puns/double-meaning- is laid down in cocaine clothes; had one too many sniffs, her fate now sealed- a cocaine rose is worn (pinned to her clothes; also a good name for a drink/cocktail).  As the song comes to its end, we learn that the headstone has a refrain: our heroine died sniffing cocaine; here lies her cocaine-rattled soul.  That mix of humour-and-macabre; child-like and fantastical- results in one of the band’s finest moments.  Befitting of the song- and compositionally supportive of the drug of choice- we get a quick-fire and wild-eyed coda; it whizzes and twirls- not only encapsulating the listener; it is an aural figure- transporting itself into the heroine’s bloodstream.

The band has retained its sense of quality and adventure; that unimpeachable control and sense of wonder- never sounding off-kilter and unfocused; always electric and stunning.  They had no need for improvement or change- and their latest single does not stray too far from their previous work- and what you get is something typically theirs.  Their latest cut contains elements of the album and E.P.: that mixture of energy-cum-story; the vivid images and wild refrains- such depth and wonderment.  What has changed- and not a bad thing certainty- is the subject matter and performances.  Now, on A Punk Called Peter, the group sound even tighter and essential; more studied and in-step- every note and vocal is faultless and perfect.  Retaining a sense of looseness and frivolity, the song is more nuanced than previous work- they are at the top of their form.  The subject matter has changed to Peter the punk; away from the highway ramblers and cocaine abusers- we have shifted to different avenues and scenes.  Although the storyline is different, the essential ingredients remain: that detailed and mind-expanding story; the charming and memorable moments- wit and agony; ill-fated people and quirky characters.  These aspects- the changes and consistencies- will not only please existing fans but appease the undecided voters- who have no excuse to ignore the band.

You can practically picture the scenes- as the introduction to the song unfolds.  A sexy and slithering trumpet line comes in; all breezy and cool- the listener is caught in its seductive grasp.  You imagine scenes of bar doorways and heroes: a Humphrey Bogart-esque character looking across the street; the lights flickering in neon- an acrid smoke filling the air.  So evocative and sleek is the introduction, you get stopped in your tracks.  It is languid and haunting; shivering and atmospheric- leaving you wondering what is coming next.  Suddenly, the percussion arrives on the scene: joining with the trumpet, the song kicks up and accelerates; the introduction mutates into semi-frenzy- as our heroine approaches the microphone.  With a composition that resembles Y Viva Espana– it has a slightly toned-down sensation of its rhythm and sound- the story is laced-in.  Being on the wrong side of town (our heroine) is in unfamiliar territory.  Peter approaches and offers some candid advice: if you stick around they’ll gun you down; “stick you in the ground”.  In gangster/enemy ground, there is that sense of danger and unease- wrapped around a delivery that has humour and quirkiness.  The composition has shades of sea shanty and Reggae; Ska swagger and Folk undertones- a stunning blend that is insatiable and delirious; it implores you to sway under its spell.  Following his footsteps “like a dog does a bone” our heroine is following- being led home to apparent safety.  Already- being so early into the song- you imagine the ‘hero’: what he looks like (a mix of Johnny Rotten and Sid Vicious; much older, mind) and the town they are in (a broken-down city with a ‘20s vibe; a New Orleans-meets-Detroit combination).  Soon things turn sour- as Peter turns a knife on our heroine; it ain’t “no easy threat”- and things get dicey.  Keeping the mood buoyant and redemptive the trumpets keep the feet tapping; they bring sunshine into proceedings.  Looking Peter in the eye, the situation is “do-or-die”; that life-or-death struggle is present- you wonder what will come next.  It is at this point Peter seems more like an old-style punk- someone who is a no-good; ‘stick ‘em up, punk’ etc.  That changes my survey and imagery: Peter still seems vintage and ‘20s/’30s-influenced; although more akin to a movie star scuzz- someone with countered facial hair and an expanding gut-line; crooked glances and a dusty flat cap.  As our heroine looks at her options, it seems a fortune teller prophesised this- they are inherently crooked and fraudsters; it adds a sense of charm and light relief to events- to beware of Peter the punk.  With nary a tenner in her pocket- and not much else she can offer-up- there is palpable tension.  With a family at home- and lots to leave behind- there is supplication and reasoning; Peter seems less-than-sympathetic.  Having been led by the Devil, Peter is still breathing: something that seems fortuitous rather than earned.  As the song reaches its boiling-pot, the composition steps in: an extended jam, the accordion is fresh and sprite; the percussion beats and snaps (without being too heavy) – bass notes guide the song forward; adding guidance and melody.  Whereas the trumpet took early lead, the accordion drives the song now; less sensual and moody, it is kicking and rousing- ensuring the listener is compelled and moving.  Our heroine is stuck with Peter; he better run- the police and coming with their dogs and guns.  Throughout, there is still that air of old-time crime; something you’d see in a film- you envision black-and-white scenes with cigarette burns appearing in the corner.  With vocals backed and augmented, the style turns into a Doo-Wop-cum-Soul motif; it is slowed-down and layered- those stunning vocals press and campaign.  It is just as well, because it seems Peter will get his comeuppance: he will burn and pay; there is nowhere to run now.  Both stately and funereal- there is somberness and heartache among the compositional notes- the trumpet comes back in; mixing with the accordion, things start to come back up- a lively kick and one last hurrah.  The final moments- and in fact the outro. lasts a little while- wrap things up (musically); the composition keeps blasting and swooning- ensuring the song’s images and characters remain in the mind.  By the end, you speculate how things worked out: did our heroine make it out alive; did Peter get his just-rewards?  There is that cliffhanger element that makes A Punk Called Peter a genuinely tense and fascinating song.

