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

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.

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.

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 

Slow Down, Molasses - Walk Into The Sea

Slow Down, Molasses

Walk into the Sea

Released: Mar 15 2011

Genre: Alternative/Indie

Label: Little Pictures

Rating: 3/5

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By: Dan Titcombe

Slow Down, Molasses are an alternative/indie band that share a similar sound to ‘Snow Patrol’ so if you like them the chances are that you will love Slow Down, Molasses. Little Pictures released their album Walk into the Sea on March, 15 2011 and as mentioned before if you like the style of music that Snow Patrol give it is worth giving these guys ago!

There are a couple of great tracks on this album but the stand out track is ‘Late Night Radio’, the song starts with a rhythmic guitar and drum beat (the kind that would get your blood pumping and you up and moving). The song breaks down halfway through to give of an almost atmospheric feeling of suspense, and when the song finally does pick up again it grants a great ending to an amazing song. This track is also available for a free download and is definitely worth listening to, in order to help form a good opinion of the band, so what are you waiting for?

The opening song on the album is titled; ‘Sometimes We All Fall Apart’, this song offers an overall feeling of what to expect from these guys, the song starts off slow paced and almost depressing accompanied by beautiful lyrics but it does build up and blend seamlessly into the next song.

These are both two very different songs from the band that portrayed completely different emotions whilst keeping the same style that represents the band and to be able to do this they must have a lot of talent, so if you like the kind of rhythmic styling’s those similar to ‘Snow Patrol’ this band could be one for you!

Slow Down, Molasses – We All Fall Apart