ALBUM REVIEW: Paws – No Grace

ALBUM REVIEW: Paws – No Grace

Here’s a piece I wrote for Vulture Hound a little while back. Find it on the site here: http://vulturehound.co.uk/2016/06/paws-no-grace-album-review/

No Grace is the latest record from Scottish trio Paws. Soft and cuddly they are not – instead their third full length album is a thumping piece of punk rock, produced by Blink-182‘s Mark Hoppus. It’s an album of reflection, portraying the band’s growth as well as a general ‘can do’ attitude.

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ALBUM REVIEW: Garbage – Strange Little Birds

ALBUM REVIEW: Garbage – Strange Little Birds

Here’s a piece I wrote for Vulture Hound a little while back. Find it on the site here: http://vulturehound.co.uk/2016/06/garbage-strange-little-birds/

Four years since their last record Not Your Kind Of People, alt-rock grungers Garbage are back with their sixth studio album, the emotion fuelled Strange Little Birds. Released under their own record label Stunvolume, singer Shirley Manson has aimed to keep things fresh, going with her gut and doing what she, and the band, please.

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ALBUM REVIEW: Slow Steve – Adventures

ALBUM REVIEW: Slow Steve – Adventures

Here’s a piece I wrote for Vulture Hound a little while back. Find it on the site here: http://vulturehound.co.uk/2016/05/slow-steve-adventures-album-review/

Slow Steve have come up with a debut album that is easy-going, yet all the while beguiling to the ears. Dip your toes into Adventures, or dive right in. Whatever. This album is a fantasy-infused treat – something intriguing and clever. Whether you want to take something very small from it or go all in for a fully immersive trip, Adventures has got you covered.

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ALBUM REVIEW: Treetop Flyers – Palomino

ALBUM REVIEW: Treetop Flyers – Palomino

Here’s a piece I wrote for Vulture Hound a little while back. Find it on the site here: http://vulturehound.co.uk/2016/03/treetop-flyers-palomino-album-review/

Treetop Flyers have been through a lot it seems: debt, grief, relationship rifts. Nevertheless they’re back with a new album called Palomino. This is kind of like folk meets a mild form of psychedelia. Or is it? Uncertainty is a big issue with this album, it’s pleasant to listen to but not necessarily something you immediately want to go back to — for the most part at least. In all honesty this album is hard to pin down. Is Palomino bad? Not at all. Is it good? Not sure.

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ALBUM REVIEW: Public Memory – Wuthering Drum

ALBUM REVIEW: Public Memory – Wuthering Drum

Here’s a piece I wrote for Vulture Hound a little while back. Find it on the site here: http://vulturehound.co.uk/2016/03/public-memory-wuthering-drum-album-review/

Sometimes music mesmerises the listener. Sometimes it’s a little unsettling. Through the moniker of Public Memory, Robert Toher launches you into a spooky realm of both of these things. Recorded at a time that Toher momentarily lived in Los Angeles, new album Wuthering Drum explores renewal – perhaps being born again, or just simply going through changes.

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ALBUM REVIEW: Jamie xx – In Colour

Originally posted on Noise Cannon: http://noisecannon.com/2015/12/15/noise-of-the-year-2015/

With a subdued personality comes a powerful album and this is one that’s all about the music; every little bit, whether it’s original or a blend of samples, matters. Opening with ‘Gosh’, this album hits you with a repetitive beat and you’re not sure where it’s taking you. It then develops in to a huge moment of ecstasy as it moves into a zone of ethereal tones, making you feel as though you’ve entered into another world. The feel good energy of ‘I Know There’s Gonna Be (Good Times)’, featuring Popcaan and Young Thug adds a fun loving flavour to the album that no one ever expected. Then again, did anyone really know what to expect from the first full length release from Jamie Smith, the quiet one from The xx? Tracks like ‘Girl’ and ‘Sleep Sound’ surely laid the foundations, nevertheless, In Colour went far and beyond these tracks, even mixing up ‘Sleep Sound’ a little so as to create a seamless transition in the track-listing.

This album has a club night vibe, from the highs to the lows, with ‘Loud Places’ (featuring Romy, The xx) sitting in the middle of moody and energetic. What Smith did when making this album was extremely clever – creating a sound to play with live, to amp the bass and mix it up with greater definition and feeling, so that when you go to listen to it again it means so much more. Highly anticipated with many teases in the run up to the release, the hype around this album was built up to no end, and thankfully, it was well worth the wait.

ALBUM REVIEW: Fish Tank – Jane EP

Originally posted on Noise Cannon: http://noisecannon.com/2015/11/24/fish-tank-jane-ep/

It’s time to talk about Jane, the new EP by Kent bred trio Fish Tank. Get ready to buy a new pair of shoes as these toe-tapping beats will burn a hole right through the ones you’re wearing currently.

