Wilco – Star Wars Review

Chicago’s established Alternative rockers sprung a surprise for their fans earlier this month by releasing their ninth studio album Star Wars out of nowhere in a Bowie-like fashion and doing so for free for a limited amount of time. Bowie received very favourable reviews due to the shock effect he produced and just the fact he was producing something. It is unlikely Wilco have produced the same effect and there will be a greater focus on the music rather than the publicity in this case, which is only a positive.

‘Random Name Generator’ is a track packed full of bulky and heavily distorted guitars with warping fringes, but these are held together in the production and in doing so keeps the song tight and direct. This is accentuated by Jeff Tweedy’s rough edged, isolated vocal adding to this effect and highlighting a meandering and prominent melody to the track. It makes the track sound fresh and dynamic without entirely being so musically. ‘You Satellite’ opens in a slightly off-beat manner as the grinding guitars pick up in volume alongside Jeff’s wondering vocal which is almost independent of the music in a Nick Cave type fashion and the slightly washed out guitars are a good setting for such a vocal performance, but eventually as the vocal picks up, it come into line somewhat with the music as the guitars mimic the vocal peaks. Nevertheless, this otherwise contemplative track was given a slight twist and injected with a bit of life.

‘Pickled Ginger’ has a distortion beyond that of the pervious tracks and the isolated rumbling that this generates is paired with Jeff’s slightly zany vocals. from this minimalistic pairing the song gradually picks up it’s tone and chiming electronica and sharp percussion is soon bolted on the track and eventually the riffs pick up in audibility to kick up the song to it’s peak as it abruptly ends. A multitude of great production methods here that bridge the gap from minimalism to full on layered instrumentation as well as taking a song from peak to peak and the impact that generates. ‘Magnetized’ begins with blocky synth chimes and gradually becomes a ballad with the swooning backing vocals, extravagant percussion and well placed guitar solos. It’s done brilliantly here to the point where it becomes an eccentric Billy Joel or Elton John track. ‘The Joke Explained’ has a similar impact to the main single whilst ‘King of You’ maintains a slick and direct production and instrumentation with a clear groove and laid back rhythm. The album on the whole is a positive event where Wilco take conventional styles and methods and inject them with a bit of life though some well delivered and imaginative production. This by no means makes the album innovative or explorative, but it makes it sounds fresh and fun through some excellent musical deliveries in addition to the stylistic twists. A pleasant surprise for Wilco fans for sure.

Wilco – Star Wars = 8/10

Owen Riddle @oriddleo1995

Single Review – Gabrielle Aplin – What Did You Do?

Nowadays, pretty much everything is trumpeted in a 140 character tweet, or via a Facebook update. Be it Drake and Meek Mill beef, or Hulk Hogan making an ambiguous “apology” for being a racist arsehole, it’s all done on the blessed platforms we know as Facebook and Twitter.

Gabrielle Aplin is also one of the many artists who use the terrible two to update us on their sparkly lives and new music releases. She posted a link to a beautiful live video for one of the 3 songs she’s released off her new album, “Light up the dark”. The video for the song in question, “What did you do?” is filmed live from Wilton’s music hall in London, and Gabrielle’s performance on stage is impressive to say the least.
One of Aplin’s main intentions when creating her music is not to be restrained by her successful cover of “The power of love” which was featured on John Lewis’ 2012 Christmas advert. “Otherwise my life is going to be Christmas” She says. In all honesty, there are elements of this track that remind me of nothing other than December 25th, especially the chiming piano, but with the songs she’s released so far she has certainly proved she can distance herself from her cover work. The lyrics of “What did you do?” cry hopeless romanticism, but I doubt we’ll ever know whether or not these are from her own encounters, as Aplin has said in the past that she writes about situations that aren’t necessarily related to her own experiences.
Aplin’s 2015 tour kicks off shortly after her Bestival appearance in September, and all her tour dates are available on her website.
Hannah Crowe

This Weeks Music Video with Pharrell Williams, Weezer, Major Lazer, Belle & Sebastian, Kurt Vile and Elbow

Single Review – Cold War Kids – Stop Rewind

The American indie band hailing from Long Beach, California who released their fifth album “Hold My Home” last year have now released Stop Rewind from their “Five Quick Cuts” EP.  The track is a fairly simple one with minimal lyrics and seemingly no obvious message about anything. That said, not every song needs to have some grand message about life on this earth or anything. On an instrumental level the “Cold War Kids” don’t bring a huge overhaul of their previous sound but still create catchy tunes. The vocals are (as always) impressive with a kind of blues shouting style. It bustles with energy and combines well with the slightly distorted guitar (which sounds a bit like Norman Greenbaums “Spirit in the Sky”, particularly in the isolated guitar parts). It starts to lose focus around the mid-point which is full of screams and shouts which is done in a kind of run of the mill fashion before the guitar takes us back to the chorus and back again to the chanting section. A kind of surreal (almost creepy) circus theme ends the song. The song does not quite stand up to repeated listening either (or at least for me), without any particularly complex or unique elements the song is a pleasant listen for the first few listens but sadly nothing much more.

Callum Christie @ChristieCallum

Single Review – Lianne La Havas – Green and Gold

With her second studio album Blood out at the end of the week Lianne La Havas has released a third single in ‘Green and Gold’ that is evocative of the album’s tone and inspiration as she sings about her Jamaican and Greek heritage. The track features a faded and relaxed riff with a nudging beat to generate an intimate musical feel. This is reinforced by Lianne’s easy, breathy vocal which remains in close proximity to the sounds around her. This soft base is occasionally left as she gently raises her tone for the chorus, but the track in general is laid back and intimate in it’s nature and never abandons this for a forced piece of theatre or drama. It stays in it’s groove and whilst not being anything spectacular, it certainly is a honed and refined track.

Owen Riddle @oriddleo1995

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