- Music blogger, record label owner, PR person, Christmas music writer.
mp3hugger is my indie music blog based in Dublin, Ireland. I also run a record label called Indiecater (http://www.indiecater.com), did some PR here http://www.huggerpr.com, write about Christmas music all year round for http://yuleplay.com and sob about the Republic of Ireland football team on www.eire.guide In general submissions will be responded to within 24 hours.
- artist management, music industry, music promotion, creative writing, record labels, web design, mixtapes, music writing / blogging, music reviews
- indie rock, alternative, indie pop, folk, indie, electronica, music, dream pop, alternative rock, indie folk, synthpop, shoegaze, experimental, post-rock, indietronica, lo-fi, grunge, football, indie electronic, movies, brit-pop
I was initially reminded of Washed Out on ‘Asphyxiate’ which would have been funny if Colour Theory had decided to plough that particular furrow. As it turned out this is a duo very much of their own making, with unsteady and lopsided beats and a softly tingling Jean Michel Jarre synth backdrop. The vocals are ghostly in their delivery, never quite giving of themselves yet alluring enough to draw you closer to what they have to say. The video had me reeling and contemplating Eyes Wide Shut but then the music meant that it was really an exercise in ears wide open. Oddly compelling.
I’ll hold my hands up and say that I’ve never been handed such a weighty submission on Fluence. At first I was a little overwhelmed at what I was tasked to pour over given the length of music involved and especially given that the classical genre is somewhat alien to me. By the end however both my eyes and especially my ears had been woken up to choral virtuosity (Ray Conniff being my only touchstone to this point) courtesy of Spanish composer Victor Manuel Gómez Uralde. ‘Oratorio de los últimos tiempos’ is a musical composition that features distant organs to open the album, a multitude of choirs and soloists which are recorded in such low def I had to crank the volume way past my usual comfort zone. Once adjusted it felt as if I’d been spirited into Westminster Abbey for a hymnal procession that veered from haunting to melancholic right back to a sense of uplifting hope. It was quite a journey. Being not used to such heavy portents it was quite a relief that ‘Oratorio de los últimos tiempos’ had plenty of variety over its 36 minutes plus. I can’t even imagine the planning that was required to organise a cast of dozens into such a meaningful whole. But gel it does as female soloists lift the soul with sprightly attention seeking heart revelations before opera’s version of call-and-response bookended the longest serenade I’ve listened to this side of Belle & Sebastian. For the most part the singing was pitched like grand oration acapella so it arrived unaccompanied, and without music, but such was its glass shattering potential it certainly didn’t need any bolstering. I felt the turning of the seasons throughout with winter’s dark pall hanging over plenty of its passages while the budding of spring stepped in periodically to lift the almost unbearable weightiness of being. At the album settled down into female soprano dominated arcs I felt my interest wane a little, even if the voices were so pure as to approximate a caffeine hit and help resist any attempts at non-attentiveness. The funereal approach to much of the central movements felt like the piece of Ikea supporting me had been transformed into a pew. That hasn’t happened often I might add but as the album spirited towards a close it adopted a lighter more humour filled tone. I enjoyed this album, as much for its polar oppositeness of my usual listening tastes as anything else. Good music is good music no matter the genre and it’s obvious that Victor Manuel Gómez Uralde is adept at what he does. Again, I was a little surprised at the production, given how painstaking it must have been to weave such an epic recording together but in some ways it added credence to the feeling of being in a holy shrine. I did some research on this album and there is little evidence of it appearing around the web so hopefully Uralde’s appeal will soon stretch beyond traditional audiences and into the lives of those in most need of it. How could you not be affected by the loveliest version of ‘Auld Lang Syne’ (and it may not be even be Auld Lang Syne) I’ve heard this side of last Christmas.
