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878

The 1975 Ambitiously Respond To Their First Album

Archive, Dance/Electronic, News, Pop, Rock

February 28, 2016

Fitting with the long list of English groups before them that The 1975 seem to be forging their way into, the Manchester quartet have created a second album that sounds and looks like a more mature version of their first.

This does not mean that the (the arrogant and annoyling titled) ‘I like it when you sleep for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it’ is a direct, boring and lacklustre copy of their debut (and better titled) ‘The 1975’. Rather, it means that what went right on their first try, such as the witty lyrics and experimental mix of electronic beats and rock synth guitar pop, is capitalised on and expanded, and what went wrong is done away with. It means that they’ve taken whatever they learnt after being thrown into fame from their debut after years in a career without any, after touring, dealing with fangirls, pop stars that “want to shag” lead singer Matty Healy, and apparent struggles with cocaine, and turned it into a sprawling, ambitious, and heavenly workable second album that both responds to the questions laid out on their first, and leaves room for The 1975 to grow into the iconoclasts that they seem to be itching to be.

Lyrically, ‘Ugh!’ is the new 1975’s response to the song that first catapulted them into success, ‘Chocolate’, making the first catchy anthem about driving around with soft drugs sound comparably tame to the singer’s electro pop tryst with cocaine. ‘A Change of Heart’ is another answer to their debut – Healy sings ‘never found love in the city’ after telling us on their debut that ‘If you wanna find love then you know where the city is’, perhaps literally making note of this response by telling us that he’s ‘just had a change of heart’. ‘She’s American’ and ‘Paris’ sounds like more tales of the women sung about in ‘She Way Out’ and ‘Settle Down’ from their debut, and ‘The Sound’ is the second album’s festival anthem answer to ‘Girls’ on the first. The link is literally evident by starting the album with a rework of the same track that did the first, ‘The 1975’, showing us from the get go that this album is similar to the first, but the jump into the powerful opener on ‘Love Me’ shows that it’s gone above and beyond what the debut made us expect.

Swapping black and white aesthetics and guitar driven pop for a rose tinted theme and Bowie-inspired riffs hasn’t answered all of Healy’s troubled questions, however. Just as he struggles with belief in God in ‘Antichrist’ on the ‘The 1975’, he continues to plead ‘I’m asking you Jesus, show yourself’ on ‘If I believe you’, contrasting these more serious tones with ‘you shouldn’t have made me atheist’, continuing the link of witty lyricism that is consistent throughout the album, making the scrawling mix of pop, jazz and 80s rock come to life in a way that is new to The 1975’s talents. Some of the record’s best tracks, ‘The Ballad of Me and My Brain’ and ‘Somebody Else’ show us deeper into Healy’s struggling psyche, while always keeping that hint of lightness to the lyrics, ‘I think I’ve gone mad, isn’t that so sad?’. Similarly, ‘Ugh!’’s upbeat tempo and sporadic mix of sound may make it seem like one of the more light-hearted songs on the album, but a closer look reveals that ‘I’m not giving it up again’ may not be as simple as he’s trying to convince us it is.

So much of the album seems unworkable – its 17 track length, variation of genre and style, and almost-too-much instrumentals, but what The 1975 have learnt from their first release has obviously paid off. It’s hard to think of what track they could have cut or where they could have simplified musically – the album’s beauty is contained within its euphoric music, coupled with layered vocals found on ‘Somebody Else’, ‘If I believe you’, and physically manifested on the album’s simplistic artwork. What is most appealing, however, is The 1975’s ability to capture the cultural climate in a way that is lyrically subtle, but visually obvious. In ‘A Change of Heart’ Healy amusingly sings ‘you took a picture of your salad and put it on the internet’, harking back to their video for single ‘Love Me’ where he mocks card board cut out celebrities. ‘Love Me’ is perhaps the album’s marking song – the most literal nod towards the Bowie influence, the characteristic mix of genres, the dazzling bass line (something they’ve thankfully carried over from songs such as ‘Chocolate’ and ‘Girls’ on their debut), and lyrics directly criticising the generation that they’re making music for. The more adept listener will question their own relationship with culture and the celebrities they worship in this internet age.

