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By Mary Chang
on Monday, 8th December 2014 at 12:00 pm
Since early tipping by Gary Barlow 2 years ago, the release of early singles ‘High Hopes’ and ‘Love Like This’ and the amazing response to their debut album ‘In a Perfect World’ released in June 2013, TGTF friends Kodaline have been riding high and playing sold out shows across the globe. This autumn, they suffered a temporary setback when bass player Jason Boland suffered a wrist injury, causing the band to cancel their North American tour. But not all is lost. The band have been hard at work in between all those live appearances this year to work on album number two, whose title has been revealed to be ‘Coming Up for Air’. While the LP’s release date in 2015 is still unknown, last week Fearne Cotton had the first play of its lead single on Radio 1.
‘Honest’ is, for all intents and purposes, is a song about communication. This makes a whole lot of sense, since misunderstood communication usually stems from insufficient frankness and dishonesty. The first thing I thought about when I heard the song on their YouTube was “wow, this would make an amazing track for further examination on Music in Notes!‘ In early November, I analysed SOHN‘s ‘Artifice’, which follows a similar theme of a breakdown in communication in a couple. I know some of you aren’t examining song lyrics with a magnifying glass like I am, so I’m going to go over the music side of the song first, then briefly give my thoughts to the meaning of the song. I’ll leave the detailed interpretation for a future post on MiN.
Kodaline have headed in a slightly different direction in this single, which from my editor’s perspective I find intriguing. And in a good way. It continues the Irish band’s successful pop formula, which will serve to solidify their current fan base. But the overall sound is more muscular, more richer than anything on ‘In a Perfect World’, going into power ballad territory. Further, the single seems to represent Kodaline’s stepping away from their folk / country and western (‘Love Like This’, ‘Way Back When’) and gospel (‘All Comes Down’) leanings, so one has to wonder if they’ve decided to permanently retire the harmonica and mandolin. What is left is a more classic pop sound that will appeal to a much wider audience.
Thankfully, they aren’t saying goodbye to their gorgeous harmonies, which are on full display on the rousing chorus of ‘Honest’. The words “Say what you want to say / but if you lie to me again / I’ll be the one who walks away / is it in you to be honest?”, bolstered by a huge-sounding, buzzy synth line, are resolute, yet somehow oddly uplifting, as the chords change from minor to major. This shift feels especially nice, as the verses are purposely minor, indicating conflict.
What I especially like about this song and so many that I have interpreted on Music in Notes is it has a clear message, set within a theme that everyone can relate to, whether you’re 8 or 80. Even if you’re a Kodaline fan who’s too young to drink and has never had a boyfriend or girlfriend, the message is still applicable. We’ve all been given the silent treatment, all been lied to before. Some relationships can be repaired by better communication. But sometimes, if the other person refuses to be honest, the only solution is to walk away. We also don’t know which way this relationship went, so there’s a cliffhanger that may or may not be explained in the new album expected in early 2015. Regardless of what happens with ‘Coming Up for Air’, you can be sure that Kodaline has closed out 2014 with a real winner.
Stream ‘Honest’ below. You can pre-order the single now; it will be released on the 1st of February 2015. Stay tuned for the release date of ‘Coming Up for Air’, the band’s second album.
By Mary Chang
on Wednesday, 26th November 2014 at 12:00 pm
Based on their unusual moniker alone, you might mistake Get Inuit for a couple of Eskimos who decided to grab some instruments on the tundra and form a band. I’ll have to ask them sometime from where they got and decided on their name, as all the press releases on them so far fails to explain all of this. But let’s leave that for another day and an interview feature down the road (here’s to hoping in person and by this editor) and focus on the things we do know…
Get Inuit are from Sittingbourne, Kent, a town in the South East that is surrounded more by lovely farming land than barren polar landscapes. More importantly, the four piece – Jamie Glass on lead vocals and guitar, James Simpson on guitar and production duties, his brother Rob on drums and Oliver Nunn on bass – are now signed to Alcopop! Records, most famously known as the London indie label home to devil-may-care Brum rockers Johnny Foreigner. The four will be releasing their debut EP, ‘001’, in early February, and ahead of that, they have revealed the humourously named single ‘Dress of Bubblewrap’. This follows on from the raucous and yes, cute ‘Cutie Pie, I’m Bloated’ track we gave away in June.
I’ve wondered how ubiquitous bubblewrap as packaging is in the UK, as it used to be the standard packaging you’d see surrounding brand new electronic devices here in America. Well, until some intelligent people started using more earth-friendly materials like recyclable, crumpled up kraft paper and you never saw those bubbly things again. But if we’re talking about those plastic sheets covered in dots that were oh so tempting to pop and annoy the heck out of our parents and teachers back in ‘90s and before, yes, there is definitely some humour to the title of the single, as it recalls an earlier, more carefree time.
