Monday, 31 March 2014

Blyth - Brilliant Mind

Blyth cover art

Welcome to Monday evening. We've made it through the most hateful day of the week and not killed anyone with fire - so that's good, intit?

This is kind of a pretty special post. Not least because I'm going to introduce you to a brilliant album by another wonderful band, but also because it marks the last release from probably my favourite wee record label, Tiny Lights Recordings. More on that later, but first - the music. The necessaries - hoik your trouser creases off to the Tiny Lights bandcamp page to have a listen to Blyth by Brilliant Mind.

This is, and I'm actually going to break with my pact never to use this word lest I chew my own arm off with anger, a wonderful journey of tracks. Journey. I know, I'm sorry. I loathe that word with a passion, every fucker is off on one these days - but there's no other way to describe this album, it IS a journey of tracks, it's a beautiful meander through the North East, not only in terms of the song's contents, but also in the way the music is performed. These are songs with accents - they are songs with nuanced vocals, sung properly, and performed with real heart - they are the North in a capsule.

Opening track "Don't Give Me That, Rob" is an absolute corker, fantastic, catchy bass (thegeneral LOVES BASS) and such a lovely lovely vocal - muted and delicate. It sets us up nicely to amble into track two "Two Lies", another utter delight - there's a real sense of pathos here, a faintly plaintive vox marries with more catchy bass and organ. It's an odd mix, because the music feels really jaunty in many ways, it pops along merrily, yet there is a real undertone of emotion as well. Something that grabs your chest.

"The Room Upstairs" starts with a really delicate guitar, a great pick, it's a soaring song, with a gentleness to it, it's the song on the album that you want to lie back and shut your eyes to. Finally we end with the title track "Blyth", and it's a strong way to finish. It's really poetic - the opening line "You drop the latch on the front door, slides your legs off the bedroom wall until you're on your back, 'cos the light comes pouring in..." is so evocative. It's sepia, sixties and dust almost. The song itself, poetry aside, is just a delightful way to complete this collection. Again, deceptively powerful, emotional and wandering.

I really would urge you to go and spend some of your money and support not only Brilliant Mind, but also Tiny Lights, too. It's with quite a large amount of sadness I make this entry as it does indeed mark the end of Tiny Lights Recordings. Many of you who read these pages regularly will know how many times I've featured bands from the label and how much I tried to champion the music that they were putting out. It's been a genuine pleasure to discover bands like Blank Maps, By Toutatis, Lionhall, Tusk and Rivals - not to mention my favourite band of stroppy bairns Tissue Culture. You'll only need to flick back through the last few months of blog entries to find all these acts and acquaint yourselves with their brilliance. I think, by featuring Brilliant Mind, they're going out on a total high - so it just finally remains for me to say farewell and thanks to Tiny Lights. It's been a total joy and you're leaving behind some amazing music - and if you need further proof, please just go to their bandcamp page and have a listen (and for fuck sake, buy!!) So long, it's been a total DIY as Fuck blast...

Saturday, 29 March 2014

Stereo Off - NY EP5

Stereo Off NY EP5 cover art

Happy Saturday, you great big bunch of motherfudgin' music lovers. It's been a week since I last entertained you with something (or bored you with my rambling, I'm easy either way), so I thought it was high time I hit you with another post to tickle your aural muscles.

Here it is, oh baby, here it is.

Today, I'd really like to introduce you all to a fantastic band called Stereo Off and their brand new EP. The guys contacted me last week and asked me to take a listen to this collection of songs. Which I did. I knew straight away they were a group I had to feature on here. So, for those of you who are regulars to my humble little page, you know this is the time I tell you to hoik your trouser creases off to bandcamp to listen and download their music. Today is no exception, so here you go:

So that's dead dead good, isn't it? Don't argue with me, because I'm always right.

I think what immediately attracted me to this were the bass lines and the absolutely bang-on riffage. Every track has a super funky feel to it, like really super-funky. Opening track "Photographs" is a blinder, it's a fantastic indie-pop slice of heaven that you can properly bop to. It's sliding riff is really laid back and infectious - married with a massively cool vocal.

"Bullet Time" has a really dubby feel to it - this is the sort of track that really benefits from being blasted loudly and with the bass turned up. When it starts, it just feels like another great indie track (sounds like I'm doing them a bit of a disservice, but I'm not), however, if you listen deeply to it, the more it kicks in, the better it gets - the bass in this is outstanding, and the vox is nicely chilled - it's a really good marriage of dance and indie - and a great crossover kind of track - especially for those who aren't certain about whether they like either genre enough...this should be enough to pique their curiosity.

