Monday, January 30, 2012

REVIEW// Lana Del Rey: Born to Die

  Elizabeth 'Lizzy' Grant dropped her debut LP 'Born to Die' today to the anticipation and criticism of many. A release surrounded by waves of controversy and built at its core around one stunning  number, 'Born to Die' has had me hopping from foot to foot for a while now. I have been an avid fan, ever since the sublime 'Video Games' fell into my line of sight. That numbers vintage sensibility hit a nerve with everybody, the melody and chord progression flying straight and true in a manner so incredibly touching and profound it shot Lana into a truly unanticipated limelight. 'Video Games' mused with human articulation the surreal and delicate nature of fame, soaring instrumentation falling into an ear-grabbingly despondent groove that explored something that hadn't really been explored before. Lana Del Rey, an artist who had previously failed under the name Lizzy Grant, had recorded something of a modern classic, and unfortunately from this emerges her ultimately disappointing downfall!
      'Born to Die' feels forced. It seems to have been pushed out before the fiery hype that surrounds Lana died down to an unprofitable smoulder, resulting in an LP that lacks any refinement, depth or emotional substance. It tries hard and succeeds in part, but overall this doesn't work at all. The strings on every song bore, reducing the few good lyrics to an over-produced and cliche set of words, void of meaning and unreflective of the DIY ethos emulated by 'Video Games' and its video accompaniment. Lyrically Lana takes boring and unimaginative themes and does nothing with them. Sex, bad girls, drugs? You can find all of these and more thrown onto 'Born to Die'. My previous praise for Lana faltered like the miserable face on her cover. She does a few nice things with baroque pop musically which I admire, but everything else flows through one ear and out the other, lacking personality interesting enough to stick. Awkwardly it aims, for vain and fickle and limp radio coverage!
   Take one song from 'Born to Die' and you've heard them all. The need to be the subject of male desire leads to an almost unbearable and sexist aesthetic I cringe at hearing. The fourth track 'Diet Mountain Dew' fails to ignite any of the upbeat catchiness it tries to, with the following number 'Million Dollar Man' dragging out like the threads of a vintage jumper. The vocals on every number here are technically stunning, save her attempt at rapping. I just fail to connect with them, which is incredibly frustrating. 'National Anthem's refrain and truly shocking lines: "Money is the reason we exist / Everybody knows that it's a fact / Kiss kiss" aren't worthy of mention, unsurprisingly sad and unable to crack anything other than an ugly, fake smile. The old-fashioned and unbelievable line of 'This is What Makes us Girls' goes "This is what makes us girls/ We don't stick together 'cause we put our love first", which immediately puts me off. Goofy singing goes on to tell women everywhere to put up with the absence of love: "Don't cry about it"! After 'Video Games' I'm wondering at which point it all went wrong. It's empty, arrogant and ostentatious, and I am just not a fan!
  People criticised Lana Del Rey, branding her as fake and manufactured and disgustingly opulent. I stood by and defended her every effort, and indeed the first four tracks here do work to a degree. Put them amongst songs that offend, and spout the most boring, cliche phrases imaginable however, and even those lose their shine. Over-produced and absent any emotional bond between artist and audience, I feel innately disappointed with 'Born to Die'. For all of its swooning and crooning, the LP is just an obnoxiously fabricated musical lie. Stream 'Video Games' down below and then grab the full album via Amazon over here.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

VIDEO// Algodón Egipcio: Los Temas Turbios

Venezuela's Algodón Egipcio dropped this neat video a couple of weeks back, for the four minute number 'Los Temas Turbios', which translates as 'The Murky Issues'. Sang entirely in Spanish, I can't hazard a lyrical interpretation for fear of misplacing your understanding! Needless to say, the electronic waves of nostalgia and constant underlying rhythm relay a tale all their own. Initial whirrs and glitches lead into a comfortable groove, resounding and low and soothing. The vocals reverberate across the deserts of America's Nevada, telling of discovery and maturity and the incomprehensible thoughts of a man without a future. A sense of ambiguity helped by Egipcio's native tongue prevails, spates of sadness broken by interludes of euphoric exaltation and instrumental melancholia. An apt fade-out closes 'Los Temas Turbios', his singing dappled in the unbidled, hope-fuelled glare of a newborn sun. The film is composed of 1960's clips by Broken Machine Films' infallible Josh Rogers!


We covered SPECTACLES a while back, when he sent over his track 'Babygurl'! A couple of weeks later and here we are again, this time with the dark electronic trance that is: 'Pills In'. Five and a half minutes of fluctuating, reverberated vocals, murmuring disturbingly into the unfathomable abyss of their artist's mind. The hypnotic beat flits from tempo to tempo, unsure and surreal and strangely somnolent in its synth-fuelled slumber. Explosions of an almost unreal nature explode from the gloom, lighting the contours of this nightmares cold facade as unholy voices echo away from it. Stream 'Pills In' and fall into the narcotic haze!

REVIEW// First Aid Kit: The Lion's Roar

  First Aid Kit are a folk duo composed of Johanna and Klara Söderberg, two sisters from Sweden. 'The Lion's Roar' is their sophomore album, after 2010's fantastic debut 'The Big Black & The Blue'. Famously difficult to pull off, the siblings have recorded a second LP that is packed full of emotion, and improves on a multitude of elements that I loved from their past releases. The two women have thrown a number of new instruments into the mix, strings and horns and piano and pedal-steels all joining the acoustic guitar, drums and auto-harp on these ten magnificent tracks. However many evolutions the instrumentation goes through though, First Aid Kits vocals will always be their best selling point. Pitch perfect and always tight when it comes to harmonies, the singing on 'The Lion's Roar' resonates with a weight not many can match. Reflective of the album art, there is that natural beauty folk music is forever striving to find, layered into a subtly surreal amalgamation of crooning, emotionally mature songs that pluck your heartstrings like the taut wires of an ethereal instrument. An insignificantly small number of complaints show up, but none shall bar my frequent return!
      The title track opens the album, a melancholy vibe vibrating through the acoustics and an innate strength emerging from the vocals. The harmonies are so close, varying in pitch and tempo but never in quality. Slower moments hit the spot perfectly, the rebellious, Bob Dylan esque lyrical passages deep and moody and quietly profound. Its captivating to say the least, and leads excellently into 'Emmylou'. A four minute track of personal proportions and the boast of a sigh-inducing refrain make it one of my favourite numbers on here. You can almost taste salty tears as the singing trails off after every line, hitting beautiful notes! The instrumental on 'In The Hearts of Men' lends the truly climatic four minutes an air of sublime solemnity. The beat and build half way through are stand-out moments on the LP, a piercing whisper hitting home at the apex of such attenuated an ascension. The groove on 'Blue' is similarly well-executed, and the tale of loss relayed in 'This Old Routine' is one of almost overwhelming sadness. My small complaints however arrive with the second half of the album, though as I've mentioned, they hold no substantial barrier before your ears!
     The refrain of 'I Found A Way' sounds surprisingly like the hook of 'Emmylou', though a fantastic set of lyrics and throbbing sincerity on 'Dance to Another Tune' makes up for this lacking individuality. The instrumentation on that track is also awe-inspiring, soft interludes of violin and harmonies soaring in a manner so shudder inducing even despite it dragging on for a little too long. That being said, the overriding element to 'The Lion's Roar' that in my opinion prevented it from becoming a classic was the instrumentation on a few tracks. I found the auto-harp on 'New Years Eve' ear-grating, offset only by the gorgeous vocals. A lack of personality and uniqueness from the instrumentation on a number of other songs just passed me by, failing to ignite any of the power and urgency you get from the singing and songwriting skills from these Söderberg sisters. Sometimes the two match, but often a sense of uninspired misplacement detracts from the tracks, even if only by a little. Overall, nothing is going to stop me reccomending or returning to 'The Lion's Roar', but it stops a little short of being utter perfection on account of the arranged instrumentation. Hear that commanding title track below, then I urge you to purchase the full release via iTunes here!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

