Monthly Archives: January 2014

Live At Paisley Abbey – The Twilight Sad

Following on from the highly enjoyable and dark 2012 release of ‘No One Can Ever Know’, Scottish indie-rock band offer an accompanying live album, performed with The Royal Scottish National Orchestra. The live album titled ‘Live At Paisley Abbey’ is a free album, featuring live renditions of tracks spanning The Twilight Sad’s three studio albums, and ‘The Wrong Car’ EP. The album offers up a wonderful insight into the force of The Twilight Sad’s live performances, as well as some wonderful renditions of some of the bands older tracks, gloriously updated into their new dark and ferocious style of music.

The Twilight Sad offer an incredible live album, that is certainly pleasing for fans of the band (not only due to it being a free album). The album sees The Twilight Sad incorporating The Royal Scottish National Orchestra into their music, utilizing the beautiful instrumentals to haunting effect. It has a wonderful impact on The Twilight Sad’s music, complimenting it brilliantly and affirming its place on the live album. The album offers a very strong track-list that features some of the band’s best work from across their career. Each track brilliantly manages to compliment the next as the album progresses, all down to the arrangements The Twilight Sad have opted for the performance.

Although some of the reworkings on some of the tracks featured on ‘Live At Paisley Abbey’ draw some brilliantly ideas out of some of The Twilight Sad’s older songs, it seems that it hasn’t worked well for all the tracks chosen for the album. A few tracks on the album don’t seem to have the same amount of impact as some of the earlier songs, and their reworkings don’t seem to draw all that much out of them. It’s certainly interesting in some cases, but it is arguable that on the tracks that don’t work to well, that their album counterparts are much more satisfying (as opposed to the tracks that manage to trump their original versions).

Overall, The Twilight Sad have offered an incredibly satisfying release. ‘Live At Paisley Abbey’ is a very rewarding and generous release by The Twilight Sad, who have managed to outdo themselves on last free release of ‘Acoustic EP’, which saw The Twilight Sad brilliantly reworking their loud noisy tracks from ‘Forget The Night Ahead’ into wonderful acoustic renditions. ‘Live At Paisley Abbey’ certainly cements itself as a brilliantly pleasing release, which offers up some brilliant versions of some of The Twilight Sad’s best songs in their discography.

Album Rating:

  • ★★★★☆  4/5

Selected Songs:

  • The Wrong Car
  • I Became A Prostitute
  • Sick
  • Cold Days From The Birdhouse

The Twilight Sad’s Live album ‘Live At Paisley Abbey’ is available for free at: http://www.fat-cat.co.uk/thetwilightsad/ 

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Ghosts EP – Venona

The latest EP by rock outfit Venona titled ‘Ghosts’ featured 3 racy, punchy and raucous rock tracks. Across the three available tracks, Venona go full force with their vein of alternative rock music. There’s certainly a fun element on the album, which demonstrates some fun and somewhat creative ideas. It’s music that is certainly popular and enjoyable to some extents, but for the most part it feels like Venona haven’t really done all that much that is truly interesting.

Much of ‘Ghosts’ is made up around noisy guitar riffs, with the vocals being full blast in front of everything else. It’s hard to not make comparisons to bands like Paramore. ‘Ghosts’ is made up of fun elements, with everything being in full force. Venona certainly do know how to write very exciting and punchy music, which is demonstrated well on ‘Ghosts’. To some extent it’s all rather exciting and fun, though it does seem that Venona haven’t actually done all that much in their music. ‘Ghosts’ just feels like a rather uninspired attempt to recreate the exact same style and genre of music that many bands have produced before.  The three track demonstrate good song-writing to some extents, but it doesn’t display any real spark or magic that makes the music ultimately their own.

‘Ghosts EP’ is essentially a rather disappointing EP effort. There’s nothing much on the album that is truly interesting or inspired. It doesn’t even give off any impression that Venona have it in themselves to create something that is ultimately their own. Perhaps they are capable of it, and we can only hope so, but for now all we know for sure is that Venona know exactly how to recreate musical genres, and not inject any of themselves into the mix. Perhaps Venona will show off their own sides in their music one day, but they definitely haven’t done so on ‘Ghosts’.

