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By Mary Chang
on Friday, 12th September 2014 at 12:00 pm
It’s been about a year and a half since Manchester’s City Reign released their well-received debut album ‘Another Step’. The band will be releasing a new single soon and unlike ‘See What It’s Worth’ b-side ‘Package It Up’ that I reviewed back in January of this year, this song sounds much less poignant, at least on the surface. The difference in tempo is obvious and the overall sound is much brighter and brasher as well, which should make it a firm radio favourite.
As you might have already guessed from its title, ‘When You Got It All’ is about how you look at the things you have in life. As a kid when I couldn’t get my way, my brother would annoyingly reference the Stones’ ‘You Can’t Always Get What You Want’. In the context of an up-and-coming band such as theirs, this single first addresses the thirst for success can seem unquenchable unless certain goals are met. The accompanying press release even begins with a joke by the writer: he says it would take owning a large yacht and a helicopter for him to have known he’d made it.
I have seen this kind of phenomenon happen before my very eyes with bands I have known when they were first starting up, watching them coming up the ranks of stardom. Fame and money, regardless what your vocation, can be addictive if you’ve been working so hard to get somewhere and it seems you’ve made it. But this single asks, “does it feel the same?” when you have it all? This isn’t asked gently. This is emphatically shouted during the powerful chorus. And really, once you reach a certain level of success, things don’t feel the same because they really are never the same again. To its credit, this single doesn’t favour the obvious direction for rock stars enjoying the spoils, that once ‘you have it all’, things might not actually be for the better. In that way, the song mirrors the sentiment of the Stones’ song probably more than they meant to.
And, just like the stock market and all bands’ trajectories, what goes up must come down. City Reign address this in verse 2, in which frontman Chris Bull emotes, “tell me a reason, there must be a reason / we all owe it to reason, to figure it out / why we’re coming down, why we’re coming down”. Is the forcefulness of this song supposed to reflect the frustration of having met those aforementioned goals and getting to the place you wanted, but finding out what is there is not what you wanted at all? Definite food for thought.
‘When You Got It All’, Manchester-based band City Reign’s next single, is out on the 22nd of September on Car Boot Records.
By Mary Chang
on Friday, 12th September 2014 at 10:00 am
God bless Cut Copy. We’re going to end the working week with a new remix of their brilliant single ‘Meet Me in a House of Love’, this time by The Miracles Club. It couldn’t be just a coincidence that their Facebook description reads “take shelter in the house of love”, eh? You can listen to and grab the mp3 for free below.
You can grab the TJANI remix of the single from this previous MP3 of the Day post.
By Mary Chang
on Thursday, 11th September 2014 at 6:00 pm
Niall Galvin, better known by his stage name Only Real, has a new promo for his single ‘Pass the Pain’. The man “waxes poetic from a bathtub of Fruit Loops, builds a small tower of Big Macs and cruises with the top down in his red convertible.” All in one video. Trippy, yeah?
If you dig his sound, you’re in luck; he’s been working with producers Ben Allen and Dan Carey on his debut album, which is due out in early 2015. Watch the video for ‘Pass the Pain’ below.
By Mary Chang
on Thursday, 11th September 2014 at 12:00 pm
As the days of astrological summer slowly decrease in number in our march towards autumn, it makes sense that we would gravitate towards less sunny, more autumnal sounding records. This review describes undoubtedly one of the best of the bunch to have the fortune of coming out this time of year. The Lost Brothers, comprised of Dublin singers and guitarists Mark McCausland and Oisin Leech, will be releasing their fourth album ‘New Songs of Dawn and Dust’ later this month on Lojinx Records, and what the songs lack in technological advances, they make up several times over in pure musicianship and heart.
As we all know, singer/songwriters trying to make it with just their voice and a guitar are a dime a dozen. While some of the more famous of them now favour in studio wizardry to make them sound better than if they’d gone without, or their labels want them collaborate with other artists not at all of their ilk (the recent announcement of a producer Martin Garrix / Ed Sheeran collaboration comes to mind), there’s something to be said when all there is to be had on record is a vocal and acoustic guitar playing. When there is nothing to hide behind, the goods have got to be perfect. While ‘New Songs of Dawn and Dust’ isn’t without its faults, it’s pretty damn close.
