Memories –  Echoglass  (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

635731638724603404270724110_memories.jpgIf Drowning saw Echoglass playing with subtle balladry, Blackburn Boulevard took a more indie-pop route and Last To Know wandered some wonderfully Americana musical pathways, Memories seems to tie all those ends together. It has depth yet sass, it tugs at heartstrings, joins country vibes with the folk sounds which in part informed its development, pulses with pop prowess and wanders dynamic highs and lows so effortlessly that you can’t see the join. It also reminds me, in some ways, particularly the vocal structures and deliveries of REM! That’s a good thing right? Quite right!

In fact it is hard to think of a sector of the music buying public who couldn’t find something to love in this song. It crosses borders generically, geographically and chronologically and offers a song which seems totally in keeping with the cross-referencing, cross-cultural, small global village that the creative world is now based on.

Country grooves leave dusty footprints across the record and acoustic rock music brings the required swagger but there is so much more going on here as well. Bluesy bar-room piano adds some wonderfully deft touches and the emotive guitars which frame the song wander down some fantastic Southern rock pathways. It feels at once retro, contemporary and brilliantly forward thinking…how do you even do that?

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Last To Know –  Echoglass  (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

268x0wAnd just when you have Echoglass pegged in the broad indie-pop spectrum, when you think you have worked out their musical approach they go and throw a curve-ball. Not satisfied with just ploughing the same musical furrow, Last To Know sees them break out the Americana vibes and it is great. Musically sitting somewhere between a Nashville country ballad and the less rhinestone strewn vibes of the British-Americana scene, Last To Know is a charming blend of deft picking and sumptuous harmonies, understated deliveries but powerful lyricism.

It sits in just the sort of folk meets country territory which is going to appeal to music fans in the Old World and the New, a mid paced, lilting song built along simple lines, fine touches of piano adding delicate, underpinning detail, but retaining a wonderfully spacious feel that allows the voice to take centre stage. And what a voice it is, never showy or seeking the limelight, just impressive within the requirements of the song and that in itself, in this day and age, is a rare thing. It is that restraint, coupled with the room to breath that the songwriting affords that makes the music shine so brightly.

Yet again Echoglass music proves an example of loveliness over cool, apparent effortlessness over forced gimmickry and subtle musical textures over sonic weight. If only more people would adopt such an approach.

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Eyes  – Echoglass (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

maxresdefault.jpgOne of the things I love about Echoglass is their ability to hop-across genres, mix and match styles and musical stances and still sound like themselves, a blend of sonic cohesion and musical exploration. Eyes sees them plying their trademark positivity, the ability to take the minutiae of everyday life no matter how good or bad and make it universally relatable. But there is no ambiguity here, no looking for the silver lining or learning from mistakes, this is pure celebration, a song that worships love, which revels in the joy of having found the one, of romance and the vulnerability that goes with it.

Loves songs, especially ones which fall into the pop canon often undermine themselves through the treatment of the subject matter. Too simplistic and they fall into the realm of the twee and schmaltzy, try too hard and the song seems insincere. Eyes is the fine balancing act which wanders between the two camps, sure footed, honest and wearing its heart openly on its sleeve. Just how love itself  should be.

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Blackburn Boulevard  – Echoglass (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

ECHOGLASS-BLACKBURNIf my first encounter with Echoglass caught their more thoughtful and mellow side with the slow burning and highly textural music of Drowning, Blackburn Boulevard sees them in more playful mood, musically anyway. Here, the medium is a sassy, indie infused, clean limbed guitar driven vibe, there is still room for the clever piano break downs and spiralling six string crescendos, but it gets to its point in a more direct fashion.

And its point? “Living your own life your own way”, being your own person, not conforming to anyone else’s expectations but your own. And as a series of cameo characters underline the point, the happy hippy chick, the octogenarian DJ, the dad dancing suit, the music obsessed hipster girl, the mom who dances like no one is watching but who quite frankly doesn’t actually care if they are, you realise just how life-affirming the song is.

The message is simple, it is your life, do with it what you will and this is the soundtrack to that independent and free-spirited attitude.

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Drowning  – Echoglass (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

maxresdefaultMusic can make big, bold statements, make obvious moves and play predictable cards but it is at its finest, in my opinion at least, when it is employing subtler and more supple techniques to engage the listener. That, is exactly what Echoglass do with Drowning. It runs between pop balladry and more muscular indie lines but its impact is rarely found in the weight of the music, instead it uses moody and haunting harmonies, evocative and unexpected shifts in the chord progressions and the slow laying on of musical texture .

