Savages – Adore Life Review

Savages burst onto the stage in fiery fashion with their debut album Silence Yourself back in 2013 and with it they injected new life into what people agree on being as a fusion of Post Punk and Noise Rock. It was a truly modern rock album and with it they demonstrated that Guitar music was not dead and buried just yet, at least not with them. The bold and aggressive revelations both musically and lyrically should have seen them receive greater recognition, but alas with Adore Life there is another opportunity for the quartet to confirm their talent and that they’re here to stay.

 

‘The Answer’ sees them utilising their punk riffs reverberating around the crashing percussion and Jehnny Beth’s alert and siren-like vocals that sing in a detached fashion from the musical forms around her. The vocals act almost as a counter melody to the music. Both the vocals and instrumentation remain unrelenting in dragging you through the song’s progression. One key point here is the more washed out effects over the guitars which is the main shift away from the isolated sounds of their debut Silence Yourself.  ‘T.I.W.Y.G’ is much more direct and immediate than the first single and is a little more reminiscent of their earlier work with seething percussion which folds into a similarly aggressive bass-line. Emerging from this rumble are the perfectly poised riffs echoing out from the narrow sound. One key difference with this track is its unrelenting, yet tuneful rhythm and a more distorted feel to the sound, particularly the bass-line. ‘Adore’ sees them take it down a notch and deliver a dark and melancholy tune. The slow twitching of the bass and strong reverberating echo of the guitars. Through this emerges Jehnny Beth’s distinctive, melodic roar as the notes rise, but retaining a composed and eerily gentle tone through most of the song. The simplistic nature of the song and the arrangement makes the lyrics of human vulnerability ring out in an emphatic fashion. Beyond that, the song is a beautiful work for it’s minimalism and the understated power running through it.

 

‘Evil’ is evocative of their earlier work in terms of the general structure, but it is more minimalistic in its delivery, yet fills up the wide spaces they create. The production in this sense compliments their sound perfectly here to generate a song of urgency, but of depth too. ‘I Need Something New’ is almost a rapidly delivered poem with the music acting a reactionary element to the performance. Jehnny’s vocal range fires from the heights and depths with great power. ‘Surrender’ introduces itself a heavily distorted fashion as the guitar and bass groans through the effects. Through this are lighter synths and of course the booming vocals; these shine through in the chorus. It is a track with rougher edges and a hardened attitude. ‘Mechanics’ features a dark and mysterious aesthetic with carefully placed reverberating guitars and echoed bass lines. The track ends an album that is varied in it’s moments of contemplation and focussed rage. At times it is cleaner and clearer with the production but at others it is rough edged and distorted. These highlight the sparse moments and the energetic moments.

Savages – Adore Life = 8.5/10

 

Owen Riddle @oriddleo1995

Single Review – Savages – The Answer

The wonderfully aggressive and abrasive Savages have announced their return with a new single ‘The Answer’ which is to come from their impending second album Adore Life. The new track sees the London based quartet continue with their punk riffs reverberating around the crashing percussion and Jehnny Beth’s alert and siren-like vocals sing in a detached fashion from the musical forms around her and the vocals act almost as a counter melody to the music. Both the vocals and instrumentation remain unrelenting in dragging you through the song’s progression. One key point here is the more washed out effects over the guitars which is the main shift away from the isolated sounds of their debut Silence Yourself which was one of the highlights of 2013. The jury is still out on whether their second attempt on January 22nd will be as prominent.

Owen Riddle @oriddleo1995

Top 10 Albums of 2013

Now that I have listed my top ten tracks and now that it is 2014, I’ve decided to roll off my top ten albums from last year. Again, if your favourite artists art present they either didn’t make the cut or weren’t reviewed by me last year; for this is a list compiled from albums that have appeared on the blog in 2013. However, the listing is this time based on the rating I gave each album and not on my current opinion. Anyway…

 

10. Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires of the City

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The band had certainly tried a few different methods with the pitch shifting which was also used on the drums and the guitar was recorded straight onto the recording programme while various different recording techniques were used to ‘soften’ the album and make it listenable. They have certainly done that and while being very careful with the production. It also has a slight edge to it as well and therefore results in their best album yet. They have grown older and their music has grown with it to create a very unique at times and mature sound.