REVIEW// New Addiction: New Addiction EP

      Israeli rockers New Addiction and their eponymous debut have been lying within my inbox for a while now, the stack of emails currently sporting dimensions of an inexplicably abhorrent nature. Crushed below the most ungainly of weights, New Addiction lay, their EP fearing the cavernous incline of my trash-can's gloomy ravine! Luckily however the weekend's catch-up session came and these six tracks exalted. On hitting play I was hit in the chest with not surprise, but rather an innate sense of personal disappointment. For New Addiction's EP is glorious, and my readiness to sentence it to soundless void and silent vacuum opened up an unfathomable nadir beneath my feet. Fuelled by grunge rock sensibilities, this EP is an incredible one, no-nonsense riffs and pounding drums backing vocals bred for rock 'n roll! Soaring anthemic refrains and stunning guitar solos race across perfect production, tonal waves swelling through the EP with ease. Builds and climaxes are executed with rebellious magnificence, throbbing and euphoric and, while not revolutionary or experimental by any means, wondrously refreshing. Sometimes you just need some strong rock tunes, and this EP and its creators are more than happy to oblige! Intelligent complexities accumulated in a release as powerfully compelling as any album of recent years? New Addiction are here!
     Opening the EP is 'Red Eyes', epic notes and awe-inspiring harmonies utilised to great effect. Layers of vocals compliment the steady beat and lyrical badassery, sonic details a conscious inclusion that flit brilliantly between your headphone channels. A squealing solo runs into an almost overwhelming hand clap/drum beat before the intricate, elaborate end leads into 'Underwater'. A softer story written with a blues-infused guitar contrasts the first track fantastically, naturally evolving into something more mature both lyrically and tonally! 'Sky's pulsating bass and keyboard synths are the flawless backdrop to a simply faultless performance, 'The Wave' a worthy successor to its graceful grandeur. A darker shade is a prevailing element, classic-rock guitar phrases riding atop it with well-deserving flourish. A reverberation lends the track a retrospective scope so vast and boundless it takes a while to fully comprehend. The sublime guitar solo evokes a stomach-clenching passion hard to deny! The mechanical, industrial vibe of 'Forever' follows, a stomping rhythm reflecting its determination to be remembered. Loud, aggressive and complex, metal cogs grind and an inordinate amount of destruction ensues. Your heart pounds so hard your ribs threaten to split, and I loved every second I endured such an enfilade! A penultimate paragon indeed!
     Opening with the layering of riffs, 'Belong's prolonged notes and pacey aesthetics are a suitable conclusion to this inconvievably arresting release. Their assured confidence is both striking and befitting of an EP that radiates passion and practise and talent. As New Addiction's debut EP, and in contrast to its intial rank within my inbox, it's now I who seems to be crushed. Buckling under the weight of anticipation, my praise is perhaps illimitable? I couldn't find a purchase link, but hear the EP and like these four guys on Facebook here!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

MP3// Kids On Bridges: Check Your Head

If there was ever a track to get you up and dancing, 'Check Your Head' has just outranked it! A self-proclaimed 'dirty filthy electro pop' duo, Kids On Bridges dropped this romp of an episode upon their SoundCloud a while back. Taken from their single 'This is Widescreen/ Check Your Head', which drops on February 20th, these four minutes radiate the carefree disco mentality the 70's were proud to have provoked. I'm not a huge fan of vocoders and at points they are too prominent in their utilisation here, but the easy falsetto and boast of a dual refrain make up for this small complaint! High hats and funky electric guitars create retro soundscapes that seem to pulsate with the dance-moves of many a party-goer, and I will admit I lost all control over my feet as I listened! Synthesisers also add to the throng to make an already irresistible number somewhat of a phenomenon, and one easy for me to recommend to you! Stream 'Check Your Head' in all it's blithe electro-pop sublimity above!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

REVIEW// Cardinal: Hymns

   When I first heard Cardinal's eponymous debut I was pleasantly surprised. Released in 1994 to the ignorant ears of many, it threw a chamber pop sound out into a world that didn't quite know what to do with it! Perhaps it was this sense of rebellious ingenuity that made this duo so easy for me to love. Eric Matthews and Richard Davies made up Cardinal and now, after an almost two decade split the group have reformed to bring us their sophomore album 'Hymns'. Unfortunately, what was an incredibly fresh sound has gone off in the sun ray that once kissed it. The group's relevance and innovation has waned over their eighteen year break, a period within which the likes of Belle and Sabastian and The Clientele have gone and recorded some fantastic albums. Cardinal were fooling themselves if they thought the release of an LP, that hasn't evolved much at all, would reinstate them on the pedestal of breezy, vintage sounds that were so original a relatively long time ago! The opening track 'Northern Soul' built my anticipation to a stomach-churning level, only for its bumbling and aimless successors to knock it down. Abundant warm production and summery vibes are far from ear-offending but the tenuous, anemic nature of nearly every song make 'Hymns' simply pointless. The buoyant brass of the opening number turns into annoyingly arrogant embellishments which add nothing save the throbbing oncomings of unavoidable boredom and a subtle, niggling headache. 'Hymns' is so innocuous in every other way that it barely registered with me upon my first listen, the tracks merging into a sonic confusion as they flow into each other aimlessly. In the end I'm left thinking I should've stuck with their debut!
     In all seriousness, Cardinal haven't audibly changed their sound from 1994, which is a major flaw. Their eponymous debut clicked with me because it was something new, and in many ways 'Hymns' manages to detract from that album! Boring and bland, nothing within these ten tracks can maintain any sort of hook or catchy melody. Feeble vocals and a set of unmemorable lyrics leave you with a taste in your mouth you would sooner forget than endure again. I doubt Cardinal will gain any contemporary followers after this, but a few of the duos older fans may find it in their hearts to purchase 'Hymns'. Personally I will not be! Stream 'Love Like Rain' below and, if you feel the urge, buy the full via Fire Records here!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

VIDEO// Spakkiano: Macadam

This bizarre video for Spakkianos 'Macadam' is taken from the British Governments Public Information Films collection, and accompanies a suitably bizarre couple of minutes! Hailing from Bologna, Spakkiano's wide-eyed and playfully sparse sensibilities are the soundtrack to determination, provoking not only a sense of absorption but an innately sad loneliness! I watch our protagonist struggle with a road and I see a man whose mind has regressed. A look of child-like frustration plucks at my heartstrings, nostalgia riddled with laughter as an inexplicably funny theatricality makes me chuckle, the percussion tossing my emotions up and down in a manner quite unnerving! Its a wonderful track, so stream 'Macadam' above!

