Tag Archives: new music

New Music Blast!!!!!!!!!!!!!

5 May

Ok, so a brief roundup of the best new music around, featuring new tunes from Pendulum, The Drums, Best Coast, Sleigh Bells, Kele Okereke, Kelis, Sonny and the Sunsets and Woods










The Young Friends

11 Feb

The Young Friends are a band from Phoenix, Arizona who haven’t been making tunes for that long. They count Sonic Youth and The Ronettes as their influences whilst it’s easy to trace the sounds of Americana and early rock n roll in their music. Their sound is very much of the moment as there is more than a passing resemblance to former label mates The Drums. If anything Young Friends are more laid back in their sound and seemingly a lot less obsessed with all things Manchester. See below for their myspace


They also appear on the excellent and free to download compilation, ‘Pop Music Volume Two’ from Holiday Records.

The Soft Pack ‘The Soft Pack’ – Review

6 Feb

The Muslims? They were so 2008.

The Soft Pack? They were so 2009.

Such is the reaction you will get if you ask any number of ‘hip’ music journalists about The Soft Pack (or The Muslims as they used to be known). NME tipped this band at the tail end of 2008 and were lining them up to be the next big thing (an honour that has since been passed onto The Drums). 2009 SHOULD have been their year. They SHOULD have released the brilliant ‘Bright Side’, ‘Extinction’ and ‘Besides myself’ properly instead of shunning them from their debut album that has arrived 12 months to late! Why oh why did they not capitalize on all the interest?

None of this would matter of course if this debut album was amazing. It wouldn’t matter that they used up all their best songs on an e.p if they came up with 10 even better songs for the album. But ‘The Soft Pack’ is not a great album; It’s good but not great.

The first five songs pack an almighty punch, in fact the first side zooms past in under 15 minutes. ‘C’mon’ is the track that comes closest to matching the brilliance of their early singles, with its lightning fast singing and Strokesy guitars. ‘Down on Loving’ and ‘Answer to yourself’ are nearly as good, both taking a slightly more mellow but still frantic approach. ‘Move Along’ differs only in that it introduces an organ and ‘Pull Out’ has a ferocity that gives it a slight edge.

The album’s second half is a lot more hit and miss. ‘More or Less’ is pretty good, ‘Tides of time’ is more interesting lyrically but musically sounds a bit stale, and flammable is pure filler. ‘Mexico’ is arguably the album’s stand out track as it’s the only one that displays any kind of sophistication or experimentation. That’s not to put down the other songs – this band clearly know what they want and I respect that- but ‘Mexico’ just sounds a lot more complex than anything else here. As a throwback to the early stuff ‘Parasites’ closes the album in Ramonic style and perhaps gives an indication of what this album could have been. The song is much more raw than anything else on here, and it’s also a lot more exciting than the majority of the record.

You can’t really knock The Soft Pack at what they do because they are clearly dedicated and intelligent about it. These songs are simple and frantic for a reason, a few years ago during the garage rock revival they would have been selling loads. As an album this is cohesive and well thought out, it just needs a few more killer songs – songs we know the band have in their possession. This is a frustrating listen because you feel that the band have stunted their own potential. Had they included ‘Bright Side’ and ‘Extinction’ and maybe another song like ‘Mexico’ then this could have been a far superior album to the one it is. Nonetheless ‘The Soft Pack’ is a fine debut and they remain a band with a bright future.


Beach House ‘Teen Dream’ – Review

31 Jan

There have been some brilliant coming of age albums in recent years. My favourite would probably be M83’s fantastic ‘Saturdays = Youth’ but now it has a close competitor. ‘Teen Dream’ is Beach House’s third album and it plays with the themes of youth, regret and longing.

Beach House are on the same American and English labels as Fleet Foxes (sub pop and Bella Union), and they would be a familiar band to compare them to. Both share an interest in harmonies and brooding lyrics and both have a retro charm that also sounds very 21st century. I think there is something a bit deeper about Beach House though. Their music isn’t as pretty or catchy as Fleet Foxes – it is darker and more intense. In a way they also sound like a more accessable, more dreamy Grizzly Bear. There is an intimate sparseness to this record that is very reminiscent of both Grizzly Bear and also The XX. ‘Teen Dream is a much more traditional album than those two but it is no less interesting.