Opening with the thrashy leanings  of ‘Barbarella’, Fish Tank set up a slight punky edge to their usual math-rock mash of melodies. It’s one that people will no doubt throw their bodies around to, nevertheless there’s still that soft touch of pop. Quite frankly, it’s hard to pigeonhole them into a specific genre, but that is all part of the Fish Tank charm.

‘Lily’ comes in a little softer with more of a poppy energy that fans of The Wombats would struggle to resist. A slower melodic pattern that still packs a punch; this track is easy to get along with, perhaps a little too easy, but it doesn’t make a you switch off, no – you want to hear more.

‘The Phantom’ is why you’ve stuck around thus far, it captures the natural essence of the band – there’s no sugar coating the rough elements: every little bit is raw, and the track explores a blend of different melodies that work together like a hot mess that you just can’t get enough of. Just as you think the song is over, there’s a little something extra. It almost seems like the guys are trying to fit lots of ideas into one song, and although you may wish they had explored these further in this EP, it certainly keeps  you keen to hear more in the future.

Jane closes on what seems to be a steady going number, however ‘The Wizard’ has a mystical air about it, building up to a haunting shimmer around the halfway mark, before continuing as normal…ish. Fish Tank leave you wondering what exactly it is you’ve just heard and that’s  the ruddy beauty of it. This is their best work yet, and all of it achieved without abandoning their original, kooky charisma – a splendid trio that bring something a little different to the table, leaving the listener with all kinds of good feelings.

ALBUM REVIEW: Jaghana – Forest Behind The Dream

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Artwork by Iain Ridley

Blending psychedelia with a dash of romanticism, Jaghana are inviting us on a journey, all the while holding us in their charming caress. Debut EP Forest Behind The Dream opens with an enticing rhythm in the immediately energetic bass line, that lays underneath the hazy croon of Johnny Smyth. It’s infectious, but it barely scrapes the surface of what is to come.
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ALBUM REVIEW: Young Kato – Don’t Wait ‘Til Tomorrow

Originally posted on Noise Cannon: http://noisecannon.com/2015/05/02/young-kato-dont-wait-til-tomorrow/
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They proved that they can bring a party to a live audience but how do Young Kato fare on the album front? Don’t Wait ‘Til Tomorrow is the band’s debut full-length and with support from BBC Radio 1 and XFM they hold a lot of promise for which this album has to deliver.

The overall dynamic of Don’t Wait ‘Til Tomorrow presents it as a party album, laden with erratic beats and melodies, and heavy focus on the synthesiser. While there’s a lot going on in opening track ‘Sunshine’, it’s not too much to take, instead it instigates energy, immediately setting the tone of the songs to come. Particularly memorable and catchy is ‘Drink, Dance, Play’ – if the previous track didn’t get you on your feet this one will, and you’ll be chanting “We drink, and we dance, and we dance, and we play” over and over. It’s energetic but concise, relying on a handful of strengths rather than churning everything they’ve got all at once.

There are slight variations among the tracks but it might take a few heavy listening sessions to fully appreciate them, nevertheless it’s a bloody fun album. ‘Children of the Stars’, to be released alongside the album, is probably the most notably different, having been inspired by Australian electro pop. It might just be the connotation of Australia with sunny weather but it certainly expresses a bright summer energy and reflects the album’s tone with lyrics “no, no, no, life’s not long enough, live fast, die young, don’t give a fuck”.

Some elements of the album fully embrace pop along with the indie, but there are also moments within this that build more of a brooding atmosphere, particularly in ‘Lights’. Still, even in the mellow harmonies there’s an upbeat melody buzzing around and maintaining that party feel, keeping us stimulated toward the album’s midpoint. An intensified focus on guitar carries a different tone that was heard earlier on in ‘Remedy’, in which the sudden focus on guitar at the end leaves you hitting repeat to experience it once again in all its glory.

On this album Young Kato have fun, drench us in good feelings and pour their heart out (especially in ‘Yes’, seriously, it’s dead romantic). It might not be a sit-down-and-listen album but if you’re not moving to this then you’re doing it wrong. Don’t Wait ‘Til Tomorrow is a perfect companion to any party, big or small, even those private dance sessions in the bedroom you don’t tell anyone about.

ALBUM REVIEW: Johnny Smyth – Jaghana EP

Jaghana kicks off with a mysterious and looming tone, featuring an instrumental intro that progresses into sharper tones accompanied by hazy, barely there vocal tenors. The title track curves through the air and holds a certain sex appeal. It’s almost as if it’s playing hard to get, enticing the listener in to the EP without giving too much away. It’s quite a peculiar thing, to have vocals that are so broadly powerful, yet ring delicately through the ears, and that’s what makes Johnny Smyth’s sound stand out. Continue reading “ALBUM REVIEW: Johnny Smyth – Jaghana EP”