MP3// Kate Havnevik: Mouth to Mouth

Kate Havnevik's latest track 'Mouth to Mouth' is haunting in its ambient electronic pop. Her vocals are undeniably stunning as they relay lyricism co-written by Guy Sigsworth, and as the chorus comes into view, your mouth cannot help but fall open, helpless and amazed. A dark undertone throbs beneath the still water, surfacing as the prolonged notes persevere and as Havnevik's yearning threatens to overwhelm her. Subtle dubstep sensibilities keep to the back of the song, reflecting Kate's pounding heartbeat and determined disbelief. An incredible whispered phrase makes you shudder, before once again that chorus grabs for your heart and fills it with an innate, immeasurable sadness. This Norwegian has crafted a track fueled by emotion and a truly extraordinary passion! Stream 'Mouth to Mouth' above and prepare to swoon before Kate Havneviks sensational magnificence. I promise you will!

MP3// Heidi Mortenson: Dele Af Kroppen

Heidi Mortenson dropped 'Dele Af Kroppen' early this month, as the first track from her EP 'Mørk'. It's set to drop on March 5th and marks a noticeable change for this Scandinavian! Utilising her native Danish for the first time, Mortenson's vocals retain this strange, surreal sensibility, that lies attenuated under a layer of subtly melodic reverberation. Electronically charged phrases whisper and whirr below stunning horns, their every breath billowing with icy persuasion into this cold January morning. To even try to fathom a lyrical interpretation would be rash on my behalf, but the sense of a deeper, almost mythological muse is easy to conceive. Heidi's singing is mature, supported by a fabled understanding that holds the weight of an empyrean, primordial truth. A tale of monsters and faith and heroes seems to materialise from the sonic shore, dripping in nostalgia and an illustrious immortal allure. A beautifully understated finish ends 'Dele Af Kroppen' as well as it had began, the warm of the five-piece horn section prevailing in its persistence to remain in your head. A fantastic number indeed, hear 'Dele Af Kroppen' up above, and look out for the EP 'Mørk' in March!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

VIDEO// Strangers: Shout (Tears for Fears Cover)

Tears for Fears dropped 'Shout' in 1985. The chorus has since been ingrained upon the world's collective musical memory, endearing itself as one of the 80's most successful pop songs! Strangers are the latest band to record a version of this infamous number, an epic anthem emerging from their efforts. Electronic melodies whirr and glitch atop a subtle beat that carries every second with effortless ease. The vocals seamlessly match the music, an incredible reverberation bouncing between the walls of a cavernous sonic space. A worthy cover of this undeniable classic, Strangers' version of 'Shout', can be streamed up above!

Friday, January 20, 2012

MP3// Ouisa Hound: Gloom Roaming

Writing up a post late at night is surreal. The quiet envelops you, as the hypnotic tapping of your keyboard details the usually unnoticeable hum of your old computer. Ohio’s Ouisa Hound dropped 'Gloom Roaming' a month ago, as the ultimate track off of his forthcoming album 'The Joy Eclectic'. It provides a soundtrack to my musing, a euphoric contemplation of life that builds and grows as layers of sample and emotion and cosmological truth mull over the glorious and unparalleled mortality of man. As a wistful melody plays you hear an almost dream-like set of sounds. Fountains trickle and birds chirp. A sun shimmers and a soft breeze blows. Ethereal vocals hum and sing with every grace. A vast expanse of land stretches away as your bare feet lift away from the grass and all of its caressing fingers. A desire to run takes hold, the knowledge that your life is finite urging you onward, to strive for happiness. 'Gloom Roaming's beat matches the pulse of your heart, guitars and synth providing ample inspiration to follow in the pursuit of happiness. For to be happy is to live!

MP3// SBTRKT: Atomic Peace

This 'new' track from SBTRKT has been floating around the blogosphere through the day. I've put the word 'new' in inverted commas, because 'Atomic Peace' was actually recorded three years ago, when Music Dissection was a mere thought swirling around life's cosmos! A remix/edit of Mum's 'Flow Not So Fast Old Mountain Radio', these four minutes precede everything I've heard from the London producer. An historic catalyst, we can see the start of SBTRKT's career, unveiled bit by bit and built upon by every glorious synth. Raindrops collide with reality, a surreal melody playing out their oh-so-significant death. Complexities shudder and swell without need for recognition. Sometimes you can hear voices, chatting below the warm beat and throbbing bass line. Tinkles echo and hide in the track's shadow, unifying the work with utter perfection. It is well-deserving of your time, so stream it above! Heck, I could sit and listen to this on repeat for days! It's relaxing chillwave at its very best!

MP3// Sleigh Bells: Comeback Kid

Sometimes I have to pinch myself and think. Sleigh Bells only have one album out, and yet their music is posted all over the Internet! I certainly didn't find that debut stunning at all. A messy and unrefined musical barrage, their initial, primal sound clawed at my ears. 'Reign of Terror' however, seems to hint at a sonic evolution worthy of exploration. 'Born to Lose' grabbed my trepidation to listen last month and tore it apart, brutal drum machines and an incredible set of furious guitars emulating a better, beautifully complex ethos that I found lost on their first album. Swamped subtleties emerged from the depth, and 'Comeback Kid' continues to run with this new aesthetic. Pounding electronic synths and beats crash into Alexis Krauss' infectious ethereal vocals. The chorus here is perhaps too sparse, but then it does allow for interludes, between the spates of noise-pop conflict that bloody the sand! Keep your ears pricked for 'Reign of Terror, which drops on February 21st on Mom + Pop!

VIDEO// Bleached: Searching Through the Past

Bleached are a Californian duo, with three 7" records hanging from their belts. Apart from that my knowledge of these two women doesn't stretch very far! They both resemble Drew Barrymore in the video for 'Searching Through the Past' but I doubt that facts importance! Taken from their latest release and dropped nearly a fortnight ago, this video captures a sense of wonderful independence, Molly Schiot-shot film clips oozing a vintage sensibility! As the two women gallop and guitar-strum their way through the wild west, we long to join them. The glaring sun seeps into the footage as their gorgeously understated vocals rock along. They yearn for a lost lover in a manner so brilliantly hopeful, you can't help smiling!

