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By Mary Chang
on Friday, 28th August 2015 at 6:00 pm
Belfast’s Girls Names are gearing up to release their next album, ‘Arms Around a Vision’, on the 2nd of October on Tough Love Records. Their unique brand of post-punk enjoys a good following but chafes against current conventions in rock. So it makes perfect sense that for their new video for ‘A Hunger Artist’ from the upcoming LP, they’ve taken the concept of the discomfort of a telly interview between a sullen, taciturn rock star (the band’s own frontman Cathal Cully, now sporting bleached blonde hair) and a journalist without a clue and turned it into the basis for a music video. I can’t help but listen to this song and think how John Hughes probably would have taken it and put it in a film for today’s Brat Pack… Watch the promo below.
Keen on reading our past coverage on Girls Names? Go here.
By Mary Chang
on Thursday, 27th August 2015 at 6:00 pm
Oklahoman singer/songwriter Samantha Crain released her fourth album ‘Under Branch & Thorn & Tree'; read Carrie’s review of the LP here. This week, she has a new promo for a song from the album, this time for ‘Kathleen’, which Carrie described as evoking “the idea of the feminine mystique” and “in which she [Crain] recalls the warmth of friendship in a simpler time”. I guess this promo is a literal interpretation of ‘the ties that bind us’, with Crain strumming her guitar in a house seemingly strung up by rope connecting a multitude of tvs, as well as the house itself to the natural and electricity-making worlds outside. Watch the video below.
All past coverage on TGTF on Samantha Crain is here.
By Mary Chang
on Thursday, 27th August 2015 at 2:00 pm
Back in the spring of this year, London band Life in Film accompanied The Wombats on their most recent North American tour campaign. I’d thought for months and discussed with their frontman Samuel Fry when I interviewed him prior going out to England that I’d missed the opportunity of seeing the foursome play in my hometown at the 9:30 Club, but I learned Tuesday night that Life in Film had to pull out of their expected 9:30 Club date with the Liverpool band, so I ended up not missing it after all. Instead, on a surprisingly pleasant August evening, I saw them headline the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hotel in Northeast, playing songs from their debut album ‘Here It Comes’ and some newer ones including ‘My Mate’s Car’ that Fry said they wrote in the interim time since missing DC the first time. Having followed the band for the better part of 6 years, I was excited to see them gig to say the least!
You’d think I’d be more used to seeing large groups of friends and family showing up to see a local band play, but actually it’s not been my experience. Broke Royals are native to DC and their relatives and friends came out in full force, some of them sporting crowns to go along with the royal theme, clapping and cheering all the way. That’s the way it should be, folks: support means so much to a struggling band. Live, band members Philip Basnight (lead vocals / guitar) and Colin Cross (drums) are joined live by friends on lead guitar and bass. I had to admit I groaned slightly when I saw the appearance of a Macbook next to Cross, but I guess they don’t have the means to get another percussionist or a synth player. Would be worth the expense if they make it to the big leagues, though.
There’s no way you could accuse Broke Royals of having songs that all sound the same. This, however, could be a real problem when they shop for a record deal. ‘Hold On’, which Basnight said was for a friend, has an r&b flavour matching well with his winsome smile and all his charm of an aspiring boyband member, while on the almost too sweet ‘So Much to Learn’, his request for the audience for a call and response reaction plays right in boyband territory; his ditching of his guitar to dance on ‘Kill the Camera’ seems to agree with all of this. The easy, breezy pop of ‘About Time’ conjures up for me seeing Jack Johnson out in the sun Sunday afternoon at Roskilde 2010. Confusingly, ‘Trap’ has a harder, almost all enveloping rock sound owing to their excellent live lead guitarist, and they closed the set with ‘Hum’, another anthemic rock number. Will the real Broke Royals please stand up? I’d recommend they choose one direction, even if it is a general one, and stick to it.
Okay, so I’m seriously confused about what has happened with Life in Film’s debut album. I’m no stranger to tracklistings rearranging when a UK album comes over stateside. Two Door Cinema Club’s debut album ‘Tourist History’ comes to mind. But for the actual list of songs to change significantly? I bought the American version of ‘Here It Comes’ at the show Tuesday, which only has a few songs in common with the UK version I reviewed in April. Funnily enough, the opening track of the American version is ‘It’s What Happen Next That Matters Most’ was their set opener and sounded vaguely Two Door with its melodic guitar. Disappointing for me who is familiar with the UK tracklisting, they chose to omit three of their oldest songs that appeared on the UK version (‘The Idiot’, ‘Carla’, ‘Needles and Pins’) that I was counting on hearing. Speaking to bassist Dom Sennett after the show, it sounds like they’ve closed the book on that era and we might never hear those songs live again.
That said, there was plenty in their set to be pleased about. ‘Get Closer’, which I imagine will be their signature tune, got everyone jumping and dancing, with its footloose and fancy free feeling, the audience joining in on the repeated shouts of “get closer!” Guitarist Ed Ibbotson’s fancy guitar picking on ‘Anna, Please Don’t Go’ was peerless, allowing Fry to go for a more introspective and softer tone, and the punters responded in going silent so the beauty of the song could shine. Smiling widely after, Fry remarked that we had been the quietest crowd yet for this song on this tour and he appreciated the respect.
The shuffly bits of ‘Forest Fire’ made more sense to me live than they did on record, suggesting a less pop direction might be where Life in Film could be going in the future. Further, they ended with a barnstormer that I didn’t expect: a cover of Leonard Cohen’s ‘Hey, That’s No Way to Say Goodbye’ that concluded with an unbridled display of loudness and energy. It capped off a lively evening of guitar-driven pop and judging from the cheering – not to mention the shots of whisky that made their way to the stage – Life in Film will return to Washington soon and to a captive audience.
