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Elisabeth Corrin Maurus, or Lissie as she’s known professionally, is back with new single ‘Don’t You Give Up on Me’ and a third album, ‘My Wild West’, scheduled for release next year on Cooking Vinyl. While Lissie is a definitely a talented musician and songwriter, she’s not had the best run of luck. When she released her debut ‘Catching a Tiger’ in 2010, the music world wasn’t quite ready for her brand of melancholy-laced Americana. Nor, sadly, were they ready for someone to infuse their music with as many Fleetwood Mac-isms as she did, that would take three sisters from California to re-start the Mac revival.
But enough of the past. What does ‘Don’t You Give Up on Me’ sound like? Is the title a cunning ploy in which Lissie asks us to keep the faith and buy her new album after the 3 years since her sophomore album ‘Back to Forever’, or is it a heartfelt plea to an ex-lover? ‘Don’t You Give Up on Me’ is chock-full of catchy melodies and insightful lyrics (“you are the moon, I feel your weight / you tug at the ocean, you help it change”). But the star of the show, as with most Lissie songs, is her voice, jumping from ethereal to ragged as effortlessly as if it was simply a chord change. As the song progresses, the emotion ramps up and by the end, you feel Lissie is singing either about you, or for you. This is a notable change in her music. In the past, she seemed happy to tell her stories of love, rejection and redemption, but now she managed, through touring and recording two albums, to deliver an emotional connection.
For all its positives, the single sounds like a track from a future Emmylou Harris album, where she’s taking compositions from ‘cool’ bands and songwriters to try get a new audience. From the hypnotic opening guitar riff, driving drums and pulsing bass, ‘Don’t You Give Up on Me’ sounds like it was written by King of Leon. Ultimately because of this comparison, ‘Don’t You Give Up on Me’ feels a bit flat, as we know Lissie is capable of so much more. Let’s hope ‘My Wild West’ contains songs akin to the driving ‘Little Lovin’’, which set her apart from her peers in 2010, instead of ‘I Bet on You’, which for all its charm was just a standard album track.
The new Lissie single ‘Don’t You Give Up on Me’ will be released the same day as her third album, ‘My Wild West’, on the 12th of February 2016. The LP can be preordered now from her official Web site.
Being a folk sensation leaves little room for manoeuvre. Take Mumford and Sons for instance: heavyweights in their field, but evidence that having the same sound consecutively wears thin very quickly, you have to shape up and get with the times.
Of Monsters and Men have done this nicely with their recent sophomore record ‘Beneath the Skin’ and more importantly, with upcoming single ‘Human’. The bones from the band before are still there, but there’s a definite evolution to be heard. The sound is grander, with more of a conscious effort to include electric guitars and large, thunderous drums. “Breathe in, breathe out and let the human in” softly signals the birth of the chorus, which is where Of Monsters and Men do what they do best. Surrounded by backing chants and chiming bells, everything it contains strikes the right chords. It’s warming, charming and full of life.
It switches back and forth between the powerful chorus and the more timid verses, referencing our ability as humans to sometimes let the monster inside take over our better selves and forget who we are. “Eat me like a cannibal, chase the neon throne” may sound like nonsense, but that’s the beauty of it. We, as a species, don’t make sense and are far too often seen to sacrifice our own well being and sanity for what we believe to be the greater good, thus creating our own monsters.
The final crescendo, with its echoing and reverberating guitar sound, wouldn’t go amiss amongst stadium rock giants such as U2 or Coldplay. Both the crescendo and song are certainly not reinventing the wheel, but it’s good to hear the progression and experimentation developing. Of Monsters and Men have a special gift in their songwriting craft, going from strength to strength; come the time for their third output, we could potentially be on the verge of an absolute takeover and they’ll be selling out full arena tours and a household name in no time.
‘Human’, the upcoming single from Of Monsters and Men, will be released the 25th of December on Island Records in the UK and Republic Records in America. The song features on the band’s new album ‘Beneath the Skin’, out now. Past coverage of Of Monsters and Men on TGTF is this way.
We here at TGTF first covered the elusive London quartet Arthur Beatrice ahead of their trip to America for SXSW 2014. Following a full review of their debut album ‘Working Out’ in February of that year, I attended their SXSW gig at the Harvest Records showcase, where I was more impressed with their live performance than I had been with their studio recording. I had expected that Arthur Beatrice’s cool, consciously artistic vibe would make a greater impact given the buzz surrounding them at the time, but since our Martin made quick mention of their subesquent Live at Leeds 2014 appearance…radio silence.
We haven’t heard so much as a peep from the group, who in any case were never the most attention-seeking of bands, in nearly 2 years. But out of the blue last week, they re-emerged onto the music scene with a very aptly titled new single ‘Who Returned’. The new song features a high-profile collaboration with the London Contemporary Orchestra, who have worked in the past with such artists as Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood, Talking Heads frontman David Byrne, and recent Grammy winner Beck. The minimalist video for ‘Who Returned’ was designed and co-directed by the band, in another collaboration with boutique video production company LiveFi.