VIDEO// 8 Year Old Juliet: My First Hardcore Song

Sometimes Music Dissection is perhaps too serious, but we like having fun as much as the next blog! This catchy, and unbelievably lovable video dropped onto Youtube yesterday, and we've being rocking along to it ever since. Written and produced by Rob Sharpe, and performed by the ever-fantastic Juliet, 'My First Hardcore Song' is well, exactly that! Brutal riffs and pounding drums back Juliet's story about her dog Robert and her pungent fishes. It's both hilarious and surprisingly err, good! Stream it up above and kick off the weekend! Also, videos will be bigger from now on, because Music Dissection reckons you deserve it!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

INTERVIEW// Richard Walters

A few days ago I reviewed Richard Walter's EP 'Young Trees', a collection of tracks worthy of my unprecedented, incomparable praise. The five numbers recall the loss of happiness and Walters' determination to recover from the deprivation of such. It's humble and honest and truly heartfelt, a retrospective yearning pulling the songs into harmonious unity. Given my unparalleled adulation for 'Young Trees', I jumped at the chance to throw this talented Oxonian some questions! Read the interview below and find a link to my review at the end of it. I'd thank Richard Walters, for enduring our following dissection with the utmost grace!
Music Dissection: How did you get into music? Who inspired you to do so?

Richard Walters: I started playing guitar in a band at school called Odd? when I was about 13. We were playing Supergrass and Oasis covers, and not very well. That's around the time I began toying with songwriting, little two minute things. I didn't find myself singing until around 16, and even then I wasn't sure how to present myself. I had that ridiculous artistic awakening that happens to teenagers when the hormones kick in - I discovered poetry, books and obscure indie music, and thought I was the first person in the world to really get it. I guess everyone does that, everyone has had that moment of discovery and built on it.

MD: On your Facebook page, you filled in the information for record label with 'Why?' What are your feelings towards being signed?

RW: I've been signed and worked with two major and one indie label - the problem was always that I would write what I thought was a real treasure (in fact 'Regretless' from the new EP is one of those tracks), a song that you have so much faith in; you bowl into the label office, play it to your man and he says 'hmmm, yeah - it's not a single is it, bit meandering' and it's shattering.

MD: You are in the process of writing your third album. Are we going to hear an evolution to your previous sound? Are there any themes lyrically or musically you want to explore more in the future?

RW: I've worked with a couple of personal heroes for two songs on this record, so a new collaborative element adds something to the whole. The poet Simon Armitage wrote the lyrics to one track, and the singer and producer Joe Henry for another. It was so exciting to have that opportunity, to build bricks on someone elses foundations. Sonically I think the album is a lot richer sounding, more gospel almost, and a majority of the tracks are piano based now.

MD: Who are you listening to at the moment?

RW: The new Ryan Adams record is just beautiful. I Break Horses are also getting many many plays in the house. My girlfriend bought me a lovely vintage record player (with a small built in speaker) for Christmas, so I've been blasting 'Darkness on the Edge of Town' by Springsteen, 'Red Letter Day' by Buffalo Tom and 'Happy/Sad' by Tim Buckley lots.

MD: Your songs have been featured in a few television programmes. Did you ever imagine your music would become this popular? Have you any aspirations for the future?

RW: I find it ridiculously exciting to see one of my songs placed - it makes it feel solid and big. Just knowing millions of people have been tricked into hearing my song...I just hope it sticks in peoples heads when the shows finish. I haven't had a song used in a feature film yet, and I would love to see that happen - to go to the cinema and just hear one of the songs in sync with a 20 ft image would be incredible.

MD: On the topic of television programmes, are there any out there that you're an avid fan of?

RW: Mad Men - I'm a massive Richard Yates fan, and that show embodies everything I love about his writing!

MD: How would you define your sound?

RW: Gospel folk.

MD: For me, the whole of 'Young Trees' is very emotional. Did you find recording it an emotional strain? Are there any songs that have brought you to tears? If so, which?

RW: The songs on the EP were all written in a period of change and movement, and I guess that was a very emotional period too. But the recording felt like a huge relief, I bottled it all up and then put it down. Every track on the EP is a single, live vocal take - no cuts or fixes - and I do remember recording Infinity Street (in a hotel room in Manchester) a bit drunk, a bit tired, and almost's that line 'I have ordered all the words' was frustration more than anything else. Frustrated that I was able to say in a song what I couldn't say in person I suppose.

MD: Finally, if you weren't a musician, what would you be and why?

RW: Worse off. Real answer - I just don't know. I'd rather not think about it!

Thanks again to Richard for taking the time to answer our questions, and I seriously urge you to purchase a copy of 'Young Tree's. The five tracks retained within it are nothing but pure, uncontested beauty. Emotional moments captured in sound, they'll hold a spot in my heart, for a very long time! Read my review here, then buy the EP at the Bandcamp, here!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

MP3// COOLRUNNINGS: Spirit of the High

The genre that Knoxville's COOLRUNNINGS have decided to explore is 'post-rad'. It lies at the bottom of their Bandcamp pages with carefree ignorance, eyes blind to worldly worries and smug with the determination to takes this nice and slow! 'Spirit of the High' dropped a few days ago and is available to download for whatever price you deem appropriate. This four minute lesson in basking under the sun grooves with pleasant contemplation, steady drums and fuzzy guitars warming your soul. Reverberated vocals and wistful harmonies, a combination made for COOLRUNNINGS, relay lyrics that moot and muse and mull over the concept of love and life and making the most out of both. The second half of the number rocks out on the back of perfect instrumentation, cymbals clashing and harmonies wailing! All the while the bands eyes are closed to the worlds worries and the glare of a monstrous midday sun. Listen to 'Spirit of the High' above, then name-your-price to download it here!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

SHORT REVIEW// Tygerstrype: Lackadaisical Daisy

   I'm an avid fan of experimentation, but Tygerstrype's venture into the rather broad genre leaves much to be desired. A Philadelphian outfit, 'Lackadaisical Daisy' is an aptly ironic title for their debut. A lackadaisical chap is one who lacks enthusiasm and determination, a trait reflected in Tygerstrype's inability to perfect and refine their potentially magnificence sounds. Not every track falls into this hole, but the majority do. The downfall of both the band and the record is for me, the sense that they thought that a few resolute numbers would offset the ones lying battered and bruised upon the sonic battleground. 'Open Notes' starts this conflict, a nice psychedelic vibe presented at the introduction soon becoming tiresome as the lead singer plays around with annoyingly prolonged notes. The second half's beat is a fantastic one, marred again by strange vocalise and half-hearted singing. 'Angelic Eyes' is better, guitars joining the electronic phrases with ease. However, it soon descends into the same grating howls we heard before, cutting the song into two halves with unprecedented awkwardness. The instrumental experimentation on 'Lackadaisical Daisy' is stunning, and never more so than at the end of 'Angelic Eyes', but this alone cannot support the rest of the LP. The clashing notes of 'MRKT Madness' make pleasant nostalgia turn sour, while a dreadfully lazy set of vocal drum beats make the thoughtfully written lyrics of 'Diggity Dang Dum Dum' little more than pointless. The overly-layered sounds on 'Malevolence' irritate, even while the instrumentation absent singing rides upon the waves of admirable maturity!
    The second half of 'Lackadaisical Daisy' is surprisingly outstanding, sporting refinement and control and a lot more thought than their predecessors. However, it didn't manage to offset the scales and raise the bowl of exasperation and vexation to a manageable level. I am not going to return to 'Lackadaisical Daisy' any time soon but stream 'MRKT Madness' below, and you may think differently. If you do you can grab the whole album for free here!

