Track Review: REL- Before the Storm

TRACK REVIEW:

 

REL

 

 

Before the Storm

 

9.4/10.0

 

Before the Storm is available at:

https://soundcloud.com/r-e-l-music/before-the-storm

RELEASED:
13th October, 2015

GENRES:
Evoca.-Pop/Alternative/R&B

ORIGIN:

L.A., U.S.A.

Written/composed by Arielle Sitrick & Travis Bunn.
Produced by Travis Bunn & Bill Burke

Artwork by Juan Ándres Rivera.

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OVER the next few days I will be wrapping up reviews for this year…

and winding-down L.A.-based artists.  It has been great seeing what the city offer but it is time to step away to other locations and see what is around at the moment.  Before I pack up my U.S. bags- Wednesday will see the last U.S. review for a while- it is back in a city that has provided much speculation and promise this year.  REL (or ‘rel’; it varies now and then) is my featured artist and someone who has made big waves with her unique sounds and daring blend of genres and ideas.  Before I come to her, I wanted to look at female solo artists in L.A.; genres such as R&B and Pop- in addition to the importance of social media and music-sharing websites.  L.A. is lining some terrific solo acts for the following year.  When it comes to the boys the likes of Evan Mellows- and his dark-sexy R&B mixings- is going to be one to watch for sure.  It is worrying that it’s so hard to actually find out the names to watch into the next year.  A Google search shows few promising results; you have to be very specific with your search terms.  There is not a website that is dedicated to showcasing new artists and narrowing them by city and genre.  If I want to find out L.A.-based female solo artists to watch (for 206) then where do you go?  It is alarming that in 2015 there is no website focused on music and all it has to offer- something huge and all-encompassing.  It is a pity because I know L.A. has a lot of great solo acts right now- that will come to the public attention in dribs and drabs it seems- especially when it comes to the girls.  There are some great girl groups coming through in L.A. – Punk and Hard-Rock treasures- but it is the solo sector that seems to be most promising.  Like New York; L.A. specialises in ambitious, genre-mixing artists; those that provide something dreamy and passionate- with darker edges and plenty of power.  When it comes to genres- those that are going to be played and represented- there are a going to be quite a lot of R&B/Pop acts emerging.  These genres are well represented yet few artists mix them together and experiment with what is possible- exploiting the emotional and sonic ground on offer.  Each genre has potential and flexibility in its own right yet when you splice and blend them- same goes with any two other genres- you get a richer and wider sound; something that packs a bigger emotional punch.  My featured artist is someone that deserves a lot greater attention and needs big recognition in 2016- her music warrants serious investigation and respect.  Before I continue my point, let me introduce you to one of L.A.’s hottest female solo artists:

r e l/20 years old / 20 years wise/full of dreams and poems and love/curious, passionate, compassionate.
r e l is a 20 year old artist based out of Los Angeles. r e l ’s music radiates emotion, embodying what she calls “evoca-pop”– music that makes you think and feel– and what has been labeled by music-tastemakers and fans as dream pop/alternative r&b.  This past May she released her debut self-titled EP containing the upbeat, ever popular track, “Plateau”. r e l ’s music has been featured on notable blogs such as MTV Iggy, Hilly Dilly, BaebleMusic, Crack in the Road, and Impose Magazine.
r e l has played at several historic venues throughout the Los Angeles area including The House of Blues, Room 5, and The Mint, along with playing industry showcases including the DL at Dirty Laundry and BMI’s Acoustic Lounge. She has been working nonstop on new music and visuals for her upcoming EP”.

REL is an artist of-the-moment who displays huge ambition and love for what she does.  When it comes to marketing your music and connecting with fans, social media and music-sharing websites are pivotal and crucial.  Over the past year, the L.A. star has produced a string of wonderful songs and moments; dazzled with her self-titled E.P. – gaining the eyes and ears of some very high-profile publications.  It is the way REL utilises social media and other sites- the likes of SoundCloud especially- that has connected her music with a wide range of people.  I still find so many acts that negate the importance of social media and the music-sharing websites.  A lot of bands and acts limit themselves to Facebook and Twitter- some stick to Facebook alone- and do not put their music out there.  It is all very well having a great sound and a promising talent: if you fail to make your music readily-available and widespread then you will not pick up the fans and they will look elsewhere.  It is not to say you need to be on every music website and flood people with updates.  Too many acts are being cagey and naïve with regards their music- foolhardy considering how competitive and packed the music industry is.  REL has a great team behind her for sure- ensuring her music is put in the right hands and gets exposure- but the L.A. artist’s stunning sound and distinct blends have done a lot of the talking.  As we go into 2016, it is clear she is going to make a name for herself- there will be new material and tour dates on the agenda.  It is still the early days for her so it is wise to remain realistic and not leap ahead.  From what she has produced already there are clear signs of an artist who does things differently- someone that has a singular voice that needs to be encouraged and loved.  Getting more assured and confident with every song, it signals a very bright and busy future for the young heroine.  Just how far she can go is anyone’s guess.

Taking Before the Storm into consideration, it is worth tracking back to REL’s previous outings- seeing how her music has developed and shifted.  Love Your Neighbour was released a year ago- before her self-titled E.P. – and showed a very distinct lyrical style.  Backed by ghostly and sparse backings- something quite unsettling in fact- the heroine looks at twisted shadows and blood splatters on the wall.  Taking us into a song that looks at knife wounds and haunted dreams, you get some vivid images and a compelling story.  Whereas the chorus implores loving your neighbour (“as yourself”); the verses take us into troubled and disturbing avenues- presenting images that will linger in the mind for a while.  REL’s vocal remains impassioned and firm throughout- barely changing course and projection from start to finish- to give the song quite an edgy and emotional sound.  We look at a man with red in his eyes and a lustful hatred burning deep.  With his meat cleaver by his side, there are yearnings for chaos and murder- the neighbourhood is about to get a rude wake-up.  The song focuses on the troubled minds and peculiar figures that can lurk behind doors; taking us into very unique and murky waters.

   Heading for the Sun featured on REL’s self-titled debut and changed course from Before the Storm.  Whereas that song was more dark and haunting; Heading for the Sun is a more upbeat and fast-paced song.  REL lets her voice roll and rap- as opposed to the more static delivery of before- to create something that takes us into R&B territory.  The heroine’s voice is lighter and more impassioned; images of space exploration and solar flight and “all systems go”.  Using these lyrics as metaphors for love and relationships- I may be off the mark but that is the way I interpret it- the song boasts one of the most accessible and memorable choruses REL has produced.  Across the E.P. the L.A. musician mixed that accessibility and relatable themes with something more singular and dark- ensuring her music crossed boundaries and unites a lot of new fans.

  Plateau is one of the mist memorable and celebrated tracks from REL- a song that has garnered a lot of attention and focus.  The song was featured on various blogs and music publications because of its upbeat composition and consistent energy.  Whereas the backing is quite uplifted, the lyrics look at time slipping away- personal concerns and reaching the end of the road.  As the title suggests, there is little room to manoeuvre and compromise.  It seems like a particular relationship is being investigated and explained.  That need to turn the clock back and do things differently; it is clear there are struggles and need for resolutions.  REL employs a very distinct lyrical style that is more image-provoking and dream-like than many of her contemporaries.  Whilst many go for simple phrasing and language, she ensures her words have an idiosyncrasy and intelligence to them- delivered with a tumbling and impassioned weight.  Throughout the song you get to focus on the vocal and lyric- the composition adds urgency and emotion yet is second nature to the foreground- and the confessions of a young woman who wants change in her life.  The song repeats the chorus and central mantra- more so towards the ending- ensuring those words and sound stick in the mind.  Boasting a contemporary sound and relatability- there are shades of Rhianna and other Pop-R&B crossover acts- meaning it success and popularity is no surprise.  Whilst not as individual and unique as some previous outings, it shows new confidence and a change in direction- whilst retaining those original lyrics and stunning vocals.

Before the Storm continues the lyrical themes and idea of the E.P. – presented in that unique way but tapping into common themes- and could well have sat across that work.  It seems like REL has found her niche and sound; there is not a lot of need to change things up much- it will be interesting to see where she goes now.  The self-titled E.P. was a full and frank work that showed the L.A. heroine explore issues of love and relations; stress and strain- composed and presented with a very distinct style and projection.  Over the course of the last year I get hear her confidence grow and little changes here and there.  REL’s earliest work pushed her lyrics to darker avenues and demonstrated a song-writing talent with a need to distinguish herself from the pack.  Whilst her vocals were not as developed and rounded as later work; what you got what that urgency and conviction from the very start.  As time has progressed the music has become lighter and more upbeat; the Pop and R&B genres have been fused more readily and prolifically- that vocal has become more wide-ranging and impactful.  Each song has its own pace and sounds; the vocal can twist and turn- it can rap and roll.  This gives the music much more freedom and mobility- something that we will see more of in 2016.

Before the Storm emerges with an appropriately moody and evocative beginning.  Darker electronics whip up images of clouds and rain; something quite uncertain and dangerous is at work.  On this song, REL sounds at her most upset and troubled.  Due to the discontent and friction in her relationship, her mind is heavy and her heart is burdened.  Presenting lyrics that are among her most direct, accessible and simple- they do not have the poetic edges and obliqueness as before; the need to keep them simple ensures the full force of the emotions gets to the listener- in a song that will speak to a lot of listeners.  The track begins with a vocal flow that gives some light and uplift to a rather unsettled and heart-aching song.  Speaking to her man- the reason behind the relationship disillusionment is not clear- she reminisces about the old times and having fun.  Perhaps things have got too heavy and they tried to run too quickly.  Back when there were fewer ties and they were just having a fling, it seemed to be simpler and more pure- the happiness was there.  Maybe their relationship was solid and defined; something might have come between them and has caused friction- our heroine is expelling her demons and trying to understand things.  It appears there is some resentment and fall-out given what has happened; the lyrics point to someone who has a wrong to right- a lot of pain carried around with her.  Backed by a thumping beat and an emotional sparseness- the composition remains quite bare and uncluttered early on- the vocal remains determined and strong.  The prize fighter is winding up and preparing a whirlwind for her former lover.  “I got a trick or two up my sleeve/You aren’t gonna see them but you’re gonna feel them” suggests someone who has been played and deceived too many times- time to put the man in his place and equal the score.  Soon enough the composition becomes fuller and more driven- a neat and catchy beat meets swelling electronics- as our heroine talks of “The brawl is done, the fight is far from done”- signalling the duo are going to be in each other’s lives for a while now.  It appears like the man has been cheating or telling lies; messing our heroine around and being no-good- something that is a common ill in relationships.  In the beginning REL let it be known she liked it slow- I presume the speed of a relationship rather than sexual preferences- and this has been misinterpreted and abused.

Perhaps the guy has been lazy and inattentive; spent too much time with the boys and sniffing around other girls- assuming the relationship was causal and open.  Whatever the circumstances behind the disservice; you sense that bristling angered and spiked intention.  Our heroine’s voice never becomes too enraptured or strained; there is restraint and focus for sure- to allow those words and sentiments to be appreciated.  The composition remains fairly predictable in a way.  A lot of R&B/Pop acts present a similar mix of beats and electronics; in this case it is the right way to score the song- any other configuration or sound would do it an injustice.  Riding that supportive and hard-hitting beat, you transport yourself into the battle and war.  Amidst the themes of love-gone-wrong and bad fall-out there is enough obliqueness to keep the mystery building- no statement as to what happened to cause the rift.  Maybe there are a lot of reasons and problems that have resulted in the explosion- it is clear the man is at fault.  Our heroine prepares her punch and cyclone; he will not see the attack coming- but he’s going to feel its force.  Empowered and vengeful; you get hooked into the passion and menace being built.  Keeping her language simple and direct- not as highfalutin and unique as before- ensures that emotional resonance rules and she does not bury her feelings.  By complicating the lyrics and making them too detached you would not get that spark and reality- the sign of a songwriter who understands the importance of developing, evolution and change.  A terrific song that will appeal to a wide range of listeners- it blends R&B beats alongside more uplifted Pop moments- and Before the Storm takes effect.  As the song continues a lot of the lyrics are reintroduced- like a mission statement or bellicose chant- but we get some new insight and revelations.  It seems like the man was playing her; fooling around and trying to get the upper hand- it took her by surprise.  Those sentiments and insights see the vocal toned down and isolated- before the composition wave whips once more.  Our heroine has a surprise or two and is determined to get vengeance and justice.  Boasting a contemporary sound that has its heart in the mainstream; there is enough grit and individuality to ensure it has more authority and depth than a lot of chart-based music.  REL has always been an artist with far more grit and appeal than the slew of Pop acts on the scene- the sort that produce rather unforgettable and simplistic songs- but has ensured her sound are as accessible as they are unique.  That composition keeps developing and pushing the heroine forward; driving the words and providing a pulpit for our girl to let her voice be heard.  I am not sure who her lover is/was but one thing is for sure: he is being given a serious kick in the teeth throughout the track.  By the final moments, there is a malevolent laugh and that desire to level the score.  A song that not appeals to done-wrong girlfriends; its messages and ideas can be appreciated and understood by anyone- it is not a song that distances anyone or creates any walls.  One of the most confident and determined songs I have heard from REL; it shows just what she can offer music in 2016.

I am not sure whether Before the Storm marks at the sound of what is to come- where relationship recriminations are in focus- but the language here is more simple and straightforward than before.  A song that required few diversions and false avenues; the messages and words cannot be misinterpreted by anyone.  It shows a songwriter that can ably seduce when going for the jugular- just as she can when in poetic territory.  Every time REL looks at love and its issues, she presents her words and thoughts in a new and very unique way.  Perhaps Before the Storm is the most accessible and everyday representation from her- her previous numbers showcase stunning wordplay and depth- but it is a required move here.  Given the weight of emotions and circumstances surrounding the song- the pains and heartache that motivated the song- you need a set of lyrics that can be understood and interpreted by all.  The power and primacy of the vocals brings you right into the song and makes you side for the heroine- balkanised against the wrong-doing boy and his mean tricks.  Alongside Travis Bunn; REL has created a song that packs a huge emotional wallop.  Whether this will form the basis of her forthcoming E.P. – there is speculation there is new material afoot- it will be fascinating to see what comes about.  As it stands, Before the Storm is a fascinating stand-alone that will keep her old fans very happy- whilst bringing in new supporters.  Retaining the sounds and compositional elements of her older work- whilst developing her songbook and emotional angle- you have a young artists with maturity, range and a huge amount of potential- a songwriter and artist that seems limitless when it comes to the music.  I cannot wait to see where that inspiration takes her next.

There are so many solo artists out there it can be challenging and impossible to find out which ones are worth closer scrutiny into the next year.  I have bemoaned the lack of appropriate websites that represent all of music and making it easy to find musicians by city and genre- surely not that hard an achievement?  If something like that were introduced it would make it a lot simpler to locate YOUR type of music and the likes of REL.  As it was, I came across her via good fortune in a way- a representative for REL contacted me- but chances are I would not have heard her music otherwise.  I know there are tonnes of new musicians coming through but it is possible to narrow it down and organise things- make it a lot easier for the listeners to find the kind of music they want; in addition to stuff they may not have previously discovered.  Our L.A. heroine is making the most of her online portfolio and ensuring she takes her music as far and wide as she can.  With a sea of contemporaries vying for airplay and recognition, REL has developed and honed a sound that is very much hers- few other singers come across the same way.  In the modern musical climate, it is vital you attack publicity and promotion on all fronts.  A lot of new and inexperienced artists put themselves on Facebook and Twitter yet ignore SoundCloud and BandCamp.  I have seen a lot of artists put their music on iTunes only- meaning relatively few people ever hear it.  I understand the need for finance and making money from your songs but with so many musicians giving it away, can you afford to do this?  There is no room for naivety in music as it is so competitive and packed.  REL has made sure she gets her name and words out to the public as effectively as possible- it is no coincidence she is seeing the fruits of her labours blossom and inspire.  Having played at some rather prestigious venues- including Dirty Laundry and B.M.I’s Acoustic Longue- she is sowing the seeds for an assured and prosperous future.  Blogs and music publications have taken the music to heart and been seduced by those rare blends of sound and lyrics- stemming from an artist with originality and intelligence.  L.A. is a musical neighbourhood that houses some of music’s most adventurous and fascinating artists.  Being used to London and the U.K., when I get a chance to travel to the U.S.; I get to see the difference that is happening there- the wonderful young artists that are emerging and playing.  L.A. has a lot of great solo artists emanating; REL is one of the most hungry and distinct of them all- let’s hope she continues with strength and determination.  Songs like Plateau get you thinking and conspiring.  Its lyrics mix romance and something classical- “The candle from the little shop in Paris, our adventure/Wax and wicker sitting on your dresser to remember” with something contemporary and new- “Watching Netflix in your bed/Back when you remembered every word I said”.  Heading for the Sun looked at an imploding romance- sun to burn out in the sun- employing space terminology and imagery (“You’re facing Mars, I’m facing Jupiter/Locked inside these bars, but you’re still keeping score/I’m losing air, but you’re so full of it (hot!)/This spaceship didn’t come with the right toolkit”).

