Laura Marling – Short Movie Review

Laura Marling Announces New Album Short Movie, Shares Animated Video for Title Track

Laura Marling’s latest self-produced album, Short Movie, has a defiant edge which is making people talk. The record is somewhat different from her previous offerings; more complex and seemingly more mature, demanding listen after listen as you attempt to figure out her intentions whilst fully appreciating her song-writing talents.

In Short Movie Marling swaps her acoustic for an electric guitar in many tracks, which represents a shift away from the standard folk sound which she is so heavily associated with. There’s no doubt that Marling will always be known as one of the key players in the folk revival of recent years, but in Short Movie she truly modernises her sound and demonstrates that her musical abilities cover more than just folk. The tracks on Short Movie have more layers and textures than her previous albums which have been a little more simplistic. Whether it be soaring strings in the background, insistent, fast-paced percussion or Marling using her voice to capture the emotion of song, there is more to listen to than just a girl and her guitar. Throughout this album she demonstrates her impressive range, alternating between high, girlish falsetto and a deep, velvety hum which has the ability to creep over you and almost give you goosebumps.

The defiance comes not only with the larger, louder sound that comes with her electric, layered tracks; it can be seen in her lyrics, too, which are often sarcastic and somewhat cynical. “Strange”, for instance, sees Marling commenting on what could be a man who seeks love from someone besides his wife and children; “Do your best to be a good man, Do you know how hard that is?” She speaks rather than sings, and seems to hold back a contemptuous laugh at the end of each line that makes you want to laugh along with her. On “Don’t Let Me Bring You Down”, Marling states “I’m a woman now, would you believe?” This line is perhaps a hark back to the way in which her rise to fame happened at such a young age. At 16 Marling was causing a stir in the nu-folk scene in London, and at 18 years of age she released her first studio album. Five albums later, and with a stack of nominations and two awards under her belt, Marling is now a superstar in both Europe and the US; she has grown up and so has her music, and her defiance throughout Short Movie demands that we listen and take note of what she has learnt along the way.

Laura Marling – Short Movie = 8/10

Ellie Scott @elliemaryscott

Father John Misty – I Love You, Honeybear Review

Baltimore’s finest nomad and singer-song writer Joshua Tillman has to decided to offer us up a second full length LP instalment from Father John Misty with I Love You, Honeybear. It’s been almost three years since his debut LP Fear Fun gave Tillman a very solid footing to his career as Father John Misty with wound up guitars and a deliberate lethargic filter that matched the tone of the vocals and lyrics about him. The drugged-up distortion of his debut effort will be hard to follow up, but pressure isn’t really something that fits into this guys vocabulary. He takes everything in his stride and if anything isn’t at his pace then he’s not interested. With this in mind the cliché of the difficult second album is a concept immune to him, but will this turn out to be an advantage or a hindrance?

The opening and title track introduces itself as a delicate American ballad with the gently rocking acoustic guitars and the thin layers of soaring strings from which Tillman’s vocals reverberate and sweep over. The simple and swooning track has subtle culminations of sound headed by the percussion and the wound up riffs. Though it doesn’t offer up much in the way of difference, it is produced and offered up with a small echo which only highlights every piece of familiarity and pulls it’s sound out a little more. A subtle change on nostalgia. ‘True Affection’ is very much an outlier when compared to the rest of the album’s sound and direction, but through the vocals and lyrics it still maintains the on-going feel and theme of the album with it’s lamentation of modern life and the relaxed, yet prominent vocal delivery atop of it. Featuring flashing and rotating electronica set around a shuffling drum sample and the disjointed backing vocal harmonies from Tillman himself, the track really has an almost patchy and ad-hoc construction that is brought into harmony by the lead vocals and delicate melodies forged from the mixed sound. The lyrics bemoaning modern technology really works well whilst set around the instrumental contradiction of the electronica whilst he asks for a “crazy conversation” instead of talking through various devices.

‘Bored in the USA’ is a wonderful and utterly delicate piece of piano music with mournful chords and solemn vocals that are loosely tied together with the wispy string sections and which climbs are matched by Tillman’s slick falsettos. From these come the brilliantly formed satire of the lyrics such as “Save me white/president Jesus” in one of the best pieces of song writing so far this year. ‘Ideal Husband’ is a more buoyant and rhythmic track with the rotating acoustic riffs and a organ film over the top of it. The song spirals in and out of these structures and are features Tillman’s more powerful vocal. ‘Chateau lobby #4’ and ‘The Night Josh Tillman Came to our Apartment’ are two more enigmatic takes upon the acoustic swoons that are the mainstay of this album. It’s an album with which the lyrics and production are the two main points of it’s worth with the music just something to hang it on, for as graceful and smooth as the music is. Amongst the satire and ironies there is quite a simplistic beauty to the music. It isn’t particularly innovative or ground-breaking, but it is wonderfully crafted and formed around what will be some of the best lyrical performances of 2015.

