FEATURE: Radio Infrequency: A New Type of Station

FEATURE:

 

 

Radio Infrequency:

 

 

 

A New Type of Station 

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ONE of the things I find about my generation…

is how few people are listening to the radio.  I am not sure whether it has always been a generational thing- those of a certain age do not listen to it- but more and more people are turning to podcasts and other sources for music.  Until a couple of years ago I was turned off by radio: The ‘mainstream stations out there were starting to really annoy me.  I have respect for B.B.C. Radio 2 as it features a mix of new music and older stuff.   Whilst there is a good range of music I tend to find there are a lot of negatives and drawbacks.  The presenters are amiable enough but not really that engaging (or funny): The shows never really capture the imagination and it is not exactly cutting-edge.  Radio 1 prides itself on speaking to the youth of today: That comes at quite a bit cost too.  The presenters on the station (with the exception of a few) tend to be inarticulate, unlikeable and really irritating.  They (Radio 1) are good at highlighting some great under-the-radar music; they tend not to feature a lot of vintage/historical sounds.  Away from B.B.C. 1 and 2, there is not a lot of choice.  B.B.C. 6 Music is one of the best stations around.  They have that knack of mixing brand-new music with older: The presenters are quite engaging and have a certain charm to them.  I find the station does not really go far enough- whether they are constrained by genres/expectations.

My favourite radio station- and one of only a few in the U.K. who come close to being decent- is Absolute Radio.   I listen to the station every day and it ticks all the necessary boxes.  The hosts/presenters are engaging, entertaining and funny- Christian O’Connell, Frank Skinner and Andy Bush are the best in my mind- and have such a passion for music.  The music played is varied- with very few repeats- and you get a good spread of genres and tastes.  With its sister stations- Absolute ‘90s etc.- providing defined and particular music; Absolute Radio has amassed quite an empire.  Whilst one of the best radio stations in the U.K.; there are still problems and limitations.

One of the biggest issues is advertising.  Radio stations need to play adverts to gain revenue I understand that.  The problem is that I- among many people around the world- absolutely despise adverts.  They are hideously unfunny and embarrassing: Often mindlessly stupid and annoying; they are a plague on radio and YouTube- having to sit through stupid adverts before you get to hear/see a video on YouTube is one of life’s evils.  Absolute Radio has an issue of playing similar artists/songs.  I know they broadcast for many hours a day- seven days of the week- and there is always going to be overlap and repetition.  I feel the station is not as varied and diverse as it could be.  There are so many songs available- hundreds of thousands- and they do not really push hard enough in my mind.  Certain artists are played obsessively: There are people in the world (like me) who do not want to hear Foo Fighters endlessly (can’t stand the band) and need to hear something different.  Whilst one of the more cutting-edge and cool brand out there; the station does let a few rather dodgy bands get onto their rotation- Nickleback feature far too heavily in my mind.  Another issue with Absolute Radio is the fact it is under-the-radar (not their fault).  Whilst B.B.C. Radio 1 and 2 are the most popular in the U.K.; Absolute’ are one of the underdogs that deserve more attention.  I feel if they were given the same exposure and audience as B.B.C. Radio 1 and 2- who have far more flaws then Absolute’- then something wonderful could happen.  My point remains this: There are only a couple of radio stations out there that come close to ‘perfection’- doing what a great radio station should do.  What is to be done?

The Internet has a few stations/podcasts that have that potential to rise to the mainstream.  With fewer constraints and expectations; they are free to broaden their horizons and do something unique and unrestricted.  To my mind, there are still not enough stations that push hard enough and leave impressions in the mind (unless I am missing anything).  A lot of podcasts/stations are too niche and singular: Focusing on a particular style of music/genre.  If you do not have to worry about advertising/audience expectations then why confine yourself?  Musicians are free to create whatever music they please: Why then are radio stations becoming so tame and conformist?  The evergreen staples- Radio 1 and 2- are always going to get big audiences of a day.  The younger (or ‘yoof’) market will cling to Radio 1 as it provides the type of music they want to hear.  Radio 2 appeals more to the middle-aged/old-age sector with its more contemporary and mainstream tastes- doing a good job of ensuring bygone music is given a good showing.  It is important to represent audiences and draw age ranges in: Why can’t a radio station appeal to every listener out there?  There are only a few mainstream stations- B.B.C. 6 Music and Absolute Radio- that make an attempt at this.  I get annoyed by how many horrible radio stations there are.  In London you have Kiss F.M., Magic Radio, and Capital F.M.: Stations that ‘rock’ but are as far from cool and rocking as you can get.  They play (predominantly) Pop music and play the sort of music most of us really hate- their main audience is the young females of the nation.  Local radio is- with the exception of very few- a sorry and woeful affair.  With unfunny and cloying presenters; constantly repeated music- the same six or seven songs spun all day- and nauseating competitions- I really do hate most of them.  Living where I do; we have one of the worst local stations (Eagle Radio is tripe; Brooklands Radio is the best on show, mind) I have ever heard.  Aside from the abysmal adverts- some of the worst and more embarrassing you will ever hear- the presenters are off-putting and constantly unappealing/unfunny.  The music is the main concern: The quality and sense of diversity is seriously lacking indeed.  Tonnes of overplayed older songs and chart-friendly fodder.  No edge or any sense of class, alas!

Unless the Internet is hiding some gems- it is often the case a lot of great stations/music are hard to discover- you have to rely on what’s out there.  Too many people are sticking with iTunes/YouTube/SoundCloud for their music: Fewer younger people are listening to the radio and using it as a means of inspiring their mind and tastes.  While the Internet has greatest depth and range- compared to what radio stations produce- I worry radio in general will be obsolete in generations to come.  One of the biggest problems is the choice you have.  So many stations out there but all playing different music: Can you realistic have your demands/tastes met with a single station?  Unless you have an Internet station/application that can draw various stations together then you are in trouble.  What you could do is have something that scans stations and provides music from each of them.  First you can hear a song from B.B.C. 6 Music- based on your tastes this application would go searching for you- and after that you get a song from Kerrang! for instance.  After that you my get some chat from Absolute Radio before a song from Absolute ‘90s arrive.  It seems like an unwieldy and unnecessary way around things: Why not just create something original and new?

Whilst it may not transcend to the big leagues straight away, there is a real opportunity to fill some gaping holes.  I have been toying with the idea of starting a radio station: Starting on the Internet, it would go a lot deeper and further than what is already out there.  I have a very broad taste in music and find it is not being represented and exploited on radio.  It would be great to hear Miles Davis alongside Beastie Boys and Carole King.  I understand a lot of people don’t have such ‘varied’ tastes; that is missing the point: Radio limits itself and is too hung-up on crafting a particular brand or model.  Whilst I hate Radio 1 and find it seriously lacking; they are important when it comes to finding great new music and fresh sounds.  Radio 2 is rather good- if stuffy and too safe- at keeping older music alive and burning.  Even the cooler stations- Radio 6 Music etc. – are not variegated and all-inclusive enough.  A station should exist that takes all tastes into consideration.  You would not need to play all music across a single programme- a D.J.’s three or four-hour slot- but you could compartmentalise.  One D.J. could focus purely on brand-new music.  This would not just be limited to new mainstream music- the sort Absolute’, Radio 1 and most stations play- but artists that have to struggle hard to get their music played- the type that has to rely on local radio.  It would be great to hear songs from unheard-of bands- the sort I review quite regularly- play alongside Elle King, W.S.T.R.N. and Jack Garratt.  I do not understand why it is left to local radio to play songs specific to their locality- mainstream stations are ignoring a huge chunk of music.  I hear so much great talent around the world that does not get their fair shout.

One of the issues is royalties and paying artists to use their music: Perhaps the financial burden is castrating a lot of aspiring stations and dreamers.  It would be great to start a radio station (have it moored and based in London) that drew inspiration from new music fully: Focused on the mainstream’s best new acts in addition to those unsigned and across the Internet.  In the same beat; older music needs to be kept burning bright.  I find a lot of stations neglect genres and artists so many young listeners are missing out.  Why should Jazz and ‘90s Dance music be confined to particular stations; why it the likes of Steely Dan are rarely featured across U.K. music- an act that should be inspiring young musicians.

I do not have a name for it- one of the biggest issues going forward- but have a definite passion and goal.  Perhaps not presenting myself- choosing the music and working behind-the-scenes- I would love to see something take shape.  Getting a range of presenters together- perhaps from across the world- the station would encompass all music and make it easier for music enthusiasts to have their voices heard.  It (the station) would bring in charismatic and funny presenters- the model Absolute Radio has thrown down- and restrict its advertising to the station’s website.  That central website would be authoritative and complete.  Listing all the music played- information about presenters and the station- it would go deeper and do a lot more.  I have mentioned other plans I have- including a London music café and huge music website- that I would love to see happen.  The station’s site would give a link to Psychoacoustics (the music website I have pitched) and would make it a one-stop-shop for every music lover out there.  The station would also bring in charity and make it easier to raise awareness and funds- music events and concerts would be set up- and listen to market needs and the concerns of the audience.  If something needed to be included or changed; we would make that happen for them.

Of course there will be logistic challenges- getting money raised to set up the station; the problems of royalties and ensuring it was popular and heard- but things that can be achieved.  With older music starting to overtake new music- in terms of downloads and popularity- for the first time in ages; it is vital radio stations step-up and do what ends to be done.  It is hard to discover great older music through YouTube and the Internet- radio is the best device to rediscover some fine old tunes.  New music is a sector that will get busier and more expansive as time elapses.  Whilst a few stations promote new music consistently; they tend to confine their sights to those at mainstream level.  We all hear gems across Facebook and Twitter but few are played beyond the boundaries of local radio.  It is hard to represent all the fantastic music across the Internet: A new radio station could dedicate segments to that or sprinkle in songs between mainstream/older sounds.

It may just be me- as an avid and passionate music fan- wanting something better out there: I hate having to rely on social media for great new music.  Whilst I love Absolute Radio, for instance- one of the stations that come close to satisfying my tastes- there are still too many (needless) gaps and avenues unexplored.  I think I am not alone in my campaign and annoyance: I need people to give feedback and see if they would help.  I will need presenters and producers: Plenty of music fans to help make it a reality.  If it will happen I am not sure: It really needs to happen, though!  Just one question remains:

WHAT will the station be called?

The Classics Series: Rage Against the Machine- Rage Against the Machine

The Classics Series:

 

 

Rage Against the Machine- Rage Against the Machine

  

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OVER the next week or two…


I am looking at a range of different musicians and songs- across various countries and genres- and seeing what new music has to offer.  Aside from my reviews and interviews, I will focus on a new series: Looking at classic albums that have changed music.  Starting off with one of the ‘90s most scintillating albums: The groundbreaking and unstoppable juggernaut, Rage Against the Machine.

Released in 1992, it saw vocalist Zach de la Rocha join with guitarist Tom Morello; drummer Brad Wilk and bass player Tim Commerford.  The L.A. group’s Rapcore blends were a breath of fresh air in a music scene that were seeking a mouthpiece against the inequalities and struggles of modern life.  Looking at police corruption, racism and political injustices: The quartet concentrated these angers into a stunning record that inspired a legion of musicians and young listeners.  From that stunning cover- featuring the self-immolation of Thích Quảng Đức– to the sheer consistency and quality throughout: Critics were united in their support and love of a masterclass creation.

Whilst the genres of Rap and Heavy Metal were strangers to one another; Rage Against the Machine were one of the first bands to bring them together- throughout the ‘90s bands such as Beastie Boys would perfect the art.  Few were expecting a band like Rage Against the Machine to arrive.  The U.S. had (up until that point) seen some terrific young rappers come through- and great Heavy Metal bands for that matter- nothing has arrived like the Los Angeles boys.  Led by angry white boy de la Rocha; their Molotov cocktail of rebellion and disgust came together in songs that were surprisingly disciplined, focused and nuanced.

 

 

Bombtrack is a number that perfectly kicks the album off.  Kicking with tripping and sneaky guitar strings; the track builds into a stunning explosion.  With each player coming-together with aplomb and purpose: the song sees our lead deliver one of his most swaggering vocal performances.  Offering beat-downs and truths: Our hero leads an elite charge against the “power whores and landlords”.  Rallying against the social inequities he sees; de la Rocha sounds completely in control and purposeful.  Brad Wilk provides some stunning double-kick flourishes- rare for any drummer- and is backed by the electricity of Morello and Commerford.  The name of the track uses the word ‘bomb’ to mean ‘greatest’: Rage’s braggadocio and proclamations are evident right from the offset.

Killing in the Name is the obvious standout from Rage Against the Machine: The anthem that remains their most popular song; its chorus tag- “Fuck you, I won’t do what you tell me!”- became the rallying cry for disaffected youth.  A track that looked at police violence and institutional racism; it was one of the most politically-charged and angry songs on record.  A hit-back against the ills of American society it sees de la Rocha build the tension: Those “Fuck you”s start mumbled and teasing- before building into a firework crescendo.  Released six months after the Los Angeles riots; the song perfectly captured the imbalance and problems that pervaded society at the time.  Fiery bass lines and militaristic drumming brutality was at the core: It was perhaps Morello’s guitar work that defined the track (for me at least).  Few guitarists have arrived on the scene- and have since in fact- that have such a range of moves and innovations in their bag.  Ingenious and original riffs sparred with sparkling diversions and firecracker scratches: A player with limitless potential; it was all laid bare in a track that became Rage Against the Machine’s defining anthem.

Away from the obvious anthems; the band created songs which build and mutated: Songs that developed and grew like a blood-baying animal.  Bullet in the Head was inspired by the belief (the band had) the media were controlling people’s thoughts.  Packing in some meaty and gut-punching riffs; it sees Morello open his magic box and produce some of his most scintillating creations.  Take the Power Back is a chant-able beast of a track: An obvious call that rebels against the ineptitude of government; a song that resonated with those listening upon its release.

 

 

What strikes me about Rage Against the Machine is how its songs grip the attention from the very off.  Those introductions are so considered and perfect; you are captivated from the very first notes.  Settle for Nothing builds the tension with a moody and twilight introduction: All danger and uncertainty; it leads to one of the band’s most tense and tight performances.  Know Your Enemy starts with that dizzying and head-spinning introduction assault.  Surprisingly direct and to-the-point the song looks at the contradictions the U.S. perpetrates: It is the “land of the free” yet invades other countries at will- a furious attack against the hypocrisy of government.  Wake Up sees Morello employ Led Zeppelin’s Kashmir (and that biblical riff) for his own measures.  Running in at over six minutes long- an epic by the album’s standards- it looks at the racial problems in the U.S.  Putting figures such as Malcom X. and Martin Luther King Jr. under the microscope: Here the song suggests government agencies such as the F.B.I. arranged those assassinations.

Fistful of Steel remains a favourite for me.  One of the finest introductions on the album; it builds from woozy and warped guitars.  From there you get that scuffed and echoed metallic punch; the percussion rifles in- de la Rocha elicits a brief “Hup!” before the band combine in an orgasmic, cool-as-fuck swagger.  With Freedom providing a suitably epic conclusion; you have an album that was- and still is among many- considered one of the finest in all of music.

Rage Against the Machine would go onto create three more albums- 2000’s Renegade was their last- and would never burn as bright as they did on their debut.  Whilst by no means a case of diminishing returns; Rage Against the Machine perfectly captured the anger felt by many: Perfectly assessed across an album that brimmed-over with explosive anger and hard truths.  The partnership and bond between front-man de la Rocha and guitar genius Morello seemed unlikely but worked perfectly.  The former was at his strongest when focused on particular issues- less inspired when widening his scope.  Few artists at the time had any particular political stance: de la Rocha’s leftist anthems saw him mix street preacher fanaticism with militaristic Rap assaults.  Morello brought in a

Few artists at the time had any particular political stance: de la Rocha’s leftist anthems saw him mix street preacher fanaticism with militaristic Rap assaults.  Morello brought in a truckload of wizardry, invention and colours.  Bringing new life into the genres of Rap and Heavy Metal: Marking him as one of the world’s greatest guitarists; the album would have been far weaker in anyone else’s hands.  Joined by some tremendous percussion and bass work- the entire band had no equals in terms of musicianship and quality- Rage Against the Machine remains a peerless and landmark creation.

The sad thing is- showing foresight and prescience by the L.A. band- the album remains crucial and relevant to this day.  Police racism and inequality burns bright and unchallenged.  Across the U.S., we keep hearing stories of police brutality and racially-motivated shootings.  With political lunatics like Sarah Palin and Donald Trump spewing their right-wing insanity and propaganda: Has U.S. politics and society changed since 1992?  It seems insane the country- and the world at large- has not matured and evolved in the past 24 years.  Whilst the music (of Rage Against the Machine) captivated and spoke to listeners at the time: Here is an album that continues to inspire and amaze listeners.  If you have not witnessed one of music’s finest-ever albums; ensure you change this…

AND watch your mind being blown away.

 

 

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TRACKLISTING:

Bombtrack

Killing in the Name

Take the Power Back

Settle for Nothing

Bullet in the Head

Know Your Enemy

Wake Up

Fistful of Steel

Township Rebellion

Freedom

DOWNLOAD: 

Bombtrack; Killing in the Name; Know Your Enemy; Fistful of Steel; Freedom

STANDOUT TRACK:

Killing in the Name

Track Review: Hannah Boleyn- Insignificant

TRACK REVIEW:

 

Hannah Boleyn

 

 

Insignificant

 

9.4/10.0

 

Insignificant is available at:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lok6AEkEjVw

RELEASE DATE:
February 5th, 2016

GENRES:
Soul

ORIGIN:

Leicester, U.K.

LABEL:

Tudor Gate Records

WRITTEN BY:

Hannah Boleyn, Hiten Bharadia & Neil Athale (Phrased Differently)

PRODUCED BY:

Neros

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THE last review for a few days sees me come back to one of this…

country’s blossoming artists.  When reviewing female artists, I have looked at the range of sounds provided: The sort of genres blended and what the scene has to offer.  I wanted to look at the voice (and its importance); the themes that influence a song- finishing off looking at how to get your music to the national radio playlists.  Coming into music requires a lot of determination, grit and passion.  With a lot of musicians feeling the pressure of the industry- and calling it quits after a short time- it is impressive watching artists keep pushing and growing.  In the modern music scene- when it comes to solo artists at least- there seems to be an emphasis placed on the voice.  Every column inch I see- when reviewing a great new artist- tends to pride the voice over lyrics and music.  Perhaps it is what consumers/listeners prioritise- I like the whole package myself- but there is a lot of focus placed on the quality of the vocals.  So many solo artists tend to pass you by: That vocal just does nothing and seems rather lifeless and ineffective.  What really impresses me is discovering a voice that can go huge- create something scintillating and explosive- whilst able to come down into tender territory.  I know it is a big ask, but I discover so many singers that have such a limited range.  The voices that have mobility and range are always going to be capable of more.  What is more important than anything- when assessing a voice and what it can do- is ensuring your sound is original.  Too many artists are emerging that lazily mimic existing artists and put no effort into making their music unique.  When it comes to Hannah Boleyn, there is not a whole lot of information/biography on her.  The Facebook/Twitter accounts revolve around the music, so one has to put the pieces together somewhat- it is good to have some mystique I guess.  What strikes me about Boleyn is her vocal sound: It has such a refreshing and special sound whilst bringing in shades of other artists.  Inspired by the likes of Shirley Bassey, Amy Winehouse (so many female artists are these days) and Lana Del Rey; you have an artist that is rightfully gaining a lot of attention and applause.  It is not just the sound of Boleyn’s voice that impresses me: Capable of presenting any emotion with complete conviction you have a natural singer that ranks among one of this country’s most impressive young artists.  Every time I hear a Hannah Boleyn song you get the same impressions.  No two moments sound the same at all.  Every note and verse have a distinction to it; in no small part due to that exceptional voice.  One of the other great things (about Boleyn) is her refusal to stick to the cliché subjects for music- heartbreak and love etc.- and her broad pen is one of her most impressive facets.  Inspired by real-life events and strange moments, you get a young talent that wants to distinguish herself from her peers.  In a music scene with too many heartache anthems; it is wonderful to hear a young woman who has that originality and autonomy.  Many artists could take inspiration from Hannah Boleyn.  The first instinct of any new songwriter is to recall heartache and broken relationships: It seems to be the staple now, so why buck the trend?  That is all well and good- you need to write one or two songs like this- but so many artists do not stray away from these subjects.

