Friday, 29 July 2011

New Music : Barcode Channel

Kicking off with some Foals ‘Antidotes’ like guitar/drum patterns it quickly transpires there’s more to this 3-piece than simply being a rip off of Yannis and co. Based in Cambridge and with a debut EP already behind them, Barcode Channel certainly seem to be taking the proverbial bull by the proverbial horns.

On ‘Feedback Loop’, the first proper single from the 'A Ticket Out' EP, they quickly demonstrate what they are all about; catchy guitars, fancy electronic beats, and big vocals.

You can dance to it (ED: well i couldn’t, but I can’t dance period...but i digress), you can mosh to it (ED: do people still ‘mosh’?), and you could probably do a lot of others things to it (ED: let’s stop there shall we...). Basically what I’m saying is that ‘Feedback Loop’ transcends many boundaries and will tick many boxes for many people. Great. Oh and the best bit is right at the end where the track finishes with some sort of old school Atari burning up dying sound. Bonus.

You can catch Barcode Channel playing shows in and around Cambridge, whilst ‘Feedback Loop’ is out now on the ‘A Ticket Out’ EP. Say hello to them on Twitter and Facebook.

Feedback Loop by Barcode Channel

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Album Review : Shapes - Monotony Chic

Shapes’ album ‘Monotony Chic’ is so fine that even when pressing myself to fault it I failed. The standard production complaints of a record like this – that its rawness comes across as untidy and unprofessional, or that it’s slick sound is too polished for a hardcore release – are muted by the fact that its sound is pitched at a perfect balance between DIY roughness and high quality accomplishment, veteran-style. It really is absurd to learn that this is Shapes’ debut album. Of course, they have been touring a fair while (having formed in 2008 in Birmingham), and have two acclaimed EPs under their belt, but this album really is a step up – not doubt aided by having Eskil Lovstrom on to handle production (you know, that guy who worked on Refused’s ‘The Shape Of Punk To Come’ – the standard by which all hardcore albums are judged by).

The music Shapes make is a blend of post-hardcore and mathcore – combining the best of both genres to make a noise (a noisy noise!) that resembles early Every Time I Die, The Bled at their most progressive, and Glassjaw at their heaviest. For the most part, Steven Bachelor’s vocals are scream-heavy – displayed very well on ‘Magister Navis’ and ‘Lipstick Vulture’ – and there is a punk passion in his emotive-yet-hysterical screams reminiscent of Frank Carter from Gallows (Surely he’ll just rejoin Gallows. Surely they can’t replace him. Surely…). However, Bachelor also has a pretty decent singing voice – his croon slash whine adds some much welcomed melody to the frenetic music. You can even trace a little soul in his clean vocals on ‘Allure A Hore’. These sporadic melodious interludes, together with the quieter musical moments, add the post-hardcore Glassjaw vibe to the record, particularly on standout track 'Vacancy Ape’.

This is an urgent and intense collection of songs worthy of your time. And time is something it may need, as ‘Monotony Chic’ does take a couple listens for the tunes to sink in. It may sound a little erratic and messy at first, but there is real precision here, and it may only be on the third listen that you begin to distinguish between riffs (and man are some of the riffs nice!), screams, and time signatures. The heavier aspects of the album have enough quality to allow Shapes to mingle with other Brit punishers Pulled Apart By Horses, and enough punk-rock venom to rival The Computers’ raw ‘This Is The Computers’ release. But in terms of Glassjaw grooves and melodies, Shapes have a way to go before they will be able to compete with letlive. (their ‘Fake History’ album – rereleased this year – was the best post-hardcore album of the last few years).

Nonetheless, fans of progressive hardcore music should check this out without hesitation.

Monotony Chic is out now through Big Scary Monsters. // Shapes

Shapes - Vacancy Ape by Music Liberation

Monday, 25 July 2011

Album Review : Hanin Elias - Get It Back

Get It Back’ is the new album from Hanin Elias, a former member of the Atari Teenage Riot (more on that later), who has delivered a rather stunning electronic record that will challenge you right from the off. It’s a blistering assault on your senses and only the very brave will make it to the end. No really...

