Heima return with a new album next month – and a new name too! Renamed to “Bellstop” the duo’s new album will be called Karma. Bellstop have such a great indie folk rock sound and the Icelandic duo look set to rock out in June. Here’s the lead single “Trouble”. Watch out for the scary Ronald McDonald-esque mask!
Now there’s no secret I love myself some angry music here on HigherPlainMusic and EndAnd certainly have me covered! A three piece from NYC, they have plenty of shout about and do so in their noisy grungy punk rocking way. I love the little flairs and embellishments throughout the track “Commando” and HPM will be reviewing their latest release very soon.
Aside from having a pretty cool name, Monks of Mellonwah have a crisp and slick rock edge and high production values. They fall into the category of tidy rock for me, where each riff has its place perfected into the music, ala Chilli Peppers but with a bit more grunt.
Here’s the great video for “Neverending Spirit” which should help them break out of Australia. We will be reviewing their 2012 EP shortly in anticipation for their new record coming out on Bandcamp soon.
Given to me as a recommendation I went into Feeding People utterly cold without hearing so much of a chord. How did I leave the album at the end? Cosy and warm!
Feeding People’s album Island Universe opens with “Mountain Song” and it introduces you to two things that distinguish them. Firstly you’ll hear that the guitar and the flow of the drums have a fluidity to them that makes it feel more milky than a lot of other rock bands. Secondly the vocals have a real meshing of reverbs over them that brings the music further into the realms of psychedelia. This is further enhanced by the orgasmic “Uranium Sea” that has a wonderful bridge that explodes into a manic finale and has plenty of draw organs freaking out over a rock band clearly intent on moshing their-selves into the darkness. ”Insane” decides to mix up the tempos whilst the lead vocals become almost PJ Harvey-esque as the drowning reverb is taken away and we have a powerful voice unveiled. By the end of the track I wanted to have a multicoloured swirling circle before my eyes to be hypnotised under. Fantastic!
“Cat Song” is the first breath the album takes for a wonderfully irrelevant four minutes of acoustic guitar, flute and ad-libs before “Inside Voices” brings us back to tempo changing, discordant guitar mashing. “Silent Violent” literally takes the song title and transcribes it to noise. The verses are beautiful guitar piques and angelic tinkle only for it to explode into heavy chugging and tom drums for the choruses. While the songs are mini anthems in a way they straddle an unusual line of half hooks / half smashing up the stage.
“Big Mother” is a short rock track and is about as standard as the album gets before “Desert Song” takes a simple Arabian inspired riff and turns it into a slinky snake of a rock track. Again, this is probably the most radio friendly track on the album so newbies start here! “Red Queen” reminds me so much of T-Rex. I’m not sure why, maybe it’s the production and the way the guitar rhythm sits on the track to push it forward. It certainly gets you going.
Title track “Island Universe” is completely different to the rest of the album. The guitar playfully makes a Hawaiian styled riff that slowly is added to whilst the vocals chirp to the clumsy drums and organs. It feels like a party wrap. However we’ve still two to go. “Each His Own” puts the guitar through a really cool synthesizer that makes a metallic buzzing and phasing sound. It gives the song a sound of its own and transforms a simple riff into something bigger than its parts. The closing track is funnily enough called “Closer” and its a real lighter swayer (or mobile light swayer).
So “Island Universe” is an album that harks way back to the early 70′s in many ways. There’s some really interesting care free moments and some genius decisions. I’m impressed and certainly will be looking out for more.
Jordan Reyne returns next month with her latest album “The Annihilation Sequence” and HPM is a huge fan. Jordan popped up a preview track showing some of the songs and well… I’m chomping at the bit. Her unique blend of Industrial Rock and Celtic folk always draws me in.
Take a listen here: http://soundcloud.com/jordan-reyne and then go pre-order the album over on Bandcamp.
Dead Can Dance have been touring for a while and I have my tickets ready for the 2nd of July to see them. I erred and wondered over getting the album of the tour prior to seeing them live but in many ways I’m glad I have. It’s a great way to sample how this tour sounds live but has also grounded me from feeling a twinge of disappointment too.
The entire album of Anastasis is included on In Concert and each song sounds nigh on identical to the album versions. “Kiko” feels a bit faster, as do a few of the tracks, but in the main they sound identical – apart from the vocals. Brendan’s vocals in general sound excellent while Lisa’s sound slightly weaker in volume than she has done in previous years. There’s no frenzy ala “Cantara” from “Towards the Within”. There are vague flashes of it for a few seconds but it felt like she needed to be turned up a bit in the mix!