The most interesting and enduring musicians are those that expand their subject matter and dig a lot deeper.  I mention this point because Boleyn’s most recent track (Insignificant) looks at the unimportance of silly things- compared with life-or-death/serious issues.  Dripping with emotion and truth; hardly a surprise the song has been picked up by so many and hit hard.  Our heroine has enjoyed a steady rise over the last few years.  With some special releases under her belt- including the album The Boleyn Affair– it seems like there is no stopping her.  Whist Insignificant is taken from the album- in addition to previous singles Tough Love and Permission to Leave– it seems like 2016 will show fresh unveilings and progressions.  The Boleyn Affair is nary three months old but has already captured the public imagination and some wonderful reviews.  The consistency and quality throughout the album marks Boleyn as one of the U.K.’s most stunning talents.  Backed by that varied and sensationally soulful voice; the terrific range of songs and lyrics- you have an album that shows just what Boleyn is made of.  An impressive gauntlet and revelation; it will be fascinating to see what this year holds in store.  Having gained support from B.B.C. Radio 2- Graham Norton and Terry Wogan- it got me wondering about national radio-play.  A lot of artists have that ultimate goal in mind: Get their music played by the big boys of radio.   Whilst there seems to be no one formula and golden rule to success- and getting music to the national radio stations- I guess you just need to ensure your music has that originality and nuance to it.  Boleyn has a voice/sound that is ready-made for B.B.C. Radio 2; it can also translate to the ‘lesser’ stations like Absolute Radio and Radio X.  Whilst her music is quite populist and universal; it has coolness and bite to ensure it appeals to those who prefer their music edgier and harder.  It is no mean feat getting your music played by the national stations so congratulations must be given to Boleyn.  With one album already released, I suppose this year will see some new music and tour dates.  Given her rate of progression, it would not be surprising to see our heroine taking her music across the globe.  Such a universal and lovable sound; who would bet against her taking on the U.S. and Australia for instance?  That may seem like a dream right now- but hardly a stretch if you think about it- but Boleyn is focusing on the here and now.  Insignificant is another revelation step from a musician that has an inimitable voice- critics seduced by its soulful power and seductiveness- with songs that mix the personal with ubiquitous.

Whilst Insignificant– like most of Boleyn’s previous output- appears on The Boleyn Affair; one can see a difference between songs.  With its songs being recorded at different moments; I was fascinated to look at individual tracks and how they differ.  Before doing that, I wanted to look at Cemetery: One of Boleyn’s earliest and catchiest tracks.  From its endless swing and vivid lyrics, you get caught up in a voice that has such power and rawness to it.  A song that brings in elements of Soul, Swing and Pop; it is such an instant and confident number.  Using cemetery/grave-side imagery as metaphors for love- and burying memories deep down- it showcases a fresh and new take on the subjects of heartache and love.  Throughout, Boleyn lets her voice shine and power through.  A short and memorable number, it stands as one of Boleyn’s most uplifting and smile-inducing song.

    No Hard Feelings– taken from The Boleyn Affair– begins with atmospheric and racing strings.  When our heroine comes in; that bold and brassy voice drips with emotion and strain.  It is clear she has been through some break-up and heartache.  In spite of everything, there are no recriminations and accusations.  It appears like there has been a clean break (of sorts) and nothing to get too angry about.  Reflecting on the awkward conversations and past times- even though there is a definite regret inside our heroine- there is that compromise and acceptance.  The boy was perhaps not part of a long-term plan and agenda.  Not a true love for her; the break-up is being met with acceptance and maturity.  Not sure if it was inspired by a real-life event from Boleyn’s past: There is plenty of conviction and truth to be found in that scintillating and dramatic vocal.

   Tough Love is a song that has gained attention and popularity among social media and reviews.  Such an energy and explosion comes through in the chorus.  Our heroine is fed up with tough love and being told what to do.  Whether documenting love or professional relationships- the control some people try to exert- there is that emancipation and breaking away.  Fed up with others calling the shots; getting away from those toxic situations has enforced the song’s creation.  One of the most sing-along and uplifting choruses Boleyn has created; here is a song that can get crowds and listeners singing proudly and loudly.  The chorus has Pop edges and mainstream appeal whilst the composition (and verses) has its heart in Soul territory.  Rumbling drum beats and orchestral string rises give the song a brilliant mix of raw emotion and upbeat defiance.

   Permission to Leave is another single that has gained a lot of attention.  Differing from previous numbers- and showing another side to our heroine- it begins with a harder beat and swagger composition.  Edgier and more attacking than other numbers; the song soon expands and opens its wings.  Looking at fights and conflicts in love- it seems like our heroine’s sweetheart has caused her anger- the track recounts some fall-out and ruction in a relationship.  The track looks at twisting words and putting tests out there.  A bit of cat-and-mouse takes place- our heroine wants to catch her man out- and the vocal is much more direct and determined than other numbers.  Whilst boasting another big chorus, the emphasis here is on emotion and laying down the law.  Inspired by something more negative and unsettling; the track is given an appropriately focused and atmospheric composition.  Showing how versatile her voice is; Boleyn showcases her full emotional range across a track that seems very personal and important to her.  Clearly not a woman to be taken advantage of; you have an anthem that will appeal to young women: Taking control and not letting their men get away with indiscretions and cheating.  I am not sure the exact origins behind the song- whether it is taken from events in Boleyn’s past- but cannot help but be impressed by the drive and determination in the vocal.  An exorcism of sorts; Permission to Leave is one of The Boleyn Affair’s most stand-out moments.

What you find with Hannah Boleyn is an artist who is restless and varied.  Few of her songs sound the same: Huge range and difference can be found across an album that showcases what a talent she is.  Working with various songwriters has led to music that works across various themes and genres.  What impresses me most- apart from the composition and lyrical variation- is that voice which continues to amaze and impress long after the song has finished.  Whilst a consistent and solid album; there is still a lot of variation and diversity within the songs.  A lot of artists produce an album with songs that all sound similar: It can be off-putting and mean the record does not have much staying power and nuance.  What you get with Hannah Boleyn is an artist with huge range and myriad ideas- it will lead to a very varied and long career.

Differing itself from many of The Boleyn Affair’s tracks; Insignificant gets underway with a gentle piano line and something quite tender.  In other numbers, Boleyn gets songs underway with a brash and brassy composition: Fusing Soul and Pop into something direct and hard-hitting.  Given the importance and significance of the track; we get something more restrained and light early-on.  Right from the first words you understand just what the song is trying to say.  Our heroine doesn’t sweat if she misses the bus: Willing to stand in the rain; there are more important things to concern herself with.  Letting her voice pack emotional punch and soul- whilst keeping itself restrained and tender- our heroine documents a variety of situations.  If her clothes get wet then there is nothing to worry about.  If she loses her job then there are no concerns (I would be pretty stressed personally); against the focus of larger issues, these minor things seem insignificant.  It is hard not to think of Amy Winehouse when the opening lyrics come to play.  That distinct and smoky sound mixes with something powerful and vulnerable; a vocal blend that gives the words such a weight and passion.  When our heroine looks at the troubles and concerns of everyday life- being late for work and the commute stress- they pale when compared to the bigger strifes and horrors.  I know Boleyn was inspired to write the song after a loved one of hers was admitted to hospital.  After that event happened, everything else seemed rather small and pointless.  Few artists take a hard and challenging time and funnel it into music and something positive.  Not only does Insignificant deal with concerns and life philosophy with maturity and intelligence; it also showcases one of Boleyn’s most accomplished and stunning vocals to date.  The song originates from Boleyn’s horror upon learning the news- that a close relation was sick- and in that moment realised nothing else matters.  Every other stupid annoyance took a back seat to something more urgent and important.  Plinking strings and haunting strings support the vocal which continues to impress and captivate as the seconds tick.  The listener is drawn into the soul and heart of a song that has a tear-stained sense of perspective and reflection.   That refrain of “I’m losing you” is delivered with such a shiver and haunt; it is impossible not to be personally affected and troubled.  Those words make the listener look at their own lives- similar times that they have experienced- and it is impossible not to evoke some sort of reaction to Boleyn’s emotive performance.  Insignificant is a song that recounts a traumatic time and shows bravery and huge strength.  Those that are familiar with Boleyn’s previous work will be surprised to hear a song that sounds like a bit of a shift.  Few of her previous tracks have such a stillness and emotion to them.  Many of The Boleyn Affair’s songs have gutsy and big compositions: Vocals that are energised and full-bodied.  It would seem rather inappropriate to employ those traits to a song that calls for a particular delivery and sound.  That is what impresses me most about Boleyn: She can tread any subject and idea and put them all together in and album that sounds consistent and natural.  Gathered on the underground- tears are streaming down her face- that devastating news is still large in the mind.  Perhaps not in the right place at this time- having to battle commuters to get to the hospital- you feel that tension and emotion rise.  If we were in the same situation, how would we react?  It is only natural there would be sadness and unexpectedness: The way Boleyn articulates her feelings into the song is hugely impressive.  Such a clear and tangible set of lyrics means the listener can transport themselves in the song.  Perhaps our heroine has encountered bad news in similar situations- “Just another breakdown in a public place”- but this seems the most fraught and unsettling.  I am not sure exactly who is the core of the song- whether a family member or a boyfriend- but is something that compelled and inspired a wonderful song.

Through the early stages the composition remains supportive and comforting.  Not just letting the voice do all the work; the polished production and effective backdrop- hard and elliptical beats with delicate piano- emphasises that sense of loss and heartbreak.  When that news first came to Boleyn, the words got inside her and caused an instant reaction.  That sense of numbness and distress is represented in words that see flying birds and drowning emotions combat one another.  By the time the chorus comes around the second time, you still find yourself rooting for the heroine and everything she is going through.  The chorus provided that centre and mantra that tells what the song is all about: In a way you want more verse to see how things play out.  Before we are given more insight; our heroine documents how the new hits you “without warning”.  Being unaware and going about life as normal; she has received this random phone-call that has bowled her down.  Leaving her “cold on a sunny morning”, that chilling and head-spinning conversation is well explored and represented.  At every moment, the vocal has that combination of power and soul which will lead to some serious radio-play and critical acclaim.  Towards the closing moments, the backdrop beats get firmer and more persistent.  Perhaps representing an accelerated, anxious heartbeat; it is impossible not to be completely drawn into the song and its layers.  That central voice never fails to impress- whether uplifted and huge or emotive and tender- and keeps the listener seduced and invested to the very last second.  Boleyn shows how effortless and authoritative she is in every single territory.  Already demonstrating how strong she is when letting her voice fly: When taking things down you get a comparably huge emotional punch.  The very dying seconds see that percussion beat come in to represent a final fling: Those tears and distressing feelings that must have been in Boleyn’s mind when she heard that news.  At the very end, you wonder just how things worked out.  Did she get to the hospital on time Was her loved one okay at the very end?  Perhaps those questions will be answered in time: What you have is a song that keeps the listener hooked and leaves some mysteries at the very end.  Insignificant is one of The Boleyn Affair’s prime cuts and showcases just what an agile and impressive talent Hannah Boleyn is.

Joining forces with Hiten Bharadia & Neil Athale; you have a song that demonstrates a lot of heart and emotion.  Perhaps a subject not often explored- more songwriters should think like this- Insignificant breaks away from songs of love and minor issues to address something much more vital and important.  Not only is the song a stand-alone gem: It will speak to people who put too much stock in silly and unimportant things.  For those of us that get aggravated by train delays and social media content then take note: There are huge things that can come out nowhere that make everything else seem stupid.  Hannah Boleyn shows why she is one of the most heralded and important emerging voices in British music.  With so many of her contemporaries vying for market share it is impressive to see a musician who has already achieved so much.  With the likes of B.B.C. Radio 2 enamoured of her many talents; it is only a matter of time before the London-based singer becomes even bigger.  Insignificant is available across YouTube- its official release is next month- and a song that possesses huge emotions and personal heartache.  Given that premise, it might sound rather off-putting on paper: The truth is, the song is embracing and all-encompassing.  Intended as a guide/warning to people who let tiny matters consume them; a singular musical moment that should inspire many other musicians.  Neros’ production allows the vocal to be given free reign up-top.  Ensuring proceedings are not too polished and fake you have a production that perfectly blends the instruments and vocals together.  The composition is not mixed too low; allowing the haunting piano and strings to work closely together- an accomplished feat from one of the best producers out there.  Where Boleyn goes from here is anyone’s guess.  Insignificant is a song that is anything but: A big statement from a rising name in British music.  Combining ‘60s and ‘70s Soul voices with modern-day chanteuses: Few listeners and music fans will be able to ignore the exceptional talent we have in our midst.

Insignificant is another confident step from an artist that is shaping up to become one of Britain’s most promising artists.  There is a whole host of solo artists emerging, so the challenge is making sure you stick in the public’s mind.  It is no good coming in with vague ideas and a voice that sounds like everyone else- so many do unfortunately.  Given the height of competition and the masses of musicians coming through; there seems to be no excuse to arrive in music and simply expect the success to come.  Hannah Boleyn is an artist who has worked tirelessly to ensure her music stands aside and reaches as many ears as it can.  With some impressive radio patronage under her belt, it is clear she has a future ahead of her.  I often feel tepid about some solo artists- their first moves can be quite shaky- but there are no such fears when it comes to Boleyn.  Everything seems fully-formed, confident and original right now.  From The Boleyn Affair’s filler-free quality to the praise Insignificant is picking up: Clearly her music has the quality and passion to win the public heart and minds.  Insignificant is a song that sees Boleyn looking at what is really important in life.  Forgetting the petty quibbles and minor qualms, we get hooked-up on; focusing on what matters most is what really counts.  We often get bogged down in minor concerns and silly things.  Insignificant is a song that taps into those oversites and explains the importance of prioritizing your focus and attention.  Drawn from real-life events and happenings; you get a song that has inspired a lot of people and resonated clearly.  So many artists are coming in with their lyrics of love-gone-wrong and misery-inducing break-ups.  That is all very well- a majority of songs out there look at love in some form- but I am always impressed by music that steps away from such well-trodden themes.  Not only do you have more flexibility and potential in terms of lyrics: The song itself will stand aside from the crowd and seems a lot more original.  Whist Boleyn has written plenty of songs about love and the desires we feel; she is a talent that digs deeper and explores lesser-heard subjects.  If last year is anything to go by- an album release and a great leap forward—surely this year will be stronger still?  With a couple of gigs booked for London- there will be plans for more dates- the year is shaping up to be very busy indeed.  Right now there is a real proffering of female singers that have big/soulful voices: The likes of Amy Winehouse feature heavily in the tones of our new songstresses.  It is understandable the legacy of Winehouse burns bright: Those distinguished and stunning pipes have a haunting and mesmeric effect on the senses.  A lot of young musicians are trying to instill the essence of Any Winehouse in their music.

That is laudable but so long as the overall vocal sound differs significantly: If we have hundreds of Winehouse sound-alikes, then there is no currency to your music.  Hannah Boleyn is someone who takes Winehouse as an inspiration/starting block and expands on it.  With embers of ‘60s/’70s Soul queens in the mix; some elements of Lana Del Rey in there too- you have an artist with a terrific sound at her disposal.  At the heart of everything is a unique voice that betrays a debt to nobody.  The same can be said for the songwriting too: Hooking up with some terrific writers and producers; Boleyn has a clear direction and ambition that sets her aside from her peers.   For any upcoming songwriter reading this; there is a lesson to be learnt from Insignificant.  Too many musicians have little in the way of mobility and diversity when it comes to their songwriting.  They see others on the radio and think THAT is what should be done.  Whilst there are some genuinely impressive artists emerging; still too many replicate and mimic others.  It is a subject I shall drop- thankfully, you’ll be relieved- for now; my point is that Hannah Boleyn should be focused on more.  The Boleyn Affair was an album that gained positive feedback and support for many different reasons.  Not only is there a huge consistency and diversity to be found; there is an immense amount of confidence from an artist who has a desire to succeed and develop.  With many singers crumbling and fading after a few years; I know Hannah Boleyn will be playing for many years to come.  Insignificant is a song that shows just what she is all about.  2015 was a banner year for the young artist; if anything this year can be even more prosperous and impressive.  Make sure you investigate an original voice who is gaining a lot of momentum and attention right now.  Insignificant is another bold move from a musician who…

IS impossible not to love.

 

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Follow Hannah Boleyn

 

Official:

http://hannahboleyn.co.uk/

Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/hannahboleynmusic/

Twitter:

https://twitter.com/thehannahboleyn

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Music:

https://soundcloud.com/hannahboleyn

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Videos:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCFCZA17o6e1VHmT0o8JOvFw

Track Review: Mãs- Higher Spirit

TRACK REVIEW:

 

Mãs

 

 

Higher Spirit

 

9.5/10.0

 

 

Higher Spirit is available at:

https://soundcloud.com/givememas/higher-spirit

RELEASED:
August 9th, 2015

GENRES:
Electro.-Pop

ORIGIN:

London, U.K.

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AFTER a run of great female artists I get the chance to….

feature a terrific London two-piece.  Before I come to my featured act, I wanted to look at duos once more- something I have touched on- in addition to uplifting sounds and the importance of creating music that one can lose themselves in.  I am sticking with London this week- two London acts coming over the next few days- and a great duo that have a stunning sound at their disposal.  Having featured duos on this blog before- quite a wide range of shapes and sizes- I am thrilled to concentrate on another.  What I love about duos is the connections they have: The simpatico and bond the two musicians have for one another.  The solo artist has to do all their own work and has to rely on their voice and opinions.  It can be quite a lonely existing, and as such, the music can quite be limited.  I have seen quite a few solo artists who have an amazing inventive sound.  Too many (in my opinion) do not leave that much of an impression.  While the music they produce can get inside the heart and speak to a listener; I find the tunes lack that necessary spark and sense of fun.  Of course there are solo artists that can produce something exhilarating, yet it is the duos that do this best.  A lot of the duos I have reviewed have been in relationships- maybe accounting for the closeness they share- but quite a few are good friends.  While bands can suffer break-ups and friction; I find duos are much more cemented and compelling.  There is just something about the chemistry that amazes me: How the duo work with one another and the music they come up with.  If you look at the end-of-year polls and declarations from critics- which acts are going to own 2016- few of the aforementioned are duos.  2016 will see a lot of promising and diverse solo artists coming through; some exciting bands will be emerging- what of the great two-pieces we have out there?  Perhaps it is a musical dynamic that will gain appropriate support I years to come: I find too few people are taking note of some wonderful duos out there.  If Mãs are anything to go by; we should all be spending more time checking out the duo market.  What the London-based boys do is produce music that has Funk edges and a definite kick.  They make music for the outcasts and the dreamers: Sounds that the artists, poets and lovers will revel in- a veritable Molotov cocktail of colour, hypnotic swagger and smile-inducing beauty.  It is hard to really pin-down and define their sound: A unique and stunning act emerging; they are musicians you definitely need to study closely.  Before I continue my points, let me introduce Mãs to you:

“We are Mãs. We make party hymns for outcasts. We are an Electro/Pop duo formed in London in 2015.
The music we write is influenced by the hooks of Michael Jackson, the grooves of Prince and the atmospheres of Daft Punk. The result is an avant-garde pop you would love to lose yourself to.
Currently, we are working on the production and recording of our Debut EP, which is planned to be released in spring 2016”.

