Monday, 31 May 2010

EP Review : Babeshadow : Sea Serpents

To start off, I just want to mention that I think Babeshadow is a rad name for a band. Babeshadow consists of Tom Cawte & David Thornley from London. Now, the first thing that popped into my head when I heard Babeshadow’s track “Sea Serpents”, was Vampire Weekend, mainly because of their summer-esque guitar riffs and drumming. This is a track you’re going to want on your summer playlist, for those afternoons on the beach with a beer in hand and all you want to do is dance your life away.

That being said, the 2nd track I listened to, “Heart” did not so closely resemble Vampire Weekend, with the track focusing more so on the vocals, sporting some killer melodies. I am pretty sure that Babeshadow would put on a fantastic live show, just listening to the music you can hear their energy. This duo is a band you’re going to want at the top of your list this summer.

"Sea Serpents" is out now through Luv Luv Luv Records, and you can purchase the record here.

Friday, 28 May 2010

Single Review : Little Death - Just Say Maybe

Here’s a story. A long time ago in a galaxy far away, I met up with Little Death front man KC Underwood in a pub in Camden. He’d advertised for a guitarist for his new band and I’d responded. The upshot was he was nice and I was intimidated - the music he was touting about was seriously good.

Chalking the meeting up as just one of many fleeting musical encounters, I’ve nonetheless kept one eye out as Little Death have grown in profile; albeit painfully slowly. Out on a metaphorical limb, the band seem to consciously ignore the musical zeitgeist, instead playing their own brand of punky, grunge epicness dowsed in angst. New single ‘Just Say Maybe’ is no exception to this rule. Sounding more early 90s than 2010, it’s as if Nirvana and Pearl Jam got together to write a song with Conor Oberst. A swaggering bass line is met by swirling, gnarly guitars whilst Underwood wails his woes over the top, sweetened by wispy female vocals in poppy choruses. It’s full of energy, attitude and effortless cool. In fact, it manages to seem both controlled and wonderfully chaotic as if everything’s on a knife edge, the music sounding as emotionally fragile as the lyrics.

Focused, determined and cleverly complex, ‘Just Say Maybe’ is surely argument enough to say that some well deserved success is heading Little Death’s way.

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

EP Review : Hot Club De Paris - The Rise And Inevitable Fall Of The High School Suicide Cluster Band

Hot on the heels of ‘With Days Like This As Cheap As Chewing Gum, Why Would Anyone Want To Work?’ (…breath) Hot Club De Paris return with their second EP of 2010, entitled (…sigh) ‘The Rise And Inevitable Fall Of The High School Suicide Cluster Band’ (…breath).

This Liverpudlian three-piece have been signed to brilliant indie-label Moshi Moshi since 2005, and this marks their fourth release – following two full length LPs and the other EP released this year. Hot Club De Paris’ have always managed to seamlessly fuse pop harmonies with odd, art-rock time signatures, whilst constantly managing to maintain a DIY punk simplicity.

This new release is, as much of their back catalogue, equal parts accessible indie-pop and experimental math-rock. Opener ‘I'm Not In Love And Neither Are You’ kicks the EP off with a little, twiddly riff (think Vampire Weekend) before it all explodes with a short Led-Zep inspired midsection amid crashing drums and twin solos. ‘Free The Pterodactyl 3’ may be a surprising choice for lead single with its leisurely pacing, but it is an absolute gem. The group-vocals of the three-way harmonies are sublime and, as always, Paul Rafferty’s lyrics are candid and inspired. The other highlight is the energetic title track, which combines Third Eye Bind’s American post-grunge with British melodic-indie.

Biggie Smalls And The Ghetto Slams’ is a fine tune, but by no means does it hold up with the trio’s best. The EP closes with two tracks that both begin with slow-pacing. The bluesy ‘The White Town Express (Get High, Stay Low)’ eventually builds to a barking finale in the vein of Kele from Bloc Party, while the closing track ‘Three Albums In And Still No Ballad’ pretty much is a ballad (despite the title), and an elegant one at that.

The Rise and Inevitable Fall…’ lacks the urgency of ‘With Days Like This,’ but what it loses in energy it more than makes up for with songwriting ability – the down-tempo sections of this EP showcase a previously unheard maturity in Hot Club De Paris’ craftsmanship.

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Album Review : Foals - Total Life Forever

[Today we see Music Liberation welcoming a special guest writer to cover one of our favourite releases of the year so far, Foals 'Total Life Forever'. Megan Howard who runs the 'love, ire, the song' blog, is someone who has a talent for writing well beyond her years, and will surely move onto bigger and better things in years to come. For the time being she's giving us her thoughts on a rather stunning second album from Foals.] ED

When you say 'Oxford' to someone, they instantaneously might think three things; Radiohead, universities and snobs. Soon, Foals will be one of the first things they think of. They're emerging as one of the most influential bands of the last decade. Debut album 'Antidotes' sealed Foals position as one of dance-punk-math-rock heroes, but it was always going to be a hard task with the follow up album. What is it they call it? Oh yes, 'second album syndrome'. Luckily, Foals must have taken the jab for that particular illness... 'Total Life Forever' is a cracker.

Opening song 'Blue Blood' along with 'Alabaster' and '2 Trees' - gives you a whole new view on vocalist Yannis Phillapakis. His voice is vulnerable, heartbreaking, emotional and shaky - things we never really had the chance to hear before in any of the songs on 'Antidotes', suggesting that Foals have both grown up lyrically and musically.

When it comes to songs like 'Miami', 'Black Gold', 'This Orient' and 'Total Life Forever', however, you can see the old Foals peeking through, with the usual enormous catchy choruses and enough funk to make you stand up wherever you are and dance like there's no tomorrow...