There is nothing more exciting than a new band bursting out of their garage and letting what has been festering inside for years out into the world for general consumption. In most cases it is the most ravishing music they will ever make so it comes as some surprise to hear how restrained and cerebral Forever are on one of their first tracks. ‘Loose’ lives up to its name, dangling its tempting melodies in out of reach places while making like a teaspoon of oil in a saucepan of boiling water. I guess what I am trying to say is that these lads are hard to pin down but what they offer in the few minutes that ‘Loose’ limbers about is a taste of experimental joie-de-vivre. Whether it takes them very far remains to be seen but I for one am happy that they’ve seen fit to express themselves in such a curiously divine way.
An exotic name like that deserves a worthy soundtrack and in ‘Dottie, Queen of the West’ the Persian Leaps have found it. With a strumming entourage that would do justice to Teenage Fanclub it is left to the vocals to take the piece a few more steps closer to indie pop heaven. This is a song that is not confined by classic boundaries however as ditches bridge chorus flip flopping for a more rounded sense of organic melody. This not only bolsters its longevity but adds a character and nuance that are often absent for more linear nuggets. A genuine gem.
It never rains but it pours for Monoculture and this time it’s raining a beautiful jangle that compliments the tidily dispatched vocals. All told it is a neat combination that would grant ‘Men in the Trenches’ a guarantee for mixtape deployment were such things even possible these days. Falling as it does under the 3-minute mark makes it ideal for closing off the perfect C-90, a nugget with a beating heart, winning smile and oodles personality to charm all. Monoculture might yet be giants and on this evidence they already are.
I love moody, atmospheric openings and ‘Sell Phone’ certainly fits the before ditching the disguise and hurtling head first into an expansive grunge metal epic. The guitars’ rampaging nature are never overwhelming so the vocals, albeit slightly in the distance, have room to convey their sentiments about the all-pervasive and invasive disease that is handheld technology. This has the early-nineties written all over it with the ghost of Kurt Cobain flitting amongst the grand shadows cast by the chord pillars. Like Cobain’s band Head Exploder bring plenty of melody with the intense volume which is a lavish device that is hard to grow tired of. This is very close to intensely exciting and bodes well for the band’s other material.
Memoryy’s music is the sound of summer and with at least a month to go before it fades into oblivion he is pulling out all the stops to make 2015 a season to remember. On the evidence of ‘Feeling Sinister’ he appears to have raised his game even further than before with a composition that ticks all the boxes to ensure a wide audience. That said this is the very definition of a grower, a song that might not initially reveal its subtle grooves but several re-runs just underline how carefully it has been assembled. As well as being a smile inducer the latino swing that breaks through at the end should bring everyone within earshot to their feet with the intention of breaking some tango moves. Quite an achievement then, from an artist who is improving rapidly with each new release.
Soft rock as a rule gives me the chills, like MOR but with a modicum of cool. So when I read Starar’s (nice name btw) profile I put on an extra layer. Thankfully ‘ScrapYardLand’ was much better than I expected though it did sound a little underproduced, or else the bitrate on the recording was set too low. Regardless this is a real song, sung by a real band with a clear vision. And while that might not be what will save the music industry it is nonetheless the bedrock of what keeps music fans coming back for more. Starar aren’t in the revolution business but with mini victories like this song in their armoury they should be very pleased with themselves.
There are plenty of surreal moments in this quirky video that certainly raise quite a few smiles but it is the music from Curious Gracie that held me in its grip. Encased in the environs of what could easily slip into daytime radio playlists is a bolshie little number with oodles of personality. So much so that I can see why it could inspire the kaleidoscope of ideas in the promo. Rather than squeezing notions from an unforgiving brain this piece of audio could tempt them rather surreptitiously into the open without any effort at all. I imagine Fleetwood Mac would be quite proud of this and Peter Gabriel the video, which really is as high a recommendation as I could give this.
