Wednesday, 25 August 2010

EP Review : Lonely The Brave - Backroads

It's hardly surprising that Lonely the Brave's EP is produced by the same guy who worked with Biffy Clyro (Mark Williams); comparisons between the Scottish three piece and 'Backroads' are plentiful. The music is full-bodied, epic and emotive and even the vocals have a hint of Scot about them, despite Lonely the Brave hailing from Cambridge.

Eponymous opener 'Backroads' is chunky wedge of melancholy where fuzzy guitars and husky vocals flow into impossibly gigantic choruses. 'If you be the sky then I'll be the bird' is wailed over booming drums and a sea of distortion. It is – for want of a better phrase – pop rock perfection.

This impressive quality is consistent as the Seafood-esque 'Black Saucers' roars out, bringing even heavier riffs to the table before a dreaded respite: the acoustic cover. 'Backroads' is pointlessly revisited, yet this time minus the swirling distorted magic, making it feel a bit like a magician just has revealed how he's just pulled off his best trick. Needless.

However proceedings soon pick up again with second acoustic number 'Call of Horses', a tune that twists and morphs into a wonderful atmospheric soundscape before finale 'Victory Line' reverts back to type, where brooding guitars and distant vocals sound not dissimilar to another set of Scottish rockers: Idlewild.

It’s all rather brilliant. Ok, so it would be naive to pretend Lonely the Brave haven't consciously written a box ticking, radio friendly EP, but it works. Credit for creating emotional and heavy music whilst avoiding the obvious emo pitfalls; they traverse their chosen field with such expertise they sound like a band five albums in. 'Backroads' is surprisingly fantastic but less surprising will be their meteoric climb to success given the right exposure.

Lonely The Brave // EP released October 4th through Repeater, available online now.

Monday, 23 August 2010

Single Review : No Age - Glitter

Ahead of the release of their highly anticipated new album, US alternative rock duo No Age have made available it’s lead single ‘Glitter’. Get ready to embrace their new found maturity.

Guitarist Randy Randall and drummer Dean Allen Spunt formed No Age out of demise of their previous hardcore band Wives. They quickly became a prominent part of the LA indie-rock scene, becoming mainstays of renowned all ages and avant-garde venue The Smell. After releasing a collection of their previous recorded highlights through Fat Cat Records in 2007 (entitled ‘Weirdo Rippers’), No Age signed to legendary Seattle indie-label Sup Pop, dropping their acclaimed (proper) debut LP ‘Nouns’ on 2008. With these first releases, Randall and Spunt played a raw and punk heavy version of noise pop – think My Bloody Valentine with slightly more aggression. However, last year’s EP ‘Losing Feeling’ saw this dynamic duo spreading their experimental wings and embracing left field, electronic sampling.

Glitter’ shows No Age progressing even further, not so much in their experimentation, but in their songwriting capability. It may come as an unexpected u-turn for long-term fans, but with ‘Glitter’ the band have released their most accessible track to date. That’s not to say that the duo have recorded a cleanly produced pop-rock song – constant fuzzy guitar noise and intermittent piercing guitar samples are prominent throughout ‘Glitter,’ and this is all backed by further sonic effects and little electronic claps. It is the vocals, however, that will garner the most attention from critics and fans with this release. There is a much more restrained vocal style than anything they have recorded before. Whereas before the vocals had to compete with the noisy guitars to be heard, often being barked out, on ‘Glitter’ the vocals are the dominant force – and this new melodic singing brings a newfound tranquility to the No Age sound. Be sure to grab their new album ‘Everything In Between,’ released next month though Sub Pop. Noise pop perfection.

No Age - Glitter by subpop

Friday, 20 August 2010

Single Review : Spring Offensive - The First Of Many Dreams About Monsters

I think it's fair to say that Spring Offensive's latest single 'The First of Many Dreams About Monsters', won't be getting played on many radio stations in the near future, or ever really. At over 13 minutes long, it's not really radio friendly to be honest! (Would be great if it did get played though!). The suitability of radio airtime shouldn't however detract from what is a highly ambitious single, from a band that seem to get better and better with each release. See our recent review of their album 'Pull Us Apart'.
The track is based around the concept of the grief cycle associated with breaking up with a lover, and as such basically features 5 different songs within one (Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance). It's not as straightforward as that mind you, this is a track which requires you to pay attention and work out what's really going on. As with most Spring Offensive releases their lyrics play a big part, and for those of you who stick with the song throughout will really appreciate what they have tried to achieve with it.
Musically speaking the band have gone all out too, with some glorious Mars Volta like sections where they create a wall of acutely orchestrated noise, alongside equally sparse bits more akin to The XX. I think overall the track works really well, and will certainly please the more discerning of listeners who give the track time to breath.
Spring Offensive // Download Single (Released August 20th)
The First of Many Dreams About Monsters by springoffensive

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Interview : Gabrielle Aplin

We recently caught up with Gabrielle Aplin for a quick interview. This young folky pop starlet from Bath is releasing a 5 track acoustic EP in September, as well as heading out on her debut headline UK tour.