From her days of neighbourhood dangerous and religious symbolism; the salt-themed relationship woes and a unique insight into a young artist on the hunt- REL is developing into one of the most special and formidable writers around.  Her way with words and phrases is intoxicating; the way she lets her voice glide and strike is phenomenal- an artist with a huge soul and passion.  There are few artists out there who have such a sharp pen and a way with words.  Too many musicians stick with clichés and platitudes; keep language simple and do not give that much depth- meaning their music does not stay in the memory for long.  Picking apart REL’s words and thoughts gives you an insight into her mind and music; it makes the whole listening experience that much richer and more rewarding.  2016 is a year that should see a change in musical fortunes- there were few genuinely great acts in the mainstream- so let’s hope new music’s best and sharpest will transcend from the underground to give music the spark it desperately requires.  If you have not heard the stunning L.A. resident do her thing; make sure you check out her music and watch a rare talent come to life.  Getting stronger and more fascinating by the release- she is one of those artists that will be playing for years to come.  I say this about every artist- and it is a point that needs repeating- but let’s hope REL comes and plays the U.K.  It would give the nation a chance to see one of the U.S.’s finest solo talents take her unique blends and sounds to a new audience- her music has no limitations and every listener can appreciate what she says.  With there being so many straight-ahead Pop and R&B artists around, it is great to see an artist invent her own genre (Evoca.-Pop) and fuse different sounds and blends into a wonderful whole.  Congratulations to REL and what she has created in Before the Storm.  That lyrical individuality and intellect is intact; the heroine keeps those mandates of love and separation intact- it is a musical consistent that is always going to be in vogue– and gives the subject new life and twists.  Those evocative and poetic words show a young woman with a fertile and hungry imagination.  The passionate vocals and intuitive sense of dynamics and mobility result in a song that never loses its fascination and sense of the unexpected.  Take some time today to discover a new artist that has cut herself from the pack and is showing a huge amount of potential.  With so many of music’s new and ambitious starting to wane and fade, it is great to see an artist…

IN no danger of fading any time soon.

 

 

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Follow REL:

 

Official:

http://www.rel-music.com/

Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/therealREL

Twitter:

https://twitter.com/music_by_rel

Instagram:

https://www.instagram.com/musicbyrel/

 _____________________________________

Music:

https://soundcloud.com/r-e-l-music

_______________________________________

Videos:

http://www.rel-music.com/#!videos/ca0z

 

Track Review: Mayflower- Sienna

TRACK REVIEW:

 

Mayflower

 

 

Sienna

 

9.5/10.0

 

Sienna is available at:

https://soundcloud.com/wearemayflower/sienna

RELEASED:
28th September, 2015

GENRES:
Rock & Roll

ORIGIN:

Manchester, U.K.

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THERE are contrasts to the reviewing world that see…

experienced and established acts sit alongside brand-new artists.  Before I get around to mentioning my featured act, it is interesting to see the new bands coming through.  I have stated how there is unreliable quality control; a lot of acts seem to be determined to just come along and play for the hell of it- not enough distinction to really appeal to the listener and fans.  I have come across so many acts that either sound like someone else or have so little about them- just the mere suggestion of something good.  I wanted to mention new bands in general- it seems apt as we head into 2016- and just what they can offer music.  All of my cynical words aside- I am a bit down when it comes to band at the moment- I have seen quite a few bands that could make an impression into the next year.  The bands that stay in the mind are the ones who inject plenty of originality, diversity and nuance.  Of course, it is hard to be truly original and distinct these days- even the best bands have an essence of others to them- but there is plenty of room to maneuver and appeal.  I think a lot of the issues arise when bands look at the media and what is being expected of them.  The groups that are highlighted tend to play heavier sounds- Rock, Alternative etc.- so that is that inclination to compose and replicate those sounds; in the hope that this will lead to approval and success.  Solo artists have a lot more mobility when it comes to their music.  Hip/Hop-Rap, Electro.; Pop or Country- you name it; they have fewer limitations it seems.  You do not get that same genre-diversity that solo acts portray- there is more predictability at work.  Even if you work in slightly narrow confines, that does not mean you are limited and in trouble.  From the subject matter to the vocals; along to the compositions- there is so much potential for wonder and originality.  Those acts that are sticking in the imagination- causing a little of fevered praise and excitement- need only make a few tweaks to the recipe to create something sizzling and delicious.  When it comes to our featured artists, little is known about them at all.

Oliver Gaydon: Lead vocals, rhythm guitar

Jacob Calvert: Lead guitar

Mike Cromey: Bass guitar

Jim Mulherin: Drums

Manchester-based four-piece Mayflower was born in 2014. The band’s early chemistry spawned a host of original material, not restricted to one style, but displaying broad influence and a clear focus on the importance of crafting their songs.

In just a matter of months, the band has headlined Night & Day Café, sold out The Castle Hotel and performed a live session track on the Introducing Show on BBC Radio Manchester.

Mayflower’s second demo, The Dice Man, has received extensive support on the Introducing Show and the group have received praise from Michelle Hussey and Natalie-Eve Williams for the strength of their songwriting.

They hail from Manchester- a subject I will explore in more depth soon- and are making their first moves into the music world.   It would be good for the lads to put a little biography on Facebook; maybe have a link to their official site included here- a way of letting people know who they are and where they want to head.  At this time they have a new track out (Sienna) that is receiving impassioned feedback and a lot of heady praise.  Before getting down to their music- and what the guys have set in their future- it is great to be back in the north and in Manchester.  It is hardly worth mentioning what a reputation the city has when it comes to producing fantastic music.  During the ‘80s and ‘90s the likes of The Smiths, Oasis and The Stone Roses set the music world alight with their phenomenal sounds- three of the most influential modern acts you could think of.  As we moved into the ‘00s, there seems to be a split of sorts; there were fewer great Manchester bands coming through- other cities and towns were showing the way and producing the greatest artists.  Over the past few years I have seen some great Mancunian acts emerge that have recalled some of the glory-days wonder of the likes of The Stone Rose et al.  It is impossible to recapture and reproduce the wonder of the ‘80s-‘90s regency- music will never get within touching distance of being that good again- but that is not to say we should switch off and concentrate on the solo acts.  Mayflower are one of those acts that seem unconcerned with being pigeonholed and topping critics’ lists.  Their originality and natural personalities have gone into their music to ensure it resonates with listeners and sets them aside from the flock of other bands- contented to dance to the beat of the critics’ drum.  I love seeing an act come through with their very early number- their sapling steps are the most exciting and nervous; that very first chance for the public to hear what they are all about.  Mayflower are one of these bands that pride substance and soul above sheer force and a wrecking ball approach.  I love gritty and anthemic bands; those that can lacerate for a good cause- pen songs that have stadiums jumping and rocking.  The trouble is, there are too many bands that aim this high and fail- it creates a rather depressing state of affairs.  The groups that remain longest in the mindset are those who dig deeper and create something more enduring and emotive.  That is not to say bands need to be overly-sensitive and soft; just realise the importance of depth and melody; soulfulness and colour- when you put all this together you get music with greater importance and longevity.  Our Manchester lads have been excitedly reviewing feedback from fans and reviewers; seeing where they head next- just what the future holds for them.  It will be great to see the boys up their game and create a charge in 2016.  If they can get more music on their official website; give the public some insight into their live and influences- how they tick and where they came from- that will lead to big social media numbers.  Their music- their fifth song at this stage- is doing all the talking and creating a serious wave of excitement and anticipation.  Into 2016 I can see them crafting an E.P.; something that showcases their talents to great effect- a chance for the public to experience Mayflower in full flight.  That is all ahead of them, but for now, Sienna is garnering a lot of love and support- no surprise when you dig down to its core and explore its beauty.

Although Mayflower have released Many Clouds, Mayflower; The Dice Man and Rapa Nui; you have the hardest time trying to locate them- not sure why they have been expunged by the band (except for the odd site here and there).

   The Dice Man is available here-https://amazingtunes.com/mayflower/tunes/337103- and begins with a soft and uplifting coda.  Chiming strings and a determined percussion welcome in the track- such a dream and assured introduction.  Backing away from pure Rock and something harder; Mayflower go for a softer and more studied approach to the music.  Recalling a little of Richard Ashcroft’s verve; you have a song that has swagger and confidence- yet displays a tender heart and sensitivity.  Our hero is galvanising his patience and waiting for calls- seemingly hanging by the phone waiting for a girl to ring.  It seems like a bond has been solidified long ago; the lovers have been through the motions and have a complex history.  Too often they have not waited for the morning; rushed into things and been too hasty- resulting in fall-out and problems.  The song looks at patience and that need for discipline; a mature and intelligent approach to relationships- something that is a defining them in their music.  The composition remains quite lo-key and unobtrusive: it ably lifts the emotions whilst creating something quite tender and semi-operatic.  That central vocal is powerful and inflamed; yearning and burning in equal measures- something that gives the track so much panache and potency.  Memories of ‘90s bands- the likes of The Verve and Oasis- create fond recollections and musical nostalgia.  The lads ensure their feet and motifs are in the present-day; making sure that original edge and direction shines through.

Sienna is the most available and truest sense of what the band are all about.  Whether they felt their previous demos are not up to their best- and wanted to keep their finest work in the mindset- it is a shame as I know how well their previous songs were received.  On the plus side, it has not dampened their potential and quality one bit.  Their latest demo shows a lot of promise and improvement; they have come on strides and sound at their most essential- boding well for future sounds.

I was excited to review Sienna, given the passion and praise it has already received.  Blogs and reviewers have stated its melodic potency and beauty; that central vocal performance- bringing the song’s emotions to life- and the originality the song possesses.  Not as off-to-the-races as their previous tracks- Many Clouds was also noted for its immediacy and harder edges- there is a subtleness and slow-build quality that sees the boys embrace a more nuanced and mature approach.  The initial words see our front-man assess a relationship and the recollection of times past.  Having lost “nothing from those times” where “liberty followed”.  Off the back of an entranced and seducing introduction- nimble and atmospheric guitar notes create a hazy and morning-awake sensation that seems wholly appropriate- and you have a dreamy and reminiscent number.  Our hero is looking at his girl and the times they shared together.  Perhaps they have been through disagreements and turbulence before; the vocal has the sound of a man who has witnessed too much and had too many sleepless nights- that need for something happier and more comforting seems to linger in his soul.  The band ensure they do not distill the song’s message- offering a considerate backing that drips with emotion and subtle shades- perfect augmenting that need for change and improvement.  Perhaps I am misreading those initial concerns and feelings.  Our hero lets his voice drift and hover across the horizon; allowing it to portray sensitivity and longing.  That central figure- Sienna, the heroine- is someone we will all have images of.  If you go to SoundCloud and see the art work for the single; there is an extraordinarily captivating woman/model pictured- unsure who she is; I guess a friend of the band- which comes pretty close to my impressions/views of her.  Someone quite slight and slender she has immense beauty and a wicked side to her- able to make you forget your troubles and strains- someone who is fun and happy-go-lucky.  Once upon a time the morning sun and the new dawn seemed like a remedy for the hero- it was the “only cure” it appears- when his girl as not around.

on tour with mayflower4

Whether the two have parted way or they are in different locations; you get the idea our man is sleeping alone and looking out the window- dreaming of his girl and wishing she was there.  I hope the band work the song up and record a video- include the model in the video- as it’s an evocative song with plenty of wonderful possibilities.  You get a cross between Elbow’s dripping emotions and a bit of early-career The Verve: a blend of Soul and haunting Alternative.  That dreamy nature of the song- every review has highlighted this- makes the lyrics and vocals so entrancing.  When the band lead into the chorus you get the most seductive and head-spinning vocal- it recalls the vocal harmonies of ‘60s Power-Pop and is a sensational moment.  Unable to escape the power and soothe of the song; each listener will be carried along and project themselves in the scenery.  In past numbers, Mayflower have looked at the importance of patience and not squandering moments; making the most of the time romance has- it seems like Sienna is a bedfellow to their past endeavours.  Our hero has hazy recollections and swirling snippets of times past- when the two were together at their peak- and seems to be yearning strong.  Having left too soon and maybe made a mistake there is that need to make things right and reclaim what has been lost- have Sienna back with him.  I am not sure as to the origins of the song- whether our hero has based the song on a relationship he had- but you can hear that conviction and rawness come out in the song.  The vocal aches and pains for that sense of emptiness; there is a soul burning and bleeding- perhaps kicking himself for something said or done.  It is not made clear why the two sweethearts are separated or what has caused this distance; what is clear is the emotions that come out in the song.  The band unite wonderfully to ensure there is a constant momentum and beautiful soundtrack.  The strings and percussion act as blood-rush and breath; strings that are pulled to create the most vivid and direct representation of the mood- a vivid and urgent sound that few bands can match.  It appears like there may be hope for togetherness and another chance.  The chorus gives impressions our boy will see Sienna; maybe in dreams or reality there will be another opportunity for the two.  As direct as the vocal is, the lyrics have an oblique nature that means the real truth and ending are known only to the band- whether the sweethearts made it back to one another and who the girl is.  Even though it is a demo-quality song; it sounds like a perfectly mixed and balanced track- raw enough to convey the reality of the song yet professional enough to ensure it sounds slick and accessible.  Fans and commentators have noted how graceful and beautiful (Sienna is); the shades and emotions that intertwine- that stunning and emotion-drenched lead vocal.  The composition goes a long way to filling blanks and pushing the story forward.  With distinct views in my head- the beautiful heroine holds hope her boy will do right and they will be together- you get an itinerant and mobile feel to the composition.  It has a terrific flow and energy that means you picture images and sunlight; flickering night-time rain and images of the players- our man looking out across the Manchester day; our heroine close-by and thinking.  The song has that feel of winter: something that can keep you warm when it is dark and unsure; it is perfect when you are alone and listening in bed- just staring at the ceiling and letting your thoughts wander.  Plagued by problems and uncertainties; when other things let you down and life seems scary- “Sienna’s waiting there”.  It seems like the remedy and rescue for our hero yet could be the representation of solace for everyone- the faithful girl that gives you comfort and hope in spite of everything.  As the final notes chime my mind goes to something more straight-forward and simple: a bond that is still pure; when our boy has a hard day and he needs warm arms- when he comes home, Sienna is waiting.  The beauty of the song is that it says so much with so few words.  It has the feel of a love song with different meanings.  In the early stages I got the sense the lovers were split and a break-up was being mourned.  As you get to the chorus- and the song develops some- my thoughts turned to something happier and more hopeful.  It seems like the hero used to be alone; the only comfort he has was a new day or some small glimmer- now his girl is here he has something stronger and much better in his life.  Whatever the true nature- and however you interpret the song- you cannot deny its immense beauty and purity.  Not shrouded in cynicism or fake emotions it is a song that drips with passion and desire.

