Wednesday 30 November 2011

Young Guns - Learn My Lesson

Another rock review today, this time from High Wycombe's Young Guns.  Their sound is very much from the American alt rock scene, aping Lost Prophets (who they've supported), Panic! At The Disco, You Me At Six and countless other bands from either side of the pond over the last decade.  This is visceral, stadium-filling, emo rock, but it's nothing that hasn't been heard before.

That said, Learn My Lesson is the band's best track yet.  It's the first to be released from their second album, due early 2012.  In comparison to their debut 'All Our Kings Are Dead', the band have mellowed...slightly, but the driving guitars, catchy melodies and emo lyrics remain, though more prominence should be given to the guitar solo in the mix.  It's a worthy effort, but sadly feels a few years out of date, leaving music fans still waiting for the next, truly original, rock band.


Tuesday 29 November 2011

All The Young - The First Time

What is it with guitar bands from the North-West eh?

All The Young hail from Stoke and, having just been signed to Warner, are certainly a band to look out for in the coming months.  The debut album is yet to be finalised, but The First Time is the current single available now.

The four-piece are fronted by Ryan Dooley - a sort of Liam Gallagher/Suggs hybrid.  Their sound is typical indie-rock stuff, like many descendants of Oasis such as The Enemy or The Courteeners.  There's even a touch of The Goo Goo Dolls about them.  Driving guitar rhythms, anthemic choruses and catchy melodies all feature, though it lacks a really gripping guitar riff.  Previous release Welcome Home is the better track.  The lyrics of setting off for a brighter future ("The smoke that trenches this landscape is never far for my heart / I’m holding out for a new day, a place to start") are a little cliched, but it's definitely a punchy, anthemic record - the last minute especially evoking mosh pits brimming with eager fans.

They may not be pushing boundaries, but All The Young are a solid rock and roll band that will satiate appetites in these guitar-starved times.


Monday 28 November 2011

Kelly Rowland - Here I Am

Since the break-up of Destiny's Child, Beyonce has grown from strength to strength to become an undisputable global superstar.  Kelly Rowland, forever destined to be in the shadow of her former bandmate, has found new found fame as one of the UK's favourite Americans as a judge on X-Factor.  Yet musically, she's reduced to bland RnB-dance and pales in comparison.

With 'Here I Am' she's poised herself somewhere between Rihanna and Beyonce.  Take Motivation for example.  It takes the sex of the former with the sophistication of the latter - few singers could make the line "And when we're done / I don't want to feel my legs" sound sensual rather than sleazy.  In the process, Rowland proves that this mama sure can 'put it down'.

Sadly, though, the rest of the album is lacking that X factor.  It acts somewhat as a greatest hits of her material from the last couple of years, including hit singles When Love Takes Over, Forever And A Day, What A Feeling, Commander and current single Down For Whatever.  Despite spending far too much time with David Guetta, these tracks are probably the catchiest on offer here.  The sorry remains are largely just RnB filler - countless sexy, grinding tunes within which the sole ballad, Heaven & Earth, is totally lost despite showcasing her vocal talents.

Curiously, the majority of the tracks are collaborations, as if Rowland lacks the confidence to truly go it alone.  And on numerous occasions the vocal "turn the lights on" is sampled - a subtle nod to Beyonce's Sweet Dreams?  Judging by its title, 'Here I Am' may be here to represent 'dis chick' as a strong, independant solo artist, but it ironically reveals a talent with little personality of her own.


Gizzle Choice Track:
* Motivation

Saturday 26 November 2011

Tron (1982) - Steven Lisberger

A rogue supercomputer threatens to take over a giant software corporation and ex-employee / hacker / video game enthusiast Billy Flynn (Jeff Bridges) is the only one who can stop it when he’s transported inside the computer.  There he meets up with super programme Tron and together, they revolt against their omnipotent overseer.

Yeah, right.

