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By Mary Chang
on Wednesday, 16th April 2014 at 12:00 pm
We’ve been keeping an eye on young Halifax band the Orielles since Martin caught them at Liverpool Sound City last year in the wee hours of Thursday night into Friday morning and my own serendipitous run-in Saturday afternoon with the Hand-Halford sisters (Esme-Dee on vocals/bass, older sister Sid on drums) at the Brink cafe. Just a few weeks ago, the band released their second EP, their first under their new moniker The Orielles, after having shed their original name The Oreoh!s, ‘Hindering Waves’ (video for title track in this previous Video of the Moment). Definitely ones to strike while the iron is hot, they quickly followed up this release with several high-profile support slots, including two sold-out shows at the London Lexington where they opened for the Primitives the first weekend of April. But now we can focus back and squarely on the band again, for they have a new single out the 12th of May called ‘Entity’.
At first glance, ‘Entity’ seems a quite weighty title for a trio of young people still too young for university and sounds like it could have been a b-side on Delphic‘s debut ‘Acolyte’ alongside other one-word standouts ‘Halcyon’ and ‘Submission’. Beginning with a uniquely smooth bass line that sounds somewhere in between the Breeders’ ‘Cannonball’ and Presidents of the United States’ ‘Peaches’, the words then begin, and in my view, they’re pretty snarky: “you are so dead but still in my mind / a voice in my head so hard to define”. Whoever Esme-Dee Hand-Halford is singing about, the person is either physically dead or not real. See what we were saying about them being wise beyond their years? Mind. Blown.
But what’s holding this all together is the second verse: “File your face like you file a letter, at the back like a winter sweater / I like you, it’s pure and plain to see / I like you, but you’re an entity”. The title ‘Entity’ seems to suggest this person, the object of her affection, isn’t a person at all, or lacking things that make a person human, such as proper emotions, or at least manners and consideration. If you’re looking at the word ‘entity’ itself in plain semantics, an entity is generally inanimate, which I think is what the lyrics are trying to get at, and the very chill vibe of the song reflects this.
The second verse is describing the difficult process of putting someone out of your mind. It must be difficult, because the female protagonist has to describe exactly what she’s doing – filing him away, and far enough in the back where she doesn’t think about him – and if it was easy and came second nature to her, she wouldn’t be describing the process to us, would she now? Esme-Dee Hand-Halford’s vocals are measured, as if she’s trying to hold emotions in, while she and guitarist Henry Wade providing backing vocals repeat in between the verses and at the end, “I don’t see you anymore, I don’t…but I don’t mind, boy, I don’t care at all”. But does she really not care at all? Somehow, I think she’s trying to be strong…
But it’s packaged with such a memorable melody! You won’t forget this one. Any way you slice it, ”Entity’ is a wonderful piece of pop, bright yet cool, and it makes me eager to hear what else these young, brilliant and talented minds come up with next.
The Orielles’ next single, ‘Entity’, will be released by Scruff of the Neck Records on the 12th of May. I’ve been told a promo video for the single will be coming very soon. The band will be having a launch party for the single on Saturday the 26th of April at Manchester Deaf Institute. They will also be appearing at the Shipping Forecast on Friday the 2nd of May during Liverpool Sound City and the Packhorse on Saturday the 3rd of May during Live at Leeds.
Swedish chanteuse Lykke Li has dropped the first proper single ‘No Rest for the Wicked’ from her coming album ‘I Never Learn’ for our waiting ears in advance of the album next month. Lykke has been away for over 3 years crafting her next work -and acting in a Swedish crime thriller! – having also spent quite a bit of time with iconic American director David Lynch. It would be easy to think that this off-beat filmmaker has had a significant influence on Li if you were listening as a neophyte. But truth be told, she’s always possessed an unnerving, otherworldly quality so the influence likely flowing in both directions.
Opening with smartly struck keys on the far right side of the keyboard, this simple theme returns at each valley of the song. Not breaking from the familiar haunting, slightly nasal sound from her past songs, she presents a tune that undulates from plaintive soul-bearing to crashing self-loathing. The pain of destroying a good love comes through with a swelling intensity as the lyrics build and recede, yet always pulling back into the simple beaten out piano melody, retreating to where it is safe and alone. The message is of simple pain and regret. Barely asking for redemption, the song has a simple acknowledgment of failure as the pain billows with the music’s crescendo and then abates into nothingness at the end.
The song becomes clearer on repeated listens, but it also becomes simpler. Initially, the crashing cymbals of the chorus obscured Li’s voice for me, but as it repeated, it settled into a nice little verse chorus verse structure. There is nothing wrong with that formula, nothing at all. But with an artist that has the experimental Swedish roots that she does, we can hope for a little more from the full length coming later.
‘No Rest for the Wicked’, Lykke Li’s forthcoming single, is out on the 21st of April on Atlantic Records. ‘I Never Learn’, the Swede’s third album, follows on the 5th of May.
