Fairewell - Poor, Poor Grendel


Poor, Poor Grendel

Released: Dec 5 2011

Genre: Synth Pop/Post Rock

Label: Sonic Cathedral Recordings

Rating: 6/10


By: Dan Titcombe

Fairewell produce a melancholy and ambient endorsing sound intertwined with a traditional. 27-year-old Johnny White has been making music since the age of 9 and as a result has turned into a rather talented individual who appeals to a wide audience. With his new album Poor, Poor Grendel he really flourishes as an artist.

There are four melancholy-sounding tracks on his new album; but the one ambient track that seems to stand above the rest is ‘Wild Meadow/ I’ve Been Locked Away’, which is a compilation of emotions starting off timed and slow but slowly building towards a tremendous and awe inspiring mid section that will soon fade back to a simmer as the track concludes. This song may not be for everyone but if your looking for a calm relaxing song to unwind to this may just be the kind of thing you’re looking for.

‘Others of Us’ is the first song on the album that offers a more traditional approach to music with an upbeat melody and fitting rhythm those similar to the kind of music you would expect from the likes of ‘Norah Jones’ this song is one of the highlights of the album and would be the obvious choice for a single release.

One of the last tracks on the album ‘Born Under a Bad Sign’ is another upbeat traditional song but with a unique atmospheric riff created by keyboard adjusted to a strange effect that gives the song a truly unique feeling, those who enjoy bands like ‘Forest Fire’ would appreciate this song and defiantly Fairewell as an artist.

Fairewell can be referred to as a male Norah Jones who doesn’t just stick to the traditional style of music and as a result has produces some inspiring atmospheric tracks that share the same kind of tendency’s you would expect from the classical genre of music, a truly creative and talented artist.

Fairewell – Honey Street

The Shell Corporation - A Force Majeure

The Shell Corporation

A Force Majeure

Released: Aug 25th 2011

Genre: Punk Rock

Label: Death To False Hope

Rating: 7/10


By Chris Fishlock

Although not pushing many boundaries with A Force Majeure, The Shell Corporation have made a fine record of a well written, catchy and addictive songs that rewards you with repeat listens. Despite clearly having some anti-corporate themes on the album many of the songs are quite hypocritically commercial punk sounding which is by no means a negative thing and makes them a great gateway band for the young possible future punk rock fans, the band don’t hold back their themes lyrically but the band don’t hold much of a aggressive sound for how much anger the songs do possess, with the right amount of popularity the band could lead those new to punk rock to more aggressive and less commercial sounding bands.

The album’s sound perfectly fits into the Californian punk rock scene with a sound somewhere between Goldfinger’s more pop punk records and Anti-Flag (who are also comparable lyrically). Unlike many punk rock records from bands of this style A Force Majeure does cover a decent amount of change in pace and style from the usual fast paced pop punk tracks, such as the slower “Broken Hearted Loser” featuring just vocals and guitar, and the acoustic start to “All of the Best” making the album a more interesting listen than the many albums these days of generic 12 tracks sounding all exactly the same.

A Force Majeure has enough commercial merit for the band to go far while also maintaining their own mentalities throughout the lyrical themes to keep them true to punk. An enjoyable gateway album that perhaps lacks the aggression that some of their songs are clearly calling for, and although not having an incredibly original sound the album does expand its sound in terms of tempo and heaviness while also including some perfectly catchy pop punk tunes such as “What If?” and “Fuck ‘Em” that leaving you wanting repeat listens.

The Shell Corporation – Fuck ‘Em

Enter Shikari - A Flash Flood of Colour

Enter Shikari

A Flash Flood of Colour

Released: Jan 16 2012

Genre: Electronic/Hardcore

Label: Ambush Reality

Rating: 8/10


By James Murray

Enter Shikari has always been about breaking boundaries. Rewinding back to their earliest days under the ‘Hybrid’ alias, exploiting the predefined boundaries of music genres was the core aim: ‘A Flash Flood of Colour’ shows that this motive remains – their most profound and polished record to date.

In a rather crudely simplified way, ‘A Flash Flood of Colour’ sounds like a refined ‘Common Dreads’. As expected, the dubstep/drum & bass influences are heavily featured, however, this time round productions are tighter and as a result the record is a lot more professional sounding.

Opener ‘System…’ ‘…Meltdown’ eases into action with the identical buoyant synth used to introduce ‘Common Dreads’; euphoric keys take the place of a vocal introduction – a subtle hint at the electronic-driven tracks which, for the first time in the history of Enter Shikari, perhaps overtake their hardcore elements. That’s not to say this is an electronic record: ‘A Flash Flood of Colour’ is still heavy at times, driven by political rage and robust as ever – Enter Shikari are just perfecting the electronic cross-over sound that they’ve been experimenting with for years.

The opening two tracks are heavily influenced by drum and bass, including the now familiar-to-many ‘Sssnakepit’, which epitomises the new Enter Shikari sound. While the intense breakdowns, relentless rock/synth melodies and trademark Enter Shikari choruses dominate the majority of ‘A Flash Flood of Colour’, the less experimental, toned down tracks are equally, if not more effective. The downbeat ‘Search Party’ is vocally emphatic; evoking the vision of far-reaching fields filled with chanting Enter Shikari fans at mind.

The hit-hat driven ‘Arguing With Thermometers’ showcases the most infectious, dance-floor friendly choruses Enter Shikari have ever created, and as a result it won’t take many listens before it’ll be jammed into your head for days: “That’s the sound of another door shutting in, in the face of progress, in the face of progress”.

Stalemate’ and ‘Constellations’ follow suit with this much softer Enter Shikari sound. Both politically forceful and educating, ‘Stalemate’ acts as an instrumental ode to ‘Adieu’ – though not quite as mellow, the same melodically/vocal hard-hitting formula remains. The entire five minutes of ‘Constellations’ is a steadily progressive message of optimism, beautifully delivered with light keys and heart-felt vocals.

A Flash Flood of Colour’ is a forward-thinking record for forward-thinking music fans. If you’re expecting a musical regression back to ‘Take To The Skies’ look away now. For the pro-evolutionist, this record encapsulates almost every successful trait Enter Shikari have ever possessed – delivered in a musically mature, and as a result, engaging third full-length.

Enter Shikari – Sssnakepit

Ghostpoet, 2011 Mercury prize nominee and Sound-Revolution top 20 entry is set to grace the stage of Sound Control in Manchester on February 18. Peanut Butter Blues And Melancholy Jam has quite rightfully made a successful trip around the music blogosphere and to follow up his success on record Ghostpoet has announced a host of UK tour dates, including this fantastic line-up at Sound Control, Manchester.

Alt-J△ – Breezeblocks

Joining Ghostpoet will be Alt-J, (well for PC users at least) which is the combination that will give you a visual △ on an Apple Mac keyboard. Pretentious band names aside, Alt-J△ are one of many fantastic bands that look set to make waves in 2012. At the moment there are four demos up on their Facebook bandpage – all of which are equally intriguing. The beautiful Tessellate entails sporadic percussion and incongruous melodies, tied together by beautiful vocals that simmer somewhere between folk and soul. Their most played track so far, Breezeblocks, is the main reason for all the ogling – as their skittish instrumentals are pinned down by jubilant vocals and a slight increase in tempo which proves that Alt-J△ are both dance and soul, a welcome combination.

