Archive for the ‘Record Reviews’ Category

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With the untimely departure of Howard Jones from Killswitch Engage, the internet became a plethora of rumours and hearsays.

Who was going to don the microphone and become the new front man of the masters of metal core?

The most likely candidate was Phil Labonte, the lead vocalist of All That Remains, who had already helped Killswitch finish their tour after Jones left. Until it was officially announced, Jesse Leach would be giving up his side project, Times of Grace and would return to claim his throne as the lead singer of Killswitch Engage.

With Jesse reunited with his former band members, Mike D’Antonio, Justin Foley, Joel Stroetzel and Adam Dutkiewicz both of the latter were also in Leach’s side project.

Their single, ‘In Due Time’, was released February 5th 2013. This single was the first release following Killswitch Engage’s previous self-titled album, which left a lot to be desired, and it was with this single the Killswitch rose as a phoenix from the ash.

Following the norm of Killswtch’s metalcore raison d’etre, Leach has incorporated his melodic vocals with gnarly growls and pitch perfect screaming. Unlike Leach’s debut album, ‘In Due Time’ has a much stronger integration of clean melodic vocals, which he has vastly improved and nigh perfected since his last album with Killswitch Engage.

Dutckiewicz, their lead guitarist, has seldom changed his form since the birth of Killswitch, and with good reason. The riffs are catchy and gather pace, pulling the growling vocals fluently through to the clean vocals. The well timed, excellently executed solo that Dutkewicz is better known for create a brilliant break in the track, adding  face-melting power cords and an awesome rhythmic ‘shredding’ to the progression of ‘In Due Time’.

Foley’s double bass drum adds a fearsome under beat so commonly associated within the realms of metalcore. The fast pace of the bass glues together the symphony of vocals and guitar, making for a well-crafted, well welded piece of metal music.

All in all, a beautiful hybrid of ‘Times of Grace’ and old ‘Killswitch Engage’, though I have to admit, I do miss some of Leach’s heavier gnarly growls that once added a brutal depth to their art. How do you feel about ‘In Due Time’?

-Words by Ashley King-

 

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Haim: ‘The wire’

Posted: January 7, 2014 in Record Reviews

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The three sisters from California, Haim, took the UK by storm this summer and rolled in 16th in Rolling Stones top 100 songs of 2013 with their single ‘ The wire’ from debut album ‘days are gone’ and was by far my favourite song of the year. The song starts with basic clap beats before Este Haim’s clever bass comes in and before you know it you’re tapping your feet and nodding your head to Danielle Haim’s soothing voice, the lyrics are catchy and make the song one you’ll be singing all day aloud, no matter how hard you try not to. Unlike the bands previous singles it’s less soaked in synth and it features all three of the sisters singing, giving it a less electro pop and more rock pop vibe. Ariel Rechtshaid, the producer behind the song, brings the bite with clever hooks and backing vocals that make you want to jam along as if you’re in a 70’s indie rock band especially when the screeches of guitar and crashing symbols come in at the end of the song to round off the perfect four minute ensemble of sheer talent.  The song brings back the alternative rock that has seemed to disappear in the last few years of music and it brings it back cooler than it’s ever been making the wire my favourite song of 2013.

-Words By Caitlin Fraser-

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Lapsus Linguae is a Glaswegian band, that (according to the information on their website) stopped touring a few years ago, when the members decided to start recording their songs and bringing out both an EP and an album (both brought out this year).

It’s hard to take four guys who named themselves Penelope Collegefriend, T-bon E the Magnificent, Megaloof Taylor and Raga Wu, serious. And even though it seems to fit the music and their band name, it seems a little bit pretentious.

The song I got sent to review is called ‘Flight of the Enola Gaye‘, a song about the aircraft that dropped the first atom bomb on Hiroshima in 1945. Definitely an interesting subject to write a song about and the chaotic atmosphere of the song does provide the ideal setting for the story.

But even though this chaos matches the story, it is a bit too chaotic at moments. Especially in the louder parts of the song, there is just too much going on and it leaves the listener with quite an agitated feeling.

As the story seems to be a particular important part of the song, it is quite frustrating that the lyrics are barely audible. Even though the music speaks for itself when it comes to the eerie atmosphere, the aggressiveness in the vocals make it seem like there might be a bit more to the words than just the story about a bomber, as if there is a more subtle and personal meaning to the lyrics.

But there’s no denial in saying that the music is technically good. The use of complex rhythms, rather strange chord patterns and song structure aren’t something you hear on a daily basis and are quite impressive. The piano intro, the almost demonic sounding first verse and basically the whole song could have been the soundtrack of  ‘the nightmare before Christmas’. And although the singing in the quieter parts isn’t that interesting, the lead singer’s feeling for theatre adds plenty of drama to make up for that.

Lapsus Linguae manages to set the eerie scene that you can expect of a song about bombs causing lots of death and disaster. But to me, this song seems to be much longer than 5 minutes and if it was a bit more coherent and less chaotic it would be easier to listen to.