The more upbeat moments on this album are few and far between. The sweet lilts of ‘Can I Stay With You’ is a good example of what was just described: perfection with their vocals and guitars, and nothing else. The Cajun-flavoured ‘Days Ahead’ appears early on the LP, and its placement practically misleads you to the direction of this album. Mostly instrumental ‘Between the Crow and the Rat’ is a short, less than a minute and a half interlude.
The rest of ‘New Songs of Dawn and Dust’ showcase what McCausland and Leech do best: putting a spotlight on sad stories with their talent for turning these sentimental tales into something beautiful. Previously revealed ‘Gold and Silver’ sounds like a happy song but in actuality, is ruminating on the inevitable passage of time while holding on to love. The harmonies in the brooding ‘Poor Poor Man’ is more gorgeous than it should given its theme: in the song, the pair examine the plight of those who have lost all hope. The story of ‘Derridae’, presumably a temptress who has left behind a trail of broken men in her wake, comes with a warning: “so listen now and hear these words / don’t live your life in constant hurt / the days will pass and you’ll remain / a prisoner of Derridae.”
A particularly poignant standout moment on the album is ‘Soldier’s Song’. It’s a bittersweet story sung from the perspective of an enlisted man, disillusioned by the ambiguity of his vocation (“I was a soldier in that old war / they never told me what I killed for”), the friends he’s lost and the uncertainty of when he will return home to his love. Given the current volatile world situation and the unsettling feeling that war is imminent, it may be a simplistic way of approaching the topic, but the delicate words chosen and the equally delicate delivery taken together are nothing short of magnificent.
Another deceptively simplistic song is ‘Walking Blues’, with its jaunty melody and piano notes. Its sweet message that if love is forever, it doesn’t matter what distance separates two lovers, because one day soon they will be reunited (“these walking blues will carry me back to you in time”) has certainly been used many times in popular song, but somehow in McCausland and Leech’s voices and hands, the sentiment has never sounded truer or more genuine.
While many of the themes on ‘New Songs of Dawn and Dust’ are dark, the songs have been written and recorded in such a tender way that you can’t help but feel a warm glow after listening to them. Whether have a love of your own or you are in love with love itself, this is a collection of tracks from arguably some of Ireland’s finest singer/songwriters that you’d be a fool not to own.
‘New Songs of Dawn and Dust’, the Lost Brothers’ fourth album, will be released on Lojinx Records on the 22nd of September. For a free track from the album, go to this previous MP3 of the Day post where you can grab ‘Gold and Silver’ for free.
Withered Hand, the band project of Scottish singer/songwriter Dan Willson, will tour the UK next month in support of their album ‘New Gods’, which was released back in March, just before SXSW 2014. I had the pleasure of a quick chat with Willson as part of TGTF’s SXSW coverage, and you can read my review of ‘New Gods’ here.
The upcoming single from ‘New Gods’, called ‘Black Tambourine’, is due out on the 15th of September on Fortuna Pop! Records. The animated video for the song, which you can view just below the tour date listing, was created and directed by visual artist Cameron Watt.
Friday 10 October 2014 – Paisley Arts Centre
Saturday 11 October 2014 – Newcastle Mining Institute
Sunday 12 October 2014 – Wakefield Hop
Tuesday 14 October 2014 – London Scala
Wednesday 15 October 2014 – Nottingham Maze
Thursday 16 October 2014 – Coventry Tin
Friday 17 October 2014 – Manchester Kraak
Indie alt-folk collective Cocos Lovers have just announced a list of October tour dates with fellow folkies Hot Feet. In addition to the following dates, the two bands will appear at the Homegrown Festival in Bury St. Edmunds and the Carefully Planned Festival in Manchester on the 18th and 19th of October, respectively. They will wrap up the tour with a late November show at the Canterbury Gulbenkian. Tickets for these dates are available now.
Wednesday 15th October 2014 – Surrey Riverhouse Barn
Tuesday 21st October 2014 – Leeds Oporto
Wednesday 22nd October 2014 – Huddersfield Bar 1:22
Thursday 23rd October 2014 – Newcastle Cluny 2
Friday 24th October 2014 – Bristol Grain Barge
Saturday 26th October 2014 – London Lexington
Monday 27th October 2014 – Norwich Arts Centre
Tuesday 28th October 2014 – Cambridge Portland Arms
Wednesday 29th October 2014 – Leamington Spa LAMP
Thursday 30th October 2014 – Winchester Railway
Saturday 29th November 2014 – Canterbury Gulbenkian
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