Archive by Author

What The Water Gave Me – Florence + the Machine

7 Sep

Florence + the Machine: Ophelia meets Lady of Shalott

So it’s Autumn and there’s suddenly plenty of female artists to talk about. Yeah I know we’ve all been mad with Adele fever for the last few months (and quite rightly so), but now perhaps its time to just start loosening our grip on the CD case of 21 (CDs being very retro by this stage). Once we’ve managed this feat, metaphorically for many most likely, we might be able to turn our attention to Florence + the Machine and others who are here to sing out the end of 2011. It is perhaps far too crude to call  the red-head the music equivalent of Marmite, a title which doesn’t quite take into account the singer’s abilities and influence in the past few years. She has quickly risen to become one of the most prominent of our female cohort, and Beyoncé recently said that the London singer was the inspiration for her album 4. All this on the back of just one album, albeit a stunning and almost flawless album of which every song was pitched at single release material level. So what is her secret? More to the point: will she destroy everything she has built with her second album release? Well hopefully this will calm your fears. No. When an artist approaches a new album it is has to be in some small way, adapt or die. That is to say you have to show some sort of movement forward towards introducing a texture to your music which makes it just as exciting and groundbreaking as the last. This has to be achieved while remaining recognizably you in the DNA of the tune, in short it’s not an easy thing to do well. A few humbly offered examples might include the Arctic Monkeys and Coldplay, who have both evolved their sound into something different and exciting with each release.

What The Water Gave Me is only an early release from an album expected in November, so this might come as slightly premature but I think we can all relax. To reduce it to a simple check list would be crass… but I’m going to do it anyway:

Emotionally aware and image filled lyrics (Check)

Distinctive space-filling vocals (Check)

Fantastic multifaceted tune (Check)

Harp (Check)

So what’s new? What’s the progression? Well the inspiration for this particular tune is meant to be about capturing the feeling of being overwhelmed (with water in this case). Welch said she thought about people dying while trying to save loved ones. For me one of the images to come to mind is the opening scene from The Hours in which a woman walks into a river, her dressing gown pockets full of stones while the water reflects the honey sun. But it is sure to say that these lyrics once again return to Welch’s exploration of death and life, and the balance and juxtaposition between the two. The tune though feels more gritty and more rough textured, and with the welcome addition of what sounds like a rock organ, there is this balance between control and chaos. So early signs indicate that this is both going to be a truly recognisable Florence and the Machine album and also a progression to a sound which is perhaps more complex than her previous work. You’ll have to wait for the rest of the album but this early release is definitely worth a listen and if only for perhaps the preparation of Florence Fever in a few months. Personally I cannot wait.

Live @ The Isle of Wight Festival 2011 – Day 3

14 Jun

Fun fact: the Isle of Wight is the first festival to be filmed in 3D, the on site Sky lounge is probably full of people trying to stay warm and enjoy the festival experience as rain hits the third day of the festival. But for those who brave the elements the main stage is the place to be, with both Liam Gallagher and the Kasabian front man, Tom Meighan, commenting on the Third dimensional aspect of the festival with appropriate hand gestures.

Two Door Cinema Club
Opening up the main stage were the indie rockers, offering a light early afternoon jam with sympathy for the drizzle laden crowd. They offered the perfect example of how an indie band can fill a main stage, while remaining true to their tightly arranged style.The first of an incredible line up they stood out with their modest words and tunes, getting the early crowd bouncing and singing along.

Pixie Lott
The weather had turned for the worst as the young soloist stepped onto the stage in an outfit made for conditions far from the actual weather. Her slightly nervous start could be excused for inexperience with the festival crowd, she first played a festival here in 2009 in the Big Top stage, but unfortunately it really didn’t lift anything, especially the spirits of the crowd. The early siting of an auto tune unit was also confirmed when she spoke to the crowd, thank god she wasn’t lip-syncing though, or I might have never have forgiven what I had hoped was the start of a different pop star. I still have hope for this genuine and modest girl, her preview single, No One Does It Better, sounded more orchestral and soft than previous tunes, the weather was perhaps unfortunate for her but that’s the British summer for you.

