Single Review – Chvrches – Miracle

The fourth and final peep into Chvrches forthcoming album comes in the form of Miracle; the Glaswegian trio’s most pop-centric offering to date. The new pop switch-up of sound for their third LP definitely pays off here, with quiet and atmospheric verses preceding mammoth choruses, filled with with epic bass and percussion. Lauren Mayberry’s soft vocal provides great contrast to the thrash of synth, yet matches perfectly to create a beautiful storm of a track. The band’s most radio-ready song might also be there most accomplished yet, and will no doubt bring in a wealth of new and well-deserved Chvrches fans.

Ellie Chivers

Single Review – Chvrches – Never Say Die

Love Is Dead is the title of Chvrches third studio album due for a May 25th release. The Glaswegian SynthPop group have got the in demand Greg Kurstin onboard as producer for this album and some of his influence is noticed on their new single ‘Never Say Die’. Though the gourd have always had the ability to feature a light and shade depth to their work, Greg had led them to the hushed, siren like openings of the song’s opening and enabled their bridge transitions to sound smoother and more gradual. Beyond that, he’s sharpened their sound further with heavier, louder beats leading to the chorus and grinding chords add to the sharper feel. It accentuates their hooks and allows Lauren Mayberry vocals to ride the tide of the music. It is a well worked piece of SynthPop, but it isn’t something that really takes Chvrches out of their comfort zone; more or less adding a charged cinematic element to their work. You do wonder where else they can take this particular sound as easy on the ears it is.

Owen Riddle

Catfish and the Bottlemen – The Ride Review

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Since the release of their debut The Balcony in 2014, the quintessential indie kid has been head-banging to the ferocious alt-rock tunes of Catfish and the Bottlemen. If the quirky name didn’t draw you in, it was the formidable guitars, warbling vocals or unashamedly audacious lyricism that cracked you. Yet, a certain degree of the audience was disappointed with an album that unravelled to be merely a cocktail of sex and drugs and alcohol masked by thunderous instruments. However, since the release of the single Soundcheck, anticipation has been rising for their follow-up album The Ride.
Firstly, Catfish have got to be commended for sticking to what they know. Their extravagant success – such as winning Best British Breakthrough Act at this year’s BRITS – hasn’t seemed to phase them, as they continue to appear content producing tracks that highlight the sheer power of a humble guitar and vocals. Basically, they’re not the type to throw in a techno bass and say ‘Hey, look how with-the-times we are!’ And what they do with a few humble guitars and vocals is just as admirable. The choruses and instrumental sections have been noticeably enriched since The Balcony days, with guitars even more robust and blazing drums to make each number all the more arena-worthy. There’s a hint of hearty Oasis-ness in the tracks Oxygen and Heathrow particularly, versus the seething riffs explored in Soundcheck, Red and 7. There’s no doubt that energy and confidence seeps throughout the track list. There is a certain authenticity to this album; it sounds as though on Glasgow, Van McCann and his guitar have been recorded on the same microphone, not to mention the hint of sweet sincerity in the lyrics of the song, that include taking this track’s love interest “over the threshold”. At the same time, the band couldn’t resist adding further references to their omnipotent drunken state when they describe “falling home drunk”. Their continued worship of the aforementioned sex and drugs and alcohol undermines an album so instrumentally resilient. It forces me into avoiding taking this supreme indie force completely seriously. I appreciate the raw, real-life approach that it has on the songs, but I think it’s fair to say that two albums centred around the same droning topic can get a little wearisome.
Red is your archetypal Catfish crowd-pleaser. It opens with grungy guitars, almost quite Nirvana-esque, followed by deliciously blatant lyrics barked by McCann. An especially vigorous hook precedes a raging chorus, and Catfish demonstrate why they are top of the indie league. Juxtaposing this is the softer Heathrow, in which the lyrics actually describe a love with some substance, and evoke a touch of sympathy for McCann, who is “nothing much” compared to the girl he is striving for. A simple assembly of basic chords paired alongside heartfelt vocals makes for a pleasingly candid ballad, providing a harmonious break from the thrashing guitars.
Overall, The Ride has confirmed Catfish are gratified in making no-nonsense rock hits, guaranteed to make you smile. Their instrumental talent is unmistakable, yet their uncompromising subject matter does put the album on the verge of immature. But, whether you like it or not, Catfish and the Bottlemen – and their alcohol – are here to stay.

