Foals have made available a track which has only previously surfaced as a b-side to the limited 7" version of 'Miami'. Titled 'Wear and Tear', the track was the final to be recorded from their Total Life Forever sessions at the Svenska Grammofon studio. Personally speaking I think its a really powerful track, very much in the Foals formula; slow start, building repetition to an almost dance like beat, all accompanied by Yannis haunting vocals and intricate guitars from the band. I think it would have easily slotted onto the album, and even taken the record to higher levels, but alas here it is for you to enjoy nonetheless!
Thursday, 30 September 2010
Tuesday, 28 September 2010
'Hold Your Horse Is' are a trio of energetic math-rockers from southern England who've been hacking away at the underground touring circuit for the last couple years. That’s all about to change. Hold Your Horse Is (HYHI) are no longer content with playing in the dives that Hundred Reasons began their career in – their goal is to be "your new favourite band" (as the PR explains) in the same way Hundred Reasons won the UK's heart all those years back.
This new 6 track EP, 'Rammin' It Home', is their first official release for Big Scary Monsters (following a couple self-released tracks), and HYHI have managed to bag a pretty credible producer for it, in the form of Gordon Mills (his past credentials include alt-legends The Bluetones). Kicking off this half-hour of pacey post-hardcore is free digital single 'You Show Up,' a stabbing riff giving way to some pummeling drums and a barked but tuneful chorus. The second track 'Mackerel Jackson' offers more of the same crashing drums and angular riffs with Robin Pearson's everyman vocals overseeing the whole affair - an appealing vocal performance that seems to stir up memories of everyone from Frank Turner and Cedric Bixler to Blood Red Shoes’ Steven Ansell.
Track 3, 'Non-Stop Physical Training Track,' is perhaps the highlight of this blistering EP with erratic tempo changes and blended post-hardcore guitar-parts. Listening to this song, and the EP as a whole, one can’t help but lovingly think back to mid-career Biffy Clyro - when they were at their most experimental. If this song came sans vocals it'd be hard not to differentiate this from a Biffy demo. But hey, whats wrong with that? Biffy have (for the most part) dropped their heavy riffing and alternating time signatures in favour of Foo Fighters-friendly stadium rock - HYHI come with enough charisma and experimental ambition that they just might be able to fill that void ‘Infinity Land' era Biffy-fans have been crying over.
'Starts And Ends' is a short and sharp burst of math-core, with Yourcodenameis:milo style yelps towards the end, and 'Casual' begins mellow before building up to a mammoth, southern metal-tinged riff that Clutch would be proud to call their own. Closing track 'Welcome To Obscurity' brings to mind fallen heroes Million Dead – ample punk-rock attitude woven with understated melodies. Great track. Great EP.
The only negative point that could be made about ‘Rammin' It Home’ is the EP doesn't really present anything original, something you could perhaps discern from all the band references in this piece. But just because there's nothing groundbreaking about Hold Your Horse Is doesn't prevent them being one of the most satisfying finds of 2010. They make their influences clear - intentionally I'm sure. And for those yearning for the post-hardcore bands of yesteryear, or those begging for Biffy to shove their Mercury Award-nominated ‘Only Revolutions’ in the skip and bring back the crazy (screams and all), then look no further. The new Million Dead anyone?
Tuesday, 14 September 2010
Undoubtedly you have already heard about Hurts. The hype surrounding the 80s throwback duo is phenomenal. Singer Theo Hutchcraft admitted recently the band subscribe to the “give them less and they’ll want more” approach. However judgement day arrived last Monday (06/09) with the release of their debut album ‘Happiness’.
Inevitably, this record is 80s emotional pop from beginning to end, silkily executed without a hint of irony. Songs are atmospheric, epic in delivery and contain huge swooning choruses. Melancholic and poignant territory is covered in imposing love songs such as ‘Stay’, ‘Evelyn’ and ‘Blood, Sweet and Gold’ whilst more familiar pop ground is traversed with ‘Wonderful Life’, former single ‘Better Than Love’ and opener ‘Silver Lining’. Hurts use every trick in the book to pull off what turns out to be an impressively consistent album. Choirs, string sections and harmonised vocals work together to maximise emotional impact, emulating well the more po-faced side of 80s pop.
Soundalikes could be any of the moody popsters of that decade (Black, Pet Shop Boys, Climie Fisher, Johnny Hates Jazz and so on) and this itself comes at a price. You see some will claim that the band’s self-conscious need to imitate makes Happiness a soulless affair but this is both unfair and untrue. It feels, in fact, much more as if the duo replicate out of genuine love for their genre rather than some fevered need to be fashionable.
Whether Happiness is post-modern genius or unoriginal plagiarism isn’t important, it’s the songs, stupid. Despite minor slips in quality (the somewhat dreary ‘Illuminated’ or the throwaway euro-pop ‘Sunday’) overall this album is a fantastic offering that sounds fresh and exciting despite looking to the past for its inspiration. It delivers everything the band promised and more without drowning in expectation. With such a mighty debut it’ll be interesting to see where the band choose to go from here.