Thursday, 30 April 2015

Special Feature - Sounds Like Interview with Cantaloupe

For the final post of the day, it's down to me - whilst theexistentialist sits down with a nice cup of tea.

Avid readers will remember last month I was really lucky enough to feature a wonderful debut album from a cracking electronica act called Cantaloupe. The album is called Zoetrope and it was genuinely one of the best debuts I'd heard in a long time. You can read that feature: HERE

The chaps and chapesess agreed to be gently probed by my probing thing for an interview for these very pages and here, below, you'll find it. I hope you enjoy it and also hope you'll consider buying the album, cos it's stonking.

1.) I think your album is one of the best debuts I've heard in years. I don't get to feature nearly enough of this genre on the blog. Who are your electronic and also your non electronic influences in musical terms?

Simmo: Thank you! That''s really encouraging. That's a hard question to answer, because
it's hard to narrow it down! We all enjoy a broad range of musical styles. I think that there's something to enjoy in many songs, and something to learn from most of them. With ska punk being the only clear exception.I got in to electronic music in my teens, initially through fairly mainstream stuff like Leftfield and Orbital, which then opened the door to the stuff coming out on Warp and Rephlex. In my early twenties I forgot about electronic music a bit, and was listening  to/playing a lot more post-punk or post-rock stuff. Post-rock opened the door to Krautrock, and bands like Cluster
and Harmonia rekindled my love of synths (*thegeneral chips in at this point to squeal with delight at Simmo mentioning Krautrock and the oft overlooked Harmonia). The record took about 18 months to write, during which I was listening to a lot of groove-based music - Talking Heads, Chic. early 80s NYC Boogie, afrobeat compilations, contemporary stuff like Luke Abbott and Wax Stag. The vocal stuff was probably more informed by Broadcast and Stereolab, who have been big favourites of mine for a long time (*cue a second squeal from thegeneral at a mention of Broadcast and Stereolab)

Eleanor: Having collaborated on 2 of the vocal tracks I would actually cite the same influences. I listen to a wide variety of genres, but I think the style of music I'm writing dictates what influences I draw on.

David: It can be difficult as an artist to pin down what sound you've ended up creating, especially when you are collaborating through email with everyone's ears pricking up to different sounds. I think you can hear how much we all enjoyed the William Onyeabor excavations in the last couple of years, as well as stuff like Cocteau Twins and early synthesiser scores for films - well apart from all the boring horror film reissues, anyway. From a guitar perspective, I was really inspired by the acquisition of a Jazzmaster and its unique tremelo system, as well as some useful techniques picked up from some time serving in Ex-Easter Island Head's Large Electric Ensemble in the last couple of years.

 2.) There are sometimes criticisms levelled at electronica that it isn't "proper" music. I think that's a
 bit of an insulting load of cock. What would you say to that?

Simmo: I think that would be a pretty extraordinary thing to be saying in 2015. I'm utterly uninterested in ideas of authenticity in any art form -  they're only ever wheeled out by the people whose status is somehow threatened by new forms of expression. Fortunately it's not something you hear levelled at electronic music much these days, given that it's been an integral part
of popular music for 40 years!

Eleanor: Who's saying these things? And what kind of electronica are they listening to?

Dave: People with no imagination. There's no such thing as improper music.

3.) Moog, Korg, Roland, Bontempi? (Or all four?)   
Simmo: I'll have one of each please! I'm not as synth-savvy as I could be/should be, actually. I'd love to start a collection of old analogue synths but I don't have the money and would probably be divorced within a year. And I've only really started getting my head around synthesis properly over the last couple of years. I've always been caught between technicality and immediacy when music-making, and the process of creating synthesized sounds often felt too laborious; the immediate excitement of an idea could be sucked dry by hours of fiddling with knobs, trying to perfect a sound. But on the other hand, I felt like my songwriting was constrained by too limited a "sonic palette" (can't think of a less wanky phrase). Eventually I worked out that I just needed to bite the bullet and spend a year or two learning and applying the principles of synthesis, so I could speed up the technical process and not lose the immediacy. But it still requires discipline - the thing about writing with synths is that because you have the power to adjust almost any conceivable variable, it's hard not to succumb to the inevitably doomed temptation to perfect sound forever. Knowing when to stop is very difficult. Nearly all the sounds on the album come from a Nord, with a smattering of Alesis Micron and Novation Ultranova. The only analogue synth is a Roland Juno 60 that belongs to the studio.