Plan B

The stage was dressed for the Defamation of Strickland Banks star, and on strolled a grey suited man to warm the crowd up. Using only human formed sounds he wowed the frozen fans with an eclectic mix of beat boxing drum & bass, dance, and popular music, using only a microphone. Then on strolled Plan B and we finally got the show we wanted, as he cycled through the hits on his avant-garde and edgy album. Perhaps not the best performer on the stage that day but he definitely brought a sense of solo performance with boldness to warm even chilled festival goers.

The Script

If Plan B warmed the crowd The Script offered a sense of connection that makes the word sympathy sound pathetic, almost all of them got out from the cover of the stage to get wet, almost hurling themselves into the front rows of the crowd. Their usual jovial  personalities made the festival seem almost sunny for a while, and they managed to get one of the biggest sing a longs of the whole festival, and I only say ‘one of’ because of the acts to follow. All in all The Script delivered their popular and catchy tunes with genuine brilliance but also were able to connect with the crowd during a day where most artists would have feared the daunting task.

Beady Eye

You never know quite what to expect from a Gallagher when they walk out onto the stage, both musically and antic wise, in Liam’s first festival gig with his new post Oasis band there were plenty of expectations. The mission statement from Liam himself was to become bigger than ‘the Beatles’ even provocatively choosing a similar typeface to them. Four Letter Word opened their set and those words continued to gush throughout the performance. I have to say I liked their style. Songs such as The Roller really sounded good on the festival stage Oasis never played. But I can’t help feel Oasis had been his chance to become as big as the Beatles. Even the crowd clamored for those old classics, and the band themselves apart from Gallagher and on occasion the drummer were nondescript and bland with no personalities to latch on to. Good? Yes, better than the Beatles? No not really at all. His sound needs to evolve for it to move further, though he is dressing for where he wants to get to so far.

Kasabian

When a band are late on stage, it’s bad. When they are late on stage in the rain, it’s unforgivable, but I could have forgiven Kasabian for murder once they were on. They strolled on to lights and Club Foot, an old favourite and it only got better, with Tom Meighan thanking the crowd at every opportunity. The wind seemed to die and so followed the rain as we plowed through a set list full of the very best that this great band has to offer. Throughout Empire and Shoot The Runner, LSF and Underdog the crowd where with them. They played new songs Velociraptor! and Switchblade Smiles  from their forthcoming fourth album, also called Velociraptor! set to come out in September. Showing the Kaiser Chiefs how to play unreleased material at a festival, they truly rocked the foundations of the stage, putting on a visual and audio spectacle. The animated Tom Meighan strode off stage for Take Aim, leaving Sergio Pizzorno to sing his mellow trumpet accompanied song, Meighan strode back on to take charge of the crowd again raising his glass to the 75,000 strong soaked crowd. Then came Fire, but only after the whole band departed from the stage before returning with lights and an intro playing what can only be described with the use of expletives; the flares lit in the crowd and the stage was framed by smoke as the crowd forgot the conditions around them. Awesome doesn’t do moments like this justice. The crowd sang for a reprise and kept on singing, leaving Meighan to take his time thanking them before departing. We were still singing the chorus as we trekked back through the mud.

So the Isle of Wight Festival, perhaps the best line-up this year of all the festivals:

Best Crowd Vibe: Chase & Status/Kasabian

Most Misplaced Stupid Awful Band: Parade (and they were in a tent on a sunny day without rain and I still hated them)

Best Song: Fire – Kasabian

Best Crowd Interaction:  The Script

Artist That Should Never Have Been Booked – Parade

Best Quotation: ‘I Hate F***ing vips’ – Iggy Pop (as he drags David Grohl onstage)

Best Dress: Pixie Lott/Liam Gallagher

Best Pleasant Surprise: The Stornoways/The Courteeners

Biggest surprise at being worse live than on a screen – Parade

Happiest band – Foo Fighters

That’s all for now. Hopefully CYHT will be at more festivals this year.

