Friday, 26 March 2010

New Video : Fenech Soler - Stop And Stare

Released 19th April through Moda Music, "Stop And Stare" is the second single from Fenech Soler. Having this week made the Radio 1 playlist you'll most probably be hearing these boys quite a bit over the coming weeks, no bad thing I must say! We'll have a full length review nearer the single's release date, but for the time being go ahead and enjoy this splendid video!

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

New Video : Akala - XXL

UK based Hip Hop MC Akala returns in 2010 with his third album "Doublethink" through Illastate Records. The first cut from that record will be "XXL", which is released April 19th. Previous albums "It's Not A Rumour" and "Freedom Lasso" showcased Akala's talent with words, both from a writing perspective and from his performance, with his integrity and honesty really shining through on both counts. "XXL" has an awesome Prodigy like beat, over which Akala spits his vocals, which although being relatively simple are still "funky as hell" as the man himself puts it. This single should certainly propel Akala towards the mainstream market, particularly with the success the likes of Dizzee and Wiley have acheived in recent times. /// Official Akala website /// Illastate Records

Monday, 22 March 2010

Single Review : The Sweet Serenades - Die Young

The flaw to any music review is that essentially the reviewer is trying to encapsulate the sensation of a song by tearing it apart and crudely putting it back together again like a car engine or something otherwise tangible. It’s ham-fisted to say the least. The thing is everyone realises that most music, and all truly great music isn’t just about a guitar twang or a drum beat, it’s about an almost magical connection between the listener and the song that can’t be pinpointed, that makes the hairs stand up on the back of your neck, that extracts an emotion out of you almost at will. And this single by The Sweet Serenades is a serious contender for such accolades.

Suffice to say this is a painful love story that is lyrically simple but the hurt and confusion involved in the story is conveyed with near perfection by a melody so emotive it should carry a health warning. ‘Die Young’ may start with a riff that promises little but it bleeds into a beating heart of a bass line where atmospheric guitar and vocal sighs create a stirring ambience that is beautifully segmented by an upbeat but bitter-sweet chorus. Part Stellastarr*, part The Cardigans, part unique genius, this poignant song may masquerade itself as simply great Scandinavian pop, but don’t be fooled, ‘Die Young’ is more than this, it's a serious heavy hitter and a total giant of a song.

"Die Young" is taken from The Sweet Serenades debut album "Balcony Cigarettes".

Friday, 19 March 2010

Live Review : Teenagersintokyo (Buffalo Bar, Cardiff 17/03)

Here at Music Liberation we've long been fans of Teenagersintokyo, since we featured them in our podcast back in April 2008. Since then we have eagerly followed their progress as they have steadily developed as a band through a series of gigs, singles, and an EP. Determined to showcase their ideas to a wider audience the band recently moved to London from their home of Sydney in Australia, and 2010 see's them release their debut album. The first single "Peter Pan" was recently released, you can read our review here, and in support of that track the band are playing sporadic dates around the UK. We were fortunate enough to catch them this week at Buffalo Bar in Cardiff, an excellent intimate venue in the heart of the city.

Opening up were Just Like Frank (4), a poppy rock by numbers outfit, who although being the first band I've seen to sing in Welsh, were unfortunately instantly forgettable due to little stage presence and a lack of diversity. A La Fiste (6) quickly became the second band I've seen to sing in Welsh, with their combination of keyboard infused hardcore pop showing some interesting ideas and clear potential.

Teenagersintokyo (8) took to the stage with the venue a little over a third full, a very disappointing display from Cardiff gig goers for a band who deserve so much more. Those who were there witnessed a confident and compelling performance, with the band demonstrating their style of dark and expansive electro pop with rock overtones. Miska Mandic stood out with her dominant synths, backed up by the bass of Linda Marigliano, guitar of Sophie McGinn, and the reliable drums of Rudy Udovich. The lasting memory will be of vocalist Samantha Lim though, whose vocal delivery was outstanding. She has a great range which when complimented by her enigmatic stage presence really helps the set band apart.

Hopefully the band's first full release will generate the level of interest the band's quality deserves, and having David Kosten (Bat For Lashes) produce the record should certainly help with that. In the mean time check out the video for "Peter Pan", and you can also purchase the track through the usual outlets (iTunes, 7digital, Record Store, Rough Trade).

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Mixtape : The Whip

The Whip return in 2010 with their second album, and to celebrate that, as well as the launch of their brand spanking new website, Bruce and Fee from the band have put together a mixtape which we have for you to check out.

