Saturday, 30 March 2013

David Bowie~ The Next Day

Its David Bowie, of course it's stunningly weird, unique, endlessly enjoyable, changable and utterly fabulous. Go buy it, end of review. 

A Sitting With Nico a.k.a Beatastic

Nico a.k.a ‘Beatastic’ is a talented French multi-instrumentalist living in Brighton who has been on the musical round-a-bout for a good few years. He started his first band ‘ EcHo’ at the age of 15 after hearing Bon Jovi on the radio, “it was the first time I heard something different on the radio. Usually it was only pop/dance music/chart stuff. A few years ago my mum said I should learn guitar and she's pay for lessons.” His second band ' Zinc’ soon followed but this time based in Oxford, then came Beatastic in 2008.

Under the guise of ‘Beatastic’ Nico has released ‘Bedroom-Dancing Anthem’, Sleep Tight’ EP, ‘The Oceans Between You And I’, ‘This Lazer Life’ and ‘GL1TCH3S’ is due for release on the 30th of April. All are available for download and on CD on his website, Each time his style has changed, veering from Grunge, New-Wave and Goth Rock to chilled acoustic and Electronica. To Nico it’s all a challenge, “When I put Beatastic together the whole idea was to do something completely different. So it was mostly electronic pop songs and acoustic stuff (on ‘This Lazer Life’). Now on the 4th album I've gone full circle. I'm back to doing rock except this time there's an electronic element to it”.

 Unsurprisingly Nico sighted Robert Smith and Billy Corgan as people he’s always looked up to and his inspiration as “to do the opposite of bands I don't like”. But he did surprise me with the comment that he despises Punk, “I hate it because it's anti-music, anti-progress, fascist music that condemns anyone who tries to progress, show ambition and development.” Each to their own.  
The conversation then moved onto the music industry, record labels and publishing as  I asked  about being unsigned. Nico admitted that a few years back that he would have liked a record deal but today he’s looking towards a publishing deal as the alternative; selling his music to companies for films, adverts and games. “A record deal these days involves a record company who refuses to lend you money to make a record, takes a cut of your merch(andise) and touring and a cut of a record they had no involvement in making. Unless you do very, very well, you just get into debt.” Which is a fair point that I’d never thought of before. 

Personally my main grudge with the major labels is the stifling of talent and innovation, this attitude of money not art being the motivation, and let’s not even get started on the likes of Simon Cowell. “Look at a band like Green Day. I hate them, but they're called sell-out because they changed and evolved. As humans we grow, we evolve, we change. So as musicians we do too. Stagnation is death. Any trace of change and you get called sell-out.”

With no itching desire to tour I asked what his plans for the future were. “To promote this album (‘GL1TCH3S’ which is due out on the 30th April) as it deserves, I'm very proud of it. I have two music videos being made at the moment. One (is) by glitch artist G1FT3D and the other by Jamie Boulton. I have a few songs that didn't make the album and a few new ones too. I'm not sure what will happen to them at the moment”

Well Nico, I look forward to the new album, which I will be reviewing and music videos and wish you all the best, you deserve it. 

Monday, 25 March 2013

Cats Eyes

Cats Eyes – Polydor Records

Cats Eyes are a mini side project between The Horrors front man Faris Badwan and solo artist Rachel Zeffira a few years ago in 2011.
It’s a very strange and diverse album with a wide array of styles. It’s an emotional roller-coaster.

The opener ‘Cats Eyes’ is upbeat, poppy and fun while ‘The Best Person I Know’ is dreamy, spaced out and glittering, very much in the same 60’s style as the previous track but with a sprinkle of Goth.  ‘I’m Not Stupid’ is a heartbreakingly honest and reflective song, “I know she’s better than me”. It swoops into your heart with its simplistic piano and violin, Rachel’s silky vocals swoop and whimper. Then comes ‘Face In The Crowd’, which is a sassy catchy pop song where both parties sing. Faris’s harsh deep vocals contract wonderfully with her airy whispers. ‘Not A Friend’ has an exotic summery lofty feel to it, same with ‘Bandit’ but with a more sinister Arabian twist.