 

9. Manic Street Preachers – Rewind The Film

Rewind The Film is not too generic and its by no means so experimental and conceptualized that it isn’t relatable or translatable. The lyrics are and music share equal footing and in general it just shows that the Manics are still capable of being truly creative. probably their most complete album since Everything Must Go and This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours in terms of the lyrical challenges posed and the moods and emotions created via their light and airy production.

 

8. Factory Floor – Factory Floor

It’s not too far away from what The Knife did earlier on in 2013, but perhaps it has a more subtle edge to it. For now, it’s main strengths will be it’s ability to fill dance floors as well as sound dark, scathing and haunting. All in all it’s a great effort and was probably worth the long wait we had to endure for a full studio album.

 

7. Daft Punk – Random Access Memories

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Even though tracks like ‘Get Lucky’ have been played to death in 2013; it’s a proper song in how it’s been crafted by musicians, written by musicians, produced by musicians and played by musicians and talented ones at that, with bags of experience. The fact this sort of music is topping the charts whether it’s your thing or not should be celebrated. Thomas Bangalter pointed towards the likes of Rumours by Fleetwood Mac, Dark Side Of The Moon by Pink Floyd and Sgt Pepper from The Beatles as “the ones that take you on a journey for miles and miles.” They all served as some of the several models for creating an album that provides that journey which they have managed to achieve in the sense that you can become engrossed and lost within it. Perhaps it is their best work in how they are more have proved successful with this different approach.

 

6. The Knife – Shaking The Habitual

All in all this album is just beyond me. Even if you don’t quite get some of the songs at first you should listen again and try to deconstruct the wall of different and varying sounds. Some of which fill the song but others leave the songs with lots of space to generate a real atmosphere while at times terrifying me. With this they have challenged the norm’s of modern music to the points where a lot of people won’t appreciate it because they don’t understand it. I think had I reviewed this a month ago, then it would have a much higher rating.

 

5. Connan Mockasin – Caramel

 Though the sound and tone of Caramel isn’t moved and shifted around so much; it would be wrong for that to happen as it would break down the larger flow and feel of the album. It is nearly impossible and it almost feels wrong to plant a mark on it. A surreal and coolly insane and outrageous event from someone being himself, taking risks and being bold.

 

4. Arctic Monkeys – AM

AM falls down on very few occasions and when it does, it’s only to re-envisage some great Desert Rock, Swooning Ballads etc. The rest of it has been new takes on worn out sounds, showing that you can be innovative in what you don’t bring to a song and with at times fluctuating styles within songs. Josh Homme’s presence has for once not been an overbearing one but something that has furthered their vision and aim. It showed everyone what still can be done with guitar music in 2013. I know it can be easy, but don’t let all the crazed fangirls and boys put you off it because it’s an album that maintains a very high standard throughout. I perhaps think that there are some better albums with a lower ranking in this list, but nevertheless it deserves it’s place in the top ten.

 

3. Savages – Silence Yourself

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The musical discipline and obvious talent of all the members is clear to see and they don’t seem to have any hidden agenda or motivation either. They lay everything out in their music alone. Not even in their image. This for me is refreshing and they have left themselves with the difficult task of the second album. But that dreaded phase I doubt will effect them at all. They seem so cool and at ease with their music; behind the urgency and rapid nature of it all and Silence Yourself is the result. Just be sure to take in the depth and meaning of the album too, so don’t judge it on first impressions.

 

2. Pinknoizu – The Drop

All in all this album is highly varied and you should never get bored listening to it. That’s what makes a great album like Sgt Pepper for example. Not only that but the composition and production is also reflective of that variedness that exists across the album. A varied tone that is driven by the mutations and combinations of sounds the Danish group have been able to put together in order to forge new and interesting soundscapes. On top of that; it gets easily manipulated and heightened by the production and recording prowess the group attained. It’s a real treat.

