Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Featured Artist : The Upset Victory

Compared to other music genres, I've always felt that the heavier end of the rock spectrum endures a pretty raw deal when it comes to the blogging community. A visit to the Hype Machine generally shows top lists dominated by electronic and indie tunes, with little attention given to the alternative posse. But why is this? Is this due to the quality not being there and so therefore PR companies and labels are not willing to promote the artists? Are people done with Rock bands dominating the internet ala Myspace? Is it merely due to the other genres being more popular and hence there being more blogs covering those? Well to be honest i think it's a mixture of all of those things and more, and certainly worth a debate at some point. However once in a while a band will break through and stand out to me from the mass crowd. Today that band is The Upset Victory.

Cincinnati punk rockers The Upset Victory (Frank Hammonds (vocals/guitar), Jeremiah Kramer (guitar/vocals), Stephen Campbell (guitar/vocals), Spencer VanDerzee (bass/vocals), have been together since 2006. They have recently put out their second E.P "Between The Walls And The Worlds That Sleep", and have also began work on the first full length offering. Their sound oozes energy and is tight, with frentic drums littering most tracks, melodic yet not over the top vocals, and a nice balance of guitars blending from crushing riffs to small but perfectly formed solos. Stateside comparisons can be made with Thursday, Thrice and early Aiden, whereas us Brits are reminded of a young Funeral For A Friend.

Head to the bands myspace for more information and check out the tracks below for a taster.

Friday, 22 May 2009

Single Review : Speech Debelle - Searching

According to the Guardian, Speech Debelle is the “the box-fresh hip-hop sound of south London”; and trust me she’s a Guardian reader’s wet dream. Urban lyrics about a tough South London life set to radio friendly jazz, with little swearing rapped by an innocent sounding young girl. Instantly I can see a thousand Islington dinner parties where her debut album ‘Speech Therapy’ punctuates the consumption of sushi and strong cheeses. However this isn’t Speech Debelle’s fault. She said she wants to be the “hip-hop Tracy Chapman” but she’s in danger of becoming the hip-hop Lily Allen: Tossing Facebook references into her songs and writing LDN on her myspace.

But forget all that because unlike Allen, Speech Debelle is actually good. In fact, it’s impossible not to warm to her voice. On her single ‘Searching’, she raps about a former life consisting of sleeping in hostels, living in hunger and being generally miserable. All the while she’s accompanied by soft piano, acoustic guitar and drums played with brushes. It’s almost twee, it‘s almost a too radio friendly, it’s almost throw away, but it works. You sympathise with her struggles and you can’t help but listen what she’s got to say. She reminds me of Plan B or the lesser-known Gideon Conn, two more rappers who‘ve skilfully turned a genre on it’s head.

Similarly, to classify Speech Debelle as hip-hop isn’t exactly fair. She’s more than that; rapping alone does not a hip-hop record make. However, I worry that the more she branches out into “coffee table” music, the more she’s in danger of diluting her fan base. What at the moment is her uniqueness could easily become her burden when fans resent her for attempting to change. Nonetheless, Coffee table or not, there’s no debate that she’s talented or much more importantly, likeable. Worth a listen.

Monday, 18 May 2009

New Writer : Moker (Single Review : Break Of Reality - Spectrum of the Sky)

Time to introduce another new writer to the Music Liberation team. Everyone please welcome, Moker!

Hello. Sid’s let me write some reviews and generally lower the tone of Music Liberation as I inflict my misguided opinions about music onto you all. My qualifications for such a task are few and far between, other than the fact I listen to and play music avidly.

Without wanting to use the word eclectic, my musical tastes began with metal, moved onto grunge and alternative rock, art-rock, post-rock (in fact, anything that prefixes “rock” it seems) and I've also got a taste for house and ambience dance. Furthermore, I somehow have a secret shame of major chord, poppy tunes that I pretend not to like. I pretty much believe all bands have some merit to them, and music is to be enjoyed without pretence or fashion getting in the way.

Someone told me recently that “post rock is so over”. Not that I agreed in the first place but he had a point. How many more bands can we all stand that sound a sub-standard Explosions in the Sky or God is an Astronaut? So step up New York based instrumental band Break of Reality. This four piece (three cellos and a drummer – oh yeah) have managed to sound fresh and original in a genre that’s tired and overdone. They are simply brilliant.

When I first played ‘Spectrum of the Sky’, the first single off their second album of the same name, I was immediately pulled in. In a genre where the music is positively encouraged to be audio wallpaper, wallpaper this ‘aint.

