Gods Never Age sounds like the future of R&B, or at least the cutting edge of the here and now. They fuse the sultry and soulful grooves of the genre with more far-reaching sonic ideas and forward-thinking thought processes and Love’s A Lie is a place where studio technology, beats and lyrical flows, smooth electronica and ambient dynamics all blend and build new sonic landscapes.
With eighteen musicians listed in the making of the latest album by blues guitarist JP Soars, it comes as little surprise that the result is packed full of music that not only holds its roots in blues but encompasses other genres such as folk, Americana, soul and a heavy twist of rock. This is the kind of blues that gives space to brass instruments and nods to artists such as Nickelback, Van Morrison, Lynyrd Skynyrd and Tedeschi Trucks Band.
With a slight nod to Kaiser Chiefs, the new single from new-wave punk band Time Dilation Unit tackles the relatively recent phenomenon of self-diagnoses, or, to be more precise, self-diagnoses with the ‘help’ of the internet.
I don’t know how Scandinavian countries do it, but they seem to be producing artists that, not only have something that is emotionally engaging and entertaining, but also have the musicality to bring these sounds to life in a way that audiences from other countries can relate to. Having a voice as crisp and clear as a Scandinavian stream doesn’t harm your chances of appealing to a wider audience either and this is what Norwegian singer Anne Marie Almedal has.
ShapeShiftingAliens are a strange and rare phenomenon in that they seem to make music which seems to sound like part of the future yet openly tip their collective hat, some sort of neon-lit, metallic fedora presumably, to many eras of past musical exploration. It’s a musical mixing pot that names such as Bowie, Eno and Reznor have drunk from to great effect and this Swedish duo are perfect company for those fellow future-retro musical contradictions.
It often seems odd that, by and large, as the world seems to be heading down some darker political paths, dividing up into ever more entrenched and intolerant camps, and generally becoming less humane towards each other, there seems also to be less and less people using art, and particularly music, to comment on it. Perhaps as music has moved into more middle class realms, the end product has come to reflect those more comfortable social environs. Perhaps when there is a nationwide shortage of Hummus the East Cheam indie scene will finally spring into action.
I often read the influence section of an artist’s bio with a mix of amusement and interest. It can tell you so much about a band, though more often than not it tells you what a band think they are about, two very different things. With less seasoned acts it often echoes what the band aspire too, all too often a pipe-dream or maybe a template that they work from. With musicians who have been around the block a bit it is the more eclectic, seemingly scatter-gun references, to inspirations past and present that are the most interesting, hinting at strange sonic machinations and new ways of building and blending music.
Pop can be so many things and shows no sign of limiting its adventures in the new fusions it experiments with, the new paths it walks, the hidden corners and future potential it explores. But sometimes in the surge to embrace a new sounds, open new markets and find new identities it forgets its prime purpose and forgets to be…well, pop! It’s all very well chasing the future but not if you do it at the expense of your core values, if you forget the fundamentals that makes the genre what it is in the first place.
How often do we hear words like “emotive,” “heart-aching” or “honest” being used to describe modern music? How often do we come away from such songs realising that those phrases were probably chosen by committee at a PR meeting and are there for merely commercial reasons bearing little meaning to the song that they have lazily been ascribed too? Well, not this time as Ferera Swan really does deal in such music.
Pas Musique seem to revel in confusion, in a good way of course. Even within their chosen electro-industrial sphere they seem more mercurial, more wilfully tricksy, more difficult to grasp than their contemporaries and you have to look back to the early art-attacks of the likes of Throbbing Gristle to find their parallel. The Phoenix is the musical equivalent of abstract art where clashes and contradiction are all part of the process and the fact that it is open to interpretation or possibly that it may have no obvious, direct purpose is sort of the whole point.
