Category Archives: Reviews

Review//

ROMANS – Black Ties

Romans are a four-piece rock collective that hail from a small suburban town otherwise know as Kidderminster, a town that is more commonly associated with Carpets and the penny stamp than hard hitting American Classic-Rock tinged music.

Coming in at just over 17 minutes and compromising of 5 tracks, Black Ties is the short but sweet debut E.P from Romans, which sees the band interweave melodic guitar lines, cascading drums beats, gang vocals and humongous choruses, creating a cacophony of melodic rock, that would happily mix it with the likes of We Are The Ocean, &U&I, and Alexisonfire.

Tracks ‘Something Biblical’ and ‘Rome Sweet Rome’ are two of the bands older songs, which first surfaced on early demos. This time round the context and structure of the songs are relatively the same, however everything seems to sound bigger and louder. Flickering with moments of promise and utilising the bands use of swooning vocals and melodic guitar lines. It is however the two middle tracks, ‘Coffee’ and ‘Barriers’ which show the band in a fresher and more exuberant light, with ‘Coffee’ showcasing a more raw energetic and captivating sound. ‘Barriers’ on the other hand show the band harnessing a more subtle style. Showing us that as well as they can play up-front fast paced raw rock songs that they are still able to add a more heart-felt and softer edge to their music, something that is also interpreted in the atmospheric melancholic e.p closer ‘Down’.

In all ‘Black Ties’ provides a glimpse into what could be a promising future for Romans and it is certainly worth a listen or two.

Review//

MANCHESTER ORCHESTRA – Simple Math

Manchester Orchestra first appeared on the radar with their 2006 album ‘I’m Like A Virgin Losing A Child’, 5 years on and they have steadily progressed to become a notable force to be reckoned with, gaining in size and momentum whilst releasing another album on the way, 2009’s acclaimed ‘Mean Everything To Nothing’. Now they are back with their latest effort Simple Math.

Starting with a simple drawn out droning whisper of a synth and a lightly picked guitar, opening track ‘deer’ is a beautifully crafted melancholic song that sees Manchester Orchestra turn down their volume and create something quite mystic and heartfelt. Although this album touches on soft and delicate moments it is not all in this vain. With songs like ‘Mighty’ and ‘Virgin’ seeing Manchester Orchestra switch of the delicate moments and infuse a bigger and heavier sound than their previous material.

Simple Math as an album is optimised and encapsulated in latest single and title track ‘Simple Math’, gliding in with a simple and fragile introduction that helps set the scene for a beautifully twisted tale, with the song building in a epically string filled crescendo of gliding strings, cascading drums, soaring vocals and driving vocals; something that has also been captured in the breath taking Daniels directed video for the single, which fuses a car crash and forgotten child hood memories.

Overall this Simple Math is an album full of depth and sees Manchester Orchestra harnessing the ability to blend intricacy and delicate moments with their own wonderful created Americana tinged Rock ‘n’ Roll to ultimately produce a standout album.


Review // Vivian Girls – Share The Joy

After forming in March 2007, and releasing their debut album in 2008, Brooklyn’s Vivian Girls return with their latest album Share The Joy.

Opening and closing Share The Joy are two 6 minute psychedelic, surf-rock numbers that switch between feeling and tempo, altogether giving you a feel that it’s all a bit pointless and needless to go on for a full 6 minutes. It’s not as much the length that is the problem or the off-put. The problem is that during the 6 minute periods not enough happens, giving the songs and in-fact the album on a whole an edge that is all a bit monotonous.

If you want 3 minute, fast-paced, catchy, chilled-out lo-fi punk (bar tracks 1 and 10) then this is an album that will tick all those boxes. Songs like ‘Dance (If You Wanna)’ and ‘I Heard You Say’, lean towards the Vivian Girls of old, and will have you dancing, singing and nodding along, making you feel that they are still capable of creating sickly-sweet lo-fi pop songs, and will in no-doubt be blasted out of the bedrooms of the young and exuberant. Mid-album track, ‘Sixteen Ways’ is a particular highlight, and sees the band head in a darker and more promising route, starting out with droning guitars, rumbling drums and a vocal melody, which leans towards the darker and more sinister sound of Sonic Youth.