The track starts with groaning notes played over hectically plucked strings, before crashing into a booming drumbeat over a minute later. Am I making it sound a bit dramatic? Well it is. 

What’s more, the listener is led through the many crescendos of the track without a distortion pedal in sight; Breaks of Reality create contrasts in their music with an ease that would make other bands blush. More importantly, this track sounds personal, heartfelt, as if it’s being played to you and you alone; there’s not a whiff of over production or mass marketing here. The nearest comparisons I can draw are Mogwai or Red Snapper but this doesn’t really do Break of Reality’s uniqueness much justice.

So what’s the catch? Well there isn’t one really. They even manage to overlay falling rain onto the track without it sounding remotely clich├ęd. The only question would be how much can this format survive before it get’s repetitive? Listening to the other tunes available on their MySpace  I felt a bit cello’d out, but as a stand alone single, Spectrum in the Sky is superb. Caught between classical, post-rock and I don’t know what, this band deserve your attention.

Saturday, 16 May 2009

Featured Artist : Skilf

I recently came across a fresh Hip Hop artist by the name of Skilf. This dude is Brighton/London based and has been holding the mic for well over six years, spitting lyrics over Garage, Drum and Bass, Funk, and more recently traditional Hip Hop. 

What really stands out for me about Skilf is that he is constantly evolving and challenging himself. A look at his back catalogue reveals a real depth of different beats and musical ideas, as well as honest lyrics that you can relate with and really get into. He has a real ear for catching the right moment when to throw his vocals over the beat, something which can't really be taught.

He has an extensive gig schedule over the coming Summer months so make sure you check his myspace for more information, and while your there check out the wicked video for "Slow Me Down", which you can also download below.

Monday, 11 May 2009

New Music : Wolfmother / Hitchcock / Twiggy Frostbite

This Australian group are seemingly one of those love them or loathe bands, particuarly taking note of the press coverage their self titled debut album got. Rock purists insist Wolfmother are merely imitating legends such as Zeppelin and Sabbath with no creative input of their own, where as i personally think they are building upon the platform those bands created. Either way the band returns this year with album number two, and this is the first offering "Black Round". Love to know what you think! (In support of this track please donate to the Red Cross Victorian Bushfire Appeal) Wolfmother

Hitchcock are a brand new electronic rock crossover band who are fronted by Matt 'Droog' Terry, who has produced bands such as The Enemy and Boy Kill Boy. Now he is stepping upto the mike himself to give rock and roll a go. "Blame" is a twirling track which nods as much to 80's pyscadelic pop to modern stylists such as Passion Pit. Lead single "Smack Boom" is released on 18th May which should generate a fair amount of attention for the group. Hitchcock

Those legends at Despotz Records have kindly given us the 2nd single from Swedish threesome Twiggy Frostbite, titled "Thrown In Two" taken from the groups debut album "Through Fire". The track demonstrates the effortless ability of the band to float you away with their bleak yet alluring pop music. It might not grab you straight away but trust me it's worth it when you get there. Twiggy Frostbite

Friday, 1 May 2009

New Music : Hostage / Trash Yourself / Avian X / Dead Confederate

So it's May already, how we feeling? Things have been a little quiet for Music Liberation so far this year, but we've recently got a couple of new faces on board so hopefully we'll be heavily involved this Summer. In the meantime hunt down these awesome new cuts!

Hostage - Massive
It's cliche but this track really is MASSIVE! Big sweeping bassline with an assortment of hand claps and the repeating line of "massive, massive, massive" is sure to get everyone raving this Summer. Big thanks to www.noiseporn.com for hitting us up with some Hostage action.

Trash Yourself and The Toxic Avenger - Die
We've been big followers of Trash Yourself since we first heard their cover of Blur's Song 2 back in 2007. Once again they are collaberating with The Toxic Avenger as they present us with "Die". It's a typically mashed up electro affair but in a seemingly co-ordinated way, that said it still rips your head off.

Avian X - Dark Circles
Previously from St. Petersburg, Russia but now working out of New York City comes Natalia Ivachkevitch aka Avian X. The beginning of this track instantly reminds me of Tekken Tag Tournament for the weird vocal. From here the track demonstrates the interesting darker edge that Pop music can take.

Dead Confederate - Start Me Laughing
Despite a heavy dosing of electronic music with this post, i'd like to say i haven't forgotten my roots. Rock. Dead Confederate are rock through and through if the sounds of this track are anything to go by. It's unforgiving on the eardrums and full of attitude from start to finish.