The humour also extends to the lyrics, as Glass sings in a whimsical voice about a woman who “broke her hip / half of the city saw it snap / maybe you’ll learn a lot from this / now that you’re flat out on your back”. Call me crazy, but I doubt anyone’s bones were broken in public, and this is just a clever setting of a scene in which an observer is commenting on a woman being embarrassed publicly for something she was misled into doing. In an eloquent show of sheer chivalry, he offers to be there the next time he needs her, to be her knight in shining armour – “drop me a line next time you slip / I’ll make you a dress of bubblewrap” – to essentially catch her when she falls.
Further, when the song reaches the chorus, Glass’ voice soars beautifully as he suggests that he takes his offer of crafting a protective dress for her and together “maybe we could redesign scars into tattoos / maybe redesign roses from the bruise”. In other words, he’s offering that the two of them together can rebuild from the point where they are now, and he can give her a better world. Man, what the heck. I’m getting all philosophical. This is supposed to be a pop song, isn’t it?
But that’s what makes it brilliant. This kind of serious, un-pop message is obscured by the fun, dancey tune woven around the words. The song, co-produced by James Simpson and Story Books‘ Kristofer Harris, is upbeat in tempo with plenty of interesting minimalist guitar notes to huge flourishes, while banged on drums providing an irresistibly driving rhythm. It’s as catchy as all hell and not likely to leave your mind anytime soon. Not that you’d want it to. I’d say if Get Inuit can continue this songwriting that’s fun and funny, they’ll be ones to watch in 2015. Let’s just hope they don’t ditch Kent for an igloo…
‘Dressed in Bubblewrap’, Get Inuit’s debut single for Alcopop! Records, is available now. You can listen to it below. Stay tuned, as their debut EP ‘001’ will be released on the 9th of February 2015.
British electronic group Clean Bandit achieved phenomenal chart success in 2014 with ‘Rather Be’. The track, which features vocals from English singer/songwriter Jess Glynne, spent four weeks at #1 in the Official UK Singles Charts: it sold 163,000 copies in its opening week back in January, making it the second fastest-selling single of the year (behind Band Aid 30‘s ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas?’). On the back of Rather Be, Clean Bandit and Jess Glynne have teamed up once again for their latest single ‘Real Love’.
The four-piece band’s unique selling point is their ability to fuse a range of genres together in their music, including classical, funk, dance and pop. Combined with the soulful vocals of Glynne, ‘Real Love’ offers a distinctive blend of styles that stands out amongst the wave of dance music that is currently dominating the charts.
The track, which is the first to be taken from the new edition of their debut album ‘New Eyes’, opens with the rich sounds of a bass, cello and piano, as Glynne’s terrific vocals trickle over the top. As the momentum and energy builds, ‘Real Love’ bursts into a dance chorus that brilliantly demonstrates Clean Bandit’s signature style. While the lyrics tether on the edge of being too repetitive, as Glynne repeatedly belts out “this is real, real, real, real love” throughout the chorus, ‘Real Love’ is a solid track highly reminiscent of ‘Rather Be’.
However, this likeness to their first collaboration is the main downfall of the song. The song doesn’t bring anything new to the table, as Clean Bandit and Jess Glynne have played it safe by attempting to ride on the success of ‘Rather Be’. Had they taken a few more risks, this could have been a smash hit. Instead, we’re left with a slightly underwhelming track that will struggle to make a significant impact on the charts.
‘Real Love’ is taken from Clean Bandit’s debut album ‘New Eyes’, out now on Atlantic Records. The band recently announced that they are embarking on a UK/Irish tour in March 2015.
By Mary Chang
on Thursday, 13th November 2014 at 12:00 pm
Valerie Teicher, better known under her atmospheric stage name Tei Shi, recently signed to Mermaid Avenue, an imprint of American label Mom + Pop Music. And we couldn’t be happier for the inventive Brooklyn via Colombia via Vancouver artist. Her second single for her new label home differs quite a bit from the first, the #1 Hype Machine-placing number ‘Bassically’, which features an insistent ’80s beat and handclap and whooshing flourishes. ‘See Me’ is a much more restrained affair and reveals a more straightforward and yet far more wistful style than seen on her ‘Saudade’ EP, released in 2013.
According to a chat she had with the folks at Dazed Digital, she had one singular goal in writing this song: “I want the song to sound like fishies swimming up a stream made of chocolate mousse.” While that doesn’t sound very palatable, the results are stunningly beautiful. The track was coproduced by Teicher, long-time friend, collaborator and producer Gianluca Buccellati and Dave Bayley, with whom she teamed up with to write and record the Glass Animals’ ‘Gooey’ EP track ‘Holiest’. She wowed the DC crowd in July with her talent when she supported Bayley’s band at U Street Music Hall in July.
Teicher’s vocals on this new single are airy and allowed to breathe, which was a smart choice to highlight her gorgeous voice. It’s as if the double-backed vocal line is floating and flying high in the sky like a bird, weaving a beautiful pattern among and in between the other parts of this song. These background elements – varying from mechanical creaks and clanking, mouth clicks, synths and light percussion – are never heavy-handed, complementing the vocal treatment well. The last minute of the song goes entirely instrumental, as animal noises, synths and beats are filtered and fogged to create an appropriately chill outro.