Father John Misty – I Love You, Honeybear = 8.5/10

Single Review – Paul McCartney – Hope For the Future

Paul McCartney continues to upturn any rock he can find for a new project and his latest effort was helping score the soundtrack for the video game Destiny after providing a few samples including a new single ‘Hope For the Future’ which is out today along with a spectacular video. For the single he talked of aiming for a more “cinematic” approach to match the visuals provided by the game. The string sections provide that throughout to vary degrees; from the delicate combinations with acoustic riffs to linking them to crash percussion and well charged guitar solos. The song goes on to fade to Paul’s lone vocal before soaring to a full compliment of instrumentals to only go on to highlight the dramatics of the track. It’s an effective arrangement for McCartney who ensured his well worn vocals were well up to the task as he swapped the synthesizers and guitars of last year for the string orchestras of 2014 and it’s something that he pulled off pretty damn well.

Single Review – The Night VI – Wonderlust

Last month The Night VI released a wondrous and forever catchy piece of pop with their single ‘Wonderlust’. It wastes no time in getting you hooked with it’s infectious, whirring synths offset by a deeper bouncing sound and sharp percussion that keeps the song rotating and driving on. Across this is the unctuous and slick vocals that slip through the urgency of the instrumentals which go on to include an 80’s style lead guitar solo. It’s a well delivered and modern take on a classic style and sound. More recently they have released an acoustic version of this track which sees the vocal’s easiness on the ear just become enhanced. It was recorded live in Camden at The Colonel Fawcett. This version shows you the song without it’s foot to the floor and is a more engrossing listen as opposed to the original version, which makes you want to move in some way and get involved. Both versions are wonderful for the different aspects they provide and is a sign of some the diversity they possess. (Acoustic Version) (Original Version)

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Darren Campbell Q&A

It’s likely that you’ve heard of Darren Campbell before. That’s because I reviewed his single ‘Remember You’ about two weeks back. The Dundee singer/songwriter answered a few questions on his influences, his advice for up and coming British artists and what he has in mind for the future!

For anyone who hasn’t had the chance to hear your music; can you describe your sound and what you’re about?

A-     I’d like to think of my sound as a poppy (not too poppy) easy listening sound that anyone can like no matter what genre they prefer!

Who are the primary influences to your music?

A-     I listen to a lot of pop punk bands like The Wonder Years and Transit, and also a lot of Dance producers like Alesso and Avicii

 ‘Remember You’ is a great song What is the song about lyrically and musically?

A – I prefer to leave my songs open to the listeners interpretation, so they can relate it to whatever they are going through in their own lives, I feel if they know exactly what I wrote it about it can take away from whatever they relate it to (if that makes sense)! And thanks for the compliment 😉

What do you think is your most complete tune?

A-     So far “remember you.” However I am working on a new song which Is ten times better in my opinion.

Are there any songs that you like to cover? Any reason why?

A-     I don’t know why but I tend to avoid covers and playing them. I do however, have a cover up of “Bon Iver’s” Skinny love.

What’s the best venue you’ve played at?

A – A venue in my hometown called “Fat Sam’s” that was a few years back!

Is there a venue that you’d really want to make it to?

A – Well it is my dream to headline T in The Park. And just generally tour the world!

Where do you record your tunes? Is it easy to do so?

A-     I record in a Studio with my friend Paul who records the tracks. It can be stressful sitting and making sure everything is the best it can be.

What advice would you give to a singer/songwriter in Scotland and the rest of the U.K?

A-     Just get out and paly as much as you can. If you live in a small town that doesn’t do a lot of gigs or there are no venues. Go out and busk in town and get the locals talking about you!

What have you got in mind for the future?

A-     In the long term I want to make music my career. In the short term I’ll be playing around Scotland! I want to be successful so I’ll work to get it!

Thanks to Darren for the answers! You can check him out at (Image source), @1darrencampbell and 

Single Review – Darren Campbell – Remember You

Darren Campbell is a talented singer/songwriter from Dundee and generally plays out an acoustic or folk leaning rock and pop sound which is something that continues to be moving to the forefront of British music with the likes of Jake Bugg on one side of the spectrum, to Gabrielle Aplin on the other. Darren is one you should look out for in this light in the future if that’s what you’re drawn to most, but likewise if you’re a fan of grabbing onto melodic hooks, acoustic rhythms and powerful yet subtle hinted vocals then you’ll enjoy him too. Especially his latest single ‘Remember You’. They have the aforementioned traits that opens with the steady rhythm of the acoustic guitar and is built upon by the lead guitar’s gentle and easy melody. Darren’s vocals give the song an extra element of fluidity as they rise and fall in tone while the utilise they percussion well during the fade before the last go of the chorus to instantly build the sound back up which acts as a bonus hook if you like. The lyrics are ones that almost anyone can relate to or understand due to the telling of love and the loss of it. The musical arrangement manipulates them and projects the emotive feel well. Simple yet effective. Remember You is out now so take a look at the link below and see what you think.

