Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Florence and the Machine's 'Ceremonials'

Florence Welch's second album has eventually fallen upon us, Halleljah! I literally couldn't wait for it to come out and eagerly awaited its launch. Her performance on Jools Holland was one which made me pause momentarily and wonder whether it could satisfy my Florence needs.... But then I bought the album and have become ever increasingly in love with it.

There's certainly a level of loyalty to the original Florence sound, which is very honest of her. For one, THE harp features throughout the album, the long, wabbling, sustained and dynamically increasing vocals is also still there. Sadly, there's nothing which is as anthemic as 'Raise It Up (Rabbit Heart)' or 'Dog Days'. To be honest though, I dont think that thats what ol' Welchy was going for.

The song writing which has gone into this album needs to be listened to. I think if you were to pop the album on in your car to get you from A to B then you may well get a little lost. After all, alot of the tracks can sound a little samey...However, I think it's once you have a good listen through once, establish the tracks and break the album up a bit and that is when the love and my personal attachment to the album became paramount.

The introductory track 'Only if For a Night' is one of my personal faveourites. Although slightly hard to sing along to due to the high vocals and difficult leaps, the drum beat and movement of the piano chords, alongside the pausing, minamilist bridge into the chorus keeps interest and passion within the track. The singles 'Shake It Out', 'What The Water Gave Me' and 'No Light, No Light' all contain a strong content and promising dynamics. 'What The Water Gave Me' has a brilliant bass and organ parts, alongside a good build of instrumentation into the chorus. The production is first class and sounds pretty expensive.

I think this album will stay with me for a long time (and I know I'll have to fight it's corner against my lad mates), but I don't think it could ever cling to me as strongly as the first did.

Monday, 28 November 2011

UKF Bass Culture, Alexandra Palace

A night which despite being great, buzzing and bass-ey has been knocked by the media in the past 24 hours due to a 'rogue' batch of MDMA being taken by some very, very unfortunate 20 somethings. I just wanted to wipe the event's slate clean and voice how the majority of the attendees experienced the event.

Despite the ridiculous queue to get in (which resulted in us being late to Modestep) the event was well organised. Modestep were on fire. They sustained a euphoric level of play. Played live as a band especially well (which I think is always hard at dance events). Not only was the musicianship good, but the levels and sound system were surprisingly crisp, loud and encompassing of all the band's dynamics.

We managed to see Nero next. Their visuals were excellent, the crowd's expectations were high and generally, they received a huge welcoming. The sound wasn't as good as in the smaller room and I think the duo stripped down their music a bit too much for my liking. I know the album has a lot of spaced out, atmospheric, zoned out sequences such as in 'My Eyes', 'In The Way' and 'Innocence'. However, I think they could of built up, perhaps mixed and added something more to their original mixes. 'Doomsday' was received expectantly well alongside 'Crush on You' (which was played another three times by various other acts in the night). As a show, the couple delivered a good act.

Hertford boy 'Feed Me' was up next in the smaller room with his grinning deck. There was no messing around at his set. It was clean cut, well mixed, included a good mix of new and old stuff and generally well executed.

Finally, my personal most highly anticipated act came on. CHASE AND STATUS. They didn't let me down either. The visuals, mixes and set were brilliant. I didn't stop dancing to a single part of the set. All the anthems were played, 'Flashing lights' set the room on fire and 'Next Hype' couldn't of been received better than anyone else in the entire hall other than our group!!

We stayed in the larger room and missed 'Knife Party' in order to see the anticipated 'Skrillex' who ended up being about 40minutes late due to him flying from a previous gig in Vienna. So we watched 'Gemini', who were ok. However, they didn't have that extra "oomph" that made them stand out. I feel that their set was also very, very samey throughout. Perhaps I was just in a strop because Skrillex was late.

When Skrillex did come on, he gave it his all. He mixed straight in from Gemini and did his best to engage with the audience, worked hard on the decks and delivered. Unfortunately, come 5:00am, the sound was turned down. I imagine this was due to the venue's noise policy because a quiet-ish Skrillex is just wrong. WRONG.

All in all, a good night of Dubstep and Dance with good acts, a good venue (just a shame about the sound in the large room) and a good crowd. It's made me want to delve deeper into the dark, dingy world of Dubstep.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Bombay Bicycle Club's 'I had The Blues But I Shook Them Loose'

Slightly abashed, I thought I would buy this album only today as I hadn't already (despite a highly commendable source in the form of my old house mate at Uni recommending me to get on board). Perhaps It's a crime. Perhaps its a sign that I should really get a job as I have nothing better to do but review albums that are 2 years old...

Either way, I feel it's well worth my attention and at least a cheeky little review:

It's always hard listening to earlier records of bands when you already have an awareness of their current stuff. In some ways, it's like glancing back at your own photo albums of when you're little and it's all slightly unwordly (or in this case, very raw and down to earth) on one level and in others, its funny and not as serious as say, your aesthetic-beauty shots when you're older.