Aside from the Anastasis tracks we have faithful versions of “Rakim”, “Sanvean”, “Nierika” and “Ubiquitous Mr Lovegrove” the latter of which sounds like it fits the new album perfectly. There’s a good version of the unreleased outside of a live CV “Dreams Made Flesh” which is a fantastic Lisa/Dulcimer track that is a personal favourite too. “The Host of Seraphim” is given a slightly different tone because Brendan provides a lot of low harmonies and drones to the music. There is also throughout the concert a third female vocalist whom provides a lot of backing vocals but here she helps fill up the speakers with a great tonal range.
That leaves two previously unheard tracks. Brendan leads on them both. “Song to the Siren” frankly sounds a bit ropey and its partly due to the vocal delivery and partly due to harsh reverb that’s placed onto the vocal itself. It pales in comparison to Elizabeth Frasier and its a difficult thing to say but it’s unavoidable because Elizabeth and Lisa stand together in many ways. However “Lamma Badda” is an excellent playful track. Mixing keyboards, a Moorish beat and Eastern guitar it weaves something quite ancient and wondrous.
Whilst it’s not quite reaching the dizzy heights of “Towards the Within”, “In Concert” showcases a powerful duo whom make some amazing timeless music. A good entry point for the band and enough to keep fans happy for more.
I’d never knowing heard of a song from British Sea Power until my awesome partner took me along to see them live Wednesday at Shepard’s Bush. I must admit, I’m a picky so-and-so when it comes to music. Two artists could sing the same song near on identical and I’d probably adore one far more than the other. Rock is one of those genres that I love but I can also switch off if it just doesn’t grab me. I’ll be honest – when British Sea Power came out for their acoustic opening set I struggled. The vocals were a bit wobbly and the songs slightly in no mans land. Then Toy came on and refused to budge from playing the same singular chord in a supposed musical orgasm for literally twenty-five minutes. I was bored with that and I thought I was in for the long haul….
Then British Sea Power came out for their main set… and it was fantastic.
If I’m honest, I have no idea what many of the song titles were but my general observations were that they are a rock band whom enjoy themselves immensely on stage and it fed through to everyone in the audience. Most tracks had a certain twist on something. Be it a trumpet playing along with the guitar, the violin padding out the synths or the two lead vocalists belting it out. The secondary vocalist that seemed very exposed in the acoustic set fitted in perfectly when it all went plugged. Some people just have a voice that even if it’s not the strongest, lends itself well to a certain sound and here he shone. There weren’t massive numbers all the way through but each song held an atmosphere that I really tapped into. A big shout out to the visuals behind the band too. Zippy sock puppets, evil dolls and on stage polar bear costumes having a fight with the band – you were always entertained.
I’ll leave you with a few clips from the evening from other people’s footage. I’m looking forward to discovering more about the band in the future…
Module’s amazing album Imagineering has been out for a while but the music vdieo for The Pieces Fit has not long been completed. A year in production, the motion captures robot is extremely well done. Everyone should give this experimental album a go.
Peter Ulrich doesn’t have the quickest album turnover averaging an album once every seven years. However when an album does appear you can rest assured that it is going to be something quite special indeed. Joining forces with plenty of other artists and collaborators this time Peter brings friends and with it, his third studio is his most diverse yet.
Opening with “In This or Other Skin” we are treated to a wonderfully ramshackle gypsy folk track that bounces and traipses over the land with purpose and flair. The vocal duties here have a worldly quality to them and are not led by Ulrich himself, whom provides many of the gazillion instruments you’ll hear throughout the album. It’s a wonderful way to open the album before things take a Georgian/Indian twist with some imaginative cross culture blending. Ulrich provides a background mantra that breezes over organs and eastern percussion while a sitar provides a Raj of sorts and female luscious vocals power through over the top of it all. It’s such a unique take on things and introduces you quickly to that fact that although no two tracks cover the same ground at all, they all feel strangely connected like everything is taking a journey.
