Music, Opinions

This Week In New Music: Declan McKenna, Foster The People & Nothing But Thieves

What Do You Think About The Car? – Declan McKenna (Album)

71iNqPforHL._SL1400_

Two weeks ago Declan McKenna featured on my “This Week In New Music” feature with his single Humongous, and I’ve been eagerly awaiting his debut album ever since. Luckily, I only had two weeks to wait, and it didn’t disappoint! McKenna has everything you could look for in a new artist, he’s a young artist at the start of his career with interesting lyrics and brilliant hooks. Politically charged songs like Brazil, Isombard & The Kids Don’t Want To Come Home are examples of how McKenna is much more than his catchy choruses and eye make-up, there’s grit beneath the glitter. If you’re lucky enough to have tickets to Electric Picnic make sure he’s on your timetable for the weekend.

Sacred Heart Club – Foster The People (Album)

300

Aside from ‘Pumped Up Kicks,’ a lot of people won’t be familiar with the music of Foster The People. This is a real shame because Pumped Up Kicks is a watered down version of the trio. On the debut album in which the massive single featured, it was accompanied by infectious tracks like Don’t Stop (Colour On The Walls) & Houdini. On their sophomore album Supermodel the energy was kicked up another notch with Are You What You Want To Be, Coming Of Age & Best Friend. With their third release Sacred Heart Clubs, the energy is still there but it’s definitely more muted.  They’ve swapped screaming summer indie-pop bangers for a more cool & collected, groovy vibe… I guess. There’s plenty of songs I love on SHC (Sit Next To Me, SHC, I Love My Friends, Lotus Eater) but it’s sad to see the band leave behind their roots because they were so good at what they were doing, while being just distinct enough from their peers to be special. Unfortunately, there’s nothing particularly special about this record, hopefully they return to what they do best on their next.

Sorry – Nothing But Thieves (Single)

916aozMzLoL._SL1500_

After two years, the British band Nothing But Thieves have returned with “Sorry,” the first single from sophomore album Broken Machine. The bridge has a distinctive The Killers sound (the synth instrumental is a bit too much Smile Like You Mean It if we’re honest here) and is followed by the repetition of “I’ve waited for this, I am ready for it” which pretty much sums up how I am feeling about their forthcoming album.

Advertisements
Standard
Music, Opinions

This Week In New Music: Oh Wonder, Coldplay & Vance Joy

Ultralife – Oh Wonder (Album)

71iNqPforHL._SL1400_

The eagerly awaited second album from London pop-duo & couple Josephine Vander Gucht and Anthony West was released last Friday. To be honest with you, I haven’t been listening to it much – nothing’s gripped me. But I was the exact same with their last album, it just grew on me over time. Ultralife is very much the same as their debut, maybe a little bit more upbeat, so long-time fans of the duo will no doubt find plenty to love here.

Kaleidoscope – Coldplay (EP)

300

For those of you who find yourself saying “I preferred Coldplay’s older stuff” this EP might be just what you were looking for. All I Can Think About Is You, Aliens & Hypnotized have serious Parachutes/X&Y era vibes. Miracles (Something Special) is catchy & the live version of Something Just Like This has massive feel good factor, especially if you were lucky enough to catch them on tour. The EP is a perfect example of a band returning to their roots while embracing the new.

Lay It On Me – Vance Joy (Single)

916aozMzLoL._SL1500_

After three long years, Vance Joy of “Riptide” fame is back! The leading single off Joy’s forthcoming second album has got a gorgeous rousing chorus that has the Australian begging someone to “lay it all on me now.” Perfect for radio play and festival crowds, I can’t wait to see what else Vance Joy has up his sleeve with his new album expected to be released later this year.

Standard
Music, Opinions

This Week in New Music: Lucy Rose, Jade Bird & Declan McKenna

Something’s Changing – Lucy Rose (Album)

916aozMzLoL._SL1500_

I’ve done a full review of this album which you can read here. It’s a simply beautiful record which reflects her growth as both a person and a musician in the last few years, much of which she credits to her independently organised tour in Latin America last year. Left with no manager, no booking agent and no label, Lucy Rose took the reins for Something’s Changing and created her best work to date.

Something American – Jade Bird (EP)

71iNqPforHL._SL1400_

This is the one of the best finds I’ve come across this week. Jade Bird is a young lady with a powerful voice and a brilliant collection of songs to go with it on her first ep “Something American.” ‘Cathedral’ is a smasher. I can’t wait to see where this girl is going.

