Dead Jerichos - Please Yourself

Dead Jerichos

Please Yourself EP

Released: Nov 14 2011

Genre: New Wave

Label: Def Jam

Rating: 2/5

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By: Dan Titcombe

The first song on the  EP is the self titled; ‘Please Yourself’, with a good rhythm and tempo this song has real charm. It’s the kind of song that will have you bobbing your head within the first 10 seconds. The Dead Jerichos vocalist has a similar style of singing to that of Yannis Philippakis which suits the hectic music style perfectly.

‘Spaces and Sounds’ is the next track on the EP, which starts with a great little guitar riff that makes short appearances through-out the song and it has a really catchy chorus. Unfortunately there’s little else to analyse here as ‘Space and Sounds’ is  dangerously similar to the previous track.

The last two songs on the EP are remixes of the first two tracks, in my own opinion they’re nothing too special as these new sounds are essentially minor song manipulation – which doesn’t impress that much.

Overall the EP starts off great with ‘Please Yourself’, which is the track to listen to, however, the lack of diversity really pulls this record down.

Dead Jerichos – Please Yourself 

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Mint Julep – Why Don’t We

Ahead of debut album Save Your Season, released later this month, Mint Julep have released a single that once again showcases the extraordinary talent this husband-and-wife collection possess. The vocals of Hollie Kenniff are ideal for pop – in Why Don’t We, despite a fairly minimal composition, Kenniff’s vocals almost solely build up a crescendo. Following on from the brilliant Aviary, the release of debut album Save Your Season could quite easily shortlist Mint Julep for many ‘Breakthrough Artist of the Year’ awards.

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Bastille – Laura Palmer

Continuing with the pop trend, the success of Flaws seems to have motivated Bastille to produce another collection of epic indie-dance, in the form of the Laura Palmer EP. It will surely be passed aside by the ostentatious; but if you look beyond the routine lyrics, Bastille have in fact mastered the art of captivating pop production – and even more impressively, without the backing of the 4×4, 130bpm beat that seems to be the obligatory adhesive for 99% of todays chart music.

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Swimming – Neutron Wireless Crystal 

The second single from Nottingham-based Swimming is the euphoric Neutron Wireless Crystal. Not the freshest track selection by any means, but this is worth digging back up, as such impressive use of synths and hectic instrumentals aren’t offered anywhere near enough from bands and artists from the UK. Neutron Wireless Crystal sounds like a melancholy Late of the Pier – the instrumental depth and electronical layering is there, but the vocals bring this record back down to earth a notch.

VVOLVES - When I'm Down

VVOLVES

When I’m Down

Released: Oct 03 2011

Genre: Indie Rock

Label: Peski Records

Rating: 3.0/5

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By: James Murray

Originally written for The 405

Stylised band names seem to be in fashion. VVOLVES might not take their quirkiness to the lengths of tUnE-yArDs – but with such bands it can be difficult to see beyond their barefaced attempts of flamboyance. Luckily, in both cases, these bands carry the unique punch to justify their textual gaudiness; though in the case of VVOLVES their music certainly isn’t as far-out as the title suggests.

It’s incredible how swiftly bands can move on and adapt their musical style, and there are fewer cases where this is more relevant than with VVOLVES. In January of this year their self-titled EP was released; a fast-paced, electronic influenced indie pop record, quite comparable to Klaxons and other (controversially labelled) nu-rave bands of the 00s. The When I’m Down EP, however, takes a much more melancholy approach. The feel-good aura is still tangible, but VVOLVES focus has shifted away from their original eccentricity – instead taking a step backwards into the shadows of their 80s influencers.

‘Clearer’ is a suitably named opener. With a strong focus on vocals that aren’t present in earlier releases, it wouldn’t be outrageous to compare the record to the earlier sounds of The Cure. VVOLVES have definitely moved away from their electronic roots, but it’d be unfair to brand them as backwards or dated. The nostalgic value is certainly there, but more relevant music tendencies give this band their splash of originality. Incongruous to their generally uplifting sound, at times eerie patches of musicianship arise – in closing track ‘Where You’d Start’, vocals aside, much of the track wouldn’t sound out of place beside some of The Horrors later work.

The When I’m Down EP isn’t ground-breaking, but it’s a successful music experiment for a band making such a radical side-step. Later releases will clarify whether changing direction is a smart move, but When I’m Down certainly shows signs of potential. VVOLVES show no lack of musicianship, the only worry is whether this newly-found panache carries enough novelty to stand out from the rest on a musical level, and not just on print.

VVOLVES – Where You’d Start

Braille - A Meaning

Braille

A Meaning

Released: Sept 12 2011

Genre: House

Label: Hotflush Recordings

Rating: 4.0/5

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By: James Bishop

Praveen Sharma, a.k.a Braille and one half of Sepalcure has certainly been making waves in the world of electronic music over the past year.

As part of Sepalcure, he and Travis Stewart (Machinedrum) have released two acclaimed EP’s on Hotflush, cementing their place among the big players in the bass market, while the duo have just announced they are to release a full album on the label later this year.

Under his Braille moniker, Sharma has gone down more of a house route, while still taking inspiration from the woozy tones of Sepalcure.

His first solo release, The Year 3000, released on Rush Hour in April laid the foundations for A Meaning, combining on-point production with warm textures and manipulated vocal samples to create two soulful house tracks.

The four tracks on A Meaning all still have a warm glow to them and are satisfyingly bubbly and danceable, something that seems to becoming a recent trend, with Hotflush label boss Scuba also taking much more of dancefloor friendly approach with his forthcoming Adrenalin EP.

