Band O’ The Week #4

After another brief (long) hiatus, this feature is making another appearance so I can praise one of my most treasured EPs of all time. A band until recently, I had completely forgotten about, mainly because I’d lost the EP and my music library, so as the years went on, the name faded from my memory.

However, I discovered it again through Last Fm; I’d not used my account properly for a while, but it had a lot of my old scrobbles and stuff on it, so I searched through there on a particularly slow day. Much to my joy (har har), I found the band.

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Today, I want to talk to you about Serena Joy. These guys are a seven-piece band that have taken band members from a whole lot of real underground (at the time) bands like andtheywillriot! and Missiles of Uncertain Destinations. As a band in 2007, these chums created one of the most incredibly cinematic and unforgettable experiences of music I have ever had the luxury of listening to, Ours Will Be A Lonely Battle.

The EP is split into four songs that span over several genres, including: post-hardcore, post-rock, slowcore and folk (right at the end). Ultimately, it doesn’t matter how you describe the sound of this music, nothing compares to actually listening to it.

Listen here.

What really got me on this EP, however, was the sing-along at the end; such an incredibly perfect way to end anything.

Since then, I haven’t heard or seen anything. In fact, it seems like it’s almost impossible to get hold of their material through any means besides ‘searching’, or buying it from someone that doesn’t look like the right label? I could be wrong.

 

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New Music Review – Nothing More – This Is The Time (Ballast) (video)

81N1zoH38kL._SL1500_Band: Nothing More
Song: This Is The Time (Ballast)
Genre: Progressive metal
Social Media: Facebook/Twitter/Official Site

First impressions are an affair that all aspiring music journalists and, well, the rest of society should do away with. That being said, I was unfortunately, slightly influenced by first impressions when I first heard the intro to the New Orleans progressive metal band, Nothing More and their song, This Is The Time (Ballast).

The over-produced and artificial sounding intro turned my fixation elsewhere as I browsed through my emails and social medias. Then  it happened: the guitars kicked in the door without warning and turned this simple case of “boring”, into “this could be better than boring.”

When it all kicked in, I was left with the thoughts of Mars Volta, Coheed Cambria and TheSet, all dashing around in my mind.

This quartet has been making tunes for over ten years now and this is the third album they’ve put out. Judging from what I’m hearing from This Is The Time, I can’t see why they haven’t hit it big yet; there’s a compelling mixture of almost djent metal, but at the same time, accessible and exciting alternative rock.

I think what’s turning me on most about their music is how much like TheSet they actually sound, with blends of post-hardcore with progressive rock and such.

Jonny Hawkins throws down some mad vocals on this track, showing off the fact that his range can jump and splatter all over the room. There are the shrill highs and the rusty low growls; the fact that he pulls these off without sounding too cliché is incredible. The amount of control this guy excersises is also impressive. Obviously, it is a studio release, but it’s easy to see where you could let a vocalist like this get carried away, but Hawkins restrains and pulls off a consistent and powerful performance.

Also, I just need to put this out there: the breakdown is absolute filth and I adore every second of it.

Which brings me to the guitars and bass of this song: they’re strong, punchy and varied enough to keep the listener interested for longer than a period of 4 minutes. Meaning: I want to hear more!

I will be heading to my local music shop/place of work to pick this CD up next time I’m in. If you like prog metal, or any vein of alternative rock/metal, I recommend you check these guys out. Nothing More’s self titled might prove to be one of 2014’s most exciting and progressive releases so far.

Give them your time and, if you feel strongly with this music, your money.

Rumour Cubes New Release For 18th August

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Instrumental London based rockers, Rumour Cubes, are set to release their sophomore LP, Appearances Of Collections, on August the 18th.

For me, this is very exciting; Rumour Cubes were the first band that I ever reviewed when I started this blog, back in February. What a way to start as well, The Narrow State was joyous ride around the epic and masterful world of post-rock music. To see raring up to release new material is always invigorating. Speaking of which, they’ve given everyone a chance to have a listen to one of the new tracks off the new album.

Hiyat, is a wild track that is hopefully, a sign of things to come from Appearances Of Collections. If everything can be this powerful and moving, then they’ll be on to another winner.

I really like the way that this track is mixed, everything breathes organically and nothing feels just pasted in there for the sake of it. What really makes this song great, is the moment after the intro where the bass comes in and plays this sweet rhythm, it works with the electronic sparks and the major string work here.

Hopefully there’ll be more guitar work on the rest of the album, but this isn’t really a worry, just something I was thinking while listening to Hiyat.

So far, Rumour Cubes are sounding as cinematic and awe-inspiring as ever, be sure to check out their previous album, The Narrow State, which is here. You can also read about it, here.

