2017 Review – Best Album

Our votes for Best Album are as follows…

= 3. St. Vincent – Masseduction (14%) & The Horrors – V (14%)

2. Kendrick Lamar – DAMN. (15.7%)

1. Father John Misty – Pure Comedy (17.5%)

2017 Review – Best Production

Our votes for Best Production are as follows…

3. Paul Epworth – The Horrors – World Below (19.42%)

2. Steve Lacy & Anthony Tiffith – Kendrick Lamar – PRIDE (20.39%)

1. Annie Clark & Jack Antonoff – St. Vincent – Sugarboy (27.18%)

This Weeks Music Video with St. Vincent, Stormzy, U2, The Horrors, HAIM, The Shins, Maggie Rogers and Spoon

Single Review – The Horrors – Weighed Down

Third track from The Horrors soon to be released fifth album ‘V’, due September 22, ‘Weighed Down’ follows on from the bands lead single ‘Machine’ and the synth-pop-infused epic ‘Something To Remember Me By.’ With Faris Badwan’s pleading vocal tumbling over some pretty fuzz heavy melancholic guitar lines and the distant percussive echoes of Joe Spurgeon, the track contains a fairly darkened shoe-gaze style melody. Things builds into an expansive and, despite the tracks title, somehow light yet industrially edged single, which seems to hint ‘V’ is taking The Horrors in an ever so slightly different direction. 

Hayley Miller

Single Review – The Horrors – Something To Remember Me By

Electro-Pop was not something we expected to hear from The Horrors, especially after the dark industrial sounds of the lead single ‘Machine’ from their upcoming fifth album V (due for release on Sepetember 22nd). ‘Something to remember me by’ features a crisp Pop beat along with chiming synth chords. The chorus opens up into an array of shimmering electronica and wiry tunes played out by a further set of synths. Faris’ vocals do strain slightly to fit into the pacey and upbeat environment, but just about work into the blazer piece of electronic indulgence which looks to indicate a varied album, but you’d hope the darker landscapes or at least the method behind them prevails for their fifth album as there were only hints at those soundscaping methods in this track.

Owen Riddle

Single Review – The Horrors – Machine

The Horrors are hard to define. The Essex quintet rooted their sound in Shoegaze Psychedelia and Pop from their 2011 album Skying and their fourth album Luminous from 2014. Their fourth album was the first to not feature a major shift in sound. It was a refinement with several tweaks and changes, but for a group that has taken in several genres in just four albums, it seemed like a half sideways step albeit an excellently delivered one. That did beg the question whether The Horrors had settled down in their third guise and whether their fifth would be another vaguely similar effort. Their new single ‘Machine’ however, may see them forge the fourth chapter in their sound. The churning and grinding opening of their latest single instantly tells you where their sound has landed and the Josh Hayward’s razor sharp, distorted chords hammer the message home; The Horrors have gone industrial. It is the darkest and grittiest they have been since the Gothic Punk of their debut though with their new Industrial sound, this is measured and flickered back to you. Shades of post Pop Depeche Mode and Nine Inch Nails are natural, but with the psychedelic style of production (Paul Epworth has been brought in to produce this album) and the warbling haze of Faris Badwan’s vocals give this sound a distinct feel. It also allows the likes of Joshua Hayward a greater licsense to make guitars a greater part of their sound again. An exciting sound for 2017.

Owen Riddle

Single Review – Innerspace Orchestra – One Way Glass

Innerspace Orchestra

If you are fan of The Horrors, Rose Elinor Dougall or Fanfarlo, then this new collaborative trio will interest you. Innerspace Orchestra is made up of Tom Furse, Cathy Lucas and the aforementioned Dougall, who have joined forces over a mutual love of Shoegaze of which some of the members have already dabbled. They have unveiled their debut single ‘One Way Glass’ which is faithful in it’s expansive Shoegaze sweeps and extensions; in a way slightly evocative of The Horrors circa. 2011. This sound is more fine tuned with live drums and more prominent bass lines and rhythms. Rose’s wistful vocals blend wonderfully into the soundscapes, yet remain loud enough to direct the verses. It is an intriguing track which mainly a familiar piece of Shoegaze indulgence, but with more than enough talent to produce new and exciting things.