By the end of the song you find yourself in a pacy piece of polished pop, but the shifting of musical gears is so smoothly done that you never noticed the acceleration, never felt the gradual application of pressure to the musical throttle.  Add to that a video which underlines the emotions, the breakdowns of relationships, the stuff of love and loss that we all encounter at times in our life and you have a brilliant indie-pop coupling of music, lyrics and visual narratives

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Mean Machine – Fatty Boomba (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

FB2We may live in nostalgic times, an era when we look back on past glories as much as we try to make music for the present. And whilst Mean Machine clearly displays a love of a boogie-pop and funk infused past, the wonderfully named Fatty Boomba is cleverer than most. Whilst others are happy to revel in past glories and merely relive the past, here is a band more interested in reinventing it for a new audience.

Yes, there are threads of brightly coloured retro-pop and grooves that come straight out of the heyday of funk and disco, but there is also a totally modern dance vibe, slick modernity runs through its veins and it is as sparky and cutting edge as any electro-dance or pop infused R&b being made today. If disco was being invented today rather than in the mid-seventies it would sound like this, displaying all the carefree musical abandon of those heady and hedonistic days but also dressed in the sleek and sassy musical trappings of todays studio technology and production.

But that is just technical talk, music is made to be enjoyed by the listener, not pawed over my the acoustic tech-heads and this is music that is full of fun and frivolity…in the best meaning of the word. It sparkles with confidence, flashes with groovesome fun, struts its stuff and generally gets the party started, be it the up-town club, the drive to the beach or the poolside party.

Solid beats, a slow burning intro and a strong verse build the anticipation before a truly monumental chorus delivers everything you want from a pop record. It is big, bombastic, infectious and memorable. If you can’t sing the chorus of a pop record by the second time you hear it then it is not doing its job. In the case of Mean Machine I’ll be surprised if it takes you that long.

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Scene and Heard – CCLVIII : Stand Up –  Ravenscroft (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

14600896_1296781740355796_6550012455315656484_nRavenscroft continue with their mission to keep rock music, especially that infused by its classic halcyon past, relevant to modern audiences. Not always an easy thing to do with the fickle finger of fashion constantly causing scenes to evolve and move on at an alarming rate, when the short attention span of the modern age and the sheer ridiculousness of the amount of music being made these days conspires against you. But Ravenscroft has one thing on its side. Heritage! Although they are certainly creating highly original music, it wears its influences openly like badges on a fading and ripped denim jacket for all to see. Badges that sign post everything from raw 70’s classicism, 80’s stadium sky-scraping, 90’s grunge and the alt-rock of modern times.

But those are just generic labels, more designed for us journalists than of any real concern to the musicians making the music it aims to describe. Call it what you will but we can all agree that we are in familiar territory here. Not that it is a problem, not everything is about kicking down the barriers and exploring new pastures, some of it is about diving for pearls in familiar waters. And that is just what Ravenscroft is all about.

This sort of music is done often, too often you might argue, but it is often not done well. That then is the band’s selling point for whilst they are clearly playing with familiarity and comfort zones, albeit it edgy, spiky and fairly uncomfortable comfort zones…as comfort zones go…they do it much better than most.

A bluesy Zeppelin edge shows through in the shifting dynamics they employ but for the most part they are a full throttle, hard-edged rock onslaught that joins dots between the likes of The Almighty’s uncompromising sound and Soundgarden’s low slung swagger, The Cult’s knowingly wonderful foot on the monitor clichés and a whole host of other sounds from nu-metal to New Wave of British Heavy Metal.

Sometimes it is enough just to re-invent the wheel especially if the wheel in question allows you to then open up the throttle and take a white-knuckle joyride through the side streets and alleyways of the history of rock before unashamedly heading down the highway to follow in the tyre marks of previous iconic suicide machines. Or something…I’m not great with analogy.

Ravenscroft might not change your life, but it might just remind you why you fell in love with rock music in the first place!

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Physical Business – Stonerpop (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

PrintIt’s very easy to listen to electro-pop and try to draw a thread back to earlier post-punk pioneers. But choosing to wield synths as your musical weapons of choice doesn’t make you Depeche Mode, in the same way that painting a landscape doesn’t mean that you are just trying to be Constable. Stonerpop is certainly all about making synth driven alt-pop music for the here and now rather than any act of rose-tinted, backward glancing, nostalgia trips and Physical Business feels like a whole new chapter, the beginning of a new part of the story of contemporary music in its own right.