‘Sooner Or Later’ is quite frankly a scary song. Industrial drums pound like a murders footsteps, Faris’s threatening growl commands the song as dissonant strings strike and are those knives being sharpened? ‘The Lull’ rebels against the previous track as Faris turns to crooning over a crying orchestra of strings and brass as Rachel’s angelic voice joins occasionally. It is a stunningly beautiful love song, utterly perfect, like watching the sunset over the sea. ‘Over You’ briefly bounces in with its funky sassy soul beats, it’s a return to that 60’s style as it rejoices moving on from that pesky ex.
Ending track ‘I Knew It Was Over’ is another piano piece as Faris croons regretfully. It’s simplistic, almost angelic, a tear jerker.

They certainly make an interesting pair and I do wish they could find time to collaborate again. - Best Person I Know - Face In The Crowd

Sunday, 24 March 2013

We Are The Physics- Your Friend The Atom –

We Are The Physics- Your Friend The Atom – This Is Fake DIY Records

Based in Glasgow, this is in fact their second album, their debut, ‘We Are The Physics Are Ok At Music’ was released in 2008.

Glitch punk with a lab coat? The Futurehead’s on speed wearing goggles? Whatever they are they are, they create bat shit crazy glitching angular Post Punk perfection. His vocals are a manic blur of science words. Singles ‘Applies Robots’ and ‘Napoleon Loves Josephine’ are cheeky, fun and catchy. Harmonies, voices, time changes are flying here there and everywhere but without sounding unorganized. Controlled chaos? There is strangled guitars, pounding drums, random bursts of electronic squeaks and squeals. I love it.  

Despite the clear influences such as Devo, Gang Of Four and Polysics they have their own created this unique blend of styles that is entirely their own

It’s a witty album with songs like ‘There Is No Cure For The Common Cold So Don’t Expect A Cure For Cancer’ which is a great song, with its random sequences of strange electronic sounds and, also a single, ‘Goran Ivanisevic’, which tells the story of a tennis player who repeated failed but eventually succeeded in winning Wimbledon. Why not? ‘Eat Something’ opens with sonic noise and is filled with a social comment, “thin is success”. They manage to balance almost over whelming noise with bursts of just guitars, vocals or electronic buzzes; they come to together and separate back out. It’s has a very disorientating effect.

The album is an assault on the senses and quite honestly exhausting to listen to! It’s brass, confident and hyperactive. - Napoleon Loves Josephine - Dildonics

Veronica Falls- ‘Waiting For Something To Happen

Veronica Falls- ‘Waiting For Something To Happen’-Bella Union 

The second album from London’s Gloom Indie Rockers has the sound of a more mature, practised and wiser band. They still have their trademark floral gloom, just with more intricate guitars and the vocals of a higher quality, but without losing that energy and raw feel of their debut.

Single ‘Teenage’ is poppy, you might even say sweet sounding with its innocently jangling guitars and dreamy vocals. Veronica Falls have this odd skill of creating a sound that is simultaneously gloomy, poppy, innocent and experienced; with songs that jangly happily, dull dreamy vocals and lyrics worthy of Morrissey. ‘Shooting Star’ is a lovely little tune, with its bouncy catchy chorus that seems to float round your head and controlled dissonance. This album is more ‘Twee Indie’ than a charity shop woolly jumper. Single ‘My Heart Beats’ is sharper, faster, more punk inspired; a contract from the dreamy quality of the previous tracks. The album is honest, with a personal touch, making it easy to connect and relate with.

 It’s interesting to review a follow up to a debut, to judge a band on their route to try and perfect their craft. Veronica Falls seem to have found that balance between developing yet keeping their identity. 

‘Bury Me Alive’ reminds us of the darker side of life, the laughs have stopped with the frank lyrics such as “I want to get sick/Bury me alive”. ‘Falling Out’ follows in the same lowly, tired mood. It’s almost as if they started the album feeling practically optimistic but slowly descended. ‘Daniel’ is a short beautifully mournful honest song. Closing track ‘Last Conversation’ ties it all together; mournful and hopeful. Simply a truly enjoyable album.

Saturday, 23 March 2013

R.I.P My Chemical Romance

So, My Chemical Romance are over. I feel compelled to write and yet am unsure what to say. On a personal level they meant a lot to me, they were my first gig, my first review and so the opening into this world which I now hope to occupy and they were my first role models.

There have been mixed responses to the band and their style over the years but a fan or not it is important to remember the good they did, the people they helped and lives they saved. They were never "emo", a lot of the lyrics were based on books, films and personal experiences, not advertising self harm or whatever the media spewed out. 

They were the Marmite band of the last twelve years, love them or hate them my advise is to let the fans mourn and do their thing.