-Words By Thom Rondeel-

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Hunter & the Bear, a folk trio formed by Jimmy Hunter and Will Irvine, recently released their debut EP ‘Dusty Road. An EP that is full of melancholy and that brings you back to a dark pub on a rainy night, sitting next to a warm fire with a beer in front of you.

An impressive list of gigs (supporting Bruce Springsteen and Kasabian), even before they released their debut, does give them quite a head start when listening to their EP.

The opening track and single, Forest on the Hill, starts with an upbeat, mysterious sounding guitar, accompanied by mandolin, which immediately draws your attention. But when Hunter starts to sing I can’t help but compare them to Mumford & Sons, although Hunter & the Bear is more of a rough cousin than a twin. The violin and female backing vocal in the North bring up a melancholic desire to leave the city and to (like the song says) ‘Sail towards the sun. And that desire, which you can hear back in most of the songs, is what makes me want to listen to it again.

Maybe it is unfair to compare them to a band like Mumford & Sons, when that’s a comparison easily made when you hear a mandolin or banjo and harmonising vocals. The bluegrass/Americana influence does make it sound a bit different though and their vocals sound a lot tougher than those of their British colleagues.

But the first three songs are all quite predictable and even though the last song Taliesin, starts with a different and more poppy sounding intro, it gets quite predictable again afterwards.

Hunter sings a lot about ‘the road and other mysterious destinations, but maybe they should try to leave the main street, take a side-way and make the journey a bit more interesting.

Would I buy their EP? No, but don’t get me wrong, I liked their songs and I would definitely enjoy seeing them live. Listening to them did make me curious to see how they develop in the future and I wouldn’t be surprised to see them appear on a lot of festivals coming summer.

-Words by: Thom Rondeel-

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Leanne Smith is back again with this stunning new single. All profits made from this track will go to the CLAN Support Centre based in Aberdeen.

The support centre is an independent charity for anyone affected by any type of cancer at any time for diagnosis onwards. Whether affected personally, as a carer, family member or close friend, their service is available to anyone who needs it.

The track begins with an amazing guitar solo, sounding great. Shortly after the beautiful voice of 20 year old Leanne Smith starts to sing.

Her soft gental and fragile voice instantly catches the attention to all who are lucky enough to hear it.

Smith handle the notes exceptionally well, especially those high ones. The voice doesn’t dominate the track which makes hearing it twice as better.

The track is written by Smith herself. Lyrically the song is fantastic, it is well written and easy to listen to.

The backing music (the guitar) also played by Smith harmonised extremely well with the vocals and put together, a beautiful song is created.

The guitars opining to the song sound like one of those great county records that everyone knows the dance to.

“There’s no written rule

on what to do when I miss you,

you’re still alive,

only I can’t see you.”

These lyrics grabs my attention because they make sense to me, I can relate to them. They mean that when you miss someone, it feels like they’re gone for good, like you’re never going to see them again and it feels just like they’re dead, even though they are still completely alive, it’s the pain that follows losing someone.

‘Can’t See You’ is one of those songs that everyone will soon know and love, so much so that you will annoy your neighbours because you end up playing it on repeat for days on end and never get bored of it.

Every great artists needs great inspirations and its no surprise that those who inspire Smith is some of the greatest: “My favorite artists are Ben Howard, Lucy Rose, Daughter, Bon Iver, City and Colour, Regina Spektor, Jose Gonzalez, John Butler and Rachel Sermanni.”

Everyone can in some way or another connect to this song, its beautifully sung and written, well worth a listen. Plus it’s for a good cause so get downloading!

-Words By Michele Kennedy-

Download from ITunes here: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/cant-see-you-single/id724598805

Static Future: ‘Last Exit’

Posted: November 24, 2013 in Record Reviews

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The opening to this track is a stunning guitar intro that sounds like one of those classic rock tunes, the ones with the amazing guitar solo in the middle.

The following drum beat backs up this assumption, however, when vocalist Gavin Marshall starts to sing, the track sounds completely different.

Not in a bad way, his voice works for the band, they have created their own style of music. Marshall brings something new to the band and you can most certainly hear it in this track.

Lyrically, I wouldn’t imagine someone singing alone to it in a car but listening to it drinking a glass of wine at home after a long day’s hard work at the office.

Don’t let that fool you into thinking that the song isn’t one to dancing along to at a bar, because after a few drinks you can most defantly dance along to it, the backing music makes that possible.

Drummer Harry Parlane keeps the beat of the track well and doesn’t dominate the track. He allows everyone an equal role to play and that is essential to making this track sound as good as it does.

-Words By Michele Kennedy-

This is one to look out for, go crazy and but the album, you won’t be disappointed.

Listen here! 

Lost Ghosts: ‘Summer Nothing’

Posted: November 24, 2013 in Record Reviews

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Sitting here in my bed, I receive an email asking me to review this track. I think ‘great more work on top of all my college deadlines; but hey, I wanted to be a music journalist and this is the sort of thing I have to get used to, deadlines, countless reviews and so on.