Just listen to Human Nature, a deft blend of sultry grooves, emotive soundscapes and cascading violins, a fantastic blend of modern, left field, slick EDM and timeless classical sweeps This song alone is enough to underline the bands forward thinking approach. The title track is a sunburst of brassy electronica over brooding low end bass and beat, gradually turning into a throbbing industrial beast as the song builds and Headglow is a pulsing platform of sound upon which the vocals wander between dense and dark deliveries and staccato stabs. In short, this is all new, this is all original, this is all great.

Yes, this is pop music, at least at its core but it winds so many jagged edges, such industrial weight, brooding and bruised beats around itself that the label seems slightly misleading. Then again, the bands name is as good a reference as any, it conveys something of the intensity, the down beat undercurrents and the dark heart that it beats with. Even at its most crystalline and chiming moments, such as Game Over (I Remember) it drips with otherness, ethereality and displays a very different mindset to anything that has gone before. It looks like electro-pop is back with a vengeance, but cast aside all images of the Day-Glo pop posing of the past and the frothy dance floor anthems of yesteryear, this time it seems to have a score to settle.

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Swimsuit Issue debut video for Look Now

08be54af-a83b-4260-80d6-5ed1aef55073.jpgFollowing their first headlining dates of 2018, Swimsuit Issue debut their official video for their single “Look Now”. Watch the band’s self-directed clip below.

Swimsuit Issue is a seven-person American rock band fronted by model Miles Garber and David Gagliardi, who also plays guitar for punk band Trash Talk. The two founded the group after meeting at a New Jersey music conservatory in the summer of 2016. They initially bonded over an affinity for 90’s British rock and later realized they both also were exactly six feet tall.

Based between New York and Los Angeles, the band is composed of several musicians playing instruments with one another. The band’s first single, “Look Now,” is an homage to guitarist Gagliardi’s late optometrist father who was also a musician.

When asked to describe Swimsuit Issue’s sound, Garber says, “It’s somewhere between hot running water and cold running water.”

The band has played at a number of interesting venues since its first live performance in early 2017, including the Resident Los Angeles, Manhattan’s Space Market, and Boone, Iowa.

Stay tuned for the band’s debut EP slated for release later this year.

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Scene and Heard – CCLVII  : Fishing Line 1000 Miles Deep –  StrangeJuice (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

a3685464221_16The fact that the man at the heart of StrangeJuice has earned himself the title of “The Picasso of the Australian independent music industry” actually makes a lot of sense after listening to and indeed watching the video for the brilliantly titled Fishing Line 1000 Miles Deep. His musical paints are a blend of instruments from the expected to the unusual, his visuals are challenging and odd and his lyrics are deep, strange and thought provoking. I love this guy already! Isn’t this approach the whole point of doing anything creative in the first place. Why  follow what has gone before when you can call the tune? Why do what people think they want when you can subvert their expectations? Why be predictable when you can build beguiling new worlds?

If you had to nail the music down you could go for indie, pop or folk and any combination of those that you care to make up, it throws in a bit of cosmic strangeness and is a great tune. But Fishing Line is a three pronged attack…a cool song is just the start, throw in some deep and possibly ambiguous lyrics and a video which sets up a whole different tangent to the meanings and you have a package of creativity of the highest order.

It is worth noting that the song is taken from an album called Arctic Tundra, a suite of songs which seem to be based around the places and peoples, hardship and happiness, ice and intrigue to be found in those northern climes. Lyrically Fishing Line…is about exactly what the title suggests, with a bit of existential thought, star gazing wonderment and pondering on the hidden depths below thrown in for good measure.

But then the video makes us wonder how much of that is analogy and how much is to be taken at face value. Scary clowns wandering the forgotten roads and abandoned places of their former lives, seems to be at odds with the lyrics and the juxtaposition between the face value and the hidden meaning is what is going to keep you awake at night trying to make the connection.

And that is the brilliant think about Fishing Line 1000 Miles Deep and StrangeJuice in generally. The ability to wrap ideas inside other thoughts, to offer enigmatic oddities instead of giving people what they want, to explore numerous ideas simultaneously, to have music, words and visuals colliding, blending and then heading off down their own agendas again. Isn’t that what it should be about? Do you want the world explained to you or are you more intrigued by its mystery? Is contentment always better than mild confusion? Why have answers when you don’t really know what the question is? Please put your enquiries on a post card and address it them StrangeJuice!

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