Then there are the lyrics themselves, which linger and recall memories like the cologne of an ex. Is it a breathy admittance to self-consciousness to a lover? Is a Dear Jane letter saying goodbye to a toxic relationship? Or maybe a combination of both? Whichever it is, it’s evident the protagonist can look to her lover and see his shortcomings: “you never look at your surroundings / you only think how they might change / but I’ll be like the trees / and I’ll grow while no one’s watching / and I unravel your mistakes”. More importantly, she wants to be seen for who she truly is. In that respect, the song does a perfect job of presenting Tei Shi’s stellar, near heavenly voice, and I hope this will be the single that brings her the fame she deserves.
‘See Me’, Tei Shi’s latest single, is out now on Double Denim Records.
Belfast-born, Liverpool-landed brother/sister duo Southern have just announced another change of location, this time moving to London, as they announced this past Saturday on their Facebook page. They are also just at the end of a lengthy autumn tour of the UK, but their hectic schedule hasn’t kept them out of the studio. They have managed to intermingle their live performances with recording work on tracks for their debut LP, which is expected sometime in 2015. To that end, they are set to release their next single, ‘Cool Kid’, on the 24th of November via Marathon Artists.
‘Cool Kid’ is a newly reworked version of a track that initially appeared on Southern’s self-titled EP, released at the end of 2013. The refreshed adaptation moves slightly away from the band’s typical folk rock sound and more into pop territory, with an energetic rhythm, punchy verses and an infectious chorus, “’cos she’s a cool kid / lost and found / she’s dead when she comes and it’s tying me down / such a cool kid / I should dedicate this one to you”, that immediately sticks in your head.
The crisp black and white imagery in the song’s recently released video is the pure essence of cool. Constantly shifting shots of Thom and Lucy Southern nonchalantly strumming their guitars alternate between a shadowy foreground view and a sharp background projection screen. The mood is immediately set with the detached opening guitar riff and Thom Southern’s sullen delivery of the opening vocal lines, “he don’t wanna release her / she don’t want a kiss on the cheek / and someone keeps telling me I’m no good”. The mesmerising bridge section is a combination of lightly echoing guitars and vaguely evocative lyrics: “it’s interesting, ‘cos you dance the way you feel / now I know that you dance the way you feel.”
For the single release, Southern have paired the uptempo ‘Cool Kid’ with a brand new song called ‘Sympathise With You’. In contrast with its A-side track, ‘Sympathise With You’ is slow and introspective but with similarly reverberant guitar sounds. The guitar melodies change from sulky to sultry as Thom Southern croons the lyrical chorus, “and who are you? You’re so good, I sympathise with you / and this feeling that you want me / Is there something I don’t wanna know? That’s just something that I don’t know”.
On the ‘Cool Kid’ single, Southern display an ever-expanding degree of musical range and confidence in their own abilities, a rare combination among bands just starting their careers. If their relocation to London is any indication, 2015 could be a year of more bold moves for the Northern Irish pair. In the meantime, they are scheduled to close out this year with a headline show at London Barfly on the 4th of November and an appearance at the Whiskey Sessions Festival in Manchester on the 21st of November.
First up: ‘My Heart is Pumping to a Brand New Beat’.
Second on the bill: ‘I’m in Love And It’s Burning My Soul’.
Who said indie kids were just a bunch of sweaty lads and ladies with greasy hair shouting about their heartbreaks? The archetypal ‘Girls & Boys’ of indie rock ‘n’ roll, The Subways have released their second single in the run-up to the release of their self-titled new album out in February 2015, and they’ve stuck to the tried and tested formula which has made them popular up to now.
They’re not experimenting, and I think that should at least be lauded. The three-piece have a distinct mid-’90s DIY indie-punk vibe about them, and they’re bloody good at making rowdy, simple songs which clock in at just less than 3 minutes. In ‘I’m in Love And It’s Burning My Soul’, Billy Lunn and Charlotte Cooper’s vocals weave through the verses, with a toe-tappingly melodic chorus of the song’s title interjecting.
It probably sounds like more of a throwback to the earliest phases of the band due to the fact this single was borne from some “really old demos” in Billy Lunn’s words. The video mirrors this; it’s a subtle nod to where the band has come from, moving away from the sheened production of songs like ‘Kiss Kiss Bang Bang’ and back to the DIY-esque grit and edge that in 2005 made ‘Rock & Roll Queen’ such a huge indie disco hit – and why it’s still blasted out at a Propaganda near you.
‘I’m in Love And It’s Burning My Soul’ is underscored by the energy that has driven this band through the last 14 years of releases and relentless touring. While the single isn’t exactly a progression, who gives a flying fuck. They’re good at what they do, and who’s to stop them from continuing.
The Subways’ newest single ‘I’m in Love And It’s Burning My Soul’ is out now on YFE Records / Cooking Vinyl. The band’s eponymous fourth album ‘The Subways’ will be released on the 9th of February 2015.