Gaz Coombes – Worlds Strongest Man Review

Three years on from releasing the critically acclaimed Matador; Gaz Coombes has released his ‘Frank Ocean inspired’ third album The Worlds Strongest Man on May 4th. It is a culmination of the added hints of experimentation to his ever maturing songwriting in 2015 he was in a new submersible phase. This earned himself a Mercury prize nomination amongst other accolades. His recent comments about his third solo effort only suggest more exploration for the quietly confident singer-songwriter. So if any venture into Pop music comes from Gaz, you know it’ll be a considered and versatile affair.

‘Deep Pockets’ immediately smacks with a buzzing energy and throbbing beat. Gaz’s echoed and wiry vocals skate atop the accelerating feel of the track as it drives towards the chorus to be met with a more rooted, lower vocal to meet the expansive and growing sounds around him. His eccentric melodies and introverted lyrics deliver messages of unchecked masculinity. ‘Walk the Walk’ is no different in its narrative tone and is a steadier affair compared to his last single ‘Deep Pockets’ with meandering riff and bass line with a buzzing synth energy whirring through the track. This album looks to have a more integrated sense of scale accommodated in this instance through sections and a slicker delivery which the first two singles have served as an example of. The new album looks to be another worthy addition to his catalogue.

‘Shit (I’ve done it again)’ is a hazy track of whirring synth chords set around delicate melodies made up from strings and light electronica. The track gradually grows beyond this with prominent percussion, vocal harmonies and charged guitars and whole lot of reverb on top of that. It makes for a controlled and rewarding arrangement. ‘Wounded Egos’ bites with an opening line of ‘wounded egos, right wing psychos’, but this is set through the prism of a light arrangement of light, staccato electronica. The song then strikes an optimistic tone with pacing bass lines, percussion and a resonant synth compliment as Gaz’ piercing vocals sing of ‘chairs flying in the street’ but there being ‘another way’. It becomes of joyous track derived from that scathing opening and all done with a subtlety as worthy as any dramatic shift of tone he could have opted for. Tracks such as ‘Vanishing Act’ produce a sound that pushes a feeling of being on edge as Gaz screams of the need to ‘find my happy face’ and performing a vanishing act. The title track offers a hint of bravado to mock his themed subject around a crisp, slicked arrangement.

This album has saw Gaz tackle issues of masculinity a little more abruptly than he’s directed his solo songwriting before, but he has masterfully utilised his arrangements to manipulate and radiate the messages in his tracks. Sure, it isn’t the most exciting record of the year, but it is an immersive experience that plays off each subtle change in tone that makes this album. Coupled with that overarching sense of vulnerability and you have another strong chapter in Gaz Coombes solo catalogue.

Gaz Coombes – World’s Strongest Man = 8.5/10

Owen Riddle

Single Review – Gaz Coombes – Walk The Walk

Gaz Coombes third solo album The Worlds Strongest Man is due for a May 4th release which so far looks to see him deliver messages of unchecked masculinity amongst other lyrical matters dealt with in Coombes’ typically narrative tone. His latest single is no different and is a steadier affair compared to his last single ‘Deep Pockets’ with meandering riff and bass line with a buzzing synth energy whirring through the track. This album looks to have a more integrated sense of scale accommodated in this instance through sections and a slicker delivery which the first two singles have served as an example of. The new album looks to be another worthy addition to his catalogue.

Owen Riddle

Single Review – Gaz Coombes – Deep Pockets

Three years on from releasing the critically acclaimed Matador; Gaz Coombes is to release his ‘Frank Ocean inspired’ third album The Worlds Strongest Man on May 4th. Once he added hints of experimentation to his ever maturing songwriting in 2015 he was in a new submersible phase. This earned himself a Mercury prize nomination amongst other accolades. His recent comments about his third solo effort only suggest more exploration for the quietly confident singer-songwriter. ‘Deep Pockets’ immediately smacks with a buzzing energy and throbbing beat. Gaz’s echoed and wiry vocals skate atop the accelerating feel of the track as it drives towards the chorus to be met with a more rooted, lower vocal to meet the expansive and growing sounds around him. His eccentric melodies and introverted lyrics deliver messages of unchecked masculinity. Supergrass are but a distant memory and it’s likely it grow ever more distant by May 4th.

Owen Riddle

Sunday Suggestion – Gaz Coobes – Buffalo

Gaz Coombes is one of those 90’s Britpop figures still churning out material, and like many of them; its of a pretty decent standard. His solo debut Here Come The Bombs has a very solid album full of slightly spaced out acoustic and general rock moments. It seemed that with his next release, the then 37 year old looked about flexing his muscles a lot more. ‘Buffalo was the very early first release from some recording sessions two years back that would turn into Matador early this year. The song is characterized by the solemn piano bursts, the more spaced out and edgier beat with the distorted and echoed effects. The verse then see’s him turn the volume up on his vocals with great power and just enough rough edged quality with large soundscapes exploding around him. The third phase of the song see’s it suitably tail off with an acoustic and distorted bass sound while he softly sings the song out. The song progressions and altering themes and tones are fantastic as was his second album.

