Puzzle Muteson - En Garde

Puzzle Muteson

En Garde

Released: June 6 2011

Genre: Folk / Acoustic

Label: Bedroom Community

Rating: 4/5

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By: Alexandra Lyon

En Garde is the debut album of an artist who, until now, has remained relatively unknown.

Puzzle Muteson, hailing from the Isle of Wight, was noticed by his music teacher for his flawless guitar technique and extraordinary voice. Similar to the indie crooner Damien Rice, his songs are ruthless in that they pull the trigger on all possible emotions of the listener.

Guitar patterns similar to those used by Rice are prevalent in I Once Was a Horse, and the title track, En Garde. Though the album is not one to rejoice and dance to, it is without doubt beautiful, bizarre and completely original. In several songs, his voice transforms; and more power emerges. In Water Rising, for example, his voice is reminiscent of Gary Jules’, in his version of Mad World, featured on the soundtrack to the 2003 film, Donnie Darko. This change in tone proves that Puzzle Muteson is dynamic, novel, and a breath of fresh air to the acoustic/folk genre.

The opening track, I Once Was a Horse utilises the sounds of the outdoors throughout, alongside a beautiful finger-picked guitar melody and several twinkly chords played in the higher registers of a piano. Through this, we are really exposed to his rural roots, and how they may have inspired him in his music. Towards the end of the track, haunting choral female vocals are added, though they remain fairly muted. It is a beautiful, understated showcase of vocal ability and instrumental simplicity.

A track to look out for is Medusa, as the opening of the track introduces an electric acoustic guitar, giving a different, almost Biffy Clyro-esque feel to the music. The drums and string instruments used in the track are similar in style to those used by Florence Welch in the majority of her tracks, so we are enlightened as to who could influence Puzzle Muteson and how he does his own take on alternative music.

Alphabet Eyes and Glover are fairly similar in pace and sound, both using not much more than the austere layering of Puzzle Muteson’s admittedly impeccable vocal, an acoustic guitar, and a piano. Glover however, does differ in that it employs the use of a backing vocal in several places; a strong male one at that.

The bonus track appears aptly, a significant end to a significant album. The lyrics are penned sublimely, hard-hitting and still gentle. This track is similar to several written by Manchester Orchestra, mainly in the texture of Puzzle Muteson’s vocal and melancholy guitar riffs. The melody is disjunct in places, giving an odd vibe, and random use of percussion instruments like tambourines give a childish, innocent feel to the track.

Overall, as a debut album, this particular record is stunning. Its simplicity doesn’t detract from any expectations that anyone may have had of the album – in fact its simple tones enhance the crisp, unfaltering vocal throughout. A perfect example of hipster break-up music, this album perfectly captures the emotions of a troubled mind; fans of acoustic music are in for a treat when they come to hear this enchanting selection of tracks by a man from a humble island off the south coast of England.

Puzzle Muteson – En Garde

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Emmy The Great - Virtue

Emmy The Great 

Virtue 

Released: June 13 2011

Genre: Folk / Acoustic

Label: Capitol, Parlophone

Rating: 4.0/5

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By: Dan Titcombe

The best way to describe Emmy The Great (or Emma-Lee Moss) would be a cross between Ellie Goulding and Norah Jones.

Emma’s album; Virtue, comes across as a very enjoyable listen – with a few truly exceptional songs.

Originally, the album started out as a purely third person project – but took on a personal tinge when Emma got caught up in her fiancé’s sudden religious conversion and the break-up of their relationship. As a result of this you can really sense her emotions coming through, and this has shaped this album in a positive way.

The first track on the album Dinosaur Sex starts off with a slow build up of flutes and atmospheric sounds until an acoustic guitar and violin kick in with a steady drum beat. Dinosaur Sex has a very slow tempo which is accompanied by Emma’s soft vocals.

A Woman, a Woman, a Century of Sleep is a very different song compared to the majority of tracks on the album. This song has a much darker undertone which really exerts Emma’s emotions. A Woman, a Woman, a Century of Sleep would seem to be an obvious future single choice.

The third track on the album is Iris, this song has a very 70s feel about it, it is up-beat and has a captivating rhythm built up of snare drums and bass lines. When the chorus arrives the tempo increases slightly, and so does the overall rhythm of the song. Iris is one of the happiest tracks onVirtue.

Creation is another track where you can really sense Emma’s emotions coming through. Creation has a dark undertone, which is present throughout much of the record. A unique feature to this track is that the dark undertone is maintained by a cello, which produces an animalistic sound – this song builds up as it progresses until it ends with an abrupt stop, leaving a soft fade of the cello.

Exit Night/ Juliet’s Theme is very similar to the opening track on the album – it has a very similar beat and instrumental set up, the tempo and rhythm of the song changes as the song progresses, and overall this song is a very enjoyable listen.

The penultimate track on the album North is one of the more melancholy tracks on the album – it has a slow tempo and beat to it. Throughout North you can really sense Emma’s passion and emotions – especially when she is joined by a piano and backing singers throughout the chorus.

Overall, Emmy the Great is a welcome addition to the modern music world. Virtue is a very enjoyable and emotional listening experience – and this album could very well put Emmy the Great in the musical spotlight alongside similar female vocalists such as Ellie Goulding.