   Sienna is a song that definitely needs taking further and exploring.  Although it is a ‘demo’ it does not need any more work really.  Perhaps Mayflower could add a string section- perhaps just a lone cello would add the additional shiver and kiss the song needs- and perhaps a little piano coda towards the end.  That said, the comparative sparseness may be what makes the song so essential and right- any more notes and ingredients may distill it and water-down its majestic sweep.  That central vocal by Gaydon is from a man who has lived every moment of the song.  Whether Sienna is an alias or sobriquet- or is the name of his true love- I am not sure; it is a song that is filled with conviction and jaw-drop.  I would love to see the boys take this back into the studio and really take it that step further.  The song has no rough edges yet shows just how potent and it could be- a very little tweaks here and there could turn the song into something transcendent.  I am not going to be a backseat producer- the boys have shown how intuitive they are- but Sienna is a track that shows a young band in terrific form.  It will be great to see a video for the song- I would love to be a part of that somehow- as there is so much possibility and wonderful concepts you could levy.  Congratulations to the band that are as tight and wonderful as ever; creating their finest statement to date.  That composition brings ‘60s and ‘90s sounds through a modern-day blender to create something dark and dreamy; chinks of light and tenderness- it evokes so many images and intimacies.  Perfectly backing that soulful and powerful vocal; you get sounds that drive the song to impossible heights whilst remaining understated and subtle.  It is a hard trick to pull off yet one the band has managed.  There is positivity and hope in the song- with so many bands offering negativity among hard sounds- so to hear a band provide this (and keep their sounds graceful and melodic) is something music needs right now.  Their latest track is just the catalyst Mayflower needs to get the E.P. juices flowing.  Let’s hope the following year sees them take their wonderful sounds as far as they can.

It is terrific seeing a young band with so much potential ahead of them.  I get irked and depressed by the lack of quality and consistency that is coming from bands at the moment.  Every week, there is a flood of new artists that are touted as being ones to watch- there are few that ever live up to the hype and expectations.  Perhaps we need to lower expectations somewhat- not in a bad way; just stop putting so much pressure on acts- and focus on the minority of stunning bands emerging right now.  Mayflower are starting out their career but the initial signs are very promising and encouraging.  Sienna has captured a lot of attention from music-lovers around the U.K. – something about the track resonates with the public.  Those soulful and direct vocals are backed by a lush and emotive composition- stirring lyrics that show plenty of heart and intention.  Manchester is showing what potential its bands have at the moment.  All-girl group PINS have a hard sound with raw edges and plenty of nuance- a band that has a big future.  Horsebeach- and their sounds that recall The Smiths and Real Estate- have unveiled plenty of singles and albums.  They will continue that charge into 2016 and set themselves up as one of the big names to watch closely.  Blossoms are a lite-Psychedelic five-piece that have already been lauded by the B.B.C.; throw in the ‘80s-cum-Beach Boys blend of Whyte Horse and you have some bands with a lot of potential and power.  It is early for the lads of Mayflower, yet I can see their ship sailing far and wide.  Off the back of their new track, they show translatable mixes that could see them demanded across the water.  Before taking this thing to a close, it is pressing I look at the future for the guys; also reflecting on the importance of those first songs out the traps- ensuring your name and music gets the appreciation and patronage it deserves.  Mayflower have shown how adept they are at those uplifting and stunning melodies- like The La’s but a lot better and less cloying- in addition to impressively mature and soulful vocals.  Too many young bands need to prove they are youthful and fresh- this often means immature lyrics and rather unfocused and rambling compositions.  Not keen to tie themselves to anyone else- that originality and personality marks them out especially- our lads have created music that has personal relevance; it reaches out further to connect with the audience- there is accessibility and familiarity too.  I would like to see Mayflower really take hold of this momentum they have and keep the energy strong.  They have the potential to create an E.P. that will rank among music’s best; deep and varied with plenty of emotion and passion.  They have a few songs under their belt- so have the ammunition and material to come together- so it will be fascinating to see where that takes them.  Already backed and tipped by the likes of B.B.C. Radio 6 and (Manchester’s) B.B.C. Introducing; the lads have gained impressive kudos- setting them up for a huge year.  With a few songs in the ether you get an impression of a band mutating and evolving their sound.  They are growing in stature and confidence; more originality and personality is in Sienna– as opposed their previous cuts- and their intention grows bigger by the moment.  Tight and focused; nuanced and full of spark, this is a band that has a lot more to say.  They have been together just over a year and covered some good ground already- the hopes are high for these lads.  When bands come through- and are at the stage as Mayflower- it is important to remain original and true to your own voice.  I have seen so many acts start off hot; only to succumb to market expectation and sell themselves out- lose that authenticity and do what everyone else is doing.  You would be forgiven for thinking Mayflower are going to follow suit; I know how much detail and thought they put into their music- they are not a band abut to compromise and change who they are.  It is also easy to see the band as a debut-single act- their previous songs are not available on SoundCloud or anywhere else it seems- so it would be great for the boys to dig them out and make them readily available.  When it comes to beating the crowds and forging ahead; it is vital to go in attacking and put as much out as you can- Mayflower have such a great sound; the public want to hear as much as they can.  The lack of musical visibility and history is a minor quibble from a band who are gaining ground by the week.  After national radio-play and attention, it is the start of something fantastic.  Make sure you hear the beautiful Sienna– a gorgeous girl and mystical figure- that has already seduced and buckled knees around the music globe.  The lads have the ability to get their music far and wide; take their songs abroad- who knows how far they will head.  For now, they have their feet planted and are reveling in their recent achievements.  With their new track creating a serious buzz, you have no excuse to…


MISS out on a terrific young act.

 

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Follow Mayflower:

 

Official:

http://mayflowermusic.co.uk/

Facebook:

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

Twitter:

https://twitter.com/mayflowermcr

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Music:

https://soundcloud.com/wearemayflower

Track Review: Sofia Talvik- Starwalker

TRACK REVIEW:

 

 

Sofia Talvik

 

Sofia Talvik Press Photo 2014 

Starwalker

 

9.6/10.0

 

 

Starwalker is available at:

http://music.sofiatalvik.com/track/starwalker

The album Big Sky Country is available at:

http://music.sofiatalvik.com/album/big-sky-country

TRACK LISTING:

Aha-Aha– 9.5

Big Sky Country– 9.5

Dusty Heart, Empty Hand– 9.4

Lullaby– 9.3

A Matter of the Hearts– 9.4

Starwalker– 9.6

Bonfire– 9.4

Jasmine, Rose and Sage– 9.5

Give Me a Home– 9.4

Fairground– 9.3

So– 9.4

DOWNLOAD:

Aha-Aha; Big Sky Country; Skywalker; Jasmine, Rose and Sage

STANDOUT TRACK:

Starwalker

RELEASED:
April 14th, 2015

GENRES:
Country; Folk; Pop

ORIGIN:

Gothenburg, Sweden

All songs written by Sofia Talvik, except ­“Starwalker” by Buffy Sainte-Marie (Kobalt Music). Vocals and ­acoustic guitar Sofia Talvik, electric and acoustic guitar, dobro and lap steel Marcus Högquist, bass Janne Manninen, drums and percussion Joakim Lundgren, banjo John Bullard, violin Mathis Richter-Reichhelm. Guest musicians on “Give Me A Home” – David Floer: cello, Jozsef Nemeth: piano. All other instruments by Sofia Talvik. The Big Sky Choir Boys: Jonas Westin, Isaac Cheong, Jim ­Magdefrau. Produced by Sofia Talvik. Recorded in Mahoni Studios, Berlin, Recipe Music Studios, Stockholm. Mixed and mastered by Mathis Richter-Reichhelm. Graphic design by Sofia Talvik.

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WITH the days creeping towards Christmas and…

Sofia_Talvik_press

the pressures of the occasion getting to many; music is that elixir and comfort that we all need.  I myself have more stress now than at any point- family and financial woes; job unhappiness and uncertainty of the next year- so naturally turn to music; it is the only thing that really understands and makes things bearable- never asking for anything but attention and passion.  A lot of musicians are going quiet this time of year- preparing their moves for the next year- making an early impression on the scene.  For that reason, it has been great reviewing Sofia Talvik- someone whose music is appropriate and wonderful all-year-round; perfect for this time- sounds that take you somewhere safe and warm.  Before I introduce her and her latest album it is worth mentioning Swedish music; prolificacy and consistency in music and female solo artists of the moment- and the variation of sounds on offer.  Perhaps themes I have trodden before- it is apt they are evoked fully today- Sweden keeps providing wonderful and varied music.  Artists that seemingly have no boundaries and limitations; the Scandinavian artists have a little more adventurousness and passion to them.  It is not just the passion that amazes but the unusual-ness of what comes through.  Looking at the likes of Anna von Hausswolff- and her album The Miraculous– you get a semblance of Sweden’s true magic- the limitless ability and sonic adventure being presented.  It must be something in the air or landscape.  Sweden is noted for its beauty and friendliness; the stunning scenery and the wonderfully rich musical heritage.  Away from the bustle and strains of city life you get artists that are among the finest in all of music.  The likes of DNKL (fellow Gothenburg musicians), Fredo Sundemo and I Break Horses were big names last year- and have kept that intrigue and quality firm this year.  Throw Mapei, NoNoNo and Wildbirds and Peacedrums in there and you can see what a colourful array of young stunners are coming through- check them all out now for a full understanding.  As 2016 comes to view, those artists will make an impact but so many more are too.  Maybe the mystery is that Sweden is just showing better quality and passion- as opposed to conspiracies regarding landscape and the lifestyle- which should give us in the U.K. something to take note of.  I love how many genres are teased and intertwined; my featured artist is one of the most varied and wide-ranging acts around.  In Sweden there is a love of sunny Pop and Electro. sounds; terrific Alternative acts and some wonderfully compelling solo acts.  Before I raise a couple of new points; it is worth introducing you to Sofia Talvik:

We all know the Swedes can write a mean pop songs – but what about folk songs? Well, one artist is nonchalantly transferring the charm and fun found in most pop songs into sweet, acoustic twang. Sofia Talvik, brings bubbly blonde ambition to this raw and often quiet genre with a captivating breath of fresh air.  Growing up in Sweden her music has always had a special tint of her Scandinavian heritage, making her a favorite among music lovers, but her 16 month, and 37 state long tour, through the USA (in an RV) has moved the new album closer to the Americana tradition. The adventure on the road spurred a lot of emotions, both those of triumph and joy, but also those of self doubt and defeat – all of which found their way into the songs of ”Big Sky Country”.  ”Even though this young lady is from Sweden, I’d place her at the forefront of the American vanguard. One listen will tell you why and how.” – Rob Ross, PopDose.com  Living like a musical nomad, moving from place to place, slowly but steadily building her audience through her heartfelt and personal performances she got to experience the USA in a way few people do. The people she met opened their homes and hearts to her and some of them even made it into her songs. But the new album is not a diary from her tour, it’s more of a storybook of emotions, new and old in which everyone can find their own place.  Recorded in Sweden, Germany and the U.S over the course of four months the album is now being released in the U.S and Canada in April through Caroline/Universal. Although simple and acoustic, the album sounds full but not overbearingly so. Twangy electric guitars and tasteful banjo fills highlights in just the right places, as Sofia’s own acoustic guitar provides the steady base of the songs.

Sofia Talvik Press Photo -2014

Talvik is one of the most prolific artists I have seen in years.  Clearly there is a lot of love and support for her music.  Having crafted a series of E.P.s, albums and songs; it seems the young Swede has no signs of slowing and retreating- becoming more potent and amazing with every new release.  Her sounds dig deep into the heart and elicit something truly awestruck and amazed.  One of the best and most intuitive songwriter on the scene; her music takes your mind to the scenes and sights she sings- it is such vivid and raw music that rewards those that love music with depth and soul.  Big Sky Country is as stunning and rich as its cover art: music that covers a wealth of topics and explores love, hope and wonderful characters.  There are few artists that have the prolific and consistency as Talvik.  A lot of new acts start nervously and take a while to release something new- there can be big gaps between E.P.s.  Talvik has a great work rate when it comes to music; constantly writing and recording she has kept fans and reviewers salivating with her staggering sounds.  As 2015 draws to its close Big Sky Country– a mini-review will be near the end of this piece- is a truly awesome statement from one of the music world’s biggest propositions.  The gorgeous Swede could well go onto conquer the U.S. and see her music being adored there- there is no reason why she could not tour the country very soon.  That said, the U.K. loves her music and it would be great to see her come here and play.  With so many great female artists emerging; Talvik ranks among the most talked-about and talented I have encountered.  That soft, swooning and emotive voice ensures every word is brought to life with force; no listener is immune to the wonder and passion.  Some of new music’s female artists are letting the ball drop and come through quite insincere and lacking.  Among the variable quality there are a band of artists that are truly entranced in music and giving everything to it- those acts we should all watch for in the next year.  Talvik is a true talent with immense song-writing ability and a voice impossible to compare with anyone else- how far she can go in 2016 is anyone’s guess.  I can see an E.P. or album emerging; some tour dates too- hopefully she can come and play London.  If you have not heard Big Sky Country; ensure it is at the top of your ‘to-do list’.

Sofia Talvik Press Photo 2014

When it comes to the 2015 sounds of Sofia Talvik is savvy looking back to see how she has progressed and evolved.  Florida was an album released in 2010 and boasted vivid and bold sounds- just look at the cover art to the album!  Building from her softer and gentler beginnings- that is what her sound was defined as- the album marked a shift towards bigger and bolder arrangements.  Trombones, cellos and orchestral touches ensured the album provided a richer and more ambitious shift- bringing richness and variation into the fray.  The album highlights the drums- Talvik wanted it to be a central figure- and the album marks a love letter to the U.S. – a country the heroine is keen to explore.  The entire album shows a consistency and musical adventurousness: genres and themes are mixed to create a great blend of Country, Folk and Pop.

The Owls Are Not What They Seem was released at a time (2011) when Talvik was preparing a work visa for the U.S. – about to tour the nation.  The songs signal a return to basics and that stripped-down approach.  The album’s aesthetics look at D.I.Y., bedroom-recorded numbers that have intimacy and sparseness.  There is great atmosphere and emotion throughout: you picture yourself alongside Talvik; there is that drama and closeness that brings you into each song- such a wonderfully direct and passionate album.  The album explores delusions, good and evil and love; the inequalities of relationships and the need for compassion- themes and ideas every listener can relate to.  The vocals boasted dreaminess and huge effects- that breezy and passion the likes of Lana Del Rey bring into their music.  In spite of the D.I.Y. approach there is a lot of atmosphere and cinematics to the music- the compositions bring in classical strings and a variety of sounds to create a lush and heart-warming collection.

   Big Sky Country marked a return for Talvik after a little while- the songs were recorded over several months whilst our heroine and once again was inspired by the U.S.  Whilst touring and living there she got the chance to reflect the people, places and landscapes into an album that is her finest work- that creation that blends the big and bold sounds with the intimacy and sparseness.  Combining various (previous) albums together; Big Sky Country shows Talvik at her most impressive, stunning and best.  The horizons and possibilities are explored; that unwavering passion for people and places; the album is that storybook that unites the old and new- into an album that has gained a huge amount of respect and kudos from fans and reviewers.

We have an artist that gets stronger and more impressive with every new release.  It means the next year will be very exciting and interesting.  It would be great to see another E.P. released.  Whether Talvik locates to the U.S.- or records in Sweden- it will be fantastic discovering what comes next; whether an E.P. or an album- a new chance to see another side to the young artist.  Given what Big Sky Country offers, who knows just how far she can go.