Here's what the guys had to say about their new website:

" is the new heart of all things The Whip in the cyber realm. Our team of over qualified experts will be showing us how to upload all sorts of meaty treats so you can keep in touch with where we are up to. We're beavering away at the new songs and they are getting better and better all the time, we can't wait to get the new album finished and get back out on to the battle field, for a sneak peak, catch us on tour with The Courteeners this month. We'll be updating progress on the site and putting up videos and pictures of things we get to see".

That tour with The Courteeners actually only has three dates left, tomorrow at Brixton Academy in London, Friday at the O2 in Sheffield, and then Saturday at the 02 in Birmingham. Make sure you check them out if you can!

Heres the mixtape!!

Monday, 15 March 2010

EP Review : Tall Ships - Tall Ships

Originally based in Falmouth, but now living in Brighton (an apparent mecca for new music these days) comes Tall Ships. Today see's this 3-piece (Ric Phethean, Matt Parker, and Jamie Bush) release their debut selt titled EP through a split collaboration between Big Scary Monsters and Blood And Biscuits. Having recently returned from their first UK tour supporting Tubelord, as well as gaining much kudos from new music general Huw Stephens, and (ahem!) rag NME, this young band are steadily gaining the hype factor. This EP is therefore a pretty important release that could really propel the band onto the next level.

The record opens up with "Books", which has a slow start of elongated synths and soft drums, before the synths take centre stage and drive the song along. It is almost two minutes before we are introduced to the vocals of Ric Phethean, which although not being dominating do fit the song very well. Apart from some vocal clips (possibly from films) the next two songs on the EP, "Words Are Pegs Upon Which We Hang Ideas" and "Beanieandodger" do not have vocals from the band themselves. Which opens up the floor for Tall Ships to showcase their high musicianship qualities, as well as taking the listener on a journey through various repeated synths, guitars, and drum patterns. It is a real sign of the band's quality when they can almost create melodies, and emotional reactions through the power of their various instruments.

The record finishes with "Vessels" which brings together the instrumental rhythms from the previous two tracks as well as adding group vocals, to create a track which demonstrates both talent and ideas way beyond the tender years of this band. For comparisons you could loosely look at progressive bands such as Foals, Late Of The Pier, and The Murder Of Rosa Luxemburg, but Tall Ships deserve more than to be bandied amongst others such is the strength of their ideas and music. This taster of the bands potential will be followed by a second EP due around the Autumn, as well as more UK touring in the Spring.

Friday, 12 March 2010

Single Review : The Suzukis - Built In

Wigan four piece The Suzukis have apparently been causing a bit of a stir with their own take on the whole post-hardcore punk thing, probably because they sound more like American East Coast rockers from the 80s than any band from Wigan – They’re hardly similar to The Verve or (thankfully) Starsailor.

Their single ‘Built In’ is a no nonsense punk song with sparse verses that are pushed along by some creative interaction between a roaming bass and pounding drum kit, before it’s all rudely interrupted by a shouty anthemic chorus full of distorted guitars.

It’s all rather good to be honest. But the thing is, it’s also a bit of history repeating. The Suzukis are more than a little Fugazi-esque and whilst this is no bad thing in itself, it would be nice to hear their own musical take on things rather than coming across as a mere carbon copy of what went before.

There’s little doubt that singer Chris Veasey delivers the goods, supported when necessary by shouting backing vox and the whole song is a thundering tip of the hat to the past, but because of this the music can feel tried and tested, and dare I say it, obvious. Still like Ronseal, it does what it says on the tin and you can’t knock ‘em for pounding out what are essentially complete and well executed punk numbers. Good for them. Worth a listen.

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Album Review : Broadcast 2000 - Broadcast 2000

Broadcast 2000 is, or at least was, the one man creation of Devon born Joe Steer. According to the mandatory myspace blurb he’s “a classical music graduate with a unique take on folk using computer-generated looping of acoustic instruments”. Thus genre obsessed hacks like myself would probably describe his music as Folktronica.

Except there’s very little evidence of the whole “tronica” thing on this self-titled debut. Drums and percussion take a distant backseat in Steer’s composing as each short song is structured around layered vocals, rhythmic strings and acoustic guitars. This formula works well in creating accessible and somewhat touching songs, especially when Steer hits the emotive jackpot on tracks such ‘That Sinking Feeling’ and the atmospheric ‘I Hold My Breath’.

However this basic formula quickly wares thin as it is rigidly stuck to throughout the album. There’s little exploration in terms of sound or instrumentation despite the enthusiasm expressed to the contrary on myspace. Also, Broadcast 2000 can veer into the overtly twee, ending up sounding like Death Cab for Cutie with even less edge. ‘Gonna Build a Mountain’ falls into this camp for example.