So many duos tend to be Acoustic-sounding and Folk-inspired- quite wistful and romantic- or go in with a lot of force and intent.  What Massimo and Marco do is create music that has shades of classic artists- Michael Jackson, Prince and Daft Punk are influences of theirs- and inject their unique brand of fun and uplift.  It is always wonderful hearing musicians that get the listener upbeat and excited.  I find too much new music is quite sonorous and introverted: There is that missing magic and fire that can get the crowds unified in a dance of delirium.  With their debut E.P. not far away, Mãs are a duo that are going to be on the lips of many reviewers and critics.  Considering myself an archetypal ‘outsider’- someone who is never really understood and has big dreams- the music Mãs summon not only connects with me but makes me feel less misunderstood/alone.  The boys are keen to ensure their brand of sound you can immerse yourself in and surrender to.  Our duo creates a polemic against the rather serious and self-indulgent brand of music that many new acts are providing.  Many will read this and have the same thought: If their music is ‘fun’ and merry then it is not going to have a serious message or any real solidity.  Massimo and Marco have a solid and unflinching friendship that has resulted in some terrific music: Every note and moment has that passion and quality to it.  The boys are not your simplistic upbeat-making musicians that are concerned with compositions alone: Every element of their music has depth and intelligence to it.  If you consider the early days of Michael Jackson- Off the Wall and Thriller– you get those Disco hooks and funky-as-hell feet-moving lines.  Perhaps not as blistering as Jackson’s early work, the London two-piece have their own brand of Funk and Pop.  Combining electronic elements inside soulful layers- little bits of Prince’s early work comes out too- and you have a duo with few comparisons.  Electro.-Pop is a genre- or sub-genre I guess- that has quite a few patriots and players.  A lot of the music created (by Electro.-Pop artists) tends to hit you upon first listening and perhaps not linger in the mind.  Mãs are masters of the nuanced sound: Penning tracks that hit you instantly and then never escape the brain.  Inspired by some of music’s colossuses- the Jacksons and Princes- you have songs that hark back to ‘80s Pop whilst providing plenty of atmosphere and modern-day urgency.  They are not an act that keeps their minds in the past: Everything they produce is forward-thinking and progressive.  Being a sapling act in music- they were only formed last year- the guys have made big strides over a short period.  In a city that is hugely competitive and busy the Mãs boys are going to be working hard to get their names heard.  London has quite a few great duos working at the moment: For my money, none are quite as unique and distinct.  In a cold winter and uncertain time we all want to embrace music that warms us and allows some escapism.  For that reason, I feel like this year will be a hugely beneficial one for Mãs: Their E.P. will get a lot of attention and their fan numbers will climb rapidly.  Right now the boys have a small (but loyal) following that has promoted and supported their music since its inception.  Higher Spirit is as evocative and uplifting as its title suggests: A rapturous and serotonin-producing slice of Electro.-Pop that is a panacea against the sloganeering bands and easy-on-the-ear music of solo acts.  Possessing depth, mystique and wonder; I think more people should take Mãs to their hearts: When you do the rewards will be huge, believe me.  With spring seeming like a far-off impossibility- it is fricking freezing- Higher Spirit is a music that warms the heart and brings sunshine to the fore- who would readily overlook that?!

Over the past year, Mãs have produced some stunning songs.  Last year- and perhaps their first song they made public- Tiger was released into the wild.  Starting with finger clicks and bubbling beats: The track has a delicious unique start.  Romantic mystique and tiger eyes (in disguise) are laid out.  Our hero is hearing words he will “never hear again”.  His sweetheart is not holding his hand- although that does not matter- and there is that building mystery and intrigue.  The composition continues its endeavor at every stage: Never overbearing or too slight you get sucked in by those racing beats and chugging electronics.  Little shades of Daft Punk come through- that moodiness and atmosphere blends- alongside some cool-slung Prince.  Blending Soul, Funk and Electronic together results in a track that has a constant energy and racing pulse.  Never relenting and drawing breath there are cute touches- the song’s title chanted at intervals- and wonderful diversions.  The song looks at two lovers with perhaps some different ideals.  Time and separation has caused some pulling-apart.  A mesmeric and stunningly realised first effort; you get blown by the confidence and authority that comes through.

Dancing With the Tides was released soon after (Tiger) and begins with instant swagger.  Those Daft Punk elements come to the core as we get some funky and sassy electronics.  Sassy and hip-shaking: This is one of the most urgent and instant tracks from the duo.  A dance-floor filler; it is impossible to ignore the gravity and brilliance.  The duo combines voices to draw the listener fully into the song.  Looking at more positive sides of love- traveling deep into the ocean and escaping from the city- there is that hopefulness and passion that radiates bright.  Constantly catchy and engaging; it shows just how tight and consistent Mãs are.  Most acts tend to take time to warm up: Their first few songs see them finding their feet and looking for their sound.  No such quibble with the London duo who arrive fully-formed and solid from the very off.

Maradona begins with vocals- something the duo has not done before- and begins quite sparsely.  Romantic and longing, you pay attention to the soul and sweetness of the vocal.  Almost a Gospel number; our hero looks at the sun (in the morning) and the moon at night.  His eyes do not want to close- there is transcendence to the track- and the elements are brought into the song early on.  A song that speaks to the outsider- our hero is not alone and how someone on his side- you have a departure from the duo.  One of their most unique songs- a switch from their most effusive and busy numbers- the key is on that emotional and bare sound.  The voice is allowed to shine and do its work: Lyrics look at battling the odds and holding onto someone who means a lot.  A champion call to those that need direction and focus: Maradona is a song that will resonate with many listeners.  The song does start to build after a while and rises into a glorious vocal harmony.  As the song’s title is repeated you get a hugely spine-tinging chorusing.  Reminding me of Michael Jackson’s early days; I get glimmers of Off the Wall’s mixture of introspective balladeering and the funkier side of things.  Combining ‘80s Pop with something modern and fresh: Here you have a song that hints at a very bright future.

The boys have developed and grown in confidence since their debut cut.  With every moment you get a new perspective and sound emerging.  Not a duo that sticks with one sound- and rings it to death- it is wonderful to hear the progression and consistency they offer.  The production values are consistently wonderful whilst the performances from the duo are exceptional.  I can see Mãs producing an E.P. that brings in their best moments- Maradona, Higher Spirit and Dancing With the Tides– and expanding on this.  Higher Spirit fits nicely into their catalogue and marks as their most immediate and nuanced song so far.  A young act with a lot of spirit and talent: Who knows how far they can go this year.

Having gained a lot of attention and praise already, I was excited to get down to studying Higher Spirit– just what the boys had on offer.  Their most slinky and seductive groove to date: The introduction wiggles, dances and steps its way into the light.  I have mentioned the likes of Michael Jackson and Prince: Apt comparisons given the quality and addictiveness of those early notes.  You could throw in Nile Rodgers into the mix too.  Sparring Disco of the ‘70s with ‘80s Funk-Pop- via a bit of modern-day Electro.-Pop- and the listener is already excited and moving.  Funky spandex strings are cool cats that are walking the streets with swagger: You start to picture the song unfolding and just what could come next.  A confident and exciting first few seconds; no listener will be immune to the movement and power Mãs provide.  When the vocal does arrive the words are delineated with pace and consideration.  Ladling out the lyrics carefully; the listener is afforded the opportunity to understand and feel everything being song.  An hitch-pitched and soulful vocal; our hero is directing his words towards an anonymous heroine.  “We can do the twist” are words that beckon images of abandonment and fun.  When the words “Touch me like a stranger” flow forward I get the impression our man is on the dance-floor: Perhaps in the arms of a mystery girl and in the grip of a mesmerising song.  That is the beauty of Higher Spirit: The words give different possibilities and ideas; it is hard to get a clear truth from them.  It may sound like a negative yet the listener is allowed their own interpretation and views.  In the early phase, I was captured by the smooth and rich vocal: Reminding me a U.S. Soul great; perhaps tones you would not expect from a modern-day London-based musician.  As I try to get to the bottom of the lyrics- and just what the duo are saying- the track accelerates and increases its urgency.  A hollering of “Lighting me up” comes through backed by pulsating and rampant percussion.  So much unfolds early on- in terms of the composition and ideas thrown in- it is a dizzying experience indeed.  It seems like our hero is lost in the dance and under the spell of a very special woman.  Each listener will let their mind wander, although from my perspective, I saw the two alone and in the heat of the summer sun.  Enraptured and overcome with desire, there is that explosive possibility: Two hearts coming together and two bodies surrendering to one another.  Maybe over-sexualising the lyrics- or letting me own mind wander too far- it is impossible to resist the allure and potency of the music.

That seduction and come-to-me spell-cast is wonderful to hear.  Such a confident and direct vocal that gives gravitas and authority to every word that is sung.  Our hero knows the girl wants him- he sure as hell wants her- and the two convey to the dance-floor.  Like Michael Jackson and Prince; our boys manage to keep their lyrics and sexual desire clean and intriguing- without descending into smut and profanity.  The idea of the song is quite simple: Our hero’s spirit and soul can lift the two higher if they dance together.  It is at this stage- as the chorus comes in- that I started to wonder whether this was a first-time encounter or not.  Maybe our hero is in a relationship with the girl and wants to get lost in a romantic and paradise scene.  Perhaps this a chance meeting between stranger- a calling-out from across the dance-floor- as the two meet in the middle of a packed club.  That sweet-cum-saucy blend takes your mind and consciousness in different directions: The heartfelt and soulful vocals conjure romantic possibilities; the sweat-dripping falsetto takes your thoughts somewhere hotter and harder.  The guys throw in some neat little details throughout the track: sassy bass notes and crest-of-the-wave percussion give vibrancy and constant electricity to Higher Spirit.  Our hero is a fool for the girl: Whoever she is has cast her spell on him hard.  Fans of the older Funk/Disco/Pop masters- Jackson, Prince and their ilk- will find a lot to recommend in the track’s authority and affection tribute.  Massimo and Marco grew up listening to those legends so it is no surprise they evoke their memories with such conviction and authority.  That said; Higher Spirit has a very modern and contemporary vibe to it: The likes of Pharrell Williams would definitely approve of the song.  The twin vocal assault- where the duo get to overlap and combine- gives extra weight and attack to the song.  One of the most impressive facets of Mãs is how committed and dedicated they are to the subject matter: Every one of their tracks has such urgency and passion at every turn.  Even towards the closing moments, that seductive coo never silences: Our lead is intoxicated by desire and the charms of a jaw-dropping woman.  Whether Higher Spirit was inspired by events from the lives of Mãs- perhaps a late-night club encounter- I am not sure but that does not matter.  The song is that which can be understood and appreciated by all listeners.  Accessible and direct- whilst retaining some mystery- there are no limits to Higher Spirit.  Here is a song that could be a radio staple- I imagine it will be very soon- and is perfect for every climate and location.  It does not isolate itself or become moody at any point: From the introduction to the end you have a song that smiles and welcomes people in.  Only the stoniest of listeners will be able to stop their feet from moving in time to the music.  The guys have composed a song that brings so much vitality and dance together: One of the most memorable and impressive songs I have heard from a duo at any time.  When I was assessing Stockholm-based duo Sameblod- who make similarly intriguing and assured music- I was stunned at how confident and tight the music was.  Mãs have no nerves or limits when it comes to their music: That marks them as one of the most promising acts to emerge in 2016.  As the final notes of Higher Spirit play- and the chorus is reintroduced to keep the listener dancing- it is not a song you want to end.  Keeping mouths watering and eyes bright; the London duo has crafted a song that speaks to all ages and tastes- a hugely impressive feat.

Kudos must be given to Massimo and Marco who show no signs of quality dip or slowing.  Since their formation, they get more confident and bold with every new release.  Bringing in new compositional ideas and influences; their music is at its most arresting and universal.  That is not to say the duo is playing it safe at all- quite the opposite in fact.  The stunning duo has a sound and talent that few of their peers possess.  Higher Spirit is a song that will certainly get crowds united and arms waving aloft.  With that being said, there is huge potential to crack the radio-waves and the press: An impossible-to-dislike song, it has definite mainstream appeal and underground credit.  I have seen a lot of duos come along that make similar music: None has the same effect and magic as Mãs.  Bringing in the best elements of Michael Jackson, Daft Punk and Prince- funky jams with sexuality and sensuality at its heart- with cutting-edge and impressive production values- you have a song that unites genres, decades and moods.  A sun-worshiping track that brims and explodes with desire and lust: Perhaps one of the most enticing and scintillating cuts of 2016 so far.  Let us hope Mãs capitalise on their promise and momentum when it comes to their E.P.  When that is released- and where Higher Spirit fits in the mix- it is sure to capture the imagination and attentions of the music press.  Perhaps the boys have been under-the-radar so far: This year they will not be such a well-kept secret.

My congratulations to Massimo and Marco who have created a duo that is among music’s most promising.  The duo do not simply stick with tried-and-tested Electro.-Pop sounds: Our boys mix in elements of their heroes- Prince and Jacko hooks with some Daft Punk atmospherics- to create music that not only exhilarates the feet and arms- it gets inside the soul and digs deep.  Musicians that leave lasting impressions are few-and-far-between in an economy that shows quick turnover and disposability.  For that reason, we should invest in artists who have definite staying power and originality to them.  Mãs might just be starting their careers- their initial moments are hugely promising- but the boys will be going on to big things.  Higher Spirit– their back catalogue for that matter- has a sound that radio stations cannot refute.  So full of life and energy; wonderful sounds that get inside the head (and stay there for a long time) – who can ignore such a force in music?  I am not sure when the boys are going to be playing live this year.  I guess there will be London tour dates and some local shows- perhaps they want to focus on their E.P. – but I would love to see them live.  Hearing that music in the flesh is going to be a terrific experience.  With a collection of stunning songs under their belt, it seems like Mãs have plenty of material ready for their E.P.  Before tying this all up, I wanted to come back to the issues of duos and bringing the fun back into music.  Whilst critical minds and attentions seem obsessed with bands- they are still the hottest property and marketable dollar- there is a swing towards the solo artists.  Having seen the ‘tips for 2016’ lists that have come out- including B.B.C. among them- the solo act is coming into view firmly.  What critics are favouring at the moment- as opposed to previous years perhaps- is music that has that distinct spark and originality.  A lot of female solo artists are being given some impressive nods: Those special and emotive voices- mixed with songs that have huge originality- are getting plaudits and a lot of respect.  Mabel (a soulful Pop storyteller), Izzy Bizu (sunny Soul with an incredible voice) and Frances (atmospheric piano Pop) have been lauded because of their fresh sounds and depth.

Not your average Pop star with committee-penned songs; this year we are going to see some talent and stunning young solo acts emerge.  Jack Garratt and his Electro.-Pop soulfulness- tied to some head-slamming beats- sits alongside Alessia Cara- her candid and cool R&B sounds have enticed critics.  Publications and the press are heralding acts that bring important emotions and sides to music: Cool and atmospheric; harmony and sun-kissed bliss; conscientiousness and dreaminess- blended into big beats and nuanced compositions. Gone are the days we are promoting artists that are merely ‘a voice’ or sound like someone else.  There is a definite seismic shift that means the likes of Mãs are very much in vogue.  They have that blend of sunshine and cool: The emotion and dreaminess is already there as is the terrific beats and sexual electronics.  While some terrific solo artists have caught the eye of some big names- I missed out the wonderful Jack Garratt- the bands are still getting quite a lot of attention and patronage.  What is missing is a nod to the tremendous duos that are coming through.  Perhaps not as widespread and numerous (as solo acts and bands) they are a growing economy that are among music’s most spectacular and promising.  It is a rather baffling over-site considering what I have said up-top: The fact duos have a solid bond and longevity potential.  Solo artists are alone and have to work hard to raise money and interest.  Their own P.R. and publicity machines; the lone stars have a hard struggle to make ends meet- let alone making a name for themselves!  The bands are going into a busy market and often sound samey and unfocused: Too many new bands lack that originality and spark.  Solo acts provide the unique sounds and cross-pollinating innovation.  Bands give those riffs and big sounds: Solid and festival-ready music for the masses.  If you find a duo that can do all of this then they should not be easily ignored.  Many duos are sweethearts and lovers- the boy-girl duo is largely composed of lovers- and close friends.  It is clear Massimo and Marco has a deep connection and a tremendous love for what they do.  Music that promotes fun and uplift is rare in the music industry and few new artists manage to perfect this.  Mãs are a multi-coloured partnership that unifies ‘80s Disco and Funk through a modern spectrum: The resultant explosion is music that takes you somewhere special and safe.  Every listener and music lover need to find something that allows them escapism and something transcendent.  Making music for outsider and dreamers; our intrepid duo should be applauded for their accomplishments so far.  They have caught the attention of fans and followers- the best days are still ahead.  With an E.P. scheduled for a spring release, the London two-piece is a tantilsing proposition with a tremendous sound.  Higher Spirit is a song that will bounce around the brain long after the final notes.  On a cold and uncertain day, let yourself get lost inside music that…

WARMS the heart and inflames the senses.

 

_________________________________________________________

Follow Mãs

 

Facebook:

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

Twitter:

https://twitter.com/givememasnow

______________________________________________

Music:

https://soundcloud.com/givememas

___________________________________________________

Videos:

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

 

Track Review: Lydia Baylis- ANYWAY

TRACK REVIEW:

 

Lydia Baylis

 

 

ANYWAY

 

9.5/10.0

 

 

ANYWAY is available at:

https://soundcloud.com/lydiabaylis/anyway-1

RELEASED:
January 16th, 2016

GENRES:
Pop; Alternative

PRODUCER:

Ross O’Reilly

ORIGIN:

Salisbury, U.K.

