Ernest Greene, the young man behind Washed Out, is a fast growing name, like Northbet, that one should become familiar with – a definite one to watch for the future. Clearly marking his territory with his debut EP Life of Leisure, Greene is doing so again with his debut album, Within and Without; Laced with that synthpop, chillwave/lo-fi flare that Ernest knows, and executes only too well.
The opening track Eyes Be Closed is a great example of his talent, yet it lacks something that can only be hoped for in the following tracks. With so much to his name, you would think that it would kick off with something along the lines of Amor Fati, nonetheless it is still a synthypop dreamlike song that keeps a steady balance just like the eight others that follow.
Echoes, the second track, is comparable to the dreamlike nature of its predecessor, yet it has a Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs feel, with rhythmic patterns watered down to create a mood and noise of its own. Amor Fati is a highlight of the album for its light-joyful-sunshine-everything-is-all-peaches-and-cream sentiment. “Don’t try / you’ll find / was not your fault / the goal / reach out / the choice is yours to find” oozes out optimism and echoes from every line, to every word, to every sound.
Soft lasts just over five and a half minutes, and like its title it is incredibly soft sounding and simplistic. Though repetitive lyrically for just over five and a half minutes, it is surprisingly not insipid and which would assume fall flat, rather bursts with beauty. With Far Away, the beat changes, yet the fact that Ernest Greene’s voice never deviates from the first song to the last is what holds the continuous balance and flow throughout the album.
Before is a masterpiece of the “chillwave” genre, and can be left as such. Clearly it is a work of art, morphing the perfect balance of lyric and creative sound into a divine sensation. You and I, is a perfect track to follow up Before, maintaining the mellow dreamlike sound, adhering to the strong believer and fan of the genre.
The eighth track Within and Without, which obviously lends a hand in the naming of the album itself, seems to be the missing link to the chain. It lacks the creative spark that was so eminent to all of the previous tracks, yet with A Dedication all is forgotten. Though one might find A Dedication a total deviation from the rest of the album because of the piano introduction – later followed by synths and a pop-like invasion – it truly showcases Washed Out as he emerges as a dynamic, all-round performer.
So the 2011 Mercury Prize nominations for album of the year have been announced; and as expected, there’s some fantastic albums shortlisted. In anticipation ahead of tonight’s ceremony at The Hospital Club, London here’s an album by album breakdown of the nominees. We’ve tipped some of these artists for success for 2011, and it’s refreshing to see an awards ceremony celebrating genuinely innovative and forward-thinking new music.
Adele – 21
Adele - 21
Let’s do this alphabetically – and coincidentally start with the most predictable nomination. If an artist can sell 2.2 million copies in the U.S alone and reach the #1 slot for 10 (nonconsecutive) weeks, it becomes fair to say it’s been a good year. Let’s face it, when it comes to popular music Adele has been the voice of 2011. 21 is a record full of hits that has propelled her from her status as a success into an extraordinary pop sensation. The glory of 21 hasn’t faded yet, and it won’t be at all surprising if she adds yet another award to her rapidly filling trophy cabinet.
Anna Calvi – Anna Calvi
Anna Calvi - Anna Calvi
NME favourite Anna Calvi is perhaps one of the less likely nominees, with her self-titled debut album. But there’s no doubt that 2011 has been the year that’s got her noticed. Touring with the NME Radar Tour and being nominated for the BBC Sound of 2011 poll, Calvi has earned her place as one of the most inspiring female vocalists of the past year. Her unmistakable vocals and quintessentially British aroma has drawn up comparisons to flattering influences such as PJ Harvey and Nick Cave. We wouldn’t tip her for the prize, but there’s much more ahead of Anna Calvi.
Elbow – Build A Rocket Boys!
Elbow - Build A Rocket Boys!
One of the more reputable names shortlisted is Manchester’s rock veterans, Elbow. Their fifth and most recent album, Build A Rocket Boys! has been subject to acclaim from the majority of publications – and tipped by many to be the best of their almost 15 year career. With their fantastic live reputation and positive progression as musicians, Elbow deserve recognition for their impressive contribution to British music. Have they nailed the album of the year? Well, they’ve got some pretty tough competition – and could quite probably be edged about by one of the newcomers.