Album Rating:

  • ★★☆☆☆ 2/5

Selected Songs:

  • Rooms

Venona’s latest EP ‘Ghosts’ is out now.

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Deep Sea Breath EP – Shock Of Daylight

The latest EP effort by Shock Of Daylight offers five new tracks, falling right into a zone of music that blurs together shoe-gazing with post-rock aesthetics, creating a very interesting and enjoyable instrumental rock experience. On ‘Deep Sea Breath EP’, fuzzy guitar riffs are accompanied by a range of other instruments, creating a very intense yet somehow reserved experience that is both enjoyable and remarkably accessible to an extent. There’s a wonderful amount being offered by Shock Of Daylight, who showcase an wonderful amount of talent through the form of their creative ideas.

As ‘Deep Sea Breath EP’ progresses along its five tracks, it doesn’t even seem to allow itself to fall into any one individual genre. Elements from various genres all seem to come into the mix, giving Shock Of Daylight a wonderful vein of instrumental rock that is more or less individual to themselves. Musically the album feels fuzzy and thick, with little motifs and ideas often coming in to help push the tracks along. For the most part it’s all rather interesting and exciting, with the density of the tracks feeling very appealing. It seems though that Shock Of Daylight seem to produce songs that feature very little diversity in the notes being played in each song. In some respects it works well for them, but at times, it feels a little bit dull to hear the same notes repeating over and over, with there being little change or variation at any point.

Although there’s the one or two flaws at points on ‘Deep Sea Breath EP’, the overall effect of the EP is wonderful, with it showcasing Shock Of Daylight’s own style in wonderful form. It’s certainly enjoyable to hear bands attempting new ideas and mixing things up, rather than just repeating the same formula over and over. ‘Deep Sea Breath’ is certainly an enjoyable EP, that seems to bridge the gap between the shoe-gazing genre and post-rock music, making it a very interesting EP experience. It will certainly be interesting to see how Shock Of Daylight refine their own creative ideas in the future. Let’s hope that they continue their very fine form.

Album Rating:

  • ★★★★☆  4/5

Selected Songs:

  • Deep Sea Breath
  • Reich
  • We Calcimine Feathers

Shock Of Daylight’s latest EP ‘Deep Sea Breath’ is out now and can be purchased at: http://shockofdaylight.bandcamp.com/album/deep-sea-breath-ep

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One Day We Pretended To Be Ghosts – Winkie

The latest album effort by shoe-gazing outfit Winkie offers one hell of a noisy, fuzzy and highly enjoyable music experience. The band’s latest album ‘One Day We Pretended To Be Ghosts’ follows fairly typical shoe-gazing routes to bring out a very interesting and wonderfully creative album. Made up of the noisy muffled thrashes of guitar fuzz (which interestingly isn’t guitar fuzz, but instead the works of keyboard performances), and accompanied by lovely female vocals, Winkie manage to offer up a very strong album experience. ‘One Day We Pretended To Be Ghosts’ may not deliver much in terms of a very new shoe-gazing experience, though it does manage to tick the boxes on what one would love from the genre.

Winkie have a large number of enjoyable elements present in their music, making ‘One Day We Pretended To Be Ghosts’ a highly enjoyable album experience. The whole album offers up a typical and somewhat expected shoe-gazing experience. What works here though is how brilliantly and confidently Winkie delve into the genre, bringing out all their own strengths through the presentation of the shoe-gazing genre. The album goes from strength to strength, offering up a nice and interesting experience with every single track, without the whole album every outstaying its welcome.

If any criticism is to be found in ‘One Day We Pretended To Be Ghosts’, it might perhaps be in how Winkie don’t seem to do all that much with the genre. In fairness to Winkie, the shoe-gaze genre is one that seems to be amongst the most difficult of genres to really draw diversity out of. Winkie seem to have fallen into this hole as well, giving ‘One Day We Pretended To Be Ghosts’ that same slightly disappointing edge of being a little bit unoriginal in places. In fairness to Winkie though, they’ve managed to draw more out of it than the bog-standard band, with in turn elevates their music much more.