But ignore the vague, preposterous story – it’s merely a conduit for Tron’s unique visuals.  The brightly coloured, neon lights are of course pretty primitive in today’s age, but they do have a certain retro charm and allow for some surreal, geometric screensaver landscapes.  And for all its flaws, the narrative does allow for some cool set pieces – the well-parodied, gladiatorial disc duels and motorbike battles in particular, though they’re unfortunately underused.  Then again, it’s Bridges who shines the most, lighting up the screen with his magnetic charisma.

Just look past the atrocious script, bit brain.


Friday 25 November 2011

Clement Marfo & The Frontline - Overtime ft. Ghetts

The key component to any pop track is a hook-laden chorus.  Marfo and his frontline have recognised this and perfected the art.

They're a seven-piece collective, fronted by rapper Clement Marfo, already listed for great things next year.  Overtime is the current single (available now on iTunes and Spotify), though Champion was their debut from earlier this year (and far better than the Chris Brown track of the same name).  Their sound mixes hip-hop and grime with a rock edge, Marfo rapping over a veritable power surge by the backing Frontline.  Then the chorus kicks in, empowering and electrifying - a euphoric rave-up.  Pure class.

Seriously, these guys will be huge in both pop and underground circles.  They're probably the best thing to happen to UK urban music since Tinie Tempah and deserve to be hanging out with the top boys.


Thursday 24 November 2011

The Staves - Mexico

Best described as Mumford & Sons meets The Corrs (or just Laura Marling split into three), these three sisters hailing from Watford are poised for big things next year.  Mexico is taken from their upcoming EP entitled...well...'Mexico'.

A simple guitar figure repeats.  Three pure voices waft listlessly over the airwaves in perfect harmony.  It's effortlessly beautiful, stunning audiences into captivated silence.

Then again, it's all rather polite and whimsical.  To quote Peter Robinson, are The Staves just another victim of the New Boring?


Wednesday 23 November 2011

Cee Lo Green - Anyway

On Monday, Cee Lo will be rereleasing his debut album 'The Lady Killer' as a platinum edition.  Anyway has been included as an extra track, as penned by fellow Warner artist Bruno Mars.

But don't let that put you off.  Mars's work may be incredibly annoying, but he sure knows how to write a catchy tune.  That still rings true with Anyway.  It takes a more funky house approach that contrasts nicely with the rest of the album, but retains Cee Lo's pop-funk sound and soulful vocal.  'The Lady Killer' may be a mixed bag overall, but Anyway is definitely worth a download - his best track since the eponymous Forget You.


Tuesday 22 November 2011

Kate Bush - 50 Words For Snow

50 Words For Snow is the second album from Kate Bush this year and certainly a cause for celebration for fans.  I've always felt, however, that I'm missing something, that I just don't get it.  To an extent, this continues with this album.

A typical Christmas album this isn't.  This is a darkly evocative vision of winter, each song an icy nocturne, snowflakes drifting in moonlit skies across shivering tundras.  It is, though, typical of Bush's unusual work.  There's a song written from the point of view of a snowflake, a song about a yeti and a thirteen minute requiem to shagging a snowman before he melts - "And when I kiss his ice cream lips / his creamy skin / and snowy white arms surround me".  Bush demonstrates an expansive vocal range, her voice taking a different character with each song - from spoken storyteller, to purity, sexually provocative and, in Snowflake, her best choirboy impression.

Musically, too, this is varied.  Each track depicts a snowy sonic landscape through rich musical textures.  The piano and strings of Among Angels have a softness about them, whilst Misty has a jazz trio feel and Lake Tahoe at times sounds like a Schoenberg art song.  The title track, meanwhile, has an acid house bassline, above which Stephen Fry guests by listing different words for snow, beginning with the poetic and moving into much odder and amusing territory, whilst Bush speaks each consecutive number increasingly provocatively.

Problems lie, though, with the song length.  The album is only seven tracks long, but average song length is around nine minutes.  Each of the songs are predominantly based around one musical idea, though subtly varied, which can sound monotonous.  Take the title track for instance.  After five words for snow, you know where the song is heading.  Twenty words at most would've sufficed.  Thirty words in and I'm ready to skip on.  Fifty words later and I'm surprised I've made it to the end, largely due to that bassline.  For sure, this is the sort of album to slowly lose yourself in, getting swept along with its atmosphere and richly inventive instrumentation - repeated listens are necessary.  But the overly long tracks give an air of self-indulgence, making it difficult to totally melt into the music.