Q1. Describe your music in three words?

"Calm, youthful and versatile."

Q2. Who are your musical and non-musical influences?

"Musically, Lisa Mitchell, Nick Drake and The Fray. Non-musical, my friends, family and personal experiences."

Q3. What's on your agenda for the next 12 months?

"I have my first headline UK tour in September. Starting in Manchester on the 11th and finishing in Bath on the 18th, with Plymouth, Birmingham, London and Bristol in between. My EP is being released also in September to coincide with my tour, and apart from that it’s lots of writing and recording!"

Q4. How do you feel about music bloggers and their influence on the Music Industry?

"I think they’re a great way for people to find out about new bands, and get to know bands they may already listen to. I also think it’s a great way to gain a little bit more exposure too."

Q5. Any new bands/artists you recommend us checking out?

"Leah Mason is amazing! She plays and writes British Folk/Rock."

Q6. If you could tour with any two artists, past or present, who would they be and why?

"Of course, Michael Jackson. Just because it would be an incredible experience to even be at one of his performances. And Joni Mitchell, I think the atmosphere of her performances would be calm and relaxed and would go well with mine. It would also be great to tour with someone I look up to."

Q7. You have unlimited funds, what 3 things do you have on your tour rider?

"That’s such a hard question! Definitely Reese’s peanut butter cups. But for the other two I can’t think! Haha, sorry!"

Q8. What's your perfect sandwich?

"Brie, grape and cranberry!"

Q9. If you could be an animal, what would you be and why?

"Probably some kind of bird, I’d love to be able to fly."

Q10. How can we find out more about you?

"You can find more about me, and music on these sites: Myspace / You Tube / Twitter / Facebook".

Many thanks to Gabrielle for taking the time out to answer our questions. We're sure with her delicate yet rather powerful voice she has a bright future ahead, and we have a high hopes for her forthcoming EP. Check back September time for a full review of said record. In the mean time check out 'The Liar And The Lighter' below.

Gabrielle Aplin - The Liar and the Lighter by Gaberrz

Monday, 16 August 2010

EP Review : Crooked Mountain, Crooked Sea - I Watched It From The Roadside

Out this week through Smalltown America is 'I Watched It From The Roadside', the latest EP from Brighton rockers Crooked Mountain, Crooked Sea (ED: Awesome name right?).

This young four piece have quickly gained respect among critics and fans alike, thanks in part to some extensive touring as well as significant airplay on BBC 6 Music. Having recently joined the roster of the ever impressive Smalltown America label, the band now have the platform to take their talents and ideas to new levels.

The record begins slowly with the rather ironically titled 'Slow News Day', which although being perfectly formed doesn't compare to the power and intent shown in 'They Don't Mean Anything'. With angular guitars, pinpoint drumming, and angst ridden vocals, this track demonstrates a clear urgency from this band to take hold of a rather turgid post hardcore scene, and make it their own. 

The rather melodic 'Out in The Dark' gives the album a much needed pop sensibility, whereas 'Mice In The Cellar' features dual vocals adding yet another dimension to the bands sound much the same as Future Of The Left. The atmospheric final track 'Time And Place', gives a clear nod to label mates And So I Watch You From Afar, with the band pulling out all the stops to create a wall of carefully constructed melodic noise. 'That Drums Discordant Sound' is my favourite track on the record, where the passion and intensity from the vocals create a real sense of urgency that steadily grows, and coupled alongside the dark natured guitars, collide with an almighty bang at the songs dramatic conclusion.

This is an impressive EP which demonstrates the sound of band who are not only pushing themselves, but the post hardcore genre itself to be much more urgent and relevant in 2010. I think they are a band who need a full length record to really give themselves the space to fully expand and realise their ideas, which hopefully won't be too far away (hint hint!). Catch the band on tour with Amateurs this week, check the myspace for full dates.