The debut album contains an upbeat, young naivety in the music. For a first release, it's very patient. There's no intention on creating anything that's too technically advanced or hot headed. Not that I'm dissin' the production or anything-all of the recording and sound quality side to the album is perfect for the sound that the band needs; a crisp, and modest sound. The song writing is what is simplistic and well polished. It's not overly decadent. I can imagine that this album material would be good as a live set at a festival, I can imagine that the band often develop their musical ideas and riffs over long-interludes and that perhaps this is how the band thrives. As more of a festival band? But I say this all speculatively as I've never actually seen them live. The harmonies, build of guitar parts and vocals are fresh and catchy which works.

The catchy and riff filled single 'Always Like This' is effective as a middle album track. 'Dust on The Ground' is a passionate fueled, bass heavy track that has beautiful, sulky vocals which squeezes your heart. 'The Giantess' and 'Towers' offers a promising cool down for the end of the album and allows to see a more organic side to the band.

Bombay Bicycle Club offer competition for the Maccabees, Mystery Jets (where HAVE they gone? I last saw em Halloween 2009 and haven't heard from 'em since) and Two Door Cinema Club. What sets them apart is perhaps their honesty, modesty and potential to grow and develop (which they evidently have with current singles such as 'Shuffle') but lets save that for another day and another review.

Friday, 18 November 2011

Ben Howard's 'Every Kingdom'

I acknowledge that this album has been out for some time now. But it would appear that I still get excited every time I hear the intro track "Old Pine" come on in my car and I suddenly relax to devour the entire album. I cant skip a track. I know all of the words to every song. And I try to sing along to the instrumental parts which is a sure sign of utter love for his sound.

The Devon based singer/songwriter, in the words of Zane Lowe, "must have a lot more depth and emotion going on in his life than just surfing". The extent of emotion in his tracks is goosebump stuff. The lyrics are inquisitive, illustrative and eager for life's love and zest. The instrumental build ups (noteably in 'Old Pine' and 'Diamonds') is superb. The minimalism of most of the tracks allows a simplistic listen. However, where there is extra texture added, there's just the write amount added to provide depth and filling.

The single 'Keep Your Head Up" is an upbeat, well paced track, delicately placed in the middle of the album, well hidden and shrouded by other massive tracks. It's by no means the only gem in this gold-mine. For one, 'The Wolves', 'The Fear' and of course, 'Old Pine' all carry catchy, singalong like tunes that provide momentum and drive for the album. That's not to say they carry the record along in any way. Tracks 'Everything', 'Black Flies' and 'Gracious' are of an extraordinarily high level of musicianship.

So what makes him stand out? Well for one, when contrasted to Bon Iver, I can understand what he's saying. He's maturer than Ed Sheeran and unlike Laura Marling is a) a man and b) not all hillbilly and guitary but just ol' fashioned very, very, very good.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

We Need to Talk About Kevin (15)

So I heard from a reliable source (I think it was 5 Live) that this was going to be a good'un. I confess, I wasn't listening entirely in full to the review, but it somehow entered my subconscious that it was going to be a bit of a psychological thriller and as we settled in the cinema, my friend turned to me and told me he'd brought tissues as it was going to be a "tear jerker"-I thought to myself 'really?' and doubted my subconscious.

I think it was approximately 30 seconds into the film that I figured I had been right in the first place. It WAS a psychological thriller. A week later and I still find the content and ideas that go with it provoking my thoughts whilst I daydream on poolside. (Full time Lifeguard peeps, O yes.) All the obligatory necessaries were there that come with a thriller; the long silences, long suspensions and all round ambiguity. This ambiguity of the script, actions and story line that is left to the mind of the audience is executed perfectly. Nothing more or less was needed to be said or done in order to portray the story, the sociological or psychological impacts.

The entire cast was outstanding. The young boys who played Kevin did so very well. I don't know how any 7 year old child could play a hated character so well. Tilda Swindon was just brilliant. Everything from her features to ability to hold the screen up by herself (and lets face it, she did hog a lot of it).

As an adaption, produced by BBC films, from a book (having not yet read the book), I think it held a different problem to other adaptions. There wasn't too much to be crammed in, but almost too little. The pace and lack of action allowed for room which leaves your mind free to wander and suss out the ending/plot and impacts of Kevin's actions for yourself. Be patient. Allow it to take over you and let your mind presume the rest.

Whats the point?

Well the point, my friends is to provide my highly rated opinion on all the arts...Whatever I've been to see/read/listen to recently shall be exposed of through my thoughts and feelings
here, in my own porthole of creativity.

Please debate/argue and row over any points I do make. Lets get discussing and delve deeper into the arts.