Single Review – Maximo Park – What Equals Love?

With their upcoming sixth studio album Risk To Exist on its way for an April 21st release, the Newcastle based group have released their third outright single with ‘What Equals Love?’. With the tracks released so far being rather pointed in tone lyrically (which is more than welcome) this track seems to echo Paul Smith’s ability to portray difficulties in human relations with such musicality and sing-a-long quality. It is a nice shift in tone and variety for the album and though using the same tools, this track has many Pop qualities with infectious rhythms, melodies and harmonies. They are a band that have been sending out solid pieces of music, but this is stronger track that will serve their album and their gigs well. 

Owen Riddle 

Field Music – Commontime Review

Field Music are back with their fifth album ‘Commontime’. The Sunderland born brothers, David and Peter Brewis, although rarely heard in mainstream media, have collaborated with such names as Maximo Park and The Futureheads. Their new album is further proof that they could, and should, be seen and heard more frequently in popular music culture.

The album opens with “The Noisy Days are Over’, a loud and energetic track. The first sound to be heard is bold and a bit startling, fitting with the overall message of the song which is to wake up to reality. The overall track is very catchy, with lots of percussion, guitar and a touch of funk. ‘Disappointed’ is another track which could easily become popular. The mellow tones blend with the smooth sounds of the guitar, giving this song a blues-rock feeling. The vocals in this track are divine, giving stunning vocal harmonies which turn this into a stand out sound for Field Music.

’I’m Glad’ has a promising beginning, with a good beat and solid guitar solo; it is clear to see that Field Music have exceptional musical writing abilities. The song, however, is let down by lyrics, which don’t seem to gel with the melody of the music. It is a less polished track, and, in my opinion, seems unfinished and lets the album down a little. Another notable track is ‘It’s a Good Thing’, which is an alternative-rock style song which is brought to life by the stunning vocals. The heavy beat is a superb contrast to the mellow violin, and adds depth to the song. With simplistic, memorable lyrics and beautiful vocal harmonies, this could be a popular track for Field Music.

With a drum-heavy alternative sound, ‘Commontime’ reaches a wide audience. Field Music’s talent stretches to a plethora of genres, with rock, funk and folk being just a few of the sounds touched upon in this album. Although they are an acquired taste, with as many repelled by their music as drawn to it, there are a number of tracks to this album that could be enjoyed by everyone, no matter their musical preference. It is clear to see that a lot of thought went into this album, it has a very deliberate feel, and the musical talent shines through. It is, however, let down by a few anomalies, making this album seem like a diamond in the rough, rather than the finished work of art it should be. Overall, an unexpected gem from these North East lads. Field Music are touring in the UK until 20th March.

Field Music – Commontime = 8/10

Dionne Thompson

Lanterns on the Lake – Beings Review

The Newcastle based Lanterns on the Lake have been providing us with their symphonic rock sound for around five years since their debut album and now they’re here with their third, titled Beings. The follow up to 2013’s Until the Colours Run looks to generate a solid and more tangible identification with the bands graceful and delicate sound which are often delivered with lyrical references to the environment of Northumbria around the band’s leader Hazel Wilde.

The lead single ‘Faultlines’ opens with Hazel’s vocals hanging off the sweeping piano chords which hints at a rapidity that is soon signified by the introduction of the pace setting bass lines and percussion and it takes on a structure and tone similar to that of a Killers track circa 2009. The track repeats its pattern of pulling the pace setting instrumentation in and out to add a sense of depth in the track which is widened as the music gradually becomes more washed out with the vocals sweeping to their heights. ‘Send Me Home’ is a little more typical of the group with the steady piano chords and Hazel’s vocals meandering through them elegantly as she sings about wishing to get away from the daily grind and go home. The track has a natural atmosphere accentuated by a complimentary production which makes the track soar. Familiar but something that is difficult to become sick of. The title track is similar in this tone and feel with the gradually rising sound advanced through at time rapid percussion in what is a sombre musical environment.

‘The Crawl’ opens with the lone guitar riff with its slight echo and from here the instrumentation is gradually increased with the piano first, the slow, stomping percussion and the clearer and more powerful vocals. The start to expand and grow as do the guitar parts and from here the song builds in an ever increasing light. ‘Stepping Down’ is one of the more experimental tracks on the album with its murky and shuffling electronica and samples with a eerie chime hanging over them along with Hazel’s lingering vocal. It is one of the highlights of the album in it’s understated ambition. This is not an album that is going to make you get up and dance, let’s be clear. This album is one contemplation and immersion and if its one thing this band does well is immerse you with their music and lyrical content. It’s business as usual with this album with a few subtle hints at new avenues of exploration.

Lanterns on the Lake – Beings = 8/10

Really Good Remixes – Maximo Park – Leave This Island (Mogwai Remix)

Maximo Park and their sorrowful single ‘Leave This Island’ from their 2014 album Too Much Information is often viewed as an appeal to Scotland during it’s growing desire for Independence from the Northumbrian band, to consider the region in the debate. It seems only apt that this song was remixed by Glaswegian band Mogwai who do a brilliant job of giving the song even darker and more sorrowful depths musically, but interestingly remove the lyrics and by extension the message of the song. Nevertheless the sonic charge they give the song works wonders in achieving their aims whilst not changing the musical emphasis of the it.

Owen Riddle @oriddleo1995