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By Mary Chang
on Monday, 20th July 2015 at 6:00 pm
North Carolinan duo Flagship have a new EP out, ‘Faded’, available now from Bright Antenna Records. ‘I Want You’ from the EP now has a promo video. Flagship continue their trend into emotional anthems, and their preferred style works well with a black and white treatment, causing no distraction from Drake Margolnick (lead vocals and guitar) and Michael Finster (drums). Finster describes the making of the video:
“We had never really done an in-studio style video before, so this was fresh, exciting, and a little bit out of character. My brain is always looking for ways to spice things up when it comes to our visuals, so I suggested we perform the song on video at an extremely slow speed, regular speed, as well as a really fast speed. I wanted to do this so that we could speed up and slow down different footage to give it a special feel.
We really feel like the energy of the video matches up with the song and that’s all we wanted. I think we succeeded.”
Watch Flagship’s promo for ‘I Want You’ below.
By Mary Chang
on Monday, 20th July 2015 at 12:00 pm
Multiplier are a band from Manchester who take influences from high places: two are early days Radiohead and ‘80s post-punkers The Chameleons. But from listening to the first track ‘Choice’ and throughout their self-titled debut EP, what rings clearest are the echoes of a rock behemoth from their own hometown, Doves. BBC Introducing in Manchester’s support, then, doesn’t seem so surprising. The unique drumming sequence from the beginning is then joined by equally mesmerising shoegazey guitars, and Andy Gardner’s dreamy lead vocals aren’t that far off from those of Jimi Goodwin’s, or even Guy Garvey’s whose timbre is closer. “How the tables have turned”, repeats Gardner as the music swells, and you can’t help but be drawn into and get lost in the world they’ve created.
Comparatively, ‘Heart of Gold’ is a massive contrast, with a happy, poppy, peppy beat. It also is a footstomper in some places, which is another surprise coming off the moody, swirly ‘Choice’. Things go back to a far dreamier place in the nearly 7-minute opus ‘Acres’, where the guitar flickers from note to note like starlight. In dramatic juxtaposition, Gardner’s lyrics of “there’s nothing left here / I’ve been digging a grave / for passions expired” spark something deeply emotional.
Having already shown great promise in their songwriting and musicianship chops and supported bands as varied as I Like Trains, The Woodentops and fellow BBC Introducing buzz band Blossoms, I’m eager to hear what Multiplier get up to next. And you should be too.
Multiplier’s debut EP is out now on the band’s own Bandcamp, where it can be purchased at name your own price. You can listen to all three songs below.
By Mary Chang
on Sunday, 19th July 2015 at 10:00 am
Whichever side of the fence you are on when it comes to Arcade Fire, you’ve got to give it to them for effort: they’ll be releasing a new film called The Reflektor Tapes in the near future. This past week, they released a sort of prequel to the film, in the form of a promo backed by their song ‘Porno’. I never try to guess what Win Butler et al. are thinking, because I’m probably going to be completely way off of their weird thinking, so make your own decision about this supposed prequel by watching ‘Porno’ below.
The Reflektor Tapes is scheduled to be out on the 24th of September. All things Arcade Fire on TGTF is this way.
By Mary Chang
on Saturday, 18th July 2015 at 10:00 am
Marina and the Diamonds has a new video out for her song ‘Blue’, appearing on her third album ‘FROOT’, which has already received media accolades such as placing on American culture magazine Entertainment Weekly’s ’12 Best Albums for 2015 (So Far)’. Filmed at Margate’s Dreamland amusement park in Kent, Diamandis smartly uses the multicoloured atmosphere and exhilarating rides to parallel the upbeat, sparkly tune. Watch the video below.
‘FROOT’ is out now on Atlantic Records. For all past articles on the fabulous Marina, go here.
By Mary Chang
on Friday, 17th July 2015 at 6:00 pm
Liverpool band Outfit have a new monochrome promo out for ‘Framed’, which has been a recent mainstay on BBC 6 Music’s playlist. The song features on the band’s second and current album ‘Slowness’. Andrew P. Hunt of the band has this to say about the single:
It’s about a dream where you see the person you love living another life, an alternate reality without you in it. You’re walking down the street and you look through a window and see them surrounded by other things, other people and suddenly they’re different and you’re different. It’s about something uncanny completely flipping your perspective.
