Flying Vinyl-August

Yes this post is late, but when I’m going to have these records for the rest of my life, does it matter? That is the permanence of vinyl; the permanence of a physical copy; it won’t be gone any time soon. And that is amazing. Five more singles, five more artists, ten more songs and two more beautifully pressed, semi-translucent coloured records now belong to me, and this is the first of them.

Deap Vally’s ‘Smile More’, on fun, pink vinyl, is a perfect piece of Americana. Meg White-esque drums and repetitive guitar riffs fluctuate from the easy plod of the verses to the out-bursting choruses in a tale of feminism, although ‘this isn’t why they started doing this’. ‘Royal Jelly’, on the other hand, is piped full of angst; most evident through its snarling vocals, although the band’s use of an emphasised backbeat is equally as impressive. Maybe you do need to go see them on their imminent tour, hmm?

Now, in terms of the aesthetics of the record itself, this next one is perhaps my favourite yet; just for that deep and even blue. The soft and wistful nature of James Vincent McMorrow’s vocals are 100% the most striking feature of his work, but, as a drummer myself, it is the way that the percussive sounds present perfectly offset them that is fascinating, an effect evident on A-side ‘Rising Water’. ‘Evil’ leaves the dance aspect of his work behind for a sole focus upon a calm, emotional mood, further displaying the sheer ability his sound has to touch an audience. Both tracks are equally impressive from different angles.

Shrinking Mind’s artwork is…interesting, and so’s their sound. The vocals in’Fun’ took me completely by surprise; I did not expect such ferocity to erupt from such an unsuspecting riff. With choruses of garage and verses of psychedelia, perhaps this band could be ones to watch. Carefree rock of the Fidlar ‘things aren’t great but who cares?’ vein, ‘Chasing’ is perhaps even better than its’ A-side counterpart, and displays the fun-loving nature of the band. This lot are really giving the Americans a run for their money in a genre typically dominated by our Pacific neighbours.

Representing my hometown of Leeds, Caro bring their offerings to the table of Flying Vinyl. Their sound and origins do lead to a sensible comparison with Alt-J, but, when we suddenly here roaring guitar chords shatter the tranquillity of ‘Cold Comfort’ we realise these similarities are merely superficial. ‘Admit/Resist’ leans to the calmer side of the band’s repertoire, however, to me, there is always an under-lying message of deeper meaning, with the track threatening to break free at any moment. Another stunning addition to the vastly expanding music scene of Leeds.

Afterbloom’s ‘Duh’ could not have been better named. Its lazy vocal style is befitting of such a slang word as it drifts along at its own pace, seemingly ignoring the watery wall of sound the band has come up with. ‘Nothing to Learn’ is singing from the same hymn sheet, showing a cohesive progression through the band’s work and marking out exactly what the band do. Music of this type has become a regular from Flying Vinyl, and this is simply because more and more we see this genre dominating everyone’s headphones.

Sorry I’m late, but music will never go away, so how much of a rush is there?

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Flying Vinyl-July

Rolling on into the second instalment of Flying Vinyl’s second, and much improved, incarnation, we have another five artists delivered to us to quench our thirst for new music. Let’s get stuck in shall we?

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Although its’ solo drum intro could for a second lead you to believe you were listening to ‘When the Levee Breaks’ instead, ‘Pipedreams’; the A-side from first artist Willie J Healey, could not be more different. Laid back and easy to listen to, the track’s meaning; of doing very little, matches the clear feeling of blissful laziness. ‘It’s Alright’ simply adds to this, floating along in an easy haze, the only constant being relaxed drum rhythms. All shimmering guitars and crooning vocals, there is a clear market for Willie J Healey’s style of music in this day and age.

Proving the ever-present contrast of Flying Vinyl packages, Estrons are slightly different…to say the least. Breathless and driven, ‘Drop’ will not stop for anyone; careering through three and a half minutes of crazed guitar led noise. While ‘Make a Man’ is slower starting and more melodic, its’ choruses leave you in no doubt as to the band’s underlying intentions and punk tendencies. Estrons seem to me to be a band perfectly at home in a frenzied live environment, but who can also translate their raw power into the recording studio; a talent many bands lack.