Firstly, anything that comes with a Barry Adamson remix has to be worth a listen. But of course long before you get to that little bonus the mere fact that Ego Death is the latest sonic slice to come from Emily Breeze means that, irrespective of how many post-punk heroes you name check, it was always going to get the attention it deserved anyway. I guess by now the only thing we can expect from this mercurial and brilliantly inventive artist is the unexpected and indeed Ego Death moves away from the, alternative lounge-noir of Limousines and heads down a strange and seductive soul path.
Following a sold-out headline show at London’s Islington Assembly Hall, LARKIN POE will be touring their new album ‘Venom & Faith’ at a string of 2019 UK & European headline dates. The Nashville-based sister duo comprising Rebecca and Megan Lovell have also today been confirmed for next June’s Black Deer Festival.
It becomes obvious right from the opening salvo of I Don’t Feel It that Fred Argir revels in the sound of the guitar. Some people are content to lay down a killer riff or weave through some deft melodics, maybe create hypnotic energy by throwing in a repetitive background phrase or heighten the song with some eloquent soloing. Fred Argir does all of that and more. It might sound like a bit of an overkill but somehow he manages to find enough space for each layer, each texture, each sonic line to breath as they all wrap around each other like four actors in a play each delivering their piece and then stepping out of the limelight to allow their fellows to do their job before returning to the literary affray.
Roll up, roll up, step inside the psychedelic circus of France born singer and producer Aurelien Bernard where his new EP is groaning under the pressure of four perfectly formed pop tunes. This is the sort of music Dali would have listened to while conjuring images of leaping tigers and floppy clock faces, it’s a colourful journey into double-tracked vocals, neat percussion and music stylings that would have given Syd Barrett a run for his money.
It’s difficult to review an artist who is both singer and drummer without thinking of the inevitable comparison with a certain Genesis member but, that is basically where the comparisons end.
Collaboration seems to suit Jamit as this is the third time he has teamed up with South African based Kroissenbrunner to help expand the sonic range and palette of ideas from which to make music. Again based on Jamit’s ability to weave gentle beats with glitchy, freeform, futuristic dance patterns and Kroissenbrunner’s mercurial lyrical inclusions, it features the usual blend of familiarity and freshness, ambience and subversion.
Whilst many genres continue to evolve, move with the times, explore more peripheral sonic pathways, others seem to find their perfect form early on and find little reason to change their shape too much. The Jimmy Sixes work in such a musical realm. Rockabilly, country-rock, bluesy swing and the like are their chosen musical weapons but how do you stand out from the pack when the pack are all fighting over the same musical territory.
It seems to me, admittedly a non-expert in the genre, that reggae and ska, like many other genres (punk and rock music, I’m looking at you) are very good at looking back at their glory days rather than attempting to write their own bright new future. Yes, music of Caribbean origin has already contributed so much to the shaping of modern music from hip-hop to 2 Tone to ska-punk and more besides but why stop there? Writers Eyes is the sound of the latest chapter of that potential future being written and Subject A holds the pen.
Listening to Sam Lewis’s latest album it’s immediately clear that this is someone moving in the right direction, the sound quality is crystal clear, the songs are well written, well produced and well-arranged. Everything oozes class and accomplishment.
What a real breath of fresh air and what a wonderful cross pollination of ideas. Awake is a deft blend of rootsy musical mechanics dressed up in gypsy vibes, Americana touches swathed in Old World glamour, and sonic body of musical integrity beating with a pop heart. It is a collection of contradictions for sure but somehow these contradictions complement rather than conflict and the end result is a wonderfully unique, genre-hopping set of ideas.
Three years ago this weekend we were saddened to hear of the passing of that fantastic fellow, musician and film-maker Colin Vearncombe who many will know by the chosen musical moniker of Black. It’s so sad when people of such rare skills are taken from us early and all we can do is revel in the beauty and joy that their music brought us. I saw him a few times in more recent years and was lucky enough to meet him, albeit briefly across the merch’ table, a number of times. Sometimes is okay to meet your heroes, especially when they exceed your expectations.