Moving to a broken down cabaret rock track we have Ulrich finally take the lead vocal on “The Secret Gardener” which has a secret rumba flicking back and forth behind the scenes as the you are seduced into the brass and the boozy pow-wows of the backing vocals. It reminds me of a track you’d play in a film when you do a final montage before the lead protagonist meets the baddie for the final showdown. “Dark Lover” then takes on a spiky Persian/Greek banjo track which is short but very complex in its make-up. There’s some wonderfully elaborate plucking that walks a fine line between Country Joe and Greek plate smashing and the vocals here are deep and sensual. It allows the mellow acousti-delic “Starship (Golden Eye)” which follows to effortlessly transport you on a trip well away from this Earth. It reminds me of some of Bowie’s more trippier mellow moments yet it still has an otherworldly quality that could equally channel Lorenna McKennitt if she dared to do an album on hedonism. “Children of the Rain” then tightens things into a powerful acoustic cry in celebration and warning for the rainforests. In a clever twist the vocalists sing very much like an African troupe and its all the wonderful percussion that Peter Ulrich is renowned for, it turns a catchy folk track into something that is utterly mesmerising.
“Drug of War” changes political assault towards war and deals with the after effects of war survivors whom are still scarred internally. It’s a catchy acoustic guitar led track with some nifty use of thumb pianos and some excellent mirages of backing vocals that echo softly and interact with each other. The absence of a proper bass here means that actual the male lead vocal becomes the lowest pitched instrument and it makes a stark and emotional impact on the song. “Hanging Man” continues the slide towards baroque pop with a strong production change where all the instruments are brought close to the ear with little reverb. This makes the Irish flute embellishments all the more haunting as the track haunts you upon each rolling beat as you march in the funeral line. Continuing the theme of loss and death “Fanfare for the Lost Tribe” turns to brass and monotone Native American chants and percussion to give and upbeat blessing to the departed. It has such an unusual mix to the track it takes a few listens to really feel each rhythm and level of energy. Then it will all hit you at once and it clicks magically.
“The Desert” returns to more ethnic roots giving us a psychedelic Indian rock track. There is so much going on with so many different instruments from different time periods and cultures pushing for your attention – it’s like an assault of the senses. The chorus is like a pill of euphoria and I challenge anyone not to get lost in the dizzy heights of it. “Love’s Skeleton” is a great ode to the everlasting love that remains after death. Things start to run full circle with a return to gypsy folk – that magical bounce and some big choruses as the track transitions constantly between tuned percussion and shout out loud questions of the world over meandering guitar riffs. It’s very much like the album comes together in a huge explosion of what has come before it and its spellbinding. “Tempest” is the track that closes the album however, with a welcome return of the hammered dulcimer in parts and only the second track Ulrich leads the vocal department. It feels like a sea shanty in places and a soaring bird of freedom in others. It always feels like it’s constantly driving forward towards a beautiful conclusion.
Quite simply “The Painted Caravan” is utterly phenomenal from start to finish. Peter Ulrich and his collaborators (mainly Trebor Lloyd, Sara Wendt, David Steele and Anne Husick) have pulled out all the stops, said goodbye to any conformity and became trailblazers and pioneers of musical art. Easily a contender for album of the year – if you dare to try music that will attack and soothe all your senses – this is your medicine.
Vocaloid is something I’ve recently got into over the last year in a huge way and one of my favourite producers is Wowaka. I’d only recently noticed he’d put out an album back in 2011 but my goodness – it’s a fabulous trip at 180bpm to rock heaven.
Opening “Unhappy Refrain” gives you exactly what the next hour will throw at you. Catchy hooks on the guitar, choruses that stick in your head and vocals that speed through the track at a rate a real human would seriously struggle to keep up with at times! “Rolling Girl” is a personal favourite with a fantastic piano melody that runs throughout as the guitars, drums and bass take a more passive role in this excellent angst track. Sometimes the production of all the instruments means that it’ll take a few listens to big up everything going on in the track but not so much here.
“Tsumikino Ningyo” wheels out the synths properly for a more cheeky track with playful melodies that album tango’s its way through the rock track which then slowly irons out the tango and ends up becoming a more rampant 4 by 4 beat. “Bokuno Sainou” has far too much high-end hiss placed on the track but is still a massively catchy track that actually takes more than a second break from extreme head banging! Every track is so complex that its sometimes only in the quieter sections of a track you can appreciate how many complex melodies have been woven into the track to give its overall result.
“Nichijyo to Chikyu no Gakubuchi” is a more funky guitar rock track. Miku Hatsune, whose voice is used during most of the album, is set to a higher pitch than usual and it all works very well although it’s not one of the tracks that immediately sticks to your mind. “Tenohira” however does stick out as about the closest this album comes to a ballad – and even then it’s rocking all the way with thick guitars, keyboards and epic choruses. If I had a lighter, it’d be swaying right about now. “Tosenbo” has an amazing hook and reminds me of a sister to “Rolling Girl” with its emphasis on a rocking piano and angst ridden shouts and screams from a computerised voice! I’ve had this song (well album) on repeat and still never tire of it. “Lineart” then decides – to hell with it – let’s just absolutely mash-up everything into a massive drum roll and guitar trash frenzy for three minutes. The sheer energy takes you over. It’s fabulously free of everything.