We’ll be covering the gig in Manchester to find out if they can do these demos justice on-stage. If you’re interested you can buy tickets for just £10 through See Tickets.

Foxes! - Foxes!



Released: Jan 16 2012

Genre: Indie Pop

Label: Big Salad

Rating: 8/10


By: Dan Titcombe

Foxes! offer a breath of fresh air within the indie pop music spectrum, through their captivating rhythms and simplistic, yet infectious melodies. Foxes! husband/wife partnership gifts them with an innocent aura which separates this straightforward indie pop from other upcoming bands.

Their self-titled album ‘Foxes’ is a compilation of 12 songs, each with their own atmosphere but with enough familiarity to defines Foxes! as a band with exceptional talent.

Amongst their many standout tracks is ‘The Panda Bear Song’ which flaunts an innocent and childlike motif, held up with a toe-tapping drum-beat, harmonic lyrics and an outstanding guitar technique which showcases the beauty that this band can achieve through their music.

‘Welcome to the Jivin’ starts with a style which sounds, as the title sounds, very close to that 1930s sound – a real slice of nostalgia and exceptional demonstration of diversity. ‘Welcome to the Jivin’ has a relaxing keyboard melody, a great drum beat and a fantastic rhythm section, which combined with the right tempo creates yet another beautiful song on this outstanding album.

Another admirable track is ‘Oh Rosie’. This song has an incredible guitar piece which closely eludes an almost chaotic atmosphere and when the song starts to break down you can really sense the emotions bursting at the seams.

Foxes!, with their eponymous debut, offer their own truly unique take on music with this record. This album could quite possibly kick start this band and place them on the path to success. Foxes! is most certainly a name to look out for.

Foxes! – The Panda Bear Song

By Chris Fishlock

As things start to kick off for The Skints’ annual Christmas party, with the bar in full swing and as the venue starts to pack out, I head backstage to catch up with Josh from The Skints to talk about their very successful 2011, touring, the making of the new album, their year ahead and more…

2011 has been a fairly big year for you despite not releasing anything, has there been any particular highlights?

Yeah man, it’s been kind of nuts really, we’ve done a bunch of touring, we started the year going on tour with Reel Big Fish in the UK and Europe, we demoed the album and then we did some more headline shows then it was festival season. We recorded the album, it was kind of stressful at points but we did have a lot of fun doing the album, getting to do an album with Prince Fatty is definitely my highlight of the year personally, but the Gym Class Heroes tour was wicked as well.

Josh from The Skints

You have done a lot of big shows this year, playing with loads of big bands such as Reel Big Fish, Less Than Jake and Capdown, did you grow up with these bands, is it pretty mind blowing that you’re now supporting them and hanging out backstage with them?

Yeah man well we listened to a lot of different types of music growing up but the ska punk thing was always the kind of shows that I went to and I went to see all those bands when I was a kid, I never ever thought that one day oh yeah I’m going to be on tour and just hanging out with these guys and you know their just normal dudes like everyone else, it still does mess with your head slightly in that how things can come full circle when you have been listening to a band growing up, so yeah man in a big way.

Is there any one band in particular you have sort of thought ‘wow, I love this band, how have I ended up playing with them?’

There’s so many dude, when we went to Europe with The Slackers that was one, the Sublime shows in London that we did, that was unbelievable for us to be the only British band that has played with Sublime at the time, that was fucking crazy and even when we’ve just done some festivals with people like Toots and the Maytals, Julian Marley and people like that, it’s just yeah outrageous man, Reel Big Fish, loads and loads man, were very very humbled by most of the people who we support.

Aside from the album, what else can we expect from you guys in 2012?

Videos definitely because we haven’t really had our video game up to scratch so the videos and stuff will be coming hard, and much more touring and festivals next year, headline tour, load’s man, were going in guns blazing.

You seem to be doing a lot of acoustic things at the moment with the acoustic session today and also tons of YouTube videos, is that something you are loving quite a lot as a band?

Yeah it’s just like you know, we’ve always kind of played acoustically to ourselves just hanging out and stuff and we’ve done a lot of touring full band and the acoustic thing is something really simple that we can just set up in front of a camera  and it doesn’t take any effort on our part at all and it’s something really quick that we can turn around within a few hours and we’ve been enjoying some of the stuff, some of the covers we were doing  and just yeah we sort of thought we’d use it to our advantage. We thought how little effort it takes us to be able to throw together , so hopefully people enjoy that side of it as well as the heavier bassier side of the live show and the records.

When you played the acoustic session earlier to a very small amount of people, is that almost even more nerve-wracking than when say supporting Capdown to loads of people?

So much man, purely because we’ve never really done it before, playing acoustic to like 20 people today was scarier than when we played Reading Festival in front of like 4000 people, definitely. It’s really weird.

The Skints – Up Against The Wall

You’ve made the album with the pledge campaign, is it important to have the fans as being part of the album?

Yeah it definitely was that, but in truth the reason we started the pledge campaign was that we didn’t really want to be in debt to anybody, like a label or anything then them being able to call the shots on what we do because they’ve lent us money, so obviously we didn’t have our own money to record at the time. It is important to have the fans involved, the thing is, it is important to us but at the time we really didn’t expect the response it got, it was a full on gamble really and it really did pay off in our favour so we literally can’t thank everyone that helped enough. It’s shown us that there are people that care about this band enough to pay for something that they’re not going to see a return on for a while.

Was making the album with complete creative control something that was important for you and is that something you plan to keep to for the rest of your career?

We’d never say never to having a label it’s just at the time we didn’t want someone to have our nuts in a vice about the kind of album we wanted to make, you know if the time comes and there’s a deal offered where we have got complete control and they can fund it then yeah that’s cool but at the time it wasn’t really being offered to us so, you know I’ve got nothing against record labels, what I have got against is people trying to buy their way into being in The Skints.

Jamie from The Skints

You use Twitter and Facebook a lot to connect with fans, is it an important thing to keep a good relationship between yourselves and the fans?

I think with the twitter and Facebook thing, it is important in this day and age with people looking at their phones looking at that every 5 seconds, if you can be connecting with people and let them know what’s going on because people see so much information all the time from bands, if you want people to know you’re there, you’ve got to let them know all the time so that stuff is important.

Yeah yeah definitely, well me, Jamie and Marcia are the ones who write all the tunes, and we have collaborated a lot more on this album than we did on the first album and I think it benefited from that. The first album, the way we write, and is sort of still true, is that whoever’s singing has probably written the song, we kind of write our own parts. This album was a lot more all 3 of us writing on one tune together rather than Jamie’s song, or Josh’s song, or Marcia’s song or whatever.

There’s a big mix of instrumentation on the first album, is that something were expecting on the new album as well?

Yeah man, even much more so, when we recorded we just went hard, we’d tried to make our album sound as full as we could, so yeah, loads more.

You’ve got a fairly dedicated fan base but you’re starting to branch out more with shows, such as the tour with You Me At Six next year, what are you thinking about playing to a different crowd that isn’t quite as dedicated to you?

It’s not about playing to people who are and who aren’t dedicated it’s more about getting more people involved you know. We’ve been kindly offered the You Me at Six tour by the band and were really not going to say no to playing to those kinds of numbers even if a handful of those people become fans after it then it was worth it you know. Obviously we’ve got mad love for the people who are into us already but for us were really not interested in staying in one little box and playing with one type of band and playing to one type of crowd you know, we just want as many people who are up for it to get involved and come hang out at the shows and stuff and listen to our records.