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Album Taster – Rewind the Film – Manic Street Preachers feat Richard Hawley

The Manics are pure legends of British Music and are pretty widely respected and valued in that light. However they did seem to have lost their edge slightly with their last album Postcards of a Young Man from 2010 and there was much confusion with what their next move would be after that. Then a few weeks ago they revealed that they had recorded two whole albums! One acoustic and another more rock orientated. It would seem that they have chosen to release the acoustic album first under the title Rewind the Film which is also the name of the track they are using for the album taster. Initially I was sceptical of the word acoustic being linked with a band of 40 somethings as in many past cases it’s by musically and lyrically very basic and often a list of covers ‘from the songs they listened to as a nipper’ and only succeeds in their old catalouges bing dug out. However with ‘Rewind the Film’ they have been able to develop a distinct mood and tone while keeping that sense of nostalgia albeit at a slightly less positive angle. It’s by no means a nothing acoustic ballad from a fading star losing the best of his vocal or a pointless churning through guitar chords. The three boys from Blackwood decided that only Richard Hawley could deliver this song for them otherwise it would not be worth putting on the album. Having devloped a friendship with lead singer James Dean Bradfield, Hawley was happy to do so and didn’t want to let them down and mentioned how much of an honour it was to record with the Manics. It’s very much his tune with the Manics becoming his backing band as Hawley’s rich and deep vocal runs against the instrumentals to really create a sombre and considered song. The drama is presented when James Dean Bradfield makes the odd contribution towards the end and his powerful and energetic vocal still sounds as good as it did back in 1992 so there are no problems on that front. Generally the track has been well recienved and perhaps taken a few critics by suprise. The Manics don’t seem content with toning down their creativity as perhaps some might have thought and have shown they are capable of writing more thought provoking and challenging songs. I hope this is a true indicator of their 12th album and a hopeful sign for their 13th but there is still some questions lingering as this was more a Richard Hawley song rather than a Manics song so wait and see.

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Gabrielle Aplin – English Rain Review

There is no doubt that English Rain is probably the definitive ‘Folk Pop’ album and it’s also likely that the album has been snapped up by hoards of ‘Indie Hipsters’ and chart followers aswell. But despite this it’s not annoying or unbearable yet at the same time it’s hardly innovative and she ain’t using any new tricks either. So perhaps we shouldn’t take Gabrielle Aplin at face value. I mean it is her first album too don’t forget and if you look at the basics, it’s a good footing and a solid start.  First off she has a great voice and a good vocal range which gives her room for manouvre on her second album. The basic musical composition is just that. Basic. With simple acoustic guitar riffs and standard drum sections from her ‘indie boy’ backing band. But this does put a focus on her vocals and her lyrics that are primarily hers which may be deliberate. One of the highlights from her album is from the song ‘Home’ from her 2012 EP of the same name. It builds up in a subtle way with the gradual introduction of an acoustic guitar, piano and drums. Her vocals coincide with this and is one of her stonger vocal performances from an album which is very vocal based. Her singles ‘Panic Chord’ and ‘Please Don’t Say You Love Me’ are also very vocal based with the music taking more of a back seat with the standard acoustic and piano additions. With similar lyrics that are about broken relationships this makes these two singles almost directly aligned with each other. On a commercial level they are great for a particular target audience and in getting her nationwide attention but perhaps not in highlighting her musical ability. Of course her number 1 single in the run up to Christmas last year; the cover of Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s ‘The Power Of Love’ was also a good vocal delivery which is a given with Aplin. Other songs such as ‘Salvation’ are still simple musically but have more of an atmospheric quality to them and see’s Aplin explore her vocal range a little more with more low pitched introductory lines. The same goes for the final track on the album ‘Start Of Time’ which again builds up nicely with a non acoustic guitar sound. ‘Human’ has sort of a tribal drum sound to it which gives it a different sort of a more ‘indie’ sound. November too is similar and an electric guitar is dusted off for it aswell for little riffs in the verses. That’s about the size of it really. It’s a very nice record which if you’re after innovation or a new sound, it’s not for you. But there are possible avenues for her to explore as long as she doesn’t get sucked it by the commercial, monotonous machine which is the mainstream music industry. She has set up her own record label ‘Never Fade’ which suggests she might not be bought by that industry and her influences seem to hold some promise. Despite the similar tone with English Rain there is a lot of space for her to play around with for her next venture and it’s almost like she has done her difficult second album with her first. As long as it isn’t exactly the same as the first it can only improve so don’t judge her just yet. But the album individually is a little repetitive in several areas as you can tell from me repeating myself writing this and when you detatch yourself from the ‘cute girl with a guitar’ theme she’s been saddled with; then the music is a little dry. But as i’ve said she has a great voice that she could do a lot with in the future.

Gabrielle Aplin – English Rain = 5.5/10

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