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Singer/songwriter Johnny Flynn has emerged from a recent flurry of acting, composing and family commitments with news of a new studio album, his fourth, titled ‘Sillion’. The album follows Flynn’s work on the television series ‘Lovesick’ (whose title was changed from the cringeworthy but hilarious ‘Scrotal Recall’) and his introduction to fatherhood with the birth of a new daughter. If you’re interested in seeing Flynn on the small screen, I can recommend ‘Lovesick’ as actually a rather charming programme, now available on Netflix. But it’s the fatherhood angle which brings us to Flynn’s newly released lead single, ‘Raising the Dead’.
‘Raising the Dead’ is an examination of the cyclical nature of life, as Flynn relates the death of his father to the birth of his child. “My Dad died when I was 18, and that was quite a galvanising experience”, Flynn says, “and there’s often an element of that in anything I’m writing; every big loss that you suffer in life, I think everything comes through the conduit of that. I had a really strong sense of my daughter having elements of my Dad when she came along, and it made me kind of laugh – that cyclical sense, of thinking of my daughter as my Dad.”
The new track is immediately richer and more mature in sound than Flynn’s previous release, ‘Country Mile’, with a lush backing chorus and a vivid complement of instrumental sounds behind his introspective lyrics. Flynn’s own singing voice sounds warmer and more mellow, very relaxed and at-ease here compared to what I remember from songs like ‘The Lady is Risen’, but the slight change in vocal timbre is a perfect match for this song’s thematic juxtaposition of joy and sorrow.
Flynn’s songwriting has always been top-notch, both in terms of lyrics and composition, and ‘Raising the Dead’ rises to the standard we’ve come to expect. It displays an emotional and musical depth that reminds us of Flynn’s natural talent and provides an enticing first impression of his forthcoming LP.
Johnny Flynn’s fourth studio album ‘Sillion’ is due for release on the 24th of March via Transgressive Records. Ahead of the album release, Flynn is currently scheduled to appear at SXSW 2017. For news and updates on SXSW 2017 showcasing artists, please consult the festival’s official schedule here. TGTF’s previous coverage of Johnny Flynn is collected through here.
By Mary Chang
on Monday, 23rd January 2017 at 12:00 pm
Popular music through the ages has, generally, been a young person’s game. You hear it every time a manufactured pop hit is rolled out to the masses of teenagers listening to BBC Radio 1. Performed by – but not necessarily written by – young people, for young people, this kind of music has become all too predictable. In this climate of chasing after the next young thing, longevity for bands is rare these days. Lasting long beyond your teenage years and twenties is now viewed as a liability, not a positive selling point. However, there have been plenty examples in history of artists who have bucked the trend, managing to stay relevant beyond their younger years, like the late David Bowie, Prince and Leonard Cohen. While Little Comets have some way to go in age, their new single ‘Common Things’ point to them continuing to be a force in British music for many years to come.
Little Comets have grown up a lot from their single ‘Adultery’ in 2009. Now family men with children, there’s no denying that their home lives differ greatly from the average Radio 1 artist who’s out late partying after a show. On their second album ‘Life is Elsewhere’ released in 2012, there’s a track on there called ‘Waiting in the Shadows in the Dead of Night’, a simply beautiful song that is lyrically very personal to lead singer Rob Coles. He explained on the band’s blog way back then that the track was all about “exploring a relationship with loss – me and my partner will one day have to part in very final terms.”
In a similar way, ‘Common Things’ explores pedantic domestic life, specifically the things he loves in his relationship with his wife. The single is a declaration that when you’re with the right person, someone who loves and respects you, and it feels just right, you don’t need anything else. At the start of the song, Coles reminisces on a night of snogging in the West Midlands, long before their relationship became permanent. He rattles off a list of places to go and supposedly exciting things to see, yet they find they can “get our kicks from the frantic / little movements of feet”, the simplest of acts of fondness and love they have for their kids.
