Thursday, 29 October 2015

The Neighbourhood // Wiped Out! - Review

The Neighbourhood are a lucky band. When they released a demo of 'Sweater Weather' and 'Female Robbery' back in early 2012, they couldn't possibly have known the rise to popularity they were going to experience. Now, their gigs are full of girls screaming their name. Putting aside the topic of love and romance that pleases their screaming majoritarily female fanbase, they had to follow up their debut 'I Love You' with a more mature record, one that can both expand their fan base and tell everyone that doubted their dark pop, indie credentials that they really mean business.

Credits: @thenbhd Instagram

The lead single 'RIP 2 My Youth' certainly sends a message out. The dark topics of loneliness and the feeling of youthfulness escaping Jesse, the singer, continues. Bleak and entirely unabstract, the song details how they are willing to move on from the opportunities life presents in the teenage years, and accept adulthood - even if they admit this by referencing Channel perfume. Accepting "there's only so much I can do", the band decide to present this concept-inducing single right at the end of the album. I for one cannot remember the last album I listened to that had it's lead single finishing the album. Before listening to the album, I fully expected this to hinder the flow of the album, as what was coming was known. However, it draws a fulfilling close to the album's theme and auditory experience. They pull this off because a) it isn't the best song on the album and b) they haven't stuck it in the third quarter, which usually serves to provide an inkling of hope that the rest of the album is utterly brilliant. The Neighbourhood need not, this album doesn't need gimmicks.

But, apparently they do. 'The Beach' was the next single to be released off the album, and with it came a weird, heavy-handed promotion of a production duo that worked on the song. This always strikes me as odd, as it is an album and should be a package; not bits tied together with different authors and handlers. Did they just boost the bass on the song? We'll never know, perhaps. It doesn't really matter, as 'The Beach' is easily one of the most catchy and interesting songs on the album lyrically and sonically, with a very dark exterior. Darker topics have always been their favourite, whether it be cloaked in minor key music or cloaked underneath lyrically. The theme of losing someone, and trying to keep that person in the first place, runs throughout the record. The opening lines express concern for the level of lust between the two of them: "If I told you that I loved you, tell me, what would you say? If I told you that I hated you, would you go away?" The concern for his love going unoticed is entirely unselfish, and a nice touch to add to a commercially packed album.

The album has far less of an electronic tinge to it than their previous releases. Perhaps their mixtape released last year was done as they knew the direction they were heading in and got out of the way their samples and beats lined up. Whilst slightly disappointing, the album has more of a pop feel to I than expected. Guitars are far more prominent I would say, creating a rhythmic ocean-like sound, with rolling melodic lines, successfully creating the image the title is going after. They've hit the jugular, here. The album perhaps isn't as catchy, too. The lyrics do not always rhyme or flow in an obvious way, creating far more intrigue and processing than before.

Credits: @thenbhd Instagram

The overall package is more pop, but how many pop albums have you heard that so transparently talk about death? 'Daddy Issues' couples together the traditional issue some women face of having daddy issues, the sort that litter American movies, with an open discussion about his father leaving him and dying. It's dressed up in quite an upbeat fashion, indeed, so is the whole album - very surprising considering what they have evidently experienced. The album even has a subtle love song to Jesse's partner, 'Single', which is entirely open in nature and I'm sure will be cherished by both the couple, and heartthrob fans alike. It takes courage and skill to do so, something they have achieved magnificently.

'Ferrari' and 'Greetings From Califournia' are the closest tracks to the previous albums sound. 'Ferrari' starts off with a viciously distorted guitar line, before returning to a more mellow sound. But neither of them are childish in nature or thrown in to keep some fans happy. The bass is certainly more prominent this album, and the drums receive a bit more unique experimentation. Acoustic guitar matches low-key percussion on several tracks, which is a brilliant relief from a full-on attack of the senses when hearing the main tracks off the album. 'Cry Baby' in particular is driven by bass, but cuts back right at the end to hear just Jesse and an acoustic guitar. A gentle, caring touch.