   A Punk Called Peter is a song broad church and real: there is no sepia-tinged spin; although there is humour and upbeat to be found.  The lyrics are vivid and concise- the band has a real flair for storytelling and engaging an audience- and we have another quirky and fascinating tale.  Like Cocaine– and a lot of tales from the band’s past- we have another disreputable and doomed figure; someone that really comes alive- a man from another time.  The song is both instant and slow-burning: on the first spin, it takes you by surprise; does its work and leaves you feeling amazed.  When you come back, you start to notice little details and elements: bits of the composition come into view; some of the wordplay strikes the mind- it is a song that rewards those who pay attention.  The band themselves are at their peak; never appearing anything less than exhilarating and tight.  Ruth Patterson’s lead vocal is a shrewd choice: Conrad Bird would have done a fine job, yet Patterson is the perfect choice; her softness and power really bring the words to life.  She sounds sympathetic and dramatic; vulnerable and wary- managing to present so many emotions and sides.  A skilled and intuitive singer, her voice remains firm and passionate- never needlessly going off course or wandering; it is concise and focused throughout.  Not just a narrator and scene-setter, Patterson ensures every note and word comes to life; really staggers the listener- an amazing delivery and wonderful performance.  Conrad Bird does not go unnoticed and slight: his trumpet work beautifully leads the track; injects so much passion and pride.  Remaining mainly music-based, Bird is left to give the backdrop colour and weight- which he does with confidence and aplomb.  The guitar work is slight but effective; melting with the rest of the instruments, it keeps the song spiky and hard-edged.  Rosie Bristow’s accordion is a great counter-balance to the trumpet work: it is light and feet-moving; it gives the song a gracefulness and playfulness- robust and spiraling, it evokes images of sea shanties and gypsy song; ensuring the track always has a degree of charm and wicked humour.  The guitar work- from Peter Hogan especially- ensures the song has insistency and danger; has that underlying unpredictability- and gives proceedings a rawness and Rock-iness.  Jamie Shields’ bass guides and directs the track; mixes with the other performers- and gives the song a strong backbone; keeps everything in-check.  Melodic and characterful; keeping perfect time, the bass ensures a song- that has a dizziness and danger- controlled and honed.  Tommy Evans’ drum is powerful and emotive; ensuring the composition is always exciting and unpredictable.  Never too full-on or scene-stealing, the percussions blends with the band; gives it a distinct kick-forward- and adds to the merry and hazy scenes.  The entire band is tight and completely enraptured: they have a superb bond and understanding; working and supporting one another- each player knows their role; they play it wonderfully.  The production is particularly impressive.  A lot of modern songs bury vocals and sounds underdone and unsophisticated- a lot of times you miss lyrics and things sound rather amateurish.  Here, there is polish and precisions, each vocal and note is crisp and alive- the mix and balance is perfect; all the instruments come off rich and vibrantly.  The entire track is a full-bodied and hot-bloodied; the lyrics are economical and focused- whilst providing so much vivacity, drama and movement.  Tied with the composition- and all that it has to offer- and you have a sensational track- one of the band’s finest, in fact.  Recalling their Lily work- and the subjects and sounds contained within- it is a perfect one-off.  It would be nice to hear the track on their next album- perhaps it is already- as it would be a perfect lead-off number- really get the listener hooked and fascinated.  Few bands can invent a song that never loses it potential- I have played it a number of times and am not slightly bored- so things bode well for the future.  Ensure you check out Holy Moly & the Crackers’ latest cut- a song that is guaranteed to lift the spirits and leave a smile on your face.

