The XX - Open Eyes (Demo)
UK Mercury Prize winning, gothic indie-pop crooners The XX released a demo via their blog (http://xx-xx.co.uk/
) in anticipation of their forthcoming second album. Featuring the hauntingly soft, almost whispered voice of Remy Madley-Croft, Open Eyes creates a dark, brooding atmosphere with its slow tempo and minimal use of echoing guitar and percussion. The follow up to their highly successful self-titled debut is set for release in June to coincide with the UK festival season.
Sleigh Bells - Comback Kid
Comeback Kid is the second single off the forthcoming album ‘Reign Of Terror’ which is due for release on February 14. Containing trademark raw, reverb heavy guitars, heavy bass and electro beats, I can’t help but feel that they have stripped back their sound (however slightly) to make it “less like party music” as stated by guitarist Derek Miller. Alexis Krauss’ voice has a more sugar coated pop sound, and although relying on chaos to get their point across; the song seems to lack that hard hitting edge that was so explosive on Treats. Check out first single Born To Lose here
Pulled Apart By Horses - New Album 'Tough Love' Out Now!
The new album from Oxford post-hardcore lunatics PABH is bound to be a cracker! Having toured excessively off the back of their self-titled debut (My number 5 album of the year!), PABH have not only wowed audiences worldwide, but also snagged Gil Norton (Foo Fighters, Pixies) to produce the album. According to bassist Rob Lee; “(Tough Love) feels more like our first proper album and not just something for self–gratification. Every song on this album has its own personality and really stands on its own.” Judge it for yourself! NME has the album for streaming here, although it only provides a 30-second preview of each song if you live outside the UK (cock tease much!?). Check out the video for shredding single V.E.N.O.M! Their new album 'Tough Love' is out now.
Children Collide - Sword To a Gunfight
A Precursor to their upcoming album ‘Monument’, Aussie indie rockers Children Collide deliver single Sword To A Gunfight. Containing signature guitar hooks and washed out vocals, the track has a slight psychedelic feel to it, and could be a sign of some new influences on a band that have stayed very true to their roots across two stellar releases thus far in their career. In support of the single, they will be embarking on a national tour hitting the Metro Theatre on the 24 March.
To Describe Merill Garbis', frontwoman of experimental pop group tUnE-yArDs, the word eccentric would be an understatement. The woman is somewhat of a cultural conundrum; where although based between America and Canada she draws heavy influence from African music to create a sound that is completely abstract and confounding. Coupled with an effervescent quirkiness (evident in face warping filmclips such as Bizness
, watch below), her music transcends genre boundaries with a unique energy that is truly captivating.
Appearing solo in front of an intimate crowd, playing songs off her debut album Bird-Brains, Garbis' mesmerised the crowd from the very beginning with her raw talent and enthusiasm. Her face menacing with deep growling chants, softening with her intimate high pronunciations, and eyes widening and searching the amazed looks on the faces of the crowd as her words reach mind-numbing speeds. All the while creating this infectious tribal energy through looped drum beats and ukulele plucking.
The song Hatari was an unforgettable highlight:
There is that natural sound that wild beasts make when they're bound
It rumbles through the ground, guuraaah, guuraaah, we all fall down
Oh will you hear the sound, 10,000 voices lost and found
It rumbles through the ground guuraaah, guuraaah, we all fall down
Garbis then unleashed a bone shaking tribal cry, arms raised, for what seemed like an eternity. The crowd responded with ecstatic cheers and whistles, moving their shaking bones to the beat of her drum. A truly memorable performance from an exceptionally talented musician, who has created some of the most original and fascinating experimental music of recent times.
tUnE-yArDs two albums Bird-Brains and W h o K i l l, are exceptional works of art, which push and pull at the conventional boundaries of contemporary music in every sense. They are a must listen!
Sometimes trying new things pays off. For New Orleans prog-rockers Mutemath, it most certainly has. Their third studio release, Odd Soul is their first self-produced effort with a new guitarist and every minute detail of each instrument from recording to mastering is perfect. Odd Soul presents a fresh and unique take on psychedelic blues-fused rock, blending gospel and hints of modern electronica to produce a sound that is quite extraordinarily unique and new. The sheer talent of this band is not only evident in their playing ability, the way they can build a mood and change it suddenly (see Cavalries), but also in the finer details.
