Sunday, 2 August 2015

PREMIERE: My Cruel Goro - Crapford

Article by Wayoutwest

It happens from time to time that my ears venture into the land of Machiavelli and Dante, Michelangelo and Da Vinci, Federico Fellini and Sophia Loren – so many great associations for a small country resembling a boot on the map. Well known for its Italo-pop and Italo-disco exports, this country has recently started to become known for its contribution to alternative music, ranging from electronica and darkwave to goth and shoegaze (at least these are the genres that immediately come to mind in reference to Italy).

In terms of alternative rock, Italy has clearly earned its place on the modern music map through recent landmark compilations as ‘Revolution – The Shoegaze Revival’ (featuring four Italian bands) and 'RockBack for Nepal' (featuring nearly twice as many). We shall return to both of these releases in the coming weeks, but turn your attention today to yet another indie band originally from Italy’s East coast.

Currently based between Italy and Iceland is a trio called My Cruel Goro, which formed in the summer of 2014. The band consists of Andrea Maraschi (vocals, guitar, programming), Andrea Marcellini (bass), Tommaso Adanti (drums). We are premiering their new single ‘Crapford’, which is apparently a statement about the cities in which we (or they) live and the situations we (or they) get ourselves into.

This track is a terrific Janus-faced creature, with strong elements of celebrated '70s bands such as The Clash, The Stranglers, The Jam, and The Vapors on the one hand and, on the other, the raw pounding modernity of Ash, Arctic Monkeys and even early Weezer.

Produced by Massimo Scoposki, the video for this track fits well. Garage DIY is the flavor for ‘Crapford’, permitted by the freedom of being as indie as indie gets and possibly motivated by some of the insights gained from living between two countries and virtually two separate continents (I always found it such a stretch to include Iceland in Europe).

Given the band’s plans for an additional release and European tour later this year, it will be interesting to see what they get up to by that time. In the meantime, we still have to check out the rest of their debut EP, from which this track is derived. It drops on August 24 as a free download at a Bandcamp near you and is also available via Soundcloud

My Cruel Goro's website

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Get Me Free #21: Secret Friend - I Don't Know You

Article by KevW

You might think that Steven Fox isn't exactly the most exotic name for a Thailand-based musician, but he began his musical life in Seattle, before spending much of the '80s based in London. It was in 1990 that he decided upon a change of lifestyle, moving to south-east Asia, and then releasing his first album under the guise Secret Friend in 2012. A new album, 'Sleeper', is set for release on August 14th, with 'I Don't Know' acting a a taster for the eclectic style he's developed.

The track is an amalgamation of different sounds and doesn't compare especially closely to anyone in particular, but if you're expecting a heavy Asian influence then you might be out of luck. It's very likely that local sounds have infiltrated his writing on some level (you can hear it in the drums that close out the song), but really this is a hybrid of western pop, rock, electro and indie, with a nice amount of experimentation thrown in with it. Wherever the ideas are from, and however you wish to dissect 'I Don't Know You', it still points towards the album being an interesting listen.

Download 'I Don't Know You' for free by heading here

Secret Friend's website

Pre-order the album

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Saturday, 1 August 2015

Animaux Surround - Château​-​Fantôme

Article by KevW

'Château​-​Fantôme' is the third album by Parisian electronic artist Animaux Surround, and once again he's taken the one-man-band approach, writing and recording this album "along for everybody". From the word go it's something of a contradiction musically, with opener 'Not So Quite' having faint echoes of late '70s Bowie as well as early Gary Numan. Yet the shade that's found towards the start of the song is contrasted by a more uplifting sound and lyrics about it being "a nice day". It makes or a pleasant beginning and is arguably one of the more accessible tracks here, although this contradiction gets enhanced by second track 'Injures' which is slightly more lo-fi and has more distant, almost muffled vocals. That said, this song again shows contrast with some elegant piano.

One of the most interesting parts of 'Château​-​Fantôme' is that is doesn't stay in the same place too long, but neither does it flit aimlessly between genres and result in an inconsistent listen. 'A Minor', for example, keeps those pared-down vocals, but brings in guitar, removing it slightly from the overriding electronic approach. There's a more exotic feel to the bests on 'Dead Lamb' where the vocals are almost monotone and the ambiance of the record changes down again. All this and we're not even half way though; something that signifies an artist who doesn't want to find a formula and adhere to it, and with so many others taking this approach, Animaux Surround should be applauded for that alone.

But the songs keep coming, and the standard doesn't slip. The quiet, soothing piano instrumental 'Sunday After All' acts as a nice surprise and cleanses the palate while it's at it. If we talk about contrasts again, then switching from that to the most upbeat track here, 'Spit (stupid song)', just about says it all, with fuzzed-out guitar colliding with retro electronics and an angrier tone. Yet then it's back to a slow acoustic intro on 'Almost Empty' which has just a hint of The Beatles to it, and very little of the electronica we've come to expect on past recordings. With delicate strings and an unusual, proggish ending, it's actually something of a highlight. It's 'Ghost House' that provides the overall finale, and it does so by tackling prog again, but not the wispy beards and fairytale leanings that the early British scene had, instead choosing to look towards some of the European experimentalists for inspiration and turning out to be another of the more interesting songs on 'Château​-​Fantôme'. You can't say this is a man lacking ideas, and he's not afraid to show it.