A Punk Called Peter– even its title raises smiles and irony- is a great step for the band: those Ska and Reggae elements tie with Bluegrass and Folk- topped off with a lashing of kick and energy.  To be fair, Holy Moly & the Crackers effortless switch genres: those camp-fire hoe-downs and New Orleans tributes; the string-frenzy dances and soulful serenity.  Those emotions and colours trip and blend; the energy-cum-sedate is natural- the overall effect is one of spellbind and resistance.  The Crackers- imagining themselves to be sourced from the southern states of the U.S.; a rag-tag band of players- certainly project American sounds: the old-style Blues (Woody Guthrie; Son House) and Folk legends (Joni Mitchell and Bob Dylan); via juke joint-lingering ramble; the New Orleans Jazz and Blues masters- along to the modern-day Blues-Rock bands.  Based and united in the U.K., there are some British elements; aspects of modern-day Pop and Soul- yet it is that U.S. flavor that lingers.  The band has such affection- for their influences and styles- that nothing sounds forced or faked.  The six-piece ‘Crackers have an arsenal of talent.  Their musicians- strings and trumpets; bass, drums and guitars- balance with the superb vocals- from the stunning lead of Conrad Bird to the crystalline beauty of Ruth Patterson.  There is such variety and potential; they can switch and change; bait-and-switch- mutate their compositions and style in an instance.  What is most impressive about the band- among others for sure- is that energy and passion.  The mood never slips or relents- except when focusing on love and inner-focus- and the vitality fizzles and cracks.  Their latest single both continues and changes their formula and projection- they sound more confident and alive here; more compelling and grand.  These guys are not your minor minnows; the lackluster band starting out- they have achieved a hell of a lot!  Sharing festival time with the likes of Bob Dylan; opening/warming-up for Jools Holland- they have rubbed shoulders with the greats.  It is no surprise, given their album- and the quality on their E.P., Lily– was met with such applause.  The ‘circus-sound’ element- the hoe-down and festivities; the eccentric and insatiable twirl- is not-often heard.  I hope there is a revival and upsurge: bands following in the footsteps of Holy Moly & the Crackers; thinking outside the box- bringing in/back those wonderful and evocative genre-dramas.  I love that Jazz sweep of New Orleans; the hustle-and-bustle of the old Blues masters- the charm of wide-eyed Soul.  Too many acts are sticking with the ‘safe’- and doing what everyone else is doing- and the music world is suffering.  I guess it depends on your influences/childhood music- when it comes to forming your own sounds- but there could be more bravery.  You do not have to COMPLETLEY sound like Holy Moly; just take a sprinkle here and there- the effects will be much stronger, stranger and staggering.  In concluding, I shall circle-back: come back to the opening themes; hint at the future (for the band).  Newcastle and Yorkshire; the northern regions: these places are producing music’s most inventive; bringing back older styles- and revitalising them.  