Owen Riddle @oriddleo1995

Top Ten Albums of 2014!!!

This year has been an excellent yeah full of skilled musicians and many masterful albums. Unlike in 2013 the mediocre has been pushed aside by the sheer mass of talent on display. Everyone from the emerging artists, legendary names and artists fully coming out of their shell to maximise their full potential have all made 2014 a year to remember; so much so that albums from artists such as Black Keys, Broken Bells, Temples, Mac DeMarco, The War on Drugs, Kasabian and more have all failed to crack the top ten when any of their albums would have done so in 2013.

10. Julian Casablancas & The VoidzTyranny

Julian Casablancas is a man who has already sought claim and success with The Strokes over a decade ago and also received recognition for his debut solo album back in 2010 which ultimately culminated with the accomplished ‘Instant Crush’ single in collaboration with Daft Punk. For 2014 he teamed up with the self made Voidz and intended to break down all barriers to experimentation as he combined a multitude of sounds and methods with the only piece of continuity being the fuzzy and murky recordings. Despite some aspects not gelling together; most of the album worked in a refreshing and eye opening fashion. With a little refinement and the odd tweak we could have been talking of Tyranny as number one on this list.

9. Damon Albarn – Everyday Robots

Full of mystery, intrigue, reflection and honest cynicism. An album that remains slightly lost in the thoughts and feelings of Damon Albarn, but what a place to be lost in. It flows or even trickles along from one song into the next and through peeks some moments of real beauty, but considered beauty that doesn’t require a big ‘Michael Bay’ style conclusion. It requires a considered and thoughtful person to listen to an album from a considered and thoughtful man (oh and one hell of a musician too) For a debut album too? Remember the name…. he’ll go far this one….

8. The Horrors – Luminous

Luminous was a slightly odd turn for The Horrors to take but one you would have imagined was going to come. They stopped and pondered. They looked at Skying and thought they could make it better. They did. The added sense of rhythm and connection with these songs are brilliant along with the revelation that was Faris’ vocal development and added ability. It just about justified the three year wait and despite not having the effortless soars and sweeps of their previous album, nor the varied and innovative nature of the sublime Primary Colours; it is still a wondrous creation as you’d expect from The Horrors, even if it was weirdly familiar.

7. Warpaint – Warpaint

An accomplished piece of expansive art rock. Despite it’s growing and expanding sounds that they produce with ease; this album usually incorporates a captivating central element to it’s songs that filter out a hopeful atmosphere into a murky and lingering gloom that keeps you perched on the edge of your seat as the trepidation never ceases. At times too, it really has a keen sense of rhythm and stylistic individuality. This isn’t an album for the ‘TV Dinner’ type of listener looking for a loud and crashing quick fix, but a perfect example of production discipline and manipulation around a strange yet keen sense of rhythm.

6. Wild Beasts – Present Tense

Wild Beasts produced an album that remained close and intimate as it kept all the bursts, transitions and awesome shifts in sound right by you; not in a distant and fading manner that is far off and out of reach, but something you felt coarse right through you as it bounces and shoots about your head with every synth glow and crisp riff. On top of this, it has an excellent lyrical dimension to it too which focuses it in even further, whether it’s the pulsating art rock, the sweeping electronica or the wistful ballads of Present Tense.

5. Perfume Genius – Too Bright

Too Bright was bold and remorseless with every track on what was a varied album of fluctuating tones and emotions. Some of the tracks soar high and deliver shivers, crisp and gleaming delivery and dramatics of the soft edged ballads. All of this was done in a consistently slick and stylish fashion whilst not sacrificing any ounce of musical feel or quality which is an ever present throughout the album.

4. Manic Street Preachers – Futurology

All hail the Manics! For they are back and better than ever. These are words I’d never imagined uttering again as I witnessed one of the legendary British bands sink slowly into their comfort zone. Leaving their dynamism and lyrical daring safely in the 1990’s. If last year’s Rewind The Film gave us a clue to this album then it still caught me off guard. They deliver their European sound gloriously and in a fluctuating way with each song as it either enthuses and delights the senses or drops you from emotional highs. Lyrically relevant and challenging as they always have been too. They’ll have to clear a space next to the Holy Bible, Everything Must Go and This is my Truth Tell Me Yours  trio as Futurology is about to join them on that mantle.