The overall impact of ‘One Day We Pretended To Be Ghosts’ might not be as intense as other shoe-gaze bands, but it does remain an album that is simply satisfying as it comes to a close. Winkie seem to just get everything done right, making their album effort a highly enjoyable one that is sure to garner them many fans. It’s a true shoe-gaze album experience throughout, with some lovely little ideas thrown into the mix at various points. There’s certainly a good amount of potential being presented by Winkie, who have everything it takes to create some great music, which they’re well on their way to doing.

Album Rating:

  • ★★★★☆  4/5

Selected Songs:

  • To Die A Thousand Romantic Deaths
  • The Line Up
  • Death At The Heart Of The Disco
  • Arrows

Winkie’s album ‘One Day We Pretended To Be Ghosts’ is out now and can be purchased at: http://winkie.bandcamp.com/album/one-day-we-pretended-to-be-ghosts 

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The Heart Of The Sky – Listening Mirror

By popular demand, Listening Mirror offer a re-release of the brilliant ‘The Heart Of The Sky’, updating the previously cassette-only release into ta handsome CD package, featuring the original track listing as well as three new remixes. The whole album flows through brilliantly, offering a wonderful ambient music experience. Across the four tracks, Listening Mirror feature wonderful instrumentation that offers the typical ambient experience, whilst also pulling out of the genre new ideas and techniques, giving the whole album effort a wonderful and unique layer.

‘The Heart Of The Sky’ contains many of the elements one would come to expect from the ambient genre. Ambient drones take hold of the music and guide it around at a glacier pace, giving everything a wonderfully soothing edge. It is an easy album to simply get lost in, to just lean back and soak in the music and everything it offers up. Listening Mirror also add in much more to the music, giving it more texture and elegance than simple ambient drones. Little motifs and moments come into the mix, giving everything a brilliant richness that really draws more out of the music itself, making it a accomplished album effort.

Where we find fault in ‘The Heart Of The Sky’ is in the inclusion of the three remixes at the end of the album. Although the remixes do no harm and don’t really affect the overall album in any drastic way, it does sport the question of what do they really offer to the album? The remixes in themselves don’t seem to deviate much from the original track mixes, making it feel like repeats of earlier songs. The tracks in themselves are certainly lovely ambient compositions that are enjoyable, though their placement on the album seems a little off considering of how little they offer.

Overall though, ‘The Heart Of The Sky’ comes across as a highly enjoyable album, that features many of the elements (and more) of what one would like from ambient music. ‘The Heart Of The Sky’ offers that little bit more though than traditional ambient albums, and it works very well for Listening Mirror, who showcase different ideas when it comes to the genre. The whole effort is one that is gorgeously minimal at the most parts, easily allowing one to just get lost in the waves of music that each track offers up. And although they may not add much, the three remix tracks are certainly at the very least, a nice little bonus for the whole album.

Album Rating:

  • ★★★★☆  4/5

Selected Songs:

  • Midnight At Teques, Storm Approaching
  • The Words Just Won’t Come
  • Ah Pukuh Is Here
  • Mixtli Sleeps

Listening Mirror’s re-release of ‘The Heart Of The Sky’ is out now and can be purchased on CD and digital formats at: http://listening-mirror.bandcamp.com/album/the-heart-of-the-sky-expanded-and-remixed-cd-edition 

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Fading West – Switchfoot

The ninth studio album by alternative-rock/pop band Switchfoot, titled ‘Fading West’ sees the band bringing up elements from the roots of their career, and combining it with new ideas and techniques. The whole effort comes across as one of Switchfoot’s better albums from the past few years, easily surpassing ‘Vice Verses’ and ‘Hello Hurricane’. ‘Fading West’ contains much of what one would enjoy from Switchfoot, with the album itself containing hefty helpings of anthemic pop-rock sensibilities. For the most part, Switchfoot have produced an incredibly satisfying album that is sure to please fans, although it does seem marred by a number of negatives that Switchfoot themselves haven’t quite been able to shake off.