Catfish and the Bottlemen – The Ride = 6.5/10

Eleanor Chivers

 

Single Review – Chvrches -Warning Call

It seems that whenever you need a soundtrack these days, you need to call for the cinematic sound of Chvrches. The free-running game Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst has done just that and the Glaswegian trio duly delivered with ‘Warning Call’. In its sound it is a little removed from their second album Every Open Eye from last year. It features a steady drum machine beat, shimmering synths and plunging drops towards the chorus. Lauren Mayberry’s vocals synchronise with the electronic chords effortlessly and they extend her melodies in a soaring fashion. A simple ode to the sound that has established Chvrches on the musical map before they move on to new challenges.

Owen Riddle

Primal Scream – Chaosmosis Review

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Scottish rock band Primal Scream have released their 11th album titled ‘Chaosmosis’. The band was formed in 1982 in Glasgow by Bobby Gillespie and Jim Beattie, however the band now consists of Bobby Gillespie, Andrew Innes, Martin Duffy, Simone Butler, and Darrin Mooney. Since this is their 11th album, Primal Scream already know who they are and what they like. It seems as though for this album, they are displaying their talents, and perfecting their musical arrangement skills. ‘Chaosmosis’ is a very well put together album, with one or two shining examples.

The album begins with ‘Trippin’ On Your Love’, a cleverly titled track with lots of percussion and a psychedelic vibe. This opening is a fun, upbeat way to start the album. Next is ‘(Feeling Like A) Demon Again’, which starts off with a playful electronic tune. This is contrasted with the monotone sullen vocals, which picks up in the chorus, turning out to be a cool alternative track. It also has excellent use of the keyboard to compliment the tone of the song. ‘I Can Change’ is the third track, which starts off as a slow electronic track. The song builds, adding different layers to create a complex sounding track with high pitched vocals. As the song goes on, the vocals become more and more stressed, which gives an excellent effect. ‘100% Or Nothing’ is next, which begins with quiet guitar. Suddenly you hear a big bang of the drums and the song comes into full swing, which fits well with the title of the song. This track faintly resembles a modernised power ballad, which Primal Scream pull off very well. ‘Private Wars’ is a guitar prominent track, which makes it sound quite folksy. The female vocalist provides a pleasant accompaniment to the chilled out sounds of the song. This isn’t one of my favourites but is still a decent track.

The next song is ‘Where The Light Gets In’, an alternative rock track with an 80’s vibe to it. Primal Scream mixed rock and electronica to make an enjoyable combination. ‘When The Blackout Meets The Fallout’ is more of a dark sounding track. The electronic sounds are melded with vocals edging closer to screams as the song continues. This is a very energetic track which stands out from the rest of the album. ‘Carnival Of Fools’ opens to simple electronic tune reminiscent of 90’s video games, which continues throughout the track. This is met with high pitched vocal harmonies, making it quite a sweet track. ‘Golden Rope’ is next, which is a promising alt-rock song with uplifting backing vocals. Towards the end however, it becomes a little bit repetitive and too long to be as good as it could be. The final track is ‘Autumn In Paradise’, which mixes guitar, percussion and hints of electronica to create a solid track which rounds off the album well. ‘Autumn in Paradise’ really shows off the band’s talents in this track, as everything comes together smoothly.

Overall, this is a good effort for Primal Scream. Their talents are clearly shown in this album. They’ve been around long enough to know what they like and what their fans like, so I would say keep up the good work. I look forward to seeing what they have in store for us next.

Primal Scream – Chaosmosis = 8/10

Dionne Thompson

Single Review – Frightened Rabbit – Get Out

Selkirk Indie quartet Frightened Rabbit are to release their fifth studio album on Painting of a Panic Attack on April 8th and have released a new single with ‘Get Out’. It is a track that lends from and fuses understated electronica and bracing Indie Rock peaks together to form a song with a clear progression as the song builds in its verses for the sudden jolt of the chorus and the sweeping soundscapes they provide. It has indeed been done before, but nevertheless it has been achieved here with some success and a clear definition.

Owen Riddle @oriddleo1995

Chvrches – Every Open Eye Review

Glasgow’s premier synth-pop outfit Chvrches have released Every Open Eye today as the follow up to their 2013 debut The Bones of What You Believe and have spoken about taking “a less is more approach” to their sound for what is the infamous second album. Refining their sound is probably a wise choice as opposed to forcing it upon people again or gambling on unknowns. This album is all about the honing and refinement of their initial sound so with that in mind we can be assured of another solid effort with some subtle improvements with a greater emphasis on the emotive element of their sound. With this in mind, it might not be a musical innovation, but it should remain at least as dynamic and infectious as their debut.