Live @ The Isle of Wight Festival 2011 – Day 2

11 Jun

 

 

I’ve taken the opportunity to update everyone in the afternoon lull from a beanie bag in the rather eclectic incense-filled surroundings of the H&M lounge. Mike & The Mechanics are on stage but already this morning I’ve seen a multitude of great artists.

Lissie
Starting off with Lissie on the main stage, the American songstress took her mainly acoustic and rustic sound and managed to fill the main arena surrounding the main stage. When I’m Alone sounded great and her sunny personality complimented the weather. Ending with a cover of Kid Cudi’s Pursuit Of Happiness, the day looked promising.

Semi Precious Weapons
A quick look at the Semi Precious Weapons on the big top stage confirmed the lead singers obsession with sex and cross dressing. Unfortunately the band’s first ever play of Cherries On Ice with girl band The Parade really failed to do anything and sounded almost gratingly amateur.

Stornoway
Stornoway were the next up on the main stage. They provided a nice juxtaposition to Semi Precious Weapons, delivering violins and piano in a set with two upside down sails. I have to confess they were billed at the perfect time, providing great tunes to relax to for brief periods.

The Vaccines
Running back to the big top stage for a festival debut of The Vaccines was well worth the burrowing through the packed tent crowds. Their set started fashionably late and was okay but only got better, delivering a healthy mix of crowd favourites and crowd engagement. For the first time on a festival bill they really performed and I don’t doubt that if they continue in this way we can expect them to feature in some major line ups.

Hurts 
Hurts were next on the hit list and provided the first real spectacle of the day, with dancers and a small light show backdrop. Despite my early fears that they might not have enough material to sustain their one hour main stage set, they managed to do quite well, smashing a microphone stand and delivering a heavy and loud set which was pleasantly surprising.

Iggy and the Stooges

Iggy bounced onto the stage with his brown naked torso showing us why he still is rocking the house. He was obviously under the influence of a few too many but all the better for it. After making the earth shake with a few brazen chords, he set about delivering some of the lines of the festival so far, turning on the VIPs. He told them to get out onto the stage and dance, even you with your “F***ing kid,  get out there or I’ll drag you by your f***ing hair, I hate goddamn f***ing VIPs.” He was worth it for the shear personality and energy he brought onto the late afternoon period of the main stage, and also the early appearance of the Foo Fighter’s Dave Grohl.

Parade

I only mention this band in passing because I had the misfortune of walking into the Big Top whilst they were performing. No offence but they are truly awful, misfits in the whole festival thing. They had awful songs, and their song Perfume warrants a boycott after it chased me round by being played on the screens around the festival site. Don’t get me wrong on girl bands, I once -when I was quite young- considered Spice Girls as the height of musical brilliance, looping Wannabe for at least a weekend on my Sony walkman, but this was outdated and horrible. They couldn’t sing, resorted to covers most of the time, and not even their backdrop was inspiring let alone their stage presence, which resulted in their high squeaky accented voices screaming with glee as they forgot what their next song was about. Needless to say I walked out of the tent in under five minutes.

Chase & Status

If The Parade in the Big Top were bad then what came next was simply incomparable to anything. Chase & Status really did make everything that had come before seem feeble. They pitched the new album with style and poise (Kaiser Chiefs take note) and had the crowd both raving and shouting the lyrics. Blind Faith, End Credits came alive, and I don’t think I’ll ever be able to listen to those tunes again on my iPod. The crush to see them was so big that they had to stop the show and ask everyone to get off the tent poles and take a few steps back, a responsible move that gave everyone more space to really dance to the incredible sound they produced.  With the shouts of “Drop, drop, drop,” it was always going to be a good time, what it actually became was burned into my memory as insane.