‘Fading West’ is in a few ways a very typical Switchfoot album. For the most part, it’s all pumped up and exciting, with the music coming through in fine style, carried along by Foreman’s vocal style. However, it seems Switchfoot have opted for a little bit more experimentation on ‘Fading West’, throwing in a few surprises here and there, and both utilizing and incorporating a number of ideas to really push their music out. The whole effort comes across as one of Switchfoot’s more enjoyable album efforts, and perhaps easily their best in their most recent years. Musically, the album offers that little bit more as Switchfoot bring in new ideas and instruments into the mix, with most of it all contributing in fine style to the album’s overall shape and sound.

Where ‘Fading West’ lacks is in the structure of the songs themselves. Whilst a number of the songs are highly enjoyable, and a few rather surprising from Switchfoot, it seems that for the most part, the album is made up of rather basic sounding songs. At times, it feels a little bit uninspired and rather boring, somehow overshadowing the album’s greater strengths. It’s a shame as at times, ‘Fading West’ seems to suggest that the band is really trying again to make great music, and then at others it just comes across as a little lazy and formulaic. It seems the album is made up in equal measure of both good songs and bad songs, giving ‘Fading West’ a rather average air about itself.

Switchfoot may have managed to produce a great effort than their previous two albums combined, but it seems that many of their flaws haven’t quite been improved upon, and it might be a while before Switchfoot make an album that is as strong as ‘The Beautiful Letdown’, or as charming as ‘Nothing Is Sound’. The times where ‘Fading West’ works, it suggest that Switchfoot are getting onto the right path in their music, though it doesn’t seem to excuse the fact that there are some very weak songs present on ‘Fading West’. Perhaps ‘Fading West’ is a step in the right direction, though until Switchfoot offer their follow-up to ‘Fading West’, we probably won’t know any time soon.

Album Rating:

  • ★★★☆☆  3/5

Selected Songs:

  • Who We Are
  • Slipping Away
  • Ba55
  • Back To The Beginning Again

Switchfoot’s ninth studio album ‘Fading West’ is out now. 

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From The Sea To The Land Beyond – British Sea Power

British Sea Power follow up on their 2013 release of ‘Machineries of Joy’ with the soundtrack accompaniment to Penny Woolcock’s ‘From The Sea To The Land Beyond’. The soundtrack album of the same name features over an hour of new music by British Sea Power, and works wonderfully as both an accompanying soundtrack to the film, and as a stand-alone album that goes along nicely with British Sea Power’s wonderful repertoire. ‘From The Sea To The Land Beyond’ features wonderful ideas and elements, acting as a brilliant album that has a great amount to offer. Although the length of the album is something to deal with, it still remains an album that keeps delivering with each track it displays.

‘From The Sea To The Land Beyond’ seems to be an album that can easily be compared to British Sea Power’s 2009 release of ‘Man Of Aran’, an accompanying soundtrack to the documentary of the same name. It seems though that ‘From The Sea To The Land Beyond’ follows different compositional ideas than ‘Man Of Aran’. A few tracks on ‘From The Sea To The Land Beyond’ take the form of rather conventional British Sea Power songs, featuring vocals and somewhat typical instrumentals. What works here though is how the vocals don’t seem to dominate the tracks all that much, but rather accompany the instrumentals in a comfortable manner. The album itself offers a wonderful amount from British Sea Power. For the most part, it’s all down-played and perhaps not as pumped up or intense as some of the band’s previous work, but there’s still a wonderful amount of new ideas and creative ideas present on the soundtrack album.

Although it’s a nice idea at times, it feels somewhat off that British Sea Power have re-worked some of their old songs into the soundtrack. At times, little motifs from tracks such as ‘Carrion’, ‘All In It’ and ‘No Lucifer’ work their way into a few of the tracks, and although it’s a rather fun idea that works on some levels. It does have the unintended effect of bringing the listener out of the music. When the motifs come through, the tracks suddenly stop feeling like ‘From The Sea To The Land Beyond’ and instead become moments from the 2008 release of ‘Do You Like Rock Music?’. In fairness to British Sea Power, it’s not as though they’ve thrown the original versions of the songs onto the soundtrack, but instead have reworked little moments or motifs into the new tracks, giving it a little bit of an edge.