Some you may or may not know that Atari Teenage Riot recently reformed after a near ten year hiatus, a period in which neither remaining member of the group spoke to each other.  Hanin Elias was meant to be involved in that project which included her co ATR collaborator Alec Empire, however despite providing vocals for the comeback single ‘Activate’, she was unashamedly dropped for what Empire described as delivering vocals which had lost Elias famous screaming voice. Those vocals can now be found on the track ‘Axis Shifting’, which appears on ‘Get It Back’, with Elias setting out to prove that Mr Empire was wrong to drop her and she can go it alone.
Kicking off with the title track, Elias quickly establishes her dynamic voice as being the forefront driving force behind her music. Her voice is high pitched and at times extremely cutting, with her passion directly emanating through her vocals. The music behind her is ferocious too, with debut single ‘Do You Know!!!’ demonstrating often bleak, abstract, and fast pitched electronica which at times can be difficult to keep up with.

Elias has an ear for a range of different genres, with drum and bass, hip hop, house, folk, and pop music all referenced throughout the 11 tracks and 40 minutes. Contemporary comparisons can be drawn with the likes of Teeth, Crystal Castles, and Glass Diamond. ‘Dead Eyes’ is perhaps my favourite track on the record, with its driving beats, spaced out synths, and repeated vocals drawing you in. The inclusion of the Tying Tiffany remix of the accessible ‘Future Noir’ midway through the album demonstrates the ability of Elias to rain in her extreme vocals and beats when required showing off her clear musical knowledge.

Get It Back’ is clearly not an album for every occasion, with its dark themes and destructive nature not lending itself easily to the mass market. However if you’re able to get past its abrasive edge you will be pleasantly surprised at the subtlety and craft that has gone into making a challenging yet ultimately rewarding electronica album.

The album is out now through Rustblade, meanwhile say hello to Elias on twitter and facebook.

10 Axis Shifting by GETITBACK

Friday, 22 July 2011

Interview : Team Me

We recently caught up with Norwegians Team Me, to discuss who influences them, find out about what it's like to support The Wombats, and of course find out what their favourite sandwich is...

Q1. Describe your music in three words?

"Quirky jungle pop."

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

"We are six people with lots of the same, and lots of different musical influences. So, it’s a bit difficult to be specific about that question, but we can randomly mention a few bands we like: The Dissociates, Mayhem, Motorspycho, Deerhoof, St Vincent, Animal Collective, Patrick Wolf.

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

"We are playing quite a few festivals this summer, mostly in Norway, but also a few in England and Germany. Then hopefully we have a finished debut album to be released in the fall of 2011. We’re extremely excited about that!! And then some touring with the album throughout 2011 and into 2012. We’ll have to see what happens next year."

Q4. Any new bands/artists you recommend us checking out?

"Yeah! Einar Stray, Carnival Kids, Kråkesølv, Twin Pines Mall, Bendik, Ludwig Moon, Jonas Alaska, Aristillus. Just to name a few."

Q5. If you could tour with any two artists, past or present, who would they be and why?

"We got the chance to support The Wombats for a few gigs in March 2011. We had such an amazing time! The band and crew were so helpful and great! So, it would be awesome to tour with them again! To choose one more for all of us is almost impossible. So, maybe Elvis? He was quite a guy."

Q6. If you had unlimited funds, what 3 things would you have on your tour rider?

"Hmm…maybe a trailer and a room for Synne’s pet moose. Rubber bands and wooden sticks to make slingshots. And…maybe a DeLorian time machine."

Q7. What's your perfect sandwich?

"If everyone could choose one ingredients each, it would be something like sun dried tomatoes, avocado, bacon, chilli, chicken and BBQ- sauce."

Q8. How can we find out more about you?

"Search your fingers off on the interwebz, we have the mandatory pages: Facebook, myspace, spotify, twitter, and so on…Or better, come to a show and hang out!"

Team Me - Dear Sister by Music Liberation

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

New Music: Zola Jesus - Vessel

Carrying on in the vein of pop vixens before her such as label buddy EMA, Claire Maguire, Marina and the Diamonds, and dare I say it Florence Welch (and that bloody machine), Zola Jesus brings us ‘Vessel’. It is a stark and often bleak track which is still utterly alluring and convincing. Taken from her forthcoming second album ‘Conatus’, which is out through Souterrain Transmissions on September 26th, it is the follow up album to her 2010 debut 'Stridulum II'.