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

EP Review : The Morgues - Now Look At Me

The Morgues have just ruined my day. I was in the perfect mood to morph into an acid-tongued music hack and their new EP turns out to be great...Bugger.  ...............................
Photo: Lacey Lampe (
So who are these annoyingly good New Yorkers? According to the mandatory myspace page they’re a mix of random musicians - including bassist Amanda Tannan from Stellastarr* - and even a bespoke tailor (don’t ask). They play gutsy, shoegaze folk that owes as much to the 60s movement as it does to the British alternative scene a couple of decades ago.
Eponymous opener ‘Now Look At Me Now’ is a simple, Dylan influenced guitar and vocals number, with a deadpan lyrical narrative and post-modern canned laughter and applause added in with a sly wink. It’s a cosy, angsty blanket of a song.
Handful of Roses’ is fantastically gloomy pop where tormented vocals accompany jangly, reverb soaked melodies that verge on shoegaze. It perversely achieves happiness and melancholy in equal measure, saying less “everything’s alright” and more “it’s all fucked but let’s not worry about it.”
Photo - (
Arms for Legs’ veers into 80s Goth pop territory, sounding something like Echo and The Bunnymen; yet the boy-girl vocals are also reminiscent of The Velvet Underground Ft. Nico as the band hush their way through this final song, playing new wave guitar lines and splashing swirly reverb just about everwhere.
Ok, so The Morgues aren’t doing anything new, but what they do is executed with perfection. Their music sounds like songs you’ve loved for years. Retreading old ground is always a risk but they dig up enough nostalgia to allow you to slightly fall in love with their music. Listen to this record in the early hours with a bottle of whisky for full gushing effect. Superb.
MP3: The Morgues - Caterpillar (Taken from the 'Are Fast Cars' EP)
Where The Sidewalk Ends by TheMorgues

Monday, 9 August 2010

Single Review : The Attika State - Celebration?

The Attika State are an alternative five-piece currently based in Bristol. Now, coining a band as ‘alternative’ doesn’t really tell you about them – bands as diverse as Glassjaw and Elbow have been called ‘alternative bands.’ So what do Attika State really sound like? Well herein lies the problem. They are certainly a rock band, but they effortlessly cross the boundaries between indie, grunge, Americana and punk – so effortlessly in fact, and with such a pop sensibility, that you may not even realise you are listening to an ambitious and almost experimental brand of rock music. Perhaps, then, its easier just to call them an ‘alternative’ band.

Having self-released an LP in 2005 Attika State are far from newcomers to the UK rock touring-circuit. But the music press have only really started to take note upon learning that their new album ‘Measures’ was to be produced by Dave Enringa, who has handled production duties for such big players as Manic Street Preachers and Idlewild. Their new single ‘Celebration?’ is, therefore, expertly produced and chart-worthy. But at their core, Attika State are a dirty, guitar-driven rock band and although the sublime melody of the chorus is pop-punk perfection, Enringa has not given them an overly polished sound. There is a clear post-grunge influence from such American bands such as Hot Rod Circuit, Third Eye Blind and The Get Up Kids, but with the cheerier, more accessible ingredient of UK pop-rock songs like Feeder’sJust A Day.’ The vocals of Rudi Barella are gruff yet warm and tuneful, recalling Weekend Excursion’s Sam Fisher. All in all, ‘Celebration?’ is a fun and memorable pop-rock song that truly deserves to reach a wider audience.

Our UK rock charts have, as of late, been dominated by indie and electro-rock, and I think we are in dire need for a bit of variation. Perhaps Attika State can take up the position in our charts once help by Feeder and inject some enjoyable, post-grunge inspired melodies into our radios – they certainly have the hooks and choruses. Just check out their brilliant track ‘The Horton Shuffle’ for proof. Music Liberation looks forward to hearing the new album in full when it’s released this Autumn on Alcopop Records.

Monday, 2 August 2010

Single Review : Crystal Castles - Baptism

Last week those Canadian noise makers, Crystal Castles, released 'Baptism' which is the second single to be taken from their second self titled album through Polydor. For those who have never heard CC before then this track will fill you in on all you need to know. Vocalist Alice Glass is the stand out presence, with her distorted vocals dominating proceedings, over some glorious sweeping synths, bleeps, and beats courtesy of Ethan Kath. Glass's vocals are certainly an acquired taste and at times can be uncomfortable listening, but for me i love the passion and energy that radiates from her individual style.

Crystal Castles // Buy Baptism on iTunes // Polydor

Crystal Castles - Baptism by sinasohrab