Foo Fighters

Moving swiftly on, we caught the dying refrains of ‘I want to live like common people’ from Pulp’s set as we forged into the crowd to get as close as we could for the Saturday headliners the Foo Fighters. They walked on and I ate my previous words. My god they were incredible, they struck an excellent balance between old and new, crowd rocking and more quiet, and it only got better. Dedicating Best of You to SeaSick Steve who was in the barrier-cordoned VIP stage area, you know someone is popular when you have to hold VIPs back on the stage. They vowed to play for 3 hours or until they got kicked off. We had the drum singing of Taylor Hawkins and the guitar rifts of David Grohl, there was only rock and everyone was happy. Walk, Best Of You, and The Pretender all left the expected ringing in the ears. They ended with no fireworks, simply copious thanks, a promise to return, and the sound of pure music.To be honest, nothing else was needed. We were left asking “Kings of Who?” They looked as if they were having the times of their lives and loving every second of something rare and beautiful, to quote David Grohl “No f***ing computers only rock and roll.” They did the impossible and topped Kings of Leon, and I fear for Kasabian I really do, but something tells me I really don’t have to. We shall have to wait and see…

Day 3 coming soon.

Live @ The Isle of Wight Festival 2011 – Day 1

11 Jun

So after minor delays and the unfortunate event of missing We Are Scientists, We arrived at the site of the Isle of Wight festival, burning a trail directly to the main stage, and stopping only at the H&M lounge to pick up our access wristbands, arriving halfway through Band of Horses’ set. They provided a short and light introduction into what has to be one of the best line-ups of the summer.

The Courteeners
Next up where The Courteeners who began the real festival action. Getting close proved to be a reckless but awesome experience, and they truly took the atmosphere to a new level. Definitely a band which was perfectly billed for the stage and the crowd, nicely exciting the revellers for the night ahead while delivering their own unique and memorable performance. Frontman Liam Fray was especially outstanding.

 Kaiser Chiefs
The Kaiser Chiefs were next on the main stage and they  came on to a ready and waiting crowd. The people five metres from the front were readying themselves for the brazen chorus of ‘I predict a riot’ and the antics to accompany it. Unfortunately their first song put this vision in jeopardy and we were suddenly looking at a band trying to sell their new stuff from The Future Is Medieval, which wasn’t festival worthy in its lyrics or tunes. They started to rectify this with a few older tracks from their repertoire, Ruby and I Predict A Riot came and went, but there still were too many new tracks which left the crowd unsure as to how to respond. The mood could be summed up by taking another sample of their lyrics ‘we are the angry mob, we love you, we love you, we hate you we hate you, oh but we are oh so easily swayed.’ Thank god they ended with ‘oh my god I’ve never been this far from home.’ It was noticeable that they’ve fallen slightly from the days they used to headline this stage in 2008.

Kings of Leon
If Kaiser Chiefs need any advice on how to run a Friday night main stage, I refer them to the headliners. Kings of Leon. The moment they stepped on stage you could tell why they deserve that first word in their band name, despite their frontman Anthony Followill’s humble words claiming that he didn’t know how to front a band but still had a hell of a lot of fun. Their rule was glorious, equally rocking the ground and delivering more mellow tracks as darkness engulfed Seaclose Park. After their awesome entrance, they had a task to provide an end which befitted them. After the lasers and light show, the fireworks crowned them the kings of the festival season so far, framing the stage and lighting up the sky, while exploding from the backdrop. I don’t envy the task Foo Fighters and Kasabian have over the next two days, though I have seen flying equipment today so I’m preparing to eat my words this evening.

More soon from the Isle of Wight festival.

Ain’t Nobody – Clare Maguire

3 Mar

I haven’t written for a while now; a combination of a massive film project I was working on and schoolwork managed to successfully (and painfully) bar me from writing about music. But they didn’t stop me from listening to it. Indeed, they probably boosted my listening time, as I tried to distract myself from the unenviable tasks of film editing. The first artist I want to share with everyone from this extended break is Clare Maguire. At the beginning of the year, while the BBC and MTV were compiling their Sounds of 2011 they were talking about Jessie J and James Blake, someone we picked up in the twilight months of last year. However, at the bottom of the BBC’s list was this girl. Technically she has been around since 2009 when big producers were fighting over her. And the release of her debut album is just what you would want to see from a new generation of female soloists.