You Me At Six talk about The Skints on BBC Radio 1

With your own gigs like this, when you get to pick your own support acts, you’ve gone with a bit of a different flavour of genre with the acts tonight, do like mixing it up a bit?

Definitely man, I get bored with one genre at a gig you know what I mean, obviously we don’t always get to pick the bands all the time but tonight it’s our show that were hosting so we got to pick bands were really into and their kind of doing their thing which is different things to us which is important, we listen to so many different types of music were probably not going to put on a gig of bands that all sound like us or whatever, yeah man there’s a lot of different flavours tonight, I’m hoping that will make it worth a ticket for people as well, because we’re here to entertain.

Marci from The Skints

As well as this being your own Christmas party and headline show, in a relatively small venue from around where you’re from, it’s almost a friend and family type show, is that something you love doing? And how do you feel about tonight?

London shows in general for us do feel like coming home. We haven’t headlined in London since the summer, and we’ve had such a good year that we just wanted  something to round the year off and have a bit of a party, to say thank you to everyone who has been with us this year. Gecko who have been friends with us for a long time and Random Impulse we’ve been touring with this year and we’ve been really good friends. Yeah man it’s to see the year off in a party style you know, yeah and have a bit of fun tonight.

To end with, any idea when were expecting the new album, that seems to be on every fans mind right now.

Literally, there’s going to be an announcement in the first week of January, but it’s really not that long, it’s really not that long, it’s not that long at all, it’s just the thing were waiting on at the moment is finishing the artwork, were really proud of the artwork with the first album and with this one we want to make even better, the album is done, all the music is done.  But we have a date and that will be announced in January.

When you’re spending a long time on the album, do you prefer it so you can make the best album you can make rather than just throw it together to get to the fans straight away?

It wasn’t really a case of being in the studio for ages, the album, we finished recording it for quite a few months now, realistically if you add up all the sessions we had recording we probably only spent about three or four weeks in the studio, of course it’s long but we did the first album in 6 days, which was because of the budget and stuff but this time we had a little bit more room to breathe, we didn’t get anal about it at all, we tried not to get hung up on being perfectionists because otherwise you’re never going to be happy with it, but the reason it’s taken so long is more because of the timing and us wanting to do things in a bit more of a structured way you know, rather than just get it out for the sake of it being out, were really proud of this album and we want to do it right, we want to do it justice.

The Skints // Nambucca // London /

December 27th, 2011

By: Chris Fishlock

As just down the road at Emirates stadium thousands of Arsenal fans descend Holloway Road to watch the match I had been invited to Nambucca, to watch something very different than Arsenal vs Wolverhampton.  Normally when stepping foot in Nambucca it is a busy place of people raring to see bands, but when stepping in mid afternoon for a private acoustic session from one of the best new bands of the last few years it’s a much quieter friendly atmosphere with only friends, family and ten competition winners getting to see a extremely intimate and special acoustic set from The Skints.

Jamie Kyriakides of The Skints

Having seen many sets from The Skints this year, whether headlining their own show, supporting a bigger band or playing a festival, it’s nice to have a change for their usual full live show for something a lot different in their half hour acoustic performance. Although very used to playing acoustic together as we have seen evidence of in many youtube videos this year the band were perhaps slightly out of their comfort zone having to perform acoustically in front of a audience much smaller than they are used to, but a crowd all intently watching the band perform. Despite the pressure the atmosphere is very friendly, with the majority of the stage banter presented as usual by Josh easing any pressure between the band and audience.

The set list consisted of a balanced mixture of first album favourites, tracks from the forthcoming second album as well as a selection of cover songs brilliantly adapted and performed by the band. The highlight of the cover songs was the genuinely beautiful version of Bob Marley’s ‘Is This Love’ performed just by Jamie on guitar and vocals and Marcia on vocals, another highlight was a rare performance of Jamie playing ‘Live. Breathe. Build. Believe’ closer ‘Soul for Sale’ solo. The acoustic set  showed just how talented a band The Skints are and how successfully they can adapt their full band sound to stripped down acoustic version, they even treated us to an acoustic version of ‘Bright Girl’ which they have never played acoustically before. It is also very impressive how well some of the songs sound acoustically, such as the brilliant version of ‘Murderer’ closing the set, a track you would not expect to be easily translated into a slow and stripped down acoustic song. The acoustic set was incredibly special for any big fan of The Skints and was well received, once again the band prove just how talented they are as a unit as well as separately, it’s not often you get to see a band this good in such intimate settings, not a performance to be forgotten.

Moving onto the main event of the Christmas party, once the door opens and the place fills up almost automatically, leaving what was a more chilled out vibe to one of merry anticipation. It’s clear that much of the crowd are very very excited for The Skints tonight, helped by it being their first headline show in London since summer. It’s also clear that The Skints are starting to get bigger with just how fast the venue filled up, you get the feeling quite a few here are seeing the band for the first time, I even overheard someone ecstatic by how small the venue is considering how big The Skints are, not something you would get a year ago, the band have had a decent sized fan base for a while but you really start to get the feeling that the fan base has expanded a lot only in recent times.

Opening the show to an already decent sized crowd was the most enjoyable Gecko, playing a set of brilliantly written catchy songs. They gave a much more chilled out vibe than the other bands playing tonight with their acoustic based songs mixing a clear wide range of influences that come together into songs with great commercial value (in a good way). Gecko are clearly a band who should be amongst the top of the charts with their amazingly catchy and addictive songs, such as ‘Safest Bet’, a free download that got one of the best reactions of their set. Not that the band are modest at all, seemingly enjoying themselves opening for smaller shows but It’s clear they have potential for a lot more. A perfect band to open the night to get a party vibe going.

Next up was the insane, explosive Random Impulse, a London based rapper playing with a full band. The band had a immense energy, with a banging rhythm section who were killing it on stage while being led by Random Impulse’s great hip hop vocals while also joining the band on guitar. It was an incredible and powerful set, with a mega loud and energetic sound which could easily challenge most hip hop acts on the scene today, and was certainly had much more effort and uniqueness from a music scene where very little have the talent to stand out as Random Impulse who has successfully created his own sound.

Josh Waters Rudge of The Skints

By the time The Skints take to the stage the room is completely crammed with people, and as they take the stage they do so to massive applause, after the busy year they have had it must be heart warming to come on stage to such a welcome response. Once the band start playing the cramped crowd start moving straight away and it becomes very clear that the band have outgrown this venue, The Skints infectious music makes you compelled to dance but this proves a hard thing to do in a crowd this packed but the atmosphere is generally great. The crowd is very mixed tonight; many family, friends and early fans have clearly turned out but so have many new fans, sadly at times certain members of the crowd ruin the good vibes by attempting to mosh to the more chilled out reggae tracks, as well as a fight almost starting between songs which luckily got stopped, let’s hope that this isn’t a sign of things to come from a usually very considerate and friendly crowd The Skints normally attract. Apart from these few instances, the crowd generally gave a great response to the band keeping the full room constantly moving, the only problem was the lack of room meaning that the first row often collapsed onto the low stage and many crowd surfers almost just falling right onto the band, which helps the intimate atmosphere of the show, for a band fastly increasing in popularity this could be one of their last shows being this close to their crowd.