“Two Faced Lovers” kick starts the next mega madness. The vocal speed here is simply nuts but it’s always second to the melodies and the chorus is superb, as are the hooks between them. “In The Glay Zone” follows with equally cheesy and fun guitar riffs which don’t quite push everything to the limit and the reason for that is the epic finale where everything goes nuts for its ending thirty seconds. It’s a great change-up that again makes the song stand out. “Zereteiku” returns the arpeggio style riffs that punctuate the album throughout for a short enka styled track before “Revisable Doll” gives us the token Luka Megurine track. Luka’s vocals always sound more adult and darker in tone and she fits Wokaka’s style perfectly too. It’s not my favourite of the album because you can almost have too much of a good thing and by this point you’ll have noticed Wowaka has such a specific style – he’s the best at what he does – but he only does that. It also sounds very similar to “World’s End Dancehall” which has the excellent vocal duelling between Miku and Luka and has more depth to it by having a broken up chorus. The latter track is really getting some new fame after its inclusion in Project Diva F and deservedly so. The closing track is “Prism Cube” which is a great round-up of everything that’s preceded it. It runs a slower pace than most of the album and takes time to breathe. There is a second disc of remixes too – most of which are quite good and turn the tracks into alt-dance versions so if you can get the extended album for not much more in price – go for it.
Perhaps this review bangs on about how excellent it is but harps on about the same thing. Wowaka’s album is very one directional. It is 100% utterly focused on providing quick, catchy tracks to rock your heart out to. The production sometimes lets it down with too much hiss and not enough depth in places but it’s a mighty album at what it does. Don’t except anything else though!
Woodpecker Wooliams looks, acts, sings and plays like Joanna Newsom discovered there’s more to life an a harp. I thought I’d say that out of the box as I think that will either make people jump for joy or sorrow depending on what camp you’re in.
The album’s seven tracks are an interesting affair. “Red Kite (Prelude)” is a beautiful introduction. Stilted whining vocal delivery over the beauty of a harp makes for anything but a boring listen. There’s a real dreamy quality to it when other instruments and sound loops start pouring in. The lyrics are quiet strangely time bound too (I saw a picture of you on facebook). The lyrics continue to make me chuckle on “Gull” with the use of “chips and beans” and “give me a damn cup of tea.” How English! “Gull” has an industrial percussion loop sounding like it was stolen from Bjork while the rest of song is harp and vocal. It’s fresh and dynamic. “Sparrow” veers way off into experimental electronica with lots of buzzing humming bass and screeching metal spears. Wooliams’ voice is removed of any depth at all sounds light, airy and spooky. It’s like 1995 indie pop all over again and I’m in heaven.
“Magpie” turns our attention to the acoustic guitar whilst in one ear there is a bending distorted echo of an electric guitar. The interplay between the whole thing really makes for an unsettling track which is initially a ballad but you can’t quiet stop it from making you shiver. “Crow” (spotting the song name pattern?) is a distorted organ/piano/industrial hum concoction. It explodes into a manic bass phaser fest for the second half of the track and reminds me of something Jordan Reyne or Soap&Skin would doand is such a far cry from the opening track. It’s also a far cry from “Dove” which returns to the trusty harp for a wonderfully lucid mysterious trek to high above the clouds. There’s a certain section in the song which really feels like you are ascending so high up into the sky – so clever. That leads us to the closer “Hummingbird” which is an aural vocal montage that feels like you really did reach the heavens. It builds and builds into a rolling march before ending too soon to blast into a frenzy.
Woodpecker Wooliams reminds me of a hodgepodge of several of my favourite artists but to just leave it there would sell her short. There’s something decidedly British about it all and the merge between the beauty of the harp and sheer rude brutality of the electronica is inspired. Have a peck! (Sorry…!)
In a wonderful programme on the excellent Arte channel (which seems to do some amazing programmes and live concerts) Tori Amos meets Hauschka – two excellent artists. They then go on a trip around Berlin for the night, shopping for pianos, shoes, paintings and then jamming out at the end. It’s so fascinating to see two artists meet and share ideas and ideals. Watch it in full below:
Hundred Waters’ hypnotic Icelandic blend of ethereal dreamscapes and weirdness make me want to find out a whole lot more about them. Here’s the wonderful video for Thistle. Let’s hope that horse hasn’t ended up in a burger…!