A progression rather than an overhaul, this album presents them as serious indie members of music culture. Their black and white imagery may be here to stay, but their colourful music has expanded its horizons.


'Wiped Out!' is out now.

Check out: Cry Baby // Single // The Beach

Friday, 23 October 2015

Adele // Hello - Single

Adele is back, and so is inarguably the most powerful voice in the industry. I did wonder when she broke her vocal chords whether she would make a full recovery, as she is reliant on the sheer velocity of her voice breaking ear canals. My concerns were dumbfounded, it seems.

On this new track 'Hello' taken from her third album '25', we hear about another tragic story. Except, it isn't meant to be. We were promised this album would be more positive, a make-up record in fact. What we have got is something definitely not upbeat, but what remains to be seen in whether she will deliver this promise. We will know when the album comes out in under a months time.

Adele hasn't released an album in over 4 years; so little other artists could get away with this. So little other artists could get away with her musical progression, too. There's been virtually no progression since her first album, with ballad after ballad providing a soundtrack to teenage heartbreak globally. Having sold over 21 million copies of '21' worldwide, I think it is a safe assumption to say she won't feel any pressure to progress, or indeed promote the album before it comes out too much. There's been, I imagine, suspense with the fans that have been looking forward to more material for years. By leaving less than a month before it comes out, it almost is more promotion than leaving the traditional 8-12 weeks.

'Hello' remains lugubrious in nature and withheld inability, but ultimately this is a great comeback track for Adele. There's something different in the delivery of the chorus, and realistically this will go on to sell millions. So really, who cares what I think about it? I could think it is the shittest thing since unsliced bread, but Adele wouldn't bat an eyelid. She can afford not to.

You can listen to 'Hello' below:

Monday, 31 August 2015

Foals // What Went Down - Track-by-Track Review

In 2013, Foals returned with an album that had guts and fire in it's lead single 'Inhaler'. No-one expected them to explore this harsher direction, after making two albums full of calculated indie riffs and well-spaced melodies (particularly on 'Total Life Forever'). However, in my opinion there last album was one of their worst as an album. So often these days we (the public, certainly not I) listen to singles and that is just about it. I am a firm believer in an album, and 'Holy Fire' just did not cut the mustard for me, but rather just presented it to me, rather unappealing. There were very much album tracks on there, destined to never be played again after the album tour - but carried along by gems such as 'Late Night', 'Moon' and 'Stepson'. This album is different.

The first two tracks encapsulate the 'Inhaler' side of Foals and the traditional indie afrobeat style we love. Of the two lead tracks, 'What Went Down' has even more internal organs bulging for use than ever. Yannis has never sounded so passionate, so alive. It sounds like he is ready to stagedive out of your earphones and into your face. 'Mountain At My Gates' is a brilliant escape, a mini-holiday for your ear canals. However, and surprisingly, they have curbed their love for at times excessive reverb and delay. The track also doesn't hurtle along like 'My Number' did, something I didn't think I'd complain about - there's a certain level of restraint to this, with bass and drum verses, leaving room for Yannis' vocals.

'Birch Tree' is a fantastic track with excellent production - merging delicate indie math rock with what they have learnt over the years as a band. This should be what the Red Hot Chilli Peppers should be making, in terms of the opening blissful guitar tone. Yannis' vocals are more prominent, and the drums are mostly electronic - no need for explosive drums. The intensity drops for 'Give It All', a slow burner track that has vocal tracking guitar and shimmering synths before it teases to explode towards the end. Pulling the reigns in, they demonstrate a remarkable ability to not give what people would want or expect, but then exceed this with something all together more special. This is noticeably his strongest delivery lyrically, full of notations of devotion.

I can't take the title seriously, but 'Albatross' is a palm-muted affair with a increasing rhythmic intensity that threatens to burst and cave in. Whilst it doesn't offer anything more than another tease, it leads brilliantly into 'Snake Oil'. The abstract sounds are created have a crawling bassline, that provides the background to Yannis' cries and groans. The vocals are raw, and are secondary to the screeching and perplexing sounds being created around him - reminiscent of 'Providence'. One thing that is consistent with this album is the strange fuzzy, analog and organic guitar effects being created, that is at it's strangest here. Strange, yet utterly needed and refreshing to here. This song is like an indie Led Zeppelin, and I make no apologies for making that statement.