A Meaning begins with the title track opening slowly with a series of drum kicks before descending into a dark, driven beat, complemented nicely by a chopped up vocal sample.

Riverbed is more of an up-tempo number, full of off-beat tribal sounding drums that make way midway through the track to allow the wirey beat to flourish.

Breakup continues where Riverbed left off with plenty more punchy drum work in a more emotive track (as the title suggests), while final cut Chain Gang is another pacey affair that has a rising bassline in amongst plenty of clicks and glitches, proving Sharma has plenty of strings to his bow, and rounding off an excellent debut EP on Hotflush nicely.

Braille – A Meaning

Masters In France – Inhale

Masters In France

Inhale

Released: Sept 19 2011

Genre: Indie Rock

Label: Bone Dry Recordings

Rating: 2.5/5

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By Chris Fishlock

After gaining a lot of support from Radio One, Masters in France unleash their debut EP via their own imprint Bone Dry Recordings.

For a band this early in their career, Inhale sounds very professional and well produced. Opening with the catchy and infectious Mad Hatter the EP is strong with a mix of tempos giving each track an original sound, such as the slower paced Orbitoclast.

Many tracks on this EP deserve to be on indie dance floors across the country with the EP having an overall very danceable sound, particularly in highlight track Greyhounds with its
fast moving guitar to go with the brilliant beats held by the drums and bass, the track sounds like Franz Ferdinand if they were making an effort to get a whole party dancing.

Masters In France use their mixture of instruments to make an incredibly ambitious and danceable EP with interesting ideas and commercial sounds it’s easy to see why Radio One are keen to keep an eye on this band.

Masters In France – Greyhounds

Look, Stranger! - If You're Listening

Look, Stranger!

If You’re Listening

Released: June 13 2011

Genre: Alternative / Electronic

Label: Look, Stranger!

Rating: 3.0/5

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By: Dan Titcombe

Look, Stranger! Are an electro/alternative band that use sound effects to aid the unique atmosphere of their music – and there’s good evidence of this in their EP, ‘If You’re Listening’.

The opening, record titled track, “If Your Listening” sets the LP off with a captivating beat and an all-round buoyant track – complete with up-beat piano and guitar riff which sets (what can only be described as a) Keane-esque feel.

As the EP continues and we progress into “Look Around You” a peculiar “rewind” sound effect ends the track with the same up beat tempo as “If You’re Listening” – as the track progresses, disappointingly, the two barely differ. If it wasn’t for the sound effect at the beginning, you may believe that you were still listening to the opening song.

Unfortunately “Dance Away” starts off with the same problem, but when the chorus kicks in we are introduced to a rather captivating guitar riff. “Dance Away” then adopts a different feel in comparison to the prior tracks on the EP. The vocals throughout this track are comparable to those of Matt Bellamy, sadly however, at times “Dance Away” does verge on repetitive with similar styles used throughout.

“Wade Out” is a sadder song than its predecessors, which uses a guitar riff to help set an almost therapeutic atmosphere. As “Wade Out” progresses the beat increases and more instruments and sound effects are employed until a “marching band” beat comes into the mix. The tempo of “Wade Out” changes throughout – it has a unique feel to it and certainly takes the highlight spot of the album – along with the opening track.

“Look, Stranger!” have utilized some unique sounds in this EP, but unfortunately and disappointingly the tracks sound too similar. If the band’s aim was to mould their songs together they have succeeded – but it does produce a lazy listening experience. Look, Stranger! have shown glimpses of some good potential in their tracks – they just need to experiment more in the future.


Look, Stranger! – If You’re Listening

The Good Natured - Skeleton EP

The Good Natured

Skeleton EP

Released: June 20 2011

Genre: Electronica / Pop

Label: Parlophone

Rating: 4.0/5

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By: Diether Scholten

The Skeleton EP is three fast-paced electro-pop songs with thriving drums that pretty much anyone can relate to. To take this pumped-up mix filled with ingenious metaphors even further, Sarah McIntosh, the singer and front-woman of the band, has added a little gothic flavor to the table.

The first track on the EP by The Good Natured trio is the playfully named Skeleton, an ode to the core of every human being.  This resembles what is left-over when one takes away all emotions and appearance of a human. When everything is “ripped off”, as Sarah sings it, you are left with a skeleton – yet this is sung so happily that it seems weird that Sarah isn’t doing “the robot” in the music video. As for the instrumentals, George’s drumming is very clear and simple – yet they give the song such a distinctive rhythm.

You might have guessed that the second song, Hourglass, is about time – it’s more profound, concerning time slipping away and extracting the good moments from life. Presumably Sarah is having a good time with somebody – but that will only last for an hour. The lyrics describe this situation in a very gothic manner. Both instrumentally and vocally Hourglass is a great song – sounding as if the instruments are having a conversation with each other. The only down-side to this song is that the chorus might be just a little bit too cheerful, and this contradicts the melancholic mood of the lyrics.

The third track, Wolves describes a pack of wolves “dancing in the fire” and being “lost in desire”.  Even the drums and the bass seem to captivate you overwhelmingly, as you feel as though anything could happen. After listening to this song a couple of times it evokes images of people dancing and jumping over a fire.

Sarah’s great accent and use of timing combined with George’ and Hamish’ instrumentals makes for a very catchy trio. These are the kind of songs which you don’t mind being stuck in your head for a while – so why not let the Skeleton EP run right through your bones?

The Good Natured – Wolves