Sonically, you feel the joyful syncopation of Little Comets’ history past on this single, but also the embrace of more pop and electronic effects favoured by those previously mentioned Radio 1 acts. Rob Coles’ Geordie voice has always had a subversive edge to it, but ‘Common Things’ sounds like the most hip hop-iest moment of their band yet. Never willing to follow the trends or sacrifice their artistic leanings to make music to fit a certain mould, this taster of upcoming album ‘WORHEAD’ is a strong indicator that Little Comets are continuing to make the kind of music and convey the emotions they want to.
‘Common Things’ is available now from The Smallest Label. ‘WORHEAD’, the newest and fourth album from North East band Little Comets, will be released on the 10th of March on The Smallest Label. ‘Common Things’, which will appear on ‘WORHEAD’, will be released as a single on the 10th of March. You can read through our pretty massive archive of posts on Little Comets through this link.
New Paltz, New York alt-rock duo Diet Cig are set to make a second consecutive appearance at SXSW this year, where they will usher in their debut LP ‘Swear I’m Good at This’. The album’s twee-titled lead single ‘Tummy Ache’ was unveiled last week, and as soon as I heard it, I recognised it from SXSW 2016, where Diet Cig had included it on their setlist at the DIY Presents showcase at Hype Hotel.
Lead vocalist/guitarist Alex Luciano and her bandmate, drummer Noah Bowman gave a strong, energetic performance that night in Austin, and the recorded version of ‘Tummy Ache’ is true to their vivid live interpretation. Luciano’s whiny, overly-saccharine vocal delivery is almost enough to set my teeth on edge as she sings of “trying to find my voice / surrounded by all boys.” But she does present a very deliberate and ironic dichotomy in the musical context of the song’s bright, bold power chords and confidently emphatic rhythms. She comes across as shy and almost apologetic, despite the brash musical setting, in the lines “I don’t need a man to hold my hand / that’s just something you’ll never understand”. The song’s catchy final statement “my stomach hurts / ‘cos its hard to be a punk while wearing a skirt” is reinforced by increasingly intense background vocal layering as Luciano acknowledges both the outward conflict of a female rock star and her own inner turmoil.
Luciano certainly isn’t the first female frontwoman to tackle feminist subject matter in her songwriting, but based on the enthusiastically positive reception Diet Cig received last year, hers will be one of the most prominent feminist voices among showcasing artists at SXSW 2017. Keep an eye on TGTF for further coverage of Diet Cig as part of our focus on feminism at this year’s festival.
Diet Cig’s debut album ‘Swear I’m Good at This’ is due for release on the 7th of April via Frenchkiss Records. They are currently scheduled to appear at SXSW 2017 this March, but as always, the showcasing artist lineup is subject to change. For news and updates on SXSW 2017, please consult the festival’s official schedule here. TGTF’s previous coverage of Diet Cig is collected right back here.
Merseyside guitar rockers The Coral made their indelible first impression on the UK music scene in 2002 with a self-titled debut album that garnered the then-six-piece band a Mercury Prize nomination. Following that promising lead, the band recorded six more LPs over the course of the noughties before taking a five-year hiatus starting in 2010. During their off-time, band members focused on individual solo projects, and a previously recorded album, ‘The Curse of Love’, was released in late 2014.
In November 2015, The Coral announced a comeback, heralding the release of a new album, ‘Distance Inbetween’, which was released in March 2016. ‘Distance Inbetween’ was met with critical praise from reviewers at NME and The Independent, among others, and the band evidently felt the need to strike again while the iron was hot. They followed ‘Distance Inbetween’ with an EP release at the tail end of 2016, in the form of ‘Holy Mountain Picnic Massacre Blues’.
The LP is a reimagining of ‘Distance Inbetween’, at least in parts. Of the tracks on the new EP, only ‘Holy Revelation’ and ‘Connector’ are taken from the full album. ‘Holy Revelation (Andy Votel’s ‘Holy Mountain Picnic Massacre Blues’ De-Mix)’ more than doubles the original track’s duration at over 8 minutes’ running time. It takes a fairly standard guitar rock track, which was quite catchy in its original form, and makes it into a psychedelic sonic exploration of the foundational rhythms and melodies. Surprisingly, it never feels self-indulgent. Instead, the band seem to be making themselves comfortable here, as if The Coral are stretching their legs and kicking off their shoes, allowing themselves some space to grow, and in the process adding depth and texture to their sound.