After the cut: both bands’ set lists from the night. The UK version of ‘Here It Comes’ by Life in Film is available from ECC Records; the US version is available from Plus One Records. For all of TGTF’s past coverage of Life in Film, go here.
After the cut: both bands’ set lists from the night.
Continue reading Live Review: Life in Film with Broke Royals at Rock ‘n’ Roll Hotel, Washington, DC – 25th August 2015
London singer / songwriter / producer Laurel Arnell-Cullen, known in music circles simply as Laurel, has the singing voice and musical chops to make her a bona fide pop star, not to mention a certain physical beauty–she moonlights as a model alongside her music career. Indeed, she has already garnered an impressive number of online fans: 3,000 followers on her Soundcloud, 14,000 followers on her Facebook and more than 5,000 followers on her Twitter feed. But take a look past the pretty face, vocal acrobatics and heavy dance beats, and you’ll find a few pleasantly unexpected quirks in Laurel’s musical style that distinguish her from her alt-pop contemporaries.
Laurel’s released her breakout track ‘Fire Breather’ in January 2014. Its stark rhythmic pulse and Laurel’s sultry vocals are a remarkably effective musical accompaniment to the fiery lyrical imagery in the song’s chorus “No, it’s too much / burn my sun / up in flames we go / you fire breather / ash and dust on my door / smoke rise / trying to survive inside your arms”.
‘Fire Breather’ was quickly followed in April 2014 by an EP titled ‘To The Hills’ which features three different mixes of the string-laden title track along with the mesmerizing fan favourite ‘Shells’. Laurel subsequently posted three remixes of ‘Shells’ on her Soundcloud, each emphasising a different facet of the song, revealing both a strong musical foundation and an intrinsic flexibility in her work.
Laurel’s next EP ‘Holy Water’ came out during the Christmas season of 2014 and contains an excellent collaboration with TGTF alumnus Sivu called ‘Come Together’. The duet vocals of ‘Come Together’ alternate between the square, almost robotic delivery of the opening lyrical lines “I’m the maker of rituals / I’m gonna swallow you up and eat you” and the softer, sweeter vocal harmonies that immediately follow. The shimmering wash of instrumental sound is slow and sensual, grounded by a heavy bass pulse and a crisp percussion rhythm.
April 2015 saw the online release of a Laurel’s experimental mixtape EP called ‘Allelopathy’. As our science-minded editor Mary probably already knows, alleleopathy “is a biological phenomenon by which an organism produces one or more biochemicals that influence the growth, survival, and reproduction of other organisms.” It’s an interesting title for a set of songs, presumably referring to the figurative chemistry of a romantic relationship. The songs on the EP are given the scientific names of different plant species, including the cheeky ‘Laurocerasus’, or common laurel.
Laurel’s most recent release is a new single titled ‘Blue Blood’, which sees a return to her alt-pop comfort zone, with dramatic strings and tribal drum beats in the instrumental arrangement along with Laurel’s impressive vocal flexibility. The delicate, ethereal quality of the layered backing vocals is matched by the translucent visual layers in the accompanying video, directed by Ben Newbury.
While Laurel’s most popular songs lean toward a homogenous mainstream pop style, her naturalistic lyrical imagery and the inherently dramatic quality of her instrumental arrangements keep them fresh and unique. Her more experimental work and her collaborations with other artists are equally intriguing, with potential for shaping the evolution of her already precociously prolific body of work.
Laurel’s latest single ‘Blue Blood’ is out now on her own independent label Next Time Records.
By Mary Chang
on Wednesday, 26th August 2015 at 6:00 pm
I’m still reeling somewhat to Reverend and the Makers‘ latest revelation that underneath their dance, bass thumping exterior was hidden a bluesy, growly, Richard Hawley-esque group just itching to come out. (If you missed it, have a listen and watch to the video of ‘Black Widow’, posted 3 weeks ago here on TGTF.) Okay, so are you ready for another slap of reality from the Sheffielders?
‘Makin’ Babies’ clocks in at just under 2 minutes, and as exactly as the title sounds, this could have been plucked from the psychedelic ’60s and ’70s, and the lo-fi sound shuffles along nicely. I don’t think it’s supposed to be epousing free love as they did back then, but instead is about how time is marching on and how all of our biological clocks are ticking. Even the Rev’s. Just a personal musing. Watch the video below.
Reverend and the Makers’ next album ‘Mirrors’ is out on the 9th of October; they will be touring in support of the new LP in November and December. For all of TGTF’s coverage on the band (admittedly before they shifted in direction), go here.
By Mary Chang
on Wednesday, 26th August 2015 at 4:00 pm
To say I’m excited about Disclosure‘s second album ‘Caracal’, the follow-up to the 2013 Mercury Prize-nominated ‘Settle’, is an understatement. They previously revealed ‘Holding On’ featuring Gregory Porter, as well as some bits to ‘Omen’ starring the vocal talents of one Grammy-winning Sam Smith. Here’s yet another tasty morsel that was served up to some lucky fans live but is now available for all to enjoy.
Back in June, the Lawrence brothers and their fellow 2013 Mercury Prize nominees Rudimental took the plunge with a new music festival, Wild Life, which from all accounts went down a storm. A surprise appearance by r&b singer Kwabs paved the way fir this performance of ‘Willing & Able’, also set to appear on ‘Caracal’. Have a watch of its soulful goodness all unfolding below.
‘Caracal’ will drop the 25th of September on PMR and Island. For past coverage of Disclosure on TGTF, go here my friend.
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