As the album reaches it's climax, 'Night Swimmers' is perhaps one of the weakest tracks so far. Whilst it's delayed guitar lead is pleasing, it doesn't and won't grab anyone who has heard this before. It's nothing new. I did not see coming the floor-filling potential of the rattling guitar and percussion that comes in, in the second half. Ordering the sound in before anyone enjoys it too much, Yannis hushes the song to a close. Queue 'London Thunder'. A track soaked in atmosphere and piano, and not much else. Guitar is used sparingly, like applying glossy varnish to an already impeccable piece of furniture. This song does not stand still though, and gently sways in a way that thunder definitely does not.

Whilst 'Lonely Hunter' was rallied around as a potential single, it isn't particularly stand out as having this modern and produced quality. Considering the rest of the album is low-key after the initial run of the first two singles, this could be. Not quite anthemic, but the chorus is full to the brim and dripping of atmosphere. 'A Knife In The Ocean' has already been the talking point of the album, having been thrown around as their musical-opus. The track, of course, resulted from a jamming session whilst producer James Ford was on his break. He came back, and heard this and after some direction, this is the end of the album. I'll leave this delight for you to hear, it deserves that.

Controlled, thudding and yet spacious. This is without doubt Foals' best album, and they present with the bold remark that they are ready to headline Reading and Leeds Fest; and you know what, they sure are ready.


Saturday, 1 August 2015

The Maccabees // Marks To Prove It - Review

The new Maccabees album is finally here after what seems like a long wait after their near masterpiece that was Given To The Wild in 2012. I never personally liked The Maccabees at all before their last effort, and just about managed to watch them for forty odd minutes at Latitude after their second album came out, bemused as to why they were on the main stage. Their music seemed generic, landfill indie – and to top it off, someone needed to tell lead singer Orlando where the toilet was, as he danced on the spot rhythmically.

The lead single, and title track of their fourth album, Marks To Prove it is quite weighty and industrial. The slow, building and soaring guitar melodies of Given To The Wild are not present, and only the tendency for a change in pace is present after the chorus. Disappointingly for me, the theme running through the album is quite sombre and melancholy compared to their earlier music which was filled with enthusiasm. It sounds like they are having a mid-life crisis early.

They can't even look in the same direction together, bless

‘Spit It Out’ could easily be the guitar from a Graham Coxon-led Blur song, and the lyrics “old enough to know better, dressed for the weather” from ‘Slow Sun’ reveal their inner mental age. No-one who knows how to have fun cares about dressing for the weather, and I am living proof of it. The lyrical theme throughout the album is pretty consistently depressing, telling people it will “get easier”. ‘Something Like Happiness’ is almost a statement to defy the possibility that they could be happy – no, do not be mistaken for one moment. The album does have some great musical moments, but these are mostly led by piano rather than soaring vocals or thudding - or quiet - guitar.

The one change came with a track led by an electronic drum beat (scratch that, that’s a Spotify advert) that starts with a saxophone that sounds wavering, and frankly out of key and dreadful. Perhaps a summary of the album – wavering indie rock filled with uncertain, lugubrious motifs.


Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Electric Child House // Goochie Goochie Goo EP - Review

"Goochie Goochie Goo" EP Artwork
Label White Rooms, a new Essex record label born out of popular studio space The White Room, must have been foaming at the mouth when they had this band put pen to paper and become the first release for them. Electric Child House are a proper grass roots rock band. They’ve created quite the local buzz over the past few years, with stunning live shows and faultless vocals and guitar. Whilst I had a guess they would bring the riffs on this debut, I did not know the "Goochie Goochie Goo" EP would come with a firm sense of variety, too. 