A somewhat electronic offering is always needed, and is this time provided in the form of Hudson Scott. At first we think his style will remain subdued and minimalist; reliant on quiet bass lines and dreamy vocals, but as ‘Clay’ breaks free into a more complete sound of funky guitars and disco drumbeats, this belief is banished. Produced methodically, ‘Gone’ is deeper and more spaced out, using sharp bursts of synth to break up the track in a less flowing style. One factor carried through however is Scott’s vocal ease, reassuring us of a musical consistency present. Funky and fun, but also occasionally dark, Hudson Scott creates dance music more interesting than conventional pop, and is definitely one of the best in his field at manipulating synths in a different way.

Trippy and fun, Baywaves bring a taste of Spain to the psychedelic rock scene, a genre which has in recent years begun to expand rapidly. ‘Time is Passing U By’ is for the most part fuzzy and quirky; key features when it comes to music of this type. However, at the track’s conclusion we catch a mere glimpse of another side to the band. Piercing through the fog is a pure rock guitar riff, unexpected and sudden-a perfect full stop for this song. Happy is the easiest way to describe Baywaves’ music; an adjective particularly fitting to B side ‘Marsupilami’-a track of undulating guitar riffs which push to the fore, ahead of subdued vocals. We have seen bands from Spain break the borders of their country and venture out into Europe more frequently lately, and I won’t complain so long as they continue to bring us music as refreshing as Baywaves’.

Championing new music as ever, Free Money are the last artist in this months’ issue. Incredibly new and incredibly energetic, Free Money are the latest guitar band to infiltrate the London scene. ‘What Did I Miss’ uses the band’s rhythm section effectively to push the music forward, giving the vocals space to roam, while ‘Headful’ utilises guitar as a more important component in terms of melody. No nonsense and self-assured, Free Money are a classic rock band, and adhere to a formula well known for success.

Five varied and brilliant artists have once again been added to my record collection, helping me to expand my musical taste in all directions. For this, massive thanks must go to Flying Vinyl, for once again failing to disappoint!

Local Band of the Month-Edgar Duke

Tom O’Reilly, James Raymond and Luke Strange are the woozy Leeds trio that is Edgar Duke. Coming together from their previous different musical projects to form the band, this time it seems like things have clicked. Despite the fact that they are relatively newly formed, they are more ingrained in the music scene of Leeds than you know, having played at many, if not most, of the best and most important venues in Leeds. As is often the case with bands of their size, little is really known about them, and so I spoke to Tom O’Reilly, lead singer and songwriter, to find out more. Some of what I discovered was more of a statement of intent…

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What is the best gig you have ever played?

I’d say the best gig we’ve played so far was when we supported Hidden Charms at Belgrave Music Hall. It was one of those gigs where the stars aligned and everything went smoothly. It was also great to have a chance to redeem ourselves after headlining Belgrave a few days before and having a gig from hell. My guitar fell off its strap and then the mic fell of the stand, all mid song, but hopefully that won’t happen again!

How difficult is it to be in a band at a young age?

It all depends on the work you put in, and how dedicated you are to your craft. It doesn’t matter about age as long as you have decent songs and you play as hard as you can when playing live. At first when I was 17/18, walking round Leeds in the rain giving my demos out and emailing venues and promoters and not quite getting anywhere, it did seem quite out of reach. But you just need one thing to click and it has a domino effect; one gig leads to two, two to three, and so on.

What is your favourite thing about the music scene in Leeds?

My favourite thing about Leeds’ music scene is probably the sense of community it has. You start seeing a lot of familiar faces and knowing other bands. Everyone’s in it together, helping one another. There’s also so much going on. New venues opening (such as Headrow House which is relatively new) and new festivals (Kazoopa festival), there’s always a gig on and there’s such a high standard of music in Leeds at the moment.

Are there any other bands of a similar size to your own that you hope can ‘make it’?