There are some stunning musical ideas in this album, I just wish they were more concise.  I can't help but feel Bush is trying too hard to be different and, in the process, has created an album that pleases her wild imagination more than the listener's ears.


Gizzle Choice Tracks:
* Among Angels
* 50 Words For Snow

Monday 21 November 2011

Rihanna - Talk That Talk

Another year, another Rihanna album.  But has she substituted quality for quantity?


The overwhelming sound is that of teenage boys across the globe ejaculating after one wink from RiRi (yes that says wink).  'Talk That Talk' is a combination of the aggressive, hard sexuality of 'Rated R' and the playful smirk of 'Loud'.  But the sexuality on offer here is enough to make S&M sound like Rebecca Black sung by Alvin & The Chipmunks.  Atop dirty production she purrs with a wry smile.  Suck my cockiness, lick my persuasion?  Really?  I love it when you eat it?  I bet you do.  Just because I can't kiss back, doesn't mean you can't kiss that.  Ooo err.  Let me grab my dick while you sit on top?  Erm... And as for Birthday Cake, it's one minute of rhythmic jiggling that leaves you feeling like you've witnessed a sexual encounter you really shouldn't have, slowly fading out mid-sentence like the slow closing of the bedroom door.  Someone get me a shower.

At least the provocative Cockiness (Love It) has some distinctive production.  Much of this album is just bland dance-RnB a la We Found Love.  Yet the album begins on a high with You Da One, which sees RiRi in flirtatious What's My Name mode.  It's the next single and a sexy little pop song, one where (for once) the dubstep-esque break down actually makes sense.  Watch n' Learn likewise has a playful air of sexuality that makes for a fun listen, as does cheeky bonus track Do Ya Thang.  But then there's Where Have You Been, a standard drance track in Only Girl In The World territory, updated with grinding basslines, and Drunk On Love which samples the xx's Intro but ultimately falls flat.  Meanwhile We All Want Love and Farewell are just typical power ballads, though the latter does allow Rihanna to soar vocally.  At least the title track (finally) injects a much needed hip-hop flavour with guest rap from Jay-Z, taking Rihanna back to her urban roots.

So all in all, 'Talk That Talk' is the same chat we've come to expect from Rihanna, piecing together elements from her previous two albums.  But where's the personality?  Where's the bajan quirkiness?  Surely she's not wholly about raw she?  RiRi has unfortunately run herself into an artistic cul de sac and is in desperate need of a musical overhaul.  I'm done with the sex talk.  You can suck my cockiness Rihanna, but I'm just not feeling your persuasion.


Gizzle Choice Tracks:
* You Da One
* Talk That Talk

Sunday 20 November 2011

Scenes of a Sexual Nature (2006) - Ed Blum

No, this isn't what you think it might be...

In fact, it's a rom-com in typically British, Love Actually style.  It takes place on Hampstead Heath, of all places, and provides snapshots into a variety of relationships - the beginning, the end; the young, the old; the good, the bad and the ugly.  The characters are portrayed by a wealth of British talent: Andrew Lincoln spying on a young girl whilst spending a pleasant afternoon reading with his wife; Adrian Lester and Catherine Tate in the process of a rather odd divorce; Ewan McGregor the promiscuous flirt, much to the annoyance of his gay partner; and Tom Hardy, the cheeky cockney intent on getting his end away. 

The narrative transpires in episodic fashion, jumping from scene to scene.  It offers a frank look at human relationships, addressing issues that in reality we may be unwilling to consider ourselves.  It almost has the feel of a theatrical play, the backdrop constant, the focus on the central characters.  Yet the structure is the film's biggest weakness.  The narrative spotlight shifts frequently, so the characterisation remains frustratingly shallow.  This, along with the pompous language, depicts the characters purely as stereotypes rather than real people, which is at odds to the film's concept.  Moreover, the scenes often end before their conclusion, leaving the outcome hanging in the balance.