3. FKA Twigs – LP1

She has been a revelation and a saviour to pop music this year in much that Daft Punk were pop saviours in 2013. FKA Twigs went about it in a very different way though. She’s blended together parts of hip hop, R&B, electronica and pop melody with an understated, yet confident projection through her delicate, at times whispering vocal, but with complete melody throughout. She’s given the growing sophisticated pop genre a direction and a purpose with this innovative and refreshing album with both modern, relevant music and lyrics to go with it. Now the only problem she has is following this up for it will be a great task.

2. Beck – Morning Phase

Beck makes a long awaited return to steal you dangerously from this planet and into the soaring and unfamiliar unknowns. You don’t pass through each song, but it passes through you. From the quaking, roaring and frightful instrumentals to the warm and radiant expansive ballad, down to the comforting acoustic tracks; this album takes you on a journey like no other album has this year. It evokes so many different emotions that you almost feel empty and cold by the end of some tracks. The best vocal and instrumental delivery of any album so far this year.

1. St. Vincent – St. Vincent

Annie Clark has always given off little bits of wonder and innovation but this album is those things through and through. It’s the only thing you can rely on in this album for it is not linear in any way at all. Whether it is her swooning and creepy harmonious tracks, her synth driven visions, her lyrically marvelling and vocally outlandish tracks or those songs with guitars that pick you up by your collar and throw you into a mass of undulation, fusion, blocky fuzz or melodic distortion; it’s always fresh, urgent and unrelenting. In a time when so many pretenders mindlessly recycle and replay well documented sounds of the past; here you have the sound of progress. The sound of modernity. The sound of 2014.

Half Term Report – Top 10 albums of the year so far

For me 2014 has already eclipsed the previous year for musical diversity, creativity and innovation about all aspects of the craft; whether it’s through the production or lyrics, it has been a far better year already. The most obvious evidence is the lack of full marks in 2013 and the two full marks we’ve had already this year. On top of this, the average rating of 2013’s top 10 albums was 8.85 while the first half of 2014 has already produced a score of 9.05 and I’m sure that will rise by the time we get to December. So here are some of the contenders so far.

10. Bombay Bicycle Club – So Long, See You Tomorrow

Photo:

Despite having a slight knack of becoming a little too bogged down in similar subdued moments, it bats those moments back with some wonderful atmospheric bursts and rhythms that encapsulate so many unexpected hooks. Another change of direction and one of their best yet.

9. Kasabian 48:13

Another marvellous piece of re-imagination after the false start of their last album; 48:13 delivers their vision almost perfectly. It’s bold, in your face and you can’t ignore it. At other times it’s unsettling and thought provoking. Whether it’s driven through eerie electronica or EDM-enthused hard rock, it works. This is even more true live.

8. Damon AlbarnEveryday Robots

Full of mystery, intrigue, reflection and honest cynicism. An album that remains slightly lost in the thoughts and feelings of Damon Albarn, but what a place to be lost in. It flows or even trickles along from one song into the next and through peek some moments of real beauty. For a debut album too? Remember the name…. he’ll go far this one….

7. Warpaint – Warpaint

An accomplished piece of expansive art rock. Despite it’s growing and expanding sounds that they produce with ease; this album usually incorporates a captivating central element to it’s songs that filter out a hopeful atmosphere into a murky and lingering gloom that keeps you perched on the edge of your seat. A perfect example of production discipline and manipulation.

6. Bastard Mountain – Farewell Bastard Mountain

Admittedly this album by the British folk collective was something I wasn’t expecting to blow me away and in reality it didn’t. It did, however immerse me into the raw and natural soundscapes that were produced by more traditional means. An album that is inherently beautiful and a credit to their capable musicianship. As simple as that.