Healy struggles to find a sense of identity in a world where religion is absent, his friends are overtaken by fame, and his lovers are ‘looking through your phone and then leaving with somebody else’. It’s wholly empty, beautifully depressing and disgustingly perfect – fitting for a band that seem grappled between dichotomies of criticising the modern age and using it for their success. Each listen leaves me so fucking confused, but in the way that only great bands can.

Written by Amy Eskenazi

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965

Alex Vargas // Giving Up The Ghost

Archive, Pop

February 12, 2016

Alex Vargas has got something on his mind. With his debut EP, he delivers six heartfelt stories that justify all the buzz and the ones-to-watch articles that have been culminating for the past few years. He was part of our 2016 artist predictions. The EP opens up with the title track ‘Giving Up The Ghost’ which is a funky and rousing sound, clarifying the direction of the EP.

The Dane turned to the England in his late teenage years and has been honing and polishing his sound playing gigs. ‘Solid Ground’ has been a fan favourite for some time, exposing him to a broader audience. This is also where his earnest and heartfelt lyrics comes to show in the chorus “In the arms of another / you’re on solid ground / I’m a fool / I’m a coward / and I’m breaking down”.

With an electronic-based sound, there is always the risk of a disordered sound universe lacking empathy and warmth, but Alex has avoided it, in fact, he reaches a wholesome atmosphere with no worry or confusion. He has a broad approach to the electronic space he has created for himself, and I dare say the live shows have been a help to pinpoint what works and what doesn’t. ‘Wear Your Demons Out’ is a testament to that specifically. My only dislike is the song fades out instead of finishing strong.

His vocal and his falsetto, in particular, is to die for, and on ‘Shackled up’ you’re in for a catchy chorus and a falsetto you can’t help but sing along to. His incredible live performance of the song at The Distillery can be found here. Alex Vargas first debut is solid, and for his debut album, (I’m only contemplating), I would be expecting a wide-range of experimenting directions.

Article by Flipse Flebo

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937

Review: Hinds // Leave Me Alone

Archive, Emerging Artists, Pop, Rock

January 15, 2016

The sound of the resurgence of garage and indie rock has a new face. A few new faces, in fact. The Spanish rockers Hinds have been growing momentum for the past few months through the release of low-fi tracks ‘Garden’ and ‘Chili Town’, and their debut album ‘Leave Me Alone’ is a near-perfect attempt at a bundle of messy nostalgia, a beautiful further nod towards the garage rock scene.

Hinds aren’t the only ones currently nodding in this direction, of course, but ‘Leave Me Alone’ signifies that Hinds are a little more special than the charming qualities of being all female, from Spain, and their obvious The Velvet Underground influence give them. ‘Bamboo’, originally created when Hinds were known as ‘Deers’ and only consisted of singers Carlotta Cosials and Ana García Perrote, is a hazy, acoustically inspired happy-go lucky anthem, while ‘Garden’ and ‘Castigadas en el Granero’ serve as the melodic centrepieces, rivalling with the simplistic funk of ‘Fat Calmed Kiddos’ for the quartet’s best track.

The simplicity of the songs is a highlight rather than a drawback – it continues throughout the album, creating a consistent hark back to their garage inspirations, with the added twist of Mac DeMarco style and much needed girl power. The riff of ‘Chili Town’ perfectly captures Hinds’ musical drawings, with their video encompassing their fun, laid back attitude, which is incidentally what saves the album from becoming too samey.

