Music, Opinions

This Week In New Music: Passenger, Nick Mulvey & Ciaran Lavery

The Boy Who Cried Wolf – Passenger (Album)

71iNqPforHL._SL1400_

The surprise release of a new album from Passenger came after the singer-songwriter published a long post on Facebook on Tuesday evening. In the post, he reveals that his show in Dublin the previous Sunday was his last gig for “a while.” It’s an emotional post in which he reminisces on how far he’s come and thanks his fans for their support, before announcing he has a surprise for them on Friday. This surprise was an album made up of some new tracks as well as some fan favourites from his youtube videos. The opening track is aptly named ‘simple song,’ and it’s a foreshadowing of what’s to come. Yes these songs are simple, some might argue boringly so, but if you’ve a soft spot for Mike Rosenberg’s vocals & his simple but clever lyrics, there’s plenty to love on this album. Plus, not knowing when we’ll get the next installment of music from the Brit makes it all the sweeter.

 

Mountain To Move – Nick Mulvey (Single)

300

God, I love Nick Mulvey. His debut album is one of the most beautiful and relaxing albums I own, I never tire of it. My love of “First Mind” means I’ve really high expectations for his forthcoming release in September and if this track is anything to go by it won’t disappoint. It’s classic Mulvey – a gentle acoustic number that builds in to something uplifting that will warm you to your core. If anyone wants to come experience this live I am looking for a gig buddy for the 28th of September xo

 

Everything Is Made To Last – Ciaran Lavery (Single)

fd11f85b2849e63c7d6ee60047fc8fcd.1000x1000x1

I’ll be honest, this is the first I’ve heard of Ciaran Lavery. My bad. The Northern Irish man has released ‘Everything Is Made To Last’ ahead of his third album and it’s a gorgeous track with a chorus that builds and builds in to something beautiful. It’s full of life and vitality and I can’t wait to see what his next album will bring. #SupportIrish

Standard
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.

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: 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: Capacity by Big Thief

Big Thief’s sophomore album “Capacity” feels like a vessel for lead singer Adrianne Lenker to process her tumultuous life. Hers has been a life that is purpose made for storytelling; spending her earliest years in a cult, almost dying in a freak accident, spending years living out of a van, earning a scholarship for a prestigious music school.

These stories of love and loss, of violence and healing and of friendship and family, all come together to create the intimate Capacity. It feels as though you’re reading someone’s diary, a certain feeling that you shouldn’t know all this about another human being. Dark and personal lyrics are complimented with Lenker’s soft, tender vocals, while her bandmates create swirling melodies that package up raw, painful moments and offer them with a serving of finger-picked guitar lines and steadying drum beats.  

This mix of overtly dark lyrics and soothing music can be somewhat unsettling. This is the case on Watering especially where Lenker details an assault from the perspective of both the victim and the perpetrator. The lyrics are violent and distressing (“He cut off my oxygen / And my eyes were watering / As he tore into my skin / Like a lion”) with multiple refrains of the word “screaming” particularly unnerving. In the break between the point of view switching between victim and perpetrator, Lenker’s “oohs” almost sound more like she is screaming or wailing than singing.

This, the most disturbing moment on the album, transitions to Coma. A delicate track that begins only with guitar chords before gradually, harmonizing voices and restrained drums are introduced. It feels as though Lenker is staring blankly into the distance as she tries to come to terms with how her body has been violated. When she sings “when you wake up / you wake up…” it sounds as though Buck Meek’s finger-picked guitar line is gently awakening her from her “protective coma.” Despite the heavy subject matter, you could find yourself being lulled to sleep by the hushed vocals, so soft they’re almost a murmur.

Lenker also has a penchant for delivering matter-of-fact statements in such a way that they are deeply affecting. On opening track Pretty Things she makes sex seem almost like a religious ritual; “Holding my wrist to the bed / He was thrusting and moaning / And pressing his head / To my temple / His head was a temple.” Later on Mythological Beauty, the track that details the freak accident that almost took young Lenker’s life, she is blunt in her description of sex once again, peeling it back to its most physical elements, “Seventeen, you took his cum / And you gave birth to your first life.” Perhaps it is an attempt to humanise her mother or to make some statement about how all of us are the same, have the same urges, underneath it all. Or perhaps it’s just simply the way Lenker likes to write, prose among poetry. Much of Mythological Beauty is descriptive without embellishment and yet it is one of the most evocative tracks on the album. It conjures up memories of childhood; the sights (rented a house in Nisswa, Minnesota / shrapnel and oil cans, rhubarb in the yard), the smells (standing beneath the oak tree by the front door / you were inside baking bread), the sounds (you held me in the backseat with a dishrag, soaking up blood with your eyes / I was just five and you were twenty-seven / praying, “Don’t let my baby die”).

Mary, named after Lenker’s best friend, unfolds in a similar way, evocative and nostalgic. It’s a stream of consciousness, an outpouring of memories – floods on the plains, clothes pins on the floor, marching up the mountain, cheap drink, the marching band… The decision to use a piano and organ for the recorded version of this track (Lenker uses a guitar live) differentiates it from other tracks on the album. The twenty-five year old singer-songwriter’s voice is haunting against the background of the piano and organ on the sprawling track, confirming it as one of the standout moments of the album.

Capacity finishes with Black Diamonds, a foot-tapping, humming along kind of song. Max Oleartchik’s chilled-out bass line, Buck Meek’s lilting guitar and James Krivchenia’s drums combined with Lenker’s hushed assurance “You could cry inside my arms / you could cry inside my arms like a child / you could cry / you could cry…” create the perfect conclusion to an album that is full of tragic and painful moments that somehow still leaves you feeling warming by the time you’ve reached the end. From violent assault on Watering to near death on Mythological Beauty, Lenker invites us into the world of Capacity in which scars are created and healed, and there’s catharsis to be found in that release.

Rating: 4/5 stars

Standard
Music, Opinions

This Week in New Music: Lorde, Denai Moore & The Strypes

Here’s my pick of the albums you need to hear that dropped today

Melodrama – Lorde

Lorde

Alternative/Pop

Melodrama, the “Royals” singers sophomore album, is a concept album about a house party. From the excitement of that first great song  to the beginnings of a hangover, it’s worth listening to in sequence to get the full experience.  Despite the influence of the likes of Jack Antonoff (Taylor Swift, Sara Bareilles) and Kuk Harrell (Justin Bieber, Rihanna), this pop album is still uniquely Lorde.

 

We Used To Bloom by Denai Moore

DenaiMoore

Alternative/R&B

Londoner Denai Moore’s latest album is a a beautiful and affecting glimpse into a young woman learning to love herself and accept her flaws. Moore explores topics like anxiety, greed and the “transformative” power of love here with extraordinary grace and poise. With smooth R&B beats and sincere vocals, “We Used To Bloom” is a pleasure to listen to.

 

Spitting Image by The Strypes

The Strypes

Indie/Rock

If you’d like a throwback to retro rock and roll, Spitting Image is your album of the week. It feels a little rock-y, a little blues-y, a little indie, but it’s a mix that works well.  The Cavan natives third record is more polished than their previous offerings but the rawness of a good live performance is still very much tangible.

Standard