Paul Meany’s unusual voice is exceptional on this record, as quoted on the bands site; “I’ve certainly never pushed my voice as hard as I did on this record”. He is backed by sensational drummer Darren King who lays down phenomenal rhythms like a contemporary Mitch Mitchells (The Jimi Hendrix Experience), and driven by raw and fuzzy guitars and bass which can be hard at times and soft in others. The fresh lyrical collaboration between Meany and King gave them the chance to be “more upfront about ourselves”; “The lyrical idea of this record is loosely based on our upbringing in what I guess you could call eccentric Christianity.. in what is an admittedly odd culture”. As highly experimental and adventurous as this record is, it has such a flowing energy throughout the entire record, which will make it more accessible to a wider audience than their previous releases. If I was a record company executive I could easily take 7 singles from this record, it’s that bloody good. Odd Soul is amazing record, and an absolute ESSENTIAL listen.
Minimal dubstep crooner James Blake released his debut amongst much anticipation on how he would push the boundaries of the post-dubstep era. Blake's soulful voice lies at the core of his music, sampling, looping, distorting it and chopping it to reverberate throughout your head, often repeating words, sentences, and riddles that make little sense. The lack of understanding is no limit to your love, for the connection with his sound is odd, and is pushed by his roots in dance music. In his stunning Feist cover ofLimit To Your Love, Blake’s voice builds intelligently to monstrous sub-bass lines.
A feeling of isolation runs throughout the album, as if the listener is trapped in a cavernous void, with Blake’s minimalist sound to sooth the mind. He challenges the way we connect with music, creating negative soundscapes and filling them with atmosphere created by abstract sounds and distorted tones. For this very reason, James Blake is the most compelling album of the year.
'The King Of Limbs'
Experimental 'Art' Rock
The acute mix of odd time signatures and overlapping musical elements that should throw the listener into a state of disarray, work together to create a sense of blissful flowing energy that neither disrupts or alerts the consciousness, but rather drifts you off into a better place. These conflicting sounds, clicks and whirrs have been watered down to accommodate each other and Thom Yorke’s eclectic wailing vocals, which become surprisingly smooth. The record is soft in tone and has such a relaxing effect on the mind when listening to tracks like Morning Mr. Magpie and Seperator. Radiohead have certainly come full circle with The King Of Limbs.
London producer Aaron Jerome uses the SBTRKT alias in support of anonymity, preferring to “rather not talk about myself as a person and let my music speak for itself”; indeed this record lets the music do the talking. Collaborations with the magnificent Little Dragon delivered Wildfire, a stunning track in many respects, but I prefer to shift the focus on SBTRKT’s stunning production. I’ve yet to find an electronic release with as much soul as his debut record. His voice features on a number of tracks, and in experimenting, he packs a powerful punch when backed by two-step basslines and retro synths; his lyrics explode with emotion.
Funky synth rhythms build mood throughout the songs Pharoahs and Never Never, driven by frantic percussion and thumping bass. His production across this record is flawless, delivering a fresh electronic production that delivers intelligent build ups and lyrics in a way that isn’t contrived or forced. About time!
Pulled Apart By Horses
'Pulled Apart By Horses'
Rude, aggressive, ball-busting hardcore rock that will throw you unashamedly across the room into your mother’s antiques cupboard with its sheer brutal force. To sum the record up in one statement would essentially be “we don’t give a fuck”. PABH’s sound is so in your face you can’t help but get pumped up and want to beat up some helpless kid for his lunch money, or push over an old man, or…well, point is it makes you want to unleash a flurry of flailing limbs into the air! Their live show does their music more than justice, their overzealous youthful abandon must be the result of an unhealthy excess of testosterone.
Whatever it is, it works. It even includes a song inspired by Ronnie Coleman! Title for “we don’t give a fuck” album of the year goes to … you guessed it! Pulled Apart By Horses! This album fucking rocks!
