Tuesday, 29 July 2014

The Mercy Beat - Mercy Beat EP

EP review by KevW


Not always does a band's debut EP gain a good amount of press attention, but that's what happened with The Mercy Beat. Based in L.A. with members from Hong Kong, Hawaii and New York, the reason why their first songs were deemed worthy of investigation by some noted publications is likely due to the fact that they're fronted by former singer of The Bravery, Sam Endicott who's also written hits for other popstars. So interest in finding out just what his own band would sound like was bound to be high. Things went well, and now the EP is set for a release on this side of the Atlantic on September 1st.

So, is it much cop? The Bravery ended up slightly maligned, so the knives being out for this one would perhaps be likely, but they can be put away again because it turns out that The Mercy Beat have some very good synth-pop/indie-rock tunes. The slower and more poppy 'Sweet' arrived first, and may have indicated that the band were looking for a slightly more commercial sound, but when you contrast that to the EP's opening track 'An Act Of Mercy' then something more solid appears. Yeah, this is pop, but definitely of the alternative variety, and the indie crowd shouldn't be too put off either. It's a catchy song that would suit radio play and could become fairly omnipresent - certainly future recordings in a similar style will do this should the band take off. Lastly is the mildly epic sounding '80s pop of 'Fool For A Fool', and here they do dive head-first into pop. They may have missed the revival boat on this one, but it's well written, and the other material suggests that there could be a good future ahead.





The Mercy Beat's website

Stream the EP in full





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Obligatory Record Of The Day! The Hobbes Fanclub - Stay Gold

Single review by KevW


Fresh from playing this years' Indietracks festival, Bradford trio The Hobbes Fanclub will be releasing their long-awaited (they formed in 2010) debut album 'Up At Lagrange' on August 19th and it's already had some very nice things said about it. Even a cursory listen to single 'Stay Gold' will let you know why, and the fact that past singles have been brought to us by ever reliable labels such as Cloudberry and Dufflecoat add strength to the argument that this is one guitar-pop band who are going to be worth a little of your time.

With a sweet hook and some distant and reverberating drums, there is a dreampop element to this song, and the vocals are also given a good coat of echo and pushed back in the mix for an added ethereal vibe. Don't go thinking wishy-washy twee-pop though, because the constant buzz of guitar creates a wall of beautiful noise which acts as the canvas on which these different sheets of sound are placed. The production is spot on, but with a track this strong, it'd be a challenge to bugger it up really.



The Hobbes Fanclub's website

Buy the album





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Monday, 28 July 2014

Band To Check Out: The Artisans

Article by KevW


Yes, the boxing paraphernalia in the photo above is relevant to the music of The Artisans. "I know I shouldn't like boxing, but I do" doesn't sound much like the line from a love song, yet the North Easterners run through the names of many famous fighters in the classic indiepop sounding 'However Much I Love You, I Love Lloyd Honeyghan More'. This very brutal of sports is something of a contrast to the '80s inspired guitar music of this group who are "old enough to know better but young enough to still try", although we'd argue that you're never too old. The fact that the band are are named after a line from an Orange Juice song should give you an idea of where they're at musically.

Boy/girl vocals work their magic on 'The Nearly Man' and 'The Night I Met Tracy Emin', and each of their four demos (or at least that's how many are online) are filled to the brim with melody, C86 influences, jangly guitars, the odd touch of surf and occasional organ. A list of influences is somewhat futile as you can probably guess what they are already, but it's safe to say that The Artisans follow in the footsteps of those bands in an extremely capable way and can compete with most of the other current revivalists doing the rounds. It's something I often find myself saying, but if these are demos then they should probably be left as they are because there's nothing at all wrong with any of the tracks. They might score low on originality, but are near the top of the class when it comes to tunes.





The Artisans' website





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The Away Days - Your Colour

Single review by KevW


I was having a discussion a couple of weeks ago with some fellow music nerds enthusiasts and we were talking about whether or not the protest song is dead - or if not dead, then at least less prominent. You could argue either side until you're blue in the face, but one fact remains, and that's that there are less protest songs enjoying commercial success than there have been in the past. Delving into the reasons for this opens up a whole different can of worms, so we'll leave that for another time. Turkey has seen its fair share of problems recently, not least some vicious riots, and it's Istanbul that The Away Days call home, so their songs are often based on the volatile situation their country has found itself in. Being situated in the mid-point between the current crisis in Ukraine and the ongoing battles in the Middle East can only add fuel to the fire.

You may not notice that their music has such a political slant or is informed by the ongoing troubles, as singles like 'Your Colour' are bright and breezy, Americana-infused shoegaze filtered through the shimmering haze of sunkissed psychedelia. Vocals aren't angry, they're more heavenly and velveteen than that, especially the backing, plus, the guitar rings and chimes like all the best bands who also dabble in associated genres. Perhaps this form of dreamy indie acts as a form of escapism, or at least does so musically. Their country's problems may have been overshadowed by events elsewhere for the time being, but songs with a sound as heavenly and lush as this should get maximum exposure. Given the industry's preference for making a quick buck this is perhaps unlikely, but they're already becoming stars in our eyes.





The Away Days' website

Buy the single





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Sunday, 27 July 2014

Video Beast - Season's Greetings From Video Beast EP

EP review by ethan@thesoundofconfusion.com


Video Beast: Queens grunge. Bizarre song titles, strange voiceovers, angsty lyrics, big drums, big aggressive, but still sort of wonky guitars. They just put out an EP, 'Seasons Greetings From Video Bitch', three songs. It is more than grunge though, it doesn't sound like it was made in 1992, i'ts contemporary, almost a spoof on grunge. There is a psychedelic-stoner thing happening too.