Everything Everything – Man Alive
Everything Everything - Man Alive
Let’s be honest, what a win would this be. Not only because Everything Everything are perhaps the underdogs here, but because Man Alive is genuinely one of the most interesting and creative records of the year – at the same time as being undeniably contagious. Everything Everything have been one of the leaders in the evolution of Manchester’s music exports, and their incomparable sound sticks out like a sore thumb (but in a good way). What could be better that seeing a band that writes songs about Adobe Photoshop and NASA clinch this years award.
Ghostpoet - Peanut Butter Blues and Melancholy Jam
Ghostpoet - Peanut Butter Blues and Melancholy Jam
It’s nice to see the Mercury Prize recognise contributions to urban and electronic music. With SBTRKT not being shortlisted, Ghostpoet only has to top Katy B and James Blake to be in for a chance of winning the award. Easier said than done, but Peanut Butter Blues and Melancholy Jam is a brilliant new twist on urban culture, with experimental yet dance-able tracks such as One Twos / Run Run Run and Cash and Carry me Home making their mark this year, it would be very naive to say Ghostpoet doesn’t stand a chance of coming out on top.
Gwilym Simcock – Good Days At Schloss Elmau
Gwilym Simcock - Good Days At Schloss Elmau
If Gwilym Simcock won the Mercury Prize for best album – that would be a pretty huge surprise. Simcock is a long way out of the most people’s musical radars – and although as a musician Simcock is one of the most incredible pianists around this has to be the biggest surprise on the nominee shortlist. Perhaps we don’t have the winner here, but it’s impossible not to admire the musicianship of this jazz pianist – truly keeping traditional styles alive and acting as a new-era pioneer of British Jazz.
James Blake – James Blake
James Blake - James Blake
When it comes to electronic innovation, James Blake must be the leading figure of the year. Blake, originally with Limit To Your Love changed many peoples perceptions of bass music and dubstep completely; with his unique addition of vocal manipulation that works beautifully both on his self-titled EP and on-stage. In the space of 12 months Blake has gone from producing at home to playing at some of the worlds biggest festival. It’s a crazy achievement, and completely deserving of appraise. James Blake must be one of the more likely artists to pick up tonight’s top spot.
Katy B – On A Mission
Katy B - Katy B
Although she hasn’t had the same impact or financial comfort that Adele’s gained this year; there’s no doubt that Katy B‘s take on popular music has played a big part in it’s progression towards the urban, bass prominent sounds of 2011. With help from dubstep producer, and part of supergroup Magnetic Man, Katy has released several urban anthems that have brought the sounds of suburban London into the British spotlight for all to see.
King Creosote & Jon Hopkins – Diamond Mine
King Creosote & Jon Hopkins - Diamond Mine
Another surprise but fantastic nomination is the collaborative album between King Creosote and Jon Hopkins, Diamond Mine. The beautiful voice of King Creosote has had airplay from the likes of BBC 6 Music over the past year, but generally this is an artist that doesn’t get the deserved level of recognition. Real name Kenny Anderson, through King Cresote Anderson has encaptured everything beautiful about his surroundings in Fife, Scotland and exerted them through a selection of beautiful acoustic tracks – backed by brilliant productions from Jon Hopkins.
Metronomy – The English Riviera
Metronomy - The English Riviera
2011 has seen the return of dance-tastic (yes, I went there) electro-pop outfit Metronomy. At times the boundary between silly and distorted can be a blur, but it’s completely clear that Metronomy are always 100% brilliant. The English Riviera is a progression on the earlier sounds of Pip Paine and the more successful Nights Out. By far the most successful of releases so far reaching #17 in the UK chart, The English Riviera is a demonstration of intriguing pop music – and yet another example of forward-thinking British musicianship.
PJ Harvey – Let England Shake
PJ Harvey - Let England Shake
The hauntingly beautiful voice of PJ Harvey returns with Let England Shake - which, as the album suggests, is one of the most cultured and relevant British records of the past year. Let England Shake feels like a flash back to the past – a reflection on England’s roots and culture. Harvey’s expressed the importance of creating a completely different album to earlier releases, and she’s done exactly that. Reaching the top 10 spot in the UK and most of Europe’s album charts, Let England Shake focuses on England, but it isn’t an English record. It’s universal appeal could well push Harvey up to the top.