Monday, January 16, 2012

MP3// Dress Rehearsal: The Lazy River Road

Rarely do I ever find music that endears itself to me so completely and without cause that I fall short of words to describe it. Dress Rehearsal are a four-piece musical assemble from Toronto, and their two track effort 'The Lazy River Road' has I think, just done exactly that! Composed of 'Morning Grey' and 'River Blue', which you can stream up above, it's nothing short of truly and sincerely and inexplicably beautiful. 'River Blue's humble guitar strum a catchy melody with your heartstrings, lead vocals relaying lyricism of the utmost brilliance! The number swells and builds with subtle attenuation, without need of recognition. These four musicians feels so together you almost choke up, an honesty and unparalleled desire to watch them sit upon the bank of their Lazy River running into your mind. They play that almost overwhelmingly sad melody of 'Morning Grey' genuinely, with such innocence and faultlessly nostalgic elegance that you cannot fail to fall head over heels for it. Graciously emotional, Dress Rehearsal are so quietly content and stunningly unassuming, you wish for all the world that they would get all the praise they deserve. Part of me feels as though I haven't done 'The Lazy River Road' justice here, but another part tells me nobody could! Stream 'River Blue' above, and grab the rest of this acoustic perfection for free over here!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

REVIEW// Covered Faces: LObiep EP

      You may be looking with bewilderment at the cover of this EP, staring with eyebrows raised at the gradient and the pasted mask, and the abrasive red letters that stab and curl with permanent snarls. I admit that it isn't the best thing we've ever seen, but the sounds that lie behind such unimpressive facade are most definitely a vast improvement. The work of producer Pablo Lázaro Vidal, 'LObiep' is his debut EP under the dark moniker Covered Faces. The music is suitably anonymous, the main emotion seeping from behind those cut-out holes being the raw throbbing anger of uncontested rebellion. 'Electronic death punk' reads the EP's label, the five consequent tracks pondering this statement and all of its connotations. Video game soundtracks and horror movies and a multitude of other influences rear their ugly heads to do so, envisaged via chiptune melodies and out-of-place pop sensibilities. A transfixing, hypnotic quality to every track overrides all else, often dark and terrifying, but never constantly so. Interludes of quiet, euphoric celebration simmer beneath the surface, peeking wide-eyed and innocent through the thrashing electronic riffs and furrowed brows that dominate the sonic sky. Despite the art and caption 'LObiep' is often brilliantly joyous!
    Opening the EP is 'Killing Time', a number that contradicts its name with childish charm! A pacey electronic beat is soon met by an airy and care-free melody that in turn, beckons forth vocals, muffled and confused by the sheer speed of the three minutes in which they reside. A contrastingly slow finish plays out like a lullaby, an attenuated melody swirling to a triumphant end. 'Abandoned Dogma' follows with skewed samples from Jessica White. A medley of apocalyptic whirrs and hums and drones progress like the elated end to a sci-fi battle sequence. 'Stroppy's steady production line grinds and clanks along, photocopier- esque scanners beeping and buzzing with unnervingly conscious glee. The smile-inducing precision and order of it all is broken by a rogue robot's dash for freedom. Alarms sound and the rough synths of security groan. High and playful, the little robots little lungs pump electrons through a delicate body, emitting beautifully complex phrases of an unparalleled prowess. Sophie Nadaud's vocal contribution to 'Carving Knife' is spectacular too. Fuelled by reverb and an almost theatrically manic aesthetic, her two faces flicker and blur with an uncontrollable stacticity. Psychologically scarred, mocking sneers meet teary-eyed break- downs, her voice drawing closer to murder with every second. It's a truly terrifying number.
     Inconsistency is the fault I have with many an unsigned EP. 'LObiep' is no different. As the aggressive beats and fluctuating notes of 'Don´t Stop Bitch!' fade away, I sit back and contemplate what I've heard. Upbeat offsetting slow offsetting angry offsetting exultation. I found the experience while short, also slightly incoherent, a quality that makes it not much of an experience at all. As a debut however, I congratulate Covered Faces with adulation! Stream 'Stroppy' below and if you like the sounds on it, download the full EP for free here!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

VIDEO// Grimes: Genesis ( Live Session)

The personnel over at are my go-to-guys when it comes to live session videos! This latest stunningly-shot clip is of Grimes performing her second single, 'Genesis', taken from her forthcoming album 'Visions'. Oriental keyboard melodies litter the soundscape as we watch her take her place in front of the microphone. Her voice manages to reverberate and echo around the room, sensually angelic tones offset by a shuddering of your spine. I find her singing strangely hypnotic, fluctuating through an emotional purgatory with almost inhuman charm. The high vocal warm-ups at the start meet layered clouds of sound at the end. The video does the beautiful number every justice so stream the five minutes above!

VIDEO// A Classic Education: Baby, It's Fine

Directed by blogger Jamie Harley, and featuring the incredible Marion Ottaviani, A Classic Education dropped the video for their track 'Baby It's Fine' a few days ago. Taken from the Italian garage-rockers' album 'Call it Blazing', this relatively short two minute number is full of terrified undertones hiding beneath the sense of unparalleled euphoria that comes with unplanned teenage rebellion. Our Parisian protagonist is alone on the streets of France. The thought was a good one until the last rays of daylight blinked out of existence beyond the horizon. The whole track throbs with the heartbeat of this girl, a weary sonic triptych at 0:17 making me feel like a helpless spectator to her fear. A momentary lapse of darkness ultimately falls with a saddening diminuendo. A dulling of the light that coaxes forth the low, almost apocalyptic melody that makes 'Baby, It's Fine' the brilliant thing it is. A desperation grip the song, broken by interludes of hope and the shuddering of temporary sighs. It's an exceptional song and a breath-taking video so stream both up above, and find more here!