The song is less dancey than I remember them being on their debut album from 2013 ‘Performance’, with ‘Framed’ showing a remarkable measure of restraint while still maintaining an air of cool. Watch the video below. Past coverage on Outfit on TGTF is this way. ‘Slowness’ is out now on Memphis Industries.
On her fourth album ‘Under Branch & Thorn & Tree’, Oklahoma singer/songwriter Samantha Crain purveys a solid alt-country style that, ironically, aligns her more closely to the genre’s folk and blues roots than most of her modern mainstream counterparts. The wide thematic range of Crain’s songwriting extends from songs with political undertones, to narrative stories and character portraits, to heartrending romantic ballads. The instrumental arrangements of the songs are suitably varied, and Crain’s unique vocal delivery is exquisitely sensitive to each, alternating seamlessly between strident bitterness and soft introspection, finding all of the subtle shades of grey in between.
As stated in the press release for the album, Crain “has a jazz singer’s phrasing, often breaking words into rhythmic fragments that land before and after the beat, stretching syllables or adding grace notes to uncover hidden nuances in her lyrics.” This characteristic is immediately noticeable in the album’s first single ‘Outside the Pale’, which we featured in this Bands to Watch piece back in June. The song is sensual and dramatic overall, with a minor key string intro and deliberately unbalanced rhythms, especially in the repeated title lyric of the chorus, which echoes in the memory long after the song is over.
‘Under Branch & Thorn & Tree’ opens with a strong hook in ‘Killer’, whose slow, shuffling percussion and bass groove underlies the woozy, drunken feeling created by its uneven lyrical flow and weirdly ethereal synth strings. Crain delivers her brash, confrontational verse lyrics with measured precision, but it’s in the song’s brief refrain “they say the worst is over, the lowest reached / but it’s such a long road, keep marching” where her singing voice truly shines.
Crain evokes the idea of the feminine mystique in the folky ballad ‘Kathleen’, in which she recalls the warmth of friendship in a simpler time: “but there was a golden braid and an open ear / a funny joke and a lack of fear / the clock out of work, the joy of Kathleen”. The thread of that friendship carries through to ‘Elk City’, as Crain weaves a narrative of becoming trapped in a small town. While perhaps inelegant, Crain’s lyrics are evocative in their blunt honesty: the verse “I almost moved to Dallas / with my best friend Kathleen / but I met a guy at the Longhorn / he said he could fix my washing machine”, for example.
‘Big Rock’ is an uptempo country track whose twangy lap steel and gritty guitars belie its lyrics, which talk about being stuck in a rut while life around you moves on. Like many country songs of its ilk, its chorus is catchy and optimistic in spite of the trouble: “but its a big rock / a big flat rock / make myself a little home / even though I’m all alone / the view’s alright”.
Crain presents a beguiling character study in ‘You or the Mystery’, whispering introspectively through the lyrical lines “he seemed like a sad man / and he slammed all the doors / never drew up his curtains / he was small and pale on the porch” over a slow, shadowy instrumental arrangement. ‘All In’ is similarly introspective, though more vaguely abstract and musically austere.
The poignant ballads ‘When You Come Back’ and ‘Moving Day’ are both plain-spoken and plaintive, the former dealing with the very public pain of a romantic breakup in a small town, the latter taking a glimpse into a more private and intimate moment between former lovers. The vocal duet in the penultimate verse of ‘When You Come Back’ intensifies the heartache of that song, while ‘Moving Day’ employs a sweeter vocal tone and a heartwrenching harmonic modulation under the lyrics “I know the day is gone / I missed the dawn far too long ago / could you hear me out? / I see it now, I’m not too proud” to achieve the same heightened effect.
With ‘Under Branch & Thorn & Tree’, Samantha Crain has created and curated an engaging series of vignettes portraying the darker side of life in small-town America. Her attention to detail, both in her poetry and her vocal delivery, will delight singer/songwriter aficionados. Fans of fellow alt-country divas Natalie Prass and Caitlin Rose will likely find the album appealing to their tastes as well. Even you normally cringe at the thought of a stereotypical country twang, you might stop and reconsider after listening to Crain’s example of what finely-crafted authentic country music can sound like.
‘Under Branch & Thorn & Tree’ is out today, the 17th of July, on Full Time Hobby. Samantha Crain was in session with Marc Riley last week, and you can listen to the session on BBC iPlayer here. She will play a run of live dates in the UK this August. For all past TGTF coverage of Samantha Crain, go here.