Yeah definitely; Headfeed, Neon Dolls, Kath and the Kicks, The Velveteens, Fighting Caravans, Kashmere, Black Sonic Revolver, and many many more…Hidden Charms as well but they’re a lot bigger than us at the moment, I think they’ll go very far; great sound, great songwriting, and great stage presence.

What is playing live music like for you personally?

It’s why I get up in the morning, I could string together several cliches about what music means to me but…other musicians will understand, if you’re willing to drag your guitars and amps on buses, pay to rehearse for a few hours, drag everything home, spend hours writing and recording at home in solitude, not seeing anyone for days because you can’t get the bass part right in one segment of the song, soundcheck before the gig then wait for hours before you’re on, just to get half an hour playing in front of 50 people, if you’re willing to do all that and so much more just for that half an hour, you must absolutely love what you do, and I do, I love every part of that…apart from the buses.

Do you think going to other bands’ gigs is as important for your band as playing your own?

Yeah definitely, because if everyone had that attitude toward live music, all the bands in the music scene would see each other and there’d always be a crowd. Leeds is very good for that actually. Plus we’ve gotten gigs from going to other people’s gigs and networking; you’ve got to have the balls to go up to a band you’ve never met and start asking how they got the gig and who to talk to about other gigs etc. Emails only go so far, we got the majority of our early gigs by going out and chatting to people.

While ‘Railroad Tracks’ reminds me of a style similar to Kasabian, many of your other tracks present a more psychedelic funk feel. What do you attribute to such a diversity between your songs?

Probably the desire to create something original. I don’t understand bands that only write songs that could be oasis B-sides, the whole point of being a songwriter is to bring something new to the table; make people feel differently about music. I think the decline in good bands recently has been down to the complacency of new songwriters; sticking to a formula that worked for Arctic Monkeys or Oasis isn’t enough to put guitar music back to the forefront of music. It might still sound good live and get people moving, but it won’t be ground-breaking in any way; you’ll just become another cover band of sorts, adding to the indie-landfill.

Festival season is upon us, what festivals will you be playing or visiting?

We’re playing Leeds LGBT Pride next week (Marc Almond is also playing which is pretty cool). I’m off to Leeds Fest again, I live really near so I get weekend tickets for 40 pounds which is sweet. We’ll also be playing the first ever Kazoopa festival; the organisers are hardworking, affable people and I reckon it’ll rival Live at Leeds a few years down the line.

What’s happening next with Edgar Duke?

Well everything has snowballed quite fast for us, I hope that snowball continues to grow in size and stature. Management is probably the next step for us, and we have something on the cards with regards to that but we’ll have to see how it all goes. We’ve lots of gigs lined up including a date at Headrow House supporting The Barmines for their single launch of ‘Reliance’ on September 10th, and we’re supporting Neon Dolls for their album launch in November. Taking everything one step at a time and staying groovy.

 

As is obvious in the way Tom speaks, music is everything to him, and so I’ll be surprised if anything can stop that snowball’s rapidly accelerating journey. Reputation growing as we speak, I expect we’ll see Edgar Duke’s name more often, on a Leeds Festival poster perhaps?

A very special, and very large thank you needs to go out to Tom O’Reilly for taking the time to speak with me. His answers were insightful and inspired, and I couldn’t have put some of the issues he highlighted in the music industry better myself. You’re wasted in the band Tom.

Listen to some of the band’s tracks here on Soundcloud, they’ve even got a new song out.

Jahnathan Nerette-Magic

Young and self-taught, Jahnathan Nerette is the perfect image of musical independence. Everything is an influence, and if you are raised in such a cultural melting point as Miami, then good things are surely around the corner for those who want them. Despite this being his 4th musical project, ‘Magic’ is the first studio album he has released, largely alone and from home, and it will be interesting to see if Jahnathan can bring a sound as diverse as his influences to the table. premiere-jahnathan-nerette-magic

‘Magic’, the opening, and title, track on the version of the album I listened to (there are more than one available), is Nerette’s most complete track. Smooth vocals are situated above simple chord transitions and effective percussion, leading to the creation of a full, fleshed-out sound despite the fact there are but a few individual sounds present. Move on through the album, and an alternative sound seems to present itself. Electronic, and produced thoroughly (and well!), ‘A Dance With the Devil’ shows a different side to Jahnathan Nerette’s musical repertoire. Although it is less suited to my taste, it is impossible to fault an artist when they can execute such varying styles superbly in such close proximity to each other within an album. Switching it up again once more, calming midnight music is the overwhelming feeling of the latter end of the album, especially prominent in ‘A New Paige’; a real easy listening great; undulating in waves through your headphones.