VIDEO// Dominant Legs: Make Time For The Boy

The second video to fall from within the folds of Dominant Legs' LP 'Invitation', 'Make Time For The Boy' is the San Franciscan quintet's answer to a pop-ballad. Nostalgically dreamy and surreal and smothered in vintage sensibilities, Ryan Lynch and Hannah Hunt relay an incredible tale of lost love and the consequent determination to rediscover it. I'll admit that the perhaps overly-sentimental and dewy-eyed chorus was dripping in too much sugar for my liking, but the awe-inspiring saxophone work in the second half easily makes up for it! I was captivated by everyone involved, but Raina Mieloch's performance as our protagonist was exceptional at worst, her beauty highlighted by shy smiles and mesmerising eyes. An extrordiary journey plays out before yours however, from bedroom to landing to a strange party downstairs. The band-members dance a surreal dance, absent-mindedly following a pre-planned routine, often absent smile but never absent warmth. Well-filmed by Jonathan Yi, watch the video for 'Make Time For The Boy' above and discover their wondrous world!

MP3// Field Mouse: Glass

When Brooklyn quartet Field Mouse dropped their cover of Deerhunter's 'Helicopter' back in May, which is an absolutely stunning number, I couldn't have anticipated hearing 'Glass' almost nine months later. However, here we are with another soaring dream-pop gem lying in our laps. Rachel Browne's crystalline vocals sing with melancholic retrospection lyricism of the greatest proportions. Verses intertwine with a glorious chorus effortlessly, revealing a perfectly constructed song with foundations of an unbreakable ore. Browne and guitarist Andrew Futral write with undeniable skill, lines like "Push smoke through the air / while you live out there" springing from their combined imaginations. Drummer Geoff Lewit's intricate drum phrases carry the surreal melody, while Allison Weiss's bass rides atop it, radiating a midday warmth with ease. Its a lovely track so stream above and download it for free here!

Friday, January 13, 2012

MP3// Manna: Wishing Well feat Mark Lanegan

Finnish-Algerian songstress Manna dropped her album 'Shackles' upon the crown of our beautiful blogosphere last year, so I'm a bit late in jumping on the Bandwagon! However, it was the hark of more recent birdsong that commanded my attention. For the remainder of January, Manna is letting anyone and everyone grab a copy of 'Wishing Well', for free. My eager ears pricked at the thought and I'm glad they did. With Mark Lanegan of Screaming Trees fame contributing his grunge sensibilities to astonishing effect, these four minutes are more than worth the download. Offsetting Mannas delicate audacity with Lanegan and his gravelly, hard-rock vocals is a level of instrumentation that is executed perfectly. Blues infused guitars play with a rock 'n roll power, melodies of the utmost omnipotence falling in place beside folk-inspired interludes and roaring electronic riffs. There's an amplitude and yet a sense of rural, old-fashioned superstition that becomes embodied by the lyricism. I admire greatly the harmony within 'Wishing Well', so go ahead and download it over here!

VIDEO// Towns: Gone Are The Days

Towns is a quartet from Weston-super-Mare, North Somerset, a seaside resort from which such names as John Cleese and the infallible Ritchie Blackmore have sprung. A shoegaze outfit, 'Gone Are The Days' has a physical release day of February 20th, but until then we have the digital version to keep us company! Four minutes of catchy and fuzzy guitar pop, vocals brimming with upbeat melancholia and an impressive hook, Towns know where they want to go. Guitar solos reverberate through the decidedly psychedelic video as whimsical words become waylaid. Finding his place with effortless enjambment, the lead singer gets back into the music brilliantly, dusting his efforts in a layer of subtle, foot-tapping rebellion! Stream 'Gone Are The Days' above and then look out for the physical release next month.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

MP3// Old Suits: God Say You Will (Closure)

Manchester's Old Suits dropped this four minute number onto the SoundCloud just over a week ago as the first track from their forthcoming EP, and while I'm not in love with it, there are aspects that reveal an awful lot of talent. As a quintet there's the ability and possibility on the band's behalf to record a track of grandeur and scale and scope, and at times they push this element through harmonies and powerful choruses in a very impressive manner. Soaring pop verses and sun-soaked melodies wander in abundance through the song, an undeniably summery vibe radiating from the instrumentation and offsetting those epic and relatively intense sections with interludes of subtly and detail. The vocals from Pedro Lax aren't the best I've ever heard, and stumble off and onto the right track a couple of times. They're not monotonous by any standards, but sometimes I'm just waiting for that varying pitch. The build and climax that conclude the song are fantastic, the quiet defiance of "I'll never leave" growing into a passionate scream as our protagonists run through the street after the person they love. The monogamous marriage between man and music, Old Suits connect well with the listener, and have bucket-loads of potential! Keep both ears pricked!

MP3// SPECTACLES: Babygurl

Californian producer SPECTACLES has an album in the works. With 'Babygurl' at it's helm I'm not sure such a record could have asked for a better ambassador! Three minutes that peel away at the boundary separating electronic sounds and rock sensibilities, 'Babygurl' is a subtly surreal number. Wavering electronic phrases reverberate through empty space as samples dodge their dangerously blissful ignorance. A guitar interlude drives forwards, its riffs echoing across the ages with unwary condemnation, powering onwards through an industrial cityscape and devouring everything with terrifying quiet. Ominous undertones paint the landscape a barren red, machines thinking instead of man, their metal eyebrows never once raising question or contemplation. 'Babygurl' is a very intriguing tack indeed! I can catch glimpses of a world running so fast we measure time by months, yet the song is not thus! Hear 'Babygurl' above, and await an album via SPECTACLES SoundCloud here!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

REVIEW// Richard Walters: Young Trees EP

      Richard Walters is a singer-songwriter, hailing from Oxford. Unsigned and yet undeniably talented, this EP foreshadows the release of his third full-length LP, a record set to stun. Four original tracks and a cover of  Echo & the Bunnymen's 'Bring on the Dancing Horses' make up 'Young Trees', an EP that was recorded over several months. Stark and honest, a complex simplicity gears away behind the flawless production, blown by a crisp winter breeze and the red river of a heart-broken man. 'Young Trees' is Walter's statement of liberation, however much he misses the shackles that bound him. However much he wants to feel the weight of emotional chains hanging from his heart, 'Young Trees' marks the point at which Walter realises the etched scars are beginning to fade. Picking himself up, he dusts off an innately somber and sincere set of memories and ushers them into this hopeful collection- box, with every intention of looking with a resolute determination towards the future. An EP like this conceives with melancholy adulation the innermost workings of a human heart, an inconceivable notion as vast and boundless as that of the cosmos and all its truths. Its not a mathematical proof, nor a scientific equation. The undulation of a man's breathing when close to true eudaimonia is the answer. Richard Walters attained this state; 'Young Trees' following as a carriage for the lament of its loss. For me it's nothing short of truly beautiful!
     The opening number also serves as the title track. 'Young Trees' is three minutes of an undeniable human warmth. String instruments waver and wane beneath upbeat drums of a brilliant quality. The balancing of vocals and instrumentation is executed perfectly before my favourite track even comes into view. 'Regretless' utilises Walters falsetto to stunningly good effect, teary-eyed harmonies and high notes riding atop a simple piano melody. The best section for me however, is when Walter steps along a lyrical passage with vocals that seem tangibly close to talking. It's a dangerous path to tread, but this has got to be one of my favourite examples of such a technique. 'Dandelion' follows and 'Infinity Street' follows that. Subtle crescendos and corridors of hauntingly quiet, and quietly saddening singing lead with fragility and passion and admirable guilelessness to the ultimate song. A version of 'Bring on the Dancing Horses' to surpass all others, it makes an apt end to an EP that requires all of your attention. The soundtrack to reflection, 'Young Trees' is awe-inspiring! Hear 'Regretless' below and then I eagerly suggest you purchase the whole EP over here.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