‘Connector’, the shadowy album opener from ‘Distance Inbetween’, is recreated here in a woozy and hallucinogenic synth dressing. The bass and the beat are both more aggressive in this Voyagers’ remix, and frontman James Skelly’s vocals are moved farther back in the mix to accommodate the dark dance-pop vibe. The EP features one brand new track, the verbosely subtitled ‘After the Rain (Post WW3 Return of the Super Turv Mix)’, which received airplay from Steve Lamacq at BBC 6 Music ahead of the EP release. Edgy and sinuous with a deep bass groove, its harshly synthetic instrumental bridge contrasts jarringly with frontman Skelly’s smooth, dark vocal melody.
‘Unforgiven’, previously released as the b-side track to The Coral’s ‘Chasing the Tail of a Dream’ single from January of last year, is more acoustic sounding and less kaleidoscopic in color, but nonetheless psychedelic in its way. Its vocal and instrumental harmonies are weirdly wandering, but also warm and hazy around the edges, which allows the EP to close on a distinctly lighter and mellower note than where it began.
‘Holy Mountain Picnic Massacre Blues’ is probably best thought of as an accompaniment to ‘Distance Inbetween’. Stylistically, it’s a bit all over the shop on its own, but in comparison to the tracks on the full LP, these songs make a little more sense. Taken in conjunction with the definitive precision and back-to-basics mentality of ‘Distance Inbetween’, ‘Holy Mountain Picnic Massacre Blues’ displays The Coral’s outside-the-box approach to music-making and their willingness to evolve their sound, even as their career stretches past the 20-year mark.
The Coral’s full-length album ‘Distance Inbetween’ and their latest EP ‘Holy Mountain Picnic Massacre Blues’ are both out now on Ignition Records. For more on the Merseyside band on TGTF, follow this link.
With what could be their best record yet, You Me At Six have returned all guns blazing. ‘Night People’ is everything a fifth album should be: a throwback to earlier times whilst making sure the growth is evident. The first glimpse came in the form of the lead single and title track, which opens the album. With its pounding and pulsating drumbeat, it feels quite different from the classic You Me at Six sound. This peek into the new age of You Me at Six symbolises not only their growth but their insatiable prowling of the top spot in British rock.
The band had such confidence in the new record, they’ve admitted they’re not even releasing the strongest songs. This set of songs are a treat for those who check out the album, and a treat they are indeed. All across the board, this record stands in a league of its own when compared to the rest of the past You Me at Six discography. After the aforementioned first and title track, things get kicked up another notch with ‘Plus One’, a fast and furious number that takes no prisoners. This then leads us nicely into ‘Heavy Soul’, a perfectly melodic track that makes use of the band’s ability to write catchy and powerful choruses.
Somewhat of a break in the onslaught of melody and tempo, ‘Take on the World’ is a vastly different beast. It builds gently over restrained finger-picking on guitar, while frontman Josh Franceschi gives a completely wholehearted performance, even down to the tensing of voice during the chorus. As the track falls away after its epic crescendo, another slow start greets us in the form of ‘Brand New’. As the album’s highlight, it has absolutely everything: a rampaging melodic chorus, heartfelt lyrics and a perfect performance all round from the band. If you don’t like this track, then what hope is there?
The rest of the album has a lot to live up to after this. While ‘Night People’ knocks it out of the park other songs don’t replicate the ‘Brand New’ magic, so don’t be surprised if you find yourself going back and repeating it, maybe a hundred times or so. ‘Swear’ kicks back in a rollicking drum attack, a nod back to their previous album ‘Cavalier Youth’ and proving their sound is still. ‘Make Your Move’ brings some more of that viciousness we first saw in ‘Plus One’, and takes it up yet another notch, just as ‘Can’t Hold Back’ does. What we’re seeing here is certainly You Me at Six finding the ground upon which they can finally build the mainstream recognition they deserve.