Sofia Talvik Press Photo 2014

I was keen to explore Starwalker as it represents all the emotions and ideas of Big Sky Country.  Written by Buffy Sainte-Marie- Talvik makes the song sound deeply personal and meaningful- it is a stunning number. Beginning with a couple of electronic strums- eliciting a dark Country vibe with something atmospheric and bold- you get a song that begins with urgency and strange feelings.  A deeply emotional and direct beginning, it soon explodes into a rapturous and delirious wordless chorus- our heroine lets her voice fly and entwine.  From the darkness and twilight danger you get that morning sunshine and awakening- taking the listener through a 180 degree spin within a few seconds.  Captivated by that raw energy and stunning rush; the song builds these wordless vocals together to create colourful strands and contrasting emotions.  There is that mixture of tribal clarion call and spiritual awakening.  Our heroine is letting her soul fly and her emotions soar- it is a bracing and urgent opening that makes the listener stand to attention and become entranced.  Our heroine lets it be known that “Starwalker, he’s a friend of mine/you’ve seen him looking fine”; making you wonder the origins and truth of the lyrics.  Quite oblique and fantastical; there is that sense of dream and detachment.  Whether Starwalker is an alias for a lover or a dedication to the beauty of nature- a natural force that is giving her strength and focus- you are hooked by those special and original words.  It has a literary approach to it that compels you to imagine images and possibilities.  My mind instantly went to a giant landscape or a rolling scene- like the cover to Big Sky Country.  Perhaps enveloped in the night’s air there is that lone light in the sky- something quite mystical and strange.  It is good to hear a song whose origins and nature is not that obvious and evident- something that every listener will have their own view on.  Whilst a lot of musicians go straight for love and relationships- the themes are explored in the album- Talvik prefers a more novel and personal approach to things.  Her songs look at nature and geography; something that strays away from pure emotions and heartbreak.  Whilst the vocals and instrumentation climbs and stuns; my mind keeps digging into those vocals- and what they represent.  The song has a consistent energy and energy that makes the imagery and lyrics come to life and get straight inside the mind- it will remain there for a long time to come.  Propelled and captured by the passion in that vocal; I was looking towards it seems Starwalker is a “straight talker”; it is best not to drink wine- that mystery and unexpectedness keeps coming.  Maybe Starwalker is a truth or personal honesty; if you drink you become more honest and foolish perhaps- maybe I am over-reaching and missing the point.  That is the true beauty of the song: there is no direct meaning (for the listener at least) so you are always trying to find what the song is looking at/saying.  Wolf Rider is introduced in the next verse- a friend of ours and someone who opens doors- that looks at another figure or emotional representation.  Perhaps she embodies opportunity and potential- that spirit inside that makes everything possible and provides chance and hope.  It is said she’s a “sweet grass burner” and a “dog soldier”- those vivid and quirky ideas take your thoughts in another direction.  After that mystical quest and outpouring- taking in the lyrics your head starts to layer images and scenes- our heroine lets that wordless vocal call across the night.  It seems like Talvik is providing a paen to nature and the beauty of the outdoors- embracing it and its captive grace.  As our characters and figures have been paid tribute; the holy light guards the night- our heroine asks it to “pray up your medicine song”.  It seems the richness and medicinal qualities of the night have infused the spirit; caused something quite primal and wonderful in our heroine.  That enticing and strange vocal call has a beauty and serenity to it- in the verses Talvik sounds a little like Laura Marling.  Lightning woman and thunder child are in the mix this time- nominal representations of the meteorological- that embody harsh weather and the change of climate.  You can imagine the country sky exploding and bursting with colour and light.  The clouds build and the thunder rolls; our lady asks them to “aim straight, stand tall”.  Bringing the listener into the song directly- and summoning such an army of wonderful images- you cannot help but get lost in the energy, emotion and raw passion that are created.  That vocal remains firm and rousing from start to finish- never dropping or letting that electricity dim at all.  That combination of elements and figures; the coming-together or weather and nature- leads to a song that is a stunning and vivid creation.  The composition has a terrific percussion that helps to summon that idea of thunder and drive; the passion and pummel the song represents.  Bringing in aching strings to the mix; it sees Talvik create something euphoric, atmospheric and bold- embracing that fuller sound of the past.  The final moments see the vocal come fully into effect and return to that wordless coda.  Our heroine allows her voice to reflect that raw passion and strong emotion- the listener is always guessing and imagining the images and ideas being explored.  By the final notes you get to reflect and breathe- taking everything in and getting to the bottom of Starwalker.

Sofia Talvik Press Photo 2014

Starwalker is the most urgent and impressive number from Big Sky Country.  A great representation of Sofia Talvik and her various sides; I was amazed by the depth and ambition explored across the song- there are plenty of gems across the record.  That sense of oblique and mysterious continues right across the album.  Aha-Aha starts things with a little more directness and tangible relatability.  Words about sealing your heart with faith; looking in the mirror- it has a more personal and human element to things.  Talvik’s voice is pure and beautiful throughout; ensuring she gives the song the heart and soul it requires- one of the most beautiful and aching songs across the record.  That need for redemption and hope comes out; pushing you and keeping sweethearts close- not losing what’s inside and what could be.  A stunningly assured and strong opener- I get shades of Led Zeppelin III within the composition- there is a nice mix of pastoral Folk and something Country-based.  The title track is the most evocative and heart-aching song across the album.  Talvik’s voice is stunning and tender across a song that looks at the Blue Ridge Mountains and Texas; across the U.S. and the states.  The heroine takes her lyrics across America and the passion for the country; it recounts Talvik’s journeys and travels- and the great people she has met.  Perhaps the album’s most soul-bearing and love-filled song; it is a love song to a vibrant, varied and wonderful country.  Dusty Heart, Empty Hand has a catchy drive to it that puts it firmly into Country territory.  That compelling pace and passion comes out in a song that looks at betrayal and deceived hearts.  With her voice clear and emotive; the song recalls a troubled relationship that ended in pain- the song’s hero let the heroine down; caused her suffering and loss.  One of the most accessible and relatable songs on the album; it is a moment listeners can relate and understand.  Beautiful and sensitivity, you are powerless to resist the track and all its magic.

Sofia Talvik Press Photo 2014

Lullaby is one of the most emotional-drained songs on the album.  There are images of beauty and a sweetheart’s boots; the purity and possibility of the summer morning.  Everything is good outside yet the hero wishes they were dead- something is missing or there is emptiness.  Matching summer purity with something raw and unsettled; you get a song that shows a troubled heart and some lingering depression- something that remains in the mind and makes you speculate.  It is one of the most naked and honest songs across Big Sky Country.  The vocal is pure and focused allowing those words to get inside the mind and make you think- one of the standouts from the album for sure.  A Matter of the Hearts again recalls a love-gone-wrong parable.  Our heroine has let her man go- and may have been the wiser of the two- but there are recriminations and fall-out.  As things have broken down and the love has gone cold; that is not to say the heroine is cold herself- missing her man and unsure why this is.  The strength of that love has not evaporated and there are those lingering feeling and desires- represented by a vocal that drips with passion and purity.  The composition is one of the most sparse and bare across the record; appropriate given the subject matter.  Bonfire is another song that looks at lust and desirability.  Our heroine’s heart bursts like a bonfire at the seams; it aches and yearns for a particular man- it is a raw and evocative number.  With the intensity of that passion- and the fact her heart and chest are cracked open- there is nowhere else to put that love; the reservoir has run dry.  You get a gentility and purity once more; the vocal is at the centre and allowed free reign to intoxicate and seduce.  A very touching and honest number, it clearly stems from a personal place- a relationship or situation that has caused some pains and lingering emotions.  Jasmine, Rose and Sage could be a Simon and Garfunkel companionship- the second part of the cooking extravaganza- but displays raw emotions and some of the most standout lyrics on the album.  Our heroine implores a subject to “hold her hand, still so small and warm in yours”; and she is drifting away like sand.  Whereas a lot of the songs across Big Sky Country look at love and simple emotions; here we get something a little more oblique and open- a song that once more provokes you to interpret and understand what is being sung.  The vocal and composition are not too heavy-handed and dark; there is lightness and uplift to it that keeps things levelled and buoyant- you never feel depressed or suffocated by things.  A wonderfully-written track that showcases Talvik’s song-writing chops; it is one of the album’s most evocative numbers.

Sofia Talvik Press Photo 2014

Give Me a Home has a tumbling guitar coda that promotes grace and beauty.  Our heroine pays tribute to the sky- it provides a happier ending and possibility- and wants to be comforting by the stars and their light.  Maybe escaping something tormenting and fearful; wanting to run and get away from things- it is an emotional number that shows the soul bared and feelings come to the surface.  Where the buffalos roam there is always a chance for something new and safe; maybe things at the moment or not ideal or welcome.  Our heroine has been told she will lose faith (as she gets old) but as long as the sky’s there- and the country reaches out to her- she will not lose that hope inside.  Fairground has a merry and uplifted sound that contrasts the lyrics somewhat.  Our heroine has been down the same road she has been before; there is that fatigue and sense of hopelessness.  Maybe life was meant to be better; the fairground lights would shine for her- things are not changing and purpose seems to be lacking.  There are obstacles and pitfalls to get around; a constant danger and uncertainty to life- that need to find something happier and more pure.  You are always sympathising with the heroine and the strain she shows.  A beautiful and sensitive song; it shows that haunted and struggling side to her- something that provokes empathy and self-reflection.  So brings things to a close with gentleness and a stunning vocal.  The song looks at fears and trepidations; the pains and uncertainties.  Whether speaking to a lover or a friend; they (the friend) are regretting things not said and the darkness they feel- things being kept inside and cloistered.  Our heroine loves them for it and shows her support; paying tribute to someone that is going through hard times- yet has a supportive friend in Talvik.  The album is brought to close with something redemptive and hopeful; the feeling things will get better and the darkness will abate- a necessary uplift and sense of purity.

Across the album you get an immense amount of emotion, passion and diversity.  The production values are stunning; it allows the vocals and instruments to resonate and shine- bringing the words to life and giving the music the openness it needs.  Never polished or too shiny; Big Sky Country is a compelling and stunning work from one of music’s finest artists.  The songs tackle a range of subjects, emotions and scenes.  One moment we have a song that pays tribute to the U.S. and its varied geography; we go to haunted emotions and dislocated love- heading towards issues surrounding pain and personal unhappiness.  Love songs deal with real emotions and longing; themes that listeners can appreciate and understand.  Within the 11-track album we get something more oblique and literary.  Strange and wonderful characters tangle with meteorological moments and mystical themes- giving the album a depth and range that few other musicians are capable of.  Talvik shows herself to be one of the most unique and sharp lyricists around.  Deftly able to convey heavy emotions and romantic stress; she is as authoritative when taking her songs somewhere spiritual and oblique.  A singer with a rich, passionate and gorgeous voice; here is an artist with few bounds and limitations.  There is so much quality and wonder to be found across Big Sky Country.  If you are not familiar with Sofia Talvik and her body of work; you will want to check her album out.  A window into a wonderful soul with a big future; you cannot refute the amazement and nuance the album offers.

photo byline must be included: Kim Reed Prairie Moon Photography

I predict some wonderful things for Talvik in 2016.  After a prosperous and busy 2015, the next year will see her tour across the U.S. (I would presume) and find new inspiration for recordings.  Each new album has a vivid and wonderful backstory.  A lot of artists record albums and E.P.s because they want their voice heard; they need to get something out there- Talvik is an artist that records when inspiration strikes; distilling her experiences and travels into music that wonderful travelogues and spellbinding stories.  Sweden is producing some of the strongest and most vibrant artists across all of music.  The variation and depth being explored is staggering; the sheer passion and love put into music is not equalled in any other country- you have a nation that should be in closer focus.  The U.K. and U.S. are always at the forefront of attention and expectation- other nations often get overlooked and ignored.  Few would naturally place themselves in Sweden when it comes to the best new music.  If you listen to Talvik and her peers; you get such an amazing difference and way of working- a naturalness and ethic that leads to some of music’s most amazing and long-lasting sounds.  It is the variety and genre-pollination that impresses me most.  The country seems less stressful and anxious; the artists are writing music because something wonderful hits them- not just to fill a gap or ensure they are not forgotten.  Before wrapping this thing up, it is worth looking at consistency and the female solo acts that are about right now.  This year I have been lucky enough to assess some wonderful female acts that provided a little something new.  From Electro. acts to Pop treasures, 2015 has boasted some fine and talented artists.  Few have really done what Talvik is offering music.  One of the most unique and special solo artists in music; her sounds and songs transport your mind across the lands and takes the imagination with it.  There are so many new acts coming out at the moment- the quality is rather unsure to be fair- so it is a pleasure to follow an artists that gets stronger and more assured with each new release.  Big Sky Country shows the Swede at the peak of her powers- more in love with music than she has ever been.  Having recorded and performed for years now; Talvik is one of the most consistent and prolific artists I have come across.  Nobody can deny how special her music is and where she is headed- the next few years will be very prosperous for her.  I hope Talvik comes and performs in the U.K.; spends some time in London perhaps- new inspiration for a future release.  It seems Talvik’s heart and soul belongs to the U.S.: a nation that has inspired a lot of her music; I guess the heroine will be spending a lot of time here next year.  If you are unfamiliar with Talvik then dig into her past and see the progression of a young woman that gives everything she has to music.  That passion and emotion shine throughout.  With every release Talvik describes the recording process and what inspired it; explains the details and gives the listener a direct insight into its formation- how many other acts do that?  Someone who loves her fans and the bond they provide; you would be foolish to ignore one of music’s most special and shining jewels.  Big Sky Country may be a few months old but its effects and wonder are still being talked about- a truly special album from a serious musical talent.  With the last few days of 2015 approaching, it is rewarding to find a musician that will be making big waves into 2016.  Embrace the passion, serenity and contradictions of…

Sofia Talvik Live Photo 2011

A staggering musical force.

 

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Follow Sofia Talvik:

 Sofia Talvik Live Photo 2011

Official:

http://music.sofiatalvik.com/

Facebook:

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

Twitter:

https://twitter.com/sofiatalvik

Instagram:

https://www.instagram.com/sofiatalvikmusic/

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Music:

https://soundcloud.com/makakimusic

 Sofia Talvik Press Photo 2014

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Videos:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCrcYavR_4HZ1HpIf2JM5FaA

 

 

E.P. Review: DreamVacation- DreamVacation

E.P. REVIEW:

 

DreamVacation

 

 

DreamVacation

 

9.4/10.0

 

DreamVacation available at:

https://soundcloud.com/dreamvacationmusic/sets/ep

RELEASED:
July, 2015

GENRES:
Shoegaze; Alternative

ORIGIN:

L.A., U.S.A.

TRACK LISTING:

Window Room9.4

Press Play– 9.5

End of Time9.4

STANDOUT TRACK:

Press Play

____________________________________

BEFORE coming to my featured act and what they offer…

I am reminded again of Los Angeles and making an impression with E.P.s; in addition to the more serene and dreamy side of music.  With Christmas fast approaching I have been looking around for music that takes my mind away from the relentless jingle and bonhomie of Christmas songs.  It has got to that stage where these songs are filling the head and everywhere you go.  I am sort of glad Christmas is almost over as it gets a bit much in the end- you want something else to distract and bring you back into the world of new music.  The last few weeks I have heard a great array of sounds and some distinct acts- each with their own projection and sense of promise.  When it comes to music in general I tend to find there are a lot of acts at the moment going for urgency and passion- rather than presenting something introspective and dreamy.  I shall raise that point soon, but for now- and for the final time this year- I want to concentrate a bit on L.A. and the U.S.  I have been paying tribute to U.S. music for a while now, and with good reason.  The U.K. acts I have been reviewing are fairly similar in nature- or at least do not break too far away from the predictable- and tend not to be as expansive and diverse as U.S. acts.  It may be an over-generalisation yet I find American artists have a bit more depth and ambition with regards their music.  Perhaps it is just an issue of numbers- the population of the U.S. far outranks that of the U.K.- yet it may be something to do with the media and expectations; the support artists get from their peers- or something else entirely.  I have never visited L.A. but am compelled to next year: the music coming from here is among the most exciting and varied you will witness.  I am not sure what is creating this trend and sway but it is great to investigate the music of L.A. and the U.S. – every week some stunning and fascinating act is coming through.  When you are embarking on an E.P. it is crucial you make an impression right from the off.  I have heard too many bands and artists come out with E.P.s that are so slight and forgettable it is disappointing and heartbreaking to hear.  It costs a lot to create an E.P.- from the studio costs to the musicians- so you have got to ensure your finished product is as sharp and exceptional as it possibly is.  Maybe musicians are giving it their all but I find there is still too much vague and unimpressive sounds coming out- a general fatigue and lack of inspiration and ambition.  When an act does get it right- and creates something that is scintillating and memorable- it gives the listener a lot of hope and thought.  This brings me to my featured act DreamVacation who compel you with their name alone:

DreamVacation’s stunning new self-titled EP sweeps you away with a brooding melodic power and hard-edged yet atmospheric guitars behind lead singer Ray Silva’s emotional vocals. The EP was produced by John Rausch, engineer and track architect for such powerhouses as Taylor Swift, Pink, Florence and the Machine, Foxes and Birdie.  DreamVacation’s stellar lineup includes Gerry Matthews on bass and backing vocals, Morgan Terrinoni on guitar, and Noah Alexander on drums. The band members previously supported live acts such as Foster the People, Airborne Toxic Event, The War On Drugs and Matt & Kim.  The EP was written at a rehearsal space in downtown LA, and recorded in Kingsize Soundlabs in Eagle Rock.  “LA is such a juxtaposition of opposing landscapes,” says Ray Silva. “One minute your rolling through a really upscale area and the next you find yourself on 6th Ave passing the inner city refugee camps of the homeless.”  The band members’ personal stories over the last three years have been equally up and down. They’ve endured breakups, living out of rehearsal spaces or cars, marriages falling apart, and family deaths. But they learned to write as a group, and that forged songs such as “Window Room,” “Press Play,” and “End of Time”.