In Light After Dark we can see the breaking away from electropop copy cats and instead we bring back a kind of grand Kate Bush style, full and not shy to really deliver the notes, and in a way this is where the album also falls apart. While I love the ambition of the sound and the refusal to play nice with mainstream pop’s love affair with synthetic mediocrity the boat is perhaps pushed out a little far on this one. The emotion fails to be conveyed with a lack of variation in vocal tones within a track. Setting aside one qualm, there’s plenty to shout about. The strong sound of her voice allows a powerful and more musically interesting soundtrack. Ain’t Nobody is a great example, it grabs you from the first moment and refuses to let you go. This instant appeal means that the lyrics stick in your head and the beat of the music ensures that memory is accompanied by the tune. Last Dance is another track from the album that produces a more expansive bleak style still punctuated by a strong beat and vocals. Of course, the tracks have their similarities but still have enough to make them both great tracks to listen to.

So it’s probably not about to replace my love affair with the goddess of music, Florence + the Machine. Or even the return of Adele; something that I am eagerly anticipating. It’s definitely worth checking out, however. And if Clare Maguire isn’t the sound of 2011 then she shows the potential to be the sound of 2012 or 13. She needs to mature and develop her style but the early signs of the individuality and ability are there. They just need to find variation and more emotion, then they really will be great.

Chlamydia Rainbows – Kayote

18 Nov

Ignore the name for a second. Chlamydia Rainbows, not the intentionally badly spelt Kayote that is. Instead see a new, fresh, young, unsigned band, and then be impressed by the number of adjectives I came up with for them. They have a sound probably best described as akin to Foals, similar to Bombay Bicycle Club and influenced by The Maccabees, and it is this desicion to draw on the very youthful end of the already very young indie spectrum that makes their sound so interesting.

Chlamydia Rainbows is a great example of this edgy and bouncy indie sound. The tune has some great guitar rifts, many of which, I am told by the band’s lead guitarist, are the toughest in the band’s repertoire. Having said this, any hardship felt by their plecstrums is well worth it, because there is very little which could be criticised throughout the first half of the song. Much the same can be said of the second part, where the influence seems to come more from the Bombay Bicycle Club. The tone, speed and mood changes completely, with a noticable change in the lyrics to match. The second part holds together a tight slide into musical precision. From such a young band it is incredibly impressive to see such control over their melody and music.

Recently, Happy and I were also lucky enough to be involved closer with the band. I was Director and Happy was a Camera Man during the production of their music video of this very song through my film production company CreativeChaos, which we are both part of. The film was a very rushed project to fit in with very short deadlines, and it combines performance and narrative. The narrative portrays two ex-lovers who meet, and one is unsure that he wants to be with the other. However, after avoiding his potential other half, old emotions are reawoken in him and he returns to her. Enjoy.

CreativeChaos:

On Vimeo

On WordPress

On Facebook

Kayote:

On MySpace

On Facebook

Young Love – Mystery Jets & Laura Marling

10 Nov

Okay so it’s been a while (like a week and a bit) since I wrote about a song involving Laura Marling so I thought I better rectify this, digging into the year of 2008 and Mystery Jets second album, Twenty One, and bringing out Young Love, a track I personally adore. In a way it displays the youth of both artists when they were creating it but again shows an attention to melody and lyrics that you can only get from young musicians trying to create something fresh and new, with the influence of the past.