The first track and lead single, "Soul Sucker", was released in video form two weeks ago after a cheeky ‘translated’ subtitled video preview of the song and EP. The Led Zeppelin meets Rolling Stones guitar comes in, but with a modern twist. The lead vocals sound like Kasabian have *finally* had singing lessons and dropped the boozy pub vocal style. The refreshing reliability of pitch perfect, but still in a rock style, vocals allows the song to be a sum of all its parts rather than having anything particularly stick out. Drums are hit with all the right intensity, and the bass is melodic and smooth in the background of the mix. There is a short solo, as not to distract from the focus of the chorus – a brilliant, catchy anthem with the tracks’ name in the lyrics. What song would not be complete without a bit of harmonica either?

Just when you think Essex has the next straight up rock band ready to launch into the world, "False Widow" shimmers in. The drums start this song, with an interesting beat before bass takes the lead. The vocals? Linkin Park-esque on this. A huge show of variety, with different volumes to almost every instrument on show. This could easily fill academies up and down the country, albeit a bit slow perhaps for a single. It doesn't stay that way, with the final third starting with a fantastic riff – repeated right at the end - to inject some needed pace into the song.

The next song is no different – another show of variety. This time, "Plastic Rebellion" starts with only acoustic guitar, before vocals come in, in a style that I am sure Noel Gallagher would be more than happy to wield his seal of approval on. Once the full band comes in, it is clear to see this is building up to a faster song. A change in the drums and electric guitar signal more prominent bass. Whilst this is probably the weakest track on the EP for me, this is not to say it is a bad song – in fact, far from it. This band have just tracklisted two reasonably slow song after a rock driven lead single. For a new band, they have balls, and justify that potential risk with another perfectly executed solo in the build up to the end of the song.

After the short title track, an intriguing tribal interlude sound, comes the final track. "Juice" does just that, adding a bit more juice to the album. This sounds like the brother of "Soul Sucker", creating a rounded feel to the EP, and a cohesion to the album and the band's sound. Without this, the band would be perhaps left in a crisis of identity, and could easily be criticised for not settling on one sound, so deciding to preview all of their possible styles. But they have not. This final track continues the rock guitar found on "Soul Sucker", and provides a pleasing ending to the EP.

Whilst "Soul Sucker" is easily my favourite form the first offering on the label, this is a very solid EP for a band and new record label to start off with. Thoroughly recommended.


Electric Child House will be headlining The Sebright Arms in Bethnal Green on Thursday the 18th June for their EP release party. Tickets are available to buy from

Friday, 8 May 2015

Say Goodbye to 'Great' Britain

This isn't a music post, not in any way. A Conservative government is not music to my ears, and more importantly it is not what 64% of this country voted for. That's an unbelievably bad representation of votes.

Whilst no-one could have predicted the majority government that has been the result of the election, not least myself, it is worth noting a few comments about what it means.

People were either scared to tell pollsters they were voting Tory, or there was a sudden shift. The exact same thing happened with the independence referendum for Scotland - the result was different from what appeared to be a near certain end to the United Kingdom.

Sadly, we have had our chance to change the voting system from the flawed first past the post to something better (anything would do, really). We voted against it - I say 'we' in the loosest of sense, as the turnout was a mere 42% in the AV referendum. The main dinosaurs in politics are unlikely to make a push for it again, unless a smart Labour government backs this move. Whilst the Greens would benefit, so would UKIP, and no-one sane I know would want that. I think this idea has to be put to bed for a while.

If Russell Brand wants to make his YouTube clips on political opinion any more valid then their already low reputation, he needs to stand as an MP. He changed his mind, conveniently after the deadline to vote had passed (smart move), to voting Labour (smarter move). Now Ed Miliband, along with Nick Clegg and Nigel Farage, have stepped down from their respective parties, he will probably dither more and change his mind again. To represent a figure that is hard to estimate, the percentage of the population who do not believe in the democracy we have, he needs to stand. He needs to stand for a new party, if this can be allowed, that have one sole motive: change. By change, I mean a vote for this party would be a vote for not believing in anyone else.

By sitting on the sidelines and either not registering, opting not to vote or tactically voting elsewhere, people are being lost in the ether. It is impossible to tell how many people have truly voted for the party they believe in, more than ever, but if you do not believe in the system we currently have, I feel this would be the best way forward. I'd rather that then hearing Russell say 'don't vote' over and over, again.