Yorkshire is housing some terrific Electro.-Swing acts; some tremendous duos and Folk-based acts- unencumbered by the saturation of London; inspired by the community and support.  Although Holy Moly & the Crackers have their souls in the U.S. – sipping bourbon at a New Orleans bar- their bodies and minds are ensconced in the U.K.  It is hard to characterise and define the six-piece; drill-down to the nub- there is so much variation and depth; colour and diversity.  Essentially, the group invokes the glory of the past; inject modern pace and production- fantastic musicians and singers designed to get the place jumping.  The band’s live performances have been heralded and commended- because of the high-energy, high-octane pace- and they have a busy calendar.  Touring the U.K., it will be a busy end to 2015 for the collective; they are building-up to the sophomore L.P. – that will be exciting to see.  For now, A Punk Called Peter is a tantilising insight; a blend of sweet-leaf Ska/Reggae with some fire-side upbeat; Americana/Folk fusion and stunning lyrics- that build a wonderful story; supported by tremendous vocal work.  The band has that unity and solidity; each member backs the others: they are a democracy with no stresses; that effortlessness comes out- it all sounds like so much fun; no anxieties to be found.  Ensure you check the music out- of Holy Moly & the Crackers- and await their forthcoming material- the speculation and anticipation is high.  Those fever-pitch jams; the genre-leaping carnality: sweet-leaf and bum-rush; alcohol-entranced and Louisiana-lusting.  Music needs the Indie players and the Alternative renegades; the Pop pioneers and the Folk seducers.  The ‘less-well-known’ and off-the-mainstream genres always produce biggest intrigue: from Hip-Hop’s hard-and-heavy stylisations; the power and intensity of Hardcore and Metal; the charm and beauty of Americana- everything else that fills the gaps.  With Holy Moly & the Crackers firing on all cylinders; their music hitting ballistics to every sense- they deserve long-term regency.  Having such an impressive background- from some prestigious festival dates to spellbound praise- the band have all the momentum.  In November, they will tour with Buffalo Skinners- another band that take the less ordinary and make it extraordinary- and will hit-up some hungry towns and cities- stopping in London on the 6th.  Chances are you are not familiar with Holy Moly & the Crackers; maybe a little hesitant- knowing the sort of sounds and genres they play.  If you are a Metal fan or a lover of Punk-Rock, then do not bridle- their music (Holy Moly’s) is designed for everyone; open-armed and inviting; they want you to join the party.  The steeliest of hearts cannot resist their festivity and acrobatics: it may take a few spins; when you do finally fall for them, you are hooked and powerless.  A Punk Called Peter is one of this year’s most exhilarating tracks; a song that is like no other- take note up-and-coming bands!  In the autumn months- when the weather is indeterminate; the gloominess pulling in- we all need something rousing and smile-making.  Nobody does that more effectively than Holy Moly & the Crackers; so with that being said, do not delay and…

