Single Review – Catfish and the Bottlemen – Soundcheck

 

The band that has the accolade for one of the worst reviewed albums ever on this site (and we were comparatively kind) has returned with a new track from their upcoming second album ‘Soundcheck’. Catfish and the Bottlemen haven’t done much to hide the fact this song was released solely for promotion before the BRIT awards as they seek some form of recognition from their debut attempt The Balcony. This new single dropped the Razorlight copy aesthetic for a Stereophonics copy aesthetic with a more anthem-orientated style. The song does have a better sense of the variety of other rhythm sections and a better sense of production polishing too. This does little to distract from the distinct lack of substance that remains musically and lyrically. These lyrics delivered with Van McCann’s open snarls in the chorus. The smallest of minor improvements with this track.

 

Owen Riddle @oriddleo1995

Single Review – St. Vincent – Bad Believer

St Vincent announces trio of UK shows for May

St Vincent comes off the back of making the best album of 2014 and a Grammy to only justify it further (she’s even been nominated for a BRIT which is a victory of recognition in itself) with an expanded deluxe edition of her self titled fourth LP. With it, you get a Darkside remix of ‘Digital Witness’ and four new tracks including ‘Bad Believer’ which she unveiled last week. The track opens with immediate and intense percussion, full of static screams before directing her smooth, yet edgy vocals through her trademark bursts of churning, tuneful guitar and into a chorus of peculiar marrying of vocals and meandering, yet melodic synths to compliment the peculiarity. The song then tails off into soft edged synths to a whisper from Annie Clark to set up for a burst back into the chorus. Not her strongest track over the last twelve months, but one that shows that she still had even more sitting in her back pocket.

Tom Odell – Long Way Down Review

Rightly or wrongly, Tom Odell has kicked up a massive fuss this year and this was enhanced by him winning the ‘Critics Choice Award’ at the BRIT Awards. However as far as i’m concerned those awards are one of the biggests insults to British music that you’ll find. Therefore I don’t care for it. However I don’t think he should be cast off in the harsh way he has been. For example the 0/10 from the NME is just them trying to be ‘hip’ and they just go with the crowds anyway. Remember when they championed Mumford & Sons? One Direction are a 0/10 and Odell is not as bad as that. But the review did make some valid points though even if they were wrapped up in metaphors and cliches as always. One thing is for sure is that he’s vocal style is very polarising. It will make you weak at the knees or make you want to jump out your window into the street below. Bastille is very similar. They sort of sing words with the wrong vowel in them and stress that fact to no end and at times it’s a little comical.

His first single from his debut album was ‘Can’t Pretend’ and it is evocative of the vocal style i just mentioned. My first thought was Jamie Cullum for some reason. That sort of gloomy piano ballad with the choir in the background which is pretty standard and sort of works out for him to it’s bare minimum. The song sounds a little better when you get in the other elements of the basic guitars, percussion and bass and i’m not one of those people crazed about having a guitar in every song but that style is way too familar and his voice might be more appealing if it wasn’t so isolated. ‘Hold Me’ does have more about it in terms of instrumentals but his vocals in this are him straining and shouting at times. They don’t have the same idea as the instrumentals either and they themselves sound like a basic version of Keane or FUN. Once more, the random wails and screams from him and the choir or not melodic or harmonic at all and they only suceed is scaring you half to death. ‘Another Love’ is his third single and the initial subtleness works well for him with the soft harmonies but that bloody choir start doing their ghost impressions again and it ruins the songs atmosphere and feel. The build up of the thumping percussion does redeem the song slightly and the balance of voice against instrumentals is much better. However those choirs killed it as they joined in again and at times it was trying to sound like a Coldplay tune from 2008 and even they didn’t put those wailing choirs in the middle of their songs.

‘Grow Old With Me’ has a decent meoldy to it which other songs struggle to conjure up. He’s also put a lid on those choirs who back him up in harmonies rather than wailing over him and drowning everything out. The songs does take a stompy Mumford apporach which is very belated and a little frustrating but it’s a decent tune i guess. ‘Sense’ very much has a sort of Christmas in New York thing about it like it’s been plucked from a romantic film but the choirs again decide to work with him rather than against him. The title track sounds a little like it’s trying to steal the piano from ‘Clocks’ by Coldplay and the vocal and backing vocals in their collective wail are in no way matching the feel of the piano instrumental. That really defines Tom Odell’s debut album. It’s like he’s got all the basic elements but plucked them out of a hat for each song, making the album sound a bit mis-matched and random. Just when you think he is about to put down a half decent song, something always comes up to ruin it. It’s pretty bold to produce your own debut album as a solo artist. Perhaps that is the problem. It’s like there has been no one there to be objective with him and tell him that some of his musical combinations are a little off. Unlike the NME I shall be constructive and say 1. He needs a producer to give a proper opinion on his songs. 2. He needs to find out what sounds and harmonies work with his voice and enhance it as not everything will. 3. Try not to have the whole album piano driven. Though he is good on the keys the style of song he has to chose from becomes very narrow given the way he plays it. 4. The same goes with the choir. If you are going to have one them at least ensure they are complimenting the songs rather than overpowering everything without harmony. If those basic things materialise them perhaps his second album will be a decent one because if he sticks with the way he’s going then he’ll be going nowhere fast and I think he is capable of a little better. He’s just got it all wrong with Long Way Down.

Tom Odell – Long Way Down = 3.5/10

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Images from blahblahblahscience.com / https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Long_Way_Down_(Tom_Odell_album)