The performance from The Skints is flawless, they have come a long way since the release of their first album and are now well accomplished in live performance, playing the set list to perfection while being able to consistently keep the crowd pumped, the reaction to the band is truly special and phenomenal, there is a great connection between the band and audience in the room. The band don’t disappoint the crowd in terms of set list, playing all the old favourites such as ‘Roanna’s Song’ complete with a cover of Dawn Penn’s ‘You Don’t Love Me’, which has become a live staple for the band, as well as ‘Murderer’ and ‘Get Me!’ which both get some of the best crowd reactions of the night, but as well as the classics they also preview a decent amount of newer material, including next single ‘Ratatat’, getting one of the most crazy reactions of the night when the crowd gets told that part of the video is being filmed that very moment.

Overall the show was a great way to end the year for The Skints, with a mixed crowd of fans who have been with them from the start, their friends and family and also a portion of newer fans, this could be one of the final times to see the band in such close and intimate settings and was sure to be a memorable gig for all involved.

Once again, after a truly exceptional year for independent music, Sound-Revolution have collated a list of must-hear tracks. Although this list is titled the ‘Top 50 Tracks of 2011’, take it with a pinch of salt. This isn’t the definitive list of what’s good or what isn’t, rather a collection of brilliant songs that we believe have shaped the past year. Some of these tracks won’t sound like anything ground-breaking, but are perhaps a welcome slice of nostalgia. Many tracks, on the other hand, are new sounds that have emerged over the past 12 months.

It’s difficult to summarise a year of music in a paragraph, so I won’t attempt that – although it is worth mentioning that 2011 has been a fantastic year for creative pop music, a lot of which is featured. Instead, I’d like to thank everybody that has helped out with Sound-Revolution over the past year. It’s been a brilliant year for progress, so thank you very much too all of our writers, and most importantly you, the reader.

–James Murray (Editor)


Young Dreams – Young Dreams

Young Dreams create big music. That being said – as busy as those layered vocals sound, you probably wouldn’t predict that this Norwegian ‘collective’ consist of 12 members. It’s difficult to pin down Young Dreams’ music, you certainly can’t throw comparisons around aimlessly. The best way to describe this euphoric slice of indie pop is somewhere between the experimental sounds of Animal Collective and the Beach Boys. With their debut LP set for a 2012 release on Modular, it’s safe to expect more Young Dreams in the new year from these Nordic experimenters. — James Murray



Dauwd – Ikopol

Dubstep isn’t really new and hip any more, but that doesn’t mean it’s completely passed its sell by date. In both the UK and US charts more and more dubstep artists are becoming prominent. It’s difficult to avoid the term ‘brostep’, but Dauwd is much the opposite. ‘Ikopol’ is an intricately produced slice of chilled electronica. Quite rightly, names such as 2562, Scuba, and various names on the Hotflush label have been subject to acclaim this year – and Dauwd deserves equal appraisal. Not quite as accomplished as some of his musical siblings, Dauwd is an artist that has been overlooking by many, so we’re here to point you into the path of this talented producers manner. — James Murray



We Are Augustines – Book of James

It’s been an impressive year for We Are Augustines. The Brooklyn-based folk rockers got a brilliant exposure opportunity through touring with Glasvegas, and to put the icing on the cake their debut album ‘Rise Ye Sunken Ships’ won the iTunes prize for best alternative album. ‘Book of James’ is an emotive affair, a eulogy to lead vocalist Billy McCarthy’s brother who committed suicide in 2009. This is about a deep as music gets lyrically, and few can refuse heartfelt folk that hits home as hard as this. If you’re a fan of anything Sprinsteen-esque, look no further, it’s almost a granted that this two-piece will drive on towards wide success. — James Murray



Tycho – Hours

A late but worthy entry into our top 50 is electronic producer Tycho with ‘Hours’, one of a selection of sublime tracks taken from his latest record ‘Dive’. The beauty of softer, ambient electronica is that it’s easy listening – and as a result is appealing to a wider audience than solely EDM loyalists. The paradoxically named ‘Hours’ is a psychedelic exploration into sound, expressed in a fashion so melancholy that time becomes irrelevant. Building on this tracks remarkable nature is its minimal composition; Tycho certainly proves here that less is more, combining little more than a mish-mash of keys over a straightforward bass line. — James Murray



United Fruit – Go Away, Don’t Leave Me Alone

Switching to something much rawer, here is United Fruit. For those of you that miss Yourcodenameis:milo as much as we do, ‘Go Away, Don’t Leave Me Alone’ is a welcome flashback. These Glaswegian rockers are doing more than just rectifying mid 00s post-hardcore, though – United Fruit create original and electrifying guitar-driven rock music. Their incredible full-length ‘Fault Lines’ was released earlier this year, and for us is the best record created by an unsigned outfit in a long, long time. If you like noisy rock music and were ever fans of Fugazi, Blakfish or At The Drive-In, this is well worth your time.



Polinski – Tangent

In case you didn’t know, Paul Wolinski, programmer of 65daysofstatic has a side project – ingeniously named Polinski. The name aside, this is an incredible composition which proves that while minimalism is working for some, this new-found maximilism is having just as much, if not more of a profound effect on the dance music landscape. In ‘Tangent’ Polinski sets the pace with a deceptive introduction, giving this track an even heftier punch when all of its intricacy is exposed. Polinski creates glitchy, intelligent dance music – but so long as you like your music bursting at the seams with energy, this should hit the spot. — James Murray



Mint Julep – Aviary

Another one for 2012: This husband and wife outfit from Portland know exactly what makes pop music good. Those delicate vocals, delivered so emphatically when combined with harmonious instrumentals encapsulate almost everything that pop music should be. Mint Julep are a welcome injection of optimism. Music so positive, teeming with both colour and romanticism isn’t anywhere near prominent enough, and ‘Aviary’ delivers this in a style that’s both hopeful for pop music and hopeful for the listener. Mint Julep have paved the way for continued success. It won’t be long before people quite rightly jump on this bandwagon. — James Murray



Random Hand – Bones

After a successful year having released one of their best albums yet ‘Seething Is Believing’ and doing an unbelievable amount of touring, Random Hand got nominated for the ‘hardest working band’ award at the AIM Independent Music awards. But before all this they started the year by unleashing the first single from ‘Seething Is Believing’, ‘Bones’ with a great video and an equally impressive fan reaction. ‘Bones’ expresses everything we love about Random Hand, a great mix of heavy and aggressive ska and punk with a captivating chorus. — Chris Fishlock



Childish Gambino – Bonfire

Some love him, some hate him, but there’s one thing for certain – Donald Glover aka Childish Gambino can rap. Okay, some might argue his lyrics aren’t exceptional, but his use of black humour throughout ‘Bonfire’ separates Gambino from other artists. Once you can get over the fact that a lot of ‘Camp’ is over-produced and at times an echo of Kanye and Odd Future productions, you might just realise that this collection of big beats and tongue-in-cheek lyrics is actually quite an enjoyable combination. At times it’s difficult to decide whether to take this seriously or not — after some discretion, it’s easiest just to just soak it all in. — James Murray