‘Who Returned’ is characteristically subtle and sophisticated, and its video is suitably composed, with a stark, minimalist design focused on the band members and the musical elements of the song itself. The song starts off feeling distant and restrained, as lead singer Ella Girardot’s dance movements visually hold the viewer at arms’ length. Musically, it then builds through the lingering anticipation of the bridge to an outburst of passion, which is expressed both through the manifestation of anguish in Girardot’s movements and the heightened dynamic created by the addition of the orchestra under the repeated vocal lines “you can never be whole if you’ve never been broken / find no strength in myself, all I have is this emotion.”
Arthur Beatrice’s new single ‘Who Returned’ is available now via Open Assembly/Polydor. In addition to the new release, the band have also announced one live date for next year, a performance with the London Contemporary Orchestra Soloists on the 18th of February 2016, at the London Institute of Contemporary Arts.
By Mary Chang
on Monday, 16th November 2015 at 12:00 pm
Those who have known me for years are aware that I can be an insufferable sentimental git. I hold on to every last memory, good and bad. Last week, I had already formulated in my mind generally how this piece on Clock Opera was going to go. And then Friday night in Paris, the unspeakable happened.
Some people – the kind of people like my own mother who had quaked at the mere thought of me boarding a plane after 9/11, and every single time I’ve done it – are going to be too scared to go out in public, to go to a live show for quite some time. Maybe it will be for months, years, I don’t know. But the more I have read in the last 48 hours of the incredible humanity of those who survived the terrible goings-on in the Bataclan, the outpouring of love from the our whole music community to honour those we have lost, I don’t feel so ashamed of being that insufferable sentimental git at this very moment.
We – all of us – have suffered a great loss, beautiful lives have been cut short, and for what? It is impossible to comprehend through our grief, to make sense of what is truly senseless. But no matter where we are in our lives, whenever we are a party to sorrow, to trauma, we can go deep into our minds and our hearts, where the good memories live and will live on forever. We must do this now, in remembrance of those we’ve lost, many of whom who thought they were going out on a normal Friday night to enjoy live music at a gig, something that many of us do all the time and don’t think about too much, because we take it for granted that we will be safe.
Our lives have changed, yes. But we will keep going, keep living, and living our lives every day for those we have lost who cannot.
I have a fond memory of meeting Clock Opera in Liverpool 3 years ago, shortly after their debut album ‘Ways to Forget’ had been released on Island / Moshi Moshi. They were one of three bands playing the TGTF showcase we put on at the Arts Academy in May 2012, sandwiched in between Brighton’s Dear Prudence and Sydney, Australia’s The Temper Trap, the latter of whom were still running on the success of ‘Sweet Disposition’ and their debut album. It was a great night: the venue was rammed, the bands sounded incredible onstage and we had gobs of punters entering our lucky draw for a Clock Opera CD and a Temper Trap t-shirt.
I met the guys and welcomed them when they arrived at the venue, hours before the showcase was to start, laden down with all their gear. They were effusive in their praise of our Web site. I had a quite funny but brief conversation with frontman Guy Connelly about his epic beard, which I remember as if it was yesterday. I asked him if he would allow me to touch the famed beard; he laughed and said, “you don’t know how many people reach out and touch it *without* asking!” So I was looked upon as a friend from then on.
Clock Opera emerged in 2009, at an interesting time for British music. If you look at the BBC Sound of 2010 longlist, which appeared less than a year after I joined up here as USA Editor at TGTF, you’ll recognise a lot of names on there, when synth-led music and indie were kings as the new decade dawned. But you’ll also note most every artist or group on the list still standing has had to reinvent themselves or change significantly in the 5 years since those names were revealed.
The band went silent after the end of 2012, and I imagined they’d be back before I knew it, and with some smashing new single for us to sink our teeth into. Then a year went by…and while a year in band terms sometimes means musicians are taking a well-deserved rest or maybe simply just getting on with Real Life, relationships and families, I’d assumed after Connelly’s usually otherwise prolific remix well went dry and quiet, that would be the last we’d heard of them. Imagine how grateful I felt when early in November, new Clock Opera track ‘Changeling’ was released to the wild. Although they lost keyboardist Dan Armstrong last year, it sounds like time has been good to them, as it sounds like they haven’t lost their identity but instead have refined it, in a time in the music business when it’s uber important to distinguish your band and your sound from everyone else’s.