 

1. Jagwar Ma – Howlin

They have justified all the fuss about them for sure to create a very ‘trippy’ album but an album that is almost perfect on a technical level. Jono Ma’s understanding and meticulous attention to detail on getting the right amount of each element in their songs is a great skill to have. The album does go beyond the combination of their past influences to create an album that sounds familiar yet also new and exciting. All this and it’s only their debut album of which many others have very safe and rather dull debuts with perhaps too much focus on the singles. This is not the case with Howlin. Beyond that they have the basic aspects of variation and at times rhythmic affairs intercepted by more sparse musical artistry.

 

 

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

Savages – Silence Yourself Review

There is quite a bit of excitment about Savages upon the release of their debut album Silence Yourself and the Post punk revival girl band have certianly been causing a stir over about the last two years in tiny, cramped London venues. Places they have been completely owning with the frenzied energy of lead singer Jehnny Beth and the wild gritty instrumentals. Their goal is to get people emotionally and physically invloved with music and rediscover that sort of musical pleasure that hasn’t been experienced in a way such as this since P.I.L or Joy Division and with this they are a sort of unique echo into the past but with an attitude and application that perhaps many musicians could take on; maybe not whole-heartedly but certainly in some ways a lot could be learned from Savages.

‘Husbands’ is a song that lit the fuse in terms of grabbing everyones attention by the collar in what is one of many songs that convey the feeling of an intense live performance from them into an album song. The bass is constantly fluxuating up and down the neck of the bass guitar in such an effortless fashion like a twisted version of McCartney on all the LSD he could ever want! They band themselves switch from the muted sound for every line Jehnny sings and to a rousing blast of guitar and cymbals at the end of it and then falling back into the bass driven, lyrical section of the song for another line with such discipline. Even when she whispers ‘husbands’ it’s in such a frantic and ‘on edge’ manner that is complimented by that bass line yet again. A great song to get the intrigue going. ‘She Will’ is one of the centre points of the album that starts of with the gradual build up of all the musical elements in a rather considered manner that allows focus on the vocals and lyrics which demonstrate Jehnny’s vocals well and the build up of grinding guitar for the chorus that leads on to just her vocals and the constant cymbal clash and the repetitive nature of the song towards the end ushers in the rythm and bass guitars back in and results in a further build up of sound from all those involved.

With ‘Shut Up’ the bass again from Ayse Hassan just kills me while the song works in harmony amongst that element along with the rousing and rapid guitar sections and again the cymbal driven purges of percussion inbetween. Lets not forget Jehnny’s vocals that again take the song to a higher level of intensity to mirror their aims about what they wish to do to people’s perception of music perhaps. With ‘I Am Here’ the band in effortless fashion take on a start-stop approach thats works in a wonderful way to sort of emphasise the end of every line sung. ‘City’s Full’ is jam packed with deep and dark bass lines and disstorted guitars which leads to a disstorted bass line for the chorus that provides a dark and intense hook to the song and to be honest Hassan’s bass lines provide that element throughout the album. Lyrically and vocally Jehnny Beth is both thought provoking and wild and intense dually which for most musicians; it’s hard to do either. Gemma Thompsons guitar provides the song with an alertness which gives scope for Jehnny’s vocal performance and the constant crash of cymbals from Fay Milton keeps the song on it’s own edge too and simply adds to the intensity (yes I said it again). Their ideas about image and music should certainly be heeded amongst other musicians but whether the album is for everyone im not sure. It might be too much for someone else but not for me. Even it it was the musical discipline and obvious talent of all the members is clear to see and they don’t seem to have any hidden agenda or motivation either, They lay everything out in their music alone. Not even in their image. This for me is refreshing and they themselves have left themselves with the difficult task of the second album. But that dreaded phase I doubt will effect them at all. They seem so cool and at ease with their music and Silence Yourself is the result. Just be sure to take in the depth and meaning of the album too, so don’t judge it on first impressions.

Savages – Silence Youself = 9/10

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Images from ( thefirenote.com / http://en.wikipedia.org )