The L.A. group has made impressive strides this year.  Their music has been featured on T.V. shows and they have worked with some fantastic producers- gaining a great reputation and a lot of new fans.  Their social media numbers are rising but I find they have a lot more ground to conquer.  DreamVacation are a relatively unknown quantity in the U.K. so it would be great to see them get more support here- and perform at some of our best venues.  I mention this because the U.K. does not have many acts like DreamVacation at all.  The band has gone through some turbulent times and has managed to funnel the highs and lows into music that goes straight to heart and elicits dreamy scenes and vivid imagery.  It has been a busy and productive year for the guys so let’s hope the following year provides them with a lot more success and possibility.  If they manage to get to the U.K. it would be wonderful to see them in London.  The self-titled E.P. is not just dream-laden landscape and introspection: there is plenty of drama and emotion; rich compositions that inspire passion and smile- rounded sounds that compel your mind to imagine and conspire.  As Christmas is fully upon us it is worth retreating into music that does something rather special and distracts you from that nauseating and overly-gleeful sound.  DreamVacation are embarking upon their first steps but have already made big impressions so far.  It is not surprising to see a band with so much confidence and originality gain respect and acclaim- let’s hope this continues into 2016.  Their self-titled E.P. is a three-track collection that shows a lot of heart and beauty; something every listener will be able to relate to.

The L.A. band plays Shoegaze/Alternative sounds that have very few comparisons.  If you are looking for any comparable acts, then it might be quite challenging.  The new band is an act that is starting out so it is also hard to compare their new sounds with old.  The best thing you can do is embrace the new music on its own merit and think where the band could head from here.  Being such a unique and distinct band, it is going to be fascinating to see whether they vary their sounds or offer something new (when it comes to future E.P.s).  Having few direct comparisons, I can see the L.A. band coming out with another similar E.P. (to their self-titled debut) and continuing their fascinating charge.

Keen to see what the band’s E.P. would produce, the opening track Window Room is a tender and impassioned track that begins on subtle and atmospheric foundations.  Sparse notes melt with handclasp to create something that contrasts urgency with dreaminess and relaxation.  Our hero comes to the microphone and presents some vivid images and stark emotions.  With skin being pulled back; blood id drawn.  Whether insights into a troubled mind or a representation of a breaking love; there is a bold and troubling series of words that come from our man.  With his voice haunted and firm, you wonder just what inspires the song.  A heroine/hero watches him through “the open door”; perhaps he is attesting a relationship or a lover- maybe an argument or debate has raged; a tough time in their bond.  Things are quite oblique and emotive in the early stages making it hard to dig to any clear truths.  The song brilliantly compels myriad themes and ideas.  Our hero is stepping outside himself some more; laying down his soul is being laid out on the line.   The composition builds from tender and slight strings before exploding into something intense and drama-filled.  Backing the seriousness and heartache of the lyrics; the band whip-up a wonderfully evocative and passionate coda that augments those emotions and takes the song in a new direction.  After the band combine in this moment; build up the atmosphere and take the song to its sonic peak- our hero returns to the microphone.  The lyrics remain oblique and detached soon.  Our man moves to the sound of his heroine’s voice; caught in a boring love and a conundrum, you can sense something anxious and unsettling come through in the vocal.  Whilst the composition sees fiery and tight strings fuse with sturdy and impassioned percussion- held together and firm by the bass- our hero’s voice has a strange romantic edge to it; a swooning and gliding tone that adds some heart and lightness to the lyrics.  It appears a relationship is still going but the bond between the two is starting to break.  This view that “ain’t the truth” is deceiving and confusing.  Maybe things are not as ideal and special as they once were; perhaps they are just going through the motions- perhaps deeper and more personal doubts are in mind.  Lyrics concerning mortality and death are brought in; some rather stark sentiments come into the track creating something quite haunted and wracked.  It is not sure what has inspired this song and whether our hero is in a better place.  Window Room is a track whose truth is perhaps only known to the band itself.  From listening to the opening verses I was torn between issues of love and personal investigation.  It appears a great deal of tension is being assessed; our man’s mind and head is in a worrying place- that need for escape and answers.  As “my body falls apart” you cannot help but feel that surrender and lack of hope.  Maybe he needs a pure love to revive him; wasted words are being traded- our man is sacrificing a lot himself and desires something of a saviour.  As the song progresses- and our hero implores a girl to lay here for real- you feel like things might work out; perhaps there is going to be hope.  The beauty of the song is those contradictions and possibilities.  Early on you get ideas of shattered love and a dislocation.  As the song progresses there seems to be that desire to find and embrace passion- just lay alongside a heroine and drift away.  I am not sure whether personal events have compelled the song- or whether it is something fictional- but you cannot ignore that urgency and performance from DreamVacation.  One of the most impressive aspects of the song is the composition which continues to grow and develop; it goes through motions and moments- creating something quite beautiful.  The composition reminds me of Wild Beasts- the terrific and legendary U.K. act- and the sound they play.  Part-dreamy, part-emotive there is so many colours and layers built into the instrumentation.  A fantastic way to kick off the E.P.; Window Room is a wonderful insight into the L.A. band and what the E.P. will provide.

   Press Play is the E.P.’s most stunning moment (in my mind) in no small part because of its introduction.  Again you get those slight and sparse strings; there is an echo and ghostliness to them that really gets inside the mind.  Starting things off with a haunting and emotive sound; you wonder what is coming next and just where the song will lead.  The band provide their most rounded and deep composition; from the very first stages it ducks and dives; mutates and evolves- summoning so much emotion and possibility.  From that hollow and spectral start, the instruments build and combine- leading to something hugely atmospheric and dream-like.  The E.P.’s longest track; Press Play boasts a wonderful introduction that stretches and journeys far.  Constantly revolving and driving, you get caught in the magic of the thing; the way it keeps on growing and grabbing- huge evocation and promise is built before a single note is sung.  When our man does come to the microphone, his voice is firmer than before; less haunted perhaps.  It seems like a love is breaking down once more- or there is some dispute and disconnection- as the images provoke your mind to go there.  Whilst our hero is cast into the freezing rain, it seems like he is being ostracised and pushed away.  Maybe his intentions are pure and he is being open- and is suffering as a result- but it is another song whose meanings and clarity may only be known to the band.  What is most impressive about the song is the vocal and composition.  The former has a rich and sonorous tone to it- without being too heavy- reminding me of Jim Morrison in places.  The composition continues to engage and sparkle; lovely little touches and moments are brought together to create a wonderful rich and emotive harmony.  What I would say to the band here- and is an issue on the E.P. – is the vocal is mixed too low in the song.  The clarity suffers and it is hard to understand what lyrics are being sung.  Perhaps composition is being ranked ahead of the vocal but it does cause a lot of the song to be lost in translation- you can only really pick out the odd word here and there.  That said; Press Play is a triumph or mood and performance over clarity and decipherability.  The title compels images of stop-start.  Perhaps the love has frozen and stalled somewhat- the two might be growing distant and drifting- but by pressing play you can reignite that spark and get things back on track.  Images of doom and struggle are juxtaposed against hopefulness and making time- there is a lot of personal anxiety being explored in the song.  The band is at their tightest and most compelling here.  That composition keeps building and changing; always utterly insistent and emotive.  Allowing the vocal to really shine- our hero climbs into a wordless falsetto- it is the perfect blend of their talents and voices; something that leads to near-transcendent promise.  Towards the end you see our man wander into empty space; somewhere his girl used to be perhaps things have taken a sour turn- it may not be possible to rekindle the flame and get things back.  The raw emotion of the vocals draws you into things and makes you root for the man.  Maybe the song is that need to rewind and recapture what is being lost; get that love back and the happiness- things as they are not causing a lot of haunt and upset.  It is perhaps worth noting how intense the vocal gets towards the final stages: a howling and ecstatic outpouring that takes you by surprise.  A stunning moment from the L.A. band; Press Play is a hard track to forget.

  End of Time is another slow-building and moody introduction that builds as time ticks.  An eerie electronic sound is matched with the occasional electric guitar note that melts wonderfully.  The song develops a bouncing and emotional kick that once again brings me to thoughts of Wild Beasts.  Lighter and more accessible than previous numbers, the song has a slight sense of optimism and hope to the beginnings.  More radiant and sprite than before; that power and panache comes through strong.  When our hero comes to the microphone he is looking across the distant and divide- staring into a million eyes- and casting his mind out.  Maybe reflecting on things or reaching deep inside; he is searching his soul and at his most tender.  That vocal soundtracks a love and affection that is very important.  “I’ll still care for you” claims our man; he has a passion for a girl that is deep in his mind.  Wanting her to be there with him, you can feel that intensity and need.  Drawing his girl back into the world, you begin to wonder what the origins of this song are.  That necessity to spend more time (and have more time) is clear; perhaps opportunities have been wasted and needless moments have been wasted- our hero wants to recapture some of the past and make up for lost time.  Letting his voice emote and stretch, you become captivated by the honest and purity that is being expounded.  The band combines in one of their most rapturous and explosive compositions- that properly and nobly back the song’s plight and ideals.  Twanging strings and sturdy bass; tender percussion all unite to elicit something quite tingling and impassioned.  A song that never wastes time itself- always busy and fascinated throughout- there are “bright lights” and satellites; the idea to settle down and be together- maybe the two lovers have different intentions and goals in life.  The vocals are lyrics are clear and more decipherable than previous tracks making it easier to appreciate and understand what is being said.  With that said, there is obliqueness and mystery lingering at the heart of matters.  The band are a little cagey when it comes to full disclosure; never really revealing too much of themselves- leaving the listener to piece things together and interpret things their own way.  With End of Time being such a stunning and sparkling work; you find yourself powerless to resist the weight of that composition- the raw urgency of the vocals and the emotions being explored.

Congratulations must go to the L.A. band who has crafted an assured and constant E.P.  DreamVacation is a trio of songs that has a unique identity and a lot to say.  The band have honed a very particular sound and model- that ranks them as one of the most distinct in music- which is something you do not find a lot.  Reminding me of early-days Wild Beasts- not sure if the L.A. group have heard them- you get plenty of emotion, depth and atmosphere.  From dreamy and haunted moments you get explosions of sound and vocals- colours burst and emotions sizzle.  The percussion is notable for creating a huge backbone and leadership.  The ticking and beating heartbeat of the record; it is a sound and sensation that provides the most urgent and pulsating moments.  Impressively restrained- it never needlessly gets too heavy- you get a hell of a lot of depth and nuance; an authorities sound from a stunning percussionist.  The bass guides proceedings and keeps things leveled and tight.  With so many emotions and ideas being explored, you need a bass part that keeps all the strands held together- and ensures every sight and lyric is given appropriate energy.  Plenty of melody and rhythm comes through; acres of command and authority- making sure DreamVacation is an E.P. that remains controlled and firm.  Throw in the guitars which are at the heart of everything; they give the record its colour and life; the passion and soul- so many ideas and contrasts are brought in.  It is amazing how much depth and innovation comes out in the guitars; there are some fantastic riffs and beautiful notes- giving the music such a rich and stunning sound.  Our hero’s voice ranges between emotionally cracked and disarmingly passionate.  Few vocalists have such an original voice- again you can’t compare it with anyone else- that is backed by the stunning musicianship and tight performances.  Eliciting cinematic drama and dreamy introspection; you have a vocalist that leads the song with terrific lust, sensitivity and heart.  The only minor drawback is the decipherability and lack of clarity.  Sometimes the vocal gets buried in the composition making it tricky to understand the lyrics.  It only affects about a third of the E.P. but it would be nice to hear the composition mixed a little lower- so there is more balance and get that vocal singing loud and clear.  Toss away that slight missive and you have an E.P. with stunning production values and a lot of nuance.  One of the most bracing and atmospheric things I have heard in a long time; DreamVacation is a stunning statement from a band that are doing their own thing- that should inspire other acts to follow their lead.

Having listened to DreamVacation’s debut E.P. it shows a band with a bright future and a very original voice.  There are few acts emerging that sound as distinct and hungry as the L.A. group- every note and moment resonates with a very special passion.  Across the trio of tracks you get introduced to some very vivid scenes and emotions; your mind is taken away and seduced- every listener will comes away with a different experience.  Before taking things to a close it is worth mentioning L.A. music and E.P.s in general- and what is to come across the following year.  The U.S.A. has been very busy this year and given the music world some of the best and most spectacular music of 2015.  I love the British acts at the moment yet I find our U.S. counterparts have a little more verve and originality- music that is more ambitious and far-reaching.  I have tried to speculate the reasons behind this, but perhaps there isn’t a particular one- it is just the way things are at the moment.  Whilst New York bands and acts fascinated me earlier in the year, it is L.A. that has been making a charge towards the end of the year.  This past few weeks has seen a lot of great Los Angeles acts come to my attention- each one has a distinct sound and projection.  Critics and media in the U.K. only really assess L.A. acts rarely; they tend to focus more on the homegrown acts and what is coming through here.  There is so much hungry and originality coming from the city (and state) we should be spending more time over there- really embracing what is happening right now.  DreamVacation have shown how important it is to make big strides when you put down your very first sounds.  If you create an E.P. or album that does not hit you upon first listen it is unlikely listeners will return again to see if there’s anything they have missed.  Most bands and acts take this as an invitation to play very heavy and unsubtle sounds- essentially inject as much power into the mix as they can.  Even if you are a Rock/Alternative band, you can do something wonderful and memorable without creating needless pummel and noise.  Subtlety and intelligence go a long way in music- commodities that are not often traded and promoted- and is something to think about.  DreamVacation have created a sturdy and impressive E.P. that hints at what their future could hold.  Not going in with five or six tracks- they have managed to elicit huge amount of beauty from a trio of tracks.  It is clear a lot of thought and detail has gone into the music; the boys have not simply rushed a release to get their names out there.  An E.P. is a statement of your music and sound; something that should sell you to the public- for that reason, you need to come up with something that does you justice.  DreamVacation’s self-titled cut is a great insight into a young band that has a lot more to say.  As stunning as the E.P. is you feel their best and finest moments are still ahead of them.  Few bands play the type of music DreamVacation play.  Forsaking the necessity to go in hard and rushing; the band take things down and offer something more contemplative, emotive and honest.  Each member has gone through a turbulent and fractious year- this has not come at the expense of musical excellence and focus.  Instead, the band has channeled their strains and upheaval into something cathartic and emotionally bare.  The following year will be quite an interesting one for music and what is emerging.  A few acts have shown they are going to be names to behold; it is always challenging focusing on the very finest out there- hard to say just who is going to be in the mindset into 2016.  I am confident in saying DreamVacation will be creating quite a buzz next year and building on this early promise.  Whether they decide to release another or E.P. we can only speculate yet they should be congratulated on their progress and achievements thus far.  L.A. is a contrast of neighbourhoods, landscapes and scenery.  From moment to moment you can witness something vastly different; it has such a variation and diversity it is perhaps compelling musicians to write and create sounds.  The big cities have that cosmopolitanism and ability to really inspire musicians into action- try to capture the magic their city creates.  DreamVacation want to present music that promotes kindness and a new way of thinking; does something wonderful and gets the listener thinking more clearly and widely.  When listening to the E.P. you will certainly be engrossed by the colours, contrasts and atmospherics- ranging from jagged and raw to deliriously escapist.  Dive into DreamVacation and an E.P. that compels and stuns the imagination.  A band to be taken very seriously; make sure you surrender to the beauty of…

ONE of L.A.’s very finest new acts.