SHOW them your love.

 

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Follow Holy Moly & the Crackers:

 

Official:

http://www.holymolyandthecrackers.com/

Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/holymolyandthecrackers

Twitter:

 https://twitter.com/holymolyholymol

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Music:

https://soundcloud.com/holymolyandthecrackers

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Videos:

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLyPxYjB4-iF0MRqUuCPU0ycRDmg0-mMnm

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Gigs:

http://www.holymolyandthecrackers.com/#!tour-dates/c12nt

 

Interview: Ina Reni

Interview:

 

 

 

Ina Reni

 

FROM seemingly out of nowhere arrives a stunning singer…

Of course Ina Reni has been working hard; making her mark- and preparing her music.  Having discovered her through social media- and fallen for that voice and passion- I was keen to catch up with her: what drives her music; who inspires her- and plans for an E.P.  The songwriter has been performing and writing; recording video diaries- and ensuring she gets her name and music heard.  The half-German/half-Bulgarian artist is currently based in London (which she sees as a ‘second home’) but has been traveling the globe throughout 2015-  collecting memories along the way.  With so few- genuinely memorable and distinct- songwriters on the scene; too few remaining in the mind- the future looks exciting and promising for Ina.

“German/Bulgarian singer-songwriter (and multi-instrumentalist) Ina Reni started writing her own songs at the age of 14.  Given her early passion for Jazz music, she soon got involved in the Berlin Jazz Scene by becoming one of the members of the prestegious National Jazz Choir.  A few years later she won an online singing competition hosted by Germany’s most important music tycoon Dieter Bohlen. She subsequently got approached by German Producer Levent Canseven (Ricky Martin, Moloko) and got signed by a German independant label.  In 2011 Canseven produced her self-written debut single Sagittarius- which went straight into the top 40 of Beatport Pop Charts- and has moreover been featured on the hit German TV series “Berlin Tag & Nacht”.  A few years later she decided to move to London where she, after an initial exploration of the London open mic scene, quickly was invited to perform her original material at festivals and important music venues (Portobello Live Festival, London Coffee Festival, Proud Camden, Good Ship etc).  Ina is currently working on creating her first E.P. in collaboration with Stampede Management .

Hi Ina.  How are you?  How has your week been?

Hi Sam!  My week has been good, I did some topline work for a record label; I was in the studio and I also supported my friend Jerôme on the day when he was selected as “Entrepreneur of the Year” in my function as brand Ambassadeur for his company “Phrooti”.

For those new to you and your music; tell us a bit about yourself- how would you define yourself?

I´m a half-German, half-Bulgarian singer-songwriter from a small village close to Berlin- who makes Pop/ Jazz-inspired music with very straightforward lyrics

What does music mean to you?  How would you define its power?

Music is the most important element in my life, apart from my family.  I listen to music very consciously and usually very loud; I can never have it playing in the background unless it’s Lounge or Classical music. At the same time, being forced to listen to music I don´t like makes me feel physically uncomfortable.  In general I think music is one of the biggest transmitters of emotions in almost every society.  Music has the capacity to create or intensify emotions and it gives people a channel to express themselves; as consumers and as creators.  I could talk about that for hours but let´s just say:  music is and has always been extremely powerful and important.

INA TV- on Vimeo; videos of you songwriting/offering music advice- seems to have captured a lot of attention and support.  A lot of musicians do not take the trouble to record videos and try and connect directly.  Do you think more should?

I think people that are at the beginning of their music career such as myself should focus on those “marketing tools” that they enjoy doing and feel passionate about.  It needs to be authentic in order to work.  With INA TV I do everything myself: I record the videos, I edit and cut the material, I upload it. People who are not able or willing to do these steps themselves would have to continuously pay somebody to do that.  Then again, if you are just starting out building your music career, you should be really cautious about the things you spend your money on.  Also, a video diary only makes sense if you have a solid core audience already- as people won´t watch a video about somebody they are not interested in to begin with.

On the subject of social media: how important has it been to you and your music; and are there any drawbacks to it?

I think we all know that social media is highly crucial these days for companies and artists likewise.  For me it is important because it is a direct communication channel to my fans and friends.  In my opinion it does however come with a massive drawback- as it makes you neglect the real world.  I check my Facebook and Twitter constantly without any reason.  How often do you see people sitting face-to-face to each other, silently, just checking their phones?  I think social media is for some reason very addictive and if I wouldn´t be an artist, maybe I would not have a Facebook account at all.

As an up-and-coming songwriter/artist what have been the main challenges you have faced?

The main challenge for me is feeling insecure about my ability and my own intuition.  To make things worse, the music industry especially at the bottom is full of overconfident weirdos who criticise your choices; your music, your approach.  I think you need to find a balance between standing your ground and being open to criticism, suggestions and new approaches.  It´s a really thin line and the better you can balance it, the better the quality of your decisions.

On that note- and if you could offer advice to any upcoming singers- what would it be?

Not sure if I am yet in a position to do so but from what I know today I would say: trust your intuition; be organised, be humble, have faith.

If you could choose your ‘dream line-up’ (and perform with any acts past or present) who would they be?

I love Jill Scott and Tori Kelly; wouldn’t want to perform with either of them though because I would look like a loser.  I would love to sing a duet with a German artist called Helge Schneider.  My mother thinks he looks disgusting but I am a big fan (Google him and decide for yourself!)