‘Spell It Out’ repeats the restrained introduction used on prior tracks, but does so in a darker manner. It’s almost the antithesis to ‘Take On The World’ in its execution: still slow and building, but instead of leading to a melodic and positive crescendo, it takes us to an aggressive world that the band aren’t afraid to enter. Finale ‘Give’ does what all good finales should do. Not only does it complete the album, but it also leaves you with a sense that you’ve been emotionally tested. Through Franceschi’s cries of “I’ve been wasting all this time / trying to keep you off mind / you off my mind”, and the euphoric musical accompaniment, ‘Give’ is quite literally You Me at Six giving it their all.
The most interesting aspect of this entire record is the thought of where they’ll go from here. They’ve created what is their best album thus far, filled with exploration and deviation from the standard You Me at Six formula. The future’s going to be tough, but with ideas like these in their arsenal, they’ll surely own it.
‘Night People’, the sixth studio album from You Me at Six, is out now on Infectious Music / BMG. You can look back at TGTF’s previous coverage of You Me at Six through here.
The eighth EP release from dance producer prodigy James Draper, better known simply as Draper, does exactly what you’d assume the eighth EP would do. It’s made up of tracks that are massive, filled with beats and none too explorative. Across the six tracks, only one of which doesn’t feature a guest artist, there’s a lot to make you want to move and shake. Which, ultimately, is all you can ask for from an EP by an electronic producer.
It wastes no time in getting down to brass tacks by instantly striking with loud, prominent beats that use techno flourishes at their finest with ‘Want You More’. One of the unspoken jewels in dance music production’s crown is the use of unnoticed or unfamiliar artists. In cases like this, you can normally guarantee the voice you hear singing the hook comes from an up-and-comer, and in this case, it’s Sam Sure. The London-based singer has a voice that is a cross between emotive and focused, giving the song a much-needed human touch. Next up is BB Diamond on ‘Jealous’, a track about, you guessed it, being jealous. Her voice definitely shows the vicious side of jealousy, Diamond’s vocal range tensing at times and often taking on a raw edge. The music itself is once again fairly standard for this genre – with no real progression – but it’s melodic and isn’t terrible, so there’s that.
However, ‘I.O.U’ saves the day, with a performance on vocals from another London-based singer, Kyko. There’s two different songs within this track that appear and disappear throughout. The first is a triumphant and euphoric-sounding electronic funk melody that really does draw your attention, especially when complimented by the delicacy of the second. Next up, ‘Reaction’ brings yet more flavour. Its restrained instrumentation allows the vocals to take centre space, at least up until the chorus, which is actually pretty damn good. This is pop at its finest: a melody that sweeps you away, though the vocal performance could do more to match this setup. Guest vocalist Milck‘s strength lies in the more sedentary verse; the chorus calls for a more emotive performance to match the powerful melody Draper creates, and the vocal lets the track down in that regard. Additionally, the vocal effect before the break into the final chorus is wholly unnecessary but is saved by the extremely Eighties’ sounding guitar solo that breaks out in the song’s finale.
‘Heartbeat Close’ is a pure and straight dance track. There’s no doubt what its purpose is: to get you dancing, while drunk in the club with your friends. No points for creativity, but kudos on managing to stick to the template. Finale ‘Who Are You’ features Sykes and is the strongest guest performance on the record. With a sound reminiscent of CHVRCHES, just a little less power, it has a draw that none of the other tracks do. It’s encapsulating and breathes a life of fresh air into the six tracks, which is a shame considering this song appears at the end of the EP. Vocals once again aren’t sufficiently powered to match the euphoria found within the music, though the execution is certainly better that seen on ‘Reaction’. And another Eighties’ guitar solo, you can’t go wrong with an Eighties’, reverb-laden guitar solo.
As a whole, the EP is nothing to write home about, though as a whole, ‘Luminous’ certainly proves Draper’s strength as a producer. The songs are to get you dancing, soundtrack the lighter side of your life and to not hang around longer than needed, Which isn’t a bad thing, but it’s also not necessarily a good thing.
Draper’s ‘Luminous’ EP is available now from M:UK. You can stream the entire release below. He’s announced a show in London at Koko’s Friday BURST dance night on the 3rd of March. Stay tuned for more coverage on Draper in the coming weeks and months.