 

________________________________________

Follow DreamVacation:

 

Official:

http://www.wedreamvacation.com/

Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/dreamvacationmusic

Twitter:

https://twitter.com/wedreamvacation

Instagram:

https://www.instagram.com/wedreamvacation/

 _________________________________

Music:

https://soundcloud.com/dreamvacationmusic

___________________________________

Videos:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCWAwVTH9KdF47pw-uC_HzPw

Track Review: The Dangerhounds- Big Bad Wolf

TRACK REVIEW:

 

The Dangerhounds

 

 

Big Bad Wolf

 

9.6/10.0

 

Big Bad Wolf is available at:

https://soundcloud.com/thedangerhounds/big-bad-wolf

RELEASED:
12th October, 2015

GENRES:
Indie-Rock

ORIGIN:

Leeds, U.K.

The Big Bad Wolf E.P. is available at:

https://soundcloud.com/thedangerhounds/sets/big-bad-wolf-ep

TRACK LISTING:

Big Bad Wolf– 9.6

Santiago9.5

Stop Crying9.5

____________________________________

I have known The Dangerhounds’ front-man Adam Hume…

For a while now; having followed his career since his collaborations with Shiftin’ Shade- a Yorkshire-based Electro.-Swing artist.  Before introducing him and his new band, it is worth reflecting on the Indie-Rock bands across the world; the importance of memorability and roundedness in songs and what it takes to make an impression in 2016.  I have been a bit critical of the state of Indie-Rock/Alternative bands as I hear a lot of very predictable acts out there.  It is not a complete write-off across the genres; the main issue is there are too many bands that go for hard and heavy sounds- replicating the likes of Queens of the Stone Age, Foo Fighters etc.  It is great to hear music that has some vitality, passion and stunning riffs- it is also not that hard to create something original and fresh.  Too many new bands find the surest way to get attention and respect is to reproduce an existing sound- a lazy and unforgivable shortcut to getting into the festival rotations.  The best bands are those that do not play such uninspired and routine sounds- dig deeper and instil personality into their music.  My mind has been looking more to towards older Jazz music as-of-late; the early-‘00s Hip-Hop/Rap artists- something with passion, bite and emotion.  I am finding a lot of acts are too sterile and underwhelming: not evoking any real reaction or doing anything different from what has already come out.  It may be a generalisation, but I am a little disappointed by the lack of stunning bands coming through this year- it seems like the music industry has had a quiet year in 2015.  Indie and Alternative bands created the biggest buzz and tend to rake in the critical praise; it is understandable that so many bands want to play in these genres and make their mark.  My featured band has nothing to worry about as they are among the small percentage of acts that are doing something different and interesting.  If you want to make impact and impressions in music then you need to present more than simple pummel and riffs; create something more rounded and nuanced- throw some emotion, texture and intelligence into the music.  You do not have to water-down and distil your music by doing this; it is possible to come up with something urgent and passionate by stretching your imagination and stepping out the comfort zone.  Even if you are inspired by the likes of Foo Fighters and Queens of the Stone Age then take their core and sprinkle in something unique- little colours and touches that make the music more distinct and personal.  Too many bands are fearful when it comes to putting music out there.  I hear so many acts that play it safe and sound so timid and limited upon initial venture- either that or they just go in too hard and burn-out.  There is a hell of a lot of pressure for new musicians- the amount of competition and the cost of making music- so it is elementary acts take time and think things through.  The Dangerhounds are a band that seems unstressed by the predictable expectations for Indie-Rock bands; they have taken great care to ensure their music differs from what is out there- it has resonated with a huge amount of listeners.  Before I carry on; let me introduce The Dangerhounds to you:


Brad Moorcroft (Bass), Tris Ellis (Drums) and Adam Hume (Rhythm Guitar, Vocals) and Obi Davis (Lead Guitar).

We are The Dangerhounds, a Leeds based indie rock band taking influence from the likes of Kings of Leon, The Wombats and The Strokes.

The Dangerhounds are a high energy band who specialise in catchy, energizing, sing-along choruses that are tough to not tap your feet too.

I know what Adam Hume is capable of and how well his voice can blend into any scenario- if you have not heard Shiftin’ Shade’s collaborations with him- https://soundcloud.com/shiftin-shade- then make sure you investigate.  Having made his impression on some stunning Electro.-Swing songs, it is great to hear him front a new band with a huge amount of potential.  The guys are not your everyday Indie-Rock band that sounds like everyone else.  Although they take inspiration from a wide range of acts- including The Wombats and Razorlight.  Commentators and fans have noted how stunning the melodies are; the tight and wonderful rhythms get inside the head- the emotional and impactful vocals take you by surprise.  It is hardly surprising to see Yorkshire provide another wonderful artist.  Having spent a lot of my writing career here- and assessed so many terrific acts from the county- The Dangerhounds mark themselves as names to watch as we slip into 2016.  Their Big Bad Wolf E.P. was dropped earlier in the year and has already garnered some serious radio play- played in full on B.B.C. Radio Yorkshire- Hume plays all the parts on the E.P.; the rest of the band will combine for a live-version E.P. soon.  The three-track E.P. is a focused and memorable collection and shows how to make an impact.  With their music being played in the U.S. too, it is evident the chaps are going to have a busy new year and take their songs far and wide- I would not be surprised to see them embarking on some transcontinental sojourns very soon.  The Dangerhounds effortlessly mingle Pop and mainstream sing-along into something grittier and with Rock edge.  Their music evokes impassioned crowd reactions and gets inside the head- compelling you to come back time and time again.  The Dangerhounds are showing you do not have to replicate other bands too obvious in order to connect with crowds and get your music noted.  The Dangerhounds are going to ensure they are standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the best of them.  Big Bad Wolf E.P. is a mission statement that marks them as one of the groups to watch closely.

When it comes to The Dangerhounds, it is hard to compare their current work with older sounds- seeing as their E.P. is their first real offering for the music world.  The guys used to be a three-piece but added a fourth member to make their sounds even more hard-hitting and rounded.  The band is constantly developing and evolving; working on their sound and picking up as much live experience as they can.  If you are new to the quartet then it is advisable you seek out some of their influences to see where they came from.  The Wombats are a band renowned for their singalong choruses and hooks; they have never really grabbed the critics are gained huge commercial success.  The Dangerhounds excel where The Wombats fall down yet they do take a little bit of their essence into their own sounds.  Like The Wombats our boys employ wit, heart and passion into their music; wrap it up in uplifting and effusive choruses- to create fevered crowd singalong and captivating moments.  Their Glitterbug album (released) this year was their best-received effort: the polished and infectious album mixed ‘80s Electronica with ‘90s ‘Britpop’ sensations.  Layered, kinetic and in the mood for a party; the album fared better than past works- signalled a resurgence for the band.  The Dangerhounds have a similarly bold and memorable approach to their music.  The compositions mix subtleties with late-night haze and music that compels the feet to move.

Before assessing the E.P., I was chatting with their lead Adam Hume who explained:

The E.P. was recorded before there was a band, they were just demos that I made.  The live versions are the same songs; they just have slightly different drum fills etc., that human aspect.  We’re recording a live E.P. soon“.

The title track to the band’s E.P. ensures attentions and souls are gripped from the very first seconds.  A gritty, concrete and rumbling introduction summons so much passion and grumble that you are powerless to resist its animalistic prowl.  With its heart in the realm of ‘00s Punk- again the likes of The Strokes come through in the introduction- our hero arrives at the microphone with intention and swagger.  It is the way Hume utters and pronounces the lyrics that really stick in the mind.  When he delivers the line “It’s going to be one of those nights” he stutters the ‘n’ in night- creating a twitchiness and potency that cannot be overlooked.  Like Santiago and Stop Crying, there are self-doubts, anxieties and stresses early on.  It seems like Big Bad Wolf is a song that is apt considering its title.  Perhaps a concept album or a slice into his state of mind; each track on the E.P. shows emotion and confession- the title track is probably the most intense and memorable of the three (tracks).  Our man is walking the streets and encapsulated within the glow of the neon lights.  With a heroine by his side it seems like daggers are being cast to the side of his head; that glaring look is causing him some tension and unease.  It is not clear whether that looks is meant hatefully or sexually- whether there is tension and argument or some foreplay at work- yet our hero seems in anxious mood.  The stuttered vocal and unique pronunciation gives the track an originality and energy that is impressive and memorable.  The girl is a “wrecking machine like you’ve never seen”- leading me to believe that there is something more negative and fraught being assessed- with our man caught in the spell and swirl.  You notice little touches in the song that add to the curiosity and quality.  The bass neatly tees-up the guitars and creates an underlying tension and intensity; the guitars then explode like fireworks to convey that emotion- the drums crackling like gunfire.  With so much attention towards compositional dynamics and nuance; you get a song that is layered and wonderfully assured; a tight performance that must be commended.  Our hero’s voice drips with emotion and soul; aching and yearning in equal measures- one of the most impressive vocal performances across the E.P.  The girl is the big bad wolf who is chomping and snarling with ferocity and carnivorous danger.  Whatever has led to this attack- whether that is her personality or she has caused friction- you begin to wonder and speculate.  Although Big Bad Wolf E.P. is not strictly a concept E.P.; it can be conceived as one.  The opener track here sets the scene and introduces the heroine- the opening salvo and first cracks in the dyke- whereas Santiago looks at the fall-out and self-destruction; Stop Crying picks things up the next day and the simmering tensions still there.  Whether our lead has a particular girl in mind- a relationship that has been particular relevant- I am not sure yet you can hear that conviction and meaningfulness in every word.   The crazy lady in question- our man delivers the ‘c’ in crazy with stutter; like The Feeling’s track Never Be Lonely but in a far superior track- is looking for that first bite and not relinquishing her quest for blood.  I am not sure whether the girl is s current/former girlfriend or just some stalker-type that has latched-onto our hero.  I get the impression our man knows the girl and there is a bit of history behind things.  Perhaps a relationship has ended in the past but the message was not received- it appears the heroine is not one to take refusal as an absolute.  That idiosyncratic delivery- the stuttered vocals and hypnotic melody- make the song such a stunner; you get swept up in the imagery and power of the composition.  Whilst a lot of bands offer songs that lack concision and economy- or are too vague and thread-bare- the Leeds group remain consistently tight throughout- the tracks on the E.P. range from two-and-a-half minutes to just under three minutes.  The guys know how good their music is- they get their message across quickly and effectively- and the fans have responded appropriately.  Big Bad Wolf is the most popular track and it is not hard to see why.  From that mesmeric introduction, you do not get a chance to breathe and relax- the song remains exhilarating and spellbinding to the very last.  By the 1:40 mark the chorus comes to an end and there is a slight pause in the second; it begins to build as our hero unveils a wordless chorus- something the band do on each track across the E.P. – to give brief respite and reflection.  Youthful rebellion mixes with Punk savage in a song that will unite younger and older fans; it crosses genres and has a honed and universal sound to it that has struck a chord with listeners.  Just as you think things are starting to wane and end; the song jumps into life and the chorus comes back into the mix- the boys are masterful when it comes to subverting expectations and creating a consistently unpredictable mood.  Everyone will be able to relate to the sentiments and lyrics unfolding throughout Big Bad Wolf.  It is a track that sees a jilted/loopy heroine undeterred by obstacles looking to claim her man- a song here that mixes humour and with a real concern and anxiety.  Our lead keeps his voice emotional and soulful throughout- Hume has such a range to his tones he is deftly able to make everything sound convincing and hugely urgent- and ensures the song never loses its magic and sparkle.  The band keep that raw energy and passion burning to the very last- it is the tightest and most rounded composition on the E.P.  By the final notes you wonder how things worked out- and whether our hero managed to evade the wolf and her blood-thirsty lust.  If you interpret the E.P. as a storyline/concept then he managed to evade her- perhaps only briefly to his regret.  Big Bad Wolf is one of the most direct and clear songs on the E.P.- its message is quite evident and it is the least oblique track here- making it perhaps the most accessible and immediate the band have created.

Kudos must be given to Hume as a performer, but first of all, the production and mixing must be congratulated.  A lot of music is ruined because of poor production values and mixing.  A lot of times the vocal is mixed far too low in the mix- it is the most important aspect so why do it? – making it hard to understand the lyrics and what is being said.  At other times the guitars and drums and too low and they lose their intention and potential.  It is hard to get that balance just so; when you do it brings the song fully to life.  Across the E.P. – and especially on the title track here- every element and instruments is perfectly brought together to create a polished and crackling track- one that is near-impossible to ignore.  The song sound polished and clear but retains its unique edge and Punk attitude.  Great attention has been given to ensure the song is as stunning and memorable as it could be.  Fans and commentators have commended the production values throughout and how assured they are.  Our man make Big Bad Wolf such a snarling and stunning beast.  The bass is a guiding light that keeps the track in-check and offers a sonic snarl and sense of misadventure.  Eliciting grooving rhythms and snaking hips; it weaves inside the composition to propel the vocal and drums- creating a stunning partnership with the guitars.  One of the most intuitive and unique bass sounds around; it is great to hear someone with so much authority and command at work.  The percussion is delivered with a lot of force and passion- although Hume claims the band version will be a lot sturdier with better fills; the drums are midi and the guitars are all re-amped in software from D.I .recordings.  Hume combines guitars to create intense emotion and endlessly impressive moments.  Across Big Bad Wolf you get so much vibrancy, emotion and savageness- perfectly backing the song’s lyrics and themes.  Never too forceful or intense, what you get are performances with plenty of nuance and depth- they perfectly sit with the drums and bass.  Perhaps the biggest impressions are made by Hume (as a singer) himself whose vocal is at its intense and impassioned best.  Some singers have vocal tics and idiosyncrasies and Hume is no exception.  Those stuttered syllables and wordless utterances transcends his performances above those of his peers- one of the most assured and inventive singers on the block.  Having worked with other artists- and given the chance to let his voice work in various genres and scenarios- it shows across the song.  Never nervous or unsure, Hume elicits so many shades and sides throughout the title track- bringing in his previous experience and showcasing the full extent of his voice.  Leading the music with enormous conviction and emotion; you have a front-man that is at his best here- you can see him getting better and stronger with every song the band produces.  Big Bad Wolf is a perfect E.P. opener and a song that is statement of intent from one of the U.K.’s hottest propositions  If you have not heard the Leeds act in full flight, then this is the perfect place to start.  The live versions will come soon- a new live E.P. will see the full band incorporate parts rather than Hume alone.

Big Bad Wolf E.P. is a trio of songs that will stick in the brain for weeks to come.  So many effete and aimless bands are out there so it is rewarding and fantastic seeing a group come through that offer long-term potential and terrifically assured music.  The connection and bond creates dynamic tension, emotion and uplift; stunningly evocative singalongs and tenderness too.  So much colour and passion goes into the blend it is not a surprise The Dangerhounds have captured the heart of so many listeners.  Hume marks himself out to be one of the most nimble and striking singers on the scene: capable of turning any song into a stone-wall classic.  Offering astonishing bass, guitar and drum support and you have a tight-knit group that are going to be festival favourites in no time.  Before I give a mini-review of the E.P., it is worth circling back to the concerns of Indie-Rock, lack of originality and what you need to make an impact in 2016.  I hope Indie-Rock bands coming through take heed and concentrate on their music before releasing it to the public.  I get the feeling too many groups are lazily copycatting their influences and rushing their music- negating the importance of original voice and personality.  I have witnessed too many bands dissolve and crumble due to lack of support and disharmony within their ranks.  To survive and flourish in the music world you need to craft music that has your own stamp on it.  The likes of Foo Fighters and Queens of the Stone Age seem to find themselves reincarnated in too many up-and-coming acts- it is disheartening to find so few original bands coming out.  When you do find a group that dares to be different- understanding the vitality of straying from the pack- that is when you get excited and start to find hope.  Our Leeds quartet (Hume for now; he will be joined by his band-mates on the live E.P.,) has some clear influences- The Wombats, Razorlight and The Strokes especially- yet they are never too obvious and worn on their sleeves.  What you find is a little essence of each at certain moments; when the mood calls Hume teases in a bit of other acts- ensuring their music has that blend of originality and familiarity too.  I have paid tribute to Yorkshire and how fertile the county is; just how many fantastic acts are hailing from the county.  I have given up trying to explain the reason behind this prosperity yet it might be something to do with the people and climate there.  Perhaps less stressful and crowded than London and the north-west, Yorkshire acts are among the most spellbinding and carefree I witness.  Of course every band and musician is tense and gets stressed; Yorkshire musicians come across less suffocated and harried than their southern peers- as a result the music has room to shine and breathe.  I am sure Yorkshire will be stamping some terrific new acts and bands into the following year- ensure you keep your eyes trained here.  The Dangerhounds offer something distinct and new- not just recycled sounds like so many others- they ensure emotion and depth mingles alongside something gritty, hard and impassioned.  With so few bands digging deep and offering singalong moments- there is a certain seriousness that is pervading the scene- it is refreshing to see someone ensure that kinetic energy and layered music evoke something wonderful.  It is hardly coincidental The Dangerhounds are enjoying rich rewards and seeing their social media numbers rocket right now.  The year is almost through and January/February are months vital for new acts- whether you are touring or releasing new music; it is important to make a big impression early on.  The Dangerhounds will be hitting the road and planning their next moves; making sure they remain in the consciousness and get ahead of their contemporaries.  Big Bad Wolf E.P. is a collection that showcases huge potential and consistently exceptional songwriting.  It hints at just what it to come and how far they can go.  It will be great to hear the live E.P. and see the rest of the band take on Hume’s parts- and give new life to the songs.