____________________________________

THIS next few days will not only see me featuring some of…

The best female artists around the country; it also affords me the opportunity to focus on artists I have reviewed previously.  Coming up I have the likes of Eliza Shaddad and Hannah Boleyn- two acts I wrote about last year- but for today I concentrate on one of my favourite musicians from the last few years.  Having reviewed Lydia Baylis a couple of times already; I am keen to interview her in the future and see what this year holds.  Before I come to her- and where her music may take her- it gives me the chance to look at female-produced solo music in addition to the ‘dreamier’ side of music- finishing off with a bit about longevity in the music industry.  Every time I review a female solo artist I am amazed by the differences I hear: Such a range of styles and vocals come through.  Although I have reviewed some great male artists I tend to find their music is less ambitious and original compared to their female peers.  I am not sure whether the girls of music set their sights wider- they are more daring when it comes to mixing genres- but they certainly have the most arresting and memorable music.  In previous posts I have highlighted how hard it is to be wide-ranging as a solo artist: You are one musician alone and often have to make all the sounds yourself.  Perhaps my assessment is a little short-sighted as it appears the bands are the ones lacking behind.  Of course, a solo artist can have a band/producer behind them: Extra bodies that can add those necessary elements to ensure the music has a distinct and stunning edge.  There are some male acts that push the boundaries and subvert expectations: The girls are still leading the charge and showing how it should be done.  At the centre of this quality hurricane is the voice: So many tremendous sounds coming from the females of new music.  From hard-slamming Punk vocals to sweet and mature Pop offerings: It seems like there is something for every listener taste out there.  Whilst there is an insistent/trend to project power and soulfulness through vocals- a lot of female-driven music has an emphasis on power- I always love witnessing an artist who possesses a gorgeous and soothing voice.  It may seem like an odd point to raise but a musician that can buckle the knees with the voice is a rare commodity.  A lot of new musicians have defined and amazing voices: Those that can overwhelm the senses without resorting to histrionics are the most impressive (to me).  I find when solo artists (not always but in a lot of cases) tend to write tender/gracious songs- those that have sensitivity to them- their voices come off rather effete and boring.  Maybe clichéd and sickly-sweet; something leaves me a little cold.  Lydia Baylis is a musician I have been following since her early days: I remember hearing Into the Water– released a couple of years ago- and being amazed by what was on offer.  Such a sensuous and spine-tingling voice came through that it was hard to put my emotions into words.  A stunning young act that has matured and developed; Baylis keeps getting stronger and more impressive with each release.  It is not just that captivating voice that stuns but the depth of music and lyrics.  An artist that is keen to bare her soul and inner-hurt; Baylis writes songs that speak to the wider audience- it is no coincident she has amassed a loyal fan-base.  New music is quite a cruel and indiscriminate mistress: If you are not good enough to remain it will often chew you up and spit you out.  I have seen a lot of great artists come through- with a bold debut song- only to take their foot off the gas.  Maybe they take too much time between releases or show a discernible weakening across time.  Whatever the reason, so many musicians have fallen at the first hurdle.  It is a tough industry to crack; that is why I am always keen to follow artists that remain and keep on getting better.

Baylis is an artist that has been flying under-the-radar for a while and has a very loyal core of supporters.  In a busy world of female singer-songwriters she certainly stands clear of her contemporaries.  That luxuriant, heartfelt and chocolate-smooth vocal possesses such a tremulous quality- capable of reaching delirious heights and seducing without warning.  Backing that voice are compositions that are atmospheric, dramatic and symphonic.  When I was looking at Into the Water I mentioned how the haunting lyrics- a tragic heroine perhaps meeting an untimely end- was supported by sparse but hugely effective notes.  Whilst the vocal was incredibly entrancing; the composition summoned such an immense force and black beauty.  Not an artist to rest on her laurels; Baylis has kept her core in-tact and sounds even more confident now- ANYWAY is her latest (and perhaps greatest) effort.  It will be interesting to see what this year holds in store for Baylis.  Another tremendous British talent, I am sure there will be some great gigs coming up.  Next month she plays London’s The Strongroom Bar: A chance to bring ANYWAY into the live arena.  Whilst Baylis prefers to more intimate gig settings- she has played in coffee shops in the past- I can see her transcending to festivals in years to come.  Venues and fans are starting to embrace voices that stray away from the belt-it-out-as-loud-as-you-can singer and those with subtlety and huge nuance.  Baylis has a talent and sound that is perfect for the late-evening festival crowds.  Whatever she has in mind, I cannot wait to see where 2016 takes her.  One of the most spectacular and consistent musicians I have heard; she deserves a lot more support and critical attention.  It is a shame so many promising musicians call it quits- whether affected by the demands of the game or lacking staying power- but those that keep on plugging and playing should be applauded.  Music is a career that many are drawn to- with all its allure and promises- and many are disenchanted and given a reality-check down the line.  Lydia Baylis has ensured her music is strong enough to keep her in the mind: In addition she has made sure she gets out there and wins over the crowds.  I find a lot of musicians rely too much on social media and the Internet: The reality is you need to push and campaign hard to get your music heard.

Before I got down to reviewing ANYWAY, it was worth looking back at Baylis’ career to see how she has progressed.  Into the Water was unveiled a couple of years ago: One of the earliest tracks from Baylis, it shows immense confidence and passion throughout.  That vocal is incredible soothing and beautiful throughout.  The lyrics take their inspiration from classic literature and poetry: A central subject has been dropped in a hole and is struggling against the tide.  With our heroine documenting the scene she implores (the hero/heroine) to “Please keep coming up for air”.  Intelligent and original lyrics- that are much more studied and considered than a lot of her peers’ work- you have a deep and fascinating song that provokes clear images and story.  Inspired by Virginia Woolf- who killed herself by loading her pockets with stones; she walked into a lake- the song’s heroine suffers a similar fate.  With the strains of the day and life on their shoulder- unable to escape the suffocation of reality- there is perhaps an inevitable conclusion.  Baylis ensures the song never sounds too morbid or depressive: Her stunning voice and the exceptional composition gives the song a needed gracefulness and level head.  For a song that looks at suicidality and an ill-fated historical figure- whose doubt is evaporated with one action- you would expect a song that weighed the listener down a little.  Baylis not only ensures the song is highly memorable- keeping it in the mind for all the right reasons- but pens an intelligent and hugely effective set of lyrics.  Superbly deploying her words and building the emotions- putting sympathy alongside haunting moments- you have a track that showed a remarkable young talent.

The same stunning production values that went into Into the Water– making it such a force of nature- have gone into ANYWAY.  Before her current single, Baylis released Hold On (came out last year) that showed a step aside from Into the Water.  More romantic and uplifted than Into the Water; here Baylis sounds more comforted and less anxious.  Whilst struggling against some issues and realities; you have a song that gives our heroine a chance to look at love and relationships.  From song-to-song the compositions change course and sound.  Throughout Hold On you have a beat-driven backing that is quite tender and sparse- whilst managing to perfectly augment the foreground.  It is here Baylis shows how enticing and sweet her voice can be: Packed with passion and emotion; you get plenty of heart and beauty resonating throughout.

Having reviewed Life Without You before, I am amazed how much diversity and versatility Baylis possesses.  Life Without You looked at the breakdown of a relationship and the differences before and after: It seems like the break-up did not really affect our heroine.  An original take on break-up reflections; Baylis shows wit and humour among more anxious and reflective moments.  Whilst her voice remains compelling and familiar with each new track, Baylis has a wide subject matter and does not stick too heavily to any particular topic.  From love dissolution investigation to a poet’s tragic end- via the joys of being in love and songs about self-investigation- Baylis has a wide array of inspirations and motives she channels into her music.  Whilst a lot of her peers tend to focus too heavily on narrow themes- being jilted or heartbroken; purely in love and intoxicated- Baylis stretches her imagination and stands aside as one of music’s most original and impressive songwriters.

The biggest difference/development you can hear- from the earliest numbers to present-day- is the confidence and production sounds.  With Ross O’Reilly helming ANYWAY– a producer she has worked with before- you get the most fully-realised and atmospheric track I have heard from Baylis.  Having such a bond and friendship with O’Reilly; that connection and understanding has worked wonders in this track: You get production valued that bring everything to life and mix each element- vocals, instruments etc. – perfectly together.  Baylis sounds more comfortable and assured as she has at any other stage: A singer that grows in ability and intuition by the year, her voice is at its peak her.  The same could be said for the songwriting which takes in new concerns and demonstrated that established and stunning lyrical ability.  This bodes well for the coming year which promises new music: Whether an E.P. or album will be produced I am not sure.  Given her rate of progression and the consistency she shows- the passion she has for music too- any future release will be met with huge anticipation.

It has been a little while since last I reviewed Lydia Baylis.  For that reason I was thrilled ANYWAY has been dropped into the ether.  Hooking-up with producer Ross O’Reilly- the two have a great history and connection- I was thrilled to hear what the results were.  The opening notes of ANYWAY sees tripping beats and a strange sensuality welcome things in.  Slight crackle and pause leads to our heroine who comes in with an emotive and stunning vocal.  The early words- “Seems to me that you didn’t know that I didn’t care”- get me curious and fascinated.  It seems the hero has been hiding her/a subject beneath the stairs.  At this early juncture I am thinking about romance and deceit within a relationship.  Perhaps our heroine’s boy has been lying and leading a double life.  Maybe a cheater and no-good, our heroine is wise to his foolishness.  That opening line- that looks at not caring given a situation- sees some aloofness and spiked tongue.  There is clear friction and fracturing within the relationship: Whatever has happened between them has taken its toll and the song seems to document a particularly fraught realisation.  Whilst our heroine burns all his letters my mind starts to picture and wonder.  That idea of letters being exchanges between lovers- seems a charming anachronism in the modern age- has its heart in fiction and older times.  A traditional love story- one that has turned sour no less- that has hit the rocks; you are invested in this song and following our heroine’s plight.  Baylis’ voice has such a purity and beauty to it before.  Sounding more unique and transcendent than ever before; it is a soul-bearing tone that gets inside the heart and causes it to miss a beat.  Backed by a stunning production and atmospheric sound- everything is crisp and clear; the sparse back-beat creates edge and tension- and the song begins with huge promise and punch.  Whilst there has been dishonesty and break-up, our heroine is not completely emotionless and happy: Burning letters and the past makes her hurt and feels immense pain.  That sense of loss and anger comes through in a voice that drips with soul and heartache.  Projecting her words with pace and consideration, it gives the listener a chance to get hooked into the song and imagine the scenes unfolding.  Whilst there is pain and sadness- burning old letters and purging the bond- it has to be done regardless.  In past songs, Baylis has looked at a variety of subjects- tragic heroines and the lack of emotion following break-ups- but here she shows a new maturity and development.

The composition is a different stroke for Baylis: Taking in new elements and ideas; it is a very modern and of-the-moment sound.  In past tracks, Baylis has looked at the heartaches of break-up: Never has she sounded as overtly affected and haunted as she does here.  When our heroine returns home and revisits past scenes, she hates the people and sights- because not one “was you”.  That central refrain- the pain arising from burning love letters- shows a tender soul that has lost a big chunk.  Damaged and terrorised by the cessation of a once-glorious bond; you cannot help but empathise for Baylis and what she is going through.  Never allowing her voice to be overwhelmed and insincere she shows huge strength and resolve in spite of the sorrow she feels.  A lot of singers would back such a song with needless sound and weight: On ANYWAY you have a composition that perfectly supports the vocal whilst projecting its own story in the process.  Those beats crackle and sparkle in the back; there are aching strings and whooshing electronics.  All slung together and you have a song that is hard to ignore and refute.  Powerful and endlessly dramatic, Baylis seems at the peak of her powers.  As the song develops and progresses, our heroine poses a few questions.  Asking whether her man has made her strong enough to cope- tough enough and able to ride this storm- he also said how big and bad the world is.  Reflecting and recalling the past- whether her former sweetheart did all he could to fight- you start to wonder why the relationship broke up.  Clearly there are residual feeling and questions from our heroine: Perhaps there was not mutuality behind the decision; the lovers may have had different ideals.  Whether the boy was cheating and in the wrong- keeping a dirty little secret stashed away- or if there were other reasons, you start to dig and look inside the lyrics.  Baylis’ voice is constantly stunning and clear throughout- perhaps her most assured and memorable vocal to date- inside a song that is perhaps her most heartbroken and personal statement yet.  Whilst her previous songs have hinted at loss and relationship implosion; none have dealt with the subject with such raw emotion and effectiveness.  The final notes see Baylis lost in her thought and surrendering to the realities of the situation.  Not willing to let go completely and forget everything that has happened; you get a real sense of a young woman struggle to contain her sadness and anger.  In every note and second you are affected by how ANYWAY affects you.  Whilst a very personal and meaningful song (to Baylis) every listener can relate to the words being poured forth.  With a universal heart and core, ANYWAY is a song that will be a live favourite and standout for Baylis’ fans.

I have been following Lydia Baylis for years now and was excited to see ANYWAY arrive.  It appears our heroine has no desires to slow down and relax: If social media scuttlebutt is to believed; 2016 will be one of the busiest and most productive yet.  In the past, Baylis has shown what a range and diversity she has at her disposal.  No two songs sound alike and the listener is always treated to something new and original.  Becoming stronger and more confident with every release there is no telling just how far the young artist could go.  Ross O’Reilly helms a track that has terrific production values and brings every detail and thought to life.  Allowing the vocal to be clear and concise up-top; you have a song where every note and element fuses together perfectly.  Each aspect is mixed together to ensure ANYWAY hits you upon the very first listen: You are compelled to keep coming back to the song and let it work wonders.  Baylis wrote the song with O’Reilly- one suspects most of the lyrics are Baylis’; most of the composition O’Reilly’s- and this combination results in a wonderful track that should be a staple among radio stations around the country.  I know a lot of stations that would love to have ANYWAY on their playlists so Baylis should be very proud.  One of the strongest and most compelling tracks I have heard this year- I know it is a young year but I have heard a lot of music- I cannot wait to see how she progresses as the year continues.  It would be great to see Baylis and O’Reilly work together more closely as they have a great simpatico that leads to stunning music.  Baylis herself seems to have found fresh inspiration and subject- perhaps reflecting on a relationship that she was sad to lose.  That dependable and arresting voice seems ever more transcendent and beautiful than ever: A head-spinning blend of power, emotion and sweetness; truly one of the most special singers this country has produced.  If you have not heard Lydia Baylis and what she has to offer, you are missing out on one of music’s finest artists.

It is great to feature Lydia Baylis again on these pages.  I love investigating brand-new musicians but revisiting acts/bands always gives me pleasure and inspiration.  There are so few long-lasting acts in the underground- so many bands and solo artists call it quits early- it is impressive and important we pay tribute to those who keep on burning.  Baylis is one of those artists who has a very distinct sound and a very clear future ahead.  Whilst most of her touring/gigs have been in smaller venues I can see the young star going onto to huge things.  Her music has huge emotions and atmospheres: Perfect for the festival crowds that want to unite in a musical moment of passion and captivation.  Not a musician that writes shallow and easy songs- hook-laden and basic choruses- Baylis has an intelligence, depth and knowledge few of her peers have.  When I reviewed her a while back- looking at Life Without You– I was impressed by her background and upbringing.  Her father served during The Falklands War and experienced hardship and horror during the campaign.  After coming back to England, it was a few years later that Baylis was born- in the Hampshire town of Aldershot.  Within the environs of Surrey and Hampshire, Baylis was only 2-years-old when the family relocated to Germany.  In fact, Baylis’ early life was a little nomadic and born of frequent relocation.  Having spent time in Russia, Lydia returned to England where she studied (until the age of 18, when she left school).  It was not too long until Lydia was on the move once more, and spent time in New York: she was lucky enough to perform in theatre productions; whilst there she fell in love with the city and has made frequent trips back there.  The second-born Baylis child eventually went on to study history at Christchurch College, Oxford (I studied history up in Cambridge, so can appreciate her fascination with it).  That itinerant background ad prestigious education has moulded a young woman with a huge knowledge of music, literature and poetry: These are all combined and mixed into songs that take the breath away.  I hear whisperings- from her social media pages- there is more music mooted for 2016.  I cannot wait to see what comes next- whether an E.P. or album is forecast- as Baylis is one of the most stunning musicians working at the moment.

Every song she produces shows new topics and sides: A restless and hard-to-pin-down artist; it is amazing how much breadth and depth she has.  In every track you are entranced by that voice: A startling instrument that deserves a lot of attention and focus.  Whether our heroine will be playing a lot of gigs this year- or concentrating on new music- it is not clear.  ANYWAY is a track that shows where Baylis is in 2016: A consistent and original talent the music world should embrace and encourage.  Before wrapping things up here, I wanted to circle back- perhaps with greater relevance- to the points about female musicians and longevity- in addition to the importance of beauty in music.  Over the coming weeks- and the last couple of weeks past- I get the chance to revisit some wonderful musicians; take in new talent and see what 2016 music is coming up with.  Among the female musicians I have reviewed lately- from Dolores Haze to Jasmine Branca- you get so much variation and difference.  Whether it is something in the composition or vocal- maybe the lyrics they produce- I am amazed by how many unique and wonderful artists are coming through.  The boys are doing a good job but for my money the girls are so far ahead right now.  It may take ages to get to the bottom of the truth- why they are so far ahead- but I am just pleased to see so much great talent emerge.  The mainstream media- and blogs focusing on new music for that matter- still concentrate too heavily on bands.  I think the male-driven band market gets too much focus and write-up- there should be more commitment to female solo artists- and that is shifting focus from the best music has to offer.  Lydia Baylis is one of those talents that keeps growing and developing as time elapses.  A stunning voice and wonderful musician; few artists are as compelling and original.  So few musicians stand the test of time- or struggle to meet music’s rigorous demands- so it is always impressive finding a talent that last through the years.  Baylis is a stand-out name for a number of different reasons.  Not only are her lyrics diverse and fresh- she sounds effortless whatever she writes about- but the voice behind them sounds utterly entrancing.  Baylis is natural and effortless when singing about tragic poets or the transgressions of love: Everything she touches leaves impressions in the mind and soul.  ANYWAY is a song that shows an evolution from a young artist that has a big future ahead.  It is always unwise making big proclamations: Baylis is a musician you just know will rule the airwaves very soon.  If you are looking for a solid investment and a beautiful artist with an unstoppable talent- Lydia Baylis is someone you should spend some time with.  Whilst she has toured coffee shops and smaller venues, I can see her going onto big stadium gigs and summer-time festivals.  In a music world that sees a lot of its participants struggle and fall, it is great to see a musician that shows no sign of slowing down.  Make sure you check out Lydia Baylis and ANYWAY: A wonderful young woman…

 

THAT is a household name of the future.

 

______________________________________________________

Follow Lydia Baylis

 

Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/lydiabaylis/

Twitter:

https://twitter.com/lydiabaylis

Instagram:

https://www.instagram.com/lydia.baylis/

________________________

Music:

https://soundcloud.com/lydiabaylis

 

_________________________

Videos:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCUvsl2a3LnrjN4BwenA1eHQ

 

 

 

 

 

Track Review: FORTE- Goosebumps

TRACK REVIEW:

 

FORTE

 

 

Goosebumps

 

9.4/10.0

 

 

Goosebumps will be available from 12th February.  Teasers from the track can be heard here:

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

RELEASE DATE:
February 12th, 2016

GENRES:
Rock; Alternative; Indie

ORIGIN:

London, U.K.