While the album does admittedly get a bit repetitive, the girls seem to know how to successfully combine their disjointed garage with endearing lyrics. Drinking out of cartons, smoking cigarettes like old Hollywood stars and dancing to an album called ‘Leave Me Alone’ may give Hinds a bit of a tough-girl character, but lyrics such as ‘I am flirting with this guy just to pretend I’m fine’ constitute as the girls’ lyrical equivalent to their similarly fractured, confused and emotionally charged melodies. There’s a mix of apathetic lovesick lyricism, ‘All I’m asking for is you to make a move’, and apathetic teenage musings, ‘you’re getting blinder taking drugs’, sung by voices that tend to crash into each other, rumbling over changing tempos and crackling percussion. All this is highlighted by an underlying sunny disposition, causing you to shift between all consuming thoughts of heartbreak to feeling carefree of such matters, lying on a beach somewhere in Spain. It’s messy, sure, but all good debuts are. Hinds are doing it right.

Article by Amy Eskenazi

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1291

Opinion: Why Noel Gallagher Might Be Onto Something

Archive, Pop, Rock, Singer/Songwriter

November 9, 2015

Noel Gallagher, Britain’s favourite I-Used-To-Be-Massive-Now-I-Just-Say-Shit-That-Makes-People-Angry washed up rock star (I’m a Blur fan), is Esquire’s December cover star, locked and loaded with a bunch of semi-offensive ranting that got some people from the NME and twitter really going.

Like I said, I’m a Blur fan, but aside from the fact that picking one over the other is a twenty year old phenomenon and therefore about as dead as rivalling bands themselves, I can’t deny Oasis’ major impact on the bands that followed them. I also admire the Gallagher brothers’, and particularly Noel’s, ability to truly act like real “rockstars” and take full advantage of all the sex, drugs and rock n roll that came with it, without ending up in rehab or selling their souls to the perfume-selling money-making career-crushing capitalist devil that so many wannabe rockstars do today. And this issue is where Gallagher really grabs me – I’ve not listened to his solo tries, and to be honest I’ve not gone too deep into Oasis’ albums, although I’ve loved the stuff I’ve heard on throwback-90s nights* – it’s not the first time he’s attacked modern musicians, but in his Esquire interview, he so accurately articulates what is wrong with the current musical climate.

What’s wrong is that everyone is a bit of a wimp. Gallagher hilariously told Esquire “I fucking hate whingeing rock stars…“Oh, yeah, my last selfie got 47-thousand-million likes on Instagram.” Yeah, why don’t you go fuck off and get a drug habit, you penis?’” What’s bottled up in this shameless sentence of spite from a 48 year old man with no filter is a feeling that’s been prevalent in the music industry for a while now – boredom. He continues with “fame is fucking wasted on these people. The new generation of rock stars, when have they ever said anything that made you laugh? When have they ever said anything you remember?… what I want, genuinely, is somebody with a fucking drug habit.” While drug habits are nothing to make light of, and while having one is not usually on anyone’s list for a good musician, you can see where Gallagher’s coming from. Think about your favourite current bands. Think about the last time they actually said anything truly interesting that wasn’t tweeted before being checked by their PR people to make sure it wouldn’t offend anyone. The modern musician – I hasten to call them rockstars – depend on their Instagram captions for any humorous insights, and if they say anything remotely controversial, something that you think a rockstar would be able to do, they get branded by everyone on the internet as ‘problematic’. I’m never one for the whole social-media-is-ruining-our-lives scare stories, but when it comes to bands, the internet age we live in really does make it all a bit… dead.