Let’s cut to the chase will we, just like Sleep Status do on ‘Snaphu’, and say that this is as refreshing a sonic whirr that you’ll get in 2015. Forget about the noodling, just let it seep from inside like you always dreamed it would in your formative years. ‘Snaphu’ is propulsive, dynamic and sports a chorus that makes up for its shortage of melody with a blistering instinctive urgency. I’m reminded of a pumped up rock juggernaut with Primal Scream at the controls or perhaps Idlewild if their vision hadn’t clouded over time. Incendiary, Technology is the future it seems.
Given Jack’s little intro and the fact that one of my fave bands ever come from Colorado (Candy Claws) the expectation was giving me little tingles. ‘The End of the World with You’ certainly doesn’t come out all guns blazing but when you are playing with a classical piece of music you had better makes sure your opening moves are well judged. When Sam’s voice finally breaks it reveals something quite different, almost like a commentary on the environment all around. There is a hymnal quality at work here and it certainly packs plenty of emotional heft. Twisting his vocals through the machines was a risk but it works superbly contrasting with the sun beaming classical notes. The build is quite beautiful and should tug at the affections of plenty, not just the object of Sam’s affections in this tune. At the end your head will swirl and your heart will likely swoon too.
The refreshing aspect of X-Change’s remix of Pharrell’s ‘Freedom’ is that there is no hanging around on ceremony, the rewards came pretty much straight away. Much like the title of the song there is sense of unbridled escapism in the DJ’s approach, a wildly oscillating piece of intricacy that can’t help but tear up any dancefloor. I’m a good deal out of touch about what goes on down in the Balearic’s but this piece of thunder and lightning could potentially be wildly popular. It may even cure some forms of mild arthritis, and all you have to do in exchange is take a listen. Invigorating.
What a smouldering piece of music to hear first thing in the morning, with this on rotation who needs the birds in the trees. The vocals are otherworldly and the general atmosphere is of something that hovers just above the surface of reality. Baron Bane’s cover is blown just before the minute mark however when ‘Fire Play’ gathers all its 80’s synth signature points and maps a course to the melodic lowlands. The players in the promo ape the robotic kraut movements of yore but ‘Fire Play’ has a belly for getting itself noticed rather than operating in the cool shadows. This is uplifting stuff, a nod to the past that remains steadfastly in the present. Expect future love.
From their profile it is clear that Gold Jacks hearts are in the right place with a mission to give the underground back its soul. And their ‘Take it Back’ is an impressive stab at making good on their promise. This is deep and dirty alternative rock that introduces us to a real band who are there for the music rather than the free lipstick and eyeliner. To that end it is quite possible that you’ll bump into them in an half lit tavern as they set about slowly right the wrongs in a music industry collapsing in on its own homogeneity. In truth the band’s sound isn’t particularly revolutionary but it has balls and a certain sneer that the hero bands of yore sported in considerable abundance.
2015 is shaping up to be the year of the ethereal girl vocal and Salwa Azar is riding that particular zeitgeist with consummate ease. ‘Floating in Milk’ is lo-fi folk in direction, as quiet as a mouse but possessing undeniable spirit. As such it is just made for lazy summer afternoons when the shape of later events have yet to be mapped out. The song sifts the nothingness for nuggets of reason and it more or less succeeds. Not bad for a girl who shifts between Amos and Newsom before discovering that it’s best to stick to what you know best, namely what’s been inside all along.
It’s clear that the rain has stopped outside because Vizion’s ‘Vanessa’ is beaming from ear to ear. She may in fact be the sun rising in the East, a slow burning colossus that has the incendiary power to illuminate all around it. And so as noon arrives the rays become more pronounced and send their feelers to every living organism above ground. Such are their searching capabilities however that the darker recesses beneath are also likely to feel her soft caresses. It’s only when the shafts of cloud cover hove into view that the glow diminishes, when all the pointers suggested that the fireball in the sky would be much more than another distant shape in the sky. The west is awake, just.
