Thursday, 25 February 2010

Single Review : Oakred - Born Centuries Too Late

Folk: surely no-one needs to rehash what Dylan, Donovan or Christy Moore have been doing comprehensively for decades? Perhaps this is why - a bit like British Telecom in the nineties - the whole genre had a makeover and now we all apparently refer to it as hip and groovy Nu-Folk. Still, it paid off. The Noughties witnessed an explosion of folk artists such as Blunt, Morrison, Ray LaMontage, Howie Day and Carla Werner that gave the genre its biggest revival since the 1960s.

It’s no wonder then that today folk rock is so ubiquitous. Freighted Rabbit, The National, Grizzly Bear, Fleet Foxes and Animal Collective are heavily folk influenced outfits that jointly ride on the coat tails of the last decade’s breakthroughs very nicely thankyouverymuch.

Therefore Swedish folk newcomers Oakred need to be pretty special to stand out from this ever burgeoning scene. Single ‘Born Centuries Too Late’ is a completely sparse affair with no piano, drums or silly accordions, it’s just a beautifully brittle vocal and a single twangy guitar. Lyrically, this is almost a love song to the natural world. It’s reminiscent of Eddie Vedder’s solo work on the ‘Into the Wild’ album and therefore it’s of no surprise that they list Pearl Jam as one of their influences on myspace.

The trouble with folk, which is perhaps the trouble with dance music also, is that it’s so easy to make. Some arpeggios over pained vocals and voila, you have an album or four. Yet Oakred manage to pack in more pensive and sincere emotions into this one single than some other numerous folk pretenders might ever actually achieve. ‘Born Centuries Too Late’ is uncommerical, unpandering and bare-faced honest and the trio that make up Oakred show huge promise with this exceedingly charming single.

Monday, 22 February 2010

Video : TRC - London's Greatest Love Story

Every now and then Music Liberation likes to get heavy. Not emotionally, or talking about god, or discussing evolution. No we like to get down with some proper Hardcore music. And there can't be many heavier or more potent bands than London's TRC.

Formed in 2003, TRC have since dominated the London hardcore scene, with their album "Destroy And Rebuild" particularly causing quite a stir upon it's release in 2008. Their latest material is an EP titled "The Revolution Continues", which is out on Thirty Days Of Nights Records. Taken from that release is "London's Greatest Love Story", a track which optimises the band showing off their hardcore and hip hop roots.

Thursday, 18 February 2010

Single Review : The Doggs - Animal

Remember Jet? Remember The Datsuns? Remember Wolfmother? They all partied like it was 1976 and no mistake. Riding on a wave of Antipodean rock and roll nostalgia, the opening years of this century bore witnesses to more boot cut jeans, big sideburns and Les Pauls than was frankly anticipated. But now it’s over does someone want to tell The Doggs?

This Italian three-piece aren’t even from down under but still have the bare faced cheek to rock out as if they were the proverbial Led Zeppelin. Well, Led Zeppelin with a saxophone at least. Single ‘Animal’ is a slurring swagger of a tune which contains every cliché in the book. A nice bass-drums breakdown, an addictive bluesy rock riff, a drunk vocalist (possibly) and exactly how acceptable is it to moan “yeah baby” at the beginning of a tune these days? Is there a rule book for this? It’s 2010 you know.

Like most music in this genre ‘Animal’ is formulaic but effective. There’s no denying this song is exploding with energy. It’s also annoyingly addictive. Lyrics might not exactly be on the same par as Cohen (most of the time “not anymore!” is just wailed over and over), song structure is rather obvious and there’s not even a hint of emotion to the tune other than intoxication, but it seems to work. Ok it’s rocking out by numbers but it fits perfectly within the niche it is playing up to.

As a single this might not set the world alight but it sends a clear message as to what The Doggs are about. If you like your rock and roll honest, uncomplicated and unfussy, then break out the brown leather jacket as these are the guys for you.

The Dogs are playing three small venues in London this March. /// The Doggs Myspace

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

EP Review : Jack Morgan - Sleep In Heavenly Peace

Hailing from London, 21-year old Jack Morgan is an unsigned singer/songwriter. Having written and recorded music at his home for some time, six of his tunes have been selected to create this EP, ‘Sleep in Heavenly Peace.’