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THE last couple of days has seen me assessing…

two London bands just starting out at the moment.  It is great witnessing a fledgling act making their initial steps into the world of music.  Whereas Duke of Wolves- yesterday’s review subject- had their single out in the ether; my featured act are providing teasers at the moment.  Next month the world will get a chance to hear their debut single in full.  It has been garnering radio play and some serious praise from the media in the meantime.  Before I get to that- and come to the subject of FORTE- it is worth mentioning a few subjects: The importance of radio play early on; the male bands emerging onto the scene- finishing off with a bit about the importance of the debut single.  A lot of musicians will be starting their careers in 2016 and going in with high hopes.  Perhaps they will have their social media pages set up and ready: Facebook and Twitter primed waiting for people to discover them.  I find a lot of acts do not really push themselves too hard when they first arrive in music.  There is an assumption that so long as you are visible online; that will get people listening and sharing your work.  What I have found first-hand- when it comes to some of my reviews- is that people do not share things they should be- this includes a lot of the musicians themselves.  Social media is useful to a certain degree I am finding.  So long as you support/follow some genuinely nice people- those that will spread the word and promote your work- then you are going to struggle to find necessary backing.  So many people follow a band/act- maybe commenting on a song and loving it- without spreading it out to their followers.  It is one of the downsides of social media: People are not as sociable as they should be.  Being such a massive, compartmentalised and random system, it is incredibly difficult relying it on at all- the musicians themselves have to take charge and create their own chances.  When you come onto the scene, it is vital getting radio stations involved and playing your stuff.  There are a lot of available stations out there- from national to local stations- that you can hit-up and email.  Whilst stations do get tonnes of requests for airplay, it is always worth putting your music out there and seeing what they say.  I have seen so many acts get new fans- get gig bookings and progress heavily- simply from the result of radio exposure.  Social media will only help you so much- when people can be bothered to do their part- so you need to reach out to the media.  FORTE are a band that have enjoyed some pretty notable radio attention so far- this week their debut single would have been played across eight B.B.C. stations throughout London and the south.  The boys have not been resting or sitting back in their early days: Digging deep and putting their music out there, they are a band that understands the importance of radio patronage.  When it comes to my featured band, FORTE are a five-piece with a little bit of mystery to them.   Their social media pages are a little bare at the moment- more photos and information will arrive in time- but what we have at the moment is a group with some dedicated and excited fans.  The London quintet are known as A.S., D.C.; H.P., R.B. and J.J.  Cool-as-crap purveyors of heavy sounds, it is not shocking the boys are getting some speculation and awed feedback.  When I was looking at Duke of Wolves yesterday- a similarly heavy band that could sit alongside FORTE- I was staggered by the confidence and quality of their debut cut.

Not many bands come in so strong and authoritative: What we have from FORTE is a similarly ambitious and assured effort.  Whilst teaser clips have been offered to the social media world- radio stations are the only others that have heard the full single- I get the chance to hear Goosebumps in its entirety.  When it is released in a few weeks, the world will get the opportunity to hear one of London’s freshest and most electrifying bands.  What I find baffling about a lot of bands is how weak they enter the scene.  Having reviewed quite a few new bands- who are not culpable of the point I am making- too many groups produce a limp and under-produced debut effort.  Even in the mainstream you get so many artists limping hobbling into music: If you are not prepared to go in hard and meaningful, what is the point?  Maybe there are nerves and uncertainties that early- not sure what the public wants and what your true sound is- but musicians should be doing more.  I think there is too much urgency and pressure put on artists these days.  Having so many different musicians out there; so many artists rush releases so they can be among the pack- fearing they will be ignored if they take too much time recording music.  FORTE are boys that have taken time to craft their debut track: You can tell how much effort and practice has been put in.  The results speak for themselves and the London band have a big future ahead of them.  There are a lot of male bands emerging at this moment- as has always been the case- and many of them are producing the same kind of sounds.  Tending to favour the heavier side of music- Alternative, Rock and Indie sounds- there are many male groups playing along the same party lines.  Whilst the best male-produced band music of last year- in terms of the mainstream at least- tending to push the boundaries of Rock- the likes of Tame Impala and Young Father showed that- there is still a huge demand for straight-out Rock and Alternative sounds.  Whilst FORTE (on paper at least) might seem like your workaday Rock band, they are so much more than that: The lads have exceptional musicianship and tease in other genres to create something quite special.  I mentioned the likes of Tame Impala- who usitlise electronic sounds and Dance music into a hypnotic blend- that is a direction I can see FORTE heading into.  There seems to be a shift-when it comes to Rock bands- to bring in other avenues and sounds (to make their music more diverse and dance-able).  Whilst Goosebumps is a direct and gutsy song, it shows a band with plenty of nuance, layers and ideas.  I would be fascinated to see where future songs take them- whether they open their sound up and bring new elements in- but I know the London clan will be a name to watch.  With so many bands coming into music, the new players have to distinguish themselves and make impressions.  Too often artists coming in and sound lifeless and unoriginal: Sounding watered-down idea-less, they are always going to have a short shelf life.  FORTE are getting adulation and predictions that could see them being big festival names of the future.  As London is housing so many sensational new bands, do not be shocked to see our FORTE boys playing Reading and Leeds in the coming years: They have a sound and confidence that is ready-made for the big stages.

When it comes to FORTE, it is hard to compare Goosebumps with anything else they have done- being their first stamp on the world of music.  What I discovered from the band is how original and different they sound.  Upon hearing their single, it was tough to bring other names to mind.  Perhaps those with sharper ears will be able to hear elements of other acts- if they were really digging that deep- but upon initial investigations, who does FORTE sound like?  If I were to put money on it, I would say the London group has gone out of their way not to sound like anyone else at all.  Too many bands- that are inspired by other artists- make their music sound like their heroes’: What you get are songs that are easily comparable and too unoriginal.  It is great having influences and idols- every musician in the world does- but you cannot just make your music sound just like theirs.  Well, you can, but the trouble is your careers will be short-lived: Why listen to a band that is a second-rate version of one that is already out there?  The trick is to incorporate little shades and sprinklings of other artists- either in terms of the music or vocals- and ensure the abiding impression is one of originality and freshness.  FORTE have a sound that is both universal and unique.   On the one hand, Goosebumps is a song that could easily inspire singalongs and unified crowds- it has a familiar feeling to it- yet I cannot find another act/band they sound like.  Perhaps a shrewd and wise move by the boys- who want to remain distinct but not too alien- they have produced music that is tailored for the radio stations of the U.K.  It is perhaps no fluke the boys have already enjoyed that impression radio attention: It seems they have cracked a tough nut early on in their careers.  Whilst a lot of bands I review- cannot name any names you’ll understand- produce a so-so debut; here the FORTE clan has come in impressively strong.  The question is how they develop and capitalise on their debut strength.  I think the guys will look to put an E.P. out some time this year- they may have other ideas- that will be a three/four-track release.  Obviously Goosebumps will be high up the track listing; the lads will probably keep their sound tight and focused.  With such a defined and exceptional sound already crafted, perhaps they do not need to stretch and widen it too much: Perhaps they will become a bit more experimental and genre-hopping a little way down the line.  It will be exciting to see what this year brings for FORTE: Whether they have any tour dates planned or are going to be heading back into the studio.  If you are a fan of the best Rock music has to offer-newcomers such as Royal Blood; older acts like Foo Fighters- there are some comparable shades within FORTE.  What the quintet does is to use Rock’s templates as a starting point: Their music has plenty of emotion and dimensions; subtlety and softness among the hardness- diversity and directness in equal measures.  Those that like their music nuanced, soulful and kinetic will definitely have to check FORTE out.

Making sure Goosebumps registers instant promise, the early drumbeats get the listener stood to attention and hooked.  A big and tribal percussion slam- that compels people to clap hands and get their voices ringing- the boys go in hard and confidently.  As that drum beat slams and drives away it is met with a grizzled and bristling electric guitar sound: One that is shimmering shivering; emotive and reflective in equal measures.  Letting the introduction work and extend, you become invested in the moves, motifs and colours it projects.  An evocative and dramatic opening salvo, FORTE has ensured that the listener is brought into the song and imagines what is to come.  Too many bands and artists either jump straight in with vocals- worried people will get bored if they do not- or produce an introduction that is wandering and unfocused.  FORTE provide so much story and possibility with their earliest notes that you wonder what shape the vocal will take- and what the initial words will speak of.  “Pick a star and rearrange the sky” are the first words and ones that make you wonder and speculate.  Oblique and non-specific, there are so many possibilities when you consider that line.  Delivered with passion and gusto, the listener instantly takes their minds to the skies and what is being attested.  Perhaps a romantic proclamation or a shout-out to the dreamers- you can do anything you want if you aim high- I was compelled to dig deep and see what was behind those words.  Part-poetic and part-direct, one star shines bright in the eye of the heroine.  Whether the band’s subject (early on here) are looking at a sweetheart, female or male subject I am not sure- the fact our hero has goosebumps suggests a lover is being attested.  Delivering the words with a soulful heart and plenty of compassion, I was fascinated and interested early on.  After that stunning introduction and intriguing words, it is impossible not to let your mind imagine and suck yourself into the song.  Throughout Goosebumps, there are grand proclamations and heady praise.  Our boy’s girl (having seen the video is an intoxicating and captivating muse) is able to part the clouds with the slightest sigh/breath.  Someone who has clearly captured his heart and seduced his mind; the emotions, passion and lust drips from every note.  Keeping the composition light and restrained at this stage- the band create a suitably atmospheric and powerful canvas for our hero- it allows that voice to reign and rule in the foreground.  Whist the girl runs her hands down the spine (of our lead) you get a tender and touching scene unfolding.  At every stage that voice is in awe and completely star-struck: Imbued with intensity and trembling knees, it is one of the most direct and impressive vocals I have heard from a young band this year.  Perhaps these ideas and proclamations are dreams and intentions- the lyrics suggest our man is fantasising to an extent- and the girl in question may be a soon-to-be lover.  Maybe she is with another man at the moment- or is somewhere overseas- but you can sense that need and desire that comes out.  We have all been in the situation when we have lusted for someone we cannot have- or belong to someone else- and let our minds wander into fantasy territory.  From the lyrics/vocals laid-out I get the sense there is some history and back-story to the song.  Perhaps our lead has already been with the girl or they have been involved: That need to rekindle a flame and become more involved.  That is the beauty of the early lyrics: You have a two-sided interpretation that will get listeners guessing and interpreting.  As the chorus blazes into view the band augment the composition and let the volume rise. The lead vocal rises to an impassioned and burning roar: Raising to the heavens it is an immensely electric and committed performance that gives the words such authority and meaning.  The band combines to provide a staggering backdrop of sounds and colours that gets inside the mind and provokes a huge reaction.  Our hero is at the height of his desires as hero asks whether he “was good” and doing it right.  The chorus shines more light and truth to Goosebumps: It seems like our duo are in the throes of passion and wrapped inside one another’s arms.  Maybe our man is in the midst of dream conspiring although the direct and to-the-point vocal suggests he has got the girl he desired.  Whether a current love- or a past romance that has inspired this song- it is clear his lover means/meant a huge deal.  It has been a long time since I witnessed a vocal with such a flair and power to it: As the chorus unfolds the intensity becomes almost head-exploding as our hero becomes overwhelmed by the power of the romance.

His sweetheart makes him feel better “on the inside” and has brought a lot of safety and light to his life.  Perhaps lonely and lost before meeting her; it is clear this bond has enriched his life and has seduced his soul.  Before the next verse comes into view, the composition is allowed to step into the spotlight.  The guitars remain rapturous and inflamed whilst the bass guides the song forward- the percussion tight and sharp in its attack and motivation.  Conversations and past events are replayed as the lead comes back to the microphone.  Feeling tongue-tied and confused, it seems like there has been some break-down of communications.  Although, upon deeper investigation- and our man still receiving goosebumps- it may not have been fraught or pained at all.   Maybe our hero has said something nonsensical or regretful: Maybe he is trying to convey something hard; it seems like his girl gets him and knows exactly what he means.  That connection and understanding runs deep: A bond that seems a perfect fit and natural, it is one of the few love songs I have heard recently with an overtly positive message to it.  In a world that is suffocated by uncertainties, horrors and violence; perhaps it is no surprise Goosebumps has been received with such warmth.  A lot of tracks are too negative and sorrowful: Here we get a track that brims with admiration and purity; it is a love song that pays tribute to an extraordinary soul.  As our hero lets his voice strike and emote- recalling just how much his girl means- the band throw in little sparks and beats that give the song a constant intrigue and energy.  Whether it is a spiky little riff or a drum fill- or the bass pushing the song forward- your mind is pulled in two different directions.  The impressive composition has its own life and appeal: It combines seamlessly with the foreground and pushes the vocals to fever-pitch.  When our boy is at his lowest ebb and down in the dumps; it is his girl that can raise the spirits and get him back to normal.  At every stage you cast yourself in his mind and watch the scenes unfold.  It is probably not a shock Goosebumps has received positive feedback: The song’s subjects have a relatable edge that many can understand and appreciate.  With a hard and urgent core, the song has accessibility and mainstream appeal.  Whilst it (I hope) will not be picked up by the bland Pop stations of the capital; it has plenty of potential to be spun across the most impressive airwaves of the capital.  Endlessly emotive, passionate and dramatic; you cannot ignore the intensity and purity that comes out.  As the chorus comes swinging back into the foreground- and its words gain new meaning and relevance- that combination of vocal and composition sounds ever more vital and impressive.  As the song reaches the final minute, we get echoed vocals and something quite spacey.  In the midst of a full-blown trance, our hero is in a fever of passion and desire.  My early interpretations looked at dreams and bygone bonds: It seems like this relationship is very much alive and burning bright- an intensity and firework display that is unlikely to stop any time soon.  So many modern love songs are negative and anxious- looking at break-up and deceitfulness- so it is refreshing to hear a song on the flip-side.  A positive and outright tribute to a pure love; you have a musical moment that subverts music’s worst instincts.  Given how sad music-lovers have been recently- following the deaths of two of its biggest names- we are embracing music that makes us feel better and reflect too.  Goosebumps has that positivity and urgency that cannot be ignored without it distancing listeners in the process.  It is a song that wants people to get involved and feel something inside- catchy and compelling enough to get people singing aloud.  In the final moments my mind started to look at the composition and how it works.  The percussion has a static charm to it- a heartbeat that gives the song blood-flow and punctuation- whilst the guitars seem faster and more vibrant.  Not only do they work together perfectly; the guitars are the bloodstream and shiver our man feels- as though the band is employing instruments as senses/metaphors for emotions and feelings.  The bass is fluid and commanding throughout: Perhaps representing a solid and unflinching soul; it also unites the instruments and pushes the vocal on.  The final seconds give that chorus another chance to say its piece- sounding even more relevant and captivating here- as our lead lets that voice get lost in the moment.  With some rapturous strings and punchy beats bringing the song to its close, FORTE wrap up a hugely impressive and compelling track.

Filled with nuance, phenomenal production values and emotion: Goosebumps is a track that is already warranted acclaim, radio-play and positivity.  Given its pure and positive messages, I am not surprised so many listeners have related to the song.  With the band being referred-to by initials, it is hard to get insight into the quintet- there is a bit of mystery to the lads.  What I can say is what a tight and impressive band they are.  It sounds like they have been playing together for years- that confident and assuredness sounds like a band with a rich history- and they will be playing for many years to come.  At every stage FORTE are completely connected and exhilarating.  That lead vocal is endlessly commanding and strong throughout.  Not sounding like anyone I have heard- there are a few shades of others but nothing too obvious- it is such a passionate and soulful weapon.  Bringing the words to life and giving them such gravitas: Here you have a singer that could make the phone book sound interesting.  Dealing with words that have a huge personal relevance; they are delivered with such heart and affection.  The guitar work from the band gives the song its injection of lust and shiver.  I said a bit earlier how the guitars sound like racing pulse and bloodstream: It seems like the band are using the guitars to summon up those racing heartbeats and spinning heads.  With the lead being caught in the blizzard of a huge love; the guitars are hugely important backing the words and making sure the vocal is given the support it needs.  On that note, the bass drives the song forward and promotes the voice too.  Keeping all the threads together and showing discipline- you are guaranteed Goosebumps stands up to repeated listens and closer investigation.  That drum does not idly stand in the back making little impression: A tangible and evident heartbeat; you have a performance that gives the track a huge hit and sense of drama.  Altogether the band unites supremely across a song that is an impressive and nuanced gem.  It has gained attention from radio- and will gain a lot more play in time- and is a song you need to get.  Although not officially released for a few more weeks: Ensure you check out the teasers on the band’s official Facebook page.  Blending Rock and Indie cores with something more mainstream and Pop- without compromising the intensity and integrity of the track- you have a song that will appeal to the die-hard Rock aficionados- that like their sounds hard-hitting and gritty- and bring in lovers of something more passionate, restrained and tender.  Filled with depth, desire and praise; few listeners are immune to the charm and treasure of Goosebumps.  Phantasmagorical it is not: Here is a number that recounts an intense and wonderful love.  If you want to find something that will get you singing- and stick in the memory for a long time- and moved; you need to check out the debut from one of London’s finest new acts.

It is hard to say how far a band will go off the strength of a debut single.  Given the rewards and praise the boys have already gained- that radio play and great attention over social media- the lads have a great momentum in their corner already.  Having spoken with the band’s guitarist Jesse James (J.J.); there is excitement and fond desires among the band- they want to succeed and go onto bigger things.  The boys have already secured B.B.C. Introducing London and B.B.C. Introducing Three Counties (for spot plays)- a great start for a band who have only been around for a few weeks!  Goosebumps is a solid and confident statement from a band that wants to remain in music for many years to come.  Those ambitions and dreams do not seem too far-fetched as they have a sound that is very much their own.  Not keen to be compared to any other act out there, the guys have drawn from their personal experiences and lives to create a song that has got many people very excited.  Having has a very busy start to their career; I am not sure what direction the next year will take.  Obviously the boys will be touring, although I am not sure whereabouts they will be playing- keep your eyes on their social media pages.  With regards new music, I am sure an E.P. will be in their minds: Again, it is up to them when that is going to be released.  For now the band are focusing on Goosebumps and seeing how the public react to that.  One of the golden rules- and cardinal sins on the flip-side- is the issue of getting radio play: So many bands and musicians do not contact radio stations early in their careers.  In the opening I looked at the mixed benefits of social media- how it is not always as helpful as it should be- and how too many acts are hoping it will do all the work for them.  Given the pacificity of many social media users- how few will actually share music and support acts- it is vital to take action and control your own career.  Radio stations will get loads of requests by the week: They will always make time and space for the acts truly worthy of radio play.  If you send a tweet or contact stations directly, you give yourself a much better chance of getting exposure and attention.  FORTE have been played on B.B.C. London and across the Home Counties: Here is a young act that has already resonated with a lot of people.  On 11th February the boys will launch their single- supported by Foam and special guests- in north London.  I can see Goosebumps making it onto the playlists of London’s credible mainstream stations- Absolute Radio and ‘6 Music- and avoiding the lesser/rubbish ones- the likes of Heart Radio, Capital F.M. and Kiss F.M.  As there are so many male bands coming through- many playing in the Rock mould- only the brightest and most original will succeed.  So many bands are either desperately slight or unoriginal- being too similar to someone else out there- or go in rather insincerely on their debut song.  FORTE have ensured their first move remains in the memory and sets them up for a prosperous and long career.  It is dangerous making predictions early but is it is clear this London five-piece will be on the scene for years to come.  London is a busy music centre and is welcoming all manner of musicians into the world.  Bands are always going to a popular and in-demand commodity; for that reason, those coming in need to make their early music really count.  FORTE have managed to keep their core hard and heavy- whilst ensuring there is plenty of depth and emotion when it really counts.  Not your workaday Rock band, the lads dig deeper and come up with something much more rewarding and layered.  It is just left to me to congratulate the boys and let’s hope 2016 will be a diamond year for them- I have no doubt it will be very special indeed.  Goosebumps is an apt title for a song that has registered a lot of praise among the legions of social media followers (for the band).  Take time to discover a band (and song) that is worth…

 

A lot of love and attention.

