Warpaint – Heads Up Review 

The talented and capable Art Rockers from California are back with their third studio album Heads Up and with it, Warpaint are looking to ‘add maturity to their sound’ according to Jenny Lee Lindberg. It has been a sound that always adds something more and tends to be more fluctuating within the realms of the three to six minutes of their tracks. This is yet to be pulled together into a brilliant body of work, yet they are clearly a talented bunch who can produce masterful tracks, just not that masterful album just yet. The sharper focus they’ve adopted for their third studio album could be what’s required to get that truly great album they’re capable of. 

The first track from their third album is ‘New Song’ and it is another great single that makes the most of the changes to their sound. This new song has a noticeable change of tone and is in effect a smooth and coolly delivered piece of Dance Pop. The song maximises vocal samples and slick harmonies that echo out into the shifting rhythm sections and the rolling bass. The song reflects a welcome injection of energy without the band sacrificing their core sound, which remains with the atmospheric overtures enhancing the catchy features. Beyond that, it is a bold statement of intent from them. ‘Whiteout’ is a track that has a smoother feel and more gradual progression as opposed to ‘New Song’ with open bass lines and loose riffs ahead of brushed percussion. It shifts and chimes with a relaxed feel that builds to a subtle tension as the song goes on with the lax vocals nudging the song along to this end. It’s a cool and easily delivered track, but perhaps lacks much variation of tone without being good enough to stay the same throughout. ‘So Good’ is a low slung, kicked back piece of Rock leaning Pop with oscillating bass lines and crisp, prominent percussion. The song is given a greater prominence by how the guitars and electronica are brought to the fore with a raised volume compared to the other instrumentation. This gives the song immediate appeal and the vocal unisons make for a fun, but well thought out track with which the lyrical lapses can be forgiven. 

The title track reflects a new side to the groups sound for they embrace a graceful piano ballad intro and they smoothly shift sound into a close and immediate of quick rock with heavy bass lines and ringing riffs. Perhaps they don’t go far enough with the bracing piano chords of the intro as it is dropped by the end of what ends up being a solid track, but just that. ‘Don’t Wanna’ is trimmed with a dark tone from low synth chords and a lower vocal key. When coupled with tumbling percussion and heavily chiming electronica it only forces the issue. The track signals another avenue in dark electronica that the band perhaps didn’t follow through with. ‘By Your Side’ is another track that hints at this style though the disjointed and unpredictable progression of the track seems a little too obvious here and they lose the song as a result. ‘The Stall’ offers grungier base with an atmospheric edge and is one of the highlights of the album for it’s brilliant arrangement and delivery. Sadly the album doesn’t offer up enough of these moments and despite the album offering up intrigue as Warpaint often do, it always met with wondrous discoveries. It is an album of a high standard, but disappointing when you find they had all the right ideas, but did not make the most of them. We still await that great Warpaint album.

Warpaint – Heads Up = 7.5/10

Owen Riddle 

Single Review – Warpaint – Whiteout

The Californian Indie and Alt rockers are to release their third studio album Heads Up next week and prior to this, they’ve unveiled another single from it with the single ‘Whiteout’. The track has a smoother feel and more gradual progression as opposed to ‘New Song’ with open bass lines and loose riffs ahead of brushed percussion. It shifts and chimes with a relaxed feel that builds to a subtle tension as the song goes on with the lax vocals nudging the song along to this end. It’s a cool and easily delivered track, but perhaps lacks much variation of tone without being good enough to stay the same throughout. 

Owen Riddle

Single Review – Warpaint – New Song


The talented and capable Art Rockers from California are back with their third studio album Heads Up for September 23rd and with it, Warpaint are looking to ‘add maturity to their sound’ according to Jenny Lee Lindberg. It has been a sound that always adds something more and tends to be more fluctuating within the realms of the three to six minutes of their tracks. This is yet to be polled together into a brilliant body of work, yet they are clearly a talented bunch who can produce masterful tracks, just not that masterful album just yet. The first track from their third album is ‘New Song’ and it is another great single that makes the most of the changes to their sound. This new song has a nori able change of tone and is in effect a smooth and coolly delivered piece of Dance Pop. The song maximises vocal samples and slick harmonies that echo out into the shifting rhythm sections and the rolling bass. The song reflects a welcome injection of energy without the band sacrificing their core sound, which remains with the atmospheric overtures enhancing the catchy features. 