Dave: Of course, if anyone wants to offer us a sponsorship deal we'll shamelessly answer this question with your brand of synth here (*thegeneral chips in to let the band know I can probably arrange a sponsorship with a 1980s CasioTone if they're not...)

 4.) Can you tell my readers (Hi again Mum!) if you've got any gigs
 coming up or any plans for them?

Simmo: Yep, we've got a bunch of dates coming up. We're sort-of-on-tour in April, May and June,
doing long weekends or a few consecutive weekday shows wherever we can.

Dave: We all work full-time and live in separate cities, so we have to carefully plan our shows. We have some exciting plans for later in the year, but here are the details of our gigs in the first half of 2015:

14.04.15 | Head of Steam, Newcastle | w/ Monster Killed By Laser & Sun Dance
15.04.15 | Kazimier Gardens, Liverpool | w/ Monster Killed By Laser & Gurgles
16.04.15 | Caroline Social Club, Saltaire | w/ Monster Killed By Laser & Gurgles
17.04.15 | The Eagle Inn, Salford | w/ Monster Killed By Laser, Barringtone & Hot Shorts
18.04.15 | Chameleon, Nottingham | w/ Galaxians & Blunt Mountains

08.05.15 | The Hairy Dog, Derby | w/ Cheap Jazz & more TBC
09.05.15 | MK Gallery, Milton Keynes | w/ Arabrot and John Doran, Chrononautz & Klaar

22.05.15 | The Corner House, Cambridge | w/ Model Village & Alnegator
23.05.15 | The Star of Kings, London | w/ Model Village & Alnegator
24.05.15 | The Wheatsheaf, Oxford | w/ Model Village & Alnegator

25.06.15 | Venue TBC, Nottingham | w/ Elk & The Skipping Forecast
26.06.15 | The Audacious Art Experiment, Sheffield | w/ Elk & The Skipping Forecast
27.06.15 | The Matrix, Grimsby | w/ Elk, The Skipping Forecast & East on Main

 5.) What's next musically for you?

Simmo: I really have no idea.Geographical dispersion doesn't make it easy, and working full-time
doesn't leave as much time/energy for songwriting as I'd like. That said, I really enjoyed the process of collaborating remotely during the making of Zoetrope and it was a huge influence on the eventual sound of the album. Now that Eleanor has joined the band full-time, we'll be looking to make use of her beautiful voice a lot more. But short of doing some more vocal stuff, I really haven't got a clue where the next record will take us...

Eleanor: Why thanks very much. I'm definitely looking forward to working on some more vocal tracks, but also touring the album with these folk. I think once you play songs live you get a sense of how people respond to them, and that can influence what kind of music you want to write next.

Dave: Playing as a quartet has been really fun so far, so it's going to be a lot of fun stretching out and working out just how much we can achieve with two more hands and feet and a brilliant musical brain added to the mix.

THANK YOU to Cantaloupe (Simmo, Eleanor and Dave) for being such brilliant sports and agreeing to the interview. Here's to more great music from them very very soon. 

Mutes - Starvation Age EP

Starvation Age EP cover art

And so, it continues. I welcome back theexistentialist for his second blog outing of the day. This time, he's also featuring another act I've written about before on these very pages. The spectacular Mutes...


Mutes - Starvation Age EP

thegeneral has been kind enough to allow theexistentialist a 2nd blog post. And once again, theexistentialist wants to talk about an artist first discovered by reading thegeneral’s blog.

Last year, thegeneral reviewed the brilliant debut EP by Mutes. thegeneral’s review can be found HERE

Well now, they are back with a brand new EP called Starvation Age. This is a cracking collection of tracks, and dear readers, you really ought to think about hoisting yourself over to this link on Bandcamp to buy the EP

The EP is beautifully sequenced, with each track weaving into the next, each song also manages to sound distinct and different to the previous. .

Boyish is a glorious and gentle intro that builds-up the noise level, and then unfolds into the more distorted, harder, rockier Holy Terror. The vocals are indiscernible, but are crucial to producing the disturbed and dark sound of this song. 

After a brutal opening, this melds into a soft, lilting, dreamscape. Memory Serves continues the quiet mood, adding just a hint of melancholy.