MP3// White Rabbits: Heavy Metal

White Rabbits are a New York sextet and 'Heavy Metal' is their latest number. From such a statement you might infer that the band play a form of well, heavy metal. You'd be wrong. I made such an assumption opening the gates to this four and a half minute track, but upon entering White Rabbits humble abode you're met by a rather delightful brand of indie-rock that pleasantly, defies all expectations. Instead of hard riffs and pounding drums, a chilled out concentration of electronic melodies and constant beat emerge from the out. Abrasive guitars pop up now and again amongst a multitude of bizarre sounds. Shakers, a catchy piano phrase and intriguing synths all show their faces at some point or another. The lead singers sings at fluctuating pitches as your foot taps along to his confident vocal groans and alluring air. At 2:15 an interlude begins, finger clicks and heavy, awe-inspiring guitar work taking place. The way White Rabbits stop and start is a technique executed brilliantly by them. All the above elements are mixed and presented in a manner that keeps you on your toes! It's a great track, so stream up above and hopefully we'll get a full-length soon!

MP3// Xiu Xiu: Hi

Xiu Xui are a set of avante-garde Californian rockers, set to drop their new album 'Always' on March 6th. 'Hi' fell from within the folds of this latest effort a week ago, and I'm liking the sounds on it! Four minutes of experimental rock that hit you with fists backed by theatrical brawn, 'Hi' plays out like a twisted version of 'If You're Happy and You Know It'. The vocals demand with tangible passion that "if you're wasting your life say hi", a request followed by a number of similarly somber statements. This singing is Xiu Xiu's selling point. Electronic phrases douse the track in shadow, throbbing guitar sounds hanging heavy in the air, but the sheer unmistakable sadness radiating from the vocal fallout is what makes 'Hi'. Often I find tracks that need so much more emotion injected into them. Xiu Xiu is brimming with an incredible amount of this emotion however, tears staining the fabric of the track and heavy breathing quickening its pace. There's a beauitful bit of instrumentation at the end that, in its layering, power and inept ability to be technically perfect, makes for a wonderful finish to a brilliant number. Individuality is an element to music I strive to find, and Xiu Xiu have it!

MP3// The Shins: Simple Song

The Shins dropped this 'Simple Song' upon their SoundCloud only yesterday, and already it seems to have set the blogosphere alight, the fires of their pop-infused rock sensibilities spreading with uncontrollable fervour! I'm a big fan of The Shins. 'Wincing the Night Away' is a stable record in my life so discovering a new number made for anticipation on a grand scale. However, initially I was not as impressed with this as I knew I should have been. My sudden disappointment with a band I've always loved ushered in a queue of repeats, and after a few I knew the answer lay with the lyricism. From interesting lines like "Faced with the android's conundrum / I felt like I should just cry", we're now being dealt such gems as "And where they did wrong / you sure must be strong", and rhyming 'rough' with 'tough'. It does have its nice moments but overall I wasn't drawn into 'Simple Song' as much as I was with the complexities of songs like 'Australia' or 'Pam Berry'. Everything just seems laid out on the surface without me needing to dig very far. But hey, with a title like 'Simple Song' I don't really know what I was expecting. Listen to all four minutes of said number up above!

VIDEO// Moullinex feat Peaches: Maniac

Michael Sembello is most famous for his appearance on the 'Flashdance' soundtrack, with a number that has become one of the highest-grossing songs to ever appear on film! Now a recognisable classic, it was only a matter of time before a cover cropped up that I loved! Moullinex utilised the vocal talents of Peaches to throw down this version of 'Maniac', and I have no intention of picking up that particular gauntlet. The most definitely NSFW video is just brilliant, and while the repetition of the last half never appealed to me, the dancer has my attention hooked from the off. An outfit change and some drugged-out lighting close a wonderful video and indeed, a wonderful cover of Michael Sembello's 1983 masterpiece! I absolutely dig this interpretation, so have a stream up above and mind out for captivation. Moullinex has an album full of covers dropping later this very month, so watch out for that!

Monday, January 9, 2012

VIDEO// Belleruche: Stormbird

I found this while browsing and I'll admit that I've never heard of Belleruche before now. An electro-soul trio from North London, 'Stormbird' is the first single from their forthcoming LP 'Rollerchain', an effort set to drop on July 5th. Their fourth release through Tru Thoughts, a Brighton-based label, 'Stormbird' sets the bar of anticipation squint-inducingly high. Its a fantastic number, Kathrin deBoer's vocals wondrously fast from the outset. The lyrics gain a very alien sensibility, mesmerising and soothing and truly captivating. Abstract shots of smoke and fencing and feathers surround deBoer's strange dancing style while crystalline singing pans through the back of your head. What really grabs you however, is the finish! The final curtain call rushes to throw out the words, speeding everything up until you can feel your heart pounding beneath a strained ribcage. It is stunning, so stream it all above!

VIDEO// Autoheart: Control

I shared Autoheart's 'Control' as an MP3 last month, but here is the long-awaited video for it! It's a four minute indie-pop gem, and the video highlights that to unparalleled effect! My eyes reflect back nostalgic clips that crackle and blur under summer sun and a film of dust that makes every second feel like uncovering memory after beautiful memory. Watching a heart-broken man sing of a floundering relationship is a concept all too common in todays pop music, but Autoheart seem to have ran their fingers along enough love-induced scars to accurately relay the pain felt beneath them. Keyboard melodies splash against the side of 'Control', every so often breaching the edge under the winds of a passionate storm. It's a great music video to a brilliant number! Watch up above and read my original post here!

