Is There Anybody In There?

Just nod if you can hear me….if there is anyone left still hoping for the small chance that we hadn’t dropped off the planet or were about to shut up shop, then hello and welcome back.

TUTM_Teal

Yes indeed where the hell have we been I may hear you cry, least hopefully that is the case, otherwise this is just a stream of consciousness that I’m sure any psychiatrist would be delighted to stumble across.

So what has been happening? Hard to tell really…I guess sometimes we need an energy boost, a time to reflect, to seek inspiration from other sources. Yes time has been spent well, immersed in all things classical if you must know. Submerged in a diet of Radio 3‘s In Tune, Breakfast with Clemency Burton-Hill or Tim Lihoreau (in the aural sense and depending if it isn’t “Clemmy’s” week) and seemingly many hours lovingly wandering the annals of musical expression as encapsulated by The Sage, Gateshead.

Ah and sandwiched inbetween was the emotionally stirring and incredibly triumphant offerings of the Young Americans. The most uplifting and inspirational thing I have seen, both in terms of what the young people of America offer, but also in how they can inspire children to achieve things you thought you would never see them do. It makes you stop and think where our UK version is? 3 months away from home delivering music, dance and drama to countries across the world, truly incredible. Whilst also embracing the idea of Homestay, as much part of the experience as the performance that marks the final piece of this intense jigsaw. I am reminded of a comment made by Associate Director of the Young Americans’ Corkey Lee “I’ve got your back” and you know what that’s a message that resonates strongly; take us out of our comfort zones, but give us the support we all need at times and we can achieve great things.

However, this is a blog about music, not a personal journey through life and yet I wanted a share a little of the holes that might help fill the gaps and also why I’ve left the following video below…what indeed does the fox say?

Normal Service Will Be Resumed Shortly!!!!!!!!

Sometimes I Feel So Low

…and suddenly all is well again at Musique Review HQ as d-jaysea returns, only it seems he may have fallen out of love with music, which could get a little difficult…

djaysea

And where have you been?

Oh, I know that question was bound to arise, so let’s get it out of the way at the start.  No, I have not been away to distant shores.  No, I have not spent time at one of her Majesty’s institutions, nor have I been hospital bound or indeed a combination of the two.  To tell the truth, over the past couple of months I have simply been bored of music.  I know, how could someone who’s hobby is writing about music have become bored with it.  But that’s just how it’s been over the last two months.  Oh, I’ve listened to stuff.  A recent dalliance with public transport due to car woes had my iPod earning it’s corn but nothing really grabbed my attention.  Even digging back into the old favourites couldn’t muster much more than a yawn of recognition.  Sad I know, but I do have these phases.  So, the key question is, has any of this lot sparked my musical mojo back into life?  I wish……

 


 

New Town Kings – Pull Up & Rewind

New Town Kings are described as the UKNew Town Kings’s greatest trad Ska band so you set your standards quite high before you start listening, even when the claim is made in their PR.  Offering up that traditional ska/reggae blend of cultural comment while still kicking out a beat that defies even the most uncoordinated of booty to shake its tail feathers is what you’ll get here.  Whether their PR claim is true or not if you like your ska to offer up some proper dance hall beats while still sticking it to the man in the lyric department then this is for you.  Good stuff.

 

 


Cosmic Punch – F.M. Stereo

Cosmic PunchNow I don’t wish to be disparaging before we get to the music, but after watching the video of Cosmic Punch’s ‘The Long Slow Road’ I reckon that’s what me and Jimbo would look like if we started our own band.  Sad really.  Anyway, the music.  Formed in 2005, this alternative retro rock duo consists of Ryan “Cosmonaught” Michalski,  and Juan “Punchy” Gonzalez.  (Should you ever trust artists who give themselves nicknames?  Well, while you’re thinking about that I’ll chuck in “Bono” and “The Edge” just to get your ire up.)  Cosmic Punch turn out your general pop-rock fare with a hint of humour thrown in for good measure.  To be honest, it’s actually quite good.  There’s all sorts of influences thrown in the mix; sometimes too many at once but, hey, this is throw away pop music that determinedly intends to entertain you while you give it its three minutes.  I have to say I took Cosmic Punch.  Entertaining.

 

 



See You In Reno – Check

SYIRDespite the name and the brand of rock on offer here, Adam Rich, Nathan Berner, Iain Walker and Toby Sexton hail from Essex.  The brand I allude to is that slightly heavier melodic rock with the hoarse vocals that a dozen and one US bands do and all sound the same, so here’s a British band proving that the copycat formula isn’t restricted to the other side of the Atlantic.  Pity really, because musically See You In Reno, seem to have the wherewithal to be something properly different.  Obviously, that’s based on the strength of this track only I hasten to add.  Next.