Owen Riddle

Single Review – Warpaint – No Way Out / I’ll Start Believing

Warpaint: Double-video for “Disco//Very” and “Keep it Healthy”

Warpaint had announced that they’d be releasing a number of new songs this year when they released ‘No Way Out’ and now they have released an extended version of the track that opens in the typical atmospheric and haunting fashion that served Warpaint so well on their last album with their wistful and heavy vocal harmonies. These sweep over the isolated echoes of the bass lines and the rhythm section and a gradual growth of tempo driven by the percussion and the soaring and ever more powerful vocals. A refined bonus track from last years self titled LP. ‘I’ll Start Believing is less about a sweeping an expansive atmosphere with a more immediate and urgent feel replacing to it with the deep rooted bass lines and ringing lead guitars running over them. The vocals still have that haunting air about them, but they have a more sharper focus around the more closely fitting instrumentals. Typically well worked tracks from Warpaint with some new perspectives.

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.

 

Forget What The NME Says. This Is The True Face of Musical Progression.

I won’t get bogged down in the details, but I recently wrote an article about how musical progression, on the face of it is in grave decline compared to the second half of the twentieth century and it seems many are living in some ignorant bliss about it all. In what was largely a rant against the ‘Indie Hipster’ I did paint a pretty bleak picture about the majority of those who weren’t pushing music forward so I thought I’d redress that and show you who is.

 

Factory Floor and The Knife

Dark and gritty synthetic churnings and grindings of an industrial nature. A collage and a deep texture of different electronic sounds burrowing beneath the song or fire out from it in a laser like fashion. There isn’t really a traditional base or middling sound and if there is it isn’t playing centre stage. Songs that are pretty lengthy and play on sensory and emotive vulnerabilities. These are enhanced by the very different ways the vocals are packaged. Only inserted at intervals to enhance the sound or scare you half to death.

 

Bombay Bicycle Club

Though perhaps not making such a huge difference to the progression of music before; they certainly are now. They could almost act as the in-between or the transition from the ‘Hipster’ culture to the progressive and forward thinking culture and the highly futuristic nature of Factory Floor and The Knife. They are slightly less shocking and assertive in their approach and they act in a much more accessible and melodic fashion particularly with ‘Carry Me’ with a sustained vocal but still with a great focus on the music and an untraditional approach to verses.

 

Pinkunoizu

A great combination and clashing of different sounds to forge a new type of music but one that still has a large air of familiarity to it. Combining the punk and krautrock elements with the neo-psychedelic, shoegazing and even folk elements but in a much matter of fact way rather than making a mockery of the respected genres in the process. It results in direct and easy to grasp song progression but one that is much more complex and varied.

 

Warpaint

A fantastic proprietor of the atmospheric and of the expanded sound. They don’t plug a cheap atmosphere using the same default echo and distortion that most bands who think they are of the same banner. They in fact utilise the natural sound of their vocal as well as the differing effects that they have at their disposal. The also do this with the natural rotating rhythms and in using sounds to build up textures that are fluid and drawn out. Sometimes the atmospheric quality comes from the vocal, the guitars, the bass, percussion, synths etc. This can allow them to control the type of atmospheric quality of each song. Sometimes it can change mid-song, but they have the ability to produce completely spaced out and unlimited sounds and much more bottled up and immediate atmospheric moments.

 

The Horrors

Psychedelic music of the future. They have already went through a rapid personal musical progression and it would be a crime to leave them out of this list. The free flowing synths and the layering atop of it can be complex or simple but divulges the sound perfectly in a way original psychedelica has not. Combine that with the wizardry of guitarist Joshua Hayward. To a passing ear it just sounds like an aggressive shoegaze style, but it does so much more. Instead of acting as a side show of the rest of the song he uses it as the songs engine to grind out a tune from the reverb and to act as an added melodic element. You just have to look at the abundance of pedals he has to see where he is taking guitar music as a whole to an age of the intelligent and disciplined guitarist. The bass is always less obvious in it’s bass lines and Faris’ vocals speak for themselves for a fresh vocal style.

 

Rose Elinor Dougall

Not only was her debut album Without Why a great rejigging of outlooks on genres with brilliant combinations and fresh approaches on each; but her 2013 EP Future Vanishes is a great example of a new type of pop music. One that is more intelligent and does so much more than provide the quick fix people look for. Lyrically capable as always; she moulds songs that are infectious in their beat, rhythm, groove and melodic feel. You can sing a long and you can dance along to them. There is also a great spaced out quality to her music from which you can be totally immersed and lost in. Something that is rooted deeper by her lyrics. That doesn’t detract from those infectious qualities and if anything she cleverly utilises and manipulates this to enhance such things.

 

Damon Albarn

Already a legendary innovator in several guises; he has recently shown he can still do just that as we all set about embarking on his solo venture. Songs like ‘Everyday Robots’ are broken and off beat with their melodies and the mismatch of percussion going on at the same time. He combines the traditional strings and piano with the samples and lets them sit separately and unifying them with his easy listening vocal to smooth everything over. He has much more to give and much more to show younger generations currently driving music backwards.