Kissing Trees has a rougher psychedelic garage sound. In fact, Kissing Trees reminded me so much of The Velvet Underground that I expected the ghost of Lou Reed to pop-up and provide some kind of vocal accompaniment.  However, the track is instrumental, which is fortunate, because James doesn't sound a bit like Lou Reed vocally :D (they are both great, just not alike, at all). 

The garage-psychedelia of Kissing Trees brilliantly leads into the title track and closing track, which is a pounding, thundering and noisy finale. An amazing way to end the EP – a fuzzy, noisy slice of psychedelic rock.

Thomas Truax - I've Got To Know

Well, I'm back. In a manner of speaking - sort of. It's true that life has been, of late, a tiny bit of a breadless shit sandwich and so for now I'll be half-blogging as oppose to full-blogging. But thegeneral won't be disappearing totally, so don't fret.

Until I'm feeling better and have more time, I've enlisted the help of someone very very special to me to help me write up my features and so on and so forth. Today I'd like to introduce you to theexistentialist - who has pulled out all the stops to bring you two blog posts on this very day. I hope you'll give him a warm welcome to these pages and make him feel at home (to get in his good books, make him a cup of tea, medium to strong, soy milk, no sugar).

For theexistentialist's first post he's put together something rather fabulous on an act I've featured a few times already on these pages, the one and only Thomas Truax...


Thomas Truax - I've Got To Know

thegeneral has featured the quite utterly wonderful Thomas Truax a few times on this blog already. In fact, it was through this blog that I became acquainted with his quite frankly madcap and insane world. 

Actually, thegeneral was lucky enough to get an interview with Thomas, himself, last Halloween for the Feelin’ Bad for Dracula single:

(I’m well jealous – thegeneral is a lucky girl) (**thegeneral comments "yes, yes she is")

So, for the latest offering from Thomas Truax, we have the video for I've Got To Know from the fantastic must-buy album Jetstream Sunset.

Jetstream Sunset is an  amazing new collection of songs from Thomas Truax, released earlier this month, so get over to BandCamp (at the above link), and buy it. Two of the highlights are the aforementioned Feelin’ Bad for Dracula and I've Got To Know. 

The video to I've Got To Know is wonderful because it takes us inside Thomas’ world. We get to see all (or quite a lot) of his weird home-made instruments. Thomas’ world is bizarre and surreal and slightly post-apocalyptic, since his landscape seems to be a place where normal instruments have disappeared, and have been replaced by newly created machines that provide the soundtrack to his visions.

This track is really very good, indeed as is the rest of the album. Thomas is the creator of quite possibly the best music being made at the moment*


*thegeneral heartily concurs with this statement

Massive thanks to theexistentialist for his first post on the blog :)

Sunday, 5 April 2015

thegeneral is taking a short break...

...but in the words of Corporal Jones from Dad's Army...


I have a few real life things to sort out, like, in real life and stuff, so just won't have the time to blog for the next two to three weeks.

However, that doesn't mean I don't want bands to stop sending me stuff to review, it'll just take me a week or two longer to get back to you.

If you've got stuff coming out in early May you'd like reviewing you can contact me:

And I'll get back to you as soon as I can.

For now, thanks for continuing to read and support the bands that I love. Play nicely while I'm gone and be excellent to each other.

I'll be back online with more musical ramblings very soon.

Lots o'love and LPs

thegeneral xx

Lyonn - We'll Light The Sky

We'll Light The Sky EP cover art

Happy Easter to you all, once more. I've caught you all in a sugar induced coma, so I'm going to take advantage of you all, pin you down and make you listen to some more excellent music as we wend our way through a rather fabulous (and much needed) long weekend.

Today I'd really like to share with you a lovely Californian duo called Lyonn, who very kindly contacted me yesterday to ask if I'd review their new EP, So I'm going to, because you deserve it.

First of all, as always with me, here at the necessaries.

Here is the duo's website:

Here is their Bandcampz:

Here is their Twitterz:

And finally here is their Facebookz:

Now then. Their new EP is called "We'll Light The Sky" and it is officially released on Tuesday 7th April. You'll be able to listen and download from their bandcamp site, but also from iTunes too.