 

 



Chasing Cadence – Heartstrong

Chasing-Cadence-c-Watford based Chasing Cadence recently won a Red Bull Studios Live competition to play at the 2014 Download Festival.  Based on the strength of this track, this is a band that could go far but how many times have we all said that.  They’re getting support from the likes of BBC Radio 1’s Huw Stephens so, with a nod and a wink in the right direction, who knows.  The video for Heartstrong is also quite good too.  Potential.


The diverse, the young and the breathing….

Where has d-jaysea been? Has he been busy growing a beard for his attempt at next year’s British Eurovision entry or has he just been so busy listening to some music gems that he’s got lost in the moment? Maybe the answers are after the jump.

djaysea

Been absent from the site for a while and what has been going on while I was missing…..

Well another transvestite has won Eurovision; obviously where we’ve been going wrong, the Arsenal have finally won something, Manchester City have bought something for £50m, well, in a roundabout way, and the portents for an England win in the World Cup are stacking up, or they were until Liverpool choked at the final hurdle.  (The others in case you are wondering are Athletico winning the Spanish championship and Real winning the European Cup; and I know, in reality England progressing beyond the group stage is going to be greeted as success but you have to dream, for whatever football is, it is the home of shattered dreams.)

Going back to Eurovision for just a moment; what was good to see was that some proper music actually did quite well.  Holland’s entry Calm After The Storm from The Common Linnets was simply way too classy for Eurovision and quite a shock that it came second.  On the back of their Eurovision outing The Common Linnets have released an album which I will hopefully report on at some future date.  Also of note was Finland’s continuing stand to give proper bands an outing and Something Better by Softengine deserved much better than the eleventh place it achieved.

Still, there must have been some music for review in between all that tosh and so here is a snapshot of some of the stuff that has landed in d-jaysea’s in-box and warranted a write-up. (And oh, there was some that didn’t, trust me.)

  • Serpent’s Crawl – This Blackened Slug
  • Now, if the name didn’t give it away, this is more Norwegian heavy rock; big on the guitar riffs and pace changes and the shouty sore throated vocals that make all of this stuff sound exactly the same, well to these ears anyway.  It that’s your bag, then this is more of the same for you.  It isn’t mine.  Next.

  • Syd Arthur – Hometown Blues
  • Now Syd Arthur is a band and Hometown Blues is on the lighter end of the rock/blues scale and none the worse for it as this is a decent track that means I will look for something more substantial from this band in the future.  There are prog-rock edges here and there and all-in-all this is good stuff.  More please.

  • Chronographs – The Hunter
  • Chronographs are in the process of releasing a track a month at the moment; The Hunter being April’s offering.  This is very run of the mill grunge rock influenced fare though the vocals from Jon Sinfield do stand out, remaining firmly as they do in listen-able territory.  The reason for the band releasing their output a month at a time they say is “due to advances in recording and the disposable nature of music online the old format of albums has become null.  By releasing tracks every month we remove a pointless purgatory for our tracks which allows fans to hear music as we write it – making it as relevant as possible.”  Indeed.

    Chronograph’s single The Hunter is available now from their Bandcamp page.

  • Merrick’s Tusk – Sonder EP
  • Now, Merrick’s Tusk describe their own sound as “melodic rock reminiscent of the early Emo scene.”  Well, the melodic rock bit is right and this four-track EP is good stuff.  There’s some well crafted tunes here and the band are recommended to those who have stuff like Jimmyeatworld and The Appleseed Cast in their collection but also to a wider audience too.

    Merrick’s Tusk’s Sonder EP is out on 10th June 2014, so keep checking their website for how to buy it.

  • Amaryllis – Revolt EP
  • I do have a particular liking for female vocal-led rock bands so Amaryllis instantly started off on the right foot.  And they stayed there as this is excellent stuff from the Surrey based five-piece who need to do something about their internet presence as information on them is rather hard to find.  This is really good pacey melodic rock with a little bit of bite and I liked it a lot.

Win A Copy of Damn Vandals’ Rocket out of London

Yes it is competition time and for one lucky winner, they are about to get their hands on a free copy of the Damn Vandals’ second album Rocket out of London, details of how you can win are if you

Damn Vandals

Fresh off the back of a rave review from d-jaysea (read the review via this link) and with thanks to the good people at Manilla PR, we give one lucky person the opportunity to get their hands on a free copy of the Damn Vandals’ second album Rocket out of London. The fiendishly difficult question will involve heading over to the Damn Vandals own website, checking out the band’s photos where there is one from 27 October 2012 for Oxjam Shepherd’s Bush’s Halloween gig, once you’ve found that photo you will be in position to answer the following question:-

What is the name of the band listed on the Oxjam Shepherd’s Bush’s Halloween gig poster to the right of the Damn Vandals?