RCA, Rough Trade
Polished guitars, slick drum fills and a clear move towards a more glazed indie-pop sound introduces The Strokes first studio album in 5 years. Their newest effort is quite heavily produced, but it suits the bands ability as musicians (and may lead to more popular additions to Guitar Hero - Reptilia, am I right or what!) for they become more distinctive to the casual listener. Julian Casablancas lyrical prowess shines through on this record with tongue in cheek lines like “everybody singing the same song for ten years” in itself a statement of how much they must of overplayed each single off their back catalogue (oh,
and what a flawless back catalogue it is). Angles has a signature Strokes sound, and as clean as it is, the album stands out as a stunning effort from the coolest indie rock band on the planet.
Gil Scott Heron & Jamie XX
'We're New Here'
Jamie XX’s remix of Heron’s first studio in sixteen years (I’m New Here) is a revelling piece of contemporary electronica. The generational and musical differences between artists become obsolete at the hands of Gil-Scot Heron’s powerful voice and Jamie XX’s technical wizardry. The introspective nature of Heron’s lyrics are captured in the samples, exposing a vulnerable man, who was HIV-positive during recording the original record and passed away in May, 2011. XX toys with samples of Heron’s voice, enabling it to flow in parts, or repeat and distort a small sample in others, driving
home the mood with experimental electronica, often disjointed to create a feeling of alienation. Heron’s vocals take on a more sinister edge when scattered and repeated against two-step breaks and abstract beats patterns, particularly in NY Is Killing Me. The nature of the record ensures that a new generation will see the message of Gil-Scott Heron and enable his legacy to live on.
Progressive Metal/folk/jazz fusion
What came as a shock to many fans, Heritage delivered Opeth’s second album in their illustrious 10 album history completely absent of death growls. Preferring to utilise Mikael Åkerfeldt’s immaculate clean vocals, Heritage takes the listener on a journey of tranquillity through intricate instrumental intervals which explore the bands technical prowess throughout their widespread influences in jazz, folk and melodic metal. Drastic tempo changes are coupled with a greater range of mood changes which are broken by heavy riffs in songs such as The Devil’s Orchard, Folklore and I Feel The Dark.
Much of the record is acoustic and is incredibly atmospheric, revelling in the soft mellotron and piano tones that haunt Åkerfeldt’s voice, effectively creating a consistently sombre mood. For all its melancholy, the album grows with its complexity and sudden bursts of energy that often come from nowhere are quite simply mind-blowing.
'Everything Is Amplified'
Experimental Danish outfit Veto have been pushing the boundaries of musical pre-conceptions since their debut There’s A Beat In All Machines in 2005. Coupling retro synths with guitars is nothing new, but the way that they draw you in throughout Everything is Amplified is fascinating; building enough atmosphere to allow lead singer Troels Abrahamson to pierce your consciousness with melancholic musings is quite haunting. The strength of his voice echoes messages of loss, desperation, isolation and defeat. Driven by upbeat rhythms and percussion that give the desperate croon of Abrahamson a danceable edge,
Veto deliver a highly introspective and provocative record that is compelling in its dark musings on life, that’ll leave you thinking, how could it all go wrong?
An electronic production that is NOT for the faint hearted, pregnant women, or people with a heart condition. There should be a disclaimer on the packaging saying it could induce a coma from being that freakin’ intense! Excision is the hottest dubstep producer out there right now. In building on the aggressive dubstep genre (made popular by Skrillex), he meshes electro into his work to provide a more constant flowing sound, which makes it heavily suitable for the dirtiest dance floors on mother earth. Collaborations with an impressive array of dubstep producers across the record; including Datsik,
Downlink, Skism and Messinian have resulted in an epic variety of mind-numbing sounds, with each producers influence shining through on each effort. Delving in drum n bass, and pop-dubstep (essentially softer dubstep with lyrics), the record flows incredibly well, instead of being a collection of singles made for DJs to spin, its one for the casual listener. If you like dubstep you’ll LOVE X Rated!
The way in which Gotye amasses bizarre sound samples into ensembles of musical mastery is genius, on the documentary Making Making Mirrors, he multi sampled acoustic instruments and made virtual collections of each individual note, enabling him to play these samples through a keyboard. The most amazing track is State Of The Art, which is a mind-blowing array of organ sounds created on his Cotillon D575 organ, with heavily warped vocals and driven by a horn break sample from a traditional Taiwanese song, with a Turkish drum sample to keep rhythm. Amazing.