Cut Copy – Blink And You’ll Miss A Revolution

It was never going to be easy for Cut Copy to write ‘Zonoscope’. With the incredible success of ‘In Ghost Colours’, what should have proved to be a difficult follow-up fortunately proved not that difficult. Packed with contagious synth-hooks and plenty of sing-a-long opportunities, ‘Zonoscope’ proves that Cut Copy know their way around pop music. ‘Blink And You’ll Miss A Revolution’ epitomises ‘Zonoscope’, feel good neon pop, powered by euphoric simplicity. It’s difficult to say whether their next record will be an ironed-out ‘Zonoscope’ or something completely different – let’s just hope it’s not another four year wait. — James Murray



Smokey Bastard – Aspirations, I Have Some

Releasing their second album ‘Tales From The Wasteland’ to great critical acclaim in late October, one of the UK’s finest folk punk outfits, Smokey Bastard included this beast of a song on the album. Featuring a great mix of instruments including banjo and accordion, ‘Aspirations, I Have Some’ rejects the general traditional folk sound of the rest of the album for a song with a more commercial sing along value, and ends up being one of the greatest tracks on an exceptional album. — Chris Fishlock



The Drums – How It Ended

Sometimes critics approach The Drums with needless belligerence. Music doesn’t always have to be completely innovative, thousands of intricate elements placed together or flaunting vocals with incomprehensible dynamics. The Drums know this. They don’t create the most jubilant music you’ll ever listen to, but despite their unbelievably indie, at times deterring image, The Drums are infectious and pretty hard to dislike. Their lyrics are simple, but so were The Smiths’ – ‘How It Ended’ is one of the most memorable album finales of the year. —James Murray



Trash Talk – Awake
Having cemented themselves as one of the most insane and interesting hardcore punk bands of the last few years, Trash Talk came out with their best track to date this year with the incredible ‘Awake’ taken from an EP of the same name. ‘Awake’ is one minute and 20 seconds of the most fast pounding punk rock that has come out all year that unleashes the immense energy of their live shows into a recorded track. — Chris Fishlock



Swimming – Neutron Wireless Crystal

We might as well admit it, if there’s one style of pop music we can’t resist it’s the synth-powered, joyous type. Nottingham’s Swimming deliver just this with ‘Neutron Wireless Crystal’, a busy indie pop track full of whirly vocals and cleverly arranged instrumentals. Once you’ve got this in your head it’ll be some chore to get rid. If you’re the type to stick your iTunes on repeat all day, it’s probably in the best interests of your family/housemates to avoid this one. —James Murray



Girls – Honey Bunny

‘Honey Bunny’, the second track from ‘Father, Son Holy Ghost’ is a fantastic slice of surf-rock. This track gallops through tempo and instrumental changes while retaining a rhythm that will get your head-nodding. ‘Honey Bunny’ sounds like a true rock n’ roll record but without sounding dated – it’s an incredible skill, to assemble everything good about rock music’s past and re-arrange it into something fresh. ‘Honey Bunny’ offers something for every fan of guitar music, whether you thrive off 60’s rock or anything closer to now. —James Murray



Battles – Ice Cream

‘Ice Cream’ is experimental, funky and fun: There’s a certain quirkiness to Battles that makes them irresistible. With the absence of Tyondai Braxton, who in the eyes of many fans played a huge part in making 2007 full-length ‘Mirrored’ such an emphatic debut, the longer-term fans might have been a bit unnerved by the inclusion of Matias Aguayo. Turns out his straightforward vocals fit in pretty well amongst the clutter and intricacy of layered guitars that are prominent throughout the most part of ‘Gloss Drop’, and indeed every Battles production. —James Murray



Friendly Fires – Live Those Dreams Tonight

‘Pala’ established Friendly Fires to carry more than the ‘indie’ mediocrity tag and, much to Ed Macfarlane’s delight of browsing through ageing youtube video slates, album opener ‘Live Those Days Tonight’ takes abounding aim at sticking its buoyant middle finger right up at eye-popping 90’s acid ravers, if you hadn’t already guessed by the tracks lyrics “You claim your history/ is beyond a man like me/ but I’ll live those days tonight”. Vaulting synths and jarring piano pierces over shattering tempo beats, it’s every thing a disco tune could hope for.  —Hugh O’Boyle



Beirut – Santa Fe

Four years on from the Mariachi-styled ‘The Flying Club Cup’ Beirut have finally returned. ‘Santa Fe’ is one of a collection of endearing pop songs present throughout ‘The Rip Tide’. Unlike the choppy, busier sound of Battles, Beirut have produced a record full or tracks that you can embrace and welcome into your audial globe – without any real effort. If you want to take a step back from messy, self-proclaimed avant-garde tracks that seem to crop up here there and everywhere, grab a cocktail and soak in ‘Santa Fe’. Perhaps not quite as relevant now as during summertime, ‘Santa Fe’ is simple and harmonic. Don’t be misled by the artwork, this record is a lot brighter on the inside. —James Murray



St Vincent – Cruel

Annie Clark, under her pseudonym ‘St Vincent’ knows exactly how to draw attention to her music. ‘Cruel’, as suggested, has a dark streak. At times ‘Cruel’ is almost ominous – when Clark experiments with those dreary vocals it can have quite a sinister impact. It’s the contrasts that draw in so much attention, though. Switching to upbeat, melancholic vocals and memorable riffs – ‘Cruel’ is a track that you can’t quite get your hands on. Is it this, is it that? Quite frankly, it’s a bit of everything. Not only has St Vincent released come of the most exciting music of the year – this sense of mystery just makes it all the more tempting. —James Murray



Youth Lagoon – Montana

The first thing that has to be said here is: Why ‘Youth Lagoon’ when your real name is Trevor Powers? Apart from having the coolest name in the music world, Powers’ has formulated a beautiful composition that progressively builds up into a jubilant and warming finale. Of the debut records to grace our ears this year this is well up there with the best. Powers’ distorted vocals sit perfectly with the whirly, minimal instrumentals that power this track forward. It’d be a bit of an amplification to say this is tear-jerking, but it’s not far off. A beautiful track from a very welcome newcomer. —James Murray



Radiohead – Lotus Flower

We’re certainly not alone when we say ‘The King of Limbs’ was a little disappointing – but then again, few records can top ‘In Rainbows’. To get to the point, you shouldn’t let exceptional work overshadow good work . ‘Lotus Flower’ had been circulating both virally and throughout live shows for almost a year beforehand, but the world couldn’t truly appreciate the beauty of Yorke’s vocals until this single was set loose. Music video aside, ‘Lotus Flower’ is yet another example of the magnitude and allure of Thom Yorke. Such calm vocals shouldn’t be so emphatic, but they most certainly are. It’s a shame the rest of the album couldn’t keep up. —James Murray



Yuck – Holing Out

‘Holing Out’ is a little piece of heaven for anyone in favour of the 90’s grunge revival, which seems to have been increasingly dominant in music this year. Dripping with reverb and lead by fuzzy guitars and drawling vocals, it’s a perfect asset to both the grunge and post-punk genres, quite obviously taking influence from bands such as Dinosaur Jr and The Pixies. The whole song is catchy and full of sunshine, making it clear to any music fan why this is the song which meant that Yuck went from being relatively unknown to the much more popular band we know now.–Rebecca Woolston