5. The Horrors – Luminous

Luminous was a slightly odd turn for The Horrors to take but one you would have imagined was going to come. They stopped and pondered. They looked at Skying and thought they could make it better. They did. The added sense of rhythm and connection with these songs are brilliant along with the revelation that was Faris’ vocal development and added ability. It just about justified the three year wait and despite not having the effortless soars and sweeps of their previous album, nor the varied and innovative nature of the sublime Primary Colours; it is still a wondrous creation as you’d expect from The Horrors, even if it was weirdly familiar.

4. Wild Beasts – Present Tense

File:Wild Beasts - Present Tense.jpg

Wild Beasts produced an album that remained close and intimate as it kept all the bursts, transitions and awesome shifts in sound right by you. Not in a distant and fading manner that is far off and out of reach, but something you felt coarse right through you as it bounces and shoots about your head with every synth glow and crisp riff. On top of this, it has an excellent lyrical dimension to it too which focuses it in even further.

3. Manic Street Preachers – Futurology

All hail the Manics! For they are back and better than ever. These are words I’d never imagined uttering again as I witnessed one of the legendary British bands sink slowly into their comfort zone. Leaving their dynamism and lyrical daring safely in the 1990’s. If last year’s Rewind The Film gave us a clue to this album then it still caught me off guard. They deliver their European sound gloriously and in a fluctuating way with each song as it either enthuses and delights the senses or drops you from emotional highs. Lyrically relevant and challenging as they always have been too. They’ll have to clear a space next to the Holy Bible, Everything Must Go and This is my Truth Tell Me Yours  trio as Futurology is about to join them on that mantle.

2. Beck – Morning Phase

File:Beck Morning Phase.jpg

Beck makes a long awaited return to steal you dangerously from this planet and into the soaring and unfamiliar unknowns. You don’t pass through each song, but it passes through you. From the bold, roaring and frightful instrumentals to the warm and radiant expansive ballads and down to the comforting acoustic tracks; this album takes you on a journey like no other album has this year. It evokes so many different emotions that you almost feel empty and cold by the end of some tracks. The best vocal and instrumental delivery of any album so far this year.

1. St Vincent – St. Vincent

Annie Clark has always given off little bits of wonder and innovation but this album is those things through and through. It’s the only thing you can rely on in this album for it is not linear in any way at all. Whether it is her swooning and creepy harmonious tracks, her synth driven visions, her lyrically marvelling and vocally outlandish tracks or those songs with guitars that pick you up by your collar and throw you into a mass of undulation, fusion, blocky fuzz or melodic distortion; it’s always fresh, urgent and unrelenting. In a time when so many pretenders mindlessly recycle and replay well documented sounds of the past; here you have the sound of progress. The sound of modernity. The sound of 2014.

 

It’s a cover up! Beyonce/The Horrors – Best Thing I Never Had

Back in 2011 Beyoncé had released her fourth studio album which was shockingly called Four. From a large allocation of seven singles released throughout the latter half of 2011 and into 2012 of twelve that made up the album; ‘Best Thing I Never Had’ was one the album’s more successful tracks. It achieved a number three slot in the U.K singles chart and the song even got herself to number one in South Korea. It’s your typical  21st century piano ballad which Beyoncé is probably Queen of. The cascading piano is joined by the muted thump of the percussion and the chorus is ushered in by a razor-like power guitar riff and led out by the urgency of a string section. Like a lot of her songs, it is designed to showcase her powerful vocal ability and she duly delivers in hitting every rise, fall and peak.

Later on in the year, Southend-on-Sea’s The Horrors had turned up at Maida Vale studios for their turn on BBC Radio 1’s Live Lounge with the band still promoting their third studio album with Skying. In 2014, bassist Rhys Webb had talked of his admiration for artists such as Beyoncé and perhaps he picked out this track to cover back in 2011. Their version opens with a subtle angle of Joshua Hayward’s trademark guitar shred which is then collected by the more rapid and purposeful percussion and bass line as they speed up the tempo of the song compared to the original. On top of this is the muted oscillations of Tom Cowan’s synths and all of which is anchored down by Faris with his quaking, deep lying vocal. As the song progresses the guitar screeches and the synths grate of them. Independent of the driving bass and percussion. This version is a little more aggressive and expansive. What this version lacks in melody it makes up for with inventiveness as you would expect from The Horrors.