Lines in The Sky are a trio from Nashville all aged 20 and under but rocking like they’ve been a complete band for decades. Their delivery and instrument prowess combined with music that sounds familiar but has a lot of complexity underneath is what makes them stand out as a band I’d like to keep an eye for the future. Here’s the music video to “Threads”:
From Brooklyn, NY we have Arc & Stones – an anthemic alt-rock duo in their 20′s. The music is well crafted and has that certain larger than it should be sound to it that I love. Everything slots together perfectly. Their début EP is out next month and we’ll have a review of it shortly. Until then – here’s “Silence”
This is absolutely mesmorising.
A little self promotion if you don’t mind! My latest album “Terms & Conditions to Unconditional Love” will be available on Bandcamp under Pay What You Want for the next 2 weeks. This is to celebrate the fantastic new fans service they’ve launched.
Please visit here to grab the album – you can download it completely free of charge if you like. Promotion ends 1st February.
La Catrin is housed firmly in dark wave pop but she has some amazing vocal chops that she happily displays in her dynamic song range. It’s a thinking man’s pop and one that I’m sure will garner her a great following.
I can’t wait to get my hands on her debut “Humans Are My Keyboard”.
Here’s a taster – “Widow”
Metal Mother is like the tribal nutter Bat For Lashes wishes she would dare herself to be. Metal Mother pushes things more towards the tribal beat of the the music and is coming back with her second album called Ionika soon. This is the song “Shake” from her début album. Colour me a new fan!
Bjork’s latest CD release is a remix compilation from the Biophilia album – an album I loved and reviewed earlier in the year. The album’s style varies greatly and as with a lot of remix albums, it really depends if you like certain music styles or not. What I will say is much like Telegraph, Bastards is a genre hopping span of all kinds of sounds and is all the better for it.
Opening with “Cystalline (Omar Souleyman Remix)” which was taken from the single, we have a complete transformation of the track into an electronica Raj of sorts with all kinds of synthetic instruments mimicking traditional eastern instruments that flex and bend like only the Eastern know how. It’s an absolute tour de force. Omar appears twice, later on with his version of “Thunderbolt” which transforms things again with some magical electric Sitar work. Equally as stunning is “Virus (Hudson Mohawke “Peaches and Guacamol Rework)” which takes the human edge away from the instrumentation and turns it into a wonderfully spacious symphony. The main melody is played up in blips and the chorus vocal sections have an epic brass reworking that explode and make things really feel massive and grandiose.
Elsehwere “Sacrifice” gets two remixes. Firstly into a break beat version by Death Grips which actually works a lot better than I first thought because the whole song is viciously percussive and pulsating. The second is a twenty odd second cut from Matthew Herbert called the Pins and Needles Mix Edit – a clue of what may come in the future. Matthew Herbert also closes the album with the second version of “Crystalline” too which is suitably bouncy and a real odd ball dance floor sleeper hit in the making. It’s like the whole songs being blown into bubbles.
“Mutual Core” gets two remixes. Firstly with the magnificent “These New Puritans Remix” which brings in some additional Bulgarian sounding singers which add an archaic flavour. The song also really strips things right back to a wonderful juxtaposition of Bjork singing the main theme over a chillout piano/drum loop. It works sublimely even if I don’t always feel the vocals start at the right point in the songs time signature. Matthew Herbert returns for a third remix and his “Mutual Core” version sadly is too close to the original and sounds too muffled to be as enjoyable.
The albums rounded out with “Hollow 16 bit Remix” which is abstract beyond the original and didn’t grab my attention, “Thunderbolt” by Death Grips which is like an absolute freak out on a panning and frequency paddle and I veer from extreme love to exasperation depending on my mood, “Dark Matter (Alva Noto Remodel)” which is all about stretching the backing vocals over an ambient sound scape, “Solstice (Current Value Remix)” which brings in the dub-step and works very well indeed once it gets going and the beautiful “Moon (The Slips Remix)” which loops the harp samples with offset keyboard plinks and ups the drums for a merry ride around the field.
I’m enjoying “Bastards” and its a good remix album. There’s a heavy reliance on a couple of remixers and songs and its a shame no one tried Nattura or Cosmogony, which has become my favourite from the album but for what it is – its a wonderfully bizarre mash up. That’ll be typical Bjork then!