Given that his day job is as drummer to Sean Lennon it is perhaps not too surprising that the scaffolding present on Tim Kuhl’s ‘1982’ is of broken beats. The memories are truly cast however on the alien synths that lounge about in the distance offering a sense of other-worldliness. This sounds like ‘Airborn’ era Mike Oldfield or Jean Michel Jarre were he to drop the light show and instead concentrate on satisfying an audience crammed into the coolest upstairs venue. You can almost picture the smoke hanging in the air while the patrons creating the same plumes drift in and out of conversations that amount to everything and nothing. It’s that sort of tune, classification is inappropriate.
Coming from a country where a shortage of road means that trucker tales don’t really get an airing, it is always fascinating to read how the other half lives. And that is exactly what Working Class Hussys theme their brand of Americano on. For all that there is a sense of nuance in what this band are peddling, a little bit of familiar with a generous helping of unexpected harmony and guitar dynamics. To tell you the truth I wasn’t for one second expecting ‘To Tennessee’ to be this good and I’m feeling all the better for the experience, in the knowledge that this is a band taking workaday situations and colouring them with their undoubted musical gifts. A real find and in the process my narrow tastes have been ever so slightly broadened.
Catchy name for a band, it had me thinking of a child’s novel, importantly it had me thinking. Their song ‘The Future Can’t Be Known’ is similarly tailored with a childlike innocence that recalls the Boy Least Likely To. Such is the bobbing momentum that clapping along seems like entirely the right thing to do and given that the vocals are often sung in unison there could be a campfire somewhere out there with this as its tinder. Things get decidedly more experimental, however, as the song develops and the video descends into awkward creepiness. With ragged feedback drenched chords the order of the day this is a band with serious range, lulling the listener into a false sense of security with those earlier manoeuvres before frightening the bejesus out of them when their back is turned. Neat, unkempt and flatulently arty – this is great stuff.
What a visceral piece of house music from Calimba, which is imbued with so much character you might need a nap after riding its monstrous peaks. ‘Katapult’ would be ideal as a route to loosening limbs before hitting the weekend dancefloors if it weren’t so short but then you could extend the euphoria by piecing several bursts together. There is no build to climax on this one with the fully formed epicenter throbbing its little heart out from the get go. By stretching, manipulating and generally having his wicked way with it I believe Calimba could have the makings of a number of classic remixes.
The Portnoy Brothers are channelling a neatly updated Simon & Garfunkel sound which is quite a feat given how little that classic pairing have been successfully reprised. That said there is plenty of individuality in their acoustic rambles with ‘Memories’ hosting a remarkably solemn disposition with an unlikely brass turn that gives the piece a unique presence. It is soft and lilting without ever falling into the trap of cutesy melodrama. The Portnoy Brothers appear as if they’ve crafted the nuances from genuine emotion as opposed to documenting a feeling that appeared on a Facebook page. In a narcissistic world such authenticity deserves respect, admiration and attention.
Opening like a monster Mogwai epic this quickly morphed into a lighter shade of MGMT. The effect was exhilarating as the alien backdrop throbbed and reverbed while Ian Aware provided the steady vocal line. About 90 seconds in I wondered how such a bright opening could sustain itself over 6 minutes but there was a constant trickle of fresh ideas throughout so the journey never grew tired. Soon enough the bluster of the opening salvo was replaced by a calm interior that veered towards sun-coming-up Balearic sounds. When the epicentre duly arrived it was as good as the build deserved, psych in nature it filled the room with its off-kilter glory. This is an unhurried gem that I shall return to many times.
Such a blunderbuss of an opening, a glam era stomper that even includes the fuzzy distorted vocals so representative of that era. With its contemporary values this could even pass for a Primal Scream issue (or Sigue Sigue Sputnik if you were looking even further back) were it not for the rush of blood that arrives around the 90 second mark. From then on in countless gallons of adrenaline are pumped into an entity that displays all the attributes of a nuclear reactor on the lookout for the escape value. Ian Aware has created a supreme crash-bang-wallop in ‘Right Now’ that will effortlessly spill from indie disco speakers on Fridays nights for the foreseeable future.