VIDEO// Henry Dutton: Koadij / Beats & Poles

After two rather serious reviews, what we all need is a video of a pole-dancer dancing to a Korg PadKontrol right? The video is shot by David Dutton, who also filmed that Frail video I covered last week, and the music is that of his brother, Henry Dutton. The utilisation of a PadKontrol is interesting to watch, even if the final track isn't really that amazing. However, I do enjoy the full circle the music takes, sounds layered onto a simple beat and ultimately peeled away as the song concludes. It's a sound structural technique, but the real star of the show isn't that. Rather, the dancer holds our focus, her position up the poles acting as an equaliser to Henry Duttons sonic experiment. His fingers work magic across this sixteen button grid, each square loaded with a different sound. Its fascinating, so watch up above!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

REVIEW// Lee Bannon: Gnarlon Bando's Midnight Noir

     Lee Bannon's 'Gnarlon Bando's Midnight Noir' is an eleven track album that dropped New Year's Day. "The instrumental soundtrack to an imaginary movie" reads one line, alone and resolute at the bottom of the page. It invites a certain intrigue in its vague ambiguity, and I soon found myself surrounded by experimentation and hip hop sensibilities worthy of such anticipation! Based in Sacramento California, Bannon creates in 'Midnight Noir' a soundscape as fascinating to explore as any. A breath of its crisp air inflates your lungs as the muffled screeches and thundering purrs of numerous cars fly past you, lights blurring and flashing and flooding the street in light. Looking up, the emptiness of the sky seems at once both a desperate plea for silence and an acknowledgement of the gods. Slow rain drips from the street-lights, splashing with delicate euphoria upon the cold pavement slabs, sliding into a crack you never realised was there. A surreal feeling washes over you as you listen to the strange transcendence of 'Gnarlon Bando's Midnight Noir', a sense of unparalleled quiet. I remembered night rides home, my warm forehead pressed against the window as the cold reality of the glass rippled through my mind. I could retain a state of disbelieving bliss, the pane acting like a filter between my world and theirs. Rain danced past my eyes, the sight of outside refracted and skewed by the warm pulsating glow of street-light after street-light racing past. I remained completely still. Everything else blurred, as I bathed in my serenity.
     The album opens with 'Nightshift Part 1', ambient rain setting the scene. A phone rings amidst the downpour, a throbbing hum lending a heavy, ominous air to the precedings. An attenuated sample introduces ethereal, angelic complexities that flucuate and swirl to form part two of this dual number. A sensual beat and subtle melody are surrounded by sounds I've never heard before. Static buzzes are utilised in a soothing manner, synths beautiful against a powerful, stormy backdrop. Slow deliberation and contemplation radiating out of 'Discovery' make me feel as though I'm hearing chillwave for the first time. Initially I got the impression it was going to be a danceable number, but Bannon affirms his position on the pinnacle of ambient hip hop. The rain returns for 'The Motive', three and a half minutes of undeniable perfection. An innocent sample introduces it, mutating and transforming over twenty seconds to become a low, nightmarish voice, his breathing heavy with the weight of unforgiven guilt. The melody here is stunning, reflected off the city lights and commercial banners. Nostalgic harmonies flow in and out as you fall, uncontrollably, into a groove. An already prominent experimental ethos is amplified and emulated here, and I, well, adore it!
     'Arcade Scene' changes things up a bit, throwing a pop sample in there and remixing it to create a heart-pounding action sequence. A conversation sparks a set of speedy synth phrases and scope-infused choruses worthy of the next number, 'The Chase'. Surprisingly slower than its predecessor, racing car samples litter the sonic floor, setting the scene for the following four minute 'Shoot-Out'. Previously cited as being the soundtrack to a movie, you realise in the second half of the album how true that actually is. Everything links with everything else, merging and amalgamating under 'Gnarlon Bando's Midnight Noir', which isn't far from being the most consistent and 'together' album I've heard in a while. After the lingering dance sample of 'The Count Down' dies down we're left with 'The End'. A suitably upbeat and happy conclusion to this record's tale, I've loved every single one of its twists and turns. A surreal adventure brimming with thrills and chills and ultimate merriment, Lee Bannon has tied of all those emotions together and presented them in the best possible way. Outstanding production. Outstanding story-telling. It's an outstanding machination of musical goodness, so stream 'The Motive Part 2' below and purchase the full album here!

REVIEW// Superhero Eugene and The Orange Juice Sunshine Band: Dead Bears EP

  Looking at the name of this band and the title of their EP, I sense a logical contradiction. Superhero Eugene and The Orange Juice Sunshine Band released 'Dead Bears' at the end of December, six tracks of what they call 'folk country goth punk'. The connotations of their band name when compared to the genre and eponym of the EP seem at opposite ends of the spectrum, and this is reflected within the music for me. There seems to be an erratic lack of a strong central aim, almost as though the outfit cannot decide between themselves a core theme to explore, and so wander between a few. Individually almost every track here is great, but their amalgamation under one flag leads to subtle frictions in the group. The songs unify under one name, but in my opinion Superhero Eugene and The Orange Juice Sunshine Band haven't learnt what that should mean. An aesthetic should flow through a release without pause, marrying song with song as it travels with resolute direction. I'm not talking about variety within an album or EP, those interesting complexities that engage and retain your attention. Superhero Eugene has individuality emblazoned across his chest. I am not talking about sonic progression as you move through the tracks either. I'm talking about an intention. As I listened through 'Dead Bears', I didn't know what this band wanted me to feel. The sad lament of 'The Death Of Superhero Eugene Loveday' or that brilliantly happy tale of 'My Orange Balloon'. The word is inconsistent, but if Superhero Eugene and his crew can nail continuity then they're onto a surefire winner. Like I said before however, individually almost every one of the six tracks works magnificently, and I cannot hate them!
     Opening the EP is 'The Cotton Bag', a three minute song with truly stunning lyricism. It doesn't seem to me to be as accessible as some of the other tracks, which makes placing it at the start a little strange, but as one of my favourites from Superhero Eugene I didn't mind. The production isn't as good as other numbers either, but something spectacular is added to the music through it. The drums are tribal, pounding below a sea of wailing violin as they clammer and roar. Matthew O'Toole's vocals are incredible, breaking at every turn with true passion. The cry of 'In the Cotton Bag' is outstanding, followed and preceded by lines like "a murder of crows, they're wings like woe". The image of a wood is painted, icy and dark and quietly terrifying. A time of witchcraft and demons and heroes emerges out of the music, and I love that! The catchy upbeat ethos surrounding 'Seaside Rain Cycling' is executed wonderfully. The need to kill this silly Sasquatch is relayed with such playfully happy instrumentation a beautiful smile erupts upon your face! 'The Death Of Superhero Eugene Loveday' flits again, back to this somber, violin-laden lament. Nobody sings as an incredibly revered man is lain to rest. Before he was just part of a band-name, but now the body of this man appears, and a tear falls from the corner of your eye, sliding slowly down your cheek. The band quickly recover and continue with a cover of the White Stripes' 'Do'. 'My Orange Balloon' follows. A startled look of surprise settled on my face. If you haven't listened to the previous tracks you wouldn't believe that this was the same band. "I hope it finds it's balloon world" goes one line, and "I think it fell in love with the magic moon" goes another. Its accordion and female vocals and rainbow-infused softness don't fit in with the EP. The singing of the ultimate number 'Sunset's Eyes' are simply heart-wrenching. You can see the tears roll down O'Tooles face and long pauses of instrumentation are brilliant!
     However yes, the EP is in the end disappointingly inconsistent. While I enjoyed each of the tracks here on their own, I often felt as though the emotion I was feeling was wrenched away from me as Superhero Eugene and The Orange Juice Sunshine Band tried to throw too many different feelings, themes and emotions in at too many inappropriate times. You can stream 'The Cotton Bag' below and download the EP for free via the Bandcamp here!