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By Mary Chang
on Friday, 29th August 2014 at 12:00 pm
Words by Jennifer Williams
Former My Chemical Romance frontman Gerard Way and his crazy legs return to music with the shimmery Britpop influenced-single ‘No Shows’ from his forthcoming debut solo release ‘Hesitant Alien’.
For over a decade, Gerard Way helmed one of the most beloved and occasionally reviled bands of recent years. After the release of their fourth studio album ‘Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys’ in 2010, things started to go downhill for the group and Way pulled the plug. In an interview with NME, he had two choices: “Break the band or break me.” The release of’ No Shows’ follows on the heels of free download track ‘Action Cat’.
In ‘No Shows’,Way drops rock ‘n’ roll excess, returning to his art school roots. The video for the single sees Way and his backup band The Hormones performing on Pink Station Zero, which looks like Top of the Pops from outer space, with club kids from 1984 dropped in for good measure. It is as awesome as it sounds. Way, looking sharp in his suit and tie and Kool-Aid coloured hair, shows off incredibly spastic legs that you aren’t sure if he is trying to dance or having tremors.
I was pulled in straight away by its glam rock riff and airy harmonies, and all of a sudden it feels like 1994. Things shift a bit midway through the track, taking a detour into shoegaze country; the crisp guitars get the full fuzz pedal treatment. One thing that hasn’t changed is those epic one-liners when he sings coolly, “it’s not love if it’s just fucking”. Don’t know how well his plan to reboot Britpop in America is going to work out. I suppose we will find out in a month’s time.
New Gerard Way single ‘No Shows’ is out now. Way’s solo album ‘Hesitant Alien’ is out the 30th of September on Warner Brothers Records.
Warning: this video contains big riffs, sordid sexy bass chugs and a screech or two.
Oh, and something about a horrid afterbirth-y creature with a hairpiece on, which starts breathing. But ignore that.
The video to Pulled Apart By Horses’ ‘Lizard Baby’ has dominated a lot of the chatter in the build-up the single’s eventual release in September. What the fuss is about is particularly beyond me. But perhaps seeing as I have done a stint at Zoo Magazine and worked with the ex-Production Editor of Bizarre, it takes a little more than usual to see me regurgitating last night’s roast dinner. The new single is a turnaround from their last album’s opening single, the aural bombardment that is ‘V.E.N.O.M.’
‘Lizard Baby’ seems like a far more measured approach from a band with a far grungier look than they’ve ever had, in their short career. After a thudding bass roll that continues throughout, the song introduces Tom Hudson, and then the band delves into more composed territory than we’ve ever seen before from Pulled Apart by Horses. A band known for the frenetic pace and incredibly pacey riffs have moved into Pixies-esque territory.
It’s far more melodic than the short, sharp bursts of frantic alternative rock we’ve come to expect from the band, with a Nirvana ‘Heart Shaped Box’-tinged vibe. Undeniably, it’s a headbanger throughout – the riffs are colossal and it builds to an enormous crescendo, with some classic Horses’ screeching. Whether it’s a warning shot as to what we can expect on the 1st of September, when their third album ‘Blood’ is also released, I’m less sure. But I sense perhaps these young ruffians from Leeds have decided to steer away from singing songs about how they ‘Punched a Lion in the Throat’ towards a more Foo Fighters’ Radio 1-friendly rock. It doesn’t seem like the boys have lost any of their edge; the wildly bizarre video is testament to that.
Let’s just hope these horses haven’t been tamed by the prospect of the Radio 1 A-listing and Fearne Cotton’s warm bosom.
‘Lizard Baby’, Pulled Apart by Horses’ next single, is out on the 1st of September, the same day their third album ‘Blood’ will be released.
Who needs coffee when you’ve got the energetic, indie rock tones of Mazes to wake you up on a morning? Not me, that’s for sure. The British lo-fi trio are back with their third studio album ‘Wooden Aquarium’ in September.