Now I had never heard of this band before I got sent the task of reviewing them, so naturally, before even looking at the track, I Google that band, for background information and to let myself know what kind of band I am about to listen to, being all informed and all that.

I don’t know why but I was shocked to find that a girl was on lead vocals. Anyway, after a while of researching I click the play button. First thing I hear? A great guitar opening, not too in your face though, it’s sort of like a peaceful sound but at the same time, the type of sound you know will be upbeat and sound great.

Shortly after, I hear the female vocalist for the first time and again I am shocked that the fact that she is a woman, still don’t know why.

However, her voice works well and you can most certainly hear her Glasgow accent. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, Gabriella Biazotti’s voice harmonises with the great backing music created by Gary Carlton (drums and backing vocals), Derek Connor (guitar and synths) and Daniel Young (bass and backing vocals).

The song addresses breaking out and searching for answers about failed or failing relationships but does so in a way people will enjoy. You can’t tell that the song is about such a thing because it is so upbeat and catchy.

The background music lifts your spirits and actually makes you feel good about completing whatever task you have at hand, in my case that’ll be studying.

So sitting here complaining about my work load was for nothing because this track playing in the background actually helped me, it made time go faster and it made studying more enjoyable, which I didn’t think was possible.

-Words By Michele Kennedy-

Listen here:


Leanne Smith: ‘Canals’

Posted: November 24, 2013 in Record Reviews

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Trying to keep on top of my workload now I now look at the list of possible reviews and I come across the name ‘Leanne Smith’, somehow that name grabs my eye and I start digging into her background. I find a link on her Facebook page that allows you the chance to listen to her perform her new single ‘canal’ live at Clearwater.

The song begins with a beautiful acoustic guitar solo that instantly grabs your attention, played by Smith. The guitar intro start to pick up the pace slightly in preparation for the gorgeous vocals on Smith herself.

The song was written by herself and done so brilliantly. I was surprised to discover that this very talented individual is just 20 years old.

Her soft and fragile voice works well with the track, her voice is the type you can listen to all day easily, I have had ‘Canals’ on repeat a few times by now and it just keeps sounding better each time.

The Scottish accent come out throughout the song but that doesn’t cause any problems for her, it works well in her favour. Her album is defiantly work buying.

I can now study listening to all these great new artists, especially from Miss Smith as you can’t help but feel relaxed while listening to her stunning voice.

-Words By Michele Kennedy-

Listen to it here : 

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With all the good tracks I’ve listened to recently in order to review them, I was expecting these tracks to be just as good, just as catchy and just as bouncy enough to have you swaying on your seat at the Bar or even singing badly to in the car, however, you don’t need to worry about that because The Only Living Boy does that for you.

The first track I come across is called ‘Second Girl To Break My Heart’. I hit play, expecting this amazing voice to follow the decent instruments. Instead I get this pitchy, out of tune vocals.

This is what I expect to hear from some poor guy from the X factor to sing at his live audition, I never understood the phrase “sounds like someone killing a cat” until I heard this.

However, I decide to give the band the benefit of the doubt and think it was just a one off, so I continued to listen to the other tracks.

The second song I come across is one called ‘In The Morning’, again it sounded terrible, even my dog who is sitting next to me left the room.

I have a quick listen to the other tracks hoping that it gets better, besides how worse can it get right? I couldn’t be more wrong, ‘The Counsellor Song’ is the worst yet.

Throughout it just sound like someone screaming, some drunk guy on karaoke after one too many beers. They are expecting people to pay for this kind of music.

I feel bad writing this but I can’t lie, maybe it’s just because it’s not my type of music I don’t know but this certainly didn’t go down well for me.

The only thing I liked listening to this EP is the backing music, the guitarist is soft and gentle where needed to be, it’s just too bad the vocals kills any chance of it ever being good.

-Words By Michele Kennedy-

The new single featuring Busted is one to look out for. The boys are back and better than ever with this catchy news single.

The song begins with an attention getting drum solo guaranteed to get your feet tapping, hands clapping and body swaying. Adding to this there is very good use of a harmonica and violin which fits well with the vibe of the track.

The vocals in this track don’t dominate over the instruments but fits perfectly with them. In fact they harmonise nicely with them, which makes the song very easy to listen too.

This track is perfect for a nice chilled night in with friends, a dinner party or you can even go crazy by singing along with it in the car (badly) with the speakers up at full blast.

The lyrics are easy to catch onto, which will make singing in the car less embarrassing since you can easily learn the words.

“Things are looking up, looking up (hey!)

There’s magic everywhere you go

Strangers stop to say hello (hello, hello, hello)

So turn it up, turn it up (hey!)

As loud as you can make it go

‘Cause love is on the radio”

This catchy chorus will most likely have you singing your heart out. McFly were trying to find their way in the new market when they did Above the Noise, they didn’t fundamentally change themselves.

Now they’re more comfortable with being like “yeah this is us.” And this has worked well for the boys as they are back on top form, the single is released on November 24th, make sure you download it as you wont regret it.

-Words By Michele Kennedy-