To the fans, don't give up hope! They wouldn't want this to get the better of us. So remember  to not be afraid to walk this world alone, and to raise your voice every single time they try and shut your mouth. So remember Killjoys to die with your masks on and I'll see you in the Black Parade.

Saturday, 9 March 2013

Kavinsky- ‘Out Run’ Album review

Kavinsky- ‘Out Run’   (Record Makers - 2013)

A French actor turn neo-eighties electro artist with an obsession with cars, fast cars. His musical debut was in 2006, though his last film was in 2007, with the EP ‘Teddy Boy’ swiftly followed by ‘1986’ the following year and then ‘Nightcall’ in 2010 featuring Lovefoxxx of CSS.  His minimalistic tunes have reached considerable internet fame via the movies, having had one of his first songs in 2007 ‘Steak’ directed by Quentin Dupieux  and more recently 2011 ‘Drive’ directed by  Nicolas Winding Refn  which featured the single ‘Nightcall’.

‘Out Run’ is his album debut and isn’t a bad album but it isn’t amazing either. The songs are too minimalistic and soon become boring despite there being some great sounds and ideas. It’s perfect driving or house party music.

‘Prelude ‘opens the album by setting the scene in a dull robot voice, drums pound ominously as synth twinkles. It is the amazement of discovery as a young kid finds the car of his dreams. Single ‘Proto vision’ soon follows. It’s fast paced with dramatic sweeping icy synths and screaming guitar; the sound of the city at night. ‘Odd Luck’ has a more optimistic feel to it as it shimmers with ghostly female vocals. ‘Dead Cruiser’ and much of the album follow’s in the same vain, some more interesting than others. ‘Rampage’ brings a welcomed twist with its funky beat, random saxophone samples and ominous atmosphere. It’s changeable, darker and the most interesting track to listen to; a sign that Kavinsky is a talented artist, until we move onto ‘Suburbia’ which is in all honestly a middle of the road rap song, done badly.  Thankfully single ‘NightCall is Kavinsky back at what he’s good at; icy electro. It’s catchy, poppy and frosty with heavily distorted male vocals juxtaposed nicely with LoveFoxxx’s, of CSS, clear soft female vocals. This is minimalistic concept electro done well. You can clearly envision cruising a swish sports car down a deserted motorway in the dead of night, not a care in the world, fully free. It’s what the album is supposed to convey, but only sometimes achieves.

 ‘First Blood’ follows in the same vein of ‘Rampage’ with its funky beat but it’s much more sass, with the return of the squealing guitar and male soul vocals. This is the song with an afro and flaires while ‘Nightcall’ has a murderous secret. Single ‘Road Games’ opens with a piercing demanding violin sample that continues throughout the song as it builds, joined by a simple R&B beat, deep keyboard and icy synth. The songs filled with fear and regret as the cold dawn of day creeps up.

The album closes with the monologue ‘Endless , a bit of a generic and disappointing song compared to some of the other tracks but does end the album on an optimistic note.

 ‘Outrun’ is an inconsistent album but when it’s good, it’s great. - Nightcall - Protovision 

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Baltic Fleet- Towers (album review)

Baltic Fleet- Towers- 2012- Blow Up Records Limited

‘Towers’ is the second album written, recorded and produced by Paul Fleming, the current keyboard player for Echo And The Bunnymen. The first self-titled album, which was written whilst on tour, was released on 2008 and was inspired by the cities they visited. The second was created at home, all the instruments bar the drums played by him and this time inspired by his own town. It was released in the summer of last year.

‘Towers’ begins mostly entirely electronic, with a repeated fuzzing and foot tapping synth sequences and standard drum beat. Distorted sounds whirl around, as innocent piano chimes in occasionally. It’s got a rather upbeat and optimistic feel to it, which is rare to hear in industrial music.

Typical but enjoyable slow drum and bass beat and suspiciously 80’s sounding synth leads ‘March of The Saxons’, but he still manages to make it sound fresh and exciting. Its progressive, subtly changing after a few minutes, there’s never a dull or empty moment. The most surprising thing about this album is the fact that, despite it is entirely instrumental and an average album length, that it is not boring or too repetitive. Not in an insulting way, but this album is perfect as motivational background music as well as intent listening. A fair number of songs have a moody neo-80’s sound to them, some more so than others, such as ‘Engage’ is but still manages to sounds fresh and modern, with its scratchy rhythmic guitar. The song has this lovely highly distorted sound now and again, like a jet taking off and icy synth.
 ‘Headless Heroes Of The Acropolis’ is instantly recognisable with its deep demanding bass sound, cold keyboard and is that a guitar I hear? Certainly a stand out song that cuts out as suddenly as it comes in. I must say I do love the song titles.