So what can it offer you? Quite a lot, I'd say. These are gently wistful songs, really lovely and lulling. Opener "Empty Bed" is a prime example of this - it's got such a nice, soulful, heartfelt lyric and vocal. Title track "We'll Light The Sky" is just as engaging too. "Shining Eyes" is the track that provides the contrast on the EP, nicely chippy and staccato in rhythm, it's one you can move to and for me, is the stand out song on the collection. End track "Iceberg" is a great finish, it's got a lovely feeling of space to it, floaty and feather like.

This is an EP that should appeal to fans of really good, solid, emotionally charged pop. The songs are well written and crafted and feel beautifully mixed and produced. It's an EP that provides a perfect contrast to yesterday's offerings on the blog, but one that is just as worthy of adding to your collections.

Saturday, 4 April 2015

Here's To The Heroes - American Lights/Have Faith In Me


Super Easter Blog Saturday continues apace with a two for the price of one offering from me, your genial host, thegeneral.

So for my second offering of non-chocolatey Easter goodness (I'm drinking a cup of tea now and not even remotely considering chocolate. No. Not me. No sirree Bob). We're actually going righhhht over to the other side of the world to feature a brilliant band from the USA called Here's To The Heroes.

Again, the guys very kindly contacted me and asked if I'd give their new video offering a bit of a plug on the old blog, which I'm very happy to do indeed. However, I thought it would also be nice to bring their last EP to your attention too, while I did so.

First of all, as always with me, here are the necessaries.

Here is the group's bandcamp page:

Here's their Facebookz:

Here's their Twitterz

So firstly, here's a bit of something on their last EP - "American Lights" which you can find by following this linkage:

I have to say, this is an absolute corker of an EP. The guys have a fantastic, raw and energetic sound which is breathtaking in it's speed. The opening track "American Lights" is a total joy and leads nicely into the very pacy "After The Rain" - wonderfully harmonic guitars and vocals are present throughout this whole collection of songs - and the nice thing about them is that although they're fast paced and frenetic, they know just when to slow everything down and control the pace to stop it becoming too "one note". I've been lucky enough to review some cracking albums/songs just recently and this is up there with them and a must own for anyone who wants some charged, pacy rock in their collection over the Spring months.

And now here's the link to their sublime cover of "Have Faith In Me"

This is just lovely. It's faithful enough to the original, but equally beautiful in it's own right and the band have put their own spin on the guitars and vocals to make it sound like it could be one of their own original songs. Well worth adding to your long weekend playlist. (**Gargoyle features, if you're reading this...look at the lyrics and believe them**). 

So, there you go - another excellent band to get your teeth into this Easter weekend. Go on, you know you want to...

Kobadelta - Open Visions

Open Visions EP cover art

Happy Easter. If you haven't overdosed on chocolate by now then that's a jolly poor show. I haven't. I've been a very good girl so far. Which makes a change.

As it's Easter weekend I've got a couple of non-chocolatey, but still very fabulous treats for you. The first of these comes in the shape of another brand new band to these pages. Today, I'm really happy to introduce you all to Kobadelta.

Now then. The band very kindly contacted me after reading my review(s) of another North East act, Tusk, now sadly no longer recording together. They asked if I'd give their new EP a listen and a review and I've been very happy to do so, because it's top notch.

So here we go with a few necessaries:

Here's a link to their bandcamp page:

Here's a link to their Twitterz:

Here's a link to their Facebookz:

Anyway, this is what you need to know. The group's new EP is out on May 1st and it's called "Open Visions".

The first single to come from it will be the free to download "Black Pyramid" which is where we'll start. Well, it's awesome. In a way, the opening is strangely reminiscent of Amon Duul II's "Archangel Thunderbird", which is no bloody bad thing as far as I'm concerned. It melds into a slowly, grindy, riff heavy, gloomy anthem - which changes pace mid way through and opens up into a brilliantly soaring guitar solo.

There are some other cracking (EASTER JOKE ALERT) tracks on the EP too. For me, one of the stand outs is the fantastic "Blame It All On Me", again, another cracking riff to open with- darkly edgy with a brilliantly rich vocal.

The band's very distinct gruff guitars and dark, edgy sound could turn them into something that becomes a bit monotonous and repetitive, however, the tracks on this EP show great depth, emotional charge and complexity.

In short, get thee to Bandcamp on May 1st and get this brilliant new EP into your collection. A band to definitely watch over the coming months.