There is obviously so much going on in Mr Fogg’s head, an explosion of ideas that will ultimately lead to his world domination. In the interim his music will challenge the notion that music in 2015 is not wholly pushing the boundaries. His ‘Time To Ascend’ is artful noise, an emotional well fed from an infinite spring that curates the very best of the human spirit. For all that it is minimal in its approach, a sparse beat, a needy synth, a throbbing bass line and those ever so delicate vocals that appear as if they are on the cusp of disintegrating. Things do eventually soar, to the relief of all, with a brassy aside threatening to pierce those tear ducts you’ve so manfully insulated all those years ago. This quietly unbinds the living spell, to let us dream it like we always hoped we could.
Wai Lana possesses one of the most unusual voices I’ve ever heard, on several occasions I had to check whether it was a wooden flute instrument rather that a singer making these soothing sounds. Her song ‘Namaste’ was recorded to celebrate international yoga day and boy does it fit the bill. With visuals depicting show-mo scenes from beautiful locations all around the world this is very much a treat for the eyes as it is for the ears. ‘Namaste’ plays out over several acts, each with its own personality but always exuding a happy demeanour. In fact it would take a heart of stone not to come away from the experience with a smile on your face. Such is the devotion of the participants involved that at certain points the video took on the feeling of a religious occasion. All told this is a reflective delight.
As far as capturing the zeitgeist goes Carly Eden has it down, as the softly tinkled ivories and strong yet vulnerable vocals appeal to a vast Glee/Frozen loving world. There is vulnerability in spades despite the slightly narcissistic request to be immortalised in coloured oils. Where ‘Paint Me’ succeeds, and where others drift away to saturated sameville, is in the beautiful arrangements. This is where the magic begins to emerge, where the creative art becomes a living thing and the clockwork mechanics reveal a beating heart with the power to melt those all around.
I’ve heard Filligar before and have learnt from that experience to expect the unexpected. This time however there was no confusion because ‘Established in Baltimore’ is just downright beautiful from the off. It is experimental for sure but there are clear stringed melodies to paint the story of a band’s art. These 3-minutes should be something that all emerging bands should focus on because it is an illustration in the creation of true art. It tells the story of the lifecycle of a sonic-being, relying on nothing else except the workaday pieces falling into place one-by-one organically and not faltering until that something out of nothing suddenly becomes everything.
This sounds like it was recorded live and personally I think it gives the recording a charming aspect. The song itself has a hint of country rock about it with the vocals very much Neil Diamond in direction. This confluence of ideas should ensure that Jason Kendall has a ready-made audience with ‘Victorious’ already fashioned for the live setting. I can’t say that the composition is pushing any boundaries but it is a pleasant listen all the same, put together with care and attention and fitting the classic rock template beloved of millions around the world.
This seems like a very clever collective of two. And by this I mean that they are thinking about how to get their music into the right places instead of the traditional approach of bcc it out to all and sundry on a wing and a prayer. Their song ‘The Mountain’ is undeniably catchy, radio friendly and built for the sunkissed loved-up masses. The best thing though is that it is not in the least bit irritating, in fact if I weren’t suffering from football cramp I’d be bouncing on the mattress in the master bedroom such is its frothy disposition. ‘The Mountain’ hits so many melodic bases it will likely have a broad audience but is blessed of an individual personality to ensure it also infiltrates the underground. I’ve only listened to it 3 times and already it is sounding like this summer’s soundtrack. 'The Mountain' is currently a free download so I'd expect the mp3 to go forth and multiply at an alarming rate.
Valtis make a loose jangling sound and it matters little that they sing in Spanish because when the good vibes swill around with this level of abandonment it is very difficult to resist. ‘No Queda Nada’ is a free spirit of a tune, high octane and unafraid to issue melodious smiles to all listeners. The chiming guitars are a perfect foil for the harmonising which is simple through but hugely effective in focusing attention on the warmth of spirit in this recording. A glorious summer jam.