Humongous – Declan McKenna (Single)

300

Another new find for me this week was Declan McKenna, and wow am I glad I did.  This track has a marvelous hook and the kind of chorus you could yell out at a gig or a festival. After one listen to Humongous I hastily listened to the rest of the tracks on his Spotify, which are all fantastic too. Once I got passed how great his voice & the sound was, I started listening to the lyrics.. the content of the lyrics are something particularly unusual from a 18-year-old singer-songwriter. He’s written about the likes of FIFA scandals, the issue with religion and youth involvement in politics. I haven’t been this excited about an artist in a long time, I’ll be counting down the days till his debut album “What Do You Think About the Car?” is released on July 21st!

Standard
Music

Album Review: Something’s Changing by Lucy Rose


Last year, British singer-songwriter Lucy Rose embarked on the trip of a lifetime. In the space of two months she played 33 gigs in eight countries. The challenge set in this case was that the dates were in Latin America, a place where you would be hard pressed to find her music in shops and where her promoters did not believe she could fill a venue. In a move that was deemed crazy by both her label and loved ones, Rose promised her Latin American fans she would bring her music to them if they could book her venues and find her places to stay. This led to a tour independently organised by and for the 28-year-old’s fans who transported, fed and housed her throughout. Along with the release of her third studio album,  Rose has released a 20-minute film that documents the trip which provides a touching embellishment and context to the release.

Something’s Changing opens a with a fitting invitation from Rose for us to join her on her personal journey embroiled with “all the good, the bad, the happy, the sad.” This journey begins with ‘No Good At All,’ one of only two tracks written before the Warwickshire native set off on her transatlantic trip. It gives us an insight into Rose’s lack of confidence in her musical capabilities before the Latin American tour, the influence of which permeates the album. The insecurity is noted on the piano-based track which sees her trademark airy vocal floating above the hum of gentle orchestral instrumentation (“I’m not the oil painting you once bought” “I’m nothing like the vision you once formed” “A flower of fallen seed”). This lack of confidence in her own music changed over the course of her trip as the songwriter met fans who shared stories of how her music has touched them personally and for whom music was more than just “background music when you’re cooking”. As the album progresses, we start to hear the chains of insecurity fall away.

In a livestream earlier this week the singer talked about a particularly touching moment on the trip when she was messing about on an old Spanish guitar which belonged to one of the fans she was staying with. “I thought it was just nonsense that I was playing,” Rose explained, but it had touched the fan she was staying with who asked her to promise to finish it. This resulted in ‘Love Song,’ a slow, lilting track that, despite being one of the album’s least exciting moments, flourishes in its final 40 seconds when the melody transitions to something assertive, up-beat and catchy. There’s something altogether more heart-warming in the knowledge that this song exists almost solely because one person believed in it.  It is in moments like these that we get a first hand example of Rose’s renewed confidence in her own music.  She now believes a song is worth it even if it only means something to one person – it’s hard to find fault with a mantra like that. Rose seems to now understand that a song need not make everyone happy, and in that knowledge there is liberation.

Elsewhere there’s a number of impressive collaborations including Elena Tonra of Daughter (‘Soak It Up’) and alt-folk trio The Staves (‘Is This Called Home’, ‘Floral Dresses’). The Stavely-Taylor sister’s vocals blend beautifully with Rose’s, adding an extra dimension to both tracks. ‘Is This Called Home,’ is an affecting cut confronting the global refugee crisis that is lifted by their contribution, reaching its emotional peak when they come in to harmonise on the closing refrain – “Let me hold your hand.” Lead single ‘Floral Dresses,’ is a raw, Joni Mitchell nodding folk tune that sees Rose rejecting absurd gender expectations, (“I don’t wanna wear your floral dresses / And my lips won’t be coloured”). A stunning flurry of swirling harmonies, it is accompanied simply by an acoustic guitar and stands as the album’s true high- point.

Much of the best material has been used to promote the album, save for the third track ‘Strangest of Ways’. The song was originally written for a film about “a girl who’s allergic to everything,” but after becoming so attached to it Rose decided to keep it for her own album instead – and it’s not hard to see why. It’s the only track that is reminiscent of the likes of ‘Our Eyes’ and ‘Like An Arrow’ from Work It Out. ‘Find Myself’, one of the tracks most heavily inspired by the people she met in Latin America (“Cause I find myself, I find myself in new company / Now I find myself, I find myself within your dreams”), meanwhile, has a great hook and some sweet harmonies but falls slightly short of being quite the chart ready number it seems to strive to be.

The lack of sweet indie-pop “hit” doesn’t hinder the album however. If anything, it’s another example of how Rose has evolved and matured into a more self-assured person and artist. The lyrical maturity is evident throughout the rlease with a number of subjects broached for our inability to recognise the beauty in ourselves on ‘Second Chance’ to fate and destiny on ‘Moirai.’ Following the theme of growing confidence, Rose challenges the greek god Moirai and asserts: “I won’t settle for the theory you’re not made for me / This fate and fortune misery / Let’s go against the grain / Let them think we’re both insane / Rewrite our own history.”