'Spanish Sahara' is a completely different matter. It utterly mauls your mind, body and soul. The sluggish, almost silent start with Yannis' voice in it's purest form, then with a sprinkle of Jack Bevans tinkley drumming, added with a toss of gentle guitar; all of this leads up to a chemical reaction of a chorus... it erupts into your ears. And with appropriate lyrics like: "I'm the ghost in the back of your head", you can do nothing but agree. 'Spanish Sahara' is the stand out song of the album; prepare to be haunted.

Thank God for song 'Fugue'. It's the 49 second, well needed breather, that comes half way through the album. 'What Remains' is like old Foals tune 'Tron' hit round the face by puberty; 'After Glow' is heartbreakingly vulnerable and contains the lyric: "you were better than whatever came before". 'Total Life Forever' on the whole is clearly better than whatever came before.

And so, the pure emotional intensity of this album makes it irresistible. Admittedly, you might not completely understand it upon first listening, but give it a chance and it just might be your album of 2010.

Foals // Buy 'Total Life Forever'

*MP3 file removed by request*

Monday, 10 May 2010

Single Review : The Choke - Tuff Kids

Punk was essentially a British phenomenon that America embraced wholeheartedly; so much so in fact that it’s managed to endure across the pond much more than it ever did here. Whilst bands such as The Ramones remained ever faithful to the ramshackle punk sound, others, such as Husker Du, Black Flag, Sum 41 and Green Day have added their own American take on this genre, some for better, some most definitely for worse.

So to be a New York punk band these days must be difficult, it’s a crowded place to stake a claim but female-fronted four piece The Choke seem undaunted. Their new single ‘Tuff Kids’ is on offer here. It’s a bouncy, power chord ride that sounds like punk mixed with a dollop of country and western. It’s very American. No British band could produce something so sassy, and yes I’m afraid to say, so overly cheesy, without at least some irony involved somewhere. But I don’t think The Choke are joking.

It’s the kind of song you’d blast out of a corvette whilst driving down Route 66, or better still a truck whilst wearing a silly hat and talking into a CB radio. Going by this song alone, it sounds more like the band come from the Deep South rather than the sprawling New York State and this tune has cliché written all over it.

Still, what is punk if it’s not to a degree about cliché – or more accurately – formula. There’s no denying this song is a powerful punch of heavy riffs and shouty choruses. It grows in appeal rapidly. Go on, listen to it ten times and tell me you still hate it. The addictive, stomping riffs might be walking a well worn path but they bores away at cynicism with such success it’s impossible not to end up enjoying the ride. And I hate them for it.

'Tuff Kids' is taken from The Choke's self titled LP which came out last year.

Friday, 7 May 2010

Album Review : Stars And Sons - Good Morning Mother

I’ll be honest, I was 99% sure I wouldn’t like Stars and Sons. The Brighton five-piece have been (rather unfairly) lumped into the same piano-led-indie genre from which bands like The Fray and Keane make their living. And I hate The Fray and Keane. So yes, while they do feature plenty of piano, Stars and Sons are not simply another copycat piano-rock-band trying to capture on the mammoth success of, say, Coldplay. Far from it.

Dave Eringa handled the production duties on ‘Good Morning Mother’ – the band’s debut album – who is best known for his work with Manic St. Preachers and Ash. Despite having a super producer on board the end result retains a sort of raw, DIY sound, which works in the band’s favour. Another producer may have honed in all their theatrics and cleaned them up, leaving a glossy, chart-friendly shine. Instead, what we have is a big, stupendous debut that is very, very fun. Take the lyrical wit of Eels, the piano-pop of Ben Folds Five, the ambition of Muse, plus some over-the-top guitar solos a la Queen, then throw in a couple of bells and whistles and you’ll get ‘Good Morning Mother.’

Opener ‘Out Of View’ kicks the LP off in true Stars and Sons style – all up in your face – with strings and chimes livening up the spiky guitar riff and piano all building to one hell of a catchy, high-pitched chorus. This track really sets the pace for the rest of the album – rarely does the frantic pace or hysterical instrumentation let up. Single ‘If It’s Good For Me’ is enjoyable, summery piano-pop – perhaps not the best song on the album, but its successful ‘60s twang makes a mockery of everything that was on the last Panic At The Disco record. ‘In The Ocean’ is a personal highlight, with a sublime shoe-gazing indie vibe. The erratic ‘Comfy Now’ showcases the Muse-esqe guitar and keyboard wizardry, while ‘4 Stars’ sounds like Mr E and his Eels throwing a angst-ridden hissy fit.

Good Morning Mother’ is eccentric and challenging, while remaining accessible and incredibly enjoyable. The flutes, strings, brass, bongos, bells, etc. may be a little too much at times, and, very occasionally, it strays a little too near cheesy, Elliott Minor territory. Furthermore, this frenzied LP may require a certain mood, or time and place, to be fully appreciated (i.e. don’t stick it on if you’re feeling melancholic). But for a man who initially had reservations about Stars and Sons, and has grown very fond of them upon hearing their debut, feels all they need to do is ensure that their music gets to peoples’ ears and they’ll quickly fire up the ranks.

Purchase "Good Morning Mother" on iTunes // Alcopop Records // Stars And Sons

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Info : Gaymers Music Quiz

Are you a cider glider? Do you love music quizzes? Want to win free gig tickets?

If you answered at least one of those questions with a resounding YES, then why not head on over to the Gaymers music quiz hosted by facebook. It's all part of Gaymers "Lost In The Orchard" theme for this Summers festivals, and to celebrate the cider company are giving away weekly prizes of Academy venue tickets, and end the five week competition with the ultimate prize of Glastonbury tickets.

Interested? Well head on over there now! - Gaymers Music Quiz