It is great to hear a song come out of the blocks like ‘She’ does. I was immediately reminded of several classic Wannadies tracks such are the sweet vocal dispatches, ably tracked by a propulsive instrumental backdrop it must be said. This song is so full of vitality and possibility that I can’t for the life of me see why it shouldn’t be soon in the hands of a salivating marketing dept. willing to put it to good use on their next campaign. For everyone else it has the chops to become an indie favourite on college radio stations as well as the Hype Machine which will doubtlessly embrace it so tightly that it peaks out as one of its most loved tracks. This band have landed on their feet with this one.
Any mention of Madchester will have me salivating but in this case as it was set amidst a roll call of a thousand other genres I wasn’t sure what to expect. And so it came to pass that the multi-faceted beast that is ‘Hombre Lobo’ sent me on a journey through several continents, a couple salon’s worth of hair styles and the general feeling that there would be no easy way to guess what was going to come around the corner. It’s quite the ride, an exhausting trawl through what Monoculture have in their armoury. It sounded all the world like a sampler from a number of EP tracks, beautifully spliced to sound like a consistent whole. At times there were flashes of Oasis and other Britpop contenders so this track should prove a boon for those looking to relive those heady mid-90’s days. An undercard pairing with survivors from that time might be a good starting point for getting on the touring ladder though this should only be a temporary course of action as long term Monoculture need to strike out on their own. At the moment they have a lot to offer but perhaps they need to focus on what sets them apart rather than what they remind us of.
Songs written about 10 imaginary girls, how quaint and how David Gedge of the pan-European Discoforticut. Let’s park the quaint at this point however as the band’s ‘Thaquim's Guitaer’ is quite the challenging so-and-so. In some ways it sounds ideal for relaxation room turntables but it has an inbuilt capacity to shoot from its eclectic leaning hip. So there are interesting forages in unexpected directions without ever returning to a melodic centre which might focus matters considerably. This particular imaginary girl is obviously aloof and ever so cool but never quite lets any interested boy into her private world. Perhaps he’ll arrive on Discoforticut next long player.
Given their quite remarkable touring schedule it is no surprise that Filligar sound altogether different to 99% of the music being released today. And while different does not necessarily always mean it is any better it does in the case of ‘White Light Rose’ which sounds to me like what Radiohead could have developed into if they hadn’t gone all abstract and unlistenable. The song comes with a thoughtful promo video but even in the absence of such vivid images it has a depth of characterisation which is quite unique in modern songwriting. ‘White Light Rose’ is dark, deep and achieves what every piece of music should, it affects.
This is unashamedly 90’s house with touches of acid and trance thrown in for good measure. For all those retro stylings however I was still taken in by that alien voice that soundtracked so many ‘Rave Generation’ tapes back in those faraway pre-sweaty night outs. Where Mel Sound has really succeeded is in her ability to take a well-trodden template and infuse it with a sense of the contemporary. ‘Carousel’ is frenetic, displaying endless energy and focused on rooting out the best time possible which should be a boon for its target audience. The weekend truly starts here.
We’ve all been there, a moment of argumentative madness that leaves you alone and thinking how much better it would be if the source of the rumble was beside you. And while the near euphoric nature of Todd Michael Schultz’s ‘Hotel’ might betray the smouldering words of dejection and generally being such an ass it still makes for a jaunty if slightly confused listen. I’m wondering if the anthemic aspect of ‘Hotel’ would be better switched to a hotel on the coast where the action takes place poolside with an atmosphere that is a lot more friendly and contagious. Most people who hear this song will just likely roll with the good vibes however with the result that Mr. Schultz could a very radio friendly hit on his hands.