Take Alex Turner, who doesn’t even have a twitter. Remember the Arctic Monkeys’ 2014 Brit Awards acceptance speech when Turner dropped the microphone? The whole ‘invoice me for the microphone if you need to’ fiasco? That’s the last time I really remember a rockstar challenging the music industry and its followers, in a way that seems so beautifully unnecessary, so arrogant, so damn rock n roll. Still, Gallagher has something to say about Turner; “Alex Turner, Miles Kane, the guys from Royal Blood. They’ve got the fucking skinny jeans and the boots, and all that eyeliner. I’ve got a cat that’s more rock’n’roll than all of them put together.” I’m pretty sure none of those mentioned actually wear eyeliner, but again, Gallagher hits the nail on the head. Alex Turner isn’t actually that interesting, no matter how many leather jackets and sunglasses he has. Sure, the leather and the quiffed hair bring some sense of danger, but what’s really missing from the charts these days isn’t really anything to do with the songs, it’s the artists that are selling them. It’s true when Gallagher says “Record companies now can sell a billion Ed Sheeran downloads tomorrow morning. They don’t want someone like Ian Brown in their offices, or Liam, or Bobby Gillespie, or Richard Ashcroft, or me. They want professionals. That’s what it’s become now.” I’m not saying I want Alex Turner to get back with model Alexa Chung, develop a drug habit, and take to the streets of London at 3am scouring the floor for used needles. But, you have to admit, the Richards, the Dohertys, the Gallaghers of this world – they’re all a bit more interesting to the normal citizen; precisely because they act like real rockstars. We’re all a bit bored with Harry Styles.

Read Esquire’s article here

Photograph by

Article by Amy Eskenazi

*Oasis fans, I’m joking

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1240

Ones to Watch: Borns Releases New Track “Fool”

Archive, Dance/Electronic, Emerging Artists, News, Ones to Watch, Pop, Videos

October 2, 2015

Let’s let 2015 be the birth of Borns.

The instant I heard 10,000 Emerald Pools by Borns aka singer-songwriter Garret Borns, I knew it was a hit. In fact, since receiving a shoutout from Taylor Swift, I’m surprised he isn’t bigger.

But I’m not worried. I know his time will come. 

Now he has released his newest single, “Fool” an upbeat disco-electronica song.

There is a certain magic quality to this track, and the fact that Borns used to be a magician only proves what I already know: his haunting electronic track is sheer enchantment. It’s the kind of song I didn’t have to finish listening to the first time around to know I liked it.

In an interview with Beat Magazine, Borns explained his artist name: “I think the O with the stoke looks like a zero and I like that because it goes along with the concept of ‘borns’ and re-birth and zero as a number of no resistance. That’s something as an artist you always have to battle with, that sense of resistance.”

Borns is revving up for the release of his debut album “Dopamine” which is due out October 16th.

Article By Natalie Harmsen

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1476

Review: Wishes // RHODES

Archive, News, Pop

October 2, 2015

In 2013, things started happening to Baldock in Hertfordshire’s RHODES. His debut EP Raise Your Love was released on Hometown Records, (BBC Radio One’s Phil Taggart) and his songs began gaining radio play. In particular with ‘Your Soul’. A few EPs later and some time off, Wishes, the debut album arrived on September 18. It has been produced by long-time collaborator James Kenosha, which was a wise decision.

A new artist tumbles around the first few years with ideas and proposals, trying and fixating in on what their sound should be, coinciding with how their musical voice should be displayed. Choosing to stick with James Kenosha on his debut album meant the silver lining stayed intact from EP to LP.

The album opens up with ‘intro’, and spoiler alert, that track’s title is the only thing that irks me. Intros are simply peculiar to me. It asks the question “I don’t wanna fade away / Am I gonna make you happy?” Now, whether that’s a doubt towards something personal, or uncertainty towards the music industry and dealing with pleasing his audience, I cannot say, but we will leave it at that for now.

The universe of RHODES is filled with grand gestures, cathedral sounds, and I am tempted to mention Florence + The Machine in this context. While she has a completely different lyrical universe with vast metaphors and an almost fairytale way of conveying her songs, RHODES is a classic singer-songwriter when it comes to words.

A handful of songs are from previous released EPs, worth mentioning is ‘Your Soul’ that started it all. As is ‘Raise Your Love’ that takes the award for best song on the album. It’s lyrically the strongest, and melodically a perfect match between radio friendliness and how it is artistically voiced. With precision, he sings “It’s always on my mind now / the world I adore / caught up in a lie now / it feels like a war.” New mixes and productions of the older songs suit them very well. He avoided what many fails at when putting old songs onto something new and something tells me that was not accidental, because if Wishes is anything it is wholesome and nurtured into a complete and full album.