Tinie Tempah – Disc-Overy
Tinie Tempah - Disc-Overy
Innovative record of the year? Maybe not. But we can’t deny the fact that Tinie Tempah has pushed his take on Hip-Hop right to the top of the charts. Whether he’s the new messiah of hip-hop or one of those responsible for it’s demise is debatable, but his success isn’t. Despite his ridiculous name and almost chunder-worthy, self-glorified album art – few have made as much as an impact as Tinie in such a small space of time. There’s no doubt that Tinie will be in with a good chance of winning tonight – but it’s got to be said, we won’t be backing him this time.
Semicircle is one of the most unique albums released this year so far, with a sound so original it’s difficult to even label it with a genre.
The album is fairly short at just over half an hour but this is more than made up for by how fresh sounding the album is, after the music scene being filled by copycat bands it is very refreshing to find a musician who has created his own sound. Upon early listens of the album it is easy to dismiss it completely as a cluttered album of distorted sounds, but when you fully take the album in you really start to appreciate the creativeness of the album.
Rather than a collection of eight songs the album is more a collection of eight different soundscapes – giving a mix of multi-layered music and noise, much distortion with a mix of a variety of instruments (such as acoustic guitar and piano) as well as vocals hidden within the wall of noise Juffage has created.
Despite the massive overall distorted sound of Semicircle, it still sounds surprisingly rhythmic - showing that Juffage has carefully put together the album with a overall messy distorted sound but he has clearly taken care of the many layers in music on each track, from the clean sounding instruments and vocals to the layers of distorted synth noise. Juffage has taken what would seem an unmarketable style and has made it sound like he could be the next biggest thing.
By the end of Semicircle you start to become attached to it, with the slow violin and drum machine opening of highlight track HHV, even when only a small amount of layers are used the album still sounds brilliantly complicated yet calm at the same time.
Overall the album is incredibly creative and unique with an incomparable sound. The album has a great way of sucking you in and making you want to fall in love underneath the multi-layered sounds. The album is impressive and well thought out but it clearly is not for every music fan – but here the artist must be respected for creating his own sound and one can only wish every album was this original and we would have a much more exciting music industry.
Skying has been a hot topic for many Horrors fans in recent months, as they were anxious to find out what new material the band would be playing at upcoming festivals such as Reading and Leeds.
The album, in terms of expectation, certainly does not disappoint. The first track on the album, Changing the Rain, introduces itself boldly with the kooky idea of using primitive sounds such as bongos and maracas before swiftly making the flux back to a crisp drum beat, moody bass-line and an unparalleled vocal from lead singer Faris Badwan. A light use of distortion and synth forge the track into something reminiscent of the early work of Sonic Youth, and also some of the synth/guitar combinations that are prevalent in most Keane songs.
Other tracks worthy of note are Endless Blue, which contains a long instrumental, featuring the bass guitar playing a four-note riff, a sedate beat on the hi-hat, some distorted piano and after about a minute, a muted choral overtone by male voices. Half way through the track, rock is restored and an angry electric guitar part begins, with Badwan’s vocal. The lyrics are eccentric, typical of the band and remaining true to their recently prominent theme of nature. The track is interesting, fresh and seemingly effortless.
The instrumental element of Wild Eyed is distinctly reminiscent of the sound of the Strokes, yet the vocal is most definitely more muted and haunting, almost echoing Death Cab for a Cutie. An inspiring mix – so many elements, such as the rock beat of the drums, the computer generated sound effects, the ostinato of the simple bass guitar, have been done so many times by other groups. And yet, this song and many of their others sound completely new. Few bands would choose to put a trumpet over a bass guitar, but the Horrors know how to make it work.
Another track to stand out is Monica Gems. Its obscure title gives light to how it may sound, and you’d be right in thinking it’s a curveball in an album that has received a colossal amount of hype from Horrors fans. The track is strange and beautiful, but not because it’s calming or serene, just incredibly well thought out, and a testament to everything that the Horrors promote – growling rock’n’roll mixed with a pop vibe, as infectious as it is musically skilful.