One of the tracks on the album is ‘Salford’, a ’90s-indebted ode to the Greater Manchester city, near to where the band formed. As they managed with lead single ‘Astigmatism’, from the album, ‘Salford’ features quick bursts of fierce riffs with ferocious vocals to match. The male vocals of Jack Cooper and the female vocals of Heather Strange spill over each other, as they trade statements such as “I have hidden layers” and “I wear my hair long”. It may sound bizarre, but it fits into the style and feel of the track quite comfortably.
It may not be everyone’s cup of tea (or coffee), but Mazes’ ‘Salford’ is a track full of energy and interesting ideas. While it’s a little on the short side, clocking it at just over 2 minutes, it acts as a brilliant teaser for their upcoming album.
‘Salford’ is taken from Mazes’ third studio album ‘Wooden Aquarium’, which will be released on the 8th of September on Fat Cat Records.
By Mary Chang
on Wednesday, 6th August 2014 at 12:00 pm
Holy Esque from Glasgow were a band I had intended to see at SXSW this year, but you know what they say about the best laid plans… I suppose though had I seen them live, I might have had an entirely different opinion of their new single ‘Sovereign’, which gets a release next week. ‘Silences’, which we featured as part of our Bands to Watch piece on them prior to them going out to the big dance in Austin for a second year in a row, has driving drums and an upbeat tempo ala Franz Ferdinand but with a scratchy, less melodically delivered vocal more like that of Billy McCarthy’s of American group (We Are) Augustines. ‘Sovereign’, however, has a more ominous feel.
The upcoming single takes full advantage of darker post-punk guitars and icy synths to make you feel like you’re inside a dimly lit room with nothing but the shadows for company. Everyone who I waved off before, the ones who were talking about Holy Esque before and kept insisting they were the new Echo and the Bunnymen, okay, yes, I hear echoes of Ian McCulloch and his band. The vocals, however, won’t remind you of anything like ‘The Killing Moon’ or even ‘The Cutter’, so just be prepared, they’re going to be a bit marmite.
Frontman Pat Hynes doesn’t so much sing as much as get the words out like Michael Stipe at his least melodic or Thom Yorke in his usual attempts to be melodic. But he explained to The Skinny in 2012 that he is content with his artistry: “I thought it was fucking weird. I was like, ‘Why can’t I sing?’ But I learned to appreciate it and work with it, and I gained a little bit of control over it. But I can’t stop it. It’s just the way it is.”
If you can get past the lack of melody in Hynes’ voice – or better yet, you actually like the way he sings – you are treated to a song of three acts. The first act of ‘Sovereign’ has Hynes singing almost in a hip hop staccato style, which matches the unfeeling synth notes from Keir Reid. The song does everything to be unobtrusive until shortly after the 3-minute mark, when thunder and lightning have now entered your dimly lit room in act two. Guitars crash messily and Hynes starts shrieking, as if to combat the noise of the guitars. The guitars eventually drone and fade out in the final act, and you’re left wiping your brow, wondering what the hell just happened.
Dramatic? Yes. Is it for everyone? No. Worth a listen? Yes.
‘Sovereign’, Holy Esque‘s next single, will be released next Monday, the 11th of August, on Beyond the Frequency Records. They tour the UK starting later this month and into September.
Despite being over a month from its official release, the new single from Sheffield up-and-comers High Hazels, titled ‘Misbehave’, has already received its first mainstream radio spins. The track earned airplay on Huw Stephens’ BBC Radio 1 show last week after having been picked up by BBC 6music’s Steve Lamacq the week prior. While High Hazels garnered praise for their previous releases, the ‘In the Half Light’ EP (reviewed here by Mary) and especially single ‘Hearts Are Breaking’, it could be ‘Misbehave’ that really makes their mark leading up to their debut LP.