Email your answer to jimbo[AT]musiquereview[DOT]co[DOT]uk with the title ‘Damn Vandals Competition’ including your name and email address.

Deadline for entries is Friday 16th May 2014, with the winner announced at Musique Review.

Please note that the Editor’s decision is final.

d-jaysea’s Mixtape 9 March 2014

djaysea

Now, working on my personal aim of including reviews here on Musique Review that are not all initiated through the wanton demands of the music industry public relation machine here’s a snapshot of the albums that have passed through the auditory canal in the last month or so,

 

Wild Beasts – Present Tense

Wild_Beasts_Present_Tense

There are lots of Depeche Mode-ish moody synths, plumy vocals and intense shoe-gazing going on here but to be fair you do tend to keep your head down in Kendal; usually into a gale force ‘breeze’.  Cumbria’s Wild Beast are as ‘now’ and ‘chart-orientated’ as you are likely to get on Musique Review at the moment and I do like their style of introspection; just what the bedroom bound youth of today need to annoy their parents with.  Excellent stuff.

Leagues – You Belong Here

Leagues-You-Belong-Here

Now I had to have a dig around but I did find what the intro of first track ‘Spotlight’ reminded me of –
Hard-Fi’s ‘Hard to Beat’.  And thus Leagues immediately found themselves in the ‘come on then, impress me’ category that, in my house, usually sets a band up for a fall.  Well, ‘You Belong Here’ did impress, to the extent that I have to say this is one of my album finds of 2014 so far.  Leagues themselves consider their music to be infectious encouraging dancing and introspection.  They’re not wrong.  This is a cracking album.

Dan Croll – Sweet Disarray

Dan Croll

Now, first a warning.  If your earphones or speakers are not up to the mark, then this album will find them out.  Seriously.  Mr Croll’s music will test both treble and bass output to an extent I haven’t heard on an album for a while.  Having graduated from Liverpool’s Institute for Performing Arts this is Dan Croll’s first album and it is a good ‘un.  All the right pop targets are covered; songs about love and ‘Thinkin Aboutchu’, sing a long choruses and sweet vocals.  Not sure how long it is since Newcastle-under-Lyme had a pop star to be proud of but if the next one isn’t Dan Croll, then there’s no justice in the world.  There isn’t, to be fair, but what the heck.

New Young Pony Club – NYPC

NYPC

It would appear that NYPC is both the name of the album and also a direction towards how the band would like to be known as in the future.  The minimal name kind of goes with the sound of this album with the band having gone for a much more austere electro-sound than in the past.  Not that that is a bad thing because this is a really good album filled with cracking electro-indie-dance tracks.  I have liked New Young Pony Club’s past albums, and this is potentially their best so far.  Check the band’s website for a couple of video’s to ‘Hard Knock’s’ and ‘Things Like You’.

Metronomy – Love Letters

love_letters

Swaying from acoustic guitar love ballads to proper shoe-gazing electronica you might think this album is all over the place and some will want to describe it as eclectic just to be polite.  Personally I think this is a great little album.  There’s no spoiling you here, you get the standard ten tracks and that’s it, but there is a proper instrumental ‘Boy Racer’ and catchy lyrics and beats all over the place.  I even like the way the recording of Anna Prior’s “Shoop, doop, doop ah” backing on ‘I’m Aquarius’ keeps in the little bit right at the end when you can hear her smiling while trying to finish off the recording.  (Trust me, it’s there.)  This is an inventive little masterpiece of British pop coolness.  Buy it, you won’t be disappointed.  ‘The English Riviera’ made the 2011 Mercury Prize nomination list; I fully expect ‘Love Letters’ to do the same.

Neil Finn – Dizzy Heights

neil-finn-dizzy-heights-2014

Having been rather prolific during his time as Crowded House frontman, Neil Finn has been rather absent as of late.  This is only his third solo album, the last being as far back as 2001.  This new album is something of a family affair with wife Sharon on bass and sons Liam on guitar and Elroy on drums.  And boy, was this worth the wait.  This is Neil Finn at his very best and this has to rank as good a piece of work as he has ever released in my book.  There’s all the usual song writing of the highest standard that you would expect but to go along with that is a freshness that I trust must be the influence of the two younger Finns; a new Finn brother duo for the future?  We can but hope.  Title track ‘Dizzy Heights’ is as smooth a piece of glossy pop as you’ll hear and you are often left thinking that you’re listening to Crowded House at their very best so good is some of the content here.  I know, you think I’m laying it on a bit thick, but genuinely I really do think this album is that good.  Actually, I’m off to listen to it again.

TTFN
d-jaysea