With a set of comparable electronic artists to make you salivate quite messily Stereodyssey sure does keep good company. And ‘Anomalies’ is assuredly old skool with Orbital’s ‘Snivilisation’ the precious artefact that most springs to mind as it unfolds before your very ears. Like the British siblings the singular Stereodyssey appears to enjoy lounging about in the abstract which means that ‘Anomalies’ flip flops in plenty of unusual directions instead of settling on a central hook. This style certainly ensures longevity if done carefully so the trick on these occasions is to ensure that the sum of the many moving parts adds up to a meaningful whole. And this is where Stereodyssey takes the laurels because while ‘Anomalies’ breaches the 6-minute mark it feels like half that. This is a glorious rumble in a jungle of computer bleeps and wheezes that has character to burn. I’m off to do it all again.
‘Neptune’ is so light on its feet it almost defies gravity. So softly focused, demure and effortlessly efficient at locating the bullseye on your slowed down beating heart. The promo vid is similarly assembled, all slo-mo images that hardly mean anything in their own right but are absorbing in their visual impact. Terrible Sons have a lot in common with another husband and wife team called Adam & Darcie who also tend to convey so very much by saying very little at all. I’m also shuffling back to the sweet sounds of Irish band the Harvest Ministers because to become this adept at affecting a listener into the gentle emotions I’m feeling takes a very special talent indeed. This is going straight on my list of favourite songs for 2015.
From the prologue I expected dreamy sequences and melodies that drifted just out of reach. And it was a good call because the sweet jangle permeated throughout this juggernaut. The vocals for their part are unique and memorable, dispatched as if they had just left the last stop at Spoken Wordsville. ‘All For The Good’ is an unusual confection that rarely sits on its laurels, finding dazzling new sequences every half minute to throw the listener into a state of delirious confusion. While it is never experimental Berlin Syndrome throw around enough ideas in less than 4 minutes than most bands would accommodate on an entire album. The many twists and turns form a cohesive whole which means the dizzying randomness adds up to one giant meaningful.
I already knew that Matthew Squires was adept at penning a memorable song so I knew that the play action I was about to engage in would reap ample rewards. As it turned out I wasn’t wrong as Squires coaxes melancholy and melody from every second of ‘A Strange Piece’. With the strings adding the requisite sense of forlorn I was reminded of the music from ‘Man of Aran’ by British Sea Power. Irish band the Frames are equally adept at such heart tugging gestures so the Learning Disorders are in good company. With a promo that plays out like an epic romance through the ages that neither party ever gets to engage in, this proves to be a touching reminder that true love is definitely out there but often alludes us. And what a soundtrack this band have engineered to illustrate the point.
Being an avid collector of 7-inch singles back in that media format’s heyday I’m all about making first impressions with a song before I’ve even heard a note courtesy of the sleeve art. So it was with a little trepidation that I pressed play on Jason Lloyd Kendall ghoulishly painted ‘While Your Eyes Are Closed’. And my suspicions were instantly affirmed given Kendell’s ghostly layered vocals and a musical circus that could have drifted out from the basement of the haunted castle on the hill. But for all the bumps in the night there is a fine melody at the core of this song. The unusual delivery turns out to be a nice antidote to a million other songs that all sound the same and spend their time in an eternal reach for whatever the zeitgeist sounds like this hour. ‘While Your Eyes Are Closed’ is theatrical and stagey but nothing can stop a chorus like this that has the wherewithal to hack via comedy-blood-soaked-axe right into your memory nodes.
Vizion certainly has a perpetual eastern influence and his music has the effect of loosening the sense of daytime stress whenever it is played. The juxtaposition that is the precise plucked electro strings and the thumping percussion does nothing to puncture the sense of calm reflection. This is an unusual sound and one that might confuse people but this differentiation will get Vizion noticed, especially in the countless music blogs that continually search for the next newest and brightest.
There is a band from Pittsburgh called the Van Allen Belt, an fantastical outfit unrestricted by convention or the wholesome view of what modern music should sound like. I was reminded of this pioneering spirit when listening to Cellophane Superstars ‘Some Humans Ain't Human’ which is about as far from conventional daytime listening as you’ll get. Its closest cousin is probably the industrial sound of 90’s bands such as Sheep on Drugs or a more oblique electro tinged Depeche Mode. Given the iconography and impression of false deities this could well work best as a soundtrack to an adult cartoon or a role playing war based futuristic game. As a standalone piece of music ‘Some Humans Ain't Human’ is at times overpowering and will likely lie in the long grass until BBQ season has been replaced by its cloudier counterpart.