That was just a few off the top of my head but there are such artists out there. You just have to find them and go to their gigs and so on for they are the true driving forces of music. Even if they are behind the scenes they are the forward thinkers and the progressives like generations before them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Warpaint – Warpaint Review

California’s Warpaint return with their second album of the same name. It is a follow up from their 2010 debut entitled The Fool. That album had generally positive reviews if not spectacular but nevertheless its a pretty good base to start from. The notorious second album is now what they have to face up to. Having said that. I don’t see them having too much of an issue with it as they already seem to have the production and recording techniques at a pretty high level and back in 2010 they were able to present lighter shades and darker tones in the music through a variety of methods, but who knows?

‘Love Is To Die’ was the first track they unveiled back in October. The songs starts off very sparsely and steadily and smoothly introduced elements on top of the previous. First with the subtle percussion and synths sounds and eerie vocals and then the rotating bass line give some depth and some rhythm along with the more standard percussion to allow for the vocals to come in. The soft echo on them lets each line trickle back into the bass line groove. The backing vocals do the same while the guitar parts simply add texture rather than play a starring role. The chorus is topped off with a vertical like vocal progression but they fade it back in to the understated and cool feel of the song. The song never really outreaches itself but its the cool and calmness that speaks much louder in this song. With ‘Love Is To Die’ being a spaced out atmospheric affair that had it’s melodies and hooks evaporate and fade out; with ‘Biggy’ you feel that the atmospheric quality is closer to home if you like. Perhaps a little more immediate and cut off for it is still there, but not to the same extent of the preceding track. The song has a more drawn out and extended vocal that pulls the song towards the same order. The overriding synth chords only have a slight echo and make it feel much more immediate. Apart from that each sound fades out in an isolated way. Less in unison as they did in ‘Love Is To Die’. All in all it evokes a much more mysterious and darker quality and feel.

‘Keep It Healthy’ is characterized by the cascading bass line and the steady rhythm it invokes. The vocals soar over the general rotation of the instrumentals for a more straightforward track on the whole, but one that works well on it’s own and in the context of the whole album with the stylistic alteration. ‘Disco/Very’ is recorded in a more claustrophobic and slightly muffled fashion as if they were playing in your living room. The deep rooted bass syncs in well with the main beat for a solid instrumental base for some interesting vocal methods and combinations that work most of the time. The layering atop the bass and percussion foundation is fantastic though and really generates a textured rhythm. ‘Drive’ has a very subdued feel to it with the muffled bass and the beeping from the synths as the vocals wash over it all with the help of an expanded and delayed echo. A further variation in tone but one that leaves you a little detached. ‘Hi’ has a great and ensuing beat of which all the other elements jump from. A great show of vocal agility to lead the song through it’s progression. To sum up, I think this is more than a worthy follow up from The Fool and expands adding a variety of tones and song structures that always stick to a central element so that the atmospheric and emotive quality is not completely lost. An accomplished piece of art-rock that was well worth the wait.

Warpaint – Warpaint = 8.5/10

 

Images from www.rockshock.it / warpaintwarpaint.com 

 

Single Review – Warpaint – Biggy

Warpaint’s self titled second album will be out early next year and they have released their second track of the album with Biggy. The first track off the album; Love Is To Die was a spaced out atmospheric affair that had it’s melodies and hooks evaporate and fade out. With Biggy you feel that the atmospheric quality is closer to home if you like. Perhaps a little more immediate and cut off for it is still there, but not to the same extent of the preceding track. The song has a more drawn out and extended vocal that pulls the song towards the same order. The overriding synth chords only have a slight echo and make it feel much more immediate. Apart from that each sound fades out in an isolated way. Less in unison as they did in Love Is To Die. All in all it evokes a much more mysterious and darker quality and feel. It is a great track that suggests varied tone with the album next year.

https://soundcloud.com/warpaintwarpaint/biggy-1

Image from www.clashmusic.com 

Single Review – Warpaint – Love Is To Die

California’s Warpaint will return with their second album in 2014 which is a follow up from their 2010 debut with The Fool. That album had generally positive reviews if not spectacular but nevertheless its a pretty good base to start from. The notorious second album entitled Warpaint has its first single release with ‘Love Is To Die’. The songs starts off very sparsely and steadily and smoothly introduced elements on top of the previous. First with the subtle percussion and synths sounds and eerie vocals and then the rotating bass line gives some depth and some rhythm along with the more standard percussion to allow for the vocals to come in. The soft echo on them lets each line trickle back into the bass line groove. The backing vocals do the same while the guitar parts simply add texture rather than play a starring role. The verses are topped off with vertical like vocal progression but they fade it back in to the understated and cool feel of the song. The song never really outreaches itself but its the cool and calmness that speaks much louder in this song.

http://youtu.be/OnuFYYJHaY0

Image from www.clashmusic.com