The title track ‘Wishes’ concludes the album with the lyrics “Wishes like a cold wind on my face / wishes I could warm a frozen lake / oh wishing / wishing you were here.” And now there is a possibly that ‘Intro’ was a doubt towards something personal. Because I do not think he has to worry about how he is being perceived. He definitely did not disappoint on his debut. RHODES has got the voice and the artistry, and there is no doubt he will gain lots of new fans from this.

Article by Flipse Flebo.

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1194

Ones To Watch: Pure Youth

Archive, Editors Choice, Emerging Artists, Ones to Watch, Pop, Rock

October 1, 2015

There’s a new London sound from indie quartet Pure Youth. Having already released Jaws-esque electro rock single ‘New November’, newer single ‘I’m Not Yours’ bares resemblance to early Wombats with softer vocals that partner a swinging ‘oh-oh-oh’ chorus that play down otherwise energetic guitars. Pure Youth’s charm seems to come from their ability to write slow build melodies that are as powerful as they are calming, while building upon influences that are clear without distracting from their own unique style. This broad range of influences is shown in ‘Wasted Days’ and ‘I Just Wanted You To Know’ which see the band adapt to an ever so slightly grungier take on their melodic guitars and conversational lyrical delivery, whose vocals tie any loose ends together.

Pure Youth play Camden Barfly on the 28th of October and The Garage, London on the 3rd of December. Check out their bandcamp and souncloud for other tour dates, and have a listen to ‘I’m Not Yours’ here.

Article by Amy Eskenazi

 

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1020

Sorry, The 1989 Cover Album Sucked.

Archive, Pop, Rock, Singer/Songwriter

September 30, 2015

Sorry, actually not sorry. Ryan Adams’ 1989 cover album pretty much sucked. Now, I know everyone and their grandma have been talking about this album and everyone and their grandma seems to be in love with it, but really people?

While I enjoy Adams’ clear ode to Swift for what was an insanely amazing album on Taylor’s part, what I don’t understand is people’s obsession with Ryan’s album. I don’t see anything within it “revealing the sadness” of 1989 and I don’t hear what’s so amazing; all in all I just do not get it.

If I wasn’t already being honest, I don’t think this album makes any sense. Practically every cover on this album feels dragged out and showy. Not that I don’t agree with creative license but this is too much. On tracks like This Love and Out Of The Woods he sounds almost like he’s just talking his way through the song. On other tracks like; Welcome To New York and Style he becomes overbearing and makes it sound like he’s singing over the music and not with it. Also once we get to How You Get the Girl he sounds like Bob Dylan?

Listening to the album in its entirety made me feel like I was watching someone try to make the pieces of three different puzzles into one, it just doesn’t really work. The sound of this album had me confused to say the least.

This isn’t to say that Ryan Adams’ didn’t do anything right with this album either. Tracks like; Wildest Dreams, Blank Space, Shake It Off and All You Had To Do Was Stay he actually created something that I can say I liked and that I can say I expected from him. I think that if he made this entire album consistent with the sound he had on these tracks then I might have enjoyed it a great deal more, but he didn’t so here I am.

Although this was a cover album, I didn’t look at it that way. I tried to look at it as if it was it own separate musical entity because obviously the creative differences between Ryan Adams’ and Taylor Swift are vastly deviating. Also, in that respect I think it is fair that if you are going to listen to it don’t look at it as a Taylor Swift cover album and proceed to be upset that it doesn’t sound like her, I don’t at all think that is what Ryan Adams’ was going for in the first place.

So just to make sure everyone understands where my frustration is placed with this album, it is NOT placed in the fact that it doesn’t sound like Taylor. It is placed in the fact that even through I looked at it as a Ryan Adams’ album and tried really hard to like it, I just couldn’t do it.