Don’t forget to also follow these guys on all the usual suspects to stay up-to-date, if you’re interested in what you’ve heard:
Facebook
Twitter
BandCamp

 

New Music Review – nnord – Orbital

a0261383855_10Band: nnord
Album: Orbital
Genre: Ambient, drone, soundscape
Social Media: Facebook/Bandcamp

nnord are a French ambient, soundscape project that put out their debut LP, Orbital,  on June 16th through the newly founded record label, Winter Alternatives Records. nnord claim influences from bands like Sun O))) and Tangerine Dream and off the bat it’s easy to see where these influences come into play with the feel and sound of the LP. There’s a lot of work with textures and droneing going on, sometimes I even think of Solar Fields.

This is WAR’s first release on their label, so it’s important for themselves and nnord, to thrust themselves out there and although I do think Orbital does a decent enough job of this, it could be done better one.

Orbital is very much an ambient/soundscape and droney release and what makes these genres interesting, for me at least, is the textures used. nnord make fantastic use of textures in some points of this LP but I feel, that they could be infinitely more daring with their music.

There is an adventurous spirit that’s adopted on specific songs, but on the first track, which is also the longest, it’s left behind. Said first track, Arrival On The Great Plains, takes a long time to get anywhere and even when it does, it does not show nnord at their most brilliant moments. There are some pleasurable sounds on this track though, which make the slow pacing forgivable. The subtle changes in the synths at the 3min mark onward are all very pleasing, especially with headphones on.

There’s also this outro in Arrival On The Great Plains and it sounds majestic and elegant; the instruments sound powerful and, ultimately, it does make this track worth the listen.

The next track, Black Sky and Cosmic Dust, didn’t grab me either at first, until I heard something very strange; a synth that made me think, instantly, of that very plastic sounding, jelly-like synth sound from the 80’s. Now, this is something that has been used again sparingly throughout, Orbital. Again, it was this moment that broke up the slow droning of this song, which is what this project is all about; subtle surprises hidden in a thick world of noise.

This 80’s style of synthesiser is used again in Beyond The Orbital River and, my personal favourite track, The Last Bison. It works well in both of these tracks and explores a lot of new ground for nnord. At points in Beyond The Orbital River, it sounds like you could paste the track into The Terminator or possible Blade Runner and no one would bat an eyelid.

I think the song, Asteroid Tomb, does the best job of portraying nnord as an ambient act; the clean synths are incredibly satisfying and I adore the way that the track slowly evolves into a barrage of harsh noise. This track may also be the one that is spaced out and paced the best, as some of the songs feel a bit too long and could do with trimming just a spell.

The Last Bison remains my favourite song on this LP though, with its angelic synths at the beginning and the tiny little flares of something so gorgeous, I can’t put words to it. It’s also like this song is the most well thought out; everything has its place and, like Asteroid Tomb, seems well paced. It does turn around rather quickly into that 80’s movie soundtrack vibe again, but I like that and it suits nnords sound in my opinion.

nnord’s debut LP, Orbital didn’t grab me at first and I’m not sure it has yet, but there are definitely some well thought out ambient music on this record.

It’s by no means a bad LP and I’m pleased to have had the opportunity to listen to it, but I’d love to see nnord break some experimental ground; don’t be afraid of cutting things short.

Orbital is available through Bandcamp at a ‘name your price’ price and I think it’s worth your time, especially if you dig ambient and droning music.

Former You Slut! Members Announce New Project ‘TheFourFours’

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Former members of math-rock outfit, You Slut!, have banded together to create another outlet for their creative juices: The FourFours. The band have previously toured with some big names in the UK rock scene, including: Bloc Party and MaybeSheWill, both, top bands.

The band have uploaded their first song as a band, Count To Ten, to Youtube and it seems to be slowly picking up pace with the online community. The song itself is rather punchy and has a chantable chorus that could rile up a crowd of fans in all the right ways. It’s rocky, infectious and paves the way for this bands future.

The look is rather cool, then again, I’m a sucker for masks and loud music.

The band formed after a creative ‘session’ that took place to write their song, Count To Ten, which was written over the course of a single week. Now, I have no idea what being in a band is like, but I’m almost positive that a song a week is productive.

Count To Ten has been receiving a large amount of praise from both online and offline sources with it gaining airtime on radio-shows like: Rocker’s Dive Radio (US), Code Zero Radio (US), Lonely Oak Radio (US), Rock 101 Radio (US), Hull Online Radio (UK), EGH Radio (UK) and UN.radio  (UN.sung magazine‘s internet radio show).

Following the success of Count To Ten, they band are preparing to release Messing With History, another catchy and jaunty little tune that is expected to be released later this year.

TheFourFours are hoping to eclipse their other success’ with this new project. All I have to say is: ‘Keep the music as fun as You Slut! material and we can all play nicely.’

Count To Ten will be released on 14th of July for all the usual suspected outlets.