Skying, with its quirky rhythms and unique use of random percussion probably won’t appeal to many Horrors fans that were expecting the roaring bass and raw grunge expression of the band clad in black skinnies… but to the fans that are as dynamic as the four men in the group, this album will be a welcome addition to what is already an impressive library of grimy pop rock that would make the perfect soundtrack to any summer.
Carbonated is the final release from London duo Mount Kimbie‘s critically acclaimed 2010 debut full length, Crooks & Lovers.
While the EP doesn’t particularly cover any new ground, it contains two previously unreleased tracks to appease the pair’s growing army of fans awaiting new material, along with three remixes; one of Adriatic, and two of the title track.
One of the stand-out tracks from Crooks & Lovers, Carbonated begins with an almost wispy like build-up before descending into a melodic, piano driven beat, with background clicks and drips, before a cut-up female R&B vocal sample, a staple of the Mount Kimbie sound kicks in later in the track.
Recorded during album sessions and around the time of their Maybes EP release respectively, Flux and Bave’s Chords are deeper, more atmospheric cuts compared to the bouncy Carbonated. Flux is full of high pitched shrieks and warped sounds, with Bave’s Chords a slower number, combining dark claps and guitar strums to great effect.
Adriatic, taken from Crooks & Lovers and remixed by Klaus is a bassy, ghostly affair, with plenty of dark, fizzling cracks that give the track a real Burial-esque feel, which is certainly no bad thing.
Airhead, part of James Blake’s live band keeps parts of the original intact with his remix of Carbonated, using the build-up as the focal point of his mix, while Belgian producer & DJ Peter Van Hoesen takes the track in a completely new direction, with the main components of Carbonated virtually unrecognisable, but its techno vibes make it much more dancefloor friendly than any of the other tracks on the EP.
As previously mentioned, the release doesn’t go anywhere the duo haven’t been before but the solid remix package and new tracks should tide fans over, making Carbonated another good addition to the Mount Kimbie discography.
When you first start listening to Everyone to the Anderson it seems perfect. The drums maintain a solid beat, the guitars give off a good catchy rhythm – everything just seems very… Yes – until the singing starts. Everyone to the Anderson exert a unique but at the same time familiar feel; but their Adam and the Ants singing style they’ve adopted just doesn’t feel quite fitting.
One of the stand out tracks on The Man Born From Inside Of A Horse is Danzig High Flyer – which is highly memorable due to its contagious guitar riff. Danzing High Flyer keeps up a steady beat with enough diversity to keep you listening; again the singing seems a bit out of place, but when the song slows down and the beat drops everything seems to click – and we are introduced to a familiar but at the same time completely unique atmosphere where the bands true potential is showcased.
Overall, Everyone to the Anderson have brought a new and unique but at the same time nicely familiar sound with The Man From Inside Of A Horse. Granted the singing may feel a bit out of place at times, but after a couple of listens it starts to fit and you can hear what type of sound and musical direction the band are going for. This being said, it would be nice to see Everyone to the Anderson experiment a bit more with the vocals so they might stumble across the right tone and pitch that could really put them on the map – because after listening to this album it’s clear that these boys are not short of talent.
Everyone to the Anderson – So You’re Saying There’s a Chance
Attending a White Denim concert is like hearing some of the greats of the late 60ʼs with their ﬁve minute solos of pure psychedelic/Americana rock bliss — awe inspiring to say the least.
Starting off the night with one of these famously made instrumental solos really showcased their talent as musicians right off the bat. The long drawn out southern charm, that is White Denim, held the crowd in captivation through what felt like a never ending song. But, as someone once said, all good things must come to an end.
White Denim // "pure psychedelic bliss"
The interweaving of song after song like a continuous rhythm was executed with such precision that it’s hard to believe the low attendance at Il Motore. Joshua Block, James Petralli, Steve Terebecki, and Austin Jenkins, are the Austin four-piece that clearly made a mark on the audience in attendance that night, and will notably continue to amaze others along the way.
White Denim are real musicians who play real music, where their instruments are an extension of their limbs, played with such grace that one becomes completely transﬁxed and in awe.