Last track "MI6" starts with a super speedy riff and merges into something a bit different to the other tracks on the album, with fuzzy distortion and a chippy melody - compared to the other tracks it really is more out and out rock, which shows just how the band can adapt themselves to different styles and make them work so well. It's actually got a little bit of Doors-esque distorted Organ in it for good measure and even though the track stops really abruptly, it's actually a really fine way to end this excellent little collection of tracks. It feels like a neat way to do it.

So, what can I say - for some brilliant "open your windows and let Spring in" music, you actually won't find much better than Stereo Off, this is a wonderful collection of tracks not to be missed. Get them in your life. Like now.

Saturday, 22 March 2014

Flights of Helios - Factory

Factory cover art

Welcome to the weekend and a brand new blog to see it in (well, technically speaking we're halfway through aren't we, but sod convention, I've been awake for nearly two days)

I have a right gem and a half for you today, you lucky buggers. Those of you who pay attention to this page on a regular basis (and I know there's at least one of you, and that you do have all your own teeth) will remember that way back in December last year, I featured a mini-series of acts from PinDrop Publicity, based in Oxford. One of those was the frankly awesomesauce Flights of Helios. I adored their last single and was so pleased to get an e-mail this week asking me to feature their newest gramaphone recording.

First of all, as always, the necessaries, here's the link to their bandcamp page so you can listen for yourself:

It's a wonderful sound. It starts off slowly, but opens into an almost Neu! like Motorik beat, reminiscent of Krautrock - a driving, pulsing rhythm, in part reminding me of "Hallogallo" from their eponymously titled album. The vocal is, in the nicest possible way, delicately downbeat. It's full of pathos, it feels achingly drawn - with a Curtis-esque like sense of emotion. As the track progresses it moves into fuzzy distortion, into the realms of drone-pop, it's a track of many different layers, which on paper shouldn't work, but in reality, does. I felt as though it was really familiar after only one listen, after a few it felt like it was something I'd known for years. I genuinely love these guys and think that this is probably my favourite track of theirs to date.

There is also an accompanying video to go with the single, which I highly recommend you watch. It was shot by friend of the band Liam Martin and features members of the Awkward Actors group:

Flights of Helios - Factory

Please if you can, give this new single from Flight of Helios a moment of your time, and also go back, read my previous post and visit their last single "Star//Crows", also highly worth investing your time and money in.

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Plantagenet 3 & A Little Orchestra - The Dark Ages

The Dark Ages cover art

"In days of old when Knights were bold and ladies weren't invented, the Knights drilled holes in telegraph poles and they had to be contented" So wrote an ancient chronicler of the time. Possibly. They used all big words back then, didn't they? Like "wheelbarrow" and "chopping block".

Welcome to a brand spanking new post for ye olde Tuesday night. Tonight we're going back in time, to a place where women like me would have been flogged to death and lightly roasted for daring to even think about starting a blog. That's right, it's 1987.

No, seriously...

I'm here to introduce you to something rather utterly fabulous from the wonderfully named Plantagenet 3. Now, being something of a total history nut, when the band contacted me, they could have told me they only played Bonnie Tyler covers on Shawms and I would have been sold. Just their name alone had me rapt. However, they do so much more than that (though guys, if I find that's what you've done for your next release, I want a cut of the royalties...)

Right, to get serious. I was so pleased when they contacted me and asked me to review their new single. First of all, the necessaries. Go to their bandcamp page and have a listen:

Now cometh ye back over here.

Isn't that just a total joy? The new single is called "The Dark Ages" and is a wonderful mash up of styles and themes. It's part Western, it's part film soundtrack, it's like what Dick Dale might have been like if he hadn't been like Dick Dale. It's everything. It's got a sixties feel, but it sounds modern, it's got ethereal strings and a catchy, chirpy melody that draws you in - the guitar sounds are incredibly pure. It's something totally different, really. The first track "Canute (The Irresistible Surf)" is a perfect piece of instrumental gorgeousity. In fact, I reckon if Canute was around now, he'd have forgotten about the tide, kicked his throne out the way and had a good bop to this instead.

The second track "Godiva and Tom" is something that starts of gently, lulling and insistent - but that turns into something quite beautifully melodic and entrancing. It has slightly more of a distorted edge than the opener, which makes it feel quite different in tone, but it's no less wonderful.

You can also stream the single in full on soundcloud here:

I recommend you give Plantagenet 3 a listen and lend them your support. We need more original, fabulous music like this.