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.
By Mary Chang
on Thursday, 16th July 2015 at 6:00 pm
So what goes on in the day in the life of Noel Gallagher and his High Flying Birds? In his new video for ‘Lock All the Doors’, you can watch the singer/songwriter, legendary for his hatred of filming promos, doing what he loves best – performing – and you’re also treated to some behind the scenes clips of life on tour. Watch the new promo below.
Can’t get enough of the opinionated Mancunian? You’re in luck. We have more articles on Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds here.
By Mary Chang
on Thursday, 16th July 2015 at 4:00 pm
There’s been such a fuss following Danish band Mew everywhere this year and with good reason: ‘+-‘, their first album in 6 years, came out in April, much to the delight of their devoted fans. It never occurred to me that Mew were a headbanging-inducing type rock band until I saw this new video they’ve released, filmed during a fans-only show they did at Copenhagen Republique Theatre around the time of the release of the new LP. It’s dark and dingy and more ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ than you remember them, eh? Watch the performance in its sweaty glory below.
Want to read all things Mew on TGTF? Right this way.
It gives me considerable pleasure to introduce a great Leeds band. There aren’t that many right now, you know. Hookworms go without saying… um… Hope and Social are still around but have been going for ages, of course… anyway, answers on a postcard, please. But here we have Menace Beach. Their debut LP dropped early this year but there’s no stopping this cheeky quintet: they have a further EP to treat us with, from which ‘Super Transporterreum’ is taken.
It has been said that Menace Beach come across as a reboot of the grungier bits of Britpop, but that’s only half the story. If that. Yes, on ‘Ratworld’ there’s the occasional angularly aloof guitar riff, but mostly it’s chugging, overdriven Telecasters, phased group vocals and such a surfeit of punky, feedbacked attitude that would make even the most rebellious Goldsmiths student blush. To be honest, there’s not much Brit about it at all, taking as they do the majority of their inspiration from ‘90s American melodic punk. The revival continues apace.
‘Super Transporterreum’ takes the sounds of ‘Ratworld’ and distills them into a three-minute shot of multi-layered harmonic power-noise. The decision to employ a half-speed bonus pre-chorus does them no disservice at all. It’s as if Nevermind’s the prosthetic production values of ‘Nevermind’ agreed to mate with the disgusted nihilism of ‘In Utero’… as we all wished had happened first time around. And if that may be saddling a modest band from Leeds with the weight of grunge’s hopes and dreams… well, someone has to, and who better than a group of people of whom nobody would predict incredible things? I daresay Cobain would have wanted it that way.
The ‘Ratworld’ album from Menace Beach is out now. The ‘Super Transporterreum’ EP will be released in the UK on the 25th of September on Memphis Industries; the American release follows on the 2nd of October. Stream the title track of the EP in the Soundcloud widget below.