There’s piano, understated drums, random electronic bleeps and of course Zola’s voice. With the music at times sounding like something Alec Empire would knock together, it’s reassuring to hear Zola’s calm assured vocals combating the futuristic sounds. Her range is particularly impressive and it will be interesting to see how far she takes that element on the full LP.

Catch Zola playing various festivals this Summer ahead of  future headline dates later on in the year. Say hello to her on twitter and facebook.

Zola Jesus - Vessel by souterraintransmissions

Monday, 18 July 2011

New Music: Katie Malco - For Just One Minute There

I just didn’t get Katie Malco straight away, there’s no point in denying it, but is that necessarily a bad thing? Well I don’t think so, some music you just need time to understand and grow with, something that our current ‘always-on-the-go’ culture does not always permit. However a weekend back home in sunny Wales (okay it was raining) soon gave me plenty of time to get acquainted with Miss Malco and her track ‘For Just One Minute There’.

Taken from her ‘Four Goodbyes’ EP, the track starts with a glorious strings section which will brighten any gloomy day, before we are quickly introduced to Malco’s sweet and charming voice. Her vocals perfectly suit the music, not overpowering but still forceful enough to drive the track along. Comparisons can be drawn with the likes of Laura Marling (ED: Generic female guitar comparison, but it actually rings true here), Gabrielle Aplin, and there are even hints of a youthful Jack Penate. It’s one of those tracks which after you ‘get it’ you’ll be totally in love with and feel like you’ve known the song your whole life.

You can download ‘For Just One Minute There’ for free now, whilst keep your eyes peeled for her debut EP which is expected later this year, through one of our favourite independent labels Alcopop! Big things are expected. Say hello to her on twitter and facebook.

Katie Malco - For Just One Minute There by alcopop

Friday, 15 July 2011

EP Review : Modual - In All Kinds

Modual's EP ‘In All Kinds’ contains wonderfully mixed tracks that fuse dubstep and D&B tempos with euphoric vocals and synths. This is an EP that draws you in right from the start, the track ‘Sticks and Stones’ displays an ear for knowing when to drop the pace and introduce the head nodding melodies. ‘Concrete Stone’ follows and effortlessly drops the BPM and smashes the bass reverberating from my speakers, a sound that has become synonymous with dubstep.

Tracks like ‘Some Kind of Stranger’ and ‘Words’ however, do at times feel like more filler than killer, the latter feeling more like a bonus track I would expect to hear on a George Michael LP. Nothing wrong with that of course, but it feels a little dated. Having briefly lost interest, I do a bit of research to find out that Modual are a Swedish duo and umm, well that’s it really, oh and they formed in 2009. I then return to the sound of ‘Greed’ a certified killer track that is guaranteed to make it on to the workout playlist... The holy grail for any drum and bass artist of course. ‘Greed’ feels like it has been taken straight from the hands of Netsky and resembles his execution and style that has become the benchmark for modern day D&B.

The EP is polished off by the faultless ‘You Always Made Me Belong’, and such is the brilliance of the baseline in this track I don’t believe a vocal to be necessary, because your ears are instantly drawn to it. 

To summarise this EP is a must for anyone who is a self confessed ‘bass head’, it’s a no brainer!

In All Kinds is out now through Loodma Recordings and you can grab it here.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Album Review : Benjamin Francis Leftwich - Last Smoke Before The Snowstorm

Acoustic stillness that moves

Remnants of the night before still in your blood stream? No fear, Benjamin Francis Leftwich of York, UK, will soothe your throbbing head.

A sound for every aching bone, melodies to flutter across voids and ease each injury inside and out. Here we have bare-bones acoustic, stripped back to the roots to pierce the silence in a set of heart-grabbing compositions.

On 'Butterfly Culture' think Joshua Radin's furtively delivered vocals, with similarly emotionally stark composing style, and tastes of Air. Leftwich drops in the odd elegant violin solo, wooden percussion with '1904' and often fleshes out vocals with multiple voices giving a fuller sound. Lo-fi, chillout, acoustic - Leftwich cites Arcade Fire as a major influence, as well as Ryan Adams and Bruce Springsteen.