What this feels like is a record that has come just too late, and whilst Vivian Girls sparked into our world with their debut in 2008 and helped kick-start the indie lo-fi resurgence, it seems that they may have been away for too long. With line-up changes and two years away the band have returned with what is a perfectly listenable psychedelic, journey of lo-fi punk, but the problem is that in the time they have spent away a band in the name of Warpaint have been thrust upon us, and to be honest do the psychedelic lo-fi aesthetic to a much better effect.

Although there are glimmers on Share The Joy that Vivian Girls still posses that spark and magic which enabled them to break onto our scene back in 2008, it ultimately feels like this is an album that was forced out and that maybe they are running out of steam.

(CF for The 405)

Review // James Cox & The West Street Gables

JAMES COX & THE WEST STREET GABLES – The High Road

 

Originally hailing from the Cambrian mountains of mid-Wales, London-based singer/songwriter, James Cox, and his band, the West Street Gables, have produced a delightful debut outing with this 4 track EP, “The High Road”. Cox is a man with many strings to his bow. Despite having fronted rock and metal acts over the years, he has been writing and performing his own acoustic tracks on the side since the age of 13, and, now backed by an assortment of friends and musicians based both in the country and the city, this may be his finest achievement to date.

Opener L Train Blues is a lively start to proceedings with banjo, guitars and violins creating a busy soundscape to accompany Cox’s tale of New York heart-break with a surprisingly uplifting vibe. Sweeping vocal harmonies, reminiscent of highly acclaimed acts such as Fleet Foxes and Mumford and Sons, adorn the verses and the chorus is so gloriously accessible, you wont be able to resist singing along despite being lyrically sullen (“So finally there’s a train to take me far away from you/Cos frankly I am sick of getting L train blues”).

The Fruit Man portrays Cox in higher spirits, as he pays a simple and warming tribute to his father, Peter Cox, a television and theatre writer who recently received an MBE in the New Years honours list for his services to local communities.

Hide, is a stark contrast to the previous two tracks’ uplifting country splendour. Book-ended by a beautifully delivered, a cappella, male/female vocal duet, the track builds from an unaccompanied, bleak lament into a stirring testament of love and loss complete with guitar solos and rousing violin lines, Cox all the while trying to discover where it all went wrong (“Why did you choose a way to end that shook me through my very soul?/Why did you choose to break my heart in a way that I could never do”).

Final track, David, appears to be the last act of the story that began with L Train Blues. Cox is alone with his acoustic guitar, save for a sporadic vocal harmony, and it is here that we find him at his most aggressive, mulling over the perpetrators of his failed relationship that resonates across most of the EP (“Oblivious to all, I even gave him my respect, I wish I would have known/I could’ve asked him how he felt about what he had done to me, asked if it made him happy and if it helped him sleep”), eventually reaching a damning conclusion (“You both deserve each other anyway/I hope you burn in Hell”).

All in all, this is an exciting debut from a multi-talented group of musicians. Led by the enigmatic Cox, and with folk and country acts currently experiencing a resurgence in popularity in a market saturated by club-pop and R&B, we will hopefully be hearing a lot more of these guys in times to come.

Debut single “L Train Blues” will be available for download purchase via Howl Club Records on the 23rd May 2011.

To listen to “The High Road” go to: http://soundcloud.com/theweststreetgables.
Or, find them on Myspace at: http://www.myspace.com/theweststreetgables.

 

 

(Written by Nathan Williams)

Review // Timbre Timbre – Creep On, Creepin’ On

TIMBRE TIMBRE – Creep On, Creepin’ On

In recent years Canadian musical exports have been nothing short of astonishing, with the likes of Arcade Fire, Death From Above 1979, Fucked Up and Crystal Castles all coming from the other side of the Atlantic. However, there now seems to be an addition to the ever-expanding roster from Canada’s pool of musical talent. The band in question are moody, folk-blues group Timbre Timbre who although released their debut album in 2009, look set to become the newest musical mastermind from across the pond. Creep On, Creepin’ On is Timbre Timbre’s latest album and sees the group following on from their more folk in-fused 2009 self-titled album, with the wonderful Arts & Crafts records, home too Broken Social Scene, Fiest and Phoenix, releasing it.