There is a finger on the pulse of young modern life probably seen most obviously in the lyrics:

If I only knew your name 

I’d go from door to door

Tell me have you seen the girl

I’ve met just once before

This is just one of the many lyrical genius lines, take a look at more. There is a certain attention which you can immediately associate with, and it draws you into the story. Laura Marling’s voice creates an interesting and defining contrast to Blaine Harrison’s. The cleverly constructed duality of the two halves of the song creates something which just about reaches brilliance on its highest scale. Sure, it can seem slightly contrived but it works so well, blending with the songs subject and also the style of music being employed.

The melody has a special quality, perhaps even better now, two years after it was first released, when the style of including older influences into your music is even more popular. There is the classic basic melody with its fine accents being crafted in a muted guitar finesse, it creates a very delicate melody that compliments the rest of the composition.

The Mystery Jets have moved on from the illegal parties which first brought them to the attention on Eel Pie Island, famous for being an independent country for a few hours in 2005. They recently released Serotonin their third album, which is definitely worth checking out. Also, if you haven’t already, watch the music video for this song here.

You might also like: The Maccabees, Friendly Fires and White Lies.

True Romance Re-Fix – Golden Silvers

6 Nov

Over my last holiday I was cut off from the world via the internet, this of course ended any ability to stay up to date with the latest on trend music. With my hand removed from the pulse of new music I decided to browse my music collection searching for something I hadn’t listened to or something which I hadn’t listened to for such a long time it would sound fresh.

2009 might not feel like too long ago for some but in terms of the current music scene it’s bordering on historic, the sort of thing you might only find in a museum. Golden Silvers always though had an edge to them that allowed them to stay ahead of any chrono-dependent trend. Maybe its their strong drawing on older styles such with an unusual dependence on the rock organ to give their music a distinctive style, while all the time adhering to more modern techniques of melody.

This is a remix of their popular True Romance track; there isn’t much more added indeed it seems it’s simply elongated but don’t be fooled. The elongation allows a greater appreciation of the simply masterful lyrics and the great control of the melody.

A few lines I thought I might highlight for their quirky brilliance are:

Get online, get in line, read between the lines,
Straighten up your facts,
Stamp your post with penny blacks,
Cause Rule Britannia ain’t comin’ back
Join a gang, learn rhyming slang,
Learn greek, learn double dutch

It’s not only the words themselves, but the whole complexity of the way they are delivered. That and the added emphasis on the bass line in this remix make it a must-have.

Artist you might like:
Santigold, The Maccabees, Metronomy

This Kiss – Kissy Sell Out

1 Nov


Just a quick one today on one of my favourite DJs who released an album in 2009. Kissy Sell Out is one of the best known and loved DJs on the British dance and club scene, but in this one of his he creates a great little story moulded into a nice bouncy tune. I would recommend listening to the lyrics carefully as they weave a tapestry of modern life which wouldn’t be out of place on E4 TV program Skins.


Listen and enjoy the rest of the album is available now called Youth and has some great tunes like Apple Jelly and Garden Friends.

If you like this arttist you might like: Filthy Dukes, Fake Blood and Plump DJs

Clubbed to Death – Rob Dougan

31 Oct

As well as a love of music, my other passion in life comes from film, making them and watching. One of the most revolutionary films of the decade love it or hate it, before it went of the rails, was The Matrix. and from that comes one of the most musically remembered scenes of all time, the girl in the red dress as its affectionately known to its fans. the song is the work of mind of Rob Dougan, Clubbed to Death is the song which in just a few opening bars turns your world upside down.

The song opens with Edward Elgar and Gustav Holst before twisting the world round into a carefully constructed web of electronic with frequent returns from both of the classical composers. It’s the way the tune is managed into a skilful and precise nature while delivering a mix of electronic symphonies that blends around you and incarcerates you in this tangle of utter brilliance.

It’s a song like no other and just like the film deserves landmark recognition for being simply magnificent and influential along every track of electronic music since. Here’s another of his tracks, Furious Angels enjoy…

Look out for more posts with our shenanigans in film-making coming very soon.

Artists you might like: Steve Jablonsky, Craig Armstrong and Clint Mansell.