Animaux Surround's website

Steam or buy the album

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The Catenary Wires - Red Red Skies

Article by KevW

You couldn't exactly call The Catenary Wires a wild deviation from what Amelia Fletcher and Rob Pursey (both members of fuzz-pop band Talulah Gosh and Tender Trap amongst others) have done in the past, but on their first album under this guise, there's almost a sense that the pair have a point to prove. Take away the style and is there still enough substance to make a decent record? 'Red Red Skies' could still be called indiepop, but it's more stripped down than some past work, relying more heavily on acoustic guitar and vocals without ever falling into the whole generic singer-songwriter category.

When it comes down to it, 'Red Red Skies' in a collection of love songs (often of the very lovelorn variety, with tracks like 'A Different Scene' wondering "are you happy, are you crying still? I know I'm not supposed to care..."). Other titles? 'Like A Fool', 'Too Late, I Love You', Things I Love'... they're not trying to hide anything. It's difficult to tell whether the almost countryish 'Throw Another Love Song On The Fire' is knowing self depreciation; an admittance that, really, there's one main theme here, or whether it's just another sad paean to a failed/failing relationship ("thanks for making me so unhappy").

It's not easy to find a bad song amongst the lot, but if you had to pick some form of criticism, it would possibly be that somewhere along the line a change of pace, possibly even topic, wouldn't do any harm. That said, 'Red Red Skies' doesn't outstay its welcome, so perhaps any changes could wait for/if The Catenary Wires decide to make a follow-up. With the likes of 'Too Late, I Love You', the swoonsome 'Intravenous' or standout 'When You Walk Away', it's likely that this is an album that will stay in the mind for more than just a few plays, and, should you be in a certain state of mind right now, you might just find yourself identifying with this collection and holding it close to your heart for some time.

The Catenary Wires' website

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Get Me Free #20: The Phantom Sound - Get To Me

Article by KevW

Marisa (AKA The Phantom Sound) is in a pretty good place right now. Not only has the singer/songwriter/musician written some noteworthy songs and won awards, she's done so by attracting enviable names to help complete her first solo album. Single 'Get To Me' along is produced by Ken Stringfellow (REM, Big Star) and features Clem Burke (Blondie) on drums. None of this will do her any harm in gaining more attention and getting the ball rolling, but the fact that it's such a good track will serve her just as well.

Boasting a classic indie-rock sound, 'Get To Me' is all is all sultry and understated vocals and just enough production to bring out the best in the song without coming close to suffocating it. It almost goes without say that the drums are as rock-solid as they come. Using the phrase "indie-rock" is almost simplifying things, although it wouldn't be worry the folk at the Trade Descriptions Act. It does almost imply a simplicity which, perhaps structurally, does fit, yet there's more going on here than that. Hopefully subsequent tracks live up to the high standards that have been set here.

Download 'Get To Me' free by heading here

The Phantom Sound's website

Buy the single

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Friday, 31 July 2015

Get Me Free #19: Thom Byles - The Great Outdoors

Article by KevW

Much like the New Acoustic Movement fifteen or so years back, alt-folk and alt-country have got themselves rather a bad name in the past half decade or so, and while much of this can be put down to certain acts over-commercialising acoustic music, it would be unfair to tar everyone with the same brush. Admittedly this new single from London-based Thom Byles is likely to get spoken of in the same breath as, say, Bon Iver, but it's worth remembering just what a big compliment that actually is, and also that it's not his fault that the charts are now flooded with people like Ben Howard and Ed Sheeran. To put this in that same bracket as those would be doing it a massive disservice.

'The Great Outdoors' does touch more upon the sounds of the American wilderness than anything British (perhaps due to his Mexican roots?), but as a song (and Byles writes, performs and produces the lot) it's does have a hint of magic and knows how to find the timbre and atmosphere required. Also, with repeat plays, you begin to notice there's more here than meets the eye; different layers begin to peel themselves back, leaving something more than just some moreish harmonies and a full sound that's never too cluttered. Perhaps simple on the surface, 'The Great Outdoors' has plenty of hidden depths as well as being really quite beautiful.

Tom Byles' website

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Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Get Me Free #18: Mayflower Madame - Lovesick

Article by KevW

Given that they've only released one EP (2013's 'Into The Haze'), Mayflower Madame seem to be held in high regard, having performed at some of the biggest festivals in their home country of Norway, as well as earning themselves support slots with the likes of Crystal Stilts and Moon Duo. None of this is surprising when you hear their music, which, as you may expect, is a combination of psychedelia, post-punk and drone-rock. The full experience will come later this year when they release their debut album which is currently penciled in for October/November.

The first single lifted from the forthcoming record is 'Lovesick', a dark, eerie, yet actually quite bouncy track that recalls a moody Violent Femmes, The Jesus & Mary Chain and The Dandy Warhols among others. The guitars jangle slightly, the bass bobs away with a certain hypnotic quality, and the vocals are drenched in reverb and give a haunted atmosphere, all to that bouncing beat. But a ferverous instrumental break gives a big psych kick and 'Lovesick' seems to raise itself to another level for a few seconds. If one EP gave the band the opportunities they've had, then an album could see them make yet more inroads. Don't be surprised if you start to hear a lot more about Mayflower Madame very soon.

Mayflower Madame's website

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