It may not achieve its goals, but Scenes of a Sexual Nature is still a compelling and amusing piece of voyeurism.


Saturday 19 November 2011

Rubix: In The Hub @ The Roundhouse

An eclectic evening to say the least.

Rubix are a poetry collective based in London, who learnt their craft through the Roundhouse's various youth projects.  The night was a mixture of spoken word, comedy and singing performed predominantly by young people.

Our hosts were Paul Cree and Sean Cody Mahoney who led us deftly through the evening, despite some forced jokes, even reciting some of their own work.  As a whole, the poetry ranged from the London riots to the purpose of writing, hip hop and a particularly well written piece on the joys of life.  It was comedic, powerful and thought provoking and inspiring to hear the political voices of young people.  Kwame Asante's comedy was well delivered and though very amusing, his racial jokes bordered on cliche.  The music was more of a mixed bag, but Phoenix Martins impressed with her husky tones.  The real highlight of the night though was Martyna Baker.  Like a young Tracy Chapman, she sang beautifully with her acoustic guitar, her lyrics truthful and affecting.

The overall thread of the evening though was storytelling, each piece full of truth and a powerful sense of honesty, the audience witnessing the opinions of today's young people laid bare.  It proves what great work the Roundhouse has been doing, which deserves to be commended.


Friday 18 November 2011

The Muppets - Smells Like Teen Spirit

This is the best thing you'll hear all day.  Beaker alone is incredible.

Taken from the soundtrack to the upcoming Jason Segal penned film, this is a taster of the hilarity to come.  Nirvana are second favourites for Christmas Number One this year - but THIS is the version we should all be buying...


Thursday 17 November 2011

Flo Rida - Good Feeling

I've got a bad feeling about this one.

At the time of writing, this is number one in the iTunes chart.  It seems all you need for a number one these days is to pick a catchy sample, shove in a four-to-the-floor beat, talk b*llocks over it for a bit, rinse out any personality and then, as it's 2011, shoehorn in a dubstep middle eight.

This is generic to the max.  In fact, if you look up the word "generic" in the dictionary, "Flo Rida" would be its definition.  Yet he has the audacity to spend his video frollicking around the globe like some sort of phat, sweaty champion of modern culture and music, smothered in tattoos and "bling", sleeping with women and generally acting like an arrogant prick.  Quick, someone please knock him off that number one pedestal...

Then, at the end of the video, he gets to ride ON A TRON MOTORBIKE.  Bastard.


Wednesday 16 November 2011

Doctor P & Flux Pavillion - Superbad

This is the result of a funk meets dubstep experiment and (disappointingly) has nothing to do with the hilarious 2007 film. 

Then again, this could easily be McLovin's theme song - bold and brassy.  It's played predominantly on live instruments, with brash horns, thrashing drums, rich vocal harmonies and a deep "superbaaaad".  This is then sampled into dubstep, combining 70s funk with modern production - funkstep anyone? - for a powerful and sexy mix.

But what to do with this mix?  Apparently, just repeat the same riff over and over.  A shame, as the idea is a great one, but the track just doesn't go anywhere and doesn't "blow your mind" as much as the lyrics would have you believe.


Tuesday 15 November 2011

Ruby Goe - Get On It

Grinding beats.  Sexy sub-bass.  And lyrics depicting a heavy night out, dressed in "heels and hooded dress", taking the "149" before a romantic encounter that leaves her "walking like Bambi".  All so standard; all so dirty.

And then the chorus hits: synths popping and whizzing like fireworks, perfectly matching the kaleidoscopic lights of the nightclub.  Slickly produced yet retaining an urban raw edge, this is near perfect discopop.  If it doesn't get you in the mood to go out, you must be mental.  Then there's the video, Ruby writhing covered in shiny black oil, before vomiting it back up.  Overindulgence?

A real star, Ruby Goe is definitely one to watch.  Available now on iTunes - get on it.


Monday 14 November 2011

Little Boots - Shake

Two years ago she won the BBC Sound of 2009 poll (beating Florence + The Machine), released her debut 'Hands' and then promptly disappeared into obscurity.