Owen Riddle @oriddleo1995

Gaz Coombes – Matador Review

Gaz Coombes - Matador

Like many fellow Britpop stars namely Damon Albarn and Noel Gallagher, Gaz Coombes of Supergrass of course is developing his own style as a solo artist and leaving his Britpop pull back in the nineties. He’s recently commented in the Guardian that it was largely overblown anyway and that there were only a few good artists. It seems apt that he’d make such a comment before releasing another collection of contemporary tracks with his second studio album Matador. His 2012 debut Here Come the Bombs was certainly a solid one and was a confirmation (if any was needed) of his song writing prowess and experience. His current album has been a while in the making with the lead single being released over a year before the album back in 2013. So with that in mind you’d imagine a lot of fine tuning has been done too, but was it enough?

‘Buffalo was the first release from some of the early recording sessions Gaz had been doing back in 2013. The song is characterized by the solemn piano bursts, the more spaced out and edgier beat with the distorted and echoed effects. The verse then see’s him turn the volume up on his vocals with great power and just enough rough edged quality with large soundscapes exploding around him. The third phase of the song see’s it suitably tail off with an acoustic and distorted bass sound while he softly sings the song out. The song progressions and altering themes and tones are fantastic and he really allows the song to breath. An eerie and almost nutcracker-like opening starts off ’20/20′ with faded vocals dropping back into the delicate instrumentals. This fragility is gradually tested with the soft piano chords taking over along with the backing vocalists that allow for Gaz to open up his vocals before feeding off into an intricate and intimate acoustic rhythm with a rough, muted pulse behind it. The song utilises the earlier delicate moments to help feed the song into greater constructions of sound with a real burst of musical light upon all the elements arriving at the same point. A song that shows musical discipline paying off handsomely.

‘English Ruse’ is a song that has an easy, rotating rhythm about it via a muffled monotone synth that warps it’s sound as a means to raise the tone of the song and allow for some vocal expansion on Coombes parts. it’s a close track that inspires and contemplative approach to it whilst also having the rhythms to engage it on a more laid back level. It has a brilliant dual purpose and ends with a squealing distorted guitar that masterfully flashes across the closely packed instrumentals as opposed to a heavy, blocky distortion that blows the rest of the track out of the water. ‘Oscillate’ is funnily full of electronic oscillations set about an acoustic base and distant echoing washing of the backing vocals and whirring synths of which Gaz’s vocals can deliver the lyrics with ease and a certain sincerity. ‘Needles Eye’ has a shuffling approach to it about the percussion and riffs that again burst into light in allowing the vocal expansions of the lead and backing vocals with the song easily falling back in and out of this. Tracks such as ‘The Girl who fell to earth’ and ‘Detroit’ are a little more tame musically with well delivered acoustic themes that are focused more on vocal flamboyance and development along with an accomplished lyrical focus. With Matador Gaz has certainly struck a balance between experimentation and  familiarity and has gelled them together in an open and welcoming fashion. An album I certainly underestimated.

Gaz Coombes – Matador = 8.5/10

Tracks of 2013 – Top 10

It is now time to wrap up the year of music 2013 has given us and what better way to start than with my top 10 tracks of the year. Out of the top 10 there have been tracks that have struck me for their imagination, innovation, risk-taking, melodic mastery and so on. They come from worldwide heavyweights to the more obscure crafters of music and they’ve all been picked from those I have looked at, so please don’t despair if there are any missing artists as they might just have passed me by this year.

10. Paul McCartney – Appreciate

 

Yes. He is 71. Yes. It is from his album New. No. It isn’t what you are thinking. If you look upon McCartney’s 2013 album; full of nostalgic forays into the past decades of his career, then you’ll see that the man of innovation and risk taking is still there. Appreciate is a hidden gem within the New album. It’s neo-psychedlica curled around a hip hop beat and it has more freshness about it than many of the young artists releasing music this year. That is either a sign of McCartney’s prowess or a sign of the lack of it amongst the new musicians of today. http://youtu.be/3Aq-iiDXo7I

9. Gaz Coombes – Buffalo

Despite plying his Britpop trade around 20 years ago, Gaz is probably making the most profound and elaborate music of his career. Buffalo is to be a single off his upcoming album which is he is currently working on. If this track is anything to go by then he looks set to expand upon the firm foundations of his debut album from 2012. A dramatic and atmospheric glow as the song progresses through it’s stages of varied tone. http://youtu.be/xi8AH-peorY

8. Arctic Monkeys – Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?

They perhaps needed to do something bold and different after many saw their fourth album as their comparative worst effort. What I like about this track is that it’s not obviously crammed with reverbing guitars or with Alex Turner rapidly delivering his vocal around it. There’s no hint of desert rock here either. It’s driven by a different source which gives the song an indelible groove while giving it bags of space for a more developed and tuneful vocal from Alex. Perfect example of less being more in terms of production. http://youtu.be/2spbZbOPu_w