Opening track ‘Make No Mistake’ is a somber instrumental track, with Morgan strumming slowly over a sonic, effect-laden background. The rest of the EP is a predominantly low-key affair – no backing band, just Jack’s whispery voice and gentle, solo guitar-work. ‘Event’ is the most urgent of the songs on display, the aggression bubbling beneath the stripped back rock song recalling the late Elliott Smith. A fine song, but the tone is not fitting with the next four songs, all of which are wistful acoustic numbers. The tender plucking of ‘No Strain’ and ‘Ukul’ coupled with Morgan’s Joshua Radin-style vocals are charming in their simplicity, while ‘Furtherance,’ with its eerie effects, could be a Thom Yorke ballad. Closing track ‘White Wires’ is perhaps the most memorable song on the EP, the layered vocals of the chorus and light finger picking closely resembling Kings Of Convenience.

Heavenly Peace’ is a lovely little EP, but Jack Morgan’s collection of songs, despite showing some versatility, are not particularly original. To his merit, since the EP was mainly recorded at home, the standard of his musicianship and, in particular, his lyrics are commendable. Furthermore, I don’t think the fact that it’s so easy to make these comparisons with other artists (such as the aforementioned Elliott Smith and Kings Of Convenience) is necessarily a bad thing. Considering his age, and that this is his first real release, Morgan is confident in his potential, and is not trying to hide his influences – plus, to be mentioned in the same breath as Elliott Smith is certainly no mean feat.

Saturday, 13 February 2010

New Music : Psychonauts - Take Control

Psychonauts are a duo from Yeovil (sleepy West country land, UK), who have been making uber cool electronic music since the early 00's. Like other acts in the area (Portishead/Massive Attack) their output has been sparse, contact minimal, but importantly they have produced some inspiring and ground breaking tunes.

Psychonauts return in 2010 with an EP titled "Take Control" on the Gigolo label, which features the track of the same name which actually was the song which finished their recently re-released 2003 album "Songs For Creatures". There are remixes from Naum Gabo and Psycatron, as well as a new track "Dream Chaser". The original has clearly influenced the likes of Four Tet and Joy Orbison, with its quirky repeated synths and samples, gradually building into an atmospheric journey which will sweep you away. Yeah its THAT good.

You can purchase the album here and the EP here. /// Gigolo Records

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Single Review : Day Of Fire - Lately

Not so long ago, in the mid 90s “grunge” became a dirty word. As a reaction to its unexpected but meteoric fall from grace, most of what remained of this genre quickly morphed into the horrific and largely regrettable nu-metal scene. Cross-genre bands such as Puddle of Mud and Stained bridged the gap and everyone subtly moved on.

Flash forward fifteen odd years and here we have Day of Fire still proudly flying the flag of grunge, a band that’s built from the ashes of the condemned genre. Their new single ‘Lately’ is a riff heavy, minor key stomp that sounds for the most part like Soundgarden merged with Layne Staley’s Alice in Chains with admittedly a little less bite. Yet by erring on the side of rock and roll rather than preposterous inner angst, this single manages to mostly avoid cheese whilst still being an unashamedly guitar led head-banger. Everything’s up to 11 here, propulsive drumming, rumbling bass and moaning vocals but it’s the phat guitar riffs that magically glue the tune together. Add in some nice reverse guitar trickery and sickly sweet levels of over production and we have a surprising winner.

Ok, it’s not exactly fashionable by any means. There are also alarmingly little signs of cynicism, post-modern self awareness or trendy ironic gestures (haven’t they read the rule book?) and it’s hardly cutting edge. Worst of all, it’s bloody Christian rock. Ah. But who cares? Can’t we all just rock out and enjoy the music? Sure, it’d be foolish to think that Day of Fire can ever win over great chunks of the music buying youth, especially when bands like ‘…Trail of Dead’ highlight how dated this Nashville band sound, but that’s not the point. The point is it’s a pounding monster that can hold it’s own without the trend, and look at it this way, it won’t age like Bloc Party already have.

"Lately" is the first single to be taken from Day Of Fire's recently released third full length album "Losing All".

*MP3 removed by request*