Dutch Uncles – Cadenza

If you’ve ever been to a Dutch Uncles show you’ll know that the dance moves of Duncan Wallis are giving Jarvis Cocker and Ed Macfarlane a run for their money. It’s fitting, though – of all the new bands to make an impact this year, Dutch Uncles are the one you’d expect to have that…  little bit odd, front-man. Their up-beat, danceable productions are enough to get any foot to stomp and head to nod. ‘Cadenza’ is opened and led by layered piano loops – and when combined with a pulsating bass drum, simple as it sounds, it’s difficult not to become hooked. Dutch Uncles are another fantastic act that have helped shape 2011 as a huge success for pop. —James Murray



Tim Hecker – The Piano Drop

Never has an album been so appropriately and cleverly named. ‘The Piano Drop’ sounds like the apocalypse – delivered in a genre distantly related to that of dance music. Distorted trancey synths almost solely power ‘The Piano Drop’ forward. This is a track that would be easy to shove aside at first, or to label as ‘pretentious hyped nonsense’, but in fact if you really let yourself in there’s a deep and haunting message buried. It’s not a warning, nor a moral – simply an eye-opener and taster of what Tim Hecker believes the doom-impending future will sound like. —James Murray



Tyler, The Creator – Yonkers

Unfortunately for Tyler, his hatred of the music media seems to have backfired a little. There’s rarely a better example where an artist (or collective in this case) has become a victim of the hype machine – and as a result we’ve all starting to think we’ve heard enough. Let’s hope it doesn’t do too much damage, because ‘Yonkers’ isn’t just the most talked about hip-hop track of the year. It’s daring, far-out and compelling. Most of us like artists that push boundaries, and when a hip-hop collective do just that as well as resurrecting our beloved 90s memories there’s no wonder they were the main discussion of early 2011. —James Murray



Four Tet/Burial/Thom Yorke – Ego

Is this the perfect collaboration? When this team-up was announced music lovers couldn’t predict exactly how this would sound – but everyone knew it would be brilliant. They’ve had their cross-overs in the past, with remixes and such, but this 12″ release is by far the biggest to date. The six and a half minute track beings minimally before progressing into a darker and deeper electronic production. The underlying bass is fairly simple, but it’s the little intricacies that make this track special. Chimes, distant synths and special effects backing Thom Yorkes sublime vocals, as one could imagine, fit together majestically. —James Murray



Emmy The Great – A Woman, A Woman, A Century of Sleep

Emma Lee-Moss, better know to us as Emmy The Great, is one of the most poignant and heartbreaking female vocalists around. When ‘A Woman, A Woman, A Century of Sleep’ was released it was impossible not to share some of Emma’s emotion. Her athiest fiancée split up with her after he’d discovered religion, and this is quite candidly expressed throughout her lyrics. Even without getting too tied down to the emotive or sympathetic side of Emmy The Great’s music, her vocal softness and simple acoustic instrumentals are more than admirable.–James Murray



Atari Teenage Riot – Black Flags

After making their live comeback last year the Alec Empire led political digital hardcore legends gave us their first new album since 1999 this year, a powerful album of incredible tracks. For their latest single, ‘Black Flags’ they got in brilliant rapper Boots Riley (of The Coup and Street Sweeper Social Club) to add his unique brand of hip hop vocals. ‘Black Flags’ is a powerful anthem with what is easily one of the best bass lines on any record this year, it will have you shouting along with your fist in the air. And with the wave of revolution across the globe happening this year, this track and this band are more relevant than ever. —Chris Fishlock



Mastodon – Curl Of The Burl

At the top of our metal charts is Matodon with ‘Curl of the Burl’. Lyrics aside (what does that title even mean) this is a captivating lead single from their brilliant 2011 release ‘The Hunter’. By the standards of Mastodon, ‘The Hunter’ is pretty rock orientated, and we can see its wider appeal. ‘Curl of the Burl’ is powered by riffs and vocals that verge towards that distinctive Dave Grohl sound. This might be targeted at a slightly wider audience than earlier material, but it hasn’t affected quality. ‘Curl of the Burl’ is intense, infectious and very Queens of the Stone Age; and that’s never a bad thing.–James Murray



Soft Metals – Psychic Driving

Nostalgia is a touchy area when it comes to music. There’s a fine line between resurrecting something great and destroying it. Luckily, Soft Metals beautifully re-construct 80s dance with dreamy electronic synths and hazy vocals. That washed-out synth pop style has risen to the surface of the music blogosphere more so than ever this year, and this is just one of many radiant compositions. It’s easy to become submerged in music like this, and such cloudy vocals offer a welcome slice of romanticism. This is atmospheric electro pop at its finest. —James Murray



Kate Bush – Snowflake

If you got an album this Christmas, hopefully it was this. With approximately a dozen years between albums, Kate Bush is not an artist in a hurry – and that is certainly reflected in her music. ‘Snowflake’ is a calming composition, its entire ten minutes little more than hush vocals and simplistic piano chords. Though the market for Christmas music is well and truly saturated by overly-gleeful pop songs, Bush offers a winter soundtrack that re-ignites a spark of Great British magic. Her quintessentially English style is warming and enchanting – Bush herself is an ode to musicianship —James Murray



Real Estate – It’s Real

Despite their image being almost unbearably indie, Real Estate have proven that they mean business. While ‘Days’ was supposed to be that difficult second album, in many ways its better than their acclaimed debut. ‘It’s Real’ is feel-good pop music, no strings attached.  It’s the little things that make this track so enjoyable, Courtney’s “woah” chrous gives the track an injection of warmth. This is clean, straightforward indie, and quite often that’s all people are looking for. If you can keep your music minimal but make it melodic and original, why not? It certainly works here —James Murray



Washed Out – Amor Fati

Sticking with this synth-pop business for one more: It would be unfair to discuss how brilliantly bands execute the ‘washed out’ effect without mentioning ‘Amor Fati’. Now known (in some ways jokingly, but fairly accurately) as ‘chillwave’, the productions of Ernest Greene are perfectly crafted atmospheric music. There’s a lot of this music doing the rounds at the moment, but that doesn’t play in Greene’s favour – he’s done well to rise above the best with this piece of steady but euphoric synth-pop. Perhaps next time round he might have to reshape the waves a bit, though. —James Murray



Ghostpoet – Survive It

If there is one thing you can take away from ‘Peanut Butter Blues And Melancholy Jam’, it’d be the nature of an album hopelessly pigeon-holed. Hip-hop and trip-hop samples, dubstep mashes and new wave pop, Ghostpoet leaves no stone unturned, adopting various influences from his Nigerian, Dominican and British childhood – a dejected essence for Streets and Burial audiences alike, resulting in the listening of this LP to be much more striking. The industrialised number ‘Survive It’ acquaints us with his daily efforts to endure the 21st century and probes into unexplored practices of soothing electronica, clouded in urbanized mists of Obaro Ejimiwe’s drug-like melancholy slurs assisted by Fabiana Palladino’s frivolous chorus, “I just wanna live life and survive it”, making this song well deserved of Sound Revolution’s top 20. —Hugh O’Boyle