Not so fast!  Little Boots aka Victoria Christina Hesketh is back with new material to be released soon.  Shake is merely a taster of what's to come.

But is it any good?  It's certainly a club heavy sound, sort of St. Etienne meets Hot Chip.  With thumping beats, heavy bass and Hesketh's laidback vocals floating over the top, this deserves to be huge in dancehalls across the country.

At the same time, this sort of music doesn't translate to the radio - what's missing are the poppy hooks of her past material.  Remedy was her standout track and Shake doesn't quite hit the mark.  Here's hoping the rest of her new work ignites the charts as well as the dancefloor.


Sunday 13 November 2011

Big Fish (2003) - Tim Burton

You can’t choose your family, but it’s funny how death can bring people together.  Edward Bloom (Ewan McGregor/Albert Finney) is an incessant storyteller, to the detriment of the relationship with his son Will (Billy Crudup) who is embarrassed by his father’s absurd fantasies.  But as Edward nears death, Will is determined to sort fact from fiction and find out the truth behind his father’s elaborate tales.

Big Fish is Tim “hit-or-miss” Burton’s Forrest Gump.  The film takes us through Edward’s extraordinary (imaginary?) life and, by extension, Burton’s imagination.  The style is typical of his fantastical dream worlds, but unlike his other material there is (disappointingly) a stronger basis in reality. 

Essentially, the film is a coping method for death – celebrating life rather than mourning its end.  It’s beautifully shot and charming, yet Big Fish just didn’t hit me emotionally as intended.  Perhaps Burton should stick with darkness rather than sweetness.


For more 150 word reviews visit Screen 150.

Saturday 12 November 2011

The Firewatchers - Laura Stevens @ Old Red Lion Theatre

Set in London in the midst of World War Two, this was a suitable play to watch on 11/11/11.  Immediately as the lights went down, the audience were plunged into the era, the lights fading up onto a moonlit rooftop decorated with gas masks, hard hats and an old wireless.

The play, newly written by Laura Stevens, is a two woman play depicting the role of the firewatchers in WWII - women who stood guard on roofs during the nights to detect fires and call for aid.  It was a time where women were called for compulsory work, their role in society becoming increasingly important and leading eventually to their emancipation.  Together, they were thrown into a melting pot of class divisions, but war only disintegrated these distinctions to an extent.

It's this theme that the play explores.  Our two women are laddish, cockney lass Jean (Michelle Tate) and high-class citizen Catherine (Abigail Thaw).  At first, they are simply caricatures - Jean your typical poster girl, Catherine tottering in wearing high heels and a dress totally unsuited to the work.  Jean works herself to exhaustion to bring money in for her poor family; Catherine, ever the patriot, is desperate to "do her bit" for the country on a night away from her residence.  As the play proceeds, their distinct and opposing cultural differences are somewhat put aside, though never totally forgotten.  As both women embark on a masculine line of work they struggle to retain some element of their femininity - even if simply a spot of lippy in case of death.  However, whilst they were likeable and well-rounded, the play was let down by the narrative.  Stevens's script had some amusing moments, but lacked direction and left the audience waiting for a thrilling twist that never came.  Instead, it's as if two characters were constructed but Stevens was unsure what to actually do with them.  There was no climax, the ending just drifting off into the dimming lights.  Was the intention an authentic slice of history presented in theatrical form?  Or a slice of feminism still relevant to the women of today?

Either way, the performances were strong.  Despite the potentially grating nature of the women, they were full of charm and their individual plights were easy to empathise with.  Whilst The Firewatchers failed to provide a gripping narrative, it did present a new take on a familiar period of modern history.


Friday 11 November 2011

Chairlift - Sidewalk Safari

This song is a total car crash.

No really - it's a song about running people down in cars.  Inventive to say the least.