His voice is more prominent on this record, pushing heightened emotion on tracks like Somebody That I Used To Know and I Feel Better. In the words of Gotye himself; “It's more about reflection - the look at yourself that a mirror offers and also the way it gives you a different perspective on things around you.” The whole of Australia has fallen in love, have you?
'What Did You Expect From The Vaccines?'
Hailed as reviving guitar driven indie pop, The Vaccines delivered a stellar debut record amongst overzealous hype amongst the British music elite. The influences are brutally obvious throughout the record, and despite the criticism, it stands alone in the modern musical arena as a unique cultural cliché. The singers emotionless exploration of casual sexual encounters and relationships is driven by bombastic reverb heavy guitars, played to frantic rhythm seems like a remark that matches the nonchalance of the album title What Did You Expect From The Vaccines.
Blatantly simple as their music may be, the youthful energy of the band emulates through tracks like Wreckin’ Bar, Norgaard, and If You Wanna are enough to get the gloomiest indie kids shoe shufflin’ and twistin’ like The Beatles were back in fashion. A punchy album that punches in places and swoons in others to deliver many relatable experiences, The Vaccines’ debut oozes sarcastic confidence.
epitomise the progressive metal genre with epic music that has continually evolved throughout a 10 album career spanning 20 years. Fusing a rich variety of influences together that many would argue could never work - jazz, folk and death metal - Opeth
set the modern standard in metal’s evolution. According to Rolling Stone; “Opeth continually expand the definition of what metal can be”
. Touring their latest release, Heritage
; there was much widespread speculation that Mikael Åkerfeldt
had lost his voice (which to fans of heavy metal means his ability to death growl; see Ghost of Perdition
) due to the complete absence of death growls on Heritage
, and the previous shows set lists leaked on sites like www.setlist.fm
. The latter proved true, and the brutal side of Opeth
was abandoned for a night to allow the audience to soak in the beauty and tranquillity of their “softer” music.
The set opened with The Devil’s Orchard;
exploding with jazz upswings to the soul-shaking cry of “God is dead
”, the song delivers complex tempo shifts and signature atmospheric synths. Porcelain Heart
delivered the first heavy metal fix for the headbangers in the audience, with technically brilliant drummer Martin “Axe” Axenrot
delivering a sweltering six minute solo, flowing effortlessly from jazz grooves to blast beats with such tenacity, reaching impossible speeds and accenting every note so flawlessly; he had mouths on the floor throughout. Even more impressing was how well Axenrot
structured the solo considering the speeds with which he was playing. Watch his flawless solo below:
Åkerfeldt is often noted for his sense of humour, and the banter was hilarious, even when it came to his music “you may not know this song, we wrote it for a video game… they said do what you like, all the other metal bands gave them metal songs, because they are fucking cowards”, I mean the man is basically a Metal God, so when he initiated the beginning of his acoustic section the crowd was reverent and respectful (despite the overwhelming lust for heavy music). The man’s voice is so insanely good, it is a wander his death growls hadn’t ruined his vocal chords, and the haunting beauty of his tone is multiplied in the live arena, and is so well suited to the folk/acoustic music they preferred to focus on for this live set.
Opeth’s music is so versatile. The way that they build such a reverent mood and shatter it instantly with sharp tempo changes into metal riffs in I Feel The Dark, Nepenthe and A Fair Judgement is mind-blowing. Alternatively, Opeth begin with a heavy riff and turn brutality into tranquillity, such as the effect of Hex Omega. Opeth have that rare quality (of metal artists) to portray good and evil through their sound, although satanic at times, you often get the feeling of moving in and out of a dreamlike state, transcending the reality for which Åkerfeldt often vocalised his distaste for during the set.
At the introduction of Slither it is made clear it was “written as a tribute to (Ronnie James) Dio” and has a clear influence from early metal that bordered on hard rock. More influenced on simple riffs, speed and solos, a clear difference from Opeth’s highly technical jazz-fused, death metal sound. Opeth encore with their 5th track off Heritage, Folklore, and although disappointed as many others to not to hear any of the heavier death metal tracks which are so brutal(ly good), Opeth proved they not only stand out in the metal genre in their technical ability, but also on the world stage as one of the most progressive and exciting genre-defying bands of a generation.
The entire live set is expertly filmed and recorded and available for you to watch below. Enjoy!