Burial – Street Halo

Returning with his first solo work since 2007, Burial fans and purists alike have been waiting long enough for this -he’s certainly a quality over quantity musician. ‘Street Halo’ encompasses many of Bevan’s trademark elements: A steady pulsating beat, solid bass and that all-important vinyl crackle.  The workings of Burial are that of a perfectionist; every tiny element that makes ‘Street Halo’ what it is has been sampled, manipulated and crafted with the finest of brushes. This hidden perplexity allows opportunity for indulgence, as Burial’s seemingly simple production lures the listener into the deeper, more emotive picture. —James Murray



The Horrors – Still Life

For rock survivalists around the UK, ‘Skying; was a breath of fresh air. Establishing their musical integrity, it felt as though the release was a step-forward in maturity for the Horrors – and so it was. Assuredly the best track on here is ‘Still Life’ (every song on the album topples over four-minutes long), a wall of swirling euphoria and reverberation; casts of ambient colours playfully splashed across, unnerving synthesizers, arousing bass lines, simple drum patterns and unmistakeably Badwan’s languid clarion-like croaks. It’s the slow, exuding effortlessness that contributes to its psychedelic ecstasy that buries so deep nothing in the world seems to matter apart from that moment. Of course, that’s exactly how The Horrors want you to feel. —Hugh O’Boyle



Other Lives – For 12

Often compared to Radiohead’s ‘How to Disappear Completely’, ‘For 12’ has its similarities, but it’s more than simply a homage to a probable influencer. ‘For 12’ gallops straight into action, with a pulsating drum beat and country-esque strings. In some ways Other Lives sound like an indie/folk crossover act – but it’s the vocals of lead vocalist, Tabish, that bring this record to life. This Oklahoma group know exactly how to write a powerful track, but they’re lucky to have a dynamic voice that can reinforce emotion and melody so emphatically —James Murray



Sepalcure – Pencil Pimp

As time goes on  Travis Stewart and Praveen Sharman seem to make Sepalcure the main focus of their musicianship more and more so. This couldn’t be better news, as ‘Pencil Pimp’, released on their eponymous debut is one of the most interesting electronic tracks of the year. ‘Pencil Pimp’ offers something a little more dancefloor friendly, while maintaining their attention to details with chimes, haunting vocals and an eerie bass line. This is 6 minutes of progressive experimentation; successful experimentation – as Sepalcure have now well and truly embedded their name into the brains of dance music lovers. —James Murray



tUnE-yArDs – Bizness

When ‘W H O K I L L’ was released earlier this year it caused quite a stir. If you can avoid being deterred by the stylised titles, you might just come to terms with what is one of the most successful and daring records of the year. ‘Bizness’ sticks to the typically chaotic tUnE-yArDs approach, as clattering drums, horns and vocals construct a disordered yet somehow melodic final product. What makes ‘Bizness’ such a refreshing record is its outright musical bravery – engineered solely with the use of traditional instrument samples. While in no way should electronic experimentation be condoned, it’s a breath of fresh air to be relieved off synth-heavy productions. —James Murray



AraabMuzik – Streetz Tonight

Some might have their differences with AarabMuzik – okay, ‘Streetz Tonight’ isn’t completely original. Counter-intuitive? Perhaps, but the reality is when you can manipulate a song as well as in this case, with Kaskade’s 4am, and reinvent it into something as refreshing as ‘Streetz Tonight’, it seems harsh to point a finger. AraabMuzik has done something here that so many EDM producers have attempted, and for the most part failed miserably: Create a record that successfully plays through as a completely mixed-genre effort. ‘Streetz Tonight’ succeeds on its hip-hop back bone, concocted with the most vibrant of dance music styles. —James Murray



Metronomy – The Bay

Tiptoeing subtly into our top ten is Metronomy’s ‘The Bay’, Joseph Mount paying deference to his care-free childhood town Torbay and glamorising it above common exotic visits – “because this isn’t Paris/ and this isn’t London/ and it’s not Berlin/ and it’s not Hong Kong/ not Toyko” – the ballad bobs and gambols frivolously along Gbenga’s languorous bass hooks. ‘The Bay’ shapes on various concepts of sun-kissed 70’s Californian rock-eqsue churns with sharp synth stabs, cultivated both archaically and pastorally to say the least. Ever heard the saying “third time lucky”? ‘The English Riviera’ certainly gives it a run for its money. —Hugh O’Boyle



Summer Camp – Better Off Without You

It’s hard to name a break-up song as happy as this. In some ways it’s a bit discomforting – as you sing along to that irresistible pop chorus it’s hard not to feel a little bit guilty. It’s a shame this record was released so late on, because it has to be one of the most vibrant, likeable summer alt-pop songs of the year. Some have argued writing about fictional characters in a fictionally scenario is lazy and impersonal, we think it makes the record much more artistic. ‘Welcome to Condale’ is relatable, nostalgic and unashamedly sappy. Just try resisting that temptation to tap your feet. —James Murray



Azari & III – Reckless (With Your Love)

Innovators and resurrectors of disco, Azari & III, have caused quite a storm this year with the release of their debut album. ‘Reckless With Your Love’ is a daring, upbeat take on classic house music. This Toronto four-piece are creating music that is both nostalgic and bang up to date, and the best thing is that it sounds like they’re just having fun. This track originally surfaced in 09, but already it has gained a sentiment of timelessness that makes ‘Reckless With Your Love’ as relevant as ever. If you think it’s been rinsed, then you’ll probably be happy in accepting there’s a lot of life in it still yet; If you don’t think it has, where have you been? —James Murray



PJ Harvey – The Words That Maketh Murder

PJ Harvey quite rightly won yet another Mercury award this year and her worthiness is most definitely proved by songs such as ‘The Words That Maketh Murder’. Like the whole of her album, ‘Let England Shake’, this song is clearly written to highlight the horrors of war; including the brutal lyrics ‘I’ve seen soldiers fall like lumps of meat’. These sort of lyrics contrast to the flirty, jangly guitar riffs and severely danceable rhythms which are created throughout. The song however, ends in a more unsettling manner, with a slide guitar solo accompanying Harvey’s powerful voice. Like all of Harvey’s material, this song is as creative, as it is brilliant.–Rebecca Woolston



Bon Iver – Holocene

The first words which come to mind when describing this song, as with most music by Bon Iver, are ‘truly beautiful.’ Beginning with two gorgeously overlapping guitar arpeggios, ‘Holocene’ slowly takes shape; arguably at its most beautiful when still very simple, the guitars being joined only by soothing vocal harmonies. A sense of melancholy is obvious throughout, although it seems to be broken by the hopefulness of the intertwining guitars.  The whole song is dream-like, making the listener feel almost as if they’re floating; a perfect blissful state, a phrase which is also ideal in describing the song itself.–Rebecca Woolston



Jamie xx – Far Nearer

Whilst Romy Croft and Oliver Sims have spent their previous year of fame dabbling chin-down in puddles, producer and beats-master of The xx, Jamie XX, has spent his time remixing Gil Scott-Heron’s historical mileiu I’m New Here – stripping it bare and digitally re-processing the aches of Scott-Heron’s past into an introspective glance into the urban future. If that wasn’t enough for his street credit, in the latter of the year Smith went on to release his first single. ‘Far Nearer’ is just one of the sublime tracks to be found on it; clothed in steel drums and vocal auto-tune giving the song an ethereal glow, the ballad proves Jamie XX is indeed the new kid on the block. —Hugh O’Boyle