The lead single from the album ‘Leave a Trace’ is indicative of this sees the group sounding leaner, cleaner, more tuneful and direct. The instrumentation performs the same function it did on their earlier material, but are noticeably sharper and more melodic. The same can be said for vocalist Lauren Mayberry who now projects her vocal just as confidently ahead of the instrumentation as opposed to sitting amongst it previously. This emphasises the direct musical route taken here and heightens the focus on the candid and passionate content of the lyrics.  ‘Never Ending Circles’ showcases their pop sensibility and melodic capabilities driven by Lauren Mayberry’s soft, yet driven vocals and vocal instrumentation. This is further pushed by airy trickling electronica in the chorus which is offset with grinding and distorted synths to bridge to the verses. You can sense the development in their sound with their juxtaposition of those industrial sounds with the more pop orientated styles and how they have managed to smooth over the transition between the two is further testament to their growing ability. In ‘Clearest Blue’ they demonstrate the gentle shift in their style in a more prominent fashion with this Dance track. As has been the case with their singles so far this year, they have made their sound leaner, cleaner and more direct, but additionally with this track, they have channelled their more industrial electronic sound into at a rapid pace and it resembles a Dance inspired track with those heavier beats. These are met with the wistful vocals of Lauren Mayberry which go a long way towards making the track more engaging as a piece of energetic pop as opposed to a frigid piece of Dance or Light Techno.

‘Keep You On My Side’ delivers heavy driving beats along with chiming overtones in an effective combination of old  European dance tracks with modern synth pop and with Lauren Mayberry’s assured, yet potent delivery makes for a dramatic and powerful track. It is immaculately produced and balances the heavy with the light brilliantly and plays each tone off each other going on to add a richness to their sound. ‘High Enough To Carry Over’ is a more ballad-inspired track with the soft waves of chiming electronica and a more soulful delivery from Martin Doherty who also provides another marked vocal development. ‘Playing Dead’ is another theatrical piece of melodic synth-pop with powerful vocal deliveries as if from a futuristic musical. It is driven by a rumbling bass line and expanded with strokes of electronica. The other tracks are examples of the group’s sharper and more direct pop sound with varying structures and rhythms. The album ends on ‘Afterglow’ for a rare piece of slow and considered music from the group with whirring organs playing the leading role and largely letting Lauren’s vocals showcase themselves. Occasionally the organs rise in volume and peak opportune moments to maximise the impact of the harmonies on offer. This album is one that shows Chvrches are here to stay and in being smart they’ve produced a more mature and powerful body of music and it is developed in every sense which leaves much promise for their third album.

Chvrches – Every Open Eye = 8/10

Owen Riddle  @oriddleo1995

Single Review – Chvrches – Never Ending Circles

Chvrches new single ‘Never Ending Singles’ showcases their pop sensibility and melodic capabilities driven by Lauren Mayberry’s soft, yet driven vocals and vocal instrumentation. This is further pushed by airy trickling electronica in the chorus which is offset with grinding and distorted synths to bridge to the verses. You can sense the development in their sound with their juxtaposition of those industrial sounds with the more pop orientated styles and how they have managed to smooth over the transition between the two is further testament to their growing ability. For once Every Open Eye could actually be a promising second album where so many falter.

Owen Riddle @oriddleo1995

Single Review – CHVRCHES – Leave a Trace

Glasgow’s finest synthpop outfit CHVRCHES yesterday announced the eagerly awaited follow-up to their well received debut LP The Bones of What You Believe with Every Open Eye which can be expected in September. They’ve talked of pursuing a “less is more approach” with this upcoming album and a more emotive album. The lead single from the album ‘Leave a Trace’ is indicative of this sees the group sounding leaner, cleaner, more tuneful and direct. The instrumentation performs the same function it did on their earlier material, but are noticeably sharper and more melodic. The same can be said for vocalist Lauren Mayberry who now projects her vocal just as confidently ahead of the instrumentation as opposed to sitting amongst it previously. This emphasises the direct musical route taken here and heightens the focus on the candid and passionate content of the lyrics. This seems to be a very noticeable refinement from the group who look set to move up another level with this matured and enhanced sound.

Owen Riddle @oriddleo1995

Single Review – Chvrches – Dead Air

Despite not having a new album for the foreseeable future, Glasgow’s Chvrches have still been keeping themselves in peoples consciousness with late and reworked releases of tracks from their debut LP The Bones of What You Believe and contributions to film soundtracks such as the BBC Radio 1 reworking of the Drive score by Zane Lowe and now their appearance on the soundtrack for the upcoming Hunger Games film. The track is ‘Dead Air’ and offers up another dose of the crisp, chiming synth-pop that Chvrches have utilised so well over the last couple of years and of which they are veritable kings and queens. This song just boosts that with a song that offers up the chimes and pop melodies along with a sense of scale and depth that gives the song an added dimension as opposed to a standard pop song. Apart from that, they have oiled and kept their style in a pristine condition for projects demanding that sound. Though you hope they make a degree of progress for their next album, for now they are just treating their fans very well indeed with yet more material.