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

Sarabeth Tucek - Get Well Soon

Sarabeth Tucek - Get Well Soon

Sarabeth Tucek

Get Well Soon

Released: April 11 2011

Genre: Acoustic / Folk

Label: Sonic Cathedral

Rating: 4.5/5

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By: Alexandra Lyon

Sarabeth Tucek, originally from Miami, never intended to be a singer or songwriter. In fact, it was her dream to follow a career in acting, and it was only after meeting Anton Newcombe of the Brian Jonestown Massacre that she decided to learn the guitar and to sing professionally. Not everyone would agree, but I’m glad that she made that choice.

Her latest album is everything you could ask for if you want heartfelt, raw honesty and beautiful folk melodies. At first glance, it could be mistaken for just another album by a woman with a guitar, writing about lakes and grass – this however couldn’t be further from the truth. Tucek’s song-writing abilities are near faultless, and her lyrics are just as imaginative as the ones composed for her early EPs. In some tracks, notably “Things Left Behind”, her voice is reminiscent of the eccentric Canadian singer Joni Mitchell. This tone causes the album to be terribly intriguing from start to finish.

The acoustic nature of this album is very relaxing. Tucek’s voice, her guitar and the slow beat of a drum kit in the background make for perfect easy-listening. The first track is a relatively short one, almost like the prologue of a book. Clever, really, as the album is written in an almost story-like fashion. The last track on the album, and indeed the title track, is almost like a ‘note-to-self’. “Get Well Soon” is vocally stunning; the lyrics are odd, for example she begs “Please, don’t cut my trees..”. In context, however, we can see that she’s more likely talking in general about things being taken away from her. It’s far from upbeat, but the melody and the finger-picking of the ever prominent guitar make for a lovely track.

Others to look out for are “State I Am In”, which sounds in places by Sheryl Crow’s infamous “The First Cut Is The Deepest”, and “Smile For No-One”. All of the songs deserve to be noticed but these are the two that really stand out vocally. The only song that didn’t really catch my attention was “At The Bar”, as it doesn’t really differ from any of the other tracks, and it was fairly slow in it’s progression. However, it is refreshing to be able to picture what someone’s life may look like through words and chords, and this is certainly the case when the all 12 tracks run fluidly through 44 glorious minutes of a broken heart.

Sarabeth has proved “Get Well Soon” that she is an artist to be contended with. Most folk/acoustic fans would agree that “Get Well Soon” is a highly enjoyable album, and will look forward to hearing her next release – although whether she’ll manage to compose something equally as good in the future is questionable.

Listen to ‘Get Well Soon’ by Sarabeth Tucek:

 

 

I don’t think attendance is marked cos mine went from 80 to 100
Lightspeed Champion - Life Is Sweet! Nice To Meet You

Lightspeed Champion - Life Is Sweet! Nice To Meet You

Lightspeed Champion

Life Is Sweet! Nice To Meet You

Released: Feb 15 2010

Genre: Indie/Acoustic

Label: Domino Records

Rating: 3.3/5

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Life Is Sweet! Nice to Meet You is a complete progression from the last Lightspeed Champion album; Hynes still keeps his special song writing talent, but more heavily incorporates more instruments and more experimentation on this album than he did on Falling off the Lavender Bridge. Although violins feature on many tracks on the debut album, they take a far more dominance on this record, as well as this Hynes experiments much more with the electric guitar, a tool he used a lot less on the debut album.

As usual on Life Is Sweet! Nice to Meet You Dev’s vocals are completly infectious, as he sings so many of his addictive lyrics, his voice fits in perfectly with the blend of guitar, violin and piano that he sings on top of, whether the music is full on, all instruments playing chords, or if it’s a simple synth beat he sings on top of he pushes his voice in a direction that fits just right for the song and the pace of the song.

Another great feature on this album are the intermissions, where we mainly hear Dev experimenting with various music. With Intermission 1 we hear Dev over laying piano and synths on top of each other giving an interesting short composition, where as with Intermission 2 we hear Dev experimenting with drumming, and then finally we have Etude Op. 3 Goodnight Michalek, where we hear Dev playing more classical piano at a much faster pace than Intermission 1. If Dev decided to do the next Lightspeed Champion album completely instrumentally he would be able to pull it off, especially if it was in the style of Intermission 1. The highlight tracks on the album are undoubtedly I Don’t Want To Wake Up Alone, a violin and piano led song, perfectly paced but is rather short at 2:29; the other highlight track is the follower Madame Van Damme which features interesting guitar technique with the infectious ‘Kill me baby wont you kill be’ it’s a song that can be listened to for days and days, certainly one of the more timeless stand out tracks on this album.

Overall the album is a nice progression from the debut, but does not offer the amazing album feel that the debut possesses. As good as this album is, it simply doesn’t compare to Falling Off The Lavender Bridge which was  one of the best albums of 2008. This album is not one of the best of 2010, it is a decent album, but just seems to lack the amazing tracks that the first contained, such as Midnight Surprise and Galaxy of the Lost. None of the songs on this album really show Dev’s fantastic song writing talent as much as tracks on the first album do, and for this reason Life Is Sweet! Nice To Meet You is a slight disappointment.

~ Article by Chris Fishlock