Thing is, it's actually a very cool track.  Chairlift are an American duo and Sidewalk Safari is their latest track released in anticipation for their forthcoming album 'Something'.  The opening synth grates like the revving of an engine, whilst the chorus unleashes full throttle with an electrifying synth riff.  Meanwhile, Caroline Polachek on vocals sings lazily "If I see you on the street, you'd better run / I'm aiming my all-terrain weapon / In your direction".  It's full of rhythmic energy, with a slight Blondie flavour mixed with futuristic synths and Patrick Wimberley's live bass guitar.  It marks a distinct contrast to their debut album 'Does You Inspire You', with its chillwave tracks like Le Flying Saucer Hat, Planet Health and Bruises, whilst retaining a strong 80s influence.

With these guys behind the wheel, you know they mean business.


Thursday 10 November 2011

Birdy - Birdy

Releasing a covers album is a double-edged sword.  On the one hand, it offers something familiar yet different, tapping into listener nostalgia.  On the other hand, it's a cover up for a lack of original material.

With Birdy's debut album, she at least proves she has great taste in alternative music - from Phoenix, to Bon Iver, The Postal Service and more.  Each of these tracks has been Birdy-fied - stripped down to piano and voice - and whilst the majority don't quite stand up to the originals, some are more successful than others.  Both The District Sleeps Alone Tonight and Young Blood cleverly retain the spirit of the originals, subtly incorporating synth drums and fuzzy guitars respectively.  Then there's I'll Never Forget You, the original (by Francis and the Lights) already a piano track that doesn't allow Birdy to spread her wings.  White Winter Hymnal lacks the rich harmonies of the Fleet Foxes original, whilst The National's Terrible Love here reeks of X-Factor production.  The album also includes her previous two singles, Bon Iver's Skinny Love and the XX's Shelter - the former a track that shouldn't be messed with though is here nontheless haunting, the latter a version I prefer to the dull original. 

The penultimate track is the only original song, Without A Word.  It fits in nicely with the rest of the songs, but shows that Birdy does have a distinct sound that becomes slightly tiresome after a time.  What she does possess, is an inate ability to bring out the emotion in any given song, which she proves in abundance.  Some may dismiss this as teenage 'emo', but her vocal skills belie her young age in an album that is frequently beautiful. 

Released in the same week as Cher Lloyd's debut effort, the differences between these young girls are telling.  One is a vexatious brat with minimal talent.  The other is a rough diamond who, once her songwriting skills catch up with those of her inspiration, will be a force to be reckoned with.  I know which I'd spend my money on.


Gizzle's Choice Tracks:
* The District Sleeps Alone Tonight
* Young Blood

Wednesday 9 November 2011

Jamie Lawson - Wasn't Expecting That

Sometimes the simplest songs are the best.  Forget your Coldplay and your Machines with their big production - all you need is a guitar and a voice.

Wasn't Expecting That has already topped the charts earlier this year in Ireland.  It's a sweet, simple piece of storytelling; a love story that begins innocently enough but with a tragic twist in its final moments.  Life always delivers the unexpected and Lawson leads us through the tale with the repeated refrain "I wasn't expecting that".  Its direct message will touch plenty of hearts.

In terms of style, this is a marriage of Damien Rice and Jack Johnson.  The guitar especially has a laidback Johnson feel.  Vocally though, Lawson doesn't have the strongest of voices, the sound catching in his throat.  As a raw talent, let's hope this track isn't a one-off.


Tuesday 8 November 2011

Cher Lloyd - Sticks + Stones

This really was a battle.  I struggled to even press play.

I emerged from track one, the suitably titled Grow Up, battered and bruised, warm blood slowly dribbling from my ears.  Then came track two, Want U Back (luckily not a cover of the Jackson 5), a decent pop effort with more than a whiff of Miley Cyrus's Party in the USA (an infinitely better track).  Following this was the double whammy of With Ur Love and Swagger Jagger, two of the most annoying tracks of 2011 that come crashing out of the speakers to bludgeon your ears to near death.  And then something odd happened.  Rising from the bloody battlefield, I began to warm to the second half of the album.  It's surprisingly ok.