I voted Labour in this election because I believe they were brave, and wanted to change the country for the better. Abolishing non-dom status will have lost them voters that are in the top 1% of wealth of the country, but gained thousands of those struggling under the coalition. A promise of an increase in minimum wage to £8 by 2019 was welcome, and I cannot see how anyone can disagree with this. The Greens promised it to be £10 in a similar time frame - I'm not sure how this would have ever happened, nor how the tax payers would cover abolishing student debt. Nice try, but we are trying to get out of austerity measures, not give reasons to have more austerity.

I feel sorry for Ed, and for Nick Clegg. Ed received far more hatred and personal attacks than anyone expected, and genuinely looked like a likeable bloke, sitting atop good policies. Nick was let down by backing down on his tuition fee promise. The Tory's were ruthless, and Lib Dems had little power to stop them bringing the hike in - if only Nick played that card more, and made people understand before his political career was left in ruins.

Now, I will leave the discussion to the real political editors of this world. I just want to know where these £12bn Tory welfare cuts are coming from, and when I will have to start saving up to pay for my health care.

To quote Enter Shikari; "You sold us short. You will not profit off our health - step the fuck back"

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Spector, Superfood and Fickle Friends // The Haunt, Brighton - Review

After a day of free activities courtesy of Topman in Brighton, the festivities continued into the night at the popular nightclub, The Haunt.

Kicking off the night after a relatively safe DJ set were Fickle Friends, a local band I had not come across yet. They were fantastic. The guitar was catchy on all of the songs they played in their short set, and the vocals were melodic too. They were not shy to speak to their home crowd, and despite not having an album out, were the most talkative and confident band of the night. More from them soon, I hope. One to watch for.

Superfood shortly followed, and continued where they left off in the venue late last year. The set was slick, with all the singles played and a select few from their album. The crowd bobbed along to "Bubbles" and the closing "Superfood" (self-titled, well spotted) was ravenous in reponse from the crowd. Exciting music for an excitable crowd, it only seemed fit that they played tonight.

Credit: NME

If Fickle Friends were the pleasing new find on the menu, and Superfood were the filling, sumptuous second course, Spector were the disappointing desert of the night. Disappointing on the outside to the extent that they look moderately appealing at a glance (this is a band that have a hopefully ironic calendar every year), something like a chocolate fondant perhaps. On the inside, instead of being filled with luscious chocolate, you find liquid sandpaper – easier to digest than normal sandpaper, but still thoroughly unappealing. Whilst old songs really did go down a treat, such as “Celestine” and fan favourite “Chevy Thunder”, it was hard to tell if this was on their own merits, or due to them standing side by side with set fillers from the new album. Lyrics were never strong on the first album, but early glimpses are that they are even worse: “On thoughtful balcony, it’s so hard to find moonlight these days, I'm sorry” and “You're running from a 2am kiss, and nothing seems to turn you on, I hope you make it home”. We hope you are sorry Fred, because that was dreadful.

More often than not, there were some Depeche Mode-esque synth parts that they slung in to the songs, such as the opening song “Lately It’s You (Moth Boys)” which featured a jarring, completely indecipherable synth-vocal chorus. They finished with “All The Sad Young Men”, their newly released track, which is the direction we all hoped they were heading in, which ever so nearly sparked a mosh in the crowd. I think this was due to the excitement over it actually being an okay song. To quote “Never Fade Away”, Fred sings “if you give me the word, I’ll start fading away”. You have my word Fred, fade away, please.

Monday, 12 January 2015

High Tyde // Talk To Frank - Single

High Tyde are about to make waves on the scene with this new cut from their forthcoming EP "FUZZ". "Talk To Frank" starts with a guitar line as infectious as its pop drum counterpart. The distorted vocals grind throughout the song, with ambition for glory.

They sure are going to go places if they keep this up. With a support place in Brighton for Peace's gigs, the only way is up.

Premiering on Clash Music right now, visit the link below to listen to the track, and make sure you check out their SoundCloud for more sonic delights.

High Tyde