Wednesday, 27 October 2010

EP Review : Jumping Ships - Orientation

This first official release from Jumping Ships has taken a while to surface, having taken up roughly a year of the band’s time to record. Initially, it was announced that these recording sessions would culminate in their debut album, but what we actually have here is a six-song EP. After all the work put in at Brighton Electric Studios, it would be easy to jump to the conclusion that these tracks were the only ones considered decent enough for release. However Jumping Ships have explained that these six songs best sum up the direction they wish to pursue at this moment in their career (with the others to follow at a later date online).
So what is this present direction that this Brighton quartet wish to pursue? Well, to sum up the varying influences they sound-check on their debut EP ‘Orientation’ is not perfectly straightforward, but perhaps their overall sound is best summed up as indie-rock with a pop sensibility and a melodic post-hardcore undercurrent (although, that’s a bit of a longwinded summary isn’t it!?). Opener ‘The Matterhorn’ shows that they obviously picked up a thing or two from their support slot with Biffy Clyro; jagged riffing and a climax with an accelerating pace, which features a couple of Simon Neil-esque yelps. The rest of the EP also features this angular guitar-work normally associated with post-hardcore, but each song contains other aspects from different subgenres of alternative rock. For example, there are glimpses of the textured, sonic experimentation of space-rock [ED: Space Rock?! Thats a new one on me!] on ‘The Bad Outweighed The Good’ (a track that brings to mind Cave In at their most commercial) and the ferocity of punk on the urgent two and half minutes of ‘Brick House.’
See You Next Tuesday’ posses some lovely layered guitars and a soaring melody, but it’s the closer ‘Temper Temperamental’ and third track ‘The Whole Truth’ where we hear Jumping Ships at their most compelling. The acoustic guitar that kicks off the closer jumps into some heavier guitars before the gang harmonies of the memorable chorus fully engage the listener – great ending to the EP. ‘The Whole Truth,’ however, is the tune that will stay with you, and that’s just because of how catchy and accessible the jumpy chorus and bouncing drumbeat are. It’s Jumping Ships at their poppiest – recalling the guitar-heavy indie of The Automatic – and it’s the song that’ll divide pre-‘Orientation’ fans (but also bring them a host of new ones).
A special mention must also be made of the production quality, which is nice and crisp, especially considering it was recorded on a shoestring budget. The EP is out now on Glassbottom Records, and although it’s nothing particularly groundbreaking, it’s tuneful and well worth checking out.
Jumping Ships - The Whole Truth by Music Liberation

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Album Review : The Attika State - Measures

The Attika State may well be my favourite new (rock) find of 2010. Musically, this five-piece don't exactly produce anything groundbreaking, but what they do offer is perfectly formed and effortlessly memorable melodic pop-rock. So while there is nothing you haven't heard before, what makes 'Measures' so refreshing is just how simple and straightforward these accessible rock songs are.

'Measures' is their second full-length out now on Alcopop, following a self-released debut in 2005. The man in charge of the production is former Manic Street Preachers producer Dave Enringa - and it must be said that the overall sound quality is fantastic, especially considering it was recorded live.

Music Liberation has already had a taster of this new release with their great pre-album single 'Celebration?' in August. The rest of 'Measures' offers more of the same feel good, alternative rock. The other pre-album release 'The Horton Shuffle,' is perhaps being the strongest track of the LP. However, it really is hard to pick out highlights when all the songs are of such a consistently high quality - there are simply tonnes of huge, singalong choruses and endless big hooks, not to mention plenty of nice, little drum and guitar flourishes. 

The gang vocals of tracks like 'Story Tellers Fold,' ‘Sons Of Sons’ and 'We Share Enemies' remind the listener that The Attiaka State are, at heart, a punk-rock band – they retain a rough, post-grunge edge that shows that this band grew up listening to such melodic punk-rock bands as Hot Rod Circuit. The melancholic interludes 'Flesh' (one of my personal favourite moments) and 'Bones' break up the LP’s energetic pace, demonstrating that the band could be just at home with a more stripped down approach.

The Attika State's most powerful weapon is surely Rodolfo Barella's endearing vocals, and it is this defining element that makes you want to keep replaying 'Measures.' That voice is just so damn nice, with a lower pitch then most pop/punk/indie rock bands and with plenty of range. I really can't express how much I enjoy listening to this record. Charming stuff.

Thursday, 14 October 2010

New Video : James Blake - Limit To Your Love

James Blake has been on the radar of many tipsters for the past year or so. So far in 2010 he's released two EP's, 'The Bells Sketch' and 'Klavierwerke' (both through R+S), and next month see's the first single from his debut as yet untitled album. Covering the Feist song 'Limit To Your Love', Blake demonstrates a vocal presence well beyond his years, as well as an understated yet powerful nod to his dubstep roots. It's certainly a tantalising glimpse of what's to come from his LP, which is should drop early next year.