7. Daft Punk featuring Julian Casablancas – Instant Crush

This one of the best tracks off Random Access Memories and it best combines the 70’s and 80’s influences with the typical Daft Punk sound and style. Throw in Julian Casalancas and you have one of the most tuneful and melodic tracks they’ve ever produced. You’re left vulnerable to the plucked, churning of the rhythm much like Andy Summers of The Police produced with Every Breath You Take in 1983. The vocoded vocal is poised in perfect balance to the synths and you can still detect the character of Julian’s voice beneath it. A fantastic piece of electro pop and a change of direction that worked for Daft Punk. http://youtu.be/a5uQMwRMHcs

6. Bombay Bicycle Club – Carry Me

Bombay Bicycle Club

A great progression of their music was suggested with Carry Me. Retaining the elements that make them successful is key and they did that. But the re-evaluation was not only needed but works to great results. A mix of subtlety and sheer boldness. All the fine raw elements clashing with the bold industrial sounds while still forging a great spacious and floating harmony and atmosphere. The result of a complex song being instantly accessible through recording skill. http://youtu.be/OZCfqhRgJ0Q

5. Savages – Husbands

Dark, angry , gritty and everything else. This song features the deep rooted bass line which remains about the only constant throughout. Above it is the grinding and screeching guitars with the clashing percussion. Smashing through it are the snarling and bold vocals that evoke a real raw and emotive feel that is shoved right up into your face http://youtu.be/rmJ_mcvRQsI

4. TOY – Endlessly

TOY followed their debut with a solid second effort in Join The Dots. It gave them a chance to refine and let their sound grow with Endlessly being the prime example of that. That theme of organised chaos holds true again here, yet it is directed into a more distinguished melody which makes it all the more enjoyable. Wonderfully spaced out and atmospheric despite the various elements in action. http://youtu.be/o1Yre4Gmb-E

3. Jagwar Ma – Man I Need

Man I Need’ is one of the standout tracks from Howlin which instantly sets the tone with the psychedelic whirring along with the wide scope and relaxed urgency of the percussion which is pretty typical of a psychedelic style. The rhythm makes an indelible groove, the percussion plies at it too. Also a magnificent clash of influences to create something new. A standout track from a standout album. http://youtu.be/K8KCPw9kYpo

2. The Knife – Full of Fire

This brother and sister duo from Sweden took the traditional notions of song structure, style and context and shredded them into a million pieces. They didn’t just progress their sound to the next level, but to the next light-year. It’s deep, dark and gritty. The industrial grinding of the lower pitched synths and set against the flashing synths sounds above them. The vocals combine with the instrumentals in such a eerie and unfamiliar way that it is at times a wonderfully terrifying experience. The fact it is a ten minute affair only enhances it as you lay on edge at each development of sound. It is almost too advanced to contemplate for some. But at least we now have a possible avenue for musical progression instead of recycling the last 50 years to no end. http://youtu.be/DoH6k6eIUS4

1. Rose Elinor Dougall – Future Vanishes

I have to admit that I initially had this track placed further down the top ten. But only after I listened to all the tracks again did I realise that this song was still ingrained in my mind. It then hit me that this track actually fulfils all the criteria I asked for. It has melodies and hook at every turn, it has a magnificent atmospheric quality to it, imaginative in it’s forms and lyrics and innovative in terms of combining pop and electronic features to a psychedelic track. On top of all this is it’s beautiful contradiction of its self. It can send you into an atmospheric and psychedelic trip into the depths of your thoughts or can leave you at the mercy of it’s rhythm and deep rooted groove. It does everything you ask for. Why shouldn’t this track top my list? Is it because she doesn’t sell out arenas or headline Reading and Leeds, or grace the top of the charts? I don’t think so. That’s not what I’m about, but this song is. http://youtu.be/JUqVhh0kuNA

Single Review – Gaz Coombes – Buffalo

Gaz Coombes is one of those 90’s Britpop figures still churning out material, and like many of them; its of a pretty decent standard. His solo debut Here Come The Bombs has a very solid album full of slightly spaced out acoustic and general rock moments. It seems that with his next release, the 37 year old is about the flex his muscles a lot more. ‘Buffalo is the first release from some recent recording sessions Gaz has been doing while working on his second album. The song is characterized by the solemn piano bursts, the more spaced out and edgier beat with the distorted and echoed effects. The verse then see’s him turn the volume up on his vocals with great power and just enough rough edged quality with large soundscapes exploding around him. The third phase of the song see’s it suitably tail off with an acoustic and distorted bass sound while he softly sings the song out. The song progressions and altering themes and tones are fantastic and if his second album is of the same nature then it will be a step up for sure.

http://youtu.be/xi8AH-peorY

Image from news.qthemusic.com