As I said at the beginning, I interpreted this album as being about longing and regret. Their lyrics are often annoyingly vague or cryptic but you just need to hear the vocals or the winding keyboard to understand the sense of loss on this record. ‘It’s incomplete without you…It’s happening again.’ We aren’t told what’s happening or what’s incomplete but it sounds pretty brilliant. And in fairness I suspect the band were after that dreamy, snapshot effect in their lyrics. The subject matter is personal and nostalgic – you pick up the pieces and and some will make sense to you, some you guess only make sense to the singer.

Beach House’s albums have always been a bit distant and nicely experimental. That’s still true of ‘Teen Dream’, but musically the sparseness has developed into a more straightforward and warm atmosphere. The album even sounds intimate to the point of being slightly claustrophobic, but all things considered it’s a lovely, comforting and very old fashioned type of record. ’10 Mile Stereo’ and ‘Real Love’ almost break down with emotion, it feels at times like the cheap drum machine won’t be able to hold the other instruments together, such is the power coming out of the speakers.

Enough can’t be said about the power of sequencing and post production. My Biggest complaint with Grizzly Bear was that the track listing was not consistent or cohesive enough. Here Beach House have made a much more concise and thought out record, that doesn’t quite reach the dizzy heights of ‘Veckatimest’ but does work better as a unified whole. ‘Zebera’ is a powerful opener that introduces the listener to the band’s trademark style, and this is followed by the more sombre ‘Silver Soul’ and then the familiar ‘Norway. The moments of darkness sit well next to the moments of light largely thanks to the track order and the consistent simplicity of the instruments.

‘Walk in the park’ is a real highlight. It is memorable for a repetitive organ cycle, a simple drum beat and some sadly nostalgic lyrics. There is a great warmth to both the sound and lyrics.On Norway the keyboard swirls and moans like it’s got seasickness – it adds to the otherworldly feel of the song. Eventually the album drifts away with the closer ‘Take Care’, the fade out is slow, you hear the end coming before it arrives.  The whole album really does feel a bit like a dream, the music is out of focus and the meanings are just out of reach.

‘Are you not the same as you used to be?’ This is from the album’s standout track ‘Used to be’ and it sums up the record nicely. No they aren’t quite the same as they used to be, but this album isn’t a huge step away from their two other very solid albums. ‘Teen Dream’ is an album that works well if you listen to it at the right place, right time. It certainly isn’t an album for all tastes or moods but there is no faulting the band at what they do. This is the record that will take them to bigger and better things.



19 Jan

Joy Orbison is impressive for what he is doing differently. Dubstep is probably the only truly cutting edge form of pop music right now, It’s basically dance but with the emotion that dance has always lacked. The dark undertones and urban influence are also quite unique. Most of it up until now has been made to sound like something you would hear late at night in a car radio, but Joy Orbison’s sound is clean, clear and euphoric. If anyone is going to lead the genre into the mainstream it will be him.



18 Jan

Like The Drums, Surfer blood have been assosiated with the surfing scene despite rejecting those associations. It’s their own fault really but they actually don’t have much in common with Dick Dale or The Ventures. Their sound is more like the fuzzy pop of Weezer or, to be more relevent, the retro lo-fi of Girls. Their debut album ‘Astro Coast’ is out at the end of the month in the States, but no word on if or when it will be getting’s release over here, but the sooner the better.



17 Jan

Theophilus is without a doubt the most exciting hip hop artist since Kanye West. His list of influences is immaculate, it’s like a roll call of my personal idols – Michael Jackson, Quincy Jones, Brian Wilson, Ian Cutis, Morrissey, The Ramones – even Disney gets a mention. The front cover of his latest mixtape is an homage to Elvis Costello, whilst his previous one references the Jam. This is a rapper with a unique sensibility, a unique image and unique influences. His music samples The Smiths but is actually a little more traditional than that would suggest. 808 rhythms form the back beat of his songs and his lyrics are fairly slandered fare. Nonetheless I can’t wait to hear his full length next year – recent bright young things in hip hop have disappointed when it comes to albums (Wale, Kid Cudi, Rhymefest) so here’s hoping Theophilus can deliver.