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Follow FORTE

 

Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/theforteband/

Twitter:

https://twitter.com/theforteband

Instagram:

https://www.instagram.com/theforteband/

Track Review: Duke of Wolves- Hollow Eyes

TRACK REVIEW:

 

Duke of Wolves

 

  

Hollow Eyes

 

9.6/10.0

 

 

Hollow Eyes is available at:

https://soundcloud.com/dukeofwolves/duke-of-wolves-hollow-eyes

RELEASED:
16th January, 2016

GENRES:
Rock

ORIGIN:

London, U.K.

PRODUCER:

James Billinge

RECORDED AT:

Whitehouse Studios, Reading

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FILL next couple of days will see me focusing on a couple of acts…

that are brand-new and starting up.  My featured artists are in the stage of getting publicity photos sorted- it is a review when I will be duplicating the photos they have- and putting their biographies together.  The last few months has seen me investigate musicians that have already crafted a few tracks: Been out there for a while and been playing for a little while.  It is exciting to see a band/act at the very beginning: Seeing their first move put to record gives you an indication of just what they can achieve- and exactly how far they can go.  Before I talk about the London-based band, it is worth mentioning new bands and the Rock market- in addition to the growing number of musicians coming onto the scene.  With a cold and bitter winter upon us; so many people are looking to music to offer some warmth and comfort.  It is always difficult getting a hold of all the music coming through: We have to employ our best judgment whilst trying to be bold and adventurous.  One of the great things about music is the sheer range of sounds available at the moment.  Depending on your tastes and preferences there is going to be something out there for you.  I have been featuring a lot of solo acts recently so it is good to go back to bands and see what is happening.  Whilst I believe the solo market will be the most prosperous- when it comes to consistency and outright quality- some of the fantastic young bands coming through and capable of rubbing shoulders with the best of them.  When it comes to bands, there tends to be a narrower focus in terms of genres and sounds: The majority of bands tend to either play Alternative/Rock sounds; perhaps variations/sub-genres of Pop and Indie.  Some of the most interesting bands of the last few years- the likes of Everything Everything stand out- mix darker lyrical themes with bi-polar sonic blends and a huge adventurousness and colour.  I find a lot of young bands tend to get too rigid when it comes to their music: The emphasis is on riffs and noise rather than nuance and emotion.  If you look at the Rock market- which accounts for a large percentage of the new bands coming through- there is perhaps not the diversity and variation one would hope.  Luckily my featured artists are among the most nimble and ambitious Rock acts of the moment.  Whilst they have some clear influences under their belt- the likes of Queens of the Stone Age and Rage Against the Machine- they do not wear it indelibly on their sleeves.  What the guys have is a solid bond and an incredibly tight sound: They will be one of the most hotly-tipped bands in London this year.  Before continuing, let me introduce you to Duke of Wolves:

Ben (Drums&Backing Vocals)

Jim (Lead Vocals&Rhythm Guitar)

Orlando (Lead Guitar&Backing Vocals)

Sara (Bass Guitar&Backing Vocals)

The band name alone summons a blend of ferocity and regal-ness: A hard-hitting sound backed with class and a sense of dignity.  Knowing Jim Lawton- the band’s lead and singer- and his previous work with Crystal Seagulls (a fantastic young band that sadly called it quits a while ago); I know just how seriously Lawton takes music.  His new band of brothers (and sister) are a hot proposition that are surely going to be going on to big things.  At the moment there is a little mystique to the band.  Their social media pages contain a couple of photos and a bit of contact information- the official photo-shoots and depth will come soon enough.  Whilst it is hard to put too many photos into this review- a bit of creative license needed alas- it is fantastic seeing a band that are working hard early on.  Their debut single is out there whilst the guys have set up a Twitter and SoundCloud account.  So many acts are quite lazy and naïve off the blocks: They tend to think they can take time and not worry about such concerns- they pay a heavy price for their ignorance.  The band sector is the most populous and in-demand in all of music.  I can see the attraction of forming a group and making music: That bond and excitement tied with the possibilities of what is to come is a tantilising draw.  What I tend to find is so many young musicians just rush onto the scene.  Thinking a speedy release will be met with acclaim and fandom- regardless of what the songs sound like- not enough attention and originality is being put into music.  What you are left with is a scene with variable quality and some rather insincere and average bands.  If the best bands out there have shown anything it is what can be accomplished within well-worn genres.  Although Indie sounds account for a lot of music’s output; there is so much potential to produce something fantastic and different.  Duke of Wolves are a band that mix Indie and Rock ideas: They have a lot of energy and commitment coming through.  From the earliest notes you can tell how much music means to them.  One of the most urgent and passionate bands coming through, it will be exciting to see what lies ahead for the quartet.  With the end-of-year polls favouring solo talents- the polls that give their tips for the year ahead- the bands out there have to step things up.  Whilst I have bemoaned the insistence (of bands of the moment) to play very close to established artists- Foo Fighters are one of the most popular- there are some artists that are original and capable of something unique.  Duke of Wolves bring their shared musical experiences to the new venture: The players have such a connection and relationship; I can see them performing live quite a lot this year.  Although Hollow Eyes is the debut single from them, it will surely lead to an E.P. sometime in 2016.  London is one of the most fertile and prosperous band centres at the moment: The new acts coming out of the capital are demonstrating a hell of a lot of intensity and versatility; so much range and excitement.  London is growing by the year- when it comes to their music output- and Duke of Wolves are going to attract a lot of support.  The group will want to remain level-headed at the moment; they have a huge potential and chance to go pretty far.  Due to the sheer weight of bands emerging right now- by the week you get a huge wave of them emerging- it is really difficult to find which ones are worth long-term following.  Duke of Wolves will be a tantilsing band to follow and are showing a huge amount of early promise- their debut cut is one of the sharpest and most compelling tracks I have heard in a while.

When it comes to the Duke of Wolves gang, you have a band that is just starting their music careers off.  Although the various players have been in other acts- and bring their shared experiences to the table- Hollow Eyes is their first shared endeavor.  In terms of their influences and heroes, the below are key musicians:

Led Zep, QOTSA, The Beatles, Rage Against The Machine; Muse, Wolfmother, Cream, The Kinks

As you can see from this list, the London band tends to favour their sounds on the heavier side of things.  What you get from them is a bit of ‘60s/’70s Hard-Rock- the likes of Led Zeppelin come through at times- tied with the of-the-moment guts and grit of Wolfmother.  That said, Duke of Wolves have a subtleness and melody to their music.  Unlike Wolfmother- who tend to be harder and heavier- our guys have gentler sensibilities and a desire to mix sensitivity and restraint with outright attack and emotion.  Having a love of ‘60s legends and modern-day Rock acts; you get a little bit of each- the acts listed above- in their debut single.  It will be interesting to see how their future songs take shape.  I can see more subtle and emotive tracks taking shape.  Being familiar with Lawton’s work with Crystal Seagulls; as a songwriter he is capable of producing epic songs of emotion and heartache- that concentrate on lyrics and vocal power rather than riffs- in addition to big stadium-sized singalongs.  The musical talent within Duke of Wolves is evident so I would imagine any future E.P. will have a lot of range and variation.  Of course the band themselves will reveal more in time- they are focusing on promoting their debut cut- but they have the potential to create something spectacular.  Given their influences and individual talents; you just know future cuts are not going to stand still- not just replicates of Hollow Eyes.  Too many bands find a particular ‘sound’- that is predictable and unoriginal- and do not show any motivation and original ideas.  The London four-piece have a lot of ideas and colours in their palette: Expect to see some terrific tracks forthcoming from them this year.

A crunchy and buzzing riff heralds in Hollow Eyes.  With an evocative and motorcycle-revving sound to it, you get caught up in that energy and youthfulness.  Raw and edgy- whilst being disciplined and restrained to an extent- the early stages tee the song up and get the explosions started.  After that early guitar riff-age there is a militaristic percussion drum-roll: An insatiable and scatter-gun pummel that adds another layer of urgency and masculinity.  That brutal and late-night danger feeling to the introduction recalls a mix of early-days Nirvana and Queens of the Stone Age.  There is definitely an ear of the U.S. legends- a blend of Grunge and Stoner-Rock- and you get a mix of Bleach (Nirvana) and Songs for the Deaf (Queens’).  That chug and hard sledgehammer attack gets the senses captivated and ensures the opening moments are not easily forgotten.  When our lead comes to the microphone, his voice is in determined and unsympathetic mood.  When delivering the opening line- “Tell me what you want to hear”- that is a sense of fatigue and annoyance to the tones.  Maybe he is in the midst of a relationship with an odd power struggle.  Perhaps the girl has tried to call the shots or is being somewhat difficult- our man a puppet that has to jump to the beat of her drum.  The guys create a claws-out and D.I.Y. sound that recall the Sub Pop days of Nirvana- whilst retaining a very unique take and flavor to their music.  It seems like our lead is not wanted and excessive baggage- he wonders if his subject wants him here- and ever-more you get ideals of love and relations-on-the-rocks.  Unlike Nirvana’s debut there is an emphasis on structure and song-form- in addition to memorability and vitality.  In a Rock scene that shows a few acts with proper guts and intelligence- as opposed to a mass that seem devoid of both- Duke of Wolves do not simply throw together riffs in the hope that something sticks.   You can tell throughout- even in the earliest stages- a lot of attention has been paid to the composition and vocals.  Whilst the lyrics are quite broad and universal- detailing love and the struggle to find connection with someone- you get a distinct songbook that shows a very personal anxiety.  Our man is looking at his girl and searching for truth: Those hollow eyes seem empty and rather lifeless as the hero tries to discover meaning and emotion.  It is intriguing what inspired the song and its particular angle.  It is clear this bond has been fractured- probably to the point of no return- but maybe there is some hope of some consolation and connection at least.

The vocal melody has an endless drive that mixes funkiness with attitude: A hypnotic and energetic projection that will have crowds singing along for sure.  At every stage the band do not relent their crusade and musical warfare.  The percussion snaps into life and reaches fever-pitch- one of the most intense performances I have heard- whilst the bass drives the song and ensures every instrument comes together beautifully.  Behind those crunching and easy-on-the-eye riffs you have a commending vocal performance that perfectly mixed emotions- that tiredness and annoyance spars with panache and clarity- and does the song full justice.  A lot of bands lack completion and total authority- either the drumming is too insipid or the guitars too predictable- but Duke of Wolves have that powerhouse built and cemented.  Given the strength of the percussion- recalling the sort of intensity Dave Grohl brings to music- you have a perfect backbone that propels the vocals and song forward.  Whilst the percussion hisses, swaggers and attacks; the guitars blend some beautiful little avenues and ideas.  The riffs do not remain static and stolid instead they slither and move to give the song emotional reverence and story development.  Whilst our hero keeps asking questions of his girl- what is behind her eyes and where are the two headed- that is that implacable need for truth and commitment.  A lot of love songs- that deal with break-up and drifting apart- are needlessly accusatory and self-aggrandising.  Those songs see the lead play the victim and tread into cliché territory.  What you get on Hollow Eyes is a front-man that has had enough but still has a sympathetic side to him.  Not devoid of comfort and heart, there is that stunning mixture of accusation and redemption.  Whilst blood pours from his soul- the lyrics become more evocative and striking as time progresses- our lead is joined on vocals by his band members.  Creating huge drama and atmosphere, you get caught in the whirlpool that is being whipped.  A lot of bands- that play similar sounds- lack any potential beyond the two-minute mark: Much more competent and able when keeping things short and punchy.  Duke of Wolves are a band (on the evidence here anyway) that are capable of short-time attack but effortless when letting the song run.  Brimming with musical and lyrical ideas; the guys are having a great time but keeping things serious.  Before the next verse rolls into view, the percussion provides another nice little side-step- a terrific roll and rumble that punctuates the verses- whilst bass and guitar weld-together to create something electrifying and nerve-shredding.  Into the next verse, our hero wonders whether he is being strung along.  Determined to get clarification- not wanting to let this relationship die needlessly- you get more outright accusation and blame coming into things.  It seems the ‘heroine’ has been having her cake and eating it- or just not properly invested in the relationship- and our lead has had enough of it.  Not keen to be a doormat or do-as-I-say dog there is a definite imbalance in the relationship.  Hollow Eyes is certainly a catchy song that prides itself on its melodic and accessible sides- as much it does those savage riffs and Grunge-inspired dirtiness.  Too many bands either try to create a genuine grubby sound: One that recalls the ‘90s heydays whilst giving it a modern relevance and plenty of potential.  I find acts that go for Grunge/Rock of the ‘90s either stray too close to certain acts- Soundgarden, Nirvana or Pearl Jam- or they are too undisciplined and unfocused.  On the other side of things, many acts are far too polished and mainstream: They are trying to predict what critics want them to sound like and fit into the chart-friendly crowd.  Duke of Wolves have messy emotions among assured and disciplined performances: A beautiful mix of nightmarish dissolving and heart-on-sleeve emotions.  If this is how the band are going to develop they have a very bright future ahead of them- ensure they keep that originality dominant over evoking older sounds.   Those looking to pick apart the song- to see beneath the notes and lyrics- will be fascinated by the range of sounds and ideas the band toss into the pot.  The guitars are endlessly mobile and busy: Not intent on standing still you get some delicious riffs that keep the song fascinating and vibrant.  Lawton is a strong leader who has a voice with plenty of potential to it.  Knowing him from the Crystal Seagulls days he has retained some of that sound- the crisp falsetto and gutsy power- whilst bringing in fresh tones and a new vitality.  Here our man is sharper and more primal- whereas Crystal Seagulls were perhaps a little more radio-friendly- but has not completely departed from his previous band.  It is great to hear a consistent singer who has a voice that makes every emotion sound compelling.  Hollow Eyes deals with a popular currency- the themes will seem familiar to most- given a different perspective and relevance.   Killer riffs remind me of Songs for the Deaf-era Queens of the Stone Age: There are Black Sabbath-esque drugginess and the raw youthfulness of debut-album Nirvana.  Unlike Queens of the Stone Age, the riffs are not two/three-note presentations; like Queens’ Hollow Eyes skews Rock clichés and adapts the worst excesses of the scene (sticking too close with other acts) and perfectly unites iciness and detachment with the desires of the heart.  The guitars effortless unify Stone Age heaviness and primeval lunges with something educated and informative.  Hollow Eyes flows and mutates without losing its focus and heartbeat: Never rif-heavy this is a solid band performance that does not see the lead needlessly dominant.  Although Lawton’s voice and guitar adds a huge amount of force to the song, the entire band has their chance to shine in the spotlight.  Towards the final stages you get more pyrotechnic riffs and licks; some stunning guitar explosions and snaking, biting bass notes.  Kudos must be given to that vocal- in spite of my previous words- as it really grows and stuns into the final exchanges.  Semi-operatic and wracked, it is a huge performance that gives the listener chills.  Able to keep his voice whispered and seductive, Lawton can bring it to the point of orgasm without losing a step- few singers have that ability and talent.  Before the song is done the band throw everything into the mix to ensure the composition goes down swinging.

Congratulations must be given to the band that has come in with a debut single that marks them as future warriors.  Not many bands come in this strong; it is testament to their bond and shared talents that make Hollow Eyes a blinder.  The production throughout is professional and polished ensuring the vocals and lyrics can be clearly heard.  That said, the production is raw and bare enough to ensure the song’s subjects/highlights- those anxious and angry lyrics; the stunningly inventive and hard-hitting composition- are given a proper platform to shine.  Ensuring the lyrics is never clichéd and predictable, you have a song that deals with common issues- the battles of love and deceitfulness- but gives it nee inspiration and angles.  The song succeeds- among many other reasons- in no small part because of the band themselves.  Duke of Wolves are newbies yet seem like they have been performing for years.  Ben is a drummer who has the power and arm strength of Dave Grohl- few bands has such an assured and mesmeric sticks-man behind them- whilst creating plenty of personality and original intent.  Savage and pummeling slams mix with neat drum fills and more restrained moments.  An exceptional performance that keeps the song flowing and attacking; those drumming skills will be put to good use throughout further recordings.  Orlando’s lead guitar is another star that burns with eye-melting intensity.  Snarling and teeth-showing venom blends with psychedelic swagger and Grunge-influenced filth- a gamut of emotions, colours and ideas throughout the song.  He puts the listener into the mix and provides a thrilling sense of drama and magic throughout the track.  Sara’s bass ensures Hollow Eyes remains solid and focused throughout.  Never vague and slight, she manages to put melody, rhythm and rebellion into her notes whilst keeping all the instruments and elements together perfectly.  Bass players are often under-rated and under-noticed: It is hard to ignore the influence and discipline Sara shows throughout.  It would be nice to see that bass out-front on future releases: Get some nice solos and runs mixing with drum and guitar solos.  Jim (Lawton) leads from the front with determination and power throughout.  One of the most agile and impressive voices in Rock; his rhythm guitar has its own wonder and electricity to it.  Presenting a song that will connect with a lot of listeners, it is crucial the vocal is clear and ready for the challenge: Not only is the vocal endlessly gripping it has that original feeling and plenty of nuances.  Able to effortlessly scream into the abyss whilst demurring into pure and romantic territory- it is another key weapon that Duke of Wolves with exploit across their forthcoming songs.  The entire band is tight and well-rehearsed to ensure Hollow Eyes stands up to repeated batterings and investigation.  A song that will get the crowds singing and united, they should be very proud of their first step.  One of the most impressive debuts I have heard in a long time, the London quartet bring in the best elements of Queens of the Stone Age, Nirvana, Cream and Led Zeppelin- those magisterial riffs and unbeatable anthems- there is plenty of original content and ideas to stand them out from the crowds.  With so many great bands bubbling under the surface, I am confident 2016 will see Duke of Wolves do sterling business.  I cannot wait to see if future songs will bring in witticism and humour- to counterbalance the ragged and accusatory songs- and see the guys go into softer territory- perhaps a calmer moment of reflection.  Such is their potential and ability you wouldn’t rule anything out: A bona fide Rock act that are going to be ruling the airwaves before you know it.

Hollow Eyes is a statement of intent from a hot young band that has a lot more to say.  The bands coming through at the moment vary in term of quality: We have some amazing propositions among the indeterminate swathe of so-so acts.  With an air of U.S. legends- Rage Against the Machine, Queens of the Stone Age and Nirvana- you have a debut cut that evokes fond memories and plenty of quality.  The band have their own style and way of working: You should not be too ready to compare them with other bands.  What you have from the London troupe is so much energy and commitment.  Incredibly tight musicians, you just know they can go onto some great things.  It is perhaps too easy for me to stand on the outside and make proclamations and predictions.  I know how hard and fraught the music industry can be- the reality of making music and finding success- so Duke of Wolves will keep their feet on the ground.  The debut song- and those infantile stages- are vital to get cemented and right.  If you are wasteful and insincere early on then you will struggle to make any impressions and footprints.  Given the mass of musicians coming through, there are no excuses to produce something samey, unoriginal and tepid.  Duke of Wolves know how music can go- Lawton’s band Crystal Seagulls sadly disbanded; they produced some fantastically consistent music- but I can hear so much potential in the young band.  Given the winter we have- where harsh weather and the passing of some legends have scarred us- we all need to discover music and let it heal the wounds.  London has always worked hard to produce some of the world’s greatest musicians.  In the early part of 2015, the capital started to slow down: Dominance was relinquished and other towns/cities started to make way.  Yorkshire and the north started to take some market share from London and show its prowess.  I am not sure what has happened there- maybe just a bad period- but London is starting to recapture that magic and authority.  So many terrific solo acts are coming through here; each with their own voice and way of working.  The lack of quality bands coming through- not just in London but everywhere- started to worry me last year.  There are always going to be a lot of terrific bands coming through- impossible not to given the sheer number of musicians starting out- but the quality was not as high as it should have been.  What I find is too many bands lack that necessary nuance and grit: The genuine passion and force to stick in the mind coupled with the compulsion to revisit them again.  With the likes of Foo Fighters managing to inspire still; so many young acts replicate them and lazily toss-off some third-rate tribute songs.  Lacking necessary uniqueness and personality, what you have is a scene where you have to dig deep to find the better acts.  I mentioned earlier the fact acts like Everything Everything have managed to work wonders within the Indie mould.  Their album Get to Heaven was awash with darker and anxious themes; tied with swaggering and anthemic compositions, you have an album that gave a necessary kick to the scene- was a shame it missed out the Mercury Prize win.  So many new bands tend to be rigid when it comes to their instrumentation and themes.