Saying that, Steer’s music nonetheless has an enigmatic authenticity to it that provides a welcome amount of gravitas to the songs, in turn adding balance to the more dainty moments on this album. As a debut, this body of work is poppy, quaint and undeniably likable, meaning that despite the record’s somewhat conservative nature Steer must being doing something right.

Broadcast 2000 myspace /// Buy CD /// MP3: Broadcast 2000 - That Sinking Feeling (File removed by request)

Monday, 8 March 2010

Single Review : Not Squares - Asylum

Not Squares could well be everyone's new favourite band of 2010, such is the strength of their new single "Asylum". This Irish trio will release their debut album in May through Dublin based independent label Richter Collective. Having extensively toured the UK festival circuit last year, most notably playing Reading & Leeds as well as Latitude, Not Squares are now ready to unleash their music to the masses via digital and physical outlets.

"Asylum" is one of those tracks that although seeming simple, musically speaking, it just works really well. Like "On A Rope" by Rocket From The Crypt, or "My Sharona" by The Knack, it is a track which captures your imagination and you can't help get caught up with the catchy beat and sparse vocals. The song makes you want to move, whether that's a head nod, foot tap, or indeed full on body movement as you can see in the video for the track.

It will be interesting to see how Not Squares deal with a full length record, but for now enjoy this brilliant single!

Friday, 5 March 2010

EP Review : Screaming Maldini - And The Kookaburra

Having recently toured with Music Liberation favs Stars And Sons, Sheffield based Screaming Maldini were guaranteed to get some generous ear time upon us receiving their debut EP "And The Kookaburra". It was released late last month through the excellent Alcopop Records, home to the likes of the aforementioned Star And Sons as well as Stagecoach and 4 or 5 Magicians.

As you can see the promo pic we were sent automatically steers you in the direction and nature of this band. Pop. But this is clever pop, with each of Screaming Maldini's 6 members contributing fully not just making up the numbers and fading into the background. This EP is incredibly varied, with each track being different from the next, demonstrating not only the versatility of this band but also the vast amount of artistic flair and ideas they must have.

"Secret Sounds" opens up the EP with overblown vocals, triangles, and off beat drums, with clear a nod in the direction of Liverpool's The Wombats (vocally speaking at least). Completely different to everything else on this record is "The Albatross" which shows the band's versatility with vocals with this one being entirely female led, compared to others being male led. It is my favourite song on the album, with the band tugging on the emotions as they build the song up to its climax. The record finishes with "Miniatures" which begins with a fast tempo, has a middle of reggae-ness and finishes with some sort of post-rock crazyness, all complete with group vocals and the general feeling that this band could do so much more on a full length offering.

Screaming Maldini's debut EP "And The Kookaburra" is out now through Alcopop Records.

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

New Video : Foals - Spanish Sahara

Foals are back. Wow. What a return! New album "Total Life Forever" drops May 10th. Awesome.

Monday, 1 March 2010

Single Review : Operator Please - Logic

Formed in 2005 while at school, these young Aussie pop-rockers stormed the charts in 2007 with that annoying infectious single ‘Just A Song About Ping Pong.’ Soon after, they released their debut album ‘Yes, Yes, Vindictive’ and won an AIRA award for Best Newcomer Single (the Australian equivalent of the BRITs). However, it's been awfully quiet over in the Operator Please camp recently, ever since departed member Sarah Gardiner popped up all over the internet flashing her naughty bits for a soft-core porn site. 2010 marks their return, post porn scandal and with a new sound and edgier look.

Logic’ is the first single released from their upcoming sophomore album ‘Gloves,’ and it sees them dilute their angular-guitar driven pop-rock in order to pursue a funky, electro-rock sound. Doesn’t this all sound a bit familiar? Ah yes, didn’t Yeah Yeah Yeahs just do exactly the same thing? With jagged riffs and howling female vocals it’s hard to ignore the influence of Karen O and gang, especially now they have also decided to experiment with a more dance-orientated sound.

‘Logic’ starts with an addictive, funky bass line with a spiky, indie riff that comes in after the first verse. Then comes the chorus – a fantastically catchy pop refrain sung by Amanda Wilkinson, backed with piercing, swirling strings courtesy of violinist Taylor Henderson. It may not come packed with the same urgency and energy that their older material possessed, but this new funky direction is a great deal more memorable than the substandard, artsy indie-rock that they initially surfaced with. If the rest of upcoming album follows this new formula they may well be onto a winner (I say winner, but they will always come in at second place to Yeah Yeah Yeahs).