Around this time last year I delved into the wonderful world of Echoglass via a sonic blast through their back catalogue. It became obvious very quickly that they possessed many traits that I love. They are masters of the lyrical hook and melodic infectiousness. They see genres as being colours on a musical palette, happy to paint with the full range of hues and shades rather than just keep following the same template. They are also confusing being snappy, immediate, sullen, raw, brooding, reflective and celebratory, often in the same song! Work that one out. And amongst all of this are songs with a sense of place. As the title makes clear these are narratives and tales, memories and recollections from their own neck of the woods, The North.
I have to admit that much of the electronic, dance orientated, synth driven music I have been receiving of late has left me somewhat underwhelmed. I think what happens is that music genres go through cycles, peaks and troughs of creativity and excitement where the high-points on the graph provide something genuinely innovative, fresh and forward-thinking and between that it just feels as if we are treading water. Those peaks are not reached that often and even if I’m not quite saying that Colorado provides one of those historical break-through moments, it’s certainly pretty near the pinnacle of one of those cyclical high points. And that’s not a bad place to be by anyone’s standards.
Photographs are powerful things. We carry around all sorts of ideas about how we feel about people, especially those we have lost, but sometimes it isn’t until we are confronted with an actual image that our real feelings come to the fore. That is the starting point for this latest single from Chrissie Romano Band and from there it explores the idea of everyday reminders of those who we have lost. A whiff of familiar perfume on the street, reminiscent handwriting, and a host of other unexpected sensual jolts to the memory.
Rock and roll has served us well for many a decade now and sometimes its direct and uncluttered nature is all you need. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for proggy shenanigans, intricate, mathy indie tunes and clever dance beats if the mood takes me but I do come from a foot-on-the-monitor, garage rock sort of place. Not that Devil at The Crossroads is merely a rehash of what has gone before, its better than that but you can certainly see its family tree, what its influences are and I could probably have a good stab at telling you what’s in Seth’s record collection.
I’ve never understood when people say, “I don’t really like music”, I mean, what is that all about? Music is made up of a series of pitches and frequencies that are pieced together to make a collective sound, add some rhythm and you’ve got what is essentially food for your ears. You rarely hear people say they don’t enjoy looking at landscapes or sunsets or looking up at the sky on a clear night and seeing the stars and planets that surround us. Vision is for the eyes, sound is for the ears.
The video for this latest release from Diamoness sits somewhere between a traditional music video and a short narrative film. It says something about how the media world is changing, that formats are merging and music videos no longer have to be the short, sharp advert for an artist’s latest album and can be a piece of art in its own right. And that is exactly what we have here, a film driven my music, a song visually expanded to tell a bigger story, a story that exists in both audio and visual worlds, and that exists where they dovetail to show a bigger picture.
Aah, the covers album, a tricky beast, an almost unwelcome visitor to the party and one that is immediately faced with dilemma’s; do you stay true to the original or do you change the arrangements entirely giving it a new spin but risk losing the essence of the song? Do you choose unfamiliar tracks so not to offend fans of the original, or do you pick classics but always be in a battle of comparisons?
No matter what your rootsy preference, Tentrees and Haldane seem to have things covered. Grit is a suite of songs which effortlessly combines the best aspects of acoustic, folk and country genres. The playing is a deft and intricate without seeming showy or unnecessarily bandwagony, concise picking and lovely riffing provides a structure which is both hypnotic yet wonderfully restrained. Lyrically, again, all necessary boxes are ticked from the blue collar anthem of 29 Loads of Freight to the witty social observations of Craft Beards and Man Buns to the howling blues of I Don’t Have A Gun.
Malibu Blackout adhere to both age old truths and totally modern attitudes. On the one hand they understand that if you don’t have a good song in the first place then no amount of studio trickery can polish it up and therefore groove, melody and accessibility are of paramount importance. On the other they take the line that music has gone beyond its once tribal inclinations and so write songs for this post-genre world we find ourselves in, ones that wilfully hop the sonic demarcations of old and defy easy pigeon-holing.