I’ve been listening to the Saturday Sessions album, from Dermot O’Leary’s Radio 2 show. I never listen to the show (didn’t actually know he had a radio show) but the 80-track album is pretty excellent. It’s the same deal as Radio 1’s Live Lounge essentially, and the collection is a good mix of acoustic tracks and covers. One of the ones that stood out was Gossip’s Heavy Cross, which was a surprise because in the past I’ve generally ignored them altogether. I’ve found the live version for your comparison, below.
I’ve been listening to Cameo Colours tonight, a four-piece rock outfit from Edinburgh. They’ve just released their debut EP; as of yesterday you can get your copy on their BandCamp page with an honesty box payment. You can listen to the whole EP right here, right now by clicking play.
Today I’m going to tell you about two bands I saw for the first time at Oxjam last Wednesday and remind you about another one.
The Winter Tradition are a four-piece folk group who were great live. They had to compete with a half-full room of people talking over the music, which was annoying but it’s bound to happen in somewhere like the Circus (the layout sort of facilitates it).
That track above is free to download here, by the way. So yeah; soft folk vibes interlaced with rougher-hewn vocals that are closer to Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly than the pop-folk of Mumford et al.
Waverly were loud and rather pleased about it. Modern rock without the guitar solos; howling vocals and awesome tracks; it’s just massive pity that when you Google ‘waverly’ you get a Disney Channel program starring Selena Gomez, train times and a bunch of other random bands called Waverly-something that aren’t anything like Waverly. So sorry about that.
And finally, Miasma were excellent, again. So if you didn’t when I first posted it, check them out here. If only to look at their cool artwork.
Homework sent me a promo copy of their upcoming mini album All That Glitters dans la poste, and it’s pretty ace – easily the best thing they have produced to date.
Since I’ve reviewed both Why Oh Why and Talk Down in the past, and they’re reliably solid songs I’ll skip over those and focus on the other tracks in this post.
Surfacing is a strong opener, exhibiting the general sound of the band – not electrifying but more of an all-round entry-level track. Fireworks is an upbeat, punchy danceable track, with a sugary synth filling; a preordained precision hit that I enjoyed more than the two main singles. The same could be said for Oceans: I don’t think it’s a coincidence that I prefer the songs where Homework lean to either synth or guitar-based melodies rather than a confluence of the two.
Last but not least is the dreamy, witch-pop of Foil; its distinctive taste as a well-placed album bookend gives it a sense of mission, yet it’s the unexpected drop that appears from the haze of an instrumental synth attack that really makes it. Sure, it might be convention for bands to feature a climactic, building track that then jumps off a cliff and goes crazy at the end of their album (see Rush Of Blood To The Head, Rumours, Bon Iver for a nice wide sample, but I’m sure there are more) – but when it’s done well, it’s still brilliant.
Copies of the album will be available from the launch party on the 18th of November at Sneaky Pete’s; only 200 physical copies are being made so reserve yours now. Or whenever, I’m sure they’re easy.
Battle Avenuearen’t remotely local. “Are they from Fife?” I hear you say? No, they’re from New York. So they sort of aren’t my business – but – they’ve sent me a brilliant album called War Paint and I’m nothing if not a hypocrite when it comes to whom I do and don’t review.
Scuzzy, crunchy blues-rock guitar thunders through the core of the album, checked by screamed, agonisingly committed vocals. A looser, more haphazard version of Youth And Young Manhood – until a point, until the point where you realise the lyrics and the ability to slow the pace, that effortless lose-yourself-in-the-music quality that permeates each of the eight tracks is something Kings of Leon never had; Battle Ave. are more controlled in their unleashed register then Nathan Followhill’s yell on Sex On Fire ever could be.