Despite its very different parts, ‘Magic’ is undoubtedly a single LP. All the pieces fit together beautifully, adding up to create a single message; a message of diversity and enjoyment, which Jahnathan clearly wants to share with the world. Where he will go next though, I could not possibly say.

See the version I listened to on Spotify here:

Or listen to an alternative track-listing on Soundcloud here:

Jamie T-Tinfoil Boy

This time it was real. This time a new Jamie T song was actually going to be Annie Mac’s hottest record. I mean, you had to wait till half an hour later than advertised for it but still…be grateful. Told that this time there would be fewer samples; a key feature of Jamie T’s previous works, we knew it was going to be different. But how different. Would the spark that marked his music apart from the mediocrity be gone?

Samples may be absent, but a haunting monologue by Jamie’s actress friend Florence Bell more than makes up for it. Using this important asset, Jamie creates an atmospheric tension early on, building up slowly through the verse, in what could easily be the start of a new James Bond theme. All of this just serves to catch you unawares as the song launches into the chorus; a chorus of massive proportions. Powerful guitar combined with shouted vocals hark back to the power created when Chase and Status and Slaves released ‘CONTROL’ together.Immediately plunged back into the depths of a murky verse, the listener this time knows what is going to happen, but this diminishes the chorus’ impact not at all. The track continues in much the same way till its’ conclusion, contrasting the eerie, and ‘claustrophobic’ (as Jamie puts it) verses with the sheer strength of the choruses, leaving a lasting impression.

Branded by some as a sell-out for his change of sound; this new direction was not a success with all. No, it is not music to sing loud when out drunk with your mates, but that is not to say that it doesn’t deliver. How can you expect someone to go nine years without developing musically?  I for one loved the hard-hitting impact of ‘Tinfoil Boy’ and these feelings are mirrored by many. Anticipation is now sky high for an album which may or may not be closer than you think; will we hear music more in the vein of ‘Panic Prevention’ and ‘Kings and Queens’ or will ‘Tinfoil Boy’ herald a new direction altogether? I don’t know, but whenever they say it’s going to be released, lets hope it actually is this time, yeah?

Flying Vinyl-June

It’s that time of the month again, and the little bundle of happiness that is Flying Vinyl has dropped through my door. Featuring not only five new and exciting artists, but also a brand new packaging design, the Flying Vinyl brand seems to  be flourishing, and no wonder, with thousands more people becoming addicted to vinyl everyday.

The first artist of the bunch is Sweat, tricking you into thinking that you need to turn up your volume with the subdued intro to ‘Be Complete’ before increasing volume massively themselves, and resonating around your room. I’m not complaining (although perhaps my neighbours are); I’ve always been a firm believer in the idea that a higher volume just unlocks the quality of music. ‘Tambourine’ is more consistent, swaying throughout in a smoky haze of effects, wailing guitars and teasing lyrics, although the track’s centre-section, where the sound dies back slightly, did surprisingly remind me of the drug-fuelled aspect of The Beatles work.

Island give brilliant first impressions, hinting at great emotion with every note, undulating between cathartic outbursts at each chorus, and easy-listening, soft guitar music during the verses on A side ‘Spotless Mind’. ‘Come With Me’ maintains this attitude, drifting along at a pace similar to the verses of the previous track, this time un-broken, and left to roam un-impeded. Island’s sound is one which can very easily connect with large amounts of people; it seems as though most of us could take something from the emotive displays.