'Box of Stones' is the first single from Leftwich's debut full length album that demonstrates gentle melodic themes that run throughout the record. 'Shine' and 'Snowship' have a slightly different pop-melodic warmth and almost upbeat tempos.

Despite melodic and stylistic similarities between tracks, this acoustic album has the unusual quality of not getting dull, providing you are in the mood for it - driven, as it is, by emotion, picture postcard beauty and intriguing lyrics. One of the best lines comes at the close of 'Pictures': 'you've been around and you've seen the way that things work, but you need a compass to get around your house.'

Last Smoke Before The Snowstorm is out now through Dirty Hit. / Benjamin Francis Leftwich

Benjamin Francis Leftwich - Pictures by Mud Hut Digital
Benjamin Francis Leftwich - Atlas Hands by Authority Communications

Friday, 8 July 2011

New Video : Francis Neve - I Won't Make You Better

Francis Neve is known for his fancy and interesting videos (see 'Brian's Drying Up' and 'Winterbury') and now he's back with a brand new one with the track 'I Won't Make You Feel Better'. Taken from his debut album 'The Second Time We First Met' and created by Brad Verlander, this one is beautifully simple, using high definition images, with Francis portrayed on a journey through a dreamlike world. 

The track itself is charming, with Neve utilizing the full effect of his soulful vocals and delicate guitars. It's out July 18th through FRR records, and keep an eye on his twitter/facebook for details regarding up coming gigs around London.

Francis Neve - I Won't Make You Better (Radio Version) by Emms_Publicity

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Single Review : A Lull - Weapons For War

Terrifyingly beautiful

Let's go with the general consensus on the web here: Chicago's A Lull hit the spot and fit the scene. The foursome's single 'Weapons for War' is the first from debut full-length album 'Confetti', which is out now through Mush Records. It's a cacophonic aural assault driven by opposing forces.

A Lull take things a step up, drawing onto layers of 'Washed Out'-esque dreamy chillwave with melodramatic percussive explosions and some rather fetching vocal hooks to create an altogether love-filled musical experience.

Those light, pop-catchy musical sensibilities are dwarfed by epic tribal flavours, interwoven into a fabric that's positively technicolour.

Best thing is, you can download a demo of the track for free from their site, as well as purchasing the full album and single remixes (recommended).

Oh - and the bass - turn it up.

Weapons For War by A Lull

Monday, 4 July 2011

Album Review : EMA - Past Life Martyred Saints

South Dakota born, LA dwelling singer / guitarist and ex-Gowns member EMA (aka Erika M. Anderson) left her old band in 2010 and one productive year later had produced this rambunctious nine track debut. The songs are brooding and layered, epic in both name and delivery. Entitled 'Past Life Martyred Saints', this record hardly shys away from being grandiose. The most grandiose aspect of all however, is depth of emotional turmoil in the songs. Anderson lets it all flow out, sounding like she’s on the verge of falling apart and we’re being sucked into the mad decent with her.

Album opener and former single 'The Grey Ship' is beautifully husky, plunging into The XX territory with morose guitar lines and layered vocals. The attitude ridden California is a shoegaze storm as Anderson’s deadpan vocals rant atop the feedback nightmare below and in the gigantic track 'Milkman', nothing escapes the sea of distortion (not even the vocals) whilst a cutting stadium drum beat holding the chaos together.

If it all sounds overblown and massive, that’s because it is. However Anderson is no one trick pony as stripped down songs such as 'Anteroom', sounding like an acoustic Nirvana demo, 'Marked', being just vocals, a guitar and a windstorm (no really) and 'Breakfast', will contest. These brittle songs balance perfectly with the screeching dystopia of the rest of the record.

Past Life Martyed Saints is an organic beast, seemingly fluid, changing with each listen. Anderson has gone headfirst into these songs and the results are so honest, so desperate, so vulnerable that by the time the superbly somber and well placed 'Red Star' unfolds as the closing track, you’ll feel dazed; plunged into Anderson’s crazy world and gently escorted out the other side once the storm is over, wondering what the hell just happened. And you know what’s weirdest of all? It feels brilliant.

Past Life Martyed Saints is out now through Souterrain Transmissions. || EMA

EMA - The Grey Ship by souterraintransmissions

EMA - Milkman by souterraintransmissions