Howlong Wolf doesn’t resort to simple boy/girl theatrics on his reggae influenced ‘I'm Gonna Change One Day’. With a deep thinking lyrical construct that belies the otherwise balmy instrumental theatrics this is never less than an interesting listen and marks Wolf out as one to truly watch out for. Though it plays out for less than 3 minutes the sense of journey and self-discovery is beautifully rendered. The other feeling I took from the piece was the realisation that the song was expanding its horizons as it inched towards the close. Don’t often get this, especially within the confines of a single piece of music, so it took me a couple of repeat listens to gauge what was going on. By the third spin I was badly hooked and upgrading my ‘like’ to ‘true love’.
Robot Garden certainly go about it the right way in making sure their song has a message beyond the banal. And that sense of yearning is not only present in the lyrics because there is a semblance of melancholy in the otherwise breezy playing. With a vocal performance that is imbued with genuine passion ‘Fountain of Youth’ recalls a time when songs were songs and not just pretty noises overcooked to within an inch of their lives in a studio. Robot Garden do anthemic well and this would be ideal for a set closer such is its arms in the air intensity. Like the synth parts too, reminds me of the Cars best stuff.
Given the rise and rise of the old media format it makes sense that we now have a song to high five vinyl’s reappearance. What Blake achieves in a fine song is a production value that is pure vinyl in its values. Not that it is mono I’m sure but the warmth and purity of his delivery makes for a personal experience that is so often lost on digital recordings. In many ways Blake pulls from folk’s rich history of champions (he even includes harmonica parts) campaigners and his ode to those 33/45rpm beauties will doubtlessly appeal to large cross section of the record buying public. Once we get our portable turntable fixed ‘Vinyl Junkie’ will be playing around the campfire all summer.
‘Tokens’ is an elaborately tailored piece of synth with peaks and troughs and more than a little feel of the orient about it. For that reason it could be ideal for those electronic fans who like to drop their guard sometimes and meditate before the next adventure in bleep land. It is contemplative without ever sounding bland or superior and would find itself completely at home on a retro platform video game. The composition leaves a soft and cosy impression which could be something that will gift Vizion to a large and accommodating audience quite soon.
Hollywood Principle certainly have captured the sound of now and by that I mean a blustery Florence & The Machine with electro pulses and a female vocal that could form the centrepiece at any gathering of fun loving beings. It is professionally produced and from the little bit I’ve heard would appear like manna from heaven for most daytime radio schedulers.
Wow, was not expecting the sound of U2’s the Edge circa their debut ‘Boy’ but the Separators certainly boast that in their armoury. And the surprises keep coming when the singer reveals a voice that belies his tender years. There are elements of the Strokes and Interpol in the direct nature of this band’s pop punk approach which means it is laden with all sorts of pleasing hooks. Such is the driving momentum you just know there are a bag full of indie anthems ready to spring from their collective consciousness. It is refreshing to hear such energy and carefree abandonment for a new band which all bodes well for the Separators.
I immediately got a sense of Lower Dens on ‘Hazard’ with a circular riff and strong female vocals all lending to a hypnotic brew. While the sound from the live performance is muffled in parts it couldn’t dampen the range in the song with stop/start momentum and frequent crescendos, not to mention a big and bold chorus. Quite excited to hear how its studio incarnation turns out. Wasn’t crazy about the extended guitar solos as they lacked a little individuality but once the song had slipped back into its comfortable groove. Performance wise the band seem reluctant to engage the audience and when this happens the audience can tend to reciprocate. The band seemed like they were having fun though. I did think the song petered out a little towards the end, becoming unfocused and while the decibel level rose the charm that had been there in abundance went in the other direction.