Lucy Rose has come a long way from the days of simply providing backing vocals for Bombay Bicycle Club, and her second album’s uncomfortably forced drive to be a scrapbook of chart-worthy indie-pop only served as a disservice to the singer. Left with no manager, no booking agent and no label, Lucy Rose took the reins for Something’s Changing and in the process found a profound resilience and honest determination, the sound of which is ready and waiting now to be heard and embraced.

3.5/5 stars

Published on The Thin Air

Standard
Music, Opinions

This Week In New Music: A Blaze of Feather, Calvin Harris & Bedouine

Here’s my pick of the albums you need to hear that dropped last Friday, plus one that dropped the week before. Between going down hard with the flu  & starting a new job, I didn’t get to do a list for last week, forgive me!

A Blaze of Feather – A Blaze of Feather

71iNqPforHL._SL1400_

Alternative 

For anyone pining Ben Howard’s absence from the music scene as of late, I’ve got good news! A Blaze of Feather are a new band led by Micky Smith made up of six musicians who’ve toured with Ben Howard, including the man himself. Their debut is a swirling soundscape of synths and soothing harmonies, an hour of medicine for the soul. If it means a longer wait for solo work from Howard, it’s worth it. It’s one of the best albums of the year.

 

Bedouine – Bedouine

bedouine

Singer/Songwriter

This was actually released over a week ago, but I had to include it today seeing as I missed last weeks blog. Bedouine is the debut from Aleppo-born singer-songwriter Azniv Korkejian. It’s a nostalgic offering of Americana, folk and soul, perfect for a summer drive. Reminiscent of Norah Jones, Joni Mitchell & Laura Marling, a beautiful record that’s well worth a spin.

 

Funk Wav Bounces Vol 1 – Calvin Harris

71iNqPforHL._SL1400_

Dance/Electronic

How many calls did Harris have to make to create this album? Practically every song features massive stars in their own right. However, despite the big names gracing the album, I can’t distinguish many “radio-hits” on the record. It’s a nice listen but it’s a deviation from the Scottish DJs usual style, less club anthem more summer chill.

Standard
Music

Album Review: Young As The Morning Old As The Sea by Passenger

Michael Rosenberg’s latest LP, ‘Young As The Morning Old As the Sea’ offers the same kind of experience as his previous works but falls a little short. That is, enjoyable, hummable folk songs that seem to venture into pop territory at times. Unlike on his 7th studio album, Whispers II, Passenger strays from the rawness of his acoustic guitar and voice alone on his newest offering. Here, a band of musicians back the former Brighton busker up and orchestral sounds help to lift up some of the blander songs.

After listening to the full album right through you come to thinking Passenger is going through some kind of mid-life crisis. He sings of longing to travel on the title track but notes that he’s ‘fleeting like fireworks fading too soon,’ mourns his youth on ‘When We Were Young’ and seems to lament lost love on the opening track, ‘cause everything is nothing ’til you’ve got somebody to share it with / somebody to have / somebody to hold.’  

Perhaps Passenger was pining over a lost lover when crafting this record. ‘Beautiful Birds’ (featuring Scottish songstress Birdy ironically) is a melancholy break up tune with touching lyrics while on ‘Somebody’s Love’ Rosenberg seems to warn us to keep those we love close to us, ‘oh when the winds they blow / you’re gonna need somebody to know you / you’re gonna need somebody’s love to fall into.’ The Long Road’ seems to confirm our suspicions as he sings, ‘You found love but you left without it.’

Unfortunately, these melancholy songs seem to drag as Passenger hasn’t managed to notate his introspective thoughts about life and love as astutely and as wittingly as usual. Thankfully, for all the loneliness and sadness that seems to permeate the lyrics of the album, the music isn’t all minor chords and gloom – ‘Anywhere’, for example, is an upbeat and fun track that lifts the mood.

Though it’s an enjoyable and pleasant listen, overall the record is nowhere near as clever and captivating as some of his previous work. However, something tells me Rosenberg won’t be bothered too much by the negative reviews of his latest release. As he sang himself on his album ‘Whispers’ just two years ago, ‘I write songs that come from the heart / I don’t give a f**k if they get into the charts.’

Maybe Young As The Morning Old As The Sea’ isn’t the most affecting of albums, certainly it won’t win any Grammy’s, but perhaps its charm is in its refusal to cater for the critics and just simply be a pleasant listen.

Passenger will return to Vicar Street, Dublin on the 2nd and 3rd of December 2016

Rating: 3.5 / 5

(Published on Campus.ie

Standard