    Santiago is the E.P.’s second track; a number that begins with a frantic ramble and urgency.  Reminding me of The Strokes and The Libertines; you get that street-level Punk vibe and a youthful spirit that has been lacking in music lately.  Hume ensure all of the tracks begin with a kick and race; keen to get the listener hooked and seduced within the first few seconds.  The Chilean capital is a great song title and something that got me interested before I heard a note.  After that avalanche of guitar notes and percussion pound; the mood starts to level and our hero comes to the microphone.  It seems our man wakes up each morning with a “little less dignity”.  Perhaps going through a tough time or feeling the effects of ageing- despite his tender years- you hear a voice that is brimming with emotion and openness.  Riding that reliable groove and stunning composition, it appears bridges are being burned and our man has fewer friends.  What the circumstances are behind this change- maybe they have different ideals and goals in life- it is clear something more haunted and anxious is being ascribed.  The Dangerhounds will never let the mood dip down too low- they always present sonic kicks and uplift- yet to do not betray the importance of the emotion and rawness being portrayed.  Hume’s voice is effortless when upbeat and riding the wave; it is equally assured and passionate when bearing his soul and singing about harsher and more emotive themes.  Backed by a fizzing and stabbing riff- that puts me in mind of Razorlight’s Golden Touch– the song keep that bristling tension and nervousness building.  Our hero is thinking only of himself; selfishly ignoring others and perhaps concentrating on his own needs and wants.  It is an honest and impressive perspective- few singers and bands cast self-blame and that open- but you always feel sympathy with his plight.  Never cocky or lacking earnestness; that vocal remains firm and strong in the midst of self-confession and outpouring.  A stunningly executed composition supports a brilliant melody that leads a hugely memorable chorus.  Once more you get some wordless vocals to add to the intensity and passion; that constant upbeat and energy in the composition gives the song a ‘90s feel- think of Ocean Colour Scene, Reef and their contemporaries.  Perhaps there is the recollection of a drunken night.  Our boy might have woken a little worse for wear it seems.  Maybe wanting to keep that momentum going, it is a call-out to a friend- to paint the town red and have fun.  At its heart there seems to be a need to self-destruct slightly or dull a pain- whether a relationship break-up or something else- that lurks in the undergrowth.  Evoking the raw Punk energy of The Strokes, you have a song that has anthemic swagger and a festival-ready sound- with a distinct Britishness to it.  The Dangerhounds never fully sound like any other band; their uniqueness and personality always wins over.  Hume has leant his voice to Electro.-Swing tracks- with their heart in the ‘30s and ‘40s- and manages to convey an old-time, vintage sound to the song.  Mixing decades together seamlessly- hoping between the ‘30s, ‘90s and present-day- you get a performance with a huge amount of depth and nuance.  Santiago has a radio-friendly sound to it that will appeal to the mainstream yet remains raw enough to translate into the festivals and live arenas- striking those that prefer their music on the harder side of things.  The lads remain compellingly tight and addictive throughout.  The percussion is a constant avalanche that creates a wonderful backbone and drive.  With the bass summoning melody, rhythm and a huge amount of energy; it backs the guitars which are insatiable in their intensity and power.  A brilliant and uplifting track that stays inside the head and provokes you to listen to it again and again- no mean feat in the modern climate!

Stop Crying begins with a blitz of guitars and an insatiable intensity that takes you by surprise.  Starting off with urgency and huge pummels; a catchy and hypnotic riff comes through that bristles with electricity and passion.  One of the most immediate introductions I have heard this year the track begins with a huge impact.  Our hero has intensity and rush going through his veins and marrow; his head is ready to blow and people don’t know “what I’ve been through”.  Whether directing his words to a girlfriend or close alliance- someone that may be causing stress and not understanding him- there is this explosive missive that lays his thoughts on the line.  A “one-man wrecking crew” you get a full sense of just how pressing and powerful these feelings are.  Ensuring themes of suffocation and pain are not too oppressive; the band gives the song a beautiful groove that makes the feet tap and the body move.  Hume’s vocals remain light enough as not overwhelm; he makes sure each words and line is giving maximum attention- creating a wonderful energy and real sense of emotion.  Maybe he is talking about a particular girl that is a little spoiled and thinks she will get whatever she wants.  The lack of sympathy and support is evoked in a chorus that has a high-octane sound an energy that cannot be dismissed.  The music is at its tightest and most exhilarating here: combining wonderfully, it offer so much force and catchiness.  Linking the sound of ‘90s Indie/’Britpop’ together with something of-the-moment the track evokes fond memories and reminds you of artists past.   One of the most instantly memorable songs I have heard for a while, that fantastic and polished production- that mixes everything superbly without compromising the rawness needed- ensures the song fully explodes to life.  All the instruments sit superbly together and can be heard; that vocal is high enough in the mix to ensure there is clarity and resonance- without toning-down the ferocious percussion and swaggering guitar/bass work.  In the “heart of an earthquake”, there is evident tension and upheaval afoot.  When our hero and his girl are in the car, little irritants and quirks are setting him off- from the knuckle-cracking to things being said.  It is easy to directly go for issues concerning love and broken relationships; perhaps there is a friendship that is showing strains and breaks.  You get an original perspective on the theme and a lot of wit instilled into the lyrics.  You picture yourself alongside our man and what he is going through- trying to keep his emotions in check and perhaps losing the battle.  It appears there is a long history and there have been frictions building for a good while now.  This song recounts the shift from dormancy to eruption: the expulsion of those sizzling emotions and building anger.  Making sure those lyrics and vocals are given an appropriate soundtrack; Hume ensures everything comes together superbly to form a composition with underlying tension and power- whilst ensuring there is catchiness and colour to be found too.  Hume’s vocal has a nice clarity and depth that has a guttural edge and a passionate core.  Able to stretch his tones to convey a wealth of emotions- a nice wordless coda past the half-way mark is one such example- you have a frontman that can make everything sound urgent, compelling and convincing.  Backed by a superb melody and a wonderful composition, it is hard to ignore Stop Crying.  Sure to be a live favourite, I would not be surprised to see the song feature heavily across radio stations next year.  It is a sharp and short blast that conveys so much within its time.  You wonder just how things worked out in the song- our hero was on the border of sociopathic violence it seems- and whether the duo reconciled or found any sort of compromise.  Too many bands create long and droning songs- unable to keep it tight, economical and qualitative- yet The Dangerhounds (Hume this time around) have masterfully crafted a song that packs in a huge amount in the short space.  A stunning sign-off from their E.P., it is a song that will be impossible to forget.  That could be said of Big Bad Wolf E.P. which marks an act with a big future ahead.  Do not miss the chance to witness a fine young band…

 

GIVING Indie-Rock the kick it needs.

 

__________________________________________

Follow The Dangerhounds:

 

Official:

http://thedangerhounds.com/

Facebook:

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

Twitter:

https://twitter.com/dangerhounds

_____________________________

Music:

https://soundcloud.com/thedangerhounds

 

 

This Week’s Albums: December 16th, 2015

This Week’s Albums

 

 

December 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; 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 have forgotten about.

 

The Old:  Funkadelic- Maggot Brain (1971)

 

9.5/10

 

The last album to feature the original Funkadelic line-up; their 1971 milestone stretches between Psychedelia, Gospel, Soul and Rock sounds- to create one of the finest albums of the decade.  The heavily-sampled Can You Get to That is a traditional Folk-led song- that differed from the band’s Funk-orientated sound.  Super Stupid looks an idiot drug-user who buys the wrong drugs- to inevitable consequences- whilst Wars of Armageddon mixes sound effects and samples around byzantine and obscure lyrics.   The seven-track album is perhaps defined by the incredible title cut: an instrumental execration that sees Eddie Hazel delivers a brain-busting solo (apparently George Clinton advised him to play as though his mama had died).  That mix of melancholy and introspection are delicious as are the delirious funk-outs; samples, odd avenues and Gospel chants- all supremely delivered by a band at the peak of their creative visions.  Trombones, Jew’s harp and bongo go into a delirious musical smoke that guarantees blissful transcendence; thought-provoking moments- the album looks at class struggles and brotherhood- and compels you to revisit it again and again.  Not an obvious album for a lot of people; it sure should be- as it’s an undeniable classic that becomes more relevant and necessary as time goes on.

 

DOWNLOAD: Maggot Brain; You and Your Folks, Me and My Folks; Super Stupid

STAND-OUT TRACK: Maggot Brain

 

 

 

The New: Jennylee- Right On! (Out Now)

 

6.5/10

 

The good new releases seem to become fewer as the calendar year progresses.  Not to throw scorn on December’s offerings but Jennylee’s latest album is a work that will excite upon initial listen without remaining in the mind for long.  The Warpaint bassist (the exceptional L.A. female-only four-piece) has embarked into the spotlight- losing some of the magic that made her alma mater so special.  Blind is an appealing (if slow) opener that does not set the tone for the rest of the album.  That expert bass work- that is mixed to create an awkward balance of tension and muted promise- is one of the defining highs of the album.  While Jenny Lee Lindberg is a fantastic musician; her voice is not quite arresting enough to sustain interest across an entire album.  That grip and popularity may hone itself in the future but for now Right On! is a record that shows only patchy promise.  When the music does hit its stride- as on the chilly vibes of never and the sparse Disco flavours of offerings– the heroine provides variation and personality.  Hazy and languorous he fresh is an addictive, mantra-like song- the line “he’s so fresh, he’s so fresh, he’s so fresh” will not escape the brain easily.  Riot and white devil show what the album should possess: urgency, danger and a sense of the unpredictable.  That said; the emotional and sonic contrast results in an album with emotional depth and a unique personality.  Let us hope the Warpaint bassist uses this album as a springboard to greater work- the potential and promise is all there.

 

DOWNLOAD: riot; he fresh; white devil

STAND-OUT TRACK: he fresh

 

 

The Influencer:  The Streets- Original Pirate Material (2002)

9.5/10

 

The turn of the 20th century saw hungry British rappers/Hip-Hop artists burst onto the scene- providing an arresting, dazzling and mind-bending insight into modern Britain and the realities of the streets.  A year before Dizzee Rascal’s eponymous debut (Boy in da Corner) came Mike Skinner’s The Streets.  The Midland-born artist switched between assured and witty rapping to spoken word pontifications.  The Streets’ opuses of getting drunk and eating chips; getting into danger and making ends meet was a daring and stunning insight into modern-day realities- an album that holds huge weight 13 years on.  Skinner is not as frantic and assured as the likes of Dizzee yet his flow-acceleration is not the main attraction: the asphalt-pounding poet is a man who delivers huge blows with his unique and urgent authority.  Funny, vulnerable and hugely intelligent; the album showed immense talent and ability from an artist fresh on the scene.  There is a quirky Britishness about Skinner’s rapping (the line “I wholeheartedly agree with your viewpoint” is less likely to provoke thoughts of gun-fire gang wars; more a quiet cup of tea with your nan) yet it is those eccentricities and loveable moments that make Original Pirate Material a phenomenal work.  Whilst Sharp Darts and Too Much Brandy are hard-riding and short mission statements the likes of Has It Come to This? were defined as lyrical slices of genius; Don’t Mug Yourself is a bouncing and dizzying array of images- texting a girl from the night before; Skinner’s friend Calvin offering some gravity and common sense.  With Let’s Push Things Forward mixing Reggae bliss and huge intentions- the song looks at the importance of pushing sounds forward and evolving; not buying the same old crap- and boasts some of the album’s finest lyrics.  A true masterwork that should be applauded hugely.

 

DOWNLOAD: Let’s Push Things Forward; Don’t Mug Yourself; Weak Become Heroes

STAND-OUT TRACK: Let’s Push Things Forward

 

 

The ‘Other One’: Beck- Mellow Gold (1994)

 

9.0/10

 

One of the defining albums of 1994- in music’s most prosperous and peerless year- few artists came onto the scene with such an assured debut.  Beck Hansen is not a man to be bound by limitations: Mellow Gold willingly hops between Hip-Hop, Rap, Rock and Country; taking in samples and quirky sonic touches- resulting in an album that has a freewheelin’ confidence and surreal wordplay.  It is those beat-poet/junkie lyrics that make the songs so vivid, original and down-right odd.  Recorded at home- and not benefiting from studio cohesion and focus- you get an inspiring album propelled by ideas and depth; as opposed to force and pummel.  Standout song Loser is perhaps Beck’s best-loved track- it is not the only stunner across the album.  The Garage-inspired Fuckin’ With My Head (Mountain Dew Rock) is a dizzying and vivid assault that is among the album’s most immediate tracks.  Sweet Sunshine sees Beck at his most fuzzed-out and unsettling whilst Blackhole is far more redemptive and touching than its title suggests- a gorgeous and acoustic-led track that sees Beck mix instruments (sitar among violins) with lyrics at their most oblique and image-provoking.  Whilst the U.S. master is more comfortable in mature and contemplative mode these days, look back when he was at his reckless and limitless best.  Few artists have ever matched Beck for genre-pollination and songwriting genius; Mellow Gold is an album that shook the scene and welcomed a one-of-a-kind to the musical bosom.  Mellow Gold is definitely not mellow (not for the most anyway) yet its gold-standard credentials cannot be argued.

 

DOWNLOAD: Loser; Fuckin’ With My Head (Mountain Dew Rock); Blackhole

STAND-OUT TRACK: Loser

 

 

Track Review: (The Ambition)- Will You Be Mine

TRACK REVIEW:

 

(The Ambition)

 

 

Will You Be Mine

 

9.1/10.0

 

Will You Be Mine is available at:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P9LNemMIuDg

RELEASED:
2nd October, 2015

GENRES:
Pop-Rock

ORIGIN:

Liverpool, U.K.

____________________________________

TODAY offers me a unique stand-away from the normal…

crop of bands coming through at the moment.  In addition to reviewing my first parenthetical band; it is a chance to witness a young group who are among the most tender and fledgling out there- whilst demonstrating huge confidence and assuredness early on.  Before I get to them, let me talk about young bands- that go against the boy band market- the music of Liverpool and the dwindling Rock market.  Let’s start by looking at young bands coming out at the moment.  It seems like music’s fresh-faced are becoming younger by the year.  I am seeing a lot of teenage acts coming out that sound completely tight and fully-formed.  Of course youthfulness does not equate to appeal and quality- there are a lot of very young bands that sound underdeveloped and lacking.  The media has an obsession with music and age- they get into a delirious tizzy every time a baby-faced clan arrived with stunning music- which is putting a lot of pressure on the rest of music.  A great deal of artists coming through feel the need to hit particular targets by a certain age- if they do not do it they can feel adjudged to be a failure.  The fact of the matter is that a lot of these younger acts are quite insignificant and lacking any real promise and bite- making anxieties and stresses (from other musicians) inappropriate.  It is great when a young band come along that actually possesses balls and a sense of longevity.  It is always quite hard to see which bands are going to be genuine contenders when it comes to the next year.  My featured act plays a mixture of Pop and Rock.  Whilst I am not a fan of some of the acts they have supported- I find Scouting for Girls unbearably annoying and poor- (The Ambition) are in no way or shape anything like the predictable crop of Pop-lite nonsense you hear blaring from the likes of Heart or Capital F.M.  If you dump any comparisons with your Five Seconds of Summer, One Direction and their ilk- the sort of money-makers that record companies love to mould and replicate with no ear for quality and musicality- we have an act that have more in common with Rock’s elite.  Whilst their best work is ahead of them, there is enough to suggest (The Ambition) will live up the hype and create something great in 2016.  Before I go into more depth, let me introduce Liverpool’s promising young act:

Tipped by the industry as the next big thing, The Ambition is made up of Jack Morton, Ant Brady and Scott and Max Mealey. The Liverpool based four piece exploded online in 2015 and have established a hardcore fan base which is growing at an incredible rate.