The beauty in High Hazels’ music up to this point has been the combination of their diffusely romantic lyrics with the sweet lilt of James Leesley’s singing voice and the hazy echo of the atmospheric guitar and percussion effects. Their songs have been the quietly introspective type that might provoke a wistful sigh, a rueful smile, or maybe even a catch in your throat. But with ‘Misbehave’, Leesley and his bandmates have purposefully unfixed their gaze from the tips of their shoes and decided to take a more direct approach.
The song’s suggestive opening lyric, “Do you want to misbehave?”, is immediately more visceral and outspoken than anything we’ve heard from High Hazels before. It isn’t an entirely novel idea in the canon of popular song, of course, but the appealing sincerity in Leesley’s singing keeps it from sounding like a bad pick-up line. His vocals become more throaty and anguished as the guileless chorus repeats, “I need to find my way / Before it gets too late / Just tell me what you want to hear / I need to know ‘cos I wanna be near to you.”
Musically, the concise lyrical phrases are punctuated by heavy, pounding drums and chunky guitar countermelodies, while the usually reverberant instrumental texture takes a slight turn toward woozy psychedelia. Producer Matt Peel might be responsible for the experimentation in the audio effects, but the design doesn’t come entirely out of nowhere. Hints of this sound could possibly be heard in the 4-to-the-floor rhythm of other ‘In the Half Light’ EP track ‘Summer Rain’, though ‘Misbehave’ definitely has more groove and more movement.
As a stand-alone single, ‘Misbehave’ is seductively catchy and infectious, but I’m more interested to find out where it will stand in the context of High Hazels’ full LP when that is eventually released. It could serve equally well as a quick change of pace or a complete change of direction. Either way, my curiosity is piqued.
‘Misbehave’ is scheduled for release on the 15th of September on Heist or Hit Records, to be swiftly (we hope!) followed by High Hazels’ debut LP. The official audio of the single can be heard below.
Whether you love him or hate him, Pitbull has been no stranger to the music scene in recent months. The American rapper topped the charts with ‘Timber (ft. Kesha)’ in October 2013. This was followed by a top 5 position as a featured artist on Enrique Iglesias’ ‘I’m a Freak’ and his own single ‘Wild Wild Love (ft. GRL)’ peaked at #6. There was also the official World Cup track, ‘We Are One (Ola Ola) (ft. Jennifer Lopez and Claudia Leitte)’, but the less said about that, the better.
For his latest single ‘Fireball’, Pitbull has teamed up with John Ryan. If you’ve never heard of him, a quick Google search will tell you that he co-wrote the likes of ‘Best Song Ever’ and ‘Story of My Life’ for One Direction. However, this is the first time the songwriter has leant his vocals to a track.
Surprisingly, ‘Fireball’, the first single to be taken from Pitbull’s upcoming album ‘Globalization’, isn’t the standard party pop track we’ve come to expect from Mr Worldwide. Instead, we are treated to a carnival-esque beat with a catchy chorus that has a bluesy vibe to it. Throw in the usual ‘Pitbullisms’ as I like to call them, such as the line “I came, I saw, I conquered / or should I say, I saw, I conquered, I came”, and you have all the ingredients for a feel-good track for the summer.
As for the chorus, John Ryan’s soulful vocals compliment the track well, as he sings: “I was born in a flame, Mama said that everyone would know my name / I’m the best you’ve never had, if you think I’m burning out, I never am.” Like all of Pitbull’s choruses, it’s simple, it’s catchy and it’s bound to get stuck in your head.
Overall, Pitbull has taken a number of risks with ‘Fireball’. The use of a Latina sound and a bluesy chorus is a long way away from the club bangers the rapper has previously churned out, though it seems to have paid off. Not only that, but the track is guaranteed to give guest vocalist John Ryan the exposure he needs to make it big in the music industry. Expect to be hearing this a lot over the summer.
Pitbull’s new single ‘Fireball’ has yet to be given a release date, although his eighth studio album ‘Globalization’ is set for an autumn 2014 release.
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