Watching White Denim is like seeing something beautiful for the ﬁrst time – grabbing your attention right from the start. Half way through their set they played I Start To Run, an inevitable crowd pleaser, as well as Street Joy – lyrically beautiful but when paired with haunting vocal and sultriness of guitars their sound reverberated around the small venue in a matter of seconds.
The two supporting bands were Static Jacks, a ﬁve piece from New Jersey (home of the ﬁst pump and saltwater taffy), and Mazes, a four-piece melting pot from across the globe. A slew of accents from the stage could be heard (New Zealand to the US to England) and this diversity was reflected beautifully within their music. It is evident through their instrumental fluidity that Mazes are a band with great potential, and they’ve clearly been at this for a while.
Sound-Revolutionare off to this year’sRelentless NASS - and with the music line-up that’s on offer this year, can you really blame us?
As a music festival, NASS is still young. And considering the incredible list of artists and DJs on this year’s flyers, at under £100 it’s pretty impressive that music isn’t its only selling point. NASS is famous for its contribution to extreme sports, especially skateboarding and BMXing, and the tracks and athletes lined up for 2011 suggest that the festival at Bath & West Showground is still loyal to its extreme sports roots. The contradictory (but undoubtedly brilliant) mix of Punk and Drum & Bass should end the two day festival with… exhaustion – but having the option of splitting up the day’s raving and skanking by watching and participating in extreme sports is something that will appeal to many – including us.
We’ll be spending a lot of time in the Drum & Bass Arenatent, as it once again offers a, to say the least, impressive list of DJs. For an electronic alternative toT In The Park this weekend, Nass is the place to be. In advance of this weekend’s shenanigans we’ve put together a Spotify playlist. Check it out:
Sub Focus – Last Jungle
Nero – Me & You
Redlight, Ms Dynamite – What You Talking About?
Dirtyphonics – Teleportation
DJ Fresh – Lassitude
Breakage – Fighting Fire
Netsky – I Refuse
Camo & Krooked – History of the Future
Joker – Snake Eater
Flux Pavilion – I Can’t Stop
Millencolin – No Cigar
Cancer Bats – Hail Destroyer
We Are The Ocean – The Waiting Room
Cerebral Ballzy – Insufficient Fare
Dangerous! – Not One Of You
Title Fight – Symmetry
The Magic Lantern just released a new album, and as if that wasn´t enough they´ve pretty much decided to release a new style of music with it. The music that accompanies this album has been labeled as “experimental folk”. Probably everyone can agree on the folk- but the experimental part can only be down to the vast comprehensiveness of the album.
The opening track, Somebody Told Me, brings a Noah and the Whale-like atmosphere to the table due to a folky cavaco and handclapping. This is contradicted by the melancholy and dream-like vocals present throughout Cut From Stone and Laura’s Song.
The Ship That Washed Away begins in a similar style as Somebody Told Me – but halfway through shades of jazz are introduced, later followed by an eruption of wild, uncontrolled avant-garde-like jazz – evoking memories of the crescendo to A Day in the Life by The Beatles.
A more calming composition is offered though Guilty Hearts, which opens with some beautiful cello-work which, again at the halfway point, bursts into a bombastic ode to percussion and the cavaco.
The Magic Lantern demonstrate their swinging diversity in Shine a Light, and deliver fast-paced guitar-jazz in Patriots.
A Man & His Dog gives a break from heavy instrumentals – as it focuses on storytelling .The Bridge is a symphonic and harmonious composition featuring the vocals of Jamie Doe, Fred Thomas, Lucy Railton and Phil Stevenson -accompanied by Dave Schulman’s clarinet, a true ode to the band.
After all this diversity the album comes to a closure with some melancholic slow-jazz in Romeo and Juliet
Well, all these different genres and styles mixed into 11 tracks makes for a joyful listening experience, but surely all the craziness will distort your regular listening pleasure? The answer is that no, it won’t. The transitions within each song – and between songs for that matter – are wonderfully composed. Despite the dynamicity of A World In A Grain of Sand it sounds as natural as your day-to-day folk.
A simple conclusion would be that The Magic Lantern really did try to put the entire world in one grain of sand. Whether or not you can handle the entire world in such a small amount of listening time is down to the listener.
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