About midway through, from ‘The Wilds’, the albums starts to get lower key, more moody and gritty, despite its definite 80’s feel. The bass sound on said song is like the puffs of a steam train and has a killer keyboard sequence. This song in particular sounds rather Gary Numan esc. By this point we’ve stopped looking down on the city from above and are roaming the backstreets of downtown at night, wandering aimless. The beat is even paced, hip thrusting. Like the clanging of metal in the factories, bangs and clashes surround you and keyboard sequences shimmering like the hope of escape. And maybe that’s what this album is about, reality of the city lined with escapism and hope. 'Winds Of The 84 Winter’ has a particularly shimmery hopeful sound to it while ‘Hunting Witches’ is suitably dark and faster paced with twisted guitars leading and the return of icy synth. It is quick to stamp out the light which the previous song provided. 

 ‘Toire De’ is another example of his effortless blend of simple guitar riffs and electronic industrial sounds that dripping in and out, ever changing the musical landscape. ‘Midnight Train’ is quite a shock, as it opens with a high pitched shimmering and sparkling sequence, almost like classical piano that is quickly contrasted perfectly with the more familiar deep demanding Echo And The Bunnymen esc bass and pounding drum beat. The song only gets moodier from there onwards and is rather minimalistic at times while others busy as ever. Each song truly is fascinating to listen to, there meanings numerous.

Closing track ‘Reno’ is a sombre melancholic piano piece, accompanied by subtle low key keyboard and a gentle swooping. It’s coming back home, empty hearted having found no peace or escape but to comfort and familiarity. It’s dramatic, passionate and stunningly beautiful. After a few minutes an echoed heartbeat drum comes in and takes over, as keyboard become increasingly prominent, but the echoed heartbeat is the last thing you hear, the heartbeat of the city, fading out before dying completely. - The Wilds - Engage 

Saturday, 2 March 2013

Live- Canary Adams and Three Dollar Bill

Its roughly 7:30 on a Wednesday evening and we’re stood in a tiny and rather empty room with a pigeon hole bar and elf sized stage; welcome to Base Studios in Stourbridge, West Midlands. Tonight has been set up by Halesowen College for the art students, who make up half the audience as they are filming and photographing the gig, while the rest are friends and family. There sure is a lot of black eyeliner in here.

First up are Canary Adams clad in skinnies, hoodies, blazers and converse. They do a reasonably length set of rock covers, ACDC, Jimi Hendricks, the usual’s, but done well. They have a good vibe, are fun to watch and are good at what they do. Their music is loud and fuzzy; proper basement rock. Students stand around shuffling and tapping their feet awkwardly while others flash expensive cameras at the band, who don’t seem daunted by it at all.
Next up is Three Dollar Bill who play the same set I scrutinised them practise in the rehearsals rooms. It’s tighter, louder and all round better, the instruments are more distinct and you can actually hear Karac’s croons. They too are not daunted by the pocket size audience and unforgiving cameras, but dominant the tiny stage; playing passionately like it was an academy sized gig. ‘Suck My Kiss’ by The Red Hot Chilly Peppers is brass and harsh while original song ‘Shoot Them Down’ was alive and grooving with its angular guitar and bouncing reggae beat. There is something very satisfying about experiencing a four piece basement student rock band. The energy, fun and potential bleeds out and seeps into you, reminding you that some of the greatest bands started off this way.

Three Dollar Bill- Own Photo
Near the end of  the set things then start to get weird. Karac, the singer, top disappears during reggae driven original song ‘The Garden’ (yes that moment was recorded by roughly four different phones) and our little group starts to ‘Macarana’ and ‘Gangnam Style’ to  a very good choppy cover of ‘Culture Vulture’ by The Skints. The singer even has a new hair cut; “that makes him look like Marty Mcfly!” What more could you want on a cold Wednesday evening?

Surely this is what music is all about, these random gigs in obscure studios in a dead town filled with students having  a laugh. It gives me hope that there is still talent and passion left out there, not just tribute acts and auto-tuned pop stars. I know for sure that I’d go back for more.