To me this album felt scattered and unpolished and at some point while listening to it even a little bit anxious. Like I said at the beginning of this article sorry, not sorry to everyone and their grandma, I really didn’t enjoy this album.

Article by Emily D’Orazio

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943

Rudimental and Ed Sheeran Drop Track Together

News, Pop, Singer/Songwriter, Videos

September 26, 2015

Rudimental’s new single dropped this week and you need to hear it. They have teamed up with Ed Sheeran to create “Lay It All On Me” and I want this track to be laid all over everywhere for as long as possible.

In general I am a Rudimental fan, but they have got it going on lately. From the first listen this song had me in love. Not only does it have a great dance beat and is super catchy, but it’s got Ed Sheeran. I think I pretty speak for much everyone under the sun when I say that he could make almost any song better than it may have already been.

In true Ed Sheeran style this song, no matter its beat and synth is still very romantic. The lyrics speak to helping a loved one with struggle and overcoming hardship but all while making you want to dance and sing. Is there anything he can’t do? (I’m going to go with no, there isn’t). This pairing is amazing and it close to the likes of the much loved pair of Sam Smith and Disclosure.

If this song does nearly as well as anything Sam Smith and Disclosure have brought us, I can only hope there are so many more collaborations like this between Rudimental and Ed.

Rudimental hasn’t just limited themselves to one great collaboration lately either, they have also done some amazing work with both Will Heard and Mahalia on similar electronic tracks.

At the end of the day this song is going to be on repeat all over the world today from both Ed and Rudimental fans. Dropping this track made my day and I’m sure it made a great deal of other peoples as well. The full single is available now for purchase on iTunes and for streaming on Spotify.

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1267

Review: 1989 // Ryan Adams

Archive, News, Pop, Rock

September 25, 2015

Ryan Adams bleeds when he creates music. Okay, the enough with the melodramatics. The man himself have said “Never apologise for your enthusiasm” which arguably is a better way of saying he puts his heart out there, flawed and raw with no excuses. Despite 1989 being a cover-album, he bleeds Taylor Swifts’ songs as if they were his own. On this reinvention of songs, (rather than a simple cover album), mainstream pop meets introspectiveness from the introvert himself.

It has an obvious The Smith vibe which Ryan himself put forth. It was also released just a few days before September equinox which marks the start of autumn, and as the melancholic season begins to lay its iron blanket, it seems like the perfect fit.

One thing that has not gone unnoticeable is that he switched pronounce, which in 2015 is highly frowned upon — it is not the politically correct way to go about someone else’s songs. I’m willing to let that one slip since this is a more a reimagining of songs; as if Ryan is the male counterpart of these stories, singing them back to the girl who got hurt, something Taylor pointed out in the Beats1 interview.

‘Welcome To New York’ meets you with an intoxicating and emotional power. Ryan left New York for LA and got his life back together, and it seems as if this song is a nod to those old times, reminiscing but also very aware of both sides to the fairytale city.

I was on the road when a rock radio station spun a couple of these songs on release day, and I know I wasn’t the only one with a lump in my throat the first time hearing ‘Out Of The Woods’. There’s a hurt, there’s a deep and genuine wound in his voice that produces all the goosebumps you can physically get.

If a song can’t be stripped down to a very basic acoustic guitar version, then it is not a well-crafted piece of art. What is clearly evident is how talented Taylor Swift is as a songwriter. Behind the production and mainstream melodies, you find a true, old school artist. With Ryan’s style, the Swift fans are introduced to a different world of music and vversevisa.

The gigantic hit ‘Shake It Off’ has gently been taken down a notch while embracing the minor chords. There is a wonderful 80’s echo that turns the dance anthem into dejected story, gaining momentum and releases some built-up frustration at the end of it.

So pour yourself a cup of tea, get a blanket, and put on this autumn record and let yourself be fragile for a minute.

Article by Flipse Flebo

 

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