Opening with a simple piano and laid-back shuffling beat Creep On, Creepin’ On sees the group continue into their world of dark blues-tinged-folk, but this time we see the band delve further into a cacophony of dark and demeaning atmospheres. Not only does Creep On, Creepin’ On see Timbre Timbre move their folk and blues sound into a more sinister and darker place than previous records, it also sees them explore and flow into a more accomplished and together sound, with the addition of soundscape styled moments, such as the instrumental track ‘Obelisk’, that consist of sounds you could easily find on a Heinali and Matt Finney track or immersed on a moonlit Clint Mansell sci-fi soundtrack.

The mood and feel for the album is set from the very first stroke of the keys, with the music gliding in and out of piano-led, moody, shuffling rhythm and blues grooves. Combining haunting vocals, intertwining dark sounds, wistful wordplay and imaginative arrangements, you discover that there are not just moments of folk and American blues influence, but moments that flicker with the elements of Tom Waits, making you wonder if this is how Mr. Waits would sound if he had harnessed a more lo-fi wistful pop edge.

This isn’t an album where you will find melodies upon melodies, wrapped and engulfed around hook upon hook. It is an album where each track is as equal and as majestic as the previous, an album that is a glorious emotion felt album that constructs moods and atmospheres at its will; flowing, swelling and growing from start to finish. Ultimately, it is an album in which you will become lost and absorbed in, especially on a late hazy, sunny-summer evening.

Written by Chris Fraser (for The 405)

Single // Let’s Buy Happiness – Fast Fast

LET’S BUY HAPPINESS – Fast Fast


Let’s Buy Happiness are compromised of four-part boy and one-part girl, who can be found residing in the north-eastern world of Newcastle. Last year we saw them release their debut single ‘Six Wolves’, tour the U.K, play at the much loved Glastonbury festival and bring their own brand of angular, jagged, ambient indie pop to the world.

‘Fast Fast’ is the bands latest and sophomore single, which follows on from their brilliant debut ‘Six Wolves’.

Opening with a crescendo of cascading tribal-esque drumming the track swiftly glides into the jagged atmospheric world that the band craft so beautifully. Although starting of as a slow burner ‘Fast Fast’ grows into a surging, swelling, huge atmospheric indie monster; seeing LBH utilising their ability to mix softly sonorous guitars, melodic bass lines, surging guitars and quirky vocals of Sarah Hall too full effect.

Taking influence from Explosions In The Sky, adding a dash of Foals and Minus The Bear styled guitars and a subtle indie edge swagger, this is ambient soundscape music that isn’t afraid to throw in a dash of indie pop.

‘Fast Fast’ is available out on Ghost Arc Records and is available in the forms of a CD, Download or on a limited edition 7″ Vinyl.

Album: Radiohead – The King Of Limbs

RADIOHEAD – The King Of Limbs

 

In true Radiohead fashion the news of ‘The King Of Limbs’ release was sprung upon us with only 5 days till its release (and  again in their unpredictability brought forward a day), we couldn’t wait to get our dirty mitts on it. This is what we here at Howl Club thought:

“Thom Yorke and his gang of intrepid music makers are back with a flash, bang and wallop. Oodles could be said about the process, development and press panic surrounding the release of ‘The King of Lights’ but us so-called ‘musos’ only care about one thing. ’ Bloom’ opens the record with a literal blossom, slowly trickling it’s way into existence, from delicacy to full-blown spasmic beats and electronic glitch. This is pretty much a summary of the whole record, veering perilously from pretty, poetic pieces (as in ‘Codex’) to punching percussion and lashes of electronic manipulation (as in ‘Feral’). This one-two ends up becoming a culmination of sorts for Radiohead, leaving us with the notion they are looking back on their collected career and attempting to meld it all together. Hopefully not for one last hurrah. Even when rehashing every idea they’ve ever had, Radiohead have produced an album that surpasses 99% of the current musical market” A.P. (Written as part of  The 405’s Radiohead roundup)