Fairewell - Poor, Poor Grendel

Fairewell

Poor, Poor Grendel

Released: Dec 5 2011

Genre: Synth Pop/Post Rock

Label: Sonic Cathedral Recordings

Rating: 6/10

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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

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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

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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!

Foxes!

Foxes!

Released: Jan 16 2012

Genre: Indie Pop

Label: Big Salad

Rating: 8/10

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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.