The Ambition have already made an impact on the main stages of some of the UK’s most prestigious events and festivals.  Performing their high energy, catchy rock pop sets and appearing at events alongside the likes of Scouting for Girls, Rebecca Ferguson and Basement Jaxx. 

Showing no sign of slowing down and setting up camp in the studio working on their next EP, 2016 is set to be an exciting year for The Ambition”.

The band has a down-to-earth and fan-friendly look that will see them featured on the front of magazines and playlist rotations.  We all get pre-conceived ideas when it comes to the fresh-looking bands and what they will offer in terms of music.  You do not need to look a certain way- or be a particular age in fact- to create music that brims with quality and appeal.  What (The Ambition) does is bridge the gap between radio-friendly Pop- there are enough teenage edges to appeal to the young girls and boys of music- whilst stretching their ambitions to fuse something more credible and appealing- harder Rock sounds that give you a flavor of bygone legends.  I have seen some fantastic acts this year that have plenty of scope; it seems our Liverpool clan could be mixing it among the hungriest music has to offer.  Liverpool is a city that is staying in the public consciousness when it comes to new music.  There seems to be this north-south divide with regards music and the attention of the media.  As much as I love London the bands/acts playing here; it is worth extending sights and seeing what the north of the divide can provide.  Take the sapling lads of (The Ambition) and you get little touches of Oasis and Arctic Monkeys; some Power-Pop of the ‘60s- elements from the north and their hometown into the mix.  Were they just to offer aimless heaviness and nonsensical choruses and you’d skip past them and lose concentration- instead their music rewards concentration and provides something deeper and more enduring.  I am really impressed by the bands coming out of Liverpool at this time.  Liverpool Calling hosted the likes of Jackobins- an act I have reviewed before- and Organ Freeman.  Whilst the bands have not reinvented the wheel- it is hard to display true originality and lack of compromise- they produce music that is elementary in its passion and fever; it is arena-filling and crowd-winning.  With the likes of Hooton Tennis Club and Strange Collective creating buzz and excitement; Liverpool is showing just how productive and fertile she is.  It is perhaps no surprise that (The Ambition) have captured the mindset and attentions of the city: they make music that rivals the best out there; it has a universal flair and appeal that means they will be festival favourites.  Whilst a lot of Liverpool bands go straight for the jugular- and tend to focus too heavily on Rock and Alternative- our featured act dig a little deeper and ply some colours and subtleties of Pop into the fold.  At the moment Rock seems to be suffering serious illness.  Perhaps passing years and lack of maneuverable room has led to problems and a cessation of innovation.  I am finding there are too few Rock bands that sound new and different.  Many are contended to cling onto their idols without altering the sound and pushing themselves- it leads to a lot of short-term acts that waste a lot of time and effort.  Even the likes of Royal Blood- and their critically-lauded debut- are too close to the likes of The White Stripes, Queens of the Stone Age and Foo Fighters.  Whilst Royal Blood have enough punch, epic anthems and ability to throw off the lack of originality; their newly-bred peers are not faring too well by comparison.   For that reason you need to bring other genres into your music and ensure it does not become insipid and predictable.  Thankfully (The Inspiration) have a boss sound with nouse and diversity to it.  They will be going onto create their best moments; their early movements showcase plenty of promise and force- outranking most of their peers and demonstrating why they have been hotly-tipped to be kings of 2016.

If you want a full assessment of Will You Be Mine, then it is worth digging into the past of the young band.  Jack Morton, Scott Mealey, Max Mealey and Anthony Brady have crafted a few other songs which show what a prospect (The Ambition) is.  Their debut E.P. Journeys was released earlier this year and was a chance to get into the mindset of a terrific young band laying down their marker.  Next To You shows maturity and impassioned vocals amidst rushing sonics and a central message of heartfelt love and intention.  Our hero wants to return home and be next to his girl.  Able to conquer the world and take anything on; he would not ask for anything were he to be beside his girl.  There are shades of Pop contemporaries and bands yet the boys have more edge and nuance than their peers.  Mixing sounds of ‘80s Pop (in a good way) there is less reliance on processing, Auto-tune and too-polished production.  You get some raw emotion and naturalness come out in the song- the E.P. has terrific production and definite quality- that means it sounds more grown-up and compelling than 90% of the Pop fodder out there.  You and Me continues alongside the same lines of dedicated love and yearning.  Propelled by a sprite and cheery composition the vocals are at their most insistent and urgent on the disc.  Spiked and electric guitars add some much-needed grit into a story that evokes the deliriousness of ‘60s Power-Pop around themes that look at dream-like love and intoxicating bonds.  The song’s heroine has got her man tied-up and fantasising; hooked and fascinated by all she offers- caught up in a spell.  Why the themes and ideas expressed are commonplace and cliché; the band utilise them to their own means and come up with sentiment that will appeal to their teenage audience- whilst boasting an adultness and strength that sets them aside from any preconceptions and easily labeling.  Our man is dreaming when the lights go out; the infectious and simple chorus hook has a Folk edge to it that will get people chanting and chorusing along.  It is the endless positivity and alacrity that makes the song impossible to dislike.  The highlight from Journeys; it sees a band that can pen a hook and keep audiences compelled to the end.  Never Let You Down expands their compositions and brings something more Rock-tinged and harder into the fray.  A merry and skipping composition showcases another bold and direct vocal that deals with love and the voice of a heroine.  Once again you get vocal chanting and chorus- not the inane way Coldplay trot it out in every track- but something that has a boisterous charm and heart to it.  Whilst the composition has an energy and spring to it; the lyrics are more introspective and haunted at their core.  There is a lot of positivity and hope yet some lingering pain and emptiness can be heard beneath the surface.  Adding emotional depth is vital with regards musical respect and development; listeners of all ages can appreciate what the E.P. offers and how far it reaches.

Since the E.P. – and bearing Will You Be Mine into things- the band have not reshaped and changed their sound a lot.  Being a brand-new act, you would not expect them to sound like Metallica or Basement Jaxx on their new track; they do sound more confident and nuanced here.  Whilst their E.P. was a bold and accomplished release; they have a bit more intrigue and passion about them.  It is crucial to keep their melodic and sunny approach in their music; what they have done is offer more variation and range in their latest cut- that could lead to a different-sounding E.P. in 2016.  I know the boys are going to be touring and in the studio again; it will be great to see the music live and up-close.  They are that confident and complete straight off the blocks- let’s hope they keep that momentum firm in the coming year.

With a high production video and a terrific story-line, it shows the band have a lot of confidence in Will You Be Mine.  The track gets off to a racing start with a spiraling guitar coda that promotes vitality, raggedness and emotional conflict.  The boys show how together and tight they are from the start; keeping everything quite tense and nervy- whilst allowing some space and reflectiveness to creep in.  The early vocal is rich in emotion and soulfulness; conveying conviction and a great sense of desire.  Our hero attests it’s not “too late to go back to that place where we used to be”.  Whether documenting an emotional space or a geographical location; there is that need to reconnect with his girl and get her back.  It is not clear whether the relationship has hit the rocks or whether there is just a sense of detachment between them.  Perhaps things have petered-out and there isn’t that necessary spark and kismet between them.  Our hero’s heart will always call out “for you and me”; there is that flaming passion and need underpinning the vocals.  A lot of listeners will be able to connect with those themes of desire and loss; the need to connect with something that may have passed- unwilling to surrender and let it die.  Augmented by that heartfelt and rich vocal, we here our hero “see that look in your eye”; the one that tells him not to go- you become intrigued by the reasons and truths behind the song.  Perhaps our man has to step away or focus on something else- maybe the realities of music life and their demands are having an effect- but it is clear the break-up is unwanted and unpopular.  The decision seems to be more firm with our hero; that need to start afresh and step away is evident.  Remembering his girl and those initial impressions- how she looked and the glint in her eyes- there are evocations of a better past and the purity of the initial moments.  Perhaps the idealism and expectations have changed; the reality of the bond has come into view- that is why he has to step away.  Their ambitions and desires seem separate and there is little room for compromise or an agreement.  Causing strain and emotions, you can hear that regret and sense of fear in the hero’s voice.  Backed by a composition that provides support and strength- not cheapening proceedings with sunniness and false emotions- and you have a song that remains focused and mature throughout.  Wondering how he could replace someone that “used to be my everything” the lyrics do not stray too far from the likes of their contemporaries- although that is no bad thing.  When it comes to love and relationships, it is hard to craft lines that are original and that distinct- without losing their universality and truth.  Few listeners can refute the passion and power that is emitted from the vocal; that will to explain things and express that pain and loss.  Our boy is struggling to stand quietly by his girl; there are words and things he needs to say- perhaps remaining quiet to avoid conflict or say things that may make things worse.  There are some silent moments and awkwardness as things are starting to crumble; the reality the two may not see one another- and life as they know it is going to change forever.  Among the throng of heartache and suffering there is a stoic and resilience to things; you feel like our hero will be able to regroup and get back to life as normal.  Whilst he is in the eye of the storm he has tried to keep his emotions in-check and together; he is letting it all go at the moment and submitting to the sheer force of the break-up.  It seems like the relationship may have been less storybook than first imagined.  It seems our man was “led astray” and been lied to.  Now he is finding his way “back home” there is that given of improvement and a mature attitude to things.  The video for the song looks at a middle-aged couple at a hospital bed.  The husband sits by his wife as she starts to fade and deteriorate- leading to different impressions and interpretations.  Part of your brain could relate the words to family concern- perhaps a fond relative that is starting to get ill and depart- although one suspects the video’s plot is designed to portray a love that is breaking down for reasons that cannot be avoided.  Quite an intriguing and open-for-interpretation, the boys ensure those heavy words and wracked souls are not too dark and shadowy.  The wordless vocal and rousing chorus injects enough optimism and energy to keep the song vibrant and uplifted.  The chorus and its declarations- whether the girl will be his- is perhaps that need to recapture something that has faded and the refusal to move on.  The song has some obliqueness and mixed messages that keep it fascinating.  Whilst our man seems to be rebuilding and accepting the break-up there is that denial and that want to get the girl back (and recapture what they had).  Whether it is ever possible- or he is fooling himself and knows it is a hopeless cause- it gets the listener guessing and hooked.  The band creates a vibrant swirl and attack that enforced the song’s messages and keeps that drama and electricity firm to the last notes.

With bands like Coldplay taking their foot off the gas- short of ideas and repeating themselves; songs that don’t match their glory days- we need Pop-Rock bands that have the potential to remain surprising and strong.  Being a teenage band you would excuse some sharp corners and ragged edges to the music.  What you get is a band that sounds like they have been playing for many years- they are as tight and assured as any out there.  Their lyrics are quite every day and universal- they document common themes and do not stray too far from worn subjects- although it is a move that is necessary and smart.  Their audience and listeners have been through similar experiences and want to hear songs that reflect their life and pain.  Were the band to pen something that was out of the comfort zone then they would lose followers and alienate their fans.  Packing much more punch and energy into one song than most bands create across an album; you have spades of nuance and recommendations here.  I am not a huge fan of Pop-Rock bands but have found an act I can get on board with and relate to.  They have plenty of maturity and aerodynamics that means the vocals and compositions do not get bogged-down into predictable and bland waters.  Perhaps their most focused and memorable work; here is a band that matures and develops with each new release.  The performances are impressive and stunning throughout the song; contrasting sensitivity and raw emotion with dignity and aplomb.  With the scene being defined by a lack of quality- critics beholding bands that are not worth their weight- it is refreshing to see the Liverpool boys come along and earn their plaudits.  They have had a busy and productive 2015 so should be very proud of what they have achieved.  They connect with so many people and Will You Be Mine is an assured and brilliant song that will see their fan-base rise.

Whether it is The Ambition or (The Ambition); they are not a band that need changing or parenthetic.  I was a little wary reviewing the band- thinking we would have a One Direction-type act that would cause me some ethical conflicts- yet I am pleased to announce they are a lot more appealing and stunning than any boy band out there.  In spite of the fact the boys are in the teens; that does not lead to music that is infantile and immature.  Beyond the moody photography- the boys barely crack a smile in any of their press releases- it is a red herring that is quite necessary.  Were there too many zany shots and stupid photos- you know the type favoured in teen magazines- they would be written-off as another off-the-rack boyband with nothing to say and nauseating personalities.  If their music were moody and downbeat then they would lack appeal and any sort of longevity.  What the Liverpool band does is showcase mature and adult aesthetics with music that ties sunny Pop of the mainstream with some credible Rock edges favoured on the current scene.  When it comes to tipping new bands for 2016- and those we should all keep an eye out- it is well worth putting some time and energy in the direction of (The Ambition).  The boys recently played at Harrods- an experienced that seemed unique and unforgettable- and they are mounting a charge on the musical landscape.  Will You Be Mine is another bold move by one of the hottest up-and-coming bands around.  I stated Liverpool breeds quality and consistency; no exaggeration when thinking of our featured bands and what they have shown so far.  If you check out Google- and search for ‘best Liverpool bands of 2015’- you get a good range of acts that show variety and promise.  (The Ambition) are creeping up and gaining impressions and support from all the right quarters.  Being so young it is forgivable they have an essence of mainstream Pop- it is necessary to appeal to their target audience- but I can see them developing and expanding their sound as the years progress.  The early signs are hugely encouraging and show a band that want to remain on the scene for a long time yet.  With so many young bands out there; the media are crawling over themselves to highlight and proclaim certain bands as ‘the next big thing’.  I am always sceptical by these lists- including the B.B.C.’s annual list that is always a little shaky- and find that they do not reflect public tastes and the majority of music-lovers.  We should not herald and focus on bands because they are young- it does not mean they will be good or last even- but on the quality of their recordings.  When you discover an act that is young AND good then it is worth making predications and speculations.  With Liverpool mothering some of the U.K.’s best bands we should keep our attention on the north-west city.  It seems like Rock is going through a recession at the moment and not giving the same returns it did a few years back- the acts coming through don’t have the originality and inventiveness they once had.  It will be good to see (The Ambition) come and play London and take their Pop-cum-Rock sounds in person.  Their optimism and powerful choruses are equalled by their lyrics which tap common themes and give them a personal spin.  I am tired and fed-up of the bland and inane Pop bands that come through- as are most of the public for the matter- so it is good to see a band come through with a bit of gravitas and difference.  Let’s hope our Liverpool band get back into the studio and lay down some new sounds for 2016.  Will You Be Mine is an insight into what they can achieve and where they are now.  It is a mixture of youthful love and multi-coloured sounds wrapped around a tight and mature performance that result in plenty of appeal and weight.  It may be too early to see exactly how far (The Ambition) will head but for now- and bearing their latest single in mind- it is all looking quite rosy and prosperous.  If you are hesitant about embracing sunshine Pop and something teenage, then do not be put off by history and the current crop coming out.  With these boys coming through…

 

POP is being given a good name.

 

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Follow (The Ambition):

 

Official:

http://www.theambitionofficial.com/

Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/TheAmbitionMusic/

Twitter:

https://twitter.com/TheAmbitionBand

Instagram:

https://www.instagram.com/THEAMBITIONMUSIC/

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Music:

https://soundcloud.com/theambitionmusic

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Videos:
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCNbVz80q7hu7vfqBrzKwPbQ