Concentrating on love and relationship issues- without giving the subjects much consideration- they go for easy riffs and something rather predictable.  I think this year will see a resurgence; more terrific bands emerge.  Rock is certainly not dead- although it is ailing and in need of medication- it just needs its participants to step their game up and think horizontally.  Duke of Wolves knows what it takes to make a mark and have made an impressive early stride.  The guys have some clear influences- you can hear elements of U.S. and U.K. acts in their single- but do not wear it as a suit of armour.  What they do is adapt the Cream-cum-Queens of Stone Age dynamics for their own end: Injecting plenty of personality punch into the cocktail, you have a band that mix familiar with original.  The passion and intensity blends seamlessly with the emotional and introspective.  London has plenty of great music venues so expect Duke of Wolves to feature all across town.  Hollow Eyes is a song for the masses: One that get the voices rallying and the feet hopping; it is a blast of brilliance that is not going to be a one-off.  Whether the quartet have already begun work on an E.P. – such a pushy reviewer me!-I am not sure.  It will be exciting to see what 2016 holds for the London act; it is going to be a busy one that is guaranteed!  Before signing-off, I wanted to mention the bands coming through at the moment- comparing them to the solo market.  Whilst there is more speculation and excitement leveled to the solo artists of 2016; that is not to say the bands should be overlooked altogether.  The mainstream’s best are few and far between- there is a definite weakening at the moment- so we have to look to the underground to see who will ascend to the gilded ranks of critical attention.  Last year there were some awesome bands coming through that excited me: This year is not going to be a disappointment at all.  It is tricky assessing new bands as their earliest cuts might not necessarily reflect what they will sound like down the line.  Acts evolve and change all the time so it is hard to predict what will come next for Duke of Wolves.  The band have come in hard with a debut cut that recalls some idols and influences- the riffs of Queens of the Stone Age are in there- yet there is nothing too obvious about the London band.  They take those influences on board but ensure their music has plenty of originality and personal direction.  Hollow Eyes is an assured and intense debut that has already garnered praise and acclaim across social media.  Whether the gang chooses to expand their social media output- more photos and information among Facebook and Twitter- that will come in time I am sure.  You cannot deny how much the band wants to succeed and play: The tight and impassioned performances are the result of four musicians with love of what they do.  If they do release more songs in the coming months, they will probably not be that close to Hollow Eyes.  I know there will be softer and more intimate numbers among the hard-and-heavy riffs.  If Rock as a whole seems to be near the point of death- perhaps an exaggeration but there is a slacking of quality- then the likes of Duke of Wolves show it has the potential to…

 

RECOVER and keep on burning bright.

 

_________________________________________________________

Follow Duke of Wolves

 

Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/dukeofwolves/

Twitter:

https://twitter.com/dofwmusic

Instagram:

https://www.instagram.com/dukeofwolves/

____________________________________

Music:

https://soundcloud.com/dukeofwolves

 

Interview: The Updraft Imperative

Interview:

 

  

The Updraft Imperative

 

 

THIS year I am keen to revisit some of my favourite acts: Check in with them and see what lies ahead for them.  The Updraft Imperative came to my attention following the release of their album, Chair.  The last year has seen them perform across Australia; interviews across international radio- they seem unstoppable.  With rumours of a potential album (this year) and a line-up change- their original drummer Pete left the band- it has certainly shown challenges among the triumph.  Excited to catch up with the Christian-Rock band, here’s how it went down…

Hi guys.  I hope you are well.  How was your Christmas and New Year?

Danny: Great!  My wife and I drove the campervan up to Yeppoon and back.

Iain: Doing pretty good.  Christmas and New Year was great.  Spent Christmas with some extended family up in Kandanga.  Went and watched a mates band play on New Year’s Eve, then went and watched the fireworks at Southbank.

Murray: I enjoyed some quality family time and went dancing on New Year’s Eve – confirming once again that I can’t waltz.  I apologise once again to my wife who tried to teach me!

Josh: Had an interesting Christmas and New Year this year.  There was some great times spent with friends and family, but some sad circumstances mixed with some friends also.  In some ways a welcome farewell to 2015.  Looking forward to a new year of….well, whatever it brings.

You have two new members to your ranks (Iain and Danny).  How are you guys settling in?

Danny:  Really well: Still learning all the songs and whatnot but it’s pretty easy.  Everyone’s getting along.

Iain: Yeah settling in fine.  This is actually my second stint with the band so it’s been like slipping back into an old pair of trousers for me.  Hahaha.

Murray: As a founding member (A.K.A. elder statesman) of T.U.I., we are all very comfortable with our roles.

Josh: These guys rock!!

Last year was a busy and transformative one for the band.  What were the highs and lows for 2015?

Danny: In my (so far) short time with the band; playing the carols out at Mount Mee was a decent highlight.

Iain: One of the highs from last year was playing at Moo-fest up at Mooloola.

Murray: So many highs!  There’s a blog on our website mentioning a few of them.  For me personally, the amount of radio play our music has received; the recording of new singles and the diversity and number of gigs we have played.  Lows:  Pete leaving T.U.I. was probably the lowest point of the year but Danny and Iain joining rounded the year off on a high.

Josh: A big highlight for me was finding out we had the funds and support to record some more music.  I would say Pete’s announcement to leave was a low point; however one door shut and another opens (…or another 2 open in our case).

 

 

In terms of the year ahead: can we expect a new album down the line?

Danny: There’s a fair chance of that: We’re gonna try get together and write some new stuff soon.

Iain: I do believe there are plans in the pipeline for a new album.

Murray: My studio is ready and waiting for a band writing weekend…coming soon!!

Josh: We are excited to see how our music merges and develops with the influence brought by Iain and Danny, and yes, we will be sharing it with the world.

With your band undergoing a slight personnel change: Does this mean your sound will change or will it remain the same?

Iain: There have been murmurs about a bit of change in our sound- to a rockier, edgy kind of sound.

Danny: We’ve been talking about going in a more Rock direction, but we’ll see what happens.

Murray: We all bring very different life experiences to the band.  Putting both those experiences and diverse musical influences together it’s a given that a new line-up will equal a new sound.

Josh: I think there will be some changes.  I don’t think it’ll be too dramatic, but feel like it’ll shake things up a bit.

In terms of the band’s history, what has stood as the proudest moment to date?

Murray: For me, it was driving along with the family in the car and hearing our son One Life being played on 96Five…then going on to have that song (and many others) played on stations across the world.

Josh: It’s hard to pin-point a particular moment.  I felt really proud when someone from the other side of the world felt like our music was worth the time and effort to sacrifice a significant amount of their life to it/us.

Being a Christian-Rock band; do you find it is a genre that should be pushed to the mainstream more?

Murray: Short answer?  No!  I know we are Christians, but our sound isn’t a typically Christian band sound- therefore if we pushed it more as Christian-Rock then we would risk pigeon-holing ourselves into a genre that doesn’t represent us.  As a sideline: I’m still not 100% sure what to define our sound as – even after all these years!

Josh: If you’re talking about a genre of music, then I’m not sure.  If you mean: “Do you think the message of Christ (and the stories of our lives) should be shared with as many people as possible?”, then absolutely.

 

 

In terms of your influences and idols; who has been particularly important to you growing up?

Murray: Early in my life, the likes of Bread, America, Cat Stevens and the like filled my ears.  Later it would be Petra, Led Zep., Jeff Buckley, R.H.C.P. (Red Hot Chili Peppers), R.A.T.M. (Rage Against the Machine- when did you want me to stop….?!)

Iain: A few major influences on me that have helped shaped my style of bass playing are: John Entwistle (The Who), Jack Bruce (Cream); John Paul Jones (Led Zeppelin) and Roger Waters (Pink Floyd)

Josh: Queen, Petra, Michael Card; Rob Thomas, Jason Mraz, Josh Groban…..

Chair is an album still being talked-about and celebrated.  Why do you think it resonates so much with people?

Danny: In my opinion (sound-wise) it has a pretty accessible sound and uplifting lyrics throughout.

Murray: Because of its honesty and clarity.  Great music; lyrics that actually say something worth listening to – and hectic guitar riffs!

Josh: Not 100% sure.  I think one is we were trying to fit into a particular genre.  That has its risks I suppose, but maybe it allowed the album to connect on different levels- and I would hope that the message of the songs was encouraging or challenging.

Brisbane has produced some great bands- including Powderfinger, Sheppard and The Saints.  With areas like Sydney, Melbourne and Perth gaining musical attention; do you think Brisbane is an underrated area of music?

Danny: I don’t think Brisbane is underrated at all; there are plenty of quality bands here.  People just need to get out and go see ‘em.

Iain: Like Danny, I don’t think Brisbane is underrated in the area of music.  The numerous amount of times that I’ve gone out and gigged in Brisbane: I’ve witnessed plenty of other talented bands.

With the world becoming less sure and more fearful: Do you think Christian-Rock’s messages- hope and togetherness- are more relevant than ever?

Danny: Any message that speaks of hope and positivity is relevant in this day and age.

Murray: We live in a world where hope is a diminished commodity.  Simply because you cannot put a price on it, that’s why it’s priceless!  We bring a sense of hope- that we are simply not alone in this world- that we are not just a random accident with no real future outside of that which we see here before we die.

People around the world are connecting with the message and feeling of hope in our music.  We aren’t backward in letting our Christian beliefs come through in our music.  So the biggest thing, in both lyrics and music, is accurately plugging into the hope people need to hear!

Josh: The Christian message has always been relevant.   I suppose when we see the uncertainty and fear in our world; maybe it just highlights the fact that we need hope and purpose.  We have hope in who God is and what he has done.  It’s not just hope for the sake of hope.


A question for Iain and Danny here: What was your music background prior to joining The Updraft Imperative?

Danny: Iain and I were in a Rock band together prior to T.U.I.  Other than that, I played in church for years.

Iain: Danny and I were the rhythm section in another band called Maiden May which sadly disintegrated at the end of July 2015.  Here we are both reunited in The Updraft Imperative

What advice would you give to any similar bands following your footsteps?

Danny: Work hard and make sure everyone is on the same page and working toward the same goals.

Iain: Work hard, work together and aim for the same goals.

Murray: Set your sights high…and low.  High for quality of sound and songs and low for the groundwork needed to be done to bring these to punters.  Know your audience, and work on getting a core group of supporters from that audience.  Know your strengths and maximise them.  Isolate your weaknesses and put them in the back room!  ALWAYS be true to yourself and your band-mates- no matter what the apparent benefits are to you of being otherwise.

Josh: Yes, I agree to have goals and work towards them is essential.  Encourage each other as mates and musicians.  We’ve been blessed to have a tireless promotions manager to help with leg work and someone who believes in us as a band.  Get one of those 🙂

Finally- and for being a good egg- you can name any song you like; I’ll play it here…

Iain: Oooooh, there’s so many songs to choose from, but one song I’ve been really getting into lately is In Any Tongue from David Gilmour’s latest album Rattle That Lock.

 

 

Murray: Being fairly topical here: I’m going for David Bowie, Let’s Dance.

 

 

Danny: Bumblebee by Kasabian

 

 

______________________________________

Follow The Updraft Imperative

 

Official:

http://www.theupdraftimperative.com/

Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/theupdraftimperative

Twitter:

https://twitter.com/TUI_Official

YouTube:

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

SoundCloud:

https://soundcloud.com/theupdraftimperative

 

 

 

Feature: The 500th Post- The People’s Playlist

FEATURE:

 

The 500th Post:

 

 

The People’s Playlist

_________________________

AS I reach the 500th post…

of my blogging ‘career’, it has been great reflecting on some great musical memories.  Several years ago- when I first started Musicmusingsandsuch- I took baby steps and developed what I do- probably hitting my best a few weeks ago.  It takes a while to get things good- and I have a way to go yet- but am pleased I have persevered and kept going.

Not sure what 2016 holds in store for new music- sure there will be some surprises- but will be exciting to see what comes next.  To honour this post, I have thrown the blog open to the general public (people I know on Facebook) to recommend some great music- included here for your delectation.

 

It is still open- only have two submissions so far- so get your choices in…

 

The Dutch Guy- D.J./Journalist/Reviewer

 

 

Jerusa – Favourite Memory

 

 

Ships Have Sailed- Midnight

 

 

Lexi Strate – Antidote

 

 

Jonathon Robins – Here for You

 

 

Rachel Lorin – Love Bites

 

 

Shalamar – Slow Dance

 

 

Track right now:

 

JJ RosaWhere is the Mercy

 

 

 

Lisa Russell- Member of Universal Thee

 

 

Teleman- Cristina

 

 

Foals- What Went Down

 

 

Ded Rabbit- Scarlet Cardigan

 

 

Everything Everything- Regret

 

 

 
Courtney Barnett- Pedestrian at Best

 

 

Universal Thee- Hounds

 

 

The Baskervillez-Lazy

 

 

 

Cate Le Bon- Are You With Me Now?

 

 

 
Borns- Electric Love

 

 

Yuk- Get Away

 

 

Eagulls- Possessed

 

 

Cardiacs- As Cold as Can Be in An English Sea (thanks Matt Grieve)

 

 

We Are the Physics- Dildonics (thanks Ross McGowan)

 

 

Glad to say many Edinburgh bands make a feature.  Reminiscing I have to say that we had one of the best nights with Be Like Pablo in Aberdeen and Kelburn Festival was such a blast… My ear worm of last year was the Cate Le Bon one; so that’s prob. my favourite… New band?  The Baskervillez.

 

Get involved and let me know what songs you want included- I shall put them in.  Here’s to the next 500 posts (or near as I can get)…

 

 

THANKS.

E.P. Review: Cryptic Street- Stranger

TRACK REVIEW:

 

Cryptic Street

 

 

Stranger

 

9.4/10.0

 

Stranger is available at:

https://crypticstreet.bandcamp.com/

RELEASED:
August, 2015

GENRES:
Rock; Electronica; Pop

ORIGIN:

Malta

TRACK LISTING:

Stranger9.4

Kull Lejla9.3

Fumes9.4

Farsa9.4

103– 9.5

DOWNLOAD:

Stranger; Fumes; 103

STANDOUT TRACK:

103

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LOOMING close to my….

500th post- the next one out of the blocks- it gives me the opportunity to meet with a hungry new girl group- one of the most diverse and exciting I have heard for a while.  It seems like that musical commodity is a rare one indeed: There are girl bands yet few that really leave impressions in the mind.  Before I get to my featured act I wanted to talk about music coming out of Malta; the girl group sector in music- in addition to the importance music will have this year.  Having reviewed for a while now I have been lucky enough to assess musicians from all around the world- across four continents and many different cities- and Malta is one of those places that pops up now and then.  With everyone from Chess and Aphty Khea- two Maltese artists based in the U.K. – there are some great musicians coming from Malta.  To my ears there is a leaning (among Maltese artists) for a Pop-based sound with Electronica/Rock edges: Whether that is the favoured sound of Malta I am not sure.  What you get from the artists is something vibrant and fresh; music that elicits energy and the desire to move- it also makes you think and dig deep.  Although few Maltese musicians have made their way to the mainstream here the nation has some local heroes for sure: Everyone from Gabriela N. and Kevin Borg have captured the public’s attentions.  For my money there are many more Maltese artists that have the potential to be big names.  I have mentioned the likes of Chess- Beatbox artist Dana McKeon is another great example- but there seems to be quite a few innovative young artists coming from Malta.  In previous reviews I have been keen to get my mind away from the U.K. and U.S.: I spend too much time with familiar places and sounds; tend not to let my mind wander across the waters.  Having recently reviewed artists from Sweden and Germany I am really excited to see what else is out there.  Too much attention is paid to American and British music- it makes up the majority of mainstream tastes- yet so much more can be discovered when you expand your horizons and go looking for something further afield.  If you are looking for great Electronic-Pop and upbeat Pop then Sweden has plenty on offer.  There are some great Hard-Rock bands coming out of France right now- Australia and New Zealand are also fertile when it comes to those genre.  Canada is one of the most diverse musical nations whereas Asia is a continent really showing range and originality: Artists have that spark and certain something lacking elsewhere.  My point is we should be more adventurous and ambitious with our music tastes.  Malta is a nation that is up-and-coming and exciting: It will be great to see what new artists emerge here as we go through 2016.  At the moment Cryptic Street are a band that are getting tongues wagging and laying out a very distinct and arresting sound.  Before I continue on, let me introduce them to you:

Leona Farrugia – vocalist

Janelle Borg – guitarist

Julia Hickey – Drummer

Denise Gilford – Keyboardist

According to Toni Sant, Cryptic Street is’A new all-girl pop rock group on the local music scene will certainly go a long way to diffusing the testosterone saturated environment.’
Cryptic Street is a band, made up of five friends (Leona Farrugia – vocalist, Janelle Borg – guitarist, Julia Hickey – Drummer, Denise Gilford – Keyboardist & Cheyenne Belle Xuereb – Bassist) who simply love experimenting with different instruments and listening to all genres of music. One probably wouldn’t be able to pin a specific genre to their sound since it is incorporates modern rock elements, with a splash of electronica and experimental, alternative rock.  The band is made up of a myriad of personalities of which compliment together to create music.  Indecisive, the band’s debut single, produced by Peter Borg, is therefore the vibrant result of such a blend of genres and qualities. The song and accompanying video were very well received, and in fact, the video was chosen to be shown on the official website of the famous British band Coldplay, a band that in itself has been highly inspirational to Cryptic Street’s sound at the start. With psychedelic sounding guitars, strong-driven bass, 80’s disco beat, emotional vocals and a keyboard line that makes one nostalgic of the synthpop age, there is an artistic diversity that ignites the song and makes it enjoyable for die-hard psychedelic rock fans and pop fans alike.  With this single, Cryptic Street performed at the Bay Music Awards 2012, and won the Best Newcomer Award. They also landed a nomination at the Malta Music Awards. The single also entered the Official Maltese PRS Music Charts, and secured the number one spot for two consecutive weeks of the Bay Radio Charts.
The band’s second single, Retrospect (2013), also produced by Peter Borg, was the result of a myriad of different influences that have impacted the band during that year. Influenced by Orwellian literature, Lana del Rey and Jim Morrison’s poetic lyrics and most of all, different life experiences, it is a positive departure from the first single, ‘Indecisive.’  Retrospect’s neo-80s vibe, which initiated in ‘Indecisive’ and is steadily maturing, along with the eclectic diverse genres incorporated in the song, is targeted towards different listeners.
After the departure of the original bassist, and influenced by the hottest bands on the international scene that favour simple yet experimental beats as well as by the melodic playing of the new bassist, Cheyenne Belle Xuereb, the band decided to depart from mainstream sounds and experiment with a more underground sound. This also led to some self-production which helped the band mature in their sound and also opt for a more hands on recording approach
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The girl band market is one of those sectors that get a bad reputation: We have those ideas of sugary Pop acts and committee-written songs.  Whilst there are a lot of acts that still continue like this- with no discernible talent; all looks and no ability- there are plenty of girl groups that have plenty of potential, passion and quality.  Cryptic Street are not your average Pop act anyway: They mix Rock and Electronic sounds to create something special.  With their E.P. Stranger released last year, the girls are going to be planning new attack during the year. I have been fascinated by the all-girl groups that are emerging on the scene right now.  Having assessed Dolores Haze recently- a Swedish Noise-Rock band- it is great to see so much drive and power emerging.  Even a lot of the Pop girl groups I have loved are far edgier and nuanced than you’d imagine.  There is so much intention and ambitious arising, you should all take notice.  Too many eyes and minds stick with male bands and solo artists: The girl groups coming out are among the most exhilarating and stunning musicians currently playing.  Having seen a couple of music legends pass recently- in addition to actor Alan Rickman- there is a lot of shock and upset around the world.  In a month that has seen a lot of tragedy and unexpected loss- that has resonated with so many different people- we are looking for something comforting and escapist right now.  With sledgehammer blows being levied so early in 2016; it is my hope musicians will rise to the challenge and step up.  Last year was a great year for new music but I found there were a comparatively small number of acts that lingered in the memory.  I think a lot of musicians are still trying too hard to be someone else- copycatting other acts and not showing originality- and it is those inventive and unique acts that will always stand the test of time.  As this year has just kicked into action it may be folly to cast judgement already.  From what I have seen- and the types of acts emerging so far- it looks as though 2016 will be much healthier and more productive.  Cryptic Street have plenty of acclaim and respect in their native Malta.  I think the girls will be translating to the U.K. heavily in the next few months.  Their social media numbers are growing and their reputation is building momentum.  One of the most interesting and compelling groups coming through, I am excited to see where they go from here.