Fresh off his recent trip to America, which included a stop in Austin, Texas for SXSW 2014, Rams’ Pocket Radio has just released a new single, ‘Love is a Bitter Thing’. The track appears on his full length album, ‘Béton’, and was a hit during Rams’ Pocket Radio’s SXSW shows, except for his last gig, where he rather curiously didn’t include it on the set list.
When I interviewed Rams’ Pocket Radio, who goes by the name Peter McCauley offstage, I was a bit unclear on the status of this new release. The full album was released last autumn, but ‘Love is a Bitter Thing’ is the first track released separately as a single. It is the most readily accessible track on ‘Béton’, with its presumably romantic theme, emotionally charged vocals and dramatic keyboard accompaniment. Where many of the other tracks on the album require more intensive study of the lyrics and musical gestures, ‘Love Is A Bitter Thing’ is fairly straightforward and heartfelt, perhaps proving that McCauley can indeed be “an emotional guy”, as he claimed in the aforementioned interview. The combination of piano and solo violin is a naturally emotional one, but it’s McCauley’s visceral and heartrending vocal delivery that captures breathless attention from the song’s first moment. The accompanying video, directed by Darren Lee of Maverick Renegade Productions, is equally breathtaking.
The single version of ‘Love Is A Bitter Thing’ is accompanied by two remixes from fellow Northern Irish musicians, one by alt-rock quartet More Than Conquerors and the other by electro artist Ryan Vail. Curiously, the More Than Conquerors remix is the more artifically synthetic sounding of the two. For my money, it completely misses the mark, squaring off all the rhythms and applying slick, robotic synthesizers and vocal effects, in the end creating the unfortunate emotional effect of distancing the listener from the rawness of the lyric. Not being an expert in the field of electronic music, or even a really fan of it, I do have to wonder if there isn’t something I’m missing in its particular musical language that might connect the sonic qualities of this remix to the emotional qualities of the original song. Further exploration might enhance my understanding, but I’m not sure this one will ever be a favorite in my heart. The Ryan Vail remix is a bit more organic, warmer and more sensually rhythmic, with light percussion taking the place of the keyboards. The poignant chorus of the original song is left out of this mix, leaving a general sense of dimly lit atmosphere without the intense dramatic motion.
Normally we include numeric ratings with our single reviews here at TGTF, but in this case, I’m left with a bit of a dilemma. If I were rating the original song itself, I would give it 9/10 for its beautifully executed vocals and elegant instrumental arrangement. I am, however, nonplussed by the remix treatments. Listening to Rams’ Pocket Radio always leaves a question mark hanging over my head, and in the end, this seemingly straightforward single has had the same effect.
‘Love Is A Bitter Thing’ was self-released by Rams’ Pocket Radio on the 17th of March and can be purchased via online retailers such as Amazon and iTunes. Rams’ Pocket Radio’s full album, ‘Béton’ is also available on his Web site.
Some lovely still photos from the ‘Love Is A Bitter Thing’ video shoot can be viewed here.
Having cultivated a reputation as the go to support act for bands that have debatably dipped below their highest watermark, you could be forgiven for thinking that The Minutes had missed the boat on the riff-oriented retro rock revival of the mid-to-late Noughties. Fans of the Dublin-based trio will be pleased to hear that the earliest indications from the bands eagerly anticipated follow up to their 2011 debut ‘Marcata’ suggest the upcoming release of ‘Live Well, Change Often’ could provide some of the most refined rock to come out of Ireland since The Giant’s Causeway.
First new single ‘Cherry Bomb’, released late last month on Model Citizen Records, is a swaggering, crotch grabbing number in the mould of glam rock aficionados T. Rex. Building up from the solid foundation of a tested blues base, the band constructs a neon fronted dive bar from which to hawk their seductively seedy wares. The delicately reverberating fuzz that permeates both Mark Austen’s guitar and vocals gives the track a warm, mock vintage quality that has the potential infect the music buying public with the same veracity as Jet’s ‘Are You Gonna Be My Girl’.
What ‘Cherry Bomb’ proves is that The Minutes have used their time as understudies to the likes of The Strokes, Supergrass and Flogging Molly wisely. From the uncut diamond of a band that covered Led Zeppelin songs (albeit with an intriguingly abrasive edge) at gigs that were never quite designed for them, this track may signal a shift from support act to niche carvers. Many factors will have influenced this sea change, not least their time spent recording with Garth Richardson at Vancouver’s Fader Master Sound Studios, but the boys from Dublin ultimately deserve the credit for re-packaging their sound into something with a little more mass appeal.
‘Cherry Bomb’ is out now on Model Citizen Records. ‘Live Well, Change Often’, the Minutes’ second album, will be out on the 9th of May in Ireland (not sure about a UK release date but if we had to fathom a guess, we’d presume it’d be the following Monday, on the 12th of May).