The main problem is its schizophrenic nature.  From the bubblegum pop of Want U Back, to the slow ballad Beautiful People (an ode to her muse Cheryl Cole?), the faux hip-hop of Playa Boi (which updates the classic 80s Buffalo Stance into "gangsta stance" - I do wish she'd learn to spell) and the pop-dubstep/Katy B inspired Dub On The Track, the influences are varied.  It proves that Lloyd (or at least the record label) are having something of an identity crisis and are unsure which direction to take her.  Then there's the featured artists, included in a desperate attempt to add some authenticity.  Of course, lyrically this is vacuous stuff, but it's all catchy enough for the pop market to lap up.

And at the least, its full of personality and youthful vibrancy - even if that personality is still trapped in the "X-Factor's annoyingly obnoxious brat" mode.  Still, the "first base...second base" rap in With Ur Love is slightly paedophilic.  Yes, her nasal, slightly autotuned whine is grating and her "rapping" is vexatious (though thankfully kept to a minimum).  But as an album aimed at her peers it succeeds.

So all in all, it's not so bad.  But it's also clear that Lloyd is simply a silly little girl who, after her five minutes of fame, will struggle to find her feet in the big wide world of music.  Perhaps this is proof that the music industry should be given an age limit?


Gizzle's Choice Track
* Want U Back

Friday 4 November 2011

David Lynch - Good Day Today

Yes, you did read that correctly.  This is indeed David Lynch, the esteemed film director of Blue Velvet, Mulholland Drive and Twin Peaks amongst othersAnd now he's releasing a music album?

Well quite.  It's not something you'd really expect.  Yet musically, this is Lynch all over - dark, brooding and weird.  As a whole, album 'Crazy Clown Time' (released on Monday, pictured) is a difficult listen.  Mesmeric electronica clashes with blues guitar and pulsating synths.  What really stands out though is Lynch's vocals - sometimes sung, sometimes autotuned and sometimes by guest vocalists.  It lends each song it's own distinct narrative, giving the album a truly cinematic feel.

Good Day Today was actually released months ago as the first single from the album.  Its pop-dance sound is at odds with the rest of the album (an album ultimately at odds with itself), and the vocoded vocal does grate after repeated listening.  Then there's the video, which includes a boy falling into a bowl of soup.  However, it was filmed for a competition judged by Lynch and acts very much as pastiche.

Is this sonic genius or pretentious nonsense?  Like his films, Lynch's music is sure to polarise audiences.  It may not always be a pleasant listen, but 'Crazy Clown Time' is worth a listen for curiosity's sake alone.


Thursday 3 November 2011

Lianne La Havas - No Room for Doubt feat. Willy Mason

From the off, what really impresses is Havas's silky, sumptuous vocal - soft, tender and with a slightly exaggerated vibrato, it's close to sonic perfection. 

It's a shame then that the song features Willy Mason.  His inclusion is unnecessary and weakens the overall effect - listen to the live version taken from Jools Holland instead (see below).  It remains a beautiful song however: simple guitar accompaniment the only addition to Havas's direct lyrics.  Though perhaps a touch repetitive through the repeated refrain "We all make mistakes...", the dreamlike quality of this lullaby transports you into a quiet, private haven.

No Room for Doubt features on Havas's debut EP 'Lost & Found' - available now on iTunes and on Spotify.  The five song collection also includes a stunning cover of Everything Everything's Final Form where she can finally let loose vocallyHer soul sound is sublime: surely the next Corinne Bailey Rae.


Tuesday 1 November 2011

Summer Camp - Better Off Without You

This is one of the happiest break-up songs I've heard.  Maybe that's partly due to the opening four bars of bassline, strikingly similar to Footloose.  At the least, there's a strong 80s flavour here, the vocal alone reminiscent of Blondie's droll delivery yet still full of spunk.  The duo cite influences from recent chillwave efforts right back to the Beach Boys, which is easy to hear - especially with the hawaiian style slide guitar.

This is basically just a brilliant piece of alt-pop: catchy, full of youthful vibrance and attitude.  After one listen you won't get "I'm beeeeeter ooooff without youuuuu" out of your head.  And lets not forget the little guitar twiddles in the second verse - it's all about the details people.  As the opener to the duo's debut album, 'Welcome To Condale' released this week (pictured), it's a stonker that the remains of their material can't quite keep up with.  Still, you need this song in your life - we both know that it's true.