The girls have been playing together for a few years now yet their E.P. Stranger is their first fully-formed original creation.  The girls unleashed the 2012 single Indecisive: It was met with huge acclaim and featured on Coldplay’s website.  Those ‘80s touches and dance beats mixed with huge energy and drive.  Psychedelic touches sparred with Electro.-Pop sounds that give a song bursting with life and vitality.  A relentless swirling and addictive slice of music; it is impossible not to get caught up in the fiery and feet-tapping mood.  Retrospect was released the following year and saw a departure for the girls.  Inspired by the works of George Orwell and Jim Morrison there was a quasi-philosophical touch to the song.  Deep and thoughtful, the song varied its themes (from Indecisive) and expanded their sound.  As we go into Stranger, that sounds is expanded once more.  With every release, the girls bring in new concerned and lyrical themes.  They do not just stay with a tried-and-tested way of doing things: Their debut E.P. shows them at their most confident and assured.  At their most urgent and nuanced, the music across the E.P. unites the sounds of Indecisive and Retrospect.  Those deep and intelligent lyrics remains- as do the emotional concerns and introspectiveness- married to a terrific palette of genre-blend and stunning vocals.  The girls sound completely tight and bonded throughout the E.P. – even more connected then they did across their singles.  It seems the years between- the release of Retrospect and Stranger– saw them perform a lot and hone their sound.  The biggest developments for the girls arrived with their new bassist Cheyenne Belle Xeureb- bringing in new melody and inspiration- where the band started to embrace the underground sounds.  Pushing away from mainstream/Pop traditions the girls present something edgier and more experimental.  Few bands transform and develop their sound as effectively: Fewer manage to achieve this without compromising their core and personality.  Cryptic Street have followed their instincts and are at the point where they sound fully-formed and as they should- an act that have taken time to discover who they want to be.  Any forthcoming E.P.s or singles will see Stranger’s sound being experimented-with again.

If you are new to the girls- and looking for reference points with regards their sound- then the likes of Warpaint and Foster the People have been mentioned (when it comes to comparisons).    Whereas Warpaint are a girl group- Foster the People are a male band- there are worthy familiarities and comparisons to be found.  Although both reside in California, there are differences between the two.  Foster the People have a sunny and optimistic sound that has seen them gain a lot of fans and followers.  Perhaps not seducing critics at the moment- their two albums have not gained overwhelmingly positive reviews- they perhaps lack grit and necessary maturity.  Quite subdued and haunting; Warpaint have gained more critical acclaim.  The girls’ music hits the heart and is a lot more memorable: A better starting point if you wanted comparisons.  The likes of The Smiths, Coldplay and Plato’s Dream Machine are also important acts for the Maltese girls.  If you are inclined towards any of these artists- and favour your music with more depth and intelligence than a lot of the mainstream- then check them out and let their music get inside the head (and not be willing to move out).

 

The E.P.’s title track begins with soft and contemplative strings.  Tender and melodic, it is a subtle and fascinating way to begin Stranger– a song that shows grace and passion within the first few notes.  Our heroine come to the microphone and lets her early words spark some interpretation.  “Don’t let the sun catch you crying/Don’t let the light catch you lying” get your mind racing and wonder what is being assessed.  Imploring the listener/her subject not to let it go- the dying light and the night itself- one gets the impressions of a heartbroken soul looking for connection.  With the vocal measured and emotive- not too heavy or insincere- you have a song that has subtlety and calm in the early phases.  As the second verse unfolds, the sentiments are less oblique and perhaps more direct.  “Dance, dance, dance/Dancing in a crowd of people” injects some urgency and happiness into the song- and you can envisage that rapture and abandon- and the mind become intrigued still.  Wondering whether the song was enforced and inspired by heartache- and the need to reconnect with something more positive- or a concern inside our heroine’s heart (an anxiety and niggle inside her), I am not sure.  Whereas the building composition and vocal alacrity suggest something redemptive; the lyrics point at a heart that is heart and in solitude.  Where she dances like an eagle and soars high; surrounded by people and life- she has never felt so alone and destitute.  That chorus seems even more relevant and clear the second time around- given what has been revealed now- and the backing vocals add weight and emotion to the foreground.  Whilst the composition remains supportive and driving- you get caught up by the bass; something that is prominent throughout the E.P. – the girls have penned their most mainstream song to date.  Not in a bad way you see: The memorability and chorus-repeat makes it digestible and singalong; the lyrics have a relatable feel to the listener.  A stunning and instant-classic sound to kick-off Stranger; you have a song that sticks in the mind and shows a lot of heart and soul to it.

    Kull Lejla opens with a honed and traditional Cryptic Street concoction of tripped-out strings and racing beats.  Part-sneaky, part-suave; the introduction is among the coolest and most interesting the band have come up with.  There is an exotic flair in the notes- a liquid and chic bass line drives the song- that makes the song danceable and urgent right from the off.  Stopping and starting, the composition really starts to earn its pay and evoke emotion and atmosphere.  When the vocal does come in, it is another Maltese-spoken song that is synonymous with its beauty as opposed to translatability.  For the English-speaking listener you have another largely-musical moment that does not lose its effectiveness- even if you do not understand the words.  Fast-flowing and insistent; the vocal shows a pride in Malta and the importance of keeping pure to your roots.  Whilst kull lejla means ‘every night’ (in Maltese) you wonder what the song is portraying.  The words look at falling rain and the notes of the piano- what I could translate through Bing- there is a romanticism and purity to the vocals.  Less anxious and affected than other moments (that will appear on Stranger) you have a song that perfectly introduces the band- their native language and a sound very pure and meaningful to them.  A short and memorable slice from the girls; the song is an addictive and unforgettable sound that has no comparisons- the song has such a unique and unexpected charm to it.

Fumes begins as 103 does (later on the E.P.): That mix of ‘80s Synth. /New-Wave together with urgent and choppy beats.  A composition that makes you smile and speculate the moment it unfolds- the first few seconds are terrific- you are immersed in the song and fascinated without any words being spoken.  The synths. and electronics sound almost intergalactic in their endeavor- you get impressions of being raised to space and floating among the stars- and my mind went to the days of Dark Side of the Moon.  Not as experimental and haunted as that classic album; there is a semblance of familiarity to the introductory notes of Fumes.  One of the most overtly confessional and introspective tracks- less oblique than anything across the E.P.- our heroine looks inside herself and needs change.  Feeling that desire to fly and escape- lost in confusion after a particularly rude awakening- perhaps the title refers to our heroine running on fumes.  Tripping and wordless vocals- a side of their song that recalls Coldplay’s go-to move- adds beauty and intensity to the foreground.  Unlike the previous two numbers, there is a sense of airiness and space to the song.  Less tight and structured than before; there is looseness to the track which means its full impact arrives after repeated listens.  Here we look at quasi-philosophical questions and considerations- whether we are tempered and restricted by times; are we truly living? – and deeper issues of society.  Not strictly confined to personal investigation and concerns; the track shows the girls are among the most deep and intelligent in modern music.  Rather than pander to the proclivities of the mainstream- issues of love and easy-to-digest lyrics- we have something a lot more personal and impressive at work.  The composition remains fairly understated to allow the vocals to really resound and work.  Backed by thudded beats- that arrives at various intervals- and starlight electronics: That mixture of ‘80s Synths. and Warpaint-esque vocal-and-compositional dynamics results in a song that has mainstream potential and huge originality- few other acts manage to achieve that noble feat.  One of the E.P.’s longest tracks- running just shy of three-and-a-half minutes- and you have a track that exploits all the key Cryptic Street colours: Those nuanced and poetic lyrics; those evocative and beautiful vocals; the hard-racing and heartbeat compositional beats.  Where our heroine muses and lets her inner-curiosities speak- questions around her own worth and the possibilities that can be achieved- it is perhaps the composition that shows most intrigue.  As the closing notes come into view- and our heroine implores her subject to “come closer”- and you have a breathless number that is among the girls’ most epic and expansive.  With the initial directness giving clear views- personal doubts and anxieties- the final moments look towards that need for love and answers.  The girls blend the straightforward and complex in a song that is a perfect mid-way point to the E.P.

   Farsa begins life with a primal and heavy beat that quickly leads to a spirited and Blues-influenced guitar sound.  Changing course over a few seconds- ensuring the song has maximum intrigue- you are immersed in the composition and its many sides.  Developing into Salsa territory- there is a definite sense of dance to the sway that comes through- fragmented vocals mix to create something hugely evocative.  Those choppy and wordless vocal snatches move within the piano-and-beats groove to get the senses fascinated and primed.  Whereas 103 begins with ‘80s recollections and promise; here there is something contemporary and of-the-moment- whilst drawing in influences of other genres.  Farsa is a type of opera that was originated in Venice (and became popular in the 18th and 19th centuries).  Whereas there are semi-operatic tones to the song, the lyrics are delivered in Maltese: One of two songs across the E.P. where the band embraces their mother tongue.  Although it is hard/near-impossible to get to the root of the lyrics- unless you are quick on a translator app. or speak Maltese- but the sound and intensity of the vocal cannot be understated.  Processed and echoed, the dark and pin-sharp vocal drive develops into something more open and accessible- matching the nimbleness and unexpectedness of the composition.  From Salsa elements in the early stages you now get tumbling beats and a catchy-as-Hell bass come through.  Twirling and spiraling; you are powerless to resist the feet-tapping and brain-enticing sound that comes through.  For most listeners, Farsa will be an instrumental track largely- the vocals add to the effect but are hard to translate- but even so, you get a terrific song.  The girls are not keen to abandon their native language for the sake of their artistry- an impressive move and one that few acts do.  In a way the song reminds me of a Miles Davis composition.  That experimentation and lack of boundaries- that we saw on albums such as Bitches Brew and Sketches of Spain– can be heard here.  Past the half-way mark the vocals build in intensity and passion- clearly a vital development and stage in things- before being swallowed by the composition.  Graceful and haunting backing vocals come into play- supported by a delirious and tender compositional contrast- as the girls ride that hypnotic wave of song.  Unable to appease the bass drive- escape the wonderful mixes of chaos- the song will appeal to all listeners.  Without boundaries or prejudice, you have a musical moment that shows just how original and daring Cryptic Street are.

103 begins with bubbling electronics and a rushing beat that recalls ‘80s sounds- Synth.-Pop and New Wave- that gives the track a strange curiosity and sense of sooth.  Backed by serene and velvety backing vocals, the song develops and expands its wings- eliciting huge potential and speculation in the introduction.  Our lead is speaking out to a subject- or maybe a type of person- and imploring them to “Take a deep breath”.  There is that sense (when it comes to the heroine/hero) there is no point in turning back and giving in: They need to keep going and fight on.  Unsure about the specific origins of the track- whether there is a relationship breaking up or a hard slice of reality working away- but you get drawn into the evocative mood of the song.  The lead vocal has a mixture of veracity and passion; it is soulful and uplifting- retaining a sensitive and sympathetic heart.  Backed by lush backing vocals and a spirited composition- that ties ‘80s elements with modern-day Electro. blends- and you get a song that shines brightly.  As the song develops it seems like the themes/intention made be first-hand.  Our heroine wonders whether she is holding back and being too restrained.  Maybe too shy to be cavalier- and take a chance on something special- you become fascinated as to the song’s origins.  Maybe a person or lover is holding her back- or caused some hurt and self-doubt- but there is that overriding feeling or strength and defiance.  She will not be overcome by such minor threats and emotions- determined to keep going and remain resilient- and the song is a mantra for strength and persistence.  Given the song’s non-specific and oblique title, the origins of 103 are not that clear- allowing the listener to speculate and draw their own conclusions.  Maybe a rally against the music industry- the need for our heroine/the band to rebel against mainstream expectations- you get a sense relationships and friendships are being represented.  Throughout the track those vocals really augment the urgency and emotions being presented.  The lead has a huge amount of power and beauty to it, whilst the backing vocals are heart-achingly pure and soothing- being presented in angelic tones.  The final moments of the track see the girls combine with wordless vocals and stunning harmonies.  As the song comes to its close, I look back and reassess some of the lyrics.  Although there are no absolute truths and nominal revelations, there is the sense of suffocation and confinement.  Our heroine has been pegged back and wants to break away from things- whether a bad relationship or the restrictions of the music industry.  A stunning example of how the band has grown- more confident and compelling than their earliest moments- it shows a big step forward and evolution.

   The five-piece band is one of the most exciting in their native Malta.  In a nation that still retains old drawbacks- racism and a sense of discrimination in society- the girls have created an E.P. that shows huge courage and a determination.  I was impressed they included two Maltese-speaking tracks on the E.P.: It shows they are proud of their heritage and keen to separate themselves from the pack.  Across the E.P. you have so many sides and ideas; it is a record that demands a lot of repeats and digging deep- to get to the bottom of the myriad sounds and ideas.  As progressive and forward-thinking as any the girls have come up with- more confident and assured than any of their previous cuts- the E.P. is still gaining feedback and positivity- no surprise when you give it a good listen.  I know the girls rally against the worst instincts of the modern world- the lack of communication and obsessive nature of social media- and have created an E.P. that promotes human connection and a return to humanity- putting down technology and let music speak to you.  The young quintet have battled sexual discrimination and struggles- as is common a lot of countries- to create an E.P. that is a breath of fresh air.  The compositions are consistently engaging and stunning: At times they recall Pink Floyd’s most astonishing moments and experimental genius.  The vocals are strong and impassioned from start to finish- the backing vocals lush and soothing- whilst the lyrics have poetic potential and look at deeper themes.  The girls clearly have a love of literature and poetry: They translate this into songs that take modern-day themes- struggles against anxieties and a need to feel connected- and give it an intelligent and literary edge.  Stranger is a startling E.P. from a band that have a prosperous future ahead of them.  Few can ignore that tightness and authority throughout the record.  The girls should be very proud of what they have achieved.

It has been great checking out the sounds of Cryptic Street: A group with a definite future ahead of them.  Before concluding, it is worth mentioning the original themes- Maltese music and girl groups; the importance music will play this year- and seeing where the girls fit in.  After one E.P. it looks as though things are going to be bright for the Malta-based act: They have ammunition and a defined sound that mixes their native tongue with something more traditional and mainstream.  What I love about them is the range of sounds and genres on display.  Unwilling to lazily stick to Pop or Electronica sound they are one of the freshest acts I have heard for a while.  Stranger is an E.P. that has done well in Malta and is impressing (the band’s) followers across social media.  The five-song collection is a great declaration that will be followed up this year.  Malta is one of those nations that may not seem obvious when it comes to new music but is somewhere we shall not be ignoring.  My review experience (when it comes to music here) has been the girls predominantly.  There is quite a strong Pops scene in Malta, and as such, a lot of the music tends to have that Pop core.  What the musicians of Malta do is to take that base and expand it: Bring in some harder and cutting edges together with something more experimental and electric.  If you have not properly investigated the music scene of Malta then take some time out today.  We are too reliant on mainstream media to guide us towards new music- this tends to limit our tastes and gets rather predictable.  Whilst this country is showcasing some terrific musicians we need to become a little more itinerant with our views.  I get the chance to travel around the world (metaphorically) when it comes to the newest acts: Those Australian Rock bands and Swedish Electro.-Pop often fly under the radar and are subject to serendipitous discovery.  With this year being a bit of a rotter to begin with- given the deaths of some legendary figures- music is needed more than ever.  With the tremors of David Bowie’s death still being felt, there is a lot of sadness and reflection in the music industry.

It will be fascinating to see how music responds and develops to these demands and events.  I think we will see a lot more originality and intention come through (compared with 2015).  Our girls of Cryptic Street have already collected awards in their native Malta- including a 2012 Bay Music gong for best newcomer- and have been featured on radio and across the Internet.  With their influences stretching from Jazz and Synth.-Pop; taking in Rock and harder elements, the girls are not a predictable and average band.  It is no shock the girls have a solid fan-base and are being talked-about in awed tones.  This year is going to be fruitful for them and will be amazing to see where they go from here.  The girl groups emerging now are among the music world’s most exciting propositions.  Far grittier and edgier than you’d expect- those cliché images of sickly-sweet Pop harmonists are rare these days- it is a sector of music that is showing immense promise.  If you have not discovered Stranger and Cryptic Street then let that mystery and complexity overwhelm you and take you somewhere special.  The girls have no intention of slowing down and it will be great if they came and played in the U.K. soon.  Given the rough start 2016 has provided, we need music to take us somewhere safer and familiar.  Those wounds and scars are fresh and the pain very real.  If you are looking for something honest, nuanced and deeply impressive, then look no further than Cryptic Street: the girls are here for the long-stay for sure.  This year will be exciting for sure- I hope it will be an improvement on the last- and with acts like them around…

 

MUSIC is in safe hands.

 

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Follow Cryptic Street

 

Facebook:

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

Twitter:

https://twitter.com/crypticstreet

Instagram:

https://www.instagram.com/crypticstreet/

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Music:

https://soundcloud.com/cryptic-street

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Videos:

https://www.youtube.com/user/CrypticStreet?feature=mhee