‘From The Sea To The Land Beyond’ works wonderfully as another album from one of indie-rock’s best bands today. British Sea Power seem to have pushed the envelope on what they’re capable of musically with their latest soundtrack release, and have produced a new album that is wonderfully different to their previous albums, though in some bizzare and exciting way, is similar in some respects as well. Even though the album is perhaps more gentle and downplayed than some of British Sea Power’s more recent releases, it still remains a wonderful album that is easily accessible and easily enjoyable by fans of the band. This isn’t an indication of where the band is going, but simply another release by a very talented band.

Album Rating:

  • ★★★★☆  4/5

Selected Songs:

  • From The Sea To The Land Beyond
  • Heroines Of The Cliff
  • Berth 24
  • Red Rock Riviera

British Sea Power’s soundtrack album ‘From The Sea To The Land Beyond’ is out now. 

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The Gloaming – The Gloaming

The début album by Irish folk-band The Gloaming features a large number of traditional Irish music ideals, all presented in a very versatile and modern way. The Gloaming’s self-titled album is a wonderful effort that brilliantly merges together the traditional and the more contemporary areas of music these days. ‘The Gloaming’ is a wonderful album that presents the traditional elements of Irish folk music in a more modern sense, without drastically changing any element to the point of being unrecognisable. The Gloaming’s début album is a wonderful effort that introduces The Gloaming into the music industry in very strong fashion.

Much of ‘The Gloaming’ is made up of very traditional elements, with the music often featuring prominent use of the fiddle, accompanied either by acoustic guitars, pianos or both. To an extent, it’s all rather basic, but The Gloaming present it in an incredibly strong and enjoyable way. Everything just exudes talent and craftsmanship, with nearly every effort the band has pushed into their music coming out in fine form. The whole album has a rather melancholy feel to it for the most part, but it is still incredibly enjoyable and fun. The beautiful instrumentals of each song seem to carry the whole album, accompanied also by the very distinct vocal style of the band. Everything just seems to combine together in wonderful style, all resulting in incredibly gorgeous and indulgent Irish music.

Whilst there are a large number of strengths to ‘The Gloaming’ as an album, which does suggest wonderful creativity and talent, it does still seem to come across as an album that doesn’t really do much else. Sure enough, The Gloaming are presenting traditional Irish music in a modern context, though it doesn’t really seem to be much else than that. When we look at the sound being produced by The Gloaming, it doesn’t really seem to be anything new when compared to those who have preceded them. As enjoyable as ‘The Gloaming’ is, it does seem to suggest that there might only be one side to this band, and that The Gloaming might end up being a one-trick pony.

For now though, we can enjoy the fact that ‘The Gloaming’ is a wonderful album that has managed to get a lot right. Each song offers up wonderful vignettes of Ireland and everything it has to offer. Musically the album is superb, which doesn’t at any point ever seem to over-do any motif or idea. Each moment of each song seems to have been carefully crafted and composed for the best of the music itself. It’s a wonderful effort that is a rather refreshing album to hear. Although it might not appeal to a large number of people, due to the style of the music and the sound The Gloaming present in their style, it still remains a wonderful creative and strong album that is certainly a good strong way to start the year off.

Album Rating:

  • ★★★☆  4/5

Selected Songs:

  • Song 44
  • Freedom
  • Opening Set
  • Samhradh Samhradh

The Gloaming’s début album ‘The Gloaming’ is out now.

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Demo / EP – Human Colonies

The first EP/Demo by shoe-gazing band Human Colonies offers up just about everything one would want and love from a shoe-gazing band. The bands’ first release titled ‘Demo / EP’ features four tracks that is a complete indulgence in the fuzzy guitars and grooving bass-lines that makes up the genre. The varying tracks on the EP each offer up something different within the genre, giving the whole album effort a brilliant and diverse feel, showing that Human Colonies are capable of just that little bit more than most other bands within the genre. Although the shoe-gazing genre can be rather inaccessible at times, there’s still a highly appealing element to Human Colonies branch of music, who delve straight into the genre with amazing confidence and conviction.