No, this is closer to The Black Keys or The Dead Weather (I’m keeping my comparisons American here) – a dash of lo-fi and indie into the rock mixture keeps things spicy. On tracks like Complications W/Travelling and especially Dark Horse/Light Horse they exhibit brilliant hooks as well as whetstone-sharp riffs; the repeated mantra that I’ve got/Northern Lights in my eyes/Northern Lights in my eyes/ in my eyes running through the latter track is gorgeous, a dirty rock ballad just waiting to be released into the atmosphere. Catch ‘em for free before the Pitchfork-wielding spray-jeans brigade pick them up and take them to a place where you feel embarrassed to know their name.*
*Did I mention their CD comes with screen prints? Screen prints are hella cool.
Hence; they sound a bit like a math-rock Biffy Clyro; the same finger-jabbing defribulator guitar riffs as Good Shoes but added to raw Scots-tinged vocals.
According to the blurb, they’ve only ever had one stage invasion, “from an old homeless man” (is this a badge of honour?). From their taste for huge, anthemic choruses – the kind that could sustain a circle pit for a good few minutes before chaos theory and fatigue intervene – you’d think they’d have had a few more. Time Heals and Call And Hope are both excellent tracks, as is Inside Out when it gets going.
I’ve been listening to Stephen Flavahan, a singer/songwriter hailing from Glasgow who’s releasing a new 7-track EP on June 16. He’s been gigging around for a while with a three-piece band, and that experience shows through on the record.
It’s a very, very good record. Sparing, pared-back acoustic guitar melodies drive the songs, complimented by Flavahan’s weathered voice and occasional bouts of distortion or trumpet. Imagine a rockier Johnny Flynn, or a non-cockney Jack Penate (especially on Counting); there’s well-thumbed soul influences present on Figured It All Out, whilst he plays about with simpler, more passionate fare on Heartache.
The whole EP is remarkably determined and complete for a debut, and Flavahan’s soulful, mature voice shines through each song; the delicate, rising emotive final track What Did I Do To Deserve You highlights it better than anywhere else.
Galleries are a Glaswegian act who play “epic pop music”. The cynic audiophiles amongst you might query if there is such a thing, but I think the description fits the band well. I’m not one for indulging in buzz, but it’s worth mentioning that they’re gathering momentum in the blogosphere and the Real World; Radio 1 airtime is nothing to be coughed at.
Their new single, Darkness Coming, is out tomorrow (and you can listen below) and there’s a launch event at the Captain’s Rest – that I, for obvious geographical/examination reasons won’t be attending but any Glasgow readers would be going a country mile to find a better gig.
Darkness Coming itself, is a great pop song. It’s traversing that shadow line between indie/rock and pop – and whilst those borderlines are crammed with guitar-strumming ne’er do wells, Galleries stand out. Perhaps it’s that Stereophonics-esque, drumbeat lead-in, or perhaps it’s the leaping vocals of David McAdam that give this song an evanescent soaring quality not unlike The Temper Trap’s Sweet Disposition (for the record, that’s a personal all-time favourite, so any comparison I guess must be quite the compliment). Either way it’s clearly a good single, and two other EP’s are on their website as free downloads – which I recommend you avail yourself of.
Their mission statement is as admirable as any: “a showcase for those artists that have come to Tape, stolen our hearts and deserve to be heard.” And I can certainly understand how their hearts were stolen; both tracks are mesmerisingly good.
Ever, the offering from Dead Boy Robotics, starts with a wailing, ghostly guitar intro that grinds into a more electronic, synth and vocal-propelled track. The twin vocals of the duo are complimented pretty darn well by the guitar riffs that alternate between power drill breakdowns and spine-tingling cyclical warblings, and it’s easy to see their influences (Animal Collective, Subtle, Liars) at play here.
Machine Room’s track, Girly, is a much softer foil. It takes a few more listens to really get into (I attribute this in part to the fact I’ve had Fleet Foxes’ new album on repeat for ooh, 24 hours at least?), but it’s good, nearly equally good as Ever. Think The Secret Handshake with a Scottish accent; think keys and synth and a high-viz chorus as fluorescent as a lava lamp spillage in a traffic cone factory.
The details of the tour are here, and although the other tracks on DBR’s MySpace aren’t playing, you can listen to them here.