‘Elodie’ by Ten Fé resonates with me as less ‘brooding’ as Flying Vinyl put it, and more upbeat and feel-good. Perhaps this is the ‘spark of romance’ they talk about, I am unsure, but whatever it is Ten Fé are skilled at manipulating synths in such a way as to produce a sound which can be interpreted so differently by different people. B side ‘Make Me Better’ initially reminds me of ‘Bittersweet Symphony’ by The Verve, possibly due to the similar way in which the string sounds are used to create a powerful atmosphere. However, it is without doubt a track of its own, spelling that good things lay ahead for Ben and Leo.

Straight forward, no-nonsense indie which has the very real potential of a rapid rise in popularity, seen so many times by bands of this type recently, Weekend Wars provide the riffs and funky drum beats that you need to make an indie dance floor filler. ‘She’ could be just that,featuring hi-hat rhythms taken straight from the handbook of disco, coupled with simple guitar patterns and brilliant vocals; all the ingredients are there. Despite this, I think that B-side ‘Easy’ is the better of the two, bringing a wider musical spectrum to the table, highlighting even more skillful songwriting, both lyrically and instrumentally.

The diversity between Telegram’s two tracks is incredible. ‘Jigsaw’ is rough edged rock and roll; driven, powerful and loud. ‘Mr Dan’s Inside Out Dub’ however is odd; the prominent guitar is left on the outskirts, and psychedelia takes the forefront. Whilst ‘Jigsaw’ is by no means weak at home, you can tell it is a live song, and I would love to hear it in such an environment. ‘Mr Dan’s Inside Out Dub’ meanwhile is possibly more fitting played from a turntable, away from other influences, where you can lose yourself in the music. Telegram are an unpredictable entity; free from the beginning from label restrictions, they have grown wild, and we love them for it.

At a time right now where I have too little money to buy records regularly, my delivery from this affordable and great value for money ‘record club’ is something for me to look forward to every month, and, in my opinion, is much more valuable than a magazine subscription, if more expensive. Helping my vinyl collection to grow, and my musical taste to widen at the same time, I won’t be cancelling my membership any time soon.

Button and the Bandit-Five and Dime

Button and the Bandit are a self-proclaimed bothersome band from Birmingham, Alabama (already this post has enough alliteration to excite any self-respecting English teacher or children’s poet!). Although their initial talents lay in the art that is the film industry, in which they are both heavily qualified and experienced I might add, Michaela Walton (Button) and Clint Buckner (The Bandit) have clearly proved that their skill sets are anything but narrow. Meeting through their work; work which is exciting enough to satisfy most people’s dreams, the pair have been writing and recording melodic country for the masses ever since. ‘Five and Dime’ is one of their most recently released songs, and hopefully will deliver exactly the same service as previous tracks ‘Bandits Are on Their Way’ and ‘Scattered Amongst the Stars’.

Whilst we have heard a ukelele led style before (Clint is a talented multi-instrumentalist, excelling in guitar, ukelele, piano, bass and banjo), this work features guitar and hand-clap prominence, overlaid with Michaela’s angelic vocal melodies. Whilst most country music fails to include me as one of its fans, Button and the Bandit’s music breaches common ideas of genre; containing just enough of the common country connotations without overwhelming you. The slight American twang present in the vocal line is recognisable enough to add the feeling of the deep south without being too strong, which would detract from the piece’s musicality. With this music a happy medium is achieved; that fine line between the harmony and delicate feeling of regular acoustic artists, and the strong emotion of country, making it appeal to a wider variety of people.

The more cute (as a a button) and cuddly version of Bonnie and Clyde, Button and the Bandit travel the USA as fictional outlaws, delivering their soft and more endearing take on country music wherever they go. Practising wherever possible; from idyllic settings such as by rivers, in national parks and on mountains, to…well, less idyllic surroundings such as a military barracks, this band would be perfect as the basis for a film. On the run, but aided and loved by everyone, the pair would fight evil anywhere they came across it, but would never use violent means; similar to those children’s action programs you used to watch. In aesthetic, music and attitude Button and the Bandit have got it nailed; all they require now is the success they deserve. It is very rare that I have come across such lovely people, and I wholeheartedly hope that they can achieve even the wildest of their ambitions.

Listen to ‘Five and Dime’ along with all the rest of Button and the Bandit’s tracks on their soundcloud page.