Across the four tracks on ‘Demo / EP’ there is essentially everything that one expects from the shoe-gazing genre. Fuzzy guitar lines dominate the tracks, accompanied by incredibly distant vocals that are incredibly hard to decipher. It’s the oddly appealing element of the shoe-gazing genre, and Human Colonies do it so brilliantly, making ‘Demo / EP’ a spectacular debut effort. Each of the four tracks delve into different areas and ideas of the genre, each offering something different and exciting. It’s the perfect taster and introduction to Human Colonies and their style, as it features enough to showcase everything they’re capable of, whilst not sounding jumbled up and confused. The album opens up by going straight into the heart of everything, with no introduction or warning, before progressing across the very diverse and wonderfully interesting sounding tracks. There are very little negative traits on the album, with the only noticeable problem being in the recording of the album, which sounds a little amateur. However, in some peculiar way, this adds an incredible amount to the music itself and gives it a wonderfully appealing element.

Human Colonies have a great thing going for them, and they certainly have a good number of creative ideas when it comes to the shoe-gazing genre. It’d be brilliant to see what they’d sound like with a little bit more production to their music, and hear everything sound polished and perfected. For now though, we can enjoy an absolutely stellar debut effort that manages to tick so many of the boxes in the genre. All one can really ask from Human Colonies is more of this brilliantly sounding shoe-gazing music. It’d certainly be great to see what they will do next.

Album Rating:

  • ★★★★☆  4/5

Selected Songs:

  • Sunshine Jesus
  • Falling Deeper
  • Cross
  • Hey You

Human Colonies debut EP ‘Demo / EP’ is out now and can be purchased at: https://humancolonies.bandcamp.com/ 

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The Aberdeen EP – The Perms

Alternative rock-band The Perms offer their latest EP effort titled ‘The Aberdeen EP’. Comprised of four tracks lasting 2-3 minutes in length, the EP serves as a good and interesting taster into the style of music being offered by The Perms. Across the four tracks, The Perms completely go for it, offering up a somewhat typical, yet still enjoyable branch of alternative rock music. Although on the onset, it might appear there’s not a great deal going on here in terms of The Perms creating something new and exciting, there seems to be something beneath the surface of the music, suggesting that The Perms are a fairly talented band, perfectly capable of writing brilliantly accessible and enjoyable tracks.

Across the four tracks on ‘The Aberdeen EP’ The Perms go for a branch of easily accessible music that just about anybody could get into. Everything is incredibly upbeat and anthemic, with the music itself just being enjoyable and fun. The music itself is comprised of a simple blend of guitars, bass and drums and somewhat typical indie-rock-styled vocals, and although it’s all been done before, The Perms pull it off brilliantly, offering up that little bit more than the average band within the genre. The four tracks all seem to offer something enjoyable and fun, making ‘The Aberdeen EP’ a great introduction to the band. It does seem though that the EP is weighed down that little bit by what could be described as a lack of imagination. There’s nothing technically wrong with the four tracks on the EP, but it should be said that they don’t exactly offer all that much to their genre. Everything is fun, but it’s also rather basic. At times, there’s a few moments of brilliance which makes the songs incredibly appealing, but it doesn’t seem to happen enough in the various songs. Moments like guitar solos and infectious riffs create wonderful moments in the songs, but they seem to sadly disappear almost as soon as they begin. 

Even though The Perms may not have exactly pushed the envelope on their chosen genre, they have still managed to just tick all the boxes on what sounds right in this genre. ‘The Aberdeen EP’ is just fun and enjoyable, and there’s nothing that is technically wrong with any of the songs. The Perms seem to have a good style going for them, and they’re evidently capable of writing brilliant songs within the genre. Perhaps in the future, The Perms will polish off the edges of their music, and create something that is really brilliant. For now, at least we can enjoy ‘The Aberdeen EP’, which serves as a wonderful introduction to The Perms and their music.

Album Rating:

  • ★★★★☆  4/5

Selected Songs:

  • It’s Mania
  • Aberdeen
  • The Parent Thing

The Perms’ latest EP ‘The Aberdeen EP’ is out now and can be purchased at: http://thepermsmusic.com/ 

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