Unbeknownst to me, they were working on a crowdfunding campaign in 2015 to make enough money to record their second album. Luckily for us, the campaign’s target was reached in July, so this highly anticipated second outing is purported to be out next year. If ‘Changeling’ is indicative of Clock Opera 2.0, the exciting percussive nature of their music exemplified by their live tour de force ‘A Piece of String’ has been retained by the heavy, buzzy synth rhythm and the clanging bells. However, it appears they’ve ‘grown up’ in a way, choosing to go in a darker direction, the song described on the press release as “a mysterious, haunting hymn of loss and disbelief”. Not exactly the sweet-sounding, wistful yearnings heard on older single ‘Belongings’, is it?
As it appears that Delphic have disbanded and Bloc Party‘s return last month with ‘The Love Within’ is nothing but a whimper, there is a huge gap in the British market for an indie, rhythm-led synth group, and Clock Opera’s return couldn’t have been timed better. Roll on 2016!
Download ‘Changeling’ for your very own by signing up for the band’s mailing list here. Clock Opera will play their first show since their public return next Thursday, the 26th of November (seriously, why is everything happening on my birthday in the South of England?) at London Old Blue Last. For those of you penny pinchers, the show is free, so if you’re anywhere near the Capital, stop what you’re doing that evening and go. Then they’re straight off to Europe to fill the support slot of North East band Maximo Park on the Continent. For all our past coverage on Clock Opera on TGTF (essentially the previous chapter of the band of days gone by), go here.
By Mary Chang
on Monday, 9th November 2015 at 12:00 pm
Words by Rebecca Clayton
You’d be forgiven for not hearing about Spirit Animal before now. Formed back in 2011 in Brooklyn, New York, Spirit Animal have remained pretty low-key, touring exclusively in America. Having previously toured alongside Royal Blood, the band has played a few dates in their own country this autumn, with a date coming up at New York City’s Bowery Ballroom on the 20th of November. Their latest EP ‘World War IV’ dropped last Friday on Wind-Up Records, and ‘Regular World’ is one of the singles to have been released from it prior to the EP.
Spirit Animal’s first EP ‘This Is A Test’ was released back in 2012 to positive reviews. This new EP, if ‘Regular World’ is anything to go by, is set to be just as psychedelic as its predecessor. Spirit Animal have a reputation for being a spectacle of a band to see live, and when hearing the catchy rhythms and the belter of a chorus, it’s easy to see why.
‘Regular World’ is an explosive track. This is a song that boasts an eclectic range of influences, from rock to pop, hip-hop to funk, all of which echo throughout. You can’t help but picture Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Flea bopping along on bass. There is something edgy and party-ready about ‘Regular World’. The point is, it’s frenetic, but it works.
Okay, there’s a lot going on, from the thudding bass, to the appealing metronome-like guitar hook. Yet the song has serious appeal, partly a result of the staccato like nature of the verses before breaking into the anthemic chorus.
Existing Spirit Animal fans will definitely love this latest track and it’ll be sure to bring in a few new listeners to their fan base.
Spirit Animal’s new EP ‘World War IV’ is available now from Wind-Up Records, as is the single ‘Regular World’. Read Mary’s review of their support slot with Royal Blood last summer in Washington here.
Ten years after releasing their debut album, Field Music are still able to craft the perfectly structured art rock we’ve come to expect from them. ‘The Noisy Days Are Over’ is the first release from their sixth record ‘Commontime’, due out the 5th of February 2016. The Sunderland-based band, comprised by brothers Peter and David Brewis and joined by friends live, show us that getting old is a rite of passage and not a necessary curse in this track, an ode to leaving behind the days of late nights and drinking in excess.
With their almost angelic harmonies, groove-inducing rhythm section and Strokes-esque guitar tone and style, mixing with what can only be described as a sprinkling of saxophone, this is a track that sounds contrary to its message, making you want to get up, go out and move. There are very few artists, if any, that are producing songs that are this well composed, using chord sequences that aren’t necessarily orthodox to create an off sound that works better than it should.
Culminating in an outro that utilises some more of that saxophone, along with some minor key piano, it’s almost the musical equivalent of the end of the night: mildly chaotic in the best way possible, until you’re left on your own as the drums are left playing us out. Field Music certainly have a talent for creating catchy and large choruses, and ‘Noisy Days Are Over’ – which is the perfect kind of musical return for any band – is essentially a starter pack for anyone who may not have heard of the band previously. When released, ‘Commontime’ should be a nice little addition to their discography, further cementing the fact art rock will always be a part of the musical spectrum, no matter where the genre sits in people’s minds.
‘Commontime’, the new and sixth album from Sunderland’s Field Music, is scheduled for release on the 5th of February 2016 on Memphis Industries. It will be available on limited edition two 180-gram green vinyl plus download code, CD and digital download formats; the first 250 physical orders include an exclusive signed print. If you preorder now, you’ll get a free, instant download of ‘The Noisy Days Are Over’. Field Music are touring in support of their new album in February and March; for more information on that tour and all of our coverage on the band, go here.