I often ask musicians this question:  what inspires your songwriting and creative process?

My own life usually inspires me.  I mix my own stories and feelings with those I have witnessed somewhere.  Sometimes I also write about things that I don´t have a direct connection with- but which moved me in some way like for example a story in the news or a movie.

One of the best things- that attracted me to your work- is your blog (http://www.inareni.blogspot.de/).  There is a lot of posts/photography; a great range of places and countries: what motivated you to start it?  What have been your best memories (of this last year)?

Well, initially I wanted to make a blog for my family and close friends- because I was living abroad and I wanted them to have a little insight in my life.  Especially for my mother and grandmother who always wonder what I´m up to and worry about me.  Also, I started developing an interest for photography- which is my second passion.  I have a lot of good memories from this year, they range from times I have spent with my family; mellow summer evenings in London to all those moments when I felt that people really like my music.  Performing at the Good Ship was definitely one of these moments.

You are currently based in London- and have German heritage- and spend a lot of time travelling. Where (for you) would you call home?  Which cities/countries are most inspirational/important to you?

My home is definitely in my little village next to Berlin.  I have lived in many countries and cities, all of which I still feel emotionally connected with.  At the age of 16 I had lived in France in a little village which is still very dear to me.  Then I lived in Spain and after that in the Ukraine.  Kiev is a beautiful city and I have grown to be a big fan of the Ukrainian culture.  London has always been a bit difficult for me: everything seems so rushed and anonymous.  But right now it´s my second home and I love the fact that in London it doesn’t matter where you come from or how you look like.  Unless of course you´re British, that’s kind of a big deal.

You have had a busy 2015. Can we expect some new music in the next few months/next year?

Yes, definitely.  Creating a debut E.P. is a tricky thing: there is no second chance for a first impression.  I worked with many people and I have only recently found the right team.  But we are now at the last stages of the planning phase and I am pretty sure that the E.P. will be released in the first half of 2016.

Knowing a lot of female performers- and another question I often ask- is there a particular pressure to look/act a certain way?  Do you think women in music are expected to fit into a certain mould- or have you not faced that sort of pressure?

I look at it a little bit differently.  I think there is a pressure to be a “consistent package” as an artist.  In other words, if you make straight pop, you should look like a fashionista.  If you make Alternative-Rock, you better look a bit edgy and say bad words to the camera.  At one point I was really obsessed with making sure my outfits really suit my musical style; but then my manager told me just to chill.  Again, at the end of the day it´s authenticity that matters.

In terms of new music- and albums released this year- which would you rank as ‘essential’; which are your favourites?

My favourites records this year are Snoop Dogg´s “Bush” and Meghan Trainor´s “Title”.  “Bush” has been produced by Pharrell- and pretty much every song is a tune!  Pharrell himself says it´s better than his own album.  It´s what I listen to when I´m driving.  Meghan Trainor´s album is very different as you can imagine but brilliant all the same.  She is a massive songwriting talent in my opinion, her songs are very cleverly-written and every part is a hook.  It´s a great record for when you´re getting ready or…cleaning the house!

Finally- and for being a good sport- you can select any song (and I’ll include it here):

India Arie – Video

 

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Follow Ina Reni:


 

Official:

http://www.inareni.blogspot.de/

Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/ina.reni/

Twitter:

https://twitter.com/inareni

YouTube:

https://www.youtube.com/user/inareni1

Vimeo:

https://vimeo.com/inatv

SoundCloud:

https://soundcloud.com/inareni

Instagram:

https://instagram.com/inareni/

 

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

 __________________________________________________

Music:

https://soundcloud.com/echoboomgeneration

_________________________________________________________

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

____________________________________________

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.

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Follow Outer Rooms:

  

Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/outerrooms

BandCamp:

http://outerrooms.bandcamp.com/

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Follow Terrorista:

 

Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/trrrorista

Twitter:

https://twitter.com/TerroristaMusic

BandCamp:

http://terrorista.bandcamp.com/

SoundCloud:

https://soundcloud.com/terroristamusic