You can keep up-to-date with these guys through all of their social medias:
Official Website
Twitter
Soundcloud
Facebook

 

New Music Review – Secret Cities – Walk Me Home

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Band: Secret Cities
Album: Walk Me Home
Genre: Indie pop, psych
Social Media: Facebook/Twitter/Official Site

Secret Cities are a indie-pop trio that come from throughout the USA. Instead of doing that thing that bands usually do, come together and record material, these three have produced music without ever actually living together in the same city. They’ve made two albums and singles via email, but for their latest release, Walk Me Home, the band came together to record and play together in San Francisco’s Tiny Telephone Studio.

Walk Me Home at first glance feels like a very personal release from this trio, with the instrumentation sounding very intimate and warm; the vocals are all as sweet as a honey trickle, the guitars and keys are bright, the bass is suitably from the 60s and the beats are minimal and perfect.

The vocals are a rather clever mixed bag of the sweet and chilling. On the track Paradise, the male vocals often sound like that of Radiohead’s Thom Yorke, which was really striking, considering the rest general up-beat mood of the track. It’s on tracks like Paradise and Purgatory that we see some very western, soul like influences, with the lonely guitar and the flashes of strings in the distance.

This sound has rather divided me on what the album actually sounds like; with it’s sparks of desert-rock even creeping in, side by side with a bit of surf-rock. It makes for an interesting release, to say the least. The tracks where the piano is dominant take you off to a saloon in the middle of the desert; it’s tracks like Rooftop, Thumbs and The Cellar that break up what you’d expect from a band like Secret Cities. 

Speaking of Thumbs, I love the instrumentation of this track, the way it grows with the plucks and vocals building the song up and when the cello comes in, forget about it. Thumbs grows in a very cinematic way, without feeling cheap or over-the-top, it gives you an atmosphere and again, it’s very well crafted. There’s also this killer bridge that comes in, about halfway through; some guitar starts strumming away, massively restrained in production, but this is good, it isn’t played so obtusely and aggressively that you lose the atmosphere that is built up through the rest of the song.

The title track, Walk Me Home, is utterly sublime the piano chords over-the-top of the stripped backed guitar makes for a very simple but striking combination. The vocals on this track carry the main melody and work fantastically, especially with the minimal backing vocals that hum away with it. The climax of Walk Me Home is well suited and, like the rest of the album, not overstated.

I love the rockier moments in this album, The Cellar has this groovy bass riff that plays over the piano, which makes a suitable change from all the piano, but it only sticks around for awhile. At this moment, I begin to think that maybe the album could have been broken up a bit better, had there been some more rockier dominant moments.

The tracks, It’s Always Winter and It’s Always Summer, work together to create, what I’d say is the signature sound of Secret Cities; a cinematic work of art that combines elements from unlikely sources to create a unique sound. Also, I really dug the ambient track at the end, Sun Enclosure. I’m not sure why, but this feels like the perfect way to end this album; something so ambient and peaceful that it feels like a field-recording. Bliss.

Walk Me Home is a beautiful album that showcases the many talents of three people that have created music over the challenges of daunting distances. This distance has helped them become aware of what makes each of them unique and how they should play to their strengths. This knowledge, overall, has led to much respect in a traditional recording environment and means that their chemistry can blossom and flourish into a beautiful album.

Secret Cities‘ third album, Walk Me Home, will be available on the 23rd of June through Western Vinyl. Check it out!

 

New Music Review – Fate Vs Free Willy – Every Human Was A Child (EP)

artworks-000082458685-zbvc5u-t500x500Band: Fate Vs Free Willy
EP: Every Human Was A Child
Genre: Noise, rock, punk
Social Media: Facebook/Soundcloud/Label Website

Fate Vs Free Willy are a noise/punk outfit from Finland that combine noise elements into a very punk way of making music. Fate Vs Free Willy are releasing their  debut 7″ EP titled Every Human Was A Child in July or August, exact date to be confirmed, on behalf of growing indie label If Society Records.

The band themselves seem to have fit themselves into this niche of sounds, the aggressive mix of punk and fizzy noise, all held together with ritualistic drums and sounds. The overall sound makes me think that I should be joining a cult or sect of some description. It’s all very infectious.

What I’ve noticed with this record is, is that it is one that you have to have up really fucking loud to appreciate; the sounds and noises that are being produced are thick and overwhelming to the ears. However, it’s this loud and proud nature that leads me to think/know that these guys would be incredible in a live situation, with crowd interaction galore.

In terms of what the songs bring to the table, Hearts, has the most graphic of drum beats that get the heart and instincts pumping. There are also these little flurries of guitar bends that are just, so vicious.

This very general sound of noise and catchy, if indistinguishable vocals, are constant throughout the EP. Swallow is the best example of this: you’re given a riff, beat and the simplest of vocals just to bash your head along to and enjoy.

For a 7″ EP, this is an interesting start for Fate Vs Free Willy and i’m dying to see where else they take their material. Give me more angst and huff in the songs and some more content to sing along to.

Check out the debut EP Every Human Was A Child next month or in August; stay tuned for more details from graphic noise heads, Fate Vs Free Willy.

If you want to pre-order the EP, check the link here.