Wild Beasts – Albatross

Who other to write an album about love, lust and sex other than Cumbrian boys Wild Beasts? ‘Smother’ is an exploration of intimate sounds, the previous Mercury Prize nominees continuing with their tangible jangles and Thorpe’s distinguishing grunts, howls and moans. The authenticity of this record shimmers in the devastatingly affectionate ‘Albatross’, embracing Ben Little’s guilt with entangling guitar rhythms and majestic piano caressed in consolidation of uncertainty and amorousness, “the secrets that I should have shared”. The four-piece have succeeded once again in creating something entirely distinctive, seductive and submersing whilst remaining elegantly discrete and modest, making Wild Beasts one of the finest bands to have arisen from the UK.–Hugh O’Boyle



James Blake – The Wilhelm Scream

I wake, but a beaming white light strains me to squint my tired, aching eyes. Slowly and painfully I adjust them to see that I’m poised in a vacuum of foggy mist. What’s happening? Where am I? An easing voice soon comforts me “All that I know is/ I’m falling/ falling/ falling”….whoever these words belong to, they’re true. I’m falling, further and further down. I’m curious, but panicking – still descending into nothingness – I relax, momentarily forgetting my entire existence, and begin to listen. Gut-piercing vocal loops and eerie echoes swirl around and around whilst being attacked by a fuzzing static tension gradually heightening, all fragmenting to grandiose digital arrangement piecing together like a dusty forgotten puzzle. Things start to become too much – I’m struggling to breathe – harder and harder, and then – it stops. I’m back on the ground, 04:37 minutes later, safe. ‘The Wilhelm Scream’. —Hugh O’Boyle



M83 – Midnight City

Anthony Gonzalez has, once again, delivered in style with perhaps his best album and single to date. Active now for over a decade, it seems Gonzalez’ musical creations are only improving with time. From the moment those immense synths kick-start the track into action that feeling of M83 explosion seems imminent. The overwhelmingly energetic ‘Mignight City’ is an adrenaline-pumped slice of frenzied electronica – Gonzalez has taken to the stage and unveiled his evolving talents in theatrical fashion. ‘Midnight City’ is a crossover somewhere between powerful EDM and an incredible daydream; so hectic yet so accessible. This is without mentioning that masterful saxophone solo, an epic finale to the grandiose ‘Midnight City’. —James Murray



The Antlers – I Don’t Want Love

2009’s ‘Hospice’ was never going to be easy to top for The Antlers. Whether ‘Burst Apart’ is a better record is negotiable, but ‘I Don’t Want Love’ is quite easily their most powerful track to date. Fragile and emotional, ‘I Don’t Want Love’ is crafted with the most delicate touch. With his truly exquisite vocals, Silberman manages to simply say the chrous with little melody – yet those four words are executed in a few seconds of vocal solitude; allowing his passion to truly sink in. It’s not just Silberman’s crystalline vocals that make this such a memorising track, the steady drum beat and soothing guitar strumming throughout perfect the heartbreaking sound that The Antlers have quite emphatically created. —James Murray


The brilliantly eccentric Jonathan Pierce

By: Hugh O’Boyle

Here tonight at the Bristol O2 Academy, proud New-Yorkers Drums are a long, long way from home. From first bursting arrays of sunshine in their EP Summertime!, Drums wasted no time in finding fame. Unfortunately, despite their perfectly timed and truly spectacular debut album Drums, 2011’s third release Portamento was evidently rushed, bringing about clear reminiscence of previous material – sun-drenched melodies, driving bass and guy-likes-girl lyrics cloaked in airy reverb. Although, front man Jonathan Pierce brought a more personal approach of religion to the new release – the album cover featuring a young red-eyed Pierce glazing into the camera, burdened by a hanging crucifix on the wall behind him. In fact, many lyrics throughout the album, especially those in ‘Book Of Revelation’, showcase his atheist views, “I’ve seen the world/ And there’s no heaven and there’s no hell”. 

Whilst the beginning of the set whiffed of the slight sense of unease, it didn’t take long for the band to propel themselves into full-action mode, Pierce dropping one of the very highlights of the first album ‘Best Friend’ two songs in, a strange and twisted story of the death of an intimate companion,“You were my best friend/ but then you died”. With the introduction of new members to their live performances, the sound is certainly tighter to say the least. Throughout the latter of the night, it’s evident the group are aiming to play the more favourable classics,surfing on their chiming summer-soaked melodies and infectious vocals; ‘Forever And Ever Amen’ does a swift job of involving the close-knit crowd, whilst rousing renditions of ‘Me And The Moon’ and ‘Jonny Don’t Be A Jerk’ treat the closely-knit crowd well. Pierce cuts a flowing figure throughout, closing his eyes as he rides pulsing rhythms of Morrisey-style stage-presence referencing sunny-side Beach Boy’s and British 1980’s indie-rock totems Orange Juice and The Pastels.

The Drums – Book of Revelation


Despite being relatively new to Portamento material, the audience don’t take long to catch on to sophomore material ‘Book Of Revelation’ and ‘Days’, whilst ‘Money’ – a tail of wanting to buy someone a gift and not being able to afford it – attracts sufferers of the recession and looters alike. One obvious change in terms of sound in the new album is the introduction of airy synthesizers adding more texture, ‘How It Ended’ delivering unnerving notes. However, as the encore drears on it is clear the songs insinuate a lack of variety, guitarist Connor Hanwick previously admitting he doesn’t even know what chords are. Unsurprisingly and, unfortunately to say the least, glistening ‘Let’s Go Surfing’ is boycotted, Pierce announcing his anger at a crowd member for continuously requesting the song leaving many fans scratching their heads. Whilst Drums have been mistaken in the past for being period to past icons, they are an eccentric piece of lovingly engaging music that not even the most critical can detract.

Dan Sartain - Too Tough To Live

Dan Sartain

Too Tough To Live

Released: Jan 30 2012

Genre: Rock

Label: Swami

Rating: 3.8/5


By: Dan Titcombe

Dan Sartain’s latest album; Too Tough To Live is an inspirational record

Too Tough To Live is a rock album compiled of short songs, and by short I mean songs of 1-2 minutes in length but this isn’t a bad thing – he has kept all his songs short and sweet.

Dan’s style of music has similarities with; The Clash and even Queens of the Stone Age (if your looking for some of the rhythmic guitar) and these days there doesn’t seem to be enough of this type of rock music, so this album is a very welcome edition to the music world.

The album is compiled of 13 songs, some are a bit hit and miss when it comes to diversity, but overall the majority of the tracks have a strong vibe to them. As the songs are so short there’s hardly any room for the lyrics to have any emotional meaning, but nearly every tune is contagious and will have you dancing in seconds.

The song; ‘Even At My Worst I’m Better Than You’ is one of the stand out tracks on the album, with a great rhythm guitar mainly compiled of power chords this song delivers the kind of ‘I don’t need anyone’ message that will put you instantly into a good mood!.

Boo Hoo Hoo’ is another great song on this album, again with a great rhythm that evokes a  ‘lets do something stupid’ atmosphere, which when paired with the right situation could lead to great times. This song has the power and potential to make memories.

Because every song on this album is so short it is an easy listen and highly enjoyable. This record may lack some diversity, but it has to be said if you like the type of music that inspires reckless and fun behavior then Dan Sartain and his album Too Tough To Live is definitely for you.

Dan Sartain – Now Now Now