James Blake // Single out through Atlas November 8th

James Blake - Limit To Your Love from James Blake on Vimeo.

I Only Know What I Know Now- James Blake by Anorak London

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

EP Review : Egyptian Hip Hop - Some Reptiles Grew Wings

Hey hipsters! Listen to this. It’s got synth. It’s got that 80s thing going on. It’s got breathless, schmindie vocals where the singer sounds too cool to bother with this whole being in a signed band thang, you know? In other words, this whole EP is painfully on-trend and may as well have been vomited up by a Hoxton Scenester.

But look past the fashionista vibes and what at first sounds shallow and glossy manages to grow into something of substance. Opening gambit ‘Moon Crooner’ might sound like a Kooks record with synth but it’s propelled by an addictive and wickedly funky bass. ‘Rad Pitt’ might be overly sentimental and belong on a One Tree Hill soundtrack but between the bubblegum vocals sits sparse and subtle moments of musical excellence. There might be little saving grace for the downbeat ‘Middle Name Period’ instrumental that screams ‘filler’ but all is rescued by superb closing track ‘Native’. Less disposable pop and more sonic adventure, this is easily the best thing on the EP.

So there is a great record in here fighting to get out, but why do Egyptian Hip Hop make the listener work so hard to find it? It’s easy to hear what they were attempting, after all there’s no avoiding the Late of the Pier comparison, especially as Native’s introduction starts exactly the same way as the ‘The Bears Are Coming’. Perhaps this is intentional, but it’s somewhat unwise seeing that this EP is only going to compare unfavourably to the LOTP’s electroclash mastery.

Perhaps if this record pandered less to some 80s throwback stereotype of a band and struck out more to find its own identity it would be full of musical gems, not smothered by gooey pop sensibilities. Promising, bursting with potential and containing flashes of musical dexterity ‘Some Reptiles Developed Wings’ ultimately misses the mark by being too darn… obvious.

Egyptian Hip Hop - Native by Music Liberation

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Single Review : MOPP - Dream About You

Ok, so this whole electro-pop movement that’s currently dominating the UK airwaves started to feel a little over-saturated round about the turn of this year – every other act, whether rock or bubblegum pop, has dabbled in this new trend, meaning most indie bands and pop outfits have ended up producing rather stale and uninspired music.

So, what can Scottish producer MOPP add to this diluted electro-pop scene? For a start MOPP (Barry Mopp) isn’t just peddling that standard electro-tinged pop-rock that has constituted the main bulk of the scene. This lovely multi-instrumentalist produces actual electro-pop – as in an accessible form of dance music, as opposed to an ‘experimental’ (cough, cough) form of indie music. MOPP began his musical path with spurts of DJ-ing before progressing to real instruments; this Scottish boy wonder handles every aspect of MOPP himself, from the writing and producing to playing all the instruments. His dreamy and understated project could, therefore, be likened to Canada’s Caribou, and just like Caribou, MOPP has enlisted a full (five-piece) band for the live shows.

Dream About You’ is MOPP’s second single and will be released on October 18th (through Euphonios). The track commences with some subdued keyboard action and a soulful male vocal, developing slowly and calmly with plenty of floaty synths. This initial techno-influenced ambience lasts for just over two minutes, before a liquid, almost trance-like beat drops (trance-like in that it contains a building euphoria, but in a much more subtle and much less cheesy way – perhaps ‘trance-lite’ would be a fitting description?). Breezy, but wholly memorable. The accompanying video is also well worth a little look.

The B-side to ‘Dream About You’ is, in the opinion of Music Liberation, a slightly better tune. Entitled ‘Take Me Higher’, it features the same kind of vocals as the A-side, but the production is a little more thrilling. Kicking off with swelling strings and a pacey but solid drumbeat it has a sombre tone to it, which stands in contrast to the more uplifting nature of track one. As the song progresses, piercing violins and a brooding bass-line create an atmosphere of urgency, and it all sounds like the best thing Moby hasn’t produced in a decade (‘Take Me Higher’ does actually share quite a close resemblance to Moby’s ‘Extreme Ways’).

With support from the BBC and an encouraging NME mention under his belt, MOPP’s fresh take on electro-pop is certainly something to listen out for.

MOPP - Dream About You (Single) by MOPP

Thursday, 7 October 2010

New Music : Them:Youth - Toothache

Them:Youth return with a new single and a video to boot. 'Toothache' follows up previous single 'Fever Rising' and comes out via the bands own Big Hand Recordings. The track is a combination of dark brooding pop with lo-fi indie vibes, and ahead of the upcoming album certainly wets the appetite. The band have several live shows lined up for October and November, be sure to check them out!

Courtesy of Them:Youth and the excellent folks at Outlaw Freelancers - [watch]

Toothache by them:youth