By Mary Chang
on Thursday, 13th February 2014 at 12:00 pm
Reverend and the Makers appear to be the marmite of the dance pop world in Britain. Their stature or their notoriety, depending on who you speak to, is something I can’t begin to wrap my brain round. Me? Personally, I love them. (However, I should probably note that being pulled up onstage to dance with frontman Jon “The Reverend” McClure and members of the Enemy during a dance night at SXSW 2013 and having the time of my life might make me a wee bit biased.) Maybe it is because Jon McClure is and can be a polarising figure. But then again, so is Morrissey. I tend to ignore most of the more political, liberal things that come out of Morrissey’s mouth and yet still manage to thoroughly enjoy his music. So for the sake of you reading this review of the forthcoming Reverend and the Makers, let’s go forward with an open mind, shall we?
The group’s upcoming album is named ‘ThirtyTwo’, McClure’s current age. One might think that someone passing into his thirties (yawn, middle age, innit?) and naming his band’s new album that exact number might have a bone to pick with aging and therefore this album is going to be one of those groan-inducing, “I need to act my age and grow up” kind of efforts. This is what I thought, anyway. However, I am pleased to report that based on hearing forthcoming single ‘The Only One’ by itself, Reverend and the Makers are still the same uncompromising bunch who want nothing more than to lay down huge-sounding songs to get us our bodies bumping.
The song begins with the simple yet brilliant lines to set the stage: “I may not be your first, but I wanna be your last / I wrote the chapter and the verse / I’m being haunted by the past”. Described on the press release as “a personal battle with jealousy and its complexities – and the fact that it’s an emotion that doesn’t get easier with age”, ‘The Only One’ indeed has “the green-eyed monster” making an appearance. But the underlying message that comes blaring out of the chorus is that of wanting your lover to make you feel like you’re the only one in the world who matters. Hello, universal, everyman theme.
Nearly all dance songs in existence are designed, obviously, to get people out on the dance floor and have a good time. But the funny thing about the best, the cream of the crop dance songs is that they all manage to make anyone with a yen for a good beat feel sexy, male and female, young and old. Say what you will about the Reverend, but he’s still got it. In fact, he never lost it. In ‘The Only One’, he still commands all the attention in the room with his buckets of charisma, and with the Makers behind him, this is going to be a huge, beat-heavy single that will reverberate along with punters’ handclaps across festivals this summer.
Seeing how massive this single sounds, I now wonder how it is even possible that Reverend and the Makers have never played Ultra Music Festival. That’s mental. Sort that out, Miami. STAT.
‘The Only One’, the forthcoming single from Sheffield’s Reverend and the Makers, will be released officially on the 10th of March on Cooking Vinyl but is available digitally now. Watch the video directed by famed photographer Roger Sargent below. ‘ThirtyTwo’, the band’s fourth album, precedes the single, dropping on the 24th of February. Catch the band on their UK starting later this month. Just prior to the tour, the band’s second craft beer and a collaboration with Thornbridge Brewery, Reverend American Brown Ale, will launch at the Craft Beer Rising event taking place 21-23 February in London Brick Lane. McClure and guitarist Ed Cosens will preside over a DJ set on Friday the 21st during the event.
Los Feliz four-piece, synth pop band Northern American have managed to carve a unique niche in the American West Coast sound, somewhere between the hazy dream pop of bands like Mazzy Star or Local Natives and the frenetic energy of lo-fi garage bands like Deap Vally or FIDLAR. Their new single, ‘Wander’, was released last week on Heist or Hit Records. ‘Wander’ and its B-side ‘Record Forever’ both also feature on Northern American’s EP release ‘Happiness Hungover’.
‘Wander’ is at the same time mellow and upbeat, with ambient electronic sounds, shimmering keyboards and guitars over a resonant pulsing bass and lightly skipping drum rhythm. Lead singer and guitarist Nate Paul’s vocal tone is smoothly languid from the track’s opening lyrics, “Wander where you’ll go / I’ve been here before / We’ve waited for you / It’s all we ever do” through to the lilting closing lines, “dream all day / dance all night / dream all day / wander far away.” In the interim, the song slowly evolves into a rather surprising drum solo in the bridge before easing its way back to the familiar bass pulse and guitar riff. The song definitely wanders, but the blocked chord texture of the keyboard rhythm holds it together in the end.
The single’s B-side, ‘Record Forever’ is also loungey and laid-back, both hazy in texture and deeply reverberant. Paul’s velvety vocal tone shifts into an equally smooth high register during the rhythmically lurching chorus, “you are the record that spins inside of me / my heart / forever.” While perhaps less sophisticated than ‘Wander’, ‘Record Forever’ is certainly the catchier of the two tracks, as its uneven rhythmic pattern echoes both in the head and on the hips.
If the subject matter of ‘Wander’ and ‘Record Forever’ is a bit superficial, that naïve quality can be attributed to Northern American’s youthfully organic nature and collaborative songwriting technique. The band’s Facebook page quotes Paul: “We’re always changing. Our music is really free. We try to be as loose with it as possible; it’s the best version of all of us.” Northern American are currently in the studio working on their first full album, anticipated for release this summer.
‘Wander’, the latest single from Northern American, is available now on Heist or Hit Records. Both tracks are available to stream below.
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