The vocal delivery is almost cartoonish, switching into fake voices and going back again, and jumping all over high and low. It seems like songs using humor to address serious things, in an off-color, irreverent way. The melodies are reminiscent of Nirvana songs. They are all upbeat headbangers. While a lot of it seems silly on the surface, if you actually listen, it's actually quite depressing! The album cover is the drummer Dave Weinstein with a fake beard and poop on him. Fabian Jimenez on guitar and vocals.





Video Beast's website

Stream or buy the EP

Catch them live:

Aug 15th - Palisades - Brooklyn
Aug 23rd - Mr Beerys - East Rockaway
Oct 31st - Halloween Show as Misfits





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Obligatory Record Of The Day! The Sunday Reeds - Jean-Luc

Single review by KevW


Not being much of a movie person, I can only say I recognise the names. However, the film buffs amongst you might be able to garner a little more information from the fact that "Jean-Luc is about the tumultuous relationship between French New Wave film director Jean-Luc Godard and actress Anna Karina". One would assume that, with all the talk of guns and the fact that the EP from which the track is taken is called 'Amour Tragique', that the relationship may have been a bit tumultuous. Melbourne group The Sunday Reeds are putting this tune out as the first from the EP, which is set for release on August 1st. Originally formed as a duo back in 2009, they soon expanded to a trio and this has served them well.

There's a slightly unusual juxtaposition about 'Jean-Luc' and their music in general, one that traditionally comes from more of a band set-up than a pairing. With a bassline and atmosphere borrowed straight from post-punk, the addition of heaps of guitar - the kind that could have graced a rougher '70s rock number - prevents the song from falling into the seemingly bottomless pit of post-rock and new-wave that seems intent on taking over the world. So having a signature sound like this could be the making of them. Plus, they manage to maintain a certain elusive coolness whilst allowing musical proficiency the space to wow fans who know their way around a fretboard. A dark gem, but with a few surprises in store.



The Sunday Reeds' website

Buy the EP





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Saturday, 26 July 2014

The Raveonettes - Pe'ahi

Album review by KevW


It wasn't us missing the boat that led to The Raveonettes' new album 'Pe'ahi' arriving without any fanfare; the band chose not to go for much in the way of advance promotion or a release date, opting to put out their latest as a "surprise" album. Storming first single 'Sisters' dropped out of nowhere a week before, and that was the first that the outside world knew about the record. That track with its mixture of grace, fuzz and mild orchestration means it remains one of their more impressive and easily absorbed singles. The line "smiling faces always pretend" could be a metaphor for 'Pe'ahi' itself. Named after a popular surfing spot in Hawaii, boasting a cover that's a little less black than normal, incorporating a lusher sounds (including choirs and harps) and a new producer in Justin Meldal-Johnsen, this could be The Raveonettes bidding farewell to their seedy, nocturnal existence and heading for the beach.

Such a transformation would never suit Denmark's finest musical pairing though, and when you delve a little deeper you realise that, aside from the more sweeping production, staccato touches and bigger electronic beats found on, say, 'Wake Me Up', all is not well in paradise, however glorious the music sounds. Following the death of his father last year, frontman Sune Rose Wagner decamped to California and took to surf culture as a way of dealing with the sudden grief. Final track and highlight 'Summer Ends' tackles this subject head-on. The guitars still twang, the melodies are still sweet, Sharin Foo's combined vocal is still there, but a somewhat fractured relationship is revealed, despite the fact that his father is now "chasing angels up in heaven". Their sometimes difficult relationship is documented further on 'Kill!', a beat-heavy, screeching number that shows the band at their most electronic, and statements like "one time I saw my dad fuck a redhead whore, I never ever thought I would" paint a less than homely existence, as the music edges closer to the harder end of trip-hop (the more tender 'Wake Me Up' sticks to that genre, but chooses its more majestic elements). Despite this, there's something touching about the simple line "never gonna see you again".

So 'Pe'ahi' isn't 'The Raveonettes Do Summer!' then. Opening with 'Endless Sleeper', a song that takes their retro influences (it's Buddy Holly meets JAMC, as they've done so many times), and adds lyrics about the time in 2008 when Sune was nearly drowned in an accident. This may all point towards a morbid and perhaps even off-putting album, but the music is stunningly beautiful at times, especially the breaks for piano or vocals to shine as the scuzz clears for a few seconds. Raveonettes albums have always talked about life dealing you a bad hand, and this is no different, but with a slightly altered musical approach, the monochrome sound often associated with their output lifts more often, and while distortion and classic melodies are the order of the day, this does have a fresh feel and the new additions mark it out as a potential change of direction (if only by a couple of degrees). The upbeat 'Killer In The Street' is more layered and gives us a splash more funk in the beat and the bass; you could nearly call it baggy-noir; 'Z-Boys' and 'A Hell Below' could both make for classy singles. With so little time for most people to have got to know any of these songs, 'Pe'ahi' is continuing to grow in stature, and it stands out as perhaps one of the best in their now sizable canon. The fuzz remains the same, but those personal touches and that extra sprinkling of magic lift this album that little bit higher than you may be anticipating.


https://soundcloud.com/the-raveonettes/sisters





https://soundcloud.com/the-raveonettes/endless-sleeper-1

The Raveonettes' website

Buy the album

Stream the album in full

Catch them live:

Sep 22 Bimbo's 365 Club, San Francisco, CA
Sep 23 The Observatory, Santa Ana, CA
Sep 24 El Rey Theatre, Los Angeles, CA
Sep 26 Double Door, Chicago, IL
Sep 27 Midpoint Music Festival, Cincinnati, OH
Sep 29 Music Hall of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NY
Sep 30 Music Hall of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NY
Oct 01 Black Cat, Washington, DC





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